Excommunication is a harsh sentence. Can you stand up to the Pope’s attack fleets?

As a youth I saw this advertisement in an old Dragon magazine and while I forgot the name of the game, the picture of it stuck in my mind for decades, particularly the clever tagline: Excommunication is a harsh sentence.  Can you stand up to the Pope’s attack fleets? Recently I ran into some scans of the magazine and I poked around to find the ad and did some more … Continue reading

New Brewing System

The lovely Mrs. Nerdly Endeavours treated me to an awesome birthday present of a new homebrewing system.  I wound up sourcing a Blichmann Top Tier stand, burners, and shelf from a local shop and the kettles, pump, fittings, etc. from an online source.  Here it is squeezed into a nook in our backyard. I used my existing rectangular cooler as a mash tun, adding a 10 gallon kettle and burner … Continue reading

Thermometer Calibration

I received some parts for a new homebrewing system & thought I’d better calibrate the thermometers to ensure the desired mash conditions, where temperature is critical. To start, I heated water to approximately mash temperature and put it in an insulated mug.  I used a reference mercury thermometer and a Thermapen™ for reference, plus the thermometer being calibrated. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but the mercury thermometer and … Continue reading

Adjusting Sidepull Brakes

Mrs. Nerdly and I bought an old Schwinn Twinn Deluxe tandem bike and have enjoyed using it to get around town, but the front brake was questionable so I thought I’d try and get it working better. The bike is a 1978 model, made in Chicago. There’s no rear brake visible in the picture because it is a drum brake built into the rear hub.  When we got the bike … Continue reading

Rebuilding the Rancilio Silvia steam valve

I’ve had my excellent Rancilio Silvia (“Miss Silvia”) espresso machine for seven years now and the steam wand developed a dribbling leak.   Time to rebuild that sucker! I ordered replacement o-rings and seals from 1st line and was happy to get the parts just the day after ordering them, despite just using ground shipping.  Most of the work in rebuilding the steam valve went as described here, though there were … Continue reading

Roasting Coffee

So Mrs. Nerdly called me saying she found a hot air popcorn popper at Community Forklift for $5 – should she buy it for roasting coffee?  Why not! Years ago I’d used a Zach and Dani’s roaster (now Nesco) when I lived in an apartment – that roaster had a nice feature of an “afterburner” to reduce the inevitable smoke from roasting coffee.  But it crapped out as the belt … Continue reading

GameScience dice

In a fit of nostalgia I picked up these GameScience dice, which are made in the USA and feature a “razor edge” unlike other die, supposedly providing more uniform results.   GameScience is upfront about the sprue marks left behind, but they look pretty bad on the left and center dice here.  Also, the die on the right has a pretty big smudge with a fingerprint in it – disappointing.

Good News, Everyone!

An untethered jailbreak for iOS 5.01 has arrived.  This is for devices running the previous generation processor, namely iPhone3GS, iPhone4, iPhone4-CDMA, iPad1, iPod touch 3G, iPod touch 4G (not the iPhone 4S or iPad 2).  If this interests you, I suggest you get going soon before the control freaks at Apple stop “signing” the 5.01 firmware.

Homebrew Stir Plate for Growing Yeast

I make beer, which requires yeast, preferably lots of yeast. Normally I buy yeast prepared by commercial labs that cater to homebrewers, but I make 10 gallon batches so I would buy two packs of yeast and even then wonder if I had enough. After reading this piece by Dr. M.B. Raines (showing that continuous stirring generates about ten times the number of yeast cells as compared to just aeration), … Continue reading