Not a Leap Year

We saw the new Die Hard movie last Friday, “A Good Day to Die Hard.” It wasn’t terrible—the action sequences were good and the concept was there—but compared to the last movie it was disappointing, largely because (for me) the dialogue was very stilted and cliché, focusing more on the one-liners than advancing the plot or anything. Plus it didn’t really give John McClane the “nobody else is here to do this” kind of role that the character is really known for… I ended up thinking the movie is begging for a fan fiction rewrite that could really tighten things up and make it 100% better. Or a Phantom Edit-style recut.

Of course, you always have to wonder about (yet another) sequel…

Earlier this month I set up my old Commodore 64 computer system for the kids to see, just for grins. Basically their computer desk in the office has been empty since the (older) Sony Vaio all-in-one system started dying (the integrated LCD monitor light was starting to burn out, which is a huge pain) so I figured, why not? I have to say, it is amusing as hell to see that old system set up again—but other than that first day we were playing around with it, it hasn’t been turned on.

Lots of beer things are happening, too: we’re planning this second year of Central Oregon Beer Week and that has been taking up a lot of time. Maybe I’ll do some “behind the scenes” type posts for that at some point. Suffice to say, there are a lot of good ideas floating around but trying to nail down details like sponsorship packages is a chore. Hopefully we’ll have that dialed in very, very soon and can get down to the fun stuff of drinking beer! Or at least planning out events where we get to drink beer.

Incidentally, Central Oregon Beer Week is taking place from May 20 through 27 this year—the week leading into Memorial Day Weekend. It’s going to be awesome.

Oregon Brewers Festival

This year, for the first time since 2007, I was able to make it up to Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival—the biggest beer festival in Oregon, if not the Pacific Northwest. (They bill it at “North America’s largest gathering of independent brewers” which I’m not so sure about considering the Great American Beer Festival, but anyway.)

You can read all the various related blogging bits about the OBF over on The Brew Site, my beer blog; beer reviews, vignettes, pictures (soon), that sort of thing. It was a really good trip, and a good festival; the amount it has grown even in the past four years since I was last there is amazing—used to be, you could hit the Fest on the first or second day early, right after they opened, and you’d have the run of the park and the beers, sure there were people there but there were no real crowds and no real lines anywhere.

That seems to have changed; even Thursday (the opening day) within the first couple of hours the crowd was bigger than I remember and there were lines to beers—in fact, the Maui Brewing CoCoNuT Porter apparently ran completely out by 12:30 (gates open at noon) on the first day—which if you ask me is just insane.

Because of my beer blog, I was able to get into the special blogger preview early on Thursday, tasting 15 beers to write about (which had to be done by the next day), plus I got a “media” badge and a mug as part of the package. I always feel a little conspicuous and slightly sneaky wandering around wearing the media badge, like I need something more to show for it than just carrying a notebook and a small camera along with me. (Okay, to be fair I had a backpack with those items in it plus the netbook computer, extra water, tokens, and Brew Site business-type cards.)

I also got the opportunity to meet and hang out with some bloggers and industry folks, which was a nice bonus to the weekend (of course). And hit up a couple of breweries: the Tugboat Brewery which I absolutely love but hadn’t been too in many years, and the new Burnside Brewery which I’ve been reading great things about (and who have some of the more unusual beers that I’ve seen).

Altogether, a really good weekend.

Help fix homebrewing legislation in Oregon

I’m cross-posting this with The Brew Site because it’s a hugely important issue for homebrewers in Oregon. This is an email from the Brewers Association that’s been hitting the inboxes of Oregon homebrewers over the past week, and it’s for a good cause: supporting Oregon Senate Bill 444 which seeks to amend the 30-year-old law regarding homebrewed beer which was reinterpreted last year.

Many of you are likely aware that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission determined last year that under existing Oregon law, homebrew cannot be consumed outside the home where the beer was produced.

The American Homebrewers Association is supporting an effort by the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance (OHBA) to resolve this issue. The OHBA has been working with Senator Floyd Prozanski, a homebrewer, on Senate Bill 444 along with the already filed amendments to SB 444. While there are other bills addressing homebrewing, the OHBA and the AHA support SB 444 as the most comprehensive of these in restoring to legality all of the activities homebrewers participated in prior to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s revision of their interpretation of homebrew law last year, including entering homebrew competitions and sharing homebrew at club meetings.

How Can You Help?
Senate Bill 444 is being scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee Thursday, February 10. We ask you to take a few minutes to call or email the members of the committee and politely urge them to support the passage of SB 444 along with Senator Prozanski’s amendments to the bill. The committee members need to hear from you if this bill is to succeed. Contacting legislators is quick and easy, and every contact they get from homebrewers will help ensure our success.

Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee Contact Information:

Sen. Lee Beyer, Chair
sen.leebeyer@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1706

Sen. Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair
sen.jasonatkinson@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
District Phone: 541-282-6502

Sen. Ginny Burdick
sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1718

Sen. Chris Edwards
sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1707

Sen. Fred Girod
sen.fredgirod@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1709
District Phone: 503-769-4321

Sen. Bruce Starr
sen.brucestarr@state.or.us
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1715
District Phone: 503-352-0922

Thank you for your support of homebrewers, your action could make the difference in whether or not this legislation becomes law. Please forward this message on to any other Oregon residents that you feel would be interested in supporting this bill.

Ignite Bend

So I went and did something today I’ve never really done before, and is already making me nervous: I submitted a proposal to do a presentation at the next Ignite Bend event.

First, though, some backstory. Ignite Bend is the local version of the “Ignite” series of events started by O’Reilly; it’s a fun, high-energy event where speakers get five minutes on stage with a PowerPoint (or compatible) slideshow to do a presentation on anything they want. Here’s the Ignite tagline:

If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Launch a web site? Teach a hack? Talk about recent learnings, successes, failures? Around the world communities have been putting together Ignite events to show their answers.

So you get five minutes on stage, and a total of 20 slides in your slideshow—which will automatically rotate after 15 seconds, no matter what.

I’ve watched most of the previous Ignite Bend events online and attended the last one and it was incredibly fun and good-spirited; and in the back of my mind I thought it might be cool to do a presentation, too. After all, it’s only five minutes, right? And even though I’ve enjoyed all the other speakers I’ve seen, many were clearly as nervous as I imagine I would be and they still did great.

So today I did it: I submitted a proposal to do a presentation called “How to Brew Beer in 10 Easy Steps.” I don’t know yet for sure if I will be picked; mine is one of 20 submissions and only nine speakers will be selected (by vote). But I figure pick something I know, right?

But even so, this is way out of my usual comfort zone; in Real Life I am not a public speaker and am much more of an introvert than you might think. So I’m (at the moment, until the real nerves kick in) looking at this as an opportunity to try something new and hopefully grow from it. (Cue after-school special music.)

Ignite Bend is taking place next month, February 9th. I’ll post more about it as it unfolds.

Random bits on a Friday night

→ My porting of The Brew Site to WordPress worked out remarkably well (minus more fine tuning I still need to do), so sooner or later I’ll get around to porting this site over as well.

→ Not sure what to do with the ebooks page anymore. It’s not going anywhere (I don’t like linkrot), but the Palm eReader platform they were all released for seems to no longer be a relevant format. Seems like Mobipocket is the way to go: it’s supported by all main platforms, it’s an open standard (with development tools, I think), and even Amazon.com has adopted it.

Of course, I have less time than ever to even think about offering up new ebooks…

→ We went to the school’s Family Fun Night this evening and actually won the drawing for a weekend coast getaway—a condo in or near Newport.

→ Last weekend I opened up some mystery bottles of homebrew that had been in storage for an indeterminate (but fairly long) amount of time.They were actually not at all bad; one was very oxidized and reminiscent of a sherry—no idea what style it was originally—the other was a stout, also oxidized but not as badly. Kind of fun tasting mystery brews like that, so this evening I put four more bottles in the fridge to taste this weekend.

In this case, I know for sure what at least one of them is: the second beer I ever brewed, a honey wheat ale. Vintage, mid-nineties.

For reference, I have several bottles of my early batches of beer: one bottle of the very first batch I brewed, a generic amber-ish ale; a bottle or two of the honey wheat; one bottle of the third(?) I brewed, a porter; a bottle of an Oktoberfest (very early also, but I don’t recall exactly when); and one or two bottles of “Capricorn Porter”, a beer brewed with all sorts of things like juniper berries and licorice and such. It dates to ’96 or ’97 I think.

There are also several other unlabeled bottles as well. I can’t speak for certain how any of these have held up with questionable storage conditions, but who cares? I’m having fun with the adventure. Anyone want to get in on it?

The Brew Site is a source for Topix.net news

This is very cool: The Brew Site is being used as a news source for Topix.net, a news aggregator site that pulls news from sources all over the web—and just added blogs recently as a source. I saw my Stone Age Beer article show up on the Topix.net Beer News page (screen grabbed below).

I don’t know why, but this seems to add a feeling of legitimacy to this whole blogging thing. :)

Screen grab from Topix.net showing The Brew Site as a news source

The Old St. Francis School kicks ass!

I got to check out the Old St. Francis School after work for a bit today, and my capsule review is that it totally kicks ass! It’s amazing, classic McMenamins, and I think—no, I know—it’s going to be hugely popular. A giant win for them.

Since they’re doing their “soft launch” right now, you can pretty much go wherever you like to check the place out. So I did: scoped out the restaurant and the pub, wandered through the Fireside Room (a cigar-friendly room with pool tables), gazed in awe at the Turkish-style soaking pool, checked out the theater, picked up a beer (a Hammerhead) at O’Kane’s, the little brewhouse among the bungalows, one of which I toured. The guest house a bit rustic, I’d say; they’re trying to preserve the feel of the 1950s to a large extent. Also strolled through the hotel wing and got to see one of the rooms (all of which were formerly classrooms). All very impressive—like I said, classic McMenamins.

The restaurant was packed. I didn’t ask how long a wait there was, since I wasn’t eating, but I picked up a menu (nothing radical on it though). And the guy who I talked to was really helpful in pointing out all the rooms and features to check out.

The only drawback? Popularity; it’s going to be the hot place to go for a long time, and might be hard to get into (particularly if you want to sit down and eat).

But who cares? McMenamins is finally in Bend! This rocks!