17 June 2017

Which airport am I in? #14 in series

Well, there should not be any points for guessing this one. I cannot think of any other airport whose motto is “If the airlines did not do a good job in separating you from your money, welcome to our airport!” Which other airport has casino slot machine all over?

“You just arrived at our city to lose a lot of money in the casinos? Why not get a head start even before you can reach the baggage carousel?” Speaking of which – forget inside the airport – they have slot machines lined up AT the baggage pick up! “You got your luggage? Why bother going to the hotel? Start losing money, right now, right here!!”

The real funny part? People are actually playing at these machines!! With a beer in hand too!!!

17 June 2017

Half marathon on a warm Saturday morning

Started the run by myself not sure how much I was going to put in. After the first mile, ran into Samaresh running from the other side. Turned around and ran with him. He was clipping at a pretty good rate. The snake he had seen a mile before might have something to do with it 🙂

After we ran for four miles together, he left having completed his longest run in quite some time. I went back to the trail to put in another eight miles.

That 13.1 miles (21Km) took 2 hours and 15 minutes in 86 deg F (30 deg C). The sight breeze and shade in the trail took most of the pain out of the heat…

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17 June 2017

Great moment from a couple of years back.

That was a great experience in “What really matters in Life” exactly two years back. Reposted from that day…
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My good deed of the day…
I know this looks like an Italian painting (except for the modern lady handbags, perhaps) but it is a real photo taken with my phone. The backdrop of the story goes in the following way:

Natasha, who goes and stays in a dorm and takes classes in different colleges every summer often makes friends from very different cities and countries every year. I, being a person who values people and relationships over just about anything else in this finite time on this beautiful earth that we have fashionably named “life”, am always a little bothered when she does not keep in touch with many of those friends after summer.

Conversely, you can only guess my excitement when she declared that she was going to meet a friend that she had not seen after one of those summers – I forget whether it was Duke or Brown – when we visit New York. Karina (they call her “Karina with a K”) was going to visit her at our hotel. Except the whole plan fell thru at the last moment due to her dad’s office travel plans.

I was not feeling too good about leaving Sharmila and Nikita to visit Time Square by themselves but I did tell Natasha that I will take her to wherever her friend lived. Which, as it turned out was a two hour hike with three trains involved in between. But, it was okay with me – as long as she realized that life is all about the human relationships. Everything else is too materialistic to be worried about.

The train finally pulled into the Ridgewood station. And we arrived at the agreed upon meeting point. As soon as we started coming out of the tunnel, she spotted her friend at the top of the flight of steps. They ran as fast as they could towards each other and hugged each other hard.

Separated by a year in age, brought up thousands of miles away, they had come together for a few weeks a few years back. Then this afternoon, there was the moment where they saw each other again!!! The tunnel lighting was not good. But that is the best picture I could get of that powerful moment of strength of human relationships.

And here I am waiting at a nearby bar, biding my three hours as they catch up with themselves…

17 June 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #14: Gustaf Navy Strength Gin

First, some history behind “Navy Strength”. Back in the days, all English sailors were given their ration of gin everyday in the high seas. I need to go back and do my research, but I think they might have been given twice a day of a serving each time. The challenge the sailors had faced was that gin – which was often stored close to the gun powder in the down floors – would spill (usually accidentally due to the weather in the high seas) and render the gun powder unusable.

Of course, trust the English genius to come up with a solution that had nothing to do with further separation of their storage or anything like that. The solution was to increase the alcohol content of the gin (reducing the water). Sure enough, at 114 proof (57% alcohol by volume), you can mix gin with gun powder and the gun powder would still fire. There is no written record of how serpentine its path was as it weaved thru the sky 🙂

Gustaf, therefore, is much stronger than normal gin and comes with its big kick and a very strong juniper edge. While the name is Swedish, this is actually made in Minnesota. In the northern most distillery in the lower 48 states of the USA – called Far North Distillery. It does have Swedish roots – the distiller’s grandfather was an immigrant from Sweden – called Gustaf – and settled in Minnesota.

The base alcohol is made from Winter Rye. And the eleven botanicals used include juniper, coriander, fennel, meadowsweet, lemons and grains of paradise. One uniqueness of this gin and distillery is that everything is produced in the farms around the distillery – starting from the rye.

The nose was floral along with the distinct rye edge. While many references on this gin suggest juniper is subdued in this gin at least in the nose, I thought I could detect it right from the get go. This might have to do with the fact that, because of its strength, instead of taking it on the rocks, I had splashed some Fever Tree Indian Tonic water on it.

The palette was strong and you would expect from a Navy Strength gin. You can feel the stiffness and heat from from the front gums all the way to the back of the throat.

The finish is not as strong as I was expecting. Almost bitter but very dry…

17 June 2017

How did that come around? – Kick the bucket

This evening a very young visitor to our house was mentioning about the unfortunate passing away of her P.E. teacher. Instantly, the phrase “kick the bucket” came to my mind. And the next instant, I was wondering why is it called “kicking the bucket”?

After the guests left, started doing the research. And finally came to find this…

A common – and wrong – derivation comes from the theory that people used to commit suicide by standing atop a bucket, tying their neck to the ceiling and then kicking the bucket. There is another theory that instead of committing suicide, people were hanged that way. Both are wrong. Buckets are very unnatural choices for this purpose. In fact, statistically, a chair is more commonly used for suicide in that particular way.

There was another theory about the goat kicking the bucket after getting milked and coming to an unfortunate end.

The real derivation has an intersting twist to the word “bucket”. Back in the 16th century, “bucket” refered to a wooden beam or frame. The root comes from a French word. Such a frame was often used to hang an animal up before being slaughtered. Most commonly it was used for pigs. A refernce to this meaning of the word “bucket” can be found in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

Anyways, the pig while being slaughterd would kick violently as it went thru its death spasms. As gross as that picture is, that is how “kicking the bucket” came around.

Who knew?