October 28th, 2007

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I came dressed up as someone recovering from dysentery

Well, okay, it certainly wasn't dysentery but it might as well have been considering how incapacitating it was. I'm still not sure exactly what caused it but I ended up spending a frakking god awful day spewing my guts out from all directions. I normally would have suspected food poisoning but I don't think I actually ate anything that other people didn't also try, and none of them became ill. In the end, I have absolutely no clue what caused it and it chalks up as the second worse experience I've had in memory along such lines. The first was a few months ago and tossed in chills and weakness into the mix.

All in all, the sorry incident lasted from late friday/early saturday till late saturday afternoon. That's one thing that's always been a plus. I almost never get knocked down by things like food poisoning or the flu for very long. As bad as it is, nothing ever goes for more than a day. Once I was sure I was going to live, I even managed to sort myself out and I haded over to the Bills Halloween party for a few hours. Nothing overly exciting there, though some blessed soul had decided to bring cupcakes and that totally destroyed myself-admonition to not eat anything for a while. You have to risk it for cupcakes. It's a fact of life.

We ended up playing around 4 games of werewolf while I was there. Like normal, the villages were pretty ignorant and the werewolves only lost once. I was instrumental in that one victory as the seer leading my poor benighted and ignorant serfs to victory. After that, a few people wandered downstairs where there were Wii bowling and tennis competitions. I mostly just flopped about and chitchatted with people about random gobbilygook.

The last of us stragglers all headed out around 10:30 or so. Just as well it was still rather early because I was exhausted. Cumilative sleep deprivation added to almost no sleep the night before and by the time I got home I just about collapsed. I spent most of the day asleep, waking up only to pop more pills or grab something to eat. I'm feeling almost normal again, whatever that means.

Oh, and my sister had her baby shower today. I hadn't planned on attending anyway but I hear now that things went well. The entire baby thing freaks me out a little so I try not to spend much time thinking about it. I've never been fond of rugrats overall and having pregnant siblings just seems sorta weird to me. She seems happy enough about the whole deal and spent the past couple of days with my other sister baking piles and piles of cookies for the shower.
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Stranger than fiction

I was reading CNN and stumbled upon an article citing unusual beer facts. An incident described therein was so unbelievably that I actually went around and tried to verify it to see if it was some sort of parody article a la the Onion. I've found it reference in quite a few books and articles and can only come to the conclusion it's true. Here's the writeup about it from one article:

The Meux and Company Brewery, located on Tottenham Court Road in central London, had one of the largest beer vats in the city. The 20 foot high container could hold 3,555 barrels (511,920 liters) of beer and was held together by 29 strong metal hoops. Several other large vats were also housed in the same building. The ale had been fermenting there for almost ten months, but the containers were very old and starting to show signs of fatigue.

On October 16, 1814 the metal hoops that held the big vat together snapped and beer exploded in every direction, causing all the other vats in the building to rupture. A total of 8,500 barrels (1,224,000 liters) of beer smashed through the brick wall of the building and out into the crowded slum area of St. Giles. The sea of beer ran through the streets, flooded basements, and demolished two homes. The wave collapsed a wall in the nearby Tavistock Arms pub and buried a barmaid for three hours. In one home, the beer busted in and drowned a mother and her three-year-old son. A total of eight people were killed, seven due to drowning and one due to alcohol poisoning.

People quickly waded into the flooded areas and tried to save all the free beer they could. Some scooped it up in pots while others lapped it up in their hands. Chaos ensued at the local hospital when the smell of the beer-soaked survivors quickly filled the building. Other patients, convinced there was a party and that beer was being served, rose from their beds and demanded pints of their own.

Most of the victims were poor people who lost their lives or lost everything they owned. Relatives of some of the people who drowned had their corpses displayed in their homes and exhibited to crowds for a fee. In one house, too many people crowded into a room and the floor gave out. Everyone was plunged into a cellar still half-filled with beer.

For weeks afterwards the neighborhood stank of beer and the primitive pumps of the day could not get rid of all of it. The brewery was brought to court but the judge and jury blamed no one. They found that the flood was an 'Act of God' and the brewing company was not liable.

Crazy, eh? After reading all the various accounts, I've found other tidbits that weren't mentioned here. First, that beer vats waere apparently how some of the beer barons back then decided to compete with one another for status. They each sought to build the largest vat possible. Just before this crazy monstrosity was built, another brewery had made one large enough to have a formal dinner for 100 people inside it. When this was one completed the owners held a dinner for 200 in it before cleaning it out and then filling it with beer. When the beernami (1.3 million gallons of beer) swept through the neighborhood, the police couldn't manage to get into the area because of all the people who had gathered trying to drink the beer off the street. Oh, and the one person who died of alcohol poisoning? He tried to drink his way to safety.

In the end, even though the company won its court case, it almost went out of buisness because they had already paid for the duty on the beer in the vat. They had to get the government to agree to refund the cost to stay open. Surprisingly, this incident led to a dramatic downturn in the value of the brand and the company eventually went out of buisness anyway. I would have thought that flooding a neighborhood with beer might have been a nice advertising gimmick. Well, except for the drowned corpses and all.

Oh, and in case there are still some of you doubting Tomas's out there, here's the entry from Snopes. Sometimes the unbelievable really is true.

I've never been a beer fan personally. I can't understand the fasination for the stuff. It tastes like what I imagine fermented horse piss might. I've tried sips of various kinds but they've been almost uniformally vile. I wouldn't mind see a flood of cookiepusses though.