Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brewing again.

After much cleaning, we're ready to brew again - so let's!

I say we, but the rest of the gang don't get back until tomorrow, and I'm sure they'll be going straight to bed when they do, what with the jet-lag and the swine flu, which they'll probably catch on the plane and then give to me...

So I'm brewing. That is, I'm supervising the machinery as it mashes-in. Actually, that's making it sound terribly high-tech, and it really isn't. We have a simple hydrator cobbled on to the end of a electrically powered auger - so once the malt's in the hopper and the liquor flow is adjusted there's nothing much to do while it all falls into the mash tun. But I do like to keep a lookout for odd bits of metal, mice, etc. falling out of the works.

Anyway, there I am, ear-defenders on (the auger makes a terrible racket), I glance round and notice a local publican and good customer has crept up on me. I jump, he laughs. He (let's call him Mr. X.) wants some beer, and of course I'm happy to oblige.

Mr. X runs a small country pub, popular with the locals - it's a genuinely rural area and everyone's been working long hours cutting stuff, or feeding / milking stuff, or whatever these rural types do all day (and half the bloody night it seems like, in the fields behind us - but that's another story). He tells me he's had the worst two months he's ever had. His business always quiets down in the summer, and while it's a really nice spot - it's not a tourist destination. The games - the darts, pool, etc. are out of season. He's done a lot of work fixing up an outside area - nice tables, set up for barbecue - neat, but the weather has been really disapointing. It's a bugger really.

Funny thing is, Mr. X's pub is only about 30 mins walk from my house down quiet country lanes, but I never go. Truly, the biggest problem with the world is people just like me. That's the problem with the roads - it's not Polish truckers or bloody caravans - it's all the other cars (and vans). That's the problem with the environment - too many people consuming and discarding the way we do here - and more, doing it more like us, every day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yes, I love the NHS too.

In the UK, we spend something like 8.4% of GDP on healthcare, much of it through the NHS. In the USA they spend 15.3%, mostly through private medical insurance.

So they must be more loads more healthy than us? Probably about twice as healthy? Right?

As it happens, incorrect.

In the US you've got 8 chances in 1000 of dying before you're 5, in the UK, 6:1000.
In the US you stand to get 67 healthy years life (men) and 71 (women). In the UK, 69 and 72.

So where's all that extra 6.9% of GDP going? It's clearly not going on keeping people healthier. I suggest that much of it is enriching the bloated capitalists who are trying to talk down state-supported non-profit healthcare.

Don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.

Also, check out these neat graphs. The second one is a great example of the law of diminishing returns.

And here's more stuff on similar lines.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brewdog - good turn but on too long?

I had some of their beer once, I thought it was quite nice. It reminded me of staying at the in-laws, when I often drink more than I should of Rogue and Flying Dog and that kind of stuff. Anyway, it looks like they (Brewdog) are winding up the Portman group. Again. And again.

It's a bit sad that we can still get all worked up when someone with media skills and that pushes a strong beer. Wind us up and watch us go eh?

Monday, August 17, 2009

All alone.

Becky has taken the boy off to see his grandparents in California (here). That means that I'm stuck here keeping things ticking over. Now obviously, that means I should be really busy - this is one of the times when we should be on the phone selling beer, but with herself away that job falls to me, and I really am rubbish at it. I find it terrifically stressful.

My mother was a primary school teacher and not naturally given to putting herself forward. Which was a pity really - as she had a lot of things worth saying which she often left unsaid. Now, I would find a classful of eager (or not) faces quite intimidating, to say nothing of the parents and the rest of the staff. I asked her how she did it, and she explained that for her, it was a kind of acting. You have your lines and your props to help you with the public performance aspect, and once past that you can concentrate on the part of your work that does come more naturally (if not more easily). This is, of course what teachers do, I know that - but I needed to be told it, before I knew that I knew it. Dig?

I'm sure that this is a fairly obvious strategy for coping with life - I'm sure that most people do this, either consciously or not. I believe that some of us fail to develop these strategies in a natural way at what I suspect is an unconscious level. So we have to laboriously construct coping mechanisms at some significant cognitive effort.

Becky does occasionally suggest that I might be a bit "spectrum", and while I suspect that there's an element of pot / kettle there, she might be right - there's something called hyperlexia which looks a bit familiar (oh, google it yourself), and while I seem to be quite dim nowadays, this wasn't always true (while you're at it google grep "giftedness"). Did I tell you I used to work in IT? I wasn't very good at it...

Co-inky-dinkily, Professor Tony Monaco (great name or what - how does he find time for all this smoking B3 playing?) at what I might (if I push it a bit) call my alma mater has done something or other about the genetics of autism

Fortunately, the beer has started to sell itself - we now have customers who call us. Thank you very much, phew.

There wasn't very much about beer in that was there?