The best woman I know

16 years already? Well, actually its been more than that. It seems like it went by in the blink of an eye, and it also seems like a lifetime ago. I have changed so much as a human being since this magic carpet ride all began, and have learned so much about life. Hell, if you go all the way back to the beginning, I grew up since then.

THE POINT IS?

Oh, sorry. 16 years ago today, I married my best friend. It was a cool, sunny day and St. Mary’s Church in Port Washington, WI, seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. That was the day we made it official and pledged an oath to each other and God. But, that’s not when it all started. We started dating when we were 16 — started at 16, been 16 years, there’s some kind of symmetry there if you’re a numbers person. Yes, we were high school sweethearts. I know what you’re thinking, “16 years of marriage, started dating when you were 16, but, Jeff, you’re 40 years old? Where’d the other 8 years go?”

It all started here…kinda

Simple, 2 more years to finish high school. Then I went to college in Madison and she went to college in Stevens Point. She buckled down, studied and finished school in 4 years. I, on the other hand…well, let’s just say I spent a lot of time enjoying some of the other things life in Madison had to offer and took much longer to get my degree, 5 1/2 years. Plus, my wife really wanted to get married in her childhood church, so despite getting engaged in 1995, the church wasn’t available until September of 1996. And there’s your other 8 years.

THAT’S A LONG TIME, ISN’T IT?

Not really. Like I said, it has flown by. Besides, some people we know just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last weekend, so by comparison it hasn’t been long at all. Sure, it hasn’t always been easy. Not even close. But, that’s why I married my best friend. Best friends stand by you when it feels like no one else will. And, they call you on your BS when you need a wake call. She has done both and I’m a better person because of it. She has more than anything, been there “in good times and in bad.”

It may sound a little cliché, but your highs end up being a lot higher after you’ve struggled through the lows. You can truly appreciate the hill you’ve climbed together and what you’ve accomplished through all your hard work. We have a plaque hanging in our foyer and it’s one of the first things you see entering our house. It simply says:

Faith makes all things possible, not easy.

I believe in her and in our marriage. I believe she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, and she’s kind enough to take me along for the ride and inspire me to do the same. I don’t believe it will always be easy. But, it will happen.

MARRIAGE IS A GOOD THING

I know, when — what’s the latest number? more than 50 percent? — most marriages don’t last until “death do us part”, many people are asking, “what’s the point?” I’ll give you the simplest answer I can — it makes life worth living.

Marriage has given my life meaning. It has given me a family. I get to see my wife and myself reflected in our children. I get to go to sleep each night knowing someone always has my back. I get to start each day knowing my cheerleader is there in my corner. I get to start each day knowing that I get to experience 2 days, mine and the one she shares with me at night. I get to watch this amazing woman instill values we believe could change the world into our children.

But, more than anything, I get to start each day knowing that I’m not going through this alone. It’s not just having a good friend to talk to or lean on. It’s having a true connection with that person, like they are part of me and I’m part of them — a symbiosis of the spirit if you will. It’s something that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you have it.

Still don’t believe me? Or, maybe you do but don’t know how to get there? Alright, it’s shameless plug time. We volunteer for a wonderful organization that is dedicated to making marriage great. If you want your marriage to feel great, or you just want some quality time for the two of you away from everything else, take a weekend just for yourselves. Go on a marriage retreat by WWME.

WHY PUT ALL THIS ON A BLOG POST?

Let’s see, where was I. Oh yes, why don’t I just tell me wife this instead of posting it in a blog? A couple of reasons.

  1. It’s what I believe and how I feel. Isn’t that supposed to be what a blog is about?
  2. It’s the internet. The internet is forever. If you felt this way, wouldn’t you want it recorded forever?
  3. I want the world to know that marriage is not a bad thing. It can be the greatest thing in your life if your willing to work at it.

MANY MORE YEARS

I can’t imagine having gone through this with anyone else. And as I look to the future, I can’t imagine going down this road with anyone else. Whether that future is one more day (Yikes! Let’s hope not! Darn Mayans trying to freak everyone out.), or another 50 years (Whew! That sounds a lot better.), I know I have been blessed beyond measure to be married to my wife.

Glenda, Happy Anniversary! And to many more years!

You are the love of my life,

Jeff

Beer Review – Singha

This one comes to us from Boon Rawd Brewery in Thailand. The review is based on a bottle poured into a pint glass (which by the way is how I review most of my beers).

It pours a light blonde color with a bright white head that quickly dissipates. There is no lacing with this beer and it has very little aroma. It has a very light, watery moutfeel with just the slightest of hoppy finish. Not much aroma, not much flavor.

Overall, I didn’t like it. It’s too much of nothingness. I suppose if you’re not much of a beer fan, you might like it. Kinda like all those people that think Bud Light is great. In my opinion, Singha commits the ultimate sin of beer — it’s boring.

Grade: F

Beer Review – Stanlick’s Doc Holiday Porter

Yes, folks, I review my own beer. But, since you can’t buy this one for your weekend I’m giving it to you on a Wednesday. I’m often quite harder on it than things I buy. You see, when you’re homebrewing, you have an idea in your mind about what the look, smell and taste is going to be while you’re coming up with your recipe and brewing it. When it doesn’t come out exactly as you envisioned, you get critical of your process.

This particular beer came from an idea I had with some huckleberry syrup my parent’s brought back from Glacier National Park. I decided a porter could handle the tart huckleberry flavor better than some other styles. Plus, I figured if there is a style that’s hard to screw up, it’s a porter. This beer seems to get better the longer it ages in the bottle and the different flavors come out. This review is from a later bottle poured into a pint glass.

This pours a very dark brown, almost black color with very little light getting through. Pours about 1″, tan colored head that quickly dissipates to about 1/8″ and hangs around with plenty of lacing present. It has floral noise with the huckleberry coming through, although it’s not as strong as I thought it would be.

It is full bodied with a medium to almost heavy mouthfeel. Starts out a little sweet from the caramel malt, but has a hoppier finish than one would expect from a porter. While the huckleberry is present in the aroma, it very faint in the taste. Perhaps the brewmaster should’ve added it in the secondary fermenter rather than during the boil.

It’s a little hoppier than the porter style, but it really has a lot to offer. So much more than the first bottle I opened. Overall, this is a pretty easy drinking beer with more flavor every time I open a bottle. So, I haven’t opened one in a couple of weeks. (Perhaps this post will need an update shortly) It’s one of my better homebrews.

Grade: B+

Has it really been 40 years?

Today marks my 40th birthday. For some, that birthday is greeted with dread, and for others it’s simply another number.  For the most part I find myself in the latter group. If you think about 40 years, that seems like a long time, but over the course of my life it doesn’t feel like a long time. Maybe it’s because I have little kids at home and it’s hard to feel old with a 2-year-old around. Notice, I didn’t say it’s hard to feel tired and worn out — that’s pretty easy with a little munchkin getting into everything — I said it’s hard to feel old.

But, I don’t think that’s it entirely. I just don’t dwell on numbers like that very much. I used to.  As I waited for my 16th birthday so I could drive a car. Or, my 18th birthday so I could finally vote. Or my 21st birthday, so I could drink legally. Yeah, looking back on it, my priorities were a bit out of whack back then.

Anywho, it’s been 40 years, but so what? So much has changed over that time and continues to change right before our eyes. We’re living in a time where technology changes our lives faster than we may be able to adapt to it. But, it means there is always something new and exciting to do or try. I think about my great-grandmother who was born before the car was invented, before the telephone and electricity were commonplace and before running water was part of every house. She died after the space shuttle was launched, after the personal computer was invented and after the invention of the cell phone. Technology had changed the world and made it smaller right in front of her eyes. Technology continues to shrink the world and interconnect everything. So, I thought I’d take a look back at what’s happened over my life and just imagine what the next 40 years holds.

1972 - THE YEAR IT ALL BEGAN

Do you remember 1972? I don’t. I was here, but I was busy drooling all over myself, sleeping, eating and filling diapers. I didn’t have a whole lotta time — or developed brain power — to remember what else was going on. But, thanks to this Internet thingamabob, I can look up 1972 and see what was going on. Unfortunately, the Internet says it wasn’t such a great year.

  •  Bloody Sunday happens in Northern Ireland
  • 11 Israel Athletes murdered by Arab Gunman at Munich Olympics
  • Watergate
  • Nixon is re-elected (he didn’t resign until 1974)
  • 16 survivors from plane crash in the Andes are rescued after practicing cannibalism

But it wasn’t all bad news.

  • Last US ground troops are withdrawn from Vietnam
  • The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the US Senate
  • The worlds leaders agree to banning biological warfare
  • The Dow Jones closes above 1000 for the first time in history
  • Mark Spitz wins a record 7 gold medals in the Summer Olympics in Munich
  • The Godfather, Diamonds Are Forever and Dirty Harry are released
  • Don Mclean releases “American Pie”
  • Sesame Street and Hawaii Five-O are hits on TV (cuz some things never change I guess)
  • HBO is launched
  • The first hand-held scientific calculator is released by HP
  • Atari releases PONG

1982 – BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Oddly, I wrote a post about this back in 2008 when the Brewers made their first playoff appearance since 1982. Oddly, that post remains my most visited post. Rather than re-writing it, I’ll simply give you the link.

1992 - AH, THE COLLEGE YEARS

In 1992, I was working at the UW-Madison Union South (which is no longer there) and changing my major from Electrical Engineering to Computer Science after taking a required computer programming class and realizing I was pretty good at it. Of course, that was hard to fit in between all the pizza and beer. Hmm, perhaps that’s why I weighed 50 pounds more at this time than I did in high school. On to the events:

  • US and UN intervention in Somalia (that could’ve gone better)
  • Gas average $1.05/gallon
  • Ross Perot runs for President (the first time)
  • Bill Clinton is elected President
  • John Gotti is sentenced to life in prison
  • Hurricane Andrew hits Florida
  • 27th amendment to the US Constitution is ratified (can you believe it was first proposed in 1789)
  • Rioting in LA after 4 police officers are acquitted of beating Rodney King
  • Mike Tyson convicted of raping Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington
  • NAFTA is signed
  • Euro Disney opened in France
  • The Queen of England had to start paying income tax
  • The European Union was founded
  • Japan publicly apologized for forcing female Korean’s into sexual slavery during the war
  • Windows 3.1 is released by Microsoft
  • The nicotine patch is introduced
  • The Space Shuttle Endeavor’s successful maiden voyage
  • A Few Good Men, Wayne’s World, Basic Instinct and Unforgiven hit the big screen
  • Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Metallica are churning out hits while Michael Jackson makes a come back
  • Jerry Springer and America’s Funniest Home Videos are on TV (cuz some things don’t change)

2002 – THE NATION TRIES TO RECOVER

My birthday this year occurred 7 months after the 9/11 attacks. Troops were ripping across Afghanistan and President Bush was making his case for the use of force in Iraq. The financial markets were in turmoil and big corporations were going under. Meanwhile, I started working on my first project that used SQL Server — previously I had only used Oracle and Sybase.

  • Gasoline now averaged $1.61/gallon
  • Kmart, United Airlines and WorldCom all file for bankruptcy protection
  • Two snipers in DC kill 10 before being arrested
  • Files show cover up for priests accused of abuse and the Pope condemns it
  • The NASDAQ falls to 1,114 and the Dow drops to 7,286. Both 4 year lows.
  • Nightclubs in Bali are bombed
  • The No Child Left Behind Act becomes law in the US
  • Department of Homeland Security is created
  • Terrorist Dirty Bomb plot is foiled in Chicago
  • The Euro becomes the official currency of 12 EU nations
  • Winter Olympics opened with a parade of the American flag recovered from the World Trade Centre
  • The Mars Odyssey finds signs of huge ice deposits on Mars
  • Kelly Clarkson wins the first American Idol contest
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Men In Black II and Star Wars Episode II were in theaters (cuz sequels are cool)
  • CSI and Survivor were on the small screen (cuz some things don’t change)

I just looked at the years that I entered a new decade of life. But, it wasn’t all good news was it? Well, every year is like that and for some reason we seem to remember the bad stuff. But, these years have my favorite memories of the last 40 years:

  • 1988 – My wife and I went on our first date
  • 1995 – Graduated college and got my first “real” job
  • 1996 – My wife and I tie the knot (hey, we had to finish high school and college first)
  • 1998 – We bought our first house
  • 2000 – We got our puppy (he doesn’t move so quick anymore, but I love that dog)
  • 2003 – My daughter was born
  • 2007 – My oldest son was born
  • 2010 – My youngest son was born

I don’t know what the next 40 years holds for me or what technology holds for all of us, but I’m betting I won’t feel 80 when it gets here.

Beer Review – Big Sky Powder Hound Winter Ale

This one is a 7.2% ABV winter ale. This review is from a bottle poured into a pint glass.

It pours a clear golden, amber color with a thick, 3/4″ white head. The beer has excellent head retention with lacing present. It has a hoppy, fruity aroma with the smell of citrus coming through. It has a medium mouthfeel and is pretty well-balanced with the flavors of orange, bread, caramel and spices coming through. It starts sweet and moves to a hoppy finish. The finish is where you notice the higher  alcohol content with an ever so slight warming effect.

Overall, this is a pretty decent beer. They did a nice job keeping it balanced without it becoming non-descript. It’s a easy drinking beer with some good flavors.

Grade: B+

Beer Review – Lake Louie’s Kiss the Lips IPA

This beer comes to us from Arena, Wisconsin. This is an unfiltered IPA, so don’t be surprised when it looks all cloudy as you pour it out.

It pours a cloudy orange-yellow color with a 1″ cream colored head that creates some nice lacing.  As you might expect since it’s unfiltered it has a yeasty aroma. Being an IPA, the hops do come through and with a bit a piney scent to them.

It has a light to medium mouth feel with a hoppy finish. In fact, it tastes a lot like it smells.  Malty with a bit of caramel and some piney hops for the finish.  However, it’s not as hoppy as you think of when you think IPA. It’s almost more like an APA.

Judging on pure drinkability, it’s pretty good and has some character. If you’re judging it on fitting the style, you could think of it as an IPA for folks who are either new to the style — a gateway IPA as it were — or people who prefer something less bitter. But, if you’re a big IPA fan you’ll probably be a little disappointed.

Grade: B-

Beer Review – Hoegaarden Wit

I’ve been taking all these notes on beers that I’ve been drinking and not doing a good job of posting them online.  Let’s start to change that, shall we?

This is a Belgian wheat style beer.  It pours a cloudy blonde color with a 1 inch bright white head frothy head that is slow to dissipate.  It leaves some lacing on the glass as you drink it.

It has a yeasty smell which is kind of expected for the style of beer. There’s a slightly citrus aroma as well. It’s very crisp and kinda refreshing with a hint of orange aftertaste. It has a very light mouthful. Overall, it’s a pretty good example of the style and I wish my fridge had more than just one of these in it.

Grade: B+