Beer Review: Throwback Seasonal Spicy Bohemian

Beer: Spicy Bohemian
Brewer: Throwback Brewery
Source: Draft
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments: A straw-yellow, cloudy body, a thin head, and the scent of mellow malts offer no warning of what’s to come.  This beer is SPICY!!! hot with jalapeno goodness.  This is the Tabasco sauce of beer!  Good stuff, and more than a novelty.  It pairs well with food.


Book Review: Up : a mother and daughter’s peakbagging adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr

Author: Patricia Ellis Herr
TitleUp : a mother and daughter’s peakbagging adventure
Publication Info: New York : Broadway Paperbacks, c2012.

This book is the author’s story of taking up hiking with her 5-year-old daughter Alex and deciding to hike to the top of all 48 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Herr relates some of her early mistakes and some unexpected dangers (a sudden thunderstorm on an exposed peak or a violent bird on a trail).  On and off the trail, Herr must face the judgment of others who think that Alex is too young to be participating in White Mountain Hikes. But she also receives a lot of support, including from a kilted hiker who goes by the name MadRiver, who becomes their greatest ally despite claiming not to like children. Alex troops onwards and upwards and in less than two years becomes one of the youngest people to ever summit all 48 peaks (although Herr is never specific about whether Alex is the actual youngest).  The message is that anyone can do it, although in my most cynical moments reading this book I’d have to append that anyone can do it if they’re prosperous enough to home school, buy a second home in New Hampshire, and acquire thousands of dollars of hiking gear and clothing (the author is positively steeped in privilege and doesn’t seem to be aware of it).  That being said, the heart of this book is the story of a mother and a daughter enjoying themselves outdoors in one of my favorite places, and the blessings of experiencing things through young eyes.

Recommended booksGrandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery, The Appalachian Trail Reader by David Emblidge, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Rating: **1/2

Beer Reviews: Smuttynose Hayseed

BeerSmuttynose Hayseed
BrewerSmuttynose Brewing Company
Source: 12 oz. bottle
Rating: ** (6.7 of 10)
Comments: This beer is a trip to the farm in a bottle.  The beer pours out golden with a matrix of tiny bubbles.  The aroma is sweet timothy and the flavor is a subtle blend of grass and pepper.  There’s minimal lacing on the glass and a light mouthfeel.

Beer Review: Smuttynose Vunderbar!

BeerSmuttynose Vunderbar
Brewer: Smuttynose Brewing Company
Source: 12 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7 of 10)
Comments: Vunderbar! pours out a cloudy straw color with a lot of bubbly carbonation and a thin but solid head.  Both the bubbles and head persisted even after quaffing a lot of the beer.  The aroma is grassy with a hint of spice.  The flavor is grainy with a nice balance and a bit of spice, the classic pilsner flavor.  The taste was consistent through the emptying glass.  This is a beer I could easily drink a lot of.  Watch out for it on a warm summer’s evening!


Beer Review: Portsmouth Brewery Schwarzbier with Samoas

Beer: Schwarzbier (with Samoas)
BrewerPortsmouth Brewery
Source: Draft
Rating: ***(7.5 of 10)
Comments: So I’ve been abstaining from beer for Lent, and thus I’ve been posting reviews of beers that I took notes about last year but never got around to writing up.  I had to make an exception last week when I traveled to Portsmouth, NH on business, to pay a visit to the Portsmouth Brewery.  They had two cask-conditioned beers available that amusingly had been brewed with Girl Scout cookies.  I had a taste test of the Thin Mint beer, which was too sweet, but got a full pint of the schwarzbier with Samoas.  The beer is black with a thick head, and the Samoa-influence is subtle but you can definitely smell and taste chocolate and cocoanut.  This was a fun twist on a German standard.

Beer Review: Smuttynose Rhye IPA

Beer: Rhye IPA
BrewerSmuttynose Brewing Company
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: ** (6.4 of 10)
Comments: A golden beer with a thick head, the nose is kind of musty, citrus and malt.  The initial sip is heavy on hop bitterness, but offers a crisper, pleasant aftertaste.  The head sticks around a long time and even settles down on the bottom.  Not my style, but I expect those who like hoppy beers would find it interesting.


Photopost: New Hampshire

A selection of photographs from our family vacation in New Hampshire which includes stops at Canobie Lake Park, Franconia Notch State Park, Littleton, and  the Kancamagus Highway.

The Untamed roller coaster has a drop I only thought possible in my childhood drawings.
Tree roots seeks sustenance around any obstacle
Sentinel Pine Bridge
A selection of the 700-800 jars of candy on the 112 long candy counter at Chutter’s in Littleton
The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tram
Sabbaday Falls

Many more photos in my online album.

New England Archivists Fall 2010 Meeting

Yesterday, I attended the New England Archivists (NEA) Fall 2010 Meeting at Keene State College in Keene, NH.  This was the second meeting I attended having previously attended the Spring 2010 Meeting at U-Mass Amherst.

Some general notes to begin with:

  • I enjoyed driving through rural parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire I’ve never seen as well as the charming town of Keene and the Keene State College.  On a crisp autumn day it felt nice to be surrounded by mountains and colorful foliage.
  • On the down side, I wasn’t feeling my best – tired, a bit feverish and a rattling cough in my chest.  Instead of networking I kept a respectful distance from my fellow conferees.
  • For the first time I tried live-tweeting at a conference.  I found it difficult to pay attention to the presenters, balance my laptop & compose an intelligent tweet at the same time so I didn’t contribute much.  On the plus side, there are many tweets from others that highlighted the very things I found important at the meeting.  You the hash tag for the meeting was #NEAFall2010 and I have a saved search that you may or may not be able to read.  I’m drawing heavily on other people’s’ tweets for my notes below for which I am greatly appreciative..

Keynote Address:

Richard Sweeney, University Librarian, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ

Sweeney spoke about “Digital Natives in the Archives” on how archives can engage the Millennial Generation. He started by discussing the Long Now Foundation and the 10,000-year library and how each generation will need to take part in preserving the past for future research.  Much of the address was true and false questions about demographics regarding the Millennials.  While interesting I always find such generalizations to be more settling then useful (after all my generation is nothing but mistrustful, ironically detached slackers). I actually found much of the descriptions of Millennials to be true about myself at least until he got to mobile devices and text messaging (maybe I’m a premillennial?).  For a conclusion, Sweeney showed one possible way to engage Millennials in the archives by making photos, yearbooks, etc available on the web for tagging and for additional contributions and information to be added.  It was especially interesting when a Microsoft Surface was involved although that is something I expect that most archives will not have in the budget for some time.  Sweeney’s slide show is available on his website

Morning Concurrent Session – Email Archiving:

  • William Dow, CRM, Deputy City Clerk of Keene, Keene, NH
  • Virginia Hunt, Associate University Archivist for Collection Development, Harvard University Archives
  • Wendy Marcus Gogel, Manager of Digital Content and Projects in the Harvard University Library Office for Information Systems
  • Tamar Granovsky, Head Archivist, Lincoln Laboratory, M.I.T., Lexington, MA

Every archivist knows that preserving email records is important, but a clear method of doing so has yet to be determined.  Three methods serving the interests of the institutions represented were presented here.  Bill Dow talked about how our host city of Keene archives email in the cloud using Google Postini.  Tamar Granovksy and M.I.T. are exploring using Symantec Enterprise Vault.  Ginny Hunt & Wendy Gogel spoke about the Electronic Archiving Service pilot program now underway at Harvard.  A good point was made about how digital media has existed side-by-side with print since 1957 and it isn’t a choice of preserving digital or print, it’s a hybrid world.  There was also a good question about original order in e-mail with file paths being the possible solution.

Afternoon Concurrent Session I – Collections & Managements Systems:

  • Kat Stefko, Director of Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, Lewiston, ME
  • Kate Bowers, Collection Services Archivist, Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA
  • Marge Smith, Executive Director, Kent Historical Society, Kent, CT
  • Linda Hocking, Curator of Library and Archives, Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, CT

Three collection management systems were discussed all of which have benefits to institutions of different sizes and purposes: Archivists’ Toolkit, Past Perfect, and Archon.  Kate Bowers spoke eloquently on how AT is used at Harvard and even included some statistics of how it’s been used at Harvard Business School.  It felt nice to have my work in AT represented before the meeting however so anonymously.   Bowers mentioned a CLIR Report on Archival Management Software as a resource.  It was interesting to hear Marge Smith’s experience with Past Perfect and see it demonstrated although it appears to more of a curatorial tool for museums and historical societies rather than for purely archival material.  Finally, Linda Hocking spoke about her experience with Archon. Here’s a good example of the public interface for Archon, something that AT lacks (although the Rockefeller Archive Center is developing a reference module add-0n) .  It’s interesting to note that the pros and cons of AT and Archon appear to dovetail and that the impending merger of the two products as ArchiveSpace may be mutually beneficial to all users.  Something to look forward to!

Afternoon Concurrent Session II – Born Digital:

  • Ed Desrochers, Interim Academy Librarian and Academy Archivist at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • Veronica Martzahl, Records Archivist in the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • Jennifer Phillips, Digital Collections Archivist in the Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts University, Medford, MA

The final session was a team presentation by two members of the Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives.  As always the Tufts DCA appear to be light years ahead in archives & records management in the digital age so it is appropriate that they spoke of born digital records.  It was a nice reminder to be told that as archivists/records managers “you already know a lot” about what should be done with records so we should not be intimidated by the digital format.  Other advice included:

  • a four-step program: survey your holdings, document & store, metadata, & workflows.
  • referring to the Library of Congress reference for digital formats website at
  • just because they are digital does not mean that item-level description is necessary
  • there is nothing to be gained from converting PDF to PDF-A so don’t waste your time (Veronica Martzahl was emphatic about the unnecessary nature of this step as what’s lost is lost)
  • don’t go to the effort of conserving a floppy disk if you have already copied and preserved the files, just toss it like an old folder.

Overall it was a good day.  I felt that it was not as well-attended as the spring meeting nor did I feel like I had any real “wow moments” where I heard something I’d never heard before or presented in a new way.  Still, it was all good, thoughtful information that should help inform my work in the near future.  It was great to be there and interact both virtually and physically with the other conferees.

Beer Review: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Beer: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
Brewer: Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Source: 12 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7.1 of 10)

Comments: This beer has a thick, respectable head and a cloudy, pumpkin orange color.  The spices are apparent in the aroma but there’s also an acidic scent there too.  The pumpkin flavor is there but also more of a bitter, hoppy taste as well.  It seemed to get a bit more weak and watery as I swirled it across my tongue.  All-in-all a good pumpkin ale and a great way to start October.

Related posts: Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale

Photopost: Lake Wicwas

Some photographs from our recent weekend at Craig‘s lodge by Lake Wicwas in New Hampshire.

Pinecone roasting on an open fire.
Pinecone roasting on an open fire.
The bear explores its grounds at the Squam Lakes Natural Sciences Cener.
The bear explores it's grounds at the Squam Lakes Natural Sciences Cener.
A glass of Craigs homebrew with blueberries by the lake
A glass of Craig's homebrew with blueberries by the lake
Trouble the water
Trouble the water
The Lake Wicwas Monsters eye view
The Lake Wicwas Monster's eye view

All these photos and more in my online Lake Wicwas gallery.