Yahoo News headlines:
More on Spain
Knifeman decapitates British woman in Spain AFP
Man beheads British woman in Tenerife supermarket Reuters
Terminally ill to get right to die faster in Spain AP
working my way through (the interesting parts of) this.
Edit: now with some listening notes
In particular, checking out:
Glasser: I like it. Kind of Cocteau Twins meets Bjork. Very spare (elegant, perhaps) electronic accompaniment to big female vocals
Titus Andronicus: also very good, gritty. Sad and desperate, but with sudden bursts of brilliant, animated guitar/piano riffs. Built to Spill meets The Pogues.
Sleigh Bells: Not great, but worth listening through at least once. Lots of unnecessary distortion, some cool rhythmic bits reminiscent of 80s techno-industrial (Ministry's Land of Rape and Honey, particularly).
Agalloch: meh. Don't know what interested me about this initially. Boring even for metal.
Buke and Gass: their custom instruments seemed more compelling than they actually are. When they're not trying too hard to be rhythmically complex, they're OK, but most of the time, they're being all fancy about it. Her voice is the best part, which is kind of a disappointment from a duo named after their custom instruments. It would be good if they could find some songs with as much tune as rhythm, or at least a bit more balance between the two.
Anybody see anything else there they know and can recommend?
I've been asked to create a link farm at work to make research on a specific topic available to the team. There's more than a little deja vu involved with spending extensive time at work searching the internet and posting links and descriptions to a site...made me think of this ol' place.
I'm going tonight. The beers
I'd like to try are:
Cascade Brewing Drie Zwarten Pieten
Deschutes Mirror Mirror
Hair of the Dog JIM
Hopworks Noggin Floggin
North Coast Old Stock
Old Lompoc Brewdolph
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla
I will be taking notes, and I'll post them here for the curious. No guarantees on lucidity.
Update: the notes
I didn't get through anywhere near 9 samples. For one thing, the place was a nearly intolerable cluster of obnoxious frat-boy types, and I'm apparently too grouchy a dude to tolerate that crap anymore. For another thing, I got all tipsy and had to stop. I wasn't patient enough to wait in lkine for everything I wanted to try, so I ended up trying some stuff I hadn't planned to. What I tried, with notes:
1. Ninkasi Sleigh'r: mostly sour. dirty taps? stupid plastic cup.
2. Hopworks Noggin Floggin: good hops, sweet, nice aroma, too warm (alcohol burn)
3. Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla: root beer, vanilla, bourbon, molasses! cream soda, honey...where's the smoke?
4. Cascade Brewing Drie Zwarten Pieten: turpentine? no, pannetone! sour! lemon juice, sauerkraut, li hing crispy cherry, brown sugar
5. Astoria Brewing MacGregor: soy sauce smell. tastes like marmite. brewed from Mr. Macgregor's squeezins? bad 7-11 beef jerky, raw barley, terrible
6. Laurelwood Weinachtsfest: smells like piss, wet dog. taste: WTF? popcorn? yuck. sour, characterless. no malt, no hops. PBR.
Next year, I have to make the wife take off from work early so we can beat the lines.
Bad beer and atmosphere aside, it was kinda fun, and we went out for sashimi afterward.
in case you missed it, recommended reading:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
We adopted a puppy on Saturday from the local Humane Society. His name is Fletcher. He's a Black Lab/Treeing Walker Coonhound mix. I'm all about the mutt dogs. He has already claimed a lot of time and attention (we don't talk about the money) from me and my family, but really all to the good, since it involves hanging out together, going for lots of walks, and laughing at our big ol' floppy hound. Here he is, in all his glossy black glory:
It's cool to have a dog again.
produce beers by country, using grains in proportion to their national grain production. For example, Finland produces barley (51 %), oats (35 %), wheat (11 %) and rye (3 %). Use those grains in those proportions with regionally-appropriate yeast and hops.
Might there be a way to avoid the promised upcoming dire economic consequences that would involve something other than buying our way out of it? I mean, it would be fun to take a big old wad of cash and throw it into the toilet hoping to make a clog, but are we really completely out of ideas? That money isn't going anywhere (except down in value), why not try a couple more things before we give absolute control of our financial system to the captain that steered the ship up on the rocks?
train broken, look for finger
Portland, supposed Mecca of green living and universal mass transit (unless you start looking at surrounding communities, the rug under which Portland sweeps its dirt, but never mind about that), has shut down Light Rail into downtown for pretty much the entire month of August. Now, I understand that they're doing something invisible, yet incredibly important on one of the bridges, and I certainly understand that Tri-Met, the local transit organization, faces the same woeful budgetary restrictions that all local transit organizations constantly wail and gnash their teeth about. What I don't understand is how Tri-Met, along with really the rest of Portland, can be so damn obliviously hostile to pedestrians.
To me, there's a hierarchy in people on the move, with pedestrians, who are getting from place to place emitting only flatulence and having the potential to kill or maim pretty much nobody on that trip, at the Tip Top. Next, bicyclists, who have sacrificed some personal safety, convenience and environmental impact in exchange for speed. Next, mass transit, which generally relies on volumetric measurements to come out ahead on safety and environmental impact, and is scarcely faster that biking or walking, but at least you don't have to break a sweat. At the low end of the scale, of course, would be anyone in or on a motorized vehicle. They essentially don't care about the impact of their transportation (relative to the other options) in terms of environment, cost, or safety, so long as they don't have to come within a foot of another human being on their way in to work.
With all that in mind (and providing the caveat that this hierarchy changes considerably in a city without robust public transportation, biking, and walking infrastructure), I can not for the life of me understand why this project with the train is not designed to encourage people to walk across the river. In fact, aside from having shuttle buses take people from train-to-train, I don't think the project was designed at all. They just did what they did, and figured fuck 'em if they're getting off the train and going across some other way. They've closed sidewalks without reason. They've routed paths through intersections with walk signals that take as long as it takes me to walk half of the distance from my office to the train. They neglected to mark the walkway across the river appropriately for a multi-use path, resulting in dangerous conditions from a-hole bicyclists speeding past pedestrians.
My question is, why? Why, in a country with an obesity problem, are we making it easier to take a shuttle than to walk? If someone can walk, why not reward them for doing so by thinking about the incredibly low-cost measures that could be taken to make it pleasant and easy? Move the barrier around the construction equipment five feet back so the sidewalk can stay open, for example. There isn't even anything taking up those five feet behind the barrier. Instead they "invested" in an employee to stand at the crosswalk telling people not to go that way. Or maybe time the trains according to when there's a dropoff at the start of the walking route, then add a reasonable trip time before departure. I'm the fastest walker on the bridge, and there's always a train leaving about 3 minutes before I can get to the stop. It's probably full of people who have been waiting since they got there after the last train, 15 minutes earler. My solution has been to keep walking, which is great in terms of fitness, but still irks me in terms of being treated as a third-class transit customer.
Screw all that. I'd walk all the way home if it wasn't 12 miles one way.
5 minutes to spare...I started this at about 11:00 after remembering what day it is. Happy Drawing Day!
I went to the dentist yesterday, and they took a panoramic x-ray of my dentition. The dentist got all excited when he looked at it because I have a fourth molar, which is apparently rare. This is not a tooth that is visible with the naked eye. It some freaky midget tooth trying to grow up into the side of the roots of one of my wisdom teeth. It's like some circus sideshow in my skull.
I spent a couple of hours going out to the driveway and back taking photos with my zoom lens and a tripod. The weather here was quite nice, so I was able to go out and take pictures with just a sweater, no jacket. Click any photo to go to my flickr page to see more.
After (with airplane(plus you can see at the start of the airplane trail where the camera jiggled from my finger pushing the button)):
And so on (at some point I thought to start using the timer on my camera to eliminate jiggle):
the following musical acts have greatly impressed me lately:
chuck e weiss
maybe you all knew about these dudes. I did not. where have they been all my life, and why didn't someone tell me?
I brewed yesterday, marking the second session where I've used a minimash for the grains. I've been thinking about this batch for weeks now, and reading about Trappist beer. I decided to leave aside any consideration of style and just attempt to brew a big, flavorful ale with modest hop levels. I think it went just right.
I stopped by the brew store on Saturday, where I got some Trappist yeast, Tettnanger hops, 2-row malt, plus a small amount of Belgian Special B malt, which supposedly had a "raisiny" flavor. I tasted some at home, and sure enough, raisiny. I also grabbed 6 pounds of dried extract, which makes up about 60% of the gravity for the batch. When I got home, I added the yeast to the quart of wort I had whipped up that morning as a starter. I wasn't able to find a spot in the kitchen that stayed above 70 degrees, so I'm not sure the starter really did much good, but I don't think it hurt, either.
Sunday, I woke up and started the water going for the mash. I got it up to 170 degrees and added the malt. I should have added the grains at a lower temperature, I think, because the temp didn't drop fast enough, and I ended up adding some more cold water to get it back below 160. Once I got things regulated, I was able to keep the mash in the oven at a pretty stable 150-152 degrees. It was probably stabilized like that for 45 minutes out of the 60-minute mash. I don't think it ever got below 150. I sparged using my big bottling bucket and a grain bag with about 3 quarts of 170 degree water, giving me just about 2 gallons of hot sweet wort at 1.065 specific gravity.
All that must have been the way to do it, because as I calculate it, my mash efficiency was about 73%, not too shabby if you ask me. I don't see any reason I couldn't scale this up. Next time I'll go about 50/50 grain/extract and see what happens, I think.
For the boil, I got the wort up to rolling, then added 1/2 ounce Chinook hops from my back yard, then added all 6 pounds of extract. After 30 minutes I added 2 ounces of Tettnanger hops (which smelled great, very spicy and aromatic, not as sharp and floral as the chinook). After the 60 minute boil, the wort was very thick and sticky. I added it to the carboy, which had a gallon of nice cold water in it (the cold weather is good for something I guess), then topped it up with more cold water. I drew off a tube of wort with the thief after agitating and aerating it, spun the hydrometer, and the damn thing nearly poked my eye out! At 82 degrees, I was getting a reading of 1.087, which, adjusted for temperature, gives me a gravity of 1.090 or better! Holy Crap, I said.
I pitched the yeast at a high-ish temperature, about 76 degrees, and got it all set up to ferment. When I looked this morning, the surface of the beer is starting to fog up, getting ready to foam in earnest.
This was, by far, the most successful brewing session I've ever had. It was great to see such a consistent result in terms of mash efficiency (it was about73% last time, too), especially since the method I'm using is so simple and easy. I think that I could probably use the same method to brew all-grain, if I wanted to make something a bit less potent. I'll have to step up the volume and see what effect it has. It might be harder to maintain temperature, and it definitely will take longer to cool. Seems like it will be worth it, though.
After a lengthy camera-related discussion in the chatter today inspired by LinusMines's fine digital photography post
, I decided to follow crat's advice and start a digital photography blog. Here it is, with name supplied by shigpit: fotographic memory
. Please go take a look, it's pretty spartan right now with only one post, but I just got quite a bit of new photo equipment recently, so I'll be posting at least daily (I take weekends off, just FYI). If you have any interest, please stop by and leave comments. I'd like this to be a site with some discussion, or at least for it to be worthy of comment. I saved today's chatter discussion and will be mining it for post topics as time goes by. I'll also post it in a comment to this journal.
I made macaroni and cheese last night. No, not the kind out of a box, the other kind, the kind covered in bread crumbs and baked in the oven. Here's how:
1. Cook a box or bag of macaroni. They come with directions if you've never done it before. Follow them.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, preheat the over to 350F and make a Bechamel by
-heating 3 cups of milk in a small saucepan with a bay leaf
-melting 1/3 cup butter in a large saucepan, adding 1/3 cup flour, whisking to eliminate lumps, and cooking on medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes. The longer it cooks, the less thickening power it will have, so don't walk away to answer the phone or anything.
-add the hot milk to the roux(butter/flour) and whisk until smooth. Cook for another minute or three and remove from heat (remember to turn off the burner)
3. Add 1/2 pound of shredded sharp cheddar to the sauce and stir until combined.
4. Cook 4 strips of bacon in a small skillet until crispy-ish. Remove the bacon from its fat and chop it roughly. Pour the fat out of the pan and add back about 3 or 4 tablespoons of bacon fat, plus the chopped bacon and about a cup of breadcrumbs. Stir it all up until it's of a consistent texture.
5. Add the cooked and drained macaroni (you followed the directions, I hope) to the sauce and stir gently until combined. I told you to use a large saucepan. I hope you listened.
6. Scoop about half of the macaroni and sauce out into a baking dish. Sprinkle it with 1/4 pound shredded sharp cheddar. Add the rest of the macaroni and sauce. Top with another 1/4 pound of shredded sharp cheddar. Sprinkle the bacon/breadcrumbs mixture over the top of all, forming a consistently distributed, bacon-studded topping.
7. Bake, uncovered, for 25-40 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs start to look a bit brown and you can hear some crackly sounds coming from the dish. Serve hot. Eat a damn vegeatble, too, OK? There's a whole pound of cheese in there, plus bacon fat. Broccoli is good with this.
Secret Beaver, you made my day yesterday. I got home after a hellish commute where some punks in a cadillac cut me off on the freeway onramp, saw the package, and then sat on the couch reading and giggling for an hour, and when my daughter asked what was so funny, I told her "You don't want to know." And she didn't. She really didn't. I had weird dreams all night. It was perfect.
the first national thanksgiving proclamation
I think there's a lot of wishes contained in ol' George's proclamation that still apply today. Just sub Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever if the God stuff is a turn-off. George would approve.
"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789"
The other night, I decided it would be good to make some teriyaki chicken. Now, this is something I've made probably hundreds of times, it's not something I use a recipe for, but I thought it might be interesting to try adapting the instructions from the bento book I use. Scaling bento recipes up is kind of a dodgy deal, since you're usually only cooking like 2 chicken thighs or so at a time, but I thought that using the general proportions, the procedure in the book, and winging it from there would probably work.
So I looked at the recipe, and it called for (never mind the proportions here, just assume they're small) soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. That was it, aside from some water. I was a little taken aback. No garlic? No sesame oil? No ginger? WTF? But, I figured, the goal was to see where this would lead, right? Just stick to the plan.
Long story short, those three things amazingly transform into perfect teriyaki, if you follow the procedure (if not the porportions) of the recipe. I still find it inexplicable, except to say that, of course, simple recipes are frequently just better. Take that, mango-infused cippolini froth in a frozen orb of chicken fat on a single piece of inedible wax shaped to resemble a dandelion leaf.
I am pleased to report that the number of non-operational vehicles registered to my household has been reduced by 50%, while the number of dollars in my possession has increased by an amount I shall not disclose. Dude drove the thing home, no less. I told him not to, but he did it anyway, and apparently he made it safely, seeing as how he called to bitch because I didn't mention that it pops out of second gear. Good thing he made me write 'as is' on the bill of sale.
I may have found buyers for both of my decrepit VW Bugs without lifting a finger. Well, OK, I had to stop playing video games and go outside after they knocked on my door, and I had to show these guys the cars, and then I spent some time getting my crap out of them, and all the bits back into them, but other than that, not a finger. I've been daydreaming about what an empty driveway and carport would look like...I think I like it.
After a long hiatus, I decided to brew again. I was running out of beer. My brother is visiting from Thailand, so despite my resolution previously always to brew alone, I invited him over to help me out. Turned out fine.
I wanted to try out some of the techniques and ideas I have gotten reading Designing Great Beers, and I had just harvested hops, so I thought I'd try making a fresh hop IPA. I had originally intended to use more grain than extract, but to simplify things and reduce the amount of new equipment I would have to buy, I decided to go about 1/3 grain and 2/3 extract. I bought about 4 pounds of Pale Malt, 1/2 pound of 60L Crystal Malt, a vial of California Ale yeast, a kitchen scale, and some bottling equipment at the brew store, along with a couple sacks of dry malt extract (instead of the goo in a can).
I have to say, the dry extract is so much easier to work with than canned. I won't be looking back on that decision, that's for sure. No waste, easily dissolved, precise measurements on the scale. Enough said.
I have never mashed this much grain before. For that matter, I've never properly mashed grain. I always just dumped it in while I was bringing the water to a boil, then scooped it out before the boil, Papazian-style.
This time, I measured out (!) 5 quarts of water (1 quart per pound, plus another because it looked like it needed it), brought it to 172 degrees in the brew pot, added the grain, and used the oven on a low setting to maintain the mash at around 150 degrees for about 30 minutes or so.
After that, I dumped the mash into a grain bag inside my bottling bucket, ran off the liquor, added 3 more quarts of hot water and ran that off, and ended up with 9 quarts or so of wort with about 53 gravity units! That's sweet enough that it could have been beer after boiling! I could easily go all grain!
I chose, at this point, to ignore my carefully calculated figures about how much extract to add, which was, of course, stupid. I added 4.75 pounds of dry extract, which should have brought the final gravity to about 72 gravity units (my target was 65). After boiling, including 3 additions of hops, one of which was fresh hops, I ended up with a final gravity of about 85 GU! I was blown away. I'm still not able to figure out where the extra sugar came from, unless the brew store gave me more malt than I asked for.
I pitched the yeast at about 75 degrees, and it's just starting to blow foam out of the hose today, 2 and a half days later. I'll have to be more patient with this beer than I have with the others. It will take 6 weeks or more to be ready to drink, and even then, I anticipate it being immature.
This was an exciting batch of beer, becuase I'm just that much closer to being able to brew with less extract and more grain.
I've been getting a lot of compliments on both the Honey Cream Ale and the Smoked Rye Porter lately. Hopefully this latest batch will be even better (enough to be worth the extra bother).
I was fording a river wearing a 70-pound pack, having camped unexpectedly the previous night 4 or more miles from any established trailhead, with a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 10-year-old. I was about 2 miles from my car, but those 2 miles were the steepest climb I've ever done. I had bruises on both shoulders from my pack straps, and had been drinking (treated) river water since the previous evening, when we discovered that we had overshot the ford by a mile and just barely made it to a remote campsite before dark.
I've been having trouble taking my job seriously today.
My family came downtown to meet me for lunch today. We ended up, after a long process of indecision, at a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place close to my office. The owner lady was very nice, and her 10-year-old daughter was helping out in the family business. Food was decent enough, all that. Par for the course, my son announces right when I'm in the middle of eating that he needs to use the bathroom. Looking around, there's only one door through which a person might find a bathroom, so we walked on over. We got about halfway there, and the owner lady looks out through the pass-through and says, "no bathroom, no bathroom, sorry." No big deal, I think, I'll take him across to the park. Then she asks my son, "you need to pee? you need to pee?" at which point I start thinking there's like some secret employees-only bathroom somewhere in there and she feels sorry for the boy. He says yes, he needs to pee, so she comes out and takes his hand and leads him back into the kitchen. I'm watching, perhaps a bit puzzled, but waiting too see what gives.
Then she grabs a plastic pitcher off a low shelf. "OK," she says, "you need to pee? Go ahead." My boy, being 4, sees nothing weird about the situation at all, and manages to get his pants mostly down before I can get in there and attempt to whisk him away. The lady is holding the pitcher out to him expectantly. "No, no, that's OK," I keep saying. I tell her that I work nearby and I'll just take him somewhere else to use the bathroom. "No," she insists, "my daughter, she uses it all the time, it's OK." My mind reeling at this revelation, I manage to steer the boy out of the kitchen he pulls his pants up, and we go across the street to the public restrooms.
I had a hard time finishing my lunch when we got back. I don't think I'll be going back to the Vietnamese pee kitchen again.
Idiot that I am, I'm going to end up laying hands on my Bug again. Someone is trying to talk me into selling it off and buying a Thing, and the stupidest part of me is listening. I have visions of myself putting the key in the ignition and turning it. Stupid.