The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Snow day

| January 12, 2011

This morning, we had about 3 inches, everything was cancelled, it was snowing faster than the plows can plow, and we were (are) supposed to get a total of about a foot, with more to the southeast (guess which way work is….). So, I’m home, watching bad movies, painting minis, working on my reloading room, playing with dog in the snow, etc.

I watched Heavy Metal, which was new to me (both the magazine and the movie). (Fair warning, there’s lots of cartoon boobies). That said, it has a wonderfully retro (well, it was 1981, so I guess it’s not really retro, but more indicative of the time) feel to it – it makes one want to play Mutant Future.

I’m currently watching Reign of Fire, which is not as bad as I thought it would be. It actually could be a decent twist on a Twilight 2013 game or some Savage Variant thereof (note, it looks like the company who wrote it is closing up shop, so I’ve liked to RPGNow, since there is no publisher product page anymore).

Speaking of reloading rooms, I think I might have finally gotten it beaten back into shape. See, I’d like to do more shooting, which means more reloading, which means reloading room set up. More info behind the cut.

(more…)

Christmas goings-on, and a bit of catching up…

| December 28, 2010

  • Lizzy got me a copy of Back to the Future, of which we played a couple games this morning. It is quite a good game. It is by the same guys who did Fluxx, which I also recommend.

  • My mother in law got me a copy of Munchkin Quest, which we played last night. Also, a very good game. The board is dynamic, being played as you explore, with the tiles being double-sided, so each game ends up being different.

  • After a month with our new stove:

    New Stove

    New Stove

    I have to say that it is quite wonderful. The center griddle is the perfect side for cooking grilled cheese or steaks for two, and the larger burners are excellent for high-heat applications (bringing things to a boil, stir fry, etc.). The temperature regulation is also vastly superior to the old range, as it doesn’t have the cycle on/cycle off problem which plagues electric stoves. As we now have a consistent heat source, I also picked up a Lodge 5qt dutch oven for use in frying applications. We’ve used it to make a batch of superlative chicken wings.

  • Diesel got a Christmas Goose:

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    He’s been being very good this year, and has adjusted well to life here. We’ve been bringing him around to Liz’s folks’ house, where he is happy to just be with people and hang out. He is a very good dog.

  • We’ve been experimenting with growing herbs and greens indoors during the winter. We have lettuce and typicak kitchen herbs (parsley, basil, etc.)

    Indoor Garden

    Indoor Garden

    This has led to us growing Borage, as it came in a collection of herbs used for tea. It does make a nice tea (not unlike a hybrid of cucumber and watermelon) and the younger leaves are nice in a salad. The older ones end up getting a little prickly/hairy.

  • Happy Christmas Tree:

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    This year, we got some of these plastic Christmas balls. Cats knocking off cheap glass ornaments is one thing – they’re typically smart enough to not step on the glass. However, puppy paws? Not so good. These end up essentially being large ping-pong balls. So, they just bounce. Definitely a good decision.

  • This year, Liz and I did most of our shopping on Amazon during black Friday. Therefore, this scene greeted her one day upon her return home from work:
    Pile of parcels

    Pile of parcels

Blarg…

| November 8, 2010

Been busy. Got about 30lbs of potatoes this year, made a couple quarts of hot sauce, made lots of beer, visited my folks, hit my buddy Mike’s halloween party, stuff like that.

We bought a stove. Gas. Current stove is electric. Now I need to run/arrange to have run LP gas lines, get a tank, git it filled, etc.

Need to change my transmission fluid too, and put on snow tires. We had our first snow today.

I suppose that means I should bring in firewood and change over to snow tires as well.

I’ve also been working on Warmachine minis in little bits of spare time I’ve been able to grab. Will post pics when they’re done. Almost ready for inking and then varnish. Then I get to work on the bases. I just ordered a Master Basing kit. Heh.

I’ve also been hacking about on my Pandigital Novel. In addition to the company released open platform firmware (basically stock Android, slightly modified for the device), there’s also a pile of community firmware.

I think that’s it for now…

Benches

| May 1, 2010

So, I finally got my benches built. There’s a workbench in the garage, an a reloading bench in the reloading room.

Updated Fishies

| April 28, 2010

More pics.

  • Woz now has live plants
  • Heater cables are now routed so the case fits correctly.
Finished Aquarium - Front

Finished Aquarium - Front

Finished Aquarium - Side

Finished Aquarium - Side

Woz!

Woz!

Fishies

| April 20, 2010

So, the iMacQuarium is done, and now has an inhabitant – Woz the fish.

Lizzy finishing up the iMacQuarium

Lizzy finishing up the iMacQuarium

All set up

All set up

It's Woz!

It's Woz!

We’ve since added a heater and a bit of terrain. I’ll take pictures once we route the wires correctly for it. However, in order to do so, we need to empty out most of the water, and we don’t want to disturb Woz quite yet. He got a little cold a couple of nights ago, and we want to give him a few weeks of nice warm temperatures before we go rearranging his world.

This was a kit from Jake Harms. The instructions were very detailed, but the process does take some time. Of course, he has ready-made ones already built, so if you don’t want to spend the time, it might be worth ordering one.

Photoblog: Outside pics

| October 22, 2009

This post is less gallery, more linear.

I’m also putting in a cut to not make this too absurdly long.

Lizzy paints the garage, outside of the house with all the flowers in bloom (this is from about a month ago), and some other bits.. (more…)

Photoblog: House walkthrough

| October 22, 2009

So, at this point, the main floor is basically done. We did the bedroom when we moved in, and over the past couple of years have hit the rest of the rooms on this floor, excepting the master bathroom (which is a gut to the studs and redo job) and the conservatory (which, aside from some ugly paint, isn’t worth changing).

Note that I can take no credit for basically any of this – my wife has the taste. I just suggest crackpot things and sometimes she likes them.

Photoblog update – dining room

| October 22, 2009

So, I think Lizzy is finally satisfied with the dining room – floor, crown molding, chair rail, molding frames, the shelf to hold Liz’s seasonal displays, new light fixtures, all that.

Goings on

| August 1, 2009

I realize entries have been sparse, but that’s because I’m trying to get a pile of things done before the oppressive summer heat settles in, which it kind of started to do last weekend, but I’ve been dealing. On thing that helps is these hydro neckbands. They seem silly, but are a definite improvement on the traditional wet bandanna around the neck.

Trees: Last weekend, I took down a bunch of tree limbs which were attempting to induce cranial injury when I mow the lawn. I’m still not done, but this gets me most of the way there. We also had two big bonfires (12′ wide circle, basically constantly fed, for a total of about 8 hours over two nights) to get rid of all the stuff that had accumulated in the previous year to make room for all this. Today, I dragged everything I cut down over to the stone burning circle. I still need to cut it into small enough sections to be able to be able to throw it on to the fire. Of course, this is mostly pine – the apple wood is going to be used for the fire departments chicken BBQ (August 23rd for anyone who is interested).

Garden: The peas are all done, and I’ve pulled them away from the fencing, which we’ll take down when we have a chance. I thinned the third planting of corn today, and the first planting (which, incidentally, goes in at the same time as the second planting, but is a super-early variety, so it only takes about 70 days, as opposed to 90). I weeded the onions, garlic, horseradish, and various other bits. On the good side, we have green tomatoes, the carrots are ready, we’re getting squash, the broccoli is basically done, and the pumpkins, onions and watermelon are progressing nicely. On the downside, the peppers are a little stunted, and the eggplant is completely dead. Next year, they won’t be going in before mid-june, especially since we have light racks to give them plenty of light.

Front walkway: Lizzy has been working on this more than me, but I’ve been helping when I had a chance, but we’re pulling up the walk from the drive to the house (about 30′ by 3′ of gravel walk) which we’re digging down about 6 inches, tamping it flat, putting down sand, and laying bricks (of which there were a pile which came with the house). This will allow us to shovel and salt better to hopefully mitigate the slip and fall issues which we encountered last year. The last thing we want is for the mother in law to fall and bust a hip.

Beer: Liz got me basic beer stuff for my birthday (starter kit (2 carboys, bottling bucket, capper, various other bits and bobs), immersion chiller and some extract kits, and a 155,000 BTU propane burner), and for our anniversary she got me a 15 gallon stainless steel pot with valve. For the curious, it’s probably about $600 worth of stuff, which is about the same as my annual beer bill. I estimate that making my own beer will pay for itself in about 3 years (assuming time is free).

Our first batch was a Bavarian Hefeweizen, which we did a condensed one as we only had a 6 gallon pot. We also got some littlenecks and made some salmon dip and sat on the front porch drinking beer and letting the boil do it’s thing. 2 week primary fermentation, and we bottled it… and then I realized that I grabbed the wrong yeast. I used a Lager yeast.. so, we have a “steam” hefeweizen. It’s actually not bad – somewhat estery and complex, a little malty-sweet. It also could use a little more fizz. The instructions said to bottle with 2/3ds of a cup of dextrose, but I need to do the actual calculations for dissolved CO2 based on fermentation temperature… I expect I need it to be more like 3/4 of a cup or so. But then again, it’s a hefe, so it should be fizzier. This amount of carbonation would be fine for a general dark ale, for example.

The second batch is an Oktoberfest but, as I said before, I had the wrong yeast (I got the two confused). So, I’m going to ferment it in the same way (1 week primary, 5 week secondary, 2 week bottle conditioning) but at ale temperatures, because I don’t want the yeast to go to sleep.

For the curious, we have a spare fridge in the garage, which is currently only used during hunting season (and I need to wash out the deer blood), so we can use it for lagering the rest of the year. However, our cold cellar ranges from about 65 degrees in the summer (good ale temperatures) to about 50 degrees in the winter. We need to insulate it a little better, and finish pouring the concrete (part of it is just dirt) and then maybe put down an epoxy floor, but with appropriate shelving we can easily cellar 1000 bottles of beer, 500 bottles of wine, plus various provisions (garlic, potatoes, onions, canned goods, etc.).

We’ve also gotten kits for an oatmeal stout, a brown ale, and a spiced winter ale. This should keep us good until into the new year, as doing boils from about December until about March becomes problematic – there being about 3 feet of snow on the ground and all, and the freezing temperatures causing problems with the hosing for the immersion chiller and the vaporization of LP. As it is, I need to stick the cylinder in a tub of water to stop it from freezing up.

Come spring, we’ll likely start using other recipes rather than working from kits. I have a book with recipes for beers from around the world and there are a few which we would like to try. That, and I had a Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout called Mokah and it has me interested in variations on that. See, they put the ingredients on the side, so that gives me a starting point. However, Lizzy doesn’t particularly like stouts, but she likes porters (a very, very subtle difference, I know), specifically Yeungling’s porter, which happens to be in the aforementioned book. So, take that porter, adjust it a little bit, and poof, chocolate coffee porter.

Oh, and any type of variant original recipe is being named after cats (presuming we like it). So, the “pleasant surprise” steam hefeweizen is Sunkist hefeweizen (as Sunkist was one of the triplets with the least personality, but has grown into the family and become a very lovable little rascal – a pleasant surprise).

I think that’s about it for now.