07 April 2014

Second Batch of Beer [Evaluation/Criticisms]

My second batch of beer came out really foamy
The second batch of beer that I brewed has come out, thank God, drinkable, just as my first batch did.   However, that doesn't mean it's anything near as good as I hoped it would be.  For starters, it also came out really heavy, as had my first batch, which is largely because of how much malt extract I put in.  I was hoping that it would have a higher alcohol content due to the increased amount of malt, but it largely ended up being simply having a bigger body and heavier to drink.  Since I am not a fan of such big-bodied beers (although I am partial to Stone's Old Guardian Barleywine), I shouldn't have brewed so much malt.  This also made it fairly unsessionable, which is disappointing for a homebrew....
      Another issue with it, which is shockingly apparent as soon as one opens the bottle, was that it came out way too foamy.  My brother-in-law chalks it up to having a lot of the malt not having being consumed by the yeast in the fermentation bucket, so that when it was bottled and sugar was added, it got super foamy.
     Now that I've gotten through the bad points, let me say two good things about it: 1) the hoppiness was good. 2) There were some nice fruity flavors that came through, owing to the Belgian yeast I used. 
     Ah well, now I've got to try to get rid of my beer in the next week before Passover.  Following Passover, I will move on to, hopefully, advance my beer-making skills :)

19 March 2014

Back from TribeFest - There's So Much to Say

I just got back to Southern California from New Orleans, having attended the third-ever TribeFest, March 16-18.  Having attended the previous TribeFest and finding it be very energizing and enjoyable, I was excited to return to enjoy it.  

I had a nice time and it was really great to connect and to re-connect with a variety of some cool people in the Jewish world.  It was such a great experience and powerful.  I not only have a lot of thoughts about it, but I have a lot I am desiring to write concerning it.  

Thus, I plan on writing numerous pieces about thoughts, events, etc. from TribeFest, although most of these pieces will appear on Drew's Views.  Stay tuned....

12 March 2014

Excited to Attend TribeFest in Only Five Days!

I am excited to be attending TribeFest in 5 days!
As you can read from the title of this post, the third-ever TribeFest is set to take place in only five days. Taking place in New Orleans, the huge event for North American Jews, ages 22-45, will be taking place, beginning in mid-afternoon on Sunday and running through noon on Tuesday. Unfortunately, this fantastic event will only last 45 hours - and that includes time for sleeping.... Sadly, it will be over seemingly as soon as it starts :(

 I say "sadly", since I remember having had a great time at the last TribeFest, held two years ago. I would actually go ahead and say that it was the highlight of my 2012 (fortunately, I had no children born in 2012, so I can safely say that(!))! I am excited for TribeFest for many of the same reasons I was excited to attend the last TribeFest, although the city has changed from Las Vegas to New Orleans. And even that is great: I haven't been to New Orleans in many years (since before I was married) - having been there four times previously - and dearly miss it, as it is one of my favorite cities. 

One of the strange aspects of the scheduling of TribeFest that I noticed when I came across the date was that it was set to begin on Purim. I thought that was strange, at first, since that's a time of people gathering and being involved in community celebration, etc. However, upon further consideration, I realized it would be quite appropriate - consider: hundreds of young Jews coming together on the most festive day on the Jewish calendar to celebrate in one of the most festive cities in North America. That makes a lot of sense, actually. Furthermore, it's quite likely that a lot of them might not be that involved with their own Purim celebrations, were they to be back in their home communities. Finally, it'll be an awesomely huge party and to be able to celebrate it with hundreds of other young adult Jews in a fun environment may not only help ignite their Jewish excitement, but also make it a Purim to always remember (and upon which to look for Purim celebrations for years to come). 

Unfortunately, we won't be able to make it there until midday on Sunday, so we won't be able to enjoy all of the Saturday night partying taking place (in New Orleans on Purim night!). Hopefully, we'll have enough time to deplane, get to the hotel, register for the conference and see if we can figure out a reading of Megillat Esther. That was an issue about which I was concerned when I heard of the scheduling of the conference, but, hopefully, we'll figure it out....

One other thing towards which I'm looking will be the tweeting going on: I had a blast tweeting up a storm last time (including being one of the most prolific tweeters there) and I am looking forward to more discussions and information being shared in that parallel space of the conference.

 Lastly, I want to make sure I give proper acknowledgment of appreciation that I am fortunately able to go to this year's TribeFest due to the generosity of some organizations and individuals, whom I would like to highlight: the Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County is covering my conference registration fees, Long Beach Hillel is covering my lodging while there, and my benefactor, Allen Alevy is lending his airmiles for us to go. I am so thankful to all of the aforementioned for enabling our attendance and participation.

Greatly looking forward to these next several days in anticipation, leading up to TribeFest!

03 March 2014

Moving Quotes Site

Excerpted.info is my new "quotes blog"
Having begun using a separate website for the use of posting quotes/excerpts of interest nearly a few years ago, last May, I moved over to Wordpress from Tumblr.  However, I have now moved them once again.  My new "quotes blog" is now at Excerpted.info.  Enjoy!

19 February 2014

Brewing Beer for the Second Time

Last night, I brewed beer for the second time in my life (first time was a month ago) and am going for a similar-ish, yet different brew.  While last
time, I was going for a double IPA (and ended up with a nicely-hopped, although quite malty, one at that), this time, I was going for a modified double IPA - well, essentially a Belgian-style double IPA.  For the malt, I put in the exact same amount as last time: 14 pounds of extra pale malt extract, then I set about hopping the brew at the following schedule:
- 90 minutes to go: 2oz Simcoe (12.1% AA)
- 80 minutes to go: 1.5oz Chinook (11.4% AA)
- 60 minutes to go: .5oz Chinook (11.4% AA) & 1oz Columbus (15.0% AA)
- 45 minutes to go: 1oz Columbus (15.0% AA)
- 30 minutes to go: 1oz Summit (17.3% AA)
- 15 minutes to go: .5oz
Summit (17.3% AA)
- 0 minutes to go: .5oz Summit (17.3% AA)
Then, as with last time, I struggled to figure out a way to get the brewed concoction to get cold quickly.  Just as with last time, I put it in the sink with ice surrounding the container.  Although, at some point, I gave up and got it in the fermenting bucket.  (We'll see if I can invest in or borrow someone else's cooling coil, etc.)

I then pitched the yeast, this time using Abbey Ale Yeast from White Labs, hoping that it can manage not only a higher ABV, but - more importantly, a nice Belgian flavor, as I had grown to enjoy tripels more than a year ago.  I haven't had many IPA-tripel combinations that I have particularly enjoyed, so I figured, "Let's see if I can make a tripel and a double IPA...."  

Time will tell....

18 February 2014

First Batch of Homebrew Beer Drinkable :)

Having brewed beer for the very first time in my life a month ago (and then bottling [also for the first time in my life] two weeks ago), I ended up with my first homebrewed beer.  Concerned that my first batch would not come out well - mainly because it was my first time (although also because I did some things I shouldn't have done in transferring the beer from the primary fermenter to the bottling bucket) - I had low expectations for it. 

However, having tasted it a few times, and sharing it with a few other people, I am happy to announce that it came out well.  Yes, as a double IPA, it has a noticeable hop presence, but it also has quite a malty backbone.  While I think the hops are nice, I think it's a touch on the malty side for me, but it's still drinkable :)

Looking forward to batch #2!

14 February 2014

Finding a Methodology for Writing That Works For Me, Even If It's Not The Most Efficient Way

As someone who likes to share his ideas, I find that writing them is a great way of doing so. This is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging - I can share my ideas pretty easily (and searchable, too!). Although I have blogging in mind when writing this, it can extend to other formats of my writing, as well. One method I have found that works best for me in getting my ideas from my brain to the Internet/blog post begins, paradoxically enough, by avoiding the computer screen. I first write out my ideas, whether it be with pen and paper or with dry erase markers on a white board, etc. and I am able to get a bird's eye view of what I want to get out. 
 Then, I might type it up on my tablet or on my computer. 

However, rather than taking it directly to the blogging platform webpage, I frequently take it to something simple - e.g. Google Drive - to type it up. I think this might have to do with a fear of screwing up or some sort of perfectionist strain in me that makes me reticent to type up content straight into the blogging platform. From there, I will, however, then copy-and-paste the written/typed content into the blogging platform. Then, of course, I can worry about adding in any pictures into the post. Another method I have found that works for me is to type in notes on my cell phone on Google Drive (or it could be Evernote, etc.) while out and about. 

That way, I can then add in further content while with my tablet (when wi-fi connected) or computer (wi-fi, of course). Then, I can copy-and-paste that content (or outline of content) into the blogging platform. I readily acknowledge the lack of efficiency that goes into these methods; however, when staring at a computer screen with whatever I need to write in front of me (blog post, article, etc.), it appears to me to be quite a daunting task. But, when the stakes are much lower and I can easily add in content to something like Google Drive or even a simple text/note app, I have no fear about what I compose there and I know that it is easy to edit it down at the next step :)

21 January 2014

Planning on Re-Watching "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

With last year's announcement that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be coming to an end, the first thing that entered my mind was disbelief, then I was upset!  I really enjoyed the show!  At first, I kept trying to compare it to the original Star Wars: Clone Wars series and, just like the 2008 Clone Wars movie, I realized I would have to adjust my expectations.  It didn't take long for me to recalibrate my expectations and I enjoyed it.  

Not only did I enjoy it, I came to see it as being a really great show in its own right. I realized in my defending the prequel trilogy that it's a great set-up to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars and that it's tremendously enjoyable on its own. Someone has already written on 8 reasons that Star Wars: The Clone Wars is better than the prequel trilogy, of which Development of a Wider Universe, Development of the Jedi ("Many episodes focus on Jedi who weren’t even named in the movies. These Jedi have personalities and relationships of their own, and they interact differently with the Jedi culture"), and Better Stories really resonated with me. On this last point, she makes a really excellent point:
This is the single most important reason “Clone Wars” is infinitely better than the prequels. ... They’re just better stories. They have beginnings, middles, and ends. They have sympathetic character drama and exciting plot twists. ...Clone Wars makes you care. That’s the basic thing every halfway decent story has to get out of an audience. And it’s the thing the prequels most ludicrously ignored.
So now that it's going to be ending, I've been quite sad. One of my coping mechanisms over the summer was to search for the best Clone Wars episodes and, fortunately, people have made their own suggestions for best episodes (here are two such examples: one and two).

For the first two-three seasons, I tried keeping up with them as they were shown, but with my increasing watching of football (both college and NFL) in the last couple of years, I waited until the springtime to bunch them up and watch them, roughly 3-4 at a time.  This method actually worked really well, since many of the story arcs lasted just that long, and it was great evening entertainment.  In the fourth and fifth season, I began to accompany my watching of them with pizza and beer, which made them quite enjoyable!
I may be drinking beer when I re-watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars
However, now that it is over (with some bonus "sixth season" material coming out sometime this spring), I realized there was a lot of material there - over 100 episodes(!), yielding over 43 hours - and that I didn't recall everything that went on.  I also am curious to see what they do with character development.  I remember being upset that Anakin somehow gets a padawan learner when I first saw the movie.  However, the character development they have done with Ahsoka Tano is really impressive and will be an important feature of the series!
So, I've come to the decision that I am going to re-watch all of the Clone Wars (after the football season is over, of course).  To help me do this, I decided that I would write about each of my own favorite episodes out of each season, perhaps I would then try to cobble together a final best episodes list.... 

So, look for them to be a part of my "Star Wars Wednesdays" series at my Drew's Views blog  :)

19 January 2014

Brewing for the First Time

Stirring the wort
Last night, I brewed beer for the first time in my life!  I had been initially thinking about getting a beginner's set in August/September in time for my birthday, but then decided that, with a new kid on the way, I might not have time.  Then, when Hanukah came around, I thought about doing it, but then backed off for the same reason.  Well, I finally decided that I would really enjoy brewing beer on my own that I could mold to my own desires, which would be great.  And, with three kids, I'm going to be busy anyways.

So, last night, with the help of my brother-in-law, I brewed my first batch of beer - which I'm hoping will turn out to be a nice double IPA, and here is what I put in it:
Adding in hops
- boiled 14lbs of extra pale malt extract (from Stein Fillers), then added in hops:
    - at 90 minutes until the end of the boil, 2oz of Columbus hops (16.3% AA)
    - at 75 minutes until the end of the boil, 2oz of Simcoe hops (12.1% AA)
    - at 60 minutes until the end of the boil, 2oz of Chinook hops (11.4% AA)
    - at 45 minutes until the end of the boil, 1oz of Crystal hops (4.1% AA)
    - at 30 minutes until the end of the boil, 1oz of Simcocoe hops (12.1% AA)
    - at 15 minutes until the end of the boil, .5oz of Crystal hops (4.1% AA)
    - at the end of the boil, .5oz of Crystal hops (4.1% AA)

Unfortunately, I had used up all of my hops, so I wasn't able to add in any further hops to dry-hop it at this point when I put in the yeast (California Ale Yeast from White Labs) in the fermenting bucket, but, perhaps in a week or so, I will add some hops to dry-hop it then.  Hopefully, with my first time brewing beer, it will not be unsuccessful....

09 January 2014

My Pushing Out More Content on the Web for 2014?

My new blog I began 2 weeks ago
In thinking about my blogging and online endeavors, I realized that I have been generating a lot more content than previously.  Yes, I still occasionally blog here, in my original "Drew Kaplan's Blog", which has been here for nearly 8.5 years, although I haven't spent so much time putting up content here (considering that I've posted 34-48 times a year for the last four years).  However, my DK Quotes blog, which had been around for a couple of years, I then began to start pushing out so much content on that platform, that I was publishing 11 posts a week (2x/day Sunday-Thursday and once on Fridays), which is great (although I haven't published anything there in a week, I resumed generating content today).
Of course, one thing that is very new is my Drew's Views blog, which I began two weeks ago and I am generating several posts a week, at least 4-5 (featuring "Talmud Tuesdays", "Star Wars Wednesdays", "Thematic Thursdays" (this year with the Tanya), and "Foregoing Fridays" (and the occasional "Miscellaneous Mondays" and "Sometimes Sundays")).
However, I realized that is not the full extent of my online content generation.  In my professional capacity, I still have the Southern California Jewish Student Services website, which I occasionally update, as well as the Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment website, which I created a year ago and occasionally update.  However, in the last half year, I have begun to put up content on my professional website/blog, RabbiDrew.info, and which is now something I find is an important platform to get out the word of my professional activities, etc.
I have two other websites that I have, which I hope to discuss in a future post (really, once I get some content up on them), that I created this summer and to which I have recently begun adding content.
Well, we will see how much more I will be doing of these activities, but one thing is certainly a catalyst - becoming a father of a third child.  Yes, this is entirely ironic, since one expects a parent of yet another child to be less involved with such endeavors, yet I have realized that I need to set aside some space in my life for me.  I think this is what happened after my second child: 1) I scheduled in time to go to the gym (if it's not scheduled in, it doesn't happen (oh, the days of not being a parent (or being single) and going to the gym when one wants)) and 2) less than a half year later, I began to get into mixing cocktails.  I think I have realized that I am interested in sharing a lot of my thoughts, ideas, and words and that it's not going to come out on its own, I have to make it happen.  Thus, I am blogging....