Greetings from 53.5° north. It was a pretty quiet week, with all of my time in the saddle stuck in the basement on the stationary bike. Luckily though, I am blessed with great friends, and one lent me a bike. I will be outside on the trails once again starting Monday. Beyond that, there were two books completed, one new beer, and a couple words. Time to jump in.
My focus on reading over the summer is paying off, as I am now on pace to read my target of 52 books this year.
Book #29 for 2021 was "N is for Noose" by the late Sue Grafton. This is the fourteenth book in the Kinsey Millhone detective series, and unfortunately was not one that I really enjoyed. The ending was interesting and a bit suspenseful, but I felt like I wanted the book to end so I could move on to something else. The last few in the series were much better, so hopefully "O" gets back in form. To be fair, N was not horrible, and I will certainly look forward to continuing with the series, but maybe with a bit less enthusiasm that I had going into N.
Book #30 for 2021 was a book I read with my younger daughter. "The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling", by Maryanne Rose was a wonderful story about three children literally raised by wolves - or at least, that is what we are lead to believe - and then rescued and housed in the expansion Ashton Place estate. The story takes place post-Dickens, pre-Conan Doyle according to fourth-wall-breaking references in the book. It was quite enjoyable and provided a nice cliff-hanger segue into the second book of the series. I imagine we will read the next book in the series later this fall.
There was just one new beer this week, and it was not good. I remember when Troubled Monk started brewing and I was very excited. A good brewery in Central Alberta was previously unheard of, and their beers were good. Since then though, the best thing to come out of them is their Saskatoon pop. Case in point, their Daycation Lager. As it says on the can, low hops and low malt went into this beer. As a result, there is very little taste. I am not much of a lager fan, but even so this was disappointing. I really hope Troubled Monk can change their trajectory and produce something to be excited about once again. (2.0 / 5)
Even with the two books completed this week, and another likely to be finished shortly after this is published, there have not been a lot of new words to produce. One is definitely a repeat, as I remembered it from the Wheel of Time books as soon as I looked it up.
Greetings. The week that was was fairly mundane. As a result, there is not much to report, just a few beers and a bunch of words. My cycling distance has plummeted since the frame broke two weeks ago so nothing new to report there unfortunately. In addition, summer vacation is over, so it is back to work next week.
Four new beers this week, and a 50/50 split between them. My total is now 796 unique check-ins in my personal quest to drink one of every beer in the world.
The first two beers were from Grain Bin Brewing in Grande Prairie. We were in Grande Prairie for the first visit with grandparents since before COVID and they welcomed me with some local beers, which I thought was super nice of them. Grain Bin is an interesting brewery with a definite push toward variety in their beers.
The first one from Grain Bin, Beer #793, was on the positive side of the ledger. It was the Twigs and Berries Haskap Stout. This tasted like a forest in a beer, in a good way. It had a really nice flavor and aroma, with a good stout booziness and a rich foam. I had to look up what haskap is. It is a berry high in antioxidants that was introduced to Canada from Japan in the 1950s, with the first cultivation in Beaverlodge which is just west of Grande Prairie. A beer that is local, international, and unique all at once. (3.75 / 5)
The second one from Grain Bin, Beer #794, was on the negative side of the ledger. I am not really a seltzer fan and not a gin fan. As a result, I had trouble getting over those biases bias to enjoy this. (2.75 / 5)
Beer #795 was in fact a cider, specifically the Blue Tractor Modern Dry Cider from Woodward Cider in Kamloops. This was put together really well and was tasty. As the name suggests, this was quite dry. My sweet tooth extends to ciders however, and so it was the second entry this week to hit the negative side of the ledger. To be fair, it was close to being on the positive side and was a personal preference and not a failing of the cider that put it there. (3.0 / 5)
Last up and coming in as Beer #796 was another from Narrow Gauge out of Missouri. The first two came in at 4.0 and 3.75, and this one was even better than the first two. Their Emperor Fallen Flag is a take on their Double IPA King Fallen Flag. I suppose you would call this a Triple IPA as a result. I really like this one and it is my favorite of the three beers I have tried from Narrow Gauge. The multiple hops treatments gave this beer a ton of flavor and a real kick at 10% ABV but zero booze burn. Fantastic stuff. (4.25 / 5)
There are quite a few new words this week, but to be honest, most of them are from "Nemesis Games" that I reviewed a couple weeks ago.
Greetings from 53.5° north latitude, on a weekend that seems chilly after the record-setting summer we have had so far. The record set was 15 days of 30°C or higher in a year. The previous record was set in 1961. It is not hard to imagine another few days at or above 30 before the summer is over.
If I was saying this instead of typing it, I might subconsciously stay "I can even" believe how hot it has been. I point this out because of a great YouTube channel I found this week. Rachel's English highlights how American English is pronounced in practice, and not just how it should be pronounced. For example, the video I came across highlighted the various ways "can't" and "can" are used, stressed, and in some cases, mangled. I can even begin to say how interesting this was.
There is some good analysis of how American English is spoken on her channel, and it really made me think about how and what I say.
I was able to finish two books this week, one fiction and one about the fictions we create we get emotional. (Well, that is just one point in the second book, but I thought it was a clever segue.)
Book #27 for 2021 was "Nemesis Games" by James S.A. Corey. This is the fifth book in the Expanse series and is by far my favorite to date. Big characters caught up in and creating massive plot points that impact the entire solar system, all wrapped around a core story of humanity and how much we matter to each other. If you are familiar with the Expanse books, you will know how each chapter switches the focus of the third-person perspective. I particularly enjoyed how this book capitalized on that format to highlight how each individual coped with the crisis of the moment. This was especially powerful toward the end of the book as the characters convened in one place and everyone was reacting to the same moments. Good stuff, and definitely looking forward to the next book.
Book #28 was "Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown. There is a lot of useful information in this book and I am very glad I read it. However, much like my previous reviews of the Cal Newport books, I cannot really say it was an enjoyable read and I had trouble getting into a flow. I think the problem is that there is a lot of filler in these books. The anecdotes are useful to a point but spending three pages of first-person exposition from an interviewee has me flipping through the pages and therefore losing engagement with the book. But even with this, I took a lot out of the book and there is a lot of personal time and investment I will make to ensure I really put the learnings into practice.
A tangential learning from this book is that I might be engaging with books like this in ways that do not work for me. To wit, I do own a copy of the book, but I listened to about half of it on an audiobook. The anecdotes and personal stories are better in audiobook format, especially as Brown narrated the book herself and she was a very engaging voice. However, the bullet points and substantial checklists of items to process are much better in a book in a visual format. I will keep that in mind for the next non-fiction book I read.
Time in the saddle was cut short this week by something that I knew was going to happen eventually but was still disappointing when it finally happened.
My bike frame on my 2017 Giant Revolt 2 broke, as you can see in the picture. I am not sure how it happened, but it has been weakened for a long time. Luckily for me, the actual moment it broke came when I was moving slowly through our neighborhood. I was able to unclip and hop out before crashing. Unfortunately, there is a global bike shortage right now, so I do not know when I will get a new bike. I still have my winter bike, but that needs to be cleaned up and serviced so for the time being, my rides are going to be limited to the amount of time I can stomach on the stationary bike in the basement.
I was hoping to make it to Portage La Prairie this week, but the broken frame squashed that goal. I did make it to Brandon though. According to Wikipedia, Brandon is the second largest city in Manitoba with a population of about 48,000 and has a municipal airport with the IATA code of YBR.
Here is the updated progress chart.
I had six new beers, bringing my total to 792 in my personal quest to drink one of each beer in the world.
Beer #787 was the Red Magil DIPA from Tailgunner Brewing Company in Calgary. This had a nice mouthfeel and carbonation. It tasted like spicy pineapple juice and was a bit too sweet for my liking. (3.25 / 5)
Beer #788 is another from Calgary, this time from New Level Brewing, a brewery that gets a lot of their inspiration from death metal. Their Hellion Lager had a bit of maltiness and a decent taste but had the sweetness endemic to lagers that I do not like. (3.25 / 5)
Moving back up Highway 2 to Edmonton, Beer #789 was my fourth beer from Analog Brewing. The Loot Box Hops is a rotational-hopped West Coast IPA. I had the most recent version hopped with Sabro. I like this quite a bit. The hops added good flavor without being overly bitter. Looking forward to their next version of this beer. (3.75 / 5)
Beer #790 was the Raised by Wolves IPA from Driftwood in Victoria. I liked the pine and resin flavor combined with the fruitiness. Lot of flavors in this and quite easy to drink. (3.5 / 5)
Beer #791 was yet another from Calgary, this time from Village Brewery. Village is a solid brewery with decent beers, but beyond their Blacksmith Dark Ale, I have always found their beers to be just decent. Their 2021 version of the Father beer is a New England IPA and like their others, it was decent. (3.25 / 5)
Last up was the only import beer in the last two weeks. I posted two weeks ago about a beer from Florissant, Missouri from the Narrow Gauge Brewing Company. For Beer #792, I had their Fallen Flag American IPA. This was not as good as their King Fallen Flag Imperial, but still quite good. I am definitely liking their beers. One more to go in the fridge. Hopefully, it is as good as the first two. (3.75 / 5)
One note: I had an Alley Kat brewed Blonde Ale for Fort Edmonton Park but it does not show up on Untappd. Hopefully it appears soon. For the record, it was not that good. (2.75 / 5)
Greetings from 53.5° north latitude where it is still hot and getting drier. There was no update last week, so the usual sections are a bit meatier this week: two books, one segment, five beers, and a metric boatload of words.
First up, a quote from the mid-week pickup Brain Pickings email. For this week, Brain Pickings creator Maria Popova went back to 2015 for an article on the famed mycologist, Beatrix Potter. (Yes, she also wrote a book or two.)
Imagination is the precursor to policy, the precondition to action. Imagination, like wonder, allows us to value something. --Linda Lear
The quote is from Linda Lear, who wrote what Popova calls the best book on Beatrix Potter. The quote struck me as I had recently written about imagination in the Gaming section. Imagination is not just for gaming and writing, but also allows us to see into the future and gives us a view at a world we would like to live, which in turn illuminates the targets we need to strive for to bring the ideas in our imagination into reality.
I was able to finish one book and one book-that-was-actually-a-play this week.
Book #25 for 2021 was "Authority" by Jeff Vandermeer, the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy. I read "Annihilation" in 2018 and liked it enough to pick up the second book. This has a significantly different feel than Annihilation as it takes place completely outside the mysterious and deadly zone that was the focus of the first book. Authority is largely the story of an interim administrator of the Southern Reach organization brought in to determine what exactly is going on with the flagging and directionless organization. Throughout the book, the protagonist flounders and control (authority) eludes him, but it is unclear why. The story comes together nicely and sets up for an interesting end to the trilogy. If you are not a fan of psychological terror, this might not be the book for you. There were many scenes which could definitely unnerve the reader, including and one completely freaky spine-tingling scene.
Book #26 for 2021 was the play "R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)". This was originally written in 1920 and was translated to English in 1923. I was drawn to it as it is described as the work that introduced the word and concept of "robot" to English and science fiction. As with all good fiction, the technology is a stage prop, a reason to explore a facet of humanity. In this case, it is a story of human hubris and how the human race lost its purpose and was easily replaced by its creations. Highly recommended. Various versions exist, including on the Standard Ebooks site.
As an aside, I discovered Standard Ebooks this week while searching for a version of R.U.R. The ebooks they publish are much nicer to read than the average fare from Gutenberg, and in fact use the translations from Gutenberg and other sources. Check them out.
I was able to complete the Grenfell-Virden segment in the cross-Canada virtual tour since the last update. When I picked route for this leg, I thought I would have a stop in Virden to identify the transition into Manitoba. Little did I know that Virden had such an outsized impact for a town of just over 3000 people. According to Wikipedia, Virden is the birthplace of the co-founder of Boston Pizza, the co-founder of Reader's Digest, and a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. Nice work, Virden.
Here is the latest progress chart. Since I started tracking my rides for this virtual tour, I have rode 165 times in 305 days for a total of 3007 km.
Five new beers in fourteen days. I am now at 786 unique check-ins in my personal quest to drink one of every beer in the world. One standout, one decent offering, and three that will not make the drink-again list.
Beer #782 was The Tragically Hip Road Apples cider from Thornbury Village Cider House and Brewery in Thornhill, Ontario. I really wanted to love this cider, but it had a weird taste that I just could not get into. (3.0 / 5)
Beer #783 was the King Fallen Flag Imperial IPA from Narrow Gauge Brewing in Florissant, Missouri. This was quite a good beer with a deep flavor that was not overpowered by the high ABV. I have a couple other beers in the fridge from Narrow Gauge and I am looking forward to those as well. (4.0 / 5)
Beer #784 was the Valley of the Giants Belgian Strong from Polar Park here in Edmonton. The first taste was surprisingly good. It was crisp like a lager but definitely a strong ale taste. (3.75 / 5)
Beer #785 was the Bobbing Duck Wit from High River Brewing in High River. I was not a fan of this beer. The taste was overly peppery from the coriander, and I did not taste much else. (3.0 / 5)
Last up and coming in as Beer #786 was the Gold Past Life Czech Lager from The Establishment Brewing Company. For the only other beer I have had from Establishment, I commented that it "came highly recommended and well reviewed so I am surprised how little impact this had on me". Ditto on this one. Admittedly I am not a fan of lagers, but this did not have much to draw me in. (3.0 / 5)
A surfeit of words this week, mostly from "Rosewater: Insurrection" that I finished two weeks ago.
massacring (present participle)
ex post facto
[ˌeks pōst ˈfaktō]