Monday, August 22, 2005

Matt & Kevin's Brew Day

My son Matt (on left) and his friend Kevin brewed a batch of beer last Sunday. I gave them a recipe to follow, and they brewed it from whole grain. They occasionally needed my help, but were pretty much self-sufficient.

Matt has very good taste in beer, and Kevin has developed a taste for good beer, (especially homebrewed Belgians), since he's been hanging out at our house.

They can't afford to buy the beer that their taste steers them to. The solution? Brew it themselves!

Matt had brewed professionally before, but has never brewed a 10-gallon batch on my homebrew equipment before. Good job, Matt! We'll see how it turns out, after fermenting for a couple of weeks. Maybe your dad can try a few pints for "Quality Control" purposes.
The initial name for their first batch? Madskool Malt Liquor. Next; On to Belgian styles!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Steamy (Night) Trail Run

Three of us had a nice, steamy trail run last night (after dark), on the BuRP trails. The level of the Blue River was up for our water crossings, and the spiders were still trying to catch a runner or two in their webs. James Barker got his glasses torn off of his face by a spider web, while Kyle Amos almost stepped on a recently-deceased beaver, and I fell down and got real muddy. In short, we had a blast! The score: No ticks, 42 ruined spider webs, 42 pissed-off spiders, 2 bruises, 3 sweat-soaked runners, 3-pairs of muddy shoes, and 1 muddy car seat.

We've been running at the BuRP (aka Minor Park) location for the last 2 Thursday nights, instead of the SMP location. This is due to the current tick situation at SMP. Ticks are non-existent at BuRP, so far this year. Come and join us for a fun after-dark run, sometime. Remember to bring a flashlight and/or headlamp.

Happy trails,

BuRP trails information:

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Potpourri Hopfest

It's lunchtime; time for a blog.

The last two nights, the hop plants that I planted at the side of the house (3-years ago) have been ready for harvesting. I picked about 10 ounces of hops, so far. 10 oz doesn't seem like a lot, but if I harvest some more, I'll have enough for a 10-gallon batch of Imperial IPA!

The hops are of 4 different varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Willamette, and Chinook. The vines are all interwoven, so I have no idea which are which. Oh well, a "potpourri" hop addition to my brew is in order.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Don't have a Pot to Piss in

I'll clarify my position regarding drugs. I don't smoke pot, because I never enjoyed pot when I tried it back in my High School "experimental" period. I do enjoy alcoholic beverages, though. Alcohol and caffeine are my normal drugs of choice, but the trite & true "everything in moderation" is my mantra.

In my opinion (and in many informed researcher's opinions), pot is much safer as to how it affects the brain, than alcohol or other drugs. In all fairness, if there were a choice built upon rational thought, alcohol should probably be illegal, and pot should be legal. I would be sad about that change in policy (because of personal enjoyment issues), but society would be better off.

The government should be focusing on getting rid of highly-addictive and destructive drugs, and leave pot alone.
To see more about current drug policy:

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Road Trip Side Note

While on this road trip, my son (Matt) and I noticed something we hadn't really noticed before. In the small towns along the way, from Missouri to Washington, there had been a change. The nature of the change had to do with the effects of methamphetamine production. In every small town, (especially in Wyoming and Montana), we saw burned-out or vacant mobile homes and houses. They all had the same features: a couple of vehicles with weeds growing up through them (with nothing apparently wrong with them); a yard that had a post and a chain for the requisite Pit Bull or other scary dog to be tied to; and a basically raw and uncared-for look to the property and surroundings.

Eating at restaurants in small towns on our trip, you could tell who of the customers and/or workers were on meth. Worse yet, seeing drivers on meth was scary. Spokane and northern Idaho seemed to have more than their fair share of these distracted and f*cking crazy drivers.

Too bad the current Drug Czar, (Walters), is so into a war on pot. I think he's missing the forest for the "buds" with his focus on pot. Also, police departments hate to bust a meth house. There is nothing but high costs involved when they do so. There's the cost of the SWAT team and the cost of a HAZMAT cleanup, and there are no ASSETS to seize. Pot-people usually have assets and cash to seize, and there is no cleanup. Most of them can be arrested without SWAT being involved, also.

Small town America is dying anyway, but meth is hurrying the process. And guess's already in the cities and suburbs. We gotta fight this shit!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Road Trip!

In Mid-July, my son and I went on a 4542-mile road trip. We drove to and toured Spokane, Seattle, Portland, and did a straight shot to Colorado and back. The purpose of the trip was to see family, move my sister, go to my 30th High School reunion, forget about work, and have a f*cking good time!

On the way up, during a 977-mile first day, we stopped for a lunch/dinner at the Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City, SD. We stoped there last year, as well. Good food and OK beer, (a little on the lighter side). Their IPA is a British-style IPA. It was 107 degrees outside, but Matt and I sat outside (in the shade). Being used to brewing in my garage at 94F with 80% humidity, 107 at 5% humidity was not that bad, as long as you were in the shade. We enjoyed a couple of nice cigars after dinner, then got back on the road.

We stayed in Sheridan, Wyoming that night, then resumed our trip the next morning. Sheridan is an interesting one-horse town with meth-head waitresses. We found a nice Java bar downtown, in the morning, though.

At lunch on day two, we stopped in Missoula, MT, at the Ironhorse Pub. They had Bayern Pilsener on tap, and a decent food selection. Before leaving Missoula, we stopped at a drive-through espresso hut. The coffee shop was named "Special Cause Coffee", or something like that. My son asked what the cause was that we'd be supporting if we purchased cofffee. The gal at the counter said that the place supported women who used to be on drugs, by giving them a job. To which I replied, "but I don't believe in women." She was stunned & speechless, but she didn't spit in my coffee. Then we headed out for the 3 hour trip to Spokane, WA.

Spokane only has 1 real brewpub, now. When I lived there 9 years ago, it had 7. I used to do a lot of side work for 4 of those brewpubs, back in the day. That's where and why I met a lot of the NW brewers, and why I started homebrewing all-grain, instead of extract. It didn't make sense to ever do an extract brew when I was bartering for free grain, hops and yeast!

Northern Lights is the name of the last surviving Spokane brewpub. Mark Irvin, the brewer, bought it outright in 2000, and has made a decent go of it ever since. He and I used to ride MTB bikes together, and he is one of the brewers in the photo of Michael Jackson (with me and Dick Cantwell). He brews some decent beers, including: Crème Ale, Pale Ale, Amber, Crystal Bitter, India Pale Ale, Chocolate Dunkel. His not-to-style Crystal Bitter is a very interesting variant that I may try to reproduce.

Seattle: The absolute first stop in Seattle was at Elysian Brewing Company. My old buddy Dick Cantwell wasn't there for our first visit. He was at the Smithsonian (in DC) giving a 3-hour talk about beer. His brewpub won the Large Brewpub of the Year award and Dick Cantwell was awarded Brewmaster of the Year in 1999, 2003 & 2004 at the Great American Beer Festival. In Dick's absence, his partner Dave showed us a good time (on the house). These were the brews we enjoyed at the brewpub:

The Immortal IPA
The Wise ESB - Cask Conditioned version
Avatar Jasmie IPA - yum, yum
Bete Blanche Belgian-style Tripel
Yuzu's Belgian-style Golden Ale
2-y.o. bottle-conditioned version of the Saison Elysee

Dick was there a couple of days later, and we got another "good guy" tour of the beverages, and caught up on local and Midwest brew-news & rumours.

While in Seattle, we also went to the Bigtime Brewpub, and to Brouwer's Cafe. The Bigtime is always spot-on with great beer brewed at a small-quantity brewpub. I used to spend a lot of time there in the early 90s, and some of the best brewers in the world had their start there.

Brouwer's Cafe is beer lover's heaven, with and incredible amount of quality brews on tap, mainly from America and Belgium. Their bottle selection from Belgium was unbelievable, as well. First Class, all the way.

More tales of the trip later...

Brewing Friday Night at Jeff2's

It's settled. I'm going over to Jeff2's to brew some beer Friday night. He won't learn how to all-grain brew, but we're going to have some fun...(his wife and kids will be elsewhere, that night).

I've got to take it easy, though. I'm leading a couple of trail runs this weekend, and I don't want to be as sapped of energy as I was last week. 4 hours of sleep per night and a lot of activity just didn't cut it, last weekend.

Normisms. i found my file of Normisms. Here they are:

Normisms (from Cheers)
Sam: Hey, what's happening, Norm?Norm: Well, it's a dog-eat-dog world, Sammy, and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear.

Woody: Would you like a beer, Mr. Peterson?Norm: No, I'd like a dead cat in a glass.

Woody: What's going on, Mr. Peterson?Norm: Another layer for the winter, Wood.

Coach: How's a beer sound, Norm?Norm: I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in.

Woody: How's life, Mr. Peterson?Norm: Oh, I'm waiting for the movie.

Coach: What would you say to a nice beer, Normie?Norm: Going down?

Sam: What'd you like, Normie?Norm: A reason to live. Gimme another beer.

Coach: What's doing, Norm?Norm: Well, science is seeking a cure for thirst. I happen to be the guinea pig.

Coach: What's shaking, Norm?Norm: All four cheeks and a couple of chins, Coach.

Coach: What'll it be, Normie?Norm: Just the usual, Coach. I'll have a froth of beer and a snorkel.

Woody: What can I do for you, Mr. Peterson?Norm: Elope with my wife.

Woody: Hey, Mr. Peterson, there's a cold one waiting for you.Norm: I know, and if she calls, I'm not here.

Sam: What's up, Norm?Norm: My nipples. It's freezing out there.

Sam: How's life Norm?Norm: Ask a man whose got one.

Sam: What are you up to Norm?Norm: My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall.

Woody: What's your pleasure, Mr. Peterson?Norm: Boxer shorts and loose shoes. But I'll settle for a beer.

Woody: How are you today, Mr. Peterson?Norm: Never been better, Woody. ... Just once I'd like to be better.

Woody: Hey, Mr. Peterson, you got room for a beer?Norm: Nope, but I am willing to add on.

Sam: Beer, Norm?Norm: Have I gotten that predictable? Good.

Sam: Well, look at you. You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.Norm: And I need a beer to wash him down.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Daydreaming about Beer at Work

A fellow runner and homebrewer called me last night. Jeff2 asked me a question about a batch of beer that he suspected might have taken a turn for the worse. I was driving back from Lee's Summit at the time, and we talked on the phone until I arrived in my driveway 40-minutes later. (Traffic was light, and I at least used my hands-free adaptor, so I wasn't a total safety-Neanderthal).

Jeff2 and I have been trying to get together at my house, so that he learns how to homebrew all-grain style. He enjoys playing his guitar while brewing, which adds another fun element to the proceedings. My homebrew sessions normally include either IPod music or sports on the TV. Live music would definitely be a treat.

I started thinking about the conversation while here at work at about 5:35 PM. Darn, a homebrewed beer sounds good, right now. I'll be good, though, and hit the weights, dreadmill and Lifecycle before going home for a hard-earned homebrew. I'd run with my regular group, but I can't make it there in time. It's fine, though, 'cause it's darn hot outside, tonight.

Lou Joline is in Leadville, Colorado today. He's trying to acclimate to the altitude and become the oldest finisher of the Leadville Trail 100-mile race, at the age of 73. I crewed and paced him last year, but he only made it 62 miles. Good Luck, Lou!!! A photo of Lou is upper right.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Trailrunning Article from the KC Star

Here's the trailrunning article that appeared in the KC Star back in June, with comments from yours truly:

Natural selection

These runners avoid pavement in favor of sticks, rocks, ticks, mud — and beauty

When most people get home from jogging, their shoes aren’t covered in mud. Their socks aren’t soggy. No one’s checking for ticks.

These people are not trail runners.

Trail runners jog, run, scramble, walk — even wade — through their workouts and return exhilarated not only by the exercise but also by their connection with nature. Which is why they head to the shower and exfoliate their ankles: Was that poison ivy crowding the trail?

Trail running is big in places like California and Colorado. Photos of the sport in running magazines always feature a mountain for a backdrop, unless it’s an ocean.

But Kansas City has its own community of joggers who prefer traversing the trails to pounding the pavement. They use the area’s many hiking, mountain-biking and equestrian trails for outings that can last 30 minutes or literally hours on end. They see wild turkeys and bobcats and sometimes have to call out to deer blocking the trail ahead.
“Trails are all the rage,” said Lou Joline, a local running veteran.

Two new organized races are evidence of the sport’s growing popularity here. And the names of the races hint at the mental makeup of the participants. The inaugural “PsychoWyco Run, Toto, Run” took place in February, and the “Dude, Where’s the Trail?” race had its premiere in November. Of course, not every trail runner gears up for these types of races, courses most mortals can’t contemplate at lengths of 50K (31 miles) and beyond.

Mark Jacquez, 26, of Overland Park was a regular road warrior until a buddy last year suggested the two hit the trails at Shawnee Mission Park for something different. Now he’s hooked.
“At first, you get kind of dizzy, because you’re looking at the ground, trying to avoid rocks,” Jacquez said. “I took some spills. But your legs start to get used to it.”
There are other things to get used to. Once, a squirrel fell out of a tree and almost landed on Jacquez’s head. He has stepped on more than one snake. And ticks, always a pleasant thought, seem to be worse in dry weather. His highest tick count for one trail outing: 22.

Sound fun?
Actually, trail runners say there’s plenty to recommend the sport. The nature aspect might have drawbacks, they say, but the positives of off-road running far outweigh them. Jacquez knew it on that first run in Shawnee Mission Park as he jogged past deer rather than parked cars. “There’s something new every time your run,” he said. “It’s exciting.” Sometimes even awe-inspiring.

In April, Julie Toft, a veteran runner but newcomer to trail running, was making her way along a hilly course near Kanopolis, Kan. Toft, 44, of Gardner in Johnson County, crested a hill and stopped to take in the view.
“We were overlooking this cavernous area, and it was just beautiful,” Toft said. “I thought, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what God created. This is why I do this.’ You never see that running in the streets.”
Deborah Webster, Toft’s running pal and fellow mom, brought her camera along. It’s one thing to enjoy the beauty, but trail runners also crave the lore of a run. For instance, this one involved water crossings up to the runners’ belly buttons. Cold water.
“We took some pictures. We figured people wouldn’t believe us,” said Webster, who’s 45 and also lives in Gardner. “I really like the exploring aspect of it. It’s kind of like being a little kid again.”

Trail runners might crave a little fear factor — the potential risks in nature — but they also say a big reason to run trails is to help reduce the kinds of chronic injuries endemic to regular pavement running.
Ben Holmes is a trail advocate for that reason, among many others. Holmes is the inventor of the PsychoWyco race that attracted 45 runners on a cold, rainy February day. The mud was so deep and sticky it sucked the shoes right off runners’ feet. Twenty-three participants actually completed the 50K course.

Holmes, who doesn’t exactly have a marathoner’s build at 6 feet and 200 pounds, has run 38 marathons. Now he does almost all his running off pavement.
“I used to get injuries, the knee pain, the chronic foot problems that runners have,” he said.
If you think about it, Holmes said, running and even walking a lot on concrete is unnatural. His last marathon on pavement left him “incredibly sore” from the constant pace and the use of the same muscles over and over.
Trails, he said, require a variety of body movements to make your way along curvy paths. “You’re using different muscle groups, changing your pace. You’re tired at the end but not sore or injured.”

Unless you twist or sprain an ankle.
“About once a year,” he said.
Holmes, too, gets a kick from the notion that mild danger might lie ahead.
“We just use gravity to zoom down hills like nobody’s business,” he said. “I’m a 48-year-old grandpa, so I don’t get too many thrills. I’m thinking, ‘Hey, I could get hurt here!’”
Holmes also instituted Thursday evening runs in Shawnee Mission Park. Start time is 8:30 p.m., and runners wear headlamps or carry flashlights. Nighttime running is good training for those who do 100-mile races, which by necessity continue after the sun goes down. Jacquez tried it and found the runs exciting, even worthwhile.
“It teaches you to be very aware of everything around you,” he said. “It gets you more trail ready.”
Holmes likes to remind novice trail runners that park trails are meant to be shared. That means being courteous and yielding when necessary, especially to horses. It’s good safety advice. Of course, if you talk to trail runners long enough you get all sorts of interesting counsel.
For instance, Holmes suggests packing duct tape, which can be applied to the skin — rrriiippp — to remove infestations of tiny seed ticks. Ouch.

Joline, the 72-year-old veteran runner, recommends carrying a switch while running trails. Such a branch comes in handy for collecting trail cobwebs, rather than using your face, and also for striking at horseflies.
“Horseflies will find you,” he said. “They’re very single-minded. A horsefly will follow you for miles.”

Barb and Mike Schupp of Prairie Village met at a marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 1997, got married in 2001 and now enjoy trail running together. They, too, love being away from traffic and catching glimpses of wildlife while running. They, too, have advice: While you’re watching out below for rocks, don’t forget to watch out above, too.
“The one thing that gets us most often is low branches,” said Barb, who giggled, lovingly, as she recalled the time a friend got a concussion from one. But hey, they both said, don’t let such trail running lore dissuade you.
“It’s refreshing,” Barb said.
“Just focus on enjoying it,” Mike said, “because there’s nothing to gauge your speed by, no blocks, no mile markers. And it’s OK to walk up the hills.”
Prepping for trail running
1. Go with a running partner. It’s good to have a buddy along in case of a twisted ankle or other mishap.
2. Bring water. Carry bottles (get ones with handles) or wear a waist pack that has bottle attachments.
3. Get a trail map from the park department to help orient yourself. A compass is helpful if you get lost.
4. Wear sun block and insect repellent.
5. Use Bodyglide or other skin lubricant to guard against friction and blisters on your feet, underarms, etc.
6. Stop periodically to check for ticks.
7. Wears socks (not cotton) that wick moisture.
8. After your run, scrub your legs with soap or a product such as Tecnu if you brushed against poison ivy. Remember that poison ivy oil clings to shoes and socks, too.
9. In icy conditions, screw short sheet-metal screws into the bottom of your shoes for extra traction.
10. Enjoy the ambience while focusing on each footfall. (It takes practice.)
For more information about local trail running go to and click on FYI/Living.
Protect the feet
Some trail runners wear regular running shoes. Others buy shoes marketed specifically for trail running. Here are a few considerations from Garry Gribble, a veteran runner and owner of Garry Gribble’s RunningSports stores:
■ Trail shoes are firmer than regular running shoes. Some people find they offer more ankle support and help protect the bottom of the feet from rock abrasion.
■ The more primitive and challenging the trail, the more the runner should consider trail shoes.
■ Trail shoes are pricier, often in the $80 to $90 range, compared to regular running shoes at $50 to $60.
■ Women should buy trail shoes for women and men should buy trail shoes for men.
■ When buying trail shoes, try several brands and walk around in them. Don’t assume your shoe size.
■ Don’t be in a hurry. Allow at least 20 to 30 minutes for buying trail shoes.
■ Trail shoe brands include Montrail and Merrell. The major running shoe companies, such as Nike, Adidas and Saucony, also offer trail shoes.
Local places for trail running
The July issue of Runner’s World lists “25 Best Running Cities in America.” That’s right, Boulder, Austin, Seattle, etc., the usual cool places. No Kansas City.
Still, we’ve got great trails for running and walking. A good resource is Hiking Kansas City by William B. Eddy and Richard O. Ballentine ($14.95, Pebble Publishing). The book lists 100 trails with maps and directions.
Here are some favorites of area trail runners:
Blue River Parkway
Jackson County Parks and Recreation
(816) 795-8200
South of Minor Park at Holmes and Red Bridge roads
The “north trail” near 118th Street winds through woods and along bluffs overlooking the Blue River and includes stream crossings.
Little Blue Trace
Jackson County Parks and Recreation
(816) 795-8200
Near Interstate 70 and Missouri 78
The trail features meadows, woods and passes by farm fields.
Shawnee Mission Park
Johnson County Parks and Recreation
(913) 438-7275
Near Renner Road and 79th Street
The “lake trail” and “north shore trail” feature woodlands and some steep hills
Wyandotte County Lake Park
Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation
(913) 596-7077
East of Interstate 435 near Leavenworth Road and North 91st Street
A challenging bridle trail — yield to horses.
Clinton State Park
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
(785) 842-8562
West of Lawrence at Clinton Lake exit off Kansas 10
“North shore trail” passes near the lake and has some steep inclines.
Ed Eveld, Kansas City Star, Posted on Wed, Jun. 22, 2005,


1st test.