Kitty in the Coal Mine

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Author: Sandy Sue

Em in a BoxAs blasé as cats seem, they are actually quite sensitive creatures.  Stress makes them sick, especially if they are inside cats and can’t de-stress with normal feline activity like snapping a squirrel’s neck or dashing up a tree to escape the neighbor’s dog.  The urinary tract is especially susceptible.  My Henry develops crystals in his bladder without a special diet.  And now Emmett has a urinary tract infection.

Emmett has always been a Scardy Cat.  Plastic bags send him running.  As does a flushing toilet.  And don’t get me started on the vacuum cleaner.  He hates being picked up or handled in any way.  When we moved to the apartment, it took him almost two years to jump up on the bed with us at night and burrow under the covers.  He actually loves being petted and groomed, but on his terms.  That’s usually when I’m on the toilet or sitting quietly in my big chair.  I am the elephant in the room, and Emmett feels much safer if I’m not stomping around.

I knew all the hubbub this summer would be stressful for both of them—the bathroom remodel, the bed-bug inspection, and then my five days away in Minneapolis.  I tried to soften the effects—keeping them shut up with me in the bedroom while the contractors worked on the bathroom, providing lots of hide-holes, having a friend they knew come visit while I was away.   Emmett went into deep hiding, which is fairly normal for him.  But then he urinated under my chair in the living room.  Houston, we have a problem.

So off to the vet for confirmation and a time-released antibiotic.  Not a huge concern.  But, I was hysterical.

Immediately, I was reliving a time in my life when a different kitty peed where she shouldn’t.  At that time, several traumatic events happened at once.  I wasn’t just remembering that time, I was in it, feeling all the terror and helplessness from twenty years ago.  I bolted awake from nightmares.  When the UPS man rang my doorbell, I screamed.  I knew I was over-reacting, but couldn’t talk myself out of it.  Then, I remembered working with my substitute therapist, Ben, last summer, and how I had the same kind of reactions.  He named it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It was hard for me to accept.  I’m not a war veteran or a rape survivor.  But as we slowly worked through the memories and flashbacks then, I began to see that what had happened to me was bad enough.  So I went to Megan, my regular therapist, and we worked through it again.

Bed Lump

Emmett and I are slowly coming back.  He’s spent the last two weeks in the safe cubby I made for him in the bathroom with access to food, water and the litter box.  He didn’t mind me sitting next to the nest and reaching in to pet him, but he bolted when I turned on the shower.  So, on the days when I didn’t go to the Y to shower, I tucked him under a blanket on my bed.  He complained loudly about being moved and handled, but would stay under the blanket all day.  He was too scared to come out from that safe, dark place.  To make sure he drank some water and used the box, I had to pull him out and set him back in the bathroom.

His fear broke my heart, but that reaction is also part of my old trauma.  It’s confusing, this layering of past and present.

A few minutes ago, he came out of the bathroom for the first time on his own.  I tried not to make too much of it, staying put in my chair and greeting him in a soft voice.  But when he heard me, looked up and saw me, he scurried back into the bathroom.  Emmett is my mirror and my Teacher in this particular lesson.  We both need to relearn who is safe and who is dangerous.  We both need gentleness and time to come back to ourselves.

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Grilled Steak with Spicy Ssamjang Sauce

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Author: sheriwetherell

You know a meal is good when the chatter stops and all becomes silent at the table once the food arrives. A recent dinner at Girin Seattle, an upscale Korean restaurant in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square district, had me spellbound and anxious to recreate their grilled skirt steak dish at home. Served with banchan (little side dishes; see image below) and crisp leafy greens for wrapping, the unctuous steak was grilled to a perfect medium-rare, sliced, and served with whole roasted garlic and charred baby onions. And here’s where things got crazy good: you grab a lettuce leaf, lay in a couple strips of steak, toss in some of those garlic and onions, then give it all a healthy schmear of ssamjang sauce. Ssamjang sauce (ssam means “wrapping” and jang means “sauce”) is a spicy condiment with deep, bold flavors, a hefty kick of heat, and just a hint of sweetness. This dish hits all the right taste buds – fatty, salty, spicy – and delivered in a fresh, hand-held wrapper.

If you’re looking for a new twist to add to your grilled steak repertoire, this one is easy to do at home. We like skirt steak as it remains tender when grilled and has just the right amount of fat, but sirloin tip is also comparable as it has a similar loose grain that grills up nicely without being tough. Read on, your home-cooked Korean barbecue is just around the corner!

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spicy Ssamjang Sauce

Serves 4

1 to 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (or the cut of your choice), grilled then sliced into strips
1 head garlic, roasted (recipe follows), cloves left whole
4 baby onions or 1 small yellow onion, sliced 1/4- 1/2-inch thick, grilled
Lettuce leaves for serving (green leaf works best), allow a few leaves per guest
Ssamjang sauce (recipe follows)
An assortment of banchan, such as kimchi, seasoned spinach or bean sprouts, rice, etc. (optional)

Roasted Garlic
Rub a whole head of garlic with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place in a 375° F oven for 30 minutes or until garlic is soft. When ready to serve, carefully remove roasted cloves from their skin and plate.

Grilled Skirt Steak
Grill steak to the doneness of your liking, then remove from heat and allow steak to rest 10-15 minutes. Once rested, slice into 1/2-inch thick strips. Grill the onions while steak is resting.

Charred Onions
Lightly brush sliced onions with olive oil (or cooking spray) and place on the hottest part of the grill. Once deeply brown to slightly blackened on one side, carefully turn over and repeat. If your onions are quite small, use a grilling basket to prevent them from falling into your grill.

Ssamjang Sauce
Yields 2/3 cup

4 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

3 tablespoons dwenjang (also called doenjang, a fermented soy bean paste) or red miso

2 1/2 tablespoons gochujang (red chile paste)

2 tablespoons mirin
 (or 1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix ingredients in a bowl, then adjust for seasoning. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

Editor’s note: recipe is our recreation based on a dish from Girin Seattle (as shown in photo at top).

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An apple a day brings more apples your way

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Author: Tim Crowe

Shopping on a full stomach is sensible advice to prevent buying up big on foods that you don’t need. Now scientists have taken this idea further by showing that what a person eats before they shop can influence what they buy.

It is age-old advice that it is best not to grocery shop on an empty stomach if you are trying to eat better and eat less. Taking this advice one step further though and injecting some science into it, researchers from Cornell University asked the question if what a person eats before they shop could influence what they purchased. The research was published Psychology & Marketing.

In the first study, 120 shoppers were randomly given an apple sample, a biscuit sample or no sample at the start of their shopping trip. The shoppers’ purchases were then scrutinised at the end of their shop. The people given the apple sample ended up buying 28 percent more fruits and vegetables compared to those given the biscuit samples or those given nothing.

The next part of the study moved the research out of the supermarket and into the lab. Volunteers shopped online for their purchases, but just like in the first study, were given an apple or biscuit sample before they did their virtual grocery shop. When presented with 20 sets of choices containing one healthy and one less healthy option, those who received the apple sample were more likely to pick the healthier choice compared to those who ate the biscuit.

The final study gave volunteers a chocolate milk drink which was either labelled as ‘healthy’ or ‘rich and indulgent’ before they did their online shopping. Despite the drinks being the same for everyone regardless what the label stated, those that were primed by the ‘healthy’ label were more likely to choose healthier options when presented with contrasting healthy and less healthy food pairs.

The findings from the three studies illustrate the idea of ‘priming’, where exposure to a stimulus activates a conscious or subconscious mental thought related to it. For example, playing French music in a wine store increases sales of French wine.

What it all means

This was only a small study, but showed some impressive results using a very simple study design. It is a good example of ‘nudge theory’ where a small prod, in this case a healthy snack before shopping, can be enough to push people in the direction they wish to be going. Munching on an apple on the way to the supermarket may be one of the simplest and effective health promotion ideas yet.



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Do Superheroes Get PTSD?

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Author: Sandy Sue


Several Teesha stamps on this card

One of the items on my IPR Bucket List is to attend a Teesha Moore art retreat.  I found Teesha years ago when I first started using rubber stamps.  Hers were grungy, and weird, and everything I loved.  As you can see from the link, she makes bizarre-o collages and art journals, and held Artfest annually near her home in Issaquah, Washington.

First she quit making rubber stamps (boo!), then she quit offering the retreats.  I never had the funds to get out there anyway, but I always hoped—you know—someday.  So, she stayed on my list, because weirder things have happened (like me going to London last year).

Yesterday, she sent out an email to announce that Artfest had risen from the dead and would I like to register?  Boom!  Done!  Later, as I scrolled through the information about Artfest, I realized some Cosmic Convergence or Synchronicity Faerie worked unseen in the ethers, because the theme of the retreat is:

Calling All Superheroes to Unite

As Teesha says on her website:

It is my intention that by the end of Artfest Rising, we will all be flying out of there with our capes flapping in the wind and our confident faces to the skies from our newfound understanding of ourselves, our powers and our place in this world….not to mention an amazing super-sized journal packed full of the coolest artwork around!

What feels even more serendipitous is that I’ve been contemplating my super powers recently.  I know most people don’t consider mental illness a super power, but take my Clark Kent glasses for a moment and have a look-see.

dark knightThere’s Bipolar Disorder, a cross between The Dark Knight and The Human Torch.  This is Human-Torchthe veteran, the Bad-Ass, the muscle.

FataleThen, there’s Binge Eating Disorder.  She’s been around a long time, but never identified, never given her full cred in the super power department—sort of like Fatale, one of the Dark X-Men.  Deceptively evil—strong as the horse she’s usually eating.

mistiqueBut the super power that’s come out to play recently is one I know little about.  She’s a Mistique, a chameleon, blending into her surroundings for the sneak attack.  This, of course, is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She’s played me for a while now, posing as memory, setting trip wires that jettison me into past trauma with anxiety and flashbacks.  I’m not used to thinking of her as part of the Superhero Pantheon, but this girl’s got game.

These three (four, really—Bipolar could never be content with one aspect) might seem like a hinderance, a handicap, but look again at their power.  They’ve protected me, kept me safe.  Sure, there’s a price.  And the bill never gets settled.  But the more I learn about them, their origin stories, their special abilities, the more I can see their beauty.  I’m making room for them, inviting them in instead of locking them out.  It’s a tentative truce, but we’re making progress.

I can’t wait to take them all to Artfest next spring to see what happens.

We’re on an Adventure.

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Two days before DC Beer Week, it’s Cask Night!

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The 5th annual DC Beer Week begins next Sunday, but this Friday and Saturday, 7/8 August, Barrett Lauer, brewer at the District Chophouse in downtown Washington, D.C. hosts an unofficial ‘soft’ opening for DC Beer Week: Cask Night & Cask Day. Twenty-four breweries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are sending a cask ale apiece to the festival: nine each from breweries in the District and Maryland; and six from Virginia. Each will be served Friday evening for Cask Night, and, again, Saturday afternoon for Cask Day.

Here’s the lineup as it stands today. Plans may change and different casks appear. As well, ten of the casks remain yet to be announced. I’ll update this post as details come in.

  • WASHINGTON, D.C. (9)
    • 3 Stars Brewing (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Mike McGarvey
      • —> Peppercorn Saison
      • Style: Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale, aged on cherries.
      • Specs: 6.5% alcohol-by-volume (abv); cask infused with cherries.
    • Atlas Brew Works (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Will Durgin
    • Bluejacket (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Josh Chapman
    • DC Brau (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Jeff Hancock
    • District ChopHouse (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Barrett Lauer
      • —> Cheque Please
      • Style: Czech Style Pilsner
      • Specs: 5.7% abv; 70 IBUs; cask dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc; infused with hull melon.
    • Gordon-Biersch Restaurant Brewery (Washington, D.C., downtown)
      Brewer: Scott Lasater
    • Gordon-Biersch Restaurant Brewery (Washington, D.C., Navy Yard)
      Brewer: Travis Tedrow
      • —> Cream Stout
      • Style: Milk Stout with lactose
      • Specs: 5.6% abv; 23 IBUs.
    • Hellbender Brewing Company (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Ben Evans
      • —> Saison
      • Style: Hopped Saison
      • Specs: 5.9% abv; 25 IBUs; cask dry-hopped with Galaxy.
    • Right Proper Brewery (Washington, D.C.)
      Brewer: Nathan Zeender

  • MARYLAND (9)
    • The Brewers Art (Baltimore, Maryland)
      Brewer: Steve Frazier
      • —> Birdhouse
      • Style: American Style Pale Ale
      • 5% abv; 32 International Bittering Unties (IBUs)s; cask dry-hopped with Simcoe hops.
    • Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery (Hyattsville, Maryland)
      Brewer: Mike Roy
      • —> Sourgarden
      • Style: Kettle Sour ale with garden herbs
        Specs: 5% abv; 9 IBUs.
    • Gordon-Biersch Restaurant Brewery (Rockville, Maryland)
      Brewer: Christian Layke
      • —> ESB
      • Style: Extra Special Bitter
      • Specs: TBA
    • Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland)
      Brewer: Chris Leonard
      • —> Cross Bones
      • Style: Session IPA
      • Specs: 4.5% abv; 35 IBUs; cask infused with dried grapefruit.
    • Key Brewing Company (Dundalk, Maryland)
      Brewer: Mike McDonald
    • Oliver Brewing Company (Baltimore, Maryland)
      Brewer: Steve Jones
      • —> One Last Laugh in a Place of Dying
      • Style: Southern Hemisphere IPA
      • Specs: 7.5% abv; 80 IBUs.
    • Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurant (Bethesda, Maryland)
      Brewer: Geoff Lively
      • —> Scottish Export
      • Style: Scottish Export
      • Specs: 5.5% abv; 19 IBUs.
    • Union Craft Brewing Company (Baltimore, Maryland)
      Brewer: Kevin Blodger

  • VIRGINIA (6)

The District Chophouse & Brewery is located in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter (which old-timers used to call Chinatown) at 509 7th Street, NW, between E and F streets, NW, just 1 1/2 blocks south of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Red, Green, and Yellow lines. For more information, call the Chophouse on (202) 347-1922.

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Cheap and Plentiful From The Farmer’s Market

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Author: ajeanroy

Working with a food budget can be quite a challenge. Every cook knows that eating healthy is the most important thing we can do for our families, while being able to afford that diet can be a little bit harder to do. There are some ways to take advantage of any growing season(yes, even when there is snow on the ground), and find the healthiest foods available. 
Right now, it is high time in the growing season, and there is so much to choose from at the farmer’s market. Bring as many bags as you can and choose some of these foods that not only taste great on their own, they also can be easily used in more than one way. Check out this list! 
Beets and greens– Sweet beets are ready right now. If you garden, it’s also time to replant the newly harvested row for a fall harvest. If you can, buy the beets from the farmer’s market with the greens still attached. You can eat the beets roasted, boiled, grilled, pickled and more; Then eat the greens separately by sauteeing them. I like to make a mixture of rice/cheese/herbs, and placing a layer of beet greens on my cutting board with edges overlapping to make a large enough space. Then place a heaping scoop of the rice mixture in the middle of the greens and wrapping them up and placing seam side down in a baking dish. Bake in a hot oven for a few minutes to wilt the greens and serve hot. 
Kale – Yes, we are going to talk about this popular green. Kale is one of my favorite foods, and was before it was hip so I have many ways to serve it. Small, tender kale makes great salad greens, while still young but a bit larger kale leaves are great for wraps and stir fry. Even the larger kale leaves get used up. I dehydrate them until they are crisp, grind them into a nutritional powder and sprinkle on anything I can get a way with all winter long. 
Green Beans – Who can remember crunching on a fresh green bean from the garden as a child? I love entertaining my kids in the garden by seeing if they can find all the hidden beans in a row. To make it a little more fun, I grow purple beans. They turn green when cooked, but it ‘s not often that I have enough left over to actually make it to the stove. I do like to use my beans for pickling as well as eating fresh. This makes them a great addition to this double duty list of fresh foods. Pickled green beans are easy to make and taste great. 
Heading to the farmer’s market is a great way to see just what foods are available throughout the growing season, and if you shop wisely you can get more mileage out of whatever foods you buy. 

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Is it good news or bad news for U.S. hops?

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Three Five reports on hops; five conclusions.

It was all coming up roses, or hops, on 9 July, when Craft Beer Business reported that the 2015 hops harvest in the U.S. would be

the third highest total harvested acreage on record. Washington, with 32,205 acres for harvest, accounts for 73 percent of the United States total acreage. Oregon hop growers plan to string 6,807 acres, or 16 percent of the United States total, with Idaho hop growers accounting for the remaining 11 percent, or 4,975 acres strung for harvest. Acreage increased in all three States from 2014 and, if realized, both Washington and Idaho acres will be at record high levels.

But then there was this, less rosy, report from NBC News, on 25 July:

The U.S. Drought Monitor showed 98.6 percent of Washington state in a “severe drought.” The state has experienced hot and dry conditions and one of its worst mountain snowpacks on record. The lack of snowpack means there’s not enough water to replenish reservoirs.

Washington state accounts for about 73 percent of the nation’s hops acreage — and virtually all of the production takes place in the fertile Yakima Basin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We will have some fields that will probably see a little lower yield this year because of the combination of water stress and heat,” said Ann George, executive director of the Washington Hop Commission. “We really won’t know until harvest.”

Most of the current crop is already locked up by contracts, but analysts say the drought will boost prices for anything on the spot market.

Michael Butler, chairman and CEO of Seattle-based Cascadia Capital, predicted that there could be a hops shortage starting in 2016. “Next year you won’t have more land for hops,” he said. “You have a shortage of water. You’re going to have more demand from the craft breweries, and so you kind of pass the inflection point where the demand is greater for hops than the supply.”

On the other hand, the Barth-Haas Group was more sanguine in its Hops Report, the July 2015 version of its annual, international analysis of the hops industry.

The winter of 2014/2015 proved to be one of the warmest and driest in the Pacific Northwest in some time. There was very little snowfall in the Cascade Mountain Range over the course of the winter, resulting in restricted water availability to some growers in the Yakima Valley for the 2015 crop growing season. Curtailment of supply during the cooler spring months will allow them access to water during the warmer late summer months. Hop growers do not anticipate that the hop crop will suffer from lack of water.
Growers in Oregon and Idaho will likely get through the summer with little or no impact from restricted water supply.

There was wary optimism from a fourth hops report: this from Bart Watson of the (U.S.) Brewers Association, released 16 June.

The topline news is very good, showing a strong increase (16%) in acreage [in the Pacific Northwest] between the 2014 harvest and 2015 plantings, and a further shift toward the most in demand aroma varieties.

Finally, a few words about drought and climate change are in order. Although I would summarize the acreage numbers as exactly what brewers (collectively) wanted to see (though individual brewers may be various levels of pleased), the yield question is huge. A low yielding crop could easily swing a five million pound projected increase (over 2014) to a five million or – in worst case scenarios – ten million pound decrease. You don’t have to be an economist to guess what spot prices and future contracts would look like given that scenario. In addition, long term water issues could have devastating effects on the ability of new plantings to mature.

And, at Appellation Beer, Stan Hieronymus reported this today:

Earlier this week, Otmar Weingarten of the German Hop Growers Association told the those attending International Hop Growers Congress in Bavaria that production in Germany’s main hop growing regions would likely fall 12 to 22 percent short of earlier predictions. And Ann George, executive director of the Hop Growers of America, said that US alpha varieties yield would be down up to 5 percent and aroma varieties off 10 to 15 percent.

What about all the local, small-farm, non-Pacific Northwest hops we’re hearing about? Again, Bart Watson:

Some of these pressures may be mitigated down the line by hop growing regions outside the Pacific NW. Michigan has ~400 acres now and another ~400 being planted and strung. Other regions like the Northeast are also being expanded. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme, a few thousand acres here and there do very little in a hop market if the ~44,000 acres in WA, OR, and ID see serious shocks.

Wait and see, but the bottom-dollar line is that breweries should have secured their hops contracts by now. Or, as Mr. Watson suggests: “If you want to throw in a little rain dance, that would be fine too.”


According to the Barth Haas report, worldwide planting of hops in 2014 was 47,666 hectares, an increase of 3.3% over 2013; world hops production equaled 96,477 metric tons in 2014, an increase of 15.9% over 2013. A hectare is the equivalent of 2.47 acres, and a metric ton is the equivalent of 2,204.6 U.S. pounds.
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Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 28/29, 2015.

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Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 26/27
5 July – 18 July 2015

  • 18 July 2015
    “Hops have worked their way to the gustatory core of most craft beer recipes.” That, and the results of an annual look at the world hops business from the Barth-Haas Group.
    —Via Stan Hieronymus, at Appellation Beer.
  • 17 July 2015
    Belgian brewery, Duvel Moortgat, buys its third American ‘craft’ brewery: Firestone-Walker, in Paso Robles, California.
    —Via USA Today.
  • 15 July 2015
    Since 1996, Pabst has been a contract brewery; its beers brewed for it by others. Now, Pabst is to brew beer again, on the grounds of its former headquarters, in Milwaukee. But not its flagship Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR); and the facility will be a small brewpub.
    —Via USA Today.
  • 13 July 2015
    More than 150 beer writers from across the U.S. participated in the 2015 iteration of the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference, in Asheville, North Carolina. The conference included “a lot of beer,” but it’s not just an excuse to drink, said conference organizer, Allan Wright of Zephyr Adventures and Taste Vacations. “This is a a professional conference, not a drinker’s conference. “Everyone who comes is fairly committed” to writing about beer, he said.

    —Via Asheville Citizen-Times.
  • 10 July 2015
    The (U.S.) Brewers Association published the results of its annual “Brewery Operations Benchmarking Survey.” This year’s review, based on 2014 operations, featured responses from three hundred ten unique breweries in forty-six states, all of which responded to questions in the areas of human resources, sales and marketing, and brewing and financial operations.
    —Via Brewbound.
  • 14 July 2015
    After a nine and one-half year voyage of three billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons probe passed within seven thousand eight hundred miles of the dwarf planet Pluto’s surface.
    —Via Sydney Morning Herald.
  • 13 July 2015
    European leaders agree to economic ‘rescue’ plan for Greek government and banks, averting default.
    —Via Washington Post.
  • 12 July 2015
    An asset management company, using the price of beer sold at Oktoberfest in Munich over fifty years as a benchmark, creates a gold-to-beer price index, and finds that beer in 2015 is relatively inexpensive.
    —Via YFGF.
  • 10 July 2015
    Doh! Cartoon character Homer Simpson’s beer of choice, Duff Beer, to be brewed in reality, and sold, licensed by Fox TV, in Chile.
    —Via Wall Street Journal.
  • 9 July 2015
    The 2015 hop harvest in the U.S. “will be the third highest total harvested acreage on record. Washington, with 32,205 acres for harvest, accounts for 73 percent of the United States total acreage. Oregon hop growers plan to string 6,807 acres, or 16 percent of the United States total, with Idaho hop growers accounting for the remaining 11 percent, or 4,975 acres strung for harvest. Acreage increased in all three States from 2014 and, if realized, both Washington and Idaho acres will be at record high levels.”
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.
  • 5 July 2015
    The science of beer and food pairing: finding the affinity between flavor compounds in beer and those in food.
    —Via Matt Humbard, at A Ph.D. in Beer.
  • 5 July 2015
    “Don’t waste your piss.” A Danish music festival recycles urine to fertilize barley used to brew beer.
    —ViaDaily Mail.
  • 5 July 2015
    How many calories are in your beer? Use this formula: “cal per 12 oz beer = [(6.9 × ABW) + 4.0 × (RE – 0.1)] × FG × 3.55.” Or, to approximate: multiply the beer’s alcohol content percentage (ABV) by 2.5, and that by the number of ounces of beer.
    —Via Beer of Tomorrow.
  • 5 July 2015
    In May, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) released its 2015 Beer Guidelines. The first major revision since 2008, the guidelines list thirty-four categories of beer ‘styles,’ and one hundred-nineteen sub-categories. The BJCP was founded in 1985 to “develop standardized tools, methods, and processes for the structured evaluation, ranking and feedback of beer, mead, and cider,” and to “certify and rank beer judges through an examination and monitoring process, sanction competitions, and provide educational resources.”
    —Via BJCP.
  • 5 July 2015
    “Like grammar, beer styles have a functional use. They help us communicate. They are provisional agreements.” Beer writer Jeff Alworth examines the utility and limitations of beer ‘styles.’
    —Via All About Beer.


  • Clamps and Gaskets is a bi-weekly wrap-up of stories  not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not.
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.
  • For more from YFGF:

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Call Me Crazy, But…

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Author: Sandy Sue

smoking-gunNot again.

Another movie theater.  Another slaughter.  Another deranged man with a gun.  Another gun that never should have found its way into that man’s hands.

At the same time, Iowa’s governor is trying to close down the last two mental health hospitals in the state.  Plus, Iowa’s psychiatrists receive the 4th lowest Medicare reimbursement rate in the nation.  In 2011, we ranked 47th in the nation for the number of psychiatrists per capita, and the exodus is ongoing (who could blame them?).

No psych docs.  No hospitals.

And no gun control.

So, why aren’t mass murders happening in my cineplex?

Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, said in a 2014 interview that a history of violent or assaultive behavior is a better indicator of future violence than any mental illness diagnosis.  Substance abuse is also a strong indicator of violent behavior.  Mental illness is a risk factor for suicide, he said, not for homicide.

People with severe mental illness are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of violent crime.

Do we know yet if drugs or alcohol were involved in the Louisiana case?  No mention one way or the other, but we know he had a history of violence.  And we sure do know he was bipolar.  The media latched onto that buzzword immediately.

It seems clear to me—people who are drunk, high, or beat their wives should never be allowed to buy a gun.  People who have a history of hurting other people or themselves should never be allowed to buy a gun.  Period.  I would be included in that group because I tried to kill myself once.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think I should have a gun either, because I’d hurt myself before I’d open fire at the next Marvel movie.

Still, the debate about rights and mental illness keeps us from actually doing something about the guns.  Diversion tactics.  When will we stop talking around the problem?  When?

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Virginia to celebrate Craft Beer Month in August.

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Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe proclaims August to be Virginia Craft Beer Month, and Virginia breweries will celebrate … and compete.

Virginia Craft Beer Month 2015

WHEREAS, brewing homegrown, locally sourced beer in Virginia is a tradition that began in 1587, when Virginia colonists brewed their first ale using corn; and

WHEREAS, the production of craft beer stimulates economic growth in Virginia by supporting local farmers of grains, barley, and hops; and

WHEREAS, the craft beer industry also supports a growing $623 million economic impact in Virginia, along with more than 8,000 jobs; and

WHEREAS, Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, established in 2010 as a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in Virginia, will host the 4th annual Virginia Craft Brewers Fest on August 22, 2015, at Devils Backbone Basecamp in Nelson County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, there are more than 115 licensed craft breweries in the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, Virginia Craft Brewers Month is an opportunity to celebrate the Commonwealth’s craft beer and the business and community leaders working to grow the industry;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize August 2015 as VIRGINIA CRAFT BEER MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA,and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

‘Craft’ beer1 is a booming business in Virginia. In just one year, the state has seen a 47% increase in the number of its breweries. Excluding Anheuser-Busch in Williamsburg, and MillerCoors in Elkton, Virginia, there are now one-hundred twenty-one licensed ‘craft’ breweries in Virginia, six more than the Governor proclaimed. In 2014, there were eighty-two ‘craft’ breweries in the state; in 2013, just over fifty.2

The greater portion of this growth can be tracked back to 2012, to the passage of Virginia Senate Bill 604 and House Bill 359, that allowed production breweries —that is, breweries without a restaurant attached (aka brewpubs)— to sell beer for on-site consumption in their public taprooms. That same year, the Virginia legislature first proclaimed August to be Virginia Craft Beer Month.

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild —a subset of the Virginia Manufacturers Association— “is a coalition of independent, small, commercial breweries dedicated to growing the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth.” Every year, since 2012, the Guild has celebrated Virginia Craft Beer Month by organizing the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest at the fairgrounds of Devils Backbone Brewing, in Roseland, Virginia. This year, that will be on Saturday, 22 August.

A highlight of the festival is the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup to the state’s best beer(s) and brewery. Nationally accredited judges (BJCP, the Beer Budge Certification Program) judge entries independently, earlier in the month. Last year they judged over two-hundred beers entered in fourteen categories.

Host brewery Devils Backbone has won the Cup —and bragging rights as Virginia’s best— three years running. This August, one-hundred twenty other breweries may have plans to wrest that away.


As of today, the Guild has announced only the Fest as an event for Virginia Craft Beer Month. Another good calendar resource is the Virginia Beer Trail (not affiliated with the Guild), created by blogger Kory Mohr. Look for events with the tag, Virginia Craft Beer Month. Or, if you’re a brewery or pub or venue celebrating Virginia Craft Beer Month with an event(s), post an announcement at the site.
More on the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, on 22 August, and how to get tickets: here.
The results of the 2014 competition: here.
1 There is no legal or governmental definition of ‘craft’ brewery. However, the (U.S.) Brewers Association does define it, for purposes of membership, as “small, independent, and traditional”: here.
2 The list of breweries operating in Virginia can be obtained at the website of the Virginia ABC (Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control). More on the 2014 number (83): here. On the 2013 count (50): here.

For more from YFGF:

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