Dave Matthews Band

I went to the Smirnoff Music Center tonight to see the Dave Matthews Band play. Not exactly my “type” of music, but it was definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t begin to list the songs he/they played only to note that Ants Marching wasn’t played. But regardless of that, they put on a great show, lots of jamming and improvisation, and I really enjoyed it. Definitely a great act to see live, unlike some they actually manage to sound as good, if not better, live.

Engaging The Enemy

The fourth book in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta Wars series again picks up where the last one left off. No chapters of recap, etc. I really, really like this style. The story is getting very interesting and much deeper than I’d thought it would. Ky’s got to get a fleet of privateers together to start fighting back while more systems are being overrun. And amid all of that more depth is added to the betrayal of her family and of the ISC monopoly. I won’t say that the ending is a cliffhanger, but it does leave a lot hanging. Once I get through the far-too-tall stack of to-read books I’ll be picking up the next one.

Marque And Reprisal

The second book in the Vatta’s War series, Marque and Reprisal picks up immediately where Trading In Danger left off, with a minimum of recap to pad the first few chapters. Ky’s now trying to figure out who’s been trying to wipe out her entire family, destroy their shipping empire, and disrupt interstellar communication. The action is fast paced, the plot is consistent, and the story keeps getting deeper into what’s going on. By the end of the book more information is known but the situation is by no means better. In fact it’s a lot worse.

Star Corps

The first book in the second of Ian Douglas’s trilogies, Star Corps takes place decades after the events in Europa Strike. Here the Marines are on their way to another world to defend human interests and secure more alien technology from the descendents of the An, the alien race which enslaved humanity thousands of years ago. As usual, things aren’t what they seem and the situation goes from bad to worse quickly. The book did a good job of setting up the next one and once I get my to-read stack a LOT lower, I’ll be ordering it.

Europa Strike

One of two books I brought with me on the road trip but didn’t get a chance to finish. I finally got some time to get through it and was a little let down. It was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but the ending just didn’t leave me satisfied. The last book in the Heritage Trilogy, it tried to wrap up all of the loose threads and still leave room and I guess did an adequate job, but just didn’t have the same impact as Semper Mars did.

Still, it was a good read, funny at times and poignant at others. The major issues haven’t been resolved though. The alien technology and revelations about human history are still having a major effect on human civilization. Hopefully the second trilogy will start resolving some of that turmoil.

Chiller Success

I popped open the chiller to swap out the ice (mostly melted) and checked on the beer. It’s been ticking away now for about two days and looks great. There’s good activity in the airlock and it smells like beer. I guess nine month old Wyeast without nutrients will still work.

Even better news is that the thermometer on the side of the carby is showing 67 degrees. That’s excellent and should really help my quality. I’m really looking forward to tasting this one.

Cool Dunkelweizen

Now that I’ve got the chiller built, it’s time to test it out. I’ve been planning to do another batch of my dunkelweizen for some time now and since now’s as good a time as any, here goes nothing.


  • 6 pounds, United Canadian wheat extract (60% pale/40% wheat)
  • 1 pound, Briess 80L crystal malt
  • 1/2 pound, Paul’s roast barley
  • 1 pound, honey
  • 2 ounces, Cascades hops (boil)
  • 1/2 ounce, Cascades hops (finish)
  • Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat

Steep crystal and toasted barley in 2.5 gallons water for 40 minutes (use grain bags to make this easier). Add extract, honey and bittering hops. Boil wort for 1 hour. Remove from heat. Add finishing hops and steep 2 minutes. Chill and pitch yeast.

One minor disaster averted by Wyeast. When I popped (or thought I popped) the yeast pack this morning it turns out that all I did was knock it loose. It still swelled up, though not as much, and looks viable. We’ll see how well it works…

I’ve hopefully got the thermostat set so that it’ll be fermenting at around 66 degrees so we’ll see in a couple days where it stabilizes.

The Chiller Is Finished

I put the finishing touches on the chiller today when I added the top and front panels and got everything sealed up. The first of the ice jugs are freezing as we speak and I’m going to get a batch of my dunkelweizen going this weekend. I’m aiming to keep the fermentation at 68 degrees so we’ll see how well it does. I’m hoping that this thing works out. If not, I’m going to find some stuff to sell to raise the money for a glycol system.

Building A Fermentation Chiller

Since the last batch of beer turned out so badly I’ve been looking in to ways to keep my fermentation temperatures under control. It looks like the gold standard is some sort of glycol jacketed conical fermenter, but since they run somewhere in the $1000 – $2000 range, that’s out for a while.

But, I found these plans on the internet and decided to try them out.

The first stumbling block was that it seems like nobody in the DFW area sells the 2″ foam board. So I’ve had to settle for making a sandwich of 4 1/2″ boards. The upside is that the R value is higher so it might be marginally more efficiently insulated. As of right now all of the boards are cut into pieces and I’ve started gluing them together.

2007 Road Trip Day 9

The ride home. I checked out of the hotel, snagged a quick breakfast at the gas station, and pointed the bike west. I took a nice detour over some US routes through Mississippi and Arkansas before picking up the interstate outside of Little Rock. The rest of the ride was blessedly uneventful and I arrived home no worse for wear at around 6:30 PM. I rode around 2200 miles on this trip, a little shorter than my previous ones have been, but still a lot of fun.

Pictures will be posted once I’ve had time to rest, recover, unpack, and process them.