Sunday, November 29, 2009

‘Tis the Christmas Season!

Our Christmas tree!

So, now that Thanksgiving is over, it is time to get ready for Christmas.  Living in a Paris apartment doesn’t give you a lot of room to store a lot of Christmas stuff.  So, my wife Amanda and I only make do with a small ceramic Christmas tree that she got from her Grandmother when she died a few years ago.  It is just the right size and has sentimental value at the same time.  When we came to France, I converted it over to 220 VAC so that it would work fine over here.

So, you can see our Christmas tree now, but this was more of an way for me to try posting pictures.  I’ve got to get some more stuff up here.  Maybe I’ll start posting my beer brewing sessions—that way I’ll have a permanent record of them and if anyone is interested, they can see what I’m working on.  Only 3-more weeks until we’re back in the States!  Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Windows 7…check!

Okay, so I successfully installed Windows 7 on my machine tonight.  It was quite painless!  I was thoroughly impressed with the install.  I backed everything up to an external HD like suggested, but I don’t think it was even needed.  I have not checked all my files yet to see if they are present, but first glance says yes.

I also quickly downloaded Microsoft Writer to edit my blogs.  So far, it seems a little more intuitive and user-friendly than the Blogger interface.  More later…stuff still to install and update some device drivers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Geek Squad

So today, it's been a bit lazy for me. I've been in the house working on some geek stuff. I'm finally getting around to upgrading my laptop from Vista to Windows 7. I was going to wait until I went back to the US for Christmas and bring back a copy, but I could no longer figure out a good reason to wait. I could download Windows 7 from the Microsoft website and just do it now--frankly I'm tired of Vista. So far, I've got most of my system backed up and secured all my old software and registration codes so that I could reinstall the stuff once I get the new OS loaded. From everything I've seen, I'm really excited to try it out.

The other thing I've been working on Googlewave. It is the next top-secret mind control software that Google has developed that will take over the World. : ) Not really, but is seems interesting and I'm trying to get the hang of it. If anyone I know is testing Googlewave, send a wave over and we'll chat. First name.last name on the gmail account.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

So I almost forgot...

Now that I have a blog, I can tell everyone all the cool things that I've done. So today, my friend Tom and I went to a famous Paris cooking supply store called Dehillerin's. They mostly cater to the restaurant chef crowd, but often get visits from serious cooking enthusiasts and American tourists who are looking for expensive kitchen stuff. Actually, their prices are not that bad.

So, as many of you know, the newest hobby I picked while in Paris was brewing my own beer. I had to pick something up after selling my garage and moving to France and automotive work in the apartment doesn't mix well. So anyway, I have brewed about four, five-gallon batches of beer now, all from kits that use dry or liquid malt extract. I have wanted to branch out a little bit and they next logical step for this is all-grain brewing. For those of you unfamiliar with the hobby, this means starting with malted barley, yeast, water and hops and making your own beer. No longer will I have to pour extract out of a can or a bag, but start with cracked malted barley. Seems more natural, right?

Typically, all-grain brewing requires lots of extra equipment, converted coolers and other large containers to convert the grain from dry malted barley to that sweet starter for beer we call wort. Not having the space for all this equipment, I looked for an alternative. The forum I follow, Homebrewtalk, had a post by a guy for a method of all-grain brewing on the stovetop.

I have not tried this yet myself, but from his pictures, it seems to work fine. So, back to Delhillerins. When I first started brewing, I picked up a 17-liter stock pot to cook my wort. I needed something larger for the stovetop all-grain method. Deathbrewer (honest, that is his screen name) suggested a 6+ gallon pot plus a 5+ gallon pot. My 17-liter pot fit the bill for the smaller pot, but I needed something bigger. So today, I picked up a nice, 36-liter stock pot from Delhillerins. That works out to 9.5 gallons, so I have plenty of space to grow. : )

I'll let you know how it works. I picked up some mesh bags while in London last week and now all I need is some malt. Now that I have the "equipment," I've started looking at all-grain recipes and getting my order ready to get some grain shipped in. I'll let you know how it goes!

So I've got a blog now...

I mean, it is 2009, right? Almost 2010. Who doesn't have a blog these days? I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet. I spend a lot of time looking at everyone elses websites and learning about all the cool projects they are working on. I hope to be able to do the same one day and share some of my hobbies and accomplishments.