Out of the Brew

This blog has merged with several others. Everything can now be found at http://www.outofthebrew.com

We Looked Like Giants

Most people hate being uncomfortable, and that’s understandable.  This isn’t some groundbreaking statement.  There’s a reason comfort is expensive.  We crave it to the point that we’ll do everything we can to avoid the unfamiliar.  I try my best to take a different approach.  Sometimes being uncomfortable helps remind us how good comfortable feels.

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If you haven’t heard by now, a Carnival Cruise Ship’s engine caught fire over the weekend causing a massive power failure.  Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico a boat sits alone and adrift, full of 4,200 people. They’re angry, dirty and underfed.  Countless have taken to sleeping on the top deck to avoid the smell of raw sewage running down the ships interior walls.  Many have waited in lines four hours long to eat onion sandwiches.  There’s no heat for the cool nights, and no air for the warm days. Yesterday, a tugboat arrived to help tow the ship to port.  Slow and steady they’ve managed their way across the gulf.  Tomorrow their feet will again touch dry land.  Food, showers and clean clothes await them in Mobile.

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I’m weird, and I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I’d love to be on that ship.  As uncomfortable and miserable as it sounds, no one’s health or life is in danger.  I’m sure it’s hell on board the ship right now.  But given some time for perspective, this will eventually turn into a story that will be retold 10,000 times at family gatherings around the world.  If given the chance, I’d gladly trade places with any person on that boat.  Not because I’d be doing them any favors, but because selfishly, I’d be doing myself a favor.  The lifetime supply of stories I’d be able to store away for later would absolutely be worth the week spent on a nightmare cruise.

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As we age, our lives become a memory.  Everything we’ve ever done we’ve strived to make memorable.  At least, that’s what we pretend we’re doing.  The thing’s that last are typically things that stand out from the ordinary.  No one remembers the beach trip they took when they ended up getting sunburned while reading 50 Shades of Gray.  No one remembers the time they went water-skiing during a weekend trip to the lake.  Sure you remember them happening, but they happened so many different times that all those memories begin bleeding together.  Unless something extraordinary happened, those memories will never stand the test of time.

If you ate nothing but chocolate every day for an entire year, you’d quickly forget how good it tastes. (Also you might get diabetes.)  But it’s not simply variety we need; sometimes we need the bad things life throws at us too.  The good in life is actually enhanced by the bad.  Embrace the unusual, even if it’s uncomfortable.  Those are the stories that last a lifetime and they’ll always remind us just how great being comfortable feels.

Watching Television Wasn’t Always This Much Work

Been busy.  New kid. New job. New year.

dog

But I did come across this the other day. Interesting perspective on the complicated world of the television viewing experience.  It’s well worth the read:

If you blink during Season 2, Episode 3 of “True Blood,” Season 5 will make no sense. And it really goes beyond paying close attention. You have to STUDY today’s shows. I’ve had to learn more geography trying to figure out what’s going on in Game of Thrones than I did when I actually, you know, studied geography in school. So, while I can produce a fairly detailed drawing of Westeros, don’t ask me to find Delaware on a map, and you won’t even begin to understand the relationships between the characters on Thrones until you’ve developed post-graduate level genealogy skills.

You can find the entire article at The Impersonals.

Of Moons, Birds and Monsters

FACT: This is the 1,637th post you’ve read about the Mayan Apocalypse BUT this is the first one you’ve come across that suggests the apocalypse has actually already occurred.  Most people look around and see the earth still rotating on it’s axis (as of this publishing) and come to the conclusion that we all came through the apocalypse unscathed.  But did we?

Maybe the world really did end and we’re all zombies who just happen to be incredibly tech savvy.

Maybe the guy on the left is the real Zombie.

Maybe the guy on the left is the real Zombie and he’s just encountered an extremely friendly lady.

Are zombies even the least bit self-aware?  Science tells us that zombies tend to see themselves as normal, living beings, and the reason they attack the living is because they appear to them as the undead.  I know everyone’s first instinct when approaching an undead horde has always been “shoot first, ask questions later,” but in light of recent scientific knowledge, maybe it’s better to think twice about this antiquated approach.

Mayans

The Mayans were really shitty artists.

Of course, if we are all currently zombies, then we have no need for this school of thought anyway.  If we’re all zombies, then the Mayan’s were right this entire time and they’ll never get the credit they deserve.  That’s a bit tragic really.

Santa

Don’t forget to leave out brain and milk for Santa this year, you know, just in case.

Anyway, I hope Zombie Claus brings you everything you wanted this year.  See you in 2013.

-bg

Pardon Me

If I could travel back in time & change one thing, I’d throat punch the guy who made it popular to hold local parades.  I don’t want to come across as some Scrooge because I’m degrading a Christmas holiday tradition, but can someone explain to me the appeal of standing outside in 20 degree weather waving at complete strangers while they toss you 2nd rate candy?

I stood in line for 3 hours for this crap?

I stood in line for 3 hours for this crap?

Parades use to have meaning, but like so many other things, they’ve been watered down by society.  Not so long ago, parades were a way of honoring troops returning home from battle or paying homage to some momentous occasion that we’d eventually record in the history books.  They were a way of letting the world know how important we as a society thought a particular moment in time might be.  Now?  Now they’re used to showcase Little Miss Junior Jefferson County as she waves to people she doesn’t know while sitting in the back of a pick-up truck.

I would definitely attend this parade.

I would definitely attend this parade.

I would definitely NOT attend this parade.

But not this one.

I was driving home with my wife the other night and we got caught up in the traffic from one of these “parades.”  We were on our way home from a basketball game and had no idea that a parade was even scheduled for that night.  What should have been a quick 15 minute drive from the gym to our house turned into and hour and a half of pure agony.  A cop yelled at us for driving through an intersection at a time he deemed inappropriate (even though the light was green and he had waved us through). People who had been parked for the parade continuously butted into traffic, cutting others off in the process.  Parents let their kids dangerously run in front of oncoming vehicles.  Stop signs were run, people turned left on red, and everyone drove down one way streets.  The amount of traffic laws broken were immeasurable.  If tickets had been handed out, our cities coffers would have been lined for years.  It was chaos.

In my minds eye, this is how local parades always feel.

In my minds eye, this is how local parades always feel.

Evidence of parades exist as far back as 3000 BC.  These usually consisted of Emperors and King’s marching their armies down main street as a display of power; Showing the rest of the world exactly what they were capable of.  If these types of parades still existed, I’d absolutely be there.  Throw a parade for WWII or other Military vets? I’m there dressed in my Sunday’s best.  But throw a rinky dink Christmas Parade where people willingly sit in traffic for hours to catch a glimpse of the local Rotary Club as they pass out bite sized Laffy Taffy? I’d rather eat a bucket of rusty nails.

 

-bg

Sound The Alarm

Russia, you magnificent misfit; this post is all about you and your mysterious ways. The rest of the world clearly doesn’t understand you.

I’ve always been weirded out by Russia.  I tend to forget that they actually take up half of Asia, which makes no sense whatsoever.  When I think of Asia, I think of the Orient, Egg Rolls & Wanton Soup.  Not once do I think of Siberia, Nukes, Vodka, or Ivan Drago.  But they’re there, hiding away patiently waiting.  But for what?

I was a Geography major in college. Which, yes actually does provide ample opportunities for employment after graduation.  Some of the classes were incredible, such as the 2 week trip I took to Utah, the Grand Canyon, Wyoming, etc.  Others were less incredible, such as GE225: The History and Philosophy of Geography.  A class that basically outlined how and why we as a civilization began studying maps & features.  For one brief moment during that torturous 4 month class, something interesting happened.  We studied a paper written in 1904 called The Geographical Pivot of History. (For you history/geography nerds, it’s actually a very thought provoking paper and worth the read.)

I’m fully aware of how boring this sounds, but bear with me.  The summary of the theory is this:

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;

who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;

who rules the World-Island controls the world.”

The World-Island referenced above is Asia.  That part of the world has the natural resources (oil, lumber, livestock, land) sea ports, and population to literally take over the rest of the world whenever they wanted to. (Or had it, until Military technology caught up with it in the later part of the 20th century.)  The point is, Russia has never been able to get it’s shit together.  My theory is that throughout history, the country was too big for a central government to control.  Because they’ve never gotten their shit together, they’ve gradually gotten weirder and weirder, albeit in a fun & quirky way.

Ever heard of UVB-76 “The Buzzer” radio station in Russia?  You should do a google search because it’s one of the creepier things you’ll come across.  It’s a signal that’s been broadcasting since at least 1982 and it features a buzzer that goes off once every few seconds.  It’s been interrupted only a few times over the past 30 years, each time with someone speaking Russian into an open microphone.  Think about that.  For the past 30 years, somewhere in Russia, there’s been an open microphone that constantly has a foghorn blaring into it.  If that isn’t the most Russian thing ever, I’m begging you to find something else that is.

Want more absurdity?  Do a YouTube search for “Russian Road Rage.” Not sure what the deal is. But if you ever travel to Russia, don’t ever cut someone off in traffic.  You could spend an entire day on YouTube watching this stuff.

Why did all this come about?  What made me even think about Russia this morning?  I got a call yesterday from an unknown number.  And, as always, I picked up because you never know when your life might become the opening scene in a movie.  Some woman began shouting at me in a language I didn’t understand.  After about 30 seconds I gave up.  I checked the number and it read: +998 712-641-1275.  I got weirded out by seeing a 13 digit phone number and called my phone company.  Turns out it was a number from Uzbekistan, which is a neighbor of Russia.  The phone company said the call hadn’t yet shown up on my bill, but they gave me a $25 credit just in case, and now I’m legitimately worried I may owe AT&T $10,000.  Either that or it’s some prisoner locked away in the dungeon of some creepy radio station and I was their only hope of rescue :(

- utjf

Weekend Wars

As an Alabama fan, I can appreciate the lamenting and soul searching going on among the 3 SEC fanbases currently searching for a new head coach.  I’ve been there before; four times over six seasons to be exact.  If you’d like to retain your sanity, the best thing you could possibly do is disconnect your modem when you finish reading this paragraph.  Stop reading this blog, delete your twitter account, and pretend like feelslike98.com & hogville.net don’t exist.  Go spend some time with your family or watch the first 3 seasons of Justified.  Go on an Alaskan cruise or apply to be a fry cook at Hooters.  Whatever you do, smash your router before you read something silly & become an unreasonable Finebaum caller.

I mean, there are worse jobs.

Ok, so you’re still here right? Let’s go over a few things.

There’s plenty of solid hires out there that aren’t big names.  Guys like Darrell Hazell, Dave Doeren, Gary Anderson and Mark Hudspeth.  The problem isn’t hiring these guys; it’s hiring these guys after expecting to hire Barry Switzer 2.0.  As with everything in life, expectations equal happiness.  If a radio station called and told you that you’d won a brand new BMW, you’d be ecstatic.  If you showed up to claim it and it was a brand new Kia, you’d be unsatisfied regardless of the fact that you’d just won a new car.

This is the one and only time a post will feature a dancing hamster.

Arkansas: Les Miles isn’t walking through that door. (Plus, you really don’t want him to.)  He’s not a program builder, and that’s ok, he doesn’t have to be in a place like Baton Rouge.   Arkansas doesn’t have the talent pool or the resources for a coach like Miles to be successful.  As a player, Miles makes you want to run through brick walls, and he gets kids talented enough to actually do that.  Petrino was successful at Arkansas for the same reason Tuberville was successful at Auburn.  He was one of the league’s best at developing talent.  Miles takes 5-star Linebackers and turns them into top 10 draft picks.  There’s no science there. He can’t do that at Arkansas.

If I were an Arkansas fan, I’d be more than a little worried if the offer to Miles is legitimate.  It reeks of desperation.  I’d take that as a sign that Gruden, Patterson & Peterson are absolutely out of the picture (But were the ever really in it?)  Miles turned down an offer to return to his Alma mater, Michigan, to stay at LSU.  You really think he’d hop at the chance to try and right the ship at another SEC West school with less talent and opportunity for success?

Plus, this just feels dirty, no?

You need to start petitioning Jeff Long to reach out to Mike Gundy.  He’s a match made in heaven for the Hogs.  He’s Petrino without the baggage; a Midwest guy who gets the absolute most out of his talent.  I realizing he’s coaching at the school he played for, but that’s not the same hurdle as attempting to pry a former Texas player away from coaching at Texas.  The comparisons between Gundy & Petrino’s offenses are strikingly similar as is the way they develop WR talent.  I’m not saying it won’t be a tough pull, but if the reports that your AD has been authorized to spend close to $6 million per year on a coach are true, you’ve got to make a play for Gundy. He instantly turns Arkansas back into a 10 win team.

Tennessee:  I hate to say this as an Alabama fan, but you’re still a top tier program with top tier talent and top tier facilities.  You’re the right coach away from being a perennial top 10 team.  After seeing the talent Dooley’s allowed to waste away over the past 3 seasons in Knoxville, I’m not sure he’d have won more than 7 games in Tuscaloosa.  Every coach has a gift, and I see what the UT administration saw in Dooley when they hired him.  He could recognize raw talent as well as anyone, but he was atrocious at developing that talent or implementing any kind of successful gameplan on Saturdays. By the estimation of most scouts, UT is no less than 4th in the SEC in terms of talent.

The hottest Christmas Toy in Knoxville next year?

I can’t predict what goes on in the minds of other men, but I can tell you that if I were Gruden, I’d stay in the booth and call games.  He lives a stress free life with 20 hour work weeks.  He can spend as much time as he wants with his family or out flirting with the refreshment cart girls on the golf course, and he’s still making major $$$.  He’s worth an approximate $24 million dollars and is still bringing home somewhere between 2-3 million dollars per year.   Who in their right mind would trade all that for 80-100 hour work weeks full of more stress than us mere mortals could possibly imagine?  Luckily for UT fans, no one ever said coaches were in the right minds.  With Hart being as tight lipped as any AD in recent memory, anything is possible.

Auburn: I don’t even know where to begin.  Good luck.

- BG

Into the Airwaves

With the way we continuously advance technologically as a society, it’s easy to forget how recent our past is.  We spent centuries as nomads, farmers,  and peasants, but because we all have iPhone’s & iPad’s, our past is easily forgotten.   It took centuries to build the wheel, and only decades to go from black & white TV’s to iPhone 5’s.

I recently came across a video on YouTube.  It’s from the game-show called “I’ve Got a Secret,” and it first aired in 1956.  The premise of the game is simple enough.  A contestant stands in front of a panel and answers questions.  Each member of the panel attempts to guess what the person’s “secret” is.  The contestant on the night of February 9th, 1956, was Samuel J. Seymour, and his secret is that he was an eye-witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Watch for yourselves:

The video is old, grainy & in black and white. But the remarkableness of it should not be lost on us.  It’s 2012 and we’re watching a video of someone who witnessed Abraham Lincoln die.  This is a firsthand account of one of the most famous assassinations in world history, and it’s casually sitting on YouTube with less than 1,000,000 views.  How sad.

Gangnam Style, by the way, has 666,000,000+ views and counting.

Technology has accelerated to the point where our attention spans are at an all-time low.  Sure, we can focus on more things now than ever, but we only focus on them briefly before the next shiny toy comes along that demands our attention.  We’ve got too much unimportant stuff weighing us down, that, at this time next year, we wont even remember we had.

Quick, what kind of phone were you using in 2007? Whatever it was, I’m sure you were dying to get it.

We as human’s have a incredible feature built into our brains that we rarely realize.  We have a way of forgetting the bad things that have happened to us.  For most of us anyway, the only bad things we ever remember are the truly traumatic events, or events that have helped shape who we’ve become.  I realize that even as I’m typing this, nothing I’ve said will stand out.  By this time tomorrow, you’ll probably forget that you ever read this, and that’s OK.  What I’m saying isn’t of any particular importance, other than this:  Stop focusing on the temporary things of this world or else the things you own, end up owning you.

- utjf

Letters from the Wasteland

What happened to us that made us forget what we wanted to be?  I’m sure there’s no statistic out there that measures how much our imagination deteriorates the older we get, but I know it’s significant, and that’s a shame.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Paleontologist.  I wanted to travel the world digging up dinosaur bones.  I wanted to figure out a way to bring what I saw on Jurassic Park to life.  Maybe I wouldn’t go quite as far as recreating actual dinosaurs, but I definitely wanted to study them.  I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than globetrotting and digging up T-Rex skeletons.

Then one day, I forgot about it.  It wasn’t a conscious decision I made, it just happened, and I wouldn’t realize it until years later when I was halfway through college.  “Wait, why am I studying to become a teacher again? Wasn’t there something way more fun I wanted to do?”  This happens a lot in life.  It’s rarely a decision we’re aware of, but something happens, and we lose a little bit of our imaginations along the way.  (And BTW, I didn’t end up becoming a teacher.)

Most of us are like this.  How many of you ended up in the job that you dreamed of when you were a kid?  How many of you guys became a professional stunt man, and how many of you girls became a ballerina?  Maybe the responsibilities of adulthood cause us to lose part of our imaginations.  Maybe the stress of bills and work evaporate our creativity.  Whatever it is, it’s heartbreaking.  I know some of you out there actually became mountain climbers or race car drivers.  But that number is minuscule compared to the number of people who dreamed of doing these things as kids.  The most tragic part of all of this isn’t that we couldn’t become what we wanted to be, it’s that we forgot what we wanted to be.

I was watching a Donald Glover standup special the other day and he put it perfectly.  What he said was basically this:

The idea of Santa Claus is really weird and bizarre.  There’s this fat guy that sneaks into your house through your chimney while your parents are asleep.  He eats all your food, leaves a couple of gifts for you, and then he climbs back up the chimney and leaves.  As a kid, you’re perfectly fine with this weird fat man who sneaks around your house while you’re sleeping.  But as an adult, you’d probably take a baseball bat to the guy’s head.

If you still believed in Santa Claus as a 40 year old male, then Christmas Eve would probably the most terrifying night of the year.

 

I have no idea how to get creativity or imagination back once they’re gone.   Society likes to repress weirdness, and I get that.  It makes a lot of people uncomfortable.  The older you get, the harder it is to have a family & a career built out of eccentricity.  I have a job that, while I do enjoy, It’s not something I look forward to doing every day.   I’m not exactly discovering new species of Dromaeosauridae if you know what I mean (Raptors).  And I guess that’s ok.  If we were all Astronauts & Rockstars, no one would ever be by to pick up my garbage on Wednesday mornings.

 

-utjf

Long Road to Ruin

It’s kinda bullshit that these debates only have two candidates.

That’s one of the biggest issues I have with the state of American politics.  I’m not an expert on these things.  I’m not anything really.  I’m just a middle-class guy in his late 20’s who see’s a huge problem with the way things are done.  It’s a problem with both parties, and it’s a problem with supporters of both parties.  There are 6 candidates running for President this year, so why are only 2 of them invited to these debates?  Why are only two of them talked about by all the major networks?  Just because they have a D or an R in front of their names?  Are we, the public, this stupid?  We’re the ones who allow it to continue.  Fox News is just as propaganda filled as MSNBC or CNN.  They all push their candidates, and most of America eats it up.  News isn’t news anymore.  Instead of reporting on stories, we see journalists creating stories more and more every single day.

There are only 2 candidates invited to these debates because the entire system is run by these 2 parties.  They’d rather finish first and second in every election and battle it out with only each other than face the fact that someone else out there might be better.  Until we realize this, and until we start deserting these major parties, the state of politics around us will continue to collapse and deteriorate.

The Republican party tells the people it panders to that it wants smaller government… false.

The Democrat party tells the people it panders to that it hates big business… false.

The fact of is both parties love big business & big government because it keeps them well fed and in power.  But we’re happy enough for now because for as bad off as we are told this country is on a daily basis, we all still have food, shelter, and clothing.  And I’m not talking about food from a dumpster or clothes from Goodwill.  I continuously hear this lie that continues to be pushed by both parties about the disappearance of the middle class.  But exactly where has it disappeared to?  I’d like for you to think really hard about what life was like a decade ago, before this “disappearance,” began.  How many people do you know who were middle class are now in the poor house?  How many people in the middle class do you know of who are now in penthouse?

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t think the middle class is disappearing.  I think it’s a lie that’s being pushed from both sides in order to gain our votes.  I don’t know anyone who’s suddenly living in a cardboard box.  Maybe I’m shielded from a lot of what I hear from the talking heads on TV, but I just don’t think our middle class is disappearing.  Don’t give me stats that can be manipulated.  Give me something tangible.  I’m not suggesting people haven’t lost or gained wealth, but I don’t know anyone who was middle class, who is now living in poverty.

No you’re not.

Another thing that’s bothered me over the last year in our political climate.  The Occupy Movement.  We’re marching because we want more money?   Seriously?  The citizens of the wealthiest country on the face of the earth want more?  Stop holding your signs demanding the 1% give you their money.  You ARE the 1%.  You may not be the top 1% of this country, but you are absolutely in the top 1% of the world.  I live a household where our combined income is just over $50,000 after taxes.  That puts us in the 50% range for this country, but it puts us at 0.98% for this world.  We are without a doubt, the most selfish country the world has ever seen.

People hate Mitt Romney because he has money, but they worshiped at the throne of Steve Jobs and he was one of the richest men in the world.  It’s hypocrisy at it’s finest.  Who cares who has money and who doesn’t.  There’s a dirty secret out there that the media doesn’t want you to know,  Barrack Obama has money too, and lots of it.  Trust me when I say I’m not a Romney or Obama fan.  Regardless of who wins the Presidency, I still believe that the real power and pit of corruption lies on Capitol Hill.  Our Senators and House of Representatives get away with murder, but because there’s so many of them, they don’t get the TV time or the publicity unless there’s a sex scandal involved.

Look, I’ve got no idea if I’d like any of the other 4 candidates more than the 2 we see on TV, but I know I’d like to hear what they have to say, and it’s a shame we wont get the chance.   Hopefully we’ll wake up before the wool is completely pulled over our eyes.  The chasm between Democrats and Republicans grows every day.  It’s a hatred that exceeds any in sports.  It’s realistically only second to the hatred between several of the countries in the Middle East.  The only way I see it getting any better is if other political parties are allowed to emerge.  Unfortunately the Democrats & Republicans have such a stranglehold on mass media, I’m not sure we’ll ever get that chance.  Either way, we’ve got to wake up before it’s too late.

No matter what, be excellent to each other.

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