Thursday, January 27, 2005

Guiness Book of World Records

So, according to this article in the campus news paper, MTU has set a record for for the world's biggest pendulum...104 years after making the actual pendulum.

Huh. Weird.

From the sounds of it, it's purpose was basically a depth-o-meter, if there is such a thing.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Is It Monday Already?


Wow, it's Monday already, and I'm sitting here at work, sipping a cup of coffee, trying to get caught up on email, news, and get some coding done. BUT, before that, a quit entry. This weekend seemed like it went non-stop!

Saturday, I woke up all geared-up and ready to brew a batch of beer. I had the idea of waking up 'early' (8/9am,) and getting the brewing done quickly, but as Heather will attest, I say that I'd like to wake up on many brew days. That bed is just far too comfortable to wake up early. :)

We finally all did wake up around 10-ish. Breakfast was had. Coffee was brewed, and drank. I got garbed-up, and went wading through the snow banks in order to drag wood from the pile to the basement. Fires flamed, the house was warmed. Noon rolled by, and I decided I needed to get moving if this beer was ever going to get brewed! I fired up the computer and started doing the final calculations for the recipe.

See, I was originally going to brew a 5+/- gallon batch of brown ale. Err, 'nut brown ale' you call it because I guess calling something a 'brown ale' just sounds like you're brewing a poop-brew. ) My recipe, as I brewed it, isn't available online (yet.) You can find the original recipe I based my recipe upon here. (Basically, I just converted it to all-grain, and swapped a little of the Special-B Malt for Dark (135-165L) Crystal Malt.)

ANYWAY, I _WAS_ going to brew a 5-ish gallon batch. Well, I had a really good yeast culture going of White Labs WLP023 - Burton Ale Yeast that I got from a friend (thanks, Randy!) It's a surprisingly good yeast that I'd brewed with once before that has a really great 'English' character, and as that White Labs page will attest, is well-suited for an English-style brown ale. The thing is, I also had 'rescued' a yeast culture that I put away over a year ago of White Labs WLP001 - California Ale Yeast. Just about any brewer who's worth his salt has used this yeast at least once. It's _the_ 'American' yeast. Clean, crisp, and unlike an English yeast, it's really quite 'clean' for an ale yeast -- very little fruity esters. It accentuates (big word for the day...had to look up how to spell it,) the hops and grains instead of masks them under the yeast characteristics. CRAP Can I actually get to the point? I'll try. So, this yeast that I was sure was dead, came back to life! The starter culture smelled and tasted clean, surprisingly no infection that I could detect, so I just had to use it. So, my point that I was trying to get at? I decided to brew an 8+ gallon batch, and split the batch among the two yeasts, so I needed to scale the recipe up before actually getting started.

While I was deftly tacking away at the keyboard, Heather was getting a grocery list made up. A pretty big one too! It was somewhere in the middle of this that I realized I didn't have Fuggles hops! I was sure I had them. I dug through the freezer upstairs, and the freezer downstairs. No Fuggles hops. CRAP.

"Ok, this isn't a problem, Heather's going into town, I'll go with, pick up the hops I need, no problem!" Except in the back of my head I knew I was already resigning the brew to another day.

With a grocery list like the one Heather had in hand, this wasn't going to be a quick into-town-and-back-home joy ride. Really, the list didn't have that many things on it, but it included at least four separate stops at different stores. That's a pretty good days worth of shopping, and anyone who has/has-had a baby knows it's going to be an even-longer day. And you know how it is when you get into the store: you're going to browse and if you're in a hurry, every obstacle will be in your way. Friends you haven't seen in a while? "Hello!" Long lines? Yup. By the time we got out of Wally-World I was sure I wasn't brewing on Saturday.

I don't think we actually hit the road until about 1:30. I think we got home some time around 6:30, 7:00. Yeesh. But hey! I got a new pair of jeans out of it, and if you know how often I buy new clothes, that's a pretty big deal! Instead of piddling away the rest of the evening, after dinner I got my grain mill, and scale, and went to work on measuring out my grains and crushing them so I wouldn't have to spend the extra time in the morning.

You know what's awesome? Hooking your 14v cordless drill to your grain mill! Holy crap! I can grind grain in no time flat! It's amazing!

Well, anyway, Sunday rolls around. Noah and I wake up, and make breakfast for all three of us. While breakfast is getting prepared, I put my mash water (about 5 gallons) on the stove to heat up. By the time breakfast was done, the mash water is ready, and I mash-in. I decided to try mashing in my 10 gallon GOTT cooler that I picked up at a garage sale this year. This cooler is AWESOME! After an hour-long mash, I was surprised to see that the mash hadn't dropped a single degree! Very cool.

Anyway, to wrap things up....the rest of the brew day was typical, the sparge went fine, the boil went fine, and I ended up with two carboys with about 4.5 gallons of wort in each. I checked this morning on my way to work and both carboys are burpling away like a happy wort-becoming-beer should.

Anyway...I need to get going. I guess I could talk about putting together the treadmill, or the fun I had with Heather and Noah, but yeesh, this post is long enough! I'll talk about that in another post. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Couple Weeks To Late

This is a couple weeks too late, but who cares? It's a homebrewers Christmas Carole, supposidly by Dr. Clayton Cone:

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was thirsty, including the mouse...
The steins were empty, and the bottles were too.
The beer had been drunk with no time to brew.

My family was nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Christmas Ale foamed in their heads.
Mama in her kerchief lamented the drought,
She craved a pilsner and I, a stout.

When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the kitchen, I flew like a flash,
Opening the door with a loud bang and crash!

I threw on the switch and the lights, all aglow,
Gave a luster of mid-day to the brew-pot below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But Gambrinus himself, the patron of beer.

With a look in his eye, so lively and quick,
He said, "You want beer? Well, here, take your pick."
More rapid than eagles, his recipes came
As he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

"Now, Pilsener! Now, Porter! Now, Stout and Now Maerzen!
On, Bitter! On, Lager! On, Bock and On Weizen!"
"To the top of the bottles, the short and the tall,
Now brew away, brew away, and fill them all!"

As dried hops before a wild hurricane fly,
And then, without warning, settle down with a sigh,
So towards the brew-pot, the ingredients flew,
Malt extract, roasted barley and crystal malt, too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard it quite plain,
The cracking open of each barley grain.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Into the kitchen, he came with a bound.

He was dressed like a knight, from his head to his toes,
With an old family crest adorning his clothes.
A bundle of hops, he had flung on his back,
And the brewing began when he opened his pack.

His hops were so fragrant! His barley, how sweet!
The adjuncts included Munich malt and some wheat.
The malted barley was mashed in the tun,
Then boiled with hops in the brew-pot 'till done.

Excitement had me gnashing my teeth,
As the sweet smell encircled my head like a wreath.
Beer yeast was pitched, both lager and ale,
The wort quickly fermented, not once did it fail.

It was then krausened, or with sugar primed,
And just being bottled when midnight had chimed.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know, I'd be shortly in bed.

He spoke not a word but kept on with his work,
And capped all the bottles, then turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger alongside his nose,
He belched (quite a burp!) before he arose.

Clean-up was easy, with only a whistle,
And away the mess flew, like the down on a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim, 'ere he left me the beer,
"Merry Christmas to all! and a HOPPY New Year!"

Merry Christmas everyone!!
And Happy New Year!!

Yooper Lock De-Icer

I saw the strangest thing Tuesday morning on my way to work.

As I was getting to the top of Quincy Hill, almost to Peterson's Fish Market, I noticed the tell-tale light that is cast by dancing flames on the snow banks, and tree branches around the fish market.

At first, I thought the worst: "On no, Peterson's Fish Market is on fire!" Well, as I drove by, it all became clear, and I so wish I had a picture of what I saw.

Picture this: A man standing in front of Peterson's Fish Market...with a big tank of propane sitting next to him. In his hands? Why, a long-handled torch that resembled one of those torches you would use to burn the weeds in the cracks in your pavement, or burn a field or ditch in early spring. What's he doing with it?

He's flaming the doorknob to the building.

It was the most 'yooper' thing I've seen up here in a long time. I asked some of my coworkers who have been up here much longer than I have if they've ever seen or heard of anyone de-icing a lock in such a manner. Not a one ever had.

I wish I had gotten a picture.