Dangerous Beer

There are well known hazards to excessive consumption of beer, but a pale ale carried by a local store has a whole new danger. According to the description on Bevmo.com, Drake’s IPA can spontaneously combust in the mouth, as it “literally explodes in the mouth”


Published in: on 24 July, 2010 at 9:23  Leave a Comment  

Car Hire in the Twitter Age

I was in Chicago on business at the start of this week. We had a rental car booked via work. My colleague and I arrived curbside where the buses that take you to the rental lots pull up. We were with National. There were buses waiting for Hertz and Avis. We waited as several more Hertz and Avis buses came and left as did four from Enterprise and a few from Thrifty. Annoyed at this delay, made worse by all of National’s competitors sending bus after bus, I posted a complaint to Twitter.

Eventually a bus from National arrived and it made is way to the rental lot. Progress was slow as at each of the subsequent airport terminals there were lots of people who had arrived during the delay for the next bus. At the lot, we were offered the choice of any car in the Emerald Club section. Unfortunately, all but four of the cars were Chevy HHR and more than four people disembarked ahead of me, so my choice was which colour of HHR. Worse cars exist than the HHR, but I do not think that Trabants and Yugos are used in rental fleets.

When I arrived at the hotel I checked my phone and I had a Twitter message from National apologizing for the delay. Clearly they check Twitter for references and follow up. The apology, the ease of the service at pickup, lack of real choice notwithstanding, and speed of return at end of rental makes me willing to rent from National again.

Published in: on 22 July, 2010 at 17:33  Leave a Comment  

Congestion Charging

I do not think that any US city has a London style Congestion Charge. London charges £8 ($12.25) on any non-holiday that you drive into the city centre between 7am and 6pm. San Francisco has taken the first step in that direction. The Bay Bridge, the busiest of the bridges that cross the bay into the city now has variable toll pricing. The standard toll for crossing bridges in the area is now $5. The Bay Bridge charges $6 for a crossing during the weekday rush hour, dropping to $4 at other times during the week and charging the standard $5 over the weekend.

Published in: on 19 July, 2010 at 12:31  Leave a Comment  


There is a website that analyzes a piece of your writing and names a famous author whose writing style matches your own. I tried nine entries from this blog. Four of them resulted in comparisons to four different authors; Margret Attwood, Mary Shelly, Lewis Carroll, and Dan Brown. The other five all claimed that my prose was similar to David Foster Wallace; the only one of the writers of whom I had not previously heard.

He wrote two complete novels and had a third unfinished at the time of his death. There is much praise for his work, but also really biting criticism:

David Foster Wallace is one of those really bad writers who decided, long ago, that he would hide his lack of talent, acumen, and skill behind a blizzard of words, then laugh at anyone unwilling to engage them as not understanding his genius.

That does not sound like the feeling I want to create among those who read the blog. Maybe, I should analyze more text until David Foster Wallace is no longer the site’s majority suggestion.

The above text is apparently like HP Lovecraft, which given the absence of adjectives such as eldritch and gibbering is difficult to understand.

[I Write Like]

Published in: on 15 July, 2010 at 20:56  Leave a Comment  

Strawberries of Wrath

Like a character from a Steinbeck novel I have toiled in the fields under the California sun to bring home meagre sustenance for my family. I now have a spiritual link to those Okies who travelled West in search of a better life.

I picked and ate the single fruit from a strawberry plant that had randomly sprouted in the tub that contains our lime tree. Sometimes the truth benefits from a little embellishment. Now to pick a Lime for a Cuba Libre

Published in: on 14 July, 2010 at 17:54  Leave a Comment  

The Beautiful Game

I am writing this on Sunday morning, about an hour before the World Cup Final is due to start. I shall see history made; no European team has ever won a tournament held outside Europe, but this year Spain play the Netherlands.

The first time I saw a World Cup in the US was some of the 1998 finals. At that time many of the games were only available on Spanish language channels. By 2006, all games were carried live on English language channels: ABC and ESPN. The commentary was almost a foreign language, as the American commentators used phrases that were wrong to my English ears. They talked of ties and not draws, used zero rather than nil, and referred to jerseys and uniforms when they meant shirts and kits. This year however the commentators used have been English and the summarizers have, with one exception, been British. The one American summarizer was John Harkes, who played in England. Therefore, this year watching and listening to the games has been a much more acceptable experience. In fact, since ABC managed to show the first England goal, it was probably a better one than was provided by ITV in the UK.

The studio guests, whilst including only one Brit, have also been overwhelmingly familiar. Jurgen Klinsman and Ruud Guilit played in English football. Roberto Martinez is currently managing a side in the English Premier League, or EPL, as it is called by American commentators.

Timezones have provided a challenge, with games at 4:30am, 7am, and 11:30am. I have recorded games to watch when I get back from work, necessitating avoiding the score. I generally managed to do this, apart from Brazil’s shock defeat. The score for that game had been written by the CIO’s PA on her whiteboard. Not only was it a shock, it ruined the chance of a party today, as I had an invite to a Brazilian World Cup Final party; issued in the confidence that Brazil would be playing today.

Published in: on 11 July, 2010 at 9:40  Leave a Comment  

Rum Deal

Before I came to the US, my drinking was focused on Beer, Wine, and Whisky. There was the occasional Gin and Tonic or Margarita, but that was about the limit of my cocktails.

In the last few years, the availability and range of cocktails has opened my palate to a wider set of choices. I make several cocktails at home and even have a printed list of house specialities. They include Cosmo (using Hanger One Mandarin Blossom Vodka), Hotel California (Orange juice, champagne, and Tequila), Lemon Drops, and Mai Tai. It is for this last one that I keep light and dark rum on the house. I also make Cuba Libre, which is a fancy name for Rum and Coke. It had never occurred to me that Rum could be sipped and savored like a fine Brandy. A few weeks back a friend of a friend assured me that this was the case. Last weekend in Puerto Rico I was able to verify this first hand. I sampled Ron de Barrilito (Rum from the little barrel). It is a complex drink with hints of many flavours. It does remind me of a good brandy. I purchased a bottle and it tastes just as good now that I am back. I have found that it can be purchased in the local booze superstore.

I am told by the aforementioned source that the very best Rum remains beyond my grasp here in the US, for the same reason that Havana cigars cannot be obtained.

Published in: on 3 July, 2010 at 18:02  Comments (1)