Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Resolutions and all that stuff

I'm not really all that interested in making New Year's Resolutions because I have this really weird habit of being all goal oriented and making a list and then completely ignore anything that's on the list because I can't stand anyone telling me what to do, even if that person is myself. (Sometimes I wonder why I've always gotten stellar reviews at work. I've never had a bad review, and sometimes it really baffles me but apparently the Powers the Be seem to think that I do enough things well consistently enough that I am considered a Valuable Part of the Teamoplllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll,.)

(That last bit was Maggie's contribution to this blog post.)

So, interesting things that are going on....well, I made a batch of beer for the first time the other day. Oscar had bought me a kit a while back and has spent all this time wondering if I was ever going to use it. I finally did. I don't know why I ever thought it would be so hard. Most of beer making seems to consist of waiting for a very long time. hehe

Anyway, when we got the kit, I also got a kit for making porter. The first step in beer making is brewing the wort, which is the basic flavoring for the beer. The kit I had was two large cans of "beer syrup" if you will. All I had to do was pour it in the primary fermenter (a large plastic bucket), add some boiling water to thoroughly dissolve the condensed wort (it looked like black paint and smelled like molasses), and then add cold water to bring it up to 5UK gallons. When it had cooled down, I added the yeast that came with the kit, sealed up the container and added the airlock, and the whole thing has been sitting on top of the washing machine since Tuesday. I wait until it's stopped bubbling, and then I can bottle it. The beer will condition in the bottle for two weeks and then it's ready to be drunk. (Actually, I think it can be drunk as soon as it's stopped fermenting but it won't be carbonated.) These are the instructions for the stuff I got in the kit. Some beers need a secondary fermentation, but this one apparently doesn't.

I hope everything is coming along all right. At first I wasn't sure if I'd killed the yeast because it wasn't bubbling right away, but then I found out it starts to bubble after 24 hours. Even then, it's a slow bubbling--once every few seconds. 

For the past few months, I've been saving up the non-screw cap bottles from the beer I've drunk and storing them on the back deck (so my back deck looks like it belongs to a proper alcoholic). I let Mother Nature help me with the first wash of the bottles. Since they've been outside, they are dirty so Oscar filled a big tub with bottles and I added rainwater from the rain barrel and them soak most of the grime off. Then I washed them properly, and had flashbacks to my four years working in the Chemistry Labs at university and washing lots and lots and lots of glassware. For the first time in my entire life, I actually wished for an automatic dishwasher. I've only cleaned about 20 of them and I need at least 64. I need to go to the beer supply store and get some corn sugar for the conditioning and I'll check out the cost for a keg. I can see my enthusiasm for beer making wane if I am faced with washing 5+ dozen 12 oz. beer bottles each time. Actually, that's not so bad. I can wash them as I use them, but storing them clean is a bigger problem. I'll figure something out. 

According to the kit instructions, fermentation should be done after 7-8 days, so I can bottle everything up starting soon. Then, in two weeks, beer! 

Anyway, New Year's resolutions. Like I said, I don't really like these but there are still a few long term changes I'd like to make to my life. So, here they are:

1. Walk 10,000 steps a day at least 4 days a week including once on weekends. (This is about four miles at my stride. I actually have an easier time doing this on weekdays than on weekends.) 
2. Read at least one book a month. My book reading habits have seriously slipped. I have a hard time sitting down and reading. Part of that is because it takes me a while to be able to concentrate and part of the problem is that I think I need reading glasses. It's kind of embarrassing to get so many books from the library and having to return most them not merely unread, but not even looked at. I do listen to audiobooks and I will count those but there are far more books that I'm interested in than are available on audiobook.

So that's it. Walk a lot more and read a lot more. Unfortunately, both are in competition for my time. 

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