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2005-02-21 - 2:17 p.m.

Beermaking fun

Saturday was very unexciting. Post-Irish-Cream-making-fun I still got up early on the next day due to my annoying body clock (and the dog's annoying body clock) waking me up at 7:30am-ish. The husband got home at around 11pm and laughed at me for having such an incredibly nerdy/lame night, but loved the result (ha! I'm useful!). So, I got up early, went to the eye doctor so I don't have to wear glasses (I don't feel particularly pretty or professional in glasses), cleaning blah blah, went to doggy class*, and then came home to my husband brewing the weizenbock we'd been planning to make.

Beer making smells rule. There's just something fun about walking into your house and it smells like taking a tour at New Belgium Brewery Until the hops are added, it's really sweet and not-beer-like (but very distinct) - then the hops start it smelling more beer like but without the alcohol.

Everything went well except for one thing that we're hoping won't hurt the batch. I'll preface this by saying that sanitation is extrememly important in homebrewing. As a brewer, you don't make beer you make wort (to learn about the brewing process, I highly recommend this book). The yeast is what actually turns the ingredients into beer (creates the alcohol and carbonation). Well, wort is made to be extremely yummy to yeast and therefore it's also the perfect food for nasty bacteria (though no known human pathogens can live in beer, so it's safer than water if you have concerns about the water quality) that can make the whole batch taste bad. Anyway, we were pouring in a gallon of distilled water and suddenly realized that the plastic ring around the neck of the bottle that seals the cap on wasn't there anymore. We looked and looked and finally came to the conclusion that it was in the wort. Cross your fingers that there wasn't any bacteria on the little plastic ring!

We met some friends at Green Dolphin Street. Wow, that was an expensive night. But, now we can both say that we've been to a Chicago jazz club! And now we know why we hadn't before -- not rich enough! This also afforded some primo yuppie-watching. Afro-Cuban jazz plus conga lines full of white 30-somethings... I'll just let that mental picture mature in your mind.

*The dog likes it, but I'm not totally sold. My poor sweet dog is getting shafted because he's way bigger than most of the other dogs and is strong. He gets put way over on the other side of the park. So I use a Gentle Leader (like a horse halter - it gives me more control), but the trainer wants me to use the collar. This is a problem because
1. my hands end up raw after every session
2. I'm not entirely sure I can hold onto him if he really wants to go after a squirrel or a cat or other small animal (and even the best trained dogs sometimes forget themselves. If he did and got hit by a car I'd never forgive myself)
3. collars can put a huge amount of pressure on a dog's trachea
Moral: I'm just not sold on the concept that horses need humane, useful halters, but dogs need little strips of fabric around their necks. < end of rant >

Sunday? No run-down on your boring Sunday?

Well, okay. If you insist.

We went to church and were one of the 4 families there (being one of the few Lutherans on the entire South Side is interesting sometimes). Then we went to White Castle because I was having an extremely rare craving (thanks, PMS) for them. Most of the time I avoid fast food like crazy (especially after seeing the movie Supersize Me), but
1. White Castles are tiny, steamed and don't have sauce or cheese, so they just don't seem as bad as most fast food to me
2. I've decided that refusing myself cravings can be worse than giving in because eventually I'll lose control and then I'll eat more than I was going to originally
Then I took a nap, did laundry, and cleaned. Ha, I'll bet you're glad you asked about Sunday!

Hockey? Eh? Please? *beg*beg*beg*beg*

At some point I hope to discuss hockey in more depth. With why it rules, what its problems are (cough-cough-Gary Bettman-cough), what my theories are on how to help it, etc. But this weekend was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for those of us who love the sport, and I need to vent just a little bit of frustration.

1. Jeremy Roenick, Jerome Iginla, everyone else in that little splinter group who got people talking again -- I love you. For realizing that Bob Goodenow was doing you about as much good as Bettman himself and taking matters into your own hands. Thanks for the effort, as it was the only aspect of this labor dispute I've been able to be happy about.

2. Lemieux and Gretzky -- what the hell took you so long? Did you miss the 150 or so days you had to jump in, guns blazing, and put your star power to use? I mean, thanks and all, but too little too late, eh?

3. Gary Bettman -- maybe you're part of the reason I hate basketball so vehemently? I mean, you hadn't even been to a hockey game before you were plucked from the NBA's upper management and made the commissioner of the NHL. Please go back to the NBA. It has enough popularity right now to be able to withstand your league-killing-antics. Put a basketball team in Calgary and see how well it does -- better or worse than the teams from Nashville to Atlanta to Phoenix? Gah!

4. Bill Wirtz -- I don't like your team. I can't change my loyalties from my beloved Red Wings. But I'm an avid hockey fan who refuses to put any money into seeing your team. Maybe the reason you think the NHL loses you money is because you do things like:
a. refuse to air any games on TV. Even if the games are sold out. Something about the product not being for free? Actually, no. You're an ass. It's called building a fan base, and it's something that Mike Illitch is particularly good at -- you might want to take a lesson. Or two. Or twenty.
b. increase the cost to attend a game until it's cheaper to see a basketball game than a hockey game. Umm... Rabid fans like me aside, hockey isn't particularly popular anymore in Chicago. You might want to make it a good value, hook some of these people with the excitement of live hockey, and then raise prices as necessary (take some advice from the Tribune Company -- they know something about raising ticket prices).
c. put a miserable product on the ice, then sell off any player who has the potential to become a fan favorite (Roenick, Chelios, Belfour, Hasek, and so on).
d. get in a pissing match with Don Levin, owner of the Chicago Wolves (one of the best owners in all of sports and an all around good guy). More on that in a later entry.

Okay, I need to stop. But the moral of the story is that any of those people I mentioned? The ones I blame for this whole situation? Yeah, watch it if you're walking down the streets of Chicago because I will happily risk an assault charge for the pleasure of kicking you in the shins. Hard. With my biggest boots.

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