Maintenance

It’s a strange feeling, for me, to be awake at 5:30am on a Saturday, let alone to be doing something productive. Perhaps this is what conscientious people do. Perhaps this is what people with high anxiety do. Maybe there’s a lot of overlap between conscientiousness and high anxiety. Maybe this is just what happens when you take care of your body; you sleep better, and you have energy when you wake up, etc. I’ve never been one to dive deep into the minute details of how things work. I just want to know that the things work and squeeze all I can out of those things.

That’s more or less how it has been going with my diet. I really don’t “know” how it works, but I know it works. I can explain things to friends that ask “how did you lose so much weight?”. I can use a few of the fancy words like ketosis and glycogen. But I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to the science. I’m not really sure some of the experts do either…or the folks in the weight loss industry trying to sell you the next fitness of diet phenomena. They just know that it works and they know a few of the fancy words and terms to make it sound impressive and cutting edge.

Today marks the end of Phase 2 of my diet, aka the reduction phase. For the past 40 days, I’ve been eating only lean proteins and low starch green vegetables. I’ve been eating other stuff too, like tomatoes and berries, but it has been very limited. And, I only eat twice a day. That’s called intermittent fasting…another fancy word diet term that basically just means that I skip breakfast. But it works. I’ve lost a total of 36 pounds in 40 days. Pretty remarkable. More importantly, my energy is up, my ability to focus at work and at home is better, and my knee has definitely improved from the lighter load. Success!

Ah, but success now needs to be measured across time. None of this matters if I just balloon right back up to where I was when I started. Luckily, this diet claims to have a plan for that. Phase 3, the maintenance phase. I start taking a new supplement today, and I stop taking my other diet supplements. The new supplement appears to be some sort of coffee extract which allegedly resets my metabolism and puts me back in a “normal” state over the next twenty days. After that, the diet plan is done. But what about the diet after the diet. Technically, everyone is on a diet. It’s just either a good or a bad one. That’s where I’m at right now…wondering and thinking through “what does the long term look like?” Honestly, I’m a little nervous about it. What if I can’t keep the weight off? What if my knee still has problems? These are legit concerns. But mostly, I’m incredibly optimistic. I’ve proven a lot to myself over the past six weeks. Even if I don’t know all the minute details of how maintaining this is going to work, I know if it’s possible, then I can do it…and that’s what matters to me.

four weeks of diet

As of today, I’ve completed four weeks of my sixty day diet. I’m down twenty five pounds. I feel more alert and energized than I have since I can remember. I’m considerably more productive at work and at home. I feel happier. The list goes on. But……I still miss food.

That being said, we’ve actually come up with some tolerable diet meals that I would continue to eat even after the diet is over. My homemade ceviche is fantastic. The tomato sauce that Drew made from fresh tomatoes is going to be our new staple. And I actually kinda like turkey burgers.

It seems plausible at this point, that we could seriously change our lifestyle with healthier eating habits. Drew isn’t even on the diet and she is losing weight simply because we are making better choices as a family. It’s really encouraging. I’ll share more in a couple of weeks…we’ve got a busy day today of Christmas tree hunting and bake sales and visiting Grandma.

weight loss update

It has been two weeks since I started my diet. There have certainly been some ups and downs, both physically and mentally. The first two days of the diet I was tasked with consuming 5000 calories each day. This was to trick my metabolism into thinking that this was a normal amount of calories for me and put the fat burning into hyper-drive. At first this was fun. I went to the grocery store and bought all of my favorite junk. Ice cream bars, jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, Danish pastries, Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches…the more fat, sugar, and calories the better. I learned by about three in the afternoon on the first day, that this was going to be more difficult than I imagined. I still needed to consume about 2000 calories by the end of the day, and I was completely full and not feeling great about all the garbage food in my belly. I resorted to milkshakes. Did you know that one Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie shake has almost 1200 calories? I’ve never been a calorie counter, so it was an eye opening experience to tally up a full days worth of gorging. By the end of day two I was done with my calorie loading phase, and I felt horrible. So much sugar, so much fat.

On day three, a Monday nonetheless, I began the reduction phase of my diet. Fasting until 11am and then only eating two meals between 11am and 5pm. Just lean protein and vegetables for the meals with some other “free foods” anytime in between. I also started taking a bunch of natural/organic vitamins and supplements that helped with the hunger cravings, digestion, and energy. That evening I was hit with one of the worst headaches I have ever had in my life…with exception to a brief period in my 20s when I suffered from migraines. It was intolerable. I took a straight shot of salt water and a bunch of ibuprofen and knocked myself out. Salt water actually works pretty well to relieve a headache that is due to electrolyte deficiency. Just be very careful not to use too much salt in your shot of water…especially when you’re at work the next day as your stomach will immediately reject it and you will have to sprint across the office to barely make it to the public restroom in order to projectile vomit all over the bathroom stall.

On day three and day four, I actually gained weight. I guess this wasn’t surprising since I had pigged out so hard on day one and day two. My peak weight was Tuesday morning at 194.4 lbs. Then I started losing weight. By day five and six my headaches were less intense and it felt like I was starting to get into a rhythm. I can honestly say that I haven’t strayed from the plan or cheated at all, and this morning on day 15 I’m down to 179.8 lbs. I feel good. I’m not starving. My energy is up. I’m getting out of bed much earlier than normal and I’m not desperately trying to find caffeine. It’s encouraging.

The most profound thing, perhaps, is realizing that so much of my lifestyle previously revolved around food. Our leisure time, date nights, vacations, business lunches, social drinking…..it’s hard for me to think of much about my life that hasn’t been directly connected to overindulging in food. I’m not hungry on this diet so I don’t physically crave these things, but psychologically I have struggled…although, it’s a hopeful struggle. As Drew and I have been thinking through practical issues like budgeting, meal times, intentional time with the kids (you know, all the things that families might do together), we’re now encouraged by the idea that we don’t need to be lead by our stomachs. We’re hopeful that this change will give us room in our lives to be lead by other things…Good things.

riding the snake

It’s been a year of good intentions, but not many expectations met. That’s ok. Things have happened, and I’ve had to reorient myself and my goals. One of the more recent developments that I felt compelled to share here is that I’ve decided to go on an intense diet. It’s a bit unflattering, but I’m not certain that anyone reads this blog, so I suppose I can swallow my pride. Most people that I work with would say that I’m not overweight, but the fact is that I hide it pretty well. I’ve been hovering around 200 lbs for a long time. Considering that I weighed around 145 lbs when I got married, I notice the difference more than anyone, except for maybe my wife.

The weight is actually a big deal for me. I had knee surgery 2 years ago, and recovery has been complicated and less than ideal. I have a plica in my knee that has continually been aggravated and causing instability. This has been extremely frustrating for me as it has limited my ability to compete and participate in my table tennis hobby. Surgery is possible to remove the plica, but it’s not an easy surgery and I consider it a last resort.

They say for every one pound you lose, you remove 4 pounds of pressure off your knee joint. I weighed my self this morning and my starting weight for the diet is 191.5 lbs. My goal weight by the end of 2019 is 160 lbs. If I meet this goal, it will effectively relieve my knee of 126 lbs of pressure. I’m hoping this result will relieve the plica aggravation in my knee and allow me to avoid further surgery.

Blogging about it, I hope, will keep me focused and accountable. I’m not good at following through with things like this, but I have a good plan and I have good support at home. I’ll plan to update the blog a few times over the next couple months, and then again 60 days from now when I’m done with the diet.

Here’s my current measurements:

Chest: 42″
Waist: 38″
Hips: 41″
Arms: 15″
Thighs: 25″

And here are those flattering photos:

good intentions

My last post was in October 2016. It is now January 2019. I’m not aware of any of my friends or acquaintances that have or use a blog. But here I am with one…and I think I will continue using it. I hope.

I thought about why I would even want to continue maintaining this site. I don’t have any number of subscribers of which to speak. I costs a little bit of money to renew it every year. Nonetheless, I have two compelling reasons to keep at it. 1) I tend to be feel healthier when I write regularly. and 2) I want something for my family to have if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or next year.

That idea of leaving a legacy or body of work has been on my mind since the New Year. I spent some time thinking about my parents and how much I miss them. I have a few keepsakes and photos, but the most interesting and precious things are the writings they left behind. It’s a way for me to hear them speak. A way to remember their voices.

With the current state of technology, I’m sure there will be plenty of photos, videos, and Facebook stuff that my family will be able to view. But I want to keep this thing going, for whatever it’s worth.

So, my intention is to write things that are worthwhile to my friends and family who care to know what I think about things. I think that’s enough motivation to write more than once every two years. I hope.

board games to play with your 4 year old daughter (and bonus election thoughts!)

Hello friends!

It’s been awhile. I was notified that I was going to lose this domain, and I was faced with the choice of letting it go or renewing. I read through my old posts, reminisced a bit, and decided to keep the blog alive. But for what reason? To opine on politics or offer observations about parenting, family, and life? Maybe (see the end of this post)…but I think the internet has enough of that.

I would rather talk about cool board games you can play with your 4 year old daughters. I’ve written about family board games in the past (see here). Since that post, we’ve continued to play board games as a family. It’s one of our rhythms. I’m not going to talk about how great board games are for families or how we don’t even own a TV (read: we’re better humans than you), I’m just going to share a few recommendations if you’re looking for a game to play with a preschooler or kindergartner. Here are three games that I like:

1.Unicorn Glitterluck301256_4c_f_einhorn_glitzerglueck_englisch_04_1

Fiona, my four year old, picked this one out at a local game store. I had no expectations of liking the game, but I was open minded as the game was made by HABA (a great company, check them out). The purpose of the game is to roll the dice and move your unicorn through the sky, bouncing on clouds and sliding down rainbows. If you land on a cloud with a pink marshmallow, then you get to roll a different die and collect shiny cloud crystals. If you roll a cupcake, then you miss your next turn while your unicorn eats a cupcake. Whoever finishes with the most cloud crystals is the winner. Despite what you think about the previous sentences, this is a great game. It teaches counting, simple rules, and the pieces are high quality with nice artwork. If you’re not into games with this much “pink”, there’s another version with dragons instead of unicorns.haba-unicorn-glitterluck-2

2. My First Bohnanzamfb

As the title of this game indicates, it is the kid’s version of the standard game Bohnanza. The standard version is one of my favorite games, and my wife and I and our friends, the Davidsons, have played it together maybe a hundred times. For us, it’s one of those games that we anticipate playing for the rest of our lives, so it’s cool to have a junior version to play with our kids. The purpose of this card game is to plant various beans in your bean fields and collect coins for harvesting beans of the same kind. The player who earns the most coins from harvesting beans is the winner. This junior version is played almost exactly the same as the regular game, except there are new and simpler bean cards which make the counting and strategy a little bit easier to grasp. The artwork is fun and captivating, and the gameplay moves quickly enough to keep my four year old’s attention. Bartering is major part of this game and I have to help my 4 year old in this area so she doesn’t get fleeced by her older brother and sister.img_4873

3. Cockroach Pokerpic1887167

Is it ever too early in a child’s life to learn how to lie and keep a straight face? Yes. 4 years old is too early for a child to learn that you can win through lying. Nonetheless, we’ve introduced all of our children to this great bluffing game. The deck of cards contains 8 different types of creepy creatures, wonderfully illustrated by Rolf Vogt. When it’s your turn you select one card, place it face down on the table and slide it in front of another player. You then tell the other player what type of creature you’ve passed to them. The other player must then decide of you are telling the truth or bluffing. The game play is very simple, and eventually one player runs out of cards or gathers 4 of the same type of creature. This player is the loser. It’s pretty hilarious when the game ends and there is no winner…just a loser (unless the loser is only 4 years old and has a very difficult time losing).ssp-40829-02

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just cancel the whole voting thing and let the Presidential Election be decided by who wins at Cockroach Poker? Maybe the loser should be president (since the winner would be the better liar). Of course, it’s only a joke, but doesn’t it seem apt for these two to have their fates decided by a children’s game based on deception and foul creatures?

Anyways, I was planning to end this blog post with some fierce and witty political commentary, but the above paragraph pretty much sums up where I’m at…so I’ll just leave it at that.

Happy gaming friends! Drop me a line if you want other game recommendations or want to borrow a game to test out.

Love,
Nick

life without internet – binge tv detox and family board game recommendations

Like an abused crack whore running away from her drug dealing pimp, I just wanted out. It’s been two weeks since I took the modem and cable TV box to the drop-off center for Comcast. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting Comcast’s drop-off center, it’s every bit as fun as the DMV with the bonus excitement of customers arguing loudly about their internet speed and the convenience charges on their billing statement. I wasn’t there to negotiate or argue. I was there to make a change…kinda like Ewan McGregor at the end of Trainspotting, but less ironical.

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I reviewed my viewing history on Amazon Prime Video. I had spent hours watching pawn shop owners haggle with customers over the price of antique Civil War weaponry and still-in-the-box Transformers toys from 1984. I had watched The Office Season 3 almost four times. My wife had watched every show and movie on the “Because You Watched Pride & Prejudice” recommendation list. We had a problem.

In all seriousness, our addiction to on-demand TV binge watching was not healthy. We noticed increasing tension in our family. The kids were fighting with each other, we were yelling at the kids, and my wife and I were arguing with each other. Anything that did not help nurture positive relationships needed to go. So, bye bye went Comcast….but then what?

I grew up playing board games and card games, and I love them (well, many of them). I played lots of Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, Hearts, Stratego, etc. I also enjoyed the party games like Taboo, Guesstures, Scattergories, Pictionary, Balderdash, etc. So, I wanted to exchange our solitary TV watching time for family game playing time. Games are relational, educational, fun, and can build lots of valuable skills. All these great benefits wrapped up in activities we can all enjoy? Win! But…the problem is most of the above mentioned games would not be enjoyed by a kindergartener and 7 year old. And, I would take no pleasure in annihilating my 5 year old son’s armies off the face of the planet in a game of Risk.

Another problem is most children’s board games are awful. Some are ok for teaching kids valuable lessons – Candyland teaches colors and Chutes & Ladders teaches counting and how to deal with disappointment – but most are boring after a couple of plays. Also, I can totally kick my daughter’s ass at games like Ants in the Pants and Pick Up Sticks…I also dominate her at Hungry Hungry Hippos. To make things worse, many of the children’s games you find at retail stores are just cheap remakes of classics with the Disney Princesses or LEGO Batman slapped on the box and stickered onto plastic pieces.

So, I went on a mission to find good board games for our family using the following criteria:games

  • Gameplay and Replay Value
    • Are the rules clear?
    • Will we play the game after a few times?
  • Quality production
    • Are the pieces and packaging solid?
    • Is the artwork and design good?
  • Family Friendly
    • Is the game fun for kids and adults?
    • Do the kids have a chance to win?

It’s only been a couple of weeks, but so far we love family game time. More than the games themselves, we love spending time with each other, laughing, learning, and growing our relationships. Here are 5 great family games that I found and purchased. I’ve given a brief description of each game and rated them on a scale of 1-10 using the 3 categories listed above.  I encourage you to give them a try with your family, or come over and spend an evening playing with us!

Ghost BlitzGhostBlitz_clear_background

This game is played with a deck of cards and 5 game pieces that sit in the middle of the players. You flip the cards one at a time. For each card there is one object that either matches perfectly or doesn’t match at all. The first player to grab the correct object wins the card. The player with the most cards after going through the whole deck is the winner.

Gameplay and Replay Value – 8

The rules are well done and there is also a fun little story in the rulebook that adds depth and helps the kids get excited. There is a rule that you must give up one of your cards if you grab the wrong object. This made the game difficult for my 5 year old, so we exempted him from that rule.

Quality Production – 9

Nice wooden pieces, fun artwork on the cards, and a sturdy box. Again, the story in the rulebook is a nice touch.

Family Friendly – 7

I do have to put the brakes on a little bit to keep this game competitive, but with the rule tweak to help the kids, they are actually pretty fast at grabbing the right object. The kids love this one!

Animal Upon AnimalAnimal_Upon_Animal

Each player has a pile of 7 different animal pieces. You take turns rolling a die and stacking your animals on top of the big alligator piece. The first person with no animals left in their pile is the winner.

Gameplay and Replay Value – 8

This is a good dexterity game. The rules are easy, but sometimes it’s a little unclear how to keep going after a big crash. The single die has different sides that change up the game and result in a good variety.

Quality Production – 9

The wooden animal pieces in this game are excellent. This game will last forever as long as your dog doesn’t chew up the hedgehog and sheep pieces. Nice box and artwork.

Family Friendly – 8

Being a dexterity game, it is pretty easy for me to win against my kids. They still enjoy it and they get better every time. The pieces don’t fit together well, so stacking is challenging even for an adult.

Viva Topo!viva

Each player has a small family of mice. You roll a single die and try to get your mice around the board and into Cheesetopia before the big hungry cat makes his way around the board and eats you. If the cat is close behind, you can choose to forego Cheesetopia and hide in a safe house that gives you less cheese, or you can press your luck and hope the cat doesn’t catch up. The player with the most cheese wins.

Gameplay and Replay Value – 9

The rules are simple and easy to understand. The plot is cute. There is a nice little story to read to the kids before playing the game and it helps them understand the gameplay. Even though every replay is similar, it has enough variety and randomness from game to game that I imagine we will play this one all the time.

Quality Production – 10

The pieces in this game are simply great. The mice, cat, and die are wood pieces. The artwork on the board is very nice. It doesn’t get any better than this for a board game.

Family Friendly – 9

We definitely all enjoyed this game…a lot. The game mechanism for the cat is what makes this game great. As he gets closer, things really start to get intense! The strategy is a simple “press your luck”. My 5 your old doesn’t quite get the strategy sometimes, but he actually won the first 2 games we played, so what do I know?

Loopin’ LouieLOOPIN-LOUIE

Louie is a pilot that flies around in a circle wreaking havoc on each player’s chickens. Louie is attached to a battery operated swinging arm that moves up and down and has a swivel on the end. Each player has barn with 3 chickens roosting on top and they must be protected from Louie’s plane. Attached to each barn is a flipper that can be used to block Louie and spin him up into the air. Here’s video that shows the action.

Gameplay and Replay Value – 7

The rules are easy. The mechanism for the plane works great. The chickens work on a gravity system, so you only lose one at a time and the next slides into place. There’s not much to the game other than smacking your flipper kinda like Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Quality Production – 8

It is made of plastic by necessity, but it is quality plastic. It has nice stickers to liven up the pieces and make it colorful. It seems like it should last, even with rough play, but you just never know with battery operated and plastic stuff.

Family Friendly – 7

It is fun, but only for a little while. This does happen to be my five year old’s favorite of the bunch if that says anything.

The Magic Labyrinthfinal_magiclabyrinth71

The bottom half of the box is used to set up a maze with adjustable wooden walls. The game board is set on top of the maze (so you can’t see the walls). Each player has a wizard piece that sits on top of the game board. The wizard has a magnet on his feet and there is a metal ball the goes on the underside of the board beneath the wizard’s feet. As you move from square to square collecting magic symbols, you are in danger of running into a wall that causes your metal ball to fall. When this happens you have to start over from the beginning. The first wizard to collect 5 magic symbols wins.

Gameplay and Replay Value – 9

This is a remarkably well thought-out game. The rules are easy to follow. The setup of the maze is simple and can be changed every game for endless variety. Sometimes my son will slowly move his wizard and feel the ball starting to hit a wall and want to move back, so, we made it a rule that once you start moving in the direction of a new square, you must complete the move.

Quality Production – 10

This game is a delight to play. The design of the game board is innovative. The wizard pieces are solid wood. The artwork is truly fantastic. The artist is Rolf Vogt, and I would buy any game for which he did the artwork.

Family Friendly – 10

We all love this game. I would honestly play it with my adult friends, and it would be fun. The kids win just as much as we do. This one is destined to be a family classic.

time is on my side

I would like to solicit your ideas and feedback regarding a newly acquired surplus of time. This week, I changed locations for my place of employment. Details aside, my total daily commute went from about 90 minutes to 20 minutes. That’s 70 extra minutes! I did some rough calculating, subtracted weekends, holidays, vacation days, average sick days, and came up with a number for the additional time I will have this year.  I just gained 11 days, 17 hours, 10 minutes, and 12 seconds!the_persistence_of_memory_-_1931_salvador_dali3

I must now decide how I will spend this wealth of moments. A friend of mine asked, “Why do you even need to decide? You can just sleep more.” This is exactly my point in being intentional with this specific amount of time. I could just sleep more. I could just watch 2 additional re-runs of The Simpsons daily. I could just take time for granted. I don’t want to do any of these things….but I will. Unless, I make some plans and steward this time with care. That’s where I would like your help.

I wrote down some ideas. I want you to tell me your favorite (or least favorite) ideas, expand on them, and offer others that I haven’t imagined. All thoughts are appreciated!  Here’s my initial list of potential doings in no particular order:

  • Pay it forward. Give my wife extra time for herself.
  • Make loads of rubber band bracelets with my daughter.
  • Watch only 1 re-run of The Simpsons.
  • Edit and chop the Star Wars prequels down to one 50 minute film, and call it episode 5 ½ . To be viewed as a flash back at the end of TESB and before ROTJ. Read this for further explanation.
  • Exercise a bunch and get super ripped!
  • Sleep.
  • Learn some sweet cover songs on the guitar and play them at open mic nights. Any song suggestions?
  • Make silly movies with my son. Like this, this, and this.
  • Read those classic works of literature that all my smart friends talk about.
  • Become a regular at a coffee shop.
  • Start drinking coffee regularly.
  • Join my neighborhood council.
  • Buy a fixer-upper 70’s Camaro and put it my garage.
  • Learn how to work on old cars.
  • Grow a huge tomato garden, and give all my friends and family awesome tomato sauce.
  • Invent a diet fad and license the publishing rights.
  • ?????

the vonbeumerschutz – a beer by beer recap

photo3Yesterday, I participated in a backyard beer festival called The VonBeumerSchutz. It was also a sausage fest (innuendo intended). If I didn’t know anything about this gathering before going, it would have exceeded all my expectations for what a backyard beer festival could possibly be. The central event of the evening was a beer tasting contest. Each of the guests brought one of their favorite micro-brews to share with the other drinkers. By the end of the night, I tasted close to 40 different craft beers. Some were home brews, some from local breweries, many different flavors, styles, and colors. It was an excellent evening and you should check out the VBS Facebook page here.

The contest portion included a worksheet for taking notes and scoring all the different beers. After each of the 4 sessions, you would refer to your notes and vote for your favorite beer of that session. At the end of the evening, there was a final vote between the winners of each session to determine a grand champion. My friend, Marty, took the home the grand prize trophy for his excellent home brew. Here’s a pic of the champ.

photo4
At one point in the evening, a few of my neighboring suds sippers peeked at my notes and made a couple of observations. The first being that I have no clue how to score beer. I know enough to know what color a beer might be when you tell me the style. I may have a good idea of how it will taste too…but that’s about it. I don’t know much about the brewing process or the geographical origins of certain styles. Other aficionados were noting the subtle chocolate, fruit, or nutty flavors and talking about the ‘finish’. For me, it was either “my belly wants more of that” or “that tastes like pure gasoline”. The second observation my neighbors made was that I’m a big smart ass. Rather than writing ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ for each one, I just wrote what was on my mind during each selection. So, just to affirm that I am a smart-ass weirdo, I’ve transcribed my notes for each beer at yesterday’s wonderful festival. Here they are in the same order I drunk them:

Hub Lager – Meh…wondering why I still can’t grow a full beard. photo2
The Bruery Saison De Lente – Either somebody near me is wearing funky aftershave or Deep Woods Off.
Marty Goss Home Brew (the winning beer) – Yum. Feeling less hopeless about our nation’s health care problems.
Great Divide Fresh Hop – Freshy. Makes me want to go do laundry.
Rogue Bragot – Hmm sweet…could probably get my kids to drink this before bed.
Lagunitas Brown Shugga Substitute – Yeah! Humming that D’angelo song.
Paradise Creek Sacred Cow Milk Stout – Smooth coffee…and I don’t have to poop immediately; bonus!
Elysian Dragonstooth Stout – kinda like the last one, with cigarette butts floating in it.
Laughing Dog Anubis Coffee Porter – Pretty good I think…too bad I still have ash tray mouth.
Rogue Farms Good Chit Pilsner – I love good beer puns! (I also hate coffee stand puns)
Huckleberry Harvest Ale – This won’t put any hair on yer chest.
North Coast PraQster – Smells like Copenhagen chewing tobacco…reminds of chewing during class in high school.
Home Brew – I would boil fish in this…I’d also drink more of it. photo1
Russian River Brewery Supplicant – I’m glad I didn’t bring a sour beer.
Grand Teton XX Bitch Creek ESB (my selection) – I’m such a homer…but it kinda sucks.
Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock – I like the way dopplebock sounds when you say it…but it tastes like dopplebutt.
Iron Horse Irish Death – Bon Jovi made a Celtic album. Also a good beer.
Steam Plant Double Stack Stout – good for flavoring ice cream
HUB Survival 7 Grain Stout – Reminds me of dating a 3rd cousin…too complex. (for the record, I’ve never dated a relative)
Kona Big Wave Golden Ale – Yep…but any beer is good while eating mustard brats from here.
Paradise Creek Dirty Blonde – Wouldn’t take it home to mom, but I’d still do it.
Iron Horse Lagunatic – Good breakfast substitute.
Home Brew – Tastes like it was made at home.
Sound Brewery Monk’s Indiscretion – Oaky afterbirth.
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale – I’m glad we’re only sampling 1oz.
Nimbus Old Monkeyshine English Style Ale – Could shine a car too.
Maui Brewing Coconut Porter – Harry Nilsson was the American Beatle. Humming his coconut sonphotog.
No-Li Wrecking Ball – Great on pancakes.
Deschutes Black Butte XXV – This beer is James Toney circa 2006.
Beck’s Sapphire – I think sapphire is my birthstone. I wouldn’t drink this on my birthday.
Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA – Race Cars+Texas ranger+British = crap.
Harvester Brewing Gluten Free IPA – Like Ghostbusters, when they crossed the streams. (the hoppiest beer I ever had)
Lost Abbey Inferno Ale – Remembering the show Lost….shitty ending.
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin – I wanna try New Rasputin…maybe it’s just as good and we’re wasting time. (MH joke)
Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti – The hammer. Ready to go home now.

a million plus five – a father’s day reflection

I watched from 100 feet away as my 5 year old son jumped again and again reaching for the lowest branch of a sycamore tree. There were 2 boys, older…maybe 9 or 10, up in the tree and two more of their friends on the ground near Daniel. It was too high for him, but I could not help but feel pleased by his determination to grab that branch. The older boys began chanting “Midget! Midget! Midget!”. My son does not know what a midget is, but he knows when he is being teased. When something of this nature happens at home with his sister, Daniel’s typical reaction is immediate violence. So, I was surprised to see a more rational response. He asked the bullies a direct question. “Who wants to get punched in the face?” Of the two boys on the ground, one took off running, which I guess meant no. The other (about a foot taller than my son) remained, so Daniel, obliged, clenched his fists and moved in to strike. I yelled, now from 50 feet away. DANIEL! He stopped and the older boy ran 20328_4264285480385_1165690306_naway. Daniel turned to me and gave me a dramatic “but Daaaaaaaad”. He started crying. We sat down near the playground of this sycamore treed, southern Oregon park. I wiped away his tears and told my son how happy I was watching him try to climb that tree. We covered the other bases of not punching others in the face and what midgets are. After about one minute and forty five seconds of sharing my fatherly wisdom, Daniel asked if I could be done talking so he could go play on the tire swing. This whole incident could’ve been a scene in a Jean Shepherd movie.

As I watched him play on the playground, the tears and teasing already forgotten, I wondered why he cried. Was it because I prevented him from exacting justice on his ridiculers? Was he scared that I would punish him? I started to empathize with him. Daniel is a young person of strong faith. Why did he continue to jump for that branch? He must have believed he could reach it. Frankly, I would have called it quits after one or two jumps. Is that because I’m smarter and more discerning? Maybe, or have I just lost faith.

As life goes on, my risks of belief are more calculated and mitigated. My courage lessens and complacency grows. It becomes easier to mock and ridicule the foolish and naive believers than to empathize with them. Think about the culture of sarcasm in which we live. Uninformed or contrary opinions and ideas are met with mocking criticism. This destroys courage and kills creativity and growth….and it’s happening everywhere (politics, education, all forms of media (blog posts), at the dinner table). If sarcasm is oppressive in nature and sincerity is liberating, why do we exercise the former and not the latter?

IMG_1250IMG_1254IMG_1258

When I was young, I was extremely competitive. I wasn’t a jerk and I didn’t take my ball home if I didn’t win, but I did believe that I could win or succeed at most everything I tried. I see this quality in Daniel. I think that’s why he cried. He believed he could reach that branch. His faith led him to jump and he was made to feel foolish for it. Kids are cruel, and I expect my son will continue to deal with bullies and name-callers as he grows up. When he becomes an adult and perhaps a father someday, my wish is for him not to join the ranks among the scoffers, the arrogant, or the naysayers. My wish for him is to be a man who believes he can move mountains.

We drove back to my father-in-law’s house from the park that day. I looked at Daniel in the rearview mirror. He was staring out the window at houses and cars passing by. This was our exchange:

Me: Do you want to go back to the park tomorrow?
Daniel: Yeah.
Me: Are you going to try climbing that tree again?
Daniel: Yep…but it might take me a few tries.
Me: That’s ok.
Daniel: Yeah…it’s gonna take like a million plus five tries.
Me: That’s ok.
Daniel: I know.

A lot of fathers have shared this sentiment, and it may be cliche but I don’t care. Daniel, you are my hero…and I mean that sincerely.
IMG_1128