Making Homebrew

On Saturday, I attended my beer making class in the City.

We spent the first two and a half hours talking about beer and sampling various beers including:

  • Firestone Walker Wooky Jack
  • Firestone Walker Double Jack
  • Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
  • Highwater Campfire Stout
  • Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel
  • Cinder Cone Red Ale
  • Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA
  • Morpho Herbal Ale
  • Trappist Westvleteren quadruple
  • And more…

You can imagine we were all pretty loopy at the end of this tasting, which also included passing around various barley malts to try and hops to sniff.

My class consisted of 5 guys and 5 girls, broken into three groups to each make our own beer of choice. My group had a very handsome (yet gay) British man in it. He was a lot of fun. We had a great time making our beer – a Baltic Porter – which will be ready to drink in four and a half weeks. Our method was the Extract with Steeped Grains method.

What did I learn about beer making? I learned that even though it’s a simple microorganism creating the beer, the process and execution is actually quite complicated. It also requires quite a it of an investment in materials.

The basic process was this:

  1. Pick out your recipe.
  2. Measure out your grains.
  3. Mill the grains.
  4. Make a giant tea bag out of the grains and steep in 150F water.
  5. Steep 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
  6. Remove tea bag.
  7. Measure out malt extract.
  8. Add to steeped grain mixture and stir.
  9. Add your first round of hops – for bittering.
  10. Boil for one hour.
  11. Add your second round of hops – for aroma.
  12. Pump mixture through a heat exchange (to cool it) and into your glass fermenter.
  13. Measure the specific gravity (sugar content) of your mixture. Ours was 1.083 or 11.5% sugar. Our finished product should be a about 7% alcohol which is lower than your typical Baltic Porter but the highest our teacher would allow us to go.
  14. Add rehydrated yeast solution to the cooled mixture.
  15. Cap the fermenter
  16. Let the mixture ferment.

It was a fun class, but a very long process. It took us 7 hours to complete everything. My favorite part was steeping the grains and watching the color develop in the water. I also enjoyed the science of fermentation – how yeast change glucose molecules into alcohol and carbon dioxide via their metabolic pathway.

Here are some pics from the day:

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After the beer making there was the ____making

After my homebrew class, I met up with Charles since he lives in the City.

[Charles has been written about HERE and HERE.]

It was great to see him again. We met for pizza at Paxti’s in Hayes Valley. Paxti’s makes great Chicago-style deep dish pizza and Charles and I would have enjoyed a deep dish pepperoni and sausage had it not been accidentally given to the people sitting at the table next to us. No matter, we enjoyed their veggie pizza all the same.

Over dinner, we talked about a plethora of topics from volunteering and mentorship to my upcoming OM class and family cuisine. In spite of our 10 year age difference, I felt like I was talking to a peer. Charles is obviously very intelligent and fun to be with. I enjoyed myself immensely.

After dinner, we drove to the top of Twin Peaks in the City. Thick fog was rolling in and I felt like I was driving Mulholland Drive just to get there. At the top, the view even in the fog was spectacular

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We shared a kiss on Twin Peaks and Charles invited me back to his place. Of course, I accepted his invitation.

Back at his place I discovered a turntable and vinyl records. So exciting. I couldn’t wait to hear a little crackle. Charles put on Aretha Franklin.

And so, it was with the sultry voice of Aretha playing over the speakers that Charles and I kissed in earnest. He has the softest lips and is such an incredible kisser. I got drunk off his kisses. They went straight to my head and before I knew it, we were kissing up against a wall and slowly undressing each other.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening spent with an amazing man. It was so good I’m still smiling, nearly 24 hours later.

Things you don’t know about me

Here are some details about myself which might interest you.  It’s a list of the top 25 things you don’t know about me:

  1. I’m a Scorpio.  Was there ever any doubt?
  2. I can do the splits, courtesy of 10 years of ballet lessons.
  3. My favorite flower is a Sheer Bliss hybrid tea rose.
  4. I have no middle name.  Never got one.
  5. I lost my virginity at 15. To a total tool.
  6. I hate kale and am dismayed about its surge in popularity recently.
  7. My SAT score was 1540.
  8. I won a speech contest in 1988.
  9. I can play the piano and sing.
  10. I’m the second of 7 kids – 3 girls and 4 boys.
  11. I don’t care if the toilet seat is up.  Except at night.
  12. I can spend hours watching the Discovery Channel.
  13. I can bait my own hook and change my own oil.
  14. I once went to a plastic surgeon who rejected me from any type of procedure I wanted.  He said nothing was wrong with me.
  15. I’ve been proposed to three times.
  16. I was an early bloomer.  I was a D cup in 7th grade.
  17. I have a terrible memory.  That’s why I write everything down.
  18. I have a BS in Biology and worked in genetic research for 5 years.
  19. I am a PADI certified Rescue Diver.
  20. My favorite color is blue.
  21. I have two boys but I’ve been pregnant 6 times.
  22. I studied French for 15 years.
  23. I love sushi.  It’s my favorite meal.
  24. I used to smoke (and still do, sometimes).
  25. I get PTSD driving on the freeway in the passenger seat.

And 5 more things, as requested by Marty:

  1. I’ve visited Scotland twice, France once, and Spain once.
  2. I travel with a car window breaker in my truck because I’m so scared of drowning.
  3. I watch Keeping up with the Kardashians.  That Kim is quite the looker.
  4. I once tried to lose weight by going on a cigarette diet.  I figured if it worked for supermodels it could work for me. Not so much.
  5. I volunteer on a regular basis for many organizations – from the Campbell Highland Games Association to the Junior League to the Kiwanis Club.

Chemistry

Chemistry.

It’s what we all in search of.  That elusive je-ne-sais-quoi, that sudden lurch, the extraordinary connection to another human being.

Chemistry is defined as the interaction of personalities.  But I think it’s much more than that.  I think chemistry is mysterious.  It’s a strange alchemy that draws people together.  It’s the undefinable quality that bonds one person to another and visa versa.

In my life, I’ve been lucky to have experienced chemistry many times… up until recently where there’s been a dearth of chemistry.  In the last two months there have been exactly two people I experienced chemistry with.  And for those moments I am thankful.

And so, for my homage to chemistry I am going to list a few on screen couples who rocked with charts with their chemistry:

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  1. George Clooney and Jennifer Lopex in Out of Sight.  Their dinner together when they talk about their imaginary future together is flawless.  They just sizzle.

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  1. James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary.  He’s so hard on her.  And she provokes him until the final scene where you finally understand their dynamic.

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  1. Mathieu Kassovitz and Audrey Tatou in Amelie.  They’re just perfect together.  Sweet yet sexy.  When they finally hook up, even you need a cigarette afterwards.

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  1. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Lining’s Playbook.  The on screen chemistry was so amazing rumors swirled that these two were hooking up IRL.  We were all hoping!

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  1. Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Here’s some potent on-screen chemistry.  Maggie and Brick bicker for most of the film as their obvious obsession for each other comes out.  Hot?  For sure.

So there you have it.  Spectacular examples of chemistry… at least the firey, all-consuming chemistry I like to experience.  Chemistry is sometimes criticized for being valued more than compatibility.  I personally think both have to be present to have a successful relationship.

I have to want to jump your bones and be able to have stimulating conversations on a regular basis.  Chemistry is great because it can’t be faked.  It can steer you in the wrong direction, however.

Coll it love. Call it passion.  Call it illness.  The nuances of your personalities and behaviors ravage one another’s dopamine receptors in a neurological orgy of starry eyed dreams.

Why I hate Valentine’s Day

Why I hate Valentine’s Day

  1. You’re penalized if you’re not in a relationship. There’s nothing worse than being alone on Valentine’s Day.
  2. You’re penalized even if you’re in a relationship. There’s stress to make something happen. Be extravagant.
  3. People make unwise purchases they can’t afford in an attempt to shower their love with luxurious gifts.
  4. Everyone gets price gouged. Restaurants raise their prices. The price of flowers and chocolates goes up. It’s a racket.
  5. It forces people into and out of relationships prematurely. Some people enter into a relationship just to not be alone. Others can’t handle the pressure and thinking Valentine’s Day means something and theirs was sub par they break up.
  6. There’s too much focus on gifts. If it’s really about love, a heartfelt sentiment shared and time spent together should be good enough.
  7. I hate the idea of a CONTRIVED day when you’re SUPPOSED to show your loved ones how much you care for them. For me, the best shows of affection are the unexpected ones. The ones that take me by surprise and wake me up to the fact that someone loves me.
  8. I think romance is about much more than flowers and chocolate and diamonds. It’s about sticking by someone’s side through thick and thin. It’s about being there when you’re needed and supporting each other through the tough times.
  9. Valentine’s Day is too commercial. There’s not enough focus on generosity, on philanthropy as there is for other holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  10. It’s an annual reminder that your ovaries are wasting their time.
  11. Even if you’re happy being single, someone, somewhere is going to try to make you feel like shit. If it’s not the couple eating each other’s faces off, it’s the twat with a condescending, “Too bad, maybe next year.”
  12. V-day makes you call up THE ex – to shag, to cry to, to drunk dial… whatever.

And she breaks her vow again

Not surprisingly, I may have broken my vow to not date for a month. This time I lasted 3 days instead of 1.

So that’s progress.

The reason I broke my vow this time around is not what you think.

It’s not that I’m looking for my soulmate so much as I’m simply horny.

Frisky, Randy. Hot and bothered.

Yes, indeed. I am succumbing to that most basic of human urges.

The urge to get laid.

And there’s no way that’s going to happen unless I put myself out there again.

So I’m sorry I’m such a flake when it comes to taking vows.

But I guess I’m more committed to finding a lover than I am to keeping my vow.

Besides, what would I do with myself for a month?

I’m already taking and OM class and a beer making class. That sounds like enough self-improvement for me.

So it looks like I will be seeing Charles this weekend.  Charles from the San Jose Jazz FestivalCharles of the amazing kiss.  Charles “I-like-our-chemistry” Charles.  Yes, that Charles.  Yum, yum!  Usually our schedules don’t match up but this weekend I think they will.

So wish me luck again as I venture out into the crazy jungle that is singlehood.

What I hope men think about when they’re having sex with me

Sometimes I wonder if the inside of a man’s brain sounds like the lonely buzz of a fluorescent lightbulb. In reality I think that their brain cells are working like pistons, constantly firing. So given my internal dialogue during sex, what would theirs be? I’m sure it must be more sophisticated than just “boobs, boobs, boobs/”

Sex is one of life’s simpler moments. In the presence of my naked body, I hope a man’s mind becomes pretty stimulated and his mind takes off. Here’s the thoughts I imagine a man would have:

Damn! I forgot to shower. It’s not that I mind a whiff of musky body odor during sex. I just like the idea of a man who wants to prep for me.

My god, these are perfect! Hopefully the best breasts are the ones that have recently been exposed for his enjoyment.

I should remember this for later. Taking a mental picture of me for later. For.. you know… solo activity.

“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd …” I was once told that men sing this song in their heads to hold off on the Big O so that they can last longer for their partners. I like a man who wants to extend the play.

Play it cool. I want you to think you’re totally in charge, even when you’re not.

I wonder if she’d be cool if I tried ______? Every guy has his own bag of tricks and I want to be shown his.

Where did she learn THAT?! I have my own moves and would like to think that I manage to blow your mind once or twice.

So, um, was that an orgasm? When men orgasm, you know it. It’s a show. So I can understand their confusion when, after I orgasm, I just keep going like I’m the Duracell bunny. He doesn’t know if he should keep going? Wrap it up? WHAT TO DO?!

THAT. JUST. HAPPENED. Men may not show it afterward but they’re pretty excited. Nothing else matters at this time. He has me in his arms and his brain is stewing in a bath of feel-good hormones.

How to get laid this weekend

Get Dolled Up. No, you don’t need to get all dolled up for some guy you haven’t met yet. What I am saying is to do your take on dolled up. This will boost your sexual confidence which in turn makes you ooze with sexuality. Those who are confident in themselves score big.

Pregame. I’m not talking about getting your drink on before you leave the house. In this instance, I’m talking about masturbation. I have a single friend who swears that when she brings herself to the brink of orgasm and stops, then goes out, her goal to get laid is even stronger. If I had this kind of self-control I would have tried this, but once I hit the edge, I just fall right over to the other side. If you have the ability to tease yourself without giving in, then this technique is for you.

Fly Solo. It’s always easier to meet people without my friends on board. When you’re alone at a bar or a party, you’re just more approachable, and it’s easier to get a conversation started. This cuts out all the games that come when you and your girlfriends are let out in the wild together. Remember, you’re on a mission.

Have Fresh Breath. People can overlook unwashed hair. People can ignore body odor. But no one, and I mean no one can forgive bad breath. Keep it clean with some minty fresh mints or gum.

Peacock. Who owns this bar/party scene? You, that’s who. Who’s the belle of the fucking ball? You. A little attitude will help you walk right over to that hot guy and take him home? Strut, strut, strut!

Get Interested. Studies show that men eat up attention from the ladies. Even if it’s hard to keep your eye on the ball because you just want to go home and get it on, find a way to be interested in whatever he’s saying, and you’ll make major progress in how your night might end.

Don’t Push. If you set your sights on someone, but somewhere down the line it goes crosswise, walk away. Time to just move on. You know that saying about other fish in the sea, right? It’s true!

Own It. This pretty much is a motto for life, but is especially relevant when it comes to sexuality. When you have the need (and desire) inside you to have sex, then go with it. Do not feel ashamed, do not judge, and don’t you dare stand in front of the mirror second-guessing your appearance as some sort of block to getting laid. You’re hot. You’re sexy. Own it. It’s the weekend, baby, and you’re about to have some fun…

Facebook and my frustration

MMI have a trigger on Facebook. It’s a picture of a friend.

Every time I see that picture I feel bad.

I’m conditioned to respond in a negative way to that picture.

The other day, said friend was posting all over Facebook. Not just the usual post here and there but a full on onslaught of posts.

I was beside myself with discomfort.

Not because of the content, just because of THAT DAMN PHOTO.

My BFF thinks I should just unfriend this person and remove the stimulus that makes me feel bad.

I can’t seem to bring myself to do that.

I hate burning bridges just in case down the road I feel differently.

And down the road I ALWAYS feel differently

So I guess I’ll just have to suck it up. Grin and bear it. Deal.

It’s not like I can ask my friend to stand still while I throw donuts at him/her.

Right?

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And speaking of burning bridges, guess who added me as a friend on Google+?

Edward. Yes, that Edward. Of the $1000 date fame. And the only man to tell me my life had “too much drama.”

Boo. I’ve felt so bad about that comment ever since he said it, and now he’s my friend again? Yay!

Maybe his attitude toward me has softened.

I sure hope so.

I could use a deep, cleansing breath.

The Highland Games

imageThere was once a time in my life when I was embedded in the Highland Games circuit.  I went to a Games every weekend and watched the heavy athletics, the bands, and the living history show.

But those times were long ago.  Although going to this Highland Games did make me a little nostalgic for my ex Steve, who was a superb Highland athlete with a whopping 56″ chest.  Ah, I miss that chest!

In any case, I went to this game with my BFF, her boyfriend, and two other friends with their boyfriends, making me the whopping 7th wheel.  But we all had fun.

 

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We checked out the Birds of Prey display and hit up the Whisky Tasting Room to try a few single malts (Oban, Lagavulin, and Laphroig were my favorites).  We also checked out the shinty exhibition game, the heavy athletics, the bands massing, and the food vendors.

All in all, a fabulous time, considering I managed to sample over 12 kinds of whisky and not get wasted.  Plus I got to hear 600+ pipers play Amazing Grace so beautifully, the hair on my arms stood up.

Here’s a few pics from the afternoon.  Hope you like!

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