Yearly Archive: 2012

First Day After The End Of The World

We had a party last night. The invite said “Apocalypse Party. What better way to go out than hanging with friends, with a drink in your hand!” I guess we ended up with about twenty people over there. I served from my two kegs full of homebrew, and people brought various six-packs and variety packs of beer. Which I guess is cool, because now I have probably twenty unique types and brands of beer in my BeerFridge. Twenty that I’ve never tried. Pretty cool, I say. But what about the real question here?

Why didn’t the world end?

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The Year in Pictures

Happy Friday, friends. Another year has almost come to an end. Well, maybe I’m a little precocious in saying that – seeing as we still have thirty-one days until it’s over. But it’s almost over. Eleven-twelfths of the way through. So that’s close enough in my book. So I figured I’d go ahead and close out the year with a special photos column, recapping some of the things that happened this year. Some of these pictures are relevant, some are not. All were taken this year. But not all of them actually have anything to do with anything. Some of them, in other words, are just cool pictures.

Another thing they all have in common is that they were all taken with my phone. So I didn’t go digging through my digital photo album looking for good pictures. Just my phone. Meaning these happened while I was out and about, or generally too busy to pick up my DSLR. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy walking back through the year with me. In no particular order, of course.

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Here’s the thing about weddings.

See, I get mad when I think or talk about weddings. Not just the kind of mad you get when someone slams a door behind you unexpectedly. No, not even the kind of mad you get when someone calls your mom a whore. The mad I get is like the burning fiery rage of a thousand suns. It makes me angry in my soul. When I find myself getting into a conversation about weddings, I have to withdraw instantly, lest I burn up inside and start shouting all the reason they’re bullshittical, hogwashical and colossal wastes of money. And there are several reasons why this is so. I shall now tell you about them.

First of all, I know the big white weddings are traditional. Most women (and I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack for this, but that’s fine – I’m ready) seem so stuck on this “tradition” excuse that they turn into robots. I SIMPLY MUST GO SPEND A THOUSAND DOLLARS ON A DRESS. Yeah. You must. Why? Because your mother did it. And her mother before her. And you know what they all have in common? They all had an expensive white dress in their closets that never got used again. Because when it comes time to pass your dress down to your daughter, she’s going to say, “Oh, that’s so 1950s! I need my OWN one.” And your daughter is going to do the same damn thing. “Oh mom, I can’t wear that! That’s so 2001!” So yes, by all means, you’re right. You absolutely MUST go out and spend a thousand dollars on a dress you will wear one time. Ever. Because YOU have to follow tradition. You’re smarter than the rest of them.

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SpaceBrew Review: The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi

I have a lot to say about this book. It was a big book, so it needs a big review. And by big, I mean twenty hours. I listened to it on audiobook, you see. I think Jonathan Davis was a great narrator, but he reads very slowly. He’s very precise with his words, and his pauses between sentences are often pregnant with wait. This probably added several hours throughout the entire book. But it’s also big because Bacigalupi was very liberal with his words. If words cost money, he spared no expense.

It was good. Well written. Mr. Bacigalupi has a way of romanticizing famine and plague, terrible conditions and even rape with such smooth words. They feel like warm honey running over your skin. It’s very easy to latch onto the world, and feel like you’re part of it. His world is a post-apocalyptic version of ours, a couple of hundred years in the future. Not that he ever actually comes out and tells you that, mind you.

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Cheerleaders Don’t Lift My Spirits

Here’s a hot sports opinion for you: I think cheerleaders are annoying.

What, you wanted more? No, that’s it. Yeah, that’s all I wanted to say. I think they’re distracting, irritating and annoying. And boring. Sigh. Okay, I’ll explain for you. We go to my son’s football games, and we sit in the bleachers and – well, since he’s in middle school, they don’t take football near as seriously as high school and – well, I … let me start over. Okay, the schools at which his team plays only have bleachers on one side of the field. Which puts you in the uncomfortable predicament (pre · di · `CAY · ment) of sitting right beside the opposing team’s fans. And, more specifically to my point, both groups of cheerleaders are right there next to each other. On the same side of the field. Like five yards away from each other.

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My Science Fiction Fantasy

You know, there are a lot of things in life that get under my skin. So I won’t start this paragraph by telling you there’s nothing that pisses me off more than this one thing. But it does bother me a frightening lot. I mean, most people would think I was being petty and oafish if I complained about it publicly. So I’ll just do it here privately on this here little forum, you see?

So moving along, there are, as I said, many things that bother me. And this is just one of them. I absolutely cannot stand that everywhere you go, Science Fiction and Fantasy are grouped together. Petty? Inane? Shrug. Maybe so. But it really bothers me. Because some people like one or the other, and not both. I, for one, love some science fiction. I like some space opera, which it seems most of the sci-fi genre has moved to, but I really like pretty much anything fictional that involves sciency stuff.

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Public Transit: A Gloryhole for People-Watching

I ride the train to and from work on most days. Well, I should say public transit. Because part of my trip sometimes involves a bus. In the past I would have thought that only poor and homeless people used the DART buses around here. Boy was I wrong. A couple of guys from my work ride with me, and this one really classy, foxy woman rides our bus too. She’s always reading on her phone. These aren’t the only non-homeless people on the bus. Just the ones I care about. But it has nothing to do with being poor. It’s actually to do with being smart, and wanting to free up your hands to use your time the way you want. I get to ride and read instead of drive and cuss. Anyhow, I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen a homeless person on the bus. Now the train, on the other hand…

But I do ride the bus for part of the trip because it gets me closer to my building. I have a nice little walk up the hill when I get off the bus. But taking the bus (and the train for that matter) every day makes for some interesting encounters with humanity. And since I’ve now been riding for about seven months, I’ve seen some very interesting people. Let me tell you about some of the most interesting encounters:

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Life Comes At You Fast (And So Do Cars)

It’s weird – I never thought it would happen to me. I am so defensive and cautious and alert, and even what one might call ‘super-ambulatory’. But none of that matters. I even saw it coming. He was turning left, but looking right as he pulled onto Lemmon heading Northwest. I noticed he was turning wide, into the center lane, obviously swerving wide to avoid me. But then at the last second, he changed course and started aiming for the inside lane, right where I was.

People have these theories that if ever a car bears down on them, they’ll jump in the air, do a fancy football juke, or a double-back-flip over the car. Well I just thought I’d be able to dash out of the way real fast. Well, as it turns out, time isn’t very elastic, and it just marches forward, second for second. And by the time I realized he wasn’t seeing me, I was out of options. So I turned and faced the truck. A Tahoe, it was. A white one with a black driver. And faster than lightning, he hit me.

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Jesus Made the Jack Bees

It’s hard to believe the summer is coming to a close already. Well, technically I guess it already has. Have you noticed how quickly the years fly by when you get older? It seems to me that only a couple of weeks ago, the State Fair was selling all things fried. Well it was a year ago. Which tells me I’m getting old. I saw a sign the other day Continue reading…

Saturday Night Star Party

Here we are, Two-Step and a couple of friends and I moseyed out to Alpine, Texas to see the stars. They say Alpine is the best place in the continental United States to see the stars. And boy, they’re right. Zero light pollution. No street lights, no bright signage, just perfect darkness and a hundred billion stars in the sky.

Our first night we stayed in Brownswood at a budget inn type place, just to knock a few hours off the nine-hour trek to Alpine. That was a good experience in itself though, as we all sat outside around a wire-mesh table and had some drinks while we talked to some other travelers who had just arrived on their motorcycle. It seems that everyone you meet at a hotel is always so friendly. It almost restores your faith in humanity a little bit. Everyone we’ve met so far has been great.

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Summer Synopsis 2012

What have I been up to lately? I know I said in my beer page bio that I was done with blogging. I also know that all three of my readers knew as well as I did how long that phase had the potential to last. But until humanity has cleaned up its act and I see random people helping other people on the street; people waving at each other on the highway – not riding each other’s asses; people in flooded, hurricane-hit towns helping with the cleanup and not looting… Once all that starts happening, I may run out of things to talk about. As long as human beings are a hive of scum and villainy, I will blast about it on the web. Not sure what motivated me to use a Star Trek quote there, but it is fitting, and there you have it. And there’s your opening paragraph.

Anyway, yes, I have been making beer. I brew two to three batches of beer per month. Let me explain this to those of you who don’t already know. If you do know all about homebrewing, then feel free to skip ahead a few paragraphs. I had a buddy of mine swing by the other night to hang out and catch up, have a few beers, the usual. And I happened to be turning out a batch of beer. So he says, “When will it be ready?” and I replied, “Oh, about four weeks or so.” So he says, “Really. I thought we’d be drinking it tonight.” This is just plain ignorance. Not stupidity. Most people are just completely in the dark when it comes to making beer, having never been told. So here’s my very brief rundown of what happens:

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The Craft Beer Movement

I remember the first full bottle of beer I ever enjoyed. I was fifteen. My buddy and I had a twenty-one-year-old friend, and six dollars. This guy ran up to the beer store with our six dollars with instructions to buy as much Michelob Dry as he could get. Well I don’t know what happened – beer was a lot cheaper back then – but somehow he only came back with two bottles. Well my friend and I enjoyed those two bottles of beer out on the driveway behind my house. We drank it like it was liquid gold. And it did taste good. So what happened?

I can no longer drink BMC. The Big American Three. But that’s what Some-Large-Percentage of the American population buys, in massive amounts, every weekend. I hand one of them my glass of Newcastle, or Full Sail IPA, or Arrogant Bastard and they make a terrible face and some comment about how gross it tastes. I handed a bottle of Newcastle to my cousin’s boyfriend the other day. He thanked me and offered a sip to my cousin, Lara. She took a pull of the rich brown beer and screwed up her face like she’d sucked on a rotten corn dog. She said, “Oh my God, that’s nasty.”

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New Brew Thursday

As of this evening, we will be adding an IPA to our brew bill. Ever since I mistakenly thought I had drunk my first IPA and… wait – you don’t know that story? Oh. Well let me tell you about it. Don’t worry I’ll be brief. I brewed what I thought was an IPA a long time ago. It was my second brew. However, being a kit beer, and adding three pounds of dry malt to the grain bill, I balanced out the hops. I had no idea what I was doing at that point. I just knew I needed to add about three pounds of fermentables to the batch. So I unknowingly created a remarkably well balanced and delicious brew.

So fast forward a few weeks, I went to a BrewPub with some girlfriends (and my insanely hot red-haired wife), and ordered their house IPA. When the lady brought it out, it smelled like flowers, and tasted like weeds. Oh. So this is what an IPA tastes like. Not what I brewed. So I quickly did two things. 1: I changed the label of my beer to an English Brown. And B: I fell in love with the IPA style. I have since set out on a mission to taste as many IPA-style beers as I can find. I have in the last few months tried ten or eleven now. And fortunately for me, the new gas station by my house sells seven different IPA labels. SEVEN.

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Bacon Talk: Books and Reading

Welcome back, everyone. Where have you all been? We’ve been right here waiting for you to come read! We don’t like to write something until we know you’re coming. We’re like the Whataburger of websites. We don’t make it ’til you order it. Actually, we’ve just been on sort of a hiatus, since Haycomet got bored of writing, and I lost eight of my fingers in an opossum attack last fall. They finally regenerated though, and I’m ready to write! So without any further ado, let’s get down to today’s Welcome Back Bacon Talk topic, which is Books and Reading!
Now I know I do a lot of both. Well, wait. Okay, one’s a noun and the other’s a verb. I’m still trying to get that straight in my head. Okay, so I have a lot of one and do a lot of the other. There. That’s better. So how about you, Haycomet? Do you have a lot of one? And do you, therefore, do a lot of the other? It does seem that the verb might be dependent on the noun.
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Vincent Hobbes is a Thief

I’m a writer. One might debate how well I perform this craft. Or not. Almost everyone who has read my books has told me they liked them greatly. I say this not in boastful arrogance, but just to say that I do it to the best of my ability, I take it seriously, and I take pride in making it as good as my ability will allow. I’ve written millions of words. A lot of them on this website. If you peruse back through the archives, you will see I have over 450 columns attributed to my name. And most of them are 800 words or more. Not just some quick paragraph about nonsense. Why do I say all this? I don’t know. I think I’m just trying to justify the title I used in the first sentence of my column.

But I don’t need to. Not really. The word writer speaks nothing of the personality of the writing. It doesn’t lend itself to any superlatives or adjectives describing the talent of the human being who takes the title. It only expresses that he or she has set out to perform a task, an effort that takes at least a fair amount of talent or skill, and has thus taken the label.

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Space and the New Independence

I recently took a new job, as all the computers at my old company were finally fixed. Nothing left to do, time to move on. And though my new POE, or Place of Employement is in uptown Dallas – much farther than my previous commute – I am happy to make the trip for two simple reasons. Number A, it’s good to be back in my old stomping grounds. I’ve worked for several companies over the years that were based here around this area, and have gotten to know and love it. Letter two, working in uptown makes it possible (and logistically preferable) to use public transit.

Taking the train to work does not save me any time. On the contrary, in fact. It takes me probably an extra half- to three-quarters of an hour to get to work. But it saves gas. To the tune of over seventeen hundred dollars per year. One might also, though, say that it saves my sanity. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams and road rage; douchebags in oversized Chevy pickups who think they own the road. Continue reading…

Dear Lord! Is It Already 2012?

Now that my baby girl is old enough to take care of herself (she’s almost three), I’ve been given back some of my evening time. It’s nice when they’re potty-trained. No more diapers. They tell you when they need to go potty. This means no diaper bags packed with pull-ups and wipes. This means you can do fun things like family bike-rides, visits to the basketball court to play some round ball, and little trips out into the channel in the boat.

I also have a lot more personal time as well. Not that I spend it locked up in an office or anything. In fact, I don’t even have an office. Hmm. I guess I need to remedy that. But my personal time is spent in my reading chair, or on the couch solving my cubes. Or sketching or writing. I actually resolved this year to read more books than I’ve ever read in a year. Now that I’m very rapidly approaching “the hill”, I have finally been able to slow down a little and start reading a lot more – just like I’ve always wanted to do.

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