April 28, 2009

Muddy Macktown.

Last weekend was a blast. It was my first re-enactment of the season, not counting winter camps. We went out Thursday night. Ktreva and the boys had to come home that night. The boys had school on Friday, and Boopie was going to spend the weekend with his biological father… much against his will. Ktreva and Clone didn’t come back until Friday after Clone got out of school.

The weather was beautiful on Friday, warm and sunny. My friend Dragonfly and I didn’t do demonstrations for kid’s day. So we just kind of walked around and watched other people’s demonstrations and visited with friends between classes. Since Dragonfly portrays an Indian, he was in full pain. Of course this attracted a lot of attention. He got to spend a lot of time explaining who he was portraying to a lot of kids while secretly checking out the hottie teachers, teacher aids and adult chaperones with the kids.

The weather was a little rainy on Saturday and pretty much down poured on us Saturday. Last year if you remember half the camp bugged out after some rain. This year we didn’t seem to have that problem. In fact no one left early due to weather. That didn’t stop me from making some comments like, “Hey, it might rain, we better start dropping the canvas.” For those that are interested if I caught any flack about my review from last year…

Not really.

Well there was some, but it was all in good nature. In fact it was funny that at the camp meeting someone made the comment like, “we need someone that isn’t afraid to voice their opinion” and someone in the crowd (not mentioning names Jingle While She Walks) yells out, “Where’s “Contagion” when we need him.” Mostly what was said to me was people in agreement or people stating that they may not agree with what I said, but it was my opinion and I had a right to it.

Overall the weather was the only thing that wasn’t cooperative. I would have liked to have come home with dry canvas, but I didn’t. Not that it’s that big of a deal. I’m heading out tomorrow to set up camp at Bloody Lake, just outside Woodford, WI. That also means that Ktreva and I had to make any repairs and clean what needed to be in just two days.

Yes, I said clean. We have to clean the mud off of all the clothes, shoes, blankets, etc. Yes I know some of my re-enacting friends are gasping and saying, “But you are removing the patina from it!” Yea, well I do not like caked on mud in my bedding.

Posted by Contagion at 08:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 22, 2009

Hook & Ladder Golden Ale

Tonight I’ll be reviewing a beer that I’ve had suggested to me by multiple individuals. The beer of choice is a Golden Ale by Hook & Ladder Brewing Company in Rochester, NY. As a bonus for this brewing company, they donate money from their sales to a local burn foundation. In fact they proudly state they donate a penny for every pint, a quarter for every case that they sell. It makes me wonder if I can start drinking this beer and using it as a tax deduction.


They use a standard 12 oz brown bottle. There is a tan label with a red fire fighter style Maltese cross. The name of the beer company is in the cross in a two tone white and gold lettering. Under the cross is the name of the beer with two crossed axes under it. The neck label states, “For every barrel we sell, we make a donation to a local burn foundation” and “A penny for every pint.”

There is a nice golden straw coloring to the beer. It is clear, with no signs of cloudiness of floaters to it. When I poured it into a pint glass, almost no head formed. What head there was consisted of tiny white bubbles and faded quickly to nothing, not even a ring around the edge of the glass. There was no lacing at all.

The scent is a mainly a dray caramel malt with a slight graininess to it. There were some floral hops in the background that helped enrich the overall scent. The flavor is a subtle and a little week. It’s mainly of malted grains and a very mild hop finish. The combination of ingredients gives the beer a very mild pear flavor in the background.

This is a light bodied beer. Almost no coating to the mouth and it passes over the tongue very easily. The carbonation is a little strong and bites on the tongue and lips.

Overall this is a nice, gentle beer. I think this would be a good one for a hot summer day. The thought of sitting out on the front porch kicking back a couple of ice cold ales or even sitting around a campfire on a cool summer night with friends. I enjoyed it, and could see myself picking up another six pack sometime in the future, especially since each purchase helps a burn foundation. I give it 5.5 out of ten. (An extra half point for the generosity.)

Posted by Contagion at 08:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2009

Minions at home.

If you recall I have five employees that are telecommuters. They have the luxury of working from home. As part of my duties as their supervisor I must make periodic home inspections to make sure everything is on the up and up. What I’m checking for is to make sure that all the equipment that the company gave them to use is there and in working condition and that they are following the agreement they signed to be eligible to work from home. This includes:

-Verifying that the floor plan for their home office is correct.
-Confirm that work area is a separate space from common living area of home.
-Confirm that work area has a door with working lock.
-Confirm file cabinet has a working lock.
-Verify it is a distraction free environment (no television, pets, children or elderly they have to take care of.)
-Verify that homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policy is active.
-Verify working Smoke Detector.

We actually have a checklist we have to go down. If they fail the inspection, then they have to return to working out of the home.

Today I had to do my first round of home visits. IE The Inspection! Of course, to make sure that they don’t cheat, it’s a surprise inspection. Meaning, I just show up during the times they are supposed to be working and make sure everything is on the up and up. The whole thing is rather uncomfortable for everyone involved. I really don’t want to go in their house, and they really don’t want to just surprise them by stopping by, especially if it’s a bad house day.

Of course there is some fun to be had. I hit the first minion’s home. Everything was squared away and fine. She had all the information I needed and everything matched as it should. When I went to check the smoke detector, it wouldn’t go off. Of course she gave me the song and dance that the battery had been unplugged because of a cooking incident. Once the battery was plugged back in, it worked just fine. However, I couldn’t bypass this opportunity to tell her that I was going to have to fail her because it hadn’t been plugged in. At first she believed me, but because I was in a hurry to get out of the house, I let her know right away that I was kidding.

One of the houses I went to really threw me for a loop. Management has joked about going to the houses and seeing people working in their pajamas. I just never thought I would actually see it. Nope, when I rang the doorbell my minion answered the door in her pajamas. She had everything on the up and up, but it just made me a tad bit more uncomfortable. I was really glad that one of my Peers was with me, just for proprieties sake. And trust me, this is the only time you will ever hear me be honestly thankful for this peer, because she in general gets on my nerves.

One of my minions is a smoker. When I visited her, I saw that she had ashtrays next to her computer. Our company has a very strict no smoking on company property policy. I had her going that I was going to have to revoke her work from home privileges because she was smoking while on the company time. I explained that, even though she is at home, the equipment belongs to the company and that while she is on the clock, she is not allowed to smoke. Because she was in violation of that, I had to bring her home. I even went so far as to show her in the agreement papers she signed; it states she must follow all company policies. I had her going pretty good.

I let her off the hook as I was walking out the door. We all had a chuckle about it, of course she was relieved. She didn’t want to have to go back to working in the office.

So my first set of home visits went well, I’d still rather not do them, but if I have to, I hope they all go this well.

Posted by Contagion at 07:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 20, 2009

It's not roses...

I spent most of my day yesterday getting reading for my first family re-enactment of the season, the Gathering at Macktown. I needed to make some moccasins for Clone so he wouldn’t have to wander around barefoot. Also there was a knife sheath I needed to make for a new belt knife I bought last month in Kalamazoo. I really like this new knife; I’m going to be really upset when I lose it. (I’ve lost 2 knives in the last two years.) I also had to sharpen the new knife.

The whole time I was working on this, I was drinking All Natural Cranberry juice. After I finished working on my projects, I continued to drink cranberry juice, but now I added vodka to it. When the evening was over, I ended up drinking over a gallon of Cranberry juice. Yep, a gallon. (Thank god it was sugar free).

This morning I have discovered that drinking that much Cranberry juice has a very interesting effect on the human digestive tract, the colon to be specific. I was at work, when my internal clock went off and told me “It’s time to let out the waste!” Yes, I’m so regular that I can almost set a clock by it. Every day at approximately 10:30 AM, this means that I am usually at work when my colon decides to purge itself.

Now, I’m not going to go into a lot of details here. However, just keep in mind there is a lot of Fiber in cranberry juice. The consistency was, to be blunt, less than solid. I can understand that because of the fiber. What I don’t understand is why it smelled like someone emptied a can of Cranberry scented air freshener into my colon.

Seriously, it smelled like someone had sprayed cranberry scented air freshener in the bathroom.

I mean, there was still the stink of the colon blow, but it was masked with a sweet and fruity scent. And I know no one sprayed the air freshener, because its vanilla scented in that bathroom. I’m not saying it was pleasant, but it was definitely better than the scent of burnt motor oil.

I’m going to have to try this the next time I drink a Carlyle’s Scottish Ale and eat Uncle Nicks… see if it makes that gas smell better.

Posted by Contagion at 01:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2009


For those that live in a five block radius of me, if you are wondering what that wonderful smell is, it's my ribs. Well not my ribs as in the ribs in my chest, but my ribs as those that I'm smoking right now.

Smoking Ribs.jpg

Yea, those are the ribs right after I put them on the smoker 2.5 hours ago. They have been cooking at 225 to 250 degrees the whole time. They have marinated in a special sauce and then I rubbed them down with my special seasoning combination.

Hungry yet?

Posted by Contagion at 02:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 16, 2009


Tonight I hand picked a beer from the Isles of Scootland. My new beer connection has had it on stock for a while and I wanted to try it. When I was in Kalamazoo last month, I tried to get it at the Irish pub, but they were out. So tonight I’m reviewing SkullSplitter by the Orkney Brewery in the Orkneys, Scotland.


It came in a 12 oz brown bottle with a red foil seal over the bottle cap. The label shows a picture of a Viking on a beach. The name of the beer is at the top, and Orkney Ale on either side of the Viking. The back label says “Orkney - a small group of islands off the northern tip of Scotland, shrouded in magic and mystery, was the home of Thorfinn Hausakluff (SkullSplitter) 7th Viking earl of Orkney around 1,000 AD.” The front label also states the beer has a 8.5% Alcohol by Volume.

There is a dark nut brown color to the beer with copper accents. There is a slight haziness to it, not enough to impede light passing through. When poured a quarter inch, off white head formed. It dissipated quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass and a slight film at top. There was no lacing at all.

The scent was almost overly sweet. Toasted malts, molasses and caramel are most notable. There was also just a slight hint of alcohol. The flavor was a combination of caramel malts, dark fruit, brown sugar, and touch of acrid alcohol. There was also a slight bitterness to the finish. The aftertaste was almost buttery.

This is a medium bodied beer. A slight creamy coating forms in the mouth.

This was not exactly what I was expecting from a Scottish Ale. It was a bit sweeter than I expected, however I was surprised that the 8.5% ABV wasn’t as noticeable as one would think. As it warmed towards room temperature, the flavor opened up more, and the body seemed to gain a thickness to it. Towards the end it was almost like I was drinking beer flavored melted butter. The butter analogy comes from the buttery taste to it. I’m not sure that I would want to drink a lot of this beer in one sitting, but a bottle every now and then definitely would be nice. Thankfully the name had nothing to do with how your head feels after drinking it. I give it 6 out of 10.

Posted by Contagion at 07:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

To the King over the water.

Weel may we a' be
Ill may we never see;
Here's to the King
And the gude companie.
Here's a health to them that's away,
Here's a health to them that's away,
Here's a health to them that were here shortsyne*,
An, canna be here today.

~Old Jacobite Toast.

*A little while ago

jacobite piper.jpg

For fear ye are forgotten.

Remember that this day, a host of proud and brave Scots took the field against a larger force to fight to preserve their way of life. They were crushed and the actions taken against the wounded, and the civilian occupants by their opponents would be considered of the worst war crimes if it happened today. It’s also why no existing regiment claims a victory at Culloden.

Posted by Contagion at 01:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2009


Tomorrow, April 16th, is the 262nd anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. For those of you that have been reading me over the last four years may remember my alter ego regailing his story of Culloden and the Clearances. For those that don't want to do the reading, Culloden was the last of the battles for the Jacobite cause that ultimately ended the Scottish Clan system and a national heritage.

Tomorrow, I'm getting together with some friends and hitting the Hope and Anchor, an English Pub, to help remind them of the what happened.

For some fun, here are a couple of video clips regarding Culloden, The first is from the Culloden Battlefield Experience in Scotland.

Trailer for audiovisual film at National Trust For Scotland's new Culloden Battlefield Experience. A dramatic reconstruction of the Battle of Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil on 16th April 1746 between the Jacobite supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie and The British Army of George II. Directed by Craig Collinson & Produced by Nobles Gate.

And short tour of the battlefield done to The Ghosts of Culloden.

If you are going to be in the area, you can join us. The whole family will be there.

Posted by Contagion at 07:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2009


A man sits in a meeting. His attention has waned because the topic of discussion does not apply to him or his department. At one point his mind starts to drift to thoughts that ought not to be had in a work environment. His name is called and he’s pulled out of his day dream, slamming him back into the cold, ugly reality that is the conference room.

Since he wasn’t paying attention, he doesn’t know what was asked of him, only that he heard his name. “I’m sorry, what was the question?” was his response. Everyone else chuckles because they know he was not paying attention. The person holding the meeting laughingly asks, “Not paying attention?”

“Oh, I was.” Says the man, “Just not to you.”

The rest of the room erupts in laughter, the host nervously laughs.

Two hours after the meeting, the man is told of another meeting he has to go to now. One that involves his manager and assistant manger.

All the man can think of is, “where did I leave off in that day dream?”

Posted by Contagion at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2009

From the dawn of time it came...

At some time everyone has read something, gone someplace or done something that opens up a floodgate of memories of things from their past. This past weekend I had one of those experiences.

My re-enacting friend, Smokepoles, bought a ten manufacturing business and is working to get it up and running. With the purchase of the business came a computer that hasn’t been made since around 1992. It was a Leading Edge WinPro 486sx/33. For those of you that are computer illiterate, a really old computer from a company that doesn’t exist anymore. The kicker is that the CMOS battery was dead so if you had to reboot it, you had to setup all of the hardware each time. Fun, Fun! Now before I go any further, I knew the previous owner of the business, and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He is an older gentlemen, and from looking at the computer program, the notes that went with it and the program he was using, not very computer savvy. I'm not speaking ill of him, just acknowledging he may not have known better.

Graumagus came with me to help Smokepoles get the essential data off of this computer. What we thought would be an easy transition turned into a hellacious headache. First off we had to crack the case open to get the info for the hard drive, because we didn’t have the necessary information to set it up in CMOS. Then once we had it going it would auto start into what we dubbed “Bob’s program” because it was nothing we had ever seen before and it looks like it was written specifically for the previous owner. In which we spent some time trying to figure out. It was running MS-DOS V6. (Pre-windows, and thank god all of our DOS jockey days came flooding back to our memories.) The file organization on this computer was horrible. It looked like the thought of using directories and sub-directories never crossed anyone’s mind as a lot of programs were loaded right into the main C:\ directory.

We opened up the Autoexec file to find the .BAT was being run so we could find Bob’s Program. Which Grau found, but opening it up, it was about useless. It really didn’t look like it was running anything. Finally we were able to find the name of file that starts Bob’s Program, there were two of them. Main.exe and Menu.exe. Both of them started Bob’s Program. Once we got in there, we tried to find the data files, but the programs just did not cooperate. We even tried to get the program to save files on a blank floppy so we could try to open it on another computer, but that wouldn’t work. When we did find a text file associated with Bob’s Program, we couldn’t find ANYTHING on the modern computers that would even open it up. Even a generic wordpad opening just produced symbols and junk.

While Grau worked on trying to find the data, I worked on trying to get the program to run on Smokepoles' new computer… with no luck. The new system, even in a dos shell, wouldn’t let the older program run properly. Even when I finally had a break through and was able to get the program to open up, the program wouldn’t open any of the data files. Which cause me to cheer out in joy when I finally got the program to run, and scream “F#CK!!!!!” when the files wouldn’t open. That wouldn’t be so funny, but Smokepoles’ in-laws were in town for the weekend for Easter. They don’t like him too much. He had asked that we be on our best behavior while there, and I had warned Grau a couple of times about it. Of course right as I screamed my expletive, was when his father in law walked into the computer room. I didn’t see the look on his in-law’s face, but according to Smokepoles the look on his face was classic.

Over all we could not get the program to run on the new computer, we could not locate the files specifically needed off of the old computer to try to read them. So we ended up printing out the data so Smokepoles could manually enter it into the new computer. This of course required getting a 17 year old bubble jet printer to work. We didn’t have the proper cables to hook up a modern printer to it. Luckily, the 17 year old printer not only worked, but there was some ink in the cartridge. When that cartridge died, the local Cartridge World actually had a replacement in stock!

The only problem with printing is that Bob’s program either saved all the data together into one giant Word Processing style document or the previous owner never though of created separate ones for each template. The contact list was HUGE, every vendor had an entry, every person he ever sold to had an entry and organization he worked with had an entry… and they were all mixed together. Needless to say Smokepoles was printing for over 3 hours.

Out of the hell of working on this computer, trying to reclaim much needed information, Grau and I kept joking around on how we felt like we were back in High School again. It was like back when I first started getting into computers. The old 2400 baud modems, and using dial-ups to get to a Bulletin Board System (BBS). How if you wanted to check your e-mail, you had to log onto the system it was sent on. Alternate means of getting data from California with out paying for it. Programs we used to use; games, word processing, file viewers, etc. Memories I had long forgotten, or suppressed in some cases, came flooding back.

Seriously, at one point I wanted to see if I could find an ’83 Pontiac Phoenix to go cruising around in.

Posted by Contagion at 06:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 10, 2009

Why Mexico?

I haven’t talked much about my sister in the last four years of blogging. In fact most of you may not even know I have a sister. When I was younger I nick named her “Girl Schmerlie dude”, which she hated with a passion, so for the sake of this blog she will hence forth be dubbed… GSD (because I’m too lazy to type that out every time I refer to her.) GSD is four and a half years younger than me and we are NOTHING alike. Let me give you a breakdown:

She was a Cheerleader; I could care less about playing sports.
She was popular; People thought I was going to be the guy that pulled a Columbine
She was thin and considered attractive (I wouldn’t know, she’s my sister); I was a big, ugly bastard. (We look nothing alike)
She struggled getting a C average in school; I wouldn’t try and made the honor roll.
She thought I was favored by our parents, I thought she was favored by our parents.
She loved shopping, fashion and talking on the phone; I still hate all of those things
She hates camping, hunting, shooting; I love all of those things.
She likes NASCAR, I like Football.
She is very active with her cult Church, I don’t like organized religion.
She doesn’t have the common sense god gave a lemming; some people say I have too much common sense.

You get the picture. We were always at odds, and never really got along. Yet she was my sister and I was very over protective of her. I’ve made ex-boyfriends of hers wet their pants and break dates. Rumor has it one of them still can’t look at a natural sponge with out getting a twitch. I was so over protective that even my father wouldn’t tell me things because he was afraid I’d do something stupid. Such as the time an ex-boyfriend hit her, I didn’t find out until months later because my Father was sure I would have ended up in jail. Actually he was more worried I wouldn’t end up in jail because my friends would have given me an air tight alibi.

She went to college down state and just never came back. She lives only about two hours away, but we see/talk to each other maybe 2-4 times a year tops. We just aren’t that close.

I received an e-mail from her that started with how lucky and fortunate she is to have found her place in her cult church. Right away I figured she was going to make another attempt to get me to join the local branch up here. After almost deleting it, I continued to read and found out that she is an advisor for her church’s youth group and that group is working to help underprivileged children. One of the activities they are doing this summer is going to Juarez, Mexico to build houses for the poor. It’s part of a mission’s trip that her church is sponsoring.

She was looking to see if I would help sponsor her. Which of course I am going to do, because she is my sister and it’s important to her. I’m actually kind of proud of her for doing this. When she was in High School she was very self-centered, it’s nice to see she changed. My only problem is that she is going to Juarez, Mexico. Couldn’t they have found someplace her in the US to do this? I mean there are plenty of poor and needy here. Plus, it would be a bit safer here. There has been a lot of violence in that region. If anything happens to her...

I guess on the bright side, maybe more houses there will keep some from crossing illegally into the U.S.

Posted by Contagion at 07:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2009

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer

No, you didn't read that wrong.

At least once a year a “friend” finds a beer that looks like it would be absolutely nasty. A beer that looks so vile, so nasty, so evil that the only way you would drink this is out of extreme curiosity or on a bet. Of course that “friend” buys said beer and gives it to me to review because THEY want to know how it tastes and is afraid to try it themselves. Well the recently revived Graumagus has done just that. He found a bottle of Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. It’s a contract beer made by the Sprecher Brewing Company for the Pizza Beer Company.

Pizza Beer.jpg

The label is red white and green. In the white part is a hand drawn picture of a male and a female wearing chefs hats. There is a signature on each person. The guy is Chef Tom and the Lady is Chef Athena. At the top of the label it says “originals Seefurth Family”. Above the picture in red letters it says Mamma Mia! Under it is Pizza Beer. At the bottom it plainly states, “Ale brewed with oregano, basil, tomato and Garlic”. The neck label claims, “Beer so good it Deserves… A wine glass!” Is your fight or flight center of your brain sending signals yet? Well mine was screaming, “NOOOOOooooooo. This may be the beer that turns you off of beer completely!”

There is a nice honey gold coloring to it. It is cloudy, but not so cloudy you can’t see through it. Almost no head formed when I poured it. What did was thin and white. It faded quickly leaving nothing on the top of the beer. There is also no lacing on the side of the glass at all.

The smell was something I had never experience in a beer before in my life. They did a decent job of capturing the smell of pizza. Unfortunately it smells like a cheap frozen pizza that someone sprinkled an Italian Seasoning blend on, but still Pizza. The Tomato, basil, oregano and Garlic really does overpower any other scent in the beer. What malts that can be detected blends with the other scents to give it kind of a doughy/crust scent. Now this may just be my imagination because of the type of beer it is and that was missing from the scent was pizza crust.

The taste is much like the scent. All you can really taste is the Tomato, Garlic and herbs that are added to it. There is also a bit of saltiness to it. Realistically this tastes like someone took a piece of the above cheap frozen pizza and let it soak in a keystone light for a while. The pizza tastes about washes out any standard ale flavors one would get. The aftertaste is a bit salty and overpower. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine drinking this beer with anything other than maybe pizza.

This is a medium bodied beer. There is a light carbonation to it, but nothing biting.

Honestly, I can’t believe I drank this whole beer. I’ve drank beers that are much worse than this, but not in a long time. I’m not sure if the people that make this novelty honestly think this is a good beer or if they make it as more for entertainment. IE, in college I had a friend that used to make the most god awful punch for parties; nobody liked it, not even him. Yet he made it for every party because inevitably it would get drank in its entirety because people would bet each other they couldn’t drink it, or do the ol’ switcharoo and give it to some unsuspecting individual. The fact that I drank this willingly just speaks volumes to how far I’ll go to review a beer. Overall I give it 1.5 out of 10.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go gargle with Everclear.

Posted by Contagion at 07:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Time to test Obama's abilities.

I'm sitting at home when my phone starts to vibrate. It's notifying me of breaking news. I open the application and what do I see? Somali pirates hijack ship; 20 Americans aboard.

Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 20 American crew members onboard, hundreds of miles from the nearest U.S. military vessel in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.
Emphasis mine

Okay Mr. President, Mr. Change, Mr. Hope... Do something about this.

I, as a citizen of the United States, demand that swift and decisive action be taken against these scofflaws. I understand that our Navy, as formidable as it is, can not be everywhere all the time, so there was no way for them to stop it as it happened. These pirates have not attacked American vessels in the past, so maybe we had other fish to fry and not focus on them. Now they have gone and attacked an U.S. –flagged ship and have 20 Americans hostage. It is time to do something about this, and do it NOW!

Or maybe Mr. Obama you are too busy bowing to foreign powers and stroking the press with stories about what TV shows you watch.

Posted by Contagion at 07:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 07, 2009

Hope and Anchor

Yesterday at work, Bruce comes over to me and shows me an ad for a new place in town, Hope and Anchor English Pub. It just opened and he wanted to go check it out, probably because the ad boasted “the girls wear the shortest kilts in town.” I thought, "hell why not!" He met me at my house after work and we headed off to the pub.

We got there and the atmosphere seemed really nice. It wasn’t too loud, there was music, but it never interfered with conversation. They had pool tables, dart boards and TVs, but the sound on the TV wasn’t even audible, at least not from where we were sitting.

The menu only had a about a dozen items, but they did have Bangers and Mash, Cottage Pie, Fish and Chips, Scotch Eggs, Cornish Pasties and other English, Irish and Scottish food. Sorry, no haggis! They even had real HP sauce for the pasties! I had the pasties and a Scotch egg. The pasties were good, I was pleasantly surprised. The Scotch egg wasn’t quite right. First it was served cold. I feel they are the best at room temperature, but you could tell this was pulled out of a fridge. Then they quartered it. I know they did that so that the patrons would have an easier time eating it, so I can forgive that. However, I don’t know what they rolled the egg in, but it wasn’t oats. It was some kind of breading. It didn’t taste bad, but it isn’t a traditional style Scotch egg. Somebody around us got the Fish and Chips and they looked and smelled fantastic.

The beer selection left a lot to be desired. They had Guinness, Bass, Stella Artois, Newcastle, Bud Light, Miller Light and Wood Pecker hard cider on tap. They had a handful of bottled beers, but the selection wasn’t much. At least they had some good beers on tap. I couldn’t help but to recommend some beers they may want to try stocking to go with the theme. As long as they have Miller Lite, Stella Artois, Guinness and Bass… I’ll be fine.

Unfortunately none of the staff was wearing kilts. Apparently the girls only wear those on the weekends. Before you ask, we are planning on going back to check it out this weekend. We also had a great bartender, Amy. She was nice, personable and really kept us happy. Even later in the evening when it was just Bruce and I in the place she sat there and chatted with us.

The prices were good too. The average entrée was under $10.00 and the tap beer ran $2.50 for domestic to $4.00 for import. That’s pretty standard for Rockford.

On a Monday night it wasn’t very busy, but I’m interested to see how it is on a Friday or Saturday. I want to see if the music gets too loud or if it becomes impossible to have a conversation. Also they have a stage for bands to play on, so I’m interested to see what kind of bands they will get. If it keeps up the high impression it’s given me, this could move into my top five favorite bars.

Even if I do have to sit under a sign that says "God Bless the Queen" and I'm a Jacobite!

Posted by Contagion at 03:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2009

Playing on her fears.

Sometimes people meet just don’t get along. It could be because of political or religious beliefs. Maybe it’s because of an incident in their past, such as a perceived slight or insult. Sometimes it’s just because their personalities clash. I’m sure we’ve all seen this. Ron meets Jerry for the first time at a friend’s house. Afterwards while speaking with the mutual friend they make the comments, “I don’t know, I just don’t like that guy. He’s a total douchebag.” These are the most fun, because they can spiral out of control quickly. They almost look for things to not like each other about.

Now these two can be even more “fun” in the workplace. Yea, you may not have to like each other, but you have to work together. They will do good for a while, and then something will blow up and they will drag everyone they know into it.

Well, I have this situation at work, and me being me, I couldn’t help but to take advantage of it for nothing more than to make myself laugh. I have a Peer which henceforth shall be known as Talkative Peer (she never shuts up and turns a 15 minute meeting into a 2 hour meeting), who has a personality clash with another member of management that will be from now on referenced as Sports Girl, because she coaches and plays a lot of sports. Sports Girl and Talkative Peer have disliked each other for at least 3 years. They have always clashed and sometimes the arguments get so involved it was brought to staff meetings to resolve. We don’t dare let them be in the same room alone. Yes, they hate each other that much.

Sports Girl used to be a peer, but she took a voluntary re-assignment to an Inventory Management position (similar to one I used to have). She didn’t like the responsibility of having direct reports. In her position, we report to the same asst. manager. On Friday before I left for the weekend, they dropped the bomb on us that our current asst. manager is being moved to the other department in the office, and my entire department is going to report to one asst. manager, instead of two. Because of this Sports Girl is now going to have to report to someone at my level instead of an asst. manager.

I’m sure you see where this is going, but I’m going to finish the story anyway.

I walk up to Sports Girl this afternoon and say to her, “I hear you are going to be reporting to Talkative Peer” (Talkative peer has other management reporting to her, so this is a plausible situation.) Sports Girl eyes grew three times their size, her jaw fell into her lap, the blood drained from her face leaving her once copper tanned skin the moon pale look of a night shifting computer geek that only sees the sun when he has to wonder to the comic book store to buy the latest limited edition Laura Croft action figure to “play” with.

She looks at me with a horror that I had truly never seen in any humans eyes before in my life. Tears started forming, and her eyes became bloodshot. You could actually watch as the tiny veins filled causing the read lines to spread across the sclera (White part of the eye). Her breathing increased and small beads of sweat started to form on her forehead. In a very thin and wispy voice she says, “wh-what?”

Now I could have been nice and let her off at this point, but to be honest I’m not that nice. So I said:

“You’re going to be reporting to Talkative Peer.”

Her eyes almost rolled back in her head and she wobbled a little in her chair.

Her, “Really?”

At this point, before it turned into a medical emergency because she was starting to hyperventilate. I let her off the hook with a, “Nah, I’m just horsing around.”

Her look of horror contorts into a glare of anger. Her wide open eyes narrow, her almost corpse like complexion flushes back to an angry red. I swear you could almost see the veins in her eyes bulge! Her muscles clench as if she’s getting ready to try to attempt to remove an arm and beat me with it.


Me, “The hell it’s not!” Meanwhile I’m barely able to stay upright from the laughter. The rapid and complete change of moods from content in work, to deep seeded fear and finally to rage in under 30 seconds. The complete physical transformation that went with it was HILARIOUS!

I’m holding onto the edge of her desk because I’m laughing hard enough to get dizzy. I’m trying not to laugh so loudly I distract the entire office, so I’m trying to hold it in. Watching me laugh so hard, she started laughing. Called me a jerk and said that “I was a real bastard” She only got away with the last one because I actually like her.

She told me that since Friday when she heard about this whole issue, she had feared that was what was going to happen to her. So when I verbalized her “worst fears” the thought that they wouldn’t have told her first ever crossed her mind. We then had a brief conversation about who she doesn’t want to have as a boss. She said she would rather have me then most of my peers. I told her she was a damn liar. Of course that got a chuckle out of her.

This is good, because she’s a bit uptight. Okay you could put a lump of coal up her arse and get a diamond in 24 hours.

Posted by Contagion at 05:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 03, 2009

That's a big sixer!

Well I’m off for a couple of days of fun with some friends in Western Illinois. First I’m going to hook up with T1G for lunch, and then I’m heading to the Galesburg area to hang with a bunch of the guys there, including blogspawn Petey. I have a six pack of Carlyle Scottish Ale, and when I say six-pack I mean six growlers (3 gallons) because Carlyle’s doesn’t sell it in any other take home variety.

So while I’m away I’m leaving you a question to ponder and discuss.

You receive the following text message, “I’m guna rape ur gurl!” from 815-555-5555. Now, in this situation you do not have a daughter. What would you do?

This did not happen to me, but to one of my minions. I know what I would do; I just want to see if my reaction was par for the course.

I expect good answers come Monday.

Posted by Contagion at 06:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 02, 2009

Grade Obama

MSNBC has a pole to Give President Obama A Grade.

At the time of this post, 38% give him an A, 7.3% Give him a B. 4.6% Give him a C, 12% give him a D, and 39% give him an F. That is with 1,430,640 responses.

So what this poll tells me is that people either really like him or really hate him, with under 25% somewhere in the middle. I'm curious to see what the outcome is when it is over.

Posted by Contagion at 01:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I wish I could work from home.

My company has decided that it is going to start to experiment with the new frontier of cost containment, employee retention and moral boosting. They are going the way of Work From Home!

We have been discussing this for over a year now. We’ve had some employees that already were working from home, because their jobs required a lot of travel and they where issued corporate lap tops. Over a year ago they decided to start rolling it out to positions that normally were “in the office” only. With the success they had there, they expanded it and just 2 weeks ago I sent a third of my minions home to work.

I have fifteen minions that directly report to me. There was a battle over which ones would go home. Now, I had wanted to take them out to the parking lot and have a last person standing competition for the slots, the other lairds decided that “No, we’re only going to send the best of the best home!” Okay, sure they deserve it, but what fun is it to determine where they get to work based on merit and ability as opposed to which one can claw the other’s eyes out faster? I’m kidding; don’t go all offended on me. I wouldn’t want one of my minions to loose an eye… then I’d have to hire a new one because the old one would be useless. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Seriously though, since I’ve sent my five minions home, they have not only shown an increase in productivity, but they really seem to like it. At first all five had the same concern about missing the social aspect of working on the job. Through the use of IM, e-mail and phone, they all say that they really haven’t lost that much contact with their fellow minions that are working in the office.

For me it’s nice because I get 1/3 less interruptions during the day. Where in the past they would just walk up to my desk and start spouting questions, now they have to call, IM or e-mail me. I can ignore those until a more opportune time to answer it. It frees me up to be able to manage my time better.

The only down side to this is that it is much harder to play pranks on people. Plus when I’m horsing around with them, I can’t give them an empty box when they “Cross the line” and tell them to pack up their desk. I mean they’re already home! I don’t want to have to go get that stuff from them!

But there are still ways to do it.

Like “turning off” their IP address on the firewall and telling them that their ISP is no longer an accepted carrier due to security issues and that they will have to return to the office permanently. My minion called me instantly when she saw that IM. That was hilarious. I only wished I could have recorded that phone call to share with all of you. She wouldn’t let me get a word in for five minutes as she gave me excuses and what she’s going to do to fix it and all of this other stuff before I told her that I was kidding and “turned on” her IP address. Funnier still was the IM I received an hour later, “I should have known better but I thought you wouldn’t be able to pull pranks on us once we were out of the office.”

Yes, a new and challenging form to have fun!

Posted by Contagion at 06:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 01, 2009

The Czar Imperial Stout

Finally I am able to review a beer that Petey gave me that didn’t go bad. I’ve heard of this beer before and it is made in different batches, each year a little different from the last. So tonight I’m reviewing The Czar Imperial Stout by Avery Brewing Company in Boulder Co bottled in 2008.

The Czar.jpg

It came in a large 1 pint 6 oz brown bottle. The label is orange with an imperial seal on it with the picture of what I am assuming is three Czars. In the top of the seal in the brim of the crown it states bottled in 2008. The name of the beer is at the top, and in a banner under the seal is the name of the brewing company. The bottle also states 1.103 original gravity, 70 IBUs and Alcohol 10.77% by vol. The bottle has some other information about the beer in it and recommends cellaring it as “The Czar will continue to mature and become denser and more complex with age.”

The beer pours a thick dark brown color like a dark coffee. There is a ruby tint to it that is brought out as the light catches it along the edges. It’s thick enough that light doesn’t pass through easily. A tan head formed but rapidly disappeared into just a small ring around the edge of the glass. There was some lacing, but not much.

The initial scent after pouring had an acrid scent of alcohol. The following scents, if taken mildly, were much more pleasant. There was creaminess to the smell like one gets with a cream liqueur. It opened the way for the gentle smells of caramel and coffee malts. There was also a hint of dark fruit (raisins, dates, prunes etc) to it. No matter what, the scent of alcohol was always present. The first taste was a biting alcohol taste, but subsequent sips revealed a nice caramel malt taste with a chocolate malt follow up. There is a slight molasses finish to it. As the beer warmed, the taste of alcohol became more and more present.

This is a full bodied beer that has a more watery than creamy feel to it. It’s thick while in the mouth, but after swallowing, there is no coating.

This is not a beer I would suggest drinking in any great quantity. This would be something that you drink one bottle at a time, probably on a special occasion. This beer also gave me the impression that you have to be in the mood to drink it. I could see where if you were not expecting this beer, one would not like it, where as if you were anticipating it, it would be really good. I don’t know if I’d classify this as an excellent beer, but it is pretty good. I’d be interested to buy a bottle and cellar it for a year or so and see how it ages. I may have to pick up an extra bottle and do a re-review in a couple of years. Right now as a fresh beer I give it 5.5 out of ten.

Posted by Contagion at 07:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Neglect and responsibility

Wow, I’ve been really neglectful. Over the last couple of days, I actually started going down my blogroll… the one that is mislabeled “Blogs I regularly read”.

WOW. Just wow.

I knew that I had let my job kind of take over things in my life and that my blogging has really taken a dive for it. That includes reading and keeping up with my regulars. As I’ve gone through and started clicking on links, I see that some blogs haven’t been updated in years. Some have ceased to exist or the ownership has changed hands. Or it had been so long since I had been there that when I started reading posts I realized that a lot of big things have happened to these people and I just had no clue!


Heck some of the blogs I used to comment on daily seem to have died to the point that the post maybe once or twice a week as opposed to once or twice a day.

Then again, the same thing goes for me. Then I realized what happened. I had “unauthorized” people from work find my blog. These are people that if they read my blog and went back and said something in the office, it would get me in trouble. Because of these people I really decided that I needed to scale back and not blog about some of the stuff I was… mainly work. Well those individuals that found me are no longer with the company or in my office and I just never got out of “private mode”

Yes, I still blogged some about work, but when was the last time I shared a really good Minion story. Hell when was the last time I even referred to my people as minions?

Well since I am fresh out of give a damn about work. I’m turning the filters off and actually going to try to make some rounds from now on. Maybe not as actively as I was before as I do have some resemblance of a life, but more than the… oh say NEVER… that I have been doing.

I’m gonna start with trimming the MIA from my blogroll and updating the new sites on there.

Posted by Contagion at 03:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack