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Trying to write more in 2024

by Rob Friesel

To put it bluntly: I’ve let this blog languish for the last couple of years. While topics had narrowed down to be almost exclusively about #homebrewing since about 2015 or so, my time in Washington and COVID and a few other things derailed just about everything for me. Writing for this thing was definitely not a priority.

I’d like to change that this year. I’d like to be doing more writing, and this is about as good a venue as any. And I’d like to get back onto a cadence of at-least-once-per-month. Even if I’m cheating a bit — like with this quasi-meta-post about posting. (I suppose the redemption there is that I’m trying to be publicly accountable to that otherwise semi-private goal.)

‘Til next time…

Chaos or Community?

by Rob Friesel
Cover of Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the week or so leading up to this Martin Luther King Jr. Day of 2024, it occurred to me that I had never read any of his “full length” works — only essays, excerpts, and speech transcripts. I wanted to understand more about him and his legacy. I wanted to hear his message more fully, and to engage with it directly rather than having it mediated through a high school teacher or some media columnist.

I no longer recall how this book came to be the one on my “to read” list, but it also seemed fitting to read his last work — as a kind of sign post of his thinking before we lost his leadership.

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2023 recap

by Rob Friesel

Part year-in-review, part brag sheet, part best things and stuff, part tap-the-microphone “is this thing on?” life support post for this, my much-neglected blog. It’s been a few years since the last time I did one of these, and several of those were pretty hard years — but now seemed like the perfect time to get back to it. So without further preambles: a look back on my 2023, in no particular order…

Panoramic landscape of the Adirondacks
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book review: Just Ride

by Rob Friesel
Cover of the book Just Ride (Petersen, 2012)

At the age of 41, while living in Bellingham, WA, I decided to “spend too much money” on a mountain bike. It had been about 2 years since I’d owned a bike, and (if I’m being honest) probably about 10 years since I’d done any riding. I was going through a tough time (pandemic + some personal stuff) and figured that maybe I could buy myself some happiness in the form of a nice mountain bike — take up a new active hobby, take advantage of the apparently excellent local trails, and distract myself from the essential mundane horrors of my life.

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dream.20220504: Rice Krispie Treat pairings

by Rob Friesel

You’ve been sent on an assignment to ascertain the perfect cocktail pairing for a Rice Krispie Treat. You’ve been to too many of these places already but what’s one more? You repeat your now banal-seeming request: “I’ll have the house Rice Krispie Treat and whatever cocktail pairing you usually recommend.” This particular bartender opens with a couple of finer points about Rice Krispie Treat doneness, going so far as to demonstrate the differences between a too-brittle over-cooked example vs. a gooey and flaccid “rare” one vs. a supple but sturdy “medium-rare RKT”.

The cocktail pairing comes out in a Tom Collins glass. It’s ivory-colored and creamy. Garnished with an orange twist coiled around a cinnamon stick. It tastes like chai and vanilla and subtly of rum.

You swoon. It is the perfect pairing. Em Sauter overhears this and rushes over to confirm. (She agrees.)

Cyclocross World Championships 2022

by Rob Friesel

Went and spectated a new-to-me thing that was incredibly fun. Ever hear of cyclocross? It’s a kind of bicycle racing that includes all sorts of variable terrain and obstacles and is just generally pretty intense. I’d never heard of it before a few months ago when a long-time friend (and avid cyclist) pitched a long weekend vacation to Fayetteville, Arkansas, which was hosting the 2022 UCI World Championships. And since these days I’m all about shaking things up and trying new things, I said: “Yeah sure — what the hell, count me in.”

Cyclocross rider in the Women's Elite race
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Orin at 10

by Rob Friesel

In 2011, I created the Orin theme for this blog — layering a bunch of then new-to-me CSS3 styles on top of the “naked” Starkers theme. It was a perfect combination for me: Starkers provided the barebones mark-up and the WordPress-flavored PHP … and I got to do “the rest”. Fast-forward a year and I took the styling a step further and got some responsiveness going.

And then… not much happened on the theme for a long time.

It was doing the job. It looked fine and let me focus on writing my content — which is to say: living my life and then coming back to write about it. I was content with it.

Until…

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Homebrew #103: Indolent Rabbit Rex

by Rob Friesel

Looking over my Untappd journal, I have two wheatwines: one before I’d developed my palate, and another that was adulterated embellished with white chocolate. In other words: I’ve never had one. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to try to make one. With my sights set on making a “big beer”, I brewed Lazy Rabbit as a glorified starter for this one and then went “small batch” style to make Indolent Rabbit Rex:

Indolent Rabbit Rex, a wheatwine in a glass
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on coming home to Vermont

by Rob Friesel

No burying the lede here: we knew that moving cross-country would be hard, but the pandemic threw a wrinkle into the mix that resulted in the worst social isolation we ever experienced and it was simply too much to bear. Once we were free of any obligations keeping us on the West Coast, it just didn’t make sense to stay.

That’s the short version anyway. I wrote two other versions of this before I hit publish on this one: one was much shorter ^^May as well have been a tweet.^^^ and didn’t do justice to the experience; the other was much longer but zig-zagged between too many competing stories. ^^Some of them are worth telling but it was too much all at once.^^^ This one still feels too long but it was also the longest two years of my life.

the word "grind" spray-painted onto some pavement along with a wavy line
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