respect

Losing Bella and Light-Ale Bottling.

Posted on Updated on

Hey folks. Been tied up at work and family stuff so I slipped on posting the latest blog.

Sadly, we had to put Bella, the greatest dog we’ve ever had, down. She had terminal lung cancer and it seemed like she was telling us with her face that she was ready. But we weren’t. It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. We miss her dearly. If I ever get any good at making beer, the first one will be named after her.

 

img_4516“Bella-dog.” aka, “Bellisimo.”

 

 

Alas, it was time to take baby steps forward. The following is my recent home bottling of a super light ale with a slight hop aroma. Enjoy. I’ll post back on how it tasted. Out of the fermenter, it was superb.

PREP:

CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. If you are home bottling and brewing and you don’t get into the habit of cleaning and sanitizing your process, from start to finish, you are killing the opportunity to create superior beer. DON’T BE LAZY. PBW is the best cleaner I’ve used. Once you clean the bottles, tubing, caps, bottling wand, and everything that is involved in this process, it’s time to bottle.

img_4666

 

A shot of the pre-bottling CHAOS:

img_4668

 

BOTTLING:

I like to set my bottles aside. If I’ve made some adjustments with carbonation tablets, i’ll keep the bottles separated. For example, the bottles with four tabs on the left and the bottles with three tabs on the right. Hook up your tubing, remove the air lock and lid, and insert the bottling wand into the tubing leading from your bottling/fermentation bucket.

If you aren’t giddy at the sight of the tubing charged with beer, well, I don’t know what to tell you!

Most bottling wands have a built-in mechanism that will release beer once depressed (or pushed down on the bottom of the bottle). Once the bottle begins to fill, it will (obviously) rise. As the beer makes it to the top, you stop. Once you remove the wand, it leaves some room in the neck for the carbonation process. THIS IS A GOOD THING. If you spill some beer while bottling, I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU DO NOT LICK IT OFF THE FLOOR>>Don’t ask….

You’ll get to the bottom of your bucket and the entrance point of the spigot. There is usually a good amount of beer left lying above the trub. Gently pull the bucket toward you and allow the clean beer to fall into the opening of the spigot. This beer will fill the tubing and wand and you can normally get 2-3 more bottles before the yucky stuff. The picture below shows nearing the bottom, pulling the bucket toward you to get more of the beer, and then the layer of trub, aka “yucky stuff.” DOING ALL OF THIS WITH TWO HANDS IS SILLY, BUT WHAT OPTIONS DO YOU HAVE? I’ve spilled some beer trying to manage all of this, but it’s kind of funny and a challenge, so no worries.

 

CAPPING:

*NOTE* Make sure your caps are clean before capping the bottles.

There’s plenty of different options on the market, but I use a very basic bottle cap press that features a magnet to hold the cap in place. Pressing a cap on a bottle sometimes feels like the bottle or capping device are going to break. They likely won’t. Just use some elbow grease and get the darn caps on. Once that’s over, place them in the cardboard bottle box or on the counter and keep them out at room temperature for at least a week, maybe two. After that process is over, called “bottle conditioning,” throw those bad boys into the refrigerator. In two weeks, start “sampling” bottles. Pour and enjoy.

 

I hope this was informative and helps with your journey into home brewing. Shoot me an email or comment if you have any questions.

Remember to listen to people who care about you enough to speak to you.

-Chris

 

free form poetry

Posted on

Policing a Community

A salty policeman struggles to hold a

stranger’s hand. Spirited skateboard park

meetings force him from the comfort

of a cruiser along an uneven path through

downtown streets- wearing muddy boots

that crush his aspirations. They can

manage the stress, but where trust once

existed media stripped completely away. Recall

when police risked their lives for “strangers,” yet

you knew them and they knew you, back when the

word “neighborhood” held meaning. You’d call us

during an emergency and wouldn’t dare to ask

me to raise your kids or scare them straight for you.

Civil disputes between childish adults tear

at the very foundation of our society.

Yes, we’re wired for scary things: to

hunt active shooters, protect the innocent,

and enforce the law- no matter how antique.

But, integration hoping to crush robots lies

in another galaxy. Handle your human problems

and we’ll chase then confront evil, head-on,

so you can pretend it does not exist.

Far From Routine

Posted on

Far From Routine.

Deputy Sheriff Smith arrived to work carrying his work boots and weathered ballistic vest. His damn locker combination didn’t work, and the bastard he couldn’t fathom working with again was standing naked a few lockers down flaunting his steroid-laden physique. Smith slammed his boots and vest on the floor, “Big deal, I’d still scrape the floor with you,” he muttered a little too loud under his breath.

“What was that?” asked “Beefcake” while he strolled over to Smith pounding his chest like a low-land silverback gorilla. He stood mere inches from Smith, invading his personal space cushion, and clenched his fists as if he was trying to squish oranges into juice.  Bustling and murmurs in the locker room slipped away, scurried to the shadows, clinging to the walls anxious for drama.

“I said big deal, I’d still scrape the floor with you,” Smith answered defiantly. He’d had it with Beefcake, his job, he’d just received a text from his wife talking about divorce, and he hadn’t even had his Peet’s coffee yet. To hell with them all. He bladed himself to Beefcake preparing for a physical altercation.

Beefcake kicked Smith’s gear out of the way and stepped even closer. His pride and integrity had been challenged by Smith’s comment, and he couldn’t let it go. The other gorillas would call him out and his place at the top of “Idiot Mountain” would be threatened if he let this comment slide. He telegraphed his next move while winking at Smith just before trying to punch him in the jaw. Smith ducked as Beefcake’s fist rammed into Smith’s locker. The others noticed a sergeant walk into the locker room and grabbed Beefcake and Smith while trying to break up the pissing contest. Some of the remaining men snickered hoping Smith would pummel Beefcake because no one liked a hot-shot.

As the sergeant walked into the gladiator arena between two rows of ancient lockers, he raised an eyebrow after noticing Beefcake was naked. He looked him up and down, pointed at his groin, and chuckled. Beefcake turned red in the face while the others realized they were still hugging a naked man. Just before they let him go, Smith’s locker magically popped open.

Smith grinned and looked at Beefcake. “Thanks ‘Fonzy.’” The room erupted in laughter and the tension exited as quickly as a parolee would after hearing, “Police search warrant!” Smith and Beefcake exchanged glances.

“You good?” Smith asked Beefcake.

He nodded. “Yup, see you out there.” Two grown men, one still naked, shook hands and the force was back to normal.

Now they suited up for the real battle. The one where a punch to the jaw would be much better than what potentially waits for them. A treacherous environment full of guns, dope, gang members, robbers, killers, villains…not to mention the crazies plotting and training every single day to kill a cop or deputy. If only I could get the opportunity, Smith considered as he laced his boots tight and donned his mangy ballistic vest.

After briefing, Smith, Beefcake, and the rest of the team went their separate ways. Some have traffic details, others have meetings, Beefcake’s headed to see one of his lady friends, and Smith rolls to Peet’s coffee. They had twelve more hours to go. If they survived, they’d get to go home…some to happy homes, some to not-so-happy homes. For most of them, work is an escape. It’s an extremely difficult job, but the stress at home, with family, mortgages, kids, bills, and the rest of it was like a pressure cooker for them. Sometimes these guys became ticking-time bombs.

Routine, if there’s such a thing, patrol continued without too much excitement. There was a parking complaint on Middlefield, and a fifteen year old girl was reported missing. The dispatcher sent Smith to the missing child call and he rolled his eyes. He assumed she would be off with her boyfriend and let me guess, her parents don’t like her boyfriend. He chuckled as it seems he’s going to be in the middle of yet another pissing contest. Beefcake was sent to the parking complaint. He didn’t respond. “Imagine that,” Smith said out loud. Hopefully the sergeant tracks him down.

Smith drove to the location of the missing child report. On the way, he stopped at a red light. For some reason he noticed a lowered Cadillac in his side and rear view mirrors. It was occupied by four people, and it was slowly pulling up next to him. A red flag in his head was hoisted, and he went from condition orange to condition red.  He heard and felt hip-hop music and saw the juveniles and young adults in the car were dressed in red. Instantly he classified them as gang members, and wondered why the younger ones weren’t in school.

They inched closer to Smith. There was a lot of discussion and pointing coming from the Cadillac. Smith didn’t like it and he found himself trying to see their hands. He slowly let off the brake to inch forward to use his door panels as cover should a fire fight ensue. The Cadillac also inched forward. They were taunting him. He disengaged the safety measures of his holster and unlocked the rifle holder. If it’s going down, I’m gonna take as many of these bastards I can with me. His pulse accelerated. He wondered how long until the light turned green. What’s my escape route? Where are the third passenger’s hands? Are they reaching under their seats? What’s my backdrop? All these thoughts raced through his mind as a bead of sweat ran from his forehead down into his cumbersome ballistic vest. He wondered if the expiration date was past due on the damn thing. I’ll check the date after my shift.

A loud bang went off behind Smith and he nearly had a heart attack as he spun his head behind him to see where it came from. He saw an old Volkswagen bug and a yuppie grinning sheepishly. Smith whipped around to look for the Cadillac. It was gone. He looked up and the light was green. Jesus, that was wild. He was still in one piece, so he continued to the missing child call.

Smith met with the parents at the front door. The father’s eyes bulged and he started gnawing on his fingernails at the sight of Smith. Smith found it odd that the man was so freaked out by his presence. He tried to be professional, but this was the third time this family had called for service. Each time he responded he found the missing daughter with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend. Smith finally figured out that the missing child’s family wants the Sheriff’s Office to do their job…raise their child. They say their daughter is out of control and won’t listen to them. Smith, during the course of his investigation of said child, had contacted the child’s school. The school felt the same as him…the family wants the school to raise their child. She received stellar grades, was involved with school activities and sports, and she volunteered time to help the homeless-far from incorrigible in Smith’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” Smith asked the father. The man shook his head and kept looking at Smith’s firearm. He didn’t answer. Smith had detected something wasn’t right, but he wasn’t sure what.

He dug further. What’s really going on here? Something about the case and the way the mother looked at him concerned him. The father seemed paranoid and kept looking down the hallway like he was waiting for someone to come from a room. He made a few phone calls and located the missing child…she was at school, where she was supposed to be. The only thing missing is the parents, he thought.

Smith was frustrated because he felt the family was playing him and the Sheriff’s Office. He had two calls for service pending now, and he was stuck dealing with a call that really wasn’t a call.

“Look, I’m not sure what to tell you guys. She’s at school and you knew it. Why’d you report her missing?” Smith was trying to read their faces, get a sense of what the hell was really going on.

The father looked at the mother, she turned away, and he looked back at Smith. He looked down the hall again and back at Smith. He looked at Smith’s firearm and back down the hallway. The hair on the back of Smith’s neck spiked. Uh oh.

“Come on guys. What’s up, and what’s down the hall?” Smith said to them while pointing down the hallway. The mother began to shake and the father looked like he’d seen a ghost.

Smith walked toward the hallway. The mother trembled and the father shuffled in front of him. He towered over the father and physically moved him out of the way.

“There’s nothing! You can’t go down there. You need a search warrant to search my house,” the father said in an almost robotic tone. Smith noticed the man was terrified. He had seen that look before, and now he was asking for a cover unit on the radio.

Smith peeked in the first room, nothing out of the ordinary. The mother was sobbing and the father continued to plead. “Stop, you can’t go down there!” Smith forged on. He checked the bathroom and the closet and saw nothing.

A hysterical scream from the mother caused Smith to shudder and then he heard it…a loud thump that came from the last room. The door was closed and he grabbed the handle. It was locked from the outside. The father was shaking now…he was white like a corpse. He stood near the kitchen with a blank look on his face.

“Give me the key, or I break the door down,” Smith growled. The father didn’t respond, but continued to shake his head. Every fiber in Smith’s body told him something bad was behind the door. He heard a siren close by. It was time to act.

“I called! I called, he’s in there,” the mother whined while fleeing out the front door.

Without hesitation, Smith shouldered the door and barreled into the room. He saw the seventeen-year-old boyfriend gagged and bounded to a chair that had fallen over. The thud! The visual and what it meant registered in Smith’s mind. He spun and pulled his firearm then bang! In the blink of an eye, he lost his hearing and immense pressure pushed him to the floor. Two more loud bangs followed during the confusion.

Smith looked up to see the father standing in front of him. He was holding a gun and time had slowed way down. The gun slipped to the floor and Smith saw bullet holes covered in blood in the father’s chest. The man slumped over and his lifeless body made a sick gurgling sound after hitting the floor revealing Beefcake standing in the doorway- smoke still lingered from his duty weapon. Smith cracked a wry smile. He unbuttoned his shirt and saw the ballistic vest had caught the bullet fired at his chest by the father.

“Damn Beefcake, next time leave her house a little quicker,” he said with a grin and wink after noticing Beefcake’s uniform was un-tucked and lipstick was on his collar.  

Copyright by C.L.Swinney 2014

Dying Set Me Free

Posted on Updated on

Dying Set Me Free.

I was nine when I died.

I trembled while lying in bed,

wide awake, suddenly the door opened.

He slithered in, fueling his needs,

and did the unthinkable by taking

his son’s life. Once I felt

his touch, my soul fled from

my body. I tried, but could

not stop it. I watched as the

carcass of my body gasped for

oxygen as the demon left my

sanctuary. My mother, she knew nothing.

I dared not mention such things.

Awake, or asleep, it always persisted.

When it ended, unknown, but I

was reborn, more evil, more angry.

I’m thirty-nine now. My soul

sleeps with the fishes, while the

mental war rages, even a generation

could not save. I lie in

bed, awake and trembling, searching for

the nine year old helpless me.

 

C.L.Swinney

Cancer Support From Bad-Ass Tattoo Artist!

Posted on Updated on

Roman Abrego  Photo: Last 2 hours to get  the Fourth of July five dollar weekend special #buymyshirtwinmycar for @fxckcancer for more info go to www.artisticelementtattoo.com for tickets</p>
<p> WINNER will be selected at the Art-N-Ink Tattoo Convention located at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 10th, 2014.</p>
<p>1st Place – 1969 Dodge Charger (GRAND PRIZE)<br />
2nd Place - $2000 Tattoo by Roman<br />
3rd Place - $1000 Tattoo by Roman </p>
<p>Be sure to check out the three different ways to win! You can purchase tickets online by visiting www.artisticelementtattoo.com #FxCKCANCER #FUCKCANCER #RomanTattoos @sullenclothing

Guys, check out this amazing deal!!!!!

 

Tattoo artist, Roman Abrego @romantattoos, is giving up his beloved Charger to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Give his twitter and promotion some love!

 

You can get kick ass t-shirts, book a tattoo, and be entered in the drawing for his Charger here http://artisticelementtattoo.com/home

 

His twitter is here https://twitter.com/romantattoos

 

His FB is here https://www.facebook.com/romantattoos?fref=ts

 

BOOM!

C. L. Swinney 🙂

Compassionate Cops? 5-29-14

Posted on Updated on

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. — A Howard County police officer saved a drowning 9-year-old girl whose foot was trapped under a rock in the Little Patuxent River near the Savage Mill Trail last weekend, police said Wednesday.

Police said Sgt. Michael Johnson, a 16-year veteran, was walking foot patrol with a park ranger at 4:15 p.m. May 25 when they heard screaming near the river. Police said Johnson ran toward the screams and saw the girl in shoulder-deep water being pushed by the current.

He called dispatch and asked for the Howard County Fire and Rescue Services department’s SWIFT water rescue team, police said. While awaiting their arrival, Johnson saw the girl, who said her foot was stuck under a rock, struggling to stay above water, police said.

Sgt. Johnson then jumped in the river to try to save the girl, police said. As he was swimming toward her, the current picked him up, but he was able to grab onto a crate jammed between two rocks, police said.

Police said he was able to move himself in front of the crate and, with one hand on the crate, was able to lunge toward the girl and free her trapped foot.

Police said he then pulled her to the edge of the water where a bystander helped her onto land.

“This is an example of the ways in which our officers put their lives on the line every day,” Police Chief Bill McMahon said. “We are very proud of Sgt. Johnson for all that he did to ensure this situation had a good outcome.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Copyright 2014 the Howard County Times

 

THANKS FOR YOUR EFFORTS FELLOW BROTHER IN BLUE

 

-C

Compassionate Cops?? 5-9-14

Posted on

Another one!

I was at the local coffee shop grabbing a cup of joe, hold the half and half, and noticed a homeless man kind of loitering in the street nearby. He seemed out of place, lost maybe, and disoriented. Several of the patrons in the store were snickering and making snide comments about the man. I’d seen him before, but he was never this bad off. I was about to order my breakfast and felt something inside me saying, this just isn’t right.

I went outside and began speaking to the man. Instantly I see he’s prideful and agitated. His clothes are dirty and his shoes are torn and ragged. I looked him in the eyes. What I saw was sadness and desperation. Nevertheless, a man in his shoes, unlike many other homeless folks I’ve met, would not and has not ever asked for money. He cannot work due to physical injuries. I have no idea if he collects welfare. I have my own opinions about the welfare system. I feel I have to pay for everyone who doesn’t work as well as for myself and family, but when you’re right there in the moment, you can’t think about that because it really doesn’t matter then.

I offered to buy the man some food and drink. He refused and became agitated further. Obviously I’d disrespected him. Now an audience had formed at the coffee shop.  I felt the stinging glares on my back and heard the giggling. I resisted the urge to identify myself to him and ask him to kindly move along. That was the easy route.

Finally he asked, “What do you care?” When I’d asked him if there was anything I could do to help him.

Hmm, great question I thought. “Because someone has to, right?” He just looked at me funny.

“Listen, bub, why don’t you just leave me be?” He asked. I could tell he was hungry because the people who came outside with muffins and bagels caught his attention. He stared at the food as it went by.

I replied. “I can’t. You might get hit by a car. Why don’t you take a seat,” I said as I pointed at the bench in front of the store. He looked at me and we stared at each other. I could only imagine what was going through his head. He finally went to sit down. He stumbled and began to fall. Without hesitation I grabbed him and dropped some cash on the ground right where he was. No way anyone saw that. A lady came out and helped me stable the man and get him seated.

Once he was content, I pointed to the money and said, “Hey, you dropped some money.” The man looked at the money, at me, back to the money and shook his head.

“Not mine.”

I shook my head. “Me either.” Obviously this wasn’t going to work. I was frustrated, but determined to find some way to help him. As I struggled for another idea, a man exited the coffee shop and asked if he could help.

“Sure,” I said.

He began speaking to the seated man and he listened intently. The man from the coffee shop offered the man a place to stay and wash up and said he could pick from his clothing and shoes to get him back on his feet. I was shocked. More importantly, the man agreed! I was pretty happy for him, and thankful the stranger came along to help. They turned to walk away.

I shook both of their hands and patted the homeless man on his back. At the same time I slipped some cash in his coat pocket. I’ll never know what happens with him or the money, but it seems by just talking to him, reaching out to him, he will have at least a decent rest of today. And, isn’t that all we can ask for? Just live day by day and try to be happy.

Anyway, I’m a cop and there were several other ways, perhaps even less friendly ways, to have dealt with this situation. However, hiding problems is not the answer. Taking them head on, in my opinion, is the only way to deal with them effectively. Just remember there are plenty of compassionate law enforcement members out there trying to do good things for people.

C.L.Swinney