Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Randomness: Oingo Boingo on the Gong Show

For some strange reason, while watching a recorded show on the mathematics of networks (Connected: The Real Matrix) dealing with the whole "six degrees of separation" thing, I had the impulse to "challenge" my wife to look something up on YouTube (she says she hasn't found anything she's looking for on the site). I tried to clear my mind and then she said "I don't know, something funny." Well... coming from nowhere... almost like some form of primal, childhood memories, I dug up "The Gong Show". That was the "I don't know" factor. Then the "something funny" demanded that I dig up... hmm... yeah, the "Unknown Comic" for a brief laugh. Yep. YouTube had it. (You can dig that one up yourself.)

It was my turn. I riffed the Gong Show idea--still wondering what cobweb-filled depths of my brain that idea came from--remembering that Oingo Boingo was on the show. Yes. It's on there. Check it out for yourself and... wow... revel in the randomness that was the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Project: Fish Pond

I finally conceded defeat a couple of weeks ago and agreed to get a masonry contractor to finish my fish pond / water feature for the back yard. Andie will be much happier to have this project completed. Like the bookcase for indoor projects, this is the bottleneck for outdoor projects.

When the pond that was originally in this location sprung a leak two summers ago, due to some strange tropical tree growing up right next to it, I was forced to drain it. Rather than completely demolish the pond, we decided to rebuild it and merge the two fish ponds into one. Not only would this consolidate the fish into a single pond, it also has reduced the potential water evaporation... just in time for level 2 water restrictions.

According to what I've read in the newspaper, ornamental water features that do not recirculate their water are banned during level 2 restrictions. So, for the moment, our project is safe. Not only does this pond serve an ornamental function, but it recirculates its water and provides a safe habitat for our fish which we've had for almost nine years. Take a look... and yes, those older fish are over a foot long!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Car Wars... on TV?

Anyone else watch "Weaponizers" on the Discovery Channel? It's like a game of Steve Jackson's Car Wars made real! Two teams each mod a vehicle with armor and weapons and then put them head to head in a "last car rolling" match.

It makes me want to blow a Saturday in the Hammer Downs Arena with a tricked out car on the verge of a D3 turn. If not Car Wars, then perhaps Crimson Skies.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

YouTube: Elephants Dream & A Gentleman's Duel

If you haven't seen this short YouTube film, you should take a few moments out to watch it and wonder...

... wonder several things... like is this a strange Matrix derivation? Why is Emo annoying? (Wait, that's a whole other topic:) )

And while you're at it, check out A Gentleman's Duel

Woodworking: Bookcase Magazine

Quite a while ago, Steven asked where I got the plans for the bookcase I want to build. It is from the December/January 2006 issue of "The Family Handyman".

The website www.familyhandyman.com isn't as robust as I had hoped, but they do offer back issues for $5 (includes shipping).

If you're in the market for some bookcases, this magazine has some interesting sets of plans.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tasting Notes: Beer-Geekin' Out

[old unposted notes from 03/28/09]

There I was, sitting at my desk, wrapping up my day and week (I'm taking a couple days off), and I decided to cap off the day at work by heading downstairs to the Bistro. It's not like I didn't know we were going to have some special beers available for the evening. On Tuesday, I heard about the plan for Stone release five "pilot beers" on Thursday night ( http://blog.stonebrew.com/?p=781 ). I arranged with the family to have a late evening so I could drop by the Bistro and taste them. I had no idea what I was heading into.

I got downstairs before the crowd had rushed in and ordered up a "flight" of "tasters". Here's what the bartender handed over:

  • Pilot #1 Stone Imperial Red Ale
  • Pilot #2 Imperial Porter (a strong porter)
  • Pilot #3 Belgian Porter with Vanilla Bean and Tangerine Peel
  • Pilot #4 Peated Scotch Ale
  • Pilot #5 Everything but the Kitchen Sink Stout

I took a seat near the brewery windows with some coworkers. I proceded to enjoy what I was thinking was the only beer I would have that night, sharing a few sips here or there with a friend. With the last beer in hand (Pilot #5), I decided to step out to the patio for some fresh air and to see what was going on at the outside bar.

Things got more interesting when I realized that this was the eve of the next big collaboration beer we were brewing. So this was the "Pilot-palooza" and "Collaboraton Eve" that was blogged about earlier in the day. I saw Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Co.--we had met briefly near the coffee pot that morning--talking with Mitch Steele (our head brewer). I walked over and said "hi" and listened in on the "shop talk". A short while into the conversation, Dr. Bill came over and handed us all glasses of something that looked rather murky. "The pilot" he said and jumped back behind the bar to get a few more glasses worth as realization dawned on me. This was the pilot for the Juxtaposition Black Lager! Excellent! I took a deep smell. Interesting aromas. The flavor was just as interesting even if the beer looked a bit "milky".

A few guys from Production and Distribution were working out the kinks in a mobile draft system... Will brought along a pair of kegs to share! The keg system was fixed and Will started pulling tasters off the system:

What an evening it was turning out to be.

James Watt of BrewDog was also in the crowd, easy to distinguish with his Scottish accent and a collection of the local beer community around him. He too was sharing a few beers he brought along from Scotland... here's what I think he shared:

The event and beers were awesome... simply freakin' awesome. It was an incredible evening.

Oh, and there was a video shot during the two days surrounding the brew:

In case you don't know:

  • A "pilot beer" is a small batch of beer brewed up by professional brewers to test out a recipe.
  • A "flight" is a series of beers to be tasted, sometimes lined up in a particular order
  • A "taster" is about 4oz or less served in an equally small glass... not to be confused with...
  • A "sampler" which can be as much as 8oz per serving
  • (

but these are my observations... your mileage may vary.)