Monday, March 28, 2011

Number Nine

Today, I cracked open the bottle of home brew which I had labeled with the number 9 ("Number Nine, Number Nine") to indicate that I had added nine carbonation tablets. Nine was the least number of tablets that I used in a bottle. As expected, the result is a very flat beer. The taste is also a bit sour, but I believe that would be relieved with more carbonation. The white specks which are remnants of the Munton's CarbTabs were not an issue with this bottle.

Looking back over some previous posts, I noticed that two recent posts had an interesting and not immediately apparent connection. In a post from March 6, I mentioned that I saw the new Tron movie at the local $1.50 theater. Then on March 12, I posted about the bottle of home brew that contained thirteen carbonation tablets. So what, or more precisely who, is the common connection? That would be the lovely Olivia Wilde, of course. Yeah, yeah, it is a bit of a stretch, but it seemed much more interesting before I started typing this. Anyway, she plays the character Quorra in Tron: Legacy. She is probably most well known from the television show House M.D. where she plays Dr. Remy 'Thirteen' Hadley. OK, enough of that silliness, although I did I get through all that without mentioning that her character is bisexual or linking to her photos in GQ, Maxim and others (oh well).

In other news, I have finally gotten around to ordering myself a new cellphone. I have been with Sprint since I bought my first cellphone quite a few years ago. My current phone is a Sanyo RL-4920 which was originally introduced back in 2004 or so. My current contract with Sprint expired way back in 2007, but I have just never bothered to get a new phone by signing up for a new contract. I recently changed my mind, and today, I ordered the LG Rumor Touch and agreed to a two-year contract. By the way, I got the blue one and not the purple one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the Love of the Bar

I live in the northwestern region of Raleigh. The primary artery in this area is Glenwood Avenue, and my neighborhood is about halfway between the south end of Glenwood in the Glenwood South area of Raleigh and the Brier Creek neighborhood which has exploded over the last few years. It is also halfway between Crabtree Valley Mall and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. While my neighborhood has experienced some growth recently, it is a mainly a middle-aged neighborhood relative to other areas. Similar to its geographical location, it is squeezed in between the fresh-faced Brier Creek and the older downtown area. However, I would argue downtown Raleigh, particularly Glenwood South, experiences much less turnover than the more northern end of the avenue.

The Glenwood South area of Raleigh is known for its restaurants, bars and clubs. Some, like Hibernian and Sullivan's, have been in the their locations for years. Others, like Cashmere and Natty Greene's are newer and replaced previous establishments. I have spent more than a few nights out and about in Glenwood South. For a few years, El had an apartment that was only a short distance from the main strip of Glenwood South. She and I and many of our friends could walk from her place to the various establishments in the area. Nowadays however, I seldom make it downtown.

While the nightlight in my area of Raleigh is not quite so well known as Glenwood South and other areas of downtown, there are plenty of places to have a drink in the north and west areas of Raleigh. I occasionally venture out to Sawmill Tap Room, Edwards Mill, and the new Buffalo Brothers location. Back before they closed, I payed visits to Crowley's and Ben's Place which is soon to be reborn as The Luxury Box. However, I usually just frequent three places that are found along Glenwood Avenue.

Switching gears slightly, a problem that I have with people in general, but particularly with people that hang out in bars, is the gross overuse of the word "love". At least in the bars that I frequent, people are always saying how much they love each other. They also love the bartenders and servers, and of course, the bar staff always loves their patrons. To me, it all seems a bit unseemly. I understand the problem is really with the limitations resulting from the English language having a single word for love. That single word is used to cover love in all of its various forms. The ancient Greeks were much smarter about the subject than us. In fact, they were intelligent enough to have four different words for the different types of love. It just so happens that the three establishments that I most frequent can be mapped to three of the four type of love as defined by the Greeks.

First is O'Malley's which represents familial love (or storge). O'Malley's is an Irish pub that is located in the nondescript Oak Park shopping center where it is sandwiched between a hair salon and a framing store. The parking lot is populated with motorcycles and muscle cars as well as SUVs and minivans. On warm days, people of all shapes and sizes are out front with tasty beverages in their hands. For better or worse, the regular patrons of O'Malley's seem to be like a large family to me. Most of the folks seems to be particularly close and have come to be dependent on each other. However, there is also that peculiar aspect of everybody knowing the business of everybody else and all that goes along with that.

If O'Malley's is familial love, then Blinco's represents fraternal love (or philia which incidentally, is what makes Philadelphia the "City of Brotherly Love"). Blinco's is obviously a sports bar. While there are four televisions in all of O'Malley's, Blinco's has more than twenty. Blinco's is in a free-standing building that faces Glenwood Avenue. It is located in front of a shopping center whose major tenant is a Havertys furniture store. The patrons of Blinco's are generally a friendly lot. The same folks are regularly saddled up to the bar playing Buzztime trivia or poker on some of the televisions. In the fall, Blinco's is the place to be on Saturdays and Sundays to watch some football.

Finally, there is Lynnwood Grill which would be eros or what most people think when the term "love" is used. However, I do not mean that Lynnwood is love in a romantic sense but in the sense of pure lust. Lynnwood will soon be moving into a brand new building that is currently under construction across the street from its current location. The new building will have with a rooftop bar which will offer a great view of the nearby Lowe's and Target stores. At the moment, Lynnwood is holding down one end of a small strip mall. (Drinking establishments that are located in shopping centers is a common theme here in North Raleigh.) This strip mall is located between a movie theater and a Goodwill store. Most of the time, Lynnwood Grill (or "LG" as the regulars say) masquerades as a pizza joint and also serves as a watering hole for the local neighborhood. In reality though, Lynnwood is something much else. To put it simply, on weekend nights, Lynnwood becomes a prototypical meat market.

As I mentioned above, there are actually four different types of love as defined by the Greeks. As I also mentioned above, I really only frequent three local bars which map to three of those four types. I tried searching my mind to find a fourth bar which could represent the fourth type of love which is agape. To me, agape seems only slightly different from storge or familial love. Agape is suppose to be the highest form which is unconditional love, sacrificial love or charity. I guess love progresses up from eros to philia to storge and finally to agape. Anyway, I could not come up with a place that for me fit the agape type of love. Perhaps that place in on my couch with a cold glass of the home brew in my hand. Or this could mean I have not yet found a bar that I truly love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Home Brew Update

As a reminder, I currently have one-liter bottles of Mr. Beer's Octoberfest Vienna Lager which I mixed up back in January and bottled two weeks later using Munton's CarbTabs to create carbonation. Today, I cracked open the unlucky bottle marked with the number 13. I trouble getting the thirteen carbonation tablets into this bottle and ended up dropping three on the counter. I poured the brew into a frozen glass mug. Even with the thirteen carbonation tablets, there was very little head. There were white specks floating at the top of the beer. The taste was sour but still drinkable.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some New Kicks

The return of the friendly neighborhood gathering ended early tonight for yours truly. I figured I could use the extra free time on a post.

This post is for any of you out there who happen to have a shoe fetish, particularly for shoes of the athletic type. I have recently been shopping for a new pair of running shoes. I bought my most recent pair of shoes back in 2009. They were the pair that I wore when El and I ran (well, traveled) the Las Vegas Half Marathon that year. I see that the Las Vegas Marathon and 1/2 Marathon will now be held at night which sounds like fun, but they were held in the morning in 2009. If you are wondering, I finished the half in two hours, 55 minutes and 37 seconds which was only good for 13,632 place out of 17,920 overall entrants.

Back to my shoes, my most recent pair are the ASICS GT-2140 in the electric blue. I really like those shoes, but they are by now well-worn and needed to be replaced. The current version of those shoes is the GT-2160. I went to a few running and general athletic stores, and I checked out several pairs of the GT-2160. I particularly liked the look of the flame-colored ones. My pair of GT-2140 are size 12 and a half, and most stores do not stock half sizes over 12. The ones that did have my exact size did not have the flame-colored version in stock.

However, what I found during my various stops was that the stores still had stock of the previous version, the GT-2150. I spoke to one sales clerk, and she told me the GT-2150 was basically the same as the GT-2160. The GT-2150 was priced considerably cheaper. I went home and started searching the Internet for the GT-2150. I found an online store that had my size available, but I decided to skip the flame color and go with the brass. The shoes arrived about a week and a half ago which was only a couple of days after placed my order. I went for a run last weekend wearing the new shoes, and they felt really good. Now I just need to remember to buy new running shoes more often. Perhaps, my next pair will be the GT-2160 in the flame.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Little Bit of This and That

Forewarning, this post has no particular rhyme or reason.

Today, I went to the local $1.50 movie theater and saw Tron: Legacy. While it was a decent movie, it seemed like a great movie to see in 3-D, particularity IMAX 3D. Speaking of IMAX 3D, I have a guy date (is that the proper term or it is man date or bro date?) with one of my coworkers to see Hubble 3D at the local IMAX theater. He said he bought one of those two-for-one deals from Groupon or LivingSocial, but his wife balked at going to the Hubble movie with him. He has not mentioned when he wants to go, but perhaps that will be something to do next week.

Speaking of next week, this Friday marks the return of the friendly neighborhood social gathering. It was previously held every other Friday night, but recently, it has disappeared from the schedule. The last gathering was back in November for the birthday of one of the guys. That event was actually on a Saturday. The last one that I attended prior to that was at the end of July. Now, I have even volunteered to help. I have been managing the invite list, and perhaps in a few weeks, I will even host an event at my place.

Back to today, I stopped by my favorite used bookstore, The Reader's Corner, over on Hillsborough Street. As usual, I picked up a handful of books. This time, my book purchases were in three pairs plus a single. There was a whole stack of Ian Fleming's James Bond paperbacks that were printed in the mid-60s. While I am a big fan of the Bond movies, I have never read any of the books. I was able to control myself and only purchase the first two in the series, Casino Royale and Live and Let Die. Interestingly, those are not the first two that are turned into movies. The first Bond movie was Dr. No which was released in 1962 and was based on the sixth book in the series. The second movie was 1963's From Russia with Love which was the fifth book.

In addition to the two Bond novels, I picked up two books by Gore Vidal, Julian from 1964, and Myra Breckinridge from 1968. I also bought two books on science. One was The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan (of "billions and billions" fame). I bought the other science-related book purely for the title, In Search of Schrödinger's Cat by John R. Gribbin. If you do not know about Erwin Schrödinger and his infamous cat, then you should ask somebody (like a physicist) or just look it up on Wikipedia. You might also want to read up on Werner Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle. Moving right along, my final unrelated purchase was The Fourth K by Mario Puzo which is not part of Puzo's Mafia series.

I think that is enough randomness for today.