Friday, October 21, 2016

Looking Back

I've been feeling nostalgic lately. Remembering all the good times with family or friends; holidays, summer bonfires, drunken college shenanigans, late nights full of youth and laughter and ignorance of the future. Not that the future has held any horrible fate for many of us, but we were so close together in both physical proximity and emotional connections. Now we share neither of these.  I want to reach out to my old friends and rekindle that connection we had, reach out to family and let them know that this prodigal son didn't mean to abandon them.

I think that it is easier to look back on the past and remember the highlights than it is to look at your present and ignore the lows. College was bad for me in so many ways: the sleepless nights trying (and failing) to study, the waxing and waning (but never ceasing) levels of stress, the painful relationships, unhealthy and downright dangerous levels of caffeine. And life now is going well, I'm out of the kitchens and working as a brewer full time. I can take classes at SANCA at no cost, live walking distance from some of my friends, biking distance from work, have a wonderful girlfriend, a cool apartment in a fun city, and more money in my bank account than I think I ever have before (not that it's much, but I don't have to worry if splurging on guacamole will make my rent check bounce). And yet, life sucks.

Or better yet, my perception of my life sucks due to the chemical imbalances in my brain. Depression makes my life shitty, and only a combination of high-strength anti-depressants and shit-tons of weed (yay Washington state) keeps me functional enough to hold down a job and get me through the weeks.

And now it's way too fucking late in the evening. I need sleep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chinese Pole!

A curious thing happened last week. I took Sara over to SANCA to drop her off at her German wheel class, and somehow I ended up enrolling in a Chinese pole class! I've curious about learning pole for years, and out of the blue this opportunity fell into place.

Pole is super hard, and super tiring. After my first class, I was sore for two days afterward, and by the end of each two-hour class, I can barely move. So much of it demands musculature that I don't have yet, or body awareness to use the muscles I do have in just the right way. The class is small (just 6 of us), and we rotate turns on the pole frequently so we don't tire out too fast (and because we only have one pole to use...). But by then end, we are all worn out. Yesterday's class was especially tiring, as three of out six were missing, giving the rest of us twice as much time on the pole.

I am reminded of how I felt when I first learned aerial silks.hen I am on the ground, waiting to take my turn, I don't feel tired or weak, but as soon as I get up in the air all of my muscles turn to jelly and I can't hold whatever position I'm working on for more than a few seconds. It's been years since I've felt this way, and it's refreshing study something at a complete beginner level. I know that the muscles will come with time, so I try to focus more on the proper technique. 

And the technique is what it's all about. My instructor Nick is great at pointing out all the little things that help. So much of circus is about tiny little positions adjustments that have a huge impact, and Nick is great at highlighting these. Whether it's twisting your foot just so to maximize grip on the pole, or shifting weight in a way that doesn't seem to help now, but will open up new tricks as strength builds. On top of that, he seems to be actively improving his pedagogy, asking why one explanation or drill seems to work over some other. Having been in a coaching position myself, I understand how little tweaks in how you teach something, or even how you word your explanation can make a difference.

Two weeks in, with nine left to go, I am loving this class. Can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It Doesn't Fit...

I brewed a American Pale Ale about two weeks ago, (I never posted about it... grrrrr), and tonight I racked it over to secondary and added a 1/2 oz of Cascade hops for dry-hopping. I took a gravity reading, and it looks like it'll be around 4.5% ABV. A little lower than target, but oh well...

The problem is, I have a smaller bucket for secondary. I use a 6 gal bucket for primary fermentation, and I picked up a 5 gal bucket for secondary, but never got a second lid for that one, since I assumed the two buckets would have the same size lid. Nope! I didn't realize the problem until after I had racked everything over, and, desperate for a solution so I could go to bed, I simply placed a clean garbage bag over the whole thing, and tied it down tightly with butcher's twine. Hopefully this will work for a week or so, until the beer is ready for bottling. We'll see...

Monday, January 6, 2014

I am the kitchen

Tonight I ran and closed the kitchen all by myself. Which sounds silly and less impressive once I've written it down, but trust me, it's harder than it sounds.  See, normally when I work closing shift, I have someone working with me until 8:00. Since the kitchen closes at 9:00, I only have an hour to cook solo. On top of that, the days that I usually work are the days that we have our dishwasher, Lauren, closing with me. So even though I am doing all the cooking for the last hour, I have Lauren to help me clean and shut things down.

Tonight though, I worked all by myself from 5:00 to close. No Lauren to do dishes, no Buddy or Eric to help cook. Just me. And honestly, working the line by myself is weird in how it stresses me out. One ticket comes in, fine. Two tickets, no worries. But as soon as I have three or four tickets filling my board, I start stressing out, because there is only so much I can do at one time without fucking up (burning things, forgetting things, timing things poorly), and I hate having a long pickup on a ticket. Part of that might be carryover from working at The Garage, where the pickup on any ticket was never more than ten minutes, and usually closer to four minutes. I'm sure that most of the stress is needless, but it still got to me.

 But despite the stress, despite the fact that we had a party of 30 people hanging out from 5:30 to 8:00, despite the fact that Kristen ran FOH all by herself from 7:00 to close, and that just the two of us had to close everything, I still managed to get out of work at about ten past 10:00, which is earlier than I usually get done. So, that's pretty fucking cool.


I had an awesome conversation with Chinzi yesterday, and one of the things I talked about was how I probably spend too much money on beer, and don't brew my own beer often enough. The problem with that is I also want to start getting serious about getting certified as a Ciccerone, and doing so involves sampling lots of different beers to better understand different styles and variations within styles. So, to compromise between not spending too much money on beer and the need to study different beers, I've come up with a few rules to govern my beer consumption:

1. The only beers I will drink are the free beers I get from work (shift pint and weekly growler), and beers I've brewed myself.
2. The only exception to Rule 1 will be beers purchased for tasting/studying. Beers bought for this will have to be the same style as the last beer I brewed, and can only be bought when my beer is ready for consumption. This way, my own beer will be part of the tasting, and I can compare my own efforts to similar commercial beers.

I might buy a beer when I'm out at a bar with friends, but this doesn't happen often, and the money spent in this fashion is close to negligible.

Also, I'm brewing beer tomorrow. I'll write a post about it, if I remember to.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Job at Schooner Exact!

After two weeks of full-time work/on-the-job training, I can honestly say that I love my job at Schooner Exact.

The kitchen is small, so small that when we have four or five people working in there together, it can feel pretty crowded, especially when everyone needs counter space for prep. But most of the time, we only have two or three people working at a time, and space is less of an issue. The kitchen is also terribly under-equipped. We have no hood, and our hot line consists of one residential stove with four electrical (Not gas. Electrical!) burners, and the oven underneath, which is usually set to broil. We do have the advantage of having access to a HUGE walk-in fridge. Most of it is occupied with kegs, bottles, and other brewing-related things, but we are not lacking in refrigerator space. Despite some of our limitations, we manage to put out some kick-ass food. Definitely a step above the kitchens I've worked in in the past.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New city, new job!

About a month ago,  Sara and I took a minivan, packed a much of our belongings as we could safely squeeze into/on top of the van, and drove across the country. It was a beautiful five day drive. We saw old friends, beautiful views, took a detour to Yellowstone, and pretty much just had an awesome road trip. Sara had just got a new camera, and we took literally thousands of photos along the drive. At the end of it all? We arrived at our new home:


That's right. I moved from a tiny village of 600 people to a city of 3.5 million. It's a bit of a shock, realizing just how many people live here. But I'm getting used to it, and Sara and I are starting to get our bearings and learn our way around the city. After allowing myself a few weeks of lazy, restful unemployment, I started the job hunt. And after two weeks of applications, cover letters, and resume updates, I finally found a job that looked nice, and seemed to like me. As of Monday, I start as a full-time cook at Schooner Exact Brewing Co.

So, that's the life update in a nutshell. New job in a new city.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You know you're a brewer when...

Hah! I found this in my drafts folder, and thought I would share:

"The furnace at my house broke the other day. I noticed the house seemed colder than usual Monday morning, but didn't really think much of it.  I left for work and the house was still cold, but not that cold.  But that evening I received a text from my mother: Furnace broken. Sleeping at Nonnie's. "

The furnace was dead in the middle of January. We were staying in my grandparent's house to keep warm. And I had cider fermenting. I don't remember all the details, but by the time I got home from work, the house was in the 50's. I packed some clothes and toiletries for the night, grabbed the carboy of cider, and headed to a warmer house.

You see, my first thought when I got the text was not to worry about pipes bursting or houseplants dying or trying to sleep in a cold house. It was concern that the yeast I was using in the cider would not be happy fermenting below 65 degrees.

In the end, things worked out just dandy. The cider survived, fermented out completely, and is waiting to be bottled (probably this weekend).