Sat, 31 Jan 2009

Ginger Beer Batch 0, Part 1

I've long been a fan of good strong ginger beer, and after seeing the Good Eats episode on ginger and the relative simplicity of the recipe for making it, I decided the main project this weekend would be to make up a batch.

In a saucepan, add one cup water, two cups sugar, and the zest of one lemon. Grate about four thumbs of ginger (I used a microplane grater and didn't bother to peel the ginger), add that. Heat until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for about three minutes. Remove from heat, and then let steep for one hour.

In the mean time, take two empty two liter bottles, clean and rinse very well. Add seven cups of good tasting water (filter if you have to, especially if you have chlorinated water).

After the hour is up, filter the lemon zest and ginger bits out of the sugar syrup. Add to it the juice of the lemon you zested. I ended up with about 1-3/4 cups of syrup. Divide the syrup between the two bottles, and then add 1/8th of a teaspoon of active dry yeast to each bottle. Cap and shake very very well.

At this point, you have some head space in the bottle. I squeezed most of the air out of it --- it's the carbon dioxide the yeast are going to produce as they digest the sugar that is important to making bubbles, so I figure filling as much space in the bottle with it will help. Let sit someplace warm for 48 hours. When that time is up, but the ginger beer in the fridge to slow the yeast down.

That's where I'm at, the waiting bit. Now, the yeast will also produce some amount of alcohol, but if you put it in the fridge after 48 hours, it will be a very slight amount. You are also cautioned to burp the bottles once a day or so, unless you want a Ginger Beer Explosion in the fridge.

Taste results when I open them up in a couple of days.

Posted at: 15:41 | category: /food/2009 | Link

Thu, 29 Jan 2009

Visiting EMU

At the last Shadow Art Fair fellow zinester and all-around good person Linette Lao mentioned that she is teaching a class a EMU this semester, and that she wanted to use a couple issues of Late Night Thinking in the class. She contacted me a while ago to get the zines and also to suggest that I stop by and meet with the class.

The class session was today, and it was a good experience. I always worry when I do things like this that I'm going to go too far off into old guy telling rambling stories mode, but I think I managed to hold that in check well enough. I also think I have a tendancy when talking, especially when talking about myself or things I'm doing to start to break eye contact and start speaking quietly or weirdly, and I think I managed to hold that back as well. The class seemed on par with what I would expect, a couple people fairly interested, a handful of people mildly interested, and a few that seemed to fade into the background, but on the whole there seemed to be a decent number of good questions, although there were some times when Linette had to ask me some questions to get the conversation started again.

It was incredibly weird, though, to see a room full of people pull out copies of stuff I've written, like it was a textbook or something. I quipped in the class that they probably represented about thirty to forty percent of my purchasers. And the amusement the students registered when I mentioned that I did the zine layout in LaTeX, a mathematical typsetting language, brought a smile to my face.

It was, on the whole, a fun experience, sweetened by Linette, her husband Mark and their daughter taking me out to dinner at the Sidetrack, where I continued by longstanding tradition of always ordering the Tempeh Philly. There were fried pickles, as well, which combined with the random craving (and the making of one lone fried pickle Monday night) I fear may re-launch my desire for fried pickles.

Posted at: 20:53 | category: /zines | Link

Mon, 26 Jan 2009

... and Zombies!

At work this morning during the monthly Doughnuts with Directors meeting, co-worker Sgt. Steve mentioned that he had read a publisher's notice for a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is apparently Pride and Prejudice with scenes with zombies inserted.

This set us off on thinking of other books and movies that could benefit from having zombies added. My favorite of the ones I thought up was The Great Escape and Zombies: picture it, the greatest escape artists of all World War II finally tunnel out of the camp, only to discover that the forest is overrun with zombies. Now they have go back, put their differences aside and work together to defend the camp from the zombie hoards.

I want to see this movie.

Posted at: 10:47 | category: /random | Link

Wed, 21 Jan 2009

Crock Pot Bean Soup

I love soup. I love crock pots. And I love beans. What better way to combine all three?

If you don't own a crock pot, fix this immediately. My thinking is to buy the largest one you can, at least for this --- most soups freeze very well, and I'm a big fan of making giant batches of soup and putting up portions in the freezer.

Cover the bottom of your crock pot with about one to two centimeters of dry navy beans. Peel and chop up finely one onion (I had a yellow, use whatever). Chop up a few carrots and a few stalks of celery (soup is a good use for all of the inner bits of a stalk of celery — you can save the outer bits to eat with almond butter or whatnot, and the leaves when chopped finely give the soup a bunch of flavor). Add a can of crushed tomatoes — I prefer the ones with no added salt. Pour in enough water so that you have a crock pot that is half solids, half water. Grind in some pepper, throw in a few bay leaves. I sometimes throw in some veggie sausages, cut up, sometimes not. Cover, set the crock pot to low, and come back in eight hours.

At this point, remove the bay leaves, salt to taste. It should be fairly thick, if not, take out some of the beans, mash them up, stir them back in and cook for a little longer. I'm partial to adding a dash of vinegar or lime juice to my bowl of bean soup.

Posted at: 21:53 | category: /food | Link

Tue, 20 Jan 2009

2009 Presidential Inaguration

Feeling that the day was momenteous enough, I took the day off of work to watch all the Inaguration coverage. Part of me is very fascinated by the mechanics, the personal aspects of the transition of power. Do you think there's a moment where the incumbant says to the new office holder "Here's the keys to the private washroom, the toilet runs, just jiggle the handle. We have no idea what this light switch does, so it's probably best if you don't touch it."

It's no secret that I was not a fan of the Bush II administration, and really, an eight-year in the making sigh of relief was a very definite and powerful one. As for Obama, he's got about the normal amount of positions I like and positions I don't like for what passes for a left politician these days. I don't like the cult of personality that sprang up around him during the election, or since thing, but I rarely like cults of personality. I do think there are going to be a lot of people really disappointed when they discover the new President doesn't fart cinnamon-scented rainbows (not my phrase, sadly).

I guess my overall impression of the day is: damn, it's nice to have a President who can actually speak and looks like he can form reasoned and informed thoughts without getting distracted by something shiny.

Posted at: 18:39 | category: /civics | Link

Wed, 14 Jan 2009

Adding gzip support the dumpscan suite

I recently really started looking at the dumpscan suite from the folks at CMU SCS. It's a fairly useful set of libraries and tools for looking at AFS volume dumps, which has been a fascination of mine for a while.

Both for use at home, where I want to write a utility to merge several volume dumps into one, and at work, where it would be neat to do some sort of cataloging of dumps, this is a windfall, making such tools pretty easy to write. At both places, however, volume dumps tend to be gzipped right after they are created (or even as they are created). The dumpscan suite includes a generic library for file-like objects (called XFILE), that is easily extensible, and after thinking about it for 10 minutes while trying to fall asleep I got out of bed and just added gzip support.

It's completely cargo-cultish, and entirely and utterly untested, but it works enough that I can run afsdump_scan and have it scan directly a gzipped volume dump. Find it here.

Posted at: 01:08 | category: /computers/afs/2009/01 | Link

Mon, 12 Jan 2009

AFS and Yo Mamma

After lunch at work we somehow got on a brief tear making afs flavored yo momma jokes. Some of my favorite:

Yeah, we're kinda messed up.

Posted at: 22:26 | category: /random | Link

Fri, 09 Jan 2009

Administratively Read-Only Volumes

At work we have a couple of occasions where we want to make access to a volume be read-only. For example, when we do a restore for a user we don't want the user to be able to write stuff there. Or it might be useful when we get a request from the User Advocate or ITSS (IT Security Services) office to freeze an account to freeze the afs volume associated with the account.

Right now, when we do a restore, we run the restore with the -readonly flag, which marks the volume as a RO volume. This, of course isn't really a read-only volume, rather, in classic afs sense, this is a read-only version of a replicated volume. While it works in a pragmatic sense, there's no corresponding read-write volume, which really confuses vos (and me, when I try examining the volume and have to remind myself why I'm seeing weird output). Plus, this doesn't handle the "we need to lock this volume now" instance. Sure, we could change the volume's top-level ACL to do this, but again this is doing some other operation to fake what we really want to do.

Now, there is a -readonly flag to the fileserver, which basically makes all write operations to any volume on that fileserver fail with VREADONLY. And, this actually does exactly what we want, but it means you have to maintain at least one fileserver that is specifically a read-only server, and move/restore any volume you want to be read-only there.

What I really want, however, is a vos command that simply locks a volume. Since the term "read-only" is used otherwise in afs, I think I'd like it to be something like vos writelock -lock and vos writelock -unlock.

After staring at code, I think it would be fairly simple to do. In vol/volume.h take the first of the reserved2 array to be a flag for this, add a macro to see if that field is set, where all the other (vp)->header->diskstuff macros are set. Then in viced/afsfileprocs.c everwhere that you see if (readonlyServer) return (VREADONLY); add another check to see if the flag above is set and, if it is, also return VREADONLY. This would be fairly trivial.

The other side of this would be adding even more stuff to volser/vos.c, adding support for the writelock command, and also support to have vos examine return info about if the volume is writelocked. This is a little more complicated, because this involves adding another RPC and changing what UV_ListOneVolume returns. I may also want to overload the offline message in the volume header and allow writelock to set some small string in there.

I started looking at the 1.4.8 code, but with the previous paragraph, I should probably look at whatever the latest 1.5 series is, and put it in there, since this is likely enough of a change to not go into the maintenance release.

Posted at: 21:19 | category: /computers/afs/2009/01 | Link