Monday, August 30, 2010

Will all the Crazies Please Stand Up?

As of last Friday, Big and I have been apart for a month. A whole, stinkin, snuggle-free month. That means we hit the halfway mark for our next visit. I'll be flying out to Fairfax  - for only the second time - for 9 days!! Here's the thing with flying from Boise to Fairfax though, it takes all day. Like, really, all day. Flights range anywhere from 7-12 hrs and I lose 2 hrs on my way there. That being the case, I pretty much had two options: get there at 11am or 11pm. The idea of wasting a whole day on travel was abhorrent so I decided to get a little crazy and get there Saturday morning....which means I'll head to the airport straight from work on Friday, deal with two plane changes, hope to God I can fall asleep on the flight and arrive in D.C. very, very punchy the next day. Crazy? Yes. An adventure? Yes. A good idea? We'll see.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm pretty darn excited to get married to Big. Excited to move out to Fairfax with him and have a grand new adventure, to throw myself into the unknown, to start fresh for the first time, to make a new life. The process of slowly removing myself from my current, totally amazing, life is really strange though. Tonight I slipped my letter of resignation (set for Tuesday, January 4th) into my supervisor's inbox. She'll get it in the morning and that will be that. And that's just weird.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And the winner is....

7 Night W. Caribbean - Carnival Liberty Miami
Stops - Cozumel (14 hr) Georgetown Grand Cayman (9 hr) Ocho Rios (7.5 Hr)

We finally picked a cruise!  We decided to go with Carnival because of their wide range of activities and amenities and because they seem to be targeting a younger, more active, more casual crowd than some of the other lines. We went with this cruise inparticular, because of the ports of call and the excursion possibilities. I'm really stinkin' excited about the possibilities in Cozumel: Mayan ruins and underground river tubing!! At the other stops we'll get to laze about on beautiful beaches, maybe do the Snuba (snorkeling+scuba) thing, get to swim with and touch stingrays and hopefully eat some unique and delicious food!

Okay, so the honeymoon is pretty much lined-up. Now I've just gotta get back to the wedding....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maple Syrup Amber

Just finished bottling my Imperial Porter - the Walter Williams Patriot Porter if it turns out well. My next beer, which I brewed on the 14th of August, is a Maple Syrup Amber Ale.

Recipe Follows

6.6 Lbs Golden light LME
1 Lb Biscuit Malt (Grain)
.75 lb Crystal Malt 40L (Grain)
1 oz Cluster (60 Min)
1 oz Willamette (15 min)
Wyeast British Ale Yeast
2 Tbsp Irish Moss (15 min)
24 oz Maple Syrup (Added starting at 30 min, continually, until 15 min)Vermont Maple Syrup, they say darker than normal

I also added about half of the LME at 15 min, to reduce burning the sugar.

Predicted attributes:
6.4 ABV
OG: 1.065 (I forgot to actually take it)
FG: 1.016
IBU: 29

This is the first beer I'm fermenting in my plastic bucket. I didn't have the lid fully secure for a couple days, so I hope that doesn't destroy the brew.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Imperial Porter

So! I decided to throw pretty much all of my left-over ingredients from my last batch, on top of an english bitter recipe. What I ended up with is probably something like a porter, only more. So I'm calling it an Imperial Porter. If it's good, perhaps this will be the one I will call the Walter Williams Patriot Porter, and give him a 22er of it. If it's bad, then, well, it's bad.

Here are the ingredients:

Mothafucking Porter

¾ lb Black Patent Malt
2 lb Crystal Malt
6 LBS Light DME
5 lbs Dark LME
.5 LBS Corn Sugar
.5 oz Crystal Pellet Hops 3.1AA boil
1 Kent Golding Pellet 4.5% AA full boil
.5 Fuggle 4.0% full boil
.5 Kent Goldings 30 min
1 KG 15 min
.5 Crystal 15 min
.5 Fuggle 10 min
.5 KG 8 min
.5 Cascade 7.5AA 5 min

60 minute boil.
Estimated OG - 1.103
Estimated FG - 1.034
Actual OG - 1.095
Actual FS - 1.032
ABV - 8.5%
IBU 26.21

Put it in the primary August 3rd, but in secondary on August 10th. Still there.

August 18th I bottled it, priming using RAW brown sugar and oxygen absorbing caps.


It's been bottled about two weeks now. It was flat after 4 days, but after 7 days it was well carbonated. I brought a couple to a party, and it got favorable reviews. The flavor seems to be changing as time goes on; initially it was almost like a mild with a slight hop character, but recently the roasted flavor has been becoming more prominent. It's not a bad beer, especially a first one, and considering I let it sit in the fermenter only 4-5 days.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm on a Boat!

Big and I are going on a CRUISE for our honeymoon!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. It will be an amazing combination of things I love: Big, the ocean, travelling, new places, vacations, hotels and restaurants! Picking the "best" cruise is totally tricky though! The details! Gah! There are just too many of them. What are the ports of call? How long will we be at each stop? What are the excursions? What are the room dimensions? What are the ship sizes and capacities? What are the ship amenities? Where does the cruise embark from?  Tell me your head isn't starting to spin.  Just in case it isn't, I am posting the options here and hoping you'll chime in.  Come on, give us your 2 cents and help us make this crazy decision.  We know there are no wrong choices here, but do you think there is a best??

Cruise Options!
9 Night Bahamas - Celebrity Mercury, 15 Jan. Baltimore
Stops - Charleston SC, Key West (8 hr) Nassau (8 hr) CocoCay (9 hr)

This one has already been axed because it spends a whole day in Port Canaveral. Boo.
7 Night Bahamas - Carnival Pride, 16 Jan. Baltimore                    
Stops - Port Canaveral, Nassau (11 hr) Freeport (7 hr)

8 Night S. Caribbean - Carnival Miracle.  Fort Lauderdale
Stops - St. Maarten (9 hr) St. Lucia (8 hr) St. Kitts (7 hr)

7 Night E. Caribbean - Carnival Dream (their newest, biggest). Port Canaveral
Stops - Nassau (5.5 hr) St. Thomas (10 hr) St. Maarten (10 hr)

7 Night S. Caribbean - Holland America Westerdam. Fort Lauderdale
Stops - Half Moon Cay (7 hr) Oranjestad (10 hr) Willemstad Curacao (9 hr)

7 Night W. Caribbean - Carnival Liberty Miami
Stops - Cozumel (14 hr) Georgetown Grand Cayman (9 hr) Ocho Rios (7.5 Hr)

Oh, and just in case you didn't catch the title reference, THIS will soon be me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And there it is

So I've embarked on a 90 day bible plan, and recently finished What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. So far on the former, I'm through Genesis (again) and am now reading the awful parts of Exodus where I learn how many cubits to make the ark of the covenant. At this point, God's not a very kind God. "Yeah, the Egyptians would let you go, but I'll harden Pharaoh's heart so I get to kill all the firstborn in Egypt."

Yancey mentions that God seems so much happier in the NT. I'm curious to see if it's a gradual increase in happiness, or if it's a jump once we get to the NT. I wonder if there's not an allegory here for parenting.


When Big went back to Fairfax, he not only took himself, his bird, a million economics books, and my opportunity for spooning, he also took his Netflix subscription. In his absence, I have been watching A LOT more on le TV, subsequently, I responded to the unacceptable Red Box fees and got my own Netflix subscription. 

Today I mailed my first disc (TrueBlood Season 2, Disc 1) back and I noticed that the address is "Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility". Really!? Netflix, you are so important that you expect people to determine the "Nearest Facility" for you?  I gotta work on my rep, because I have this strange feeling that if I were to address a letter to "My Nearest Friend", it wouldn't work out so well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another another Journey

little and I have been exploring the Church thing together over the past couple years. My self-conception religion has evolved, kinda, from my angry Atheist self in high school-early college (thanks Ayn Rand!) to my Atheist/Agnostic self in mid-late college with Aristotelian and therefore slight Catholic sympathies (thanks Ayn Rand!) to my more Aristotelian-ish and agnostic self now. My experience at Gonzaga has given my a generally positive view of the Catholic church, and I enjoy the liturgical style.

The church we went to for a while was the Whitney Methodist Church on Overland, and the pastor there was great (Pastor Matt). He was an old hippie, clearly, but his sermons were all interesting. I sat down with him for coffee at one point before he was re-assigned, and he recommended me some C.S. Lewis (which I had already read) and Philip Yancey's What's so Amazing About Grace? which I am currently reading.

Matt left soon before I did, and we tried the new pastor but didn't like her as much. We also tried the Cathedral of the Rockies and their Blue Jean service, but we weren't terribly impressed (as I said, I'm fairly attracted to liturgy, and this service included the songs 'Our House' and 'Yakedy Yak.') Combined with a sermon that seemed cheesily woven around a 'Spring Cleaning' subject, little and I were not particularly compelled to go back.

little started to go to St. Michaels Episcopal Church while I was in Fairfax (I went to an ELCA church within walking distance, once). I went with her a couple times (or just once?) to St. Michaels, and I wasn't a huge fan of the priest, though given a small sample size. He seemed to be a little condescending for my taste, and he gave me the impression that he wanted you to know he was well educated (not a bad thing, but obfuscation is one of the biggest sins academia can commit, in my opinion). There were other little things that bugged me about it too, but none too much.

In preparation for our wedding, which will be at the Cathedral of the Rockies, little and I went back for another service. We chose the traditional service this time. Much to our surprise, it was super awesome. Steve (the pastor who will be marrying us) gave a great sermon, which is available here, starting around the 30 minute mark. I highly recommend listening to it. It capture what I most like about methodism, at least the brand I have seen, which is that each individual has a ministry, which means each individual has to interpret the world for him or herself.

The most important moral point for me is that each person has the capacity to interpret the world and morality for him or herself. Philosophies or religions that deny people that capacity; either by claiming that morality is dictated to us by a book and it is our duty to obey, not interpret (as many 'Bible Churches' seem to do); or by claiming that only certain people are capable of interpreting morality (which particularly authoritarian churches may claim) or philosophies that say there is no morality or that it is completely relative; do not attract me.

Ethics, Morality, and Faith, can all replace humor in E.B. White's quote: "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind." I think that, more than anything, is what has happened in our culture as of late. We have delved into the innards of faith and morality with the surgical tools of reason and logic, and have found that they're dead. But it's stories that can truly convey the nature of these things. Everybody had their own experience with Truth and Morality - it's not completely relative, but it's only communicable by stories, and it is up to each and every person to find it by being a listener of stories, a teller of stories, and a liver of their own story.

Another journey

Well, this blog will not only cover our journey to the East Coast, but also my journey to becoming a master brewer! Okay, well maybe just a journeyman brewer. Rather, someone who can brew beer for cheaper than I can buy at the store, at around the same quality.

So, for those interested in brewing, continue on! Those not, uh, don't. Though you can still drink some.

My first beer is out of Charlie Papazian's Book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, named "Elbro Nerkte," a lightly carbonated Brown Ale, though I had to do some substitutions because I didn't order well. Because I've been on a Frank Sinatra kick lately, I want to call this one "My Way Brown Ale" which feels fitting. I'll wait to see if it is any good before wasting a name on it though!

Here are the ingredients I used

My Way, 5 gal
6.6 lbs Dark Liquid Malt Extract, Breiss
.25 lbs Black Patent Malt
.50 lbs Crystal Malt, 40L
1 oz UK Fuggle Hops (boiling)
1 oz Kent Goldings Hops (boiling; sub for 2nd oz of Fuggle I didn't have)
.5 oz Cascade Hops (aroma)
4 tsp Gypsum
2 tsp Irish Moss
Wyeast liquid English Ale Yeast
3/4 cup Corn Sugar (priming, for carbonation)
So. Many. Bottles.

4.5% ABV, 41ish IBU

First thing I did was pop a nutrient bag in the yeast pack, to let it inflate (it activates the yeast). I steeped the Crystal and Black Patent malt for a half hour, then strained as much as I could out. Very much like tea. Brought it (around 1.5 Gallons) to a boil, then added the LME, Boiling Hops and Gypsum. Boiled for 60 minutes, added the Irish Moss at 45 mins and the Cascade Hops at 8 min. Transferred the wort into the glass Carboy, then topped it off to 5 gallons. Put it in fridge until it got down to 75 degrees, then added the yeast. Put a blow off hose on it, and put the other end in a container with bleach water.

Within 12 hours it was bubbling on the other end, and by 24 hours there was a big head of foam on it (the Krausen). It kept rising for an additional 24 hours, then dropped. Within 72 hours total, fermentation was done. I capped it with an airlock filled with Jim Beam (figure that's as good a sanitizer as anything), which continued bubbling. Bottled it about 24 hours later. I got 42-45 bottles (3 may have too much sediment, because I sucked out a whole bunch of the 'trub' near the end) out of a potential 57. Bottling is a giant pain in the ass, by the way. I boiled the corn sugar and put the mixture in the carboy before siphoning it into the bottles. Capped them, and have been waiting for about 30 hours.

Original Gravity was about 1.52, Final Gravity was about 1.18, so ABV should be around 4.5%.

This was a *very* quick brew, as it will be drinkable within 8 days and peak at 13 days. I am not sure whether this is a good thing though, since I bottled even quicker than the recipe called for.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pros and Cons, Mostly Cons

Pro: Watching lots of TV (aka an entire season of Say Yes to the Dress in a 24 hr period)
Con: No spooning.
Pro: Eating SUSHI!! (Wicky Wicky, you're so tiny and cute and close)
Con: No spooning.
Pro: Peeing with the bathroom door open. (so wrong, but so right)
Con: No spooning.
Pro: Watching more chick flicks. (no less than 4 in 6 days)
Con: No spooning
Pro: One less bird in the house. (Punky, you taught Olive such awful things)
Con: No spooning.
Pro: More girl time. (ma' ladies are keepin me busy)
Con: No spooning.
Pro: We're just that much closer to this whole thing being finished with)