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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Entries in things i do (25)


Hallelujah (And More)

This weekend we got the tree. Sunday was the holiday beer tasting at the Merc. But tonight is my favorite Christmastime tradition: the “Messiah” Sing-along.

I have always loved to sing, and I did a ton of it growing up. Since college, though, I haven’t done much of it. I certainly haven’t done enough of it for my taste. Every so often I think about finding a group to be be part of, or learning piano or guitar so I could strike out on my own. I know that would take rearranging my priorities, and I haven’t quite made the commitment to do that yet.

So, one Tuesday evening every December, I pick up my score, head over to First Presbyterian, and hope that this is the year we finally pull off “Worthy Is The Lamb.”


I'm Just a Guy Who Runs Every So Often

I don’t think of myself as a runner, but the data may indicate I’m thinking of myself incorrectly. While updating some of my records, I noticed that since I got back into running again at the beginning of April 2010, I’ve run a thousand miles. That’s an average of 12 miles a week for 84 weeks.

And that kind of blows my mind.


Fitness: Ran 3 miles

The Horns

This post is one in a series of Fourth Friday Challenges that my friend Becky and I are throwing at each other. Let’s see if you can guess what this month’s challenge is by the time you get to the end.

I’ve been celebrating a lot at work recently. We’ve had a series of big accomplishments that have really been the result of a lot of small wins. I know that battles like these are really won with those small victories, so I have been trying to point them out and cheer them whenever I see them. My usual form of celebration is simply raising my arms over my head, like I’m indicating a touchdown or a field goal. In more emphatic circumstances, I’ll stand up and signal the score. But the most extreme form of encouragement I can offer is throwing the goat.

For those of you who aren’t aware, “throwing the goat” refers to making the sign of the horns, the heavy metal salute made famous by the late, great Ronnie James Dio (who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath). And despite not really being a metal fan, I have a great love for this gesture. It can be subtle. You can catch someone’s eye from across the room, and without anyone else knowing, express your approval of their actions with a brief nod, a slight lifting of the wrist, and momentary curling of the fingers. It can be brazen. You can jump up onto the bar, belt out a banshee wail, and raise your arms over your head as you make the horns with both hands. (This will usually result in the entire bar screaming your name or the bouncer tossing you out in the street, so use this option wisely.) It can be expressed concisely in text as “\m/” — which is, for my money, far superior to “:)” or any other smiley. It can even be taken to the next level. You can throw one set of horns with both your hands together if what’s happening is too much metal for one hand. And if you and nineteen of your friends approve of something to an extreme degree, you can form a goat-throwing Voltron and indicate that it is too much metal for thirty-nine hands.

You may have noticed that I used the word “approve” a lot in the previous paragraph. That’s what the gesture really means to me. “That thing is metal (by which I mean “awesome”). I approve. Do more of that.” Because I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement.

I have no sense, however, of when or why I started doing this. As I said, I’m not metalhead. I have dim memories of Wil Wheaton or Jeff Tidball (“Throw it proudly.”) being influential in my adoption of the gesture. But beyond that, I have no idea. It’s just something do now, to the extent that I sometimes forget that it’s unusual. And that perhaps I need to be careful about who I throw the goat to.

So, what was the challenge? On Tuesday, I wrote to Becky:

I challenge you to write a post that is exactly 666 words long.

Now, I’d been thinking about making it 333 words, but Becky has specifically said that the point of these challenges is to push ourselves, to do things that we might not otherwise do. Many of her posts recently — like my own — have been on the shorter side, so I figured I’d push her outside her comfort zone.

Scant minutes later, Becky replied:

I was waiting for yours before I could give you mine. I have not looked at yours yet, here goes (is this inspired or lazy??)

Boing — back atcha! You must answer the challenge you posed to me, for your challenge.

Okay, now I’m going to look to see what the challenge is!

Her next email contained swearing. I sensed she was not throwing the goat.


Fitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 424 words, 411 seven-day average, 284 average, 50293 total, 207 to go for the week; 17-day streak

Even-Keeled vs. Big Swings

My weekends are becoming bipolar.

Last weekend I was camping at Renaissance Festival site, fighting people with foam weapons, and not sleeping very much. This weekend I hardly left the house, except to go for a run and a bike ride. This seems to be a pattern my weekends are falling into: When I’m away, I’m out doing crazy things; when I’m home, I’m a hermit.

I think I’m ok with that. I means that what I’m doing, I’m committed to. I’m taking full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, no matter whether they’re opportunities to do something as exotic as visiting someplace new or as mundane as getting some reading done or putting the house back in good working order. There’s real power in asking, “Given where I am, and what’s happening, what’s the most effective thing I can do today?”

It’s funny how my weekends stand in contrast to my weekdays. During the week, I try to live at a steady, constant pace, doing “a little bit of everything” every day. The weekend is about a different kind of balance, I suppose. My weekdays are fairly routine. The environment doesn’t change a lot, so the piecemeal approach works. Weekends are a lot more variable, though I have some control over that variability by scheduling things appropriately. I take the macro-level view when it comes to weekends, the micro-level during the week. I need to do a slightly better job of integrating the two, but it’s interesting to see those two different approaches to balance interact.


Fitness: Biked 17 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 322 words, 367 seven-day average, 276 average, 45519 total, 19 past the goal for the week; 5-day streak

Winemaking: The 50,000-Foot View

For our first wine-blogging Wednesday, let’s start at the beginning.

Wine is a fermented beverage made from the juice of grapes. You can make it from all sorts of different grapes1, but almost all commercially produced wine comes from Vitus vinifera, the European wine grape.

Grapes are perennials, and grape vines produce a single crop of grapes each year. They bud in the spring; produce that year’s stalks, leaves, and clusters; and lose their leaves after harvest in the fall. Each vine produces multiple clusters, though vineyards managers do prune bunches, sometimes very aggressively.

Once the grapes are picked, they are crushed to get the juice out. The juice contains sugar, which means it can be fermented. During fermentation, yeasts2 eat the sugar and produce two important by-products: alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation is done in containers that let the carbon dioxide escape, but the alcohol stays behind. With that step complete, the grape juice is now wine.

Some wines will also undergo what’s called a secondary fermentation, where a bacteria transforms one kind of acid in the wine into another kind. Depending on the wine-making style, the wine is either held for a while in stainless steel tanks or aged in barrels. For how long? It depends. When it’s done, it’s bottled, labeled, held for a little while3, and then sold. Eventually the bottle gets opened, the contents are poured into glasses, and the wine is drunk.

That’s the basics. Any questions so far?

fn1. Grapes a very prone to genetic mutation, so there a numerous grape species, hundreds of grape varietals, and thousands of clones.

2 Similar to the ones that make bread.

3 How long? Again it, depends.


Fitness: Ran 2.5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 400 words, 364 seven-day average, 267 average, 31769 total, 731 to go for the week; 14 day streak