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Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The first pour (confirmed by photo time-stamp).
Only residue remains.
The first sip...
...and the second.
Clarity was sacrificied in the trek to the source.
The official report:
"The EPA tasting took place at the height of deer season. As we approached Lil Camp hunters in blaze orange littered the landscape like so many brightly colored plastic bags clinging to the underbrush. We all dressed accordingly.
The beer, Escanaba Pail Ale, although somewhat cloudy with some sediment, had a surprisingly vigorous head. The taste, mellow, more like a Scottish ale, had an aftertaste of the river. There was no suggestion of hops. I'll be curious as to how some aging will affect this brew." - MK
The brewmaster assembled an elite cadre of premier west coast beer connoisseurs for the auspicious event.
The toast and first taste.
The last sip of #5
The verdict: Delicious but not what we expected.
In contrast to the report of #19 sampled at lil' camp, #5 had a weak thin head. Apparently variation in the quality of bottle seals will be found across this batch. In my refrigerator, the #7 bottle is soft and easily dimpled, #23 is solid and resists pressure. It's a crap shoot. Best of luck to all recipients.
The ale glows with luminous honey amber warmth. It is an approachable, easy drinking, and - dare I say - affectionate ale. If judged by the expectations of a robust IPA, it will disappoint. The brew is, frankly, starved for hops. I blame HDW, whose insane non-stop e-mail rants about overhopped ales during the long pre-brew preparation process apparently intimidated our young and impressionable brewmaster.
That said, if considered on its own merits and without prejudgment, this is a unique brew. MK notes a similarity to Scottish Ale. I find the color and feel more reminiscent of a Belgian Ale, without the alcohol kick. A geographical compromise puts this brew somewhere in the North Sea. But that is too cold for this confection.
Welcoming and inviting, the malt provides a floor on which apple and anise dance a pas de deux across the palate. Subtle hints of yet to be recognized flavor notes echo faintly from the orchestra pit perhaps to emerge with aging in the second act. Just when you think the pleasant but unremarkable orchestration of flavors is fading away, a crescendo with the shimmer of steel leaves the drinker with a biting fatalistic aftertaste of rust that never sleeps. It is a lingering reminder of and returning us to the minerals buried in the ground through which the Escanaba River flows.
It's really good.
A clip of the first pour and first taste in SF. We have decided to delay posting our initial tasting impressions, until we hear from the U.P. crew. They are easily impressionable and we do not want to unduly influence their reviews.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Golf War: SF Recreation & Parks Commission plays whack-a-mole with the Center for Biological Diversity
Local ABC News Affiliate KGO-7 (Hat-tip Fix Pacifica):
San Francisco Chronicle - "Sharp Park sparks sharp debate":
"The future of San Francisco's Sharp Park Golf Course, which is located in Pacifica, drew dozens of people to City Hall Thursday for a hearing before the Recreation and Park Commission. The 18-hole coastside course is home to the federally protected San Francisco garter snake, an endangered species. Some environmental activists want the city to close the public links and convert the property to a more natural state. Golfers and many nearby residents want to keep the popular course open."
Golfers are siding with those environmentalists that prioritize creating habitat for the snake over those environmentalists favoring restoring the original salt water lagoon that existed before the the golf course. This issue was highlighted by the comments of Karen Swaim, an environmentalist and biologist who has done extensive work with the San Francisco garter snake. At the end of the night (presumably after the MSM deadline) she ripped the opposing environmentalists a new one, specifically those who were conflating the contradictory goals of coastal wetland restoration (i.e. CBD and Plater) with enhancing and expanding garter snake habitat on this site. More on this schism in a future post.
Watching the ABC clip you might get the impression that the primary reason that the Plater/CBD environmentalist camp were arguing for the destruction of the golf course, was to protect the snake and frog against global warming and the rise in sea levels. Brent Plater is featured in the video saying "The area that currently is designated for endangered species habitat at Sharp Park, is the area that is going to be overrun by climate change and sea-level rise." In fact, this is a new argument for the Plater/CBD environmentalist faction, a new "mole" that only recently popped out its hidey hole. Hence the title of this post. Trying to have a reasoned discussion with these guys is like playing a game of whack-a-mole.
Example: The Rec and Parks report definitively whacked the "golf operations are killing endangered species" mole. So now we see a new "global warming/rising seas will kill the endangered species at Sharp Park" mole pop out of the hole. It does not matter that it is completely nonsensical. Once people realize how truly absurd this meme is - "We have to destroy the course NOW to protect the snake from a catastrophe that, if it happens, will destroy all of Pacifica, Outer Sunset, Golden Gate Park, Alameda, the Marina, SFO, etc. etc. in 75 years or so." - then another mole will pop up. Apparently the point of their arguments do not require them to make sense, the point is not to make reasoned arguments at all, the point is simply to distract attention from the previously whacked mole.
It is instructive to go back to the original reason this mess was stirred up - the September, 2008 letter from the Center for Biological Diversity threatening to sue The City.
CBD – Letter to San Francisco Recreation and Park Department – Notice of Intent to Sue 9/24/08
"SFRPD … must cease all other management activities at Sharp Park that harm California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes (e.g., mowing, yard maintenance, sediment deposition, nutrient runoff); and must develop a plan that will prevent future and harmful activities in Sharp Park to frogs and garter snakes."
Brent Plater is the self-appointed local face of the effort to destroy the golf course. After the letter was sent, he began chiming in at every opportunity, singing out of the same hymnbook as CBD on the bogeyman of golf operations. This recent example is representative -
Brent Plater - San Jose Mercury “My Turn”11/04/09:
“...government officials discovered that the golf course's operations and maintenance are harming two of the Bay Area's most wondrous and imperiled animals. The endangered San Francisco garter snake.. and the threatened California red-legged frog... are being killed by mowing and pumping operations...”
They turn the page of the hymnbook and start singing a new song.
Brent Plater KQED Forum 11/09/09:
“Yet the report... refused to take a look at the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, and at the same time puts the frog and the snake habitat directly in conflict with areas we know will be inundated by sea level rise and storm overwash. If we don't create defensible space upland of Laguna Salada for the snake and frog, which right now is all golf course, we will lose that population forever. If this proposal that Phil Ginsburg is pushing ultimately gets adopted, we can be certain that within 50 to 100 years, as sea levels rise, ocean conditions change, the area that they're setting aside for the frogs and the snakes won't exist any more.”
CBD Press Release 11/17/09
“...the minimal habitat enhancement proposed by the Park Department in the 18-hole alternative is inadequate to allow the recovery of the garter snake and frog at the site, and is set up to fail with climate change and sea level rise... If we don't create defensible space upland of Laguna Salada for the snake and frog, which right now is all golf course, we will lose that population forever."
Representative Jackie Speier is having none of it, and said so when confronted by Brent Plater's nonsense in that same KQED forum:
"You know, the issue of climate change is a serious one, and one we all have to concerned about. But in 50 to 100 years, San Francisco International Airport may be under water. So I think what we have to do now is be practical about protecting the garter snake and the red-legged frog and keeping the golf course open."
Brent - consider that mole whacked.
Time for a new mole to pop up.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Barb A. Is the first up after Supervisor Mirkarimi's representative. I think it is telling the Mirkarimi did not personally show his face at the hearing.
Barb makes some great points that Sharp usage is growing and the course is making money for The City, contrary to the assertions of those who would destroy the course. Her comments echo and expand on the finding of Nancy Wuerfel's report of The City's Golf Fund accounting. Nancy herself reinforced that idea later in her own public comment.
The economic and accounting ignorance of the Sharp Park Golf opponents is appalling. They cannot seem to understand the concept that if you must invoke "overhead charges" that are siphoned to other SFRPD or City entities in order to claim that course is losing money, it means the course is actually subsidizing City operations, and not the opposite.
If you kill the course revenues paying for that non-golf "overhead", the overhead will still have to be paid from elsewhere, in either cuts or increased taxes. It is not rocket science, but it may be willful ignorance on the part of Plater and the CBD.
She thinks it should be put out for bid.
Makes sense to me.
We are still in general session. Sharp Park commentary has not yet begun.
I was pleased to meet Nancy at the meeting, and told her how impressed and appreciative I was of her work lifting the veil on Sharp Park Golf finances.
She represents the best in the great American tradition of a political gadfly. She keeps them honest.
Not sure how well this will work out, but will try to get a few pics and posts out.
They have already announced that public comment will be limited to one minute each due to the number of people here.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"Surreal Report"It goes on and on, but you get the idea. To be fair, argumentum ad hominem is not the only logical fallacy employed in the press release. When they are not name calling, they rely extensively on argumentum ad verecundiam, specifically appealing to the authority of - you know - themselves and the "usual suspects" of a handful of scientists closely associated with the CBD. This is not surprising. CBD is a environmental litigation house, not an ecological research center. Their "science" is in the service of their lawsuits, and not vice versa.
"a deeply flawed and incomplete alternatives report"
"omission of any credible discussion"
"deliberate attempts to constrain the scope of the report"
"lack of any expertise"
"incapable of any objective analysis"
"The report is extremely unprofessional"
"embarrassing to the city"
"a complete and willful misunderstanding"
"inexcusable misunderstanding of and unfamiliarity"
"the City’s so-called “expert”
"what are they trying to hide?”
"deliberately inflates the costs"
"absurd and unjustified"
In general, CBD scientists are the equivalent of paid expert witnesses and CBD arguments are primarily courtroom tactics. This is not to say the perspective of the CBD scientists should be discounted simply because of their historically close ties and/or employment/contracting association with CBD. To the extent they are scientific arguments and not legal arguments, they will stand or fall on their own merit. However, given the close association with CBD, it is perfectly reasonable to look at their pronouncements with the same skepticism as those of - say - an Exxon scientist explaining why it is now safe to drill off the California coast.
Perhaps I am being a bit harsh calling this "press release" a tantrum. Lets see what The American Heritage® Dictionary says:
tan·trum (tntrm) n. A fit of bad temper. a childish fit of rage; Also called regionally hissy, hissy fit.Yup. The shoe fits.
Still, knowing they are throwing a tantrum does not explain why. We need to do a little more analysis. Perhaps seek out the advice of experts:
"Causes [of tantrums] include frustration, tiredness, and hunger. Children also may have temper tantrums to seek attention, obtain something, or avoid doing something."
Congresswoman Jackie Speir's support is particularly telling. Good politicians have a finely tuned sense of the political winds, In addition to Speir, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, Pacifica Mayor Julie Lancelle, State Assembly Whip Fiona Ma, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, San Mateo County Supervisors Carole Groom and Adrienne Tissier, Pacifica councilmembers Vreeland and Nihart, and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera have come out in support of the Sharp Park Golf course. Many also attended the recent Save Sharp Park Golf fundraiser on Oct 22.
I also attended the "Save Sharp Park" fundraiser, and it was an eye opener. The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with young and old, men and women, Pacificans and San Franciscans, golfer and non-golfers, all in all a very diverse group that included a strong showing by San Francisco and Pacifica members of Local 261 Laborers Union. I was proud to be there with this group.
Also at the event and blogging - Barbara Arietta:
"From observing the fervor of Thurday night's crowd, the effort to help save Sharp Park Golf Course appears to be catching on substantially. The phrase, "Save Sharp Park Golf Course!", could be heard on everybody's lips as one walked through the crowd... A quick scan of the audience looked like a page from "Who's Who" in both San Mateo and San Francisco Counties political circles. Standing in the front of the room off to the side was Supervisor Sean Elsbernd from San Francisco (One of the most important Supervisors in San Francisco, if not the most important, as far as the golf course issue is concerned) He was in deep conversation with the City Attorney of San Francisco, Dennis Herrera, who is rumored to be running for Mayor of SF next year. Both gave very strong speeches. In the same location in the front of the crowd could be seen San Mateo County Supervisor Carol Groome from San Mateo County's 2nd District, Don Horsley, San Mateo County Supervisorial candidate for the 3rd Supervisorial District seat, Joe Galligan, San Mateo County Treasurer Candidate, Mark Hershman, District Director for Assemblyman Jerry Hill of the 19th Assembly District, along with a number of Administrative Supervisorial staff from both San Mateo County and San Francisco County, in attendance."
A long way from the clubhouse, and the parking lot was packed.
The room was SRO, with the enthusiastic orange shirted members of local 261 swelling the ranks.
I also shot some video clips, and will update this post if I ever get around to editing them. It was a great night. With this kind of a turnout, with this kind of political support, we can expect more hissy fits from the Center for Biological Diversity. Perhaps more expert advice will be helpful:
How can you deal with temper tantrums?
"Ignoring the tantrums and helping a young child learn how to deal with anger and frustration are often good ways to deal with tantrums. Pay attention to what starts the tantrums... you may need to use a technique called time-out. A time-out takes the child out of the situation and gives him or her time to calm down. It also teaches the child that having a temper tantrum is not acceptable behavior. "
We have a lot of problems in The City, but a shortage of great lawyers is not one of them. No court is going close a 77 year old landmark historical course that is working in good faith to protect wildlife. A good spanking in court might teach CBD a little manners. It also may give some of their contributors pause.They should ask themselves if there is not a better use of their environmental donations than funding a jihad against a public, affordable, historically important landmark golf course enjoyed by thousands of Bay area blue collar working stiffs, students, and retirees from all walks of life.
Monday, November 16, 2009
(click to enlarge)
A lot has happened on the Sharp Park front of the San Francisco Golf Wars since your loyal blogger last contributed his two cents with two posts in August: Common Sense and the Sharp Park Golf Course and Dispatches from the Sharp Park front of the SF Golf Wars.
Things are coming to a head with the recent release of the long-awaited SF Rec and Parks Department Report and a scheduled SF Rec and Parks Commission meeting to vote on the report (This Thursday 11/18 at 2pm Room 416 at SF City Hall - hat tip - Fix Pacifica Blog). I'll be there. If you care about Sharp Park Golf, you will be too. The report recommends that Sharp Park continue as an 18 hole golf course, but be modified to further protect the frog and snake habitat. This has stirred up a lot of media coverage and I'll have more to say about recent twists and turns in this saga. But first, we need to catch up on a few of the significant skirmishes over the last couple months.
What may ultimately prove to be the most significant single shot fired in the the Sharp Park fire fight, was the perfectly targeted sniper shot fired by Nancy Wuerfel in a San Francisco Chronicle Open Forum piece last month - "The Case for keeping Sharp Park":
"The course and the endangered frogs and snakes have co-existed for years. Sensitive management practices will allow golf (or other recreational uses) to continue while also supporting these rare species. Other cities manage to do both. We can, too. Claims that city golf courses lose money are just not true. I analyzed the financial information for the first six years of the city's Golf Fund. The Recreation and Park Department's accounting practices have created the appearance that Sharp Park golf course is losing money when it is not. These findings were submitted to the Recreation and Park Commission and the Recreation and Park Department."
"The advocates of destroying or giving away the course place enormous weight on the representation that the course is losing money. The recent exhaustive letter/report from Nancy Wuerfel to The City indicates that this representation is completely false. Obviously it would be terrible mistake for the city to make a decision to destroy or give away the course if it is in fact operationally revenue positive as Nancy represents. I think everyone can agree that this question of fact should be absolutely settled by an impartial and unimpeachable third party before a decision is rendered."
We'll see if David does his required reading.
Brent Plater and the rest of his "Center for Biological Diversity" cohorts disingenuously continue to parrot provably false and dated data on the revenue positive contribution of Sharp Park golf. Honest to god, they sound like Birthers still claiming that Obama was born in Kenya despite all evidence to the contrary. The clear evidence from Nancy's report is that the course does make money for The City. If the course was dragged out of the impenetrable SF accounting fog into a regional responsibility or even just a shared responsibility with Pacifica, everyone would understand that Sharp Park is a moneymaker. If and when that happens, Ross Mirkarimi is going to look like a complete idiot for falling under the influence of the Plater reality distortion field and advocating that this treasure of a course pass from city hands.
In general, I subscribe to Hanlon's Razor “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity” or more specifically Wallach's Corollary to Hanlon's Razor - “Never attribute to government conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by government incompetence.”
That said, Nancy shows the level of incompetence is so deep, so widespread, required so much dereliction of duty and willful ignorance by so many public and elected officials of their public commitments and obligations under the law in order to maintain the fiction that the golf courses lose money, that you just have to wonder about motivation.
If not incompetence, a real interesting and unresolved question remains - Who benefits from years of cooking the books to pretend that our money making golf courses are losing money?
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Vista from the 16th tee, looking toward the 17th fairway (originally Alister MacKenzie's 5th hole). Walking a beautiful historic course like this is one of the reasons to play golf. The residents of San Francisco and Pacific are lucky to have this treasure. As it turns out, I prefer to play the 17th fairway from the 16th tee and vice-versa.
Yes I am playing lightyears over my head. And I am out of balance. No alcohol or nicotine and inadequate levels of caffeine. However, the IBU dose is redlined.