Today I am at war.
The lizard brain wants to dig in, declare war, take no prisoners, kill’em all and let god sort’em out.
And my presence wants to lay down, unattach, and let it all go. Â Give it all away.
To be angry, to be sad, to feel something strong about something in your life is a reflection of your attachment to it. Â You’re being defined by it.
To allow events to transpire around you, to feel the associated emotions and recognize them, accept them at face value. Â To experience without judgement is to be present.
But how many of us can do that?
When presented with hard choices, how many can say “This is terribly sad, but this too shall pass”?
What I have been struggling with, is very personal.
And I want to rage, I want to fight and I want, as someone said to me recently, my pound of flesh.
But I have been thinking about that. Â What does that get me? Â Revenge? Â Vengance? Â Equality?
But how would any of that bring what I desire – Inner Peace?
Can being vindictive make me happy?
Will I be a better person in the future because of it?
Will I look back on this time, and consider it a defining moment in my life and something that I am proud of?
Or will I look and see regret that I acted poorly? Â That I chose self over right?
I have been working towards a theme, something that is (in my mind) makes sense… The parallels between Eastern Philosophy (be it Buddism, Confusionism or Taoism, but mostly Taoism) and what it takes to be a good brewer or even a bike racer.
If Tao is the way, “this too shall pass” is a tool to follow the path. Â And it parallels RDWHAHB, which is the mantra coined by Papazian given to any new homebrewer when asked is they should peek, or check or make adjustments along the way…
Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Hombrew…
Or in the words of Douglas Adams*:
*and don’t forget towel day is fast approaching.05.12.10
Now, yesterday we delved into a bit of Utah’s weird liquor laws and how it measures our transgressions.
I started down a really (to me) interesting topic of Brettanomyces yeast. Â And I still would like to go there.
But I think the 2 readers I have need a little more background before we can get to that topic and discuss in a way that will be meaningful in the end.
So let’s talk for just a moment about beer and what it really is.
If you want to know more, and/or how to make it, I really recommend reading Palmer and Papizan.
But, in a blog length and depth format, here is where beer comes from.
Barley is grown.
Then the grain is separated from the stalk and it is Malted.
Malting starts when the grain is sprayed with water to make it damp, then spread in thin layers on a malting floor.
The moisture causes the grain to germinate.
As the grain starts to grow, the Acrosperm releases enzymes that convert the carbohydrates, proteins and starches of the Endosperm into more soluble components, amino acids and lipids.
When the Maltster (the person who is contolling the malt process) determines that the now Malt has reached the desired stage, the grain is dried to cease germination. Â Thereby leaving accessable chemicals and enzymes for the brewer to extract by mashing.
The brewer then takes these grains, and crushes them in a controlled fashion to allow the grain out of the husk, but without destroying the husk, as it would introduce tannins and other off flavors into the beer if over-crushed.
The grain is steeped in hot water.
In this time, called mashing, the enzymes reactivate and the starches, carbohydrates and proteins go into solution of the water.
The now sugar-water is drained, rinsed (sparging) and the liquid (wort) is placed in a large pot and brought to a boil.
Then hops are added at various times during the boil for bitterness, flavor and aroma.
After a minimum of 60 minutes of boiling to sterilize the wort, it is cooled down to fermentation temperatures, placed in a carboy (fermentation chamber).
Then yeast is added (pitched) to the wort and it is sealed with an airlock.
Yeast, in the metaphor I have used to explain it to my children, eat sugar, burp CO2 and pee alcohol.
Thus after some time, you have beer.
I might spend some time going through more detail of the process soon.
While #30DaysOfContent seems to be going well, I thought I would share a list of others, who though they may not be participating in such a challenge, produce excellent CONTENT on a regular basis.
Mike See – http://lacemine29.blogspot.com/
Fantastic photography (and now videography) and a monster snowbiker.
Chiot’s Run – http://chiotsrun.com/
A great garden blog. Nice photography as well.
Dan Connely – http://djconnel.blogspot.com/
Another science/engineer/athlete dork.
Seth Goding – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
Mad Fermentationist – http://www.themadfermentationist.com/
Great beer blog on wild and crazy styles.
A great local blog with MUCH science content about the world we live in…
If you have others, I would love to hear about them.
Is this getting easier? Â Am I hitting my stride?
Or am I running out of ideas and conversations to have with myself?
I feel the pull of a linked post. Â Lots of pictures, lots of links, lots of formatting and indentation calling me.
There was a post recently on the Watcher’s blog where there was a discussion of yeast.
One of my last beers I did a yeast experimentation. Â I brewed a Saison and bottle conditioned half the batch on the standard primary fermentation yeast strain. Â The other half I inoculated with a “wild” yeast called brettanomyces.
It is a comman wild yeast in a lot of belgian beers and many american beer which try to create these beers.
I grew the brett from a bottle of Orval as they also bottle condition with this variety.
It is interesting as a yeast, since it is highly alcohol tolerant, which allows it to ferment to a lower final gravity. Â Ok, I just lost all my non-brewing audience with that one, so, how about a primer?
Brewers will often talk about gravities. Â You will hear phrases like “high gravity beers” as well as the measurements of OG, SG and FG.
So what does this all mean?
SG: Specific Gravity
Specific Gravity is also Relative Density, or how dense a liquid is compared to water.
OG: Original Gravity
This is the SG of the wort (pre-beer liquid) before yeast is added and fermentation begins. Â It, in combination with the yeast selected (more on this another day) define how strong the beer can become.
FG: Final Gravity
This is the SG of the beer when fermentation is ended or stopped by the brewer.
Basically, to get from these measurements to something most consumers care about (and perhaps shed a little light on weird Utah liquor laws):
(OG-FG) * 105 = Alcohol By Weight or ABW
ABW * 1.25 = Alcohol By Volume or ABV
What does that have to do with Utah? Â Well, most of the beer drinking world knows %alcohol in terms of ABV. Â But Utah regulates it’s over the counter and draft beer by ABW.
So while it is not “full strength” beer, it isn’t terribly weak either.
Standard “6.4″ beer is 6.4% ABV. Â But that is only 5.1% ABW.
Draft beer in Utah is 4% ABV or 3.2% ABW.
Is it weaker than elsewhere? Â Sure, but not a huge amount. Â And the reality is, unless you are dealing with mostly macro-beers, alcohol content is all over the map and varies with both brewer and style. Â And even the style guidelines that beers are judged under can have a range of target alcohol that can be several percentage points.
So, what does that have to do with the wild brett and the saison? Â Well I ran down the rabbit hole and think that will have to wait for another day, but at least you know that I will be here writing tomorrow, so won’t be long…..
<one day late!>
Sunday was Mother’s Day.
This is a little heavy topic, but bear with me.
What prevents us from telling the truth, all the time in our everyday lives?
I know, at least for me, when I was confronted with this topic, I thought to myself:
Self, you don’t lie. Â You are a truthful guy.
But when you really think about it, there are little places. Â Little corners of your mind, of your day, of your person. Â That you don’t share. Â You protect. Â You covet.
And those little things, are where the lies come from. Â Even the small ones.
These are the reasons for lies in us. Â Why do you lie?
For Self Advancement?
Little white lies about who did the work. Â Taking credit for an idea that wasn’t really yours? Â Little steps forward that might not have been yours, or at least not yours alone?
Is if for Self Aggrandizement?
Do you tell little white lies to make you look better to friends, coworkers or new aquaintences?
Or for Self Protection?
I fall into this track more than any other. Â I don’t want to argue about something I have done. Â Especially when it could be construed as selfish. Â I don’t want to own up to my own actions if I feel that there will be reprocusions.
So, in the moment, it seems to make more sense to hide from myself and my actions than to be accepting of what fallout there will be because of them.
But this is a false idea.
There is no real dodging of consequences. Â Merely a deferal. Â Usually compounded by the addition of the realization of the lie piled up on top of the initial action.
So why, why in the moment does it seem to make sense to lie?
Why, if only for a fraction of a second, does the lie seem to make sense?
Because I am not present in that moment. Â I am in the future. Â I am manipulating myself and my experience. Â Instead of being in the moment, I am predicting what MIGHT happen to me and making choices to try and change an outcome.
I am trying to avoid the confilct that might arise from one of my actions, but I also want to reap the benefits of my original action.
I am trying to have my cake and eat it to.
And if, in those moments, I could be more present, I would be more capable of being truthful more often.
Perhaps there are some that are enlightened. Â Or fully present all the time.
But for me, and I suspect that for most, it is more a journey, a process, and something that has to be pursued ongoing…
This is one of my personal stumbling blocks. Â This behavior is something that I will continue to work on. Â But the analysis, the ability to see that this is my action, this is what I need to work on. Â That is the break in the cycle that allows for change.
<two days late!>
Saturday was definately a bike day. Â Morining with the family. Â Then load the Big Dummy up with the race bike and a change of clothes.
Ride down to Pioneer Park, register and race the State Circuit Race.
I got shelled.
It was my first crit of the year. Â May 8th and my first crit of the year. Â Not that I haven’t tried mind you. Â I did the stage race in St. George, but the crit was cancelled due to winds. Â I tried to go to a RMR, but it was cancelled due to winds.
So while my real and only goal was to finish, I was unable to do that. Â I missed the start by a bit and went too far backwards in the pack. Â After the first two laps I looked back and thought “man I am way to back.” Â Only 5-10 people behind me and that is not where I wanted to be.
But the tempo. Â The tempo was so fast it was damn near impossible for me to move up. Â I knew what I wanted to do, but was unable to do it. Â But I didn’t give up. Â I kept going when gapped out. Â Then they pulled me.
So I changed, loaded the dummy back up, and headed to the Tour De Brewtah to meet the last half.
It was great. Â I hope they do it again next year and let more folks in.
On the way home from that, I rode past a friends house and he was sitting on the porch with his new pup. Â I stopped and was offered another beer.
We sat together and chatted and I got to unload a bit of a burden. Â It was nice to have a friendly ear.
Then I loaded up again and rolled home.
7 hours out of the house, three stops and not a car in sight.
p.s. the coffee mug handlebar holders they sell work excellent for pint glasses as well!05.7.10
No introspection tonight. Â No deep thoughts.
Tomorrow is State Criterium Championships.
I intend to race. Â I do not intend to win. Â I intend to stay in the field, pack surf well and then if it comes down to a sprint, be there for it.
In my humble opinion, a State Criterium Championship should in some way reward technical skill in bicycling. Â It should require both left and right turns. Â Preferably with both linked together, even more so if the linking of these turns is such that pedalling in between is impractical at best.
A rectangle around a city park is more of a very short circuit race in this one racer’s opinion.
One of my favorite single issues of a bike magazine was the June 1988 issue of Bicycle Guide. Â The “Special Issue” on “The Essence of Cycling”.
30 Pages of CONTENT.
Pages and pages of writing. Â Individual articles on:
On the inside. (the sport that is)
On the outside.
The road not taken.
From road to mud.
In that 30 pages of writing and fabulous photography, there were a sum total of 5 ads. Â There were no articles on how to descent faster. Â No pacing tips for time trials. Â No coaching plans for how to do well at your next hillclimb.
Just fabulous writing on the JOYS of each of these aspects of the sport of cycling. Â Perhaps I will have to post these soon in the future. Â The writing is excellent. Â It makes you want the sun to come out and go ride.
But for today, I leave you with Ted Costantino’s opening sentence from “Descents”
I have passed through some small percentage of the world’s great scenery in full Â tuck.
So I have this little story that has been brewing in the back of my head since I went down St. George for two days of dirt and beer.
Sunday, the group decided not to ride. Â I on the other hand would take any free day and opportunity to ride some new trails. Â So I loaded up the Gooseberry Mesa Trail gpx that Dave Harris sent me (THANKS! – I would have been so lost without it!) and after we all had breakfast, I drove out there by myself.
I get there, there are a few folks hanging around at the rest room, then I suit up and head out. Â Having never been out this way, I pay pretty close attention to the GPS. Â I was glad I did – I would have probably gotten pretty lost without it.
With the route finding less than easy, I ended up after the first 15 minutes releasing all expectations of “training” and left it as a mental day, a chance to just ride. Â If you don’t do that often, I <in my best ferris bueller voice> highly recommend it.
We I got to one of the outcrops, I spent about half an hour pretty much alone except the 3 Germans that rode past contemplating my life, issues, hangups and situation. Â It was excellent time and the weather and scenery couldn’t have been better.
I rode on, refreshed and happy. Â Met a nice couple from Crested Butte also there for the first time. Â I told them how trail 401 is probably in my opinion of the top 3 of all time anywhere. Â They comment on how nice it was to be able to see everywhere from anywhere on the trail. Â Ironic to me as one of the best features of trail 401 is that you are miles from home, and cannot see your destination. Â Three ridge lines and many miles of downhill single track separate you from the real world.
But back that the courtesy part.
The Germans were courteous. “Hi” and “Allo”. Â The couple from Crested Butte were courteous and chatted about their lives and mine.
My next encounter was not so courteous.
I took a wrong turn next and ended up on the double track that b-lines (where does that come from) straight to the car. Â After a bit of that, a group pops out of a side trail I hadn’t noticed. Â I stopped to get some info on what/where/how that trail connects back in as it wasn’t on the trail Dave gave me.
I pull with a “Hey, how’s it going” trail greeting. Â Get a general “Guud” from the group. Â Then the one guy in the group on a Kona singlespeed says “Hey, aren’t you from Salt Lake? Â I am on a SS at this point and think cool, someone nice who apparently knows me, but I don’t know him. Â I respond that I am in fact from SL, UT.
To which he then response “You’re a fucking asshole who almost ran me over several times in Dry Creek”.
His buddy jumps in and quasi-jokingly says, “Hey, there are seven of us, do you want us to kick his ass?”
The KonaBoy tries to quote me the IMBA rules of the trail and that downhill traffic has to yield to uphill traffic.
Which of course I know, and if you have ever ridden with me, I am very COURTEOUS. Â I have and use a bell religiously. Â I yield to uphill traffic. Â I am polite to all trail user and usually TALK to them “How’s it going?” Â ”Have a nice hike.” etc. etc.
But Dry Creek is an interesting place. Â It IS in fact wide enough in most places for uphill as well as downhill traffic to continue without stopping while passing each other. Â Slowing down is in fact courteous. Â Slowing down on a trail that can be eight feet wide is in fact yielding. Â Continuing on a path that allows me to pass the uphill traffic without them having to deviate from their chosen line, to me is in fact the spirit of the IMBA’s rules of the trail.
Nowhere does it say that you have to come to a complete stop. Â The reason is, many trails are such that it is unnecessary and they clearly have enough foresight to not want all trail users come to a complete stop every time they see another user.
The point in choosing a good word like YIELD is that it allows users in the situation to use appropriate COURTEOUSY to handle all encounters.
Courtesy I feel that I have always shown while riding Dry Creek.
But what really boggles my mind about my experience on Gooseberry is this.
KonaBoy didn’t yell at me on the trail in Salt Lake. Â If I did it multiple times to him, you would think he would have said something by at least the second or third time, like maybe “Hey! Â Slow down! Â That is too fast for my comfort level!”
To which I gladly would have obliged. Â Really.
Probably apologized on the spot.
But instead, he let this notion that I was an asshat fester inside him until many moons later when he had the support of his group of friends in a far away town he addresses me and calls me names.
So he buried this animosity inside him until he came to a situation where he felt supported enough to confront it.
I know I am not always living in the present, but if the rest of the world is living this far in the past, wow.
So, if you see me out on a trail, and you feel that I am not being courteous to you in how I pass you. Â I apologize. Â And I hope that you will stop me in the moment and tell me that you were uncomfortable with my pass.
I would not be angry, I would be courteous and appreciative that you were able to tell me in the moment I made you uncomfortable.
And I promise to do the same.
I started with a path down eastern philosphy. Â I would like to return to that path before this month is up.
I also didn’t link to anything or post pictures or hide behind color or italics or deep punctuation. Â I have references to most of what I cribbed and will probably come back to it and annotate it later.
But for today. Â I want to continue down the path of CONTENT which is what this experiment was designed for.
Last post, I talked about living in the present. Â But in this day and age of twitter and facebook and whatever other collaboration internet tools you use, the present is not PRESENT. Â But more a leveraged opportunity to shout out to others what you are doing.
I started this project to have something to say. Â And ironically, it started with something to say about nothing.
So what today? Â Choices.
This past week was (ok, for bike geeks) a good week with the tour of the gila happening in New Mexico. Â This is the 24th Tour there. Â And it was pointed out that local stud has been doing it non-stop for the past 16 years.
His first one was in 1997.
My first Tour of the Gila was in 1997.
How different our lives were. Â And have been since.
In 1997, I got my category 3 upgrade. Â I wanted to race hard. Â I wanted to see the real races. Â I wanted to see what fast was.
I went to two big races in 1997. Â In addition to Gila, I also did Killiington Stage Race in Vermont. Â I was about as thin as I have been ever in 1997, and still the hills handed my ass to me. Â The stage race had climbs of sustained 20% grades. Â The TT was uphill.
I learned a lot. Â And I struggled emotionally as my then girlfriend and now wife went with me to that race. Â She was ill and still wanted to be there with me. Â I was thankful she was there.
I did Gila one more time the next year. Â Again, I did not finish.
And then I made some choices in my life.
These choices have had dramatic impacts on where I am today. Â What my situation is. Â And what the future could hold for me.
But I made them. Â With full cognition of what I was choosing and where it might take me.
Actually, I had day two written and edited (twice) already today.
But I just moved that thought to the back burner, poured a pint of the summer bock (still a little low on carbonation) and started a new thought.
The world is still spinning in my mind. Â Uncertainty and doubt of what the future holds swirls around attempting to further confuse my thoughts and actions.
Presence is still important.
But in the past 30+ hours, art seems to resonate with me. Â Movies seem more than typically to apply to my situation.
Music, melody and lyrics seem as if to be written for me, about me, about now.
There is a resonance in so much of what I have seen these most recent of hours.
It brings forth a wellspring of emotion and thought…
And if feels like I can literally hear the gearbox in my mind downshifting from superego, to ego and all the way back into the id.
It is like my mind is spinning inside a shell uncontrollably. Â And the resonance, these points in time and art that seem to matter. Â That seem to crystallize for me. Â The are the spinning orb reaching out to the shell to form attachments. Â To stabilize the orbit and bring it all back into control.
A touch point here and a degree of freedom is removed.
Another removes some of the counter rotation. Â The third leaves it as merely a flat spin. Â There – that is a problem I can control. Â That is something that I can own and act on.
And it helps.
But is it real? Â Is it a coping mechanism? Â Is it something that I am using to rein myself in with and merely a tool.
Or is it really a resonance of my life with another’s art?
And does that really matter one way or another?
I have made mistakes, I know in these current events. Â But in some way, I will find clarity and forcefulness in my actions and I will go through as I hope to be. Â And if it be a connection to others works, perhaps inspired by their own turmoil, that helps me gain control of my spin – is that not what matters most?
This too shall pass.