Munich Oktoberfest 2010

This year, we had the pleasure of visiting Munich, Germany to attend Oktoberfest.  With over six million attendees each year, it is officially the largest fair in the world.  This year was particularly special because it marked the 200th Anniversary of the festival.  I was too busy consuming pretzels, sausage, kasspatzn, and beer to do any decent reporting, but please enjoy these scenes from the event captured in the video below and through photos posted in the photo gallery. 


Celebrate the 4th by Barbequing with Beer

Lots of us will be Barbequing with a beer in hand on the fourth of July – but how many of you plan to use that brew to enhance the flavors of your meal?  From glazing to basting to marinating – a little beer goes a long way to liven up your BBQ.  The simplest approach to cooking with beer would probably have to include the hot dog.  I like to get a rich, flavorful Stout and marinate brats in it for an hour or so, and then throw them on the grill.  Brats don’t generally absorb a lot of the beer while marinating, so I also use a flavor injector to inject the Stout into the dogs as they cook.  This keeps them moist for the entire duration they are cooking and the result is a deliciously juicy beer brat with a hint of stout flavor.  Yum. 

Are  brats a little too elementary for you?  There are lots of other great recipes to choose from:

  • Beer BBQ Cowboy Steak: To some, steak is king of the BBQ.  Crown your king with a splash of beer.
  • Burgers with Hoison-Stout SauceHoison is a Chinese dipping sauce – add a little Stout to the mix, and you’ve got a winning recipe.
  • Beer-Can Chicken: Cooking a chicken over a partially filled beer can keeps the meat amazingly moist and tender.  We’ve actually done this with a Turkey (and a large can of Foster’s Beer) for Thanksgiving and the results were mouth watering.
  • Beer Marinated Portobello Mushrooms: If you have vegetarians in the household (as I do), this might be a great option for you (and it uses blonde ale, rather than the darker beers recommended in many of the other recipes referenced here).
  • Stoute Chili: What’s a BBQ without a little Chili?  This one’s meaty, but I’m sure the clever cook could sub the beef for veggie grounds or Seitan.
  • Beer-BQ Sauce: Have your own traditional 4th of July BBQ recipe?  Then maybe you just need to make a little Beer-BQ sauce to introduce into the mix.

Countdown to Seattle Beer Week

One of the nicest things about Spring in Seattle is the arrival of Seattle Beer Week.  On May 13th, the week kicks off with an opening SBW Proclamationparty at Hale’s Brewery (the producer of this year’s official SBW beer).  Following the kickoff – breweries and taphouses around Seattle explode with activity dedicated to enjoying quality beers.  The week (which is actually closer to 10 days) was established to recognize Seattle’s role in the micro and craft brewing industry and to encourage locals to get out and appreciate the great beers that this region is known for producing.    A complete list of events is available here and a map of participating locations is also available.  

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #138

Happy holidays and I hope you are having a festive season!  There is a temporary lull in activity so I thought it would be a good time to enjoy an Arctic Rhino and record a podcast. In this episode, I chat a bit about perfume made from beer and also about Stone Brewing’s consideration of expanding into Europe. In the tech world: if you live an active online lifestyle, you may wish to sign up for Backupify to back up your data. For that matter, you may also want to try Picnik, an online photo editing service that ties into your social networks (a must have for folks who use flickr). If your still living an “offline” life, you might bridge the gap a bit with a Smart Pen – a pen that records your written notes for syncing with your computer or online account.  By the way – there is no restroom review in tonights episode, so I thought I’d link to this article on the ladies room at 5 Spot.
The song of the day is My Way or the Highway by Travis Carl and the website of the day is the Beer Mapping Project. The show closes on Two Years Down by Stonehoney.

Fremont Oktoberfest 2009

This weekend I paid a visit to Oktoberfest in Fremont. There were a lot of great beers to choose from and they did a good job keeping order in the beer pouring booths. It was clear which line lead to which beer, and the pouring staff were courteous and many were knowledgeable about the beers they were serving.  The weather was perfect for brewfesting and, when the sun went down, mood lighting illuminated the streets of Fremont and enabled the festival to keep rolling along.

My main complaint (which is the same from prior years) is the tiny size of the beer tasting mugs. The small cup size forces you to spend most of your time in lines. This is frustrating since there are other forms of entertainment (contests and bands), but you must sip your 4 ounce beverage slowly if you choose to take in a band and enjoy a beer simultaneously. Brewfests that serve in 14 ounce cups (with a 4 ounce fill line) are much more conducive to entertainment acts because you can enjoy tastes (1 token each) until you wish to enjoy other festivities, then fill your mug and hang out for a while (usually 4 tokens for a full fill).

All in all, it was a great event and I didn’t even catch the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving this year. It has come a very long way since my scathing review of 2007 (even though the price for entry has actually increased since then).  Did you miss Fremont Oktoberfest this year? Check out the video below for a taste.

Thanks to Adhesion for the dance track (Helgas Death Disco) used in this video. Sadly, I’m not sure who performs “Beer”, the other music track in this video.

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #137

Galway Arms RestroomHappy Labor Day from the CrapMonkey Podcast!  There are a couple beer related events coming up that may be of interest to those of you in the Seattle area.  This weekend is the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria (just a few hours away on the Clipper).  Fremont Oktoberfest is September 18, 19 and 20th.  You may wish to kick it off by joining in the Brew Ha Ha 5k Run & Walk.  If you’d rather hang in the great outdoors, you might want to join the Beer Geek Campout at Deception Pass State Park on Sept 19.

This weekend I caught a brief interview with “Dirty Uncle Mike”, the lead singer of a band called Dicktionhead.  While at the Galway Arms Irish Pub to see them play, Wendy also phoned in a Restroom Review.

Were you ever a fan of the V mini-series in the eighties?  Well ABC is airing a remake in November.  This episode includes an audio preview – but check out the video version at

The song of the day is the difficult child by Dicktionhead and the website of the day is  The show closes on Movie by Katie DavisDicktionhead

Augmented Reality – Information at your Pupils


The equation above says it all, in a few short years, augmented reality is going to explode.  Augmented reality refers to supplementing the real world with contextual computer generated information.  While the concept of augmented reality is not new, the ability to “take it with you” is just becoming economical.  The devices we carry every day (iphones, smartphones) will get smarter and more powerful, the bandwidth connecting us to the net will continue to increase, and the data being crunched for us in the cloud will continue to become more relevant.  

Already, the GPS information in iphones is changing the way people interact with the world around them.  Turn-by-turn directions are combining your location information with map data to get you where you wish to go.  Smart applications provide details about real estate by using GPS to understand which property sits in front of you.  Social networks can be updated with the click of a button to let your friends know where you are.  Even so, in a few years we will shrug when we think about how primitive this technology was.

As I write this, applications are being authored that combine the camera, orientation, and GPS information from the phone with data in the cloud to provide rich information about every day things.  Just by pointing the camera on your phone to a sculpture in the park, you will get detailed information delivered to your screen about the art and the artist.  Pointing at a restaurant might reveal the day’s dinner and happy hour specials, the wait time for a table, and then provide you a way to place your order as you make your approach.  New in town and not sure where to get a bite?  Point your device down the street and GPS combined with image recognition will present you with rich data about the establishments that lie ahead of you.  In order to make sense of the enormous amount of data, the information will be easily filterable (Food, Italian, Romantic – for example) .  Many different devices will provide this functionality and it will become clear that the hardware at your hip is much more than a phone.  

RIDEventually, companion devices such as smart-glasses (Retinal Imaging Display), will enter the marketplace.  These glasses will connect to your device via technologies like Bluetooth to allow for more convenient access to your information.  Think of it as the way Terminator viewed the world, only without the all the red tint and orders to kill people.  Information at your fingertips will become information at your pupils.  Voice recognition will allow you to easily navigate through the data that is being drawn onto the lenses of your eyes. Likewise, content will be very interactive, allowing you to receive and send information to the people and places that stand before you. 

This brings me to the “people” part of this future.  The dawn of augmented reality is neatly aligned with the maturing of social media.  The data crunching cloud is not only taking in everything it can about where you are and what you’re looking at, it’s correlating it with everything it knows about you through your social networks, online profiles, search histories, and so on.

AR Phone

Content you are interested in will reach out to you in the form of real time alerts to let you know you are in the vicinity of something you’d be interested in (end-user customizable of course).  When you pass a comic book store that has the rare issue of Spider Man you’ve been looking for on ebay – an alert notifies you.  As you walk through downtown Seattle, you’re notified of an audio walking tour that can be streamed in real time to your ear as you pass monuments and places of interest.  When you walk into a party or concert, your data is correlated with others in your social networks to show you where your friends are in a crowded room or auditorium.  It will be as easy to find someone in a crowd and send a direct message to their ear as it is to send a direct message on Twitter today. 

The device you carry with you will become your extended sense of site and sound (and maybe more) and the data rich, processor heavy cloud will become the distributed machine that is organizing information, processing it and serving it up.  You may think this sounds overwhelming and perhaps even annoying.  In fact, you’re probably right.  But rest assured… though it may be too much information for you to stomach, your kids are going to love it.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Layar platform for one approach or Tonchidot for another.

Plasticiety: Society Meets The MakerBot Revolution

Every movie in the 80’s talked about plastics being the wave of the future.  As I sit here in my office surrounded by plastic gizmos and gadgets, typing away on my plastic keyboard, and listening to music crank out my plastic speakers; there is no doubt that those predictions have come true… almost.  In truth, we’ve only seen the first phase of the plastic boom – the top down, manufactured approach where companies make and consumers buy.  Well strap on your seatbelts folks, because Plasticiety is rapidly approaching and the wave it’s riding is called MakerBot

In the not-so-distant future, we will all have MakerBots on our desktops or in our garages.  They will do to manufacturing what desktop publishing did to printing; put it in the hands of the commoner.  Makerbots are open source 3D printers.  Similar to how a hot glue gun works – plastic tubing goes in one side, gets heated up into a liquid stream and is injected onto a surface (layer by layer) to form a 3-D object.  Today the 3D object is limited in size to 4″x4″x6″, but that will increase in the wake of Plasticiety. Products will dawn stickers that define what percentage of MakerBot printable parts comprise them. Consumer purchasing decisions will be partially based off of this volunteer rating because it will mean the products can be easily repaired.  Did the knob break off of your stove?  No problem, just go to and download the 3D knob object that matches your part number and print out a new one.  Tired of losing or breaking the battery cover for your remote controls?  Put down the duct tape and have Makerbot print a new one.  Uh oh, the kids lost the toothpaste cap again, surf over to, download the object, and print a few spares. 

But that describes only the tip of the iceberg! Sharing  and community will do to manufacturing what it has done to music… irrevocably flip it on its head.  Just visit some of the many object sharing communities that this revolution will foster, download the object models that intrigue you, and then print them into existence.  Objects will be simple at first: hooks and hangers, Jello molds, cookie cutters, spatulas, spoons, measuring cups, salt and pepper shakers, coasters, bottle caps, etc. – but they will become more complex as the phenomenon takes off.  In addition to the plastic tubing (aka – print cartridges), our local hardware and office supply stores will sell bundles of simple parts like springs, hinges and simple motors.  With easily downloadable instructions, you will quickly be able to assemble your homemade parts into more complex creations.  Likewise, when you find or invent items that are useful, it will be easy to post them to the community and share them with your friends.

As noted above, today these MakerBots only make items that are smaller than 4″ by 4″ by 6″ and the objects they create have limitations – but that will change as time goes on.  The bots you have in your home will become efficient at creating items of larger sizes and at higher qualities.  Likewise, 3D object printing shops will begin to show up around town (the Kinkos of Plasticiety) and enable much larger or specialized projects to be completed with the same relative ease and low cost.

You are Here.  At the crossroads of  hyper-manufacturing and consumer empowerment…  where digital turns back into physical and where ideas become tangible objects.  Welcome to Plasticiety. 

For a glimpse of this future today, check out MakerBot’s website  and the open source object marketplace at

Print 3D Objects with Makerbot

Bre Pettis just completed his Gnomedex presentation on Makerbot and it’s a concept that really gets you thinking about what the future could hold.  How cool would it be to dream something up, and then print it into reality?  When something breaks around the house, how handy would it be to just download the 3D model and print another one?  Uh oh, did your Makerbot break down? No problem, just ask your neighbor to print out the part you need.  The possibilities seem endless – welcome to the world of distributed manufacturing.  Click here to view my notes.

Gnomedex 9.0 Kicks Off in Seattle

Gnomedex 9.o kicked off last night in Seattle with the usual cocktail reception at Bell harbor.  This year, the theme is “Human Circuitry – A technology Conference of Influence and Inspiration.”  This morning the actual conference began with “The Art of the Interview” by Warren Etheredge of the Warren Report.  To boil a fun and informative presentaiton down to it’s core three concepts: get their attention, win their trust, and earn their respect.  The Keynote speakers were Chris Brogan and Julien Smith discussing concepts from their new book release “Trust Agents“.  It was a fast moving and entertaining presentation about using the web to build influence, improve reputation and earn trust.  My notes can be found here. Following the keynote was another interesting presentation by Phil Plait about being an active skeptic.  In the fast moving world of the web, it’s more important than ever to be an active skeptic and question things.  My notes can be found here.  Next up?  Christine Peterson discussing life extension.  How do we slow the aging process and stay healthy longer?  There were a lot of concepts in this presentation about getting a baseline on your health, maintaining and improving it, supplement use, etc.   I didn’t walk away with anything too ground breaking other than that I really need to drive toward living a healthier lifestyle.

It’s almost lunch time, so we are about a quarter of the way through the two day conference.  It’s been a great event so far and there is a lot of interesting content coming down the pipe, so I look forward to having a full head by the end of the day.

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #136

The Seattle Hotpocalypse is coming to an end, so I’m actually able to stand the heat in the CrapMonkey “Studio” long enough to make a podcast. This episode is focused predominantly on beer topics: First of all, MillersCoors is starting to experiment with beer in a box. Kid Rock is also throwing his hat into the beer arena with BadAss Beer (by Michigan Brewing Company). If that’s not your style, you might be interested in the new beers being distributed under the Costco Kirkland Signiture brand. Looking for a way to cool off in the summer heat? In Seattle, check out the Bluebird Homeade Ice Cream & Tea Room on Capitol Hill. They have a Stout Ice Cream made with Elysian’s Dragonstooth Stout (review available at elliemay’s blog).
Thanks to Josh from Columnbreak for an excellent restroom review from MSStudios (recorded at the August 4th Gelato Tweetup). Incidentally, the Gelato from the Tweetup was delicious. You’d be crazy not to swing by Gelatiamo and try some out!
The Song of the day is Beer Toast by Bobby Chitwood and the Website of the day is The show closes on Perfect Fit by Blame Amy.
Don’t forget, Gnomedex 9.0 is right aroudn the corner. Get your ticket while you still can!

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #135

It’s another hot day in Seattle and there are a lot of things going on this summer.  First of all, the Oregon Brewfest is this weekend in Portland.  This is probably the best brewfest in the NorthWest.  On August 4th, you’ll want to check out the Gelato Tweetup at Microsoft Studios (co-sponsored by IABC Seattle, Microsoft Academy Mobile and SMC Seattle). Be sure to RSVP!  Gnomedex is also only a month away (aug 20 – 22), so it’s probably time to start thinking about picking up your ticket.  A couple weeks after that is the WABL Labor Day Weekend camping trip – which also sounds like a lot of fun.  Incidently, if you haven’t joined WABL yet, you ought to consider it.

Recently I picked up a toy for the office called the Mir:ror by Violet.  It’s an RFID reader designed for the average consumer and it’s a pretty fun little product.

The song of the day is Before Daylight by Zach Harjo and the website of the day is – a cool interactive recreation of the moon landing.  Finally, the show ends on Beautiful Lie by Beth Thornley.

See you at the Oregon Brewfest!

Camping with CrapMonkey

Below is a brief, plot-less video from our last Camping Trip at the Cle Elum River. It’s only a 90 minute drive from Seattle, but when you’re out there, it’s like you’re in an entirely different world. Pictures from this trip (including our jaunts into Roslyn and Ronald) are also available on Flickr.