I just finished reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon. This is an interesting book on many levels, but for some reason I was halfway through the book before the plot developed to the point where I was hooked. It won a bunch of science fiction awards, but to my mind it’s not really science fiction. It’s an alternative history in which The Slattery Report of 1938, a plan to resettle European refugees (and particularly Jewish refugees) in Alaska was actually implemented. Another alternative history twist is that the Israelis lost the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, resulting in another wave of Jewish refugees.
Meyer Landsman, the hero of this novel, is a pulp-fiction style hard-boiled police detective who smokes and drinks too much and is living in a cheap hotel after his divorce. The fun begins when a mysterious drug-addicted tenant in the same establishment is found murdered in his room. The investigation leads Landsman and Berko Shemets, his half Jewish-half Tlingit sidekick through the local Jewish communities to an ultra-orthodox sect which also doubles as the local mafia. The plot really thickens when he discovers their plans to breed a perfect red heifer and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
One complaint I had was there were a lot of Yiddish words and references and I found myself wanting a Yiddish-English dictionary at times. I was a bit annoyed when I finished the book, and lo and behold! the appendix at the end included the yearned-for glossary!
I think it was a pretty good book which could make a great movie. I did read that the Coen Brothers had optioned it at one point, but apparently that deal fell through. That’s too bad – with their knack for black-humored film noir, they could have made the perfect adaptation of the book.
Where were we this weekend? Camping in the woods we were. When was the last time you went car camping? Well, here we are setting up the stove and the tent for a night in the wilds of Idaho.
The next day was cold and cloudy, and not nearly as tranquil. A group of 13 of us went white water rafting on (and in) the Lochsa.
I had a waterproof camera with me, but I didn’t get any real action shots because I was too busy paddling or hanging on, but here’s a shot from before a set of rapids.
You don’t have to use too much imagination to realize this was not for the faint of heart.
The guy giving the thumbs up is Bob, who put the whole thing together. Thanks Bob!
And since I wasn’t able to catch any of the real action, and we didn’t stick around long enough to buy CD’s or pictures, here’s a highlight video taken on a previous expedition.
It was cold and wet, but at the end of the day, after running 30 miles of the river, a good time was had by all. As it turned out, we only had two of our group join the swim team. I came close, but managed to hang on long enough with a foot hold for my seat mate to rescue me.
Of course I was sure to tell everyone who’d listen that the last time I went white water rafting was on the Zambezi below Victoria Falls.
Well, it’s finally happened. I dumped out six gallons of Racer 5 IPA cone last night. It was a muddy, gray-headed mess with a rubbery metallic taste that made it undrinkable. From what I’ve deduced, the evidence points to a bad batch of yeast. Because my brewer supply place didn’t have my usual yeast, I used an equivalent yeast. I knew I had problems almost from the start. Sixteen hours after pitching the yeast, fermentation hadn’t started. So I jacked up the brewhaus temperature to 75. Fermentation was well underway the next day, so I dropped the temp back to 65. The final gravity measurement was 1.010, which is just fine, so lots of fermentation took place. High temps and bad yeast can cause the off flavors, so that’s my best guess.
Oh well, it had to happen sooner or later.
For some reason I was reading an article the other day about breeding exotic cats where the author made a comment that artificial insemination of cats was virtually impossible because male cats have barbed penises. Huh?? I always knew that cats were essentially evil, but barbed penises?? Apparently the barbs rough up the cat’s vagina and stimulate the release of hormones and eggs, something that can’t be easily done artificially. I’ll leave you to imagine someone trying to artificially inseminate a cat, but I did find this video of cats and barbs and penises. Enjoy!
If you’re a regular listener to NPR, how could you not love the fabulous names of the reporters? Think Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Chana Joffe-Walt, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Dina Temple-Raston, Doualy Xaykaothao, Kai Ryssdal, Sylvia Poggioli, and many more. My favorite has got to be Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who scores extra points just by the way she pronounces Dakar.
I guess I’m not the only one who’s noticed the names. Here’s an article from The Atlantic on that exact subject.
And if you’re one of those mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Teahidsts who would never listen to all that godless-faggot-loving-commie-pinko-Islamofascist propaganda, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Elina is growing up really quickly. Every time I see her there’s another change or two. Now she’s making eye contact, grasping thumbs, and smiling a lot. I think she likes my tongue.
After a fun hour of play, she’s off to sleep.
But what the hell is this?
Daughter Caroline tells me it’s a Swedish-made snot/booger sucker. You stick the blue part up the kid’s snotty nose, and suck on the red part. Apparently there is a valve that stops the booger before you suck it all the way in. Those Swedes are pretty smart!
I’m up at the cabin, having made a trip to dry hop my latest batch of Racer 5 clone. That took about ten minutes, so I made myself useful and did this:
I split some of the wood from a tree that utility crews took down last fall. It doesn’t look like much, but it was worth at least one of these:
This is a glass of the Kitchen Sink Pale Ale that I bottled last week. It is the first beer that I brewed without a recipe. A little of this, and a little of that, and the next thing you know, I’ve created a very drinkable brew.
I’ll be up here for a day or two and have lots more wood to split, and therefore, more rewards