Saturday, November 03, 2012

Random Vacation Thoughts

Some random thoughts on my vacation to Southern California.

  • There are a lot of dentists in Tijuana, Mexico. The locals all had very bad teeth.
  • Sunsets over the water are just as pretty as sunrises.
  • The USS Midway was a big fucking boat.
  • The HMS Queen Mary is also a big fucking boat.
  • Endeavour is a cool space shuttle. Seeing it up close was breath taking
  • CA people don't drive like assholes. There are just a gazillion people trying to go the same place you are.
  • Parking anywhere in California SUCKS!! Have they never heard of parking lots??
  • California does not believe in signs telling you where you can and can't park. They paint the curbs. Red curbs mean no parking. Yellow is a loading zone and no paint mean you can park there. 
  • There are a lot of curbs where the paint is barely visible
  • I hate driving thru the mountains. I thought I was going to cry or puke or both.
  • Jay Leno was pretty cool.
  • Lots of gay people like Betty White. (I had no clue)
  • Taylor Launter has extremely white teeth.
  • I had no clue who Taylor Lautner was until a few weeks ago
  • Eddie Cibrian is even hotter in person than on tv. 
  • I don't watch enough trashy tv. 
  • I have no clue who half of the celebrities people were talking about were.
  • I'm ok with not knowing who those people were.
  • Running along the ocean was awesome.
  • I had to skip half of the Reagan library exhibit that was about his funeral. They played "taps" and I started tearing up.
  • Pandas rock!
  • California makes some pretty damn tasty beer.
  • I'm ready to eat my "normal" diet of food again. Eating out was hard for me to do. 
  • 8 days is too many days to be away from my dogs. I missed them something fierce.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Beer Church

Yesterday, in addition to being a cheerleader for several friends running the Lakefront Marathon, I attended Beer Church.

It is not the traditional church service so don't get all offended by it. But just an amusing name for an event that will be hosted on the first Sunday of the month at John Hawk's Pub in Milwaukee.

Beer church is being hosted by Kurt Mayes (aka BrewerKurt), one of the brewers at Milwaukee Brewing Co. The goal is to learn about different styles of beers from around the world in an informal and casual setting.

Yesterday's theme was Oktoberfests. Oktobertfest is a 16 day festival held in Munich, Germany each year in Sept/Oct. (You can read the Wikipedia article for more details on the festival). Traditionally, Oktobertfest beers are a marzen style, that has more of a malty flavor with no real hop taste to it.

The beers we tried were two categories, German and American.

For the German beers we had
Warsteiner Premium Oktoberfest, Erdinger Oktoberfest Weißbier, Oktoberfest Märzen, Spaten Oktoberfestbier / Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen, Oktoberfest Märzen

My personal favorite from this group was the Warsteiner. It had a nice malty flavor. I did not care for the Erdinger which was more like a wheat version of an Oktoberfest. The Paulaner tasted a bit metallic-y for me. Like there was foil in it.

Next up was the American beers

Hoptoberfest, Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest
 Here my favorite was Hoptoberfest. I like hops and this had a nice hoppy flavor that complimented the sweet malty flavor. The rest of the beers were solid and I would drink all of them again.

 While the inaugural meeting was small, it was still a nice group of people with different beer backgrounds. You don't have to be a beer geek to come out. You just have to not be afraid to try something new and different. Who knows, maybe you will find your new favorite beer

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Today started out like any other Sunday. Walked the dogs, went for a run, did some yard work.

Came back in the house and checked twitter and facebook. I see a tweet from @Mkescan about 10:45 that says "Report of Officer down in Oak Creek. Active shooter." Woah!   I know a couple of guys that work for the Oak Creek police force. It has me a bit worried.

Keep watching my feed and a few minutes later I see this " : We are getting reports that 4 people were shot at Sikh Temple, 7512 S. Howell Ave., OC Police not giving out information"  Holy shit! this is not good.

It is now close to noon and I'm riveted to Twitter and Fox 6 for information. By 4:00pm we know this. A man walked into the Sikh temple and opened fire. It sounds like he then went outside and was confronted by the two officers. They exchanged gunfire. One officer was shot, the other officer shot and killed the suspected shooter. Thew officer who was shot is expected to survive. Six other people were shot and killed.

Some background: I grew up in Caledonia. The town just south of Oak Creek. Growing up we did most things in Oak Creek rather than going into Racine. We would go to the high school and swim, use the library, shop and eat at restaurants there. In 2001, late hubby and I bought a house in Oak Creek. I loved that house. We had great neighbors and several of our neighbors worked for the Oak Creek Police Dept . We sold the house in 2008 and I bought a house where I live now.

You hear about things like this on the news. Most recently in Aurora, CO. You think it is such a tragedy but think that is can never happen to you, to your town, your neighbors and friends. Today that changed. This was my town, my neighbors and hopefully not any of my friends (as of the time of this post they have not released the names of the two officers who responded).

About 5:00pm it is reported that an area of Cudahy is being evacuated. This is about 10 blocks from me. The authorities are now searching the home of the suspected shooter. As of 8:30 pm the helicopters are still flying overhead. With the suspected shooter dead, we may never know why this happened. The FBI has classified this as an act of "Domestic Terrorism". That is a term for not fucking around. I don't think the FBI uses that term loosely or frequently.

Normally stuff does not bother me too much. This has left me rattled to the core. I feel very unsettled. This is not the way I wanted Oak Creek to be known for.

My thoughts and prayers tonight are for the friends and family of those who were injured and killed today in another senseless act of violence. My hope is that we learn from this and hopefully never have to read or hear about another tragedy like this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rock n Sole

It has been awhile since I posted anything, I need to get posts up about Ragnar and my vacation to TN at some point...

Last weekend was the 2nd annual Summerfest Rock N Sole race in Milwaukee.  They had a 5k, which I did, a 10k and a half marathon. Last year this race was a cluster fuck from the word go. The race did not have enough water stops, ran out of water, no water at the finish, crowded finishers area... you name it, it probably went wrong.  I did not run it, for this I am glad.

My friend, Erica won an entry to the race from Fit Milwaukee so she asked me to do the race with her. Since I have talked her into doing a bunch of races I couldn't say no.

The morning started out rather comically. I told Erica that I would drive. We set the time for 6:00 am. I am about half way to her house when I pass a car that looks like her. I glance back in the rear view mirror and see her custom plates. Shit! Was she supposed to drive?? Didn't think so but I turned around and went back home. She seen me following her and realized that when I said I would drive I also meant that I would pick her up.

We get downtown and decide to park near the finish line. It is really foggy out and you can't even see the lake or the top of the U.S. Bank building. We wander to the Start line and wait for the half marathon and 10K folks to start.  They go and we get in line. We are about 2 corrals back from the actual start line. This is ok with me.

The gun goes off and away we go. We go down Lincoln Memorial drive and up the freeway on ramp. As we make our way up the Hoan bridge it is still foggy out. But the sun is starting to peek out. Erica and I wore our Team Fartlek Ragnar shirts. They were a bit warm. The climb to the top of the bridge is not as bad as I thought it would be. We still had to walk once we got about 3/4 of the way to the top. it was rather freaky to feel the bridge moving underneath your feet as 7400 runners made their way over it.

We got to the top and turned around to head back. The fog was still there and it looked strange to see the tops of the buildings poking out thru the fog. 

We got to the bottom of the bridge and circled around the Summerfest grounds. towards the finish line. There were lots of people cheering as you crossed which is always so cool. Erica and I finished with chip times of 39:49. Which for me is about average. Seeing as I had not run since Ragnar, I was happy with the time.

The finisher's area was spacious and well organized. You crossed, got water, got your medal, got food. You then went out into the Summerfest grounds. This was probably one of the best organized races I have ever done. I will definitely be back to do it again next year.

Erica and I before the race!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Slowing Down

Over the past few weeks I have noticed something that makes me a little sad.  My dogs are getting older and starting to slow down. Especially Riley. I think the years of allergies and shots and pills are starting to catch up with him.

It seems like he doesn't want to go one walks as much anymore. Sometimes, he just wants to whiz and go back into the house. He doesn't seems to be in pain or have a hard time walking, he just doesn't want to. He will stand at the end of the driveway and stop. I don;t force him, I just take him back in the house and walk with the other two.  When he does go for walks he is slower than the Rufus and Boomer and sometimes I have to watch myself to not yell at him to hurry up or to start dragging him along. Then the walks are fun for no one.

Rufus and Riley are both about 9 1/2 so not that old but no spring chickens either. It just makes me a little sad to know that they are not the young, playful pups they once were. Plus side is that they both like to get extra snuggle time on the couch with me.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Strange Brew

A couple of months ago Groupon had a deal for a starter home brewing kit.  As I have learned more and more about beers, the process of creating my own beers has intrigued me.  A couple of the guys from Beer Club brew and some of their beers are really good. So I bought the kit and selected the Irish Stout as my first beer.

As with any brewery, the first thing to do is select a name. After sitting in my favorite pub with Laura one night, we came up with the name Fartlek Brewing. It combines two things I like, beer and running.  You can follow it on Twitter or Untappd. A couple of names that were rejected. Brains, Beer and Boobs and Sizzletits.

Thanks to my friend's daughter who is a good artist, I also have a logo. I may do some tweeking on the text/name part but it looks pretty good.

Last week, I finally got around to actually doing the brewing.

The directions provided in the kit were a bit vague at times. I found I needed a few things that were not provided. The big one being a thermometer. Hitting specific temperatures at points is critical.

The raw ingredients

Next I took some warm water and mixed in the dry yeast. It had to sit for awhile to starting working.

The yeast

Next you crush the grains and put them in a muslin bag and steep them in almost boiling water for about 30 minutes. This is where having a thermometer would have been handy. You were to keep the temp about 155*

Steeping the wort

Next you add the malt extract to the wort. This is really thick, like molasses. You have to stir it constantly until the malt is dissolved or it can burn.

Malt has been added to the wort

After that you bring it to a low boil for about an hour. You need to add the first batch of hops at this time. The hops I used looked like little rabbit food pellets. They dissolve in the water. You have to stir it a lot at this point as well to keep the wort from boiling over when adding the hops.

Wort with hops added

Once the boiling is almost done, I added the second set of hops. Lots of stirring again.

Then comes the cooling of the wort. You need to bring the temperature from boiling to about 80* as quickly as possible to avoid contamination of the wort. I used an ice bath. Another home brewer puts the ice cubes right in the wort. I may invest in a wort chiller if I decide to keep brewing. The chiller hooks up to the sink and you run cold water thru copper tubing that is placed inside the boil pot.

Chilling the wort

After that you put the wort in the primary fermentation. Basically a 6.5 gallon bucket. You fill it with water to the 5 gallon mark and stir the crap out of it to get lots of air into the wort. Oxygen is what the yeast needs to do its job. I got a good arm workout in. Here is where I may upgrade again and get an aquarium pump and use that to add oxygen.

Fermentation bucket

I then put the lid on it, put the airlock in the hole and put it downstairs.

A couple days later a guy asked how it was going. Was I seeing lots of action? I went downstairs and looked. Nothing. Crap! What is going on? After a pow wow with several tweeps, it was decided that the basement was too cold and it need to be warmer for the yeast to work. Thanks Tom for all your help and advice! I stopped at the home brew store to pick up a packet of yeast in case it was needed. Once I moved it into the spare bedroom, I gave it a few minutes of good swirling and waited.

By the next day when I came home, it had warmed up enough to get the yeast working again and I had bubbles!! The fermentation process was working!

I now have to wait for the bubbles to stop and take some gravity readings. One the reading are the same for three days in a row, I can move it into the secondary fermentation bucket where it will hang out for about another week or so.  Once again this is where the directions were a bit vague.No real time frames were provided.

After that I bottle it up and it conditions and carbonates in the bottles for about a month.
I will be posting more pics and updates as the process moves forward.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Garbage Day

Today is garbage day in the neighborhood. I am fascinated by the amount of garbage my neighbors generate.

Most weeks I have about five newspaper baggies of dog poo and a Pick N Save bag of garbage in my cart. Maybe if it was a big week, I will have another bag. Throw in the monthly furnace filter and that is about it. Some people will two or three carts of stuff. What do people buy and use that they generate that much stuff? I rarely eat fast or take out food so that is alot of waste I don't generate. I recycle everything I can.

Puzzling, I tell you....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr Day

 Today is Martin Luther King Jr.Day. I thought I would share a couple of photos I took when I was in Washington DC in October. It was right after the memorial was dedicated. At night is was really a moving and beautiful memorial.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Challenges

I am still here. I survived Vegas, thanks goodness. I still need to put a recap of that together but am lazy.

Welcome to 2012.

As I look back on 2011, I had lots of great experiences and new adventures. I traveled across the country from Florida to California. Philly and Washington DC to Vegas. I met some amazing new people that I'm proud to call friends.

I started a run streak on Thanksgiving. My goal was to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving thru the end of the year. I accomplished this goal. I was a bit nervous about how I would do after running a half marathon in Vegas but I think getting up early the next morning and running with Annie helped my legs recover quicker. I probably would have kept going but the weather turned crappy and running outside was miserable. I have a gym membership but hate, hate, hate running on treadmills. I feel like if I run at the Pettit, I need to get in more miles and some days, I just don't have time to block out an hour or more for running.

This year I am once again looking for new challenges.

So I decided to sign up for Ragnar. What is Ragnar, you ask? You can see all the fun details here.  But it is a 200 mile relay run between Madison, WI and Chicago, IL in early June.There are 12 runners in a group and we rotate running legs. We run day into night and back into day again. Some Team Challenge friends did it last year and talked about how crazy fun it was, so I was talking with someone and we both said "What the Hell, Let's go for it" So I mailed off my race entry fee to the team captain and proceeded to freak out.

I am also trying to keep running and staying active so I have been signing up for other races as well. I am doing the Samson Stomp at the Milwaukee County Zoo in a little over a week. The following weekend I'm part of a marathon relay at the Pettit Ice Center. This is a team of four people who have to run a total of 96 laps around the track. We still have no strategy (or maybe that is our strategy).

After that, I have no idea. I would like to run at least a race each month. 5k and 10k are preferred but am thinking about heading back to Napa with Team Challenge again for another half marathon.

So what new challenges should I embark on for 2012?