Fig Tree Perspectives

Act I

Scene 1: (The early morning sun illuminates a giant fig tree, bursting with leaves and fruit.  Cawing crows, blue jays, and cardinals break from the fig tree in flashes of jet, blue, and red, flushed by the noises of approaching humans.  A crow alights beside a squirrel in a nearby tree.)

 

MAUD: The nerve of those invaders!  They think everything is theirs.

FRISK (chattering): Dive at them, dive, dive, dive!  If you’re quick, you can drive them off!

MAUD: I suppose you are offering your services towards this endeavor.

FRISK (subdued): Well, no.  We squirrels are very fleet, but it would be much safer for a bird.

MAUD: I think I’ll just sit right here, thank you very much.  If you think your idea is so great, you can test it yourself, and I’ll content myself with watching.

FRISK (resigned): Oh, all right.

FRISK (a moment later): Hey, maybe the invaders have poor eyesight and will miss most of the fruit!

MAUD (patronizing): Think what you like.

 

Scene 2: (The sun is higher, and the humans are trudging away from the tree carrying buckets heaped with figs.  Frisk slings himself off a branch and lands in Maud’s tree again.)

 

FRISK: Look!  Look!  They’re leaving!  Let’s go see if they left some fruit!

MAUD (calmly): I suppose I’ll come along.

(Frisk skims down the tree trunk and springs over to the fig tree and up its sweeping boughs.  Maud glides from her perch, brakes her wings, and alights with a rustle.)

FRISK (popping out of the leaves beside Maud): I was right!

MAUD (startled and a little cranky): What do you mean?

FRISK: They are blind!  They missed the entire top half of the tree and didn’t get anywhere near the middle of it, either.  Gotta go before the fam gets here and raids what’s left!

(Frisk scampers away.  Maud shakes her head and thoughtfully tears a plump fig off an overhanging branch.)

MAUD (to herself): Those squirrels!  So excitable and silly.  Can’t they understand that the invaders don’t have the wings or climbing skills to reach the top of the tree?

A Fig

Act II

Scene 1: (A cat dances lightly through lush grass.  She jumps onto a low branch of the fig tree, black and white fur brushing the big, fuzzy leaves as she moves up the branch and into the tree.  The jungle encloses her, and she is at home.  Ears swiveling and tail twitching, the huntress prowls from branch to branch in her one-tree forest.  Sensing the cat’s presence, the birds that drew her here fly out of the tree, protesting vocally.)

 

MAUD (alighting beside Frisk): That cat is at it again in the fig tree.  Between her and the invaders, I scarce have chance to snatch a bite of fig.

FRISK (suspiciously): Do you think the invaders employ that beast to guard the tree?

MAUD: I doubt it, but they might as well as far as we’re concerned, for she’s quite successful.

FRISK (over his shoulder, as he bounds away): Well, I’m starting to give up on the figs this year.  I’m going to go find some nuts.

MAUD (aside): You won’t have to look very far.  I think one just ran away.

Linux: Prologue

Chances are, if you have been on the internet much, you have probably heard of the operating system called ‘Linux’. However, many people have very little in the way of actual (or supposed) knowledge about this operating system. Over the next few months I will be introducing different Linux distributions (distros), as well as talking a bit about the whole Windows vs. Linux (vs. OSX) debate. However, this week I will be simply providing an intro do this vibrant and ever expanding corner of the computer world.

A little history:

Although the roots of Linux (such as Unix) can be traced back decades to work that AT&T did in the 1970’s, the story of the ‘Linux’ operating system itself began in 1991 with a student name Linus Torvalds. While in school, Linus began writing his own Unix based operating system to take full advantage of his personal computer’s hardware. Here’s a snippet of Torvalds’ announcement online of his new operating system:

‘I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix [an operating system of the time], as my OS resembles it somewhat […]
I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)’ ~Source

The Linux OS has continued to grow since that small hobby project started in college and is now contributed to by developers and communities from all over the globe -no longer “just a hobby”.

Although Linux is a global phenomenon, Linus Torvalds has continued to regularly work on the Linux kernel and is still the most active contributor on it to this day:

Source: http://xmodulo.com/interesting-facts-linux.html
Source: http://xmodulo.com/interesting-facts-linux.html

So, what is this series about?

The goal of this short series of posts is to introduce Linux to non-Linux and less technically oriented people. I myself am no Linux guru and simply use it because I find it to be practical and functional for different uses. That being said, I am NOT a Linux fanboy: everyone’s needs are different, and there is no one perfect choice that fits every individual situation. I regularly use Windows (for gaming), and if I could afford an Apple computer I would probably get one just to try it out…needless to say I use what enables me to get the job done in the most efficient way. Sometimes it’s Linux, sometimes Windows.

Why is this relevant?

logo-collage-6nvabHistorically the majority of people who have owned personal computers have stuck with Windows -and rightfully so. With it’s recognizable interface, functional design, and (most importantly) pre-installation on most computers produced, people had little reason to explore outside the realm of what Microsoft gave them. However, in the past several years with the mobile revolution and the introduction of Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and others, people have begun seeing just how easy it can be to pick up new operating systems. The fact that Dell is now shipping consumer laptops pre-installed with Linux instead of Windows is a sign that the times they are a-changing. Now is the perfect time to consider if Linux might be the right choice for you.

What to look for next:

Next month I will lay out some basic groundwork and definitions to make describing the different Linux distros easier, and will offer a brief introduction to the distro that I have the most experience with (and use the most reguarly). Hopefully over the next few months you will gain a better understanding of what Linux is and offers, and if you still decide to upgrade to Windows 10 after all is said and done I won’t weep any tears.

Brew Reviews Round One

First, a disclaimer: I am not a beer expert. I am not enlightened enough to be able to explain what the brewing differences are between such beers as an India Pale Ale, Pilsner, Bock or Stout.

However, this lack of knowledge does not immediately mean that I do not have a refined palate. Indeed, I never drink beer with an intent to get drunk; rather, to enjoy a little Christian liberty found within the frothy contents of a mug or bottle with a good book or conversation.

Like any reviewer, I believe that it’s important to acknowledge one’s biases. I am not fond of light beers, and by that I mean just about any beer I can easily see through. In my opinion, the darker the beer is, the more I’m apt to enjoy it because there is a greater complexity of flavor and full body to it. This is not to disparage those who enjoy lighter beers, simply to state that I am not a fan. As such, don’t expect to see reviews from me regarding Budweiser, Coors, Old Milwaukee’s Best, etc. which are essentially tinted water designed to be drunk in bulk.

With that, let’s examine four beers that I had the privilege of trying recently.

Ghost Rider

This was the first offering I have had from Wasatch Brewery. As such, I made sure to look them up. The brewery itself is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s right, the very heart of Mormon country. In a way, one could think of its existence there as a cold sore on the lip of Moroni, given Mormon attitudes towards alcohol. Despite its seemingly bold location, the more important factor to consider is whether or not the brew stands up to a taste test!

For the taste test, I drank straight from the bottle (as I often do) because for this particular tasting I was having lunch out and about with family and a friend. It paired well with the roast chicken and mashed potatoes, all things considered.

I first noted that this particular White IPA was somewhat fizzy, but did not have a strong head. The nose hinted of what I thought was citrus, but turned out to be coriander according to the label. After these considerations, I dove in to the taste test.

Though it was served straight from the fridge, it did have a warmth about it on the way down. The initial taste was rather disappointing – it reminded me of a slightly stronger Coors Banquet beer with deeper notes of hops. However, the flavor was very neat. What I mean by that is after the first blush, the flavor disappeared completely from the palate. Now here is where I believe “Ghost Rider” got its name – the after-taste came back (ex nihilo, if you will) about 15 to 20 seconds later tasting of coriander and citrus. This really surprised me! It may be a gimmick in a way, but it’s an impressive one.

Verdict: All in all, there was not much of the initial flavor that made this beer stand out. It was the subtle reappearance of other flavors later that actually made the experience enjoyable. I would recommend this little 6% ABV brew, but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation by a long shot. Still, try it at least once. C+

Goose Island Urban Wheat Ale (312)

Goose Island is a brewery from Chicago. Knowing of the German, Czech, and Scandanavian roots that settled in that area, I was excited to try this particular wheat ale. The wheat ale, for those unfamiliar, is what I would consider a “light” beer, but I try to let myself be taken by surprise. There’s no harm in trying. At least, that’s what I thought when I slipped a bottle into my “make a 6 pack” at the store.

Where to begin with this one? There was medium head, and the nose was akin to KRAFT American cheese slices. The initial taste was crisp and refreshing, but descended immediately after to Budweiser taste levels. The meager 4.2% ABV was disappointing. While I was drinking this beer, I had the distinct impression I was drinking dirty water. The actual after taste was slightly tart, which was a nice apology after tricking me into drinking a Bud equivalent. Overall, this beer was very disappointing, and I’m not sure I’m willing to try any more offerings from Goose Island.

Verdict: D-

Celebrator Doppelbock

This Doublebock comes from Ayinger Brewry in Bavaria. For those unfamiliar, Bavaria is a region in Germany that is considered to be the “gold standard” in both breweries and beers. It is the mecca of many beer aficionados, and if I ever visit the region and sample its wares I will die a happy man. The label itself impressed me – twin goats flanking a full beer glass like a medieval coat of arms.

This beer is quite dark, and gives one that impression even from the nose. There was little foam to speak of, so that noting may get between your palate and the nutty flavor. This beer is clean and smooth with but a bare hint of after taste. The flavor is quite rich, with notes of coffee and what I assume are almonds. The taste was pure with ingredients – in accordance with German brewing laws set out in the 1500s that are still in effect. Good water, grain, and other flavors were quite evidently poured into this brew. With its 6.7% ABV, this fine gem sneaks up on you if you’re not careful.

Verdict: A

Devastator Doublebock

This brew also comes from the Wasatch Brewery. While I was not overly impressed with the Ghost Rider, I thought it would only be fair to give a darker beer a shot.

The Devastator holds a quite respectable 8% ABV, and boasts a quite hoppy nose. It also had very little head. The end result of this, again, being nothing getting between the drinker and the flavor contained therein. Its flavor is quite strong on the front, but mellows smoothly. There was a noticeably stronger “buzz effect” from the first sip compared to the Celebrator. I like the boldness to the flavor – it makes you sit up and take notice of it!

Devastator has a thickness to it, and has complimentary tastes of oats or brown bread in addition to the hops. This oaty flavor is good, and allows this beer to distinguish itself from the Celebrator rather well. This beer manages to be strong without being overwhelming, unless you try to drink it quickly!

Verdict: A

You may be wondering which of these two double bocks I’d give the nod to. That depends on the situation. I loved the nutty flavors of the Celebrator, but appreciated the stronger touch of the Devastator. I would say that the Celebrator is a much better introduction to double bocks than the Devastator, as it would be an easier introduction into the world of dark beers. That being said, I personally prefer the Devastator over the Celebrator due to its thicker feel and stronger punch. So take a bow, Wasatch, you out-did Bavaria on this one!

The Question of Books

It’s the question of all questions

To a bibliomaniac,

Once the creaking bookshelves have become unduly fat:

How to arrange the books?

Should you order them by alphabet,

So orderly from A to Z?

But now biography mixed and jumbled in with fantasy,

How should I arrange the books?

So should you group them by genre,

Quite nicely with their kind?

But what of the authors with multiple minds?

How now to arrange the books?

Perhaps I should imitate a real library;

Use Dewey Decimal system.

But I think it complicated now, as I did then.

So how should I arrange the books?

Wouldn’t it be cute, I think,

To order them by color?

But one member of a series is not always like another.

How should I arrange all these books?

But really, it’s a simple answer.

I shouldn’t be surprised at it.

At this point, it’s all about how on earth they all will fit.

That’s how I’ll arrange the books.