Resurrection MarkII – The bloggining.

Lafes.Net experienced some very unfortunate down-time.  My web-host’s server died a pretty horrific death, and for some unknown reason, my pleas for support went unheeded.  Since then, I started Lafes.Net over elsewhere, but was without any backups but some very antiquated ones.  I have since been able to get some more recent backups, and so things should start looking a little more normal now.

I still am working on migrating all of my users’ old emails to their new, spiffier, unlimited email accounts on the new Lafes.Net.  This process, is, unfortunately, slow, because my new web-host can’t really import all that email from my old web-host like they thought they could.  So I’m using some scripts to do the migration for me, and they just take time.

Webmail users, your passwords may have changed!  If you find you can’t get in, just let me know (you all have my phone number anyhow) and I’ll make sure you get it reset and get you back to happily emailing.

Please let me know if you see anything else totally borked, and I’ll try to get it fixeded.

Posted in General, SiteNews | 2 Comments

I’m an uncle again.

Maya JayneThis morning my sister gave birth to her new daughter, Maya Jayne. Good job, sis!

I think she’s adorable.  But I might be biased.

Posted in Family, General, Personal | 2 Comments

Sounds of Summer

Every morning and evening these days is filled with the sounds of the cicadas’ chorus. At times it’s so loud and piercing that I can hear it indoors over music or other noises from electronic devices.

I know some folks hate the sound, but I find it comforting. It’s sort of a message that time is short and there’s still lots to do. It means that Summer’s end is getting within shouting distance, and my favorite season is just around the corner.

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Damsels in distress.

I got to go see Inception last night.  I thought it was a fine movie, although I saw the primary plot twist coming from about 14 miles away.  Still, the cast did an excellent job, and the movie was a lot of fun.

After the movie, I was watching the credits and noticed that the young couple a few rows in front of me hadn’t left and were looking for something.  They were trying to use their cell phone screens as lights in the dim theater, and not having much success.  The young lady made a call to ask someone if they had her wallet… and they did not.  I pulled out my trusty Nexus One and launched a little application that lights up the LED Camera Flash for use as a flashlight.  Within moments, the wallet was found, and the day was saved.

How often do you get to rescue a damsel in distress with a geek phone?

Posted in Android, Personal, Technology | Leave a comment

Might as well do something with this…

After a long hiatus, I went through this site and blew out some of the cobwebs. I’ve updated to the latest version of WordPress, and switched to a new theme, and generally sort of re-set things.

For those of you who use webmail here, you should find the link to the right, at the top of the list.

Perhaps I can get back to writing things here.

Posted in General, SiteNews | 2 Comments

Two years?

Two years is really too long to go without any sort of update. Not that this constitutes any actual update, but at least you can know I’m not dead.

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A dash of color.

Flowers

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Hoppy New Year

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that.

This Christmas I received some presents I had asked for… and the ones I wish to let you know about now were brewing ingredients! I received the ingredients necessary to brew a Double IPA, and a Russian Imperial Stout. On December 31st I brewed the Double IPA, and christened it the “Hoppy New Year Ale”. Today, I have just racked it to the secondary fermenter. It clocked in at 1.076 OG on brew day, and it went into secondary at 1.015. It looks, smells, and tastes good. One thing is for sure… it’s a hop monster.

There are two things I did with this brew that I’ve never done before. One is using oak chips. The recipe called for oak chips in the secondary fermenter… and in they went. Looks like bark. Hmmm.

The second thing is dry hopping. Dry hopping (which isn’t dry) involves putting hops in the secondary fermenter to re-infuse the beer with the volatile hop oils that are usually blown off during primary fermentation. This gives the beer a heck of an aroma. Like a blast of hops straight up your nostrils. Lovely! But I’m dry hopping using pellet hops, which look roughly like rabbit feed and turn to mush when wet. So I stuck ‘em in a nylon hop sack, and crammed it into the secondary fermenter (a glass carboy). Getting that sucker out after secondary is bound to be fun, but hopefully it will cut down on hop detritus when it comes time to keg it.

The current plan is to leave the beer on the oak and the hops for a week, then I’m going to crash cool that sucker (to clear the beer) and keg it.

It feels really good to get back into brewing. Now I just have to plan the brew day for the Imperial Stout.

Za Vas!

Posted in Beer, Holidays | Leave a comment

A milestone, of sorts, in weight loss.

Over the last few years I have really begun to struggle with my weight. 11 years ago, I weighed a mere 145 lbs. Since then I have put on roughly 100 more.

Early on, I found it fairly easy to maintain a healthy weight. I didn’t really have to think about it. As I’ve gotten older, that has slowly changed.

I attribute the first 20 lbs I gained to the simple fact that my wife is a very good cook. I gained those 20 lbs and then just sort of maintained that weight… until I quit smoking. The next 50 lbs I attribute more or less directly to the hell of breaking a firmly-entrenched nicotine addiction. I maintained 215 – 220 lbs for a long time, and then started a distressing trend a few years ago. I began to very slowly, but very steadily, gain weight.

Of course, this is just the summary version of events. Lots of other ups and downs went into the time line. I tried running for a while, and it was something I really enjoyed. But I found I was unable to keep it up on any sort of day-to-day basis. I wasn’t, for whatever reason, able to make the lifestyle change required to really make that work for me as a method of weight control. I still would like to get back to running at some point, as there is no doubt it was doing wonders for my level of fitness.

More recently, meaning a few months ago, I was reading some articles about new data in the excersize/dieting world, as relates to health and weight loss. The new findings suggested a few things.

One is that exercise doesn’t really affect weight loss. It does have some effect, but the effect is much smaller than was previously believed. Running marathons will obviously affect your weight loss (or gain) drastically, but for folks who work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week… not so much. Exercising that much has a wonderful effect on your level of fitness, and for that reason people really ought to put in the effort to work out at least that much. If your quest, however, is to drop some pounds, then you need to be looking at your diet.

Another thing that the new findings (and numerous older findings as well) suggest is that not all calories are created equal. The simplistic view that weight is only a function of calories in – calories out is still basically true, but there are biases in the way your body processes food that makes the equation a bit more complicated. The short version, as I read it, is that your body tends to want to store simple carbohydrates (sugar, starch, and, alas, beer) as fat, instead of burning it directly for energy. The flip side is that your body tends to want to burn complex carbohydrates and protein instead of storing it as fat. Or phrased another way, a 1000 calorie dinner of pasta marinara will put more on your thighs than will a 1000 calorie spring salad topped with grilled chicken.

These things suggested a fairly simple change for me. I resolved to switch, as much as possible, my food intake away from simple carbs and toward complex carbs and protein. A few things have really helped me make this change, and I believe that this is a change I will be able to sustain long term:

First, I am not a fanatic about it. I can still go and have a burger and fries for lunch… though I am trying to keep such occurrences down to at most once a week. And hopefully more like once every two weeks. I still very much enjoy some fine beers from time to time throughout the week. I haven’t given that up. But I keep an eye on what I’m consuming, and I now consume far fewer simple carbs than I used to.

Second, I have found an outstanding little shop within easy walking distance for lunch, that sells salad, from a well-stocked salad bar, by the pound. Eating salad all by itself doesn’t really work for me, but keeping in mind that protein is also on the “good” list, I started adding lean meats and/or low-fat cottage cheese to my lunches. This helps me feel full, and helps me stay full until (roughly) dinner time. Something salad all by itself doesn’t really do for me. Add in some decent salad dressing, and though I am still getting a pretty substantial lunch (about 1 to 1.5 lbs of food!), it’s all complex carbs and protein. No simple carbs at all.

Third, and this is already implied but bears stating clearly; I’m not really eating less than I used to. I’m not feeling hungry all the time. I’m still having the same size portions that I have grown accustomed to. They just now contain fewer simple carbs than they used to.

I’ve been doing this now for about 2 months, and I have had very non-dramatic, but very steady, weight loss. And, more importantly for me, I feel like I will have no problem at all maintaining my current habits for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, I was down 10 lbs from when I started this experiment. I am very pleased with that.

Posted in Health, Personal | 1 Comment

After a While (aka Comes the Dawn)

I ran across this poem while perusing a local RSS feed, and I wanted to save it. The post where I found it was written by Pomoyemu, and the poem itself was written by Veronica Shoffstall. Look inside (or follow the links) to read the poem.

Continue reading

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I hear the beer is good there…

Michael Jackson has passed away.

He undoubtedly had one of the best jobs in the world. His passing is a loss indeed to the community of those who enjoy fine beer and whiskey, as well as to all who knew him.

Many will remember him. And his last column, currently available on the front page of All About Beer, seems eerily prophetic.

Here’s to you, Michael!

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Baby Cat.

“We have this kitten…” I knew from how it started that this was going to be bad. “The mail man found it, and told us to take a look at it to see if it was all right.” As the story went on, I could tell right off that it sounded rather grim. A very young cat, eyes not opening all the way, found alone in the grass with no momma cat nearby. Looked like maybe it had been dropped or something. Mewing weakly. My wife asked if I could pick up some kitten milk and a kitten bottle from a pet-food store on the way home from work. I said I would, and I asked her if she knew its chances weren’t very good. She said she did.

When I got home with the milk, we tried to get it to drink some. It complained a little bit, mewed, pulled away. We persisted for a little bit. It looked like it may have gotten a few swallows of the kitten milk formula down. We didn’t really know what to do for the kitten… so we kept it bundled up in an old shirt, and placed it in a shoe box.

It was such a little bitty thing. Not even a handful for me. It rested easily in my palm, with room to spare. It wouldn’t open its eyes, and seemed very content to lay up against you and get warm, and try to sleep.

After a quick Google search I learned that the cat must be under about 3 or 4 days old, as the umbilicus was still attached. I learned that we should keep it warm… between 85 and 90F. I learned that it may not want to drink its formula, but that we should persist. I learned that it wouldn’t go to the bathroom on its own, but that it had to be stimulated. I learned that if it was laying still, and not crying very much, that it must be getting weaker…

We set up a bigger box, with a heating pad under several layers of blanket to keep it warm. I set up a neat little temperature alert thermometer that would tell us if the box got too warm, or too cold (yes, I’m a geek). We got it to go to the bathroom, just like the friendly websites told us. We tried to get it to eat… but that part wasn’t going so well. I was worried that it was getting dehydrated. It had already missed several meals… as they need to eat every couple of hours at that age… and we didn’t know how long it had been separated from its mother. I persisted for some time, trying to get it to eat, but it just didn’t want to take the formula. I would talk to it while I tried, I would coax it, and ended up dubbing it “Baby Cat” for lack of a more original name.

After trying for more than an hour to get it to take some formula (after cleaning it, and getting it to eliminate), the poor thing just looked so exhausted, so we bundled it up warm in its box, and set it next to us in the room as we finished our normal nightly routines.

About an hour later my wife looked at it in its box and asked… “Did it… did it die?”

It had.

It’s odd, really. We only knew Baby Cat for about 5 hours or so. We knew right off the bat that the odds were against the little kitten. But we’re still sad now that the little critter is gone. It hardly seems fair… but I don’t know if that’s for Baby Cat, or for us.

Posted in General, Personal | 2 Comments

Current thoughts.

Pretend like I wasted a whole paragraph saying what a sucky blogger I am and complaining about it.

Now that that is out of the way… I’ve been thinking lately about little epiphanies.  Specifically, those little epiphanies where you suddenly realize that other people really don’t have all the answers, that they’re just human too, and that they’re making stuff up as they go along just like I am.

The first time that happened, it was actually a pretty big epiphany.  I was young, possibly pre-teen, or newly teenaged, when I suddenly realized that my parents didn’t have all the answers, didn’t know everything, and didn’t always know what to do for any given situation.  This immediately made sense for me, and applied across a lot of other groups I’d previously held in fairly high esteem in those regards (teachers, authority figures of various sorts).

Since then it’s been other, smaller epiphanies.  Realizing that celebrities are just people who are thrust into (or have foolishly chosen) the spotlight, losing what little privacy is left to most of us.  Realizing that cops are just as imperfect as everyone else, but are also encouraged to carry high-powered firearms.  Realizing that sometimes the only difference between someone who is “great” and someone who is “normal” is having the guts to speak up.  Ultimately, realizing that I’m never going to reach some plateau where I’ve “made it” in life, and that the struggle will continue one way or another, and that the only person I have to blame for my tribulations is myself.

And sometimes wondering if I have the guts to take the simple steps that change things.

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Merry Christmas

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Posted in General, Holidays | 2 Comments

Decompress.

Every so often, you need a chance to decompress. Between stress in the workplace, and stress at home, it often seems like there’s just no escape.

So, now I’m playing hookey. I lined things up at work so that I could get out, and out I am. I’m sitting on our downtown mall, under a tree that’s raining red and yellow leaves, drinking a nice Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre. It’s about 74F out here right now, with an occasional light breeze that swirls the leaves around over the brickwork street. There’s wireless internet access. I think I could decompress here.

There’s still no escape, really. All the same issues are there after I’m done here as there were before I came. But maybe I’ll be in a better place to meet ‘em.

It’s worth a shot.

Posted in General, Personal | 8 Comments