Archive for February, 2006

Contusions, Triple Toe Loops, and Zombies

Posted by Karen in Broomball.
Sunday, February 26th, 2006 at 9:29 pm

This weekend Coach Kastler and sidekick Mad-dog organized a little Grim Sweepers retreat at his family’s cabin near Webster, WI. Nate and I weren’t able to make it up there until late Saturday night, but when we finally arrived at almost midnight, we found the majority of the Sweepers – where else? Out on the ice of course! Peter had cleared snow from the ice on the lake to make a nice sized rink for us to play on, and they were out there with tiki torches, playing a modified game of broomball they were calling "Swarm", which sounded like it basically amounted to "everyone attack the guy with the ball". Nate and I joined in the action, and I gave Nate this: Well, actually only the top one. Wendy was responsible for the bottom one.

After one of the worst nights of sleep in my life because of a certain overstimulated puppy, and a hearty breakfast cooked by Chef Pedro, Nate and I headed out to the ice on our skates for our version of the Winter Olympics: ice dancing and pairs skating. It was truly inspiring. While we were perfecting triple toe loops, spin sequences, and lifts, some others cross country skied, snowshoed, and hiked. Our little dog-friend/canine-devil did very well with his first off-leash experience. He played with the other dogs, accompanied friends on trips around and across the lake, and overall got completely tuckered out. He’s been passed out for like the past 5 hours.

And then of course, there was more broomball. We finished with Peter’s new version of broomball, Zombie, where one person walks around like a zombie, and touches other people to turn them into zombies, who then do the same. They can be turned back either by a teammate hitting them with the ball, or by a goal being scored. It was awwwwwesome.

And so another Grim Sweepers season draws to a close, and what a wonderful way to go out. And now we’re sad. It is such a joy to spend time with each and every one of our teammates, and yet some of them we barely see during the rest of the year. Broomball is the glue that maintains those friendships. It’s also our reason for being insanely excited about freezing temperatures, and our means of fending off seasonal depression. Granted, there are a few things I won’t exactly miss:

And I did just this week get quite the urge to trade in the SmartWool socks for some flip flops. But I once again feel like the season went by way too fast, and I can’t help but wish we had more games, more practices, and more times like these:

Kegerator inauguration

Posted by Nate in Homebrewing, Projects.
Sunday, February 26th, 2006 at 8:59 pm

Time for an update, and lots more pictures. At left is the trial run to see if my measurements were right and I can actually fit (at least) 8 kegs in this thing – no problem. And I’ve still got the whole compressor shelf which could hold two more or three if I try. Whoa.

The remaining parts came last week, I think Thursday, so that night was spend knocking together the gas fixtures and manifolds on the back of the rig. You can see (from right to left) the 10# CO2 tank and primary regulator set at 24 psi. At 40 degrees F, 24 psi will give me 3.5 volumes of CO2 in solution – just right for soda and highly carbonated hefeweizens. This pressure is fed into a double manifold so I can drop it inside and also use an external line to force-carbonate kegs or 2-liter bottles by shaking. This double regulator passes the 24 psi right into two secondary (low pressure) regulators, one set at about 14 psi and one at 8 – this will give me nice pressure for standard ales and low carb british and scottish ales. All of these lines pass into the kegerator as you can see at left – from left to right we have high pressure, medium, and low. The nice thing with the manifolds is they’re pretty easy to extend when I need to add more gas lines for the rest of the kegs. They also include check-valves, which prevent liquid from flowing back into the regulators if I ever attach a high pressure keg to a low pressure line.

Finally we’re at the keg itself, with two quick disconnects feeding CO2 and drawing beer, from left to right. I’m using 3/16 interior diameter beer line for increased resistance – I still need about 5 feet to drop the pressure enough for a good pour. If that’s confusing, just think about shooting beer at 12 psi into a glass – it would explode in foam. The long tube length applies increased pressure over distance, allowing the beer to reach equilibrium before it exits the faucent. There are a lot of crazy formulas to calculate line length based on temperature and serving pressure – my 24 psi lines are going to be a coil about 25 feet long!

Lastly the glorious exit. The stainless steel shanks bore through the foam and wood and connect right into stainless steel faucets. They’re more expensive than chrome, but they won’t chip or corrode over time with the acidity of the beer. I don’t have any cool tap handles yet, but there is a screw-in insert that matches the tap thread which will let me make my own someday, so I might go that route. In the meantime probably pick up some dirt cheap plastic ones.

What’s on tap? So far just an American amber ale, and a keg full of water for experimenting with a few soda recipes. No gas leaks yet, everything is holding pressure well, and I couldn’t be happier with the results so far. Now I just need the in-progress beer batches to hurry up and finish so I can keg them!!

Oh yeah, it’s called the Kegenator. Word.

More Helpy!

Posted by Nate in Bruno.
Saturday, February 25th, 2006 at 1:48 pm

Helpy McHelperson taking our old table apart.


Posted by Karen in Day to Day.
Friday, February 17th, 2006 at 12:49 pm

At noon today it was 9 below zero with a windchill of 35 below. At noon. I just had to share that.

powdered sugar love

Posted by Karen in Holidays/Birthdays/Etc.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006 at 12:06 pm

What’s that you ask? Why, it’s french toast stuffed with cheese, veggie ham, sausage and bacon. My favorite breakfast in the whole world. But what really seals the deal on this Valentine’s Day breakfast are the powdered sugar hearts on top. I once told Nate that rather than a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store for Valentine’s Day, I’d prefer he spend 5 minutes doing something easy but sweet. He’s a creative guy, I knew he had it in him. And ohhhh, how he nailed it this year. Powdered sugar hearts just made my whole day. I’m all a-flutter.

Helpy McHelperson

Posted by Nate in Bruno, Home Improvements.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006 at 11:47 am

Bruno helps us put together the new bed from Ikea.

Kegerator, yo.

Posted by Nate in Homebrewing, Projects.
Monday, February 13th, 2006 at 9:50 pm

So remember when I got that big chest freezer from Karen’s parents? And how I had been dreaming since day one about building a kegerator? Well, today those dreams took a huge step towards becoming real… At left is the freezer in the "before" state. The wire running into the side is for the temperature controller that lets me peg whatever temp I want inside. The pic on the right is the first step: getting it on wheels. You can see the whacky corner – an inauspicious start to the project. I wrote down a 3 and added a 2, so the long boards ended up an inch short. I didn’t want to go get any more lumber if I could help it, so I used a bit more glue and an angle on the screws and called it good. Really shouldn’t be that much sideways pressure applied to those joints, and in the final product the cosmetic bit won’t be seen. Primed with Killz2 latex, sealed with an untinted outdoor gloss, and good to go.

As soon as I got the lid off the freezer, Mr. Helpy McHelperson decided to sit on it. And he wouldn’t get off, even as I started laying in the mitered edges of the collar for the lid… (PS, mitered cuts are really hard to make well with just a circular hand saw. I measured every line from one perpendicular end and used a fence to make the cuts, and still ended up about 1/8" off on 3 of the 8 edges… Not unfixable, but not what I wanted.)

Next time I would come up with a better method for the framing process. I decided (probably unnecessarily) I didn’t want screw holes on the outside of the wood (staining was still a possibility at this point), so I was going to frame from the inside with 2×2 sticks in the corners. Solid and a good idea, but it proved really difficult to keep things square and level while applying the pressure needed to screw everything together. Maybe next time I’ll tie in the 2×2 to one side first, but it seemed hard to know exactly where to seat it so the miter would be right. Hmm.

Realizing the insulative properties of wood aren’t so hot, I used 1" foamular insulation board, with an R-value of 5. Plain 2x lumber has about 1.8, so the foam will make a big difference in keeping the freezer cold… I also wanted a way to keep the collar in place on the freezer without screwing into anything on the freezer, so I got a few big washers and drilled holes in some 1×2 to pull through the insulation and adjust the spacing on the sides. You can see the first board on the right, the rest were added while it was sitting on the freezer in order to get spacing right. In the end a good tight fit, really solid when in place.

The last thing before painting was caulk – I sealed every joint, exposed board end, and all the screw heads and washers. Once it was dry (this was spread over a few days) I hit it with two coats of primer and sealed it with the same gloss finish.

Finally it was time to fit the lid. (In retrospect I should have used the existing lid holes to keep things in place instead of the elaborate 1×2 down the side method. Next time.) After a few trial and error sizing and depth tests I had a very good fit for the hinges on the lid – it swung and balanced correctly. I had to trim and re-caulk the top edges of the 1x2s since it hit the inside of the lid at first, but that was it for this step.

At left is a closeup of the hinge setup. I may need some more sealant around there eventually, we’ll see. Lastly, before I set the whole thing in place I put some weatherstripping on the bottom edge to get a good seal. The top used to be a magnetic seal, now it’s just gravity – and once it was in its final position I could see a few gaps. Some more caulk, some more paint, and some more waiting and I finally had a solid seal around the lid. At right is final product – missing, of course, all the faucets! I just today placed the orders for the rest of the gear – the kegs should be here on the 16th, and the gas and liquid equipment soon after. Done deal! The kegerator conversion is well underway, and it’s all totally removable in case we ever need a regular freezer back. So sweet already, and stay tuned for updates: it’s only going to get more awesome!!!

On the homefront

Posted by Nate in Homeowners, Neighborhood.
Thursday, February 9th, 2006 at 9:36 pm

Shortly after moving to the Duoteam HQ, I signed up for emails of crime stats for the neighborhood and various police alerts as they were issued. Minneapolis has what seems to be a good system, where each precinct is divided into sectors, and each sector has a (civilian) Crime Prevention Specialist paired with a (cop) lieutenant. This CPS sends out the monthly stats, and in my initial signup email I asked what else I might look into in the neighborhood. Apart from having a very active neighborhood organization to check into, she recommended that I look at starting a block club.

I attended a block leader training at the end of January, and it was pretty informative. If nothing else, it drove home the point that we really need to meet more than just our immediate neighbors. I think an organized block, even if they meet just twice a year, is a much friendlier place to live. As a renter until recently, it never really occurred to me to make the effort to meet neighbors when it always felt like a non-permanent home — now that I’m able to look ahead several years in the same place, it matters. I think it will get easier in the Spring and Summer, in fact I’m counting on it: I hope to do more research, maybe knock on a few doors to gauge interest, and then come April or so try to start up a block club. Informal, low key, but something.

So tonight Karen and I attended a community meeting on the (gang) graffiti epidemic sweeping the precinct. Not a super productive meeting – I don’t feel like some of the police representatives were the best communicators, and some of the residents (one vocal guy) were hostile towards what they perceive as inaction. But it raised some good points, and gave me some stuff to think about. When our garage got hit, I did a bunch of research and was close to starting to build something (nerd!) based on this idea: a transportable or fixed unit that can listen for the unique ultrasonic sound signature of a spray can and automatically call the cops. How smart is that, really. So. Smart. The lady in charge of building cases against graffiti suspects was all about this camera rig, but said she was open to suggestions. She’ll be getting a call from this homeowner, tell you what. There’s only so far that painting over it will get you, eventually you’ve got start catching the dudes in the act.

So, that’s the word on the homefront. I feel pretty safe in our neighborhood still, I’ve installed a bunch more motion-detecting lights, and we keep all our doors locked. Bruno’s been getting some test runs out of his kennel alone, and he’s made it 4 hours or so without incident. Hopefully soon he can be free in the house all day and that’s just one more deterrent… Big dogs are nice like that. :)

Grrrrrrim Sweepers

Posted by Karen in Broomball.
Tuesday, February 7th, 2006 at 3:37 pm

So I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat all day, dying to know how the Grim Sweepers fared in the first game of the broomball tournament last night. Well, let me give you a little re-cap.

Other team: Crying and whining about how we were playing too rough, only to turn around and tackle our players multiple times.

Ref: Gives one of our players who was going for the ball a 2-minute penalty for tripping, gives their team no penalties.

Me: "Get out of the crease please." (2 minutes later, to the same girl) "Get out of the crease please."
Other girl:
(Ok that last part is really just what I wanted to do)

One of our girls has a collision with one of their guys and tries to make a friendly joke. Guy then freaks out something about her being a girl, a tirade he then continues for the rest of the game. Basically, the guy has some deep-seeded issues with women athletes and should really go play in a mens-only league. Not to mention that he was playing with an illegal stick.

Our team: Scores two gorgeous goals.

Their team: Scores one very pretty goal.

Their team: Scores a super lame goal that bounced in off of one of our own players.

Our team: Scores another beautiful goal.

Our team: Scores a goal that bounces around in the net and a member of the other team even acknowledges it went in.

Ref: Calls no goal and says it didn’t go in. It’s now 3-2, Sweepers.

Their team: Big whiner guy wants to fight Peter because he thinks Peter was too rough, whine, whine. Nate gets in between them and tries to calm the guy down. Guy then wants to fight Nate. Nate wants to destroy him. Much shirt grabbing.

Ref: Somehow doesn’t see fit to stop play, even though there is shirt grabbing and near-fighting and everyone has stopped playing and is watching the about-to-be fight. (Somehow he didn’t seem to think it was his job to get the game under control. )

Other team: Takes a cheap shot while no one is looking and scores. It counts.

It’s now 3-3. We then had a variety of awesome opportunities but our shots were just off the mark or blocked. Our team is playing tentatively because they are simultaneously trying to kill us and whining about us playing too rough. I still can’t make sense out of that.

Game ends. Since it’s a tournament we go into overtime. 2 minutes, 4 on 4, 2 girls and 2 guys, no goalies. Dumb. All I can say about this is that we were completely thrown off. It was just too weird. I don’t even know what the score was, but we lost.

It wasn’t so much the losing that sucked. But to lose to such shady, slimy, whiny jerks, people that you can tell even off the ice you would hate because they’re just crappy people, that sucks. And what’s more, to lose when YOU ACTUALLY WOULD HAVE WON if you had had a decent ref!

Needless to say, we were all angry little balls of rage after the game. What to do? Drink beer! We headed to the Chatterbox, our friendly neighborhood pub, and after a pint (or 2) and some quality time with the teammates I so adore, the greatest teammates you could ever ask for and some of the greatest people I have ever known, I was feeling like no matter what we still always come out on top, we always win. Because even now that we’ve gotten good and the game has gotten more intense because we’re actually competitive, we still have the most fun and we still enjoy each other’s company more than any other team, guaranteed. Oh how I love my Grim Sweepers.

So as to not go out on that ugly note, we are going to keep on playing on our own and throwing scrimmages together for as long as the ice will hold. I already can’t wait to get out there and put last night’s game out of my mind forever. And I also think my lengthy message of complaint that I left today for the director of the broomball league about the world’s worst ref was a good step towards releasing a little more rage.

Nate’s view of the world

Posted by Nate in Beer.
Saturday, February 4th, 2006 at 3:04 pm

Rick tried to post this as a comment, but blogger wouldn’t take an image. It’s too good to keep under wraps, so here you go:

See, it’s funny because it’s true. So true. Anyway, I have to go. I need a beer.