Homebrew #1 – English Special Bitter

This isn’t really my first time homebrewing. But it sure felt like the first time. It had been probably 8 years or more since my last foray, and I’ll say now that it didn’t go particularly well. Overzealous and underequipped (I recall transferring the brew from the carboy into a waste basket I pulled from a dumpster and sanitized), I gave a go at malting my own barley, and made a huge mess everywhere. No details on that, sorry. The beer itself came out pretty nasty, not one to share with friends, and I don’t believe that I even finished them all myself. ugh.

Anyhow, flashing to the present, I received every major component of a homebrew kit from my buddy Sean and his wife Andreea (sp?). This setup was so basic, it really took effort to screw up. There isn’t even any wort to boil…just water!

So, all was going well, equipment sanitized (in the shower, of course!), I added the boiling water to the malt extract/hops goo inside the carboy, then the cold water, then the yeast, and then the cork. The cork I had on the lock was just a wee bit too small, and trying to form a seal, it ‘whoomped’ on past the threshold and didn’t look back. So, that’s my sercret ingredient for this batch.

Tonite I left work early to hit up the local homebrew shoppe (Let’s Brew!) who must think that all homebrewers are unemployed with those crazy hours…my brew was ready for bottling. I picked up some bottles, caps, and a capper (purchased!), and cruised home to watch 24. Great show. Bad mean women.

Time to get crackin’, everything went way too smooth in the bottling process. My new 10 dollar capper was a dream, the siphon siphoned, and the waters boiled. Now I have 47 bottles of Olde English Bitter (Muntons Gold, specific gravity ~1.012-1.013), a coupla empties (beer-making fuel), and a nasty carboy that I’m going to get in trouble for leaving soaking in the bathtub.

The next few weeks can’t go fast enough.


Untaxing Representedness

I’ve come across an interesting article today, in which Bill Gates speaks out against the estate tax.

It is quite well-written, succinct, offering up a spattering of fact, some opinion, and a fair amount of implication. There’s something fairly convincing about the wealthiest man I can think of arguing that we should take his dough.

Of course, he also writes this with full knowledge of who our manufactured leader is and the inevitability of a vast array of tax breaks for the wealthy. So is he hedging his bets. I suppose that once you hit the billions and billions mark, a little altruism doesn’t hurt too much anyway. However, I actually do believe that he wrote the article in earnest. Breaking the bourgeois will make it difficult to sell the latest Windows Masterpiece.

Not Directions

A typical Pearl District interaction.

(Choose scenario:)

  1. me sitting on sidewalk eating burrito
  2. me walking with friends/coworkers to bar or from burrito run
  3. me wandering aimlessly avoiding work, often with coworker

r, driven by one person, or a delivery truck driven by two. They slow down, seeing harmless streetpeople (walkers), smile broad, and chime, “Excuse me, could you tell me how to find…

  1. …this place twelve feet from here.”
  2. …the pub.”
  3. …the other side of town”

ly give directions. This really happens a lot. However, yesterday, I’m caught in scenario 2 (just me), reading a
Our Media Not Theirs
with a burrito-filled tummy, and stopping to let a volvo-lady pass (I had the stop sign), she slowed, and smiled. I started constructing my mental map of Portland when she said, “Now what is it you’re reading that is so interesting?”

Well, shiver me timbers, what a nice surprise. The map of Portland had purged my brain of any other knowledge so I gazed at the front cover and stammered the name, pointing to it. Anyway, great book, hopefully she picked it up.

Bigass Star Wars

Oh yeah! Went and saw Star Wars 2 last evening at OMSI on the bigass IMAX theater. It was beautiful. A tear welled in my eye when the Star Wars crashed onto the screen, and then the prologue scrolled past, up and into the screen.

The resolution was fantastic on that huge screen. You could see the pores on Natalie Portman’s shoulder. Had there been a chunk of food in her teeth it would’ve been the size of my head.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses though. While the panoramic scenes and space battles were fantastic, the dialog was often difficult to follow…the characters were often off in the periphery of the huige IMAX screen, making conversations have a tennis feel.

Some scences were cut from the IMAX reel as well. That was fine for me, as I’d already seen the movie and was just there for a cool ride. Go for that.

Cha! Cha! Cha! Review

The Pearl District is finally coming into its own. It has gotten a fantastic Mexican Restaurant. The environment is casual, nicer than a taqueria, but hardly larger. The colors are a subdued fall. You order at the counter when you come in, which is fine.

The menu, which is no longer a large board hanging aboce the front counter is succinct. Most of the standards are there, pastor, pollo, asada, lengua, burritos, tortas, tacos and so on. These are delicious. I particularly love the pastor tacos. There are specialty ingredients as well, from the spicy, tangy Cha, to the spicy cochinita, these are fabulous.

For those who are more cautious about spicy food, stay away from the red sauce. It is cookin, smoky and a rich fresh taste. The green is a nice mild, flavorful and refreshing.

I fear only that they will grow overcrowded. The only problems with the place are limited seating for medium-sized parties, and they dont’ sport limed fried jalapenos. The vegetarian menu leaves a bit to be desired. I found my burrito to be closer to a meatless fajita than the fresh pico de gallo style that I was looking for. The vegi taco was pretty much just a mini-burrito.

Overall, I’ll give Cha!Cha!Cha! an 8.5. The prices are reasonable, the service is good, the food is super.