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How to Home Brew Beer

Maybe you got a home brew beer kit for Christmas. I got one last Father’s Day, and have made four five gallon batches already. I was a bit nervous my first time, even with the directions, so I thought I’d make a quick video with my last batch. So, if it’s your first time and you’d like a little guidance, here you go:

How to Home Brew Beer from Shaun Melarvie on Vimeo.

Pearl Harbor Day

Thank you, Mr. Spude. Thank you, Mr. Kwaterski. Thank you, Mr. Peil. Thank you, Frank. Thank you to all the veterans, past and present, for your service to our great country.

I remember a few years back, one day in my afternoon office, removing a piece of shrapnel from the neck of a WWII veteran. He’d had it all these years, but only now was it bothering him enough such that he wanted it removed. It was superficial, just under the skin, in front of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, about half-a-inch from the carotid artery.

He told me that he’d air-dropped into France in the days after D-day. He and a small group of men became separated from their unit, or weren’t dropped exactly where they should have been. A unit of German Infantry saw them land and started firing. He felt a sting at the side his neck but didn’t realize he’d been hit until later, after he and the other Americans evaded the pursuing forces and re-united with a larger group.

There were two pieces of lead in his neck, one just a bit smaller than a pea, but irregular, and another about half that size. They came out easily enough and I put them in a plastic specimen container. I held them up to the light; two pieces of metal from sixty years ago that came within a finger’s breadth of killing the man in front of me who risked his life for the freedom of his children, and me.

“Thank You,” was all I could say.

New Years Resolution: Proactive

My January contribution to the NWTC Newsletter, What’s Cooking.

I think it’s healthy to begin the new year with a focus on a particular goal or goals. It may not last all year long, but, perhaps it will last long enough; and it might even change a life.

Although I’ve written a book, and a fairly hefty one at that, I never thought it’d be a non-fiction book. I really wanted to write a novel. Now that my favorite time of the year is here, I think that time might be now. That will be part of my New Years resolution to be proactive.


2012. Another year, another raft of resolutions swirling along the treacherous river of life, bouncing off various boulders of temptation, and just as likely to careen off a cliff of calamity as it is to transiently enter a stretch of relative calm. Who knows what the new year will bring, and what does it matter? I mean, you can’t change what’s going to happen, can you?

Although there are things you cannot change, your actions and choices allows you to change the things you can, and impact those that you cannot. I think that this reality is what drives us to set goals at the beginning of the New Year. I mean, it’s a fresh start, a new calendar; it’s after a gluttonous four-week stretch of endless holidays, parties, and celebrations; and, there’s nothing that focuses your mind like a laser beam better than a barren three to four-month period of ice, cold and calm.

Proactive. That’s my resolution for the New Year; a resolution that’s all-encompassing, purposefully ambiguous so that the occasional misstep will be absorbed by the forgiving sponge of positive intent. Instead of being a purely reactive organism responding to painful stimuli, physical or otherwise, I will strive to exercise wisdom and take action before said painful stimuli actually occurs.

Instead of reacting to the pain of an inflamed, seven-millimeter ulcer at the base of my alar (nose) cartilage from a stiffened, yellowish, three-and-a-half year-old nasal pillow of my CPAP machine, I will change out my headgear every six months like Dr. Hogan told me to and like the insurance guidelines suggest. Instead of plummeting twelve feet to the bed of a stony creek while pedaling down the road with my mind on pretty much everything but the road in front of me, I will pay attention to the road in front of me. Instead of going to see Dr. Hogan because of chest pain because of starting my summer exercise program with a twenty-mile run to Murphy Park and back, I will institute a thoughtful and graduated exercise program when the snow and ice leaves the streets and the month of May’s welcoming warmth once again causes me to poke my head outside the front door.

Instead of sheepishly running into Julie at Younkers, or Barb at On Deck with a pair of 38s or 40s in my hand on the way to the dressing room, I will pay attention to what I eat and how much of it, then I’ll walk up to the counter, like cool hand Luke, with a pair of thirty-sixes draped carelessly over a brawny arm, and when asked if I’d like to try them on, I’ll say, “Aw, shucks; that won’t be necessary, pardner.” Instead of going to see Ed with a sore tooth from savagely attacking a salad in Cancun while the fork was still between my teeth, or because of a rigid dental-care regimen consisting of a good teeth-cleaning and dental exam every five years whether I needed it or not, I will see the dentist for an exam and teeth cleaning every six months, and make sure all utensils are completely out of my mouth prior to commencing mastication.

Instead of saying, “Why…it’s Thursday, isn’t it,” when Sue asks me what day it is, I will put an email reminder on my Google calendar so when she asks next time, I’ll say, “Happy Anniversary, Baybee, how about dinner and a movie.” I could go on, and on, and on. There is so much that I can do, that you can do in being an active participant in the universe. From past experience, I can say that it seems to be much easier to a passive participant, mindlessly responding to what the world and fate throws your way; but, that’s where accepting the things you cannot change and having the courage to change the things you can comes into play, and of course, having the wisdom to know the difference.

So, rather than focusing on just one thing, like losing weight, which is fine, and the most common New Year’s resolution; I’d suggest that you go large. Be proactive. Consider carefully all the steps and choices you make leading up to that goal or goals you may have for 2012, and understand and have appreciation for the power that you hold to improve the course and outcomes in each of your own lives.

Happy New Year, dear readers.