January 2020 Part I

Click here or on the catastrophic snow event above for the rest of the photos

New Year’s Morning we went and visited some stagnant friends for brunch. (stagnant: we used to hang out with them, but just kind of…stopped…probably mutually, probably out of busy-ness and merely mediocre alignment of interests). We had met them through our old work friend Coach, who is sibling to the wife in this couple. Anyway, Coach came up with his wife and two kids, and we went to hang with all of them. Ann (Anne? Anh? The wife in the local couple) is a good cook; breakfast was simple (mostly build-a-bagel with eggs and bacon). We learned that Chilkoot and Nick (the husband in the local couple) share a love of salt. Nick has a collection of interesting salts that he and Chilkoot perused, and then Nick sent a few samples home. Totally normal behavior for a six year old, right?

Anyway, it was nice to see Coach + family. We went to a park, all the kids played. Nick was sick as hell for whatever reason (he claim he didn’t drink anything on New Year’s Eve), and was barely able to keep himself out of the bathroom long enough to talk.

Chilkoot and I worked on his Pinewood Derby car. KrisDi found egg-shaped fishing weights (versus stacks of nickels on previous tries); we were able to drill through-holes in the car and use a clamp to press-fit the weights into them, so no glue was necessary. It took a few tries, but I was able to explain the concept of using spray paint for a base coat and then hand-painting decorations on top of it to the six year old. Overall, it worked pretty well. Didn’t win for the troop, but won for his age group and did pretty well for a couple amateurs. He got a trophy and was pretty stoked.

Chilkoot got a fever and had to stay home; then Chilkat got it. By Monday, Chilkat wasn’t better, so Krisdi planned to stay home with her, but school got closed anyway. I’m pretty sure Chilkat felt fine suddenly at this point.

One of the weird things out here (or now versus then) is that if anyone in the school district can’t get to school, then school is cancelled for everyone in the school district. School was cancelled at least twice and delayed at least twice. We had no snow on the ground during at least the first cancellation. I understand that other people in our school district are at a higher elevation, but when I was growing up, school could be cancelled for the farm kids and the city kids would still have to go.

This year, I decided I should work to actually empty and get rid of the bottle in my liquor cabinet that are not of great interest to me, in order to make room for things that are of great interest to me. Additionally, I thought I should actively seek to reduce my beer stockpile. I began this work of “finish the neglectable bottles” with a local bourbon, Elk Rider, (on the rocks), and then “green Russians” to try to finish my Matcha Kahlua and our (now) redundant and inferior bottle of vodka (KrisDi won a handle of a higher quality vodka that is now taking up space in the liquor cabinet).

Various things:

  • Chilkoot got glasses. Well, at least by this point in the month, he had gone in to get a prescription and order glasses, which included trying some on.
  • Uncle P Dubs and T Dog made good on their Christmas Present for Chilkoot and took him skating.
  • KrisDi’s cousin the commercial pilot visited briefly and we spent a lot of time eating and talking about the 737 MAX.
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Taster Flight Project

Click here or above for all the pictures

We occasionally have get togethers where we have several people tasting several beers at the same time, and we have always cobbled together a collection of 25 assorted sample glasses collected at various beer festivals or similar events. I wanted to get a consistent set of glasses and be able to pack them up to take them places if needed.

Around the same time we decided to pull the trigger and get rid of the old collection and order new glasses, we discovered that you could buy used whisky barrel staves on Amazon, and thought it would be cool to build taster flights as well.

So, we bought 10 used whisky barrel staves. The widths can vary fairly significantly, but we found a listing that said they’d guarantee none were narrower than 3 inches. We ordered three dozen 5.5oz Acopa taster glasses from another website.

I wanted to have a spot for five glasses on each stave because we often do five beers at a time. Basically eyeballing, we decided to cut them to 22″ long and put the holes 3.5″ apart from each other center-to-center. We original planned to put feet on them, but decided against it for simplicity and because we thought they looked cooler without them.

Basic process and tools and materials:

  • Start with staves.
  • Miter saw at a fairly arbitrary angle (outside on top, inside on the bottom) on both sides to cut them down to the center 22 inches
  • 2″ hole saw 3.5″ spacing 5x for the holes (1 7/8″ was not only hard to find, but too small for the glasses), cut using a hand drill (a drill press would have been really nice for this step
  • Wire brush to clean off the big chunks of ash or other loose material
  • Sandpaper on the outside edges just to get rid of the whiskers left behind
  • Drum sander on the inside of the holes
  • Three coats of varnish liberally applied
    • I used vinyl gloves to keep it off my hands and let me handle the wet staves
    • I drove some wood screws through cardboard to make drying stands, figuring the points of the screws would leave no noticeable mark in the burnt texture on the bottom of the staves
    • 1.5-2 hours in between coats

That’s basically it. We’re keeping six of them, and giving P Dubs four of them.

We used eight of them to support a 10 year vertical flight of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for four people after Chilkat’s birthday party with our Oregon friends.

Note: Power tools on used whisky barrel staves smells delicious.

Also note: Glass base diameters varied quite a bit. The first stave we drilled with 1 7/8″ hole saws, which was OK for the first one or two glasses we tried (when they were cold) — which unfortunately were some of the narrowest ones we had. It took forever with the drum sander and a hand drill to open up the holes.

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Day of days!

Happy Groundhog’s Day / Big Brother’s Birthday / Friend Mei’s birthday / palindrome day!

That is all. Carry on, citizen.

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December 2019 Part II

KrisDi came up to Kirkland for dinner with me (we went to Izumi and had amazing omakase and curry udon with katsu) — but, it happened to be in the middle of an incredible rainstorm, wherein lower roads had been closed. It took her like 45 minutes to take a short detour and actually get to work. We ended up abandoning my low-riding car at my office in favor of her higher-riding SUV, and going back for it in the morning.

While Chilkat’s girl scout troop was volunteering at a PAWS event, KrisDi went to a liquor store and found a couple Aberlours I was excited about and bought them for me. Now I have a fairly impressive collection.

Mom experienced monumental plumbing problems this winter, and consequently chose not to host Grandma Christmas. Instead, we did it at our house. I was at work most of the day, but it also meant that she stayed with us through Christmas, which was a nice change from previous years.

We spent most of Christmas Eve in Gig Harbor as usual with KrisDi’s side of the family. Kids got lots of presents. Unusually, in the morning, we took the kids to the post office to get them passports, so we can go to Guam in April.

We had Christmas at home with Mom, for once. I was proud of my super dorky joke version of a Nintendo Switch. Chilkoot was actually really excited about it, although I wasn’t mean enough to pretend that it was actually the gift he was going to get. Anyway, the kids got a ton of presents, we went to church, I got another bottle of whisky, we had French Onion Soup. It was a nice day.

In continuance of what seems to be turning into a tradition, we went to a minor league hockey game again, this time with Les, P Dubs, and T Dog. We went to CRFT (fancy beer bar) and an Indian restaurant first (which was cheap and delicious). I enjoyed a fancy beer at the game.

Chilkoot and I went to Camp Sheppard with his cub scout troop for winter camping. We had one big cabin with something like 24 bunks in it. It was close to 30, but there was almost no snow, and not much to do. We went on one short hike with the troop. Mostly, the kids ran around maniacally in the cabin. After we eventually got a small fire going, me and a couple other fathers hung out (avoiding children) trading stories of our own childhood misdeeds and/or sources of scars.

I particularly liked the troop leader’s husband’s story about how much colder and less posh the winter camping facilities were when he was a kid. He went out to chop wood with a hatchet, and went back inside and said to himself, “Shit! There’s a big long hole in my pants!” and pulled up his pants to look, and thought, “Wow, there’s another hole in my long johns, too!” pulled up his long johns, and thought, “Uh oh…there’s a hole in my sock, too, and there’s a bunch of blood…” Apparently it was so cold he didn’t feel the hatchet wound he inflicted upon himself. Troop leader had to take him to the ER for stitches.

We finally went to Mr. JJ’s to share Utopias with him. Mr. JJ found it on the shelf for $180 at a Costco almost two years ago and texted me about it, which quickly escalated into him actually buying a bottle. We found a few investors to share it with (my wife, Mr. JJ’s neighbor and son), but only now got around to gathering to try it. Mr. JJ posed nicely with the bottle once we emptied it.

Conclusion: It’s very tasty, but closer to a brandy or sherry than it is to a beer. It’s 28% ABV. We thought it was really funny that after unscrewing the gigantic fancy cap, there’s a plain-old Sam Adams cap on the bottle.

And of course, New Year’s Eve. We didn’t have anyone stay with us this year, but we let the kids stay up until midnight. Overall, it was relatively tame, I suppose. I didn’t have to go to the emergency room. Nothing scandalous happened that I remember.

Various minor things:

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment