07 April 2012


I believe that something I can make for myself just tastes sweeter. At least I hope the batch of beer that we brewed up today tastes sweet a month from now when it is ready. It is the second batch I've made. It will contain apricot, honey, and a whole lot of gummy sticky malt.

It was a delightfully brisk day, gorgeous blue sky overhead, and the scent of brewing hops and bitters blended perfectly with the perfume of flowering trees.

As the wort cooled in the fermenting bucket, Meredith and I headed out for a 3 mile jog down Market St. We crossed the bridge over the river, the water flowing west beneath our feet and the wind blowing east whipping up little whitecaps where the water danced over stones in the riverbed.

All that malt added up to a specific gravity of 1.040 worth of delectable sugar just waiting for the yeast to feast on it.

With a sprinkling of yeast across the surface of the wort, it was transformed to beer. 

I sealed the bucket, and tucked it into the space at the bottom of the closet where it will live and grow in darkness for the next month. I plan on being here in a month to reap the rewards of the effort. And that is why beer is the root of civilization. It takes time, love and staying put in one place to extract something rewarding from grains. It was enough to make hunter-gatherers settle down. Much appreciation to Damon for getting me on this path to civilization.

Equipped in the USA

It can be hard to buy products made in the USA today. Everything in the store seems to be made in China. Also products that are American made can be more expensive. But before you make your decision, it is worth checking out the domestic product to see if will actually be the best value in the long run. You might just find the the companies with the determination to keep production in the USA are going the extra mile to find quality materials and solid construction.

Training for the marathon and bike commuting through four seasons has worn through some equipment, so as I replace it, I do my best to buy USA made. Nearly every time I search, I am rewarded with the surprise of an American made product better than the alternative. Here are a few examples:

J&G Bicycle clothing, Oregon


J&G makes quality specialized bicycle gear. They outfit policemen and are used to building products that have to stand up to abuse. I picked up an incredible rain jacket that I can wear on and off the bike. It has a breathable liner, and a waterproof shell. There are reflective cuffs and a tab to hang a light.

Wickers Long Underwear


The boys and I needed long underwear for biking and bus stops, and cold days in the snow. A little research and we were surprised to find Wickers, USA made breathable, comfy, and toasty long underwear.

Their mission statement is a clear perspective on why it is so important to you and your neighbors to buy American


I am 100% satisfied with the product, and it makes me feel like I'm helping a tiny bit every time I wear them.

Soark Running Apparel, Kansas


Soark has been making running gear in the USA since 1986. They have been the official sponsors of the Boston and Columbus marathons. Their recent initiative for green manufacturing and recycling has reduced the volume of trash they produce to only two barrels each week. Their split side shorts brought back vivid memories of the 70's and Bruce Jenner, but I opted for a longer legged style to leave a little more to the imagination. They are lightweight, solidly built, and even have three back pockets for change, keys, energy gel and stuff.

New Balance


Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was to find that New Balance is still making sneakers in the USA. They have 7 factories in the USA employing my fellow citizens, and every year they try to bring more and more of their production back from overseas. On their website they label which models are made in the USA or assembled in the USA. When it was time to commit for the marathon, it was time to get a pair of shoes that could stand up to the miles and I was able to design a pair made here.

There are lots of good reasons to buy Made in USA. I do it because I want jobs in the USA, I want our neighbors, in our community and all the communities around the US to have jobs. I'm not saying that we should buy an inferior product just to buy American, I'm saying look at the US made options available, you might just find they are a better value in the long run, for all of us.

05 April 2012

Mourning the loss of LTC Loftis, USAF Pashtun expert killed in Afghanistan

I'm sharing a sad painful loss related to me by my friend Clark. A little over a month ago, LTC John Loftis was shot in his office in Kabul, Afghanistan. His death struck me deeply, for several reasons. We are just about the same age. In the video below, it was apparent to me what a calm, thoughtful, and dedicated individual he was, one who believes in his mission, but also in a respectful caring approach to others the way a professional should. He was one of the military's most skillful experts in the Pashto language, and Afghan culture. He worked as a public relations officer, and was working on reconstruction teams, side by side with the Afghan police. He left behind a wife and two daughters. He is our modern US military in its best sense, educated, effective, humanitarian, proactive, fearlessly responsible to mission. His death is a great loss to us as a nation and horribly so to his family.

This New York Times video illustrates the man so clearly:


 (images from Together we served)

This war continues. Our neighbors are longing for their loved ones who are far from home. Remember.