I’m still alive!!! Status update

So, after many a weeks away from all of you fine folks out there in the “internet”, I have returned.  Yes, I am still alive.  I know many of you were wondering if the crazy man with many things on his brain still had all things on said brain.  Truth  be told, life has gotten in the way.  Work has been doing it’s best to put me in the ground, early.  We are going to be moving in about a month, into our first house… woohoo!… Heck, I haven’t been to Yoga class in over three months (except for last night), which almost put me in the ground.  All in all, I have been working on my skills (namely my brewing) and getting life back into perspective and order.

Some not so (maybe so) current events…

I won first place in the Belgian Strong category for my Belgian Tripel, at the first annual OC Fest of Ales (I know what you are thinking, yes there were at least three entries in the category) I am very excited as this is the first competition that I have entered.

Been working 10-11 hour days, and a Saturday for good measure, been short handed.  The pay is good, but the hours are starting to wear on me.

Getting prepared for the “Learn to Homebrew Day” celebration and brewing demo out at a friend’s shop, CalWest Hydroponics and Homebrew  This is going to be quite an event!  10-15 different homebrew demonstrations.  Several local commercial beer offerings in the beer garden and a few local bands will be performing throughout the day as well.  There will be food to go along with all the festivities, at least two grills will be firing up tasty morsels for your enjoyment.  If you care to see how the hobby of homebrew works, or just enjoy heading to new places to try new things, come on down and say hi!

So, that was my info-mercial, hope you can stop by…

It’s good to be back, I have looked at my blog several times, and promised that I would be back to say hello to all of you again.  I finally said “screw it”… if I don’t make time, I will continue to put it off, and you would never hear from me again.  Thanks for reading, I really do appreciate the time that you have taken to stop by and have a look into my world.

Till next time…. Cheers!


The trip to the east coast

Alas, I have returned.  After ten hour traveling days, I have arrived back at home.  The cat is certainly happy to have me home (she’s sitting in my lap at the moment.)

Really had a good time out in DC.  Spent some time at the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress.   Then on to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Definitely a highlight of the trip, something that I have wanted to see for quite some time.  The next day we went on down to Mt Vernon, Washington’s estate.  That place is pretty damn cool.  Washington, being a self taught architect, designed the house and all of the out buildings.  He was also into “technology”, things like a rope and pulley system that rang bells in the kitchen to inform the workers (they were mostly slaves) that one of the guests required assistance.  There were also 13 fireplaces in the house… can you imagine keeping 13 fireplaces running in the winter time in northern Virginia?

From the house, we drove on down the road the Washington’s distillery and grist miller.  As I mentioned before, Washington was into technology, and his grist mill was cutting edge for the day.  There is a 16 foot water wheel, that was fed by a two mile long ditch fed by a pond at the other end.  From the pond to the mill the land dropped eighteen feet, to make sure that there was constant water pressure to turn the wheel.  His distillery, at it’s peak, produced almost 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey, which in 1799 made Washington the largest producer of whiskey in America.  If you find yourself in northern Virginia, and are interested in history… and spirits, I highly recommend you stop by Washington’s distillery and gristmill, it will be worth the trip.

After leaving Mt Vernon, we drove out to and through Shenandoah National Park.  Plenty of wildlife around for those who look.  We saw several deer and a black bear.  Definitely one of the most beautiful places this country has to offer.  The history of the valley is interesting as well.  ” Employing audacity and rapid, unpredictable movements on interior lines, Jackson’s 17,000 men marched 646 miles (1,040 km) in 48 days and won several minor battles as they successfully engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing them from reinforcing the Union offensive against Richmond.”  excerpt taken from wikipedia.  Needles to say the place has some history.  Before California was considered the “breadbasket” of the US, the Shenandoah valley held that distinction and to this day, it is one of the most fertile locations.

After Shenandoah, we drove on through to the observatory in Green Bank WV.  NRAO, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  The “GBT” or great big telescope is the main dish at the facility as well as the largest man made moveable structure on the planet.  It stands 485 feet tall and the collection is is 110 meters by 100 meters… the thing is huge.  My girlfriend is working at the observatory for the summer, so we got a tour of the place… pretty cool piece of equipment.  They are scanning the Orion nebula, checking the composition of compounds that are floating in interstellar space, which just so happens to be one of the greatest star making regions in our galaxy.

I have said it already, but I do mean it, if you find yourself out on the central east coast, I highly recommend you check out a couple of the places.  It really helps ground you, knowing a little more of the history of our country, and seeing some of our own “state of the art” equipment in action.


Time for a little R&R

Going to be flying out the DC area in a couple of hours for some much needed R&R.  This past week with other people being out on vacation from work, it has been absolutely nuts.  To top it off I haven’t seen my sweetie in almost 5 weeks, I am chomping at the bit.  Time can’t move fast enough.  After checking out the archives or whatever else we decide to do, we will be heading to the NRAO in Green Bank WV to see where she is working this summer.

I hope everyone’s summer is going well.

See ya’ll in a week!

One step closer, intalling drip irrigation

This weekend I finally got the drip irrigation system installed in the back garden.  This was the first time that I had installed such a system, so it was a bit of a learning experience.  Going into it, I had an idea in my head of how it was going to look and function.  As with many things in life, we get into it and something that you don’t expect comes up.  Since the plans were in my head, yes… I know better… the basic layout was simple, there were jut a few things that came up that could have been avoided had I had a plan drawn out ahead of time.

Starting at the hose bib, as with just about all projects you have to start at the beginning (DUH) I rolled out the 1/2″ line to see where I wanted to splice in the first tee.  Piece of cake, no issues, make the first cut.  From the tee, splitting off, I run about four feet of 1/2″ line to feed two 1/4″ lines that will be watering my hops.  Check, piece of cake.

On to the raised beds.  This is the point at which a drawn plan would have come in handy.  You see, my beds are offset a little bit.  They are ab out two feet apart, but one is about three feet closer to the house then the other.  So I guess the length of 1/2″ hose I am going to need and how I want to connect each bed to the main line.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the fittings are friction fittings, you push the tubing into the fitting and it will not allow you to pull the tubing out.  I had connected the left hand bed top the tee and the right hand bed to the elbow.  Which put the left hand feed line about ix inches from the edge of the bed.  Well… it wasn’t pretty, but you can actually get the tubing out of the fittings.  Minor issue, but it was something that was completely avoidable. From here I used some 1/4″ pre “drippered” tubing to do the job inside the beds.  Not sure I will be completely happy with the 12″ spaced dripper tubing, but we shall see how it goes, all of the base work is done, all I would have to do is change a couple of parts to get the desired effect.

So now, I do not have to worry about the plants getting over watered or forgotten when I go on a trip and have the watering taken care of.  I also invested a little bit more money and purchased an inline timer for the system, so that it is even less maintenance.  I think my hops will end up doing much better with a consistent watering schedule.  Time will tell.

Spring turns to Summer and the garden changes

Last week was the summer solstice.  The sun is as high in the sky as it is going to be, and the race back towards winter has begun.  There are changes that are happening in the garden as well.  There is a transfer that happens, very subtly, transferring from the spring varieties to those of summer.  We also start to think about what will be going into the fall garden.

The transfer from spring to summer in the garden is… like the weather that changes during this time period.  Not delicate and small and drab, but much more vigorous and colorful.  Many of the herbs are setting overdrive while others are starting to flower.  Coriander has bolted and is about ready to be harvested, the lettuces have all bolted, collecting seeds instead of leaves has become their focus.  Tomatoes with their shades of red are ripening, carrots are being harvested, shallots and onions are getting ready for harvest, garlic is poking it’s head… errr… their shoots up.  The first generation of green beans is winding down.  And lastly, in my garden at least, the hops are reaching for the sky and getting ready to start budding.

The weather is warm and and evenings are very comfortable.  Pants and coats have given way to shorts and tee-shirts.

This fall will be a fun one, I think.  The hops will need to be harvested, more lettuce will be planted.   I may look into planting my beds with a leguminous cover crop to give the beds a bid of a rest and some much needed food.  There is still plenty of time before that decision must be made.  In the mean time, I think I will head out to the porch and pet the cat for a little while before I head off to yoga class.

Catch up week with Bikram

This week is going to be a catch up week.  After taking as much time off as I did, I have to work in an extra class.  Tonight’s class was unbelievable better then Monday’s.  Monday, I thought that I just might not make it through the class.  My head was pounding, I had to kneel out of a couple of posses.  To say the least it was a bit frustrating.

Tonight’s class was almost 1,000 times better.  It was quite 1,000 times better because my balance seemed like it just didn’t want to hang around very long.  I didn’t have any dizzy moments tonight, which was much appreciated.  Not sure who is responsible for the clarity tonight, but I thank them for it. My flexibility seemed to take a step forward off of the plateau I had been on, except for my left knee.  the left knee, always late to the party.

All of this adds up to a class that passed by rather quickly.  In order to keep this up, I am going to head back for a third class this week.  This, I believe, will be the first week I have gone to three classes.  Hopefully Friday will be better then today!

Preparing for the loss of a loved one.

I know this topic will probably turn a lot of people off solely with the title.  But this is a topic that really needs to be addressed before something bad happens, because the loss could be you, and you family may have to make do without you.

Keeping track of your finances is something that you should be doing regardless.  Knowing your financial status allows you to be a smarter consumer.  It also will help take care of your loved ones if something were to happen to you.  If the loss is not you, it will make taking care of all issues much easier.  Putting together a budget, with plans for savings, will allow for a more “normal” life is something happens.

What will become of your possessions?  Your properties?  Do you have a will, does your significant other have a will?  Are there any trusts set up for any children you may have?  Is everyone aware of them?

Finally, have you prepared yourself mentally for this eventuality?  I think this is the part that people have the biggest problem with.  We as humans do not naturally think about our own end.  If we open ourselves to the inevitability, we can make the process easier on everyone.  Just like going through mental exercises to prepare yourself for a football game or for a challenging hike or a race, having taking the time to envision what we will do or what types of decisions that will need to be made will give us confidence in our everyday lives that we are not going to be left, or leave a loved one, stranded.

Take the time to talk with your family.  Don’t leave to regret not saying what you feel or how you feel to your family.  Putting off these things will lead to regret.