Sunday, December 30, 2007

Home Brew Day 1

Roxanne's parents gave me a home beer brewing kit for Christmas and I finally had the time to start cooking up my first batch tonight. I have always wanted to try this but have never really gotten around to it, mostly because I figured it had to be pretty hard to get it right. However, the instructions, as well as many friends, claim that it is easy, so I'm ready to try it.

First I purified some water and added all of the malt, sugars and hops in the kit:

Next I let it boil and cool until the foaming stopped and did a final boil as per the instructions:

The next step definitely gave me the most trouble and frustration. It was time to marry up the wort with the rest of the purified water in the fermentation container. The problem was that the opening of the fermenter is only about an inch and a half wide. Even with a funnel, I couldn't pour the wort fast enough to keep from spilling some down the side of the pot. Thankfully Roxanne helped me slowly scoop the wort out and then funnel it into the fermenter. In the end, I feel like I must have lost a couple of cups of the wort, but I adjusted the total volume of purified water to account for the loss. Hopefully it won't adversely affect my first batch.

Once in the fermenter, I added the yeast and capped the top for the process that will take place over the next few days:

It's really out of my hands now for the next week. I will only be able to watch the fermentation happen over the next few days. I won't have another job to do until next week when it is time to bottle it and start the aging process. But if all goes well, I'll have about five gallons of a nice Continental Light Ale just in time for Mardi Gras.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Alamo Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Penn State

Tonight the Texas A&M Aggies will be facing the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. Everybody seems to think that Penn State has the edge and they probably do, I just hope that interim head coach Gary Darnell can give Joe Paterno and his boys a game. I was at the last game between the A&M and Penn State which was also at the Alamo Bowl in 1999 and it was miserable. It was completely one sided and got pretty boring to watch after Penn State took a commanding lead. I hope the Ags play with the same fire in their bellies that they had when they beat Texas a little more than a month ago. Gig 'Em Aggies! BTHO penn state!

UPDATE: The Aggies lose a close game by a score of 17-24. The Aggies took the lead early in the Alamo Bowl, but Penn State was able to answer and hang on for the win. It would have been nice to cleanse the palate of the Franchione Era with this game, but there just wasn't enough time to pull out the win. I'm not one for moral victories, but at least we weren't completely dominated as we were in our previous two bowl performances. Let the Mike Sherman Era begin!

Friday, December 28, 2007

LOST in 8 minutes 15 seconds

ABC has put together a recap of the first three seasons of LOST. It is pretty concise but not advisable to watch if you haven't seen all of the first three season because, as you might imagine, it is chocked full of spoilers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

LOST: Missing Pieces 7: "Artz & Crafts"

The latest missing piece is online and it isn't really more than filler. Even though Dr. Artz's death in Season 1 was pretty shocking, I've still never cared too much for the character. He served a function in the first season finale, but beyond that, I feel like he has been reinserted into this and Nikki and Paulo's flashback as over-the-op comic relief So after last week's very interesting missing piece, we don't really learn anything new.

Click here for "Artz & Crafts."

Not too much other LOST news of late. I've just be re-watching Season 3 and am counting down the days until Season 4 starts. Only 39 days until LOST returns!

Monday, December 17, 2007

LOST: Missing Pieces 6: "Room 23"

The sixth installment of the LOST: Missing Pieces is out and it is pretty interesting. At first I thought that Karl must be the one in the room as we saw in that scene in Season 3, but couldn't figure out who his father must be on the island. Then when I saw the dead birds I realized that it must be Walt in the room, not Karl. How interesting that the Others are all afraid of Walt and don't want to go near him. I had figured that the Walt story was no longer consequential, but this certainly makes me re-evaluate that position.

Click here for "Room 23."

In other LOST news, ABC announced that Season 4 will start on January 31, moving the show to Thursday nights. I don't really care one way or the other which night it is on because I will watch it. If it is ever moved to Saturdays though, you'll know that it's on the verge of cancellation. This announcement of the start date was reported in several articles, but I think the best venue for the announcement is in this new extended trailer for Season 4.

There are some intriguing things in the trailer, but to me the most exciting is the shot of Jack's dad in a rocking chair much like the one we saw Jacob in during Season 3. This can be taken one of two ways. The first is that Jack's dad is Jacob. Since Season 1 I have thought that Jack's dad was really the man in charge of things on the island. I thought that Jack was having more than just visions of his dad on the island. Even though the producers say that once a character is dead, they stay dead, I still think there is more to Jack's dad's story and not just in flashbacks. The other way this could be taken is that people see Jacob the way that Jacob wants them to see him. Perhaps this is why Jacob looked so much like Locke (albeit with hair) when Ben introduced them. In any event, I am very excited about this and many other prospects but mostly I'm just excited that LOST will be back on TV if only for eight weeks.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Since this summer there has been rampant speculation in the movie world about J. J. Abrams project referred to as "01.18.08" and later as "Cloverfield." The "Blair Witch-esque" trailer had everyone wondering if it was a new Godzilla movie or something like Independence Day but with this five minute clip, it looks like it might be a cross between the two.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

LOST Season 4 Preview 1

A couple of days ago, a low quality video of a preview for the new season of LOST showed up online. Today, a high resolution version has appeared and although it's the same thing that I already saw, I felt like I got more out of it. Interestingly, there is a flash of what looks like Charlie right at the end of the preview. If it is indeed Charlie, Season 4 will be very interesting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LOST: Missing Pieces 5: "Operation Sleeper"

The latest installment of the missing pieces series is out and it deals with the time between when Sun and Juliet visited the Medical Station and when Jack and Juliet revealed to the rest of the Losties that Juliet was sent as a spy for Ben. As usual, there aren't any real revelations other than that Sun's life is in jeopardy very soon due to her pregnancy. But we all pretty much assumed that already. One interesting note is that Juliet questions weather it was Locke or Ben who blew up the sub. It is an interesting question to ponder although it sure seemed like Locke did it.

Click here for "Operation Sleeper."

In other LOST news, previews for Season Four are being shown in selected theaters and a video of one such preview has shown up on line. The quality is pretty bad and there really isn't much to see but here it is nonetheless:

There is no real news on the status of the writers strike other than we know it isn't over yet. Recently, a story has come out that Carlton Cuse did not go back to work as producer as previously reported. Read about it here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Time Is Here Again

Now that Thanksgiving is a few weeks behind us and the college football regular season has ended, it finally feels like the Christmas season. It being our first Christmas as husband and wife, Roxi and I decided to eschew the artificial tree that we set up last year and get a small live tree. Roxanne's dissertation adviser gave us a wonderful set of traditional bride's tree ornaments. We did a little research and augmented the set he gave us and decorated our tree.

We added Yoda to our tree to represent wisdom.

Even St. Francis of Assisi got into the holiday spirit.

Monday, December 03, 2007

LOST: Missing Pieces 4: "The Deal"

The newest missing piece is online and offers us our first glimpse of Michael since he and Walt sailed off the island at the end of Season 2. This scene is set when Michael was being held captive by the Others at the fake village. It is interesting to see the interaction between Michael and Juliet although, as is the case with most of these pieces, there is not any new information but there are a lot of call backs to past episodes.

Click here for "The Deal."

In writers strike news, negotiations began again last Monday but apparently they quickly broke down after the producers refused to give in to any of the writers' demands. Negotiations are set to begin again tomorrow. Meanwhile in Hawaii, LOST production reportedly finished filming the eighth episode of Season 4 on November 30 officially halting further production of the show until the strike is resolved. At least the Season 3 DVD set is coming out next Tuesday!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Remember the Alamo

The Texas A&M Aggies are officially Alamo Bowl bound. As mentioned earlier, the Aggies will be playing the Penn State Nittany Lions. I hope that interim head coach Gary Darnell has the team better prepared than R.C. Slocum in the last game against the Nittany Lions in 1999. BTHO penn state!

A Fine Mess

The Bowl Championship Series rankings began in 1998 in an effort to have a clear consensus college football national champion taking into account two human voted polls and several computer generated ones. However, the series has had some failing in almost every year of its existence. 2007 appears to be no different; in fact it has the potential to be the most screwed up yet.

Yesterday, #1 Missouri and #2 West Virginia lost their final games of the season leaving the door open to a controversy similar to that of the 2001-02 and the 2003-04 controversies. After last nights results, no fewer than seven teams are potential entrants into the national title game. Brad Edwards has a great run-down of the contenders in the championship as well as some potential match-ups in the other BCS bowl games.

As far as Texas A&M is concerned, there has been a lot of talk of the Aggies playing Penn State in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on December 29. This game would be a rematch of the 1999 Alamo Bowl in which the R.C. Slocum coached Aggies were shut out by the Nittany Lions by a score of 24-0. Depending upon the selections in the BCS games, the Aggies could end up in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport on December 30 or the Bowl in Phoenix on December 31. All will be revealed this evening in the over-hyped BCS Selection Show.