Monthly Archives: November 2006

Beer Explosion and Other Cautionary Tales

Here’s an old message I sent to the Members of Barleyment brewclub mailing-list, a while ago.

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Beer Explosion and Other Cautionary Tales
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 09:04:41 -0400
From: Alexandre Enkerli <aenkerli@indiana.edu>
To: brewers@wort.ca
Got back from the in-laws this morning. The house smelled like beer.
Not really a good sign.
Had brewed a batch and bottled another one on Thursday. Left Friday
afternoon. Thought the yeasties didn't need their herder for the
weekend. The new Scotch Ale seemed happy, bubbling in a cool carboy
with blow-off tube. The bottles of Mep were all warm and cozy, didn't
seem to want to transform into little bottle bombs, yet.
Where's that smell coming from? Oh, well, people were in the house
during the weekend so if a catastrophe happened, they probably know
about it. But let's check the bottles, just to make sure. Snif.
Snif-snif. Sniffffffff... Nope, no b.o. (beer odour) here. Fine, then.
Talked a bit with SWMBO before she left for work. Thought about going
back to bed (got home before 7am). Hey, it's Spring Break for everyone,
right. But no /Girls Gone Wild/ shooting in perspective. Just this beer
smell...
Speaking of beer: how's the new batch coming? It's always cool to check
on a fermenting beer. Except, that...
OMG! What's that thing where the carboy used to be? Did someone put it
somewhere else? Looks like it. An empty beer pack isn't where it was on
Friday. But, wait. This is the t-shirt that served as a carboy-jacket.
Why's it all wet? And where's the Scotch Ale?
Hey, the blow-off tube's still here. So is the wine bottle at the end
of the blow-off tube...
Uh-oh!
Oops!
There you go. That's where the b.o.'s coming from. And that's where the
carboy morphed into a pile of shattered glass in a pool of wort. Smells
good, though.

Let's learn some lessons:
a) Murphy's Law applies to brewing
b) yeast can be mighty strong
c) a rubber stopper can stick to a carboy more strongly than the
carboy's walls themselves
d) a blow-off tube shouldn't be constricted
e) there's a reason to have a headspace above fermenting wort in a
primary
f) it's a good thing to have your fermenters in the basement
g) carboys break fairly cleanly
h) a 5 gallon carboy filled with about 4.8 gallons of wort might make a
mess of ca. 1.5m^2
i) New Brunswick's blue plastic bags for "dry" trash aren't really
sturdy
j) there are situations where beer odors don't smell so good
k) it's probably a good thing to open-ferment ales in primary

["Whoooooo are you? Who-Who? Who-Who?"]
Sara's surprisingly not in the mood for beer this early in the morning,
so Warrick's the one taking the pictures and sending the yeast to Greg
for DNA analysis. Al establishes time and cause of death: carboy
explosion. Grissom, using his in-depth knowledge of brewing,
establishes a timeline.  Lag time was probably around 9–10 hours,
blow-off tube was blocked after 30 to 48 hours, pression accumulated at
a rate of 2 PSI/hour, carboy exploded about 66 hours after pitch-in,
most of the wort dried off in the remaining 18 hours.
Stokes notices some mud-like substance on a fragment of glass. Analysis
comes back: precipitated protein, yeast sediment... Yup, it's trub. But
how did it get there?
Catherine tours brewpub to identify the victim. The brewmaster at the
pub: "Hey, it looks *somewhat* like Scotch Ale, but real Scotch Ale
would be maltier and bigger." A botched attempt at Scotch Ale? A
lagered Tripel? Maybe...

Ale-X, not in Vegas

References/Apologies to:
http://www.homebrewers.com/product/600671
http://www.hum.utah.edu/english/faculty/brunvand.html
http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~insrisg/nature/nw00/laFontaine.html
http://www.edwards.af.mil/history/docs_html/tidbits/murphy's_law.html
http://www.cbs.com/primetime/csi/main.shtml

I hope this might help others, if only as a funny anecdote.


Success and Gender

My friend Vali is releasing her latest movie (Ex-Centris, November 24 to 30). Here’s the trailer:

YouTube – Tupperware: recettes pour le succès

Colourful!


Zune Debacle: Worse Than Expected

Microsoft’s Zune media player is out:

BBC NEWS | Technology | Zune goes head to head with iPod

We already knew the sharing feature was crippled, even for non-DRMed user-created files and that Microsoft’s own “Plays for Sure” DRM will not play on the Zune. The Zune is crippled in other important respects.

  • Doesn’t use Windows Media Player.
  • No podcasting support.
  • The Zune software doesn’t allow for sharing between computers (the way iTunes does).
  • No PDA features (not even the iPod’s calendar and contacts).
  • Apparently no recording feature.
  • Apparently no add-ons.
  • Some music studios are asking for a share of the profits on unit sales, even though the device could be used with non-studio content.
  • The store’s “point system” is even more confusing than it first seemed. (A song is worth 79 points, costing $0.99, the minimum number of points is rather high…)

Actually, I just read Duke University’s report on their early iPod initiative. Since that report, the iPod has improved a lot and several features and services are especially useful for educational or academic use. Podcasting support in iTunes and iTunes U is far from perfect but makes the iPod a very desirable device for course-related use. With the help of an inexpensive add-on , the latest iPods can record in much higher quality audio than the version Duke had for its iPod initiative. Since recording was the most appreciated feature through that initiative, the iPod is a much better academic tool now than it was at the time of the Duke initiative. In fact, my iRiver H120 lacks many of the feature expected from the latest generation of media player but has proven an extremely valuable tool for academic purposes due to its recording abilities and the bookmarking features of the Rockbox firmware (ideal for podcasts).
Microsoft Zune’s goes in the opposite direction. No podcasting features, apparently no support for recording.

Too little, too late.


Beer Tourism

We made the list!

Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers (Sherman’s Travel)

Got this through the mailing-list for the MontreAlers brewclub. People are discussing some of the choices made by that travel agency but it’s still nice to see more awareness for beer tourism. Some beer lovers go to great extremes in those contexts and there’s a lot to be said about the cultural, economic, social, and even political importance of the quality beer movement.

The list, in alphabetical order:

  1. Amsterdam
  2. Berlin
  3. Brugge
  4. Burlington
  5. Dublin
  6. Mexico City
  7. Montreal
  8. Portland
  9. Prague
  10. Sapporo

Petite expérience à 1$

Ma femme et moi étions au Marché Jean-Talon, ce midi. Toujours agréable, surtout la semaine. Il y a moins de commerçant, mais l’ambiance est excellente. Beaucoup plus calme, beaucoup moins de «m’as-tu vu?» plateausiens, des commerçants plus décontractés et moins vendeurs sous pression…

En quittant le Marché, j’ai décidé d’aller nous chercher un chocolat chaud chez Chocolats Privilège. Très différent de celui de Juliette et chocolat (mon préféré), bien meilleur que celui de la très chrômée Suite 88. Coût? Un gros dollar, TTC. Le chocolat chaud est dans un gros thermos Bunn-o-matic, on se sert soi-même. Les tasses (en styrofoam) sont seulement de 8 oz., à l’oeil, mais c’est suffisant pour moi.

Ce qui me fait dire que plusieurs commerçants du Marché ont bien compris le principe. C’est une petite expérience, toute simple, pour un dollar. Oh, bien sûr, on peut se faire du bon chocolat chaud à la maison, pour moins cher. Si on achète un contenant de poudre de chocolat. Mais, l’idée, c’est de profiter de la vie à son maximum. Quand on n’a pas d’argent (ce qui est essentiellement mon cas), on se débrouille comme on peut. La petite tasse de chocolat m’a procuré autant de plaisir que beaucoup d’autres choses dans ma vie qui ont coûté autrement plus cher. Oh, il y a des choses qui ne m’ont rien coûté et qui étaient encore plus agréables. Mais c’est pas vraiment une question de rapport qualité/quantité/prix. C’est le rapport plaisir/prix. Plaisir à peu de frais. Simplicité volontaire, objecteurs de croissance, Simple Living…
Au Marché, nous avons aussi dégusté de très bonnes saucisses de gibiers (1$ chacune, toutes petites mais succulentes) et d’excellents sandwiches maroccains (kefta et merguez). Tout compris, ça nous a coûté moins cher que deux repas chez McDo et nous a fait autant plaisir qu’un bon souper.

Bien que tout coûte plus cher qu’avant, se nourrir à Montréal peut être une expérience très agréable, même pour ceux qui ont très peu d’argent. Il y a beaucoup de choses qui nous manquent (comme une épicerie Whole Foods!), mais on peut très bien se débrouiller.


Automatic Translation: Not Ready for Primetime

From Slashdot, via the Buzz Out Loud podcast…
TechSearch Blog | DARPA’s Dream – Ultimate Language Translation

Basically, hopes are still high but the technology “isn’t there yet.”

For those of us in language sciences, the issue is quite important but the conclusion is probably that the attempts are misleading. There is more to communication than this type of translation.
Related (older) article:

BBC NEWS | Health | ‘Tower of Babel’ translator made


Building Ethics and Media

I sometimes have issues with moral entrepreneurs and other self-righteous “do what I preach or submit to my wrath” people. I certainly tolerate and respect them, but I do have some difficulties coping with their attitude.

On the other hand, I certainly salute initiatives which combine ethical values with self-empowerment, sustainable development, alter-globalization, sound economic principles, and pure, plain fun. I’m not an activist myself but I support and admire those who have the convictions of their strength.

Continue reading


Blogging Ethnography

Ethnography of bloggers, ethnography through blogging, blogging about ethnography… English is cool for ambiguity, even though many English-speakers follow a Gricean language ideology.

Continue reading


TechYesRati!

Woohoo! We’re back on, baby!

Technorati Blog Info: Disparate

Mysteriously, this here main blog of mine wasn’t getting updated in Technorati’s famously unreliable databases. For about six months, my new posts and incoming links weren’t showing up. It now works.  So, that’s cool.

Not that it’s likely to bring me traffic or to increase my ranking somewhere. But it might bring me more of the attention from cool people that some entries have garnered me, on occasion. Call me vain all you want (anyone who discusses blogging eventually calls some bloggers vain, it seems) but there’s something fun about getting noticed if you eventually get to contribute something back.  Usually, non-blog tribunes work better for me to achieve those goals. Mailing-lists are especially good, for me. Or, possibly, forum comments.

Actually, the problem might be that blogging is still not a very natural thing for me to do. And my writing habits are possibly incompatible with blogging culture (though, not with the nature of blogging).

Still, blogging has been fun. Technorati might even make it a little bit more fun.

Who knows, maybe some people will eventually comment my posts… 😉


Maurane – Il y a mille ans…

Maurane – Il y a mille ans…
Maurane
IL Y A MILLE ANS…

Fini le temps du des désespoir désespoirs,
Des amours jetées dans le noir. Continue reading


Coffee in Norway

Nice! An elaborate description of coffee-drinking habits in Norway, within a forum thread on Turkish-style coffee brewing:

CoffeeGeek – Articles: How-To Article Feedback, Brewing Turkish Coffee

coffee is very much a national drink in Norway, and that would have travelled with Norwegians immigrants going to Minnesota, North Dakota, Washinton state in the US and Manitoba and Alberta in Canada.  Until Norway discovered oil in the late 70’ies, Norway was in fact a very poor country and the weak coffee was more a result of economics than of taste.  However, maybe the weak coffee instead inspired higher consumption?  All I know is that my Norwegian family are all big coffee drinkers and Norwegians seem to be awfully fond of coffee.  These days boiled traditional cofee is giving way to stronger imported types though, and Costa (Starbucks copy) is already established in Norway, so are other similar chains.

I grew up in Sweden and remember well coming to my father’s work when I was kid.  On the coffee machine on his floor, they had a board with names where the employees would make a tick at their name for every coffee they’d take.  At the end of the month, they would charge the employess their monthly consumption at approx 5 cents a cup.  My father was without comparation light years ahead of his colleagues.  The only challenger he would have to win the “coffee league” was another Norwegian employee!!!  He never beat my dad though.

I also remember going with my grandparents during my summer holidays to visit aunts and uncles in the family.  Often these visits would take place very late – you’d arrive at 10PM and leave at 1 or 2AM.  You have to understand that this far north, the sun never drops below the horizon during summer – the land of midnight sun.  Going on family visits like this was and is still called in our tounge: going for coffees.  And that’s what you’d do.  You’d talk, drink numerous cups of coffee and eat cakes, like lefsa and chocolate cakes.

Mind you, I was never allowed to taste coffee until 14 years old.  I know it used to be tradition to give coffee mixed with water or milk to kids in the old days, but so was giving them a rag soaked in vodka to suck on.  In the end, having kinds myself, I believe the latter is more realistic than the former: why would you want to give your little terrorists a kick?  Let’s sedate is probably or more logical but equally desparate reaction.  But I do have friends who started drinking coffee before they were 10.

As a coffee-drinker, I’d surely love to do coffee ethnography in Norway…


Comment-Fishing: Think It Through

As I notice that provocative and opinionated pronouncements are more likely to garner feedback than carefully crafted balanced thoughts, I’ll say it like this: bloggers should think before they blog! :-S

What I really mean to rant about is that the part of blogging I dislike the most is time-sensitivity. Knee-jerk reactions are great for blogging and I do believe in RERO. But there’s a point at which people seem to care too much about posting at the right time. Some even want to be the first person to blog a given issue. Is it the blogging equivalent of scooping??

Ok, ok, I’m about as guilty as anyone else. Partly because I have long lists of things I want to talk about and there are some cool streams of consciousness effects in the bringing of current issues in the same conversations. This is, in fact, where blogging is most interactive, IMHO.

Sheesh! Can’t people just think, once in a while?


“It’s A Small World After All” (Blogging Edition)

Blogging is fun. Among the neat effects of blogging is that, though bloggers aren’t at all alike, they tend to be “like-minded people,” despite striking individual differences.

Cases in point, from last night.

Went to an event organized through Montreal Linkup, an event organisation system with obscure ties to Craigslist. At one point Saib, one of the participants, was talking about a blog post he had read. Turns out, he was describing my ramblings (and open letter) about Montreal culture and the Linkup system. I did feel quite proud. Not that he had read my post (or that he remembered anything about it), but that the post had exactly the kind of effect I wanted. Though blogging can feel awkward in my case, and I often feel like I’m writing in a vacuum (for several reasons, feedback to my entries has been extremely limited), it leads to those situations where different parts of your life are linked.

Also present at the Linkup event was Shiraz, a fellow YulBlogger. Thanks to the Yulblog Confessions from the August YulBlog gathering, I had went on Shiraz’s blog and even used her technique of blogging different topics in the same post, right here. Before the Linkup event, I didn’t know Shiraz personally, but chances are now that we might link to each other.

Which is a major issue among bloggers. Been thinking about it myself, thanks in part to Sylvain Carle (yet another YulBlogger). And it has influenced my blogging philosophy (whether I notice it or not). No wonder network analysis has been growing steadily. (Man! Do I love putting my academic hat in the middle of my ramblings…)

On occasion, I will insert as many outgoing links in my blog entries as possible. Several reasons for this practise, including the fact that it’s easier to find links if they’re on my blog. But there might be more of a wish to get comments from other bloggers by teasing them with links to their blogs (thanks to pings and trackbacks).

Yes, posting about blogging is allegedly uncool, and linking to your own entries seems silly. But I’m having fun doing this… 🙂

In fact, if you think this whole blog is lame, do comment here! 😉


Podcasting Profs

My good friend Philippe Lemay is being interviewed by national media about his newfangled podcast-teaching methods. Here’s a short summary (in French):

Quand le prof vit aux îles de la Madeleine

Thanks in part to podcasting (and ProfCast), Philippe can teach in Montreal from his home in the Magdalen Islands. The implications are rather profound, especially for “remote regions” («régions éloignées»), the economic development of which often becomes politically significant. Granted, such solutions aren’t typically for just everyone and relying on technology for social change is often a risky proposition. But technology does bring hope to a lot of people.