Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hobbit Cometh!

24:15 The Third Love

Do you remember that girl, Marisa?”, was how the conversation began.

How could I not? She was the cute one who sat behind me in Latin class in high school.

I tried to make her laugh. “Latin is a dead language/ as dead as it can be/ First it killed the Romans/ and now it’s killing me”.

That was what passed for comedy in those hallowed days. That episode inspired me to pull my high school yearbook out of its musty home at the bottom of a trunk and flip through its pages. “Hey, bud, you’re the best! Love ya!”

The pages in my yearbook are filled with grimace inducing pictures of our awkward adolescent selves, bad haircuts, cryptic references, best friends, and roller coaster loves and hates.

Oh yes, our loves were epic!

Let the eye-rolling begin.

Continue reading >>>

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Overheard In My House

The Nodlings have been passing around a cold which causes them to be a bit stuffy.  To combat this, I've given them each his own squeeze bottle of saline to help dry the sinuses.

Four-year old Nib is in a copy-cat phase with her older sisters.  So she asked for her own bottle as well.
"Daddy, I don't want the gasoline to fall out of my nose."
No, you don't want that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chestnut Soup

I have recently fallen in love with a new comfort food.

Mrs. Nod and I had an unexpected treat at a snazzy little restaurant called Villa Mozart a month ago, when we ordered the Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup. It was a robust soup, full of creamy and earthy goodness, and with multiple taste accents dancing on the palate. It included a couple of whole chestnuts marinated in red wine at the bottom.

creamy mushroom chestnut soup

Ever since then I've been on the lookout for something similar to make at home. I think I've found it. It features a backbone of earthy mushrooms, chestnuts, and red bliss potatoes to which I added tender shallots and young parsnips.

Since I didn't have any "mushroom broth" I used organic chicken stock, half a cup of Merlot, and increased the cream to two full cups. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor give me fresh whole nutmeg which I grated into this heavenly dish along with fresh rosemary and sage. Fresh sage is in a word -- amazing.  I marinated some halved chestnuts in Merlot and put them in when serving.

Mrs. Nod smelled me cooking this and stayed up late just to have a bowl. It's that good.

Shamelessly ripped off from Food Blogga:

This Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup Is Like a Best Friend

Mushroom soup should be like a good friend-- there for you when you need it, full of understanding and comfort, and spicy enough to make you laugh. Consider this Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup a best friend. We met rather informally last fall in my kitchen while I was entertaining a number of other friends including tender red bliss potatoes, earthy chestnuts, and aromatic sage. We liked each other instantly, and our friendship has continued to grow.

I'm not a possessive person, so I'd like to introduce you to her.  She'll be one of the truest friends you've ever had. 

Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

Meaty, smoky chestnuts and savory fresh herbs add depth to an otherwise ordinary, creamy mushroom soup. Use bottled, dried, or -- if you're up for the challenge -- freshly roasted chestnuts. For a richer soup, I suggest using cream; 2% milk is best if you're looking to save calories.

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 cup diced celery
2 1/2 cups peeled, diced red bliss potatoes (about 3)
8 cups mixed mushrooms, cremini and white button (about 2 1/2 pounds)
4 cups mushroom broth
8 ounces cooked chestnuts (about 20)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup cream
fresh sage, rosemary, and chopped chestnuts for optional garnish

1. Warm 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Add shallots and celery, and sauté 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes and mushrooms, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add chestnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and cream. Turn off heat, and let cool for 10 minutes before pureeing.

2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth; return to the pot over low heat. Stir occasionally until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Just prior to serving, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter for added creaminess and depth of flavor. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish individual bowls with fresh herbs and chopped chestnuts, if desired.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sleuth Readers Rejoice

221-Be still my little sleuth-y heart.

Having read everything in the Sherlock Holmes cannon, there is a certain feeling of let-down when you reach the end of the last novel.

Apparently, there is no lack of fan-fiction to fill the void. Not the least of which is a BBC radio dramatization entitled "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" Volume 1-4. 

I know what's going on my Christmas/iTunes/ wish-list! I got and listened to Volume 2 and I liked it. There are at least 3 more of these and other series to choose from.

Ahh, it's like a comfortable old slipper ... filled with pipe tobacco, smelly chemistry experiments, and a violin waiting to be played.

In the meantime, I have Agatha Cristie's Hurcule Poirot at my bedside to keep my little grey cells occupied with problems to solve.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's A Girl!

Congratulations to my brother, Shoe, and his wife, Girl Friday, on the birth of their first born daughter, Babs!

Scheduled for near Christmas, baby Babs kicked her water out and her way into the world on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. How cool is that?

Born in the wee hours of the morning, she clocks in near 7.5 lbs and 19.5 inches, with long narrow feet and a head full of dark hair.

From all reports, Girl Friday and Babs are recovering well and it's love at first sight. A sleep-deprived Shoe was reported as saying, "Um, yeah."

Babs joins an extended family of Nods -- she is the first Nodling at Outpost 4, but the 7th girl and 10th Nodling overall.

As they say over at Outpost 2, "We're just doing our part for Western civilization."

Ain't it the truth? "Hello, Nurse!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Roof Is, Er, On

Got a call from the in-laws saying that a large tree branch fell on the shed roof and put a half dollar sized hole in it.

Now in my salad days I think I looked a lot more like Bob Villa because I grew a dark beard -- but the similarities don't extend to talent.  I did manage to build this shed many moons ago with my buddies and even put the shingles on more or less correctly.

I went over to do a quick patching job with a joist plate for underneath support, some aluminum flashing, and a handful of half-shingles that are at least 14.5 years into their 15 year lifespan.

I figured it's too cold already to lay shingles down and hope they'll seal, so I brought along a tube of roofing cement and a caulk gun.  Turns out my "new" caulk gun was 1) used, and 2) broken by some nice customer at Lowes and then surreptitiously put back on the shelf.

Not wanting to return to the store, I cut the roof cement tube open with my utility knife and used a board end as a spatula to coat the underside of the shingles.  It took 3 times as long and I got black gunk all over my hands. I glued down the flashing and then shingled over the hole.

The patch definitely looks like a patch, and I only had a few mostly-not-broken half shingles to work with.  The best I can say is that at least nobody fell off the roof, critters can't get in, and that it probably won't leak.

I showed the picture of my poor patch job to the in-laws. They just said they won't be looking down on the roof any time soon, so they didn't care.

Behold teh awesome. (The crooked shingles are definitely mock-worthy.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

24:15 Everything And Nothing

This post is a lot about everything and nothing.

In any family life there are major milestones that mark the way: birthdays, holidays, graduations, sports games, new beginnings and endings.

These things stick out in our memory.

In between signposts is a lot of highway. It’s not particularly interesting, but it must be traveled in order to get to the next waypoint.

I’ve been on that highway lately, in between nowhere and somewhere else.

What a man chooses to do -- now that’s where the rubber meets the road, isn’t it?

Continue reading >>>

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Monday, November 28, 2011



I'm taught p-l-o-u-g-h shall be pronounced "plow"!
"Zat's easy when you know," I say,
"Mon anglais, I'll get through!"

My teacher say zat, "in zat case, o-u-g-h is "oo"!"
And zen I laugh and say to him,
"Zees Anglais make me cough."

He say, "Not "coo", but in zat word, o-u-g-h is "off"."
"Oh, _______! Such varied sounds
Of words makes me to hiccough!"

He say, "Again mon frien' ees wrong;
O-u-g-h is "up" in hiccough."
Zen I cry, "No more, You make my t'rout feel rough."

"Non, not!" he cry, "You are not right; o-u-g-h is "uff"."
I say, "I try to spik your words,
I cannot spik zem though!"

"In time you'll learn, but now you're wrong!
O-u-g-h is "owe". "I'll try no more, I shall go mad,
I'll drown me in ze l'ough!"

"But ere you drown yourself," said he, "O-u-g-h is "ock"!"
He taught no more, I held him fast,
And killed him weeth a rough!

Composed well over a century ago, this bit of light verse by Charles Battell Loomis nicely illustrates the vagaries of English spelling and pronunciation.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Now with Placebo action!

I just recently got back to the land of the living, so I thought I'd share this tiny tidbit.

Not too many things make me laugh out loud, especially when I'm watching TV by myself, but this commercial did. I'm sure it's not meant to be funny, but too bad. Ha!

The commercial is for Puff Plus with Vicks scent. First of all, if you've ever tried the Plus variety, you know its full of lotion. While that feels good on a sore nose, it's also annoying because you're never quite sure if your nose is actually clean after you blow it. After all, it's kind of the same consistency ...

Anyway, the thing that made me laugh was that they are advertising it with the scent of Vicks. It doesn't actually contain any medication to clear up your nose, they're just trying to  fool you into thinking it does by adding the smell.

Of course, if you're so stuffed up that you would actually need some Vicks Roto-Rooter action -- you're not going to be able to smell it!

Ah, but I think I smelled Vicks, so I'm feeling less congested ... or something.  [Sniff] Ahh, placebo!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

Today it was announced that Steve Jobs died at agee 56 from pancreatic cancer. 

Jobs was the creative talent behind such revolutionary devices as the Macintosh, NeXTSTEP, OS X, the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. My inner geek thanks you.

Now, may God have mercy on your soul and grant you pardon and peace. As the Scriptures day, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his eternal soul?".

That is casting no aspersions on Steve Jobs; rather that is every man's destiny.  Tempus fugit. Momento mori.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Overheard In My House

The ever-quotable Nod-girl said this at dinner tonight:
My feet are stretching, that's why I'm full.
This kid makes me laugh.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So we had Hurricane Irene come through town in DC and the verdict is in -- meh.

I know that it was much worse elsewhere. Although I'm grateful for everyone's safety, I must say that I've seen worse thunderstorms on a hot summer's day.

So, here's a little idle speculation. We've had a hurricane and tornadoes and an earthquake; what's next: fire?

Anybody remember this reading from a few weeks ago? (1 Kings 19)
Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD;* the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.* [whisper]

When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Now, I'm not saying that just because we had a couple of natural disasters [Acts of God as the insurance company calls 'em] and that similar events happened in the Bible once that this amounts to some kind of cosmic replay.  That's just crazy talk.

What I _will_ say is that, hey, we've had a couple of natural disasters (that weren't actually that bad), and hey, that reminds me of this Scripture reading that we had a couple of weeks ago, and at the end of that list of calamities Elijah heard a small whispering sound that actually _was_ the presence of God ... 

and isn't every time the right time to be listening to God who chooses to be found in the quiet stillness of our hearts because He will not force Himself upon us?

We had an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. We had a hurricane, but God was not in the wind. But in the small, still quietness that is right now God is present and whispering. Can you hear that?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today at 1:53 PM we had an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia but was felt as far away as Toronto, Canada. It was a "shallow" earthquake which is why it was felt so far and wide.

For the first 10 seconds, I thought somebody was moving something large, heavy, and loud on the floor below which was causing an unholy vibration. Then, when the bookshelves started shifting a foot to each side, I realized something was wrong and that it was an earthquake.

Now, I spent 5 years in Los Angeles, so we were used to earthquake drills. You need to get under the desk or in a doorway if you're inside so nothing falls on your head. My desk is so flimsily constructed, that I decided in a flash that it was probably _more_ dangerous. So, I stayed in the middle of the floor away from shaking shelves and desks.

Strangely, I was not frightened.

After about 30 seconds, we quickly and calmly filed outdoors in case of aftershocks or building structural integrity problems. I tried to call my wife, but the cell phone airwaves were jammed with everyone else's calls. (Just like on 9/11. Some things don't change.)

A few buildings were superficially damaged, but there have been no reports of serious injuries. For example, the National Cathedral has some damage to one or more of its spires. The quake triggered an immediate exodus from D.C., and so rush hour began at 2:00 rather than 4:00.

We normally have a 3-5 hour "rush hour" on normal days. Today, _everybody_ left at the same time. Gridlock. Fortunately for me, I was in the first third of that wave, so it was merely bad traffic as opposed to standstill.

Mrs. Nod had all 6 Nodlings with her at the Doctor's office at the time. Her building didn't shake too badly at all. However, when the order to evacuate the building came, the two of the older ones, Wynken and Nod-girl, rushed down the stairs. Nib tried to follow but was momentarily left behind on the 3rd floor landing to her great consternation. Blynken helped carry Nub down from the 6th floor, and Mrs. Nod carried baby Dab and the stroller down the stairwell with her, collecting poor Nib along the way.


It was a very exciting day, but we're grateful to God that no one was hurt and that all immediate and extended family members are safe and accounted for. It would be okay if we didn't repeat this exercise any time soon.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overheard In My House

The yeast got put in the wort and the not-yet-beer needed to be agitated.

Of course it's Very Naughty to joke about such things, but when he said, "Of course I'm good at squatting down and shaking things. I have children.", I couldn't help busting out laughing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

24:15 Tumbleweed

It seems like I’ve been a tumbleweed most of my life growing up.

On the plus side, you’re a citizen of the world, gathering amazing and varied experiences not available in local stores. On the minus side, you never quite put down roots; you’re not “from” anywhere.

Have you ever desired God? I mean really, really desired to be with Him? Not just a vague “I hope to avoid Hell, it sounds like a nasty place”, but a deep, keening longing that feels as if it can never be slaked except by an even more overwhelming Presence?

To be honest, it doesn’t happen to me that often, but it has happened. [...]

Continue reading >>>

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Blogger MashUp Meets Freaky Friday

So, LarryD has blogger’s block and he’s drinking beer. Isn’t that my job? Or rather, isn’t my job causing that? (Except for the beer part, I would have had one anyway.)

In the meantime, I’m feeling just the slightest bit snarky. And it’s Friday. Could this be a Blogger Freaky Friday?  Have LarryD and I switched places for a day?  What would that look like? ...

Welcome to Acts of the A-Pasta-See, where we pair experimental cooking with made-up religion. Today’s match-up is with Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannary, OP. 
Sister Patricia is busy writing on the social justice of different wheat sources, saying “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Semolina from your Durham, it’s the soul of the wheat germ that’s important. Durham has developed a “naked, free-threshing form” over the centuries which I’m sure is terribly important. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I may devote an entire crystal meditation session to it.”

Meanwhile the Seven Sons of LarryD are whipping up a 7-layer dip in preparation for the un-cancelled 2011-2012 Football season. “Dribble! Dabble! We need more guacamole and less refried beans. Add plenty of cheese, Lumpy and Jumpy; each layer of our True Faith Dip represents one of the 7 sacraments. It’s like heaven on earth.”

... or something like that.

Ok, LarryD, your turn. Which blogger(s) would you Freaky Friday switch with, and what would it look like? Or you could do a “blogger mashup” of two or more peeps on your sidebar.  Go on, it’s just for fun!

Anybody else want to give it whirl? Jump in the combox!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Terminology

The thing that is driving me nuts about the debt limit increase deal is that despite the ballyhooing on both sides of the aisle in Congress, all they have achieved is a (slight) reduction in the rate of increase of spending. There are no actual cuts.

And that is only if the Super-committee can agree on anything by Thanksgiving.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Me And The Homebrews: Imperial Style

When last we left our hero, the Homebrews were dialing up a batch of Imperial Ales for Ascension. Well, the fateful day came and we kegged our kingly brew.

The Imperial Blonde ale clocked in at a disappointing 5.75% ABV, which is not-so-imperial (due to our mistake). However, the big rounded taste more than makes up for that. This big, beautiful blonde is now on tap as a wonderful session beer. Malty, but with a vaguely Pale Ale-ish hoppiness that is a real crowd pleaser.

Photo Credit: (never home)maker, baby!

We kegged it up with bottled C02 at 12 PSI for a few days, then dialed it back to 5 PSI for serving. It has a deliciously clear presentation -- probably the clearest beer we've had to date. Originally from Brewer's Best, this one is definitely going on the "Make Again" list.

The other Ascension Ale, Imperial Mild, is in situ in our spare 5 gallon keg, but with just enough C02 to close the seals. I'm debating whether to naturally carbonate it, but I'm wavering because all I have on hand is table sugar. That will work fine, but I need to use less of it (1/3 cup) than priming sugar because it has a greater density. Nobody wants to over-carb their beer.

This one clocked in at a respectable 6.8% ABV, and has that characteristic Imperial mouthfeel: full and rich. The Imperial Mild will pair well with a semi-soft cheese and some aromatic bread. Dark and lovely, with a big, rich, malty flavor. Drink more than one of these at a sitting, and we'll glide all the way to Oktoberfest before you know it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vintage Army Jeep

Saw this cool vintage army Jeep at the grocery store the other day. It's the real McCoy, probably circa-Korean war.  Which means, this is one really, really uncomfortable vehicle.

Cool though.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

24:15 Throw Me A Rope

xThis is where all you Catholic Dads (and others) get to help a brother out. You’ll recall the heart wrenching story of Nub, my Down Syndrome child.

He’s the fourth out of six Nodlings and now a healthy and scrappy six year-old. He is progressing in ability and knowledge, and we are making good strides in our communication, both by sign and some words.

However, this does not seem to extend into staying in the bed at night. With any  other kid, that’s simply annoying; with Nub it can be dangerous.

What’s a father to do?

 Continue reading >>>

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Denatured. Sounds rather ominous.

But it's just a fancy term for what happens when you cook food.
[WP] The normally twisted and folded protein molecules are unraveled or unfolded into less convoluted shapes, and the shapes of molecules, especially proteins, are responsible for most of their physical and chemical properties. In other words, they have lost their original natures: They have been denatured.
You can also do this denaturing to seafood or meat with a strong acid like lime juice, high concentrations of salt, and weirdly -- air and alkalis (opposite of acid) under certain conditions.

Me, I just like to eat. I love a good spicy beef salad, so I made my own by marinading beef strips in lime juice, lemon juice, water, crushed garlic, onion, green onion, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and a touch of cooking sherry (hey, it was there!).

I cooked it up (I know I denatured it already with the lime, but I like my food warm) with some sliced carrots and a tablespoon of fish sauce and served it over sticky rice and sliced tomatoes. Sweet and spicy with that lime tang! I made jasmine rice with a dolop of blue agave nectar, a low glycemic sweetener (ok, it's cactus juice!) in order to make it slightly sweet to balance out the spiciness for the kids.

It looked a little like this picture, but it didn't last long enough on my plate to take photos. I must have been thinking about yam nuea (spicy beef salad) when I made it, only I rarely use a recipe.

Friday, July 1, 2011

24:15 Wisdom Of The Ages

One of the things that’s hard to gain and easy to lose is the wisdom of the ages.

Ask anyone who has ever tried to trace their family line back more than a couple of generations. At a certain point the thread is lost and all you are left with are unanswered questions. Who were they, and what were they about? What does that mean about me?

One of the biggest fallacies of our age is the prejudice of modernism, that we are inherently “better” than our ancestors: stronger, faster, smarter, more “enlightened”. Oh, we’ve got technology aplenty, but not necessarily wisdom.  

And that frankly, makes us kind of stupid. 

 Continue reading >>>

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Good Point

I make my living using the computer: building, configuring, securing, reporting, breaking, synthesizing, connecting, creating.

It's a common trade these days, but one of great variety. Nobody can know it all, but you'd better be flexible and able to learn what you need to for today in order to keep the skills relevant.

It's a field that is rife with atheism, agnostics, pragmatists, and practical people. One thing you can bank on, is that something always goes wrong with the computer in the process. Most of my professional life has been spent waiting for some computer to finish a task, fixing one that has gone wonky, or finding another way of doing something that Can't Be Done.

Mostly, I've been successful. My secret? Jesus knows a lot more about computers than I do. Yup, when I remember to pray when things go wrong with this most scientific of devices, the breakthrough is usually right around the corner.

Thanks, Lord.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cloud Gazing

A couple of months ago, I was driving down a street with tallish buildings lining either side and a tree line at the end of the road. It made a perfect V-shaped tunnel; the clouds that day were thick and low.

These particular clouds were of an unusual texture which made them seem like solid land masses with solid blue seas surrounding them. The illusion was so complete that I was sure I was standing outside the earth looking down on it, and it was just waiting for me to touch it.

That's a view that very few people get unless they're astronauts or angels. I had to shake myself out of my reverie lest I crash the car.  I sighed, and thought, "I need to spend more time cloud gazing".

Just not while I'm driving.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Because You're Dumb And Don't Love Your Kids

That's the only reason I can think of for the lack of intelligence I saw displayed on Rte. 66 the other day (and believe me I see a lot of it).

In the middle of rush hour, stop-and-go herky-jerky traffic, some guy is letting his kids stand up in the car and play in the back window. No seat belt, no nothing. There's what looks like an six year old kneeling backwards on the rear seat playing with some toys in the rear window.  His sibling was next to him, but the only thing visible was a foot dangling in mid-air.

Maybe I'm the product of a successful ad campaign: "Click-it or Ticket" and similar things, but I don't get in a car without buckling my seat belt. It's simply a reflex. Sit. Buckle. Turn key. But even if that weren't the case, I certainly wouldn't let my kids get their rear ends one inch off of the seat in a moving car. If they did, they wouldn't be sitting on that rear end for the rest of the day.

But this guy is just blithely driving down an Interstate, changing lanes in stop and go traffic while the little darlings are alternately above and below the seat. He had to be at least 50 years old, so it's not like he was young and stupid or senile.  Maybe he was trying to get the kids killed, I don't know.

I very nearly jumped out my own window to let him have a foaming mouthful of righteous anger, but we got separated in traffic before I could pull level, so I had to settle for leaning on the horn and shaking my fist at him, which was ignored in the everyday experience of Washington commuters.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Cast Of Imperials: Ascension Ale

On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, after a four month hiatus the Homebrews brewed up a double batch of Imperials.

The first is a Brewer's Best recipe for an Imperial Blonde Ale. (Actual O.G. 1.054)
This recipe produces a malty, high-gravity, full-bodied version of this easy drinking, well-rounded beer style. Golden in color, Imperial Blonde Ale uses the lightest malt extract available and a unique balance of domestic and imported hops. A great recipe if you like big blondes! IBU’s: 26 - 30. ABV: 7.0 - 8.0. OG: 1.067 - 1.071.
Our actual original gravity (O.G.) is 1.054, so we lost a few points in the process somehow. All that means is that instead of 7-8% alcohol, we'll probably get 6%. Right now this is bubbling away in the primary fermenter. It has a wonderful butterscotch color and a thick head of krausen that looks like a meringue pie.

Imperial Mild with Specialty Grains.
We know, we know ... there's nothing imperial about a beer named "mild" and an OG of 1.062 is hardly extreme. But this beer has historical precedent, so act like you know: in the days when "mild" meant "not sour" to English pubgoers, dark ales like this could run much stronger than the lightly-hopped, low-alcohol iterations we know today. This overfed reddish-brown session beer crams twice as much mildness into every pint: dark fruit notes with a roasty chocolate edge, wholegrain biscuit and toast flavors, a pleasantly intense estery, fruity nose with a suggestion of earthy hop, and an invitingly round finish. A lawnmower beer for people with really big lawns, or a great mugful for the shoulder seasons.

For this one, the Homebrews added a couple of ounces of maldodextrin to round out the mouthfeel. Speaking of "overfed", this beer is made with 8 pounds of malt and sugar! Our actual O.G. is a touch higher than target: 1.068.

We had to use the 5 gallon carboy to ferment the Imperial Mild in since the 6.5 gallon carboy was already in use by the Imperial Blonde. The result was the Imperial Mild literally blew its top. Once I cleaned up the mess, I used the purpose-made blowoff tube to direct the foam into a small bucket of water, thus maintaining the air seal.

You can see the difference between the carboys in the picture. They both contain the same amount of beer (wort), but there is plenty of space in the first and none in the second. Click on the picture to enlarge and you'll see the temps on the carboys are a perfect 68 degrees.

These Imperials are going to be some big beers. Made on the Feast of the Ascension, we dub thee: Ascension Ale.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

South Dakota Milky Way Time Lapse

Bob Parks is featuring a video from which filmed an excellent time lapse sequence of the Milky Way in South Dakota.

Well worth 3 minutes of your time. So beautiful it makes you want to cry. The panning shots are breathtaking.

Monday, June 6, 2011

LOTR: How It Should Have Ended

I've been working late for a while now to finish up a project. In the evenings after everyone has gone, it gets really, really quiet and a bit dark. I'll be working steadily when I hear a distant "Thoom".

A low, echoing, booming sound that you can feel through the floor. Thoom. Like someone is beating a giant steel drum. Thoom. Thoom. Drums. Drums in the dark.

An ominous sound, and unexplained. Sitting there late in the evening in my dark hole listening to the dull repetitive thumping, it reminds me more than a little of Khazad Dum, the Mines of Moria, from The Lord of the Rings.

A great story, one of my favorites. Of course there are people who feel it should have ended differently and saved everyone the trouble.

Like this:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #109-110 & Saturday Evening Blog Post

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Good From Evil.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community.
To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Forgiveness: Rosario Rodriguez

From time to time WBN brings you the work produced by Spirit Juice Studios, including music videos, digital shorts, and inspirational videos. SJS is at it again, this time with a piece on forgiveness with Rosario Rodriguez.

It's a powerful story that I know you'll enjoy.

[YouTube] On June 29th, 2009 Rosario was a victim of a robbery and was shot in the chest. The doctors are calling her a miracle as the bullet missed her heart by 1 cm. Her esophagus was hit by the bullet and severely damaged while fragments of the bullet hit both of my lungs. It took 8 hours of intense surgery to repair her esophagus. The doctors placed two tubes in her right lung and one in her left to drain them after they collapsed. Her doctors and surgeons said she would spend at least two months in the hospital but thanks to the prayers from many around the world and by the Grace of God she was released only 10 days after the incident. She spent a month and a half recovering in LA where she had been living and her friends took very good care of her. She has now flown home to west Michigan to stay with her family and am working her way to a full recovery, which will take about two years.

To follow her journey of recovery, the trial, whatever is going on in her life and whatever is on her mind. Check out her blog:

Copyright 2011 Spirit Juice Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Skype: Greece Calling

I'm a computer guy and I like to be cutting edge when I'm working. When I'm home, however, I tend to resist the encroachment of technology into my personal domain. Partly that's a money issue, but partly just a personality quirk.

So I usually embrace a technology or product right before it gets canceled, sold, or radically changed. I can pick that moment without fail. (Someone ought to be able to make money off of that talent, but it isn't me.)

In this case the technology is Skype, the Internet phone and computer technology. I installed the Skype client about a month ago, just before Microsoft announced it was acquiring the company. Ta-da! I did it again!

So I made my first Skype call this past weekend, not to any paltry smart phone or buddy next door. Nope, my call was to Greece, where my sister and her husband were honeymooning. We had the whole family gathered around the big 24" iMac screen to wish various and sundry well-wishes, birthday greetings, and international vicarious sight seeing.

I thought it worked fairly well and it was cool to boot. My parents who are not particularly tech-savvy got to see and chat with my sister while she was in Greece, since she was absent from our regular Sunday brunch.

I've used Google video chat before, although the sound never came through for us. So Skype was a big improvement. I'm giving it a thumbs up.

As soon as I consider taking up a new technology, I'll let you know so you can buy, sell, or do whatever to it to take advantage of whatever is about to happen.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

24:15 How Do I Know?

“Jesus loves me, how do I know? Because my oil cap tells me so.”

Well, those might not be the exact lyrics of the Sunday school song, but that’s how I’m singing it this week. The difference between a grade-school ditty and a man’s life comes down to experience. 

One of the characteristics that Catholicism shares with our progenitor in Judaism is a practical earthiness, a visceral experience, a faith rooted in the created yet elevated all the way to the foot of the Throne of Heaven. Grace builds on nature, it does not pass it by. By the same token, we apprehend the realities of our soul through the window of our bodily senses.

In short, life happens; God is near. 

Jesus loves me, how do I know? Because when my engine light came on, I stopped at the gas station to check the oil instead of driving all the way downtown.  Imagine my surprise when I popped the hood of my car and discovered my oil cap missing. The underside of the hood was covered with a black, tarry goo and the engine was steaming with heat.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Span

There is tons of construction going on the Interstate I drive to work every day. (Yes, sadly, I've been going downtown again for the last several months.)

The other day I passed by this 18-wheeler with a 30-foot (40? 50?) steel span for a bridge or overpass on its bed. Don't try to pass this guy in a narrow spot!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Amazing DIY Dams Around Mississippi Homes

You just have to see it to believe it. I admire the ingenuity of these people who went to extraordinary lengths to save their homes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Running Ragged

Things have been hectic for about 7 weeks now. There were a lot of things I wanted to talk about, but can't seem to find time -- and then when I find time, I haven't the energy.

I've been working hard to "relax", both physically and mentally because the body doesn't take well to burning the candle at both ends. Psychological stress is worse than physical labor.

Things that should have been blog posts but are now mere blurbs:
  • Mrs. Nod is recovering nicely from her bout of Shingles; as of Tuesday we will be "officially" outside of the window for the Nodlings catching the Chickenpox since half of them aren't vaccinated against that specific thing. I can't tell you how hugely relieved I am at that.
  • Baby Dab's baptism -- I love a good death and resurrection!  Dab wore his "Cradle Catholic" onesie underneath the baptismal gown that I got from the blogger Alliance. Woot! you guys rock!
  • Nod-girl's first holy communion -- "say, who is that highly over-trained girl?" Someone who is beautiful and radiant at receiving Our Lord for herself. Big shout out to Aunt K-Lo for doing up Nod-girl's hair first thing in the morning in record time. It looked awesome and she was sooo happy! Does that airplane get good gas mileage?

And on it goes ... hope your week is great!

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #108

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Lay It Down.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community.
To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

24:15 Lay It Down

Our eyes met over the fender as he suddenly appeared from behind the semi, merging into my lane; I knew one of us was going down.

There was a screech of brakes, an oath of surprise and anger, and a loud crunch of heavy metal meeting asphalt.  The guy laid his motorcycle down right in front of my car’s wheels and himself with it. 

I thought: Oh, no, this is it! Someone’s gonna die!

It could happen at any moment; any time could be the last, when we’re called to lay our lives down and stand before the Father.

Motorcycles are somewhat dangerous because there is no superstructure to protect you in an accident.
Bikers will tell you there are two kinds of riders: those who have laid their bike down in an accident and those who will lay their bike down.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Something In The Water

They always tell you when you travel: Don't drink the water.

That's because when you do, the Unexpected can occur. Different microbes, different locale, the result can be unpredictable.

When a rash of people start having babies, they say there's Something in the water. In this case, if you let Love have its way, the Expected occurs. That is, you become the one who is Expecting.

First there was our Nodling #6, Dab. Then there is aka the Mom's impending #7.  

Now the newlyweds, my brother Shoe and Girl Friday, have joined the ranks of the newly expecting. 


Having babies is fun, natural, exciting, terrifying, and fulfilling. It's what's Expected of the people God commanded to "be fruitful and multiply".

It's the people who choose to be purposefully Unexpecting that are actually completely predictable, dull, and unappealing -- cut off from our most interesting attributes.

But for "people like us", the Expecting, life is a bit unpredictable yet oh-so-exciting. There IS something in the water -- life.

More water, please.

Sopwith Camel

I followed a guy on my way home the other day who had this picture on the back of his car. Made me laugh, made my day. I'm so getting one of these for my "Sopwith Camel".

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #107

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Life's A Sigh Sometimes.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community.
To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fight Of The Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two

All the interest I have in Economic Theory can be found on the back of a cereal box.

However, this clever video pits the two most influential economists of our times against one another in an entertaining movie-boxing-rap-throw-down.

In one corner, John "Top-down" Keynes advocating more government spending and circular money flow. In the other corner, F.A. "Bottom-up" Hayek supporting less government spending and demand-based economy.

Not sure who's the winner, but Econ 101 would have stuck with me better with a video like this.

h/t Thoughts of a Regular Guy

And Then There Were Shingles

My project has had me working long hours, including overtime.

The volunteering I've been doing for Wynken's Boy Scout troop had me burning the candle at both ends. As my stress level goes up, my muscles get tighter and tighter and my exercise quotient drops near zero making the problem ten times worse.

Now I have knots in my neck, shoulders, hamstrings, and lower back. Even my knots have little knot buddies that multiply. Now my neck is pulled and I can't turn my head to the left or hold the baby in my left arm.

In the midst of my pity party, Mrs. Nod came down with a case of Shingles. Because when I'm not available, the full weight of running the household falls on her, stress rises, sickness ensues.

[WebMD] What is shingles?

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection of the nerve roots. It causes pain and often causes a rash on one side of the body, the left or right. The rash appears in a band, a strip, or a small area. Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again.

What causes shingles?

Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus "sleeps" (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus "wakes up" when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox.
You can't catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But a person with a shingles rash can spread chickenpox to another person who hasn't had chickenpox and who hasn't gotten the chickenpox vaccine.

So, yeah, she's got that bad movie sequel: The Return of Chickenpox.  Her eye is swollen half-shut with blisters and itching and general oozing nastiness. (But only on the left side -- shingles is like that.) So if it doesn't get into her actual eye/optic nerve, then she won't go blind. (How's that for the sunny side?)

For complicated reasons, the girl Nodlings only lack the vaccine against ... Chickenpox. Worse yet, baby Dab spends 95% of his time glued to Mrs. Nod's side. If he gets it, he could get very, very sick.

We'll know how bad it's going to be after the incubation period in about 2 weeks (just in time for Nod-girl's First Communion).

Oy! Ora pro nobis.

The Sheep and the Goats

The Sheep and the Goats. Lest you think this is a reflection on Matthew 25:31-46, worthy though that be, let me assure you this is about cuisine.

I've eaten many sheep: mutton, lamb chops, doner kebab, rogan josh and so on. Lamb is scrumptiously delicious with garlic, curry, or even mint jelly. Sheep may be dumb, but they are tasty, tasty.

This weekend I ate goat curry. Yup, you read that right: goat. The sole reason for eating it was simply because I could. I've also tried deer, elk, rattlesnake, buffalo, pheasant, and foie gras, just to name a few.

Goats will eat anything, including tin cans and have a reputation for being rather ornery. The meat is darker and tougher than lamb (I hesitate to call it stringy), slightly gamy but not bad. I had it in a stewed curry dish from an Indian restaurant. The curry was nice and spicy.  My chief complaint was that the goat meat was stewed bone-in, so there are a number of small bones that you have to eat around and pick out.

I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to order it again. However, to be fair, I do like goat cheese quite a bit.

So to sum up: lamb is king; goat is second rate.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Irony Is Huge

An important event happened today...

I don't believe in any coordinated conspiracy by human agents, but I find it hugely ironic that the death of Osama Bin Laden was announced on the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

You need news of this magnitude in order to deflect the attention away from JP II. The same thing happened on the death of Mother Teresa which was eclipsed by the death of Princess Diana.

Just sayin' ...

Blessed JPII, the Awesome

Everybody is waxing eloquent today on the Beatification of Bl. Pope John Paul II,  purposefully coincident with Divine Mercy Sunday.

Nothing I can say can add to his stature, but for me his papacy was always very personal. I saw him first with my own eyes as a child when I was 8 years old in Ephesus, Turkey near Selcuk at the House of the Virgin Mary (Meryemana). I sat on my father's shoulders to see him.

Having reined as Pope for 26 years and most of my adult life, he will always be in my mind, The Pope.
We have prayed for the repose of his soul every day since his death. On the occasion of his beatification by Pope Benedict XVI and the Church we offer thanks to Almighty God.

We have only one thing left to pray for: Santo Subito!

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #106

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Hard, Easy, & Hard Answers.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community.
To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post

Friday, April 29, 2011

Senomyx Soylent Green Update

Two companies have now "ended their partnership" with Senomyx after the outcry by COGFL. Sadly, Pepsi was not among them. I'm drinking Coke ...

LARGO, Florida, March 30, 2011 ( – After the release of information yesterday on corporations partnered with a biotech company found using aborted fetal cells lines in food flavor testing, has learned that two of those companies – Solae and Campbell Soup – are no longer partnered with the unethical testing company.

Solae wrote LSN that while their company did sign an agreement with Senomyx biotech company in 2007 and is listed on their website as a partner, they have not been in partnership for over a year.
“This letter is to inform you that Solae does not currently have an active relationship with Senomyx nor do we have any plans for one in the future at this time,” wrote Media Relations Specialist, Jennifer Starkey.

Write to these companies and tell them not to do business or testing using unethical means. No babies in the blender!

Kent Snyder, CEO
4767 Nexus Centre Drive
San Diego, California 92121

Paul Bulcke, CEO
Nestlé USA
800 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203

Jamie Caulfield, Sr.VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577

Irene Rosenfeld, CEO
Kraft Foods/Cadbury Chocolate
Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL 60093


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