Bass Ale

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MERRIMACK, NEW HAMPSHIRE  is home to a smaller of the dozen Anheuser-Busch breweries.  With their world-touring Budweiser Clydesdale team also in residence, you’d think the town has its share of glory.  But within the dizzying array of acquisitions and mergers, AB InBev ended up with one of the United Kingdom’s best exports, Bass Ale.

For the American market, Bass Ale, once the best-selling beer in the world, is made in this country.  AB InBev have pledged funding to support the Bass brand in America, and since June 2012, Bass has been brewed in Merrimack, New Hampshire at 5% ABV for the American market. – wiki

Long one of our favorite imports, Bass, a smooth bitter English ale, was a bit out of reach.  But as a domestic, this niche beer with the oldest registered trademark in the world is now as affordable as a mass-produced choice!  Great decision by Anheuser-Busch InBev.  Make it where they drink it.  A global company reacting locally!

Bonus trivia:  Budweiser Clydesdales began their stomp in 1933 to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.

Boylan Bottling

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boylan bottling logoWhen I come off trail, nothing kicks the dust out of my throat like an icy cold refreshing root beer.  Not high fructose sugar water hawked by corporate America.  The real thing.  Boylan’s root beer has it all – flavor and kick.

A rich sassafras flavor derived from cinnamon, sweet birch, vanilla, and wintergreen oil. – Boylan

As Saba’s Jerry Hill famously taught us, hand-crafted is nearly as good as it gets.  Boylan’s, with cane sugar and natural flavors, handcrafted since 1891, is the pinnacle of our highly competitive American soda market.

After knocking back a bottle or two, I had to know their secret.  Was it ginger?  Where did the tang come from?  Boylan Bottling was characteristically silent.  I tried multiple departments, running through all the extensions of their telephone system.  No one would share their secrets.  

“The ingredients are on the label”, Samantha sweetly explained.  Yeah, I could be as nice with an unlimited supply of Boylans for private consumption.  Rumors abound.  Unconfirmed reports mention the addition of anise and that master spice, black pepper …

Barkeep, get me a Sarsaparilla!

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alcoholics anonymous

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SINCE ANCIENT TIMES  grain and fruit have been allowed to ferment into alcohol.  Fermentation is the process in which yeast breaks down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Whether your pleasure is okolehao, scotch, or makgeolli, every culture has a drink to cure ills, relax nerves, mark occasions, and calm stomachs.

When things get a little too calm, alcohol works the other way.  So it seems.  Then there’s the “Thank God it’s Friday” excuse to consume mass quantities.

After all commercial exaltation is exhausted and peer pressure ignored, an acceptable vintage port by a crackling fire with a nice book is probably good for the mind, body, and soul.  But when this (almost) all-natural beverage becomes a destructive force?  Who do you call?

Since the 1930s Americans have turned to Alcoholics Anonymous.  An approach to manage an addiction through abstinence.  Now an international fellowship, membership is one of America’s more constructive exports.

Surrounded by creative types all day, every day, we see eight sides of the issue.  In the end, one phrase sounds more true than all the others.  Sobriety brings clarity.

Nelson Wood Shims

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In today’s iPhone age most forget simple tools which make our lives comfortable.  Lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw.  Archimedes got it.  A few millennium before him with these simple tools Pyramids were build.  Two+ million years ago stone scraping tools, precursor to the wedge, were made and used before humans were around to criticize its design.

Banging pipes within a wall had me turn to this tool invented before humans roamed the land.  With a wedge of wood I cured a sick installation, relieving stress and worry from countless users of this plumbing system.  A simple shim of wood inserted between pipe and metal stud eliminated an issue which existed for decades.  I made sure to “reconfigure pipe within wall” when no one was looking.  Can’t share all my trade secrets.

When it was time to shim, I turned to Clyde.  He in turn points me to the rear of his store, where both loafer and curmudgeon gather around a re-screening table for coffee and lies.  Just past these antiquarians lies a trove of shimming choices.  Six flavors of Nelson Wood Shims.  Today, a thin package will satisfy my needs.  Plus a few extra for the toolbox.

A Slant of Light • jeffrey lent

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jeffrey-lent-by-geoff-hansenAisle L.  Always a joy.  Two years have passed.  People browsed, flirted, exchanged glances.  Plans made, advances ignored.  There is always love in Aisle L of our local library.  Requited, engaged, spurned, savored.

Since my last visit Jeffery Lent has published another book.  Mr Lent is a time traveler.  He closes his eyes, fiddles with levers and dials in his imagination, arrives at his destination and time, then opens his senses to new surroundings.  And writes.  Beautifully.  We see, smell, and hear small town America a century ago.  Before automobiles, electricity, or telephone.

The Lenten tornado of imagination plucks me from my routine and drops me within his world.  Late 1860s in rural New York.  Small town courthouse.  Country lanes. Hard farm work.  Simple murder, anything but simple.  You are not reading.  You’re an observer, tagging along, wondering what will happen over yonder hill?

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Mohawk Leather Protector

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mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-aWhen you buy well made items and take care of them, they will typically last.  A mid-1990s leather jacket makes good example.  Lands End, expert stitching, made in Korea, a solid product.  I had to have one!  At $157, the most expensive article of clothing I’d bought to date!  Who would have known I’d still have it?  Glad I ordered a size larger!

After two+ decades my coat remains perfectly serviceable.  Garnering accolades from all, the well-worn leather garment has been a solid investment.  Life, however, is not without maintenance.  A button resecured.  Pete expertly replaced pocket linings ~ I scratch my head over his magic.  The leather?  Dry here, cracked there, discolored in areas.

I tried a few reconditioning products.  Foam had its chance.  Expensive and uneven.  A couple of years later, liquid spray.  Well, that was a mess.  Oversaturated, gummy, plus the spray gets everywhere!

mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-bPete inadvertently provides the solution.  I repaired his bouzouki and was most happy with Behlen’s nitrocellulose spray finish used on the instrument top.  An American Toolbox article ensued.  Behlen parent company Mohawk became aware.  Their social media guru reached out with thanks and offers of sponsorship and product.  Banner ad?  Sure!  Product?  You bet.

I chose products for which I had use.  Mohawk dropped them on my doorstep.  No strings, no expectations, no editorial review.  Except badgering from their legal eagle, who wants me to stress I received FREE PRODUCT FROM MOHAWK.  A subtle reminder I pass on to you.

Mohawk leather products come different ways.  Leather Protector Wipes are chosen.  At this point, keep it clean and let it age.  The protector is delivered via pre-moistened towelettes.  Easy to apply, good coverage, nice smell.  Perfect amount of wetness.  Very neatly done, Mohawk!  

Wow, WHO KNEW the leather was so filthy!  My jacket gratefully sheds misapplied waxes, dirt, grime, and oils.  Absorbs the Magic Mohawk dose of goodness.  I’m GENUINELY pleased with the reborn look and feel of the leather.  Maybe I’ll wear it one more time this season.  Soon my beloved coat shall pass to the next generation.  My nephew will look so cool in it!

By popular request, a few words about Pete the tailor:  

Pete the tailor has been a friendly acquaintance for years.  The first time?  Bringing in a treasured garment for repair, I politely ignore his “No new customers, please” sign.  We share bonds of musicianship and craftspeople.  I fixed an old guitar his kids trashed, two hours on a $5 guitar.  He was ecstatic.  He’s Greek, from Greece, and owned a genuine bouzouki bought in the home country decades ago.  I was asked to fix his treasured bouzouki after years of hinting and delay.

So Pete, he finally let me give it the old college try.  Unlike college, I did finish the bouzouki.  With its cracked top requiring a new lacquered finish, I tried a  nitrocellulose spray made by Behlen.  Parent company Mohawk came into my orbit while I spread the word on social media.  Then came more product after, actually, I wrote a second materials-related piece, Behlen Hide Glue.  Then came Buffer’s Polish, Fingerboard Oil , and now, the leather conditioner.

ATB’s coveted “Six Thumbs Up” is proudly bestowed upon Mohawk. pete-havertown-tailor-bouzouki

Mainline Plumbing Products

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ml2l2155-drawing“Jed, gimmie two toilet seats, elongated, open front, less lid.  Please.”, I tell the shuffling counterman at our venerable plumbing supply.  He reaches under the counter and PRESTO there appears before me one of America’s finest.  All plastic, ADA compliant, stainless nuts and lock washers, ready for my 9/16″ hollow shaft nut driver to bring it all home.

Nothing says “I love you” to a new toilet like a new toilet seat.  Some customers want a newish old seat swapped onto a new toilet.  I am not a “seat jockey”, but I keep that to myself.  Easier to explain of buggered threads, damaged hinge, unsanitary practices, or if all else fails, It’s on the bill already.  I can leave it here for later if you like. 

With features I want and an American flag on the box, I know I’m installing a great product as well as keeping our economy rolling.  For an item which gets as much use as this, buy the best.  Mainline. 

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