Archive for December 2010

New Year’s Eve Preparations

Here’s a corney keg of Salonius Pale Ale from Sherwood Brewing Company on it’s way back to my house for New Year’s Eve festivities. The child seat lock on the seatbelt finally came in handy, allowing me to lock the keg in place to keep it from tipping. I believe this is one of their new beers, and a small that I was given while picking it up showed it to be outstanding. It’s a bit sour, a little spicy from the yeast, and with some really nice, fruity hops that come in part from it’s being dry hopped. Supposedly it’s about 6%.

Danielle is currently cooking BBQ sauce and pulling pork, and with some chili, cheese, and dessert stuff that’s on the way we should have quite a ready supply of tasty food. Mmm.

Riding In Circles

In a fit of boredom I just rode a bit over a mile indoors by doing laps of the basement. With it cleaned up there is a clear figure eight-like path around the futon then around the table near my workbench and I was able to ride a whole mile without running into anything or putting a foot down. This took roughly 15 minutes, as I was probably averaging around 4 MPH. I was riding Danielle’s bike (it’s the only one currently with platform pedals) and its computer doesn’t do elapsed time or average but (strangely) it does do maximum speed, which was 5.2 MPH.

Unsigned HSBC Cash Back Checks

At the end of last month I received a two standard $25 cash back rebate checks from HSBC, one of my credit card companies. Unfortunately they forgot to sign the checks and I didn’t notice before depositing them. This resulted in a phone call from my bank, account adjustment, letter from the bank formally rejecting the checks, etc. When I called HSBC about this I found out that they had a batch of these sent out and that they will immediately send me replacement checks.

The replacement check that I received looked completely different, so I’m figuring that their check printer screwed up, didn’t catch this, and thus HSBC went to another vendor.

Non-Winning AUTO-intelliKEY Teardown

This is a non-winning AUTO-intelliKEY, a fake key-shaped vehicle remote sent out as a promotion by a local Kia dealer to try and get people into the store. Apparently some of these keys will actually active different locks on some vehicles, and those specific keys win prizes. This photo shows the inside of the unit, with just some metal domes where contacts would otherwise be and no other electronics. Thus this key doesn’t work and is not a winner.

The flier that this was mailed on also includes a scratch-off number and barcode, all of which offer other prizes that must be checked at the dealership. Since I’m not going to be visiting the dealer to check on the state of these numbers then I guess I’m just like the poor souls who failed to claim a $30,000 cash prizes (Lisa C.) and a new vehicle (Lorayne D.).

If you’d like to see some more photos of the AUTO-intelliKEY teardown, take a look here.

Geiger Counter Headphone Jack Fixed

Thanks to my dad, many years ago I came into possession of a fair amount of cold war-era Civil Defense radiological monitoring equipment. One such item is the CDV-700 Geiger counter pictured above. For years the headphone jack had been broken which meant that I couldn’t use it to hear the telltale clicks whenever it detected radiation.

After a friend stopped by tonight to pick up some parts (a box of tubes that had been collecting dust) our conversation had me wondering if some of the things around my house are radioactive, so I set to work fixing the rather odd headphone jack. After fixing it I was able to establish that none of the odd tubes or aircraft equipment in my living room was radioactive.

Hopefully in the next few days (or weeks) I’ll find the time to photograph all of this old gear just to document it. It’s not particularly special or rare equipment, but it was a very physical tool through which I learned about both the fear of nuclear war and how a society can be placated by giving it the perception of control in the face of overwhelming force. I love having this stuff around for both the technical and historical aspect of such detection equipment and the memories of playing around with it while growing up.

Old Computers: Recycled

With today’s trip to Best Buy to take advantage of their recycling program I have completely done away with all my old computers, cases, and monitors. While I was able to give some away, most of it was dropped off at Best Buy where they (in Michigan) accept up to seven hard drive-less items per day (including CRTs) at zero cost.

Despite not having used some of this equipment in over ten years (such as the Dell Dimension XPS P90 pictured above, the first computer that I ever bought for myself) I can’t help but feel like I’ve given up something important. These are (were?) tools that I’d spent tens of thousands of hours building, using, and maintaining. Still, it’s just old stuff, and getting rid of it is for the best. I was not using this equipment and now instead of being clutter it’s being disposed of properly. Also, it’s probably best for me to dispose of this stuff now instead of in a few years when electronics recycling might not be so accessible or affordable.

Carbonated Coffee

For my first carbonation attempt I tried coffee. I brewed one serving (about a pint) via the usual method then added another half cup of water, chilled it, and then force carbonated it at ~27psi until it seemed to stop taking gas. After letting it sit in the fridge for 20 or 30 minutes I impatiently tried it, but the initial opening produced a LOT of foam. After dealing with some bottle overflow I tried a couple ounces, and it was both what I expected and something bizarre. It was cold (like iced) coffee, but with an extra bitter flavor likely from the carbonic acid formed during the carbonation.

I’ll drink it tomorrow, likely with breakfast or lunch. It should be colder and less foamy and maybe even enjoyable. After that I’ll probably try making some soda, likely ginger or cream. I feel like I’m getting dangerously close to molecular gastronomy. If I post about acquiring a Dewar and some LN2 please warn me.

(The photo above was taken while letting the bottle sit after a round of shaking.)

Carbonating / Kegging Supplies

While planning a New Year’s Eve party I realized that it’d be particularly handy to have supplies for dispensing kegged beer with CO2. Well, after a run to Cap n’ Cork I now have everything needed: a CO2 tank, regulator, thick-wall PVC line, a corney keg, picnic tap, keg rebuild kit, and ball lock fittings. I also picked up cherry and cream soda mixes and a special cap that allows one to carbonate things in plain plastic bottles. Now I can make carbonated water, juice, milk, or anything else whenever I want. Hmm. I think I could even try carbonating fruit…

טרײף ארוחת בוקר

If my Yiddish subject line is correct, this is today’s forbidden breakfast: a sesame bagel with bacon and mild cheddar, served with a cup of typical-for-me coffee. The bacon is an uncured, nitrate/nitrite free vareity from Trader Joe’s, the bagel is a random item from Meijer‘s bakery, cheddar is some random prepackaged slices from VG’s, and the coffee is typical generic (Sumatran?) dark roast purchased in bulk from Costco.

This is a not-bad meal for a day of working from home, tying up loose ends, and perusing deals on late-spring vacations.

Vegetable Biryani for Boxing Day Dinner

For Boxing Day dinner I made vegetable biryani for Danielle and I. I ate mine with a bottle of Rogue Yellow Snow IPA and Danielle had hers with Magner’s Cider.

I used this recipe from the wonderful Manjula’s Kitchen; an outstanding online resource for both Indian recipes and videos showing them being prepared. Despite leaving out the mint and not preparing any raita it was quite tasty, and roughly half the dish is left. It’ll be excellent for lunch this week.