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Friday, November 24, 2017


The following homebrew recipe is featured in American Homebrewers Association recently released Top 50 roster of Commercial Clone Beer Recipes collected from 50 states. Click here for the complete 50 state recipes.

California’s recipe contribution is for Russian River Pliny The Elder.  Considered one of the finest craft beers made beer makers of all stripes can now try their hand at making a clone of this famous beer.

Pliny the Elder is one of the most coveted double IPAs in America. This recipe comes straight from Russian River (Santa Rosa, Calif.) brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo and uses over three-quarters of a pound of hops, making for a bitter and fragrant double IPA experience.

For 6 gallons (22.7 L)
13.25 lb (6.01 kg) two-row pale malt
0.6 lb (272 g) crystal 45° L malt
0.6 lb (272 g) Carapils (dextrin) malt
0.75 lb (340 g) dextrose (corn) sugar
3.5 oz (99 g) Columbus* hops, 13.9% a.a. (90 min)
0.75 oz (21 g) Columbus* hops, 13.9% a.a. (45 min)
1.0 oz (28 g) Simcoe hops, 12.3% a.a. (30 min)
1.0 oz (28 g) Centennial hops, 8% a.a. (0 min)
2.5 oz (71 g) Simcoe hops, 12.3% a.a. (0 min)
1.0 oz (28 g) Columbus* hops, 13.9% a.a. (dry hop, 12-14 days total)
1.0 oz (28 g) Centennial hops, 9.1% a.a. (dry hop, 12-14 days total)
1.0 oz (28 g) Simcoe hops, 12.3% a.a. (dry hop, 12-14 days total)
0.25 oz (7 g) Columbus* hops, 13.9% a.a. (dry hop, 5 days to go in dry hop)
0.25 oz (7 g) Centennial hops, 9.1% a.a. (dry hop, 5 days to go in dry hop)
0.25 oz (7 g) Simcoe hops, 12.3% a.a. (dry hop, 5 days to go in dry hop)
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast or Wyeast 1056 America Ale Yeast
*Tomahawk/Zeus can be substituted for Columbus

Original Gravity: 1.072
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 8.2%
IBU: 90-95 (actual/not calculated)
SRM: 7
Efficiency: 75%

Note: This recipe is for a 6 gallon batch, with 5 gallons intended to remain after hop loss.

To make this Pliny the Elder clone, mash grains at 151-152°F (66-67°C) for an hour or until starch conversion is complete. Mash out at 170°F (77°C) and sparge. Collect 8 gallons (30 L) of runoff, stir in dextrose and bring to a boil.

Add hops as indicated in the recipe.

After a 90 minute boil, chill wort to 67°F (19°C) and transfer to a fermenter. Pitch two packages of yeast or a yeast starter and aerate well.

Ferment at 67°F (19°C) until fermentation activity subsides, then rack to secondary.

Add first set of dry hops on top of the racked beer and age 7-9 days, then add the second set. Age five more days then bottle or keg.

Extract Version

Substitute 6.5 lb (3.0 kg) of light dry malt extract for two-row malt. Due to the large hop bill for this recipe, a full wort boil is recommended.

Steep grains in 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water at 165°F (74°C) for 30 minutes, then remove and rinse grains with hot water. Stir in dextrose and top up kettle to 8 gallons (30 L), and bring to a boil. Add hops as indicated in the recipe.

After a 90 minute boil, chill wort to 67°F (19°C) and transfer to fermenter. Pitch two packages of yeast or a yeast starter and aerate well. Ferment at 67°F (19°C) until fermentation activity subsides, then rack to secondary.

Add first set of dry hops on top of the racked beer and age 7-9 days then add the second set. Age five more days then bottle or keg the beer.

Russian River Brewing Company, Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA

Thursday, November 23, 2017


When my mother’s maiden aunts swore that the pit from the avocado was the nearest food akin to the Fountain of Youth (explorer Ponce de Leon never found it BTW), I remember asking what’s so hot about eating the pit?  They insisted it makes you live longer.  Bless them most of my mom’s relatives lived beyond age 90.  Proof enough.  But I never tried to eat a pit.  I love avocados and being a Southern Californian, we locals have beaucoup access to avocados because they’re grown on both sides of the U.S. Mexican border.

Also, we’re fortunate in this southwest cul de sac of our nation to have so many restaurants/take-out stands/ which feature avocados.  I can think of a dozen places easily.  Especially Saguaro’s small take out eatery in North Park, a historic neighborhood near San Diego’s Balboa Park.  What’s so delicious about Saguaro’s specialty dish the California Carne Asada Burrito is that foot long creation of deliciousness comes with guacamole, a spread of mashed avocado and salsa.

Guacamole (no chips, I'm on a diet)
While on topic El Comal, a sit-down in North Park features large slices of avocado with its tasty posole, a dish featuring red or green chilies, pork or chicken shreads, onion, oregano and hominy.  Served with corn or flour tortillas it is no wonder I’m on a forever diet.
Moving back to avocado as the fruit of the gods, I turned to research provided by the California Avocado Commission.  Of course, the group is expert on all things avocado and of course they have an online position paper on “Eating the Avocado Pit.”

Here goes:
“...While this is presently a very popular topic and there is a body of evidence looking at extracts of the avocado seed, the fact is there is not enough research to support consuming an avocado seed. The purported health benefits and risks of avocado seed intake are poorly characterized.

As stated in a 2013 research study by Pennsylvania State University, “although the currently available data is promising, for most indications, it remains very preliminary and further studies are needed” and “In addition, the safety of the various extracts of the avocado seeds must be assessed in order to more fully estimate the usefulness of this resource."

While it is not recommended that you eat the seed of the avocado, the fruit/pulp of the California Avocados is ripe with nutrition. One-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz.) has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a tasty choice for a nutritious and healthy diet. California Avocados are naturally sodium and cholesterol-free; a naturally nutritious superfood.

We have much more avocado nutrition information available in our nutrition section. Or read about avocado nutrients to get all of the facts on this nutrient-dense fruit.

avocado and heart-healthy diet

The fifth leading cause of death in men is stroke, and one of the most common causes of stroke is high blood pressure, which puts unnecessary stress on blood vessel walls. A diet that is low in salt and rich in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products may help lower blood pressure.

Recent studies have also shown that increasing potassium intake may help lower blood pressure. Potassium is a mineral that helps normalize blood pressure and most Americans are falling short of their daily potassium needs according to the latest report released by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming a diet that's rich in potassium, which blunts the effect of salt on blood pressure and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and possibly bone loss as we get older. Fifty grams of avocado (1/3 of a medium avocado) provides 250 g of potassium or 6% of the recommended Daily Value (DV).

Knowing which fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and which ones don't is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease. In addition to the LDL produced naturally by your body, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and dietary cholesterol can also raise blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats appear to not raise LDL cholesterol.
Cholesterol can't dissolve in the blood. It has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as "bad" cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as "good" cholesterol.
Mono and polyunsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation and eaten in place of saturated or trans fats, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide heart-healthy "good" fats. Avocados contribute good fats to one's diet, providing 5 g of mono and 1 g polyunsaturated fat per 50 g serving.

Eat a diet that is low to moderate in fat
Limit saturated fat intake to less than 7% of total daily calories
Limit trans fats intake to less than 1% of total daily calories
Limit cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day
A 50 gram serving of avocado contains 1 gram saturated fat and is trans fat- and cholesterol-free. Plus, avocados are also sodium- and sugar-free.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 (Dietary Guidelines) include a number of recommendations to help promote the health of Americans. Learn how enjoying California Avocados can help you meet a number of the recommendations.

Source: California Avocado Commission. Created in 1978, the California Avocado Commission strives to increase demand for California Avocados through advertising, promotion and public relations and engages in related industry activities that benefit the state's nearly 5,000 avocado growers. The California Avocado Commission serves as the official information source for California Avocados and the California Avocado industry.

Introduction by Thomas Shess, Editor, Online Magazine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


GUEST BLOG / By NASA--As Cassini probe plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere recently ending forever a remarkable space journey, another USA space machine kept on working years after its arrival on Mars.

This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, from the location where it landed in August 2012 to its location in July 2017, and its planned path to additional geological layers of lower Mount Sharp.

The blue star near top center marks "Bradbury Landing," the site where Curiosity arrived on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time). Blue triangles mark waypoints investigated by Curiosity on the floor of Gale Crater and, starting with "Pahrump Hills," on Mount Sharp. The Sol 1750 label identifies the rover's location on July 9, 2017, the 1,750th Martian day, or sol, since the landing.

In July 2017, the mission is examining "Vera Rubin Ridge" from the downhill side of the ridge. Spectrometry observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have detected hematite, an iron-oxide mineral, in the ridge. Curiosity's planned route continues to the top of the ridge and then to geological units where clay minerals and sulfate minerals have been detected from orbit.

The base image for the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. "Bagnold Dunes" form a band of dark, wind-blown material at the foot of Mount Sharp.

The scale bar at lower right represents one kilometer (0.62 mile)..

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit and

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is online at and

Now that Cassini is vaporized, Earthlings can now pay attention to the probe that brought back all those amazing images of Pluto and its surroundings.
Now New Horizons is off deeper into the Kuiper Belt.  For the latest NASA update on New Horizons Click here.

Monday, November 20, 2017


The Getty magazine, Spring 2017 cover.
The Getty magazine is a remarkable quarterly slick publication that tells the stories of the world's largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts. Articles on the Getty's four programs—the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute—offer readers a more complete picture of the work that is done in Los Angeles and around the world.  It is a work of journalistic art in itself. in its daily online coverage shares an article on the Getty entities involvement in the ongoing restoration of the Salk Institute in La Jolla.  See for October 25, 2017.


Sunday, November 19, 2017


“Uncommon Type,” A collection of 17 short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor has just been released by Penguin/Random House.

His first fiction is a collection of short stories that run the gamut from:
--A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war.
--A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves.
--An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life.

For an excerpt from Penguin/Random House click here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


GUEST BLOG / By Union of Concerned Scientists--If you plan on being around in 2050 here’s a look at what changes to expect in the contents of your coffee cup.

Climate change is threatening coffee crops in virtually every major coffee producing region of the world.

Higher temperatures, long droughts punctuated by intense rainfall, more resilient pests and plant diseases—all of which are associated with climate change—have reduced coffee supplies dramatically in recent years.

Dramatic declines.  Because coffee varieties have adapted to specific climate zones, a temperature rise of even half a degree can make a big difference. A long-term increase in the number of extreme and unseasonal rainfall events has contributed to lower crop yields that are threatening the livelihood of coffee growers. For example, between 2002 and 2011, Indian coffee production declined by nearly 30 percent.

Additionally, warming has expanded the habitat and thus the range and damage of the coffee berry borer, a grazing predator of coffee plants. This pest is placing additional stresses on all coffee crops, as is coffee rust, a devastating fungus that previously did not survive the cool mountain weather. Costa Rica, India, and Ethiopia, three of the top fifteen coffee-producing nations in the world, have all seen a dramatic decline in yields.

The declining supply of popular Arabica coffee beans—grown in East and Central Africa, Latin America, India, and Indonesia—is being felt in the pockets of suburban supermarket shoppers and denizens of city sidewalk cafés.

Brands like Maxwell House, Yuban, and Folgers have increased the retail prices of many grinds by 25 percent or more between 2010 and 2011, in light of tight supply and higher wholesale prices.

If you’re one of those people who needs a cup of coffee to get going in the morning, your world may be changing. In fact, it already is. The dwindling supply of coffee is but one example of the many impacts to come due to climate change, and should be a wake-up call for us all.

And really, who wants to be around coffee drinkers who can’t get their morning fix? The time is now to reduce global warming emissions. 

Take action.  There is no single solution to climate change, but there are technologies and approaches available now that can reduce global warming emissions by at least 80 percent by mid-century. Visit our Climate Hot Map to see how these methods are best deployed in each region of the world, and see what you can do to help.

For more than 20 years, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has worked with leading experts to educate U.S. decision makers and the public about global warming and implement practical solutions at an international, national, regional, and state level. You can help support this work. We can reduce global warming emissions and ensure communities have the resources they need to withstand the effects of climate change—but not without you. Your generous support helps develop science-based solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.  Click here to donate:

Friday, November 17, 2017


Every year about this time, I end up in Ft. Myers, FL to compete in the annual Roy Hobbs World Series, a national amateur adult/senior baseball (hard ball not softball) tournament.  Teams play all over the Ft. Myers area (sorry, we missed a lot of great breweries in Cape Coral).  But we stick close to the ball fields.

As a member of a senior mens team called the San Diego Padres, we’re very proud to have won our division twice: 2015 and 2016.  As defending champions, we’re looking for a Three-peat and we’re confident we’ll emerge victorious, again.

And, a baseball game only takes three hours so that leaves a lot of time to explore the Ft. Myers area in search of outstanding craft beer breweries.

From past experience we’ve had good times and good fresh craft beer at the following places:

Beer hearse from Bury Me Brewing, Ft. Myers, FL
Near Downtown Ft. Myers ballparks:
--Millennial Brewing Company, 1811 Royal Palm Ave., 239.271.2255.
--Bury Me Brewing, 4224 S. Cleveland Ave., 239.332.2337
--Old Soul Brewing, 10970 S. Cleveland Ave., 239. 334.4334,

Toward the Beaches
--Point Ybel Brewing Co., 16120 San Carlos Ave., 239.603.6535

Near Jet Blue Stadium

--Ft. Myers Brewing Company, 12811 Commerce Lakes Dr.,  239.313.6576
Roy Hobbs annual World Series, senior adult mens baseball at Jet Blue Stadium, Ft. Myers, FL. Batter  is Tom Shess with the defending champion San Diego Padres team from San Diego, November 2016.