It has been a while since I've made any absinthe posts, so this blog is just about due. Good timing, in fact, as a new and authentic absinthe has recently hit the market - Marteau: Absinthe de la Belle Époque made by none other than Gwydion Stone, founder of the Wormwood Society. Ever since I joined the Wormwood Society, I figured that it was really just a matter of time before he made his very own brand.
The timing was good and Gwydion's (he lets me call him Gwydion) absinthe is not only available in the US, but it's also distilled here! While I do enjoy my French- and Swiss-produced absinthes, the idea that the US is taking back part of its almost forgotten heritage does something for me. Absinthe makes "made in America" really mean something to me again.
I had my first taste of Marteau at Tales of the Cocktail in 2008. I really don't want to review it yet, as the flavor and scent of it are not fresh in my mind months later. A bottle of my very own will soon arrive and I'll review it then. I will say that when prepared traditionally with dripped ice-water and sugar (though I prefer all absinthe sans sugar cube) it was, in a word, refreshing. I also had several opportunities to taste it used as an ingredient in both historic and modern cocktails and the Marteau added just what the mixture needed to complete it. Gwydion should be very proud of his creation.
Definitely give Marteau a try. If you're lucky enough to be reading this and have never before tried a traditionally-made absinthe, you're in for a treat. My order will be arriving from DrinkUp NY- a good place to order from if Marteau or other absinthes are not available in your area. Also, be sure to pipe up at your local liquor store and ask them to stock Marteau!
For Christmas I decided to take the plunge and get myself an iPhone 3G and I'm glad that I did. For years, I've been looking for that one convergent device. I wanted an MP3 player, phone, GPS, web-browser, photo storage, Email, and a choice of applications (ala a Palm) all in one device. Well, the iPhone is it.
The convergence even takes a step further when you delve into the iTunes store. Again, all that I want to buy is in one place: music, audio books, applications, podcasts, E-books. So go to one place, get what you want, synch up, and there you go. Nice and neat and when you're billed for your purchases it's nicely laid out and from a solitary source.
The device itself is fun to play with. The touch screen and the way it reacts to your touch is pretty cool. It makes navigating from one thing to another a breeze.
The only complaint that I have about it so far is that you really can't manage content from the iPhone itself - you have to synch it with iTunes and let iTunes do it for you. Specifically, I can't delete anything from my iPhone. It's really not a big deal - I have alot of the 16Gb space left - but it's the idea that on every other gadget I've ever owned I had complete and direct control over its storage.
For anyone looking for their own convergent device, there are several out there vying for the iPhone-esque market. Give them a looksie and they may even be more to your liking. I'm quite content with my iPhone and I look forward to the generations of the device to come!
From what I understand it HumanLight was invented for several reasons. First, as Dawnkins has noted, a thing that atheism lacks over religion is a sense of community, ceremony, and tradition. With exceptions, atheists don't really gather together in one place and talk day after day about why we don't believe in gods. HumanLight is a first step to providing that sense of community as the atheist/humanist community itself grows. Second, some Christians feel that there are some who are trying to "steal Christmas" from them. Well, go ahead and wish me a merry Christmas - I'll gladly wish you one back. Celebrating HumanLight and creating its own tradition steps on fewer toes.
Why the 25th? Western culture celebrates on this day in one religious sense or another. HumanLight is simply a way for those who don't worship to truly celebrate the season.
I did not actively celebrate HumanLight this year, but maybe next. We'll see. Until then, happy HumanLight, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa to all...and to all a good night.
One of the fun things that I've been doing lately is playing Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) with my buddy Just Plain Jim. It's a good time and it shores up those otherwise long periods of time when we're not able to hang out in person.
Our latest notable adventure was delving deep within Goblin Town to the cave of Gollum...or what he left behind to pursue his Preciousss. It was fun to the Nth degree to step into a place that lived in literary history portrayed right in front of us to be explored as we pleased. I even took a few screen-shots so that you could enjoy also. Jim is the heavily armored Captain of Dale, while my character is the elven huntress. Let's face it - if you have to see an ass bouncing back and forth on your screen while playing, I'll take an elven chick over a burly guy any day of the week...
At the entrance to Gollum's cave
Peering inside the cave
On the cave's island - Gollum's former home
Now, good ol' Kris Kringle is a cool guy in my book and he should be in yours too. He brings joy to children in much of the world and asks only that we be good to each other in return (cookies and milk help are bennies).
There are just a few simple rules that you absolutely must follow regarding this wonderfully jolly fellow:
Rule #1: Do NOT try to catch Santa in the act of leaving gifts at your home.
Rule #2: Do NOT try to destroy the world.
Rule #3: Do NOT put alcohol in the egg nog you leave for Santa.
That's it - 3 simple and self-evident rules. Santa doesn't ask for much!
I just got done watching a news clip, telling of mass terror attacks in Mumbai, India. 78 people killed and around 200 wounded by gunmen attacking places frequented by tourists. The Taj was one of them - a high class hotel that I passed on my way "home" daily and on the way to the Gateway to India along the water. As if that wasn't shocking enough, a note along the top of the clip reported that there was an attack at Leopold's Cafe. Leopold's.
If any of you have read my travel blogs on my past trips, you'll know that Leopold's was possibly my most constant hang-out in Mumbai - my safe haven from touts and the poverty-stricken world outside that had traumatized me so when I arrived there. It had been in business for over a century and was a favorite of tourists from all countries.
And now it's the site of a terror attack where people died on its floors. Floors that I'd walked upon my share of occasions. It was a small place - just a corner cafe, really. It sounds strange when I say it out loud, but the terror attacks have never hit so close to home for me. Even the 9/11 attack seemed impersonal - I'd been to New York once when I was maybe four and never since. It was almost a different world there. I remember Mumbai well and will never forget my experiences there.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not playing "it could have been me" scenarios in my mind. More images in my mind of blood where I once sat, waiters who smiled at me possibly dead, and knowing that Leopold's days of being a tourist haven are over as long as the memory of that blood lives. So not "it could have been me" - it's "why the place that I knew?"
This past guys weekend was a real success. I won't rehash the details, as you can find on The Bratmeister's site as well as Just Plain Jim's blog, but will say that I had a great time and wish that there were more of them. We're slowly looking at changing how these work and, in hopes of making them happen more often, may morph them into family weekends instead.
One of the things I will bring up from the weekend was playing Rock Band on Friday night. My favorite song from the song-list was Still Alive, the song that plays as you finish playing the video game Portal. I'm embedding my favorite cover of that song done on, believe it or not, a ukulele. The lady has talent - enjoy!
So I just finished a particularly long day at the end of a particularly long work-week. And about a third of the way through today I felt the beginnings of a bad cold setting in - some sore throat, runny nose, and post-nasal drip. What that means is that my weekend will be spent sick and not wanting to leave the house, all better just in time to go to work on Monday...
So I decided to go to the corner store on the way home and get the supplies I would need so as not to have to leave the house this weekend. I picked up some cold medicine (better living through chemistry, I say!), various flavors of water and Gatorade, some odds-and-ends, and I figured I'd treat myself to some candy.
As I was walking up to the check-out, the sixteenish girl who was working at the place spotted me from her place stocking some shelves nearby. The conversation went like this.
Her: Are you ready to check-out, sir?
Me: Yes, but I'm in no hurry.
Her: Thanks, but I just had a lady who was like 'yaaagh! check me out' a little while ago so I'm still a little freaked. She said she had an appointment to get to.
Me: (having been there) I assure you, I have no appointments.
She starts scanning my items.
Her: Do you have any kids at home?
I was wondering where that came from and assumed that the lady who had given her trouble had kids with her and therefore maybe I was sane for not having any. I couldn't have been further from the truth. If this had been a street fight, this 92 pound girl would have just feinted and caught me straight across the cheek with a hook.
Her: Because my Mom was around in the '80s and she ate Razzles all the time and so do I.
I felt like my disk was turning black and the Sandmen would be coming to retire me any second. (If you weren't around in the '70s you won't get that Logan's Run reference...or even know what the hell Logan's Run was)
I'm sick and apparently old. Hurray for the weekend...
I rode to Winnipeg and had a great time there. I have to admit (to my shame) that I had no few preconceptions about Canadians, most of which were shattered and laid to waste before me. Canada remains one of the two places to which I would emigrate should the US get any deeper in crap like the Patriot Act.
I made it down to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, though I didn't ride due to my injury and flood worries. What an incredible time. I can't remember the last time I partied so hard for so long and remembered every moment of it all. It certainly put a bulk of my time as a sailor to shame!
The Burning Man remains on my list for some year to come. It goes on the "someday" page.
This year, I've already started researching Morocco. Whether you realize that they're Moroccan cities or not, you've heard of them: Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakech for example.
Did you know that Morocco was the very first country to recognize the Independence of the United States from England? There's even a museum in Tangier to commemorate it.
From World War I until after WWII Morocco was an International Zone. Basically, the victors of the World Wars established Morocco as a nation without a nation - complete extraterritoriality under international law. It was a unique time and several artists of the time traveled there for the experience. William S. Borroughs, Tennessee Williams, and Henri Matisse to name a few.
Morocco is an Arabic speaking nation, so I'll be taking some lessons before the travel date comes. I'm thinking Rosetta Stone will be a good start.
For those of you looking up everything on Morocco, you'll find that there is a terror alert there. There was a bombing aimed at Westerners in Marrakech. I'll have to look that up online, but I believe that this is the only "terror" activity of note. From what I've read, though the country may be predominantly Islamic (99%), it has a history of tolerance. I'm not worried.
So I'm looking forward to this and hope that I meet this coming year's travel goal. Wish me luck!