Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Experiment: yeast harvest from Sierra Nevada Porter

This experiment is not intended to yield a usable yeast. Rather, it gave me an opportunity to sterilize my implements, can some wort, mix Iodophor at 12ppm and re-learn good sanitary techniques.

The slurry from the bottom of my last SN porter was pitched into about a cup of previously-sterilized wort from a pint mason jar. It's in an autoclaved (pressured cooked 15 pounds for 15 mins, really, but that's longer to say) Topo Chico bottle with a bubbler-style airlock on top.

I would be very surprised to see any action at all, but it's a cheap experiment.

Will likely make a real starter for the liquid Weizen yeast vial that's in the fridge, because it was shipped on the slow boat.... Gonna try to brew that this Saturday afternoon.

Gonna kill some plants

The Dear Wife and I are famous for killing plants.

But the lovely old fellow who had this house before us built (among other things) a greenhouse that has overhead lighting, power outlets, and is plumbed for water.

So we feel we owe it to the greenhouse to try to grow some stuff.

DW picked some flowers and some veggies. I picked more veggies and whipped out some seeds I'd scrounged from some good-looking fruit. In the past I've had some grapefruit plants that were beautiful before I killed them. I am trying cherry, lemon, and grapefruit this time.

Anyhow, these seeds have sprouted: Zinnias, cantaloupes, cucumbers, beets. We have no real idea when/what you are supposed to do with them at this point, but at least they sprouted.

Also picked up a pressure cooker and some pint jars to play with; I needed them for sterilizing various homebrew implements and ingrediants, so it will be fun if we do end up with some fresh veggies to can and to eat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew

I used to homebrew extensively when I lived on my own.

But for years I didn't have enough room, time, or resources to brew. I've made room in my life for it again. Here is part of my intro post to a homebrewing forum:

I started brewing in the 80s when I was stationed in the former West Germany. Mailordered all my gear from the US, thanks to the small number of sellers that would deliver to APO.

Worked from extract for the few years. By the time I rotated back to the US and exited the army I had found an ancient grain mill at a flea market for $10 so started AG brewing, including with wheat. Weizen was my favorite style, but wasn't very common in the US if I remember correctly. Luckily I shipped back 4 or 5 racks of those lovely .5L bottles... Used to buy malt in 50# boxes from Stew's Brews somewhere in the midwest. He still around? Very pleasant fellow.

My recipe spreadsheets were in VisiCalc on an Apple ][e, if that helps set the mood... labels printed on a 9pin dot matrix. But I was getting to do some fun stuff; priming with kraeusen, breaking up and farming liquid yeast since it was relatively expensive at the time. I had read a letter about hop growing in Zymurgy by a fellow in Oregon (I think). Wrote him to ask a question about technique and he fedexed me a chunk of rhizome! It didn't like East Texas that much, but it did grow up the string trellis I made for it. I don't think it yielded any flowers by the time I left.

Life intervened; I moved, and lived in tiny apartments with no real room to brew in. I threatened that when I finally got my own house I would start to brew again. My well-thumbed Papazian JOHB sat on the bookshelf taunting me.

Flash forward: the Dear Wife and I bought a house in November; lots of room, a garage and a workshop. Woo-hoo! I started dragging out my old gear. Some was ok, some was broken, some lost, some given away. I mailordered replacements and an outdoor 7.5gal turkey frier propane rig to handle the boil. I only have electric stovetop (although the house is plumbed for gas) and it used to take FOREVER to get a boil going. I trust the frier will alleviate that somewhat. :-) Brown trucks are rolling across America to my humble abode. Come to papa....

And as some kind of sign from the heavens, I have since learned there is a homebrew shop that is about 2 miles from the house. Gonna stop by and pick up some extracts, hops, and some modern sterilants for my first batch; I see that bleach isn't as popular now as it once was. I did love AG, but it's been 15 yrs and I think I need to ease back into it with extracts until I get some of the old muscle memory back. I'll also wait for the credit card to cool off a bit before buying another mill.

First brew scheduled for Mar 2. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

dragons at the supermarket

Went to the Tian Tian supermarket for some groceries and was surprised by a flock of giant dragons.

This is my first youtube video. Don't be a hater.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hey, we have a garage

This would not be noteworthy for most folks, but it's my first garage. After 20yrs of living in tiny apartments I have space and a garage to boot.

  • Made a trip to Costco to buy bulk paper goods, etc, because we finally have a place to store the surplus.
  • Put together a reel mower on the floor of the garage; the abundant working space felt like a luxury
  • the motorcycle is stored out of the elements
  • the bicycles are easy to access and fun to ride
I hope I never lose this feeling of amazement with having room to live and work.

I'm feeling much better now.

Thought I'd give an update after two negative posts.

Spamgourmet is back up and running like a champ; they tend to get DOS'ed by spammers regularly so I was a bit worried.

Also, I joined another regional freecycle group (north texas freecycle) and was admitted with no drama. Successfully gave away some gear I didn't want to throw away.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Spamgourmet outage

I have used Spamgourmet for a couple of years to protect my real email address[es] from spam. It works remarkably well:

* you can generate new spamgourment addresses on-the-fly without visiting the site
* you can expire any address at any time (mail gets devnull'ed)
* the wanted email can be forwardeded to any underlying address, and changed at any time
* when you reply to forwarded mail it is smart enough to Reply-To from the correct spamgourmet address.
* you can use an email address in public then expire it when its usefulness is done (or when spambots find it). Example: this is a real email address -->

So why am I blue today? Spamgourmet suffers through DOS attacks from time to time, intentional and unintentional. Now is such a time. No email for about 12 hrs. :-(

All the mail will eventually come through, but it really puts a crimp in my morning activities.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Abortive attempt to freecycle

You know, the basic concept of freecyling appeals to me. I wanted to try it, I really did. I figure it's wasteful to throw away something that might have value for someone else. I've been giving away stuff for years, mainly on interest-specific forums and craigslist. I wanted to get involved in a community of folks that had a similar approach to excess material goods.

Turns out it's actually a collection of mailing lists. I read the FAQ and thought the banned list was a bit draconian: no "vitamins, creams, etc", no firearms, and many allow no pets. OK, a little controlling. Maybe it's for good reasons (past flamewars, whatever). Anyhow, none of the stuff I had to give away was in the prohibited list.

So I ran the yahoo gauntlet (yay, more yahoo signature spam), only to get denied by the dfwfreecycle moderator for using the the word "trade" in my introductory questionaire. How hard should a person work to join a group where you give your stuff away?

Subject: Request to join DFWFreecycle denied
Your request to join the DFWFreecycle group was not approved.
The moderator of each Yahoo! group chooses whether to restrict
membership in the group. Moderators who choose to restrict
membership also choose whom to admit.

Please note that this decision is final and that Yahoo! Groups
does not control group membership.

Part of my original response:

I have many things to give away... I will give them away elsewhere, probably Craig's list although I suspect there are more moochers there.

Doesn't matter to me where they go; I wanted to reward people who recycle and live frugally, but I am not going to fight uphill to do it.

I later edited my extended rant down to "It's your sandbox".

Reminds me of when I was delivering food to the Arlington Night Shelter in the mid-90s; I started getting harrassed by the recipients so much that I started to dread the delivery. Hey, if I'm giving you stuff you don't have to be gracious; I don't want your thanks or gratitude. Just don't be actively obnoxious or try to control the gift unnecessarily.

So try freecycling if you are so inclined; just remember that your membership in the group depends on how you answer the questions that are presented when you try to join the list. So don't blow through the questionaire quickly in your desire to start sharing. You may be shunned. Definately don't use any conjugation of the infinitive "to trade".

Galaxy Drive-in

The Dear Wife and I packed up the dog and drove down to the Galaxy drive-in down by Ennis. Easy drive from Richardson (about 45mins, instead of 2.x hrs for the Brazos in Granbury).

$6 for adults for a double feature. There are four screens, and they have in general done a fine job with the whole experience. The announce (RCA Jack, get it?) was amusing, the lots were in decent shape, the screens were in good shape, bright, and in focus. They have the vintage window-hanger speakers in addition to FM broadcast.

We saw Cloverfield, which was pretty good. We were tired and did not stay for the second feature.

Win: Generous portions and fair prices in the snack bar. Pets allowed on leashes. Employees seemed to be having fun and happy to work; a family deal maybe? No distracting peripheral lights (as with the old Astro).
Lose: Asshats in SUVs, but what's new about that? Bathrooms could use some TLC.

Galaxy Drive-In Theatre
5301 N. IH-45
Ennis, TX 75119