Random thoughts to start a new year…Quantum Time, New Dark Ages, Beer Entropy, Movies in Comfort, Books, Fine Coffee, and more

Here are some odds and ends before we set our calendars back 1,000 years on January 20th. I thought of the quantum time ambiguity (sounds like a Big Bang Theory episode title) the other day when driving and realized I had a few more pseudo-random thoughts jockeying for attention…

Great Courses lectures

I wrote about them already, but I really like listening to the lectures…when driving, that is. Not at work or at home. I guess I have too many things tugging at me when not driving to get anything out of lectures. Does that mean I’m not paying enough attention to driving, or not enough to the lectures?

And speaking of not paying attention… Quantum Time

ah1p9620A misleading headline from last year – “Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, quantum experiment confirms“, or the more comical “Experiment suggests that reality doesn’t exist until it is measured” – raised eyebrows…well, at least my eyebrows. The obvious inference is that the scientists have gone batty: matter didn’t exist for 14 billion years until humans came along to measure it? Um… Anyway, it would seem that on quantum levels,
The first time ever that Wheeler’s delayed-choice experiment has been conducted using a single atom, the quantum weirdness represented by this experiment much more closely approaches the macro world in which humans perceive reality, which adds to the significance of the findings.
Meaning, I suppose, that if I don’t think about you, you don’t exist, right? I’ve never bought that quantum fuzzies extrapolate to a macro reality, but I did have a random thought that time has a quantum weirdness component.
If you don’t pay attention, time seems to pass in a flash, but if you do pay attention to it, it can drag.
Behold Jim’s Delayed-choice Quantum Theory of Time: it’s fast or slow depending on whether you are watching the pot boil.

Beer taste-buds evolve rapidly, and my beer prefs are like entropy

As recent as three years ago, I was proclaiming certain Belgian beers, and even a lager, as “not bad”. I’m not a beer connoisseur, but I am a beer snob, and I’ve gotten even snobbier.
22929175I like stouts and IPAs, Porters and Pale Ales to a lesser degree, Browns and goldens to a much lesser degree, farms and saisons almost not at all. I like sours and goses, barleywines for sure, old ales and strong ales – ales…starting to notice the trend? But within the subspecies, there are definite turnoffs; Guinness is not a stout, no matter how much they claim it. The barrel aged fad only works if, in descending order, the barrels used are cognac, rum, brandy, Pinot Noir or Syrah, non-smoky scotch, Irish whiskey, rye whiskey, and plain old unconditioned oak. Never bourbon.
hopsOne must also never put nasties in beer: raspberry, habaneros or jalapenos, Indian spices. Belgian yeasts and lager yeasts evoke a facial cringe, some more than others. But hops? The more the better. Of course, a well done hopped beer has the malts to balance the bitterness – there are some ultrabitter beers that even I won’t drink again. I like big ABVs, more because of the symbiotic character of the beers conveying them than anything else, as I don’t drink to get drunk. And that distinct lack of character is one of the reasons I don’t like so called “session” beers. Flavored water for yard work is all they’re good for. If that. Another fad that needs to die.
Some of the higher rated of the 404 distinct beers I logged on Untappd this year were Stone’s Old Guardian (barleywine), Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal (Imperial stout), Founders Curmudgeon (Old ale), Rodenbach’s Vintage 2013 (falnders sour), Prairie Artisan Ales Apple Brandy Noir (Stout aged in brandy barrels) and Pirate Noir (aged in rum barrels), Avery’s much to my dismay soon to be retired Mephistopheles (12% stout), Clown Shoes Hammer of the Beast (stout)… Too many to list, check them out here.
As my beer preferences narrow, beer entropy tends to increase. I wonder if I can adapt the Three Laws of Thermodynamics to beer. Hmmm…

Theater Movies

img_7921We’ve decided that we never again want to see a movie in a theater unless it is in premium recliners. With craft beer (for me) and good food.
Our theater of choice is iPic in Fairview Texas. We tried once this year to watch a movie from the “cheap seats” – also in iPic, but to my right were a couple of teens too focused on themselves, selfies, and acting childish, and to Andrea’s left was a family that brought the entire pantry…and proceeded to bag rip and chip crunch throughout the entire movie. It’s worth the money to sit in comfort. Although, even those seats aren’t without issue. The wait staff is too often too loud, gets my beer order wrong 75% of the time, and interrupts me invariably at a critical point in the movie to see if I need anything else. And at the end of Fantastic Beast, a young woman strung out on something thought it okay to stand up in her recliner, drop her pants and maybe have a whizz. I had left for the restroom and missed that, but crossed paths with her in the corridor, she looking frantically for her restroom and ducking into the kitchen of all places. It’s never boring.

And Coffee Pretensions

img_7919I grind my own beans and use an Aeropress. Yes, along with my beer snobbery, I prefer coffee with character. I was quite disappointed earlier this year when my local Costcos announced (via paper placard over the palettes) that they were no longer carrying Seattle Mountain beans. The organic Sumatra has been my bean of choice for almost nine years. I loaded up on six 2.5 pound packs. But, they started carrying them again and still have the beans. I usually brew up a triple and a double for my work days. Which is like five and three “normal” cups for caffeine comparative purposes.

Sometimes I get experimental. Like the other day when I picked up a pack of ground Swedish espresso from IKEA. Curiosity. The pic to the left is of the Swedish espresso and Starbucks espresso (it was a gift). Guess which is which? Anyway, it isn’t bad, but as with my normal, I have to overload the scoops to get something decent out of it.

Books, books and more books

img_7904I can’t get enough and I’m starting the new year with four in my Currently Reading queue, three of which are carryovers.
I started The Complete Sherlock Holmes in February of 2016. It’s a tome roll up of all of Conan Doyle’s novels and collections – nine books in all – and I’m stubbornly slogging through it a few pages at a time despite thinking that Doyle wasn’t all that good at Holmes. Sacrilege? Maybe, but really, many of his stories are quite a reach, Still…I endeavor.
An author from Australia contacted me in December after reading my assessment and the subsequent comments on my most popular Goodreads review. He found my positions and where I live to be in an interesting contrast and offered to send me a copy of his debut novel, The City of God. I’ll let you know.
I’ve had Fringe-ology on my docket for a while and today, it called to me. I expect to be annoyed with the author (the subtitle reads “How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – And Couldn’t”), but one develops skeptic skills by reading diverse books with a critical eye, and sharpens them by picking apart the failed skeptics.
I’ve highlighted Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here more than some nonfiction. It’s easy to find parallels to the 2016 phenomena, and Lewis might come off phophetic. But then, his antiprotagonist is a Dem and today’s Repubs have a lock on fascism so he was way off the mark there. Call it research into the …

Looming New Dark Ages

list-ancient-medical-techniques-bloodletting-eJudging from the Facebook posts, people couldn’t wait for 2016 to leave. 2016 is associated with too many bad things, from celebrities dying to Agent Orange making a resurgence.
We live in a Now culture, with instant access to everything, and that can blind even those with open eyes to the consequences of 2016…waxing hopeful for a new and better year. (And the blind with closed eyes who helped usher in the apocalypse won’t notice.)
The Western Middle Ages are often called The Dark Ages, and lasted 500 years, though the moniker is too often extended to include all the way through the 1400s…when the Western thinkers were peaking. Clearly, there is no definitive start/stop date to that ignominious era. But future historians will have a few dates to consider for our coming Dark Age.

I wonder how long our Dark Age will last.

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