I was up way past my bed time working on it last night. I was so absolutely bushed after finishing up that, when I finally came upstairs, I took each of the cats aside and explained to them that anybody who woke me up before five o’clock in the morning was going to be crated and shipped to the medical lab for scientific experimentation. They waited until exactly 5:02 am to wake me up today. Good kitties.
The last thing I needed to finish my beer-making machine was a drill bit that could cut holes big enough for the electrical outlets on the bottom of the cabinet. The guy who sold me a couple of electrically-heated kettles and started this whole adventure also loaned me some tools that would cut holes through sheet steel, but not big enough for these outlets, so I traipsed my little fanny down to Menard’s last night after dinner to save big money and came back with the tools I needed.
One of the tools was a hole saw. It fits in the end of a drill and cuts really big holes. It also makes one hell of a racket, and it damn near broke my arm when it went through the hole at an angle, wedging itself in tight enough to send the drill spinning in circles at three million rpm. Actually, that should’ve given me a bloody nose, too. I was wearing safety glasses and hearing protection, but the hardware store doesn’t sell anything that keeps runaway power tools from breaking your nose. That I know of.
The most challenging holes to cut out were the square holes for the PIDs, which stands for “beer-making blackbox computers.” These little gems are what sold me on the idea of trying all-grain brewing. Well, these and the rest of the gadgets, but beer-making computers sealed the deal. And these aren’t even the most sophisticated computers that make beer, but for a noob like me they’ll do the job nicely.
I had to cut the holes out with a jigsaw, then spend about a half-hour filing the rough edges off, straightening up the sides and squaring the corners until each PID slipped into place. This part was without question the noisiest phase of the whole operation, and it went on forever. I sure hope the cats were trying to sleep while I was doing that.
Now that all the hardware’s in place, I only have to wire the parts together to make them work, which should take only seventy million hours. *heavy sigh*
If you liked the last Star Trek movie, an alternate Trek universe as imagined by Lost creator JJ Abrams, but the uneven reviews of the new movie have you wondering if you should give the newest movie a pass, I would say, Go. See it. You’ll have a good time. I did. I didn’t think it was as much fun as the first movie, but then it is titled Star Trek Into Darkness, so if you were to come out of it with the feeling that it was darker than it had to be, I’d really have no other choice than to ask you why you weren’t expecting that.
I had one hell of a lot of fun watching Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg get into their characters. The only thing I’d seen Chris Pine in before was a crappy B-movie about making wine in California. It was so bad that I didn’t hold out much hope he would be able to take on the anchor role of Kirk in the newly-rebooted Trek franchise, but now that I’ve seen him do it twice I’m thinking he brings just the right amount of devil-may care to the role. If nothing else, his willingness to get into fistfights makes him an excellent Kirk, a starship captain known for his roundhouse punches almost as much as for his way with the ladies.
Zachary Quinto I can’t say enough about. I literally couldn’t wait to hate his portrayal as Spock when I heard he was picked for the role, telling everybody who would listen what a huge mistake it was to cast him, and all because of the execrable character he played on the television series Heroes. I have no choice but to eat my words now. He’s more than lived up to the role: he’s inhabited it completely, making it his own, a job that would be tough enough with only Trek fans watching. To do it so well with Leonard Nimoy standing over him (literally!) the whole time has got to be more daunting than I could ever imagine.
If ever there was an actor born to play a role, Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy may be a textbook example. He growls his lines in a way that would have made DeForest Kelly proud.
And then there’s Simon Pegg. He had about ten minutes of screen time in Star Trek and it felt like he was there just for comic relief; he didn’t do much other than deliver a few punchlines. There’s a lot more Scotty going on in the latest movie, though, and he’s a firecracker this time around. The chief engineer as played by James Doohan seemed reserved even when he was shouting his signature line, “She cannae take namore, Captain!” Pegg’s nearly-manic Scotty is nowhere near reserved. I loved the scene where Pegg and Pine are racing down a corridor filled with flames and smoke to the engine room to save the Enterprise, giving Scotty yet another chance to smack down Kirk for the way the captain treats the engineer’s dearly beloved ship. “I’m off this ship for one day, just one bloody day, and look!”
I’m hugely disappointed that Zoe Saldana didn’t get a bigger part in this latest movie; Uhura was a much fuller character in the first movie than she ever was before and I’d hoped they’d find a chance to keep building her up. Ditto for John Cho as Sulu. And Anton Yelchin’s appearance as Checkov was reduced to little more than a cameo in the newest film. Honestly, I never cared much for Chekov, but if they’re going to keep him as one of the iconic members of the crew, which he is, then they should do something with him.
The rest I can’t even start to talk about without giving everything away. I’m sure somebody has done that already, but I don’t want to be that guy.
So I have nothing else to say about it, except for picking a few nits that won’t spoil anything.
The falling Enterprise scene bugs me. Honestly, how does anybody still think that spaceships fall out of the sky when their engines aren’t blasting away to hold them up 100% of the time? I know jack-all about orbital mechanics, but even I know that doesn’t happen. It’s like imagining that your car will fall off a bridge if the engine suddenly stops working. I mean, you could fall off the bridge, but it wouldn’t be because your engine stops working.
And then there’s the Klingons. The baddest aliens in the galaxy. In their big scene, they fast-rope from the bomb bays of their troop ships by the dozen to capture or kill (I’m betting they were going for “kill”) our guys from the Enterprise. But wait! A super-solder appears from the sidelines carrying a rifle big as a telephone pole that he uses to blast Klingon warbirds from the sky! When Klingons surround him and get close enough to slice and dice him into little bits with their curvy swords, he effortlessly repels them with kicks and punches that send them flying. It turns out Klingons are wussies! Even when there are dozens of Klingons! Wearing armor! One guy can take out ALL the Klingons, even when they can fly! Okay, no. You can’t tell me there’s an alternate universe where that makes sense.
Two nits is enough for now. When Star Trek Into Darkness comes out on DVD and I can watch it a couple more times while I fold laundry, I’m sure I can come up with some more.
I spent two and a half hours slaughtering dandelions this morning, and I’m bushed.
I was going to say “doing battle with dandelions” instead of “slaughtering” but, unless you count their ability to reproduce faster than rabbits, they can’t really fight back much, which makes it kind of a stupid metaphor.
“Slaughtering” is totally accurate, however. I waded into our knee-high crop of dandelion flowers with a weed eater, swinging it back and forth like a scythe as I advanced, and where they were so densely packed together that they formed a supercolony as thick as my thigh, I turned the head of the weed eater until the floss was cutting perpendicular to the ground so I could effectively mow them all the way down to the dirt. It was a bloodbath, or whatever the vegetative equivalent would be. A sap-bath? Doesn’t sound nearly as gruesome and awful as it should.
This is the third time in eight days I’ve mowed the lawn, the first two times with a lawn mower, this time with the weed eater because at this point I was just cutting down dandelion stalks. The grass wasn’t growing nearly fast enough to need mowing already and the mower isn’t effective at all in cutting down dandelions. The stalks get pushed to the ground by the front edge of the lawnmower’s deck, helpfully holding them down as the blades pass harmlessly over the majority of them, so that the next day the yard is a forest of dandelion stalks once again. Hence, my unconventional use of the weed eater.
Seriously, some of those dandelions have grown so old and thick that they should’ve evolved arms and legs so they can scramble away when I come at them with certain death. Life would certainly be a lot easier for me if they had. I’ve been reading about ways to control dandelions, not because I don’t want them in my yard, I do. I think they have pretty flowers and I don’t particularly care that other people don’t. I only wish there weren’t so many of them. Our front yard is practically nothing but dandelions. We could do with fewer.
As far as I can tell, though, there are just two ways to keep dandelions down: Poison them or pull them. Both methods have their problems. We don’t want to use poison in our yard, even though all our neighbors do, so that option is out. Pulling them is not really an option, either, because there are too goddamn many of them. If I had the leisure and/or the mental instability to commit eight hours every day to pulling dandelions, I’m pretty sure it would still take years to bring them under control.
So at this point it’s possible that the only way we’re going to make our yard presentable again is to cover it in black plastic, kill off every living thing and start over next year, a project I’m more than a little daunted by. I’ll need to think about this a while. If you need me, I’ll be in a lawn chair on the back deck, thinking.
Yesterday was the first time this year that I was able to ride my bicycle to work in shirt sleeves, and, it has to be said, they were short sleeves. It was about sixty degrees, a little on the cool side of comfortable for me, but the sun was out and I warmed myself up so that after the first mile I wasn’t worried at all about catching a chill.
After I came home from work, I stretched out on a chair in the back yard with a beer and finished about half the New York Times crossword puzzle. When I couldn’t get any farther I put the crossword down, rested my head on the back of the chair and passed a dreamy ten or fifteen minutes just gazing up at the sky through the bright green leaves of the maple tree that grows over the deck.
Trash day. Gotta remember to put out the recycling, too. Am I the only one who thinks that the garbage truck and the recycling truck both end up in the same place? I said that once to one of my coworkers, who was horrified at the thought. She apparently never doubted that the guys who picked up the recycling actually recycled it. I’ve always wondered, but I’ve never been concerned enough to follow the recycling truck to its destination. If I followed a recycling truck back to its home, how weird would that be? Would that be considered stalking?
Even though I’ve never especially liked David Bowie’s Space Oddity, this cover by ISS commander Chris Hadfield is not only just plain awesome, the production values are going to be hard for anyone else to beat ever:
It’s Day 3 of Goddamn Laundry Hamper Week and, as you can see, the damned thing is nowhere near empty even though I’ve washed three extra-large loads and a regular load of clothes that I pulled from it last weekend, so I’m definitely not crazy and these pictures prove the goddamn laundry hamper can refill itself when nobody’s looking. Prove it without question! So, yeah. I’m sticking to my story.