Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time is valuable

If you have read this blog before, you know I like to complain about how little time I have and how busy I am. Well, that's what all bloggers talk about at one time or another, but for me it is different.

I sat down tonight and listed all of the tasks I need to finish in the next few days. Here is a partial list of things I am trying to fit into my busy schedule in no particular order:

Read the last third of Harry Potter #1
Watch the last four episodes of The Office: Season three
Listen to Beethoven's 6th or 7th symphony while following along with the score
Rack my Metathesis Ale to the secondary
Prepare for my Friday lectures
Optimize conditions for the SPME analysis of peppermint candies for my instrumental analysis class
Buy and XBox and play Halo 'til my fingers bleed
Pull everything out of my garden
Mow my lawn
Finish the trim in my basement

As you can see, I really need to prioritize and get to work.

For tonight, I think I will drink some Boston Lager clone, fold clothes and watch the rest of The Office: Season three. While, ignoring the things I really should be doing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Favorite reaction and a name for my beer

OK, the poll cleared nothing up. Since there was no clear cut favorite, I'm taking matters into my own hands.

I am going to name my pale ale after my favorite reaction I have never had a chance to run. I've always been a fan of metathesis reactions, particularly alkyne metathesis reactions. However, I have never had an occasion to run one.

I'm not sure why I like metathesis reactions so much, but the splicing of two distinct and potentially large molecules together to make a new molecule is really sexy.

I'm a big fan of Fürstner's work with alkyne metathesis. I had the pleasure of driving him to and from the airport once. Shown below is his recent sythesis of Latrunculin A (I stole this from his website).

The biggest use of alkyne metathesis is in ring closing, as seen above. This is usually followed by Lindlar reduction to the alkene. The controlled formation of a Z-alkene is an advantage alkyne metathesis has over alkene metathesis which can result in E/Z mixtures.

A major disadvantage is that E-alkenes are difficult to form. Birch reductions work great, but only in the absence of any useful functional group. When I was driving Fürstner to the airport in 2001, I asked him about this limitation. He just smiled a little smile and said, "we're working on it." That told me something was imminent. And it was. In 2002, Fürstner reported the following. Of course, at nearly the same time Trost reported a similar procedure. So it goes...

So, what does this have to do with beer?

Well, I am naming my beer: Metathesis Ale.

What's your favorite reaction you have never run?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Where's the chemistry?

I realize I've been lax in posting stuff related to chemistry. Sorry.

I plan to post something related to chemistry in the next post.

Until then read this C&EN article on coffee, my 0ther favorite brewed beverage.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fat Tire: The Return of the King

OK, maybe The Arrival of the King is better title. I am pleased to report.... Fat Tire is now available in my town. I am mere miles away from a local source.

If you have read this blog before, you are probably sick of hearing me talk about Fat Tire and how I love it. I have tried to clone it three times. First time... yuck!!! The second time was nicht so gut!!! The third time resulted in a much better beer. It was good, but was it like the real Fat Tire?

I had no way of finding out... until now. BEHOLD:
I bought that here in my own town and drank it, and it was good. It is a fine beer for many reasons, but I love the toasted barley finish it has. It is such a satisfying flavor in my opinion.

So, how does my Fat Tire clone compare? Well, not very well. My beer is still quite good, but man, it ain't not Fat Tire. As you can see the color is way off.
I'm on the right there. The only thing I had in my favor was the head. My beer retained a nice full head for a lot longer than the original. I'm not sure if that really matters, but hey, I've got something.

So, there you go. Now I can quite bitching about not having access to Fat Tire, and I will never try to clone it again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Barry Bonds' ball

While I try to decide on a name, here's something to entertain you:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beer names

I mentioned a long time ago that I want to name my beers. I still haven't come up with anything good. So, I thought I would try out the new poll feature of Blogger and let you, the reader decide.

I am brewing a pale ale tonight. It is one of my favorites. It is a loose clone of Mirror Pond Pale Ale (one of my all time favorites). It is loaded with cascade hops. Tonight I am experimenting with some amarillo hops as flavor hops. I'll know in a few weeks how it worked.

Anyways, I need help naming this beer. Check out the poll to the right and offer up your suggestions. Don't like the options? Give your own ideas in the comments.

FYI, here's the recipe:

2 lb Pale malt
1 lb crystal malt
90 minutes at 152°F
3 lbs pale dry malt extract
1 oz cascade hops for 45 minutes
0.5 oz amarillo hops for 15 minutes
0.25 oz cascade hops for 15 minutes

in a week I will dry hop with 1.75 oz of cascade hops.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Too few hours

I'm sorry, 24 hours is not nearly enough to do all of the stuff I want and need to do.

Today, I spent about 10 hours installing trim in my basement. I watched only 5 minutes of football. For me, Sundays are typically spent getting annoyed by the Minnesota Vikings and keeping track of my fantasy football team. Not today. It was all spent putting fancy pieces of wood on the wall. That's OK, I needed to get the trim done. This one-year project is three years old.

The biggest thing I missed was brewing. I was going to brew a pale ale today, but that never happened. Hopefully, I will be able to brew tomorrow night. However, I also need to can what few tomatoes my garden produced. Maybe that will be a Tuesday project.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brew season opener

The temperature in Minnesota is dropping. That means the basement will soon be at proper fermentation temperature. All summer, even with air conditioning, the coldest the basement would get was about 72° to 74° F. That is a tad too high for fermenting beer.

But now, it's time to start brewing again. The 2 month layoff was made tolerable by a well stocked beer cellar. The temperature should soon be a very nice 66° to 68° F. When the temperature drops too low for the carboys to sit on the basement floor, I either set them on a shelf or bring them upstairs.

I'm also going to try to do some garage lagering. It's not a perfect approach. That would require a refrigerator.

I'll keep you posted on my brewing activities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I have not had much time to post lately, which is the reason for this post.

First of all, I love my job. I love teaching. I think I'm moderately good at it. If my efforts are not beneficial at least they are not detrimental. Of course, I may be totally wrong. I know full well I am not the best teacher, but I work hard to be like the best teachers I have had and admire.

What annoys me the most is the non-faculty people (i.e. staff on 12 month contracts) I work with that take every chance they get to throw the old "must be nice to have summers off" crap around. I seriously believe that they think I (and my faculty colleagues) spend the entire summer sitting on the beach sipping margaritas, while they were toiling away navigating endless paperwork and waxing floors.

Now, I must also say right now that this is not a "woe is me" type post (i.e. rant). I am not saying I have it harder than anyone else. What I am saying is being a teacher is a hell of a lot of work. And frankly a lot of work that I really enjoy.[1]

First, I do get most of my summers "off." What that really means, is that I am not on a schedule. My time is usually much more flexible and less constrained by forces I can't control. That is one of the perks I love about this job. HOWEVER, that does not mean I have nothing to do!! From when the semester ends to when it begins again, I have labs to clean, machines to maintain, curriculum to device, usually a new course to plan, chemicals to dispose of etc... There is a lot of work that has to be done. Plus I run a science camp that takes a lot of time.[3] True I am not locked into the 8-5 schedule, but I am doing many things.

Second, teaching is a 12 month job crammed into 9 months. Seriously!!! With all of the things one has to do as a teacher at the college level[4] time is the most valuable commodity. Tonight, for the first time since the start of the semester, I am not working on school related things. A typical schedule involves me arriving at school by 8:30 am (after dropping off a child at preschool) and working until 5PM. I go home and once the children are in bed around 8PM, I start preparing for the next day. On weekends sometimes Saturday but almost always Sunday night, I am working on school things. And, it's not like all of these hours are making me excel at my job. They are necessary to give the students what they pay for and to accommodate the endless hours of committee work required to make a college work.

Sorry for the long rant. I'm not looking for your pity, but you must understand, teaching is a lot of work and it requires long hard hours and many sacrifices.

At least I am very well paid. For my labors, I pull in a 7 figure salary.[5]

[1] sorry, I'm getting a little crazy with the bold and italixs.[2]
[2] I really think "italics " should be spelled with an "x." It just looks cool.
[3] But I really enjoy it.
[4] I can say nothing about other levels since I have no experience.
[5] If you count the digits after the decimal point or convert my dollars to centidollars.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Never fly Nepal Air

hmmmmmm, I wonder what the in flight meal is.

Another, among many, reasons why I try to avoid airlines from Nepal.