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Snow Blood and Coal

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I'm going to start my paper today. I really am. I have so much research done, and all that is waiting is for me to sit down and write the thing--to forget about the couple of articles that I can't get, and just write it. It's going to be a willy nilly writing process, but I think that if I can just get a draft on paper, I'll be fine. I'm sure that people will be very kind when I actually read it anyway. I wouldn't be, but people usually are...

In other news, we have a serious fruitfly infestation, and the mead bubbling in the closet doesn't help. The flies can't get into the mead, but the smell of it is apparently driving them nuts, because they flock around my fermentor like nobody's business. It's really amazing to watch, in a sort of horific way. I can't very well spray poison by the mead, so I've been killing them by hand. I killed 10 of them today, so I think I'm starting to thin out their population. A couple of more days at that rate, and they should start to die out I figure... wouldn't that be nice?

In other news, I went to the folklore office yesterday, and they told me that they sent out some information last week and were surprised that I didn't get it. I haven't gotten registration or orientation info yet, and I was beginning to worry. If I don't get it by friday, I figure I'll call and ask them to send me another packet. I do feel bad, though--sort of like I'm making a pest of myself... but then again, I'm just doing what I have to do.

Finally, I went to the history office today to ask about getting a teaching assistantship with them for the fall. They have a waiting list of their own students, however, and so they said that there's no chance this year, and that I should come back next fall. That sounds fair to me, although it does upset me a little bit. I figure that tomorrow, I'll go talk to the English and Anthro people. There must be a job for me for the fall somewhere. If worst comes to worst, I guess I could try getting a job at the Oliver Winery or something. That might not be a bad place to work, and it would definitely be good to counterbalance school.

posted by Adam on 5:12 PM.


Monday, July 28, 2003

I feel so unmotivated to work on my paper. I read about 50 pages worth of a book called Threatened Children yesterday, and I have about 100 pages more to read. I think that I want to go in that direction with the paper, except that what is already written about threats to children is written primarily by sociologists, and I really hate reading sociology texts. The guy who wrote Threatened Children epitomizes why I don't like to read sociologists. He is methodologically and theoretically almost identical to so much of the political science that I've read, the difference being the aspect of the process that he concentrates on. Blah.

posted by Adam on 11:44 AM.


Friday, July 25, 2003

Well, lots going on, lots to say, so lets be arbitrary and start with my mead. Wow. I took a sample tonight, tasted it, got a specific gravity, and I must say that it's beautiful. After 6 days, it's about 3% A.B.V., highly sparkling, and tasting better than any sweet mead I've ever tasted (it is only 3% alcohol, so it's kind of an unfair comparison). But I figure that if it keeps going at the rate that it's going at now, it should be done fermenting in about 3 more weeks, and then all that will be left will be to oak it and wait for it to clear. I figure that after I rack it to a glass carboy in three weeks, it'll be two to three more months until it will be ready to bottle (perhaps more, I don't know), and then it should be ready to try by my birthday in April. Yay! I'm excited. I've never been able to find a commercially produced dry mead so I don't have much to compare it to, but I figure that as long as I end up liking it, that's all that matters... I'm still trying to decide if I should add a touch of vanilla when I add my oak chips, or whether I should leave it as a traditional mead... Tough decision, and any imput would be appreciated.

In other news, it just dawned on me that I only have two more months to write my AFS paper, and I really haven't done a whole lot. I have some notes and I know what I want to say, but I need to do some research that links public perception of LSD to radical liberals and/or leftists, and do some other reading before I can start writing. If I really get down to it, I can do all of that this weekend, but who am I kidding. I'm not doing it this weekend... although you never know. I just might.

Finally, I thought that my Baldur's Gate II addiction was getting better, but I think that I've had a relapse. I was a little bit bored with the game so I quit for a couple of days, but then I came back to it tonight and played for three hours. This is so confusing. I usually lose interest in these games so quickly, but with this one, I just want to keep going. I think this is a symptom of not having a job. If I had a job, I would have more focus and could probably work better on my paper. Yes. I'll blame it on unemployment. HaHA!

Oops, that wasn't finally. Finally, I had a bottle of my beer. It still needs time to carbonate, but I'll go out on a limb and say that it wasn't bad. It was a little bit too sweet, a little bit too mild, and not quite hoppy enough, but I would say for a first try, it's not bad at all. I definitely would not be ashamed to share it with my friends, and hopefully, when it fully carbonates, I'll be even less ashamed because perhaps some of the sweetness will go away. But we'll see how it works... I'm not too anxious. If worst comes to worst, it stays mediocre, and it means that I don't have to figure out how to get bottles to L.A. to share with people. So we'll see... The important thing, though, is that I have a new idea for a beer for when my mead is in the bottle. I have the recipe all set up and it promises to be a complex beer, sort of in the Belgian Trappist style, that will take a long time to age in the carboy and in the bottle, but will ultimately be worth it. But that's a long way off, as the mead is still only just beginning. We'll see...

posted by Adam on 11:14 PM.


Monday, July 21, 2003

Aight.

So I bottled my beer and it looks really good. I haven't tried it yet, of course, as I'm waiting for full carbonation (about another week), but as it stands, it has the look, it has the smell, so all seems to be good. I just really hope that my bottles don't blow up when I open them. The last thing I need is gag beer...

But anyway, goes to show that I just can't leave well enough alone. I finished bottling the beer, and the next night, I started my mead. It's going to be a dry mead, made from clover honey, not overly acidic, but a little bit for balance. I used what is essentially champagne yeast. It's highly tolerant of alcohol, so I expect that it will eat up almost all the sugar in the must by the time I'm ready to bottle it. I've read in a couple of places that some dry meads have final gravities below 1.000 (they are less dense than water), and that's kind of what I'm hoping for. My starting gravity was around 1.090, so I figure that if it goes to 1.000, it'll be about 12% alcohol. The right amount, I think. Anyway, as is probably clear, I'm very excited about this mead thing, and hopefully, a bottle will be ready to taste by my birthday in April. Of course, it should be even better by next september, but April seems like a good time to test it out...

Finally, in other news, I'm about three quarters of the way through The Da Vinci Code and I'm finding that it doesn't live up to the hype. I'll start to get into it, and then he'll say something that just makes me want to put down the book and alternately laugh and gag. The most glaring instance of that in the book, of course, is when the main character mentions "all of Da Vinci's Vatican commissions." There may be something I'm missing, but from all that I've read, there were few if any vatican commissions. But there are other things too... There is a scene where they discuss the origins of the word "horny." The main character attributes it to a connection with the Egyptian god Amon, who had the head of a ram. Bullshit. The etymology is largely unknown, but the most likely scenario is that it has the same origins as cuckold--that when a man's semen backs up and has no place to go, he begins to grow horns. In the case of cuckoldry, this occurs because there is no room for his in his wife because she is filled with another man's, while in the case of horney, it is because there is no woman in which to deposit it at all. But I guess that would be a little bit shocking, even for this book, which tries to be shocking. But I rant.

Now, off to face the world.

posted by Adam on 12:10 PM.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Alright. I haven't updated in a while because I have become thoroughly addicted to Baldur's Gate II. Coolest game ever. People may recall that a while back I got Icewind Dale and absolutely loved it. This blows Icewind Dale away. It's much more complex, character interactions are much more interesting, and in general, gameplay is better. The only thing that I don't like (that was a problem with Icewind Dale II) is that on my 800 MHz computer, the intro movies, which are not all that complex, skip. The Diablo II movies, which are much more involved, play fine, so I figure that it must be Macplay's fault for implementing the movies wrong for Mac. It drives me nuts. But other than that, wow.

In other news, my beer is almost ready to be bottled. After dinner tonight, I'm going to clean the bucket and the bottles and get to it. It'll need about two weeks in the bottles before it's ready to drink, so I figure that it'll be drinkable right before I go to L.A. I hope it turns out well. If it does, I'll UPS myself 12 or so bottles in L.A. for family and friends. I don't know if any of them will appreciate it (my father has strong personal beer preferences, and my friends aren't really beer drinkers), but it's worth a shot. The last time I tasted the wort it was looking good, and since then I've added some finishing hops for aroma, so I'm optimistic...

posted by Adam on 10:24 AM.


Sunday, July 13, 2003

So Max and his girlfriend Jen visited Sarah from Indianapolis yesterday, and the four of us had a wonderful time. We went to lunch, then took a walk around campus, hung out and talked for a while, then went to this really good restaurant in the middle of nowhere (Story, IN) called The Story Inn. The restaurant is sort of a funny story. First of all, we park, and on the way in, Max and Jen are walking on one side of the road and Sarah and I are walking on the other. Suddenly Max yells "Shit!", then, "No, really!". It turns out that he and Jen had just been shat upon by a very large bird. So we went back to the car and cleaned up, then finally walked back to the restaurant. The place itself was very nice. Decorated with farming implements and old-time style cans of coffee, things like thrat. We had a good time sitting and talking, and we each ordered the house special red snapper and split an appetizer of baked brie cheese. The brie came out and it was really excellent. It had a puff pastry crust, and was dappled with a raspburry syrup and served with grapes. Both gorgeous and delicious (I only had a couple of bites because, of course, cheese does not agree with me). Then dinner came out, and Jen's fish looked very nice, as did Sarah's and mine, but as she put down Max's piece, the waitress said, "hm... looks like you got the small piece." It was a fourth the size of the rest of them. So Max asked her to take it back, and shared Jen's in the meantime. Five minutes later, the waitress comes back and asks Max if he wants the same piece at half price, or if he wants a new one. This was the wrong question of course, as the implication is that they were willfully trying to sell him a fish worth half price for full price. Max pointed this out and she agreed to have the chef make a whole new fish. Twenty minutes later, we were all done eating and Max's fish came out. He took a couple of bites, and discovered that it was raw. In the haste to get a new one out to him, we surmise, the chef had allowed himself to undercook the fish. So we got the waitress back, and she took the plate back, asking him if he wanted the first fish for free. No, he replied. By this point, he may as well just skip it. So we all paid and left and had a gorgeous ride back to Bloomington, where we parted ways. Overall, I must say that it was a fun day. The restaurant thing wasn't infuriating so much as funny becaue it was, after all, very good as far as everyone but Max was concerned, and even he was impressed when he had some of Jen's fish. But I do think that Max was right a month ago when he told me that good cuisine here is almost like great food, but that they don't quite have the details right. This cuisine reminded me of California food, except that the used butter to cook the fish instead of oil, and that they wrapped their asperigus in bacon (made me feel ill) instead of prosciuto, and that they served the meal with rice pilaf instead of, say, scalopped potatos. In other words, as I said, they got it almost right, but never quite. We had a good time, though, and it was fun to hang out with them, and it was good to see Max, so as I always say, whatever.

posted by Adam on 10:09 AM.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Two things:

First, we had a major problem last night that turned our hallway into a septic mess. As Sarah was walking down the hall toward her computer last night, she noted that the floor was a little bit wet. We surmised that the hot water heater was leaking, and that we should have it fixed in the morning. We were sitting at our computers, however, when the smell of shit started to waft in. Sarah walked back out into the hallway, and in all of 15 minutes, the problem had gone from bad to worse. The carpet was saturated in the hall and into both bedrooms, and it was pretty clear that what we were dealing with was from the toilet. So Sarah called the emergency line and told them that we had a bad leak. An hour later, nobody came, so I called, and they told me that they hadn't sent anybody because they didn't think it was an emergency. I explained that the carpet was saturated and the way that it smelled, and they told me that they would send someone immediately. Well, someone got here around 10 last night and worked until 12:30 trying to fix it and vacuuming water out of the soaked carpet before he finally gave up. He came back this morning with two other people and together they managed to fix it. They also cleaned and disinfected the carpet in the hallway. They're going to come back tomorrow to clean the carpet in the living room and bedrooms. It looks like it will be okay, but man, what a mess.

On another note, my beer is coming along quite well. I took a hydrometer reading and tasted it today, and it tastes a bit thin and is stuck at 4.2 percent alcohol. So I bought a can of malt and I'm going to boil it and add it to my wart when I move it to the secondary fermenter. I also bought some leaf hops for dry hopping, which will round out the flavor and smell a little better, I think. I also bought some Polyclar, which will help to clear up any suspended proteins and make sure that when I chill it, it won'

posted by Adam on 4:12 PM.

Two things:

First, we had a major problem last night that turned our hallway into a septic mess. As Sarah was walking down the hall toward her computer last night, she noted that the floor was a little bit wet. We surmised that the hot water heater was leaking, and that we should have it fixed in the morning. We were sitting at our computers, however, when the smell of shit started to waft in. Sarah walked back out into the hallway, and in all of 15 minutes, the problem had gone from bad to worse. The carpet was saturated in the hall and into both bedrooms, and it was pretty clear that what we were dealing with was from the toilet. So Sarah called the emergency line and told them that we had a bad leak. An hour later, nobody came, so I called, and they told me that they hadn't sent anybody because they didn't think it was an emergency. I explained that the carpet was saturated and the way that it smelled, and they told me that they would send someone immediately. Well, someone got here around 10 last night and worked until 12:30 trying to fix it and vacuuming water out of the soaked carpet before he finally gave up. He came back this morning with two other people and together they managed to fix it. They also cleaned and disinfected the carpet in the hallway. They're going to come back tomorrow to clean the carpet in the living room and bedrooms. It looks like it will be okay, but man, what a mess.

On another note, my beer is coming along quite well. I took a hydrometer reading and tasted it today, and it tastes a bit thin and is stuck at 4.2 percent alcohol. So I bought a can of malt and I'm going to boil it and add it to my wart when I move it to the secondary fermenter. I also bought some leaf hops for dry hopping, which will round out the flavor and smell a little better, I think. I also bought some Polyclar, which will help to clear up any suspended proteins and make sure that when I chill it, it won't get hazy. Overall, despite some screwups, I think that this is a pretty good first batch of beer. I'm learning as I go along, but I think that I'm pretty successful at it. I think it'll be a beer worth drinking when it's finally done. I just hope that when they come to clean the carpet tomorrow, they don't disturb it...

posted by Adam on 2:01 PM.


Sunday, July 06, 2003

Aright. I just put my very first batch of beer down to ferment. It's going to be a brown ale that, judging from the color of the wort, looks very dark indeed. The wart was very good tasting, however, so it looks thus far like it will turn out well. The problem is that when I took a hydrometer to it (right before I pitched the yeast), its gravity turned out to be almost a whole tenth below where I wanted it to be. This either means that it's going to be lower alcohol than I had wanted, or that it is going to be lighter. I'm not happy with either situation, but it's my first batch, so I'm not going to worry. If it turns out crappy, I'll toss it and that will be it. I have some ideas about how I would improve the recipe anyway. I think that my fermenter is a little bit bigger than five gallons, so I figure that it might be a good idea to work out my own proportions next time anyway to get the specific gravity and the color that I want. Anyway, the point is that we'll see.

In other news, I'm going to be in L.A. in August. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm going to get to go to a Dodger game and see my parents and friends, all of which will be a lot of fun. Max and Ben are planning to go to Oxnard sometime, so I'd better figure out when I'm coming and going and tell them so that they can plan their trip around me. I should know by the time I see Max here in Bloomington next week, so that should be notice enough.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do some more reading about beer. I think that my cousin is sending me brewing supplies, so maybe I'll get two batches going at once. That's a lot of beer, but I have to make a lot if I want to learn.

posted by Adam on 6:03 PM.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

It's been a few days since my last post, but I've had a good reason. I've been out of town. But a lot has happened so I guess I'll get to it.

San Antonio, first of all, was kind of nice, although really very boring. It was good to see all of my family and we had a good time together, but my uncle chose this Hyatt hotel all the way out on the outskirts of town, which meant that not having a car, I didn't really get a chance to see the city except for the one night that we went to dinner on the river walk. The hotel was also very cold. Because Texans like it to be 50 degrees inside when it's 100 out, they assumed that tourists would too, so they cranked the air all the way up. The hallways were positively frigid, and I only managed to control the air conditioning in the room by turning it up to 78 degrees. Even then it didn't stay off...

But anyway, the bright side of the trip is that I did a lot of reading. On my way there, I finished the fourth Harry Potter book, which was my favorite up until that point. Then I started reading Acid Dreams: a social / cultural history of LSD that, more than anything, discusses the conditions that led to its ultimate ban in the U.S. It's good background reading for the paper that I'm writing, and if anything, it made me realize that this is not the kind of source that I need for my paper. In order to establish the ideological underpinnings of LSD as a danger to children, I need to look at outsider, popular media articles on the subject. I need to look at the kind of articles that would appear in parenting magazines and such. So I am going to do it this week.

After I got through the first half of Acid Dreams, though, I moved on, bought my self a copy of the fifth Harry Potter book, and read it on the airplane home on Monday and finished it on Tuesday. And wow. So good. I don't know that I like it better than the fourth book, but they rival each other for my favorite in the series so far. There is much that is unexpected in this book, and I think that it's the darkest yet. Even darker than the fourth. It was fun though, and a good read, and the farther along I go in the series, the less these books look like they are geared toward children. Even going back to the third, these books are more complex than a lot of adult fiction produced today. I was skeptical going in, but I must say, I am now both believer and advocate.

posted by Adam on 10:57 AM.



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