Friday, November 30, 2007

Monks make the Best Beer

-- The Trappist monks at St. Sixtus monastery WESTVLETEREN, Belgiumhave are waiting for you to call them on their beer phone. Monks have been brewing Westvleteren beer at this remote spot near the French border since 1839. Their brew, offered in strengths up to 10.2% alcohol by volume, is among the most highly prized in the world.

For the 26 monks at St. Sixtus, however, success has brought a spiritual hangover as they fight to keep an insatiable market in tune with their life of contemplation.

The monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don't advertise and don't put labels on their bottles. They haven't increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there's a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

"We sell beer to live, and not vice versa," says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. Beer lovers, however, seem to live for Westvleteren.

Two American Web sites, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, rank the strongest of Westvleteren's three products, a dark creamy beer known as "the 12," best in the world, ahead of beers including Sweden's Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter and Minnesota's Surly Darkness. "No question, it is the holy grail of beers," says Remi Johnson, manager of the Publick House, a Boston bar that has Westvleteren on its menu but rarely in stock.

Thanks to the beer phone, there are no more lines of cars outside the monastery now. But production remains just 60,000 cases per year.

Belgian monasteries like St. Sixtus started making beer in the aftermath of the French Revolution, which ended in 1799. The revolt's anti-Catholic purge had destroyed churches and abbeys in France and Belgium. The monks needed cash to rebuild, and beer was lucrative.

Trappist is a nickname for the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, who set up their own order in La Trappe, France, in the 1660s because they thought Cistercian monasteries were becoming too lax. The monks at St. Sixtus sleep in a dormitory and stay silent in the cloisters, though they speak if they need to. Today, though, Trappists are increasingly famous for making good beer.

Seven monasteries (six are Belgian, one, La Trappe, is Dutch) are allowed to label their beer as Trappist. In 1996, they set up an alliance to protect their brand. They retain lawyers in Washington and Brussels ready to sue brewers who try use the word Trappist.

The monks know their beer has become big business. That's fine with the brothers at Scourmont, the monastery in southern Belgium that makes the Chimay brand found in stores and bars in Europe and the U.S. They've endorsed advertising and exports, and have sales exceeding $50 million a year. They say the jobs they create locally make the business worthy. Other monasteries, which brew names familiar to beer lovers such as Orval, Westmalle and Rochefort, also are happy their businesses are growing to meet demand.

Not so at St. Sixtus. Brother Joris and his fellow monks brew only a few days a month, using a recipe they've kept to themselves for around 170 years. The result is a brew with a slightly sweet, heavily alcoholic, fruity aftertaste.

Christmas funny pictures!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

navajo woman


For all of us who are married, were married, wish they were married, or wish they weren't married, this is something to smile about the next time you see a bottle of wine:

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.

With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

'What in bag?' asked the old woman.

Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, 'It's a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.'

The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two.

Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said: 'Good trade.....'

Monday, November 26, 2007

Internet Acronyms Parents Need to Know

2nite - Tonight
AEAP - As Early As Possible
ALAP - As Late As Possible
B4YKI - Before You Know It
BRB - Be Right Back
BRT - Be Right There
CWYL - Chat With You Later
C-P - Sleepy
E123 - Easy as 1, 2, 3
EM? - Excuse Me?
EOD - End Of Day
F2F - Face To Face
FOAF - Friend Of A Friend
J/C - Just Checking
KOTL - Kiss On The Lips
UR - You Are..?
WFM - Works For Me
WTF - What The F***
MOS - Mom Over Shoulder

MPFB - My Personal F*** Buddy

NALOPKT - Not A Lot Of People Know That

NIFOC - Nude In Front Of Computer

NMU - Not Much, You?
P911 - Parent Alert
PAL - Parents Are Listening
PAW - Parents Are Watching
PIR - Parent In Room
POS - Parent Over Shoulder
PRON - Porn
Q2C - Quick To Cum
RU/18 - Are You Over 18?
RUH - Are You Horny?
SorG - Straight or Gay
TDTM - Talk Dirty To Me
WYCM - Will You Call Me?
8 - it refers to oral sex
1337 - it means elite

143 - it means I love you

182 - it means I hate you
420 - it refers to marijuana
ADR or addy - Address
ASL - Age/Sex/Location
banana - it means penis
CD9 - it means Code 9 = parents are around
DUM - Do You Masturbate?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

aussie senate...and Lib boss now?

Minor parties regain Senate control

Minor parties have seized control of the Senate once more, ensuring the Rudd government will have to negotiate to get its laws through parliament.

And the extinction of the Australian Democrats as a political force sees the Greens emerge as the new kingmakers, with the Greens' support essential for Labor to pass legislation that the coalition opposes.

This includes Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd's plan to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and wind back the Howard government's controversial Work Choices industrial laws.

The coalition lost its historic 39-37 upper-house majority at Saturday's election, although it continues to have the numbers until next July when the new Senate sits for the first time.

As counting progressed, it became clear the coalition would have no more than 37 seats and possibly only 36 in the 76-seat chamber.

Calculations by the ABC's election computer put Labor on 32 seats, the Greens on five, plus Family First's Steve Fielding and independent Nick Xenophon.

But if the coalition fails in its battle with the Greens to snare the sixth spot in Victoria, Labor would not require Senator Fielding's support.

Labor's Senate leader Chris Evans acknowledged it could be difficult to negotiate with the competing interests of the Greens and Family First.

But this was much the same position the Keating government was in when it had to negotiate with independent Brian Harradine, the Greens and Democrats.

"After July 1 we'll be in the same position we were in throughout the period we were in government throughout the 1980s and early 90s," he told AAP.

"While it will be difficult it's basically the same situation."

Labor plans to put the coalition to an early test by introducing its transitional arrangements for people on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) immediately when parliament resumes in February...this would test whether the coalition still supported Work Choices after losing the election.

"Their decision to impose Work Choices was fundamental to the election campaign and fundamental to their defeat."

Mr Xenophon pledged to support the Rudd government's workplace plan and to work cooperatively with Labor, the Greens and Family First.

"I've worked constructively with the Greens and Family First in state parliament and there's no reason why I can't do that again," he said, after quitting his South Australian upper house seat and being successful in his tilt at the Senate.

"I wouldn't have run with this unless I was ready (to negotiate with) the competing interests."

Outspoken National Barnaby Joyce said the Senate would be particularly important in the next eight months, the period for which the Rudd government faces a hostile upper house.

"The Senate must now do its job and really step up to the mark to hold the government to account," he told Sky News.

The Democrats' failure to win anything at this election had one of its own senators admitting it looked like the end of the line.

and now to new coalition boss...
Costello has finally realized he was a fool for trusting Howard and now he's going to look for options in the real world. Old school chums to the rescue. Insurance salesman; which brings me to Turnbull, the new leader. He was the man in the middle of the FAI sale to HIH. When HIH corrupted, the receivers found that the FAI books had been cooked, inflating the prices. Turnbull could be the only Opposition Leader who's been thrown into jail for fraud. Would they do that? Turnbull hopes they wouldn't.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Labor wins 2007, so...

From a few convicts dropped ashore in 1788, Australia has developed into a good global economy. The reforms broght by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating during the 1980s set the stage for a remarkable run of prosperity. Specifically, they
= slashed import tariffs,
=floated the currency and
=reduced the power of big labor.
John Howard, has continued and expanded these reforms riding a wave of economic growth: 14 years of uninterrupted 4% to 5% growth. The national debt has virtually been eliminated; the currency is strong, the government recently signed a free trade pact with the U.S. and is starting to negotiate a pact with China. Australia received $52 billion in foreign direct investment in 2006.

Why would any voter want to make a change after this spectacular record? Part of it is the feeling that a change in leadership is a bit overdue. Even Howard has said that, if victorious, he would step down before 2010.

Next are the country's rising borrowing costs with six rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia since 2004, putting the benchmark short-term rate at an 11-year high. The last hike was just last week forcing Howard to apologize for not keeping his pledge to keep rates flat.

Rudd has also run a shrewd campaign, which has reassured voters a focus on bread and butter issues like health and education.

Normally, a Labor win would not be good for the stock market but this time the impact of a less conservative government might be muted by several factors.

=First, the higher rates are dampening inflationary pressure and keeping the Aussie dollar at 23-year highs against the U.S. dollar. This supercharges returns for dollar-based investors. Economic growth remains strong as the economy seems to be able to weather its own real estate bubble. Australia's compulsory pension program accounts for almost two-thirds of the stock market's $1.6 trillion market value, also providing some support for the market.

Australia's stock market is trading at 15.5 times earnings, according to data from Thomson DataStream, which is not unreasonable. The country continues to sit on the sweet spot of the commodity and China growth stories. Financial and energy/resource stocks account for a remarkable 60% of the market, a number similar to that in Canada. Plus the BHP Billiton (nyse: BBL - news - people ) play for Rio Tinto (nyse: RTP - news - people ) will continue to attract attention to the market.

BHP underscores Australia's strength as a resource rich country. Australia is a leading supplier of core steelmaking raw materials, the world's second-largest copper producer, the world's second-largest exporter of energy coal and a significant producer of oil and gas.

So, to Australia's Prime Minister- Kevin Rudd...who comes to power with some of the best foreign policy credentials around, including mastery of the Chinese language. He is a relative novice , having never served in the national government. He has been an elected politician for nine years, relatively few for an Australian lawmaker.
He is a left-wing leader from one of Australia's most conservative states, Queensland, born to a tenant farmer who was a member of the conservative Country Party.

He pointed out that irony when he paid tribute to his father, Bernie, whose death in a car accident in 1969 left himself, his mother, and two siblings homeless and reliant on the charity of relatives and neighbors — a time that he says shaped his socialist leanings.

And even more surprising...Peter Costello says he ''would not seek nor accept'' a nomination to be the new opposition leader and instead would step away from politics for a business career. Australia's longest serving treasurer, who had long dreamed of being prime minister, made the shock announcement in Melbourne today, saying he would stay on in parliament for now and then move on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

back exercises

in gif
Most of us sit in a single position for the whole day in the office, and in the morning / evening drive all the way to our places. As a result at night, while going to bed, many of us experience a slight pain in the back.

DON'T IGNORE IT AT ALL.....this may lead to many further diseases and disabilities as well....

Don't panic, just do the following exercise for min 10 minutes every morning and shoot off the back pain.
 blog it

if hands could hold hands instead of dog tags...

A US soldier serving in eastern Afghanistan holds the dog tag of a colleague killed by a roadside bomb.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Australian skies

Hefner's chess board

Chess makers are targeting a new generation of chess players...

how Bush is funding his war.

Bush has came up with a new formula to fund his Iraq war

Sunday, November 18, 2007

strange image

On the first anniversary of my brother's death (aged 41) his mates get together at his favourite surf spot. We had a bonfire and singing. Afterwards, this photo appeared interesting. It was smoke above his best mate. Smoke did not appear above any other person in other photos. I defined the smoke a little and turned it around...see what you can see...i (we the family) can see something or somethings.

see link for as good a resolution as can be..

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Judith chopping the head of Holofernes

Why did so many painters, especially the classical ones, have a thing for Judith chopping the head of Holofernes? This grisly scene was one of the most frequently painted by Italian Renaissance and Baroque artists. The subject is from the apocryphal Book of Judith, the Old Testament heroine of the Jews in their struggle against oppression.
It describes a wise and attractive Jewish woman who contrives a plan to save her besieged city (Bethulia) from the Assyrians. With her maid, Judith pretends to desert her town and visits the Assyrian general, Holofernes, in his encampment in the pretence to offer assistance in the siege of the city . Invited to spend the night, Judith instead takes advantage of Holofernes' drunkenness and, while he sleeps, cuts off his head.
All i can say is i came across pages of them so here are some..from top
Jean Cousin, 1590?
Luca Cranach 1530,
Massimo Stanzione 1640,
Johan Liss,
Hans Sebald Beham
Christofano Allori 1613,
Gustav Klimt,
Carlo Saraceni 1620,
Caravaggio 1698,
Artemisia Gentileschi 1620,
Aegidius Sadeler,
Anon 19th cent.