Showing posts with label home brewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home brewing. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Years Resolutions Concluded

Well the year isn't quite over yet but it seemed like a good time to see how I have done on my goals. Lined through are completed.


My goals for this year.

Personal:

1. Pay more attention to my wife. This one is continual but I think it went OK.
2. Travel a lot. We did pretty good at this one. Went to Croatia, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic and Paris.
Personal Stuff:

3. We can use a few smaller things like a new TV and another laptop. The main push however is to get a reliable second car which we pay cash for.
Financial:

4. Stash some more Euro's. Say E400 or so. Didn't quite get to 400 but I am calling it close enough.
5. Contribute 10% of our total take home to retirement.

6. Stash at least a half an ounce of gold and 40 ounces of silver. Didn't get too far on
the silver. Sorta misestimated what we were capable of. Also prices going up did not help.

7. Continue to not make stupid choices.

Skills:

8. Take an automotive class. They offer them on base and I need to know more about car repair.

This one got replaced by brewing some beer which I did.

9. Be able to setup and trouble shoot a small solar setup. Sorta mute since I went with a solar charger and a bunch of eneloop batteries.

Preparedness Stuff :

10. A good radio that can pick up everything. Probably a Grundig.

11. Maybe a Berkey water filter and maybe some spare elements for it and the portable filter.

12. A basic solar setup.

Gun Stuff:

12. Buy a full case of .223

13. Buy a full case of 9mm.
14. Glock 9mm mags. At least 10 and ideally closer to 20.

15. Some M1a mags. At least 10 and ideally closer to 20.

16. A few more spare parts and at least one AR15 full bolt carrier group.

Also picked up a full case of 7.62x39 and another 10 mags for that gun.

Food Rotation:

17. Get a pressure canning setup and can something.

This one just didn'thappen. We can't get any of the stuff locally and paying shipping negates any financial benefits. I am willing to do it just for the sake of the skill but not with that hassle.

18. Get a dehydrator and dehydrate something. Did this.
And Just To Get To An Even 20......

19. Get a subscription to Backwoods Home Magazine and otherwise work on my self sufficiency/ preparedness library.

20. Join a gun rights organization.

Time for discussion. Things went pretty well. All the more expensive goals have been met. A couple goals just didn't pan out. I never got around to more spare parts because I ended up getting other stuff. On the whole I am happy with this years accomplishments.

Oh yeah and click on my advertisers links and buy lots of their stuff.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Home Brewing Day 2

Day two occurred roughly 12 days after day one. My primary purpose was to measure the beer in my hydrometer. I measured it carefully and then sanitized my spoon and stirred the beer carefully. I put it back into its place to sit for a few more days before measuring it again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Passing Books Along

Miley and I got to talking about home brewing while she was here. She was curious about the process and, such as I know it, I went over it. We got to talking about resources and I said I had read a book and watched a video. I realized we had an extra intro to home brewing book. Found it and passed it along to her.

They weren't the same exact book but for all practical purposes they may as well have been. Just couldn't see a reason the spare one wouldn't be a lot more useful for them to have than us. Maybe it will give them a start in this fun hobby that happens to be a useful skill to boot. I suppose we could have sold that book for a couple bucks. However it seemed much more worthwhile to give it to someone who we like that could use it.

Especially when it comes to books you can pass on of skills and knowledge vastly disproportionate to the economic cost to you. Maybe you have some redundant books or books that you just don't need anymore which could be useful to someone. I try not to pass on books I know I may want to read or reference again in the future. I've done that and repurchased books later a few times.

I urge you to consider doing the same thing. Sometimes I read a book and think of a person I know who would benefit from or enjoy it. Often my copy gets passed along. Should I really want to keep my copy but still want someone to read a book, it is affordable enough to just get one for somebody.  Take a look at your bookshelf's. I would wager there is a book or two to pass along. The better prepared you can get your tribe and neighbors the more ready you will all be to face the uncertain future.

Things That Make Me Happy- Chimay

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Political Views vs Real Life

I think we Americans do ourselves a great disservice by the artificial divides of political labels and parties. While the liberal vetting criteria of abortion or the conservative litmus test of the Second Amendment are meaningful in their own right's we get too carried away with them. This is seriously to our detriment as individuals and works into the hands of the political power structure.

For example Miley is visiting us. If we looked at the two of us in terms of political labels or parties we would be polar opposites. However lets set abortions and guns aside for a minute. We are both personally quite frugal. Saving and planning are a big part of our respective lifestyles and long term plan. We like getting very cheap or free stuff whenever possible. We cook staple foods.We like doing things ourselves. For slightly different reasons alternative energy interests both of us.

Interestingly enough she has expressed some interest in setting up a serious pantry. It is quite possible that she and her husband, who I haven't came up with a blog name for yet, will become part of our long term preparedness plans. She can cook, sew, garden, etc and he is quite handy in all sorts of ways. Assuming they contributed to a solid logistical footing (really a prerequisite for anybody, no point in having a big starving party) they would be enjoyable and useful folks to have around.

I recall somebody once saying that if the far left and right every get together and realize they have more in common with each other then the center, the center will be in trouble. I don't know if that is totally true. Some differences are probably irreconcilable between the two. However some elements of them might have a heck of a lot more in common than previously thought.

Don't worry about someones political views or identity. Focus on how they conduct themselves in the world and towards you and yours. Good honest hardworking people have all kinds of political views just the same way that lazy people and moochers can. Especially in personal interactions and preparedness planning a person's view on a theoretical political issue doesn't matter (if at all) anywhere as much as their personal conduct.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Home Brewing Question

Well I've been sipping my way through the first batch of home brew for a few days now. Some of them are really carbonated and others hardly so. Most bottles are pretty good but about 1/3rd are sort of cloudy and have a definite after taste. Sometimes it is just moderate but other times it is pretty noticeable and not enjoyable. Any ideas why this is?

Advice would be appreciated.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Regular Life and Preparedness Merging

Today for no particular reason I got to thinking about how my everyday life and preparedness have merged. Maybe they were always related but I am just seeing connections now. Who knows.

The first and most obvious area is home finances. We are pretty conservative and live well below our means. Lots of our financial behavior is influenced by preparedness concerns. Most significantly we tend to keep money in reserve in case we need it and regularly purchase precious metals. Saving up for stuff is the norm. If we can get it for free we do and most other stuff is purchased at a significant discount. Some might say this doesn't have anything to do with anything; that survivalism is all about beans, rifles and bullets and that anything else is unrelated or foolish. I cannot help but observe that invariably shortly thereafter the same people say "well I can't afford X" or end up selling their precious rifles because they didn't have a few bucks set aside for a car repair or sudden job loss.

Also we eat a lot cheaper than before we cared about finances and food storage. Eating a diet that is even moderately heavy in low cost shelf stable staples drops the food bill in a hurry. Also it is a lot easier to whip up a random meal in a hurry when you're used to stuff that is easy to stock on the shelf which lasts for awhile.

While writing this I am drinking some home brewed beer. I got into it as part of my New Years resolutions. It is nice because it lets me drink better beer than I am inclined to pay for. It's too early to tell for sure but it looks to be turning into a fun and rewarding hobby.

Using and generally having a lot of gear around is sort of a bi product of my job.  I suppose it could be pretty useful should I find a need for that kind of stuff. Also given what I do fitness is real important. The dividends of that are quite obvious.

So basically preparedness has at least subtly changed the way we save and spend money, shop and eat. Not bad stuff parse just different ways of doing things.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Thoughts On Fitness, Finances and Life

I wish people would realize that if your body doesn't work you don't have jack squat. My current sickness has been a big reminder of this. No matter what preparations I had made when I was down for the count it didn't matter at all. People who try to do all sorts of great stuff but have significantly limiting medical issues that are at least slightly lifestyle based are missing the point. They can have all the pre positioned supplies and skills but without the functional use of their body it is all for not. Instead of working to shoot a squirrel in the butt at 800 meters work on being able to maneuver wearing full kit. Instead of focusing on (while wonderful) redundant food storage and production capabilities think about being able to carry a pair of 5 gallon buckets full of food up the stairs from the basement.

Common sense says most people aren't 25-30 with perfectly healthy bodies. Of course if you are older or have some injuries or whatnot it isn't easy. However you must be brutally honest to figure out what sort of conditions and past injuries you can improve upon. Many "pre existing conditions" and "life long injuries" are miraculously cured by moderating your caloric intake (particularly fat and booze), exercising regularly and getting to a reasonable body weight.

Without the capability to use your body you are screwed plain and simple. Do whatever you can to improve or keep that capacity.

As for money today. It seems that things are just sorta slogging along. The boat has a slow leek that the bilge pumps can keep up with and the engines are making nasty sounds but still working. No clear and definite stuff seems to be happening, certainly not positive stuff. Some ominous things that could be bad but like anything else if you look hard enough for it you will find something. I think a lot of us look that hard and claim it as clear indicators that doom is days away.

Unemployment is high and shows no signs of getting better. Business owners and corporations are scared that some crazy regulation is coming down the pike (it may well be) so they are staying lean and holding cash instead of putting it back into operations. As this is not likely to change soon I don't expect the unemployment situation to improve dramatically for some time.

However despite all the gloom and doom we read and often pass on most folks are still working and all that jazz. As for what to do I think a lot of common sense personally conservative stuff still applies. Your mortgage/ property taxes or rent payment aren't going away. Sorry but lets be real. It makes sense to try and get out of debt because even if inflation may be looming increased costs of everything, inflation (arguably the same thing but you know what I mean) and potential future job losses may make those somewhat cheaper dollars harder to get.

Even if you are fortunate (don't believe the hype 9.5% unemployment [we could discuss the validity and significance of reported unemployment numbers but lets just rock with it for this discussion] means 91.5% of people are employed) enough to keep your current income there is a real likelihood that not so long from now it will buy significantly less. Maybe you will keep the exact same income and it will buy less or maybe your income will drop a bit, who knows. Think about what you would do if you lost 10, 20 or even 30 percent purchasing power.

Maybe you want to live cheaper now to get ready for what may come but darn sure you want to have the capacity to live cheaper pretty darn quick. It is easy to buy steak and shrimp this week then beans n rice next week, particularly if you are used to producing and consuming decent tasting food from cheap staples. Same thing with going out to a fancy night on the town this week and having a DVD at home next week. However it is a lot harder to ditch the payment on the new fancy car you need to get to work, the Visa bill or heaven forbid a home you can't really afford. If by good choices and some luck you are still in a comfortable position by all means enjoy the benefits of it. I am not classist and don't begrudge you anything. Just saying that it is good to be in a position where you can drastically (I think a 30% change in purchasing power would be pretty darn drastic) change your normal operating expenses.

Personally we can eat pretty decently with good healthy food we are used to eating for very little money. Also I am working on home brewing which helps.  I love Chimay but it is expensive even in the best of times. I can have good quality beer for less than the cheapest commercially produced stuff which is pretty cool.

We have a house guest right now. Wifey's Vice Sister who will hereby be referred to as  Miley came to help out for awhile when Walker comes. Interestingly enough her father has been our only other house guest in Germany to date. Other then the realization that I can't walk to or from the shower naked (well I could but it would be sorta awkward) it is cool. Wifey has really enjoyed her presence while I was gone and is just ecstatic that she is here.  She has said before that she needs a wife and proclaimed earlier today that Miley is filling that role nicely. Though I have spent a good amount of time around Miley it is always at those busy family things where there are a ton of people and lots of stuff going on. I am enjoying being able to hang out with her in a less hectic situation.

Anyway back to the point somehow we got to talking about gold yesterday. It occurred to me that we have at least theoretically (since it doesn't pay dividends or benefit from compound inflation and we aren't going to sell it) we have made good money on the gold we purchased a couple years ago. Not a couple points or an above average 10 percent but about 70 percent. We could sell and have done far better than we would have anywhere else over the same period of time. Heck I ordered some silver about a month ago and the price has gone up a couple bucks an ounce since then. I think there is money to be made right now if you have the cash and some tolerance for risk. Personally I have a bit of cash and a decent tolerance for risk, if just because my investment time line is so long.

I think in a way this whole economic crisis is good for us. It is kind of good for America at large because hopefully it will remind people to live in a reasonable fashion somewhere below their means and save a bit for the future instead of being in some sort of home equity/ credit based drunken orgy of consumer spending. Furthermore I think it is good for survivalist/ preppers to learn or be reminded that we need to be realistic and prepare for numerous likely scenarios as well as stockpiling bulk grains and semi automatic rifles. The sort of cold war era/ Y2K preparations that skip all kinds of likely issues and goes strait to Mad Max modern world is gone and we're all killing each other over Krispix thinking is seriously and fatally flawed. A reminder to also cover the more realistic bases is a good thing.

I am bored of writing for tonight. Going to drink a glass of water and have some home made pizza then go to bed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Home Brewing Day 1

Day one took place about a week after day zero. The yeast had finally done its thing and was ready to participate in the whole venture. So it was finally time to make some beer.

To start off I sanitized everything. The kit I got came with some solution but you can do the same thing with some bleach and hot water.  Anyway getting everything clean is real important. I then poured four gallons of water into my giant brewing pot. Put the stove on high and waited. Then I waited some more. After that I waited for awhile. It took like an hour and twenty minutes to get the water to boil. In hindsight either putting the water into 2 or 3 pots to get the initial boil or purchasing a turkey fryer to speed things up would be smart.

So after a long time and a delightful Chimay beer the water finally boiled. At this point I added the malt and the sugar stirring them in well. After the re boil I waited five minutes and then put in the first batch of hops. The brew boiled for 50 minutes and I added the second batch of hops. After the wort had boiled for an hour it was time to cool it. I quickly discovered that my kitchen sink did not have sufficient space to hold enough cold water to cool 4 gallons of wort. I grabbed the pot and took it to the bathtub and filled it with 8 inches or so of cold water. It had sufficient mass to cool the wort.

Once the wort was cooled to 85 degrees I poured it into the fermenter. I took the fermenter and put it in a cool dark place then cleaned up. That ended day one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Brewing Day 0

Day Zero was started with big intentions. First of all Wifey and I watched the video which was sent with the kit. I read the book prior and that was good but seeing the process on video helped reassure me that I wasn't missing anything. I got to looking and it turned out the yeast pack needs multiple days to get ready to use. Thus endith day 0

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

My efforts this weekend were somewhat scattered. I ordered a set of gymnastics rings which I have been wanting for awhile. Start getting my ring dip and ring pull ups on when I get them and eventually muscle ups. Tossed a couple books into my order though right now I can't remember what they were. Also ordered one of those wind up watches I have been wanting ever since reading World Made By Hand.

Got 4 good workouts in which isn't perfect but for a busy week it is good. Best of all I am enjoying myself, feeling better and starting to see a few small results.

I bottled my first batch of home brew yesterday. Really excited about that and can't wait to "test" it. Already got the stuff for the next batch in the mail. The next one is going to be a good strong Belgian beer. I will have to get all the bottles from this batch empty first. Maybe I need more bottles.

Looking at a busy week but I have a couple plans that should come together. Good stuff if I can get it done.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's Worrying Me

Well I guess I will tell you what is worrying me. I am not particularly worried about power outages or storms or natural disasters. Not to say that all those can't happen. The risk of a storm or whatever is more or less the same as it always has been. Also it helps that I am pretty prepared for that sort of thing. Of course some tin horn dictator or totalitarian state could blow a couple nukes up in the sky and cause an EMP then it would be One Second After. I think those sort of low probability high impact events are worth paying a bit of attention to but I don't think the odds of such occurrence are any higher than a decade ago. I sort of look at them like if I happen to be in line at a coffee shop and 5 guys with AK's roll in and start mowing people down. You do the best you can and that is that.

The economy and inflation are what is worrying me these days. My income is secure. That is quite an intentional choice but still a blessing. I know almost to the dollar (somehow it is always a bit different) what I will get paid on the first and the fifteenth. However I am not entirely sure what it will buy me. If you start talking about 8, 10 or even 15 percent inflation that can reek havoc on any budget.

More concerning than tightening our belt a bit and lowering our standard of living are the second and third order effects of that kind of ruinous inflation. Very quickly banks would realize that the interest they charge needs to not just factor in risk and their profit but that the money they are repaid will buy less than the money they loan out. I recall a friend talking about 15% home mortgages in the late 70's. That would mean the cost for a business to borrow money would be ridiculous. Businesses would be less able to grow or expand. Good luck with a start up. This in turn means more unemployment so fewer people are buying less. Short of the debt trap you don't see many more vicious cycles.

What can I do about this? I think a lot of conservative financial advice suits these times well. In particular stuff like living below your means, saving and avoiding debt is so important. A person with a few dollars put away, reasonable bills and little debt can ride out a decrease in standard of living (from inflation or job loss). The exact same family with the same income disruption but a bunch of bills, a visa card and no savings will be in deep trouble.

We have some money put away and few bills. Between slashing our discretionary spending and going to minimum payments we could live on a lot less than we bring in. If need be we could live off savings for some time. In several months we will have paid off my student loan and will be debt free. 

A small but regular portion of our income gets turned into silver and gold. I buy them as an insurance policy. If they go up 100 or even 300 percent in dollar denominated value I wouldn't sell. If things go beyond ruinous inflation to outright hyperinflation. Some of our precious metals would give our family a little bit of help in adjusting to the new reality and the rest would be our proverbial nest egg.

If we were 20 years older and better established real estate that can produce income would be where I would park money. A little paid off house you could rent would be better than some cash in a mutual fund. However since we aren't at that point in life yet it is a moot point.

Slowly but surely we are preparing for slightly darker scenarios. Argentina and FerFal's blog in particular are of a real help here. I am not so concerned with a full on Mad Max scenario but am working on self contained ways to maintain as normal of a life as possible no matter what disruptions we face. Little things like being able to do laundry easily or brew my own beer or listening to stations far away on the world band radio aren't huge but they start to add up.

There is a higher than normal risk of theft and violent crime. This doesn't worry me so much right now. I live in a pretty small safe world right now. When elsewhere I am pretty cautious about where I go and carry a handgun. However if you aren't a fit young guy who is reasonably trained and carries a gun it might be a good idea to worry about this. Get your body into some resemblance of shape. Get trained with firearms and start carrying one. Be aware of what you do and where you go. Not a lot of people get robbed while buying groceries at 3pm but going to the ATM at midnight is dumb. 

What's worrying you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a pretty good week here. Somehow I seem to have a cycle where I save then buy. This is kind of a buy week. I ordered some more ingredients so I can do a couple more batches of beer. This time it is going to be a good strong Belgian beer. I will be able to stop spending bunches of money on Chimay and be able to enjoy great beer more often. Not that there is anything wrong with a generic American light beer but I want to be able to drink good beer more often.

I also ordered some one ounce silver bars. I think silver is still sanely priced. Plan to keep buying it for at least the rest of the year. One nice thing about silver is that you get a far more gratifying amount of stuff than with gold. Spend a couple hundred bucks on silver and you get a nice handful of coins. Spend a couple hundred bucks on gold and you get a little coin.

I ordered a cold steel push knife. Those things are just nasty. I have done some thinking on it and any real use I would have for a fighting knife is going to be up close and very physical. These things are really intuitive which helps a lot.

I am sticking with the weight room which is good. It is a nice transition between work and home. Also I just feel better when I life.

Lastly I am finally happy with where my MOLLE chest rig is. I feel like I finally got that piece of gear to how it really should be. I will probably write specifically about what I did at some point. However to do that I will need to take pictures and such so it will be awhile. I replaced a pair of triple mag panels with 3 two mag pouches. The panels do not flex and just felt like a big thick board on my off side. The 3 two mag pouches hold the same ammo in the same place but since they aren't connected have a lot more flex and give. I can toss another one on down the road which I would want for Afghanistan but don't need for here. Also I replaced a random pouch that was holding my MBTR radio with a legit radio pouch. At some point I can use a random little pouch to hold stuff but that is a back burner priority.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Brewing Beer, Time Now

I am currently in the process of brewing beer. Apparently it takes a real long time for 4 gallons of water to boil on our stove, like a really, really long time. The wait time has been enjoyable as I have been fiddling around on the net and I have been sipping on some delightful Chimay Blue. I will write more about the brewing later.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I cleaned out my Royal Berkley water filter. Also I am finally getting moving on the brewing. More to follow on that later this week. I am starting to look at rifle plates and plate carriers. More to follow on that one. I got another CAG tourniquet also.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Trip To The Post Office In Memory

Today I went to the post office. We had 3 packages, one small and two big. The small one contained a gold coin and a few one ounce silver rounds. The two big ones contained a home brewing kit. I am pretty psyched.

Days where I get any sort of cool stuff in the mail are rare. Days where I get a lot of cool stuff in the mail are pretty much unheard of (really this one was a complete coincidence) so I am going to enjoy it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Score!

I have been trying to order a darn beer brewing kit for awhile now. Nobody will ship to an APO for less than 100% of the cost of the darn kit. Jen said Mother In Law might be willing to just re ship it for me. She asked a couple minutes ago (they do weekly Sunday phone calls) and MIL said no she would not do that. The reason she will not do that is because that is what she is getting me for my birthday!

I feel bad for people who really don't get along with their Mother In Law. Mine is pretty frickin awesome.

Now I will take the cash that was going for a beer brewing kit and put it towards something else. I will have to think about that for a day or two. Either spare parts or mags as they are the last two relatively big things I want to get this year. It is probably a decently good sign that I am rapidly approaching the end of my years goals at about the halfway point. Either that or I low balled the whole thing.

Anyway MIL is awesome and stuff. Also I'm gonna brew beer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just Askin

I am in the market for a basic home brewing setup. Don't want to spend an arm and a leg but I want stuff I can use for awhile and build upon instead of just discarding down the road. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New, New Years Resolution

So I recently mentioned that one of my New Years Resolutions had to get axed. That whole thing is what it is but I still felt crummy about it. Acquiring skills is important. Getting stuff and pursuing various financial endeavors is good and all but skills are essential. I already have a few but can always use more. Wanted to replace the skill I intended to acquire with another one.

The new, New Years Resolution #8 is: To brew a bottle of beer that is fit for human consumption. I have been wanting to get into home brewing for awhile now and this seems like as good a time as any.
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