Beer Review: Brooklyn Defender IPA

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Brooklyn Brewery I think goes without saying when it comes to the quality of their beers. They are beyond reproach in nearly every way. I’ve never been disappointed with a Brooklyn product. For a real treat, grab you a Black Chocolate Stout this winter (my favorite beer by Brooklyn – absolutely to die for).

Anyway, this is a new-to-me Brooklyn Product. Meet Defender: a beer brewed in the style of an American India Pale Ale. It weighs in at 6.7% ABV and an unspecified IBU rating, though judging by the bitterness I’m going to estimate it somewhere in the 60 range.

I’m very picky about my IPAs admittedly. I do enjoy certain ones, but I seek balance in an IPA. I’m not a fan of those that will just blow your mouth out with hops and nothing else. I prefer a more balanced, smoother experience. This one definitely delivered on that.

Pour is a medium red-amber color almost like an Amber ale. Dense, fluffy head that sticks around and laces the glass nicely. Hops present up front on the aroma with notes of grapefruit and piney hops and a slightly alcoholic undertone. Flavor is dominated by citrusy/grapefruit hops with a hint of general spiciness. This is smoothed out by a substantial backbone of sweet caramel malts. Medium bodied mouthfeel with ample prickly carbonation. Drinks incredibly smooth for an IPA; not quite chuggable but smooth enough to take big mouthfuls.

Overall a good IPA for my taste. Nothing blow-your-mind but good enough to have a few with a spicy Asian or Mexican dinner. Rating: 3.5/5.

Firestone 600: Reflections on Attending My First Race

As I reflect on my first ever live race, I smile from ear to ear. It was a great experience all around.

It was a hot Texas day so I definitely prepared for the weather – plenty of high SPF, non-comedogenic sunscreen to protect both my skin and my ink from the blazing sun as well as a full gallon of drinking water and a six pack of one of my favorite swill beers, Lakewood Lager. I opted for a moisture-wicking shirt and a pair of Barbarian New Zealand style rugby shorts (2” inseam) to stay cool. I was a wee bit apprehensive that I might have gotten bounced for my “too short” shorts (it’s happened before, but not from a race track obviously; it’s just the whole bullshit about how guys aren’t supposed to wear short shorts), but not a word was said except by a couple of smartass fans (which of course I paid no attention to). Just a quick cooler check (to verify I had no glass bottles) and I was through the gate and made my way to my seat. I had a great seat and great view as you can see here:

So I found my seat, popped my in-ear plugs in just in time for the practice sessions to start. Earmuffs on over and before I knew it I was watching the rockets of racecars otherwise known as IndyCars fly across the track for the practice sessions. It was an exhilarating experience watching them blaze past the starting line and feeling the vibrations of the engines deep into my core. If this was a small taste of the mayhem to come, man I was super excited for the actual race.

I unfortunately was not quick enough to the autograph line for the autograph session so I missed out on that. I kind of expected as such but it was still somewhat disappointing. I was really hoping to get 2016 Indy 500 champ Alexander Rossi’s signature but that didn’t happen. Oh well. It was also during this time I dropped my cell phone screen first and shattered the screen and also messed up the focus gyroscope so every picture I got after that was blurry. Gotta have some hiccup in every great thing, don’t you?

Anyway, after that it was back to my seat for some of the big screen pre-race entertainment. Some funny, some serious, but it passed the time. Before I knew it, it was time for the famous words: “Gentlemen, (re)start your engines!” (Restart as this was a resumption of a race already in progress).

Then there were two caution laps which built the tension and excitement, followed by the green flag and then things heated right up! Sure, watching racing on TV can be fun but it’s nothing like the real thing! Adrenaline pumped through my body in excitement as they rounded the corner for turn one. Sparks flying from under the cars, the noise, the crowd, everything. It was pure mayhem for sure. Before I knew it the pack had rounded turn four and were back to the starting line. One lap already complete.

We stayed green for almost 140 laps, driver #5 James Hinchcliffe practically opening up a can of whoop-ass on the rest of the field until the first caution tightened things up. This was the first of three back-to-back accidents in a very short period. We stayed green for two more laps, at which point the 2nd place driver wrecked his car and emerged very visibly pissed off (understandably so). We get cleaned up and another green flag. If I recall we didn’t even make it a full lap until the third wreck happened, slowing the race yet again. By the time all the nonsense was said and done, the final restart came with only 8 to go. What was a runaway for the leader quickly turned into a tight race.

The race was decided in the final few laps. Drivers had narrowed the gap and we were running 3 and 4 abreast on the track toward the end. Though he fought valiantly to keep his lead, Hinch ultimately finished 2nd to Graham Rahal (who seemed to just emerge out of nowhere) by .008 seconds! It was a photo finish. Here’s what that margin looks like (photo courtesy IndyCar and Texas Motor Speedway):

It was appropriately an exciting end to an exciting race. The feelings of pure adrenaline and exhilaration stayed with me while I watched the celebration from victory land and for the entire 164-mile trek home. As a die-hard IndyCar fan, this is an experience I won’t soon forget and you can bet I’ll be back for the 2017 iteration of this race and this just solidified for me that I absolutely want to attend the Indianapolis 500 live at some point.

Very rarely is it that I have anything exciting in my life, but this was one of them. I don’t at all regret attending. It was nice to forget my stresses and just engage in the race. It’s good for all of us to pull the plug on social media and whatever for awhile and just enjoy something. Try it. You’ll be surprised at what it does for you.

Song Lyric Sunday 8/28/16 – Teenage Dream

Sorry if this was a sub-par choice, but I just got home at 1 AM last night after an exciting Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway so I’m a little brain fried today. Forgive me.

Anyway, this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt is to post a song about sex, regardless of how raunchy. This was the first song that came to mind for me and I’m sticking with it as I can’t think very well today. Oh well.

My choice is Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. This was one of her earlier hits after she became Katy Perry (some people might not know but Katy Perry is formerly Katy Hudson, yes, as in the Christian rocker – talk about a seismic shift eh?). Anyway, though one of her earlier songs it’s still one of my favorites by her.

Be warned, this video contains some provocative scenes and some topless females.

You think I’m pretty
Without any makeup on
You think I’m funny
When I tell the punchline wrong
I know you get me
So I let my walls come down, down

Before you met me
I was alright but things
Were kinda heavy
You brought me to life
Now every February
You’ll be my Valentine, Valentine

Let’s go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance, until we die
You and I, will be young forever

You make me feel
Like I’m livin’ a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on
I can’t sleep
Let’s run away and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back

We drove to Cali
And got drunk on the beach
Got a motel and
Built a fort out of sheets
I finally found you
My missing puzzle piece
I’m complete

Let’s go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance, until we die
You and I, will be young forever

You make me feel
Like I’m livin’ a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on
I can’t sleep
Let’s run away and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back

I’mma get your heart racing
In my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight

Yoooouuu
You make me feel
Like I’m livin’ a
Teenage dream
The way you turn me on
I can’t sleep
Let’s run away and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back
No

My heart stops
When you look at me
Just one touch
Now baby I believe
This is real
So take a chance and
Don’t ever look back,
Don’t ever look back

I’mma get your heart racing
In my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
(Tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight)
Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/katyperry/teenagedream.html

There you have it. I know Katy Perry is one of those polarizing artists people either love or hate so this might not be to everyone’s taste but I really do like this song so here you go.

Single Shaming Abounds

So here we are all getting ready to make the trek to Ft. Worth to watch my sister get married. I’m really not looking forward to it but what can you do?

Anyway, I’m already hearing it: the single shaming. My sister is 8 years younger than me and here she is getting married and I’m over here still single (no girlfriend even and I haven’t had one in almost three years). My family keeps nagging me “when will you find you a good girl to settle down with?” It drives me nuts.

I am pretty much your stereotypical bachelor. I’m a well-paid professional, single, not looking. I go to restaurants, bars, etc. by myself: that so-called “lonely” guy who does everything by himself. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I enjoy the freedom that comes from being single and no children. Nobody to answer to and no children at home to cut into my paycheck or otherwise handcuff me. I’ve always rolled solo mio and that’s the way it’s going to stay, at least for the time being.

Am I going to say I’ll never settle down? No, but I doubt I’ll do so for at least another 10 years unless someone just comes along and I have a “Something happens and I’m head over heels / never find out until I’m head over heels” moment (who knows that song?). I doubt I’ll find a woman who will put up with my ink, generally free-spirit and a guy who wears short shorts. Maybe she is out there, but if so I haven’t found her and likely won’t until middle age when people tend to mellow out and be easier going.

So don’t shame me or anyone else for being single. If it’s working for us then who is to say we need to change? Being single (just as being married) is a valid life choice and no one choice works for everyone’s personality or spirit. We all have our reasons for being the way we are.

How to Make Your Tattoos Last Longer 

​Tattoos, as every other work of art, need ongoing maintenance to preserve their integrity. If you just go get one and then neglect it thinking it will always look studio fresh you are sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, a lot of inked folk have this attitude and it shows with their dull, faded and weathered tattoos. 

The fact of the matter is that all tattoos will break down and fade over time. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about that. The body treats ink as a foreign invader and is continuously attempting to dispose of it. Fortunately for us the ink particles are too large to be engulfed by our white blood cells and so it stays. Over time, however, these ink particles break down into little pieces that are able to be carried away to the liver which breaks it down into a form that can be removed from the body. Also during this process even the larger ink particles tend to migrate further into the dermis, further contributing to fading. 

That said, there are in fact things you can do to slow down the aging process and keep your tattoos looking bright and vibrant for years to come. Some of them are common sense but some of them might not be. Here are my suggestions for maintaining the integrity of your tattoos. 

1) Proper aftercare is key. The healing process has a big impact on the final look of the tattoo. Make sure you observe proper aftercare procedures. I heal my tattoos with Saniderm (usually two pieces – one for the first day while it seeps, then a second piece to wear for a week) followed by the old method of lotioning several times per day during the peeling process. The hybrid method I find works best for me, but we all heal differently and you’ll have to find what works for you. Whatever you do, no swimming, extended bathing/showering, etc. during the initial process as you will increase your risk of infection (which will spoil the look of your tattoo without question). 

2) After the tattoo is healed, continue lotioning your tattoos daily. This will keep a sheen on them and keep them looking studio fresh for longer. It will also keep your skin from drying out, which could also accelerate the aging process. 

 3) Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen! Nothing will fade your tattoos faster than over-exposure to sun. The UV rays break down ink as described earlier. If you are going to be in the sun for any longer than a very short period, please for the love of everything good put sunscreen over your tattoos and reapply often. This even applies to people with dark skin – your skin might be resistant to the sun but the ink is not! 

4) Stay hydrated. Dehydration will lead to dry skin which although might not fade your tattoos, it will cause them to look weathered. 

5) Get touchups every now and then. I don’t mean like every few months, more like every 5-10 years or whenever the tattoo has faded to a point you find it unacceptable. As mentioned, even if you are super protective and mindful of maintenance, your tattoos will fade and the outlines will lose their crispness. In these cases, a touchup will breathe new life into a weathered tattoo. 

It seems like a lot, but once you integrate these into your daily life it will become habit. A few minutes of attention every day will pay dividends years down the road. You paid good money and endured a fair amount of pain for your artwork, so what’s 5 or 10 minutes of your day to protect your investment? Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it? 

Don’t be the guy/girl with the dull, faded 1-year-old tattoo. Be the guy/girl with decades old tattoos that still look bright and vibrant. Take care of your tattoos and they will take care of you. 

To Cure or Not to Cure

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the question. Ok, maybe not really, but this does bring up a rant for today. 

​I saw a picture earlier today that made me feel a little angry. Well strike that, more like a lot angry. I won’t show it here because just thinking about it makes me seethe in rage, but it said something to the effect of “We are autistic, but we don’t want to be cured because we are not sick.” 

Now, that statement seems harmless enough but what enrages me is the fact that it’s speaking in the plural, as though it were speaking for all of us on the autism spectrum. Quite frankly the statement does not speak for me in the slightest. I, for one, long for a cure and if a cure were to come along in my lifetime I would accept it. 

The reason for this is simple: autism is a disqualifying medical condition (it might not be a sickness in and of itself but it is a medical condition) for my dream job. The FAA has outright stated that those on the autism spectrum are not eligible for medical clearance to fly, be it general or special issuance. Given as such, barring a dramatic reversal in policy by the powers that be, the only way I can live my dream would be if I were to be cured, thus I would choose to be cured if in fact a cure were to become available. 

I will say, however, that I am sensitive to those who say otherwise and think their autism (or, quite frankly, any other mental or physical medical condition) are part of who they are and they wouldn’t be themselves if they were cured. As a staunch libertarian I will defend your right to accept or reject any treatment or cure you do not wish to receive. I don’t really give a fuck what you do with your life. It affects me not. You can rest assured that if the government tried to hold you down and force a treatment/cure down your throat and against your will I would be right there fighting for your rights. All I ask in return is that you not criticize me and those who feel the way I do. 

The point being here is don’t act like you speak for all of us. Either choice would be valid and should be made in context of a person’s personal and professional goals. For some of us, autism is a hindrance or an automatic bar to that. Some of might also not like the other bullshit that comes with being on the spectrum (also read: any other mental or physical handicap). You might not want to be cured, but I long for a cure and I should not be viewed negatively for such. 

Song Lyric Sunday 8/21/16 – Shout

So this week’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday  is to post a song that explores the emotion of anger. This one was another one of those easy ones for me, as one particular song stood out.

My selection for this week kind of comes full circle as it features the same band I featured the first time I participated in Song Lyric Sunday: the British duo of Roland Orzabal (happy early birthday by the way; his birthday is tomorrow!) and Curt Smith otherwise known as Tears for Fears.

This week’s song is “Shout” which is my 2nd favorite T4F song behind Mad World. The song was written and sung by Orzabal and you can just feel the anger in the music and the lyrics. Though mostly a protest song, I think it explores the feeling of anger otherwise very well. Let’s let it all out and have a listen, why don’t we?

I decided to feature a live performance of this song as I prefer the live versions of this song over the studio version:

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

In violent times
You shouldn’t have to sell your soul
In black and white
They really really ought to know
Those one track minds
That took you for a working boy
Kiss them goodbye
You shouldn’t have to jump for joy
You shouldn’t have to shout for joy

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

They gave you life
And in return you gave them hell
As cold as ice
I hope we live to tell the tale
I hope we live to tell the tale

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

And when you’ve taken down your guard
If I could change your mind
I’d really love to break your heart
I’d really love to break your heart

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
(Break your heart) These are the things I can do without
(I’d really love to break your heart) Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout 
Let it all out (I really really have to know)
These are the things I can do without
(I really really have to know) Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Shout
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
Come on
I’m talking to you
Come on

Shout
Source*: http://www.metrolyrics.com/shout-lyrics-tears-for-fears.html

So there you do. What did you think? Hope you enjoyed.

*Some corrections made by me.