Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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My Dad’s Legacy

In honour of what would have been my Dad’s 72nd birthday, I give you this photo of me entering a door that has a sign explicitly stating that only authorized personnel, which I am not, may enter:

Authroized personnel. Pfft!

And so my father’s legacy lives on every time I see a sign that says “do not enter” and I think “There must be something good in there. I should go check it out!”

In all seriousness, though, I was thinking about this the other day and as much as I enjoy the rebelliousness and hilarity of disobeying signs the way my dad liked to do, I think there are two important character traits that I learned from my dad reflected here. One is confidence. I remember him telling me that it’s easy to get away with going where you aren’t supposed to go: “Just walk in to a place like you belong there, and no one will question you.” Acting confident can often get you want you want. And in my life, acting confident often has gotten me what I wanted! The other is questioning authority. The sign may say “Do not enter” or “Authorized personnel only” – but why does it say that? Sometimes there is a good reason, but sometimes not. When I saw the signs at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland that said “do not cross this fence”, I knew that many people have accidentally slipped off the edge of those cliffs and fallen 700 ft to the death, so I thought “that’s a sign to take seriously”.

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But this “no entry” sign on an open gate in Freemantle, Australia, where there was clearly no danger, not so much:
Freemantle, Western Australia

So I guess the take home message here is not to automatically not do something just because you are told not to, but to ask the even important question “Why?” Asking “why?” has also gotten me things that I want (or, in some cases, the knowledge of the reason why I can’t have what I want – but at least I know). I think these are two pretty cool things to have learned from my dad.

I wish you were still here for me to wish you a happy birthday, Daddy.

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Five Years

Baby photo 06

My Dad has been gone for five years now. How has five years gone by without my Dad here to tell a joke or tease me when the Leafs beat the Canucks or pick me up at the airport with a Tim Horton’s coffee in one hand and a sign that says “Dr. Snow” in the other? He never knew that I bought a home (he’d have been proud), that I got some cats (he would have been chagrined) and some frogs and fish (he would have been amused). My sister and I have both long since finished the degrees we were just starting when he died1 and gone on to get fancy jobs that he would have proudly told about to anyone and everyone. He would have loved the antics of my nephew, who was only a tiny baby five years ago, and he would have loved the antics of my niece, who’s now nearly a teenager! He would have enjoyed the tales of my mom’s world travels, which he wouldn’t have gone on himself, not being much of a traveller, but he would have wanted to hear all about it. Who knows what he would have gotten up to in his retirement, which he didn’t get nearly enough of after a life of working hard?

I still miss you, Daddy.

  1. A Masters of Design and a Masters of Business Administration, respectively. []

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Goodbye Grandpa

My grandpa died today. He was 94 years old – would have been 95 in March. He had family with him when he went and my mom tells me that the care providers at the facility he lived in, despite having only been there a few weeks, knew him and were very kind to him and to my family. It’s always hard when someone dies, but at least when they are 94 years old you can say that they had a good long life. And he wasn’t doing well of late – hence having moved into a care facility that could take care of his increasing health needs – so I am grateful that he didn’t have to experience prolonged suffering.

When I think about my grandpa, I usually think of him as being about 65 years old (despite that actually being 30 years ago!). I remember going out tobogganing for his 65th birthday. The whole family, laughing and careening down the hill on our various types of toboggans. All wearing orange and white toques with the Howard Johnson logo on them1, as that was where my grandpa worked at the time. I also remember eating venison that he’d hunted. And the jokes he would tell. And drinking tea at my grandparents house. I have a duck that he carved – a male buffelhead to be specific – in my home office, next to my Dad’s french fry cutter and one of my Granny’s china tea cups.

I didn’t get to see my grandpa when I was in Ontario for the holidays. A combination of a short trip, bad weather, and being sick (and not wanting to bring germs into a facility full of frail elderly people) kept me away. The last time I saw my grandpa was the previous year, on Boxing Day, at my Aunt Wendy’s house, watching World Juniors hockey. He loved hockey, as do many in my family, including me, so it’s a nice memory to have to add to a lifetime of other memories.

You will be missed, Grandpa.

A duck my grandpa carved

A male buffelhead carved by Des Snow.

  1. I also remember these Howard Johnson disposable toothbrushes my grandparents used to have at their place – they had some sort of powdered toothpaste in the brush so you just had to add water and brush. I thought they were pretty cool. []

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Blogging at 30,000 ft

The following was written on a plane earlier today.

I’m on my way home from my whirlwind Christmas holidays and realized that I have to do 9 blog postings in the next 2.5 days to achieve my goal of publishing 116 blog postings in 2016. So I figure I better get writing! I have a few year-end blog postings that I typically do that will fill out a number of these, including:

  • Year in Review
  • Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List
  • Books I Read in 2016
  • New Foods and/or Drinks I Made in 2016
  • How Did I Do on My 2016 Goals?
  • Goals for 2017
  • Favourite tweets
  • Nerd Stats 2016

So I just have to write all of those, plus this one, and mission accomplished!

I guess before I get cracking on writing all of those, I can tell you about my whirlwind Christmas holidays! We arrived back at my sister’s after our four days in NYC on the night of Dec 23. Happily, we got in earlier than expected, as we had whizzed through security because we got TSA-Pre clearance so we made it to our gate before the previous fight to Toronto had left and we were able to get three seats on that flight. This meant that we got home before my niece and nephew had gone to bed, so I didn’t have to wait until the next morning to see them!

The next day was Christmas Eve and we woke to pancakes that were made by my nephew, Thomas. He got a cookbook from the school library on the last day of school specifically so he could make those for everyone and they were delicious (I should add that Thomas is 5 and a surprising good cook (and baker) for his age.. with a wee bit of assistance with the stove part). After that, we mostly just lounged around, though I did wrap my presents and about eleventy billion trips were made to the grocery store for various things that we remembered we needed (as the stores would be closed the next day!), each thing being remembered only after the last shopper had returned to the house. I should note that I didn’t make any of those trips because it was cold outside and I am a delicate west coast flower. Christmas Eve dinner was a cornucopia of appies – crackers and breads and spreads and jalapeño poppers and shrimp thingys and chicken fingers and various things wrapped in various pastries and we were all stuff to the gills will deliciousness.

Christmas Day was as Christmas Day should be – awaking early to see what Santa had brought for the kiddies and what everyone had gotten for each other and the biggest winners of the present getting were my niece’s three guinea pigs and my cats. That is not to say that the rest of us were deprived, as we spoiled each other rotten, but the fluffy members of our family got some pretty sweet gifts. My mom made fritattas and a hot potato salad for breakfast (I was supposed to help, but she got up at the crack of dawn while I was still in dreamland1, so my contribution consisted of the sophisticated work of toasting English muffins and crumpets.). My sister made an amazing turkey dinner and for dessert we had individual-sized banoffee pies made by my mother and I (I actually did help make those!) and they might now be on my list of top desserts ever2. There may also have been a PokéWalk3 before dinner for my niece, my nephew, and I, as I figured that I should probably leave the house at least every other day. It was cold, but worth it.

On Boxing Day, we were supposed to go to my Aunt Wendy’s place for an open house, but a combination of icy conditions and that fact that all of us had a pretty nasty cold (that we didn’t really want to give it to the various babies who would be there) kept us away. Boxing Day consisted of lounging, building Lego things, playing various games, and eating our weight in leftovers.

On Dec 27, my mom, sister, and I went to the spa for pedicures (a Christmas present to us from my mom), followed by lunch with my Aunty Eileen and Aunty Lynn. That evening me and Nancy met up with Dr. Dan, Rick, and Rob, another guy we’d all gone to high school with that Dan keeps in regular touch with but who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We stuffed our faces with Mexican food, drank margaritas the size of our heads4, and then went to another restaurant and stuffed ourselves with more drinks and desserts.

Yesterday Nancy, Jeff, Madeline, Thomas and I went to see Rogue One. I won’t say any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it yet. My mom is not a Star Wars fan, so she stayed back at my sister’s house and made a trip to the bakery, because clearly we hadn’t food shopped enough! That evening, Sarah and Dave and their munchkins came over for dinner. Their munchkins seemed to have a pretty fun time playing with Madeline and Thomas and I had a pretty fun time catching up with Sarah and Dave!

At some point in all of that, Nancy, Jeff, my mom, and I found time to watch the first season (all 10 episodes) of The Man in the High Castle5. Or as we called it “The Man in the High Tower”, “The High Man in the Castle”, “The High Man in the Dark Castle Tower”, and “Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick Holder”6. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out. I can’t wait to watch season 2, which I only just learned existed yesterday.

And now, it what feels like a blink of the eye from when I left, I’m on a plane back home! It’s always so sad to say good-bye to my family, but I am excited to see my kitties. I have a suitcase full of presents for them.

  1. You may notice a trend in this blog posting of my being a lazy SOB on my holidays. []
  2. Alongside chocolate amaretto cheesecake and espresso cupcakes with mascarpone cream. []
  3. Where one goes on a walk for the expressed purpose of catching Pokémon. Yes, I am still playing PokémonGO. []
  4. That may have been just Dr. Dan and I. []
  5. A TV show on Amazon Prime that is based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, in which the Nazis and Japan won WWII and the story is set in a post-war America in which Germany and Japan control the eastern and western parts of North America, respectively. []
  6. For some reason we kept screwing up the name of the show. It started with someone accidentally calling it “The Man in the High Tower”, and then we all started screwing it up like that and it escalated from there. []

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Niece

Happy 12th birthday to my fabulous niece, Madeline!

Me & Madeline

A few more years and we’ll be cheers-ing your birthday with real champagne!

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NYC

Hey, remember yesterday when I said of my mother: “Who knows where her world travels will take her next?” The answer was me and my sister. We knew where my mother’s world travels would take her next because we’d already booked a trip to take her to New York City as her birthday present! We wanted to do something extra special for her extra special birthday and we figured that her first trip to NYC would fit the bill1. She’s never been to NYC before and it will be all decorated up for the holidays, so that’s pretty cool. I’ve also never been to NYC before, so it’s also kind of a gift to me too! I also think it’s cool because my sister went to NYC for her 40th and now my mom is going for her 70th and it will also be just weeks before my 40th!

We’ve got tickets to a couple of shows (Wicked and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular) and reservations for a couple of fancy dinners (I can’t remember where. My sister booked them because she’s the good daughter who does all the work of planning and suchlike.). We are very excited to see the big Christmas tree and the big skating rink and Central Park and countless other NYCesque things! If you have any suggestions on must-see/must-do things while we are there (keeping in mind we are only there for 3 days), let me know!

  1. The recent thing that happened south of the border made us a bit less excited at first, but I would like to point out that Obama will still be the president while we are there, so there’s that. []

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Mom

Today my mom is having a milestone birthday! I’m not going to say which one as the number, according to her “makes me want to throw up”. But as I always reply, “Turning [number redacted] is better than not turning [number redacted]!” Besides, it’s not how old you are, but how old you feel! And my mom is young at heart, enjoying a life of fine wines and world travels!

Here she is in Milan1:

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And in London:

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And here we are in Ireland:

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Who knows where her world travels will take her next?

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

  1. Photo shamelessly stolen from my Aunt Eileen’s Flickr account []

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A visit from my mom and my niece

Hey remember that time that my Mom and my niece came to visit me? Of course you don’t, because I didn’t blog1 or tweet/Facebook/etc. any of it while they were here because we were having way too much gallivanting (and perhaps spent all of our tech-related time catching Pokémon instead).

Highlights of their trip included:

  • the New Westminster petting zoo (which I’d never been to before, despite being a New Westie for several years now!)

    Untitled

    My niece holding a bunny at the Queen’s Park Petting Zoo in New West

  • the Vancouver Aquarium, where we petted rays and saw beluga whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and much more
  • Science World at Telus World of Science2, where we did the spy exhibit. Wasn’t really any science to it, but it was super fun! It was challenging enough to keep us engaged through all the parts of the exhibit – and my niece was the master of figuring out the clues! For the record, we totally figured out who stole the computer chip and why!
  • New West StrEAT food truck festival. It was insanely hot out, but that didn’t keep me, my Mom, my niece, Kalev, Andrew, and I from checking out all of the 88 food trucks. Among us we had an Aussie meat pie, a Japadog, bubble tea, a tacotino, pizza, hurricane potatoes, a Beaver tail, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting!

    Untitled

    My niece was inspired by a photo of a child with ridiculously placed chocolate on his face on the side of the Beaver Tails truck to place some chocolate in a similar ridiculous fashion.

  • BBQ dinners, including pork tenderloin and steaks
  • Granville Island, including Lee’s Donuts3, jewelry shopping4, looking at fancy brooms (and my mom saying “How can I fit this in my luggage?” and then not buying one because she can’t fit it in her luggage – a tradition of hers when she comes to Vancouver), sitting in hammocks (and saying “Where could I hang this?” and realizing we have nowhere to hang hammocks and then not buying them – another tradition when my family comes to town), and lunch at Edible Canada.

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    This was a menu item at Edible Canada, but we were pretty sure it is actually a Pokémon.

  • Delicious pizza from Pizza Garden. Crick became obsessed with the pizza box5, even choosing to sleep there at night instead sleeping with me like she usually does. After a few days, I decided that it was time for the pizza box to go (given that it does have bits of food in it, which will get icky) and said “I’m going to take the pizza box to the compost”, and the Crick bolted from across the apartment to the box and stood on it and looked at me as if to say “You aren’t taking this anywhere!”

    Untitled

    Crick is in her happy place

  • Pokemon Go! With all the walking around we did, we had ample opportunity to hunt for wild pocket monsters. We caught an Electrobuzz at the New West petting zoo, and 3 Tauros in one day! We also collected so many Pokémon that we had a whole bunch that we could evolve, so we planned it out so that we could drop a Lucky Egg (which gives you double XP6 for half an hour) and then evolved about 40 Pokémon, which resulted in me finally levelling up from Level 20 to 21 (and getting a good chunk of the way through Level 21 to boot.)) We evolved a few Pokémon that I didn’t have before – a Persian (from a Meowth), a Wortotle (from a Squirtle), a Venomoth (from a Venonat), and a Poliwhirl (from a Poliwag) – and a bunch of ones that I already have just to get the extra XP7.

    Untitled

    My mom, helping us catch a wild Hypno.

  • A very exciting semi-finals hockey game in which my summer hockey team went to an eleven round shootout to decide who went on to the finals!

Lowlights included:

  • Losing the aforementioned hockey semi-final in an eleven round shootout.
  • My mom’s triple injury – she burned her finger on the first day here, she cut two fingers quite deeply on her second day here (trying to open a package with an overly sharp knife)8, and then a few days later is poked herself in the finger with a bamboo skewer while making dinner.
  1. Other than to mention briefly that it was upcoming. []
  2. That is really its name and the ridiculousness of that name makes me laugh every time! []
  3. Hands down the best donuts in the city. []
  4. My mom bought be a gorgeous necklace as a Christmas present. []
  5. As she usually does when I have a pizza box in the house. []
  6. Experience points. []
  7. I’m looking at you, 21 Pidgey evolutions! []
  8. Needless to say, there were some “Not to be trusted with knives” jokes made. []

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Happy Birthday Nancy!

Today is my sister’s birthday.

This excellent photo of me and my sister was the result of us trying to take a selfie that got both of us and the “Snow’s Lane” lane in the background into the same shot on our recent trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the only shot where we managed to do so and neither of us are looking at the camera.

Snow's Lane

Happy birthday, Nancy! Here’s to many more years of fun trips, ambitious projects, excellent photo ops, and general high jinks with my favourite sister!

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Trip to Newfoundland and Labrador

Except I didn’t actually go to Labrador, but the province is officially called “Newfoundland and Labrador”, so it’s technically correct to say I went to Newfoundland and Labrador without setting foot in the Labrador part. It’s kind of confusing, but there you have it.

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Map of Canada highlighting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The island is Newfoundland and the part on the mainland is Labrador. Image source: By TUBS

The reason for the trip was to attend the Canadian Evaluation Society’s 2016 conference being held in St. John’s, NL from June 3-6. I won’t bore you with all the conference stuff1, but I will tell you that my sister and I did a pre-conference workshop on a project we’ve been working on together, along with her partner, Jeff, and it got a fantastic reception2. As well, I did a presentation on my big project at work that also drew a good sized and much engaged audience, which made me happy.

The most exciting non-work part of the conference was the screech in ceremony at the closing reception. Screeching In, for the uninitiated, is a Newfoundland and Labradorian tradition whereby people “from away” (i.e., not from NL) take a shot of screech3, say some NL phrases, and kiss a cod and are then declared an honorary Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Everyone was quite excited by this event and I have to say I quite enjoyed it, though the screech was probably the worst rum I’ve ever had and kissing a cod is disgusting!

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

My sister and I with our shots of screech

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Me, just after kissing the cod (Didn’t manage to capture the kiss on camera). It was truly disgusting.

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Official certificate to provide that I have, in fact, been screeched in. I will frame it and hang it next to my Official Irish Whiskey taster certificate.

Since we’d flown such a long way to get there and neither Inor my sister had been to Newfoundland before, we decided to tag on a couple of vacation days to check a bit of it out. NL is actually quite huge, so we only got to explore a tiny fraction of it, but we did get to:

  • Dildo: Seriously, there is a town in NL called Dildo and I made my sister drive there just so I could take this picture:

    Dildo, NL

    There is nothing in the town of Dildo. You pretty much just go there to take a photo with the town sign.

  • South Dildo: Somehow, I think South Dildo is even funnier than Dildo. Sadly, we did not see a town sign when we drove through South Dildo, but I took this screen shot of Google Maps as we drove through it to prove we were there:South Dildo, NL
  • Harbour Grace:My Great Granny Snow (my dad’s dad’s mom) lived in Harbour Grace when she immigrated to Canada from England, so my sister and I decided to go check it out. We had no idea where exactly she lived beyond the fact that it was a house on the water near some trees, which describes pretty much every house in Harbour Grace4. It’s not a very big town and we drove along the aptly named Water St, so we think we probably drove by where her house would have been. The day we went to Harbour Grace was my dad’s birthday. While we were looking around we saw a big church that we wanted to check out, but it turned out to be under renovation and had a gate with a “no trespassing” sign on it. Anyone who knew my father will tell you that he viewed a “no trespassing” or “do not enter” sign as not so much a notice that you should not go to that place, but as an indication that you probably should. “They wouldn’t put a sign up saying to “stay out” unless there was something good in there that you would want to see!” he used to say. So I decided to take this photo in his memory5.
    Trespassing in Harbour Grace, NL

    Me, trespassing in Harbour Grace, on my Dad’s birthday. He would be proud!

    My sister said she was spending her vacation driving around taking photos of me for my blog. She was not wrong in this statement.))

  • The Easternmost Point of North America: which is in a place called Cape Spear, which is quite close to St. John’s. Though, as my friend Linda (who was the first person to mention this place to me as a place to go) pointed out, you aren’t *actually* at the most eastern point since this viewing spot that says “You are at the Easternmost point of North America” is not actually at the shoreline, but I think this can be considered the easternmost point of North America that you can safely go to, as that ocean looks scary! So I say it still counts. I took a selfie of me there because of course I did.Me at the eastern most point in North America, at Cape Spear, NLCape Spear also has a cool old lighthouse that you can visit and learn about how the light keepers lived in the old timey days (as well as a new, functioning light house that still provides signals to ships that they are getting close to St. John’s Harbour and also don’t come over this way because it’s super rocky) because GPS can fail you sometimes.

    Cape Spear, NL

    This is the new lighthouse. I didn’t get a good photo of the old timey lighthouse, though we did go into it.

  • The Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway*: While we were meandering around NL, I got a Facebook reminder that three years ago today, I was at the Pacific Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway.
    Beth at the Pacific Terminus of the Transcanada Highway

    Three years ago

    So I thought it would be super cool to go to the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway on the same date! Unfortunately, there isn’t a marker anywhere to show you where the Trans Canada Highway ends in St. John’s – it just sort of ends out of nowhere:

    TCH eastern terminus

    So I took a bunch of selfies as my sister drove through that section and so one of these photos has to be correct. They basically all look like this:

    Driving through the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway

    At the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway. Probably.

  • Snow’s Lane: While we were looking for the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway, we noticed on the map that there was a street called “Snow’s Lane”. So naturally we had to go there. The road itself was nothing much, but at least we can say we’ve been there!Snow's Lane in St. John's, NL
  • Signal Hill: This was the hill upon which Marconi received the first ever trans-Atlantic radio signal6Signal Hill

Other random things about our trip:

  • Every restaurant we went to in St. John’s was fantastic! My favourites were Yellowbelly – a brew pub that makes the best french fries I’ve ever eaten and a pretty solid wheat ale – and Oliver’s – a fancier place where we had amazing sea scallops, I had a bourbon chicken and risotto to die for, while my sister had Atlantic salmon7, and we shared a delicious creme brûlée. Other great restaurants included the Celtic Hearth (my sister got a turkey soup that was like homemade, I got an excellent club sandwich on the freshest of breads, and I tried Quidi Vidi Iceberg beer, which is made from water harvested from icebergs! At first sip, Iceberg seems like a meh lager, but then a fraction of a second later it hits you with an outstanding flavour8. I highly recommend it!
  • It was bloody cold in St. John’s, to the point that on Wednesday it felt like biting winter cold. We were told it was unseasonably cold and it wasn’t helped by the knowledge that I was missing out on 30 degree9 weather back home in Vancouver!
  • I took this photo for my Uncle Harry. Don’t know what Harold Snow of Newfoundland was advertising, as this sign literally just said his name:IMG_2720

When I set foot in St. John’s, I officially completed my quest to visit every Canadian province. Now I just need to visit the two territories that I haven’t been to yet (Yukon and Nunavut) and I’ll have been to every part of the country!

  1. If you are interested in reading about that, you can check out my professional blog where I will be writing about that in the coming days – I’ll update the link to the specific blog posting once I post it. []
  2. I’ll probably blog about it more once it’s ready for prime time – right now it’s in a beta phase. []
  3. i.e., crappy Newfoundland rum/ []
  4. Not to mention that it’s entirely possible that the house isn’t there anymore []
  5. And, of course, to add to my collection of me doing things that signs say not to do. []
  6. For some reason, I always thought he sent the first trans-Atlantic radio signal, but he did not – he received it. []
  7. I’m a bit of a salmon snob, in that I much prefer Pacific salmon. I tried some of my sister Atlantic salmon, just in case the Atlantic stuff is better when it is fresh (which I don’t get in Vancouver), but it just isn’t as good as the Pacific stuff, imho []
  8. I’m sure the water harvested from an iceberg thing is gimmick rather than being what makes the beer awesome, but it really is an awesome beer. []
  9. Celsius. []