May 29, 2009

Teaching to paddle.

When I was younger my father taught me how to canoe. My father is far from a perfectionist, but he always held to the motto that if you are going to do something, do it right. While I was learning from him, if I made any mistakes, I would hear about it until I did it right at least a dozen times in a row. Fortunately for me, I picked up canoeing like a fish to swimming.

As I got older and joined the Boy Scouts I went on to earn my Canoeing merit badge. The leader that taught it was the Scout Master of our troop. It was going to be my father, but since I signed up for it, my dad backed down and Mr. P stepped up. There were some unwritten rules in my troop. (That I think all troops should have) The first is that if at all possible a parent will not sign off for a son on any advancements. The second was under no circumstances would they discourage a boy from trying to learn something they are interested in. In my case, my father was the strong canoeist, but since I wanted to earn that merit badge and Mr. P. was also certified to teach it, then they would have him do it.

Now being at the ripe ol’ age of 11, and having been canoeing for a couple of years under my father’s tutelage, I was more in the classes as a formality. I ended up pissing off Mr. P a couple of times because as he’s trying to teach stuff, I’m doing it already. He wasn’t really mad, just more annoyed by the fact that I was doing too good of a job for “a rookie”. Of course he did get pissed when I corrected him a couple of times. That year for summer camp our troop went to the Northwoods for a canoeing trip. My father and I were partners.

My dad still tells people with pride that after that trip they would never let him and me in the same canoe again unless they weighed us down with extra weight and passengers. We would get a rhythm going and out pace everyone else. I even remember Mr. P making a comment along the lines of, “I should have known not to let you two go together after the merit badge lessons.”

A year later they had another canoeing class. My father couldn’t make it, so Mr. P ended up instructing it again. He needed an assistant, and after the previous year he asked me to help him with the boys. The year after that they got me certified to teach the canoeing merit badge and from the age of 13 through 18 I taught numerous kids the art of canoeing. I taught kids that didn’t have the first clue about boats and canoes and turned them into really strong canoeists.

I don’t canoe anywhere near as much as I once did. In fact before last year's canoe trip it had been almost 8 years since the last time I had set foot in a canoe. Let me tell you, canoeing is like riding a bike. Once you learn to do it, you’ll never forget. As soon as I got back into the canoe, it was like a flood gate opened and all the stuff I thought I had forgotten came back, including the urge to paddle.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because tomorrow, if the weather holds out, I’m taking the family canoeing. We are going to the local State Park and I have to teach Ktreva and Clone canoeing basics. The thing is that in years past when I taught kids, they weren’t my family. This time it is. I just hope I’m a bit more patient then my father. I also hope that Ktreva and Clone don’t flip the canoe on me. But just so you know, I am planning on getting wet. I’m bringing out the Boy Scout motto here, “Be Prepared.” So swimsuits and sandals tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Contagion at 06:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

by a hair.

Anyone that has met me knows that I'm a rather hairy man. As I've aged, unlike most of my friends, I've gained more hair. I haven't lost any. Let's compound this with the fact that my hair tends to be course and wiry. I've worn out multiple trimmers, clippers and electric razors over the years. After I've trimmed my facial hair, I've run my hands through my goatee and come away with hair slivers.

To make matters worse, this hair is growing out of my nose this way. I used to joke that I didn't have a mustache, I just combed my nasal hair into one. Unfortunately I often did use my mustache to hide my nasal hair. I used to trim it, even when it would wear out my trimmer. Then a couple of months ago, my trimmer disappeared.

My nose hair started growing at an alarming rate. I had to do something about it when one day one of the hairs was so long, I could almost chew on it. So I did the only thing I could think of doing, I started plucking my nose hairs out.

Sure it hurt at first. After the first couple of weeks, I started getting used to it. Now it doesn't bother me at all. Well, okay, occasionally I grab one that is well rooted and it hurts, but most of the time it doesn't.

Ktreva is upset over this. She doesn't want me yanking my nose hairs out one or two at a time. She wants me to buy another trimmer that will wear out. I figure I can keep this up and it won't cost me a thing. What really bothers her is that I do it while riding in the van or while watching TV. So she watches me do it, and it causes her to squirm and hold her own nose and pain.

My thing is that it doesn't harm her any. I'm not yanking her nasal hairs out, just my own. She has asked me to stop, but honestly, I think it's easier.

What do you all think, should I stop or should I continue?

Posted by Contagion at 07:33 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

O'Hara's Irish Stout

Tonight we hit one more beer towards Petey reaching the mythical Full Enabler status. For tonight we review O’Hara’s Irish Stout by the Carlow Brewing Company, Stanton Road, Carlow, Ireland.


The delivery method was an 11.2 fl. Oz./330 ml brown bottle. The label is black with golden Celtic designs on the edge of the labels. The name of the beer is in a Celtic style font in the middle. Under the name it states, “A full bodied and luxuriously smooth stout with a discernible roast bite.” Across the top it proudly proclaims “imported from Ireland.”

It is black, like a dark coffee. Light barely passes through the beer, and when it does there is a crimson tint to it. A thick tan head forms when the beer is poured. It fades slowly to a film on the top of the beer. There is some lacing on the side of the glass.

The smell is a rich blend of a dark roasted coffee with cream. There is a touch of a chocolate undertone to it. The scent reminded me of a Starbuck’s Frapuccino. The scent was so inviting I could hardly wait to taste it. When I took my first sip, I was kind of disappointed. It didn’t live up to the smell. The taste was a dry mixture of roasted coffee and chocolate malts. There is a mild bitterness to the finish. As the beer warms closer to room temperature the flavors open up even more.

In contrast to what the label claims, this is a medium bodied beer. There is barely any creaminess to it that is normally associated with stouts.

When I took my first smell of this beer, I was greeted with such a phenomenal scent that I was sure this was going to be one of the best stouts I’ve had in a long, long time. However, the taste did not match the scent and I was disappointed. There is a good taste to it, but it just didn’t live up to the smell. With a 4.3% ABV, I could see sitting with friends and drinking this in an evening at the pub. I give it 6.5 out of 10.

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As the rain slowly fell today, all I can think about is how I would rather be camping right now. I’d rather be huddled under a rain fly and trying to keep a campfire burning than having spent my entire day at work.

I’m grateful that I have a job right now, especially one that could be considered a steady position. Yet at the same time I keep thinking about just how much I get no satisfaction, joy or sense of being from it. Seriously, most of the time I view my duties as being boring, redundant and less than stimulating. I’ve actually lost any amount of caring I had about the company that employees me. At one time, I actually cared and tried to do what’s best for them, now I just don’t care.

I’d start an earnest attempt at procuring new avenues of employment, but thanks to the severely bad management of this country by its elected officials, government appointees, and the citizenry that failed to remove them from those positions, we have an economy that really is unfriendly toward the job seeker. The only joy I take in life right now is my family and friends, but I feel for my friends because so many (too many) of them are feeling the crunch of this insipid economy.

The few things I enjoy in life, I just couldn’t make a living on, even if the economy was better. My hobbies are ones that in general cost money, not make it. Unfortunately I do not think they have a job for the drinking re-enactor that likes to barbeque while shooting, camping and watching movies. If they do, someone please point me in the right direction. I really need a change of scenery.

Posted by Contagion at 04:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 25, 2009

Another Beer Tasting in the books.

The second annual Miasmatic Review Beer tasting is in the books, and I feel it was a success. There were some good beers drank, and some beers that I think people are glad they got to try so they know not to buy them in the future. I didn't do scores like last year, because this is a beer tasting, not a review. My goal was to let people experience and taste new beers for themselves, inspire discussion about the beers and let them feel free to form their own opinions. Where as by having everyone score it, I think it may have put pressure on people last year.

The beers we tasted were:
Flight one: Czech Pilsners
Pilsner Urquell
Kursovice Imperial

Flight Two: Beers by Bell's Brewery
Lager of the Lakes (American Pale Lager)
Amber Ale (American Amber/Red Ale)
Oberon Ale (American Pale Wheat)

Flight Three: American Porters
Anchor Porter
Founders Porter
New World Porter

Bonus Flight: Mystery beer!
I did a blind tasting. Basically I obscured all information about the beer we were tasting and the point was to see if anyone could tell me what kind of beer it was. The person that got the closest to the Name of the Beer, type of beer and where it was brewed would win a prize. The beer for this was Xingu by Cervejaria Sul Brasileira in Brazil. It's a schwarzbier (Black Lager). The winner was Shadoglare who guessed Black Lager, he came the closest.

Just for the record, this is a very difficult task. Identifying a beer you may or may of had in the past just by taste is not something that most people could do. I've been put in this position before and failed miserably. The closest I've gotten was the type of beer.

So what did Shadoglare win? If you remember I had a surprise. I officially announced the soon arrival of the Miasmatic Review Enabler Glasses, Shadoglare won the first one. It's a 20 oz imperial pub pint with the logo shown, only in dark green, and with a 22k gold band around the rim. When a reader has donated a total of 12 beers that I review, I well show my appreciation by giving them one of these glasses. For being closest to what the beer was, Shadoglare has earned himself one of these glasses.

For those that were in attendance, I served them a Bacon Explosion and smoked Pork Chops for dinner. From the feedback I received, I think the Bacon Explosion was a big hit. I only made two, I may have wanted to make four. It was a huge success.

I'm planning right now on having the 3rd Annual Beer tasting in 2010 again on Memorial Day weekend. I hope to have more people in attendance next year. We had eleven people, including myself, that were actually participating in the tasting. There were others that were around just for the observation or to socialize. I would like to thank Harvey, Graumagus, Bruce, Shadoglare, Labgirl, Wes, Petey, Wil, Red and of course KTreva for participating in this years event. With out all of you, this would have been just me sitting in the backyard drinking beer by myself. An extra special thanks goes to Ktreva for all of her help, support and hard work in the last couple of months getting this all put together.

Hope to see you all there!

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May 22, 2009

Beer Tasting is almost here!

The beer and food has been purchased, we just have to hope for a nice day on Sunday. I've decided not to give away what the exact beers are for the tasting, but I will give you this information.

There are 10 beers, separated into 4 mini-flights.

The First is 3 Czech Pilsners.
The Second is 3 Beers by Bell's Brewery
The Third is 3 American Porters.
The tenth beer is a surprise beer to test your beer knowledge. I'll explain more when it comes time to review the beer.

The food of course will be a Bacon Explosion, Pork Chops and Hot Dogs. There will be Chips and vegetables as well.

There are also some random beers that have been given to me or left over from past reviews if you would like to try them. They are limited, so first come, first serve on those.

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you there.

Posted by Contagion at 07:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 20, 2009

Traquair Jacobite

Tonight is a first for the beer reviews. Tonight we hit a special landmark. Tonight I will review the tenth beer donated by Petey of Petey’s Powderhorn. Thus he is the first reader and enabler to break into double digits! I also have three more beers of his to review in the fridge. Petey hand selected this beer in honor of my re-enacting persona, Seamus MacPhail. Tonight, we cross the pond and drink to the king over the water! For tonight we drink Traquair Jacobite by the Traquair House Brewery in Innerleithen, Peebleshire, Scotland!

Petey, this review is dedicated to you.


It came in an 11.2 FL. OZ. brown bottle. The label is black with white lettering on it. The picture is done in the 18th century style of two thistles and what I am assuming is supposed to be Bonnie Prince Charlie between them. The name of the beer is above the label and states, “Traquair Jacobite flavored ale, Ale flavored with coriander.” On the back under a picture of a crown it states, “The famous Bear Gates guarding the approach to Traquair House near Peebles have been closed since 1745~ when the last person to pass through them was Bonnie Prince Charlie.”

The color is a dark chocolate brown, what light that passes through it has a ruby hue to it. It’s thick enough that you can’t tell if it’s cloudy or not. A thin tan head formed, and faded quickly to nothing. There is no lacing on the side of the glass.

The scent is an exciting combination of Toffee, molasses and coriander. They combine to give the beer a scent reminiscent of a ginger bread cookie. As the beer warms up closer to room temperature the scent opens up and releases touch of a chocolate malt scent. The taste is much like the scent. The coriander, molasses and toffee flavors combine to make the main flavors of the beer. There is a subtle dark fruit flavor, such as prunes that accent the flavor and really boosts the taste. As the beer warms, the chocolate malts are more noticeable. This is definitely a beer you do not want to drink too cold, as the beer has a better flavor at just cooler than room temperature. At 8% Alcohol by volume, you can’t taste the alcohol at all.

It is a medium bodied beer with a smooth and creaminess to it that coats the mouth. It is very easy to drink. There is a pleasant level of carbonation to the beer that is just strong enough to bite on the tongue.

This is an excellent beer. It’s a nice beer to sit around with friends and enjoy slowly with conversation. In fact the beer itself may be the topic of conversation. Especially if you are with people that don’t know what a Jacobite is. I found myself really enjoying this beer as I reviewed it. If you can get your hands on a bottle of this beer, I would recommend it. I give it 9 out of 10.

Posted by Contagion at 08:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Children can be wonderful and joyous. They can bring you happiness and hope for the future. Watching your kids play, laugh and run can make a horrible day turn into something bearable. They can give you hope that everything will be alright in the world. There is also a tremendous sense of pride when your child accomplishes something great. Be it win an award or just being a good person.

On the other hand they can also bring about sorrow and frustration. Such as what both of my children have done this week.

Since Clone was a baby and not able to walk, whenever I would drop him off at daycare or school, I would give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek goodbye. This was our ritual for 6 years and 2months… until this week. On Tuesday when I dropped him off, he wouldn’t let me give him a kiss goodbye. I went to try and he squirmed away saying, “Dad, not in front of the kids!”

I…Was... Devastated.

This was my little boy. The one I’ve been raising. The one that sits on my lap when he is scared. The one that likes to hold my hand while walking in stores and parking lots. My boy that still thinks that I am an all knowing and all powerful being that can change the fate of the world with just a blink of my eye. A little piece of me died when he did that.

I think he saw that I was hurt, because after I put him down he leaned over and whispered, “But you can still give me one at home.” He’s just growing too fast. I don’t want to lose My Buddy, My Littleman, My Monkey. Inevitably he is going to grow up and no longer want the hugs and kisses from dad; I just always thought it would be in another 2-4 years.

Then last night Boopie went complete teenager. He’s not allowed to have the cell phone his biological father gave him at our house. Not because we want to be mean, but because he can’t be trusted with it. He takes it to school and uses it during class time to send text messages and call friends. Since he’s failing two classes, he doesn’t need to be distracted all. We’ve told him he isn’t even allowed to bring it to our house. Well he had it over and checking the info on there you can see that he’s been using it while at school. To talk to friends and text his biological father.

When I was going through the phone I asked him if he understood why he’s not allowed to have it at our house. His response was, “Because you’re stupid.”

This was just the icing on the cake of his misbehaving. He’s been constantly testing boundaries and breaking rules. Because of him acting up in school and failing classes we’ve grounded him from just about everything. I even sold his video game system last year. He is supposed to head straight home after school, do his homework and chores and that’s it. No, he’s been going to friends houses and taking the long way home. He’s grounded from TV, but he sneaks it because he doesn’t think we’ll know. Even though he’s called out on it every time.

If you remember I about threw him out of the house last November. Well his grades have worsened since then and his apathetic view of his life has really taken its toll on the family. My instinct is to send him to his dad’s and just write him off. Yet, I can’t do that. He is my son. I do love him and I know he’s a good kid. I know he’s struggling with his situation. He has structure and rules at our house, there are consequences to his actions. There aren’t any at his biological father’s.

I called his biological father and made him come over; I was originally going to send Boopie packing again. Again, I just can’t do that. Especially since his father is one of the people he was calling and texting on his phone while at school. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with him. I wish I could afford to send him to one of those boot camps for troubled kids this summer, but I just can’t.

After I calmed down I sat down and had a man to man talk with him. I explained the consequences of his choices right now. His choice not to do his school work, to fail classes and to not take the help that is offered to him. I explained what the difference is between getting a job when you have no high school diploma versus having one. The whole time I was trying to get him to understand that yes, school is hard… but it’s worth it. It’s worth the time and effort to get a HS diploma. It’s worth it to go to college, be it a community college or a university. It’s worth it to work hard, especially if you ever want to have a nice life. If you ever strive to have your own family in order to provide for them.


Heartbreak, sorrow and frustration.

Yet still, I can’t imagine a better life then what I have with them.

Posted by Contagion at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2009

Stray thoughts.

A woman is driving down the street, alone in her car. I can see her crying as I pull along side her. Not the gentle tears of joy or a mild weeping, but the chest heaving crying of someone that is in true emotional pain. Her entire body convulsing with each sob, her makeup running with tears as it flows down the curvature of her cheeks like a hard rain over a statue.

At the stop light I try not to stare, but curiosity is a cruel mistress and I sit and wonder, “What has happened to this woman to put her in such a fragile state of emotion? Why is she crying?” The whole time I am glancing over occasionally and seeing her hug the steering while for comfort. Occasionally waves of anger come over her and I watch as she strikes the roof, door and dashboard with clenched fist.

Pain, sorrow, anger, fear.

At some time each of us has been in the same situation as the woman in the car. Whether we display it for the whole world to see, share it only with close friends or keep it bottled up inside, we have been there. An emotional torment that just has to be dealt with in our own personal way or it will wash over us like a tidal wave over a beach. Destroying what’s in its path.

I can only imagine what situation or situations have occurred to bring this woman to this state. I’ve never seen her before, and I doubt I will ever again. What I do know is that I felt for her. For anything that would drive her to such a state would have to have been truly horrible. I found myself hoping that she was heading to a friend or a loved one’s house for at least a small sum of comfort, as opposed to the cold reality of a job.

Me, I finished my drive to work and thought not of her again until my drive home. On my way home I started looking at the lone drivers in the cars and trucks around me. Wondering to myself, “What are they thinking? What emotional state are they in?” Are they just a stray thought away from an emotional outburst or are they so devoid of emotion, so focused on the task at hand, that they wouldn’t provide an emotional outburst no matter what happened? Most likely they were some place between the two emotional extremes.

I don’t know why I wondered these things. I’m not even sure why I was fascinated with the lady this morning. Why today did I decide to take a glimpse in the fish bowl that is life? Was there a deep seeded need for me to observe my fellow man that had to be satisfied? Did curiosity finally overwhelm me enough to start wanting to reconnect with a part of society I started to detach from about 16 years ago? Back when I dealt with some of the worst people humanity had to offer. When I witnessed just how cruel and unforgiving people can be to each other.

These are all questions that I may never find an answer.

Posted by Contagion at 05:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 17, 2009

Another surprise

I have a big surprise coming. Some of my readers know what it is, just because I couldn't keep the secret to myself. So I will give all of you a hint too. Let's just say, this is a bout a year in the making and long overdue.

Miasmatic Review Enabler Logo.jpg

Now this was just the rough art, not the final, you'll have to wait to see that.

Posted by Contagion at 07:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Raptor's last game.

Last night was the Raptor's last home game. This time I was going to do it right. Instead of bringing a plastic horn to make noise for the defense. I brought my four foot long brass herald horn. This thing is loud enough that it was drowning out the ref whistles. Think of an air horn off of a train. Not as loud, but pretty damn close.

At first the Raptor's players and coaches sitting in front of me thought it was way too loud. A couple of them where telling me to point it higher. That was until on our first defensive plays I caused the opponents to jump off sides, A false start and a time out. The time out was funny because Milwaukee's quarterback went to talk to his coach and pointed right to me. I'm thinking that I was so loud that it was causing his cadence to screw up.

For the rest of the game, the head coach and the other players kept encouraging me to be as loud as possible during the defensive stands. I even had some of the players come to try and play the horn. I also had a guy from in the stands come down and ask to play it. He was a trumpet player and wanted to see if it was the same. I told him that it was similar. He gave a try and had some success at it.

It was a great game, we won by 30 points.

Today, Ktreva and I stained the front porch. We had though this was going to be a quick job, but it turned into a five hour task. Just some complications, like the original sprayer we bought not working properly. After getting a new one, we finally finished. When we bought the stain we were going to use, it was called redwood. The little tile they had at the hardware store made it look like a brownish red. After we finished the front porch, well it looked like Barn red.

As it started to dry, it darkened up some, but it still looked really red. However, we did like the way it looked. It was just more red than we had expected.

Now this week I have to start getting prepared for the Beer Tasting next weekend. A lot of work, and a short amount of time to get it done in.

Posted by Contagion at 07:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2009

Ola Dubh.

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a local grocery store that I frequent for their beer selection. I hadn’t been in there for a while and was surprised to see they revamped their entire beer section by almost doubling it. While perusing the greatly expanded selection I found a box sitting on a shelf that stood out, Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 reserve by the Harviestoun Brewery. It’s an ale matured in a whisky cask. In this case “Aged in selected oak casks, formerly used to mature Highland Park’s Rich and Complex 30 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky” Beer and single malt Scotch Whisky, yea I had to buy this one.

Ola Dubh 30.jpg

First it was in a black box, It states “This limited edition ale is brewed in very small batches. In keeping with the artisanal way we do things at Harviestoun, every bottle of Ola Dubh special reserve 30 is labeled by hand and individually numbered.” Pretty impressive huh? There is a lot of information on the box, so I’m only going to quote a little more from the side. “Ola Dubh (or “Black Oil” is so named because it is gloopy and viscous. This ales is a result of a unique collaboration between Scotland’s’ most innovative micro-brewery and the world’s most respected single malt.” All emphasis is theirs! The bottle is a dark brown 11.2 fl oz bottle the label is silk screened on in white and gold lettering. It is signed by the Head Brewer and Master of Wood. According to the label this is bottle 22691 and bottled in Sept 2007. There is a black foil seal over the bottle cap. Around the neck is a bronze medallion with the logo of Harviestoun on one side and the Highland Park label on the other.

The coloring is a dark black, like the Gaelic name given it; it’s very much reminiscent of black oil. No light passes through, but there is a slight reddish color at the edges. This beer is darker than most that I have experienced. In fact I’m going to say this is the darkest beer that I can recall seeing. A thin tan head formed and slowly faded. It left a nice ring around the edge of the beer and the glass.

The smell was a heavenly mix of rich chocolate malts enhanced with the woody and smoky peat scent of a proper Scotch in the back ground. As it warms a mild caramel scent opens up and compliments the beer even more so. The flavor is much like the scent. A rich roasted chocolate malt flavor and smoky peat flavors mix to a delightful flavor that makes one want to go back for more. There is a gentle bitterness in the finishes that rounds of each sip. Caramel and coffee malts become more noticeable as the beer reaches room temperature. The 8% ABV isn’t noticed in the flavor at all.

This is a smooth, full bodied beer. A touch of a viscousness that coats the tongue and mouth locking the flavor. It is definitely a sipping beer.

This has to be the most flavorful and enticing beer I’ve ever drank. The flavor combinations mixed with the perfect blend of smells really makes this beer something that I could find myself craving. However, at $14.99 a bottle, I think this would be a special occasion beer and definitely not one you buy in bulk for a party. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Ola Dubh, I’d recommend giving it a try. I’m kind of sentimental over finishing the glass. I give it 9.5 out of 10. This is my new favorite beer!

Posted by Contagion at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2009

It's a used canoe!!!!

In the state of Illinois you have to register your canoe before you can use it. Now if you ask the bureaucrats they will tell you that it’s for your own protection. That way people can’t steal your canoe and sell it. Honestly, let’s just be honest and admit it. The state wants to micromanage anything and everything its citizens do. They can also get more money out of us.

The problem is that if you buy a used canoe, you can have a ton of fun trying to get it registered. Especially if you have a canoe that is not currently registered with the state or comes from a state that doesn’t register their canoes… such as Wisconsin. That is where my canoe came from. So as I filled out the paper work, and I spoke with the DNR there was mention of a watercraft tax.

At the time you apply for an Illinois title or registration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for a watercraft you purchased or leased, you are required to submit either payment of tax or proof that no tax is due before your watercraft can be titled or registered.

The Illinois Department of Revenue is responsible for administering the collection of tax and providing the necessary tax forms. You must make separate payments for tax due and title and/or registration fees. Make your tax payment payable to the Illinois Department of Revenue and your payment for title fees payable to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The Department of Natural Resources directed me to the Illinois Department of Revenue. While I was on hold with them I started doing some research and discovered the following on the back of the registration form:

Effective September 1, 2004 tax is owed when a watercraft (class 2, 3, 4 and personal watercraft [PWC], i.e. jet-skis) is acquired by gift, donation, transfer, or non-retail purchase if the watercraft will be used in Illinois.

Thus, I figured when I finally got through the person would tell me that I owed nothing because a canoe is a Class A watercraft… “Class A – Canoe/Kayak/Paddleboat”. Finally after ten minutes a guy with a thick Spanish accent is trying to help me. I could barely understand what he was saying to me. I explained why I was calling. He asked me how long was is the canoe. I advised 17 feet and he put me on hold “to look something up.” He came back on and said that I would indeed owe taxes on it.

SAY WHAT?!?!?!?!

He said that because the canoe is 17 feet, I owe taxes on it. If it had been 15 feet, I would have been okay. I clarified that the form says that a class 2 watercraft is 16 to 24 ft , but that a class A is a canoe/kayak/paddleboat. It doesn’t say what size it has to be. He stated that there is nothing that claims that a canoe is exempt from the size categories. Even after I pointed out that doesn’t make sense since they have a separate category just for Canoes/kayaks/paddleboats. The guy put me on hold again and said he was going to talk to his supervisor. I was on hold for another 5 minutes and he comes back on and claims that “I spoke with my supervisor and they agree with me.” I asked to speak with the supervisor and was transferred to a voice mail.

I left a message asking them to call me back. In the meantime I started doing more research and I found this on the Illinois Department of Revenue’s own website. First I have from their own section on definitions.

"Watercraft" means Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4 watercraft, as defined in Section 3-2 of the Boat Registration and Safety Act [625 ILCS 45/3-2] and personal watercraft, as defined in Section 1-2 of the Boat Registration and Safety Act [625 ILCS 45/1-2]. [35 ILCS 158/15-5] Section 3-2 of the Boat Registration and Safety Act defines these terms asfollows:

"Class 2" watercraft means all watercraft 16 feet or more but less than 26 feet in length, except canoes and kayaks.

"Class 3" watercraft means all watercraft 26 feet or more but less than 40 feet in length.

"Class 4" watercraft means all watercraft 40 feet or more in length.

Next I found this on the FAQ for the RUT-75 form. The one that you have to fill out to pay for the tax.

Who must file Form RUT-75? If you acquire an aircraft or watercraft by gift, donation, transfer, or non-retail purchase, you must fi le Form RUT-75, Aircraft/Watercraft Use Tax Transaction Return.

“Aircraft” includes airplanes, helicopters, hot-air balloons, ultra lights,
gliders, blimps, dirigibles, seaplanes, and anything else defined as
aircraft in Section 3 of the Illinois Aeronautics Act.

“Watercraft” includes
• Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4 watercraft as defined in Section 3-2
of the Boat Registration and Safety Act; and
• personal watercraft as defined in Section 1-2 of the Boat
Registration and Safety Act (jet skis, wave runners, etc.).

    “Watercraft” does not include canoes or kayaks.

Emphasis mine

Finally we have 625 ILCS 45/3-2

(625 ILCS 45/3 2) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 313 2)
Sec. 3 2. Identification number application. The owner of each watercraft requiring numbering by this State shall file an application for number with the Department on forms approved by it. The application shall be signed by the owner of the watercraft and shall be accompanied by a fee as follows:

A. Class A (all canoes, kayaks, and non motorized paddle boats). $6
B. Class 1 (all watercraft less
than 16 feet in length, except
canoes, kayaks, and non motorized paddle boats
).. $15
C. Class 2 (all watercraft 16
feet or more but less than 26 feet in length
except canoes, kayaks, and non motorized paddle boats). $45
D. Class 3 (all watercraft 26 feet or more
but less than 40 feet in length)............ $75
E. Class 4 (all watercraft 40 feet in length
or more)........................... $100

Upon receipt of the application in approved form, and when satisfied that no tax imposed pursuant to the "Municipal Use Tax Act" or the "County Use Tax Act" is owed, or that such tax has been paid, the Department shall enter the same upon the records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate of number stating the number awarded to the watercraft and the name and address of the owner.
(Source: P.A. 93 32, eff. 7 1 03; 94 45, eff. 1 1 06.)

Emphasis mine

Pay no attention to the prices, those have gone up.

So I’m waiting for this supervisor to call me back. I’m fighting paying the taxes on this because according to all the laws, forms and documentation I can find, CANOES ARE EXEMPT!!!!! I’m not paying any more money into this State hemorrhaging money due to bad money management. I wonder how badly the state is going to come down on me?

Posted by Contagion at 08:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 11, 2009

Boopie, Boats and Bacon

I finally get to step back for a brief breather! I really do mean a brief one too. Let me give you a cliff notes reference of everything that has been going on.

Last week Boopie had his 16th Birthday, for five years my plan was to buy him a car. Nothing too nice or fancy, but just a cheap $2,000 to $3,000 car. He even knew that was what the plan was. A couple of years ago I promised him I would match him dollar for dollar toward a car, up to $2,000.00 when he turned 16 as long as he had no Ds or Fs on his report card. I knew in October that I wasn’t going to have to worry about it, because he was failing classes, and he just went down hill from there. So he turned 16 and didn’t get his license.

The sad thing is that I get the impression that he blames Ktreva and me for him not getting his license.

Thursday night, I obtained my first degree as a Mason. They’re a group I’ve wanted to join for a while now, but I just never had the opportunity and time. I finally decided to get off my arse and make it happen. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me as I am but an apprentice, but I’m up for the challenge. In fact I have a meeting tonight with them.

Friday night I had to get a car carrier for the canoe I purchased. It came with a foam pad system, but after doing some research, and talking to other canoe owners, I decided that if I’m going to take that canoe on any distance, I want something a bit more stable than those foam blocks. We are planning our family vacation with our friends Wil and Red to The Lake in The Ozarks, and want to bring the canoe along. After doing the research and reading horror story after horror story about those foam pads either failing or scratching the hell out of the paint, I decided to get a real carrier. A local canoe shop had exactly what I wanted, and I ended up getting a Yakima rack system. The owner of the shop even helped me install it.

After the rack I took Ktreva and Clone to see the new Star Trek Movie. Okay, I’m not going to give anything away, but honestly for those Star Trek purists out there, this movie is going to annoy you. The main plot device is was a crutch that bad writers use when they can’t come up with an original idea. Heck, they might as well have done the entire movie based in a Halodeck. That is the only bigger crutch out there. As a movie on its own, it was pretty good. They did pay a lot of homage to the original series with the devices, sounds and catch phrases. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m going to quit talking about it now.

Saturday morning we had to go to Madison, WI to get the Canoe. It’s an older used canoe, but it looks great. There are some scrapes and dings on it from use, but all the seems are straight, the rivets are all original and it’s sturdy! We put her on the new rack system and left for home. I had originally planed on using some of the straps that came with the canoe, but the seller didn’t have a lot of faith in them, so we temporarily tied it down with twine until I could get to a Menards and buy some ropes for it. We picked up some ratchet ropes and are probably the best thing for canoes I’ve ever seen.

Saturday night I took Ktreva to the Raptor’s football game. Where, since the Metrocentre only sells Budweiser products that I won’t drink, we had way too many Bloody Marys. I mean way too many! Ktreva made our quarterback cry. It was rather amusing, yet sad. Sad for the quarterback, as he really was not having a good night. I also spent a lot of time trying to educate Ktreva on the small nuances of football. I really should only do that when neither one of us has an alcohol soaked brain.

On Mother’s day I gave Ktreva the gift of laziness. I let her do what ever she wanted, and I took care of all the work that needed to be done. Well not all of it, because I needed some help here or there. I did all the cooking. We had smoked pork chops, bratwurst and I made my first Bacon Explosion! It turned out really well. I’m looking forward to making my next one for the Beer Tasting.

Speaking of which, the deadline for the Beer Tasting is rapidly approaching! Let me know, if you haven’t already, if you are coming!

Posted by Contagion at 03:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 05, 2009

2nd Annual Miasmatic Review Beer Tasting

Just a reminder to everyone that the Beer tasting is coming up on Sunday, May 24th. That's just over two weeks away. So far I only have a handful of people that have RSVPed that they are coming.

So far the guest list is as follows:


I also have a couple of maybes. If I missed you on the list, or if you can make it, please let me know ASAP. I need to be able to order the beer soon. Either leave me a comment or if that doesn't work, send an e-mail to Contagion_1 AT Yahoo Dot Com. Make sure the subject line has Beer Tasting in it.

Remember, you don't have to bring anything, but yourself!

Posted by Contagion at 08:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

We're canoeing!

I’ve been trying to buy a canoe for months now. The problem is that I was very specific about the canoe I was after. I wanted a 17-18 Grumman Aluminum canoe. After doing some research I figured that was the best canoe for what I wanted to do with it. My father bought one for the family that was the same size when I was a kid. I remember spending hours in various lakes, rivers and ponds canoeing in it. Unfortunately Dad’s canoe had a run in with a falling tree and was totaled.

I picked mine up off of e-bay… after losing a couple of others at the last minute. Today’s bidding ended at 1:40 in the afternoon and I think that helped me. Especially since this canoe came with a car carrier, paddles, life vests and extra floatation cushions. I got it the whole thing for $532.00.

Grumman Canoe.JPG
My new canoe.

Now I just have to go pick it up. I can barely contain my excitement.

Posted by Contagion at 08:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 04, 2009

Friends, Campfires, and a blue hat.

Since last Wednesday Ktreva and I have been at the Bloody Lake Rendezvous. When we arrived, the camp was already packed. We had friends coming and we all wanted to camp together so I found the only place I could… down in the swampy part. Well most of the lower camp is wetlands, but this was the wetter wet lands. Fortunately for us we got a bit of high ground in the swampy area. It rained on us Wednesday night and off and on Thursday. The land around us was really mushy and Friday we watched a van sink up to its hubs while it was unloaded, but where our tents were was nice and dry.

Thursday morning the friends we wanted to camp with started showing up. Wil, Red and Moses showed up during a break in the rain and were actually able to set up and stay dry. Friday Petey, Ark Builder, Dragonfly, Wes and his eldest spawn showed up. Grau was supposed to come, but he came down with swine flu, anthrax or a bad case of back fungus and decided that, instead of re-enacting a plague victim he was going to stay home and try to get better.

I wish I could tell you some great story that I could tell you of events that happened, but this was mostly an uneventful. None of the drama that any of us where anticipating was ever brought up. Oh, the players were all there, but the ones that talk big over the phone, via e-mail or forums didn’t say a peep in person. Heck, the only thing I heard about my own little issue was from friends and I making fun of it. To be honest, I was prepared for a confrontation and was a wee bit let down that there wasn’t one. Although, it was probably in the best for everyone there wasn’t.

There was a lot of good shopping at this event. Various venders I don’t see anywhere else but at Bloody or Kalamazoo were there. Ktreva was able to pick up a nice new hand woven wool blanket. I was able to get a sky blue hat that everyone loved. I mean I looked FABULOUS in it. I can’t wait until I can get a chance to wear it! Everyone was jealous and wanted one for themselves.

Bonnie Blue Brimmer.jpg
My beautiful blue hat!

Okay, that is the hat, with my blue bonnet on top of it. I look like a deranged purple pieman with that hat on.

We had a great time, and I hope that we can get more of our friends to go next year, some of the people that didn’t make it next year. Those of you know who you are.

Posted by Contagion at 09:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack