Riffed by Dr. Geek
from an idea by Vitriol


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a busy, busy weekend

The three day weekend was a very busy one around the Geek household. There was bad weather, great food, friends, sawdust, lots of wine, swearing, and rip roaring nostalgic adventure at various points. It was productive, a lot of fun, and slightly guilty.

The proceedings started bright and early on Saturday morning, when Mrs. Geek and I departed for a wine club event at a winery we know and love. Despite several weeks of decidedly good weather in the region where we live, the weather turned slightly nasty... and what was supposed to be a pleasant, sunny lunch followed by a boccie ball tournament had to move in doors, into the winery barrel room. Lunch was preceded by oysters on the half shell and the two kinds of the house sauvignon blanc (reserve and regular). Lunch itself was a sight to behold: Maine lobster boil, with shrimp, potatoes, corn, and artichokes. Guests were seated at long, paper-covered tables, and the food was simply poured out of large stainless steel baskets down the middle of the length of the table. The guests tore into the food like it was their last meal; I suppose that in this world of pre-processed, pre-portioned entrees, there is something truly primal being able to tear apart ones dinner.

Sunday was all about tools. Two home improvement projects have been bubbling up to the top of the list over the last few weeks:

  1. We got ourselves a portable, two-hose in-room Royal Sovereign air conditioner for our bedroom a few weeks ago in anticipation of the coming heat of summer. The hoses require a window insert that is normally meant for small vertical sash windows. We have horizontal sliding glass windows that are far too large for the factory-provided adapter. I needed to make an adapter out of plywood or fiberboard.
  2. We also got ourselves a bike hoist to hang my aging mountain bike from the rafters of our garage, freeing up some much-needed floorspace. The previous owners had some bracing up there for this purpose, but I felt that their setup needed a little beefing up. The hoist also needed to be installed.
Both of these projects would force me to expand my tool collection. I would finally have to break down and purchase some kind of workbench (like the Black and Decker Workmate) to hold the wood I needed to cut, and get some kind of power saw (like a jigsaw or sabersaw) to make some of the cuts. As we are now house frugal, this required busting the monthly household budget by dipping into savings to buy the necessary equipment. Both Mrs. Geek and my parents have reminded me that a) the tools were needed to complete these projects, and b) you can't go wrong by buying tools. I'm still feeling some post consumer guilt about busting the budget though; we've had to dip into savings more often than not for the last few months... and I find myself wondering when it will stop.

Sunday afternoon saw the completion of the air conditioner installation. This was followed by impromptu grilled steak dinner with friends who live nearby... which was an absolutely wonderful way to cap the day.

Monday saw all the hard parts of the bike hoist installation completed... after far too much time spent going up and down a ladder... and cursing at the mounting screws provided by the hoist manufacturer (that my drill chewed up with reckless abandon.)

Mrs. Geek and I then went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... which was good, though not great... and could have been much, much better. Sometimes there are reasons that movies go through 18 years of development hell.

We finished the weekend with some grilling of hot dogs and burgers with other friends. I decided to use the occasion to expand my repertoire of home made ice creams to include strawberry (oooh... I can now make vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry -- home made Neapolitan!) This led to a surprising amount of math.

Why, you ask? I generally use the Philadelphia ice cream base (just milk and cream, no egg yolks) suggested by Alton Brown on the Good Eats episode "Churn Baby Churn" to make my ice cream. He provided the original vanilla recipe. Moving that recipe "as is" to chocolate originally caused problems; good ice cream has a correct ratio of sugar to butterfat in the base and the cocoa butter in the chocolate threw that ratio off. Fortunately, I have an old copy of The Joy Of Cooking that has many, many recipes for ice cream (both with and without yolks), and I was able to calculate some butterfat ratios with it as a guide that let me create a much, much better chocolate ice cream. I felt that I needed to repeat this process again for strawberry... which caused Mrs. Geek to roll her eyes when she saw all the numbers scribbled on my scratch paper.

The effort proved to be worth it. The strawberry ice cream came out just fine... and the freezer in our new house does a bang-up job of freezing the bowl of our electric ice cream maker. I see more ice cream experiments in the future!

In the meanwhile, I think I need to put all my ice cream scratch pad calculations in a spreadsheet of some sort... and I'll just close by saying that if that ain't geeky, I don't know what is!

said drgeek on 2008-05-27 at 5:05 p.m.


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