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Beer Notes

Vienna Octoberfest "Lager" (it can't possibly be a lager, because I'm using ale yeast, but that's what the can said)
9/22
OG: 1.030 (I got a hydrometer!)

Notes:
I think the yeast was very excited the first night, because Sunday morning there was about a half inch of liquid in the bottom of the cooler - bubble over? Because the LBK I was using was the older of the two, I was concerned that there was a leak in the keg, so I sterilized the other and transferred - hopefully I have not ruined the batch, we shall see. At any rate, lots of foam on top, even this morning, so I'm tentatively hopeful. Clearly, I didn't kill the yeast, at any rate.

The last batch - it didn't carbonate properly. I used two different sorts of bottles; a set of nice glass swing-top bottles and a few of the plastic PET bottles. According to the squeeze test - squeezing the plastic bottles for firmness - the batch was finished, but the stuff in the plastic bottles was a little flat. More than a little flat. And the glass bottles, well - one of them exploded a little when I opened it - just the rim of the neck, not a full grenade, and no injuries, but still. At least one of the other glass bottles was a little flat. Most of the glass were fine; fizzy and delicious. I think I will investigate sugar dots for this batch.

beer notes

Racked batch 3 today - into the fridge for conditioning! It's supposed to be a wheat beer, which Lora and I both quite like, so I hope it comes out ok. I kept the whole thing in a cooler with regular infusions of ice (into the cooler, not into the beer!) to keep it at a pleasant brewing temperature. As a result, I suspect it brewed at a slightly higher temperature than either batch 1 or 2 - and so it brewed faster. I bottled after a month, I'm racking it after a week, and I hope to find it drinkable by the end of the week. 

I used some glass bottles this time. I don't have enough glass to do a whole batch, so I used 10 glass and 3 PET plastic bottles - the plastic make it easier to tell if the carbonation is done (cuz they are no longer squeeze-y). 

I have two kits left to make. The process thus far has been so simple and the results have been so drinkable that I have no problem continuing to use the kits - but I'd love some suggestions as to how to kick things up a notch. I don't think I'm ready to start brewing entirely from scratch (and I don't have the right equipment anyway - two Little Brown Kegs are not the same as a carboy), but I'm open to some baby-step suggestions.

beer notes

Batch two was ready for conditioning last week, so we broke into it this weekend - it's good, but not as good as the first batch. Different mix, though - this was an American style lager, so not really to our taste. Lora says it's a lager on top and a hefeweizen on the bottom - it's got yeasties, which is ok. One of the bottles was a little sweet - P was helping bottle, and he lost track of how much sugar he had added. Ooops. Otherwise, it's fizzzy, it's beer-like, it tastes ok, even if it lacks body. The only problem is - we started with 8 liters on Saturday, and between Lora, me, and D, we've consumed 4 or 4.5 liters. The stuff doesn't last! Good thing I've got batch 3 going, but I don't think it's going to be ready to bottle before we finish batch 2. I can see that this is going to be a problem going forward.

further beer notes

Batch 3 is started. I started it yesterday. Ideally, it will be ready to bottle at about the same time as I have enough bottles emptied from batch 2 to bottle it. Anyway, I've tucked it into the coat closet, and am using ice in a cooler to maintain a sufficiently cool temperature.

Beer Notes

Batch two, bottled yesterday. I think my friends' basement is a little chilly - the initial brew phase took longer than the first batch. Now I'm debating whether our coat closet is too warm for a third batch - the living room hit 90 degrees earlier this week, but the closet seems cooler than the room itself. Perhaps I can see if the landlord will let me brew in the basement here - but he's a mite touchy, so perhaps not. Hmmmm - I wonder if former landlord would let me brew over there - the apartment is empty at the moment...

Student Loans

I'm beginning to suspect that the federal student loans administration doesn't really want anyone to pay back their loans. How else can I explain the bewildering and totally non-intuitive banyan tree of websites they have created? They're all related - they have the same logos on them and they use the same PIN to access them - but you can't go from one to the other - there is no easily viewable trunk that connects all the parts. Perhaps banyan tree is the wrong metaphor - the network is more like a collection of mushrooms, all connected by the roots, but seemingly unique. Stuff that SHOULD work together, doesn't. And, when you take the recourse of calling a physical human being - to continue the metaphor, perhaps this is appealing to a higher power? "Oh, God, explain these mushrooms to me!" - they cannot help you. "If you've done that, that's all I can tell you to do. Talk to the people at your school." 

All I need to do is change the spelling on my last name to change a "w" to an "n". It's only wrong in ONE PLACE in the whole mushroom colony of websites, and that's the place where it really needs to be right so that I can consolidate my loans away from Sallie Mae. Gahhhh!

Notes and stuff

First, need to note that we started a batch of beer on Friday. By "we" I mean me, and the Eldest, and her friend P - it was a home schooling project! In a month, we'll check it and bottle it, which is exciting. The plan this time around is to start a second batch almost immediately, because the first batch didn't take nearly as long as I had thought to drink. I bought extra bottles - enough for a half batch - so we should be fine with one batch carbing and one brewing. Yay, beer! Work, little yeasts, work!

Second, my local NPR station is doing its spring pledge drive, and I have some musings.

1) I'm sure they've done rigorous study into the best way to run these things, but it seems to me that the interruptions over the course of the day are longer than they reasonably need to be. I mean, if you break into the show once ever half hour, or even every 15 minutes, and say "we're doing the pledge drive! Here's the number! Call now!" and then return to the show, that's less disruptive. You aren't imparting any useful information in the 10 minute begging spiel - we know why it's important to pledge, we know what the service is that you provide, etc etc. Unless the goal is to introduce the listening audience to the wide array of employees who bring the shows to us on a daily basis, I don't see that it's valuable to have lengthy interruptions throughout the day.

2) When PBS does a pledge drive, they often offer special programming to go along with the drive - a Dr. Who marathon, for instance, or the full run of Fawlty Towers. That gives some value to the viewers along with the pledge drive material - it provides impetus to watch the pledge part. When NPR does a pledge drive, that isn't the case - indeed, some of the shows are specifically worse because of the pledge drive. For instance, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is often a special "retrospective" episode during pledge drives, which sucks. So, the NPR pledge drive actually takes away from the value provided to the listening audience, making it harder to enjoy the programming for which I am to pledge, and even rendering otherwise enjoyable shows into a lesser version - providing impetus NOT to listen during the pledge drive. 

3) I think, perhaps, I would be comfortable with an NPR that had commercials. I mean, they sort of do already - sponsors and local underwriters are, essentially, buying air time to present their brand, either at the local or at the national level - those are commercials. If there was some sort of formal acknowledgement that these were commercials, and some sort of strict rules as to how such commercials should not impact the material being presented - I think the dire warnings about loss of show quality would be shown to be hyperbolic.

4) I would also be entirely happy to see NPR be, like CBC (radio), fully funded by the government. I recognize that this is almost impossible in today's political climate in the US, but I would love to see it happen. Ira Glass jokingly proposed a small tax on every "fancy" coffee drink sold - all of the lattes and etc that NPR listeners drink (because we're all Volvo driving, latte sipping, crazy body piercing 'libruls', you know) - and I would be totally in favor of that. $.05 per fancy coffee drink is not a huge chunk of income, and if it were earmarked to support public media, I would have no problem supporting it.

5) Perhaps, instead of periodic pledge drives, NPR stations should have a much more low grade pledge campaign which ran all year round - several 10 second spots per day saying "you can pledge any time, call now, or go online" - which would be less disruptive generally speaking.

6) I think I would be more likely to pledge (assuming I had spare money to do so, which I do not) if my local stations (we have two!) were less inclined to devote the entire weekend to jazz and opera. (Ok, it's not the whole weekend, but there are several hours in the middle of the day on Saturday and Sunday when your choices are opera and jazz. Neither of which I want to listen to. And those hours seem calculated to occur at the times when I am most likely to be driving around, wanting something to listen to.) I would love a show focusing on local indie bands - giving some exposure to local musicians. Really, what I want is a local version of WNRN, but I suppose that's too much to ask.

Beer Notes

So, according to the instructions that came with my kit, my beer was supposed to be finished 3 weeks ago. Lora and I opened a liter of it, and it wasn't done. I went to the Mr. Beer forums, and confirmed that I was probably a little early, so it carbed for another two weeks, and then sat in the fridge at the new apartment for a week. Last night, we had dinner over there (we moved the dining room table) and friends joined us. Lora and D and I opened two liters - and it was good! Fizzy, cold, beer tasting (not sweet!), all good stuff. I have successfully made beer!

Now I need to drink 6 liters of beer so I can make more... Or, you know, buy more bottles. I think I could buy more bottles.

A fine show, or so I am told.

I gather that the local gladiatorial organization has achieved victory in a contest of wills against the gladiatorial organization of another region of the country. This explains why, even though such things are illegal, our neighbors are engaging in the use of pyrotechnic enthusiasms. Good show, lads! Way to hustle! And other such terms of encouragement. To those who wagered in support of those scurrilous dogs from New England, my condolences.

I did not watch the match, but I am made aware that the initial tossing of the coin came up heads, which makes me quite giddy, as it means that I am now due a free pizza and some sort of beverage. Well tossed, official! Huzzah!

 

Thoughts on moving

You know what I like about moving? Nothing. I like nothing about moving. I don't like boxing up all of the stuff. I don't like wrapping china in newspaper. I don't like taking the furniture to pieces. I don't like loading things onto trucks, and I don't like unloading things off of trucks. I especially don't like moving really heavy stuff, like washing machines. I don't like the whole process of disrupting the comfortable situation - even if that situation is a rut, frankly - against the possibility (indeed, the high probability, even!) of comfortable ruts in a new space. I don't like moving things into a new space, and I don't like fiddling with stuff to see how it fits in a new space, and I don't like wondering if all of the stuff from the old space WILL fit in the new space, or if some of the old stuff will need to be discarded - I like my stuff, and I don't want to get rid of it. I can add to this - I don't like looking for a new place to be. I don't like meeting random rental agents who will evaluate my potential as a renter, I don't like looking at empty apartments (which all end up looking more or less the same, in the end), I don't like speculating on whether this neighborhood will be safer than that neighborhood, or how my commute will be affected, especially if it snows more than 3 inches (which it hasn't yet - I don't like that either, but that's something else entirely), and I don't like calling people to ask to see their rental properties, and I especially don't like waiting for people to call me back - or worse, not call me back - about a rental property that I don't, frankly, really want to see. I don't even like the idea of renting, but I honestly can't imagine owning a house, because I don't like doing any of the things associated with owning a house.

When I was a kid, we moved a lot. Dad got transfered more or less every 5 years. I hated moving then, too - then, I was more concerned about loosing old friends and making new ones and fitting in at a new school and etc. That's less of a thing now, but looking at new houses and such is more of a thing - and I hate that, perhaps more than I did when I was a kid.

Moving sucks. What's worse is packing to move without really having a place to move to against the knowledge that such a move must, at some point in the relatively near future, take place. And the only thing worse than that is a job search. Bah.

 ETA:

You know what else I hate about moving? I hate Nigerian Prince Apartment scams! Good christ, you can't not send them a reply, because what if this time it ISN'T too good to be true? What if it really is a 3 bedroom two story house for exactly what you want to pay for it, in a neighborhood that you're actually interested in, where                                                                                                                                                              you're pretty sure no one will be shot, or knifed, or mugged? But it never is, it's always "my wife and I are in Africa, and we have the keys with us, but if you send us the first month's rent and the security deposit, we will mail you the keys! God bless, and keep the apartment very very clean, because we may send someone to check. And, remember, we're very privite people, so don't bother the neighbors with knocking on their doors about the place. Oh, and we tried to sell it, which is why there are real estate pages listing a much higher price - ignore them!" Jesus. People actually fall for that? Seriously?

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