Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Although not truly a sports issue, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has spanned many genres and has even permeated the sports world. Although the first sports persona who I saw take the challenge was the curmudgeony Bill Belichick who took the plunge during the first week of August, the ice buckets have been flying across all the major and minor sports.

Unless you live under a rock, you have a heard about the premise of the challenge - agree to dunk yourself under a bucket of cold water or donate money for ALS research. The challenge was the brainchild of Peter Frates and Pat Quinn (both ALS patients) as a way to raise awareness of this horrible disease and to raise money for medical research to find a cure.

Some of the notable athletes who have taken the challenge in various public and creative ways are Kevin Durant, Lebron James (who unsuccessfully nominated the POTUS to take the challenge), Caroline Wozniacki, Roger Goodell and LA Kings forward Marian Gaborik who used a zamboni for the challenge.

While driving home from Camp M last week, I heard a discussion about an article that ran in the NY Times which quoted Arielle Pardes who opined that “[t]here are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but the most annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism.”

The skepticism related by Ms. Pardes was challenged by Mike & Mike who had received word from the ALS foundation that in the month since the Ice Bucket Challenge had commenced, they had raised as much money as the entire 2013 calendar year. Additionally, Mike Greenberg observed that people were donating money for a worthwhile charitable cause and it should not matter what their motivation was for making the donation.

The story reminds me of a vort in connection with Parshas Tezaveh wherein it states that Betzalel made calculations as to the gold, silver and copper which were donated for the mishkan. The rishonim teach that those who donated for pure reasons were the "gold" and their donations went for the highest purpose, wherein those who had donated but wanted recognition were the silver and those who solely donated for public accolade were the copper.

The bottom line is that all the money was used for holy spiritual purposes, but those with altruistic reasons for donating received a greater spiritual reward in that their donations were used for a higher spiritual purpose. 

Similarly, it does not truly matter why a person takes the ALS challenge. What matters is that the money is used for charitable purposes - fighting and finding a cure for this horrible disease.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Shiner Holiday Cheer


This week's Sunday Night Suds cheers the shiny new couple - Mr and Mrs P, whose beautiful wedding I was zoche to attend with Mrs KB this evening.

Earlier this summer I found a bottle of Shiner Holiday Cheer in the mix your own six pack section of the Big M supermarket in Walton, NY. Having never seen this variety before, I tossed it into the six pack holder with some other new beer and shortly thereafter put it in the fridge and forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I was looking through the fridge for a beer to share with Mrs KB on a warm Shabbos afternoon and came across the Shiner Holiday Cheer. We opened the beer and were immediately struck by the fruitiness. However, this was not citrus or spice - it was real fruit, more specifically a strong peach flavor. At that point I examined the bottle label more carefully and noticed that the beer was flavored with pecans and peaches. Yes, these are "holiday" fruits, but one would expect them to be found in a fruitcake, not beer. Yet strangely, these flavors really worked in this fruit infused Bavarian style dark wheat beer. The fruit was oddly refreshing and was not cloying nor medicinal. (Unfortunately the bottle went out with the trash before I could take a picture of it, hence the stock photo above).

The Shiner Holiday Cheer is generally available during the winter in mixed 6 and 12 packs, It is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit although there is no symbol on the the bottle. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the Shiner Holiday Cheer (spoiler alert - they like it too!), please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/143/45591.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com/ to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Uinta Detour Double IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Uinta's Detour Double IPA.

Like the artwork on the front label of the bottle, this is the last weekend of trips to visit Mrs KB and the kids at Camp M. To celebrate the end of the camp season (or maybe just because) we opened the Detour Double IPA and shared this premium Uinta beer with some of our friends as a melava malka.

As a Double IPA, this beer is not for those who dislike bitters. RL who joined us for the tasting quickly asked for something sugary to take away the bite (his loss). However the rest of us enjoyed the hop bite and the complex flavors which includes pine, citrus and a not too subtle reminder that the beer has a high alcohol content (9.5% abv).

The Detour Double IPA is sold in four packs and averages $10-12 per four pack. I found mine at the DeCicco's in Brewster which features six refrigerated cases of singles with only a slight mark up over the pack price (I believe I paid $3.49 for the bottle).

Uinta Detour Double IPA is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and bears an OU on the label. For the experts' take on the Uinta Detour Double IPA please click here www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1416/58754

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable). 

Finally, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Eikev

As mentioned in prior summer posts, since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim until Chodesh Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com, Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggidei shiur.

The parsha begins with a statement "V'haya Eikev" - that in the event that you keep all of Hashem's mitzvos, there will be great blessings in both this world and the world to come,

R' Mansour quoted the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (1:15) which states that a person should have a fixed time for learning. R' Mansour mentioned a personal story which illustrated this point. When R' Mansour was in high school he had a set night for mishmar - after school learning of Torah. One week there was a "very important baseball game" and he had obtained tickets for the game. R' Mansour said to his principal that he knows that he was supposed to go to mishmar but he wanted to go to the game. So he proposed that he would skip recess, lunch and gym and in so doing would have more learning time than had he gone to mishmar.

The principal responded to R' Mansour that he appreciated how respectful he was in asking for permission, rather than just skipping out on school. The principal also said that the analysis of the learning time was also thoughtful. However he added that it is very important to have a fixed time for learning and that Hashem comes to listen to a person learn when the person has a daily fixed time to learn.

The principal concluded - I am not telling you what to do, just keep in mind that one who has a fixed time for learning will not lose out as a result.

R' Mansour decided to stay and learn, while his friends went to the game. However they did not wind up seeing a game as it poured that night and the game was cancelled after they had sat in the stadium in the rain.

R' Mansour concluded by citing back to the first pasuk of the parsha which states "V'haya Eikev." But the letters of Eikev can be rearranged to read Keva - fixed. Hashem promises that if a person makes his observance of the laws of Hashem "fixed" he will gain, both in this world and the world to come.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - Stewart was not Stewing and the Genie has Gone

Two stories broke over the last two days about tragic deaths. The first story involved a dirt track racer who was struck and killed in upstate New York. The second involved a legendary comedian who took his own life. Both deaths were tragic but for entirely different reasons. 

The first story broke early Sunday morning and related to a sprint car race (not a NASCAR event) on a dirt track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. As has been reported in numerous media outlets, about halfway through the race, a car driven by veteran NASCAR driver Tony Stewart bumped another car which was being driven by 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. Ward's car hit a wall and spun out, and the race officials displayed the yellow caution flag, which is a signal to drivers to be careful and which carries certain other rules related to race positions.
 
The news outlets further reported that after the accident, Ward got out of his car and walked onto the track, while Stewart continued around the half-mile course. As Stewart's car approached on its next lap, Ward was reportedly "pointing and gesturing, apparently toward Stewart". One car swerved to avoid Ward, but he was struck by Stewart's car and was severely injured. Ward died a short time later, of  "massive blunt trauma."

In the days following the race, speculation was rampant that Stewart had intentionally struck Ward, but it was simply just that - speculation. The The following day, Philip Povero, sheriff of the local county told reporters, "[a]t this very moment, there are no facts in hand that would substantiate or support a criminal charge, or indicate criminal intent on the part of any individual."

As an attorney, I find it difficult to believe that any District Attorney would charge Stewart with an intentional crime, absent significant evidence such as a recording of a contemporaneous statement (or subsequent admission) by Stewart of wanting to teach Ward a lesson. 

The second story involved the death of Robin Williams. The local authorities reported that he had died of self inflicted asphyxiation and that Williams had been battling depression and substance abuse. 

This second story touched me in  greater way than the tragic accidental death on the race track, because I had practically grown up with Robin Williams. One of my favorite TV shows when I was young was Mork & Mindy. As I got older, I saw Williams add to his comedic legacy with roles in Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam and Aladdin,. (to name a few). I also watched him develop more serious roles such as Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society.

Robin Williams' self inflicted death brought to mind a lesson taught by R' Mansour. I heard a shiur from him years ago wherein he stated that clowns have a high rate of suicide. He explained that clowns make their living from always being happy, but that their happiness was artificial and often, superficial and contrived. In order for a person to be truly happy, he must be somaiach b'chelko - happy with his lot. However, when one spends all his time trying to make others happy, without making any introspection as to his own life, he will not be able to appreciate his blessings and he runs the risk of depression.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Lakerfont Brewery IBA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Lakefront's IBA - an India Style Black Ale.

I found this beer in the Big M Supermarket in Walton, NY. I was first drawn to this supermarket years ago by a sign on the outside which claims that it has the "largest walk in beer cooler in the area." I don't know how they define "the area" but I keep coming back because they have a diverse beer selection and are close enough to Camp M that the beer is still cool when I get to our cabin.

More recently, the Big M added a mix your own six pack for 9.99, which is generally a good bargain.  But what makes the Big M mixer a bargain is that they don't just include macros and they even include limited editions and seasonal brews in their pool.

I was intrigued and drawn to the IBA when I saw it in the Big M. I had never seen or heard of an IBA, notwithstanding the fact that so many breweries have been experimenting with black beers such as Black Lagers, Black Ales and even Black IPAs. However, this beer billed itself as an India Style Black Ale and I wondered how that would play out. And I was not disappointed.

The IBA had a decent hop  profile with some pine. But the star of the beer was the earthiness which added whole new dimensions of flavor. There was some lacing and an interesting aftertaste which smacked faintly of peppermint. I can't say that I would ever voluntarily buy a mint flavored beer, but this was just a hint that came at the end of each sip and made me want more.

I have no idea how this beer is sold in the NY area, but the website indicates that it is a seasonal and sold in six or 12 packs. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for it.

Lakefront Brewery IBA is under the kosher supervision of the Star-K (there is even a Star-K on the label). For the experts' take on the IBA, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/741/65076.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!