Thursday, November 29, 2007

The best beer in the world.

Westvleteren Abt 12.

A Trappist beer from Belgium. "Trappist", you ask? A Trappist beer is one made by monks. Of the 171 Trappist monasteries in the world, just 7 produce beer: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and La Trappe. Trappist beers are denoted by a special label on the bottle, "Authentic Trappist Product". Any beer brewed along the same style and guidelines, but not in fact brewed by monks, are known as "abbey style" beers.

The monks at Westvletern only brew a limited amount: 60,000 cases a year. Basically, they brew what they need to survive and are not in it for profit or advancement. This scarcity, compounded with the absolutely delicious flavor of the beer, makes this a rare find indeed. Consequently, a "gray market" has evolved for this beer. You see, whereas Chimay is a multi-million dollar enterprise with its beers exported across the globe and readily found in every beer store (Chimay was the first high gravity import found in North Carolina once the 6% ABV cap was popped in 2005), Westvleteren is limited to personal abbey-only sales at two cases per customer per month. Folks gobble up what they can, and some makes its way across the Atlantic in a rather shady way to higher end beer stores in the States. The closest store to us that had it was Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg, VA...a mere 2 and 1/2 hours away. Chris had made the trek to purchase some here but the supply has dried up, so no more. It is however available via Belgian Shop, but at an astronomical price once shipping to the States is included:

We are down to just two bottles in our possession. And Chris has no idea when he will drink them. For when they're gone, they're gone. He's had them before, and it was an experience beyond all explanation. A deep dark brew with notes of dark fruit, powdered cocoa, and velvety rich alcohol warmth. For our German Oktoberfest vacation in 2008 we had wanted to include a rail trip over to Belgium to the Cafe in de Vrede across from the abbey where this delicious nectar is available for on-premises consumption, but sadly not for take-home sales. But, horrifically, it is closed the second half of September every year. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

There was a recent story in the Wall Street Journal concerning this mesmerizing beer, and the final quote from brewer Brother Joris had a biting note: "If you can't have it, possibly you do not really need it." Heavy, bro. Heavy.
(FYI, similar beers to Westvletern Abt 12 that you can actually FIND in a local beer store include Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus Abt 12. So go shopping!!!)

Rain. Rain. My kingdom for some rain.

Lawn-mowing season runs long in Greensboro, usually early March through late November and sometimes into December. This year however, has been especially hard on the lawn. We've never seen a drier season in the 11 years we've been living here. Ever. Lakes are way down. Water restrictions run rampant. With little rain and no growth, Chris has mowed the lawn exactly three times since the beginning of August.


August 5
October 31
November 29


And really, the only reason the lawn got mowed today was because it was time for Christmas lights to be put into the trees and spotlights staked into the ground; and there are yards and yards of extension cords to be strewn about the lawn. So why not just mow it and be done with it for the Christmas season?

Here's a look at the drought conditions in North Carolina. Guilford County (where we live) is a mix between D3 (extreme) and D4 (exceptional) on the drought scale. The House of Gordon is well within the D4 region:

The national drought monitor.

North Carolina's drought monitor.,SE

Increase your vocabulary....and feed the world?

Found a website that's rather fun and addictive, and appears to combat world hunger via the United Nations World Food Program; it's called: Free Rice


DJ Ted Stevens

There was an "embed a YouTube video tutorial" posted on Blogger's Dashboard homepage recently. So, just because we can, we bring you that great legislator from Alaska once again:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Helio and Julianne

Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves and his partner Julianne Hough won Season Five of Dancing With the Stars Tuesday night, and we couldn't be happier.

Time out. What? "Dancing With the Stars"? The television show? Seriously? Have you gone mad?

Yes (to the "seriously" question; but No to the "mad" query). Chris and Kimberly had a 10-week obsession with the series, and loved every second of it. Every Monday (for the competition) and Tuesday (for the results) had episodes recorded for later viewing once our work schedules allowed a mutual block of time to watch them. Dancing With the Stars? Come on. How in the name of Tom Bergeron did THAT occur?

It all started back on September 18, 2007 when our blogging hosts attended a lecture through their Guilford College Bryan Lecture Series season tickets. Kathleen Turner, Louis Gossett Jr., and Jane Seymour comprised the panel for an evening entitled "Leveraging Star Power for Social Change". Ahhh, liberals. Chris happened to become quite smitten with 56-year old hottie Jane Seymour. And when she mentioned her appearance on Dancing With the Stars, it was decided that the ABC show would indeed become a Season Pass recording on the Gordon DVR. The joys of Mayfield Hts., OH with 1995's "Let's take ballroom dancing classes so we kinda look like we know what we're doing at our wedding reception" were pleasantly brought back to the forefront of our memories. And lo, because of hottie Jane's appearance at a modestly liberal lecture, the Gordons finally hopped on the Dancing With the Stars bandwagon.

And what a fun bandwagon ride it was.

Season Six of Dancing With the Stars cannot arrive soon enough.

By the way, Julianne wasn't bad eye candy either. And I'm allowed to say that since Kimberly herself said she was beautiful.

An Obituary Barely Mentioned in the News

Yesterday on Tuesday, pro football hall of famer Bill Willis passed away at the age of 86. A passing is sad no matter who is involved, but this one hits hard because Bill Willis was an historic man in an historic time. You see, Bill Willis was the first black collegiate All-American player for THE Ohio State University, and was also the "first" black professional football player to cross the color line and keep it integrated.

And this barely made the national news outlets.

Granted he wasn't the "first", but according to this post on the Pro Football Hall of fame's website back in September 2006,

In its earliest days, American pro football was technically an integrated sport. Four African Americans played pro football prior to the founding of the National Football League in 1920. During the NFL's first 14 seasons, 13 African Americans played, but most managed only brief careers. However, from 1934 through 1945, there were no African Americans playing pro football. Then in 1946, a full year before baseball great Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, Paul Brown signed two African American players he knew from earlier coaching days, a bruising lineman named Bill Willis, and a powerful fullback Marion Motley. Brown and his two players went on to Hall of Fame careers, but more importantly; Motley and Willis' appearance in Browns uniforms and their eventual successes were the first steps in the permanent integration of professional football.

The Associated Press released a modest obituary:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Bill Willis, a Hall of Fame guard with the Cleveland Browns who also was Ohio State's first black football All-American, has died. He was 86.

Willis, who had been battling a short illness, died Tuesday evening, said school spokesman Steve Snapp, who was notified of the death by one of Willis' sons. No other details were released.

Willis, an All-American in 1943 and 1944, had his No. 99 jersey retired at halftime of the Wisconsin-Ohio State game on Nov. 3 at Ohio Stadium. He had a distinguished career with the Browns (1946-53), helping to break the color barrier in professional football.

Willis was inducted into both the college and pro football Halls of Fame. Willis played both offense and defense for the Browns but won acclaim as a defensive middle guard on a five-man front. He made a touchdown-saving tackle in a playoff game against the New York Giants that allowed the Browns to advance and eventually win the 1950 championship game in their first year in the NFL.

With the Buckeyes, Willis was a devastating blocker on offense and a punishing, relentless tackler on defense, despite his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame. The Columbus native was a key part of the Buckeyes' 1942 national championship squad.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had the following stories in the newspaper:
Bill Willis Dies and Browns Reaction to the Death of Bill Willis

Baseball's Jackie Robinson is canonized and virtually made into an outright deity. Rightly so. The contributions of Marion Motley and Bill Willis in football follow a parallel path. The passing of Bill Willis should have garnered more national notoriety than it did. Here's hoping this modest blog post gave you pause to consider what he had to go through in his professional sporting life. Rest in peace.

Monday, November 26, 2007

7 - 4 ????

Seriously? 7-4?

Are you kidding me? The mighty Cleveland Browns are 7-4? Their first 5-game home winning streak since 1994? Had you told me before this season started that after 11 games...

1. The Browns would have a winning record
2. Romeo Crennel would still be the head coach
3. QB Brady Quinn would have not yet taken a snap
4. The Browns would be in the driver's seat for a wildcard playoff spot
5. The House of Gordon would not be physically nauseous week in and week out

I would have eaten my hat.

Sometimes it feels so good to be so wrong. Go Browns! Woof, woof!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another fantastic Thanksgiving

Another day (or days actually) of culinary preparation, fantastic dining, football, and the ability to hang out with each other in a quiet, serene setting. Holidays do not have to be stressful or dreaded. We absolutely LOVE this time of year.

After Chris got home from working a 12p-8p shift Wednesday, we started with the preparation of the bird, the broccoli cheese casserole, the pumpkin dip, and the making of Grandma Torda's world famous stuffing. The key ingredient in that stuffing is bacon. Mmmmm, bacon. (Brings to mind another famous bacon delight but that's for another discussion.) The dogs were thrilled with the house smelling of bacon, so much so that when a Cake song comes on XM's channel "Lucy", Sam and I are inspired to dance all throughout the house:

We awaken the next morning for cinnamon rolls and coffee to accompany the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Forecast to be 70+ degrees today. Ahhh.... The bird goes in the oven, the potatoes are peeled, the apples are peeled, the sweet potatoes are prepared, the pumpkin pie is prepared, the apple pie dough is made, and the Green Bay Packers play gloriously on the telly. Now we switch over to the Cowboys game and take the bird out of the oven. Here it is, freshly de-stuffed:

The casseroles and side dishes are thrown in the oven, the potatoes are mashed, and then The Master Baker bakes her award-winning Sharp White Cheddar Cheese Crust Apple Pie while the Master Carver applies his craft to the deceased poultry:

Now the time is finally here, and we eat like kings:

The apple pie is not quite ready, so the Creamy Pumpkin Pie is served with a flourish:

We then switch back and forth between the Colts game (get DirecTV and enjoy the NFL Network like we do, would ya?!?!?) and the USC-Arizona State game to scout out Ohio State's probable opponent in the Rose Bowl.

We're all now fully stuffed, lethargic, and lazily laying around the house:

Kimberly has to be up at 4:30am Friday for work, so we call it an early night. We'll fall asleep with whatever football game we haven't switched away from on the bedroom TV. But before we retire, the world famous apple pie is ready for presentation:

Another fantastic holiday in the House of Gordon. Hope yours was just as spectacular. Plans are seriously getting kicked around for a trip to New York City in 2009 for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Find your candidate for 2008.

Have a little fun with this website:

It's an interesting "quiz" to take to see where your views line up with the presidential candidates. Some intriguing nonscientific results (to say the least) have been discovered within The House of Gordon:

  • Kimberly, a dues-paying member of Friends of Obama, aligned mostly with John Edwards.

  • Chris, a solid Edwards boy, aligned mostly with,....wait for it...., Dennis Kucinich. GASP! (To quote Kimberly: "Who knew I was married to SUCH a left-wing liberal?")

  • Sam and Maxie, being dogs, are in fact not registered to vote and therefore did not take part in this little assignment.

What are your results? Whatever they are, just VOTE when it comes time for the real thing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why a blog? Who really cares?

Web logs.

Everyone and their brother has one it seems. Why add yet another missive into the relative drudgery of online postings? Is this some sort of manifesto thrown onto the interwebs? An online "hey look at us" portion of the internets? Just some rambling blather? The infamous series of tubes is already oversaturated, isn't it?

In reality, The House of Gordon is just an easy way for family and friends to keep up with our adventures, our travels, our thoughts, our gastronomic discoveries, our potent potable revelations, our sporting team ups and downs, etc.

We hope you find this informative, entertaining, enlightening, and hopefully not a little bit boring when all is said and done.

Cheers and good night.
Chris, Kimberly, Sam, and Maxie