02/04/06 - Carey's Horse Story Carey sent Susan an email with her rendition of "The Equine, the Cougar, and the Stick". Click here to refer to the original diary entry and view another take on the wild adventure.
02/04/06 - Wine: Day 10 The fermentation process has slowed considerably over the past few days and the fizzing has pretty much stopped. We siphoned (actually, Susan siphoned) the wine from the fermenting bag into a steel container in order to remove the sediment (we're not making McReynold brand wine, ya know?). The siphon had a small tip on the end to prevent any chunks from transferring. I was expecting the sediment to look more like the crystals I'm familiar with in some wines, but the leftover junk in my container looked more like purple sand. Maybe the crystals form after time?
I cleaned out of fermenting bag and then transferred the wine back into it. The wine will now rest and enter what the instructions call "secondary fermentation" for about another two weeks.
Oh, I did taste the wine - it was still fairly sweet and smelled a lot like yeast. I wouldn't say it tasted good; hopefully more time will change the flavor. If not, Susan might have to add one of her sticky notes to the outside of the bottle - the one that says, "Only drink this wine after imbibing two glasses or more of a good wine first".
02/04/06 - Houston Trip Susan and I had a wonderful time in Houston last weekend! We stayed with my high school buddy George and his wife, Deborah (and their two kids, Alyssa and Sydney - who are soooo adorable!).
I've always wanted to visit NASA and that was our first stop Saturday morning. I'll start off by saying NASA isn't very interesting (at least not anymore). I guess after 9-11 they closed down a good portion of the tour (such as the underwater/low gravity training center, mission control, etc). We were able to take a tour bus around the campus, but the only building we got to go in was the mission control room from the older Apollo and Space Shuttle missions. It is amazing how technology has changed in just the last decade or so (they stopped using the room in the mid-nineties). The rest of NASA consisted of some mock-rockets, moon rocks, and a plethora of space suits. I've really seen science museums with a lot more interesting exhibits than what NASA had to offer.
|NASA - The Astronaut Rejects||Susan's Driving?|
The rest of Saturday was far more interesting and fun. Our next stop was the Kemah Boardwalk (just a little Southeast of Houston on Galveston Bay/Gulf of Mexico). Seagulls and Pelicans were abound on the boardwalk running alongside the bay's edge. It was a surprising 60 degrees and felt wonderful with the fresh breeze blowing in from the water. We had lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant and admired the 50,000 gallons of ocean life right beside our table. Their aquariums included every color of fish imaginable, some stingrays, and even a shark; however, the best part of the restaurant was hiding next door. At the Stingray Reef was a large tank filled with several varieties of rays. Oh, but these weren't the garden variety - the rays here were practically domesticated! The rays would swim right up to the edge of the tank and let you pet their extremely soft backs and fins. They were really cute (I know, I usually don't think of stingrays as cute either)! If you had a sardine in your hand, they would practically propel themselves out of the tank in order to snatch it from your hand. This was by far the most enjoyable experience on the entire trip.
|Where's Nathan?||On The Boardwalk|
|Under The Sea||Where's the Reef?|
On Saturday night George took us to his and Deb's favorite dining establishment. Japaneiro's is an odd blend of Japanese and South American cuisine. For the South American portion we ate some spicy boiled shrimp and some lime soaked fish. It was interesting, but very tasty. For the main course we delighted in a huge serving of random Sushi (It was called the Chef's Nirvana). The tray had enough Sushi for everyone at the table and we still didn't finish it all. It was definitely on par with the high-quality Sushi we have in Fort Worth - extremely fresh.
|This Will do in Lieu of a Cat||Sushi Eaters Anonymous|
The Houston Museum of Natural Science was our first stop on Sunday. This museum puts the science museums in Forth Worth and Dallas to shame. It is three stories of dinosaur, sea shell, gemstone, space, science, butterfly, and nature exhibits. The gemstones, butterflies, and science exhibits were my favorite. The planetarium show was also fascinating. We could probably have spent an entire day at the museum, but unfortunately we needed to start the long drive back to Fort Worth.
|Red Butterfly||Orange Butterfly|
We decided to take a slightly different route home than the straight shot we took to Houston on Friday. We drove through some small towns and even stopped at a Winery in Brenham, TX. Pleasant Hill Winery was a nice little stop even though the wine wasn't particularly good (the bottle we purchased is a Susan sticky-note variety). On our way through Waco we stopped at a wonderful little Mexican restaurant, Café Olé, and stuffed ourselves. Yum!
02/04/06 - Dakota - 200 Weeks Old It really has been almost 4 years since we were toting a tiny kitten around in his basket and feeding him milk. Susan snapped a couple of endearing pictures of the little bast....err, baby.
|Perched in the Kitchen||Little Pink Tongue|
02/04/06 - Jungle Fever Just another quick log entry to display the corner of the kitchen. Since it is winter, a good portion of Susan's outside plants now reside by our corner windows in the kitchen.
|The Amazon||Safari Trail|
Is it just me, or does it look like a tropical jungle in here? Five points for each plant you can identify ;).
02/04/06 - Frontier Poker We finally cycled through all of the poker playing employees in the Accounting Department. As such, it was time to host another company poker party at our house.
Greg - aka - Robert's Whipping Boy
|Contemplating the Flop||Shuffle Up and Deal|
My luck hasn't been too good at the last few outings, but at least Susan and I normally break even since at least one of us usually comes in third. It was my turn this time. We had lots of good food and enjoyed several bottles of wine. On top of that, the next poker party is already scheduled for March.
02/07/06 - Wine: Day 23 The wine actually tastes good?!? I was scheduled to siphon the wine again today and remove any additional sediment. In addition, the instructions indicated I should taste the wine (this was supposed to be the first taste...when in reality this is my third or so sample...oops). If the wine was still too sweet, then it goes back into the fermenting bag for another two or three days. Merlot is typically pretty dry, but the tasting today had a hint of residual sugar and was actually quite nice. As such, I decided to keep the wine a smidgen sweet and end the fermenting process today. This was done by adding Potassium Metabisulphite to the liquid in order to neutralize the yeast. The wine will now stabilize over the next few days until the next step (this Sunday).
02/12/06 - Wine: Day 28 Wine still tastes good, but Susan still thinks it smells a little like yeast. I added some Gelatin, Tartaric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide, and Pectinase. I'm not sure exactly what all of that stuff does, but I think part of it is supposed to make the wine less cloudy; we'll see what happens. The wine will be ready for bottling on Wednesday.
02/16/06 - Wine: Day 32 The wine is still cloudy, but it tastes fine (albeit a little more acidic than on day 23). Hopefully aging the wine will taper off the acidity. Nevertheless, it is ready for drinking and I'll be sharing it at a variety of opportunities.
Susan and I poured the wine through a strainer to be safe, but there wasn't any sediment large enough to be caught by it. There was more than enough wine to completely fill four bottles and two wine glasses (one of which I'm drinking right now). I affixed the labels and used a hair dryer to shrink the foil wrapper onto the neck of the bottle. The corks are not designed to allow the bottle to lay on its side (the bottles are not completely air-tight), so I don't think the wine will keep for years, but it should last for several months.
One bottle will go to the poker party next month and another will be delivered to Lawton - I have no idea what I'll do with the other two - test subjects...volunteers...guinea pigs?!? Cheers!!!
02/16/06 - New Garmin My original GPSr was a Christmas gift from Susan over three years ago. It found over 1500 caches and survived a plethora of bumps and bruises along the way. Unfortunately, I finally misplaced it sometime over the previous month (I promise I didn't lose it on purpose). Nevertheless, I've been planning on replacing my GPSr for quite some time and upgrading to a version with maps.
|Only 4.8 miles till the next Slurpee!||Custom Cache Icons||Goto-Address; Wonder if the coordinates are close?|
My new Garmin (looks a lot like my old) contains fully navigatable maps (for example, I input an address, intersection, or waypoint and it guides me step by step on how to get there). That will come in very handy for our road trips and geocaching expeditions (no more printing maps!). It also has a color screen and a variety of features designed with the geocacher in mind. This includes custom cache-type icons, ability to download cache descriptions, and the feature of searching by waypoint type (just where is the nearest micro to my current location?).
|R = Regular Size; followed by Difficulty/Terrain, a hint, who placed the cache, and when it was last found.||Navigating to a nearby cache||In 32 seconds I need to make a turn|
I've been really enjoying the paperless caching - all I have to do at any point in time is turn on the GPSr and see where the nearest cache happens to be. It is very kewl!
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