Wednesday, March 09, 2005

March 7th

I finally got back to unicycle club. Mary and I missed the last two weeks of the club due to our little trip to Puerto Rico. I was anxious to see how well my body would remember the little gains I'd made during the first night of unicycle club. Mary was unable to join me because of book club, so I had to go it alone. The gym was packed with nearly 20 kids, all zipping around, playing tag, and learning to cycle backwards. I clung to the wall half out of fear of falling, and half out from worrying about crushing one of them while awkwardly pedalling the one wheel. I needn't have worried because the kids saw my obvious lack of skills and nimbly avoided me while I flailed my way across the gym.

Happily, I had some success: two trips nearly all the way across the gym, 5 half-way, and about a dozen that went 30 feet. I certainly missed having Mary there to lend a hand - it's a lot easier to start with a little help, but I made some good progress. I'm confident that I'll soon be able to wobble my way around the block.

Speaking of bikes, the wheel builder finally has the replacement hub from Chris King. Supposedly, he'll be able to lace it up this week and ship it to me very soon. I'm rather anxious about this because it's been several months. Luckily I've got the single speed to keep me occupied for the few trips I've made into the woods.

Right now I'm flying over Corvallis in Intel's chartered shuttle from Hillsboro to San Jose. The customer wants a face-to-face meeting, and it's always good to show some moral support. Relations continue to be a little rocky for some reason, so my group is making efforts to have face-time at the Santa Clara site.

I stayed at a colleague's house because we were both on the early flight. We got to the airport late and only one of our seats were still available. He graciously gave the seat to me, and he'll try to catch the later flight. My stupid phone ran out of battery (I had two bars going to bed), so the alarm never went off, and he was a little too lax in waking me (his ride) up. I knew it was going to be a problem from my last experience of being late to the shuttle.

The traveling is but a diversion from my latest hobby - brewing root beer. All the supplies arrived over the weekend, and I removed the labels off the bottles. I just need to sanitize the bottles, mix up a batch, and try it out.

I tasted the couple rootbeers I picked up at CostPlus last week. The Bulldog brew tasted lightly like honey and (what I assume is) sassafras; good, but not as spicy as I would really like. I liked the Briars a little more as it had a little more spice and had more of a brown sugar flavor. It is going to be hard to determine my "favorite" rootbeer because they all taste different. I definitely like the spicier brews, but the sweetener used has such an impact on the flavor that the spices take somewhat of a back seat. Hopefully I can find a good source of relatively fresh spices - the brewshop has bags of dried spices that look as old as the shop, and the co-op doesn't wintergreen (maybe I could special order it).

Mary and I checked out the local brewing supply shop over the weekend. Like probably any brewing place, they've got everything I would have needed, but I'm glad to have purchased the concentrates from a place that makes their own. The shop even has the roots and herbs for flavoring rootbeer from scratch - including sasparailla poupori. Turns out sasparilla is carcinogenic, so it has to be labeled as poupori and not a food item. Nobody says how carcinogenic the stuff is, so I'm unsure whether I'm going to give it a try or not.

The brewshop also has wine, and Mary picked out a wonderful bottle with a risque name, 2003 Menage a Trois Red (because it has three varieties of grape) from Folie a Deux. It has to be one of the best red wines I've had in years (not that I drink very much wine). It tasted sweet, and very fruity, almost like a great sangria in a bottle. We'll probably pick up a couple of bottles to have around.

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