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I found out today that this exists.  Do with this information what you will. 

Unrelated - Today, we are making the second Minicon beer.  This one is the Summit Pale Ale clone that is consistently popular wherever it's served.  It's just like Summit Pale Ale, but fresher and more delicious. 

So far, in the Minicon Bar, there some commercially manufactured beer, along with five gallons each of White House Honey Porter, Summit Pale Ale Clone, and hard apple cider.  That leaves one homebrew left to be voted on.  It will probably be posted as a livejournal poll and a general query on the Minicon facebook group.  Are there any styles that should be included in that poll? 
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Seriously. Look at all this snow.

Over on the fb, someone's coffee pot crapped out. So here's my coffee pot story. Electric coffee pots are made to last two to five years, and then they crap out. It's maddening. I would, of course, pay five more dollars for a coffee pot with a heating element that doesn't crumble after reasonable use, and that lasted fifty years, but then the coffee pot manufacturers would make less money on coffee pots.

The solution, surprisingly enough, is not to spend five more dollars on a coffee pot. The solution is to spend ten fewer dollars on a coffee pot. A few years back, we bought one of these and a whistling tea kettle.

It's awesome. I no longer fear the day when I will need coffee, and the coffee pot decides that today is the day to shit the bed.
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Yesterday was a football game at Gopher Stadium. The Gophers won against Purdue, 44-28. Afterwards, I attended the Halloween party at the Dreampark.

Here are some photos from yesterday.

First, the football game. It's October, and the season for Pinkwashing. The Security staff and the players mean to show that they care about my boobs. Remember, breast cancer is the SEXY CANCER, so it gets the most attention!

There were lots of Halloween costumes in the stadium, and I didn't get enough pictures of all of them.

A Teletubby



How will I know which one is the *real* Waldo?

And Goldy had several costumes. This one is Bane. His sign says "Purdue's Reckoning."

I'm pretty sure one of these kids is Squeaky, but I'm not sure.

During the Halftime show, there was a spy theme. Here's Jacques Clouseau.

Afterwards, springrolls with Hello Kitty!

Halloween at the Dreampark was as impressive as always, though Richard said that he didn't have enough time this week to really go all out.

Here's a closer view of the subdued front entrance.

...and some photos of the individual decorations.

Here are some other photos taken using the "Night Portrait" setting on my camera.

AND, there were games. This one is a game made by [personal profile] jiawen called "What game shall we play?"

A great day, which totally made up for the hot water heater still being broken.
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The NFL will do nothing about settling fairly with the competent referees until people stop watching. I cannot stress this strongly enough.

Bad Refs Won't End The NFL Lockout But You Can If You Stop Watching.

If supporting really shitty labor practices in front of a national audience isn't enough reason not to watch pro-football, there's also reason not to watch just because pro-football sort of sucks, especially in Minnesota - The Minnesota Vikings were 3-13 last year. This year they're 2-1, but I've heard that they're not playing any better.

If you love that specific sport, there's college football (The Minnesota Gophers are currently 4-0) and high school football (your local school could really use the money). College football games are televised on ESPN, and they're screened at local bars for people who don't have cable. High school games are in your neighborhood, and you get to watch a game in which everyone (players, attendees, staff) wants to be there.

If you just enjoy the fun of competition in general, Title IX is not just for Olympic Medals anymore, and in-person tickets are extremely affordable. College Women's Hockey tickets are ten bucks apiece for reserved seats, and professional Women's Basketball tickets are under fifteen dollars. Both of those Minnesota teams were the very top winners in their sport last year. Even if the referees weren't on strike, I would much more happily cheer for the home team and watch Women's College Hockey than Men's Pro Football, if only because I know that the team will play well.

Doesn't that sound better than watching a poorly rated team being overseen by incompetent idiots?

Finally, if the traffic accident quality of poor refereeing appeals to you, I've seen a replay of the Packers/Seahawks game twice today, and I've not looked for it. I'm sure it's on Youtube. You will miss nothing special by avoiding the game.
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Four reasons not to buy an iPhone5, with thanks to [personal profile] nullset and revdj, and for the first two article links.

1. Gruesomely unreasonable labor practices.
According to Chinese media sources, several vocational schools in the city of Huai’an in eastern China required hundreds of students to work on assembly lines at a Foxconn plant to manufacture cables for the iPhone5. Their teachers told them they would not graduate unless they worked for Foxconn, since “Foxconn does not have enough workers without the students.”
In 2010 and 2011 nearly 100,000 “student interns” between 16 and 18 years old supplied to Foxconn by vocational schools were required to work for Foxconn regardless of their major field of study. They were assigned to work at various mind-numbing repetitive tasks by computer (to break up groups of schoolmates). Although they receive a minimum wage (and no benefits at all since they are not covered by labor law), the student interns actually paid for the privilege of being exploited by paying school tuition and exorbitant placement fees.
Source - Apple Launces iPhone5 with forced student labor

2. Apple has spent resources on developing the option to be able to disable their phone's functionality remotely.
Apple, Inc., was recently granted a patent enabling the company to wirelessly disable the camera function on specific iPhones in certain locations, “sparking fears that such techniques could be used to prevent citizens from communicating with each other or taking video during protests or events such as political conventions and gatherings,” PrisonPlanet.com reported.
Source - Apple granted patent to disable iPhone recordings near government buildings or political events.

He drove a car without license plates to avoid speeding and parking tickets, and so that he could park in disability parking spaces.
...Jobs became aware of a loophole in California law whereby the owner of a brand new car had up to 6 months to get a license plate.

So Jobs decided to strike a deal with his leasing company. The story goes that Jobs, every 6 months, would exchange his silver Mercedes SL55 AMG for the same exact model. “At no time,” the report notes, “would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.”
Source - The story behind Steve Jobs’ Mercedez Benz and its missing license plate

4. It's a stupid fucking waste of money that will only make you look like a pretentious asshole.

(No source necessary)
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Originally posted at Livejournal.

A report on the second Sunday panel, and some of the rest of Sunday.

After the NASA panel was the panel that I had really wanted to see, a panel about Pseudo-Science. The moderator was one of the previous panelists, and had not seemed the least bit obnoxious, overbearing or bullying. It's amazing what a little bit of power can do for people.

Here's the program description:

The Resurgence of Pseudo-Science in 21st Century America
From creationism/intelligent design to astrology, non-scientific
concepts seem to be capturing the population’s imagination once
again. What is causing this rise of anti-science and what, if anything
can be done to stop it?
Mary Turzillo (M), Kendall F.Morris, Richard Garfinkle, Matthew S.
Rotundo, James L. Cambias

Maybe Mary Turzillo is someone that you're a close, personal friend of. Maybe she's one of many people on my flist that I don't know personally. No matter what, she is the worst moderator I've ever seen for any panel discussion.

The panel began benignly enough, with a discussion of the definition of pseudo-science. The moderator asked a question, and each panelist was given a chance to speak. As the panel progressed, Ms. Turzillo's questions got weirder, less based in reality, and Ms. Turzillo became more aggressive. "What if it turns out that Astrology is true?" "What if reality has shifted and these things all used to be true?"... By about the middle of the panel, Ms. Turzillo was every other speaker. She would ask a question, allow one panelist to express part of a thought and then she herself would speak over the panelist. Eventually, she forcibly took the microphone away from another panelist as he was explaining how the Scientific Method works.

No discussion of the second sentence in the description topic was allowed.

Like I said, she seemed a good enough contributor when she wasn't allowed to bully the other panelists, but she should NEVER EVER EVER be allowed to moderate any panel anywhere ever again. I don't mean this to be a terrible thing said behind her back. Please feel free to tell Mary Turzillo that I said she was the worst moderator I've ever seen, and that I think that she should never be allowed to moderate a panel again.

I don't know how Chicon selected their moderators, but I do know that a strong case was made against allowing moderators to self select, or allowing moderators to go without vetting.

Later on that evening, the Hugo awards!

I was reluctant to see the awards in the presentation room because the idea of waiting in line for a long time to be crammed into a room with 5,000 people does not appeal to me. Because there was to be a live, streaming web feed, there was no hotel room broadcast, so I decided to bite the bullet.

I'm glad that I saw the awards in person. For one reason, the room was big enough to accommodate the very large number of people present. For another, The streaming feed was killed by bots.

The Hugo Awards will be rebroadcast tonight at 7:00PM Central Time at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hugo-awards

Here is a video of the Hugo awards audience. I did not take this video immediately before the ceremony started. It was probably taken about thirty minutes before everyone had gotten in. This is all the seats in the Grand Ballroom occupied, with standing room only at the back of the theater. The standing room area was eventually quite full.

John Scalzi was a funny, engaging presenter. He has a great feel for pacing and for tossing in quick jokes to keep the event flowing smoothly. I might very well watch the event again.
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Originally posted at Livejournal.

More Worldcon Pictures!

Where were we? Saturday, I suppose.

After delicious Tapas, we invited the Knibleys back to the hotel for a drink. We were going to drink in the bar, and then it seemed like a good idea to show them around the parties.

Here is my disclaimer: At each party entrance, I explained that they weren't members, they were friends visiting from out of town, and we promised to tip generously if they were okay with us coming in. Everyone was fine as soon as the word "tip" was uttered, but I didn't want to do anything sneaky so we didn't.

[profile] kniblet got stickered!

Because there were so many people visiting from the U.K. to help promote London in 2014, [profile] dibsy started up a great game of "What neighborhood are you from?" I'm sure it wasn't called that, and it was probably spelled with a "u," but it was fun to watch.

It is truly awkward to explain to people who don't regularly attend SF conventions that there are people in this world who believe themselves to be an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT science fiction fan.

We talked about lots of stuff and things, but sadly I remember very little of the conversation. There was alcohol involved.

Sunday morning! Breakfast!

We were waiting in line for the hotel restaurant, when a passing someone said that there was a buffet breakfast at a restaurant less than a block away.

I love orange juice.

I saw two panels. Here's the first one.

Here is an awesome shirt that sat in front of me.

The first panel was:
NASA and the Future of Space Exploration
NASA and the future of space exploration
Catherine Asaro (M), Ben Bova, David Brin, Geoffrey A. Landis, Mary

It's gotta be good when the title is the same as the description. All in all, this was a pretty good panel. All of the panelists were resigned to the understanding that the fickleness of politics prevents NASA from being able to complete major projects. All of the panelists said that they were looking forward to private enterprise in the field of space exploration, with varying degrees of excuses why such things can't be publicly owned anymore.

No one even hinted that the political process needs fixing, because that's just how it is, and isn't giving tax money to private enterprise great?

I was happy to hear about upcoming projects, and the continuing efforts to engage young people in an interest in space exploration.

During the questions at the end, I said that I was very skeptical of private corporations. I wondered if any of the panelists could tell me what sorts of controls will prevent private enterprise from building great new technology with tax money and then hoarding the publicly paid for technology, and trying to monopolize on space exploration contracts to keep other corporations from competing.

Ben Bova is a swell guy who writes lots of nifty books. He is wrong when he says that corporate greed and the desire to make money from their technology is enough of a control.

The next panel was about pseudo-science, and had a traffic accident for a moderator. The report will be rather long probably not be very long, but will be emotionally taxing, and I hope to be asleep in two hours. I'm going to save the report for later.
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Saturday, I slept in more than I probably should have, but it was nice to do so. We visited the Dealer's room which was big and impressive, and then another very large, almost-as-big room just for fan tables, information tables, fan history displays, and Battle Tech pods.

It was significant to me to see that such a thing was even possible. This particular Worldcon was roughly the same size as CONvergence or Anime Detour, but they had sooooooo much more space to work with. It was crowded at times, but I never felt like I needed to go hide in my room because there were just too many goddamn people. It's possible probable that Minneapolis shouldn't host a Worldcon anytime soon for many reasons, including that we just don't have the space, but OTOH, 1) Waaaaah. 2) No fair.

These first two pictures are from the room that was next to the Dealer's room, for which I do not remember a name.

I pre-supported for the London in 2014 bid. They were running unopposed and didn't need to put any effort in convincing people that their city would be a fine place to host a Worldcon, yet they still had remarkably cohesive poop. They'll be using some of the facilities left over from the Olympics, and they had helpful people who were able to explain where they'll be in relation to where the other cool stuff in London is, and what sort of scale their map is working on.

I suppose that I need to get a passport.

Look! It's that actor from The Impossible Astronaut!

The hotel itself is very nice and the staff were only helpful and friendly. It's a bit ugly, as hotels often are.

It's okay, though. In Illinois, even the sprinkler heads are in favor of safe, legal abortion.

I didn't see any programming that I was interested in right away, so [personal profile] caffeine and I went for a walk in the city.

We went to Navy Pier. The weather is about ten degrees cooler next to the water and it's very pleasant.

"Pop" is a sound effect. Because Chicagoans are proper, decent folk, they call it "Soda."

The pigeons are very well fed in Chicago.

Maybe the pigeons are so big because any falcons wouldn't be able to see through all the fog up there.

Hooray for random, public art!


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I had a great time at Chicon7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention. It was a great convention with great people, and lots of fun. I couldn't find anyone to help with Squeaky's move, so I decided to leave via Greyhound on Friday afternoon instead of Thursday morning. I was only there for about three days, and that was about right for me.

The first pictures I took were on Saturday morning, so we'll start with the traveling story and no photos.

The Greyhound was as pleasant and efficient as was possible, and though we encountered much, MUCH crappier than normal traffic on the way out of town, we were only fifteen minutes late arriving. Our driver Tony was great, and was only cheerful and helpful despite driving for more than a full eight hour day with no meal breaks and only two short fifteen minute breaks for potty and cigarettes. At the beginning of the trip, Tony told us to come up and tell him if there was anything he could do to make our trip more comfortable, and to let him know if we were too hot or cold. When we stopped in Tomah, WI he took a quick and informal poll of the riders, with a stated willingness to defer to the majority. To underline the importance that everyone's opinion would be considered, he said, "This is America and George Bush in't President anymore."

Any halfway good comic can get a laugh out of a happy crowd. Tony got a laugh out of a tired, weary crowd.

(I did not interpret it as any political endorsement, only a reference to Bush being very clearly and transparently not elected democratically)

My busmates and I arrived late on Friday night (actually very early Saturday morning, but it was before sleeping). I had my bearings as to which way was up until the second time that we had to circle the building, and then all hell broke loose. The hotel is two miles from the Greyhound Station and I planned to take the city bus to the hotel. I had printed directions to the bus and the bus schedule, but I could not find the bus stop, and I wasn't sure which way was which.

A cab driver stopped at a red light with his window rolled down, and I asked him if he was available to pick up a fare. In Minneapolis, a two mile trip is a shit fare, so I told him that I knew it was a crummy little two mile trip, but I'd happily tip ten bucks. He said he was available, and when he dropped me off, I gave him a twenty for an eight dollar ride. Later in the weekend, I found out that big city cab drivers don't mind short fares as much as medium city drivers - but harried and bedraggled as I was, I still think that it was worth ten bucks to give up my worry that the driver wouldn't want to pick my lost self up.

I got to the hotel and saw that there was lots of hobnobbing and schmoozing in the front lobby. Though I wasn't yet physically tired, I was emotionally exhausted and I did not respond warmly to the prominent display of celebrity culture. I called [personal profile] caffeine so that I could get into our room, and because T-Mobile is awesome, the phone rang twice and dumped me to voicemail. This indicated to me that caffeine was the world's biggest asshole who deserved all the crabbyness I'd been storing up.

Fortunately for him, I saw J first. J had conceived of but neglected to implement a plan that Minnesota people would all stay on the same floor and have a suite where we could hang out during the convention. I made sure to get our registration in as early as possible to assure that we would be included in the block, and we paid the recommended donation to be included on the floor. Our room was nowhere near the party floor. When I asked J for an explanation, he gave me multiple, conflicting excuses, and eventually tried to change the subject to deflect attention. I was very clear that I wasn't buying it.

On the bus, I'd been reading Lying by Sam Harris, which provided no new information to me, but really emboldened my trust in my existing convictions. If J had told the truth and said to me "I've been extremely busy with everything for this convention and the party, and I'm sorry you were forgotten," I would have forgiven him immediately. As it is, I don't think he's sorry, I don't think he values my trust, and I know that he'll lie to me if he thinks it's necessary. I'm still very mad and will probably be so for a while yet.

Sometimes, I wish I was the kind of person who didn't carry a grudge. Sometimes I don't.

After I talked to J and got good and pissed off, yet tired of being good and pissed off, I called caffeine again. This time, he called me right back. I met him at the room, dropped off my stuff, and ranted and raved about what a jerk he was for dumping me to voicemail.

After a few drinks and a chance to calm down, it was pretty clear that I was wrong about that one. It turns out he's a pretty good guy.

Found Zorro

May. 9th, 2012 09:19 am
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To avoid any confusion, I've pulled the "Missing Zorro" post that was publicly linked in several venues. Zorro has been found, as evidenced in the following photo.

Many, many thanks to everyone who helped look for him. He was finally found because someone walking in the neighborhood spotted him and called the number on a poster that we had put up.

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This post has been altered. It was originally a post about a missing cat.

I'm pleased to report that Zorro was found on May 8. Many thanks to everyone who helped look for him! He was hiding very close to where he had been lost.

Here are some photos of Zorro.

To help any lost pet find home, post to the Animal Humane Society's lost and found page online, and to craigslist lost and found page. Both will allow you to post for free. We checked every day, I'm sure that other worried pet owners do too.
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[personal profile] caffeine got a new Lego set. In honor of Thanksgiving, here is an alien invasion story.

behind the cut )
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It's going to be cold out very soon, so it's time for lager!

Today, we make Bohemian Dark Lager. This is the same yeast as last year's lager, but in a much more malty beer. This is also the first dark lager we'll have done. We'll let you know how it turned out in April or May.
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This week, [personal profile] quility was able to snag a free pass to the zoo from the library. We went on Tuesday and I took photos. Later, I took more photos of Zorro the cat.

This post includes sixteen seconds of Sea Otter video excitement.

Here are some photos from the zoo, and then some pictures of Zorro )
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Today, D. and I went to the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society so that D. could pick a kittycat.

We met many excellent cats and it was an extremely difficult choice. The kitty that she finally chose is about a year and a half old, and he's very friendly and curious. He picked D. as much as she picked him, and he'll trot right up when she chirps to him.

Here are a few photos of the new kitty exploring his new home. The name that he came with at the shelter didn't seem to fit, he will probably get a new name in the next day or two. I'll let you all know when a decision has been made.

While we were at the animal shelter meeting the kitties, I met Daisy. I shall now make an impassioned plea on behalf of Daisy.

Daisy has been waiting at the shelter since July, I suspect because she hides as soon as anyone comes near. After giving her a chance to sniff and allowing her about two minutes to get used to me, she was an amazingly friendly and sweet kitty.

Once she decided that I was to be trusted, she wanted some watchies. As some of you know, some kitties appreciate it when someone watches them eat. As I am a trained, certified watchies professional, I gave her watchies. She probably doesn't get many watchies at the shelter. You should watch her eat, too. Here is a photo for you to practice on.

She purred while she ate, and then she kneaded my feet in gratitude.

Daisy (you can change her name if you like) is already altered, she is declawed, and her adoption fee is a measly $50. Someone should adopt this kitty, and then maybe let me visit.
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Today, we make Dry Rye Roggenbier. It was in the wheat beer section at Midwest and it looked interesting. Rye beer is a European style that existed mostly before and after the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but not commonly during. As a style, it was severely restricted under feudalism.

Here's some information about beers that include rye grains, from the German Beer Institute.

Rye ales declined in the Middle Ages in large part because the absolute rulers of the day decided that certain grains, such as rye and wheat, ought to be reserved for making solid, rather than liquid bread. Especially in years with a poor harvest, the lords reasoned that the people might be foolish enough to prefer imbibing and starving to eating and abstaining. This logic was also one of the hidden motives behind the now much-hailed Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516, which legislated the exclusive use of barley in beer-making. Barley was chosen not just because it was deemed better suited for beer-making, but also because it was deemed ill-suited for bread-making. In the traditional feudal system of social stratification, therefore, rye was eventually restricted to being a dependable bread grain, and barley a dependable beer grain for the unwashed masses, while the more elegant wheat became the luxury bread grain and beer grain mostly for the high and mighty.

The grains for this beer are a mix of rye, wheat, barley and oats and the yeast is a wheat beer yeast. There are only two ounces of hops, most of the flavor comes from the grains and it's purported to have hints of "rye bread" flavor. It sounds very interesting.

For me, in hopes that I remember - This style prefers bottle conditioning instead of kegging.

I very much look forward to making bread with the spent grains from this one.
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We're way behind on the beer inventory and it's time to catch up. The Honey recipes looked attractive today, so there it is.

Today, we make Honey Bee Ale. Later this week, we will make a Honey Porter.

Earlier this week, we made a Ferocious IPA. We've made this once before and it is a tasty, very very hoppy beer.

Now that we're caught up on the Minicon beers, and the other spoken for beers, we're back to making beer for ourselves again. Hooray!

That will make the inventory include a light and a dark, along with the already brewing Furious Clone and the already brewing Imperial Stout. The Grand Cru is ready to bottle, and the Kologne Kolsch and Blonde ale are drinkable, which makes our inventory of beer heavily tipped in favor of Belgian ales.

After Convergence, there will be more beer. Probably a Red Ale that's a created recipe.
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Today, we make another Imperial Stout.

Russian Imperial Stout was originally brewed in London and imported to the Czars and Czarinas. It has a higher alcohol content than most beers, a feature which kept it from freezing during transport through icy Baltic waters. Most commercial beer is between 3-5% ABV. Most of the beer that we brew is between 4-7%ABV. Imperial Stout is about 11%ABV.

It's a really thick, rich and flavorful beer. Some people add twice the normal amount of yeast when brewing Imperial Stout because of the high alcohol content. This process is called double pitching. It is my opinion that such a thing would only be necessary if the brew was started in the Winter. Here's a consequence of double pitching in the summer.

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