Friday, July 19, 2013

Yes, it's real


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blichmann Tower of Power reviewed

So, first off, this thing is expensive and I personally think there are WAAAAAY too many self-congratulatory reviews on the internet for expensive products. Like everything else, this thing has pluses and minuses. If you want the short-but-sweet version: it works, it has some nice features, several drawbacks and I think it's too expensive to give it a sound recommendation.

Positives:
Very small form factor
Stainless enclosure is nice
PID controller eliminates overshoot (but is of questionable utility)
Flame rectifier
Works for natural gas or propane setups

Negatives:
PID seems unstable
PC software is clunky, poor user interface, and only runs on Windows
Communications cable is overpriced
Programming your own mash steps is tricky
PID controller has insufficient documentation
Installation not straightforward

Some additional information that I've gathered and think is useful:

The PID they're using appears to be the venerable Love Series 16B. At least they appear similar in appearance and they're also using the same software! The "TOP-Link" software has the same appearance/look/feel of the "Love-Link" software from Love Controls. This is very disappointing to me because this software is a stinker, only runs on Windows and has a craptacular UI.

I'm reasonably confident that they're also using this Fenwal 120v ignition module (or a similar product from the same manufacturer), and here's an appropriate electrode.

I'm not saying this whole thing is a piece of cake, but I do think it's overpriced but by how much is hard to say. The PID is about $90, the ignition module is about $200, and the electrode is between $20 and $50. So that's at least $350 before you add wiring, a case, a solenoid valve, etc. It retails for about $575, so I guess it's a matter of how much you like doing this stuff and how much it's worth to you.



Perfect example of "too many lawyers"

Bank of America has an "Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy" on their "Contact Us" page:

Bank of America and its associates do not accept or consider unsolicited ideas, including ideas for new or improved products, processes or technologies, product enhancements, advertising and marketing campaigns, promotions or new product names. Please do not send any original materials, suggestions or other items. The sole purpose of this policy is to avoid potential misunderstandings or disputes when Bank of America’s products or marketing efforts might seem similar to ideas submitted to the Bank. If, despite our request not to send us your ideas, you still do, then regardless of what your communication states, the following terms shall apply to your idea submission.
TERMS OF IDEA SUBMISSIONYou agree that: (a) your ideas will automatically become the property of Bank of America, without compensation to you, (b) Bank of America can use the ideas for any purpose and in any way, and (c) any information you provide will be considered non-confidential.
Because this probably happens all the time, right? Somebody sends them an idea on how to construct a new credit default swap. This is what caused the financial crisis - user submitted ideas.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

commander flatus's mom's new orleans barbecue shwimp recipe


1 cup butter
2 cups olive oil
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 lemons halved then quartered
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 pod garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chef paul prudhomme seafood magic
4-5 pounds large shrimp weighed before you remove the heads

here's the commentary:
use like 2 sticks of butter and the same amount of olive oil, you can't tell the difference except you won't have a heart attack when you're 40
use 2 lemons instead of 4 - 4 is way too many
use 2 pods of garlic. garlic. garlic. garlic. beer. scotch. bourbon. bacon. garlic. what else do you need, really?
maybe use more rosemary too - like 6 or 8 sprigs - take the little leaves off the stick and throw out the stick

OK - it's easy - take everything except the shrimps mix well, low heat and reduce uncovered at least 30 minutes. lemon should just look like brown stained peels. garlic should be soft-ish and taking on the color of the sauce.

now here's the real trick part - turn off the heat and let it sit for several hours. if you can't do this part, don't worry. it's still great. but making it around lunchtime and then letting it sit until dinner gets the lemon soft, mild and delicious and gets the garlic all tasty too.

when you're ready to eat, throw in the shrimp and cook for 10-15 minutes uncovered on low heat in their shells without their heads. 

shrimp should get orange and curl up.

serve with pasta or warm bread.

have fun.


teddy


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Some thoughts about tailored clothes in Asia

A Dong Silk is a highly marked tailor on tripadvisor.com. Their clientele (the clientele of tripadvisor.com, that is) are notorious cheapskates. I had 14 shirts, 12 trousers, and 4 suits made by them about 6 years ago. They've worn very poorly and are not the fabrics they represented - 100% cotton shirts are cotton/poly blends.

The jackets of the suits are coming apart - they appear to be somewhat glued together.

If you have special tailoring needs (crooked back, leg length differences, etc.) you really need to speak up for yourself. Usually there's a salesperson who isn't a tailor doing all of the measuring. If you have special needs, you'll have to insist that the tailor come out and have a look.

If you get a mens suit made and don't have at least 2 or 3 fittings before the jacket is finished then they haven't really done their job. It's just not possible. It's like if you told your kid to take out the trash and they come back inside 5 seconds after they left. If this happens, you're not getting a well made product and you're usually too late to back out. You'll have to make demands about the fit and finish and you likely won't/don't know enough about clothes to do so.

Finally, recognize that you are not capable of telling the difference between egyptian cotton, cotton/poly blend, wool, wool blends, cashmere, etc. Further, if the material is presented to you in a deceptive fashion, you're really gonna be screwed.

Use somebody you trust. Use somebody that's not super duper cheap. Do not count on tripadvisor ratings. Gather ratings and reviews from elsewhere, and be prepared to spend money. It's like they say: fast, cheap, good - pick two.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Orleans municipal water analysis for homebrewers

I tried googling for this, to no avail. If you're interested in the New Orleans water supply for homebrewing, here it is (links to PDF).
The commentary from the scientist that passed it along follows:


The hardness and alkalinity vary as our source water (MS River) varies. Currently, the total hardness of the tap water on the east bank is about 150 mg/L as CaCO3 and the alkalinity is about 120 mg/L as CaCO3. Typical chloramine levels uptown are 2.5 - 3.5 mg/L; typical free chlorine levels are <0.2 mg/L.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Vacation haiku

Great food, nice people, cheap beer
Shopping, tailored clothes
Hangover, credit card bill!