Here’s a fantastic article about some core problems with our current flavor of capitalism, along with a few ideas on how to fix them: The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value.

Date posted: December 31, 2011 | Filed under politics, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


That picture is of a batch of IPA going into a freshly cleaned keg, which is now sitting in a newly constructed kegerator in the basement. There’s a tank of Co2 hooked up to a brass splitter and two shutoff valves, which will eventually feed two kegs. The brew I put in this afternoon is getting force-carbonated and should be ready by Monday afternoon. I’m currently without a temperature controller, but switching the keg on and off manually works just as well until I can get one.

For about eight months I’ve been unable to use Flickr’s built-in posting tool to add photos to my website. The content showing up on my site would be code minus the HTML symbol markup, so every post looked like Finn had started bashing on the keyboard in an open text field. The fix was to install this small plugin, which resolves an issue with the libXML2 version my hosting provider is running (and thus mangling my posts).

Date posted: December 31, 2011 | Filed under brewing, housekeeping, photo | 1 Comment »


Date posted: December 31, 2011 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a great remembrance and primer on a holiday classic I doubt few people outside of my narrow age range would remember: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.

Date posted: December 22, 2011 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’m a little (well, a lot) hung over this morning; I helped my neighbor fire up his first batch of homebrew last night, and we kicked it off with a bottle of something that kicked me. All I remember of the label was that it was 11.9% ABV, which is enough to make me silly; then we shared a bottle of Pearl Jam Twenty, which was tasty but not my favorite. The brew went really well; he has a new floor-standing propane burner and we stood around it shivering in the garage, then transferred it into the fermenter as the Ravens started losing in the second quarter.

In related news, my batch of Dead Ringer IPA is just about ready for a move to the secondary fermenter, and if all goes well I’ll finally have the hose and tank setup sometime this week. I have to buy a jar of commercial cleaner and get my keg washed and resealed for the batch when it’s ready, but that can wait until the week after Christmas.


This is the latest addition to the home computer fleet: a used (and free) Lampshade iMac, circa 2002. I’ve already had it torn down once to drop a new hard drive in, and it will need a new optical drive as well (the unit it came with is not reading discs). It can only run up to OS 10.4, but it recognizes large drives and has a built-in monitor, so I’m going to repurpose it as a music server and swap out the trusty old G4 tower sitting under my desk at work.

Sunday afternoon I started work in the coal cellar putting up studs for insulation. I noticed a huge temperature drop the first time I opened the door, so I know it’s still not sealed up properly. The first order of business was to mix up a bunch of hydraulic cement and plug numerous little holes in the foundation as well as a crack running down the wall from the corner of the coal chute. Once that was done, I installed studs along the east wall and got about 1/2 of the south wall done before I ran out of lumber. I figure about four more 2×4’s and two rolls of new R-19 should do the trick. I also stuffed the coal chute full of insulation and found a sheet of plywood to nail up over the opening to cut off the airflow. Once the wall batts are up, I can put the overhead insulation back in place and call that room sealed. Then, hopefully, the den will stay warm.

Date posted: December 19, 2011 | Filed under apple, brewing, friends, geek, house, photo | 1 Comment »

Dancing a jig at the alley


friends at the lanes


Here’s your video:

Date posted: December 17, 2011 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

After 86 years of faithful service, our slate roof shingles are lining the bottom of a dumptruck, to be replaced with heavy tarpaper and 30-year asphalt shingle. I’m really, really sad to see it go, but we just can’t afford the crippling cost of replacing it with new slate or faux recycled material.


As they’ve been working their way around the house, the roof guys have found that the fascia on the first floor porch is toast, as well as the fascia behind the second floor in front. The original plan was to have the rear second-floor elevation replaced, but it’s looking like we’re going to wind up with new gutters on almost all of the house. It’s been eight years coming, and it will no doubt wind up being more expensive than I’d anticipated, but I will be relieved to go into the winter with a new roof and modern drainage.

Date posted: December 16, 2011 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

No more Occupy Baltimore

I was getting used to driving past the collection of tents and banners in McKeldin Park every morning, and happy to see the fruits of civil protest at work. However, with temperatures in the 20’s overnight, I’ve been wondering how these dedicated folks were going to make it through the winter. I guess the city decided it for them, and from the sparse reports I’ve heard it was peaceful.

Date posted: December 13, 2011 | Filed under Baltimore | Leave a Comment »

My dad wrote a real nice piece for his local paper about Thanksgiving.

Date posted: December 12, 2011 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »

Well, I haven’t made as much of a dent in the huge to-do list written for myself as I’d like, but I’ve gotten some small things accomplished. Finn and I hit the steelyard to pick up supplies for my TV mount project on Saturday. Going to that place is like stepping back into the 1960’s—it’s a low-slung industrial building in the middle of the Rt. 1 corridor (the Interstate That Time Forgot) where nice old Baltimore Hons write out your order on a sheet of paper, tabulate it from a well-worn mimeograph price sheet, then add it all with a calculator. We got 9′ of 1.5 x 1.5 box steel for the pole and a foot of 2″ plate for the mounts. I’m going to cut it to fit, drill the holes and bring it back over to Chestertown for our welder to complete when he does the bumper work. I also bought a foot of 4×4″ box steel, hoping it will be the right size for the hinge as a backup solution.

Saturday also marked the first time I’ve dealt with leaves in the backyard since about 2006 or so; one circuit with the lawnmower made some finely-chopped mulch for next spring. The front yard still looks pretty good, although our hedges continue to collect and retain leaves from most of the surrounding counties.

Finn and I were on our own for dinner, so I took her over to the local Toys ‘R’ Us to scout out the Leapfrog lineup and judge whether or not it’s worth spending money on. Most of the merchandise I saw was 1-purpose stuff, made to do one or two things but not expand further which turns me off. Taking a chance on a $40 toy that might not help Finn read or learn numbers seems like a waste to me, especially as most of them spend more time highlighting other things—useless games, singing songs, etc. We fooled around in the store for almost an hour, and then went next door to the Panera for some dinner. Finn polished off a bowl of mac and cheese and then all of her yogurt, so I treated her to a cookie when we got home. After a shower, we read a few books together and then hit the sack clean and happy.


Sunday started with service across the street, and then a visit to the Gooch (our local thrift store in Irvington) for Mama to pick up some accessories for her christmas card design. Then, while my girls napped, I boiled water and got a batch of Dead Ringer IPA in the fermenter. While that was happening, I started pulling my keg apart to familiarize myself with the parts. I have new valves and O-rings ready but I probably need to buy some industrial cleaner to get the inside as spotless as I can. And, the pumpkin ale has had two weeks to condition in bottles, and tastes much better.


On the geek front, I spent a little time getting my old Powerbook 1400 online so that I could download and play a copy of ZPC, a freaky game from the middle 90’s that bent my head a little crooked. Describing it to my co-workers, I found a download of the CD image, and decided I needed to play it again. Getting the 1400 online meant I needed to bust out an older Airport Base Station that used 802.11b with no encryption, then find a way to get the files off the interwebs and decompressed correctly. (it took a modern version of Stuffit on my server and a burned CD, after I remembered I had a CD drive for it) but I have to rename the CD correctly to play the game. This got me thinking about playing some of my older games locally, and revisiting the issue of emulation on an Intel Mac. Looks like they’ve got it working in Lion with a few caveats, which is cool; it also reminds me just how much of my history is on discs that my current machine can’t read.

Date posted: December 11, 2011 | Filed under brewing, finn, geek, photo | Leave a Comment »