Showing posts from 2015

No "U" in Team

This weekend I walked down Steinway, in Astoria. The area has a large Muslim community and I thought about this great interview of Millennial Muslims I had seen on the CBS Evening News.

I often ponder the merits of religion. Without reviewing all the obvious pros and cons, the aspect I want to discuss here is the deceptively dangerous positive: a sense of belonging. This feeling of community that religion provides, can come from other sources as well, such as nationalism. For a few more weeks, before I move to California, I remain an Astorian, along with those Muslims on Steinway. I enjoy the pride that comes from belonging to this community of amazing people. There are myriad other ways to group people, but that same action of combining-together has an opposite, divisive effect.

I am "proud to be an American", and I love my home state, Arizona. That does not mean I love what my government does all the time, or the type of questionable bills and laws my state has become syno…

Binge and Sparge

My days of drinking until I puke ended when my passion for craft beer began. I still get drunk occasionally, but now it happens after drinking a few different, usually new, beers with higher alcohol content than what your sports bar has on tap. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I drank more than two of the same thing.

Ten years ago, as my college days of binge drinking were getting started, a new phenomena was also born: Binge-watching television shows! I am just as guilty of this today, and Karl Marx could never have predicted, Netflix, Amazon, and the rest of the great pushers of this new opiate of the people. Currently I caught up to the still-airing CW series "The Flash", and I am pacing myself to try and make Netflix' "Jessica Jones" last a little longer, but I only have two episodes left.
As much as I loath marketing, I must also confess how much I love this clever commercial:
Some believe you never end an addiction, and the only hope you have to…

Another Cider Pun and I'll be Praying for My Apple-Solution

Here is an update on my hard-cider brewing!
If you read about my trip to Dutchess County, you may recall I mentioned doing some weird measurement taking. That was using a hydrometer to take the apple-pear cider's "Original Gravity" - indicating how much sugar (and other "dissolved solids") are in my cider to be fermented. That number was 1.047. That number, on its own tells me very little, except that the maximum potential alcohol content is almost 6.2%. 

Two weeks have passed, and yesterday I bottled that cider. I'll describe that step in a second, but wrapping up the heavy, gravity talk (hey, you should know by now: I love my puns), I took another reading to find the new specific gravity was 1.002, meaning almost all of the dissolved solids had been turned to alcohol. This tells me two things: My apple-pear cider will have a 5.88% ABV, and with almost no sugars left unfermented, it will taste extremely dry!

As I type this, I am drinking a "Smith & F…

For Your con-Cider-ation

Cider Update and Halloween two-fer!
I love Halloween. Not just the "dressing up and going to parties" part, but pumpkin carving, decorating, cooking, and the general spirit (*salutes Gen. Spirit*).

This Halloween day, I did something I've never done in my the previous thirty!  My roommate Chris came to my room as I slowly awoke, and reminded me I had asked for his help juicing apples from the orchard I went to last week.
He brought down the juicer that lay dormant atop our fridge for months, and showed me how it works. Then, we washed, cut, and juiced the apples. collecting the pulp and running it through once more to really get all the juicy goodness.

All told, the experience took less than an hour, but it had a very distinct, fall, Halloween vibe.
Once last week's cider is bottled, I will add some champagne yeast to this batch and ferment it too!
I still haven't decided if I want to pasteurize it, or leave it raw and funky. Your opinion is most welcome!

After the juici…

De'cider, in Chief

I spent yesterday "upstate" in Dutchess County, with my JET Alum friends. We visited the farmers market in Rhinebeck, Mead Orchards in Tivoli, and Sawkill Farm, in Red Hook (not to be confused with the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name).       The excellent Farmers Market obliterated my delusions of budgeting. I bought honey, beer, cheese, meat, pickles, and whiskey to take home. That doesn't include the tacos and Thai mini-crepes with meringue and toasted coconut, we bought and ate there! Half the sellers, it turned out, also sell at the Union Square's farmers markets. While initially, I felt disappointed by that news, I would have never found them or understood them as well, were it not for this trip, and now I know where I can find more without the travel.
     The Mead Orchard apple picking was equally fun and amazing, but our tour guides gave us less than one hour there, and constantly threatened to leave stragglers behind. I barely managed time to pur…

New Hobbies

A friend pointed out an aspect of my personality I always knew about, but never realized others could notice, until he said something. I wish I could recall the exact quote, because the friend, Dan, has a beautiful way with words. The gist, however ineloquent, was "Wow, Greg. Another new hobby? You sure go through 'em!"
It's true. Despite areas I have (hopefully) matured, my unfocused interest in everything has remained constant since childhood. When it comes to athletics, I am terrible at remaining dedicated. MMA, Jujitsu, skateboarding, snowboarding, softball, golf, even simple jogging and yoga - I pick them up for a few months, take twice as many months off, and may-or-may-not return to every so often.

I do better with artistic hobbies, though. I have always been a writer, and in recent years, I started home brewing, and I have stayed dedicated to honing my craft (beer). Jokes aside, there are many artistic interests my humble (read: poor) upbringing prevented me…

Canadian Thanksgiving

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving today, and you may think "Oh, that's a whole month earlier, but I guess even they have a Thanksgiving!"

You may even read or hear about it in the media, like this article with an annoying autoplay ad:

But never forget, while Canadians seem like slightly-friendlier Americans, with a better health care system, THEY DRINK MILK FROM BAGS! BAGS PEOPLE!

Happy Thanksgiving Day Canadians!

Because The Internet is Made of Cats

Sorry for my absence, but after returning from a MOST EPIC time in Hawaii, I've delved deep into the world of photo editing. More on that later.

For now, I'd like to formally introduce you to my cat, Samus.

Her name is not Seamus. She is neither Irish, nor a boy. She is named for Samus Aran, the Female protagonist of Metroid, who also features in another popular video game, Super Smash Brothers. Like the character, she has a brownish-orange coat, and green eyes, but her armor hides that she is, in fact, a strong-willed female!
My sweet kitteh is a Norwegian Forest Cat/Calico mix. That makes her my first long-hair cat. The calico mix that colors her fur, also gives her a feisty temperament. She nips, bites, and scratches to communicate, when basic cat-body-language fails to get her point across, but she loves sitting on my lap, and laying in bed, purring loudly. She also never meows, except for the faint squeak when I first get home from work at night, or while I prepare her foo…

Taking Back September

Hoodies, light sweaters, and leather jackets dot the shoulders of New Yorkers. 
Flu shots, occasional chilly nights, and, allergies will leave some afflicted.
For the rest of the northern Hemisphere this means autumn arriving, but for New Yorkers and international media, it means an annual two-week period of Midtown East madness known as the United Nations General Assembly. 

Leaders of of the world converge on the Big Apple, giving speeches that television media will play and replay, dissect and analyze. But the speeches themselves, while sometimes surprising, and even entertaining, do the least in the matter of reconciling state agendas with regional and global contenders. The true cause of the traffic nightmare, and the real foreign policy chess moves, occur over a rapid succession of serious, closed-door, bilateral or trilateral meetings between states, in sections of the United Nations, and its neighboring hotels, where the press are forbidden to follow. 

The public faces of heads o…

An Appropriate Labor Day

I spent every day the last week working at a new job, at En Japanese Brasserie. Today marks both my seventh, straight day working, as well as the first official day, having finishing job training! While the job is just part time, to allow me more time to focus on writing, the timing perfectly caps off my August of unemployment, which ended stylishly, culminating in an epic farewell to lazy days.

I had the great fortune, this Labor Day weekend, to camp with my fellow JET Programme Alumni
and other friends. This was the first time in five years that I camped. By "camping" I mean, pitching tents and sleeping in bags. I am not counting staying in cabins, because although I still prefer the privacy and comfort of a cabin, there is a greater appreciation of comfort that comes from the end of an actual camping trip.

Despite what I just said about roughing it, we ate like kings! My alumni group excels at planning and teamwork, and the food committee really outdid themselves!
Here …