Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Running with the Dalai Lama

Like running? Philosophy? Theology? Then this post is for you, too.

I point you to Krista Tippett's outstanding blog, On Being. In particular, I point you to this recent post by guest contributor, Chris Miller: Running with the Dalai Lama

I like this post very much! Chris is learning while running, and sharing the epiphanies that come to light along his journey. 

Truth is truth!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

America’s 100 best beer bars for 2012

DRAFT Magazine published their annual update of the Top 100 Best Beer Bars in America. This is found in the Beer Travel section and is organized by geographical region. You can see the full list HERE.

An extract of nearby attractions is provided below.

Local (DE + the "DMV" (DC, MD, VA)):

Further afield (NC, TN, KY, WV, PA)

  •  BREWMASTERS BAR & GRILL, Raleigh, NC, 301 W. Martin St.,
  • BUSY BEE CAFÉ, Raleigh, NC, 225 S. Wilmington St.,
  • GROWLERS POURHOUSE, Charlotte, NC, 3120 N. Davidson St.,
  • HARRIKA’S BREW HAUS, Swansboro, NC, 911 Cedar Point Blvd.,
  • RALEIGH TIMES BAR, Raleigh, NC, 14 E. Hargett St.,
  • THIRSTY MONK, Asheville, NC, 92 Patton Ave.,
  • (Chain) Tyler’s Taproom, NC. ( 

  •  HOLY GRALE, Louisville, KY, 1034 Bardstown Rd.,
  • SERGIO’S WORLD BEERS, Louisville, KY, 1605 Story Ave., 

  • EULOGY BELGIAN TAVERN, Philadelphia, PA, 136 Chestnut St.,
  • FARMHOUSE, Emmaus, PA, 1449 Chestnut St.,
  • GREY LODGE PUBLIC HOUSE, Philadelphia, PA, 6235 Frankford Ave.,
  • MEMPHIS TAPROOM, Philadelphia, PA, 2331 E. Cumberland St.,
  • MONK’S CAFÉ, Philadelphia, PA, 264 S. 16th St.,
  • STANDARD TAP, Philadelphia, PA,  901 N. Second St.,
  • (Chain) Sharp Edge, PA (
  • (Chain) Tria, PA ( 

How many have YOU been to? Which are YOUR favorites?

Of course, it's worth pointing out that these great beer bars are serving great beer! For a list of brewers in the National Capital Region, see this post.


Republished via DB @ DC Beer.

Shout out to TJA, DLG, JHL, MGBW, LK 

Value-Focused Thinking

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has given us one of the best Value-Focused Thinking quotes ever.

Pirsig said,

"The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there."

Start with values. Make a plan. Grade results against values, not against the plan.

In other words:

  • Values (Heart). Get the values right or the numbers don't matter.
  • Plan (Head). Get the numbers right, or the results don't matter.
  • Action (Hands). Execute the plan and get results that matter.
Your thoughts?

Comments welcome!

Note: I published a version of this idea inside an earlier post about the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can view and compare that previous expression HERE

The Improvement Process

Credit: Mathews & Co.: "How're We Doing?" TM 

I like this chart from Mathews & Co.'s "How're We Doing?"website, and I wanted to spend a few minutes describing what I like about it and what I might do differently. This is my unsolicited critique of a particular attempt to define the improvement process.

Let me begin by saying that I do not currently have any dealings with Mathews & Co. or "How're We Doing?" but we seem to have a common interest in Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) and in what I have called Data-Fueled Decision-Making (D-FD-M).

According to my reading of the chart, the folks at Mathews & Co. define process improvement as having the nine following traits. My verbiage reflects my understanding of and degree of agreement with the original text.

  • Goal oriented. It's very important to have clarity on the significance and urgency of a desired outcome.
  • A team sport. Not just a team, but a balanced team--different perspectives and skills working in harmony (Belbin). 
  • Not easy. Change is never easy and organizational change is especially hard. To improve a process is to change culture, i.e., "the way we do things around here." This requires top-down support (Kotter).
  • Data-fueled. Not all processes are data-intensive, but even simple processes can be better  understood with data (Deming). 
  • Logical. Effects have causes. If the process results are not consistent or not as good as desired, examine the causes of variation and error.
  • Creative. You cannot expect to solve a problem using the same thinking that got you in trouble in the first place (Einstein). 
  • Competitive. 
  • Consuming resources and carrying risk. 
  • Cyclic. Process improvement is not linear. Rather it is cyclic and never-ending.  

As much as I like the chart and would keep what I highlighted above, I would add a couple things and do a couple things differently.


  • There are some aspects of CPI that are so critical to discuss that their absence from the chart is disappointing. Perhaps these missing topics are addressed in the details, but again, I would give project selection, portfolio management, assessment frameworks, and dynamic system modeling their own bullets. 
  • CPI is best thought of as a campaign conducted enterprise-wide. General Electric does not exist for the purpose of improving itself, but you had better believe that in GE's culture, CPI is tied to profitability, competitiveness, and innovation. Whether the score is kept in stock prices or on an assessment framework. all stakeholders have an interest in changes being made to any part of the enterprise. 
  • Process improvement projects should be selected based on expected enterprise-wide return on the time, talent, and treasure (T3) invested. Every process can be improved, but it makes sense to identify the constraint (Goldratt) and launch coordinated projects that reduce that constraint.


  • In the illustration in the upper left of the chart, I suppose there is a reason why the person on the highest bar is facing the other climbers. The implication is that he has arrived at the top. He may even be looking back on where he has come from to get to the top. However, the image works against the notion of continuous process improvement. I would prefer to see the person continuing to climb bars that fade to infinity. Onward and upward! 
  • I would bring the arrow head back around to the goal, to indicate that CPI is a journey, not a destination, and CPI is a loop, not a line. 
  • I would de-emphasize the linear arrangement of the bullets. The steps may be done in order, but  since the process is non-linear and cyclic, it does not really matter.

Again, I am interested in CPI and I like this depiction of it. What are your thoughts about CPI? Using this chart from "How're We Doing?"as a point of departure, what would you sustain, start, or stop? Comments welcomed! 

The Beer Family Tree

Follow the link to see Geekologie's full-sized Beer Chart.

Aside from the interesting presentation style and layout, I also like the detail and accuracy. I did not find a single example that I felt was misplaced. I noted that Baltic Porters are correctly categorized as lagers, unlike most other porters which are ales.

Good work!

H/T: cyrenaica

Monday, February 27, 2012

Simon Schama's Power of Art

Have you heard of Simon Schama? Probably. You are pretty hip and urbane. But I am willing to admit that I was not familiar with the art critic or his series for BBC Arts.

"This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art, ...the power of art."

Take, for example, Schama's comment on Caravaggio's painting of David with the Head of Goliath:

"For me the power of Caravaggio's art is the power of truth, not least about ourselves. If we are ever to hope for redemption we have to begin with the recognition that in all of us the Goliath competes with the David."

Do yourself a favor and have a look: Simon Schama's Power of Art. You may never look at art the same way again.

H/T: M.C.G.

Yuengling Now Largest US-Owned Brewery

This article is for readers in Pennsylvania and all fans of America's oldest--and now largest!--brewery.

Yuengling Now Largest US-Owned Brewery


Shouts out to MGBW, JHL, and ALDC

Stop What You're Doing, And Go See What Google Thinks It Knows About You

There has been a lot of debate about privacy vs. the data that for-profit companies such as Facebook and Google collect in exchange for social networking services. The idea is that companies offer a service such as file sharing, and they offer this at no charge. In exchange, they collect information about your preferences which they can sell to advertisers at a profit.

Google once famously attempted to distinguish themselves from the evil giant, Microsoft, by promising that they would never abuse your data. But the definition of abuse may be changing over time.

Are you curious to see what Google thinks it knows about you? Now you can find out! Follow the link below from your home computer, and have a look at the information Google has collected and associated with your URL.

Stop What You're Doing, And Go See What Google Thinks It Knows About You

An edited printout of my results are provided below as an illustration.

Your categories
Below you can review the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit these at any time.

  • Arts & Entertainment - [Correct]
  • Music & Audio - [Wrong]
  • Autos & Vehicles - [Correct]
  • Beauty & Fitness - [Wrong]
  • Beauty & Fitness - [Wrong]
  • Games - [Correct]
  • Shopping - [Correct]
  • World Localities - [Correct]

Your demographics
We infer your age and gender based on the websites you've visited. You can remove or edit these at any time.

  • Age: [Correct]
  • Gender: [Correct]

Seven of Ten are correct and the three that were wrong are wrong for reasons I can understand.

What do you think about this data-mining effort? Good, bad, or indifferent?

How to Turn Old Soap Pieces Into New Soap Bars

I don't know about anyone else, but I like to save the little soap ends that accumulate around the house and melt them down for new bars. It's just part of my "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" mantra.

I do something similar with candles, too. When the wick burns way down into a deep wax well, so deep that I can no longer light the wick without burning my fingers, I cut the excess wax walls down, and place the excess wax into the Pyrex bowl which rests on a mug warmer in the bathroom. This gives me a scented, wickless, and flame-free candle made entirely of salvaged wax. But I digress.

Melting soap is a little more involved than one might think. For example, my first attempt ended in disaster! Bringing the old soap up to melting point without burning it is harder than one might think. Trust me, you do NOT want to burn soap in your kitchen. If you know how soap is made in the first place, you can appreciate what I am warning about. You do NOT want to exceed the melting point and turn your kitchen into a rendering works. There are not enough scented candles in your house to cover up that horrible smell.

So gather your old, dried out soaps, and those little hotel soaps you saved, and the little scraps from the bathroom sinks and showers. You need at least a cup of scraps. Grab a muffin pan, a spatula, a sauce pan, and (if you are so inclined) some scented oil.  Chop or shave the old soaps into small pieces.  Slowly (did I say, 'slowly'?) warm them up until they melt. Do not take your eyes off the soap for an instant. If the soap burns, it's ruined and your house smells like cow hooves.

Then, using a spatula, pour the melted soap into the muffin pan to cool. In an hour you'll have one or more muffin-shaped soap bars. Easy, economical, and good for the environment.

Details here via eHow: How to Turn Old Soap Pieces Into New Soap Bars

Faces of Change: Bill's Small Business Loan

Here is a link to a great YouTube video featuring the founder of Port City Brewing. It's called, Faces of Change: Bill's Small Business Loan

Bill Butcher founded Port City Brewing in Feb 2011. I enjoyed Bill's video about his vision for the brewery, and how he obtained a small business loan, and how the Obama Administration supports small business as the engine of employment.

Port City Brewery is doing great things for the beer lovers in and around Alexandria. 

A craft brewer with a cult following

Look what's happening at the brewery formerly known as Shenandoah Brewing Co., a.k.a. Eeyore's House of Gloom. 

The Washington Post  reports on a craft brewer with a cult following. The new plans for Cabinet Artisanal Brewhouse are exciting, to say the least!

Very interesting and ambitious plans at this local breweryThis is good stuff, and both a welcome and intriguing twist on the original plan.

Recall, if you will: When Farmer's Cabinet purchased the flailing Shenandoah Brewing Company in the summer of 2011, the plan was to use the facility as a production brewery for the market in Philadelphia. 

I can hardly wait to taste some of these new beers! And it's great to have two breweries in my back yard! Port City, and soon Cabinet!

look forward to enjoying what Terry brews up over the upcoming years. The world needs more Wild Ales!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dude Fest--The Movie, Music, and Mayhem of The Big Lebowski

The contestant dressed as the John Turturro character, Jesus, won the costume contest.

I am attending the Annual Dude Fest at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse and cannot wait! Details are here:

I am going dressed as a Nihilist (sans trained ferret Or possibly as the anonymous hiker walking along the cliff's edge at Donny's seaside funeral. By the way, a ferret is a polecat, a mongoose, or a weasel, but a marmot is a groundhog. They are not the same.

The Dude (to The "Big" Lebowski)Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not 'Mr. Lebowski.' You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.


The Big Lebowski: What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? 
The Dude: Dude. 
The Big Lebowski: Huh? 
The Dude: Uhh... I don't know sir. 
The Big Lebowski: Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a man? 
The Dude: Hmmm... Sure, that and a pair of testicles. 

If you don't like this Shomer Shabbos clip, you might as well skip the movie. Am I wrong?

Ninja makes a quick get-away

Related posts: 

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