Let’s give it a go!: Touring a rum distillery

[No photo! Because of “health and safety regulations,” everyone had to put anything with a battery into a locker before the tour began.]

Why? We were in Bundaberg, home of Bundaberg rum, which is virtually unknown in the US but very big here in Oz. (In terms of market size and presence, the best US analogy might be Jack Daniels, not Bacardi or any other rum). We saw it recommended on Trip Advisor, so: “Let’s give it a go!”

How did it go? I’m not a rum drinker, but when companies set their mind on providing a good tour, they can really do a good job. Appealing tour guide team with appealing patter, and all that. The running gimmick was trying to get us to yell “Huzzah!” at something positive and “Poppycock!” at something negative. The tour started with molasses vats and ended at the bar, where each adult got two free drinks.

Would you do it again? This is the second time I’ve seen a tour of how alcohol gets made (the first was the Sierra Nevada brewing company in California), and both times I was glad I went. So probably not another rum distillery, but definitely up for something else in this vein, especially if it ends with drinks.

Imp of the Perverse

Sentence I liked from a book I’m currently reading, The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman:

Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story of the same name, calls it ‘the imp of the perverse’: that nameless but distinct urge one sometimes experiences, when walking along a precipitous cliff edge, or climbing to the observation deck of a tall building, to throw oneself off – not from any suicidal motivation, but precisely because it would be so calamitous to do so.

I hadn’t heard of the “imp of the perverse,” but I remember my relief when I learned it was normal to have this “nameless but distinct urge” and not a secret personal pathology.

Jeremy finishes the Theodosia Throckmorton series by R. L. Stivers

[Double feature book review! Includes both Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus and Theodosia and the Last Pharoah.]

Why? BECAUSE I AM A SUCKER FOR SERIES. Also, the last book Beckie read aloud while we drove up the coast on an overnight trip.

42 word reviews:

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus: First two books mostly exhausted adults turning out to not be who they seem, so this is mostly about visiting Egyptian magician and whether he’s good guy or bad. Best part continues to be the relationship between Theodosia and urchin-sidekick Sticky Will.

Theodosia and the Last Pharoah: Takes place in Egypt, so no Sticky Will or other recurring characters besides T’s mother. Egyptian kid introduced as Sticky-Will-stand-in. Mostly fun but tired of formula and Young Reader fiction by this point, so glad this is finale (for now???).

Overall ratings: Eyes of Horus – 3 streetwise urchins (out of 5); Last Pharoah – 3 bazaar-wise donkey boys (out of 5)

Rob’s Fantasy Tennis League Rules (for reference)

[I’m playing in a Fantasy Tennis League this year, organized by my friend and sometimes-BAJTOTW-commenter Rob. I find myself referring back to the rules, which involves opening up an attachment, so I’m going to post them for my own reference and also anticipated someday-nostalgia. I haven’t followed tennis before, but Rob’s enthusiasm is contagious.]

Continue reading

Let’s give it a go!: Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen


Why? After eating dinner last night, we saw Nitrogenie nearby and exclaimed, “Let’s give it a go!” After all, how can someone resist the slogan Ice Cream From Magic.

How’d it go? There is perhaps a more general lesson, that could be called “The Parable of the Dippin’ Dots.” Dippin’ Dots had the slogan Ice Cream Of The Future, but Dippin’ Dots are dying out, because the ice cream of the present is pretty awesome and hard to improve upon.

The idea of this place was nifty, as was all the fog swirling behind the counter. But the ice cream itself wasn’t as good as what you’d expect from a specialty ice cream shop. Not bad, but a place that’s whole business is ice cream needs to be better than that. The alternative would be that they could make the process of making your ice cream more of a production, but other than the fog about there wasn’t much to see.

Would you do it again? There are enough alternative sweet options in that area that I suspect not. Maybe someday.

Let’s give it a go!: Reading glasses [Jeremy only]


Why? Because I’m getting old! Apologies for my senescence being a recent “Let’s give it a go!” theme.

How’d it go? I used to wear glasses all the time, and then had my eyes fixed with Lasik about 10 years ago. The Lasik people said over and over that it didn’t fix the problems that led people to need reading glasses around age 45. I’m more than two years short of 45, though, so I’m not sure if this is premature aging, or if the Lasik people were given an high-end estimate.

I had them awhile before I started wearing them, but I feel like my eyesight has gotten noticeably worse since I’ve arrived in Australia. Now that I’m used to them, it’s easy just to leave them on–it’s just like being near-sighted, and weird how easy it is to tolerate stuff being blurry in the distance when all one has to do is lift the glasses for it to be clear.

Seeing them in the mirror has also taken some getting used to, but one upside there is that they help with the racoon-eyes problem.

Will you do it again? Now that I’m wearing them a lot, I regret to see that the sensibility of bifocals becomes plainer every day. So perhaps they’ll be another optometric-related “Let’s give it a go!” soon.

Jeremy reads We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Why did you read this book? Beckie wanted to read it, so I bought it for her as a present. She read it and said she really liked it. We share Kindle/Nook accounts, so.

Has Beckie read it? Yes.

42 word review: I’d seen an online review that spoiled a key part of book for me. Ideally you’d start reading knowing nothing about what happens. Trust me. It’s about family, and has some funny bits, but stands out mostly for being insightful and sad.

Overall rating: 5 red poker chips (out of 5)

Vernacular Spectacular #21: “bumper cars” vs. “dodgem cars”

This is one of the most back-and-forth ones we’ve had so far. Three issues:

1. Bumper is a splendid world. Say it five times out loud. You’re smiling at the end, aren’t you? At least I hope so, because if not, you are dead inside.

2. Even so, dodgem cars is probably better-sounding phrase. Nothing against bumper cars, except part of the beauty of bumper is what a taut two syllables it is. But dodgem cars has spunk and snap: fits great for an old-time attraction that’s still good for a kick at a carnival.

3. At a literal level, dodgem cars is completely wrong: the point isn’t to dodge the other cards, it’s to ram into them with glee. If you’ve spent five minutes in dodgem cars and haven’t had a collision, it’s not because you’re a great driver, it’s because you are being shunned. Bumper cars get the point of the activity spot-on.

Jeremy’s winner: Continue reading

Let’s give it a go!: Trip Advisor

Why? Between Trip Advisor and Yelp and Goodreads and Amazon and Boardgamegeek and I-don’t-know-what-else, we use other people’s reviews quite a bit when making decisions. But we haven’t done much reviewing ourselves.

When we were on the New Zealand trip, we resolved to give Trip Advisor reviewing a go. As is my wont to turn casual notions into dramatic resolutions, I declared that we should have doing at least 100 reviews as our goal. (Username for our reviews: beckie+jeremy)

How’d it go? We’re somewhere in the 30’s at this point, I think, and mildly stalled. We’ll see if we make it. TA does what they can to provide you with feedback, in terms of sending you a thank-you for each review, having different sorts of “achievements”, letting you know when somebody clicks your reviews as helpful, etc.. And they do not take very much time to knock out. Still, it’s also not especially rewarding, and it’s hard to know how many people are going to actually read your review as opposed to just look at ratings.

Would you do it again? Of course, TA makes more sense if you are traveling. I’d still like to get to 100, so we’ll see how we integrate it into our next trip.

Jeremy reads Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. Stivers

Why did you read this book?: We read the first Theodosia book, and I am a sucker for series fiction, even when I hate the first book. I liked the first Theodosia book.

Has Beckie read it?: Yes, and reviewed it.

42 word review: Again, Indiana Jones is 11-year-old girl in 1906 London. This time involves enchanted staff that brings mummies back to life, and Theodosia needs to drive away several governesses while fighting evil. Best part is pickpocket sidekick Sticky Will and little brother, Snuffles.

Overall rating: 4 street urchins (out of 5)