Angsty; Time for a change

Tuesday, January 6. 2009
I hate being angst ridden. I really do. It makes me feel like the terribly unpleasant characters from southpark. But some days you can't help it. Good thing Korn popped up on the play list. Nothing like incredibly hard drums and a ridiculous bass line to cure the mood. It's taken me until now to realize why the band is only popular with the teen crowd (and especially their particular demographic). It makes the musical choice of older generations (softer, happier, less angst) make a lot more sense, though I could be WAY over-generalizing.

So, being a new year and all, I suppose I should have some resolutions. High among them should be just to try more and different things. I tried a few last year, but I fear I half-assed a lot of it. I shouldn't do that this year. I'd like to get back into hobbies which I've neglected and do the things I do every day better.

I want to:

  • come up with a better scheme/style for this site & keep it up

  • play/produce better music

  • take better pictures & put them through a whole workflow

  • dress better

  • communicate better

  • keep in much better shape

  • be more productive at work

  • actively seek out ways & means by which I can improve

I think my old psych class called this self-actualization. I should start by getting more sleep...

I'm in China

Sunday, October 5. 2008
It's about 10:15 local (Chinese) time and I'm waiting to go for my flight. I'll need to leave in about 2 hours to take the metro to the mag-lev where I'll zip out of Shanghai at about 250 mph (431km/h). It's been a fabulous trip -- thanks Matt. Hopefully I'll get to write a little more about the fun I've had over here, but for now, I need to shower and pack. Long plane flight ahead.

The gallery is back!

Saturday, July 5. 2008
And high jinks from our July 4th mini-celebration are going up tonight.

My hops are in the ground

Sunday, June 1. 2008
They arrived, and I have planted them. I am on my way to being even more independent in my beer consumption by growing my own hops. I've never been tremendously good at gardening, but I'm kinda excited about this. The vines can grow up to 20' high, and since they're planted on the side of the house, they've got plenty of room. They'll eventually need a trellis, but that may be a job for next weekend, if not the following. I want to get the plants established and growing before throwing too much effort into a trellis. I'll try to keep updated as things progress.

I've also to got some rosemary bushed in the ground. They should add a touch of color to the house and kick my cooking up a notch. BAM!

This is why my country is great.

Monday, September 3. 2007
American Productivity Ratings

'Nuff said.

Beer #6 is aging

Monday, August 27. 2007
Since it is aging, I managed to get a taste. The executive summary is that it is okay and has an FG of 1.022 (~4.5% ABV, which is progress).

Mistake #1 (no, it wasn't adding hops to a stout - stouts are better bitter) was the hop ball. In theory, it'd work magically. I just overstuffed it. So my beer didn't turn out quite as bitter as it should have for the hops I put in it. Unfortunately, I only noticed towards the end of my hops boil. I should have boiled longer, but I didn't. I boiled the rest of the hops for a short time (normally to balance out some hop flavor, but in a stout aroma hops are a little silly).

So I need to shake harder, and use better water. I'm not sure that the better water is an option. However, the beer is getting marginally better. So maybe it'll be good in a few years. Horrah!

Fingers = hurting.

Monday, August 27. 2007
And it is an electric guitar. That's just sad.

After about a 6 year break, I recently decided to pick up my guitar again. I'd forgotten how bad I am at picking. It came up in conversation with a friend last week (he's an amazing guitarist), and he said he realized he couldn't really pick when he heard Radiohead's "Street Spirit" -- and figured out that it wasn't fingerpicked. It is a guy, with a pick and a guitar -- fingers flying at mach 3.

Just for reference, check out the video on youtube: Radiohead's "Street Spirit"

So I sat down for an hour or so today and started picking it out. And boy do my fingers hurt. I bet if I played more than once every 6 years, I wouldn't be such a weenie.

Personal Project #74

Sunday, August 26. 2007
I started in on Alison's site today. She has some ideas that she wants to put into a simplified CMS. So rather than writing the whole thing from scratch, I figured the best way to do it would be to start with a LAMP system and install s9y. Then I should be able to hyjack a lot of the db code and make a simplified view. Problem is, I don't know smarty. Or php (well). But I'm making progress.

I got the dev environment set up tonight. I've got php + apache + s9y running. I've got the s9y distro under svn and live on the server. I've got a couple of entries in the db. I've narrowed my search down 1 or 2 s9y functions, but I can't seem to pull/display data through them. But if I had, this would have been a trivial project.

So tomorrow, we'll see if I can pull some data from the db.

My crappy phone

Wednesday, August 22. 2007
I have possibly the crappiest cellular telephone on the market. I'm somewhat proud of this, as it doesn't twinkle, download $4 ring tones that sound like crap, or leverage the power of enterprise-class web servers. It makes calls and has a "silence" function that makes it shut-the-****-up. Yet there are some things I wish it did. Learn words that I type in text messages is one of them. However, I learned tonight that it knows the word "muster," and I cannot figure out why. Nobody normal would use that (except me, of course... I'm normal). But alas, the next time I type Yoda, I'm actually going to have to spell it out again. Such is life.

Beer #6 recipe

Saturday, August 18. 2007
I should be writing this in a notebook, but I'm downstairs with a laptop and my notebooks are upstairs (and I'd be hard pressed to find a writing utensil). So I'll write the recipe here, with the complete intention on transcribing it later.

- Can of hopped malt extract (I used an Irish ale kit can).
- 3.3 kg of dark malt extract (I think mine was unhopped).
- 1 oz Fuggles hops (because I like hops)

0 ) Start the yeast. This time, I used a smack pack, but even if I didn't, I'd be re-hydrating for a few hours.
1 ) Sanitize. I'm not convinced of the necessity, but it does inspire me to sanitize about 1/2 the surface area in the kitchen.
2 ) Heat the can of malt extract. This helps the extract come out easier.
3 ) Boil about a gallon of water. Add the can of extract and put a bag of extract into warm water (timing isn't terribly important).
4 ) Add the can of extract to the water. Bring to a boil, wait for the proteins to rise. Skim them off.
5 ) CAREFULLY add about 3/4 of the hops. The water will expand by about 1/2 volume. Don't let it boil over (remove the hops or remove the pot from heat or both). Once that settles out, re-add the hops. Boil that for 30 minutes.
6 ) Add the other 1/4 oz of hops and continue the boil.
NOTE: I was using a tea ball about the size of my fist for the hops... probably about 1 ball to 1/3 oz max. If you add the hops directly, you'll need to strain the wort after the boil.
7 ) Add the wort to the fermenter and let it cool.
8 ) Add water to lower the temperature and bring the wort up to volume (I use about 4 gallons). Add water until you get the gravity you want - today's SG was 1.060 @ 90F.
9 ) Aerate like a beast.
10) Once the wort is cool enough, pitch. I'm impatient, so I let it get to about 90 degrees before I pitch because warmer environments can kill yeast. But you should be fine at 90F.
11) Seal, airlock, put away for about a week.

I'll let you know how it turns out. Hopefully, my yeast won't fall out early this time.

The Art of Brewing

Saturday, July 7. 2007
Enlightened as to how much beer I actually drink, I've gone ahead and set up a small brewing facility in my "home." To date, I've completed a "real ale" and a porter with a stout coming out of the fermenter this weekend. To date, the stuff has tasted like crap.

The equipment and process has been fun, though. I have a "fridge" capable of holding 3 corny kegs (5 gallons each) + the CO2 tank. I need to get a few more fittings to pressurize the kegs at the same time. I also need to build a wooden collar around the top into which to install a few shanks/faucets so I can keep the lid closed.

And making it doesn't seem too difficult (that said, none of the beer has been good yet -- I blame low ABV). And the result is cheap beer on tap every day of the week. To do it, you just heat up some hopped malt extract, mix in some dried malt extract, and fill the fermenter with water to the appropriate initial gravity. Place it upstairs to ferment for a week. Then siphon over to a keg and let it sit another week. It should be ready to drink, then.

I've make a batch a week for the past 3 weeks, usually on a saturday. I need to move a batch out of the fermenter and into a keg, but I don't think I'm going to make another batch this week. I'm lacking in kegs. Plus, I didn't have time for beer today. I went bowling with amber.

Calculating annual keg comsumption

Sunday, June 17. 2007
(pints / month) * 12 months (in a year) / 120 (pints / keg) = kegs per year.

So basically, how many do you drink in a month? Divide by ten. You should be buying that many kegs.

site trouble; identity crisis

Thursday, June 7. 2007
It seems that I've been having a bit of site trouble. My main page got deleted from the server somehow some time ago. Due to me traveling a lot lately, I haven't been able to check up. But, everything seems to be back to running (thank goodness for backup copies).

And now, my poor little site is having an identity crisis. I'm no longer off to Dublin. In fact, I'm quite bound to Raleigh. So I figure I'll need to re-tag it shortly. It isn't like I'm going to give the domain or the site up -- I have way to much crap stored around.

Yet to be uploaded:
- Paris pictures
- more people pictures
- final Dublin pictures

Yet to be written up
- the British con-artists in Paris (the Veronika story)
- the horrid plane ride home
- Emily's 21st (how to screw somebody in quarters)

And I'm sure moving back to Raleigh will prove interesting. Oh yeah, and starting work...


Saturday, May 26. 2007
Done with UCD; done with college; nearly done with UNC. Unfortunately, done with Europe for quite some time. It has been rather good to me, and I will miss it. But it is time to open a new segment of my life as ... an adult. Weird. This one kinda sneaked up on me (and believe it or not, "sneaked" is the more correct past form of "sneak"... I noticed as my spell checker didn't pick up "snuck").

So plans? You bet. I am on a marathon trip back to the US on Thursday. Making an undisclosed trip for that weekend (maybe just friday and saturday), and should be back in the hickory/charlotte area for some part of 2 weeks. Then, I'll be back in Raleigh to start with SAS. Oh, and we'll see if I can get a side business started in that time. I'm hoping to use the plane flight as coding time.

Finally - DRM-free music.

Wednesday, May 16. 2007
Amazon to sell DRM-free music

Reuters is reporting that Amazon is going to be selling DRM-free music later this year. Mom, this means that one of us can buy a song and put it on your iPod or my Zen. No worries, no hassles.

It is about time we as consumers are getting a little freedom back and a little less hassle. Computers should make life better, not complicated it endlessly.