SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Home brewing adventure

After I bought my brewing supplies, it was a few days before I made it to my local supermarket to pick up five gallons of 'soft' cider. I have never been more excited about a trip to Cub Foods.

On the day before Christmas Eve, I carefully sanitized all my stuff and poured the apple juice in to my fermentation bucket. I kept the plastic jugs to use for bottling the hard cider when it's done. I stirred some yeast nutrient in with the juice, put the lid on the bucket, and whacked a "smack pack" of yeast. Next morning, the plastic package was swollen with hungry and activated yeast molecules. I opened the bucket and tossed in the yeast. Then I sealed it up again and we left home to celebrate Christmas in four locations over the course of two days.

When we returned home, there was no discernible activity in the airlock; in other words, it didn't look like fermentation was happening. Had my yeasts fallen asleep while we were away? We bought a fancy new room heater to warm my brewing area up to the recommended minimum temperature, and the yeast woke up again. As of yesterday, it was happily fermenting in the juice. After a month or so in primary, it should be all done turning into hard cider, and it'll just take some time to clarify and mellow out before it's ready to drink.

Heavy bottle, classy wine

When I saw the label to the left pop up on my favorite wine blog, I scratched my head. Where have I seen that before? I wondered. It looked very familiar, but I could not figure why until I remembered that I won a bottle of Ex Libris as 1/6th of my grand prize case of wine. There's still a bottle of the stuff in my own cellar. Now that it has been given the official Dr. Vino nod of approval, I bumped it up to top pick for Christmas dinner wine.

I promised to provide tasting notes for Dr. Vino since he was kind enough to run a contest and ship the wine my way. I'll let you know how it goes down with the in-laws, but I guess he already knows what he thinks of it: "seize it now and give in abundance," he says. 'Tis the season for giving, after all.

But what shall I bring for the bottle of white?

Wind power: it's now or never

From the always-entertaining and educational Consumerist, I was directed to this list of 25 Gadgets That Actually Save Money, which ends with a link to the Skystream residential windmill company. Doesn't the windmill look cute up in that photo, just humming away? When I build my Earthship, I'm going to want one of those. Sure, it's a lot of cash up front, but it pays for itself after 12 short years!

Applecraft: home-brewed hard cider

Setting aside, for the moment, plans to put video game controllers in guitars or pick locks, I took the plunge in a new hobby. I decided to brew hard cider and got myself some fermentation supplies from Northern Brewer as an early Christmas gift!

Home-brewing beer is cool, but it's also complicated. You've got all those ingredients, all those steps, and all that equipment. So then I thought about distilling me some rum, but that's even more difficult and probably illegal? But the first issue of craft zine set off my imagination along the lines of authentic hard cider. Supposedly it's different and better than the commercial stuff, which makes it worth the time (I can already buy good beers and rum). Best of all, it's cheap and easy! Take your apple juice, add yeast and time, and you've got some cider! If all goes well, some friends will be drinking bottles of homebrew for next Christmas.

My next big project?

I'm toying with the idea of trying this conversion. I'm itching to do something new with my hands again. In the past couple of years I've learned how to fix bikes, type Dvorak, and knit. Why not turn a full-size guitar into a wireless Guitar Hero controller?

Maybe the biggest strike against this plan is the fact that I read through the build notes, and I have no idea how to do 90% of the steps. But I'm dauntless. Undeterred. I've been there, baby.

My last challenging mechanical project was a bike conversion. When I started that job, I knew maybe how to change a tire. When I finished it, I'd reconstructed an entire bicycle. It subsequently became my favorite ride, but that's beside the point. The main goal of a project like this is to learn things along the way, regardless of the outcome. The work is rewarding in its own right. If I do pull it off, then aside from the educational value and the time spent doing something productive, I've got a piece of functional art. There's nothing wrong with that.

There's no rush, so I figure I can take my time in gathering the materials and tools before I go past the point of no return. The first step is to find a suitable host body. By the way, musician friends, don't cry for the instrument in the photo: it's a Squier Bullet and is probably more valuable as a videogame accessory than a guitar. I'll probably have to hit up the local pawn shops and thrift stores to find a cast-off that will do the trick. But just in case, has anyone got a broken electric guitar lying around that they could donate to the cause?

each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message--describing a situation, a scene.

We Tralfamadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn't any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.


Best beer game since Tapper?

"In Beer Tycoon you build, staff and manage your very own brewery. Invent new beer recipes from dozens of available ingredients, set them into production, create market leading brands and distribute them to your customers."
If only you could drink it, I'd be sold.

No Coast Craft-o-Rama

The Craft-o-Rama is today! Isn't this a lovely poster by Miss Amy Jo Hendrickson?

We attended a sneak preview of the show last night, and it was looking very impressive already. Today they will have live music and a RollerGirls kissing booth. Yes I am sure they will have other things, but that is what caught my attention.

We did some Christmas shopping, but it may not be safe to disclose any details here. However, we also bought some items for ourselves, which I am only too happy to write about in graphic detail. At this very moment, I am rocking a pair of Cricket Syndicate underwears, emblazoned with the image of an awesome pirate ship. (In a buy-one-get-the-second-one-at-half-price barter, I snagged some Juliana Theory briefs to keep in reserves.) Also, SPC sweethearts Stomp-N-Thrash sold me a sweet Sailor Jerry button.

I meant to buy a deck of illustrated playing cards from Lonny Unitus but I forgot. I'll buy one from you at next year's Craftstravaganza, Lon! Speaking of which, the prep for our own fair is rolling smoothly ahead. Applications ahoy!