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Calibrating brewing equipment

Hypothesis As per my previous post about reviewing my red ale recipe, the question arose as to whether I was measuring my volumes correctly in the fermenter and kettle. I decided to test this and calibrate the markings on same. Method I filled an IKEA 1L jug up to the 1L graduation and poured it into both the kettle and fermenter until each was full. After each 1L was added, a new graduation line was drawn on the side of the vessel using permanent marker. Results The difference between the sticker on the vessel was pronounced – accounting for a 2L difference in measured volume. I brewed another batch of the same recipe and obtained a batch size of 22L – 5L more than the previous batch. Conclusion These markings are more accurate than the previous ones. This should allow me to follow recipes more accurately. Obviously, accuracy could be improved – I didn’t allow for the temperature of the water affecting the volume and the IKEA jug is probably not the most accurate of measuring tools – but I’m happy with this improvement for now.

Reviewing my red ale recipe

Observation I’ve done two batches of the red ale (which I wrote up one run-through of) and I’m pretty happy with the flavour, but one thing that has vexed me is the quantity. I ended up with about 17L of beer at the end of the last batch, where I was expecting something closer to 25L.  Hypothesis I think that if I play with the Brewer’s Friend website, I can increase the final yield without altering the flavour too much.  Method I entered the ingredients used in the last batch into Brewer’s Friend, as shown below. HOME BREW RECIPE:Title: Niall’s Take on Ruabeoir v1Author: Designing Great Beers Brew Method: ExtractStyle Name: Irish Red AleBoil Time: 60 minBatch Size: 21.25 liters (ending kettle volume)Boil Size: 25 litersBoil Gravity: 1.038Efficiency: 35% (steeping grains only) STATS:Original Gravity: 1.044Final Gravity: 1.013ABV (standard): 4.16%IBU (tinseth): 23.34SRM (daniels): 14.02 FERMENTABLES:3 kg – Liquid Malt Extract – Maris Otter (87.7%) STEEPING GRAINS:0.16 kg – American – Caramel / Crystal 40L (4.7%)0.16 kg – American – Caramel / Crystal 120L (4.7%)0.1 kg – German – De-Husked Caraf I (2.9%) HOPS:35 g – East Kent Goldings, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 5.5, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 23.34 YEAST:White Labs – Irish Ale…
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Gig thoughts: Amanda Palmer – National Concert Hall, 28th May 2018

Setlist Support by Andrew O’Neill In My Mind Map of Tasmania Astronaut Ampersand Missed Me The Killing Type A Mother’s Confession Mandy Goes to Med School Drowning in the Sound Vegemite (The Black Death) Coin-Operated Boy The Bed Song Poem recital by Neil Gaiman – The Mushroom Hunters Brick (Ben Folds cover) Death Thing Half Jack/Zombie (The Cranberries) mashup The Ride Ukulele Anthem Thoughts This gig was the Monday after the Abortion Referendum. Lots of positive vibes about same. When I saw Amanda in the lobby before the show, I was surprised at her height. She looks taller on the stage. I had to get up to pee just after Death Thing and missed the start of the Half Jack/Zombie mashup. I was sitting behind the guestlist row – Neil Gaiman and Maykay from Flapes were directly in front of me! I blurted out “Hi Maykay!” when I saw her. Thankfully I resisted reaching out to touch Neil’s hair, that would have been awkward. I was working the following day – rushed to get the midnight Aircoach after the show in a panic. Tried to sleep on the bus but it was too warm. Everyone else was asleep though…very frustrating!

Logo Removal: A Success & A Failure

Over-obtrusive branding bugs me. Especially if it’s on something that I ends up in my eyeline for extended periods. I decided to do something about two offenders – my mousemat and my headphones. My mousepad is the Corepad Deskpad XXXL, which is a great product. It’s enormous, so you can spread mouse and keyboard into whatever position is most comfortable and use the mouse on lower sensitivity easily without falling off the desk. Two gripes with it – it shows dust up a lot and the logo is enormous. The first problem is fixed with cleaning and the second…well let’s see.   Please excuse the dust and…a hair? Housekeeping aside, you can see there’s no trace of a logo. What I did was simple – I soaked the end of a cloth in a little bit of acetone and it scrubbed right off. Easy fix, took about 5 minutes! Motivated by this success, I turned to my headphones…turned out this was a really bad idea. Acetone dissolves plastic, which I should’ve thought of if I’d paused for just one second to consider the plan. I avoided doing anything but cosmetic damage by cleaning it off quickly, but the result…isn’t pretty. I…
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Foamcore Insert: Discworld Ankh-Morpork

This is a major learning process and I knew I didn’t have the skills required starting out to do this one justice, so I saved it for game number 4! Discworld Ankh-Morpork (unfortunately out of print since the death of Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld books) is one of my very favourite games (only one that gives it competition is Cosmic Encounter!) so I wanted to do right by it. After learning a bit about removable parts of inserts while doing my Codenames insert, and my Mysterium insert I decided I wanted to incorporate that idea into Ankh-Morpork too in order to speed up set-up and improve the use of table space. I started out by making a base box that fits into the main box with a sizeable notch to put the gameboard and instruction manual into. Very happy with the cleanliness of the cuts here! Step 2 was to see how things fit into the box. Here you can see me brainstorming a bit. I want to keep each category listed below separated in the box. The core component categories are: Each player’s coloured pieces (12 minions and 6 buildings each) 12 trouble markers 4 Demons…
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Lessons From Buying a House: The Mortgage

So You’re Going to Buy a House Money is kinda important in the house-buying progress. You might be lucky enough to be able to buy a house with cash, but most people need a mortgage to do so. Please note that I am in no way qualified to give financial advice, this is all based on my own understanding of the mortgage process and my own experiences of same. If you follow my advice and end up in debtor’s prison or indentured servitude, that is completely your own fault – absorb this information at your own risk! The important factors affecting a mortgage are LTV, down payment, interest rates, and the term of the mortgage. I’ve put together a spreadsheet that calculates all the relevant factors. You can access it to get your own copy HERE. I’ve included the values from our example below as default, but you can play with the numbers to make it relevant to you. How Much Will the Bank Give Me? Your bank will look at your salary to determine how much to give you. The general formula is 3.5 x total salary. The linked mortgage spreadsheet has a calculator for maximum mortgage values if…
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Foamcore Insert: Codenames

This one turned out extremely well! I improved my cutting technique, so I don’t have the rough edges of my Mysterium insert and I made the angles a bit less of a headache than in my Avalon insert. The big strength about this insert is that it reduces setup time to…nearly zero. You take the card box and main insert out of the box, plonk them in front of the spymasters and lay out the cards. Makes for nice quick cleaning up too. Inspiration drawn from Gonzalo Viqueira over on Boardgamegeek. He provided plans and measurements too which…I didn’t even look at apart from seeing that he cuts angled notches to support the floors, which, after Avalon, I had no intention of doing! Below is how I reduced my angled insert headache. I cut and measured supporting triangles to rest the flat parts on rather than cutting slots in the walls to slide them into. Waaaaay easier! Some close-ups. I messed up the draw-box for the main cards by initially cutting notches in the wrong side of the box, so I had to cut notches in all the sides, but it still works fine and has the advantage of being able to…
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Foamcore Insert: The Resistance Avalon

  No in-progress shots of this one, unfortunately. I learned a lot of lessons from my Mysterium insert and I’m much happier with the finish on this one, though I do have some unfortunate glue spill-over around some of the joins. The big challenge with this insert was the angles for the separators for the big cards – major heartache getting those right! Inspiration from Mike Holzman over on Boardgamegeek, but I added the angled piece for the Lady of the Lake and Crown cards which allows them both to be seen at once. My core desire for this insert was that I wanted as many different components as possible to be visible at once to allow for easy grabbing. I’m very happy with how this one turned out, it lets you see all the components in one go and keeps everything nice and separated for a quick and easy set-up and teardown.     

Foamcore Insert: Mysterium

Mysterium is a very enjoyable cooperative game that combines Cluedo with…Pictionary? One player is the ghost and gives clues to the other players about each player’s unique combination of murderer, location, and weapon to solve the crime. The ghost player cannot speak though – they must give their clues by presenting the other players with “vision” cards. These cards are super trippy and oblique. It’s a fun game and always great to get to the table. Setup, however, is an absolute pain in the ass, as the insert doesn’t seem to be designed with specific locations for the “board” (there’s not really a full board, just several short strips to divide up the person-place-weapon cards on the table), so there’s a lot of fiddling and splicing decks of cards together. I set out to change this. Drawing inspiration from this box insert available for purchase online, I wanted to use removable trays to keep everything in a state of readiness in the box. I diverged from that one by making a “ghost tray”, so almost all the ghost’s kit is kept together, meaning it can be handed over to that player with a minimum of fuss. The one part of the…
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New Obsession: Foamcore boardgame inserts

cutting foamcore

Some boardgames are a pain to set up with multiple bags of tokens to hand out to players, draw decks to separate out and place around the board, or pieces to assemble – all of this slows down the amount of time it takes for the game to get from the box to the table (and vice versa when clearing up). As a means of speeding up game setup, I’ve been looking into making custom inserts for board games. This train of thought started with me stumbling onto a website called The Broken Token, which does custom game accessories, including laser-cut boardgame inserts. I’m particularly enamoured with their Cosmic Encounter insert. Immediately covetous, I started researching game inserts and came across the concept of foamcore. Foamcore is essentially a sheet of material which consists of two very thin layers of cardboard with a sandwich of foam in between. It can be cut to size and shape and is quite rigid, so it has picked up quite a bit of use for making custom inserts for boardgames. This sent me down another rabbithole of research. Starting with The Esoteric Order of Gamers‘s YouTube tutorial on foamcore, then finding the mega list…
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