Computers are creepy.

Years ago, I decided to cut my own hair. Before that, I went to a salon. Not a barber, a salon. When I moved to Gettysburg, the Welcome Wagon, which is simply an old lady who comes to your house, gave me a coupon for a free haircut at Georgia’s Mane Attraction. The hair cut was fine, the price (which I would pay next time) was reasonable. The coupon worked exactly as planned. One free haircut yielded a years-long loyal customer. Every six to seven weeks, I came in for a haircut. I would probably still go there today except I’m terrible at scheduling.

Each visit as I paid and tipped, Maria, my stylist asked if I wanted to book my next appointment. My answer was always the same, “I’ll call when I’m looking at my calendar.” Then I didn’t. Not until five weeks passed, and my hair was already long and driving me nuts. When I called, the schedule was always full. I had to book out a week or two. And my hair bugged the crap out of me until I got it cut.

To fix this, I bought a hair clipper set at Walmart. I still wait way too long to cut my hair, it gets uncomfortably long and after I cut it, the difference is so obvious that people always comment. Susan starts dropping hints around five weeks: “I’m happy to shave your neck when you’re ready to cut your hair…”

Last spring, I decided to buy more time between cuts; I cut my hair on the lowest setting, the one I use to reign in my wild, bristly eyebrows. Wooo, that was short. I thought I looked pretty cool, but Susan thought I looked sickly. My computer thought I shaved my head.

This is the creepy computer part. Immediately, Facebook started showing me ads for head shaving razors. That stupid little camera on my laptop spied on me. Before the pandemic, I kept it covered with a piece of tape. Eli always used this as evidence that I’m an old man. “Look Jonah, my dad covers his camera with a piece of tape, just like an old man.” But I was right. They really are watching, and I don’t like it a bit.

Another targeted ad I’ve received for months is for Punk AF. It’s a beer by a brewery named BrewDog. I saw the ad every time I opened Facebook. I liked the name, which I assumed meant Punk As F*ck. I think the AF acronym is fun. When I bought my truck last year, I planned on buying a Liberal AF bumper sticker. Eli put his foot down. It was the highpoint of protests and counter protests blossoming around the country. “No political stickers,” he said. He wanted our truck to buzz a mellow mountain biker vibe.

I’ve just learned that the AF stands for Alcohol Free. So not only did my computer communicate my love of punk rock to some sort of marketing algorithm, but it also let them know I’m now sober. It really makes me wonder what other personal data is being spewed into the cloud.

Still, I’m intrigued. When I gave up alcohol six years ago, I truly lamented the flavors I lost—wine and beer. The principal non-alcoholic beer of the time, O’Douls, tasted like… nothing. I loved full flavored, crafty beers. I really miss that taste. Still, on the rare occasion that Susan drinks a beer, I always have a sip. From my perspective, beer has only gotten better over the past six years.

BrewDog describes it’s AF line with such teasers as: Tropical fruits and grassy notes and grapefruit treble notes followed by a chorus of orange and pine. This sounds like a giant step up from O’Douls. I sent an email to Susan suggesting that a mixed twelve pack might make a neat birthday gift next month. I’m unsurprised to see now that every alcohol free beer ever made is showing up in my Facebook feed.

Have you tried this new class of AF beers? Please let me know what you think of them. But I warn you, my computer is taking notes.

30 thoughts on “AF

  1. I have not tried alcohol free beer, but once again, I owe you!! I was kinda bummed at the concert that I couldn’t have a $15 generic beer because the medication I take for plaque psoriasis is hard on the kidneys and liver, so no booze. I live in Craft Beer Central, and while I’m done with IPAs, I do enjoy a good lager, or a rich stout. I never considered alcohol free.

    Let us know how the Punk As F*ck tastes🤘😎


    • Yes, I’ll let you know. It would be wonderful to find something beer-like to drink on those rare occasions I’m at a party. Usually, I’m drinking club soda, which I can dress up to look like a Vodka Tonic but this will give me a whole new option.


  2. I gave up alcohol nearly five years ago now and again I do have AF beer. Great Northern is excellent and Carlton Black isn’t bad either – summer at the beach is usually the time I miss a beer and have a dabble through the latest AF offerings. There are so many now and you’re right, they are just getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

      • What I like about having non alcoholic beers in the fridge is that my son (who works for us) can have a few of the beers after work and be perfectly fine to drive. He will often wander in with a beer for me and a beer for him and we can catch up. There is this sort of connecting aspect to alcohol that is the part I miss. The market responds to what people want and I think it’s fantastic to see so many non alcoholic beers and wines and even spirits available for those that choose to be social and enjoy drinking an adult beverage (I want to add some sort of ironic punctuation around that word adult 😁 but I’ll leave it) maybe society is maturing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I dislike having my hair cut (it’s an autism thing) and I usually wait until my hair starts to annoy me before I even consider having it cut. Actually my beard starts to annoy me before my hair. So intervals between haircuts range from around five weeks to around 5 months (or until the wife gives me an ultimatum).

    I don’t typically indulge in alcoholic drinks apart from it being part of a meal, and then it’s usually wine. On a hot summer’s day after strenuous activity I do occasionally partake of a beer or cider. As for AF beers, I’ve never found one that I personally like apart from one that was available from a nearby Moroccan restaurant that has since closed down.

    Talking of AF substitutes of real alcoholic drinks, there was a product marketed here in NZ in the 1970s under the brand name Clayton’s that was supposedly a non-alcoholic whisky substitute. It was advertised as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”. The product has gone, but the name lives on in NZ folklore and is given to things that are of poor quality or an imitation of the “real thing”. For example a handyman might be described as a “Claytons carpenter”.

    As for creepy computers, I haven’t noticed, but then I use a less popular operating system and web browser (Kubuntu and Vivaldi respectively). I also purposely disable targeted/personalised advertising and disallow all cookies except those necessary to display a web page correctly. The browser also allows me to block trackers and ads, and my default search engine is set to DuckDuckGo. This keeps my internet activity reasonably private from the advertising world – where I don’t feel Big Brother is looking over my shoulder.


    • Sad about your Moroccan restaurant. So many great places have shut down. The Clayton people must be quite proud that their product name has endured and become part of the NZ lexicon. I’ve considered implementing some security measures like DuckDuckGo to increase my privacy, but then I just blurt it out all over my blog and I wonder ‘what’s the point.’ I’m a fan of cutting my own hair. It really doesn’t look any different from when I paid for it and my $20 investment on the trimmers has saved hundreds of dollars. And when my hair REALLY starts to bug me, I just go into the bathroom and take it off.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Clayton people must be quite proud that their product name has endured and become part of the NZ lexicon.” I’m not so sure of that. Would Benedict Arnold’s mother be proud of how her son’s name became synonymous with treason and betrayal? Claytons now means below par, a poor imitation, something that’s not up to scratch. I don’t think I’d want my brand name associated with such a meaning. Certainly no business or product will ever be named “Claytons” in NZ if it wants to be successful.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Just wait til you discover what your cell phone is tracking. Alexa? Siri? Ring?

    These days people pay for the privilege of being spied on, and call it some kind of good thing. I keep my camera covered and a cut jack plugged into the mic port when I am not using them.

    Now, the only really disturbing ads I tend to see are ones offering to allow me to meet an American husband, which, in case the beard did not give it away, is rather disturbing. Maybe they are trying to provoke a reaction? Who knows?

    If the product is free, just remember, you are the product. If you are paying for convenience, there is still a cost you may not see.


    • Right, we have an Alexa unit in our kitchen that we use for music. Every now and then she’ll say something out loud in the middle of a conversation. I guess just to remind us that she’s there and listening. I don’t really mind my key strokes being tracked. Pretty much anything private is on my blog anyway. The camera freaked me out a little bit though. But the thought of someone watching me is a little too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to drink O’Doul’s – I think I still have some out in my fridge in the garage. Gosh, they must be really old. I agree that they hardly seemed worth the purchase. Better to just drink water. I haven’t gone AF but I have given up beer because of the bloat. But I would be interested to see what these new AF beers taste like.

    The one good thing I came away with from the quarantine – I have learned how to cut the boys hair. My dad even stops by now for a haircut. I’m still no pro but it’s nice to save the hair cutting expense.


  6. O’douls is like bad fizzy water. You’ll have to tell us how the AF line is! I’m keen to try drinking less, but not sure if I can give up all the craft beers without a reasonable alternative…
    And eh, big brother can watch all they want; my life is likely one of the least interesting of the bunch 😏 Sometimes the ads are kind of fascinating/funny too, depending what key words they pick up. But I still put tape over my camera too!


    • At a work party a couple of years ago, I asked for something that wasn’t alcohol but also not a soda. The bartender handed me a plastic cup and told me to fill it with water in the bathroom. God I was pissed. I think it’s awesome that places are coming up with alternatives to alcohol. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten in so much trouble if I had something cool and AF to drink.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Punk AF was one of our staples during our 18 month (mostly) teetotal stint, it’s decent! Heineken 0, Becks Blue, and one called Free Damm 0 Lager Beer (from the Netherlands), is probably my favourite. Brew Dog is a Scottish brand and pretty popular over here, despite some recent unsavoury news about the founders. Enjoy!

    Ps I also keep a bit of blu tac on my laptop camera, you’re not being paranoid!! Our electronics are listening too, the past week I mentioned to my partner about a product a did a stock count for awhile back, a beauty product with something called hyaluronic acid, thought it sounded awful. The next day there’s an add for a serum called “Triple Hyaluronic Acid” lipopeptide serum staring me in the face. I have a hard time believing that’s a coincidence.

    Liked by 1 person

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