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Messages - MDixon

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The Pub / Re: Done. Passed.
« on: August 05, 2011, 05:02:13 AM »
Congrats...get a, I mean a real one...  ;)

My major professor once said, "The best thing to get out of graduate school is yourself."

Beer Travel / Re: Coast to Coast Road Trip
« on: August 03, 2011, 04:13:00 PM »
It's been a very long time since I was in the Buffalo area, but my faves back in the day were Pizza Plant (they had two locations) and Alternative Brews.

The Pub / Re: Working on finances
« on: August 02, 2011, 06:06:18 AM »
Phil - it depends. If your home is new then there is no need to put aside large chunks of change for repair, however if the home has age, then things are bound to need maintenance and repair.

First let's talk insurance, in the US insurance attached to homes seems to come in two forms, first is PMI which is mortgage insurance and is USELESS for anyone other than the lender, it does NOTHING for the purchaser, the other is homeowner's insurance which really only covers the structure and contents from major damage. There is a home warranty which I guess is an insurance of sorts which can be purchased, often it is not worth the money spent.

As far as what to set aside, again, it depends on the age of the home. I'm tapping on 13 years old and had a roof vent leak and two other leaks so my repair costs were about $400 which is really not an amount I need to set aside. My AC units just let me know they were old and the repaid costs were $210 which amounted to refilling with refrigerant, but I now know they are both in need of replacement. To go a fairly energy efficient route will cost me $8K or so. Your roof will last 25 or so years, so in 10 years I need to be prepared for shingles, let's put that at $10K. My water heater is relatively new and should need to be replaced in 15 years or so (tankless) so I need to be ready to take a $2K hit. It all sounds like a ton of money, but with $10K available you can cover most any repair from small to large. Most larger items can be financed if need be so a slush fund of $3K would be adequate IMO.

I can just see the OP crunching numbers, so let's put it in perspective. I purchased the home in 1998 and in 2010 when we refinanced the value was up 40% even in our down housing market.

- -

Growing up we always had a large garden. I'd say ours was at least 1/4 acre, perhaps 1/2 and 5 of us ate a ton of vegetables often giving extra away. I don't know how much it saved my parents, but we were not well off as it turned out. I thought my parents were cheap, turned out we were poor ;)

The Pub / Re: Working on finances
« on: August 01, 2011, 06:24:50 PM »
It is certainly better to own a home in most areas than to rent provided one plans to stay in the home long enough, 5-7 years nowadays.

Another point of contention was being content (gosh that sounds nice the way I phrased that) with 7% returns. Sure I lost 40% on one group of mutual funds when the market tanked and I had my head in the sand, but those funds are back and off to the running. Another set of well chosen funds has provided a hefty 15% 3 year return (which does take into account dropping like a rock in the past few days). Even better IMO is the DRIP with AT&T which has been paying a 6% dividend.

If you really want to invest wisely IMO, max out your 401K ($16,500 currently for those under 50), grab all the match you can from your employer, at the same time invest the max in a Roth IRA with Vanguard, Fidelity or Schwab ($5,000) and have a portion of your payroll sent directly to an interest savings account not tied to a Debit Card, in fact, shred the debit card (that could make a very long thread in itself). Look at flex spending and try to put a little less than the amount you will need in it for medical expenses. It goes without saying to pay off all credit cards and carry no balance.

As an aside, be sure to check all aspects of your employer's 401K/retirement plan. I found out late last year mine has an After Tax portion which is not a Roth, but behaves similar and has a crazy high limit sort of like a SEP. So I can make Roth 401K or Traditional 401K as well as my personal Roth IRA and then once the limit is reached (or before) keep putting in after tax $ which grow like the 401K monies with the exception the initial investment will not be taxable again, only the earnings on that investment. Now if I was rich I'd max that puppy out as well... ;)

Other Fermentables / Re: Ginger beer and kefir
« on: August 01, 2011, 12:19:04 PM »
Mine, never, ever grew...just kept making GB and never got more plant. Mine may be alive, got it from Raj, but you make the stuff so fast I couldn't keep up with the consumption.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Raging b!tch
« on: July 28, 2011, 06:02:07 AM »
Wowser, 5 euro a bottle is a rip. Too often people bring out beers and charge what equates to an exorbitant price and fail to realize if it ain't all that and a bag of chips most folks will be one and done. We have a local "organic" brewery which has a price point $2-$3 a six more than anyone else. There beers are good, solid, but not better than less expensive alternatives, so I purchase other products...YMMV

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Raging b!tch
« on: July 28, 2011, 03:53:29 AM »
So I'm at the store and spot a few cases of RB. I think to myself, self, that was a tasty beverage last year, maybe I should get a sixer. As I reach forward I spot the price, $12.99 per six...WHAT!!!

I know I was purchasing RB when it first came out for around $8 or it wouldn't have filled my fridge so often. I even went to another location of the same store in a city 3 hours away and the price was $12.99 so it wasn't a mislabeling issue unless they have screwed up the entire chain.

Beer Recipes / Re: Wit Recipe
« on: July 22, 2011, 05:39:23 AM »
Just leave them out. See what you think. I like the complexity the small amount of pepper adds to the mix, but putting them in the fermenter would add something different.

Basically I made many incantations trying to get back to an extract kit I made which scored 42 at comp and was a darn nice Witbier. Getting the AG up to par I always thought it needed a little more spice and I decided to add just a few peppercorns and that seemed to make the difference in the end. I spin everything to dust in a spice grinder and add near the end of the boil. I guess you could boil them and add, but I wouldn't bother. Decide if you like the outcome as is and then tweak to make it what your desired witbier would be...

Beer Recipes / Re: Wit Recipe
« on: July 21, 2011, 02:11:10 PM »
I set the flame to barely kiss/lap at the bottom of the kettle as the temp is ramping up and stir, stir, stir for at least a few minutes after I reach my desired temp. I'm generally dead nuts on. I use a thermometer I got at WalMart which I have found is fairly accurate when tested against my lab quality Hanna ChecktempF

Beer Recipes / Re: Wit Recipe
« on: July 20, 2011, 04:16:19 AM »
I don't know that I have ever tasted a witbier yeast starter so I'm no help with that one...

The Pub / Re: what not to name your brewery
« on: July 19, 2011, 05:54:50 AM »

Beer Travel / Re: Best Nashville Breweries?
« on: July 18, 2011, 03:01:40 PM »
I wanna say sometime last year. This seems to confirm what I heard:

Ahh, found it, must have been in the last few months...our deadlines for June are May 1 so sometime before then:

Beer Travel / Re: Best Nashville Breweries?
« on: July 15, 2011, 09:33:15 AM »
FWIW - Dave Miller (yes that Dave Miller) was at Blackstones and I heard he retired, but has since returned.

Beer Travel / Re: Best Nashville Breweries?
« on: July 14, 2011, 02:56:17 PM »
Yazoo, Blackstones and Boscos are always good choices for solid brews.

Now for consumption you may want to eye Flying Saucer, Broadway Brewhouse (have never been there), or Mellow Mushroom (there either).

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche - draft
« on: July 13, 2011, 02:46:19 PM »
I have no idea if it is now a year round or not. The Birch in Norfolk tends to get odd brews I've never seen anywhere else and they had a keg so I went for it. IME smoke tends to diminish over time and this was certainly not diminished.

FWIW - The Birch doesn't hold back kegs, they haven't been opened long enough to be holding back.

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