So long Franny, the beers we’ve known, the times we’ve had

Josh and Franny ventured to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Spuyten Duyvil the second best beer bar in NYC, per Josh, who probably does know about these things more than anyone else we know (Blind Tiger is the best he says). Franny is leaving for Austin on Tuesday and Josh follows in a few months.  We will miss them.  In their honor, a list of all the beer we drank tonight:

This was a lot of beer.  Be not concerned however, we shared them amongst friends.  The Rochefort is Josh’s favorite beer of ALL TIME (and the dude knows his beer) but he enjoyed the Mikkeller Draft Bear, as did Zoe.  Mark liked the Jenlain best but then backtracked after Josh and Zoe complained that it was too sweet as he is very susceptible to peer pressure (and also not writing this post, can you tell?).  He liked the Thiriez Amber a lot, as did Sean Taylor and his visiting friends.  They ordered 2 bottles which says a lot when you have the selection you do there.

All in all a successful night. I think we have finally figured out the best route on our bikes to get there (and to Fette Sau) as it is important to be able to reach delicious beer and meats safely and efficiently.

Mark eats cheese and bread

Mark eats cheese and bread

Josh and Franny.  Aw.

Josh and Franny. Aw.

Orgasmic Fish Tacos and the Heavenly Ejaculate

Zoe and I stayed in Long Beach (aka the LBC) as we had a friend’s wedding last weekend in Rancho Palos Verdes.  Her friend Susannah signed us up for Corky Carroll’s surf school in Huntington Beach Saturday morning and we took to the surf on our 9ft long boards.  It was fun.  Zoe is a pretty good swimmer and had a better time getting up on the surf board than either Susannah or I.  Afterward we ate lunch at Wahoos a SoCal/Mex chain restaurant and the fish tacos were okay.  The wedding ceremony was very nice, on a golf course overlooking the Pacific Ocean sunset in Palos Verdes.  The bride and groom had M&M’s with their faces printed on them.  We drove Susannah’s sweet early 90’s black Volvo back home to Long Beach not too late.

Sunday was spent in LA catching up with my friends from USC.  We visited LACMA, the Grove outdoor mall, and Milk ice cream deli/shop.  Zoe took a cab in the morning to LAX and I took the 33 bus down Venice from Culver City to Union Station.  Let me say this about mass transit in LA: it doesn’t work well and New Yorkers are spoiled.  Sunday morning we tried to take the blue line light rail from LBC to Union Station with no luck, a train ahead of us had derailed or crashed and we were sent back to Long Beach.  Thankfully Aaron drove us North.  In LA the 33 bus took almost and hour to get from Culver City to Downtown.  As a fitting bookend I took the Q33 from LGA to the subway home, it was much smoother.

The couple of days I spent in San Diego were nice.  Sailing with Chris on Tuesday night was pleasant and the waters were calm, we had a bit of wind once we were further out in the SD harbor sadly we didn’t see any Sea Lions.  The Navy base on the North Island had some pretty crazy giant rubber bumpers in the water that looked like giant sausages and were there to protect the aircraft carrier and to keep people out and there were many helicopters hovering .  After the sail we went to the South Beach Bar and Grille and the fish tacos were as good as I remember (despite the inauthentic nature of using flour tortillas) and as many foodies have pointed out there may be better ones in greater San Diego but after a sail eaten with some beer these were about perfect .  I have some photos from SD stuck on my cellphone that I’ll try to extract.

Giant Chairs
The HB Pier
Lloyd's (not Frank) Vision
More Jellyfish
Sea Otter paws (white wine)
Custom Engraved M&Ms
IMG 4784

Upgrades… and AWESOME! OS X Keyboard Shortcuts you never knew

So I was sitting on WordPress 2.3.3 for some time, 2.5 came out, and then finally 2.6.1 came out and I figured what the hell? Why not try a one click update and so far things seem good.  One of the problems I still haven’t sorted out is that my author title doesn’t list my full name, continuing to limit my status as the #1 (number one) Mark Beattie on the internet (via search engines like “The Google” or “The Yahoo” but probably not the MSN Live Search .NET nonsense).  Basically it comes down to “Mark Reid Beattie” or “Mark Beattie” not occurring often enough in this blog.  So there, I’ve increased it a couple more times.

OK, now you want to hear about some awesome OS X keyboard shortcuts you’ve been too lazy to hunt down, right?  Have you ever minimized an application only to have it hide somewhere on that dark lower right-hand corner of your dock and wished, ‘Man there must be some keyboard shortcut I’m missing because when I press [Command+TAB] the application I want just stays minimized.’  Well you’re right there is a keyboard shortcut and as it turns out in OS X “hiding” is better than “minimizing” to the Dock.

To prevent further disambiguation especially for users more familiar with Windows keyboards the Command key on modern Macintosh keyboards is represented by either  or  and/or the word ‘Command’.  The Alt key on the Mac layout is usually referred to as ‘⌥ Option’ and the Control key is ‘⌃ Ctrl’.  Now that’s in the open one more area of disambiguation is “hiding” versus “minimizing” versus “closing” under OS X.  

I’ve had this MacBook Pro for two years now and I suppose it’s sad that it’s taken me this long to find all these keyboard shortcuts but hopefully this entry might help other switchers.  It seems Minimize [⌘ + M] was introduced with the advent of OS X and The Dock (Aqua interface *nix heritage, etc) whereas “Hiding” windows [⌘ + H] has been around since at least OS 7.  When you [⌘ + H] the application literally hides and there are two way to bring it back, click on its icon in the Dock or use [⌘ + TAB] until the application you want is highlighted.  Simple.  But when you Minimize the app (using either [⌘ + M] or clicking the Yellow Minus circle at the top left corner of the active window) a small icon’d version of the window buries itself in the dock next to the Trash Can.  So what’s the secret keyboard command?  [Command ⌘ + TAB] and then when you select the application you want from with the TAB menu hold down and release [⌥ Option].  

Now the caveat is that this seems to work only in Leopard (10.5) but not Tiger (10.4) however  [Command ⌘ + L] to open the browser location once you’ve tabbed to Firefox or Safari will restore a Minimized window.  Another option is Witch a third party Tab management “switcher” enabling full restore capability to  [Command ⌘ + TAB] also allowing you switch between multiple active windows of any given application.  A third option is the somewhat kludgy ability for  [Command ⌘ + F3] to highlight and control the dock using the arrow keys, also allowing you to activate a minimized window.  Using a laptop often requires the addition of the FN key, so [FN + Command ⌘ + F3] the use arrow keys to navigate.


0S X 10.5 & the Spinning Wheel; Koshihikari Echigo and the Green Flash

On Zoe’s MacBook (white 2.2gHz Core 2 duo) running 10.5.4 the spinning wheel still happens intermittently.  It doesn’t bring down the system and I’m not sure if it’s related to only having 1GB of RAM but in Safari and other programs the little wheel pops up and then goes away.  It’s similar to some sort of disk caching lag but what’s frustrating is I’ve never seen 10.4 Tiger exhibit this behavior.   802.11 a/b/g/n Airport was another issue in that it seemed to be constantly refreshing the network list, but since 10.5.3 or n.4 it seems to have improved Airport’s stability.  It just doesn’t make sense to release an OS and still have bugs like these a year later.  Snow Leopard supposedly brings stability back, and anything is better than Microsoft’s latest ad campaign for Vista, but I’m not alone in thinking that 10.5 was put on the back burner compared to Apple’s other products.

We went out with some of Zoe’s friends last night.  I had one beer at each restaurant.  The first was a decent Japanese rice lager called “Koshihikari Echigo Beer”.  Craig (at Beers, Beers, Beers) called it a “craft take on a macro style” i.e. Asahi, Kirin or Sapporo and I agree, except that I would say the finish is much more interesting than the cheaper mass market beers and I’d say overall it has a cleaner taste.  In that first sip you notice the typical rice but in the after taste there is a significant amount more fruit and smoothness.  I think if I were to try and compare this in the US it’d be midlevel corporate, something like a Brooklyn Lager maybe Sierra Nevada would be pushing it, but there are plenty of beers out of Colorado that I imagine in this comparative craft range.  Beer Advocate  gives it a C+ and I’d say B- but really that’s nitpicking, it’s not bad at all.

The beer selection at Jimmy’s No. 43   was excellent.  Zoe went with a lighter French selection, the Jenlain Ambrée by Brasserie Duyck considered a Bière de Garde.  I chose a Belgian Tripple from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewery. Comparatively it was much sweeter and hoppier with a more alcoholic mouth taste (it is a Trippel).  What we found amazing was the Jenlain Ambrée is about 7.5% and the Trippel was 8.0% alcohol and yet the Ambree was so much lighter and smoother.  Both beers came in 13oz goblets.  Beer Advocate rates the Jenlain Ambrée the highest of the 3 beers of the evening (an “A”) but I’d say perhaps the Bière de Garde wasn’t cold enough or the tap wasn’t fresh enough to give it a fair showing as the Green Flash Trippel simply tasted fresher though certainly heavier and bolder.  I think of the three beers the French beer needs another sampling as it showed more subtlety and had great all around drinkability.  Rice Lagers and Trippels have their times, moods and places but the smooth malty amber the Jenlain Ambrée suggests any day.

Green Flash Brewery - San Diego, CA - Belgian TrippelJenlain Ambrée by Brasserie DuyckLand Brauerei Echigo-Bräu

Firefly Media Server (not for television) FKA “mt-daapd” (but for iTunes)

I had looked at this product before, it’s a free GNU sourced media server project, as it’s used mostly for the RokuSoundBridge .  Recently I was pondering servers and looking into AirTunes via Airport Express wireless audio.  Airport Express (in its base configuration) require iTunes running to control where the audio is sent.  The slick thing since the advent of iPhone 2.0 and iPod Touch is the “Remote Software by Apple” which does what it says.  Your Apple TV, your Mac Mini server in the basement, anything connected to your 802.11/b/g network can be under its control via touch screen.  But back to Firefly Media Server.

Okay, say you have 3 rooms and in each room someone wants to listen to different music.  How?  Well, lets pretend again that on your home network you have a server where all the music is centrally located.  Firefly taps this by adding iTunes server compatibility through Bonjour networking.  On the old Dell XP machine it was a matter of installing Bonjour for Windows 1.04 and then the latest build of Firefly.  Right now over 802.11g I have two laptops listening to two different songs, where the Firefly shows up as a shared iTunes Library and amazingly the Dell still has enough resources to playback a separate FLAC audio stream over USB.  That makes 3 concurrent streams of audio, not bad for an old 900 MHz Pentium III.

I am not excited about taking the GREs.  That’s about all I can think of.  I ran 7 miles last Monday and climbed 3 other days last week.  The 7 mile run was too much.  Josh mentioned something about climbing trips in September.  It’s too much for me to think of right now and Ryan has been fing-jured.   On a completely unrelated mechanical note, I did do a little research into bit driver types for professional applications, as in putting two pieces of wood together with a screw.  The Phillips head was never  supposed to make it as far as it has.  From my reading, Canadian carpenters love the old square-Robertson drive. Hex and Torx also work better in high torque situations.  There is a better version of Phillips called the Pozidriv (I didn’t make that up) though it seems to be something of a hybrid Phillips with less public awareness.  The square bit will probably make its way into my tool box, though clearly we all can’t be Canadian woodsmen.

Multiple iTunes libraries under one roof

I’m not sure why I hadn’t found this program before but it’s listed on Apple’s site as a legitimate plugin for iTunes, it’s called “MultiTunes 1.3” it is only OS X 10.3+ compatible.  It exploits the “feature” of iTunes which requires you to choose your library on startup (in OS X hold down “option” in Windows hold down “shift”) MultiTunes allows you to switch libraries from within iTunes on the fly without having to restart the application.

Why would you want to do this?  Well I had another post a while ago about lossless audio and I’m still on the warpath to a better mousetrap.  On the drive up to Vermont in the Mazda 3 (which had an 1/8″ stereo auxiliary input jack we plugged our 2GB Nano into) I realized that iTunes and AAC/Apple Lossless .m4a files are all I want.  LAME encoded .MP3s albeit highly cross compatible, simply didn’t sound as good as the iTunes AAC encoder even at 320kbps.  And I understand we were in an economy car, with an economy car stereo, with a cheap 1/8″ mini cable, but with headphones the difference was clear too, the AAC stuff sounded better.  Shocker, maybe the hardware MP3 decoding on the iPod isn’t optimized.

So Apple has tweaked iPods and we have to live with it.  I just want to give the iPod and iTunes what it wants (AAC and Apple Lossless files.) Thankfully FLAC to Apple Lossless conversion is pretty straightforward using SBooth MAX or X-LD.  The only hiccup with having multiple libraries as I understand it is that the ratings and play-count numbers don’t cross over to the lossy library, obviously.  I’m not too worried about this.  This is it, I tell myself.  This is all there is.

[Edit: It seems MultiTunes 1.3 is shareware and isn’t really easier than simply holding down the key combination I’ve outlined when starting iTunes, so there.  Oh well, it was a good thought.]

“All I said was that our son, the apple of our three eyes — Martha being a cyclops — our son is a beanbag, and you get testy!”

Stephen and I installed a ceiling fan the other day.  Zoe and I were in Vermont recently.  The blueberries were good and Zoe ran over a squirrel on our way south to Hanover, NH.  I went running a couple of times in the green.  The dirt was soft, the air was clean, and a local private academy had a nicely groomed and wooded 5km cross country running trail.  We rented a compact car, a free upgrade from economy.  We learned that Mazda 3’s have scored higher in reliability and crash safety than the Daewoo / Chevy Aveo. I want to root for the underdog, but the Aveo really is a questionable buy (according to Consumer Reports’ small car issue) with long term maintenance and safety issues.

Marcus and Zoe’s grandmother came up and we ate lobster for two gluttonous days.  We went swimming next to a small waterfall. On the drive home some sort of act of god befell vacationers on HWY91 southbound, something about downed power lines, perhaps the Dies Irae.  For us though, simply two extra hours sucked by the vacuum of motorized transit on American Highways.  The NY Times today had a nice photo of a man polishing the front bumper of a Hummer in a sea of Hummers waiting to be sold.  Keep polishing that Hummer my man, keep polishing.  Down we go.  I hope you brought out the good china, not much left to do, but “I love dancing, don’t you”?