Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Beer

Nothing says holiday spirit better than beer am I right?

Yesterday my Dad and I bottled up my American Strong aged in a whiskey oak barrel.  Topping off at around 9% ABV and smelling (and tasting) strongly of whiskey I'd say this was an excellent showing for my brewing effort.  The side batch of 3ish gallons of lower gravity wort finished carbonating but the one we opened seemed a little flat to me.  I had almost 3x's as much corn sugar in this batch and it took off bubbling so fiercely that it bubbled out of my carboy before settling down.  I'm actually more concerned about bottle bombs more than I am about under carbonation.

So Solstice has come and gone, and that leaves me tapped out for pagan holidays for a while I suppose.  Sure theirs new years eve, which could be interpreted as pagan (or at the very least adopted as) but having a kid seems to suck the fun out of those types of celebrations.  Stay warm and merry, (if that's your thing).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The crud, and other crust

It's stunning how quick and slow things seem to go.  Nothing really to report on any front, I've been wrapping up this and that but mostly moving chairs around on the titanic.  I bottled the side batch of the American Strong, that is really just a pale ale,  I've made arrangements for a guest brewer to host a beer in my barrel, secured enough bottles to get the full batch of the American strong bottled (though I'm going to need more caps and other bits), cleaned up the beer storage area where one of my containers of Starsan leaked nearly a gallon of water inside of a cabinet.  Unplugged my kegorator and am working on a rust and moisture problem that you get from running a chest freezer as a fridge.  Dug out the Navel Jelly to address said rust problem just waiting for the last of the moisture to dry up before I attack the rust and them seal up the seam that's letting water leak.  Finished up my rocket Stove and the stand for placing things above the stove, I just need to run a test burn to verify that the airflow is good and see how well my pots fit on my stand.

Otherwise, I'm getting over some cold thing and getting back into the gym.  It's my first full week back at lifting so I'm sore and hungry and cranky.  In short yeah, just living.

I'll leave you with this gem from Modest Mouse, Heart cooks brain. The years go fast and the days go slow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wait science damn you!

Minute Physics blows my mind on a weekly basis.

Completely un-related Science damn you makes me think of this South Park Episode.  Save the time child!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Video calls on android

I've been on the android train for 3 years now first with the HTC Hero(Sprint) and then with the LG LS670 (sprint Optimus S), and now I'm on the Samsung Galaxy Note II.  First things first, I love the phone.  It's huge, and the battery is so much better than any smartphone that I've had before.  I frequently get home with 60-70% on light usage I'm at 68% right now with 10 hours 41 mins after I listened to music in the morning and streamed 20 minutes of youtube over 3g this afternoon.  Sure I close apps daily, and Jelly Bean has as much to do with that battery performance as the 3200mah battery does but still.  Gushing and pink body glove case aside (don't get me started on this case) I've got a problem with this darn phone.

I've tried several applications to make video calls and thus far Fring and Skype both have the same bug, no one can see the video (front or back camera) on the other end.  I was worried it was must my phone, but after testing today in store with another Note II it appears to be isolated to the Note II.  Interestingly I figured out that video works with google+ hangouts and I'll see if that will be good enough for my purposes or not.  To be Clear I cannot make video calls with Skype and Fring on the Galaxy Note II from sprint on wifi or 3g.

Why bother posting here you say?  Well I'm always amazed at how much traffic something like this tends to get and maybe someone smart will know what's the matter and either direct me to a fix, or get Fring, Skype or Samsung to fix it.  I've also contacted the fring developers to let them know about the problem, so this isn't my only attempt to see this fixed.  In any event here's hoping internet hivemind, save me from my phone.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Twilight of the Elites

It was an interesting read, but it would be nearly impossible to summarize. It draws from many threads of history to try and weave a narrative of the decline of American institutions and the trust of people in those institutions and then link that to the increasing inequality we are observing in our society. It's a tall order, and I think he does a decent job of building the case that our fundamental posture in the US of distrusting authority, and authority continually doing things to cause us to distrust them is undermining our ability to even approach issues with common understandings. The more forward looking ending piece is hopeful, but nothing more. He thinks that a radicalized upper middle class of well educated people that are not getting the opportunities that are increasingly being accrued by the top percentage of elites will form the core of a body that works to topple the status quo. 

Again hopeful, and overly optimistic without much of a chart forward. See occupy movements for how much good optimism and faith in people will get you, mostly some brutality and some annoyed people that otherwise might have supported you.  If you stuck with me through the Rise of the Meritocracy and are interested in this type of thinking Twilight of the Elites[?] is a good follow up from the American perspective.  Hayes mostly uses the meritocracy as a canvas to paint the American struggle on so while having read Young's book did make the terms Hayes used more concrete and added weight to his argument, Rise of the Meritocracy isn't a prerequisite for reading Twilight of the Elites.

Interview doesn't add much gravity to the book, interesting to put a face to the author I suppose.  I did expect him to be a little older.

The National has a fairly long excerpt from the book at this link or if you want a very digested version that lacks some of the emotional punch of the book The Daily Beast has that here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shut up and play the hits

LCD Soundsystem probably isn't for everyone, but I was surprised by how many of their songs I had heard and liked, but didn't know it was them.  I decided to try and watch their concert documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits[?] for some reason or another and just finished.  I don't know that I would have made it through 3 dvd's of it if I had gone through netflix or bought this, but the 1:48 minute avi I found floating about on the internet was pretty good.  I have a strange love of concert/music documentaries (see Under Great Northern Lights and It might get Loud[?]) so this spoke to my quirky love of music.

Anybody got some other good concert documentaries I should watch?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Small updates and thankfulness

Well it was an uneventful thanksgiving (minus one parent having a meltdown and generally pissing everyone off) and it was amazing to spend so much time with my son over the long weekend.  He's just over a year old now, and I cannot believe how little "baby" I see in him.  He communicates somewhat with sign language, has clearly defined likes and dislikes, and is such a sweetheart.  Last night when my wife laid him down for bed he rolled over and blew her a kiss.

Lady Killer.  For real.  It's a good thing we not competing for the woman in our life, because I would loose daily.  For all that he's a boy, pushes boundaries at every turn, and has so little fear of anything.  I had two cell phones in my hands (kid loves the technology) and he wanted them, so I handed him one while I was trying to get directions on the other.  He kept reaching for the other one (it's screen was on so he wanted that one) and when I told him he hand one and pointed at the one in his hand, he looked at the phone and then looked me dead in the eye and chucked the phone out of his car seat!  He's barely mastered walking and he moved on to climbing.  Couches, chairs, stairs, baby gates, beds.  Yeah, I have smart and destructive monkey that runs around my house all day long.  He walks like a drunk circus clown, but he doesn't miss a thing.  You leave it in his arm reach he's going to find it, and chew on it.

Nothing is safe, but I like the evolving challenge of it all.

On the beer front, the american strong went into the barrel on Friday and that whiskey smells so amazing.  I need to get something brewing this weekend, but that seems like so much work to me right now.

My Soured Vanilla Bourbon Robust Porter needs to go into bottles, the Soured Oatmeal Stout needs to be bottled, and finally the small beer from the American Strong (3 gallons worth) needs to be bottled.  That's a lot of beer work that I'm talking about doing this week, so brewing again lands fairly low on the todo list for some reason.  I'm assuming that the American strong will only be able to last about 2 maybe 3 weeks in the barrel before the oak overwhelms it so if I do another beer this weekend it will be ready to go in the barrel in 8-14 days.  Hopefully  the second beer can sit on the oak a little longer than the first one so I can slow down a bit, otherwise I'm going to have to start recruiting the local bums to come drink my beer!  I mean friends, local friends.  I'm not sure I have enough bottles for almost 11 gallons of beer, I may have to keg some just for lack of space.  I made a gallon of the supper weak runnings of my American strong that I threw the lee's of New Belgium's Brett Beer onto.  If that took I could blend the 3 gallons and that one gallon in the keg for a lightly soured blended beer on tap.  I'm probably the only one I know that likes this stuff so, who cares what the haters think.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Budgeting for Hobbies

I've got a couple of hobbies, and finding time and money to pursue them is something that takes a lot of effort.  Lifehacker's post on the matter offered some thoughts on how to get your hobby's under control and moving towards completion.  The tips are straight forward, make a list and organize it according to importance, then use that list to budget time and money to them as is appropriate.  It's very ecumenical but also predictable.

I have some vague hobbies, that are explored with whimsy.  Cooking in particular is one that is taken by seasonality of ingredients and sales on equipment so while I have nebulous goals with regards to cooking projects to complete I don't much plan my undertakings of cooking.  The concrete planning and prioritizing doesn't leave room for that so I tend to let money accumulate so that if something comes up I can pounce.  The beer barrel was an instance of this.  I've wanted to do some oak aging, and thought of buying a barrel but the relatively cheap barrel and my having a glut of cash on hand all made this come together.

Another thing that the "always make time everyday" mentality misses is the random association benefit.  Sometimes letting a problem stew in your mind will let you draw inspiration from other things that you encounter while you are not working on your project.  For me, having the Rise of the Meritocracy in the back of my mind for so long really helped me see how the notion has been absorbed en masse by the United States as I read other unrelated articles.  Had I completed the reading and note taking in a week or two I may not have been as mindful of the examples that I encountered during the more drawn out reading.   I also don't know that I would have spent as much time talking about it with people.  By dragging it out I experienced the book from many different mindsets and benefited from the diverse perspectives that I encountered by talking about it with others.

In any event how do you budget time and money for your hobbies?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ITU and the internet

Okay so I watched the video below, and am not so sure if I agree with them or not.  Thus far the US hasn't really bungled the management of the Internet, but that is not to say that they can't and the ITU itself isn't the trouble per se but rather the people that get to vote on and submit resolutions.  I do broadly agree that there are more countries that want to censor the internet then do not, and the openness of the governance has thus far helped users insure that those urges are not the consensus.  I signed the petition, but I'm sort of iffy on how if this is the catastrophe SOPA and PIPA where.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Decoction and Infusion in a world of limited mash tun volumes

If the Title didn't throw you, this blog post is sure to do the trick.  Since I brewed over the weekend, beer nerd is in full effect as I contemplate the wins and losses of the weekend of brewing.  Decoction and Infusion  are two different styles of mashing which is raising the temperature of and washing the sugar out of grain.  Infusion is the most straight forward to understand so I'll start there.  The basic premise is you have malted and crushed grain that you need to extract sugar from.  The malting process has made enzymes available to start acting on starches, milling the grain has freed the starches and enzymes from their husks and now we need to hit various temperatures for the enzymes to activate.  There's a good deal of science that will explain what happens at the various temperatures, but this chart is a handy enough reference for our purpose here.

The beer I brewed this weekend had a grain bill of 15 lbs, which is pretty big for the 10 gallon cooler that I use as a mash tun, if I followed the traditional proscription of 1.25 quarts/lb I would be an initial infusion of about 4.6 gallons at dough in, then added the second infusion of 2.7 gallons and the third of 2.7 gallons for a 104 - 140 - 158°F rest schedule, the water alone would be enough to overfill the cooler.  With grains added infusion mashing of adding boiling water to reach my rest temperatures was not possible with my equipment. So decoction was the only option that would work for my grain bill and equipment.  If I'm reading correctly the "proper" decoction method is done by removing a portion of the grains and boiling them and return it to the mash.  The method I used was somewhere between infusion and decoction in that I used the ball valve to draw off wort from the bottom (about 1/2 gallon at a time) to boil and return to the mash.

This method worked for my purposes and got me to about 75% efficiency (measured) which is probably the highest I've managed on any mix of equipment to date.  In the past I've mashed using my keggle as the mash tun and directly fired the mash to raise/maintain temperatures.  I like using the cooler because the mash stays within +/- 1°F of the temperature you put it in at making it much easier to hold temps for whatever the mash schedule is.  I'm reading a lot of different information about the rest schedule with opinions on the "ideal" time for each rest ranging greatly, from just 10 minutes up to 90!  I've followed a few different sites recommendations and the longer rests have just extended my brew day, but haven't improved my yields or flavor as far as I can tell.  I think that it will take a few more brews with my current equipment setup to get a real feel for it, but my current inclination is to stick with John Palmer's mash schedule and do my modified decoction process.  The only item I'm inclined to add to my process at this point in a true false bottom for my mash tun, as the stainless steel braid is annoying me.  it feels like towards the bottom half of draining the wort the tube gets plugged up and the flow the the wort slows considerably.  To counter this, I use my stirring paddle to kind of rub the hose and pull the grain away from it enough for the liquid to flow to the hose, which speeds up the flow considerably, but requires somewhat constant attention to get the mash tun completely drained.  From some reading on the matter the false bottom might not help with the thing that is truly bothering me, as I'm not doing the "sparge" correctly.  My problem is called a stuck sparge, but I'm not adding liquid to the top of the grain bed as I drain wort so I've been doing it wrong.
This kind of makes me feel like an idiot, but it also makes me confused.  What does one do with the water that you've now added to the grain while you drained?  You'll have 6 or so more gallons of very, very lightly sugary water to deal with.  I drained it and cooked it down but the wort was only 1.014 OG, and Palmer recommends you collect down to 1.008 or until you have collected enough wort.  With this about 5 gallons of low gravity wort you could cook it down on low heat, but your talking about a good deal of time to accomplish this task.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sweet mother of beer

I was a very busy brewing bee over the weekend knocking out a solid American Strong Ale with 6 gallons looking to be 8.1% abv 3 gallons around 4.5% abv (it's a blended og, with so many assumptions in there my head hurts) and 1 gallon at around 1.5% abv.  Pictured here, my keggorator, super sweet cooler mash tun, 6 gallon primary fermenter, 3 gallon fermenter. and a 1 gallon glass jug playing as fermenter all happily bubbling along and inexpensive vodka for topping up the airlocks.

Assuming everything goes to plan I should be able to get the big bucket transferred into the barrel sometime next week, I cannot make up my mind if I want to put the beer in the glass fermenter for a few days before sot that it is more fully attenuated

Friday, November 09, 2012

Progress and such

I'm about halfway finished reading Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy[?] which was always the next book on my list after Rise of the Meritocracy. It is so well written. It flows like a running narrative, but woven in there is a critique of America building to a final point. I hope that he has some excellent recommendations for alternative models, but the picture he's painting is spot on and has a great eye for history.

If you've read Rise of the Meritocracy and think that Young's warning should be payed warning, Twilight of the Elites is Christopher Hayes ringing the alarm bells and shouting.  Even if you're not an American, it's a pretty fascinating look inside of the body politic of America and how we came to feel like a bloated and rotting corpse in just 236 or so years.

In unrelated news I'm gonna get my beer brewing on this weekend, so I can get something in that beautiful and sadly empty oak barrel!  It will remain sadly empty for about 2 more weeks while the beer finishes fermenting to be ready for the barrel.  The style is going to be American Strong and the hops I plan on using are Cascade but that is about all I've managed to make my mind up on.  I'm waffling back and forth about using extract and sugar to bump the OG up, or just tough it out and try for higher efficiencies with the all grain.

I also started a batch of sauerkraut 2 days ago, that should be ready to eat in a few more days.  It's a pretty simple recipe and pretty traditional, but I needed to do something for the fall.  If I'm still feeling frisky I've got my sourdough that needs some attention this weekend.  In all it will be a busy long weekend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I'll keep this short

I don't typically wax poetic about politics as well I can barely stand to listen to the hateful, and spittle filled rage of people that aren't as progressive in their politics.  I'm proud of you Washington; legalizing pot, gay marriage and Obama.

On gay marriage, I literally could not be more pleased with the depth of compassion it took to realize this in our state.  It is purely a logical extension of the non-discrimination from the state, churches not only do you not have to recognize these marriages I encourage you not to.  The more irrelevant you make yourselves the better.  Any argument that this opens up the door to marrying goats, or our children or about how this lessens the value of heterosexual marriage falls flat in the face of a loving couple that wants to spend the rest of their lives together.  Equating gays to goats is petty and not worth addressing, insinuating that homosexuality encourages incest takes a leap of logic I cannot follow, but finally I think heterosexuals have done a fine job of tarnishing marriages reputation all by themselves; I'm sure there isn't any new indignities to be brought to bear.

Legalizing possession of marijuana, is the first step in what is sure to be a long conversation about the values of our country.  Sending people to prison with no chance parole because of possession is a farce of justice, and the systematic injustices of drug enforcement particularly to non-white offenders only starts to be unwound by decriminalizing something that is no more harmful than alcohol.  Prohibition showed the effectiveness of making it flatly illegal, just make it expensive and let the people that want to be stoned out of their mind pay for the education of our children (via taxes).  Not only do we get the savings on incarceration, the benefits of more people in the workforce (from not being in jail), we take the money away from organized crime and put it into the coffers of the state.  For parity sake alone, I want to know why the same split on the tax of alcohol isn't in place?  Why isn't the money from booze earmarked for education, and substance abuse prevention?

Finally Obama.  I wasn't ready to picket the Supreme court over any review of Roe v. Wade, but it's too important to not personally become involved in.  That type of fight seems unlikely now and even if it did appear based on the Obamacare decision Chief Justice Roberts may not be the conservative Congress and GWB thought they were getting.

Venture Capitalism is a "Meritocracy"

Catchy headline no?  Well this is a semi-sidebar on the whole "Rise of the Meritocracy" series that came up in May.  I noted it and am noting it now mostly to point out that the notion of meritocracy is a concept embraced in the modern world and still in the vernacular of popular culture.  In this particular instance it carries a more insidious undertone related to sexism and to a lesser degree racism.  The particular article was on Techcrunch after a Partner at a Venture Capital firm filed a sexual harassment suit.  The firm itself is well regarded as a pioneer in gender equality as it was the first to have female partners in the US, and has multiple funds managed by female partners.  It was shocking in that no one expected it of a firm considered progressive.

The author has a slant, but it is interesting that the panel was comprised of all men and only one had the stones to take on the question of sexism in the industry.  Of further concern is that the one man that did answer from the all white male panel dismissed the notion that there was sexism because venture capitalism was a meritocracy.  Nope nothing to see here, that woman's claims are without merit.

So sidebar it may be, but here you have gender politics and privilege wrapped up in a word coined just after the second world war.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Woo hoo tires

So this is sort of a straw poll about a rather unfortunate incident that happened on Sunday evening.  We traveled over the pass to visit my father because he had surgery on Thursday.  It was all well and good, but driving back about 25 miles out of Seattle the right rear tire went flat.  It was unfortunate for a few reasons, but the first of which was we were traveling with an infant and it woke him up and was delaying our getting home.

Now I was able to change the tire and get the spare on, but we didn't want to travel far on it so we stopped at my wife parents that were only 15 miles away rather than complete the 50 or so final miles on the doughnut spare.  We borrowed their car and went home, and my father-in-law was going to take the car in to get the warranty work done in the morning.  We had bought the tires at Costco, and we have only driven about 30k of the 60k mile warranty.  I didn't want one odd sized tire, and asked that he make sure we get both rear tires replaced.  They charged me $40 for the damaged one, and $170 for the other and argued the whole time that it was a waste of money and made my in-laws wait a few hours for their trouble to boot.

Do you always replace at least two tires at a time?  It's a front wheel drive and everything I've ever heard (from my parents and consumer opinion) makes me think you should do two.  I thought it was important because they were already 50% done to not put just one brand new tire on.

What do you think was I wasting money or were the tire people being jerks?

Mason Jars in the kitchen

So on some of our Culinary adventures in the last few months I've taken to using Mason Jars a fair amount.  I'm sure that this article from Popsci was related since it's in my draft folder, so I thought I would share.

I've been making a Strawberry Banana Spinach smoothie for breakfast and one quart sized mason jar is an excellent serving size for one.  Turns out that many blenders fit the narrow mouth mason jars just fine, so you can throw in the ingredients blend and go.  I thought that was pretty solid.

That was the only one from the popsci article I found interesting, but we have also been making summer porridge in the mason jars and got Regular Mouth Mason Jar Plastic Lids[?] to make it easier to carry to work.  The recipes I've been following come from YummyLife, but I'm sure you could free form something in a pinch.

I found this Big Red Kitchen blog post while I was looking for some more ideas for this particular short and semi-useless article, and am going to try her once a week mason jar style cooking.  The blog's author is doing crossfit and a mom, that wanted meals that she could heat and serve during the week to free up time in the evening.  I empathize with the author about how much time each week it takes to make meals, and the creativity that it takes to come up with something every weeknight.

I'm a fan of lists, so this 31 uses for mason Jars was interesting (and a touch hippy, but hey if the shoe fits).

Bonus link for kicks Thedecoratedcookie also had a mason jar meal that looked pretty acceptable.

And finally a Local, up in my neck of the woods NWedible on fermenting in a mason jar.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BBQ Corned Beef

So in the spirit of that last post, I made this BBQ Corned beef a while ago on my Weber kettle grill, and forgot to finish posting about it.  Really I found the recipe after there was a sale on corned beef (after St. Patrick's day).  I liked the idea of this recipe because the sauce was mustard based, and I had just gotten into Lay's Tangy Carolina BBQ chips.

While you could technically say that the process worked, I started the grill at 6 PM on a weeknight and didn't finish until 3:30 AM the next day.  Now I've mentioned that I'm a huge masochist for food prep, I did a second pitch of yeast on my 1 year old Vanilla Bourbon Porter and plan on sitting on it for another 8 months.  I know how to play long ball with food prep.  I've made vegetable stock in my 7.5 gallon stock pot and roasted several dozen head of garlic to prep for a dinner date with some friends.  This little BBQ adventure in minding the fire was the most exhausting thing I have ever cooked.  Hard Lump charcoal is an adventure unto itself, and the propane torch I was using to accelerate the lighting of it was not helping matters.  You have to let it warm up on it's own accord, and since watching Alton Browns little BBQ show I learned that Propane emits moisture so I was messing myself up by using it to help maintain temperatures on the grill while the charcoal get going whenever I needed to feed the fire.  In this regard the Smokenator would have been a huge help, as I wouldn't have had to fully remove the lid and loose all of the heat to toss a little extra charcoal on top of the already lit stuff.  That would have helped get the new stuff going and helped keep the temperatures more even.

For all the hours I spent doing this cooking I somehow managed to not take a picture!

So I suppose I'll just have to make it again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Alton Brown DIY Smoker with upgrades?

This post is more of an open ended question about future projects and whether or not to undertake them.  If you've never seen Alton Brown's show good eats I won't lie I had never watched it either.  It was early food porn, with cheesy editing and acting, but this episode in particular launched a thousand copycat's and they come up in my feeds fairly often.

The question is do I go with a version of the Alton Smoker or do the Gizmodo BBQ upgrades?

I have a Weber Performer Grill, Black (Google Affiliate Ad) already, and have gotten some solid use out of it in the 5 years I've had it.  Recently I did a 8 hour smoke of a brisket on it with some measure of success, but I had to mind it carefully. I was adjusting temperature every hour, but checking more like every 20 minutes and even then my temperatures ranged greatly from 200°-300°F.  That method was way too much work.  Gizmodo recommended the smokenator for holding the fuel, and liquids, and The BBQ Guru (which I'll admit I don't fully understand the purpose of) as upgrades to the standard kettle grill.  I'm not sure that the smokenator alone will give me the smoking capabilities of the Alton "Macgyver" Brown's smoker.

The final, and surely less exciting option is the Bronze Medal kitchen hack from Food52 of using a soldering iron and a tin can to cold smoke on your grill.  I obviously saw it on lifehacker.  It's an option for smoking things but not bbq.  My current gut feeling is I should get the Smokenator, and make the cold smoker and save myself the heartache of some of the ocd and fancy upgrades I've seen of the Alton Brown backyard smoker.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If you needed evidence that the French are crazy...

Look no farther than this recipe on the Wall Street Journal.  I'll admit that I'm interested in trying it, but mostly because I'm a huge masochist when it comes to food prep.  One ingredient in this needs 36 hours of salt curing, and then is slow poached in the oven for 4-10 hours.  Read that first part there, one of the ingredients!  Another of the ingredients is garlic simmered in oil for an hour but the oil cannot boil, how's that for a balancing act!  And finally the thing that draws me to this recipe is the cookware you need to do it in.  I really like enamel covered cookware, both for appearance and the even heating.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More barrel stuff

No sooner do I commit to a whiskey barrel then I find out I could have gotten one in my own back yard!

Woodinville Whiskey company sells them directly.  It's an 8 gallon barrel, which adds logistical issues as most of my batches are 6 gallons tops and more like 5.5 by the time primary fermentation is done.  Mine was cheaper even with shipping it was only $120, but there is some cool factor to using a local companies barrel for aging.

I'm working on a recipe for putting into the barrel for aging, and think I'll start with an american strong for the first round and then a scotch heavy for the second.  This is the recipe I'm working on for the first batch, beer calculus is being strange so my process notes look wrong and I'm going to try for better than 63% efficiency this time.  The biggest troubles are I cannot figure out how to adjust the water to grist ratio when you add extract to the recipe, and it keeps resetting my boil time to 60 minutes.  I may use a different site to work out my mash schedule, my LHS says that they like Beer calculus for recipe management but avoid following their process notes.

Right Habits

Success is an interesting thing, easy to see when you're there but harder to see in process.  I waited out the olympics to post this link to the Lifehacker post on right habits.  I'll be the first to say, this struck me because I'm a swimmer, and I have some concept of what an amazing feat Phelp's first olympics was.  If you watched it, you know.  It was electric to watch him swim, there was something going on there.  I've attended swim camps, and have seen some of the techniques in the article generally applied.  Never with the success of Michael Phelps obviously, but the article is really worth your time.

For those not making the jump to the article, the thrust of it is success is a habit.  You cultivate it by creating routines that lead you to success and the the author covers a few that worked for Michael Phelps.  Small wins, create platforms and establish a culture where winning is contagious.  I think the small wins section is the easiest to wrap your arms around, and basically is about doing things that make you feel successful, leads you to do things successfully.  For athletes this is simple, most have a warm up routine and many have "race music" to help amp them up, applying this outside of athletics is a more interesting thought exercise.  For instance let's examine what I would call a successful brew day.

It starts several days in advance for me, researching a recipe and reviewing my brew processes.  I recall what I did the last time that I felt worked well, and think about the things I wasn't as pleased by to try and improve on.  Next comes having everything you will need on hand like grains, hops, yeast and any additives. I need my equipment sanitized, and clean.  I need enough purified water and my enough propane in my tank, but mostly I need to have enough time.  Invariably it takes me about 5 or so hours start to finish to get a beer done and in the fermenter, this includes the "second runnings" batch I've gotten in the habit of doing on my all grain beers.

Anyhow what did you think of the article?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Video Profile of Doug North

I fancy myself a bit of an artist, and really identify with what the artist featured in this profile says about not yet finding that thing that clicks.  I like some of the mediums that I've worked with, and have aspirations of doing something really interesting with paint, prose, electronics and wood, but I haven't found that thing yet.  I'm an artist in search of his medium.

Via Makeblog

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nail meet Hammer

So Gizmodo shared this article from Medical Express in April that postulates that analyzing happy memories makes them less special.  This was an interesting article when I read it back in April, and upon re-reading it I still find it an interesting concept.  Now it could be confirmation bias since the article is all anecdotal evidence, but it does mirror a sensation that I have about memory and emotions.  I tend to be analytical about interactions (whatever I'm a sociopath that way) and recall trying to explain to myself why I felt a certain way about someone.  Names withheld for my own sanity, but at the end of the process I was less satisfied with how I felt about them than when I began.  It all really boiled down to I added weight in my mind to the negative factors and downplayed the positive ones.

It's an interesting concept, and I would like to see more research in this area.  Tangentially related would be the habit of recording everything as it's happening, I'm often offended by the photography bug of everyone and their mother whenever people get together.  No I do appreciate a few photos from an event just as keep sakes, but every 5 minutes the damn cameras do not need to come out and even more so if there are 12 people in the photo you don't need all 12 cameras to get the same fucking shot!  Take a few and share them, use flickr or facebook or whatever, but I hate being trapped in a pose while several cameras take the same photo over and over again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trying to not hyperventillate

So yeah, I just bought a 5 gallon oak barrel for beer.  I've been looking at it for the last month, and finally pulled the trigger.

Isn't she a beauty?  For those that might be interested in such a crazy thing they can be purchased here for $89+shipping.  I didn't want to post anything here before I got a chance to buy one, but oh my goodness I excited and scared.  I just put myself on the hook to always have a beer in it for the foreseeable forever, because the barrel can never be dry (or you risk infection).  I'm going to have to keep it filled with only non-soured beers so that I can tap "guest" brewers to help keep it full.

Cardboard robotic arm

This was a pretty neat Kickstarter that ran over the summer, at the end of the day it's about a $200 computer controlled robotic arm made of cardboard.  The usefulness is somewhat limited, but the materials and relatively low cost ($200 for a 4 axis control board and 3 stepper motors is pretty decent) would make it a fun electronics project for learning with children.  Best part is that you could turn them loose with it when they are done, I don't see them killing themselves with cardboard.

Via engadget

Brain abuse

So perennial link bait site Lifehacker had this little gem of a post about brain abuse.

It's a short article, but the gist of it is your brain is important so stop using it ineffectively for things it doesn't do well, and don't do things that make it preform poorly.

Basically don't re-think things, leave things half finished, work on too many things at the same time, or try to rely on your brain to remind you of things.  It's some pretty good advice, even if the examples are pretty thin and little evidence is offered why this are abusing your brain I think most people can identify with the articles thrust and agree with some of his recommendations.

For me it's the half finished work and re-thinking that gets me into trouble.  I don't feel fully responsible for these failings as sometimes the trouble is reality has constraints and those constraints prevent me from finishing a project (time, money and expertise for instance are limiting constraints) that cause me to have to come back to projects to wrap them up.  All of that just forces me into rethinking items in an effort to prioritize projects as the resource become available.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Science or something like it

This is the type of thing that is on the top of my mind of late, so I've got some video's on things that are going on in my world.  First up Science of Weight Loss

Via Geeks are Sexy

And we'll follow that up with Some info on Over eating.

Via Geeks are Sexy

Raising boys

Since the birth of my son, I've been in a curious spot trying to think long term about the things that I find important and want for him to learn.  One constant theme that I'm running into even before my son turned one is the gender stereotyping, and "norming" on those lines.  My parents, and In-laws both are projecting a good deal of boy roles onto him already with the toys they buy but the worst usurper is in my own household, my wife.  We lost a daughter at full term, and thus had a house full of pink things for baby girls.  Most of the items where functional, clothes bedding, ect.  When we found out that it was going to be a boy overnight most of that stuff was sold, or donated and a flood of blue came into our house.  I argued (and still argue) that the pink things, especially the things like bedding, and clothes that they only really wear for a short period of time and are just going to spit up on can be any color in the damn rainbow.  I think she needed the validation that it was a boy, I'm pretty sure my son was wholly unaware of both the color of his clothes and how people reacted to him in those clothes.  By casting colors as gender specific we are limiting him, and ourselves, and that seems ludicrous.  In a related sense, I also am trying to be mindful of what types of toys I buy him so as to not force the type of play that we allow him to engage in.  I think this article addresses the issue fairly well.

Another issue is respecting women, both their autonomy and their intelligence.  I suppose you can gather that I have some feminist leanings, and in that vein I wanted to raise a boy and hopefully a young man that has some appreciation for the amount of projection that women are subjected to, but also how marginalized they can be.  It wasn't until really the last few years that I've had my eyes opened to how pervasively American society has sexualized and marginalized women, but anyone that has been watching this years political cycle no doubt is aware of how politicized women's health and autonomy has become.  It's appalling that politicians think that they should be in charge of choices that a woman and her health care provider should be making.

And finally there is his own sexuality.  I don't remember how I found Goodmenproject, but this article on sex education is one of the guiding lights I have for conversations that are inevitable as he grows up.  Like the author of that article I was also left on my own, to guess and talk with other boys my own age.  I had a sex education class around grade 6, but even then I would not have been comfortable asking questions in that kind of group setting so aside from some of the biology they taught, not many questions where answered.  I was fortunate to live with a nurse so I was able to get some questions answered, but really how much do you want to talk to your parents about sex?  As such I had the typical boy vocabulary that marginalized any body that wasn't a cisgendered male, and that makes it hard to explore what your sexuality even is.  In essence it's dictated to you by gender roles you absorbed from society or your peer group.  I still have a hard time not saying fag (online gamer, it happens from time to time), but taunts based on sexuality are exactly where it starts, and I'm hoping to at least educate him on how harmful it is to.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kitchen tools and stuff

Well this post is a little nostolgic for me.  I stopped reading Gizmodo over the summer as I finally admitted to myself that I didn't have enough time for my 200+ blog feeds as it was.  It doesn't stop the fact that Gizmodo always posted some really interesting gadgets for the home and kitchen.

This little toy caught my eye because really all of the items in this kit would be fairly useful and in that package I could keep it on the counter without much guilt.

And next Grill Clips.  They are exactly as bad ass as they sound.  Sure they are from Sur La Table[?], but only $15 and grilled veggies are the best part of summer.

Battle Star Galactica?

I've never seen a single episode of BSG, (or anything related to firefly for that matter so don't use it as a reference point) but this little video piqued my interest.  So honestly and without gushing, give me your pitch on why the show was worth watching?

I'm in the tail end of Season one of Game of Thrones  and have the last few episodes of this season of Trublood to finish, but after that I have no shows on my watch list.

Source Geeks are sexy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cloud Atlas Trailer

Well it has the acting talent, and some really great directors.  Here's hoping for the best on this one.

what the what?

Alright so I'm sure I must have seen this on Jezebel or something, but anyone got the stones to give My Secret Concierge a go?

Never heard of it?  You apparently use your time on the internet for more "appropriate" activities than I choose to and I refuse to be judged for it!  Any how, seems like an interesting thing if you have several things going for you.

  1. Cash you are totally excited to part with
  2. Some kind of fantasy that you don't have a particular interest in arranging yourself but would totally do
  3. no shame
Is my list missing anything?  I mean really as adults how hard is it to google Boudoir photography in x town (where x is the town you live in), and proceed from there.  I randomly (or not that randomly I suppose) even know a photographer that specifically markets that he does these type of shoots, friend of a friend type of situation but none the less I'm sure that there are plenty of photographers that would totally be happy to help your Significant other get gussied up and take photo's of them while partially or fully nude.  Feel free to totally be comfortable with that, some dude taking neeked or semi-neeked pictures of your wife or girlfriend.  Because let's not kid ourselves here percentage of proprietors of this type of business that are dudes is approaching 100%.  Nuff said, then they offer to arrange your own 50 Shades fantasy, oh how kind of you to make me a billionare, with stalker tendencies and strange affliction with contracts as a prerequisite to sticking hard members into your inner goddess. (I realize this article is turning a little blue as it where if it makes you uncomfortable, well do something else more "appropriate" with your time.)

But what this boils down to for me is have you ever used the concierge desk?  They can be really useful and get you free appetizers at fancy restaurants (well assuming you didn't stay at the best western, which probably doesn't even know how to spell concierge), but for your naughty bits?  I feel like you should probably grow a set of stones and make those arrangements yourself. 

Cheap ethernet connection for microcontrollers

This probably belongs on my other blog, but whatever.  I've been ever so patiently waiting for my twine to arrive, but that doesn't keep me from eyeballing other network connected embedded projects left right and center.  Hackaday posted this little gem of a project, for connecting arduino's to your network on the cheap. It used to be the network connection for these embedded projects can be more expensive than the microcontroller itself! So it's good to see projects working to tackle that.  My self I have TI Launchpad that I keep meaning to cook up something meaningful with, but the best I've come up with is motion activated stair lights.  I'm not sure the wife would approve of my cutting up the house, but I would be nice to not fear falling down the stairs at night.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beer Tourism

A while ago Saveur posted this article on beer tourism to Belgium, and I wanted to cry with envy of this bastard living literally my dream of sampling the funk from the source as it where.  The US is slowly developing it's own sour beer tradition, and New Belgium brewing is putting a strong stake in that territory with their Lips of Faith series of collaborative brews marking some of the most interesting and funky generally available sour beers I know of.   Certainly one would argue there is the import section of the bottleworks places in my area for trying some strange brews, at truly they would be right, but for whatever reason the Pacific Northwest has decided that the trail to beer nirvana lies through IPA infested waters.  Round these parts hops are king, and so many of the people I talk to about beer just rave about how they're a hop head and love the IPA's.  I ask about funk brett beers, lambic's and gueuze's and I get blank stares.  Not even a Flemish Red I lament?  Open up your palette's people because this is a damn party, it doesn't need to be 190IBU of Magnum hops to be an enjoyable beer damn it!  In the heat I find IPA's oppressive, and look for pales, or better a saison for some lightness to the day.

It blows my mind that people relish funky cheese, brag about the blue cheese that smell like someone's old jock strap, but any of those notes in a beer and their raging hard on for funk wilts.  With that in mind I went looking for the Great North American Sour Brewery and found in my neck of the woods The Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  Located in Portland they have beers that move with the seasons, and they aren't afraid to get funky.  The beers link opens the "Beer Menu" and right now they are pouring 8 sour beers, but a short 4 hours away from me.  I bide my time, and read the Mad Fermentationist for moral support while my sours work on maturing.

Right now I have a 8ish month old Sour Raspberry Pale ale on Wyeasts Lambic Blend, a 1 year old Vanilla Bourbon Strong Porter that has been on Wyeast's Brett Blend for the last 3 months, and the Second runnings of my Oatmeal Stout sitting on The same Brett Blend for the last 3 months.  I broke out a 16oz of the Sour Raspberry for Seafair this year and it was so perfect for the summer, light and bubbly enough you would think it was champagne, with a light funk bite and crisp.  This is the hallmark of excellent sour beers, the funk doesn't linger.  It's the tiniest hint, the impression of that flavor and it's gone as soon as you swallow it; leaving your palette begging for more.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Saveur Recipies

Just flushing out old drafts not much to see here, it's sort of a follow on from this post if you will.

Greek Mac and Cheese. So I think the title says all that you need to know about the recipe, but the reason I was a huge fan of it was the picture on Saveur's site, I want that cast iron thing the mac and cheese is in.

Cheesy Corn Casserole looks like a pretty sweet side dish for some BBQ and well I'm a sucker for corn recipes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meritocracy Round 6

Continuing from Round 1Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, and Round 5 so begins the Chapter 7 summary.  This chapter begins with a bold declaration that Classes and Castes are universal (Natural Order perhaps?), and the level of harmony between them in dependent on the distribution of resources according to the moral code.  In this instance the author indicates that something in 2005 stabilized and the harmony had been stable since, as long as you don't count the discontent that this whole book is about I guess.  In essence when inheritance was wiped out you had to compete via merit for a high paying job, the poor no longer took offense to those that had more, they had earned it after all.

The socialist begrudgingly tolerated the elitist attitudes because for instance they as well as everyone else wanted the best care they could get when they where ill.  What they bemoaned was the pay gap, keeping in mind Young has cast the Socialists as believing everyone is equally deserving of everything.  The hard part for stability was choosing a mandate to decide the relative fairness on, as there where many perspectives on the issue.  The silencing of this debate was key to stability, and was achieved with the 2005 equalization of income act, so that everyone gets the same pay.  I think Young was jumbled on his thoughts here or more specifically he failed to carry his solution to the logical finish when he wrote it.  In any event he continues on as if everyone got the same pay, and said the difference in incomes for the elite comes from employer provided services (maids, secretaries, home, cars, ect.).  He justifies this system where the government is the ultimate wage payer so profits go to the government  by saying that wealth generated must be reinvested to stay competitive with other countries in the future.

What should have been a marvel of having the whole country on the same pay grade is instead called a hypocrisy, the elites are more rich than previous elites because of this facade.  The trouble ultimately begins with when it's a battle of wits to determine the distribution of assets the new low class has the deck stacked against them.  In earlier parts of this chapter he talks about different pay grades inside of companies so I felt Young lost his way a bit on this chapter, or at least didn't clearly delineate that the pay grade discussion was for pre-2005 companies.  In any event I think the rest of the book you are supposed to believe that in terms of money everyone gets payed the same, but that the elites get cool free stuff as a part of their having a job.  Surprisingly I think that this type of a system would be more fair than our current set of elites that often don't "work" any more.  They have so much money that they live off of investments, or other people working.  If they wouldn't have the benefit of fancy cars and nice houses without having a job, you would see a very different attitude towards the rich.

In chapter 8 we really finally get to the meat of this book and look at the present day, life under the meritocracy.  The author notes that the Meritocracy isn't perfect, but rather a balance, and believes that until sociology develops as much as the other sciences there will never be a frictionless society.  Even with that in mind the resistance to the meritocracy doesn't make sense to the author so he explores where the spark for the resistance came from.  It started with women he thinks, that went to work as lower grade labor rather than in their earned place.  The tried to convince their fellows of the injustice that was being rained on them.  Sadly there was no common will to raise up as these intellectuals where "day tripping" as laborers and didn't know the technicians hearts.  They did however plant a seed to encourage smart people to stay as technicians rather than pursue advanced education they where entitled to, that their intelligence would be available for their fellows.  An intellectual education counterculture if you will, and a grassroots movement grew up from there.  They never had a good idea for how to go about it as most that could advance wanted to.  The tact that found purchase was to argue that physical labor had was as valuable as intellectual labor that can be satisfying by it's own right (There are seeds of this in our current society see Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance, or the results of this search).  They where questioning how we came to ascribe one person more value than another one?  And argued the ability to expand production made sense when war was eminent but couldn't we broaden the definition of value?  The resistance group produced the 2009 Chelsea manifesto claiming the aim of the group was to cultivate variety, that felt that the inequality reflected a narrowness of values.  In a reversal of what the meritocracy had built they called for a return to common schools to cultivate an appreciation for diversity and to nurture the children's contentment.  Arguing that people should be free to pursue the things they are truly great at, and able to enjoy the full spectrum of human experience.

So who where these women that worked with the lower class laborers?  Young titles this section the modern feminist movement, and from here it gets interesting.  Some of the women mentioned didn't marry and settle down, rather continued in their quest to overthrow the Meritocracy (those evil women!).  The reasoning as to why the did this the author believes is related to the biological role, and how the women are supposed to stop work for some time to raise their children as that is considered the noblest job (likely buy the men of the meritocracy).  During this time they transfer their frustration with not being able to have true biological equality with men to the authority figure of the state and fight for equality they can win (or so the author believes).  He does concede that the meritocracy is still asymmetrically benefiting men more than women which does add to their reasons to protest the status quo.  Another rallying point is the practice of marrying for intelligence, as the insurrection favors romance and beauty.

Perhaps spurred by the resistance, the meritocracy has moved in legislature to have have the hereditary nature of intelligence guarded with guaranteed education for their children, in essence undoing the whole meritocracy's advancements.  The story sort of takes a swerve here into the silly in my opinion, but in the fictional future social scientists developed methods for reliably testing intelligence by knowing the intelligence of the parents, as if intelligence is set by your genes.  With the evidence that their children where in fact superior, what was the point of equality of opportunity?  The outcomes where set there was no need to bother placating the dumb of the society.  The author notes that the truly bright tend to have slightly less bright children and the truly dull have slightly less dull children and thus trend towards average, but that the extremists of the new conservatism didn't care, while the more moderate offered a compromise of a limited window for rechecking.  The final straw, that started outright resistance and the events that where outlined at the beginning of the book was the practice of kidnapping promising babies for the elite to raise as their own and shipping of their dumb offspring to be raised elsewhere.

Though they where the move by the conservatives to restore heredity after it took two centuries to tear it down was met with revulsion as it was an attack on the values of society as a whole, so even if the New Feminists also represented an assault on some of the core of the Meritocracy it upheld equality of opportunity and for that is perceived as more moral.  Without the antagonism of the conservatives, the women's movement would have had no support.  Though they capitalized on the conservatives actions as well as they could, the movement was merely riding the mob, not guiding it.  I disagree with that assertion that there would have been no support as the structural inequality of the meritocracy probably would enough to garner some support, even if it wasn't as much as they received with an enemy to the common man.

The response in the Parliament was to remove the most far right elements from power, and promise not to do the most offensive things they had suggested, leaving the author to believe that the rebellion was defanged.  He died at a rally in Peterloo where he thought the rebellion would fall apart without a common enemy.

There is a footnote at the end that is quite telling and sums up better than I can hope to.

Since the author of this essay was himself killed at Peterloo, the publishers regret that they were not able to submit to him the proofs of his manuscript, for the corrections he might have wished to make before publication.  The text, even in this last section, has been left exactly as he wrote it.  The failings of sociology are as illuminating as its successes.
So ends The Rise of the Meritocracy, and more thoughts to come!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

More Joseph Gordon-Levitt

So I've posted a thing or two of Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing, and I really like the guy.  After watching the his recent SNL  I tumbled down the youtube hole and watched related videos of the Nirvana cover and found this one.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sings Oasis- don't look back in anger

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Meritocracy Round 5

Continuing from Round 1Round 2, Round 3, and Round 4 picking up with the Fall of the Labour Movement.  The Labour Movements historic role in the book was to win the people's mind to the order of the world the other reforms had created, to adapt to the language of the people the message that they need to compete and be measured.  That this was their will being done.   The end goal to equality of opportunity was aided by the Socialists having related or similar enough goals that gave them reason to add their support.  Once opportunity was equal the secondary goal of the socialists, equality of man was absurd.  Had the ideal of equality of man been carried to it's logical conclusion, the revolution would have been a dud.  The will to rise as high as your abilities justified had to be the ethos of the people, Young's literary doppelganger says otherwise the the country would never have achieved it's many successes.

While discipline was voluntary, socialism played an indispensable role in goading people to go get the opportunities available to them.  Where Protestantism fired the acquisitive urge it had to be adapted to economic requirements in order for expansion into Western Europe and other parts the world that made up the British Empire, the older religions of the rest of the world to provide that fire.  This gave rise to the linked religions of Communism and Nationalism and the accompanying revolutions that helped the Russian, Chinese and Arab's be receptive to needing turbo generators and electrostatic wands (author's examples not mine, you could say cell phones and televisions just as easily).  Protestantism could only go so far though as it encouraged the hording of wealth for future generations, so it was the transmutation of Protestantism through non-conformist churches into anglo-socalism that carried the transformation the rest of the way through.  It was the socialist distilled message that all men where created equal, so what did right did one man have to opportunity that all other men didn't have as well.  They failed to see that in practice that equal opportunity was real equal opportunity to be unequal.  Their structural blindness helped them attack with vigor all means of inequality due to inheritance.  Death duties, the decay of nepotism, free secondary and university education and the integration of public (again in America we call these private) schools, wages for students and the abolition of the hereditary house of Lords (British house of government) where their greatest achievements.  A change of the countries psychology on the scale and time frame it was achieved wouldn't have been possible without the socialists.

The next section is on British politics, and is not the most interesting read for those that don't know how their government works.  The short version is this outlines how the House of Lords came to be a tool of the Meritocracy and the House of Commons came to be of little importance.  Prior to the casteless society suffrage (the right to vote) was recognition that intelligence was distributed among the population at random, so the above average in the miners and factory workers was likely to be as intelligent as the above average Lord.  Once the society moved to a class based society the argument that talented could be plucked from among those that where left after intelligence testing had separated them out of was harder to make.  The lower class clung to their right to vote, even as it made them inherently less and less equipped to perform in the complicated government that emerged from the rise of the meritocracy.  Even though that could be demonstrated, the public continued to elect from within, and the author concedes that there are rare occasions that advice from a properly advised common man is as good as what the meritocracy can come up with on it's own so the social relief of allowing the appearance of power sharing is worth headache.  The real reform came in the House of Lords.  Hereditary peers where banned, the membership was restricted to life peers, the selection was of men as well as women from the most eminent people in the Kingdom and the payment of a generous honorarium transitioned the tool of the Aristocracy into a tool of the Meritocracy.  Further lessening the role of the House of Commons was the high preference given to selection for the civil service, that is filled with highly competent and well trained servants.  In the face of this, nearly all amateur politicians are happy to take the glory and abandon the power.

With it's purpose fulfilled the Labour party continued on mostly because of social inertia.  The members of the party advanced their concerns as unit when the individuals where bared from advancement, once the meritocracy began to work there was no need to continue to work together.  Their compromise with the society that they helped to birth was to cease to exist.  Every individual advancement was a detriment to the Labour parties whole.  There was some political appeal to claiming labour heritage, the hard upbringing and working one's way up the ladder, but as the base of the party advanced to middle class there was less value in those emotional appeals.  Interesting to note in this section Young guessed at something that really has come to pass years after he parodied it.  He proposed upgrading of titles to jobs that could not be upgraded otherwise.  Workers became Technicians, Technicians became Specialists, Specialists became Benefactors, ect.  I would have to look it up, but I thought this trend started in the 80's, but can you imagine rat-catchers as rodent officers?  This behavior was also mimicked by the unions, and thus the labor party became the technicians party nearly overnight.

As the meritocracy kept the bright for itself there where no up and coming intelligent children in the labor force of the unions to replace the retiring union leadership.  Unions would have collapsed under mismanagement had they not changed tack and taken to strengthening their appointed staff by hiring from universities.  The negotiation shifted from with individual companies to nationalized negotiations based on statistics rather than bargaining.  It seems absurd to anyone that has ever dealt with a union that nationalized bargaining would ever have a chance of being less contemptuous than the union bargaining we read about in the news all the time.  If State's can barely make peace with just the Teachers Unions, I cannot imagine what waste workers or longshoremen would be like if they negotiated with the Federal Government.  I'll give him some creative license here, I'm positive that the author hoped humans would be more capable of being civil in the future and went when he was writing this.  As this history lesson draws to a close, the author does finally start to peal back some potential reasons that there is unrest in the Meritocracy.  He notes that modern populists are arguing that because their leadership didn't ascend from their ranks, their is no cohesion.  The group cannot look up to one of their own that has succeeded, in essence hope has vanished.

Continue to Part 6 >>>

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Monday, October 01, 2012

Crème fraîche

So I'm going to imagine my fellow American haven't had much exposure to Crème fraîche , but how about you international fellows?  I've been working on pulling sugar out of my diet, but I still want rich food from time to time.  I was thinking an unsweetened fruit desert with Crème fraîche for a treat.  I've also got a few soups that I'm eyeing that you can place a dollop as a garnish.

I don't remember what the genesis of this idea was, but here is the Joy of Baking how to video that got me interested in making some crème fraîche and using it in cooking.  I also thought I'd throw around some recipes for the fun of it

Crème fraîche Mousse with strawberries - I'd play with the sugar here, as 1/4 cup seems like a lot for a small desert.  Also for those wondering caster sugar is the half step between white sugar and powdered sugar.  You can just pulse some white sugar in you food processor to make it.

Milk Chocolate Mousse with Port Ganache and Whipped Crème Fraîche - I'd just go with this one.  The port is sweet, but only 2 tablespoons of sugar are added so it's really not over the top sweet.

I need to use my sourdough starter again so I could just use the crème fraîche as a topping for crumpets.

Any idea's?  How would you use the crème fraîche?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

50 shades of Twilight

So if you know someone that is considering reading 50 Shades of whatever, you should totally point them in the direction of this blog.  It's monolithic, and a chapter by chapter take down of the book that can hopefully make the people in your life aware of the absolutely appalling nature of how Mr. Grey behaves towards the very unsympathetic protagonist Ana.

Is some of her critique grounded in feminist ideals? Absolutely, and really regardless of the outcome in the novel Jennifer does point out some very dangerous and controlling behaviors that the protagonist fails to identify as creepy.  In the second novel apparently they get married, but the short list of things that Christian employs on Ana in the first several chapters include withholding affection to manipulate her decisions, tracking her via her cell phone and coming to get her after she specifically told him not to, and finally coming over to her house tying her to the bed and having sex with her in response to her emailing him saying she never wanted to see him again.

As an aside Christian's tracking her via cell phone did ultimately save Ana from some very rapey behavior by someone she had friendzoned that was trending towards, well rape.  The important but here is at the time she told him not to come she was not in any danger, because we are adults here we judge on intentions not outcomes.  Ana, who is constantly infatilizing herself whenever sexuality come up (once Jennifer start's pointing this out, it does appear to happen every time she get's sexually excited or engaged the author gives her strong child references dressing Ana pig tails, or describing her like a little girl ect.)

Ultimately the real takeaway from Jennifer's critique has been that the character Ana is not fully capable of making decisions related to her own best interests, and but for the author playing events out to be in her favor the more likely result of this scenario would be a young woman in an abusive relationship that she had no idea of how to end with a man that she doesn't have the wherewithal to say no to in a meaningful fashion.  The violence would likely escalate because Christian can manipulate her to wanting more and she would likely end up killed or beaten unrecognizable and tied up as a fuck toy, isolated with no support network to help her leave Christian.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Curiosity and being self taught

For the people that where around following forever ago when I did the a-z posting I have a bit of a follow up to that long as hell O post, with another article from lifehacker.  The subject is on self-taught, but really the author was getting at the same things I prattled on about towards the end of my post.  When you want to start learning there is no wrong or right, you are just trying to connect the dots and you start connecting them by collecting the dots.  You can start in the middle or the end or even the beginning, but the important part is that you're open to finding out that what you tried to do doesn't work.

You where just trying something any way, so no harm in finding out that it doesn't work right?  The correct answer is yes, but the practical answer that our society teaches is no.  It's no okay to fail ever, you have to succeed every time at everything you do, and if you cannot you shouldn't try.  At least you would think that is what we teach, it's what most people are trying to do.

Be open to weird, try something dumb who knows it might be fun!

Saveur corn recipies

It's a little late in the corn season, but what the heck.  This has been sitting in drafts for long enough it should get the hell out of here.

So first up, chilies stuffed with corn and cheese then battered and fried.  I actually made these and it was delicious.  I used pepper jack and Emerald City Brewing's Dotty lager for the beer batter.   For whatever reason I didn't take a picture of it, but I thought it was pretty damn delicious.

The next recipe is sure to gross out a few people, but if you've ever had fresh corn (like picked that day) I can see how this would be good.  Sweet Corn and Milk Drink is essentially a corn smoothie with cinnamon for some kick.  I would do it if I was growing corn myself.

I like this recipe because I'm a sucker for the word Succotash.  There's nice place called Palomino restaurant that served succotash as a side, since then whenever I see it somewhere I try it.  This is really just a salad, and corn adds a nice sweetness to this type of a dish.

Next recipe is a corn custard.  This looked appealing because custard is typically a desert, and this takes it as a more savory dish.

The final recipe I took a liking to on Saveur was Corn cakes with a pesto sauce.  Though this isn't the exact thing I want, back home there was a little taco stand that had these corn cakes that where the perfect mix of spicy and sweet.  The stand closed down likely because it was in the worst location, but I'm still looking for something to fill beautiful corn cake itch that have.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

indie music

This video makes not one lick of sense to me.  I think the point is that the band doesn't really need that dorky guitar player to do live shows, so they made a video to let him know how superfluous he was and to shame him for playing army men all the time.

That's my take anyhow.

Via Electric Mustace

Slowing down

Here's a link to an interesting human interest piece I suppose.  The article that Lifehacker sources is about an experience someone had while they where participating in a focus exercise.  The point of the exercise was to take a path that you normally take, but travel it at about half your normal speed.  He had some epiphany that was unrelated to, but happened because of the speed exercise, that he makes many habits and believes that they are important for him in his everyday life, but he said he didn't make it a habit to be happy.

The speed exercise is pretty interesting to me because I'm a fast walker generally.  I typically have a place to be, and the only thing impeding me is my pace so I walk fast.  I've been lifting for the past few weeks and my return from the gym to work is about half as fast as my trip there.  It's because my routine has been hitting my legs pretty hard, so I'm tired for the return trip.  I'm also using it as part of my cool down, but still I've been sort of participating in this speed exercise by accident on my own.  I don't find it to be so much a time of gratitude, or happiness, mostly just find myself avoiding getting walked on as people bustle about me.  So I think the main takeaway here is that the next time you find yourself stuck behind some jerk walking slow is to realize their not just some jerk walking slow.  They're likely some self-entitled jerk who thinks that their happiness is more important than the errands your trying to fit in on your damn break.  You should totally shove that hippy and give him a dirty look.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bottling and such

Not a ton to report today, I'm sort of on an off day for me traveling this weekend.  I have the hardest time getting back into the flow of things after a travel weekend, and I've had a lot of them the last 2 months.

Before I got on the road I managed to get my Tiny Oatmeal Stout into the bottles.  The airlock had come to basically a full stop, and I was (pleasantly) surprised that the beer had fully attenuated.  I was nervous that I had gotten a suck fermentation when I racked to secondary, but it turns out I may have just been ready to bottle at 9 days.  I racked onto some vanilla beans that I had laying around since the vanilla bourbon porter, and it was then that it appeared to come full stop.  The experience and some other beer news I've been watching has more or less set my path that I'm going to need to get a march pump.  I've hemmed and hawed over it long enough, the piece of equipment I want next is that.  Strangely enough I just entered into a phase where I won't be drinking at all for the next little bit as I work on keeping my total calories a day under what I normally do.  It should be a rather interesting next couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Meritocracy Round 4

Continuing fromRound 1, Round 2, and Round 3 we pick up on Part 2 of the book: Decline of the Lower Class.  This section sets up a review the consequences of  progress for the lower class; declaring that before the Meritocracy took over, while socialism was working to chip away the value of being born wealthy there was a golden age of equality.  Some people advanced on their own merit, and others on the tails of their family but this whirligig ensured the powerful where always unseated.  The chaos of the system gave the lower class the illusion they had been given opportunity to do something different with their life.  It gave life to the dreams they never lived.

In that age, there was benefit to mixing of class as the intelligent upperclass had much in common with the intelligent lowerclass, when merit put only the unintelligent into the lower class the riff was greater.  The people that achieved success had not reason to doubt themselves as they had claimed this prize as a result of  their merit.  Without the impostor syndrome effect and humble beginnings to temper the meritorious people's perspective they saw less and less reason to approach dealings with the lower class in an altruistic fashion.  The author notes it as more of a public relations matter, thinking that it was a matter that training could clear up.  The meritocracy created a system where we where the unmeritorious only had themselves to blame for their status, causing them to loose faith in degrade further (reinforcing negative sentiments).  The situation was not as bad as it could have been because of 5 reasons.  First, the lower class had a mythos of honoring  strength (athleticism) the way the upper class honors honored smarts, that gave the lower class some (limited) ways to achieve some form of recognition.  Second, the adult education center and mental heath treatment gave people a way to bloom later in life (either because of intelligence coming to them later, or being a better thinker as they work through their mental health issues). Third, parents could take solace in the fact that their children (or grandchildren) could through their own merit achieve great things (Transference?), and Fourth they were blessed to be to ignorant to realize how bad their lot in life really was.  The fifth and most important reason was the implementation of meritocracy in industry.  It draws on lessons from WWII that found grouping people with other of similar intelligence improved their morale because they felt they where competing on equal footing for promotions and perceived themselves to have a more fair chance.  The army found that people could be taught more readily and would get along better with people of their own intelligence (or lack there of).

There was some question of what to do with people rated as just smarter than rocks, as the socialists fought against giving them the worst and least desirable jobs.  They argued about the dignity of the worker, but the author dismisses this as "pre-merit" thinking.  He argues that after inheritance was displaced that the notion of equality of man was show a farce.  Men are most notable for their inequality of endowment!  What is the purpose of abolishing inequalities in nature but to expose and pronounce the inequalities of nature?  Young continues on that each according to their ability, no more no more made the whole of society more satisfied (failing to note that it also is causing the uprisings).  He says that without science studying human relationships resentment for declining status would have boiled over long before.  In essence if it had been too uncomfortable it wouldn't have been tolerated, so the lower classes complacency was always a part of their lowering.  Automation in the 60's was an excellent way to view the systematic trouble of the meritocracy.  As machines grew ever more complex, more was demanded of those that built, serviced or designed them and less of those that operated them until the operators  where displaced permanently.  The advances in testing helped to identify what employers where just carrying some employees.  The high churn was because some of the employees where unable to produce labor of any kind due to their lack intelligence, testing helped identify how poor of employee's they actually where.

This lead to a new kind of unemployment, people where deemed essentially useless and no one knew what to do with them.  This gave rise to a proposal to begin training the poorly equipped to take over the menial tasks of their betters (grocery shopping, cleaning, ect.).  It gave the truly unintelligent something to do, and the Home Help corps laid down guidelines for how domestic servants would work and be paid to prevent a return to slavery.  The value to the meritocracy here was doubly realized by the women.  meritorious women whom upon marriage still took on much of the household labor, and unmeritorious women that make up the bulk of the Home Help corps.   Th author notes that the merit based selection system made for a stable, though intricately balanced society.  Believing it to be permanent would be a folly.

I realize I'm already getting pretty long on this summary, but there are only 3 more chapters and Michael Young had a lot of things to say in his short little book.  I took 19 pages of notes and only have 5 more pages left to go, so I'm hoping that I can wrap this up here relatively quickly in 2-3 more posts.  Bear with me here, there are a fair number of articles and related thoughts to draw in once I get done with the summary.

Continue to Part 5 >>>