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I like running and science and I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. So I'm writing a blog or something.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Call me Ishmael, the award-winning brewer

Guess who entered her first homebrew competition and placed?

That's right: it was me!

This past Saturday was the 5th Annual Monterey Bay Oceanographic Homebrew Competition.  Entrants were from MBARI, NOAA/UCSC, MBA, and MLML* (though I was the only person from MLML there this year- had to represent the MoLa MoLa Brew Club!).

The beer I entered was a 5.3% alcohol content grapefruit IPA I called the Ishmael Pale Ale.  Here was my description:

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul... then, I account it high time to brew a beer as soon as I can.  But for a whaling voyage, what a fine, hoppy brew, an India Pale Ale is; one that can be drunk on the first and last day at sea.  And shipmates- lest ye fall ill of scurvy- citrus be your friend; for in this beer I add that queer fruit from Barbados, the grapefruit." -Herman MelvAle

So pretty much I catered to the maritime nerds out there, which may have been lost on a few scientists (like the one who asked me what an "Ishmael" was), but I though I was pretty clever.

Here is a photo of all of the entries:

None of the beers were bad- most were pretty good (I would have been happy if I had brewed any of them- even the pilsner which turned out to be just PBR in a growler- but I was impressed at first since pilsners are hard to brew!).

The winner was Get Your Tiny Hands Off Our Public Lands! (which was an absolutely delicious Northeast style IPA- I voted for it), followed by Kitten Mittens, and then I got third place with my Ishmael Pale Ale.  Which I know I got for merit alone since I knew no one there to stack the votes (well, aside from myself and Kevin, but based on the number of voters, I doubt we swung the vote one way or another).  Considering we had some issues cooling the wort quickly, and I tried to siphon into the bottling bucket with a broken siphon at first, which definitely caused some oxygenation of the beer at a point where you don't want oxygenation, I am very pleased with the result!

If you're curious, the grapefruit flavor was added via a tincture of grapefruit zest and peel in vodka, dumped into the carboy two days before bottling.  Kevin did all of this since the beer was fermenting at his place, which was a HUGE favor considering he doesn't really like grapefruit (thank you, Kevin!).  The dregs of the bottle tasted the most grapefruity, so I may try inverting (gently) a bottle before drinking it next.

There were also a lot of dogs at the event, which is always a plus in my book, including this incredibly soft one who looked like a bear:
She posed for me because Kevin was holding a sausage, but still.  Speaking of Kevin and meat, he drank some of the beer after eating a spicy Vietnamese beef stew and said it was amazing, so apparently I made a great beer to pair with spicy foods.

*MBARI: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
NOAA: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association
UCSC: University of California at Santa Cruz
MBA: Monterey Bay Aquarium
MLML: Moss Landing Marine Labs

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Taylor Swift Canadian Road Trip or "you drove all the way to Canada for just a concert?"

Haters gonna hate (hate hate hate hate), but yes, we drove all the way to Canada to watch Taylor Swift put on a show.  And it was quite a show.  Taylor knows her audience and knows exactly how to make them love her even more than they already did before.  Taylor's audience is primarily pre-teen girls, but also includes literally everyone else.  There was a group of hipster millennial dudes sitting next to us (complete with man buns, mustaches, and/or plaid shirts) who bought Taylor t-shirts and sat through the whole concert.  They never once stood up or sang along, but they were not there with girlfriends or sisters who dragged them along, so I stand by my point that everyone is a fan of Taylor Swift.  Which was why SNL's Swiftamine sketch was so ridiculously spot on.

Taylor is tall, thin, blonde, and gorgeous with a host of famous friends.  She is immensely talented and rich and has a stellar fashion sense.  Yet she somehow convinces you that she's just another awkward, nerdy girl with boy troubles who loves her cats (that last one is unarguably true, though).  She relentlessly uses social media to show just how down to earth she is (just check out her tumblr scroll down past her bad blood and world tour hype and see her respond to/reblog fans).  She even mentions social media on tour and talks about how much she loves learning about each and everyone of us because we're not just fans, we're friends!

Back to the concert though.  We sit through trivia and behind the scenes videos of her music videos and recording sessions.  We see her smiling and peppy and an absolute joy to work with.
People were still filing in throughout Shawn Mendes' songs.
Her first opener was a 17 year old, Canadian artist named Shawn Mendes who became popular though Vine.  All of those facts I had to google because I have never heard of this kid before.  But the little girls in the audience went crazy!  Four of them behind us sang along to every song, concentrating so hard on the stage down below that they looked positively morose.  He sampled Eminem and Plain White T's, both of which were perhaps lost on his audience, but appreciated by my group.
Vance Joy was up next, who we saw play at last year's 94.7 Electric Christmas show, and was great, as expected.

Then, the Taylor Swift experience began.  We may have been in Vancouver, "but we start[ed] our journey in New York."  Bright lights, sparkly costumes, dancing and strutting, video backdrops- it was solid entertainment.  Every audience member got a wristband that lit up in time with the music which was actually really cool.  She sang most of the songs off her new album plus a few throwbacks.

A little over halfway through, Taylor brought out a "surprise" special appearance.  If you've paid even a little attention to her world tour, you'll know that she's had special guest appearances by everyone from Jason Derulo to Walk the Moon to the US Women's world champion soccer team.  Our guests were Nico and Vinz, a duo from Norway who had a huge radio hit earlier this summer (Am I Wrong) which they sang with Taylor.
Sorry for the poor quality- I only had my phone and took very few photos-
I was too busy singing along and being mesmerized by all the bright lights.
During each costume change we got videos of her friends (girl group Haim, supermodel bffs, Lena Dunham, Selena Gomez, and her best friend from high school) all talking about how awesome it is to hang out with TSwift.  In between songs, Taylor also shared some girl-power monologues about believing in yourself and not putting up with stupid boys and how great each and everyone of us are.  It's no wonder little girls love her and, despite her costumes being little more than lingerie at times, why moms seem to like her as role model for their impressionable daughters.  The girl in front of us was practically in shock from happiness, constantly taking pictures and videos and hugging her friend and her mom and screaming "I love you Taylor Swift" periodically.  And her actions were hardly the minority opinion (I mean, even we drove 15 hours and crossed a border to see TSwift).  I was impressed by the costumes and the signs, most of which lit up, and how people were eating up everything she said, as if she didn't tell every audience they were the best.  Every last detail was carefully planned to make you love her.  But despite the timed winks and smiles and hair flips and "ad libs" on stage, she really is a great performer and a talented musician.

Taylor Swift ended her show with, of course, Shake it Off, complete with fireworks.  It was fabulous and I still have a bulky wristband that will light up when I shake it to prove it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Top Ten Carl10

For the sake of remembering, I thought I'd record my top ten memories from my 5-year reunion.  But first I'm going to list the bottom four:
  1. Three people who were a huge part of my Carleton experience were not there to share in the fun.
  2. Goodhue bathrooms- I do not miss the communal bathroom situation in the dorms.
  3. The beer provided was awful.
  4. The worst 5k I've ever run, which may have had to do with too much of #3...
But really, no part of the weekend was actually bad.  Overall I'd say it was amazing and exhausting; just one emotional high after another.  So here's my top 10 favorite moments/activities from last weekend in no particular order:
  1. Sharing the beer Kevin and I brewed with our class.  My favorite part of brewing (and cooking for that matter) is sharing what I made with friends having them (hopefully) enjoy it.
  2. Constantly seeing and spending time awesome people I hadn't seen (at least very often) in 5 years (so many hugs!).
  3. Being reminded just how beautiful Carleton is. The Chapel, the buildings, the sign, the Arb, the Turbines... Plus the weather was gorgeous, the clouds were huge, and everything was so green.
  4. Tubing down the Cannon River (how did I never do that when I was living there? So relaxing and so much fun!  And my tube had cup holders for beer, and what could be better than that?).
  5. Hanging out with chemists at the Cow out on the deck with some good beer and free sunglasses.  Getting golf cart rides there and back from the cool student workers wasn't half bad either.
  6. Touring the new wind turbine (we got to go inside!).
  7. Re-visiting Wang's Corner with a few of my Geo-in-the-Field classmates and finding out current students had read my Comps, which is either exciting or embarrassing (TBD once I dig it up and re-read it).
  8. Frisbee! (because this is Carleton, after all).
  9. The Ten Talks which I almost didn't even go to and was glad I did because my classmates are amazing and interesting and inspiring.
  10. Dancing and partying and general merriment every night!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Beer and Running; or: a disjointed life update with pictures!

From the Turkey Trot
last November.
I seem to be partaking in a lot of beer and running recently, and I am perfectly okay with that.  Especially because I now have sweet penguin tights to run in.  And I could drink in them too, I suppose.

Thanks for the photo,
Amy's snapchat!
I've now tripled the amount of beer I've ever brewed, first spending Valentine's day by myself making a delicious, hoppy, 9% IPA, and then brewing a yet-to-be-tried single hop ale with my friend Kevin to bring to our 5 year college reunion later this month (hell yeah #Carl10).

Surprisingly not blurry since we were running when I took this.
Also I think I look a lot like Amy in this picture for some reason.
Well, more like her than usual.

We also adorably raced Bay to Breakers as Calvin and Hobbes.  A lot of people didn't know who we were, which makes me sad for todays youth who will never know the wonders of Calvinball, Hamster Huey and the Ooie Klabooie, or Spaceman Spiff.  Calvin and Hobbes is easily my favorite comic strip.

Then for Memorial Day weekend, I went to Colorado with Amy, Abe, and Scott and visited Lauren, Grant, and Colin and it was awesome and we drank lots of beer and ate lots of food and ran the BolderBoulder 10K and watched the Giants beat the Rockies and got rained on and it was awesome.  I also got a hole-in-one in mini golf, learned a challenging drinking game called four quarters, and saw dinosaur fossils/trace fossils.

Mike had run 50 miles at this point.
My cousin decided to run a 100 mile race for some insane reason, and my mom, sister, and I helped pace a 25 mile chunk of it, mostly in the dark.  I don't know what makes people want to go through that- but Mike finished it and I am incredibly impressed and also sore from the measly 12ish miles I ran with him.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Baby's First Bottl(ing Day)

As promised: a blog entry about bottling!

I broke my bottling into two days of work.  Day one was infinitely worse.

DAY 1:  Label removing from approximately 57 bottles of beer (on the wall*)
It was tedious and after I was about 2/3 of the way done, my dad found a more efficient way to achieve my goals of removing all the adhesive.
Washed, de-labeled, and ready for sanitizing!
DAY 2: The actual bottling
First I transfered all of the delicious smelling uncarbonated beer into the bottling bucket along with a sugar solution (same kind of bucket, just with a spigot).

That's my "stop taking pictures and help me" look.

Then I filled forty-some odd bottles with the beer with a nifty little filling tube thing.  My mom helped a lot.  The red contraption on the counter in the picture below is what closed down the caps on the bottles.

And now we wait, again.  The beer should be fully carbonated in about two weeks.  And then I can drink the fruits (hops?) of my labor!

Side note: I'm still taking suggestions for my "brewery" name!

*No beer was actually on the wall.  Hopefully you don't have that song stuck in your head now like I do.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Adventures in Alcohol

Maybe it's because I'm a geologist, maybe it's because I collect bottle caps, or maybe because it just goes so well with baseball, but the truth is, I drink a lot of beer.  And I think my parents noticed, since for Christmas they bought me a beer brewing kit.

So what did I do while that super exciting Super Bowl was on yesterday?  You guessed it, I brewed some beer!
Ingredients: grain, hops, malt, and yeast! (not pictured: water)

I thought I'd enjoy a beer while brewing.


And ready to ferment.
And now I wait.  In 3-6 weeks it should be ready to bottle.  Which means in 3-6 weeks I need to accumulate about two cases worth of beer bottles (as if I needed an excuse to drink more beer).  So check back here in 3-6 weeks to hear how bottling goes!  And a couple weeks after that, I'll hopefully have 5 gallons of delicious red ale (name TBD).

Monday, March 4, 2013

In which I review Hellacappella, 2013

As I did two years ago, I am reviewing/recapping Hellacappella, an acappella show put on by The Spokes, a group from UCDavis.  This year the show was held in the Mondavi Center and I went with my mom, sister, a cousin, and a friend.  Since two years ago I had trouble remembering the songs all the groups performed, this year I brought a pen to the concert to help me keep track.  At intermission I realized my pen was not working and the song titles I thought I had been scribbling down in the dark, were actually just dents in the paper.  I learned in the second half that (once my pen was working) I could barely read what I wrote in the dark anyway.

And now: the music!

Well, first the emcees.

Birdstrike Theater, UCD's improv comedy troupe, started off with a little sketch about acappella that was pretty entertaining and then introduced each group with some often over the top punny jokes about the groups name.

The Spokes (female, UCDavis)
The Spokes hosted the concert, so they started and ended the show.  They were overwhelmingly girly.  I'm not saying that in a bad way, they just were: their outfits, their dance moves, even their song choices, just super girly.  They sang a couple of songs I had seen them perform a few weeks ago, and then some new ones (to me, anyway).  They did a mash up with Taylor Swift's We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and All American Reject's Gives You Hell that was kind of annoying only because I hate that T.Swift song and they had to do the dumb talking thing in the song.
Songs performed: Sweet Caroline, Us Against the World, No More I Love Yous, and a couple of other songs I can't remember the names of

UC Men's Octet (male, Cal)
Two years ago, these guys were my favorite, mostly for their excellent rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.  And they did not disappoint this year.  Every member was great and their choreography did not seem forced as most do to some extent.  Their version of Wagon Wheel was, while lovely, a bit underwhelming, but that might be due to how much that song was played at Carleton and the associations/memories/nostalgia hearing it brings me.  They really shined in singing *NSYNC, though.
Songs performed: I Want You Back, Wagon Wheel, Tearin' Up My Heart

Dil Se (coed, Cal)
They were my favorite group of the evening.  They mix Hindi Film Music with western music and it is both unique and very well done.  They made me enjoy a Justin Bieber song, and that takes real talent.
Songs performed: a song all in Hindu that I didn't know, a mash up with As Long as You Love Me, and a mash up of Party Rock Anthem and a Bollywood number I'm guessing is called something like I Hate Love Stories.

On the Rocks (male, University of Oregon)
These guys were fabulous in every sense!  They looked like they were having a blast, their choreography was fun, and they sure could sing!  Their first song was by far my favorite, which was surprising as I had never heard it before since it was country (I usually strongly prefer acappella when I know the songs the group is covering).  The other two songs were great too, and they blew Bruno Mars out of the water with their version of Locked Out of Heaven, in my opinion.
Songs performed: Natural Disaster, Can't Take My Eyes off of You, Locked Out of Heaven

Liquid Hotplates (coed, UCDavis)
They only sang one song: a mash up of The Cure and Adele.  It was a good thing they were mashed up, because otherwise, despite the nice singing, both songs would have gotten old before they finished.
Songs performed: Lovesong/Rolling in the Deep

DeCadence (coed, Cal)
They wore capes and were quite enjoyable.  I like how they made Ain't No Mountain High Enough their own, though I bet the jab at Stanford gets a better reception at Cal.  I don't care for Kimbra, but the girl who sang her song sounded great.  Their real masterpiece, however, was the Ke$ha/One Direction mashup.  I mean, it's Ke$ha. And One Direction.  But it's acappella and I don't have to pretend to have better music taste.
Songs performed: Ain't no Mountain High Enough, Settle Down, Die Young/Live While We're Young/Good Feeling

Overtones (female, Cal)
They were pretty solid.  I liked their song selection, though while Cry Me a River started out strong, the chorus sort of fell apart (and maybe it was just a bad arrangement).  The main girl singing Barton Hollow really stood out though, and that song was far and away their best.
Songs performed: Eye of the Tiger, Cry Me a River, Barton Hollow

Cloud 9 (coed, UC Santa Cruz)
They dressed as tourists (like the ridiculous over-the-top-socks-and-sandals type) and did a cute bit in the middle about taking a group shot at the Mondavi Center.  I didn't recognize any of their songs, except vaguely one.  But they were good and had some very strong voices in the group.  They utilized the entire stage for their choreography- much more so than any group except maybe Dil Se.
Songs performed: Nature Boy and two others I didn't recognize.

And that was it!  All in all a very enjoyable performance with a lot of good vocal cords present.  The proceeds from the show went to Teach For America.  While I applaud The Spokes for the gesture and supporting education, I have mixed feelings about TFA, mainly from my sister's much more educated views on the program and why it might not be the best (though for that, you'll have to ask her over at Elementary, My Dear.)