By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Stump Page 2, where known unknowns and unknown unknowns cower together in shock and awe ...

Dear Stump Page 2,
I'm from Boston, and therefore you can assume I like to drink. My question is this: would it be more cost-effective over the long haul for me to construct my own brewery and brew my own beer? I'm not talking about one of those rinky-dink home-brewing things that makes crap beer -- I mean like a full-blown microbrewery capable of producing a quality ale.

I understand there would be a significant capital investment up front, but would I save money in the end on cheaper beer? I'm 27, and you can use 40 beers a week as a starting point.

P.S.: I need a liver transplant.
-- Mike

While Stump Page 2 does not condone excessive beer drinking -- vodka tonics go down smoother -- we will attempt to answer this question in the interest of promoting personal financial responsibility. First, let's do the math. Better yet, let's have someone else do it for us.

According to James Leuders, a brewing industry consultant based in Montana, Boston Mike's 40 pint-per-week intake equals 375 gallons of beer per year, roughly 12 barrels.

(Note: that's a lotof brew. By comparison, the average per capita consumption of beer in southern Germany is more than four times less. And that's in the land of Oktoberfest).

Now, home brewers are allowed to produced up to 200 gallons a year without having to pay taxes, so long as two or more adults reside in the household. We're going to assume that 200 gallons is hardly enough for Mike, and that his drinking habit probably means he lives alone. So a home brewery won't do, just as Mike suspected.

So, how much does a microbrewery cost? While startup expenses range from $20,000 to $100,000-plus, Leuders recommends purchasing a small, used pub brewery system, which runs about $50,000 and eliminates the hassle of buying land and building something from scratch. A prospective owner still has to obtain the appropriate state and federal licenses, however, which can be a tedious process.

Once a brewery is up and running, a single batch of beer can cost between $200 and $1,200 to produce. According to Leuders, the break-even production point usually rests between 3-4,000 barrels annually -- exponentially greater than Mike's 12 barrel per year intake. Yipes.

The upshot? Unless Mike plans to bottle and sell his beer -- a costly proposition in its own right -- has about 3,000 equally sloshed friends or can convince everyone in the state of Massachusetts to fill their swimming pools with his ale, he'd be better off buying his brew like the rest of us.

As for the liver transplant? Buddy, you're on your own.

Dear Stump Page 2,
In the slam-dunk contest, fans go wild over a player dunking from the free-throw line. Can a world-class long jumper dunk from the 3-point line?
-- Name withheld

Tom Chambers
Even the Celtics teams of the '80s feared Tom Chambers.

No, with one exception. While Mike Powell's 1991 world record jump of 29 feet, 4 and 1/2 inches is longer than the distance between the rim and the NBA 3-point line (23 feet, 9 inches from the top of the arc), Powell would reach the apogee of his jump well before he reached the basket. Moreover, long jumpers aim for length, not height; and the body-scissoring technique they use doesn't really lend itself to slamming on a 10-foot goal. (In fairness, Powell was a pretty decent dunker from inside the three-point line during those early-'90s "Footlocker Slam Fest" contests on ABC.)

The exception? The digital Tom Chambers in the old "Lakers vs. Celtics" basketball video game. He could throw down an unstoppable double-pump two-hander from a particular spot just beyond the arc. Alas, Chambers wasn't a long jumper. Also, he wasn't real.

Dear Stump Page 2,
On "The Simpsons," Homer and Marge had Bart when they were in high school, making them approximately 18 or 19 years old at the time. Bart is in grade 4, making him approximately 9 to 11 years old. This would make Homer anywhere from 27 to 30 years old. But in the show where Homer becomes an inventor, we learn that Homer is 39 years old. So what happened to the 10 lost years? One more thing: How does it feel to be so owned?
-- Ali Bhatti

The Simpsons is a cartoon, and thus as beholden to the laws of space and time as the digital Tom Chambers.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Why don't we ever see college football players with half-cut, ab-exposing jerseys anymore? I remember growing up, I always thought it looked kinda cool. Is it simply out of fashion, or have on-field uniform rules tightened?
-- Joel Sandi

Let's get something straight: You want to see male college athletes parading around with exposed six-packs?

Hmmm. In this case, never mind the answer. Instead, Page 2 has a question in return: Are you the guy who writes to Sports Illustrated every February, requesting that the swimsuit issue also include mostly-naked men?

Just asking.

Dear Stump Page 2,
When it comes to playing Madden, is it cheating to look at the other guy's playbook screen while he selects a play?
-- Tim Brown

No. But don't be surprised if the other guy attempts to garrote you with your controller cord.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Let's say Shaq throws up one of those baby hooks and is fouled by Tyson Chandler on the shot. However, the ball continues to travel upwards. Corie Blount swats the ball, which manages to travel nearly 100 feet and falls in the Chicago hoop.

Shaquille O'Neal
It doesn't matter -- the new, slim Shaq is going to dunk on everyone.

Is this considered a shooting foul, even though Shaq's ball ended up in the wrong hoop? If so, does he get one shot or two? Does Blount's basket count? In fantasy, does Blount get credit for the block and the points, or just the points?

-- Jon Gregg

1) Yes, assuming Shaq was in the process of attempting a shot when he was fouled.

2) Shaq should get two foul shots, assuming he was shooting a two-point attempt and Blount swatted the ball legally (i.e. did not goaltend).

3) No, assuming Chandler's foul occurred before Blount's swat.

4) If Corie Blount is on your fantasy team, neither an extra block nor an additional basket is going to do you much good.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Why don't manufacturers make mouse-flavored cat food?
-- Robert Cressy

Because cats can't read labels or understand advertisements, and therefore are unlikely to pay more for essentially the same product with a slight variation. Such as bite-sized Doritos.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Perhaps you can explain it to me. How can a team hit back-to-back-to-back homers? Or have back-to-back-to-back AAU National Championships? Once a back is up against another, there's no room for a third, is there?
-- Brian

Metaphorically speaking, "back-to-back-to-back" is a figure of speech, and shouldn't be taken literally. Financially speaking, Pat Riley owns the rights to the phrase "three-peat," which leaves the rest of us scrambling for alternatives. Physically speaking, there is always room for a third, at least if the letters department of Penthouse Forum is to be believed.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Why do "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
-- Danny Low

The answer lies in the delivery. "Fat chance" is sarcastic and ironic, spoken with a smirk; "slim chance" is earnest and sincere. Either way, the effect is the same, making for some interesting mix 'n match possibilities.

For example: Boston has a "fat chance" of winning the World Series, no matter how badly New York stumbles. Similarly, Red Sox fans have a "slim chance" of becoming less irritatingly narcissistic, even if their club captures back-to-back-to-back championships.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Would Stump Page 2 ever admit that it got stumped? Or would it twist, stretch, and even fabricate the truth as to always having the correct answer?
-- Chris Dodge

Define "fabricate." For that matter, define "truth."

Mars
Unused nougat also works great when caulking windows in the cold winter months.

Dear Stump Page 2,
What is nougat? Can you buy nougat by itself, or does it always come inside a candy bar?
-- Chris Takeuchi

According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, nougat is "a confection of nuts or fruit pieces in a sugar paste." Nuts and fruit pieces aren't always necessary, though, as the nougat in a Milky Way bar is made from whipped egg whites, sugar and "flavoring ingredients."

Either way, it's very possible to buy stand-alone nougat, in flavors ranging from Macadamia nut to chocolate mint. On eBay, there is even something called a "LA Weight Loss Honey Nougat Bar," which sounds slightly more effective than Weight Watchers ice cream.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Which is bigger?

A) Kobe Bryant's head (that thing looks like it should be facing seaward on Easter Island)

B) J-Lo's rear

C) Vin Baker's substance-abuse problems

D) Terrell Owens' ego

E) Jay Leno's and John Kerry's collective chins

Either quantitative or figurative answers will work.
-- Bill Reitz

Physically speaking, Lopez's posterior appears to be the largest -- though Stump Page 2 can't be sure without taking a first-hand measurement, a tape-measure inquiry that probably would result in arrest and/or a lawsuit.

That said, Stump Page 2 would like to note that it is the motion in the ocean, and not the sheer size of the waves, that truly matters. This comes on good authority from Ms. Stump Page 2, who relayed the above sentiment with a reassuring pat on the head and only a hint of a snicker.

Dear Stump Page 2,
Can you please explain to me why people drive in parkways and park in driveways?
-- Rory Pheiffer

Stump Page 2 suspects it's for the same reason that baseball refers to unhit pitches as "strikes," even though the only striking taking place is the ball against the catcher's glove.

Dear Stump Page 2,
How is it that my bottled water comes with an expiration date? What gives?
-- Dave D.

While Stump Page 2 long has suspected bottled water expiration dates to be a marketing gimmick along the lines of beer "born-on" labeling, it turns out that there are two pretty good reasons for dating bottled aqua:

1) Some states require all food and beverage products to have an expiration date on the label, which means somebody lobbied for this -- either consumer advocates or label-ink producers.

2) Though the Food and Drug Administration considers bottled water to have an indefinite shelf life -- in other words, it remains safe to drink -- water can change taste over time, picking up yucky flavors from its packaging.

The upshot? All the more reason to stick with vodka.

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times.


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