An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates

Every now and then you read something and realize it is one of those rare, once-every-decade creations of lingual brilliance. A rare gem. Something that you will recall for years; reading again and again just for the joy of it.

As a writer I read such things and my insane jealousy for not having written it myself is but drowned in an ocean of reverence and awe in this accomplishment of beauty and experience. All that is left after such a thing as this is the joy of having read it, and love for the author who wrote it.

And you are grateful to these writers who have drowned you with their prose, who have filled you to your brim with the very essence of something you love, to give you a picture of this thing that you have always known, and shown it to you in a way that you have never before seen. And right then and there you know that this thing was all along theirs, too, also yours, a thing that you love together.

You float in this reverence and you can feel your jealousy sinking in the ocean beneath you. Every fathom fallen lifts you higher, freeing you from a prison you didn’t realize you occupied. And you are glad to be rid of something so petty, because your joy is just too full to be disturbed by baser things.

An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates

9 Stupid Things Antifa Says To Me, #4 Will Shock You

Middle Finger by Mathilde Heu from the Noun Project

In response to my earlier post, Why I Oppose Antifa, an old friend of mine took issue and responded on Facebook. For now I will leave John’s (his name has been changed for obvious reasons) entire response redacted since my default on Facebook is to keep posts between my friends. I’m erring on the side of caution here since I haven’t decided whether or not I should publish his original post publicly. This may change, however, depending on how this unfolds. Below is my response to John’s questions and accusations, shown numbered and in bold.

1) Where are you getting this idea that “Antifa” is a monolith, with a common ideology?

You’re right, antifa isn’t a monolith. But there certainly is a common ideology and that is “antifa and nothing else” which is the problem that I talked about. And my biggest concern, if you may recall, is what comes after Antifa.

Also, isn’t it kind of ironic that you scream “non-monolithic” for Antifa in the same argument where you lump all capitalists together?

2) Are you seriously saying that Authoritarianism has 2 sides?

Yes. Authoritarianism has two sides. It is a spectrum with a far left side and a far right side. The two extremes have been represented, historically, as Communists and as Nazis. One is not “the opposite” of the other, and the entirety of the rest of the political spectrum is not contained between the two. Because they are on the same spectrum that makes them more alike than it makes them different. The opposite of authoritarianism is libertarianism.

3a) The idea of Anarco-communism goes back at least to the French Revolution

Communism/socialism goes back to Mesopotamia/Egypt (maybe before). Ideologically it begins with Plato’s Republic where it putrefied until the Heretics decided to run with it in the second century. Communism certainly had its stupid hands all over the French Revolution, and many things came out of Enlightenment (including capitalism). The fact that “anarcho communism” may be older than capitalism doesn’t make it more correct, however. That’s like saying “Spontaneous Generation” is correct because it is older than Pasteur. Something can be old, and still completely dumb and wrong. Are you saying that the system of government used by the ancient Egyptians is a better way than Capitalism? How many slaves lived and died in Egypt? In Mesopotamia? Historically, communism hasn’t been shy about the use of slavery, so… Again, I’m gonna call “Shitty Idea” on that.

3b) Wait, are you saying that because the anarchists got stabbed in the back after the Russian revolution, that they are implicated with those who stabbed them in the back?

The only way communism can “function” (I use the term with the liberalist possible definition) as a state is with authoritarianism. The fact that the “non authoritarian” bolsheviks were betrayed by the authoritarian “stalinists”, as I pointed out, was inevitable because they were trying to make State Communism. That the Bolsheviks didn’t see that coming is testament to their complete utopian delusion. Lenin forgot to include himself as a “Useful Idiot”, as useful idiots are wont to do. Luckily (thankfully) he died before he was murdered. Or did he? Hmm.

3b-also) Are you seriously just lumping [anarchists] all as “Authoritarians?,” [sic] and equating them with fascists?

I am also on the anarchistic side of the spectrum. Kind of hard to “lump all anarchists” in the same Antifa/Communist pot when I am on the anarchistic side of capitalism, and clearly I disdain Antifa, so…

Lets play a thought experiment here. On the “Authoritarian” side of the scale you have naziism in the top right, and state communism on the top left. Now on the “Left” side of the scale you have “Authoritarianism” occupying the “state communism” at the top left, and what—for the Love Of God—I’m about to call “communistic-libertarianism” on the bottom left. What would these “communistic libertarians” look like? Basically, we call these people Hippies. And as far as communism goes, the only stable form of it has ever been small bands of people, for the very reason that this is exactly how human beings evolved and survived in nature before the rise of the state. (It is also this reason that the first versions of statism were socialistic in nature, as in Mesopotamia and Egypt).

So hippy communes in central Oregon and on the Hawaiian islands, etc., I have no problem with. Why? Because it is completely voluntary and non-authroitarian. Very peaceful communists. How lovely. I think they’re great. And I’m glad they’re not trying to “fix the economy” by imposing it on the rest of society.

4) You keep referring to “Antifa” as a group, but it is not. If 2 antifascist want to go out and fight facsism [sic] however they want, that’s “Antifa.” That’s why your rediculous [sic] “George Soros” bullshit is so fucking funny….

By your definition then I am also antifa, because I too fight fascism with other people. But what is confusing to me is why Antifa are so intent on calling me a fascist then? I mean, if “Antifa is anyone fighting fascism” then why isn’t antifa supporting my cause? Why, for instance, is Antifa screaming at me “FUCK YOU FASCIST” at the bar, like they did Friday night? As I pointed out in my letter, if Antifa’s primary fucking goal really was to fight fascism then why don’t they accept every fucking alliance against fascism that they can? You know the word, “Allies”? That photo of US Marines storming the beaches of Normandy? A group of people comprised of liberals and conservatives united in defeating fascism? Where, exactly, is this magical coalition represented in Antifa?

Oh, right. It doesn’t exist, because fighting fascism is only the facade, the stated and “public purpose” of antifa, where their actions are completely counter to this stated goal. The fact that Anarchists, just like their idiot Bolshevik brethren, can’t see that they’re being completely used for ulterior motives is historically and eerily similar.

And until this very sentence, I have never uttered “George Soros” in defense or excuse of anything. And it seems to me I still haven’t. I am capable of forming my own opinions without the aid of social media.

5) That said, your fucking blaming of Jews, and American political volunteers (mostly jews and minorities,), for the win of the fascists (and/or the communists), is simply gut-turning and reprehensible

Excuse me? At what point, ever, did I blame the Jews or other minorities? I said that gays, Jews and political dissenters have just as much to fear from authoritarian communism as they do from naziism. Are you really trying to smear me as an anti semite? Do you know anything about my family, John? You know nothing, John Snow!

You are starting to sound exactly like that twat at the bar who screamed “FUCK YOU FASCIST” at me. I’ll defer back to #4 in this response. You brought up George Soros, not me. You accused me, falsely, of being an anti semite. At this point I’m wondering who should get fucked.

6) You consistently equate state violence with the resistance those under its thumb, as if all “violence” is the same. Please, if you’re against “violence,” then stop eating.

I’m sorry, is this some kind of advertisement for veganism? “After these messages….”

7) You’re basically saying that because they were killed by Stalin, that all of their ideas and plans were moot, and that they were collaborators.

I am saying they (the Bolsheviks) were idealistic, utopian delusional idiots and that their plan was a very, very bad idea that would have never worked. They also did not come to power peacefully, they were also very violent people. There was a revolutionary war that happened, if you recall. Hmm… They kind of sound like Antifa in a way, don’t they? I Wonder What Might Happen Next?™

8) Also, (and this is where I [sic] really give up and get lazy), for blaming anti-Nazis for the rise of Nazism in the US– FUCK YOU AUSTEN. I’m gladly done wth[sic] you..

Point #4 again. Peace and Love, Flower Brotha!

*I didn’t really thank him for giving up and getting lazy. That was nice of him. I hope he reads this so he knows how much I care!

9) Have fun shadowboxing against your nemesis “Antifa,” (a “terrorist organization” that doesn’t even exist).

Thank you for acknowledging Antifa as a terrorist organization. It helps to say it out loud.

Antifa is most definitely an organization, decentralized as it may be, it is still an organization. This is clearly demonstrated repeatedly over, and over, and over, and… Or are you really trying to make people believe that “Whenever Trouble Brews, Antifa Just Happen To Be There (with bats)?” Clearly there’s some organizing going on. Don’t be obtuse.

And decentralized terrorists are still terrorists, regardless of how you try and spin it. Whatever their ideology, someone acting “lone wolf” is still a terrorist when they terrorize people.

Why I Oppose Antifa

What follows is a letter written to a friend who actively supported Antifa and justified Antifa’s violent actions against supposed fascists. It was written after a fairly heated exchange on Facebook where I encouraged Antifa and their supporters to “go and fuck themselves” after years of violence and antagonism that resulted in the death of a protester in Charlottesville. The letter was hastily written in an effort to save an actual friendship after our virtual one had ended on the social platform. This letter was not written with the intent of being a public article. There were no sources made to any of my claims, all of which were made in good faith based on information I had gathered over the years of watching Antifa’s actions, and many sources on the history of socialism and communism. I present this letter almost intact. I have made some changes to protect the identity of my friend, as well as some editing because I’m a spaz like that and can’t help myself. I may rework this letter into a fully cited text at a future time, but I feel the relevance of this cannot wait for a more thorough or convenient time. This is a long letter, and if I am to hold myself to my high standards, it is also poorly written. But in the words of Blaise Pascal, “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte” or “I only made it longer because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter.”

Dear Friends,

I hope I don’t have to say that I am not in favor, or support of Nazi ideology. I also disagree that I am somehow “sitting by doing nothing” or that “my silence is endorsing naziism” by refusing to play a part of bashing Nazi heads at rallies, or justifying violence “by any means necessary.” But I simply can’t support or endorse the violent actions of Antifa. In fact I mean to fight against them. Here’s why:

My problem with Antifa is that they claim to fight fascism, but all the while using fascism to suit their own ends. My problem with Antifa is that they are Communists, and just as Authoritarian as Nazis. My problem with Antifa is that they are not fighting against an ideology that is dangerous and threatening to minorities, but to to wrest control from their National Socialist brethren. And once they do, everyone who stands in their way of ultimate power—including and especially minorities—are in grave danger as they have always been in the past. This. Has. Happened. Many. Times. Before.

There are historically two sides to Authoritarianism that have been fighting each other for power and control: Nazis and Communists. This goes back to the 1920s Germany where the NSDAP was fighting the Communist party for control. And long before that too. Socialism goes back to Plato as an ideology, and before that in Mesopotamia and Egypt where Socialism was the state government. The battle for Socialistic power is rooted in religious heretical fervor which should help explain why Naziism and Communism have always been such vile and violent efforts.

What we are seeing today is the escalation of Authoritarianism and the battle over which side will win that power for themselves. And it looks eerily similar to how it looked in pre-Nazi Germany. This is why I say “Anarcho Communism” is a lie. It is claiming “We are not the Authoritarians we were in the past, we do not seek Authoritarian power this time, we swear, we promise.” I don’t deride anyone in Antifa who actually believes this nonsensein fact I truly hope that they don’t support Authoritarianismbut it is not them that I am worried about, it is who comes after them that frightens me. It is what happens after the Communists purge the anarchists in pursuit of their authoritarian path to Utopia.

Extremist groups have never—EVER—been a friend of LGBTQ people and other minorities. We have always been the expendable groups. Even Democrats do this. Every election Democrats whisper sweet, private words of support in the ears of LGBTQ people only to abandon them once elected to office. Sure we got Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Sure we got a party that issued stern words of condemnation towards anti-queer agendas. Sure we got genderless bathrooms in the Federal Government. But words and half-assed measures were the only rewards for our dutiful support of the Left.

The same is true for Antifa, a very extremist group. They have always claimed to represent the underrepresented, until they achieve the power and control that they seek. Unlike Democrats, they aren’t so forgetful of who brought them into power. Lenin had a saying, “Useful Idiots.” Whatever the intentions of those fighting with Antifa on the ground today, they are not the ones guiding the agenda, and they are not the ones who will become the political leaders. The real leaders wait in silence, for the violence to erupt, for chaos and collapse after others die for their cause. Only then will the people who wish to seize power reveal themselves. They will become known after the movement is exhausted and tired from fightingor simply dead from the act itself. Their first goal is to simply “clean up” what is left, all the while pretending to be “On Your Side.” They will be accepted with open arms because they are hiding in plain sight; only their agenda is hidden.

By “cleaning up” that includes putting in a Communist regime, yes, however you may feel about Communism. It also means “cleaning up” the Useful Idiots who had their ideals exploited for Authoritarian ends. The Useful Idiots will die too. And being Authoritarians “cleaning up” also means an attempt to homogenize their newly won society and culture, “to optimize for future success.” This is one area where Communists and Nazis agree: the extermination of minorities including Jews, LGBTQ, and political dissenters. Threads of this “cleansing” are already showing themselves in what we see as the battle over “oppression olympics,” of who is the most oppressed group and who is the most deserving of a seat of power and voiceand who is in their way. Nothing unites a people like having a common enemy. Unfortunately for LGBTQ people, History shows that we are a convenient target.

I know that Socialists and Communists don’t like being associated with National Socialism and Authoritarianism, but it is nonetheless true. What’s happening now is the same thing that happened in the Russian Revolution that brought Lenin to power. And what happened after Lenin died was the Great Purge of those people who helped to realize Communism. It was they who held onto the utopian ideas of what Communism was supposed to be, and it was them that would have tried to stop the rise of Authoritarianism. They were betrayed by the Authoritarians amongst them to seize power. Hundreds of thousands of Revolutionaries died at the hands of Stalin. Executed, so that nobody would be able to stand in the way of Stalin’s grand dream. This is even before Stalin murdered millions and millions in his Gulag.

In Germany in the 1920s and ’30s, Communist Antifa battled with the National Socialists, not just because of opposition to their ideology (it was hardly this at all), but because it was a battle for which form of Socialism would wrest power. It was the actions of Antifa Communists (the same actions that are now being carried out in the United States) that alienated German people and helped push public support towards the Nazis and ultimately led to the Nazi regime and WWII. I daresay repeating this bit of history sounds unthinkably terrifying.

This is why I am concerned about Antifa’s actions in the United States. They have been fanning the flames of Authoritarianism. They have been avid ideologues, thought police, censors, violent “my way or the highway” thugs that paint every single person who disagrees with them as the enemy, and lumping them all into one group, then viciously attacking them. This is why the words “racist” and “nazi” and “bigot” have been thrown at people without veracity or evidence. It makes them easier to attack without having to justify or validate the Antifa position: anger and violence gets to decide. This is what you call By Any Means Necessary: attacking people who are anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ, anti-nazi and especially anti-communist. Otherwise known in sensible circles as Allies, if the true goal was the eradication of Fascism. Which, for Antifa, it is not. For Antifa it is the eradication of people who would stand in the way of implementing the Communist utopia they seek.

It has been the actions of Communists and Antifa over the past several years that has caused the erosion of public support for the left, caused antipathy amongst liberal and moderate minds, or has pushed those into more centrist and conservative circles. And it has been the actions of Antifa that is invigorating the Alt Right, re-awakening previously pacified resentments of some people, and pushing others still on the fence into their ideological camps. This is why Trump won the election. The left and moderates were demoralized by Antifa rhetoric. This last election saw a 20 year record low turnout for a presidential election, a 54% estimated decrease from previous elections. This, during an election which held significant stakes for every single party playing in the system. Doesn’t it seem strange to have such low turnout for such high stakes? Bernie Sanders lost the bid for the presidency in a corrupt scandal at the DNC. Antifa were supposed to have their figurehead. Hillary was a liability to them. Nothing left to do but tear the whole thing down. For Antifa right now, it is win or die trying.

Just like any cult, the racists that exist today were not always racists, not all of them. They have been recruited and inducted. What is making this possible is revulsion and opposition towards the extremist actions of Antifa. Antifa is making white nationalism stronger every single time they get on the news bashing free speech, bashing people’s heads in with bats and bike locks.

This is why the Alt Right is more than willing to contribute towards this mess, because it is good business for them and they desperately want it; they had previously shrunk to insignificant numbers. We had damn near wiped them out. During the election, over 90 percent of the racist memes and statements from the Alt Right were tracked down to a mere 1,200 email accounts. In a country of 320 million people, a couple thousand racists is statistically insignificant. However…

They are getting bigger by the day. And they are able to do this because most people revile the tactics used by Antifa and are more willing to listen to people who are NOT Antifa, including white supremacists. Think about that. People would rather listen to white nationalism than Antifa rhetoric. Most people still reject white nationalism, but the problem is one of exposure. Like a disease, racism and white nationalism can spread. Like a cult, people can become brainwashed into believing all sorts of fucked up shit. Just ask ex-Scientologists, or Heaven’s Gate survivors. And giving white nationalists an emotional hook with which to begin their indoctrination and inculcation of non-believers is 100% being fueled by the efforts of Antifa. Why else would the Alt Right be provoking Antifa and engaging so willingly?

You have to understand that, just like Antifa are the Useful Idiots of Communists, White Nationalists are the Useful Idiots of National Socialists. It is after the battle is won that the Great Purge begins, on either side. Most of the Useful Idiots of Antifa can justify Communism as a better option than Naziism. But you and I as queer folk don’t have that luxury. Either way, we’re fucked.

I know that Antifa rhetoric is that Hate Speech Isn’t Free Speech, and that it is their duty to smash down any and all forms of hate speech before it leads to white supremacy and their other ilk. I understand the appeal in shutting down hate speech, but this is a fallacy.

You can’t have “regulated free speech” because whoever is in power is the one doing the regulating. Once you go down the road of entrusting the Government with the responsibility of controlling what people can, and cannot say, you are allowing one group to censor another based on political ideology. This may seem all fine and good when it is your people in power, or at least controlling the dialog as Antifa currently is. But understand that power changes hands, and thus regulation of “acceptable speech” can also change. Once you convince people that it is not their inalienable right to free speech, but a right with which they are “blessed” at the whims of people in charge, you then hand over your mercy to those same whims and prejudices. Imagine Donald Trump controlling what is and isn’t free speech. Doesn’t sound like a good idea, does it?

This doesn’t become any less true when regime change comes with violent overthrow of the government. When the only way you get to have free speech is by murdering the people currently in charge, our society will devolve back into the dark ages. The Dark Ages™, also known as the Golden Era for Queer People. Need I point out my sarcasm here? When entire nations are in upheaval, what are the needs and value of queer people to the rest of society? Nothing. We become expendable. In fact I’d say we become a nuisance towards everyone else vying for power, while we will be trying to establish a place for ourselves in whatever society grows from the ashes. Our participation and protection in a civil society requires that the civil society exists in the first place. During an overthrow, LGBTQ people become a liability to other groups seeking power because of effort dilution and segmentation, regardless of their former ally status with the queer community. The term “faggot” should come readily and horrifically to mind. We serve a different kind of political power when scapegoated as an enemy of the people. One that ends badly for us.

Currently the government cannot control what free speech is, and this is a good thing. This is why we need to protect the free speech of all, even when that speech is most vile and repugnant. For one thing, it brings those vile and repugnant people out into the open, where they can be seen, and watched. Silence them and they go underground. Now how do you combat them when you can’t see where they are and you can’t hear what they’re saying? Just because they’ve become invisible doesn’t make them gone.

We need to let the white nationalists have their stupid fucking pity parties and march around with (OMFG I was dying laughing) Tiki Torches. We need to let them do this all by themselves, without any interaction or engagement with anybody else. Every single person who opposes them should avoid their rallies like the plague (or show up and do this.) Once their rallies become nothing but idiotic rants about race superiority, the media will stop covering their bullshit marches because—yawn—racism.

But when Antifa shows up and puts on a good old-timey fist fight, well, that’s fucking entertainment. The media will air that stuff all day, because it generates interest. It generates eyeballs. It generates ad revenue. It fuels the fucking fire. Because now these fucking racists have cameras connected to millions of people where they can spew their rhetoric in the mainstream. The media loves showing this because it reinforces butts-in-seats ad revenue for themselves. Antifa is amplifying racist agenda and giving white nationalists a broader audience. And Antifa are looking like the assholes that they are when they’re doing it. This is what white supremacists want. It helps them recruit new members. PERIOD.

The converse of this is also true, that white nationalist useful idiots are helping to recruit more Antifa useful idiots. See why this is a problem? See why Antifa is not the solution to the problem? See why White Nationalism is not the solution to the problem? See how this can only end in a blood bath?

I don’t have any reasonable expectation that I can convince white nationalists to simply not show up to their rallies and stop fueling the fires of Antifa in the interest of peace. First, I don’t know any white nationalists with which to try and reason. Second, I don’t have much hope that I can reason with them to begin with. Lastly, I have about as much hope of reasoning with Antifa as I do with White Nationalists. This is why I am placing my hope in you, my friends, to see Antifa for what it is and help shut it down before this country goes up in flames. This is why I need you to understand that there are real and actual alternatives to fighting racist nazi extremism that will have a better outcome for this country. It certainly will have a better outcome for LGBTQ people. If either Nazi or Antifa win, we lose. There is no room for compromise for us when Authoritarianism rises to power.

You are not a stupid person. Far from it, I know you to be a highly intelligent person.

Please. Don’t let them turn you into a useful idiot.

We can continue to disagree about Socialism. We can continue to have these debates. But Communism is evil. Just like Naziism is evil. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” government, no matter how large you make it. This clumsy, imperfect and bumbling Republic we have is the most successful experiment in freedom this world has ever seen. We can only make it better if it survives. Every known alternative has already been tried, and fails to come close to what we have achieved. The irony is that we have so much freedom that it is being used to tear us apart. Ultimately freedom isn’t a right as much as it is a responsibility, to each other and to ourselves; not only to protect our freedoms for the future but to use them wisely today, with respect and civility.

Here are a couple links that I think will help illustrate why I am fighting against Antifa as much as I am fighting against Naziism.

These are quite long, but they really get into the how and why of Communist infiltration in our society, and the things that Antifa are designed to do. They’re by a guy named Yuri Bezmenov who worked as a propagandist for the KGB before escaping and fleeing to Canada in the 1970s. Very interesting stuff!

I love a good lab

Once upon a time I lived and worked in Los Angeles as a Gaffer. That’s “Chief Lighting Technician” to you. A fellow Gaffer I knew had been dabbling in making custom Steampunk lamps and Nixie Tube clocks. I loved these little light-up-numerical display bulbs, and being a dabbler and an overly curious individual I thought if I could get my hands on a couple of these gadgets that I’d try and see if I could make them myself.

Well, around the same time a guy (also a programmer like me, who also apparently dabbled in filmmaking like I did) had the same infatuation and idea to dabble with them and see if he could figure out how to make them. His name is Dalibor Farny and he lives in the Czech Republic.

Anyway… Dalibor had created an online business that did well enough that he was able to fund his own Nixie tube research lab, and, well… He figured it out (BOY did he!) and I’m insanely jealous. Luckily, he made an awesome video that documents the entire process of making a Nixie tube.

See for yourself.


I’m Austen Hoogen, and I think I’ve probably had a blog or a website in some form of disarray going on 20 years now. I always say I’m going to pay more attention, but they always file for divorce and leave anyway.

Probably for the best, since this last iteration is the most sparse thing I’ve ever put out in quite some time. Hopefully I can make up for that with some stellar content on all things that make me squee. “Cat videos,” you ask? It is very likely that it could happen, but mostly I want to use this blog to track the things I do for a living, the things I wished I did for a living, and all the things I fill my time between.

The tricky part, of course, is making enough room in all those things to sit at my desk and plunk out stupid messages like this in the hopes that I can attract the attention of frantic Googlers, searching desperately for something else but wind up on this page nonetheless. I’ll do my very best to help them, but I am a procrastinator still searching for my Panic Monster; it may take a while.

I’m a Software Engineer

I work at a company called TUNE where I program things you’ve probably never seen. I am a back-end systems engineer building software that happily chugs along and does lots of work without people needing to see it. I like it that way. Because CSS and Javascript make me cranky, just like PHP. Yeah, yeah… This blog is written in PHP (I DIDN’T DO IT!!) however one of the many, many things on my to-do list is not to write yet-another-blog-platform in Go or Java or Python or C–you know, real programming languages–so this blog will just have to do.

I brew beer

I’ve been doing it for God knows how long (which is 12 years). I love everything about beer and can probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the process, its history, the industry, etc.

Someday, I will have a brewery. You should come by my fantasy future brewery and have a beer. No need to bring your own, I’ll sell you one.

No, seriously, I’m crazy about this shit. One time, in between jobs, I decided what was really missing in my living room was a yeast propagation lab. Well let me tell you, my living room is not missing a yeast propagation lab anymore! I have a homemade temperature controlled incubator with heating and cooling (via a homemade propylene glycol chiller housed in the freezer portion of my homemade kegerator) and about as much microbiology lab equipment that one can reasonably fit in their apartment living room. (I super love my 2000x trinocular microscope!)

Burton Ale Yeast at 400x magnification
Burton Ale Yeast at 400x magnification

I dabble in electronics

Microcontrollers, embedded systems and BTLE sensor projects mostly. If I’m working on something it is probably trying to build or automate something in my beer making. Current projects include better temperature sensing and system controls on my incubator, a BTLE in-line thermometer, and other brewery automatia that suits my fancy.

And of course there’s the programming of these things. I like to work on projects making better software for brewers who want to manage their brewing lives. Seriously, with all the engineers out there brewing beer you’d think there’d be better software!

I make food

I love cooking. Especially if it involves fermenting. Yogurt/sour cream/creme fraiche/cultured butter/bread. YUM! And I make a borscht that will bring tears to your eyes.

I dream of having a workshop just like Adam Savage

I like to pretend, quite often, that I am friends with Adam Savage and get to hang out and build lots and lots of shit. What kind of shit? Who cares! And then I like to pretend, quite often, that I had a shop like his, because my apartment really is a terrible place to try and build messy things (no, I didn’t build my incubator in my apartment…)

Also, there’s the things like welding that just don’t go over well with the downstairs neighbors when you roll out your tig on the top-floor balcony. Extra space is all that jazz!

I learn new things

I love reading and learning new things. I have this delusion that I can actually know everything about everything. And I try, oh my God do I try! If it is science fiction, or fantasy, or non-fiction or academic I’m probably reading it. If it has to do with beer I’ve probably already read it.

YouTube and Wikipedia rabbit holes are one of my favorite pass times. Currently I’m in love with Khan Academy. The Internet truly is amazing!

Am I a snob?

In many more ways than one; I’m more than half German in ancestry which adds to the allure, I’m sure. But I’m not an asshole about it, I promise! Pay no attention to my face that looks like I’m ready to murder people! I’m a super nice snob who likes to share, I just can’t help that my face is sending people mixed messages (I am INTJ if you care to follow that). It usually doesn’t change its threatening shape for several encounters at least…. Just give my face some time, eventually you’ll see the signature Hoogen smile!

I’m a snob just because I know what I like, is all. How do I know? Because I try everything. And I will happily report that I prefer Tillamook to Kraft, pFriem Pilsner to Rainier Lager (although I love their commercials, being a NW native and all) and that I prefer a good, crusty loaf of Ken’s Artisan Bread to just about everything.

If we differ? To each their own. Everybody likes what they like. Who am I to tell people what they can and can’t like?

If I went around acting like Fred Phelps I’d be, well, an asshole. “Don’t be like Fred,” my mother used to say! Best advice if there ever was any.

Until next time,