Paper paper, and First-World Problems

August 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So I’m on my way to Tucson doing something I haven’t done in years, reading the physical front page of the New York Times. This is thanks to Jane, the dietician/professor/entrepenuer that I’m sitting next to on the plane. We had been discussing reading physical newspapers versus reading similar content on the web. She stated that when reading the news in a physical paper, you are exposed to more (and more varied) information because there are 3-6 more articles on various topics on the same page that you can read easily.

I countered with the example of the NYT website that has links to articles of similar and different styles and subject matter next to and just underneath the article. They also have a link to another article that pops out from the side automatically when you get to the bottom of the current article. So I believe there are different ways whereby one can have similar unexpected experiences reading on the web.

I didn’t even go into websites such as stumpleupon, redditt, boingboing, etc. I think there’s something in human nature that takes joy in accidental discovery, and people who design these websites know that.

Anyway, back to my first-world problems reference. After we talked, I was happy to read a bit of the paper she handed me. How quaint, I thought. Almost nostalgic. Then I read an article titled, “To Reach Simple Life of Summer Camp, Lining Up for Private Jets.” An excerpt:

“For decades, parents in the Northeast who sent their children to summer camp faced the same arduous logistics of traveling long distances to remote towns in Maine, New Hampshire and upstate New york to pick up their children or to attend parents’ visiting day. Now, even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps. One private jet broker, Todd Rome of Blue Star Jets, said his summer-camp business had jumped 30 percent over the last year.”

The article is reporting on an interesting change in the economy — interesting especially to small aircraft operators — and that’s fine. It’s about rich people, and that’s fine. The word that jumps out at me like Bugs Bunny out of Elmer Fudd’s soup pot is “arduous.” I’ve been reading and listening to stories about gang violence and victims of war, some of my best students can’t find jobs after graduating with a masters degree, and this author, Christine Haughney, without a hint of irony, describes the task of rich people driving their kids to elite summer camps as arduous. This really made me rethink what the demographics of this paper’s audience is.

And I would never have done that if I were not reading the paper version of the New York Times, because I would not have clicked on the link for this article after seeing the headline.

Well played, Jane, well played.

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I’m Being Marketed To

August 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ok, I’ve gotten accustomed to hearing music I like over the loudspeakers in the mall and the supermarket. (Roll your eyes, teenagers! Hah!) I just wish they played it louder and with more bass.

But today I’m talking about internet marketing. Within an hour of posting my last blog post on craft beer (which was automatically posted to my twitter and FB), I got a new follower on Twitter, Taphunter. They’re a San Diego based company that follows bars serving craft beer in several cities in North America. They get craft beer enthusiasts to log in to their site and update their information as to who has what available on tap. So if you’re in, say, Austin, and you really want Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen on tap, you can log in and it’ll tell you where to go.

Furthermore, you can get their mobile app and update their info on the bar where you are, and you’ll get points. And wouldn’t everyone just love some more points? I’d do just about anything for points. Yay points! Oh, and they have occasional giveaways and discounts and stuff.

Anyway, I was curious how, and impressed that, they found me so quickly. By my blog stats, that blog entry only was viewed once, and that viewer was referred by en.wordpress.com/tag/beer/. I assume this is due to the efforts of the Chief Beer Strategist (also CEO and Co-founder) at Taphunter, Mel Gordon. What I wonder is this: was it a person (herself or perhaps a lackey), or was it automated? Does she have software that scours the blogosphere for beer enthusiasts, then automatically starts following them on Twitter or otherwise? If so, what kind of software is it? Is it expensive? Free? Highly specific, or versatile? Is this cutting edge, or has it been around for years?

*digs a bit deeper*

Ok, I’d bet she’s got the software. She’s also president and founder of gWave Consulting, complete with programmers! Also, she’s “Widely considered as an Internet marketing expert …” It’s true, just read her description on the gWave website, which she probably wrote herself. After all, she’d know, right? Really, I’m just poking fun. I have no reason to believe she isn’t what she claims to be. Besides, she backs up her claims by citing publications, and I looooove it when people cite sources. Also, she obviously likes good beer, so I’ll gladly give her the benefit of the doubt.

So, all in all, I say nice job marketing to me, Mel Gordon. Maybe someday we’ll talk about adding the North Country (or at least Burlington, VT) to Taphunter’s markets. Preferably over a craft beer or, even better, a homebrew. After all, we’ve got Lake Placid Brewery, Saranac, and Magic Hat just to name a few, not to mention the possibility of a brewpub opening in Potsdam within the next year or two. I’d gladly regularly enter all data on my local, Maxfields. Besides, it’ll get me points, right?

Commercial Craft Beer

August 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I’ve been trying a lot of different craft beers lately, and I’d like to remember what I thought of them, as the flavors are already starting to blur in my mind.

Who am I that feel qualified to rate beer? I’m just someone who enjoys drinking good beer. I also brew my own. I was delightfully surprised to find that homebrew can often be better than good commercial craft beers. I am not a professional brewer, nor a master brewer, nor am I qualified by the BJCP to be a judge in beer competitions. I just know what I like, and I want to remember. Because life is too short to drink bad beer.

Here’s my rating system. It is entirely subjective. My ratings may differ wildly from yours.
5 = Truly excellent. I must drink this again before I die. Nirvana.
4 = Great. I’d gladly pay good money for this beer. I’d give this to people I like.
3 = Good. Not my top choice, but enjoyable in a pinch. I’d stock it in my house if I were short on cash or if what I really wanted wasn’t available.
2 = Eh. If I bought it, I’d finish drinking it, but I’d never buy another.
1 = Bad. If I were a guest in someone’s house, and this is the only beer they had, I’d choke the first one down with a smile and drink water henceforth.
0 = Truly terrible. The drain is the only place for this. I question the sanity of anyone who drinks this on purpose.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Wasatch Beers, White Label (Belgian Style White Ale): 4.5
Very, very good. Everything I want from a Witbier. Somewhat fruity, light, flavorful, smooth, distinctive … a joy to drink.

Boulder Beer Company, Kinda Blue (Blueberry Wheat Beer): 2.5
The beer itself is so-so, and the blueberry flavor is mild. It would be a 2.0 if not for the novelty.

Bear Republic, Red Rocket Ale: 3.5
A nice balanced flavorful beer. I prefer Retro Red (New Belgium Brewery) to this, but Red Rocket is a decent red/amber ale. I probably wouldn’t regularly stock it, but I’d pick it up occasionally.

Left Hand Brewing Company, Milk Stout: 4.0
Wonderfully smooth, slightly sweet stout. Just enough bitterness to make it not too sweet. Creamy. Want more.

Left Hand Brewing Company, Good Juju (Beer Brewed With Ginger): 2.0
The beer is forgettable, and the ginger is barely noticeable. I’m trying to not let this put me off other beers accented with ginger.

Widmer Brothers Brewing, Hefeweizen: 4.0
Very good hefeweizen. Possibly the best I’ve had in a bottle that wasn’t a homebrew. I’d have to do a taste test to compare it with Lake Placid Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen.

Lake Placid Brewing Company, Hefeweizen: 4.0
Very good hefeweizen. Possibly the best I’ve had in a bottle that wasn’t a homebrew. I’d have to do a taste test to compare it with Widmer Brothers Brewing’s Hefeweizen.

New Belgium Brewing, Mothership Wit (Organic what beer brewed with spices): 3.5
Good, but disappointing compared to Wasatch. If it were the only wit around, I’d drink it and enjoy it.

Shock Top, Raspberry Wheat: 3.0
Very fruity! I can barely taste the beer. If you don’t like beer very much and want something cold and fruity on a hot day, this is for you. Not my preference, but I’m giving it a 3 since it’s very good for its style (very fruity, light and refreshing).

Nimbus Brewing Company, Pale Ale: 3.0
A good, balanced pale ale, but I prefer Sierra Nevada a bit more.

Bell’s Brewery, Oberon Ale (American wheat): 2.0
The taste is more like an Eastern European lager, not an American summer wheat beer. If I wanted that flavor, I’d get a Pilsner Urquell. Not to my taste.

New Belgium Brewing, Sunshine (Wheat beer brewed with spices): 3.5
A nice American wheat beer. J would give this a 4.0, and I might, too, if she left any around long enough for me to taste. 😉

Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Firestone DBA (Double Barrel Ale): 4.0
Very nice! It’s a very flavorful pale ale that pushes the boundary of enjoyable bitterness, but doesn’t cross it. A very interesting American pale ale. It beats out Sierra Nevada for my money. (BTW, Sierra Nevada is about a 3.5 on my scale, possibly 4 if it’s very fresh and cold.)

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