Saturday, November 22, 2008

My physical grace simply amazes me

Last weekend The Wife and I cleaned the hot tub which involves draining it, hosing it out, etc and then refilling it. Once it is being refilled we have to add various products because we have such hard water (helps to keep the minerals from depositing on the hot tub and in the pipes). To facilitate this process we had removed the cover, folded it in half, and placed it on the lawn about a foot away from the concrete slab upon which the hot tub rests. I was walking around the tub pouring in the first bottle when I suddenly found myself on my back staring up at the beautiful blue sky. Apparently I caught the edge of the slab, slammed down on my right knee (giving myself road rash right through my pants without tearing my pants...), and then proceeded to roll across the cover. Of course, no one was filming this because it was totally an America's Funniest Home Videos money shot. I managed to not spill the bottle of hot tub additive and found it happily bobbing, open end up even, in the partially filled tub. At the time, I was focused mainly on my knee because that was what hurt but it was very apparent on Monday morning that I had pulled/strained muscles all along my right side. My trainer was very understanding on Monday night (and quite concerned - asked if I had hit my head etc) and helped me stretch things out. We even had to make adjustments for my shoulder on Thursday night. For those of you who know me IRL, you know that I am prone to this sort of amazing display of physical grace. This one was simply better than most of my displays... I am such a tool.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Beef Stew Recipe

We made this in the crockpot today and it is the first crockpot beef stew recipe that I've liked.

1 lb stew beef, cubed
1/4 c. flour
1.5 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, cubed
1 turnip, cubed (if you don't have or don't like turnips, use another potato)
2 potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t paprika
2 c. lower salt beef broth

Dredge beef in flour and cook in hot oil until browned on all sides. Put all ingredients in crock pot, cover with foil, then add lid and cook on high for approx. 4 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving. If the stew is not as thick as you like dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of cold water and stir to dissolve. Add to stew and mix well. Let stew cook for another few minutes to thicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What Major League Baseball can do to fight ALS

A few days ago I read this "My Turn" in Newsweek and I thought "I like baseball, I love the Phillies, I should write to them and ask them to champion this." Then I thought "Hey, why not ask friends who are fans of other teams to ask those teams to do it too?" So, here we are. Here is the idea (from Michael Goldsmith who has ALS and is an Orioles fan):
At some point, we talked about what Major League Baseball could do to fight ALS, and I realized that next July 4 will mark the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. Since his retirement, more than 600,000 Americans have shared Gehrig's fate, as medical science has made virtually no progress toward finding a cure. Through the years some players and a few teams have occasionally helped raise funds, but Major League Baseball has never taken comprehensive action against ALS. Defeating ALS will require the same type of determination, dedication and drive that Gehrig and Cal Ripken demonstrated when they set superhuman records for consecutive games played. With this in mind, why not make July 4, 2009, ALS-Lou Gehrig Day? Dedicate this grim anniversary to funding research for a cure; every major- and minor-league stadium might project the video of Gehrig's farewell, and teams, players and fans could contribute to this cause. An event of this magnitude has the potential to raise millions, dwarfing the relatively scant sums that ALS walks, rides and similar small-scale efforts have produced.
Today, completely by accident, I found out that Curt Shilling has a blog ( and has raised money for ALS (Total Raised for ALS $135,300 - I think this is the 2008 total) so I'm going to write to him too.

So here is what I am asking everyone to do:
1.) Write a note to the team of your choice (major league, minor league, independent league, little league, I don't care as long as it is baseball) asking them to champion creation of "ALS-Lou Gehrig Day" on or around July 4, 2009 and every year thereafter in ballparks around the country.
2.) Ask the team to commit to raising money for ALS on that day from players, coaches, and fans - recommend that they pass out self-sealing envelopes that fans can fill in with credit card info or include cash and drop in boxes around the stadium or take home and mail (teams are already doing this for things like All-Star voting). They can address the mailers to The ALS Association or baseball can set up their own foundation (but going with one already in place makes the most sense to me and donations are likely tax deductible.)
3.) Ask your family, friends, and co-workers who are baseball fans to do the same.
4.) Leave a comment indicating what team you wrote to and follow up with a comment if you get a response.

I don't know anyone personally who has ALS but it's a crappy disease (yes, I know, all diseases are crappy) that shortens lives. I can't begin to explain how it affects the lives of those who have it but if you want to read about what it is like to have ALS you can click here.


Mr. Goldsmith - I wish you the best and I hope for a cure that comes in time to help you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

At 6 PM this evening nearly 80% of registered voters in my precinct had voted. However, my gamble to wait until after work to vote paid off. I walked in and only had to wait about 5 minutes. The Wife and I continued our tradition of voting and then going to the local diner for dinner. Now we are watching The Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash on the DVR and waiting for returns to come in. I am intentionally avoiding the networks. We are going to watch Indecision 2008 with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert at 10 PM.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Facebook has sucked me in

I've discovered Facebook and it has sucked me in. It has also sucked away the few minutes I have to blog and any and all creativity that I might use to blog. The parents (and the sister) are here this weekend and we've had a nice time together. The weather blew the plans for yesterday as we were going to go to a outdoor festival. Dad was sick (bronchitis) when he arrived so it was probably better that we just stayed home and he was able to rest. He announced this morning that he was "cured." At the moment we are waiting for The Wife to get up so we can all go to breakfast. I must have coffee.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tonight Gay = Happy Again

At least in CT...

From the CT decision:

"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," the ruling said.

"To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others. The guarantee of equal protection under the law, and our obligation to uphold that command, forbids us from doing so. In accordance with these state constitutional requirements, same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry."

Unfortunately The Wife and I don't live in a state that permits it but wow it makes me happy to read the CT decision.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I got yelled at by MTG today. I was having a bad day at the gym and she said "You're not taking care of yourself, are you?" She's right. I'm not drinking enough water, I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm drinking too much caffeine, and my diet is boring and repetitive. I was too sore to walk on Tuesday and last night just got away from me. I'm having a major internal debate with myself this evening - watch rest of VP debate, then go in hot tub or just bail on debate and go in hot tub to get to bed by 10:30. I'm finding Palin really condescending and shit, she cannot say nuclear. She's another nukular pain in my ass.

The Omnivore's Hundred

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4.) Post a link in comments at

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
Huevos rancheros
Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes (those of you who know me, know that I do not eat raw tomatoes in any form, yeech.)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn,or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV - BRING IT ON!
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

So I've eaten 55 of these things and there are 7 that I would never willingly/knowingly eat. To replace those I will add 7 less usual things that I have eaten: wild boar, dried salted fish ovaries from Sardinia, heart (BLECH), intestine (BLECH), tripe (also BLECH), a variety of sushi (both raw and rolls) and sashimi, and raw mussels.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sore knees

I continue training towards my 5k goal but at the moment my knees are getting in my way. Perhaps it is the change of season but wow, do my knees hurt. It makes me grumpy. Of course, when this happens there is a little voice in the back of my head that says "remember how bad it got a few years ago..." and that makes me get a little panicked. It's quite stupid really but sometimes I find it hard to shut off. I also wonder if my knees are telling me I'm not getting enough sleep? Again, all in reference to a few years ago when not getting enough sleep set off a pattern that took months to fix. All this talk of sleep reminds me, it's time for bed. I stayed up WAY too late last night watching the Steelers eek out a win over Baltimore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to get around the "Sarah Palin Phenomenon"

From Sean Quinn at ""
“Sarah Palin is very likable. There’s nothing wrong with liking her. But this isn’t a zany sitcom where a friendly, plucky Everywoman with dangerous ignorance on foreign policy gets to be vice president. Americans don't deserve someone too scared to do a press conference. Fun for a TV show, but running the country doesn't permit second and third takes when you mess up the scene."
This is the most intelligent thing I've read about how to get to people who are reacting viscerally to Sarah Palin. Go read the whole thing.

Post-trainer thoughts

Yesterday my trainer, Grace (MTG), asked me how I had been feeling after my workouts. I said I had been a little sore the next day but nothing terrible. Then she informed me that it is time to increase the amount of weight I'm lifting. I'm a little nervous. Right now by the time I finish, for example, doing the one-armed pec fly I feel like my shoulder is about to break. The concept of more weight is rather daunting. But I have to say I trust MTG completely. She certainly knows what she is doing and she knows exactly how far to push me. Of course, after last night's workout and more crunches than I have ever done in my life, I'm sore.

As to progress towards 5k - the plan for the next month is to workout on Mon/Thurs and walk at least 45 minutes W/Sat. I plan to walk on the treadmill on Wednesdays because I am just not a morning person and by the time I get home and have dinner it is too dark :-( to walk outside now. I can walk outside on weekends and the half-mile circuit at the cemetery is a good place to do it. I saved enough Coke Points to get a $100 gift card so I am designing a custom pair of shoes at I have wide feet so I have a limited number of styles to choose from but I'm having fun. I think I have to go try on a pair of the style I want to get before I actually buy them on the website.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A goal

I have a goal. I would like to walk a 5k next Spring. I've been working out with a trainer for 3 months now and I've started walking on my own. Today I walked 1.5 miles (in 80+ degree weather and high humidity...I'm sort of an idiot that way.) I have larger goals than the 5k but one step at a time. I'm going to try to chronicle my walking here because I'll never write it down anywhere else. Today was a pretty good walk - my left foot was sore and my upper back got sore towards the end (the Rack of Doom [TM Kate Harding] causes the problem when exercising - if anyone has any good sources for LARGE sports bras with good support please leave a note in comments.) I think I need arch supports and that will probably help the sore foot. I spent the afternoon making tomato sauce from 9 lbs of tomatoes (CSA) and I still feel ok. My knees are a little sore but it isn't too bad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Creatures in the walls

The Wife and I had the following conversation via IM today....

Bean: Everything ok?
The Wife: Oh - the squirrel is now in the corner with the kitchen sink.
Bean: I think the squirrel is building a home and an office. or a home and a weekend home.
The Wife: I think probably an office and media room. If it has a bigger TV, I'll move in with him. BRB
The Wife: Big crash from basement - think squirrel is unhappy w/his accomodation. Should I remove the cover to the window, or just wait for Erlich
Bean: Remove cover and cut plastic - maybe he'll leave on his own.
Bean: Bill squirrel's agent for damages.
The Wife: no problem - but how will we know if he's left? Then to pay for the trap?
Bean: Make a small cut - if it gets larger we think he went out through window. Then block off again.
Bean: Squirrel is probably late for work. Stayed in all weekend watching sports and eating cheetos.
The Wife: Where did he get the cheetos? I want some!!
Bean: I presume he went shopping on his way home from work.
The Wife: brb - off to remove window cover.
The Wife: ok deed is done.
Bean: What do you think keeps crashing?
The Wife: now, he's napping. The last time it was those wooden shelves, could be anything on the table. Won't know till I'm down there, but don't really want to go down with a loose squirrel.
Bean: Chicken.
The Wife: Yes, absolutely.
Bean: Well at least he comes out of the wall occasionally. Even if we do have to trap him. I was beginning to think he had no intention of ever coming out again.
The Wife: Ehrlich just came & set up the trap. The squirrel apparently has been chewing on a wire (under the dining room) - once the squirrel is caught we will need to have the electrician in. Seriously, I think we should consider buying one of those traps then we won't have to pay $200+ each year to catch something. Maybe a Christmas present from your folks! I blocked up the window again because I didn't want him calling his friends & family to join him.
Bean: JC on a raft. I have to go to my meeting.
Bean: I'm back. Any more from our friend in the basement?
The Wife: He's hanging around the fireplace (Emily is watching for it now). Was the JC about what I said, or your meeting?
Bean: The JC was about the squirrel chewing on the wire. He's hanging around the fireplace? He's in the wall over there now?
The Wife: yes. (presumably under the fireplace).
The Wife: I don't know if the passive trap is going to work, but I don't have any better ideas.
Bean: Is there food in it?
The Wife: I think the guy put some sort of squirrel enticement goo in it. I haven't been down there.
Bean: The squirrel has to be getting hungry.
Bean: He hasn't been out in days.
The Wife: He told me where the trap is & that we would hear the squirrel when it was caught (they get very angry) & we should call them whenever it is caught. Or the copper & insulation are filling junk food.
The Wife: Although he has moved away from his "comfort zone."
The Wife: He just jumped over by the kitchen - Emily's still watching the fireplace.
Bean: Emily is slow these days.
The Wife: It seems to be doing laps now.
The Wife: If Emily showed any emotions, she'd be very excited.
Bean: maybe he'll get tired and fall down. Clumsy squirrel.
The Wife: ...and stagger to the trap.
Bean: Yes, exactly.
The Wife: Can squirrels swim?
Bean: I suspect they can, at least for short distances.

UPDATE: It was not a squirrel. It was a GROUNDHOG. Apparently they can climb. Little bastard.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chocolate Stout

At the request of the MIL who had one in Australia I have brewed a chocolate stout. I did some research and came up with my own recipe.

Pat's Polish Stout
1 can Mr Beer St. Patrick's Irish Stout Beer Mix
1 can Mr Beer Creamy Brown Extract
1.5 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate
1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
Liquid Stout Yeast
2 gallons spring water

Brew according to the Mocha Cherry Stout recipe on Mr (obviously minus the cherries). I plan to let it ferment for 3 weeks then bottle. I'll let it bottle condition for 8 weeks. So it should be ready to drink by Halloween - seems like just the right time for a stout.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I think I sprained my obliques

I have been working out with a trainer since late May. I go twice a week for an hour and generally I'm pretty worn out and a little sore when I get home but normally feel pretty good the next day. All this changed on Thursday when the trainer got out the boxing gloves. It's Saturday and I'm still sore. Last night, we were watching the Olympic opening ceremony at a friend's house and it hurt to laugh. It hurt a lot. I have to do yard work tomorrow so we'll see how I hold up. I think it will make my trainer very happy that she has succeded in breaking me. She did make a point of saying, when she got out the boxing gloves, "This isn't get even with the trainer."

Cherry Wheat Beer

Last weekend I bottled the cherry wheat beer. When I did the pre-carbonation taste test (you always taste before you bottle to make sure the yeast have consumed the bulk of the fermentable sugars, if it tastes like flat beer, you are good to bottle) I discovered that I had potentially the best beer I have brewed thus far. I'm really eager to taste it. It has been carbonating for a week now and I'm really tempted to put a bottle in the fridge so I can try it tomorrow but I think I'll have an even better result if I wait until next weekend. This is the toughest part for me of home brewing. When it is in the keg I know it isn't drinkable so I sort of forget about it but when it goes into the bottles it suddenly becomes BEER! and I want to be able to taste it.

I still need to brew the Chocolate Stout. I think as long as it is ready by Thanksgiving the MIL will forgive me. If I get it in the keg tomorrow we should be ok.

To Wii or not to Wii, that WAS the question

Yesterday we took the plunge and bought a Wii (ordered a Wii, it should arrive this week.) We also ordered Zelda and Table Tennis games along with the Sonic Smash that came as part of the "bundle." I have a small beef with Toys r Us. It is all over their website that they have both Wii consoles AND MarioKart in stores NOW! Well both are not true. If you have it in SOME stores say that. I made the drive to buy a Wii and they didn't have it. I am also still in search of MarioKart for a friend's son. We promised it to him as a birthday present but I think it will be more like a second Christmas present by the time we locate it. So now you want to know why I suddenly decided to buy a Wii. Well, it is the mother-in-law's fault. She got one a month or so ago and when The Wife had her stroke the MIL brought it with her when she came to stay for a few days. I got hooked and I only played one night. I really like the sports games (hence the table tennis purchase) and The Wife, who is much more of a gamer than I, likes the action/adventure games. I suck at them, hence they are not my favorites. I suspect I will become rather adept at boxing. I may even have to buy the Wii boxing gloves. I am a marketers dream right now with this thing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What a week

Those of you who know me IRL, know what a week I've had. The Wife had a mild stroke on Tuesday. She has been rapidly improving since then and should be able to come home today or tomorrow. She'll get speech and physical therapy as an outpatient and should make a complete recovery with time. It's been a brutal week especially coming on the heels of the events of last week (work-related). I had such high hopes for this weekend in terms of yardwork etc (low humidity, cooler temps, rain this week) but I'm just too pooped. I'm going to try to get some things done inside that have been neglected this week (folding laundry, sorting through a giant lump of mail) and also face the mountain of work that remains to be done. I need more hours in the day right now (longer weekends would be nice too.)

Friday, July 18, 2008


As I mentioned, I brewed a cherry wheat beer last weekend. Unfortunately, I had a beer'splosion on Sunday night. I used too much yeast. When I went to bed on Sunday it was bubbling like mad and dripping a little foam down the side of the brew keg so I put a few paper towels under the keg and thought it would be fine. The Wife couldn't sleep and came downstairs for a snack. She heard a strange noise, did some investigating, and discovered that the beer was spewing all over the dining room wall. She moved the keg into the sink, put a cookie sheet up against it to contain the spew, and wrote me a nice little note. Fortunately she knew not to open the keg so the beer should be fine. I can bottle it on August 3.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Random Bits

Today is the last day of my vacation. I am not looking particularly forward to going back to work. I know no one really does but some crap went on last week when I was out that is likely going to make work life tougher on me in the near and perhaps longer term.

The Wife and I made the most of the last 3 days of the vacation. We went to see "Smart People" on Friday at the local art theater (we are members and hadn't used our free passes this year so free movie for us and 2 drinks and a giant tub-o-corn for $5.50.) Yesterday we spent the day with friends, played Wii (first time for me) with their 8- and 11-year-old boys, and ate like kings (homemade empanadas, skirt steak, grilled chicken, and my home-brewed beer). Today we puttered around the yard and I brewed a Cherry Wheat beer. I can bottle it in 3 weeks.

The dog pool was christened today - the dog had a blast. We got her to go into it by throwing one of her toys in and then she discovered that she liked it. She would race around the yard and then hop into the pool on her way past at full speed. It was pretty funny. Now she is pooped and draped over the ottoman.

and the Phillies won and will go into the All-Star break leading the NL East. GO PHILLIES!
Well I can't ignore work email any longer - time to face the music.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Random bits

Life has been busy over the past few weeks. The Wife and I have just returned from 5 days with the family - parents' 50th anniversary celebration. Giant sigh of relief that it is over.

Today we set up the pool for the dog. Yes, we bought a pool for the dog. We don't want her to go into our pond because it makes her smell horrible (much worse than basic wet dog) so we got her a little wading pool. She doesn't quite know what to make of it - she almost sat down in it but then decided to hop out instead. We hope that tomorrow when the water is a little warmer she'll like it better.

We have coined a new term - F.U.P. It means "fuck you paw." Emily Dickinson Kitty has a little foot shake she does sometimes and it totally looks like the cat version of the finger. We dubbed it the "fuck you paw" but The Wife wants to refer to it as a "F.U.P." so we can use it in public. Now she wants to further clarify it and use the C-F.U.P. or D-F.U.P. to identify which pet is flipping us off.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sylvia Plath Kitty July,1996-June 20, 2008

Today The Wife and I had our cat, Sylvia, euthanized. It's a long, complicated story but suffice to say that we tried everything we could and everything various vets recommended and it was probably past time. Sylvia was generally a quiet cat (unless she was hungry) and even though there is another cat (her sister, Emily Dickinson) and a dog in the house, tonight we feel her absence. There is an unusual stillness in the house. I was outside a few minutes ago and saw the first firefly of the season. Both of these things, seemingly unrelated and small, have convinced me of what I have long belived. Animals have souls. Sylvia's is gone from our house and our lives. I do think pets go to heaven and I like to think that Sylvia has found my grandmother and has settled in with her.

I'm sorry, Syl. I wish there had been another option. I'll miss you greeting me every morning outside the bedroom door and lining up in your spot for your share of the lunch meat when I make my lunch. I'll think of you every time I eat rice pudding. You were a good cat.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

IMing with the dog...

Poochie: MaMa B!! MaMa K wetted me with the hose. I runned away, but I'm still hot. Can I have a pool like Zoey [editor's note: co-worker's dog] so I can just lay in the water without it raining on me?
Me: Well I think that's up to MaMa K because she will have to dry you off after you've been laying in your pool.
Poochie: MaMa K said it was o.k. because I was eyeing the wading part of the pond & at least in a pool I won't smell quite so icky.
Me: This is true. What size pool would you like?
Poochie: I dpon
Poochie: oops. darn paws.
Poochie: I don't know. I was thinking of a plastic one that I could lay in (like a library lion) and maybe MaMa K could cool off by putting her feet in. Mayby CVS or K-mart has one?
Poochie: Oh & the sides can't be too high, because I need to be able to watch those darn birdies.
Poochie: So, more long than deep.
Me: maybe I can go shopping tomorrow after work.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Experience with personal trainer

Yesterday I had an appointment with a personal trainer. I cannot say enough good things about the trainer. I'm fat and out of shape and I have been thinking of calling this guy for months, ever since I read about him in the paper. He's convenient and has gotten a ton of good press recently. I put it off and put it off and finally made an appointment a few weeks ago. Mostly yesterday we talked about my health, job, exercise, eating habits, and sleeping habits and then he had me do some exercises to see where I am now. I'm going to work out with him once a week and with another trainer once a week for the next six weeks (and likely for another six weeks after that) and then we'll re-evaluate. I'm a little sore today (my hips, it's always my hips) but I'm actually looking forward to going back tomorrow.

Bottling day

Today I am bottling the 2 batches of beer I brewed 2 weeks ago. The West Coast Pale Ale is already in bottles and the keg of Vienna Lager is on the counter waiting for me to get started (I need to wash and sanitize the bottles first and the Phillies game is on so I'm torn.) I had The Wife confirm that the Vienna Lager wasn't sweet (which means that the beer needs to ferment a little longer) and she referred to it as "swill." I told her she couldn't have any when it was done. I think these batches will be good. I didn't get any hint of off flavors when I tasted both beers before bottling.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not my day, apparently

The Wife called during the drive home to say we were missing a crucial ingredient for dinner. Can't make burritos without taco mix. I stopped at the grocery store. It was POURING so I sat in the car for a moment hoping it would slow down, and it rained harder. I got out of the car and stepped into a river flowing across the parking lot and squished my way into the grocery store. Then I shivered my way through the store and my short list, which now included peanut butter m&ms along with the taco mix and a few other things. I arrive at the checkout wallet. Back into the pouring rain. Back into the store where I proceed to knock over the checker's bagging station. Now I am home where I think I shall least for the evening.

Friday, May 30, 2008

New batches of beer

In my effort to spend more time doing things that I enjoy, I brewed 2 batches of beer last weekend. I brewed a batch of Vienna Lager with dry malt extract and a batch of West Coast Pale Ale with "booster (maltodextrin - increases "body" and alcohol content of beer). Both of these are Mr Beer mixes. My first batch of beer was the West Coast Pale Ale with booster and it was good. My second batch was West Coast Pale Ale with dry malt extract and it was not so good. Not undrinkable (only about 1.5 bottles left out of an 8 bottle batch [1 liter bottles]) but I haven't and won't offer it to guests. I'm not sure what the problem with the second batch was - I used less sugar when bottling because we thought the first batch had too much carbonation. The excess carbonation turned out to be a temporary thing so using less sugar in the second batch was a mistake. I also used the dry malt extract for the first time and I wasn't sure how to dissolve it so I may have "cooked" it. In any event the second batch of beer had some off flavors. I'll see how the Vienna Lager is. The 2 batches will stay in the fermenters for another week and then have to be bottled and sit in the bottles for 2 weeks to carbonate. I also ordered 3 more mixes from Mr Beer (using my birthday gift certificate) - I just received the Czech Pilsner, a Cherry Wheat, and a Pale Ale with Mr Beer Unhopped liquid malt extract (very hard to purchase liquid malt extract in a size I can use with the Mr Beer kit which was why I tried the dry malt extract.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More Cheeese

I'm enrolled in a year-long seminar to help me improve my productivity and figure out who I want to be when I grow up. The people in this group encourge me to make time to do things that I want to do and I do the same for them. So, I'm back to making cheese again. I shared the cheddar I made a few weeks ago with the leader of the group which resulted in much encouragement as she thought it was a pretty tasty cheese. Toay I will see her again so I made her a mozzarella. Lest you think I am some sort of strange dairy stalker, The Wife and I were invited to said persons home for a casual get-together as said person is also a friend. Mozzarella can be made quickly (about 30 minutes) so yesterday I stopped at the dairy and picked up 2 gallons of milk and today I made 2 batches of mozzarella. I'm always very proud of myself when I make cheese if I can beat the expected yield in the recipe. This recipe says that you should get a yield of about 3/4 lb or 12 oz. My yield was 17 oz. The Wife thinks that perhaps I am a little more patient than your average 30-minute mozzarella maker. But I still never get the really nice stretchy mozzarella that Ricki Carrol gets.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not an auspicious start to the day

Yesterday I woke up at 4 AM in a bed covered in dog vomit for the second time in 2 weeks. I stripped the quilt off the bed and put a towel down for the dog, who at that moment seemed none the worse for wear. The next morning however I realized that in addition to the bed having been covered in vomit the DOG was covered in vomit. So I had to bathe her before I went to work. The Wife was also up early for a doctor's appointment and the dog looked so miserable that The Wife cancelled her appointment to stay home with the dog. A good thing as the poor dog yakked 3 more time before 10 AM. The vet came (AGAIN) and put the dog on antibiotics. The vet said she thought it was "garbage ingestion" [meaning dog is eating some random crap in the yard like, well crap from rabbits or birds] but it could be metabolic disease. So if it continues we have to take her in for blood and urine tests and provide a poo sample for testing. After 24 hours of food restriction and only ice cubes (it was very cute to watch her eat ice cubes last night) the dog seems to be on the mend. But she needs another bath.

You might want to put that back where you found it

Open letter to the person who picked up a small media cabinet that I had set out by the curb for trash pick up.

Dear Unsuspecting person:

I am sorry that you noticed the media storage cabinet at the curb and stopped to pick it up. I'm sure you thought "Hey, look. That's a perfectly good media cabinet that would look really nice in my insert room here." I know in US society today people throw away lots of really useful things just because they don't need them anymore. However, that was not the case with that media cabinet. That particular media cabinet is abosolutely soaked in cat pee. I hope you don't have a cat, or a dog that doesn't like cats, or a crawling child, or a functioning olfactory system. You see, a very strange yet very lucky cat lives in the house that recently housed the media storage cabinet. Said cat routinely ignores the litter box for no apparent reason and yet has lived lo these almost 12 years in a selection of homes with carpet and humans with funtioning olfactory systems. The same humans who carried the media storage cabinet to the curb last evening. We had the carpets cleaned yet again and because we now have all of our music loaded on our Ipods our CDs don't need a home in our dining room. We were going to donate the media storage cabinet to a charitable organization that is scheduled to come to our house next week for a pick up. However, when we realized the media cabinet was pee soaked we decided that we should just throw it out. Again, I am sorry that you thought it would look good in your house. I hope you realized it smells before taking it into your house and left if on the nearest curb like the guys in the VW commercial from a few years ago.

Friday, May 09, 2008

and another thing

We have been having hot tub problems for months. We got so frustrated in January that we had our hot tub guy drain the tub and leave it until Spring. We got in touch with him in late March and got a quote to fix it but we were basically going to do what we had done in the fall, again. That "repair" resulted in the circuit board getting fried, and I mean fried to the point of melting. So we decided to just get rid of the hot tub rather than fix it. Then the hot tub guy offered to buy it from us. So we asked how much it would cost for him to do for us what he would have done if he had bought the tub from us. For only about $200 more we could get what would be basically a new hot tub. It took forever but yesterday we had a working hot tub for the first time since September. We noticed steam coming from the hot tub this afternoon so I checked it and the temperature was 109! We talked to the hot tub guy who said "SHUT IT DOWN, SHUT IT DOWN" like it was a nuclear reactor about to melt down. We seem to have solved the problem but it just fit with the rest of the day. I think I'm still waiting for that third thing to go wrong before midnight. Maybe I should just go to bed. Might be safer there.

Sometimes I hate this house

While I was cooking dinner I heard, or more accurately felt, a crash from somewhere above my head. It sounded like something hit the floor hard in the master bedroom. I thought The Wife had fallen in a passed out, collapsed sort of way. So the dog and I went zooming over to the stairs and yelled for her. She responded that "she had something in her teeth." A fuckin' boulder perhaps. I asked her what fell in the bedroom and she said "nothing." She also said she hadn't heard anything. So I went back to cooking dinner, the dog went back to the couch, and The Wife came downstairs having removed the item from her teeth. We forgot all about it until The Wife went to the garage to get a soda from our extra fridge and said "I know what the crash was, and it crashed right onto the car." A full 4x8 sheet of drywall fell on the car. Of course, the car had been in the shop for he past 24 hours so if this had happened last night the drywall would have landed in an empty garage. I think I can get the scratches out or if I get the car detailed they can get them out. But fuck.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thoughts on turning 40

I turned 40 about 10 days ago. A friend told me, "the weeks leading to your 40th birthday are the longest years of your life." I didn't think 40 was going to bother me and it didn't until about a week before my birthday when I suddenly got really stressed about it. We celebrated with friends the night before and that morning and had a great time and the day passed. Once the day was over suddenly it didn't matter anymore that I had turned 40. It didn't change how I felt, it didn't change how I looked, it didn't change how anyone treated me. It was a complete and total non-event. I'm still not sure why it bothered me so much. On to the next 40.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheese Success

Last weekend I peeled the wax off the cheddar cheese I made about a month ago so we could try it. It's pretty good. I'm never satisfied with the things I make so I always give chunks of the cheese to friends and co-workers. So far, the response has been really positive. It's pretty cool. The good thing is that it makes me want to make more cheese. The bad thing is that I feel like I have to find the time to make more cheese. We are seeing some friends tonight so I'm going to take them a chunk of cheese too (one of them has made cheese in the past) and get their opinion.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Tracey Ullman Show on Showtime

I am completely speechless! The new Tracey Ullman show on Showtime (State of the Union) is hysterical. It's a collection of characters (having watched 2 episodes the characters are repeating) and holy shit, she skewers EVERYONE. There is a dancing, singing Indian pharmacist, Ariana Huffington, Lindsay Lohan's mother, a Buffalo newscaster, etc.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on the fig tree

My fig tree is planted in the ground in Bucks County, PA. In the Fall, I erect a burlap cocoon around it and then stuff it with straw. This year, I used pipe insulation (the long hollow split foam tubes you can slip onto your pipes to keep them from freezing or keep the hot water hot) to insulate some branches that wouldn't fit inside the burlap wrap. I just unwrapped it about a week ago and so far, I don't know if the trunk/branches survived (I'm sure the roots did). My fig tree is supposed to be cold hardy down to 10 degrees but I still wrap it at the end of Fall and don't unwrap it until the Spring. I'll report back in a month or so when we should see some growth one way or another.

I am a literary prostitute

This evening I scared the bejesus out of The Wife when I started screaming about something I read in the paper where someone was quoted as saying that what I do for a living was "a terrible form of prostitution." Along with other related things that have happened today, reading this statement really pissed me off. We were watching an episode of "Bones" on the DVR and it happened to be about a call girl who was murdered. The Wife said something along the lines of it not being uncommon for a prostitute to be murdered and then said "well, maybe if you are a literary prostitute."

Friday, April 11, 2008

The L Word Obsession Continues...


We’ll we’ve nearly made it through the first 4 seasons of the L word on DVD by watching 2-3 episodes a night.  The house is in complete chaos because I get home, we have dinner (sometimes while watching an episode), and then we watch as many episodes as we can fit in before bed time.  I haven’t even watched a Phillies game yet and the season is 2 weeks old!  We should finish season 4 tonight and then be able to start on season 5 (which I have seen all of, but which didn’t make complete sense because I had no idea of the back story) on “On Demand.”  I must say, with the exception of some fabulous sex between Tasha and Alice, season 4 has been a rather long dry spell.  Season 5 is MUCH better in that respect.  I’m glad it’s the weekend.



Thursday, April 10, 2008

The week so far


This has been quite an interesting week so far.


1.)     On Monday, The Wife was flicking a spider into the toilet and simultaneously flushing when she dropped the Dixie cup upon which the spider had been crawling.  Of course, the cup was immediately sucked into the toilet creating a quite water-tight seal.  Fortunately Dixie cups are not meant to be submerged for hours and I was able to clear the clog that night with the plunger. I think I probably blew the bottom right out of the cup which made me feel like quite the butch.

2.)     On Tuesday, the L word obsession continued and we were going to watch episodes on disc 2, Season 4.  We discovered that disc 1, Season 4 was packaged in the sleeve for disc 2 giving us two copies of disc 1 and zero copies of disc 2.  This crisis necessitated a call and then a trip to Blockbuster in order for our L word fix.  We are both completely enamored of Tina as executive.  Wow, she’s hot.

3.)     Mad props to  They are shipping us a new set of the L word because, in their words, we received a defective product.  They gave us a return authorization label so we just have to package up the old set and return it to them on their nickel.

4.)     Also on Tuesday, I was bitching and moaning at work about something and turned to one of my colleagues (in fact, I am the guy’s boss).  I said, “blah, blah, blah, God hates me.”  He said, “of course God hates you, you’re a lesbian.”  I about fell over from laughing at him and my other co-worker who immediately started screaming for HR (the representative of which was blessedly out of the office that day and who sits in the office next to where this statement was uttered.)  I assure you, I was not offended by this statement in the least and, in fact, found it very funny (and quite ballsy to say to one’s boss regardless of how good a relationship you have.)

5.)     There have been other amusing things that happened this week but I cannot remember them now.  I’m sure I’ll remember as soon as I post this.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fig Trees

This post is for the woman (Blackfeet75) who left a comment about where I got my fig tree. I have no way to respond to your comment other than here.

I bought my fig from Stark Brothers ( It looked like a stick when I planted it but I have to keep cutting it back now. If you have an unheated garage or porch you can roll the container in there for the winter. I just wrap mine. I'm going to unwrap it next weekend and see how it looks. Feel free to leave questions in comments and I'll be happy to share my experiences, although they are limited.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Such a big girl!

I drove through 5 states in under 5 hours on Friday (PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA) on my way to a meeting at the Alma mater. As always, it is really wonderful to spend time with fellow alums and it makes me wish I hadn't been such a complete fuck while I was a student. Anyway, I spent the night in CT with friends and then went to New Rochelle, NY to a high school rugby match on my way home. Because of New Rochelle's proximity to NYC there was no point in going north to the Tappan Zee bridge like I normally do to/from New England. Instead, I went down the Hutchinson Parkway to 87 S into the Bronx and across the George Washington Bridge. I am the fuckin' master. I realize this seems like such a pathetic thing to be proud of, especially for people who drive into NYC all the time but for me this is HUGE. I have avoided driving anywhere near NYC for my entire life until recently when The Wife and I drove into Manhattan to see a show. I even called The Wife to tell her that I had managed to navigate through NY and was safely back in NJ.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cheese, Glorious Cheese

I've finally gotten back to making cheese. I bought a new cheese press recently and made a point of using it the weekend after I got it. I made a farmhouse cheddar using the home cheesemaker's bible. The cheese took a few days to develop the necessary rind (and I made the mistake of leaving it uncovered overnight once and one of the cats made quite an indentation with her tongue). I was finally able to wax it on Sunday. We can try it in about a month. I had to move The Wife's meds into the regular fridge so I could reclaim the "cheese fridge." The cheese fridge has a separate external thermostat so I can get any temp from freezing to about 70. Most cheeses need to age at 50-60 degrees (ie, too cold for a regular fridge and too warm for room temp) so if you want to make cheese at home you have to make your own "cheese cave." My first cheddar was disastrous (tried to age it in the basement during the summer). We also tried to make an italian table cheese but we were never thrilled with it. My co-workers thought it was pretty good though. The Wife wants me to make a gouda next. I also want to try to make a provolone for my dad - I tried once but it never came together. Any other home cheesemakers out there?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The L Word

I have discovered The L Word. OMG! We got Showtime plus lots of other movie channels recently and last night when The Wife was in the hospital I started watching episodes on demand. I am completely hooked. There is absolutely nowhere else to see lesbians actually having a complete relationship, including sex. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the actresses playing the lesbians are smokin' hot. Today when I brought The Wife home from the hospital I had her watch an episode with me. She is also very glad we got Showtime.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I have a secret

I'm going to share a secret with you. I'm the Easter Bunny. Lest you think I'm completely delusional, let me explain. When I was a child, a friend of my parents would leave chocolate eggs on our front walk every year at Easter. I still remember it so when we moved here and there was a family with little kids next door I started doing it for them. I didn't think the kids really cared but last year their mother told me that they remember and they run for the front door on Easter morning to see what the Easter Bunny left outside for them. It's a silly little thing but it makes me happy.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

More water

Once again we have water in the basement. However, the alarm did its job (and fortunately the worst happened during the day and on a weekend) so we had plenty of warning that the water was going to overwhelm the pumps. A friend had stopped by to pick up some things so the three of us set up the extra pump. Now the sun is out but there is a very odd band of clouds off in the distance so I suspect we are going to get more rain before all of this is over. In the grand scheme of things this is not a big deal - our basement will be dry in a day or so. Because of our experience with this we have to get 3+ FEET of water for anything that is even remotely sensitive to water to even get damp. But still it did put a damper on plans for the day (movie outing, grocery shopping, etc) because we suspected that we would get water at some point during the day and we wanted to be here to drop the extra pump. Now I have to do work - BLAH!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Yesterday I hosted a party (followed by a family dinner) for The Wife's 39th birthday. I hired a caterer (to drop off the food, not to actually serve) which I have never done before. I am now completely sold on the concept. It would have been a little harder if it were warm out but because it is cold we were able to put the covered trays in the garage overnight and then today I packed them up (and composted the garnish). We had a fair amount of food left over from dinner but we didn't have a lot left over from the party. Notes to self: grape leaves and roasted veggies not a hit; shrimp a must have for the next party; must label pumpkin dip or people think it is mustard. I packaged the beef and chicken into 8 oz containers and put it in the freezer. The Wife and I will be eating leftovers for the next 2 months - that is not necessarily a bad thing. I do have a GIANT tray of bowtie pasta with bacon and peas in alfredo sauce that is going to work with me. I don't think it will freeze well and there is no way The Wife and I can even make a dent in it before it goes bad. We did discover that we can get 12 people (including toddler in portable high chair) into our family room for dinner. A few of us used the kitchen table (including an uncle who just pulled up the cooler and had a seat) because I needed a stable place for my plate and there were no more spots by the time I got my dinner. More tray tables would have been helpful. Even though it was a pretty casual dinner we used the china and silver, it is almost as easy to clean up as paper and doesn't generate any trash. During the afternoon portion of the pary, we discovered we can comfortably get nearly 35 people (including 8 kids and 2 teenagers) in our downstairs. I am far more likely to have parties in the future now that we know this. Everyone got along, our friends' kids played together, and neither The Wife nor I was a complete stress ball. It also gave us a really good reason to clean/organize the house and get various pictures hung. All in all, a fine day.

and everyone who tried it said they liked the home-brewed beer. They seemed surprised that it was tasty.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Yesterday The Wife and I were discussing the Wii. It came up because her mother was talking about how much she would like one (she called to tell us that some chain store in the area had them in stock) and saying how she could use it during her convalescence (knee surgery). Of course, Tknowing where her mother was sitting at that moment The Wife promptly had her do the bowling motion to point out that she would not be able to use it and rest her knee at the same time. I said I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up with a Wii. The Wife looked at me like I had 4 heads. So I told her "No, I don't think the Wii Fairy is going to bring one, I think we'll buy one for ourselves." Like I think someone is just going to GIVE us a Wii.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Beer brewing: bottling batch #2

Last weekend I bottled batch number 2 of home-brewed beer. I've been working my way through the first batch which isn't great but hey, it's beer. It is very carbonated for beer so this time I cut down on the priming sugar. The "recipe" recomends 2.5 teaspoons of table sugar per 1 liter bottle so this time I used 2 teaspoons. So far it seems to be carbonating on schedule (I bottle using plastic bottles and you can check the carbonation by squeezing the bottles to see how hard they are.) This batch is also an all malt recipe (the first batch used the maltodextrin "booster" that comes with the Mr. Beer Kit) so I'm hoping for a more flavorful beer this time. The Wife's birthday party is next Saturday so in addition to the Yuengling there will be home brew. I'm rather reluctant to share the home brew but some serious beer drinkers will be attending so I have to see what they think.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm sick or what a waste of a weekend

It appears that I have the flu. I was thinking it was just a bad cold but I did a little searching on the internet and discovered that 3 days of fever >100 F along with my other symptoms is characteristic of the flu rather than a cold. This is a problem for several reasons: a.) I get a fucking flu shot every year b.) I have asthma so any respiratory virus makes me wheeze and I have to use my inhaler every 4 hours practically around the clock c.) the flu will put The Wife into the hospital. I have been sleeping in the guest room since Thursday night in an effort not to infect her. I will continue to do so until I have been without a fever for 24 h. I also missed work on Friday and was too ill to work from home as I had intended. I did check email between naps on the sofa but that was about all I could manage. If I don't have a fever tomorrow morning I will go into the office but if I feel crappy I'm coming home again. No point in infecting the whole office. While I'm glad I didn't have to miss 3+ days of work for this, I'm pissed that a whole weekend was wasted by me being too sick to do anything. About all I've been able to manage is some organizing of our takeout menus. Recipe organizing and sorting through a week's worth of mail also await. We watched several episodes of Clean House yesterday because I didn't feel like doing anything else and The Wife is inspired to declutter. This happens frequently when we watch multiple episodes of Clean House at one time. Of course, we also look at the state that some people get to and think "hell, our worst room isn't even close."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I am not proud of this number


Fun at the grocery store

The Wife and I spotted this last night at the local grocery store.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More beer brewing

I brewed another batch of beer on Sunday - West Coast Pale Ale with light dry malt extract. It is bubbling away right now and I feel compelled to visit it each evening before I go to bed. The batch I bottled a few weeks ago has improved from the first bottle I opened. It is still pretty carbonated for beer so I'll have to experiment with the amount of priming sugar that I use. The new batch will be ready in time for The Wife's birthday party so if you are coming you are welcome to try it. But don't worry, there will be commercial beer (and wine) too.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl

The Wife and I have a spread that has probably never been consumed while watching the Super Bowl. We are eating cucumbers, carrots, and pita dipped in hummus and shrimp with cocktail sauce. The Wife also has some ranch dip for the veggies. We are both drinking soda although The Wife brought in a bottle of home brew and a bottle of Yuengling in case I wanted them. So far the commercials have been just eh. Let me revise that...The Budweiser Clydesdales commercial absolutely rocked! Ok WTF was with the badgers and the Toyota Corolla?

Abby Normal? Super Duper!

Yesterday, The Wife and I drove into Manhattan to see "Young Frankenstein: The Musical." We've had these tickets since September when The Wife presented them to me as an anniversary gift. I absolutely LOVE the movie "Young Frankenstein" which The Wife tolerates because she loves me. The musical has received so-so reviews and The Wife was very worried that I wouldn't like it. On the contrary, I laughed the whole way through. In my opinion, it was very Mel Brooks - lots of double entendre and physical humor. There was also a song about tits. What can be bad about a musical with a song about tits?

We then met a friend (whom we haven't seen since our 2001) for drinks and dinner at Becco. The food at Becco was just great. I had "polentina con speck", followed by a ceasar salad (The Wife did say mine was better), and their "sinfonia di pasta." The sinfonia di pasta is a trio of chef-selected pastas that are served table-side and for which refills are available. Last night's selections were mezze rigatoni with pesto and green beans, spicy tomato with fried shrimp over spaghetti (one made without shrimp was available which was good as our dining companion is allergic to shellfish), and mushroom ravioli in a light cream sauce. It was amazing. For NYC the price was surprisingly affordable especially given that we each had a 3-course meal and 2 of 3 had drinks. With tax and tip it was about $45 a person.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's a beer!

I checked the carbonation on the beer on Wednesday (the best part of using plastic bottles is that when they get rock hard you know have adequate carbonation) and it seemed like all the bottles were ready. In to the fridge it went. The absolute minimum for cooling is 2 days so last night I cracked open my first bottle of home brewed beer. First impressions - beer, I made beer! It had a nice but light color, lots of little bubbles (kind of like champagne), and a nice flavor. Rather like an American light beer. That said, American light beers are not my favorite. My next batch - planning to brew today - will be the same extract (California Pale Ale) but instead of using the "booster" (about 75% fermentable, meant to boost the alcohol and body of the beer) I'm going to use dry malt extract. I'll have a report on that in about 4 weeks.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Snow, please

So far this winter we haven't had any significant snow. All of our winter storms have been sleet/freezing rain. Tonight we are supposed to get 3 to 5 inches of snow. The Wife is quite annoyed to be in the hospital (where they won't get much snow) for this event. I have to fire up the snow blower this afternoon as it hasn't been started in months. I'm looking forward to some snow. Of course, if it sticks around and is a sloppy mess for a week I'll change my tune but right now I'm looking forward to it. I was supposed to be travelling to Boston tomorrow for a client meeting on Tuesday but I cancelled the trip because of The Wife's hospitalization (mostly because they are planning to place a Hickman catheter in her chest tomorrow). This storm is going to affect New England more than PA so my colleague who is still planning to go to Boston may have a rough trip (she has a business travel curse I think.)

Bottling the beer

I bottled the first batch (Pale Ale) from the Mr Beer kit this morning. It smelled like a frat house on Sunday morning in my kitchen. MMMMMMMM, beer. I tasted it before I bottled it (they recommend a taste test to be sure that it doesn't taste sweet - if so it isn't finished fermenting) and it tasted like flat beer. SUCCESS! It has to carbonate in the bottles for 1-2 weeks (I'm going with 2) and then be "conditioned" for 1-2 weeks in the fridge. It is ready to drink after being carbonated so I'll probably chill it for the minimum 2 days and crack the first bottle. Last night I bought a second kit at CVS (holiday left overs at $20 off) so I have more bottles for the next batch, which will hopefully go in the fermenting keg tonight. I also have a second fermenting keg and the ingredients for another batch of Pale Ale. From what I've read on the Mr Beer Yahoo Group the Pale Ale is pretty much a MGD clone. Not my favorite beer or beer style so once I use these up I'll try something with a little more body and flavor. A lot of the recipe kits on are sold out right now (either the holidays or the hops shortage) so I'll use what I have already. I can't drink 12.5 gallons of beer that fast anyway. Once this batch is carbonated, come on over for a cold one.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy 2008 to everyone. I can't believe that another year has passed. This New Year's Eve/New Year's Day was far better than last year when The Wife and I spent the 2 days basically too sick to get out of bed (the dreaded "stomach flu.") We had a fine evening last night with Morag and Gobo and the wee ones. They had a family obligation this afternoon so we came home and have been enjoying a quiet afternoon. I do have a few things to do this afternoon in order to get ready for work tomorrow. It is always so hard for me to go back to work after a vacation, especially a vacation that was fairly busy and had us going from one family obligation to another.

I don't think 2008 will be any less busy than 2007 but I hope to have some more time for my hobbies of cheese making, bread baking, and beer brewing (we'll see how this one works out) and more time to work in the garden. Maybe this will be the year we get edible figs. Hopefully the conditions will be good for the apple trees too.