been up to

I need to do something productive with this hell hole. Sadly, I feel like any time I have to write anymore I can spend making money (blogging for work). So here we are again, leaving this blog dangling in the wind. My wish isn’t to leave this thing grasping wildly at nothing. For the first part of updates, I plan on re-designing the beers section of the site for some sexy clicky-ness that will hopefully not have me reaching for a the power button. Second, actually plot posts, schedule them and draft. Lastly, contemplate if this is a “blog” or homebrew blog or what exactly it is to me – maybe the scale, and net is too wide to catch anything worthwhile.

I don’t really enjoy resolutions, why not choose an arbitrary date plucked from a line up just to force yourself into habit? Either way mine are mostly beer related.

  1. Keep better notes
  2. Read more, beer and novels
  3. Experiment with spices/fruit/yeast
  4. Harvest, grow, share wild yeasts
  5. Stop getting so mad at Finn

Until next time, more beer posts inbound soon. Need to remember to photograph the process more.

I’ve three points to my life – three top-tier focuses. My kid, my wife, and my job. Everything else is secondary, my family, brewing, personal happiness, etc. A lot of the time I feel as if it’s that long time running joke: crazy, dumb, cute – pick two. Usually I have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time with my lifetime long bout with ADHD. But seriously, keeping my son happy and being a good father pretty much means ignoring my always-on work life, or being a good husband sometimes means taking the hour to spotlessly clean the house, or focusing on work can make the other two fall flat. Sometimes I don’t get any right and just play a game for an afternoon because I just want some time outside of myself and my head and my responsibilities.

It feels like I’m juggling is slow motion and I can watch the pins drop but I’ve really got to keep this heavier weight up.

The worst times are when I feel like I can’t make anything stay propped up. My kid brings me to that teeth grinding, low shouting, I swear to god do that one more time place and my wife refuses to speak to me and I forgot to post a blog or facebook post today for work and well… fuck.

Sure, there are times where I’m firing on all cylinders being an awesome dad, killing it at work, and being a good husband – but those are islands in a foaming angry sea.

I’m not sure what the point of saying all of this is, but I feel it necessary to say so. Life is tough, and if you see me being a good dad know that one piece is taking a backseat. Sure I write nice letters to my wife, but I always forget to vacuum before my mother-in-law visits because I’m focused on the other two. If I crush a blog it’s like a weight off my shoulders knowing I can then spend the rest of the evening hanging out with my son not worrying about looming deadlines. If you see me yelling at my son – just know I’m trying to be a good dad.

I’m trying.

Working. Figuring it all out. Trying to do too many things at once.

I’m an actual employee at Southport Grocery (again) so my lovely wife won’t have to fill out the 1099s quarterly anymore. I’ve dropped the other two clients, sadly. I haven’t done much work for them anyway, and the anguish of my doing my tax returns was slaying my wife’s happiness. So here we are; back on a payroll.

We’re also all settled into Chicago. Finn is learning his body party (besides his penis), I’ve kicked back up WienerWednesday so I’ve got a little project on the side, beer brewing stuff is getting moved to Gary’s garage,  and I’m here.

More soon.

A good long month of being between things, brewing a couple beers, having Lis hanging out and watching Finn, basically being on vacation for a month and we’re off to the races. We’re here, in Chicago, doing it all again.

Lis got a job across the highway from her old job, which – in part (I feel) – drove us East in the first place. Had an opening in the loop but took this one because it was more her ‘speed.’ Time will tell.

Finn is being sat by his grandmother (who has followed us to this great Midwest city) Mondays and Thursdays. This all started today, so time will tell in how things shake loose. So that means I’m back at SPG. Life in the job lane.

What is next has me worried. I feel immense pressure to have a real career. Teaching maybe. Research needed.

More soon.

EDIT: I should have included a picture.

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Moving is tough enough. Moving cross-country is pretty rough. Moving halfway across the US to your mother’s place with baby, the breadwinner (ie not me) looking for new work and a new place? The reason why I haven’t posted in a while. We are back in IL. At the time I write this, we’ve found a place between Ravenswood and Lincoln Square in Chicago. We’re moving there soon, next week or the week after.

I’ve brewed twice, once with my father-in-law: the first attempt at a ‘House’ beer. I’m pretty big into Belgian sour-farmhousey things, so that was the first stab. It’s got Rye, Wheat (unmalted and malted), pilsner, and two pounds of Michigan born honey. I pitched the first runs of what could be my ‘house’ yeast – the alluring White Labs Farmhouse Blend. From first samples, it’s nice. Second beer was with brother-in-law (sister’s husband), who will likely be my brew-bud from now on. My efficiency was garbage both times, so the tinkering shall begin.

Finn is growing up so fast. He’s been a crazy good kid, safe for the instantly-throwing-something-when-done-with-it phase that has plagued us for the past month and a half now. Playing at the park well, being really independent, and always keeping us laughing.

We’ve fixed my mother’s place; replacing overhead lights, painting two rooms (soon a third), putting up ceiling fans, (as a boss/prof used to say) opening a can of whoop-ass in the garage, donating used items, throwing away unneeded items. I’ve worked as much as I can, pushing sleep back, pitching to a new client, and generally kicking butts.

I’ve got more, but I’ve got to get back to cleaning and dry hop the house beer. Expanded posts on each subject soon.

You start at zero, basically. For those old enough to either have children or really appreciate what it’s like to have them you understand. No one really knows what the hell they are doing, and if they say they do – they are lying. I’ve felt like running down a too-steep hill – that clomping almost-falling barely catching yourself kind of way – for the first year. Just when you feel like you have a remote semblance of understanding, a new milestone is reached and the proverbial wrench comes wading in.
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Thing is, I’m not a terribly spectacular dad. We don’t do flash cards, or spend an hour here or there hammering lessons on what color a horse is versus a zebra. I don’t push him to speak to me, and usually find myself mumbling whatever nonsense back to him. We speak in fart noises and “mab mab mab”s. Fun cut with the danger of bodily harm is routine.

But I do care for my son. I watch what he eats. I make sure he’s as safe as possible while still being adventitious. We go on walks, and allow him to find his own fun at the park. We learn how to pick up after ourselves, and how to treat animals. I like to have fun and play, but also drive a hard-line when it comes to doing things he shouldn’t (stay out of the GD cat water). So while I’m not force feeding him lessons on the growth patterns of butterflies, or hung up on his inability to speak, we find and work out other ways to progress. He’s walking and running and playing on his own, puts things away when he’s done, likes to read (so much as he can), in a class with kids twice his age, and loves to watch out the windows.

And look, I’m an okay person. Not super great, but I don’t want him to think my slouching mediocrity is a life goal. Maybe I’m too hard on myself, but I’d rather instill some kind appetite for success. It’s never interested me, and I’ve been horribly lucky on not becoming a slug – but I’m more of a remora. Gliding along not causing too much a stir and living off the hard work of others. Those who I attach myself to don’t mind me, so I skirt along. Maybe that is why I feel like I’m so hard on him, or why I want him to so independent. Because when you couple that I feel like I’ve not done anything to stake my claim and my daily fear of passing on my flooded pessimism, ADHD, mild depression – it’s hard not worry. I want him to be better.

Maybe I’m a ‘Bad Father.’ I always go to sleep wondering how I can do better. I’m bad at it sure, but as with everything – it takes time to get good. If you’re a dad reading this, know that you are bad too, everyone is – just learn from your mistakes and lament on your pitfalls. Make things right, be honest.

Maybe by the time he’s tucking me into bed I will master it.

I haven’t written here in a while. Part because I’ve been busy and doing other things to fill my time and part because I’ve wanted to move this thing to the ‘ja.’ sub domain, but after a failed late night attempt midweek and some more reading I’ll take another stab this weekend.

Baby world: Finn and I have really clicked. He listens really well, is happy most of the time and very loving.

Beer world: Have a handful of yeast I would like to plow through, but the cloud of us maybe moving in late May has put it to a halt. Rye Pilsner, Orange Wit, and Berliner all kegged.

More soon.

Where have I been? Oh lord. Usually I’d try to do some writing after Lis has fallen asleep, but recently I’d been working on learning code better. Adding and clarifying a lot of things I’ve partially known, or skirted by until recently. Codeacadamy is super easy and straight-forward, I dare say even my mother could plow through the html and css lessons there.

What else?

Finn turned one. I brewed a few beers. And not much else really.

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We, of course, have got a ton of snow this year. We’re more than double the average for season, getting most of that in one storm. Finn is playing by himself a lot more, being really independent as well as knowing when he’s been naughty or doing something he shouldn’t be (doesn’t mean he won’t do it). Another ‘fun’ thing he’s taken to is not letting us feed him which can be intensely frustrating, likely the most we’ve dealt with thus far. Yeah, sounds whiny, and I’m sure we’re super lucky for this to be the hardest, but giving him finger foods basically amounts to hot dog slices, peas, corn, pretzels, and packaged baby snack foods. He barely eats when he feeds himself too, so getting is tummy to hit ‘F’ has been a trial. Besides this speed bump, he’s a super happy kid and I’m forcing myself into walks for his and my mental health as well as a bit of my physical health. This Winter has been tough on getting out, feeding myself on time, and even hygiene has taken a some-what of a back seat to parenting, work, and quiet time.

As far as brewing is concerned 2013 is revving up to be a huge year. The year’s first brew, the Blonde/Pale is kegged and I’m inching my way through it. The coriander may have been slightly overkill, as I’m getting a lot of ‘pepper’ spice and grass with less of the lemon I had been looking for. Recently moved my first lager into secondary for cold storage at a buddy’s place, A Rye Pilsner – the second beer brewed this year. The most I’m excited for is the Berliner Weisse that is currently fermenting, brewed mid last week – this beer will be getting its own post here soon so I’ll keep it brief. Just yesterday, in conjunction with a group brew of 45 gallons of Oktoberfest (which I didn’t want into), I brewed off the orange laden Wit; with the rinds of 6 blood oranges added to the boil and 12 skins going into a “tea” and added after fermentation, I think it’ll have a nice bright flavor. During my brew day, a friend and homebrewer in the club made a collaboration brew, a Gratzer – a 100% oak smoked wheat beer, we even scored traditional polish ale yeast to ferment with – another super exciting brew I cannot wait to open in early spring.

More soon, keep chugging along.

Oh hey, this thing is back. Yay! Turns out, I’m not great at web dev stuff – who would have thought! My move from Justhost to apisnetworks was a bit bumpy. The folks at apis were very nice and even set up everything for me, but being the dolt I am – it wasn’t “perfect” so a little change of code here and… wooops! A good month later I buckled down, plowed through about 6 installs of wordpress and finally piecemealed the sql backup files along with a base-install of wordpress. Yeah, should have done that in the first place. On to my life!

Finn is walking, pretty much. He’s still pretty uncertain on his feet but is moving a lot these days. Being a stay-at-home parent is getting to be a whole lot of work. Mostly emotional work, because good lord am I fried after a long day of yelling and teething moodiness  Oy vay. He’s also more attached to Lis than me. Which is fine, but after a whole day of yelling and crying – to have him smile and giggle as soon as she walks in a bit wrenching. Overall though, I’d say I couldn’t be happier with how this has worked out; I’m getting paid to write and doing what I’ve always said I wanted to do – be a stay-at-home dad.

Beer is going great. I picked up two more kegs for an incredibly low twenty bucks. They both hold pressure and the tiny bit of stale beer washed out quickly enough. One keg is dedicated to serving Lis’s drink of choice: sparking water. We were buying cases of the stuff anyway – nearly one a week at its peak. So I decided to be fiscally responsible by picking up a keg for her, and why not an extra for me? Bottle the cream ale, the IPA is kegged, and I’ve got ten gallons of cider conditioning with two different yeasts. I think I’m going to break up the ciders into many one-offs: dry hopped (4766, local inspiration), back sweetened (both), dry (both), and maybe even a bourbon oaked version (4766). Coming up is either a cherry stout or a start of my ne0-noble hop experiments.

All I’ve got for now. Be well.