Wulf's Webden

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Monday 9 May 2022
by Wulf
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Golden George Bottled

I decided that my Golden George brew was ready to bottle today — about a week later than I had originally expected. I wonder if that was a result of the different fermenting vessel? I used my new Speidel container rather than fermenting in the large brewing pot I’ve been using for a few years now. The Speidel has less head room, less surface area and a better seal to the outside world, which could mean the CO2 produced by the fermenting yeast more rapidly closed off access to atmospheric oxygen.

Having got down to 1.006 today, well below the target of 1.010 (and the reading of 1.014 I took last week), it was time to bottle. The Speidel made it easier to take samples and easier to do the bottling. I got ten decent bottles out of the tap and another 3 that are on the cloudy side and which I’ll aim to use as my early samples.

I could easily have fitted another litre or two inside. Next time I might use boiled water dosed with brewing sugar to bring me in closer to the original target gravity. Alternatively, I could set up a grain bill for a higher volume of water and then reintroduce it later in the mashing and boiling. I’ll need to get some more pale malt before I experiment although, with the ambient temperature now often resting above my nominal target of 17°C, that might be one to wait until the autumn.

Sunday 8 May 2022
by Wulf
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Touch button speed

Not long after getting my Skoda Fabia, I mentioned that I was enjoying the speed limiter function. Several years on, I’m still enjoying it. I’ve not been particularly focused on ‘hypermiling’ (trying to maximise fuel efficiency) but I like the assistance it gives in sticking to a constant speed.

My two main use cases are picking the speed I want to go and, if I’m trying to overtake somebody going just a bit slower, I’ll inch up the maximum speed so that I get past them without taking too long before dropping back down to my original speed once I’ve pulled back in.

It is also very handy for those sections where lower speed limits are temporarily in place. If the road is fairly clearly, I can work it down and the car won’t accelerate anymore until my actual speed is down to the new limit. Should the road be busier, I can also brake to reduce the speed and then tap the control once I get to where I want to set a new limit.

It still remains one of my favourite features and I wonder if I’ll get a car in future with full on cruise control?

Saturday 7 May 2022
by Wulf
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Finding a new gnome

For years I had let the ambition of visiting North Devon’s gnome reserve… and then I found it had closed so I marked it up as something I wouldn’t get a chance to do. It turns out though that the gnomes have relocated to a nearby garden centre – Merry Harriers near Woolfardisworthy (Woolsery).

We visited there today in order to pick up some garden compost for my mum and, it turns out, there is no place like gnome!

The gnome reserve isn’t something to approach too seriously but it turns out to be quite a decent garden centre too.

Friday 6 May 2022
by Wulf
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Silly Plant Names

Pulmonaria 'Shrimps on the Barbie'
Pulmonaria

Plants have lots of names. Ideally they should have a latinate binomial, like Malus domestica. That’s the apple tree used for edible apples. Malus relates to the legend that Adam and Eve fell by being tempted to eat an apple. It almost certainly wasn’t what we call an apple nowadays but we call the genus Malus from the Latin mal (bad). The second part, the species, is domestica in this case – not surprising for a highly cultivated (and domesticated) plant. Many plants also have a variety name; for apples, that would be something like ‘Gala’ or ‘Braeburn’.

This Pulmonaria, which I photographed this morning, is also commonly known as lungwort. Apparently the spotted patterns on the leaves are reminiscent of diseased lungs (!) although I wonder if it looks more like what someone with unhealthy lungs might cook up. It wasn’t labelled for the species but it did give a variety name: ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’. Now that’s a silly plant name! A lovely looking plant though.

Thursday 5 May 2022
by Wulf
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Tyred

Finding a screw embedded in one of our front tyres was not the start to the morning we had planned, particularly since we’ve got a bit of driving to do this afternoon. Fortunately there are plenty of tyre fitters nearby – a three minute careful drive down the road and the two front tyres could be replaced (in order to make sure they were balanced, we got both done).

Owning a car: an easy way to lose the pounds!

Wednesday 4 May 2022
by Wulf
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Capacity

It has been quite dry for several weeks but, this afternoon, it rained, heavily. It felt like we were getting the last month’s worth of rain over half an hour. That’s probably not quite the case but it made a good start on refilling my rainwater storage system which we brought down to almost empty a few days ago.

The challenge turned out not to be the capacity to store the water but the capacity to capture it at the rate it was being delivered. Yesterday, I fixed a new connection to the downpipe, sending a lot more of the roof flow into the system and today it was almost overwhelmed. The gutter was just about large enough and the water flowed into the first water butt but that couldn’t give out to the next (large) butt fast enough and so it began to overflow.

Fortunately, we have an old plastic dustbin below the first waterbutt so I was able to turn on the lower tap and increase the outflow rate. The result is that, from that one torrential downpour, we’ve now got a decent step forward on refilling. Given that the weather is moving to longer dry periods and heavier downpours, I need to have a ponder about how to increase the capacity to cope with that kind of situation.

Tuesday 3 May 2022
by Wulf
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Ready to Reap

After extended deliberation, I’ve gone ahead and purchased a licence for Reaper. I’ve already got Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software in the form of Logic Pro but that only runs on Macs and I’m not sure my trusty MacBook is going to last for another eight years. I like Logic and know it well but I want to learn more about Reaper as well so that I’m not forced into paying the ‘Apple tax’. Anyway, each piece of software will have strengths and weaknesses so it won’t hurt to get another DAW under my belt.

Today’s task was chopping up a rehearsal recording into individual files. Reaper isn’t quite as pretty as Logic (I can probably do a bit more to customise that) but it worked well, particularly after I figured out how to set a shortcut to quickly pick colours for the rehearsal segments I wanted to keep. I do particularly like that, when you export the files (‘render’ in Reaperese) you get feedback on the maximum volume and overall LUF values for each one – indeed, watching the batch go through prompted me to stop and go back to drop in a compressor and EQ because I spotted that I had more headroom than needed.

I still anticipate using Logic for some things (I don’t think there is a free replacement for its excellent software ‘drummer’ feature) but I’ll try to learn how to cover much of the same ground in Reaper and also explore some of the unique things, like being able to script common tasks.