Monday, June 30, 2008

I Feel So Political

It's no secret I've been getting more and more into politics for the last few years. Today I made my first presidential campaign contribution ever. Why would I throw my money away like that? Because I'm so completely fed up with the way our country is being run and there's only so much holdinig on tight and wishing for better days that I can do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Summer Project (Or Root Beer Review, Part 1)

Since I stopped drinking caffeine back in March, I have rediscovered my love for a good root beer. My project for this summer is to find the best root beer.

For comparison, I am considering grocery store root beer to be the measurement of what an average root beer is. Think Mug, Barq's, and anything else you can find in a 2 liter bottle.

Here are my results so far

A&W - From the tap, not the bottled stuff you get at the store. Yum. This is what a good root beer aspires to be. Very creamy with lots of foam. Mildly flavored. This stuff makes the best floats ever. Unfortunately, I'm working on memory here, as the 2 A&W stands in the area are of a distance (one's in Middlebury and the other is Wilmington, NY). A&W from the bottle or can is pretty average stuff.

IBC - By far, the best of the standard grocery store brands. Creamy with a more pronounced flavor. If I had to choose between grocery store A&W and IBC, I'd definately take the IBC. I'm always sad in restaurants when I get this because there's no free refill.

Natural Brew - Gets points for not using high fructose corn syrup as a sweetner. Other than that this stuff is pretty dissapointing. Heavy on the liquorice and very sweet, it lacks the creaminess that I find really appealing about root beer. Not undrinkable, but not very good, either. It's gotten good reviews elsewhere and I expected more for the price.

Jones Soda - Also gets points for avoiding the high fructose corn syrup. It's light on the carbonation and has a good blend of spices. It's nothing spectacular, but not bad either. A good average root beer, though not as creamy as I'd like. One of the major selling points is the personalized label - for a nominal fee you can have any picture you want on the label of your very own case.

Virgil's - Blah. This one was nearly undrinkable and takes the dubious honor of being the worst root beer I can remember tasting. Seriously, on first taste I almost spit the stuff out. Upon giving it a second chance, I contemplated just dumping out the rest of the bottle rather than finishing it. Very heavy on the liquorice and leaves a nasty after taste. Not creamy and light on the carbonation. At nearly $6 for a 4-pack, I expected more.

Harpoon - Very tasty. A good, creamy, anise based root beer. Mmm...anise. So far, my second favorite to date, right after Saranac. I've heard a rumor that you can get this in a keg. If that's true, I am so getting one at some point this summer.

Saranac - Also very tasty. Creamier than harpoon. It's drawback is that it's difficult to find. I've only seen this in very few stores, and only as a single bottle. Just edges out Harpoon as my favorite bottled rootbeer to date.

Maine Root - A nifty little microbrew I found in the natural food section of my local Hanneford's grocery store. Very creamy with a good blend of flavors. On par with Saranac and Harpoon. This one's pricey - $5.50 for a 4-pack. Their sarsaparilla is also good. And yes, I consider sarsaparilla to be different than rootbeer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Gas Tax Revisited

There's been a lot of talk lately about a gas tax holiday during the summer months. The idea is to suspend the federal gas tax in order to give consumers a little relief at the pump. This idea is so very bad for a lot of different reasons.

First, the federal gas tax pays for the Highway Trust Fund. A good chunk of that money is also distributed to state highway departments. You know, for things like interstates and bridges and other wonderful things that, as a driver, I've come to really love.

Second, suspending the federal gas tax isn't going to save the average consumer that much money, even assuming a best case scenario where prices are not raised by oil companies to cover the drop in price.

Let's do the math. Gas is currently $4 per gallon. Of that $4, 18.4 cents is the federal gas tax. My small car has a 12 gallon gas tank. It costs $48 to fill the tank, of which $2.21 is the federal gas tax.

Assume that the federal gas tax is suspended from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This is 14 weeks. Now, assume that I need to fill my gas tank once per weak (it's actually more like once every 2 weeks, since I don't drive to work). In 14 weeks, I will have paid $30.94 in federal gas tax. That's right, suspending the federal gas tax will save me a whopping $31 throughout an entire summer.

It's estimated that the federal gas tax holiday will cost the Highway Trust Fund 126 million dollars. All while saving consumers $31.

No thanks. Keep the 30 bucks. I'd rather have roads and bridges.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Flight of the Air Conditioner

My air conditioner suffered an unfortunate accident last night.

The weather has been hot and sticky lately. With highs in the 90's throughout the weekend my 2nd/3rd floor apartment has become quite warm. Saturday evening I gave in to the heat and went to see a movie, if only to sit in air conditioning for a couple of hours.

Last night the temperature outside was still 83 after the sun had been down for an hour or so. After spending the day with family, I arrived home and the heat insdie the apartment nearly bowled me over. It most have been over 100 degrees in the apartment. And upstairs was worse.

My window fan just wasn't going to cut it and I decided it was now time to install the air conditioner in the bedroom. I have the kind of windows that flip in so you can clean the outside. I flipped the window in to make it easier to take the screen out. I must not have latched it all the way when I pushed it back up.

I put the air conditioner in the window and everything looked hunky dory so I started adjusting the plastic fins. And then the window popped in. My immediate reaction was to catch the falling window, which in retrospect was a really bad idea because now I didn't have a hold on the air conditioner. Liberated from the window, the air conditioner crashed 3 stories to the ground. Luckily it didn't fall on anything or anyone.

I thought that kind of thing only happened on TV.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

To The Bitter End

The democratic presidential nomination process is coming to an end. Hopefully by tonight, Clinton will concede the race to Obama and the whole nasty business will be behind us. As a former Clinton supporter, I feel the need to bring you this public service message.

And Bill, you need to STFU as well.