Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Planning

Memorial Day, Labor Day, the Holidays.

The unofficial beginnings and ends of seasons are good opportunities to look back and reflect, and look forward and plan. Since Labor Day still in our rearview mirror, I thought I'd do both.

This summer we had a big trip to England, several parties, and Spencer grew up a lot! In addition to turning a year old, the young man is walking, trying to do some talking and developing nicely overall. At the start of the summer, he seemed very much like a baby: Not very mobile or vocal (except for crying or laughing). Now, his personality has come through: Happy, enthusiastic, determined, curious, and very chatty!

Looking forward to the fall, I have a few things on the agenda.

The first is to go back to the gym. I haven't gone since early May, and for the year before that while Holly was pregnant and we moved, I hardly went at all. It wasn't always that way. For more than half my life, I worked out in a gym, ran, or rollerbladed. If you include all the years I rode a bike, I've been doing some form of exercise since I was about 5 years old. So, after more than three decades, it feels unnatural to suddenly put that part of my life aside. Now, all I have to do is find the time to go.

The other thing I want to do is be more social. I haven't been to New York in months. I have a couple of friends here in Connecticut, but it's as hard to see them as my friends in NYC. I can't just pop out for a beer on a whim anymore. I haven't even been able to plan to pop out for beer. So, I need to make an effort to see friends. And maybe make some new ones too.

Spencer has started day care on a part-time, which means I will (hopefully) be working soon. Taking care of Spencer wasn't the only reason I quit my job when he was born. I took time off from work to figure out what I want to do professionally. What have I figured out and what will I pursue? I don't have all the answers, but stay tuned.

Exercise, more friendship, and a job I like: Is that too much for a parent to ask for?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Run For President, Have A Beer

I really hate the question, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" It's presented as a litmus test of presidential likeability, but I think the attention the question gets actually demeans the importance of a presidential election. While I may dislike the question, the media and presidential candidates themselves seem to think it's important.

I won't get too political here (if you're into that, you can follow my Twitter feed), but this Daily Beast article caught my attention. In it, David Freedlander writes about how cold frosty brews play a role in presidential politics.

Freedlander contrasts pictures of President Obama and Mitt Romney that were next to each other in the New York Times. Romney doesn't consume alcohol because his Mormon faith prohibits it. In his picture, he carried a hot dog wrapped in foil.

Obama had a beer in his picture.
The president’s refreshment looked to be a classic American lager, pulled from a tap, a slight white head just below the lip—the staple of backyard barbecues the nation over, the most American of alcohols.
Ahh.. beer. America's official alcohol. (Cue sweeping patriotic music.)

It's not news that politicians campaign in bars to show their likeability. Freedlander cites five campaign stops Obama made at bars this year, as well as the release of two beer recipes from the White House earlier this month. During the Republican primary season, Rick Santorum showed his love and knowledge of beer. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton drank a shot of Crown Royal Canadian whisky (she likes beer, though, too).

Having a few cold ones with voters won't make or break an election. At least, it shouldn't. But all of this alcohol consumption is not just about relating to voters. It's about showing manliness and strength, which some people still think are the same thing, and are qualifications for office. Since men are "supposed" to like certain things - beer, sports, sex - having a beer shows you're "a man," (or at least manly, in the case of then-Sen. Clinton). If a candidate projects manliness by having a beer (or doing other things like hunting, playing a sport, talking tough), then the assumption is they actually are manly and strong, and therefore fit for office.

Of course, part of campaigning is putting on a performance. Drinking beer gives no indication how a candidate will act once they're in office. Drinking beer projects qualities the candidates want to convey to voters: Strength and relatability.

Not any booze will do, though. Some drinks are elitist. Martinis are snooty. And forget about wimpy wine. As Rick Santorum said during his bar hop, "I don't do wine tasting."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

White House Beer?

This is the last thing I expected to see from the White House.

Over the weekend, the White House Blog posted two beer recipes that were recently brewed there: The White House Honey Ale and the White House Porter. My first thought was, "Don't they have better things to do than brew beer?" The brewing was supervised by Sam Kass, the White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. So, presumably it's his job to do stuff like this. And since he's an advisor on Healthy Food Initiatives, I would hope the beer is relatively healthy, too. (I'd love to get some data on that, though.)

My second thought was, "Wow. I've never seen a home brewed beer recipe before." Now that I have, I just need to find some malt, hops and a couple of fermenters. And then I can add that to list of many things I want to do, but have no time see through.

If you do have the time or just want to see the recipes, click here to see them. And watch this White House video to see how they made the beer.