Saturday, March 29, 2003

A Busy Twelve Hours

Nifty People Talking About Nifty Wine
After work yesterday I headed over to the house of a guy by the name of Dan, who is the vice-president of the James River Homebrewers, to check out what turned out to be the inaugural meeting of the Richmond "Wine-making Interest Group."

Dan has won all manner of awards for his wines, and we got to sample several of them, and some vintages brought by friends of his, both in and out of the homebrew club. From a Chilean Chardonnay to some strong good ol' Virginia country wine made with native Concord grapes, everything was just outstanding. Bob from the local WeekEnd Brewer beer- (and wine!) making shop showed us some problem wine a customer had given him to diagnose, redolent with the odor of old sweat socks, that was markedly improved by adding a tiny amount of carbonate solution (damn, don't remember what-carbonate). I didn't know you could do that!

Beer offers a lot less flexibility and forgiveness than wine, it seems... In a way that figures, because malt sugar is one of the most biologically open substances out there; it's effectively agar. A wine "must" (the equivalent of a beer wort) has so much acidity and other bug-retardant stuff in it that your average wine yeast has a much less competitive row to hoe.

Cool. :-)

Geek Moment
I've been keeping up with the pseudo-blog site ongoing (linked at left), which is written by Tim Bray, one of the primary creators of the XML eXtensible Markup Language. I've been using XML heavily for the past month or two at work, and happened across this site in the course of my learning travels.

Tim seems to be a regular guy who also just happens to be this brilliant programmer and interesting thinker. As an example, his article "On the Goodness of Binary Search." I knew it was possible to code up a binary search in a very few lines, but seeing it done airtight, brutally efficient, and non-recursive was good for my soul. :-)

Another thing I like about Tim is that he's not one-dimensional. He's just finished rereading the Histories of Herodotus (which I haven't yet, but per Matt I probably should soon), and frequently comments on the war (he's rather anti) and things as diverse as gardening and the archiving of old family photo-slides.

Anyway, good material at a good price (bulk-priced electrons and one's free time). I love living now.