freezing roast

I just finished an hour roasting session in the 29? garage. I was expecting each batch to take 5-10 minutes longer, but I think that they were each only about 2-3 minutes longer. The beans are stored in the garage, so they were basically starting from frozen.

Here is what I roasted (the Guatemala was roasted yesterday):

This was roasted with my recently modified popcorn popper. I did 2 small batches (about 1/2 cup each), and it turned out quite nice at full city+. This one is tasty, although not as tasty as the Honduras we had with Nathan and Carol last weekend. This bit of coffee was from a trade with Nathan.

So far. my experience has been that the PNG roasts pretty uneven in the dog bowl, and tends to be a little too acidic for my morning taste buds. I do like it, although I am not sure how it is distinctive yet. I’ll pay more attention this time around. I went for a darker roast this time (around full city+) so maybe it will not be quite as acidic. This was some coffee from Brother Nathan on our last interstate trade agreement.

This Costa Rica is quite good, but also on the bright side. I think that both the PNG and the Costa would be better in blends than straight, although both are still good coffees. Again this is roasted dark (maybe full city+), and I will see how it came out this weekend.

Several weeks back we picked up a popper from Goodwill. It is not any of the favored poppers, and there were 3 of the exact same model there on the shelf. Does not seem to be popular for popcorn either, and I know why. It is a very simple popper, and does not even have a power switch; you plug it in, and away it blows. It runs hot and fast, but the air only blows straight up so the beans are not agitated or rotated at all if you put more than a half cup. If you put much less, the beans shoot out the top. I decided to add a chimney built from tin cans to keep the beans from shooting out so easily. It works. Beans will still hop out if I put too few in. I also drilled some directional holes in the base to provide some rotational air flow, but I am thinking it did not work. If I agitate it by shaking the popper while it runs, things turn out just fine, so I will do that for now. Each batch in the popper takes about 5 minutes, and it pops about 1/2 cup. That is a third the size of a dog bowl batch, so it takes a little less time to roast the same amount in the popper.

In case you were wondering about the name so that it can be avoided: Presto PopCornNow Plus

Role reversal

After having my shoes off since around April, I am now putting them on the other feet. I am heading up missions at our church and I am charged with writing policy. I am somewhat of a skeptic, and policy always has a nasty ring to it. Those that I looked up seem to have a goal of objectivity, and aim to make missions a structured program, manned by elected committee members and approved by the Board. Very democratic, and stuffy.

Many of you out there have either experienced missions, or have participated in policy creation. Is there a way that policy can be written that is flexible, uses ad hoc groups of people to get the man work done, and is focused on enabling people to do what needs to be done? Is there a precedent for a living policy that can be easily changed by the people who perform the actions that are guided by the policy? I want people to feel more empowered than constrained, and I want it to be easy to use resources to help others quickly. Agile would be the word.

aged dairy

I have not had any batches of kefir going for a while, but I have had a jar in the back of the fridge for… well… since June I think. It is a dairy product, and it does not smell bad, even after 5 months. It does not exactly taste sweet, more sour and a tinge of bitter, but still drinkable. Yes, I did. I drank some. Over the months it had separated and the whey sat on top, which is what I think preserved it. Nothing grew inside (that was visible), and it still had that clean sour smell which is normal to kefir. Now, this batch did not actually start as normal kefir, but as a first or second batch after resurrecting the grains from hibernation. The stuff that Dom says to throw out. Not sure I will drink it all, but it was an interesting experiment into the longevity of kefir, and explains why cultures used kefir to preserve their dairy.

More Frosting!

We finally had REAL snow today. Driving was cautious, the view is pretty and it was the perfect consistency for snowballs and snowmen.

more sugar!

It added a very blue cast to dusk today, and it felt familiar. I like winter and it’s beauty.

Guests to tea

I invited a few neighbors for afternoon tea. They must have had the cold that’s going around, their voices were barely more than a hiss. I could not get them both to sit still this time. Squirly birds.

simple question

Warning! Potential backlash ahead!

Why are they detainees, rather than prisoners of war?

Another, less simple question:

How can any American who grew up watching Rambo and other war movies that involve a foreign power torturing a US soldier think it is ok to do the same?

Next step up is a big one, and not simple at all:

Will our leaders be talked about in the same way that we talk about Hitler and Co.? (Fundamentalist Christian Leader promotes a system of government and uses force to spread a governmental doctrine.)

While I am not political in general, there are a few things that bother me about the way things are going. I really don’t like seeing a government that represents me debating whether or not it is ok to use coersion (torture), and the folks who wave the banner of faith and family also the ones who want to make sure we can cause pain and debasement to our (possible) enemies who have been captured. It seems…. very wrong.

That’s all.

no trade

It seems that the place that was to provide me with the camera was a bit confused about payment. The bank said that the funds were allocated, and it even showed up that way in my online banking. The vendor said they had trouble authorizing the purchase, although customer service could not see any problem withthe order. So I cancelled it. I will try again somewhere else. Maybe by check. Does not look like it will be travelling to the windy city this time around….

trade in

Back in august we knew we would need a second vehicle. While I dislike and am somewhat opposed to the idea, the alternative was to move to closer to work, and we are not moving again for a while. We had specific requirements in mind, and had actually picked out a specific model as our top choice. H2. Just kidding, a Chevy Prizm. In August we could not find any that looked like a good purchase, nor could we find any other models on our list at reasonable prices, or good history. So we bought a truck. It was B’s dad’s truck, and it was running well. He upgraded to a Dakota Sport from the GMC Sonoma, and they offered it to us. It was not a 4 cylinder, the mpg was low, and it only fit 3 people. But it was a vehicle and we needed it. We used it until about a month ago, when we finally found a good Prizm. The truck sat outside our garage until last night when we sold it.

Now I can expect a new camera on Wednesday. I should have a good day or so to get used to it before taking it to Chicago for fun shots of family.

I have been planning for this camera for about a year now, and decided back in June on a Canon EOS Rebel XT. For a while I was considering a non-SLR, but what I was looking for was the control and clarity of my film camera, and the ability to take better natural light shots, including night shots. None of the prosumer cameras could do what I wanted well, and this will be a model to grow with.


Steve’s Digicams

poor boy

Today is EZ’s birthday. But he is sick with the flu. On a Saturday! Poor little guy.

I don’t remember many birthdays. I do remember my 5th, and my 13th. I am not sure I had any birthday parties other than those years. What I do remember is usually being sick on my birthday. Ah, yes, I remember my 9th birthday because I was horribly sick that year and I remember thinking about being sick on my birthdays. It is strange because I am rarely sick now, and I don’t remember being sick very often as a kid. Just on my birthday.

Ok, I am not the poor boy here, EZ is. We already had a small party with friends last week, and our family party is tomorrow, so hopefully he will not miss any of the things that matter to him.

It will be nice if all traces of this bug are gone before we head to Chicago next Friday…