Thursday, November 21, 2013

7QT: Assorted photos from the past two months

1. A really delicious dinner Greg cooked for us. Yes, I like taking pictures of food. Yes, I like figs.

2. The kitchen getting messy during brewing. 

3. Frosty branches out the window. I probably have at least twenty photos out this very same window, either because of these shrubs or because of the sky. Maybe one day I'll post a collection of these.

4. Blurry Christmas beers with red caps. I thought this photo looked better than its non-blurry counterpart.

5. Blurry pale ales with light blue caps.

6. The night sky and a moonlit bike path. We went out one evening waiting to see if we'd see aurora. We saw none, and occupied our time with taking photos of other things.

7. Night sky in the other direction.

The End! (and The Link-Up)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some Tuesday things

Today might be our last day of bicycle riding for the season. Or at least my last day. Tomorrow will be below 0 (celsius) and it is not likely we will have many more ice-free days before the spring.

Speaking of Celsius. That man was amazing. He did studies of the aurora in the 1740's (along with Hiorters, another amazing Swede). I don't know why I didn't know about this before, but I am blaming the fact that their paper was written in Swedish, so it was sort of off my radar. Plus, just look at the wikipedia page (in English) for Hiorters. It is pathetically small. And the page for Celsius has one line about aurora which is hidden among all his other scientific achievements.

So anyhow. In two weeks from now, it will be the date of our huge snowstorm from last year. It was the only storm of the year when the buses stopped running. I'm looking forward to the snow, but I'll be disappointed to no longer be riding my bicycle. I need an adult tricycle for snow-riding. I could be okay with a little sliding on the ice as long as stability remains during that time.

Greg and I were discussing how it is a bit strange that Swedes have a reputation for being incredibly safe about things, but then winter rolls around and they are all riding bicycles on snow and ice like maniacs. And most of them don't wear helmets. Why would adults make it a law for children to wear helmets and then not wear helmets themselves?

Oh and there is this that I heard about recently, which NPR apparently got wind of yesterday. Fancy invisible helmet. I was wondering what the cost of that contraption would be.

Moving along then.

We are approaching the time to do some more brewing. A few weeks ago we bottled the two batches that had finished fermenting, so they should be reading for drinking soon. One is a Christmas beer and one is a pale ale. We already sampled the pale ale, and it might be a bit odd (unless of course you prefer your beer to smell really strongly of flowers). I am really hoping it will come around if we let it sit a little longer, but it is possible that it will be our first beer that was not really delicious. I guess that was bound to happen eventually? We will make another batch of pale ale, and Greg has made some adjustments to the recipe, so hopefully it will work out better. And then I found a recipe for an oatmeal stout, so we will make that as well. We haven't made a stout yet, so it seems like a good time of year to try that out.

And Greg promised that next spring we can make a pink beer and use pink bottle caps. I am writing this here so that no one forgets about it. Our technique for differentiating between our different beers is to use colored bottle caps. In the past we never had more than two kinds at once, so we would just mark the tops with a permanent marker. It was simple enough, but I really love the idea of different colors for different batches. The Christmas beer is red, obviously.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

folk music and dance

A few weekends ago, we were lucky enough to have two evenings in a row of wonderful folk dancing.  I no longer even attempt to bring a camera with me, because I know that even if I'm not dancing, taking photos is the last thing on my mind. Plus there are loads of other people (seemingly) with cameras, so it is often the case that photos and videos show up on the interwebs shortly after any given event. And not to brag or anything, but I'm not terrible at google searching. Here are some of the fruits of my work.

I'm in the above video, although I think it took me several watch-throughs to notice. I'll leave my time of appearance a mystery in case we want to make a game of this, and I'll make a note at the bottom of this post for those who don't like guessing games.

And here are two more videos I found from the concerts that I wanted to see but did not get to. Youtube saves the day.

At midnight, a band that seems to be quite popular with the Swedes (or maybe with the young folks?) started playing. It was pretty much the point of the night where you think your smiles cannot get any bigger but somehow they do. When the music started there were easily four times as many people on the dance floor as earlier in the evening, which made for a crowded, but high-energy dance. I was quite fortunate to be dancing with someone who was very adept at handling a crowd.

Unfortunately, this is where I must admit that my googling skills have produced no video or photo from this time of the night, despite the fact that I am so sure I saw more cameras pulled out at that moment than at any other.

But I don't want to leave you without knowing what this band was about, so I'll include a video that was taken at a different time/location of one of my favorite tunes. Enjoy!


Friday, November 1, 2013

7QT: magic and aurora

1. I'm learning to play the Swedish National Anthem on the harmonica. Or maybe it is safer to say that on Sunday afternoon I spent several hours playing harmonica for fun, and much of that time was dedicated to playing (or sometimes just singing) the Swedish National Anthem. I was going to attempt to memorize it, but I only had the first two lines down by the time the request came for harmonica practice to be over.

2. My new favorite thing is to translate what Swedish people are saying for Greg. So, at the folk music festival over the weekend I was translating all sorts of great stuff for him. The first thing was how a guy was talking about a dog and a sandwich and then he was going to play a last song from Orsa. Then there was another thing a woman was saying about how a) they had a sister school or b) her sister is at the school. And also she said 145. I am clearly making a lot of progress with this whole language learning thing.

3. "Magic can end up being rather uninteresting." That is the essence of a comment made at lunch earlier this week after we were talking about how so many movies take liberties and get 'the physics' wrong and whatnot. For example, how long can you find something enjoyable until it just starts to upset you because of how wrong it is? Then that topic sort of morphed into fantasy/magic, and that is when someone made the comment I quoted above, in reference to taking extreme liberties without limits. It was a seemingly simple thing to say, but it sort of hit me in a hard way. It immediately made me think that this is a value of organized religion as opposed to the "I'm spiritual but not religious" mentality.

4. Aurora! The sun has been really active* lately, so I've been waiting and waiting for the clouds to clear out. On Wednesday night clear skies were predicted, so I checked the space weather** and things seemed moderately okay. So after I got home from my dance course, Greg and I headed out with camera and tripod in tow. As an aside, it was really nice to be able to use the tripod for its true purpose instead of just a long-handled spider-killer. And if you are super interested, here are all the other posts I've written and tagged 'aurora'.


Also, to avoid any confusion, the aurora in the above photo is the long green stripy bit very close to the horizon. Those little crosses near the center-top of the photo are an artifact of the lights from the building. Sort of like sun-flare, only building-flare?

5. Oh, and there is a book at the library about aurora legends that I saw while browsing that I really want to get. I believe it was Northern Lights: Legends, Sagas and Folk Tales. I'm glad it has a really high rating, should be an interesting read:)

6. Yesterday we treated ourselves to some Reese's peanut butter cups in celebration of the Halloween we didn't actually celebrate. And while I was browsing the American section of the grocery store, I couldn't help but to put some mac & cheese in our basket. I had been resisting that purchase for quite awhile. The brand of the mac & cheese is Mississippi Belle, which I had never seen and might only be available in places that are not the US? When I saw this item on a webpage I laughed a LOT when I noticed that others who had purchased it had also purchased Bette Crocker Rainbow Chip cake and peanut butter m&m's. These people really get me.

7. I'm out of things, but don't want to save this for next week, so let's just call it the end and link to the link-up. Thanks for reading:)

* I may have really low standards, what with the whole - doing my phd on auroral studies during solar minimum - thing.

** I once wrote some posts on predicting aurora, but they are rather out of date now. The two main things I looked at yesterday were data from the ACE satellite and from the GOES satellites, and I think what I wrote still mostly applies. Anything I said about Stereo satellites is no longer relevant, because their location has changed quite a bit. I am also really impressed with myself, because those two links contain current plots... not sure how I found out where to get those, but go me!