Archive for the ‘Potables’ Category

Long-Distance Weather Empathy

May 4th, 2010

In another brief sadness, I think how much my late mother would have enjoyed our recent water crisis. It wasn’t that she was mean, but temperature, precipitation and nature news gave her yet another moment to empathize, commiserate or identify with her distant son.

Some wit called the Weather Channel the MTV of the senior set. That was true enough for her. She lived in Santa Fe, which was a splendid touchstone. Look at the serpentine isotherms from their mountains to our ocean and you’ll often find a solid path and the same temperature. She liked that. She’d catch the weather and let us know before we had noticed that we had the same.

In this case, she would have been concerned for our health and the inconveniences of boiling water. Then again, she ran Red Cross chapters when we grew up, leading disaster preparedness weekends for hundreds of emergency responders. Boiling water was a wee part of those. Likewise, I camped many times a year with family or Boy Scouts. Boiling stream and lake water was part of the shtick.

In fact, I bet she would not have trumped us with Santa Fe being in its tenth or so year of drought. Instead, we had a scant three days of pseudo-emergency.

This morning I had coffee (TC’s found water somehow, somewhere) with City Councilor John Connolly. He and I concurred that, yes it was a better-safe-than-sorry routine, and yes, we did boil our water, but it was extremely likely that the pond and reservoir water that replace our usual in the pipes was quite safe. Also, as far as I’ve seen, no one has had any ill effect of drinking tap water from Saturday into Tuesday.

Instead, we saw the predictable baseness and stupidity of the worst of us. As with any pending snowstorm or nearly any remarkable weather, the hoarders went into crazy-selfish mode. This time they emptied the stores of jugs and bottle of water, vastly more than they would need. They literally would reject the human quality of shared need to be damned sure they had theirs. It’s a bit amusing now to think of the many with 10, 20 or 50 gallons of expensive water. I bet they even think it was wise and necessary. Harrumph!

In a vaguely related joke, the pump arrived today. Back in the multiple floods of March, during the wettest season on record in Boston, we had a utility pump, which did a fine job on the first basement-floor flood. Come the second one though two weeks later, it failed.

Home Depot was very pleasant in giving us a credit for our new dead pump, but the hoarders had been there. Both my wife and I trotted to home centers and hardware stores to hear there wasn’t a pump available in eastern Massachusetts.

Too much water, too little water…let us stop and enjoy the humor of it.

Regardless, we may never again have such a supersaturation of the ground here and the flood it brought. My form of better-safe-than-sorry was to order a pump to have at the ready.

This time, I had the luxury of shopping around, reading customer reviews and comparing features. I ended up going, as usual to Northern Tool. They have nearly everything, at fine prices, and often free shipping.

pumpOf course, even I know it was funny that I was pleased when the pump arrived last evening. The no-clean (maybe)-water crisis was basically over and the floods seemed so distant in sun and 83 degrees. Yet, just owning the pump, which I hope never to use, is reassuring.

As it were for my second flood, I used the six-gallon capacity wet vac for 200 or more suck-and-dump operations over two days to keep ahead of the water. I had blisters and many stiff muscles. I’d rather never do that again. I think hooking the hose to the pump, running the free end out the window and plugging in my new buddy is more my idea of the task.

So, here we are, living in a place and time where water is not even a consideration. We twist the spigot, plunge the toilet handle, and pay the monthly bill — the cheapest of our utilities.

Yes, we know vaguely that a few in the United State and a few billion in the larger world do not have potable water or enough for themselves or their crops. Allegedly during the past several days, many here have waxed empathetical about the deprived. I question their situational sincerity. They, as I, are used to water as desired.

Not too little water and not too much, if you please. That generally doesn’t seem a lot to ask to those of us accustomed to that. At least it didn’t seem untoward until recently.

My mom would have had some wisdom for both the floods and the (maybe) impure water. I know she would have relished the commentary.

Tags: , , , , pump

Mug Clubs I Have Known

October 18th, 2007

Watch City Brewing in Waltham (of course) is on the extreme end of this short spectrum. An annual fee of $35 leases you your very own numbered crystal mug. That’s right, no one else’s lips should ever touch your rim. The mug holds 20 ounces. You pay for the pint and get the kick. You also pay half price for appetizers. If you lunch there regularly, it’s a deal. (My mug four two years when I worked close enough was #77.)

The middle of the mug schemes is Rock Bottom. All their restaurants offer a free mug club. You drink from the plebian common rack of mugs, but after you sign up, you also get an extra four ounces each time. In addition, they keep tabs and present you with RB branded swag (pint glass, hat and such) to keep you coming.

The serious swiller’s favorite has to be the same as mine though. Boston (and Salem) Beer Works have a VIP Club. It’s free and includes a simple scheme to keep you drinking. Every month, they give you up to $10 off if you spend at least $20 — beer, food or a combo. Sweet.

They also just changed from having you print out your monthly email to giving you a card linked to your account. Supposedly, the beer elves will store value in your account and keep track of it. I suspect the real motivation is not exactly the customer convenience they pitch. I never did, but I don’t see what would have prevented a customer from printing more than one copy of the email and getting that discount several times a month. I doubt the beer police would show up and certainly no one you want to know is interested in your beer after you’ve used it.

Bless them though. Of those three models, you know my choice and which one keeps me warming the stool.

Chat with Canal Street Beer God

October 18th, 2007

Boston Beer Works on Canal has as many wide-screen TVs as a Circuit City. I had better entertainment yesterday in the person of Herb Lindtveit.

The brewmaster is a sturdy fellow, who looks like he could tuck a keg under each arm and walk. He came behind the bar when my friend John and I were holding forth on something we likely thought was important. In his heavy dark blue coveralls with Herb on the right pec, he was finishing his day and feeling chatty.

We’re fans of his, even though this was the first time we met him or knew his name. We like a number of his beers, ales and barley wines, and are strong fans of his IPA. We bring IPAs at places like Redbones and the Sunset, which often have many on tap. BBW’s version is our touchstone and we often recommend it to others.

It never hurts to begin a conversation praising the other guy, so long as you’re sincere. We know his work.

Five years ago, Herb made a minor splash throughout the country with his comments about how beer helps build strong bones. As brewers are wont, even there he was talking enzymes and chemistry. It’s refreshing today to run across experts who aren’t about self-promotion.

Hercules Strong Ale shirt detailIn fact, Herb is pretty modest. He readily admitted that the original IPA recipe was from another brewmaster, Steve, from 15 years ago. However, Herb says he makes a lot of it. “IPA sells faster than I an brew it.” He also brews it for the sister Salem Beer Works. They truck the output to Cape Ann.

Salem’s brewing facilities are limited. They can’t brew as many varieties with their smaller equipment. There’s only so much hops they can handle at a time.

He had an answer for my complaint about the rarity of their Hercules Strong Ale, as well as the t-shirt. That shirt, as in the detail here, is surely the most attractive one they ever produced. Plus, mine is wearing out. Herb has nothing to do with the shirt designs and stock, but he does know about the brew.

It is actually a barley wine carrying 11.5% alcohol. That’s twice that of a strong beer. In addition, Herb said that it has to age for several months. Before that, it is what he calls “hot.” It needs to mellow as it age to for its best flavor. He said there was some in storage doing just that upstairs. The Canal Street BBW will release it in a few weeks.

Like summer, when it’s gone, it’s gone.

He talked a bit about yeast too. He said most commercial bottlers and many big micro-brewers develop their own yeast. Others buy from two standard yeast suppliers. BBW has it own.

We all agreed that beer that’s pasturized to keep in stores lacks something fresh beer has. In Herb’s terms, “You can always tell when it’ pasturized. It just doesn’t have that spunk to it.”

Finally, he cleared up the wall mystery. I had asked waitrons and managers, but no one could tell me for sure what that gigantic steep circular door-like thing on the wall over the booths is. Herb said the building used to be a factory. That is the opening to the boiler where they piled the coal. They moved it upstairs as decoration during reconstruction.

Well, I’ll be checking back for more Herc. When it’s gone, it’s gone.