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VEGAS Downtown and the Strip, the adventures continue!

TRAVELER’s Blog, bus, car and foot date 130409:11

I’ve waited a whopping 2 1/2 years to get back to Las Vegas. That’s a small number. How about 130 some odd weeks? 933 days is closer. Assuming I have a generous 8 hours of sleep a night for an insomniac, that’s 14,928-ish hours. I could get into minutes and seconds, I’ve felt each one crawl on in molasses time, but I already used my calculator more than I do on my accounting Monday mornings.

I wanted to write a pre- blog before the trip about the anticipation and all the packing anxieties, but eh. Everything turned out different than planned for the most part. There were a ton of things I packed I didn’t even use and a ton of places I researched that didn’t get done. The things I actually wound up doing instead was quite… limited until later on.

There were so many wonderful things about Vegas I’m happy to report about. I kept my trip under wraps for the most part until I actually went. People have their own usual things they post about and are usually focused more on that.

I suppose the bad news first, the recession continued to hit many businesses I loved and close them down. But like I noticed in the past few years, some of the big businesses I wish had closed locations didn’t, they still churn out garbage and cattle feeds off the image their commercials inundate on tv. Their commercials are on the superbowl every year and also make consumerist’s march madness bracket every year.

I originally moved away from the bay area because I got sick of seeing my favorite childhood places disappear due to change of new owners and management. I wanted to leave while I had memories in tact. I expected Vegas to be a place of change. I just never expected to be such a crusader of small businesses and get to know their families.

One thing that did surprise me was the new changes that I supported and there were many. I got to check out a lot of places I’d heard opened after I left. I now understand what locals see in Cosmo that reviews and pictures couldn’t capture online. I’ll attempt to capture it in my review.

There are so many new developments downtown and I appreciated the ones I went to. There were others I intentionally stayed away from. I wanted to go to places with the older East Fremont feelings I know, the one that isn’t being bought up by that shoe company playing Monopoly with businesses that have been there decades longer.

I’m the biggest fan of Downtown and Mayor Oscar’s attempts to revitalize it (even the big empty location that the landlord has been noted for screwing up). But the shoe company is gobbling up property that they don’t have plans for yet. And the huge, glaring red flag no one wants to mention is that said company had 3 retail locations that eventually failed- years before the recession hit.

Wow, this’ll have to be a 2/ multi part-er. I haven’t scratched the surface on all the places I went! I got to explore nips deep and it was magnanimous!


2013/04/09 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I lost my poor, poor baby girl

Mourner’s blog, kitty date 120724.09

Sunday morning, my cat who let me share my life with her passed away. She shared her life with me. A lot of this blog is going to be things I cried out to the close people I talked on the phone with the past day or so.

You may think she’s just a cat, but to me she was my companion that accompanied me thru the struggle of moving 8 times, having 6-8 jobs, 4-5 vehicles, a few girlfriends and a couple of states.

It’s safe to say a lot of people have put up with my shit for 17 years, but she always got the better of me. No matter how mad I got for the mess she made, she would respond with rubbing her head on my arm or leg or meow at me saying “pick me up and hug me, please? Pet my back. Scratch the back of my head.” She disarmed me faster than any human could. And that’s a big lesson for me to learn about dealing with others for the rest of my life.

I sensed her time coming, but there were some things. I couldn’t afford the vets and even if I did, did I really want the vets to cut her up and drug her to something that wouldn’t recognize me anymore? I learned a lot from watching my mother and uncle dealing with trying to drag my Grandfather to convalescent homes, where they wouldn’t allow him his cigars and white port. His temper went up and health down. Eventually, they relented and decided to let him sit in his living room, watch tv and drink his “medicine” and smoke his cigars. Go out HIS way.

When I had to move from Vegas to protect my girlfriend from living with the unemployed I eventually lost her to her ongoing life while mine was frozen. No matter how many times I applied, no matter how many books I read on psychology, happiness, motivation, coaching, business, marketing, Zen Buddhism, and war stratagems, I could not get a job to save my life. That first month back to my mother’s condo snapped me into a reality where I didn’t have to remind my girlfriend what needed to be done anymore. I was relieved, but soon saddened by this. I had to learn how to shop at the grocery store by myself, without considering what we’d get.

I still had my baby girl. Whatever odds were against me that was compounded by being “out of state” even though I returned was made worse by month after month of unemployment. When my job search faded from getting Back to Vegas, it continued as I have to get work, to pay off a credit card, to get a vehicle to get me and my cat out of here, if not Vegas.

2 years later, my cat’s health was deteriorating. I knew how long I had her, but I had also heard cats could live to 20-21 and I was going to drive her somewhere with trees and grass she could play in.

In Vegas we developed a tradition of taking her to the drive in movies! We decided to go there for nostalgia and hell 2 movies for $4 each? It was a BONUS when I realized we could put baby kitty in her carrier and smuggle her in. Really, no pets? She could see the family of cats that lived on the roof of concessions that wandered around. We always worried they’d get run over. We always brought string cheese and Cane’s chicken for all the cats to snack on.

One time we even drove her thru x-mas in the park! Vegas is a great place for annual holiday events, but for kitty and my girlfriend, they let me forget about my problems with the holidays and the religions behind them and enjoy the pretty lights. “Look baby!” (There go writer’s tears.)

I have so many memories of my cat, I’ve been scribbling them down the past couple of days and will do so until I’m all wrote out. I always want to remember her how I remember her. 10 years goes by and you forget things and I can’t let that happen. I have to mind dump my memory on a media, a “hard copy” I can have.

I talked with someone recently about digital cameras/ pictures/ computer storage. It’s more convenient than film, but look how less permanent it is. One zap could crash your drive. You could lose your cell with all your pics. In fact it happened to me and the only thing I used my first cell cam for was kitty pics. There were a few I e-mailed to myself that I pulled later. You could post your pics online but I did that for 10 years, who the hell goes to myspace anymore? Who will go to face book 10 years from now? I gamble that word press was around for a long time and could be here until I can at least afford my own domain someday to transfer all this to. Even then, domain companies get bought out. Who knows. It’s why I want to write a book, so copies have a chance of being out there in the world after I’m gone. But the internet is even turning books into vcrs or Kodak film.

I want a physical photo album, physical pictures to post up at work or whatever locker I’ll have some day or god forbid my own office. Instant replaces longevity, another lesson the remote culture needs to learn.

I have more to say and I’m at the end of my page. I’ll write another blog and post it tomorrow, okay? Thank you all for reading this. Losing my baby makes me want to apologize to everyone, appreciate the people I love and thank everyone for the rest of my life.

2012/07/24 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer hiatus of 2012?

Explorer’s blog, itinerary date 66398.66

Remember last time when I said I’d write about organization? I lied.

Screw that, it seems to be a common sense on how to clean an area out or organize time. Actually, the topic I’m hard shifting to is related to this, so I guess it turns out you’ll get the practical flowchart example.

What got the ball rolling were all the season/ series enders on tv in May. Honestly, I read about most, saw a couple and 1 I don’t even understand why, other than I got reception on my tv for it (Desperate yentas). No matter how cliché those can get, it still made me think of the big changes I could do this summer aside from the same old 1 that’s worn my brain and spirit down to a raw little jagged blister that used to be where I kept hope and faith.

I got the weekly and it has a guide for things to do this summer. It actually made me happy for a bit, with the promise of free/ cheap things to do. I’ve often been pissed off where I live. It’s the 3rd largest city in California (population wise), but culturally, it drags down to the high 20s.

I’m so tired of fighting the fight for a paycheck, I need to do something that’s just fun. I always guilt myself for every time I catch myself sitting around doing nothing. I at least have to read something (educational), watch tv or you tube that I can learn business from, develop searching skills, etc.

Wherever I go apply in the weekday, I see the elderly out and at times on the way home. There’s also that at risk time for kids between 3-6 PM where they’re out in hoards, bored with no money. I observe (or remember) what these 2 groups do with their time. I’m in my early 40’s, I can’t sit out in front of the 7-11. I have to look busy, people between teens and seniors get targeted the most for loitering. If we’re not buying anything, we’re a trespassing risk more noticeable than blending into a casino with a few hundred people who are really also not doing much all dressed up. We’re the fuckups that don’t have an excuse to be wandering around on a weekday.

So, like most planning, it’s good to have all the information in front of you: the guide, the stack of pamphlets, articles, etc. And then you have your blank piece of paper or whatever media you brainstorm on. Some people have a sketchbook, I have my blank notebooks/ journals, etc. I don’t think it’s a good idea to put notes on an iphone, but people peck at those a word at a time somehow.

There are tons of things I/ we want to do, but in brainstorming you list it all out. But I streamline it a little. I have to mentally hack out the things that are too far away (by public transportation more than an hour away). I have to take into consideration that things have to basically be free, but you can plan what your budget’s going to be like.

For those of you that think Coachella is worth the price of a ticket, gas, parking possibly hotel room, you schedule out the bands you want to see the most and the logistics of getting to the stages where there are drunk, high people all over the place including you. You breakdown what is actually practical, like picking 6 major moves in the day.

What I then do is prioritize. Without money, I’m basically want to do 3 things this summer, 1 per month. I’m considering volunteering for the city/ county. There are a lot of community events where they have a tent and someone handing out fliers/ pamphlets. I know someone involved I met, so I may hit her up soon. There’s free outdoor movies where I saw Viva Las Vegas last summer, Blues Brothers, etc. they pick fun movies and you bring your chairs and snacks out, you can buy beer, etc. They have security.

Concerts in the park suffered and it turns out last summer I went to the last shows. Security issues with rowdy people and transients wandering in hearing the music “encroaching on their turf.” so this summer they’re announcing concerts at small venues around town, each in their own controlled environment.

I know it pales compared to all the things to do in Vegas. That’s my other summer plan. I thought about taking a summer hiatus off twitter, most likely limit my time to a short session at night. But I failed at that before. I need to keep up on my weekly promise to blog here even though I mistake of seeing the vast void of the visit count.

My plan is to try to enjoy my life here and how. I have done this “settling” in the past and it has kept me here longer. But I’ve been here for 2 years without a paycheck. I’m stuck here. Vegas is fading more than I want it to as an extended vacation. When I was writing about letting things go, I may have to let Vegas go in my mind, stop mentioning it. Back burner it until I have 1) my credit card paid off (from “that job”) and money in savings before I can get back to thinking about it again, so my plans don’t seem so beyond my reach.

2012/05/25 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What battles do you think are worth fighting for?

Protester’s blog, rally date 66336.2

Honestly, I never realized how important May Day is before this year. I mean protesting for your own rights.

There’s so much emphasis on how military protects us. But when it comes time for the worker to stand up for their rights, no one wants to rock the boat and endanger the next payment on their credit cards and bank they’re shackled to. I understand many people have kids, and I’m not going to bash them about it. They have them.

I was very proud to see my town finally rally to city hall yesterday. Not only that, they brought their kids. It wasn’t a big anarchy vs. police pandemonium like it was in Oakland and San Francisco. It was a demonstration for workers rights and our message came across better than it did than straining the police budget that we taxpayers pay for.

Faith was flatlining until May Day, having seen the lack of participation of Occupy Wall Street in our area. I thought everyone’s gadgets pacified them into a comfort zone. There’s more than linking shit on your page to take action in an American cause. And why the hell is your priority Darfur and Kony when you have banks making people homeless in your own town? Shitty wages for decreasing jobs.

We have choices every time we pull out our wallets. I’m also more aware than ever of how I spend every dollar. I think of where the money goes. It goes to the store, sure. I picked the smallest local store I can. Most of the groceries I buy are bulk, fresh foods that are as local as I can pick. I try to pick products with the least number of chemicals on the indgredients, especially when I don’t know what they are, even with csi viewing experience.

In the news, I see so many Vegas businesses are starting to stir up shit again. Money is moving again, things are being demo-ed, businesses bought and are being remodeled. I moved away from my hometown because I couldn’t stand seeing the things I loved and supported close and change into something I couldn‘t follow.

I reasoned moving to Vegas because I knew it was going to change, I could expect it. Think of all the stores and places you used to go to that aren’t there anymore. And then think of what replaced them, froyo stores? A coffee chain that’s a front for free wi-fi? I saw on Record Store Day that I’m not the only one that misses the environment of real employee interaction, as well as other customers.

There’s a list I maintain of small businesses, local events and groups I support. I want to rally behind what I see is good and noble and not the wasteful businesses I see. So many people are clicking their money for things that aren’t even tangible anymore or won’t be around for 5 years, obsolete after… now.

There’s a theme that keeps presenting itself to me, that everything I love will be gone someday. I love my cat more than anything, but she’s in retirement. If I got a job tomorrow, she may not be around by the time I’ve saved up to move out of here. She’s the last of my heart, the last thing I can not only love, but count on to be here for me whenever I need a hug.

Week after week, I struggle to find a job so I can get my shopping list to my Master Plans in motion. It’s easier for me from having no “extra” money for a couple of years now to evaluate my past spending habits and what I wasted my time, energy and money on. In Vegas, honestly there are even a lot of regrets that were worth the money.

I saw the power in me as going out and doing as much as I could around Las Vegas. It was all about night exploration. I spend every day now planning my path so when I get money, I can make it turn a dividend instead of spending it as I get it.

There are some lessons I work on every week. It’s a tough call when you see people driving to a cliff that won’t listen. I have no credibility because I’m out of work. Or I’m a know it all. If I say “fuck it” then I’m an enabler. Families are so great at this.

If I try to save them, in the past it has started a trend of repeated saves, like Superman having to save Jimmy and Lois every week. When someone is in the hospital, it does no good to show up later to state the obvious, “you shouldn’t have driven toward the cliff.” then you’re a shaming asshole.

All I can do is fight for doing my own thing and going my own way. Most days I feel like I stand on my own, anyway.

2012/05/02 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you do with a winning lottery ticket?

Writer’s blog, bar date 66215.58

Things are still down financially for me. And against my better judgement, I plunk down a little for the lottery every week if not twice a week, like the starving mother of 3 puts in the last of her pocket change in that basket during the Sun morning sermon.

I know a list of why this is wrong, but the reason I do do it (huh huh) is for the following:

1) I lived in Vegas. I’m used to a certain amount of gambling. In a casino, I’m used to getting a few free rounds of beer on the copper mines (penny machines) the cocktailers hate like the plague. Tip one well and in advance, the more likely you’ll see her again before you dust that beer. I’d go thru weeks where people won around me and it drove me nuts, but I didn’t play. Everyone has dreams of hitting a royal or Megabucks in Vegas. In fact, I only play lottery in $3 increments, as a tribute to putting 3 credits in for max payout Megabucks. “Play” is a warm, fuzzy word Vegas uses to distract you from acknowledging you’re gambling your life savings and kid’s college money and mortgage money away.

2) I’m not greedy. I don’t have lofty dreams of winning the mega multi-billion interstates jackpot. My dreams lie within winning the “simple” $2k-$12k range. Enough to get my one credit card and the fridge stocked with some job searching money thrown in.

3) Relating to that, I play the state lottery, especially when the commercials build the frenzy of the growing interstate mega jackpot. Sometimes I’m hesitant to give secrets, but like in Vegas, there’s always some guy willing to tell you his system while we’re sitting at a bar at 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday and not in a mansion getting banged by implant strippers. I’d rather win a small state lottery than share a huge jackpot with a few other people- how the hell did they get my numbers?

There’s more, but I’m already halfway thru my page, I’ll drop some of those wisdom gems later. I don’t have “extra” money every week, so it’s not like I’m grossly addicted, either. I haven’t even gotten into number picking & betting pace yet…

So, I win. I wrote a list of things I’d do like a lot of people do, but mine is very detailed from a legal standpoint. There’s a lawyer involved. I have a financial adviser, too, but after Bernie Madoff, I’ll likely ditch that part. I suppose this paragraph is for a huge jackpot, I’d spend some time figuring out how to invest it so I can live off dividends after taxes.

But more realistically, if I won a few thousand, I have a list of things I need to buy, “one timers.” I don’t want to buy anything that has a monthly payment. That’s where lottery/ jackpot winners/ celebrities screw up. They buy a mansion and are screwed w/ maintenance. Or gamblers blow it at the high end stores designed to do just that in Vegas. It’s like when the girl scouts hang out at ATMS. Hey, while you’re here with money…

There are some things I can’t build capital fast enough to do now in a category I’ll call synergy. Everything and most people increasing their income are a brand name. It’s why people blog and tweet and push their books, seminars and subscription services on everyone. I have a few free accounts now that I pick at, but don’t really contribute to. It goes back to confidence. Even when I have it in myself, it’s like carrying other people’s weight if I tried to tell them I’m okay, but not making money.

So I’d have some money so I could go around town and do things that would let me make some videos. I even need a starving college ramen budget to do that now, I think. That’s more shame. I go out and do free things and meet people and then it comes to “let’s go hang out at a bar” or go some place I can’t afford and new acquaintances go on without me and get too busy to call, ever.

Most importantly, I’d take a couple of classes I can’t afford right now, one is a trade school so I could get my class A license and be a tow driver. It’s one of the few truck driving jobs that could keep me in the town I live in. But I do know there’s repo work and accidents where there are basically dead people. I have had experiences like that, from a theme park I worked at. More recollections for later. (I’m very literal in not calling them stories, the shit happened.)

So, that’s what I’d do w/ a few thousand at least. If I won mega, I have an extended list that gets into longer term things. Maybe some other time. What would you do w/ $10K? (after taxes, of course)

2012/03/19 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elusive happiness

Writer’s blog,  bar date 66161.58*
*I’ll explain this soon enough

I’ve spent the past couple of years thinking about what happiness is, how I can have it and how I can’t let it get away from me.

Yeah, yeah, it’s your point of view and your attitude. But honestly, when you think about it, we’re also influenced easily by who’s in the room or what movie/ tv show you saw. Sadly, a lot of my attitude in 2011 was watching the news, far too much of it. Now that I have streaming, watching more Onion and Daily Show allows me to see that others see the absurdity of things I see.

I also listen to Adam Carolla’s podcast. When I rant and complain, a few people laugh and it took me awhile to focus on what they’re laughing at. People love a good Seinfeld– type breakdown. Unfortunately when I’m in it, I’m already pissed and my immediate reaction is being pissed at the person I thought was close enough to allow me to vent about what’s really bothering me. Now, I can look back and use those things.

Of course I have tough loved others for complaining about less. I feel sorry for the others with no jobs, living in shelters. I don’t feel so bad about people getting into accidents on ski trips, mountain climbing, the polo field or cruise ships. In an instant I think my humanity suffers, but I think I also fall into enable mode and write it off as they got themselves there instead of spending wiser.

Even when I had money in the bank and making the most I ever had, I kept things to simple pleasures. We still shopped at the dollar store for disposable basics, I still at a lot of groceries that had the least chemicals I accept. Las Vegas is so damn great with the free entertainment. And there’s always a contest in every business you enter that doesn’t cost anything to enter if you don’t do the up sells and spending “in the area” that casinos excel at.

Happiness is all about money? I have read about plenty of Zen and Buddhism the past couple of years. I’m not happy with the way western influence has damaged my body and my mind. Thoughts still creep in my mind that buying something or taking a costly vacation somewhere will make me happy. I want to live simpler and yet enjoy where I work, the dream.

I have observed that in the past, when I get a job I go out more and buy more things. And I see other people spend like drunken sailors. People find ways to treat their paycheck away and then realize bills are due after their big nights out.

I see how Buddhist monks and even the Amish are happy, living simply and sustainable. I also understand the reality of living in the United States in the 21st century. I have to succumb to some sparing technology. I spend a lot of time trying to decide what “future” technology I will accept. For the most part, I see what industries that are closing because of what can be read online, downloaded or uploaded. I understand I need to be a factory and not a warehouse to live life.

Also, I’ve spent the past couple of years going thru old boxes of shit to see what made me happy back then. I did buy a lot of crap with some job. I also accumulated a lot of boxes of free stuff. Whenever there’s something people are getting rid of, if I can use it “someday” I’ll take it. I’ve noticed I’ve been a box hoarder.

It’s not as bad as the clips I’ve seen on the hoarder shows, but everything was in boxes. It’s too much for me, 1 person to have. I got that from my mother and I fight it every week, not to buy anything. I’m on a Brewster’s millions spending plan. And it includes limiting getting stuff for free.

There are things that I see that will make me happy that I don’t have the money to do. I want to hang out with co workers for a few happy hour beers. I want to go for a walk late at night without a coat or fear for my safety. I want to take my weekend trips and I have my plan on how I can incorporate that, with a trade down the line.

Good food makes me happy. I have learned to cook and enjoy my bulk food in my unemployment. I spend more time with my cat that I love. She’s very old now. This is her retirement. I hope she can be with me after I’ve saved and can leave this place. It’s a trap to compare yourself to others. It think it’s also bad to belittle or gloat those “below” you. I know where I was at my best, I try week after week to get myself at least back to that place, regardless of how long I see it taking now. I have no other direction to go.

There are ways I’ve been happier than I have in years. It’s different. I feel for the Tibetans. They’re happy, but they get taken advantage of and I worry something socioeconomic is happening to me the same way. I want to be happy where I am now, but I also want to make money again. It’s conflicting. It’s an argument for materialism and the joneses I’m not happy with. I want to be self-sufficient the way I was a few years ago, money in my pocket. Not describing money as what I have “to my name.”

Writing makes me happy. I can revisit places I’m not finished with. I can laugh with people on our adventures that have gone on without me. As I pare down my possessions, I pull memories triggered from them to hopefully support my ambition as a writer and yet pack another box for Savers.

2012/02/28 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drunk, high or laid happiness?

The first week of January, I took a pause and tried to break all my weekly patterns. I put it all aside to kick 2010 to the curb like some bad shrimp. I also took some blank paper, like I do. Last year, I made a similar list of things that would make things better. They all involved working harder to find a job than I could working one.

I keep hearing trite advice about liking where you are and do what you love for work and all these things. They’re foreign concepts to me and I spent some time trying to figure them out.

For over half my life I lived in South San Jose, trying to get out of the condo where I live. Without dredging up another distraction, what you need to know is that it’s basically free to me- at a highly emotionally abusive cost. And it’s not just me, most of the people I’ve gone to school with got the hell out of here as soon as they graduated. Same for people I worked with.

The people who I realized stayed the past decade, the only thing I can think to call them is “townies.” the guys sit home, play video games, watch sports. The married off don’t go out, well, where I’m going with that could best be seen in How I met your mother. It’s a brilliant show because the major sub plots are about growing older and coupling off and having kids. Or…. How you can not.

As for the “dream job,” I have applied for many of these and got no reply. The 2 best jobs I have ever had, I felt phony for 40 hours/ week and I sucked it up and blew it aside in my free time because it was Vegas. You literally could go for a walk in any direction and in 20 minutes you’d be smiling again in a casino or a free attraction or come across some crazy shit in any other town that’s common place off strip.

Now, the only place that brings me joy (that doesn’t cost anything) and has possibilities is the library. And that is in constant threat of closing with the yearly budget circling the drain.

For over a year and a half I’ve been unemployed and it’s given me a lot to think about, the former lives I had. The opportunities I had and the money people squander that conveniently is just above what they make.

Now, I’m in a phase where I’ve… seen the light. I know the most efficient way to spend and on things that aren’t so disposable (unless they’re meant to be like groceries).

I have seen that life is about power. You have things others don’t and they have things you don’t. And now the net is used so people can go on their profile to go on and on about that.

Life is also about attitude. I wallowed, got depressed and was difficult, out of frustration for basic survival. It’s funny no one gives a shit about you when you’re down, but if you die a CEO those exact same behaviors get you labelled a visionary icon.

When I had a car in college, it broke down so much, I sidetracked the film classes I wanted to take to take auto. I took enough classes to Macgyver every vehicle I’ve owned at least to a garage or home to fix, since. That guiding the tow truck to the front of the house just became a humiliating exercise I couldn’t do anymore.

So when my depression started rising to a level where I had to stand on my toes to breathe, I read psych books instead of self-help books from the library. I also read bios of stand up comedians, satirists. I made much headway, broke all kinds of barriers, turned my thinking on it’s ass over a dozen times from a hundred different angles. It’s far more than anyone else could ever do to understand me.

I saw the movie Red Dawn and the last time I saw it I rented it on VHS from the local video store. And I learned that I survived in the unemployment wilderness- hell, I have to get ready to apply. I’ll have to continue next time

2012/01/10 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , | 1 Comment