Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The end of the year, a life changing event and Longshot

Seven more days until finals week. Not that I'm counting or anything. This time of year is always hectic. Students are frantically trying to finish projects and homework. Professors are frantically trying to cover 5 weeks worth of material in 2 weeks and grade everything.

It's a busy time of year.

Last weekend, I did something that will change my life forever. Well, at least the beer drinking part of my life. I'm not going to tell you what it is. I want to build up some suspense and force myself to make an entry soon.

In the mean time, let me tell you about Longshot beer. The wildly popular homebrew contest held by Samuel Adams brewing produced three wonderful brews once again. Here are my brief reviews:

Double IPA: A wonderfully strong ale with excessive hop flavor. The use of 7 varieties of hops takes your taste buds on a extensive journey. It's just too much. This beer proves that it may indeed be possible to over hop a beer. But, at 9.0% ABV, who cares?

Traditional Bock: A fine example of the bock style. I'm not a huge fan of this style. The flavor is too flat for me, but because of this, it doesn't hide defects very well. This bock is a very good example of a bock.

Cranberry Wit: Only porters get bastardized more than wheat beers. What fruit hasn't been mixed with a wheat beer? Here's another example. It is a good clean beer with a delicate sweet cranberry flavor. The key is that the cranberry doesn't hide the wheat beer. It's a good beer that contrasts nicely with the other two beers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I decided to dispose of some old tires I was using as lawn decorations:
I also got rid of some old paint:
..and released some oil back into nature:

All in all, it was a pretty good Earth Day. What did you do?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ant Farm... Day five: The obsession

I'm obsessed with my ant farm. I'm totally fascinated by my six-legged minions, and their tunneling capabilities.

here are the latest pictures:

I also did a little research and found that the gel is actually agar.

So far none of the ants are dead. They have made a cavernous home at the very bottom of the ant farm.

I'm still waiting for crops.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ant Farm... Day Three

It's been 3 days since I unleashed the ants into my ant farm. Those little bastards have been very busy.


From the front:
From the back:
Out of focus ants:I've spent too much time staring at the farm watching the ants do their thing. After staring at it for several minutes and then walking away, everything looks yellow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A lifelong dream realized

I've always wanted an ant farm. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it has to do with watching a tireless animal spend its few remaining weeks pursuing a fruitless endeavor. I don't know.

A lifelong dream has finally come true. The combination of doing something sciency for my kids and having vast amounts of disposable income inspired me to finally purchase an ant farm. And this is not your daddy's ant farm. This is a space ant farm equipped with LED lights and everything.

The 'sand' is a gel. It reminds me of agarose. I took delivery of 30±2 harvester ants this morning and added them to the farm. I expect crops by Fall.

Here's another pic with flash:

Now, back to my stout and Easter eggs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beer for me!!!

Crap!!!! It's been a week since I posted. Where does the time go?

I have potentially exciting news to announce!!! Well, it's actually exciting just for me. I would expect you, the humble blog reader (or stalker), to consider this to be no big deal. But, for me, it might be.

I have mentioned before that I live about 100 miles away from my homebrew supply store. I love my homebrew supply store. The staff is awesome and they have everything I need in a homebrew supply store. However, recently in my hometown, not more than 2 miles from my house a homebrew and wine making store has opened up. Currently, their offerings are quite modest, but there is hope. They will stock more as demand dictates, and they have promised to order anything we need and charge that same as my current homebrew supply store. This has potential.

The guys who started the store are big wine guys. That's what they know. Currently, they stock really simple beer kits for really simple and often crappy beer. BUT, as I said before, it's a start.

One item I saw that caught my attention was a 2 L bottle called "The Big and Easy Bottle Brew." It is a fully contained brew and drink system. It is a two liter bottle full of wort. A tablet of yeast is added and a special cap with a tiny hole is used to relieve the pressure. After two weeks, you have beer.

I decided to give it a try. I'm only 1 week in, but things seem to be going well. Here are some pics:

Here's the bottle in all of its glory:
Here's a close up:
Here's a picture of its nipple...I mean release valve:
Bonus question. In the background you will see a growler which I use to make yeast starters. Can anyone identify the brewery whence it comes?

When I consume the contents, I will report my impressions.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I need grant ideas

I really want to write a grant proposal, but I don't have any good ideas. Does anybody out there have any great ideas that I could use to put in a grant proposal? I want to get funding from the NIH or NSF so make sure your ideas are in line with the types of projects they fund.

I know I should come up with my own research ideas, but I can't really think of anything that hasn't been done. It's really hard thinking about that stuff. So I need your ideas. Send me your ideas to me soon. Deadlines are approaching.


Please note: the above note is completely sarcastic. I am not actually looking for research ideas (unless they're really good, of course and can guarantee millions in funding).

My point is this: Parents, stop asking me what your child should do for a science project. Yes, I have millions of ideas, but that doesn't help your child. Yes, some guidance is necessary, but the child must ask the questions.

I will gladly help if your child has a plan and needs assistance designing an experiment to doing an experiment safely. But for crying out loud, don't expect me to tell your child what project to do.

I get asked that a lot, usually from parents. My standard response is "no," but I do offer advice on how to guide the child to discover their own project. Get the child to look around and ask "How?" and then "what if...."

Isn't that what basic research is about and isn't that what a science project should be. It all starts with curiosity. Not all kids are gifted with or nurtured to develop scientific curiosity. They will be the ones that test laundry detergent for the science fair. The scientifically curious ones will take it to a different level.

Just don't ask me what they should do.