Friday, September 30, 2011

Rugby World Cup - For North Americans

For those of you who don't live in the south eastern part if the world, or those who don't realize, the rugby world cup is going on in New Zealand right now. 
Now most North Americans have little if any exposure to rugby, slotting it somewhere between soccer-with-hands and football-without-pads. And really, that's a shame. It may be one of the best sports not only to play, but to watch. Here's my top 6 of what rugby does right over other, more traditional, North American sports: 

1: TV timeouts
There are none. Well not true, there's one, it's called "halftime".  The game flows almost seamlessly in open play, even when the ref blows the whistle play resumes very quickly, very little downtime at all. 

2: Halftime
Speaking of halftime, it's a short 15 minutes from whistle to restart. Not the 45 minute commercial-fest we get with NFL games. 

3: Mics on the refs
Yes the head ref is mic'd up, but not the terrible on/off the NFL gives us, but a constant ear in the game. Every word the ref says to anyone is broadcast. Player discipline? You hear it. Talking with a sideline official? You hear it. Great way to bring the observer into the game. 

4: TMO
Rugby is ruled by 3 officials like soccer. One on field and one on each sideline. However there is a fourth official called the Telvision Match Official. Anytime the head ref needs an extra look at a close play, he simply talks (remember he's got a mic on) to the TMO and asks him to review it. A few seconds later the TMO reports the results and away we go. Reviews only take a few seconds, usually around 30, occasionally as long as 60. But not the agonizing 3 minute reviews the NHL and NFL are known for. 

5: Game length
A game of football is timed at 60 minutes play, and takes about three times that to complete. Same goes for hockey.  A game of rugby is 80 minutes, and is over in one hour forty-five minutes, IF it runs long. 

6: Kiwi Announcers

Firstly they don't pander to the rugby novice by explaining every rule and law (see: NHL on NBC for an example), but the accents and phrases are unique, and honestly I sometimes don't even know what the hell they are saying. 

So do yourself a favour and catch some rugby, especially in the knockout stages.  
2 rules to keep in mind: You can't pass forward, and you can't be involved if you are in front of the ball.  That should get ya started.

Note: Canadian fans may want to avoid the Canada-New Zealand game if that's their first view, it may get ugly.  New Zealand beat 13th ranked Japan by 83-7.  Canada is ranked 12th.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer update

Last post was March? geez I hope you haven't been waiting here the whole time...

Anyhoo I got busy, no time to blog, but here's whats happening in the world of Matt:

New Brewing! I've brewed a couple more beers, the latest 2 being all-grain batches (using only grain and not extract syrup) and so far so good.  One is a pale ale that turned out great, the other is a 'Blonde Ale' which I will have ready for our big cousins' BBQ early August.  That one I brewed for the Coors/Canadian/Budweiser crowd, it's a light flavoured lager-type beer.  It should be more what most people expect from a bottle, not the flavour bombs that I personally enjoy.  We'll see how it goes.  I got the recipe from a friend in my brewing club.

Oh right, I joined a brewing club (pause for laughter) and it's basically a bunch of guys who get together once a month and bring their beers for others to sample, we ask questions, see what each other does for techniques etc.  I'm always impressed at the number of awesome beers they bring.  REALLY excellent stuff, better than you can buy in most cases.  Plus they are all good guys (and girls).  My wife thinks it's nerdy, but hopefully she'll like the Blonde Ale, and ease off the teasing a bit.

Camping!  We took the family on a 10 day camping adventure in eastern Ontario.  The stops being 2 provincial parks (Ontario Parks are a treasure, more people should go) and Ottawa for Canada day.  If you've never been to the capital for July 1st, it's a must go.  AMAZING to see all the people, the party, the atmosphere, it's just incredible.   And it's cheap to boot, just the cost of food.  Insanely crowded, but well worth the hassles.  We brought our dog, and he was the star, i don't think we went 5 minutes without someone asking about him. But that's another post for another time....

Want faster updates? Follow me on Twitter @mattpavone , or just come by for a beer.

You could say there were a few people there....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

While They Were Out

     A few months ago as my daughters were getting ready for school one fall morning, I though to myself "these girls are really getting too old to be sharing a room".  It wasn't as though we didn't have the room available, right next to the room they shared was a 3rd bedroom in our house that was used by the girls' as a toy room, which as they are now 11 and 8 years old, was getting to be more of a dump room that toy room, as the toys we getting smaller and more electronicky.  So I had the idea that maybe we should give them their own rooms.
    OK, the events of that fall morning may have been a tad different - I think it started with one little foot being on someone else's bed, some yelling, and POSSIBLY some throwing of stuffed animals and whatnot....and maybe my wife mentioning if I don't let them have their own rooms I may have to find an alternate sleeping arrangement for myself (up to this point I had been against the idea, as I had shared a room with my brother up until I was 18).
     So the idea sprang up the we should not only grant their wish of separate rooms, but surprise them with the swap.  sort of a 'While You Were Out' makeover.  We arranged for the girls to spend the week at Grandma and Grandpa's while my wife and I spend my week off of work scraping wallpaper, painting repairing walls and cleaning carpets.  Did mention painting?  All the while we were wondering just how they would react, would they like it? Sure, but could 8 and 11 year olds really appreciate the work and sacrifice we put into making this surprise happen? We though that even if they didn't, it wouldn't matter as that wasn't why we were doing it, but I also thought that one day when they are parents they will remember that we did this for them, and hopefully think that it was pretty cool of us to do this for them (and then feel guilty enough to visit us in the old-folks home, at least thats what I hope).
    Anyhoo when the girls came home and saw what we had done, after some initial screaming (for joy I assumed) they were incredibly grateful.  Despite what you may think of your own children, I really do have the best kids ever in the history of the universe, sorry to disappoint you.

Here's my home vid of the reveal:

Friday, January 21, 2011

When life gives you hard lemons.....

So I've been a bit brew-crazy the past few months, I've successfully brewed 2 beers in the month of November, which I am now enjoying, or about to enjoy, and my wife has been just wonderful about the amount of gear that brewing necessitates, as well as the time it consumes on my part.  So as an attempt to get her to appreciate my hobby more, I decided to brew something she would actually like, a Hard lemonade.

I heard rumour that Mike's Hard Lemonade is actually a malt beverage, meaning it is actually a lemonade flavoured weak beer.  Although my last look at the label says it's a vodka drink, I'll presume they changed the recipe on account of Russian investment...who knows?  I decided to take that approach, as I thought it'd be closer to a brewing process I was familiar with.  Also my main complaints about commercial hard lemonades is that they are way too sweet, and generally have too much alcohol in them.  I was hoping for something a little more refreshing and lower on the alcohol.  I figured with a weak beer I'd be able to keep it suitable on both counts.

So the general procedure is to brew up a weak wort of pale malt extract, add some concentrated lemonade, and cool.  Once cool add your yeast and let ferment (all accounts point to a 3-4 week fermentation period.) I also decided to add in about 20% raspberry juice to cut the tartness of the lemonade.

After brewing it up, it tasted good, if not a little too sweet.  The yeast eat the sugar and turn it into alcohol during fermentation, so I wasn't worried about it being too sweet in the end, however after adding a bit more lemonade to balance out the raspberry flavour, the extra sugar pushed the potential alcohol to almost 8%.  OK WAY to high for what I was hoping for, I was hoping around 4%.  Not the worst thing that could happen, but I would probably alter the recipe in the future.

For now it's fermenting away, as my wife said on facebook "it'll be a long month'.  I guess that means I've got her interested, hopefully the finished product delivers.

I'll update with a tasting when completed.