Category Archives: Front Porch Cats

Front Porch Chats #69 (nice)

Longtime followers of the blog may recall that I enjoy football and this week the NFL announced pretty severe penalties for players who didn’t get vaccinated and enabled COVID outbreaks. That is: the infected team would forfeit their game.

Is this really what it takes to combat a worldwide health problem? I suppose for millionaires, it might be.

But what was disturbing for me was how the NFL subreddit went berserk for 24 hours. Every story that was submitted to that forum regarding a player’s opinion on getting vaccinated had to be auto-locked, because…

Well, let’s just say it: egocentric dickbags who refuse to see past the tip of their own nose and won’t get vaccinated, just lost their shit.

Because good lord the gnashing of teeth that people have about not getting vaccinated and insisting on ‘muh freedumbs’.

Listen: I’ve already lost all of those anti-vaxxers already, and it is with this fine glass of Ridgeback Red ale from Block 15 that I tell you: those people have been conned. The anti-vax movement is a con job to line the pockets of assholes with money.

Ridgeback Red ale from Block 15 in glass on table outside

I’d feel sorry for them-in the way I feel bad for anyone who’s suckered- except for one thing: their manipulation has taken a wrecking ball to everyone’s lives.

It’s a nice day to have a beer on the porch, may I remind you. A beer that leans hard into the Irish Red style, with a subtle fruity quality that is well hidden behind the roasted flavors.

Because I am on this porch (and don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice porch and I am fortunate to have one to sit on) because people didn’t follow health guidelines, the gov’t didn’t help people who would have starved or become homeless not become those things, and now people aren’t getting vaccinated so we’re looking at Pandemic II, Delta Force: the Southern ‘Solution’.

So quite frankly: fuck all y’all who refused getting vaccinated for non-medical reasons. You got played and what’s worse, you getting played is now us getting played. If I was just a little meaner I’d say you deserve to choke, except that medical care should be provided to anyone regardless of need or my feelings about how they’ve lived their life.

And that supersedes even your callous choice to endanger people.

Sometimes, under the bright light of the Summer sun, in front of everyone, I feel it shouldn’t.

But it does. Because we-even you-deserve better.

So get your COVID vaccination, if you haven’t. Please.

Front Porch Chats #68

Super Chief IPA by Brothers Cascadia Brewing, in glass on table outside

Got a Super Chief IPA from Brothers Cascadia Brewing and the first thing I notice about it is that the head on this beer looks like velvet-soft and thick. It’s not a nice nose, too-just a little dank, just a little malt. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this one.

And yeah, I do. The dank is swapped for a citrus note on the finish but the midrange malt quality help bridge things together. Well done, good porch thinkin’ beer.

Because I was away for my grandma’s memorial last weekend. She was 97 and…well, I didn’t know her.

What the people who did know her said was that she “had an intimate relationship with Jesus”.

So I wonder if anyone really knew her.

It made me sad to hear people talk about grandma, because nobody really had anything to say. A couple people said she was funny, but the stories were…sensible chuckles at best. At a memorial that’s fine, of course, but it’s no Stephen Miller has COVID (the best punchline of 2020). It’s not even really funny, once you leave.

Mostly, those stories were about her trying to make sure you were getting right with Jesus. And, honestly, it’s none of anyone’s business if I’m right with their deity. ‘Cept mine.

But she could have had a relationship with me. She made her choices though and here we are. Wherever she is, I hope she is happier now.

I don’t think grandma would approve of me, if she did know me. So perhaps it worked out for the best. But I’m glad I’m walking this path, as I’m definitely happier on it than on the one she would’ve insisted on.

Front Porch Chats #67/Second Pint HYA

I snagged the Lumberbeard Anniversary ale (a barleywine) because I like the name of the brewery. It’s bourbon barrel aged but this is the rare barrel aged beer that hasn’t let the barrel overwhelm the beer. There’s a little spice and heat on the finish-just to let you know that this beer isn’t an easy drinking safe one. But otherwise, you got a damn fine ale.

Lumberbeard barleywine in glass on table, next to can of barleywine, outside

Which is good, because they’re charging $15.30 for it. But at 16.5%, this is definitely a ‘once a year’ ale.

On a do nothing Saturday, I got to spend most of it playing games with a friend.

It’s really all I could’ve asked for. I’ve got beer, I’ve got people I like, I’ve got something fun to do on a day that isn’t so hot or cold that I am certain that it is trying to murder me.

It doesn’t seem like much, does it? It isn’t much, is the thing.

And there seem to be three categories of people here: those who don’t have the baseline that I do, those who do have what I have, and those who have so fucking much that their acquisition denies things to the people in the first two groups.

Most of us don’t want or have any need to rule the world. But we do have a need to curtail the abuses of people who do need to rule. Because they will let us starve, deny us the simplest of things, for one reason only: To have more.

And those rich people can enlist others, they have the luxury to pay hype men to lie and fuck with us.

Down here, we have to do the work. Maybe look around for the other people who are doing the work-and whom they are working for. Because some people aren’t worth defending. If the power that some people have isn’t something we can democratically take away, they they are not representatives, they are monarchs.

That goes from people as high up as Bezos, to as street level as the cops. But we fought a monarchy once. I have a feeling we’ll do it again if that’s what it comes down to.

I hope it doesn’t though, because we deserve better.

Today’s second pint goes to the Homeless Youth Alliance.

Front Porch Chats #66

Abominable & Skygazer collaboration: Dreamatorium stout in glass on table outside

This stout was made with cacao nibs, yogurt, raspberries, granola and lactose.

So, someone looked at a stout and said: But what if…breakfast.

This is what Abominable & Skygazer brewing have collaborated on and they called it the Dreamatorium. I have brought it to you because when I was picking this beer out, the cashier nodded and said, “Good choice.”

Let’s see!

The nose is giving me a raspberry sherbet with chocolate sauce quality. So, breakfast dessert? The middle supports this, with a lush mouthfeel-this is a weighty beer.

But the finish has a medicinal quality. Not in an antiseptic way but more; this is what I’d get from a raspberry flavored cough syrup. It lingers, too, in the way that medicine will, where you want to brush your mouth out. Which is a damn shame, because everything leading up to that final element is pretty good.

You gotta stick the landing though. And worse, the landing gets a little grosser as I go on. The last part of the can had some kind of sludge at the bottom, that I’m really hoping is raspberry purée, that they didn’t filter out.

Which leads me to believe that this beer has too much going into it. Just make a chocolate stout with raspberries, right? Why is there yogurt or granola? I can see an argument for lactose if you want to make this a milk stout and cacao nibs to amp the chocolate but…what the heck is granola doing here?

But, different strokes right? The cashier loved it, so this beer is clearly for her!

However, I have spent my $9 so that you can make a more informed decision.

I dunno. I just want to talk about beer today. I miss going to pubs where talking about beer was a thing.

Front Porch Chats #65

It’s over 100 today in Portland while I sit on the porch with a Second Sight ale from Black Raven. It’s a scotch ale and while it has a slightly more roasted note in the finish than I would like, it’s cold and even in the shade of this porch, cold is welcome.

The malty quality of the Second Sight makes it less appropriate for today: this beer is thicker and sweeter than what I’d like to have. It’s not bad, but it’s a bit like using a rock to hammer a nail. It’ll do, but you’d rather have something else.

It’s hot enough that I can smell it: dry, dusty, like crumbled leaves. An inverse petrichor. It’s doing wonders for my lawn (which I hate and should die).

It’s supposed to be 115 degrees tomorrow. And Monday, as you read this.

That’s Death Valley numbers.

There’s no spin on this. No smart take that makes this shit, sugar. That kind of heat should not exist in Portland, and before anyone gets on their nonsense about how ‘temperature is cyclical and we’ve had heat waves in the past’ let me just advocate for you to shut the hell up.

This is the fourth summer in a row where temperatures have been unusual, the third that I’m aware of where there’s been a drought. I like beer. You can’t get beer if there’s no water.

In the meantime, Detroit apparently had 6.5 inches of water fall in 24 hours and is flooding. Tornado warnings are hitting Chicago. Hurricane season is getting longer and more intense.

Something is wrong and I, for one, am exhausted with unserious people trying to ‘well, actually’ any of this. We just had a pandemic acutely demonstrate how badly we need to be in this effort to survive together.

Climate crisis is the chronic condition shoving us towards that.

And we deserve better than this shit.

Front Porch Chats #64/Second Pint Loveland Foundation

Got a different porch for ya today; I’m sitting on my Dad’s stoop, a hazy IPA from Cloudburst nearby. That can is pretty sweet, ennit?

Cloudburst hazy IPA in glass, next to can, outside.

The beer is dead solid for a hazy. That style may never be my favorite, but I recognize a good one when I taste it.

I’m in Spokane for family reasons, both proud and saddening. It’s been a strange week, in terms of time and people, trying to navigate spaces new and old: the past doesn’t exactly haunt me, but it often dials my number a little more often than I’d like, especially here.

The pandemic seems all but over in Spokane, which is a little discombobulating, because that’s more about the behavior of people than the reality of what we’re going through. As a way to ease into the next phase, it’s jarring, to be honest. Cavalier about the pandemic is what got us into trouble.

Then again, the sense of getting back to a new normal-one where I can see my family and friends, but with a re-aligned sense of justice and respect, a sense of perspective: this I can get behind.

The proud event was getting to see my niece graduate. I’m so happy for her, and her next adventure should be a good one. She’s got a lot of people in her corner, even if she can’t see ‘em all.

There was even a bonus happy event, since my dad gave a ring to his girlfriend. Sure, they laughed out loud when I asked about a wedding date, but it’s good to see people come together.

It’s even good when it’s for a sadder thing, as a memorial for an old family friend took place. In some ways, the thing I loved most about the memorial was that everybody admitted the guest of honor was flawed, and had little trouble saying so (much like he was while alive) but what stuck out in their minds was the good stuff.

The times where they knew they were loved.

Can’t beat that.

Today’s second pint goes to the Loveland Foundation.

Front Porch Chats #63/Second Pint PP

Wayfinder Time Spiral dunkel ale in glass, on table, outside

I’m hoping it’ll rain today, as I sit with this Wayfinder Time Spiral ale. It’s a dunkle, which roughly translates to: what if a lager, but with cocoa?

It’s even got a dryness on the finish that reminds me of cocoa powder, complete with a bitterness. Pretty drinkable, but I think I’d like a tart or some other fruit pastry to go with this one. Might just be the chill in the air, though.

I hit full efficacy of my vaccine last Friday, and again: if you haven’t gotten your COVID vaccine I strongly encourage you to do it. It’s free, and it can help save lives, including yours.

As a deal goes, that’s pretty good.

This means that I can start to go places!

…where?

Seriously. I get a whiff of anxiety about going out, even though it is perfectly safe for me. Or at least, as safe as any reasonable person could ask.

But what about everyone else? I worry. I don’t want to be the person who puts others in jeopardy, just because I want a beer or a burger or a comic book. I’d like to play Magic with my friends but I still have this concern that I’m putting someone needlessly at risk.

Tipping extra doesn’t make up for getting someone sick.

Maybe I just have to ease into things. Playing a game is a good distraction from worry, and again: I’m not exposing others (or me!) to an unreasonable risk anymore. Writing will also be a good way to deal with this-I’ll have to ask the reader’s forgiveness in advance if the subject of social anxiety becomes a throughline for the next few weeks.

I still like writing on my porch and I’m going to do my best to take advantage of nice weather to stay outside when I am social, just to minimize risk for others. We haven’t hit 70% vaccination rates yet, and honestly, 85 or 90% are what we really need to get this under control. I want to do what I can, and give people as much time as I can to get their shot.

That said, it is going to be time for a new Monday theme soon, so I’ll be thinking about that, too. I can’t go back to Bailey’s…but we’ll get to that on Wednesday.

Today’s second pint goes to Planned Parenthood.

Front Porch Chats #62

Arch Rock brewing Gold Beach lager in glass on table outdoors

It’s an 80 degree day, which means it’s time for a lager. Arch Rock Brewing’s Gold Beach Lager, suits, not just because it is warm, but also the beer is light and I did not sleep well last night. I don’t want to take on some kind of heroic dose of alcohol after that.

The Lager has a nice sourdough nose to start, then drifts into that funky Hallertau hops nose. Pretty crisp too; I’d crush one of these with a hot dog at a game. But game days are for times when people sleep easy at night, and I don’t think we are. Or should be.

Because it is all well and good to send someone like Biden in to do a job. But what happens when he doesn’t do it?

I know, I know: we no longer have to withstand the daily chaos. Millions of people are not immediately under threat, every day, because we sent Biden to do the work of the presidency. We flipped the Senate, and kept the House. These are good things, showing us the power of our collective action.

So tell me: why is it there’s no collective investigation into 1/6? Why are the majority of the people who raided the Capitol still out of jail? It’s been nearly six months. Don’t tell me that isn’t enough time.
If it had been black people, they’d’ve fucking bombed South Central L.A. by now. You know I’m right.

Why is the John Lewis Voting Rights act languishing?

Why do I keep getting the feeling that we’ve sent people who want to bring bubblegum to the OK Corral? People who want to complain that the other side isn’t following the rules of the gunfight?

The other side is comprised of cheaters. They cheat. Stop wishing and play some fucking hardball.

Because it isn’t that they’re cheaters. It’s worse.

It’s that they think they are morally superior to us, and thus, everything they do is justified. There’s never a chance of hypocrisy if you’re better than people. They just can’t every understand.

There’s no actual evidence they’re morally superior. Or intellectually, or emotionally, or spiritually. They just have money and power and the slings and arrows of daily living don’t touch them-and there MUST be a reason for that, while YOU suffer.

Right?

It’s easier to say that you’re simply better than others, than to reckon with the truth: that you got lucky and then were an utter bastard and now rig the game.

All in order to keep you from becoming one of us.

But there is no you. There’s just. Us.

So maybe the Democrats should start doing the job we sent them to do: saving the goddamn country. Because if they don’t, saving the country is gonna get a lot bloodier. And the slings and arrows that money and power let the Republicans dodge…well, there are slings and arrows, and there are slings and arrows.

Front Porch Chats #61/Second Pint IRU

Pfriem's Chuck's 10th Anniversary barleywine ale in glass, on table, outside

I don’t know who Chuck was or what anniversary they were celebrating, but I got my second COVID shot on Friday, so this Chuck’s 10th Anniversary barleywine from Pfriem seems like a fine thing to celebrate with.

And, no jokes about Bill Gates, magnets, microchips or 5G. For three reasons.

First, a joke like that is only funny the first time you hear it.

Second, far smarter people have made this joke. I might be clever sometimes, but it isn’t my job to tell jokes and there is certainly a difference between someone who makes a living doing so, and someone like myself.

Finally, and most importantly, because it is a crazy goddamn world. Can we just all agree on that? Life comes at you fast and the amount of stuff that you need to understand to make your way through it is, quite frankly, astounding.

We cannot know it all. We outsource all kinds of activities because of this.

I am fortunate: I happen to know a remarkable number of people in the medical field: from researchers to pharmacists to doctors and nurses (go nurses!) and, coupled with my own reading on the subject, I was able to quickly come to one conclusion:

The vaccine is as safe as any reasonable person could ask it to be. It’s safer than birth control, for Christ’s sake and millions of women take that risk every day.

However, not everyone has friends in that group. Not everyone has the resources I do-from easy internet access to an education that helps support my curiosity, to time to investigate and support from a whole lot of people who are smarter, and often kinder, than I am.

And some of those people just want someone who they know cares about their well being, to hear their concerns and reassure them that they are not making a dangerous choice. Those people deserve to be heard, not mocked.

This doesn’t include the “just asking questions” crowd. And I know you know who I mean. Fuck them to the gates of Hell.

Wanting someone who cares about you to give you advice, to listen to you and help you through important decisions, that isn’t a person I want to mock. It someone I want to encourage.

Because we’re all in this together, we deserve better and the only way we’re going to get out of the pandemic is to act like it.

For what it is worth, I had my second Moderna shot and about 24 hours after that, I felt lethargic and achy for about 4-5 hours. I drank a ton of water, I watched Harley Quinn (which was fantastic), and the day after that, I felt fine. I didn’t even need a Tylenol.

That’s it. I feel fine, and am looking forward to getting to see people I haven’t gotten to see in a long time.

It about two weeks.

Oh, and the barleywine? Pretty damn good. Usually these ales lean too hard into a maple flavor but this is more bready, and there’s an alcoholic bite on the finish that pushes out the sweetness. I like it.

Today’s second pint goes to Islamic Relief USA.

Front Porch Chats #60/Second Pint NWIR

This might be the first actual day of Summer, even though technically it’s not here yet. Fine day for Pfriem’s Mosaic pale ale-which I presume means that they used Mosaic hops exclusively in this particular beer.

Pfriem's Mosaic pale ale, in glass on table outside

The nice thing about that is that it really highlights a hop quality; for me, this beer smells like papaya, has a mild tropical fruit flavor and pretty mild bitterness, too. I’m OK with this, your mileage might vary, of course.

There’s a reason we blend, however and that’s because it frequently gives us a better beverage. Single Malt And Single Hop (SMASH) beers are usually one dimensional. And while I don’t know the malt build for this ale, I would wager that they mixed it up to give the beer body and depth of flavor, to offer the drinker more than just two row and Mosaic.

Even with what might be a balanced malt build, I find myself rating this beer ‘okayest’ not, you know, good. I don’t hate it, but I’d like it better if there was more variety.

There’s a metaphor here for what makes good countries but it’s a little on the nose, don’tcha think? Or, perhaps, I’d have to wring a lot of meaning from just a few words. The exercise is probably left best to the reader.

For myself, I’m getting my second shot next week, which means in roughly three weeks, I could start going to pubs and drinking indoors. I could get back to my usual Monday style posts, and I could be around people again.

But the place I want to go to doesn’t exist anymore, and I’m just not sure what to do, now. If there’s something I would like, post pandemic, it would be a lodestone as to where next?

Lotta places didn’t make it through the pandemic. Lotta people didn’t, either. I don’t know how we’re going to mourn these things-the places represent the people, in a way, but the people are irreplaceable.

What I do know is that we, all of us, are going to have to set aside some time to do that: that year of possibility that we had to deny, the locations where we met and came together being gone, and the people we came together to meet.

We dug mass graves. Caregivers watched people rattle their last, angry breath against a disease they were certain was a hoax. Screaming matches erupted over wearing masks, while parents buried infants, sons and daughters buried patients, no one able to say goodbye, or I love you, or even have an unresolved hurt resolved.

We limped through our lives and I don’t know that it made us stronger. Or even better, at this point. Better would be nice; more compassionate, more tolerant, more willing to stand up for people who have been trod on by the Powers That Be for far, far too long.

What a shitshow.

I don’t know how we do it. I write, and maybe that’s all I can do. But I’m gonna keep doing it, ok? Someday, we’ll have a toast for everyone, and every place that didn’t make it-and one for those that did. My gut tells me, neither of these toasts will be jovial.

Today’s second pint goes to NWIRP.