Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beer! Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale

I apologize for the lack of posts the past few weeks.  As many of you know, I got married on Father's Day.  The lead up to and wind down from the wedding has meant lots of work at home as well as many extra hours at work just to keep up.  Soon, however,  you will see posts with lots of wedding pictures and the start of a series detailing exactly how we made the wedding work, including specific details as to how to plan a wedding with the minimal amount of stress.  I'll also be finishing up a post that I'll be submitting to A Practical Wedding, which Katie and I are really hoping they'll post.  For those who have been anxiously awaiting wedding information and pictures, read all of the way through this post and you'll be treated with a reward.

Previously, I've reviewed another of the Williams Brothers brews, their Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale.  If you missed that review, you can read it here.  The Fraoch is another of the Williams Brothers beers, and another based on an ancient Scottish recipe.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Rare Look Inside the Big Three: Part 2

A few weeks ago now, Chrysler opened their doors for employees and contractors to bring their family and friends into the normally limited access world headquarters and technical center buildings.  If you missed my first post on the subject, I recommend that you read it before continuing with this post.

In the first part, I promised that I would take you inside the highly restricted design department.  Today, I keep my promise.

 The design department has something that no other area of the company has, their very own exhibition space.  The design dome plays hosts to many events throughout the year, most of which nobody hears anything about until long afterward.  The company utilized the opportunity to bring out the brand new 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T.  Since I work on this car, I'm very proud of it.  We've done a number of things to make this a very special vehicle, most notably special performance tuned dampers and higher rate springs to give better feedback at the wheel.  We've also swapped out the rear stabalizer bar for a larger one, giving the car better performance through corners.  

 This is one of the first times that this little guy has made an appearance.  For 2012, the Dodge brand has a brand new front grille logo, reflecting the new, performance and attitude driven direction of the brand.  The dual red stripes that you've seen in both print and video media reflect not just the R/T stripes on the side of the vehicle, but also show forward movement, and bring about imagery of the black tire paths left by a burnout.

 I kept oogling this car as we made our way by.  Several people made comments similar to "What happened to it?" or "Why didn't they clean it up?"  The answers are simple.  This is a racing Viper and they didn't clean it up because this is what it really looks like after a race.  It's fantastic.  I wouldn't want to see it any other way.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Obsessive Personality: Playing Cards Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous portion of this post, I got married this past weekend and haven't had a chance to sit down and write a proper post yet.  So, I instead share part two of me messing around with my camera and taking pictures of my fairly obsessive collection of playing cards.

Smoke Deck by Dan and Dave
Bicycle Eco Edition
Mirrors from Dan and Dave
Bicycle White Deck
Bicycle Mini Deck in Blue

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Obsessive Personality: Playing Cards Part 1

With my getting married this Sunday, I haven't exactly had time to write up a proper post for the second half of this week. I was hoping to either finish up my wrap up of the World Steam Expo or Part 2 of the behind the scenes at Chrysler post.  The prior requires me to sit down for about two hours and figure out which of the amazing events to talk about and which to leave out.  The later requires me to finish editing the pictures from the design department so that they're presentable.

In the meanwhile, I will share the second of my entirely irrational obsessions that I first mentioned in my posts on the Legos.  For some entirely unexplainable reason, I love playing cards.  Specifically, I love Bicycle playing cards.  I do stray occasionally, but it's generally just Bicycle.

Below each picture, I will try to provide a link for where you can get each deck for yourself.

Bicycle White Ghost from Ellusionist
Bicycle 1800 in Red from Ellusionist
Bicycle Masters Edition in Blue from Ellusionist
Bicycle Standard Deck in Berry
Bicycle Tactical Field Deck
Bicycle Standard Deck in Lime
Bicycle Purple and Pink Deck

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Rare Look Inside The Big Three: Part 1

I haven't really broadcast it too heavily, but I also haven't attempted to hide where I work.  I'm a contract employee at Chrysler, and I love my job.  I don't just say that because co-workers may read this.  As a Mechanical Engineer with nearly a decade of experience in auto racing, working in the chassis group for one of the Big 3 is pretty close to a dream job.  

I think I've figured out how to explain my position to those outside of the industry without being too confusing.  I'm a Suspension Tuning Engineer for midsized sedans and compact SUVs.  If that was too confusing, I'm the person in charge of things like the springs, shocks, struts, stabilizer bars, and bushings for the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, and Dodge Caliber.  Specifics beyond that, I'm not certain if I'm allowed to say, and you'd probably be bored with anyways.

This past weekend, Chrysler opened their doors for Family Day 2011, a rare event in which employees and contractors could bring their family and friends into the normally limited access Chrysler Technical Center and World Headquarters.  For this day, they allowed all guests to bring their cameras and take pictures of whatever we saw.  Now, since I work there, I do know a bit more about the pictures I'll be showing than what I share.  However, for the best interests of my employer and my employment, I will only share that which is kosher to share with the public.

Part one will focus on the images of a vast majority of the complex.  In part two, I will share the pictures from the highly restricted access design department.  Without further, ado, I welcome you into the Chrysler Technical Center and World Headquarters for Family Day 2011.

 This is a band called The Juilettes playing at the main stage in the Tech Plaza.  They kind of remind me of Matt & Kim, but with a full band.  This is the same area that Sergio Marchionne announced that Chrysler had paid off the loans to the US and Canadian Governments, not at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant as the media would have you believe.  Sergio addressed Chrysler employees and contractors in the Plaza shortly after the wire transfer was received and spoke to the media later that afternoon.

 This is an electrical mock-up of the new HID headlamp from the Chrysler 200.
  And this is a concept sketch for the very same headlamp seen in the Design Studio.  The designer's notes from the top left read "luxury projector headlamps", "LED light pipes (think Fox Theater marquee", "Chrysler 'C' shape integration", and "Modern architecture inspired spokes".  The 'C' Shape theme can be seen repeated throughout the design of the 200 as well as the 300.  This shape comes in everyplace from the ends of the "wings" on the badge to both the headlamps and tail lamps, and in many locations in the interior.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WSX: The Wrap Up Part 1

Last year, Katie and I were thrilled to discover that the World Steam Expo was happening in Dearborn.  We had already decided that we wanted to do a steampunk themed wedding, and so finding a convention in our local area was great.  We used the opportunity not just to geek out, but also to get inspired for the wedding

This year, Katie and I had platinum badges.  There were some advantages compared to regular badges, which were nice, but they didn't change the overall experience.

We arrived Friday afternoon, after taking a half day off of work.  After picking up our badges, programs, and a pile of tickets for things like the Charity Masquerade Ball and the Greenfield Village, we had some time to kill.  The vendor's room was the first place we payed a visit.  Mostly, we wanted to see if Phil and Kaja Foglio had opened auditions for the Girl Genius Radio Plays.  The vendor's room this year was bigger than last.  There were the usual assortment of people selling corsets, jewelry, and leather goods, along with artists, musicians, and a beverage company.  There was, however, one vendor missing that I was looking forward to.  Last year, there was a vendor which vacuum formed plastic sheets that were large set type pieces.  I was hoping to pick one up to turn into a door cover for the steampunk bedroom that I'm slowly creating in the apartment.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

WSX: The Pictures, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared the first group of pictures from World Steam Expo 2011.  Today, in a rare back-to-back post, I bring you the rest of my best pictures from the expo.  Here's what you have to look forward to: men in kilts, drunkards, cleavage, bondage, and more!

Impromptu concert in front of the hotel?  Yes please!

 Oh, those Bawdy Boys, how they make me smile.

 I love this belly dancer's skirt.  Then again, I love most things that are purple.

 Sophia has been selling CD's, dancing, and generally being awesome for Tartanic since I was first introduced to them.  She's a graduate of The New School with degrees in both Psychology and Dance.  Yes, there's a rather amazing brain to go with her beauty.

 I see some Bawdy Boys...and I see some Tartanic.  This can only lead to one thing...awesomeness! Wait, I forgot about the drunkenness.  So two things.  Get over it.  There's no such thing as a sober Bawdy Boy, and the words sober and Scottish don't belong in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence.

 I love me my bagpipes.  I really wish that I could work reeds so that I could learn how to play them.

 Spontaneous concert, check.  Spontaneous Irish dancing, check.

 I haven't a clue who this woman is.  I do know, however, that she's pretty, talented, and got a big round of applause from the crowd.

 Look at those legs!  Going to bed after 1 am and getting up at 7 am for several nights in a row takes a toll.  In Katie's case, it means that naps take you rather than you taking them.

Is that a skirt made out of ties?  Yes.  Yes it is.  It is amazing.

 This is a 1980's Ford Mustang.  It is also the Slave 1.  With these powers combine, we are awesome.

 I promised bondage, and I deliver.  The "Knot tying for the non airman" panel was a thinly veiled panel on how to tie up your sex partner.  Topics included tying them tightly while keeping their blood flowing, types of rope to use, sanitation, and rope dresses.

 Is that Katie sitting in a comfy chair and napping?  Wait, does she ever sit in a comfy chair and not nap?

 Despite a really long sound check, visa problems, and instrument problems, Sunday Driver was absolutely amazing.  They made me smile for quite a while.

Monday involved a field trip to the Greenfield Village, led by those pirate hating Germans from the Imperial Anti-Piracy Squadron led by Kapitan von Grelle (aka Miss Kagashi from Multiculturalism for Steampunk) and Graf Georg Wilhelm Heinrich August von Ziger (aka Detroit's First Chef of Steam, Aaron Egan from Steampunk Cookery).  Yes, I entirely made up Aaron's title, but I'm going to run with it.

 Due to an unfortunate passing out, Katie and I were able to pose for an authentic tintype.  Photo by the talented Aaron Egan, link to his site above.

 Remember when I said that we'd debut our wedding outfits at the World Steam Expo?  Despite the less than thrilled looks on our faces (it's hard to hold a smile for 45 seconds), we're quite thrilled with the outfits.  The only thing missing is the hat band for my hat, which Blonde Swan is currently making.

 This is roughly (via photoshop) what our tintype looks like.  Once we actually receive it, I'll get a scan of it and post it for your enjoyment!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WSX: The Pictures, Part 1

Last weekend was the amazing World Steam Expo in Dearborn.  Like last year, it was a great time, and I brought my camera along for fun.  Unfortunately, my lack of a decent flash prevented me from getting as many good shots as I was hoping.  However, some is better than none.  Here we go with part 1.

 The WSX logo projected on the wall of the main ballroom during setup for the opening ceremonies.

Our esteemed MC greets the crowd.  His name is Professor Midnight or Doctor Midnight or something like that.  If anybody actually knows, please inform me.

One of the few things better than a Bawdy Boy on stage is two Bawdy Boys on stage!

 Graf Georg von Ziger, one of the Kapitans from the Imperial Anti-Piracy Squadron.  Some of you may know him as Aaron Egan from the Steampunk Cookery.

Another of those pirate hating Germans from IAPS, Jeni Hellum in her native steampunk ensemble as the wonderful Miss Kagashi.  Jeni runs Multiculturalism for Steampunk, one of the best steampunk blogs around.

Two of my and Katie's new friends, the talented Hayley Jane, who I'm calling Detroit's burlesque queen, along with her brother Patrick.

Who's that lovely lady?  Wait, I know her.  I didn't recognize Katie without her glasses on.  Katie's showing off her sewing skills as she made both the corset and jacket that she's wearing in this picture.

This is the always lovely Kenzie from Steampunk Chicago.  She looks this good every day of the convention.  She could give every woman lessons in how to dress to fit their body type.

After McKenzie, I have to share a little male eye candy as well.  Joseph from Steampunk Chicago is fantastic at what he does.  He's a promoter and event planner by day and a steampunk DJ by night.  He ran both the steampunk for everyday wear panel as well as the panel on the future of industrial design.

The first lady of steampunk, Ms. Evelyn Kriete, along with one of the most visually famous men of steampunk, the talented author G.D. Falksen

While I, unfortunately, never caught this woman's name or the name of her store, she was one of the vendors at the convention.  This day, she wore this ridiculously gorgeous steampunk Poison Ivy outfit.

There will be a part two hopefully tomorrow.  Please come back as I haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beer! Farson's Lacto

Every once in a while, I like to try out a beer that I find to be quite intimidating.  This is one of those times and this is one of those beers.  Farsons is a company from Malta that owns a whole host of brands.  They also import beverages and spirits from around the world to Malta.