Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go was released on 2016-07-06. For 4-6 weeks after that, Erin and I played it almost every single day. We took the dog to random parks for hours and explored and met people. Yesterday I finally broke the 100 mile mark playing it. That’s 100 miles that I would not have walked and run without a video game. That is something that I never thought would happen because of a game.

This game is everything that I wanted from Pokémon in 2001. It’s so exciting to have functional augmented reality. It’d be nice to have more functionality like trading and battling friends, but capturing Pokémon and battling gyms is fun. It’s really cool to see dozens of people out in parks playing a game and interacting with people who they never would have ever met. It’s fun to explore local towns and parks that I have never been to.

I’m only at level 21 and haven’t been playing much the past few weeks. I also have only 91 out of the possible 142 Pokémon available in North America. It takes a lot of time to get better, and I unfortunately do not have that right now. It’s just a fun game for me ^_^

Current highest level Pokémon
Current highest level Pokémon

yard sports

Erin designed and sewed some unique corn hole bags for our friends’ co-ed baby shower (“BabyQ” instead of BBQ) yesterday. They were received well. I painted a set of boards to match. It was a fun & busy & long day full of friends and family and children running around playing.

2016-08-15_cornhole_erin

Also since it was only 95° out, I decided to take my chainsaw out at 1300 to cut up a large branch that fell at my mother-in-law’s house. That was fun.

2016-08-15_chainsaw

drink local

This post was written on 2015-10-12 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-12. It’s sort of disjointed even though I already split it up into two separate posts, but I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked publish.

Drinking local beverages, whether that be coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine, or liquors, is an extension of the recently popularized “eat local” movement. To people just a few generations ago, this idea would have been common sense, but capitalism and some wars and insane advertising happened and for several decades Americans have had options limited by just a few major producers with limited offerings and mediocre quality. Many local producers had to close up shop because they couldn’t match the prices of mass producers or meet the crazy regulations placed on them by the government.

The eating and drinking local movement has become popular again recently because, in my opinion, it is a way to support local artisans, businesses, and chefs. Supporting local shops has become a more normal thing to do and people have started to understand that it helps everyone involved and cycles money back into their own families and businesses, encourages diversity, strengthens the community, and is more sustainable (see this Time article or this Huffington Post article to learn more). People enjoy creating something unique and doing it for their own community and sharing it with their friends and neighbors. These products combine local ingredients, history, and names, are often higher quality than mass produced products, and are a reason to be proud of your local community.

Local craft breweries have been opening up all over the area and it’s really exciting to me. Within 10-15 miles there are several establishments that I can drive to for a good meal with delicious food and fresh beer. I can bring home a growler or stay a few hours to see local original music. It’s one of my favorite things. There are also local distilleries and meaderies and wineries and cideries and coffee roasters that are passionate about what they produce and are eager to share what they do with anyone who is interested.

Recently someone in my life asked what I was doing that weekend and I responded that I was attending a craft beer festival (Cheesetoberfest). That person then asked me what craft beer was. I did not know how to respond. It took me by surprise and it’s something that I thought every adult who isn’t living under an actual rock knows about.

One of the hardest things that I have learned about becoming an adult is realizing that not everyone in my life has had the same privileges or experiences. It’s weird to say, but craft beer and purchasing/drinking local is something that I am excited about. Not everyone understands this or understands how to brew beer or taste beer, but everyone can enjoy beer. It just takes time to communicate with people who may have a completely different perception of what beer is. Once someone can understand that and taste a style of beer that they enjoy, I feel like they get it. There is more out there than just American adjunct light lager.

The craft beer industry is complicated. I’ll eventually follow this up with a post about my thoughts on macro beer monopolies and craft beer ownership, but for now I’ll just say that you should know who makes the beer that you drink. Many local breweries make great beer, and we should be proud of that. Here is a map to show you where the closest brewery to your location in the USA.

Also, here is a photo of me and my wife at Cheesetoberfest, an excellent event run by Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, DE:

Europe Day 3-5

This post was written on 2015-09-12 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-09.

The Irish are too quiet.

2015-09-09 DUBLIN (Guinness Storehouse) (Approximately 8 km city walking)
2015-09-10 DUBLIN (Howth) (Approximately 30 km round trip by train + ~7 km hiking)
2015-09-11 0835 flight, DUBLIN -> CARDIFF for 1/2 day (Doctor Who Experience) (Approximately 295 km flight) & 1530 drive to LONDON. (Brand New concert) (Driving distance: approximately 265 km)
-> Days 3-5

We started off Wednesday morning sleeping until around 1400. Somehow. I guess that’s how jetlag might work. Since that didn’t leave a lot of time in the day, we decided to find the Guinness Storehouse and take the legendary tour. I’m really glad that we did. They have an impressive museum-type exhibit dedicated to showcasing their company’s history and advertising, as well as showing in layman’s terms how beer, specifically stout, is brewed. They also had crazy Willy Wonka style aromatic mist cloud machines at the start of the tasting experience that gave a rough idea of the aromas from the base ingredients (hops, grain, & yeast). We learned how to pour our own proper Guinness pints. The staff gave us an extra pint and then a local gave us tickets for two more free pints. It was nice. From the top of the storehouse there is a 360° view of Dublin and they have glass walls and a circular bar. It was a really good experience that was definitely worth the relatively small student ticket price.

Afterwards we wandered around exploring for a bit and then started to head towards the Temple Bar tourist area downtown to find some dinner at a pub. Porterhouse makes some of their own beers, so we went there. Erin had a black pudding boxty and I had some delicious tomato and pesto fusilli pasta. I also tried their “An Brainblásta” strong ale. Strong ale is a weird style because it is relatively broad and you never know exactly what to expect. I figured this one would be more of malt forward and have a caramel/nutty aroma and a drier finish like a typical British strong ale. It was relatively mild though and not too exciting. From the few beers that I tasted in Dublin, fresh Irish beer is different than I expected. It was all relatively traditional and boring. After dinner, a band started playing cover versions of American songs, played on American guitars, through American made guitar pedals, and with American made amps. It was interesting but not what we were there for. We left and went to Temple Bar to hear some actual Irish music played by a wonderful little band. Lots of banjo and bodhrán and some penny whistle. Drank another pint there then headed back to our Airbnb.

Thursday we decided take the light rail (the Luas) out to a Dublin suburb fishing village called Howth. It was eerily quiet on the tram. The ride was cheap and scenic. We arrived in Howth, got our bearings, checked when the last return train was, and set out on an easy hike along the coast. It was beautiful. We walked the longer trail around the point of the peninsula and took our time to look at all the cliffs and homes and fields and views. We got to the highest point (“Binn Éadair”) and then came back into the town. We decided to have dinner at a local pub and discovered that they can’t legally serve a medium or rare burger in Ireland. My well cooked burger was tasty though. After dinner we took the train back to Dublin and called it a night.

Later I read about a legend that the burial cairn at the highest point of the path (171m), “the Ben of Howth,” is said to be the final resting place of the last of the Irish giants (I don’t really know what an Irish giant is though). There is also an extremely old Howth Castle there that we did not see. I also wanted to know what the bird was that was flying around and following us for part of the walk. I’m pretty sure it was a common magpie (P. Pica, which is a funny name).

On Friday morning, we got up early and missed a bus to the airport (we were inside asking the bus station attendant why the bus was late and then it drove by without stopping). There was a taxi driving by that probably recognized that we were waiting for a bus that had just left, so he stopped and let us split the fair to the airport with a man who was already in the passenger seat. We got to the airport in time and everything worked out. We then flew to Cardiff and rented a car. I asked if they had any maps for sale and the woman happened to have a really nice UK road atlas that someone else had left in a car that she gave to us for free.

The rental car we got was a manual Ford C-Max, which is a big vehicle for tiny UK roads. The layout of the gear shifter was different than any American shifter either of us had ever used, which initially caused some trouble. Eventually we made it out of the parking lot and Erin drove on all the crazy left hand roundabouts while I navigated. We made it from the airport to Cardiff Bay.

I’ll have to write an entire separate post about the Doctor Who Experience. I am so glad that we were able to see this, even though it’s all that we did in Wales (except drive). Really cool and unique stuff.

Afterwards we grabbed some snacks and coffee and Erin started driving us to London. In Friday rush hour traffic. That was a mistake that we did not even consider. It was a relatively scenic drive though and our weirdness helped us pass the time yelling things in the car and looking at cows and making up silly songs. Eventually we got into London and using our map, I navigated to our new Airbnb home. I might have mentioned in the previous post that we did not get international cell phone coverage. In hindsight, that was probably something I would have changed, but in the moment we were always able to work around it using wifi. It was only really a problem when we weren’t in cities.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our Airbnb host (he was an awesome violinist with a crazy & unique house – we slept in the recording studio), who had just greeted someone. We got directions and drove to a venue called Alexandra Palace (“Ally Pally” as he called it) to see one of my favorite bands, Brand New. We had seen them a few weeks earlier at Brewery Ommegang, but when she saw that they would be in Europe while we were there, Erin bought tickets. We had planned to stay one night in Wales, but the London tour date changed our schedule. I’m so glad that we were able to be flexible with all of our travel dates. It was such a unique and memorable experience to see and hear all the British fans singing along to songs I grew up with. Such an incredible show.

Side story about parking at the venue – in the US, when you pull up to a parking lot attendant, the first thing they say is “$20” or “$10,” so when we pulled up to the nice British man and he said “Bay 12” in a British accent, we thought he said “Pay £12.” It was awkward. Erin offered to give him £10 and he said he would take it, but parking was free. We kept the money, awkwardly laughed, and parked in Bay 12. Then we had to pick up the tickets at will call which was slightly complicated because even though we purchased will call tickets, they had for some reason mailed them to our US address, but after we had left the country. Also a big security guard told us to be careful of pickpockets, which we had read were a problem near that venue.

The drive home was easy enough and we fell asleep on a mattress on our host’s recording studio floor, surrounded by instruments and audio gear and with a disco ball above our heads. It was an excellent first day in London.

Want to read more? Previous Euroblog post – “Europe Day 1-2”