It completely slipped my mind that tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Archive for September, 2007
On “Brews you can use”? How strange.
I never thought flat, warm, un-aged beer could taste so good.
Yep, I actually got around to racking last week’s brew to the serving keg. It tasted a touch sweet, probably just enough to make it fizz up in the keg. No gravity readings, no notes, no stress…. (Rough Recipe, for
posteritythe curious: quarter pound each of Simpson’s extra dark crystal, medium crystal, black malt, and Crisp Amber malt, twelve pounds of Rahr 2-row, 2 oz Fuggle in the boil, Wyeast 1028 yeast.)
While I was down there, I also tasted the ciders I started last October or November, and never touched. They’re still in their primary fermenters. That’s supposed to be a big no-no, but the ciders are still definitely drinkable. I may toss a few oak cubes in when I keg them, to complete the “rough and ready rustic” effect.
I think I may have ended a drought.
I haven’t brewed a beer since last November. I’ve thought of doing it a few times — even got to the point of gathering ingredients — but something always comes up. Kids, other plans, just a royally bad day, illness, sometimes acute laziness. I’ve been ==>this<== close to selling off my brewing equipment, just because its idleness [yeah, it's idleness, that's the ticket ...] was driving me mad.
Driving me to drink, in fact. For a while, I was substituting beer for soda (probably a net win, healthwise), but this and other unpleasantness had me first supplementing with, then switching to the distilled stuff to take a bit more of the fabled “edge” off. I would go weeks without having a single beer, but the whiskey (and occasional gin, rum, or tequila) would disappear at an alarming rate. Not good for motivation, or health.
Then I started biking to work. Amazing stress reliever. The alcohol consumption dropped to normal levels, I felt much more human, felt that I could do things. Perhaps even brew beer.
I was going to brew on Labor day, in memory of Michael Jackson (“no, not that one” as we once needed to say) who had passed away suddenly the week before. It almost worked, I had a plan, I had a free day to do it, and I had the ingredients.
In retrospect, though, I should have made the yeast starter the day I spent fixing the TiVo — the old tube of yeast didn’t revive in time, and my “emergency dry yeast” supply was even older. Feh, brewing canceled. To work off *that* stress, I tossed the kids in the bike trailer and started pedaling, eventually finding my way home after about 25 miles of wandering.
So, today was the day. I fought a nasty, exhausting headache all morning, couldn’t even stomach a lunch beyond crackers and ginger ale, but dammit, I needed this. I finally started around 2:00 pm, and tried to keep it simple and stress-free. I took only fragmentary notes, and no gravity readings. I did a shorter than normal mash (the result was still very clear) and boiled a little less than normal, and was all cleaned up and put away at quarter after six. So fast, I swear I must have forgotten something…
I’m not worrying too much about it (“Did I kill the yeast?” “Will it ferment?” “How will it taste?”) — any stress would be very counterproductive at this point. Either I get a decent little (or big?) brown ale or porter-ish vageuly-English beer out of it, or I don’t. Either way, I’ve taken a big step out of a nearly year-long brewing funk, and that feels good.
Like many techies, I have (and love) a TiVo. It’s a 2001 vintage DirectTiVo, and has been showing its age: the video’s been sporadically skipping for the last month, and it started rebooting late last week. It also has a lifetime subscription attached to it, which means ‘repair’ is highly preferable to ‘replace.’ It probably needed a new hard drive, which is a relatively easy operation. Just hook up the old drives in a spare PC, boot a special mfstools Linux CD, and use the included tools to backup the old disk then restore onto the new disk.
Unlike most techies, though, I don’t have a spare computer sitting around, other than a couple dead/dying/decrepit/disintegrating laptops which would need some special hardware to talk to regular IDE drives. Mfstools isn’t ported to FreeBSD (which runs this server) or MacOS X (which all our working laptops run). What to do?
From previous “rescue” operations, we had an external firewire hdd enclosure, so on a lark I mounted my TiVo ‘A’ drive in this, dd‘ed an image of it to a file, then mounted the new disk in the enclosure and dd‘ed the image on to that. Apparently this will work on some single-drive TiVos, but it fails spectacularly on a double-drive model like mine. The TiVo software doesn’t automatically “forget” about missing disks, apparently, and the box never booted in this config. For this to work, I’d need to run the proper mfstools on my Mac or FreeBSD box.
Finally last night, I figured out a virtual solution to the latter.
I’d played with qemu several times in the past. It’s a nice, free/opensource CPU emulator, and a great way to run a new/foreign OS in a sandbox. It’s how I run Windows XP on my work Linux box The virtual hard drives can be simple raw files just like the ones I was ‘dd‘ing back and forth earlier. There’s also an OS X port. Hmm…
It took a little trial and error (mostly the latter) to get right, but I was able to:
- mount the A and B disks in the external enclosure, and collect disk images with dd
- Create a new virtual disk by ‘dd‘ing 60 GB of /dev/zero to a new file.
- Start up qemu with the disk A image, disk B image, mfstools iso image, and the new empty file as disks 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively.
- Copy all data and settings to the new drive with:
mfsbackup -Tao - /dev/hda /dev/hdb | mfsrestore -zpi /dev/hdd
- mount the new drive in the external enclosure and dd the new image onto it.
And it worked!
This was more time-consuming than it needed to be since the dds ran at about 10MB/s, but it got the TV back without needing to beg/borrow/steal an extra computer.