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!


Related Posts with Thumbnails