Elaborating on a future in wine leading to an academic lifestyle last night, it got me reminiscing for the simple things I’ve love to do as hobbies or a retirement/alternative lifestyle. Brew beer. Brew wine. Roast my own coffee. I even got to dreaming about the fancy chocolate at Soma and how I’d love to recreate some of my own amazing concoctions. It was an interesting reminder of my tastes: so much in life, I love things dark, rich, and complex.

Rich, spicy, and fruity wines; thick & complex Imperials, porters, and Belgian beers; dark roasted & spicy or complex coffee roasts; anything less than 60% cocoa chocolate is just sweet!

I love my decor and clothing dark as well. Bold colors (red, violet, blue, dark green) erring on the darker shades. Charcoal greys. Cocobolo & bocote wood. Purple heart & rosewoods. Just so many ways to mix all the dark colors!

I thought I had a goal in mind with this post. Maybe not so much. I’ll blame that on the delicious hot chocolate I made earlier.

    Hot Chili Cocoa

  • 16 oz (2 cups) milk (ideally whole/3.25% fat)
  • 2.5 tbsp Belgian-style cocoa powder (or some other rich, dark variety)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dark vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • Bring to just under a simmer over medium heat in a non-reactive sauce pot while mixing continuously (I prefer to slowly stir with a whisk for this). It should be steaming copiously, but not yet bubbling. Dispense & enjoy!

Adrienne came up for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Nothing terribly eventful there. I was invited over to join Greg and his family for Thanksgiving, so we took them up on that offer. Food at both places was awesome! We consumed some 4Loko1 later on in the weekend while playing cribbage. We also checked out Cafe Capitano2 on Hertel Ave (just around the corner from my place), and I managed to steal a deal at Best Buy3 on Black Friday (shockingly4).

In other geek news, I’m loving my new and improved Android phone5! I have setup Victoria to compile the custom Android OS from the source code, and it does so in a blinding hurry6. Now I just need to figure out how to tweak the source files so I can get it to build the signed zip file with Swype and the associated library file intact7.

The pinot gris is about ready for one last racking before bottling. I should have ignored part of the last instruction set for this kit, but my OCD nature insisted I try to follow them to the T. Particular failure on my behalf! I’m debating offering a bottle each to my committee members (provided it still turns out okay), as I’m going to be inundated with a lot of bottles (roughly 30?). I’m taking requests for anyone interested in trying it!

My finances have been all over the place recently. I hunkered down and got MoneyDance running again and built a budget in it, so it’s time to see where the hell I’ve been putting (or wasting) all my residual income. A superficial glance says I should be recovering at least a few hundred a month, so it’s time to scrutinize what’s going on.

1The initial and continuing taste on the palette is just fine (at least for the grape), but the residual after-taste is a devil. Get rid of that part, and you’ve got a solid product on your hands Phusion Projects!
2Delicious little joint! Owned by a delightful older fellow, it has a cozy lil’ atmosphere going on inside. Drool-worthy stuffed peppers in there, and they have a fantastic tomato florentine soup, mmm!
3Seasons 1 through 5 of Weeds on BluRay for $10 each! Dayum!
4I loathe Black Friday. I hate crazy drivers and congested traffic to start with, so this day just starts out as an epic failure in my mind. Combine that with having to get up early (and fighting even worse traffic) to even acquire most of the good deals, you can pretty much count me out of the whole smorgasbord altogether!
5T-Mobile’s G2, a derivative of the HTC Vision. Solidly running CyanogenMod 6.1 release candidate 3, with the nightly (giving me legit FM radio reception now, too)!
6The half-hour’ish that it takes my laptop is left in the dust by the four to five minutes it takes the Mac Pro to compile everything and package it. *whistles*
7I have to manually re-install the packages after every CyanogenMod update. I suppose I could just write a script to install from a local copy on the microSD card, but wouldn’t it just be more fun to have it already packaged with the OS when it’s compiled?

I’ve been doing pretty good for a while. I’ve run relatively free of the depressing days for a while. Pushing something upwards of a month or two. Tonight it’s kicking in a little bit, though. I had an early evening off, shared a pizza (briefly) with my roommate, tossed in a nap, and then was left a little lost with what to do for the evening. Presumably that’s where it stemmed from: I don’t have anyone around I can really go out with on the weekends.

I told myself I’d start going to the pool hall every now and then; I was shooting for something like Wednesday or Thursday, and maybe Saturday evening too. I’m not thrilled about going alone, but going out is better than sitting at home and watching lord knows how much more television off of Elisa.

I’ve got a couple minor projects to deal with over the weekend, so that will help distract me. I’ve got the pilot pinot grigio to start1, and I’m going to try and go out and hit the pool hall up again.

I also should try to make it a habit to go out once a week to a bar and just grab a drink or two. Force me to get out there and maybe meet some people. At this stage in the game and my schooling, how/where else am I going to meet new people? *le sigh* Might be awkward, but maybe I should acquaint myself with more of the younger colleagues in the related graduate departments and try and make some friends there.


1Once I acquire a couple aquarium thermometer stickers. I do have to pay relatively close attention to the fermentation temperature of the must and such, apparently.

I’s got a wine kit!

I just stopped by Niagara Traditions Homebrew Supply after work today and picked up a full-set home winemaking equipment kit, with a starter kit of Pinot Grigio to get it going with. My roommate and I discussed this venture a month or so ago, and I finally made a mental note to get on the ball with that and pick up the necessary materials. Now that those are in hand, I’m (almost) ready to go! Just not this evening; starting (and fermenting) temperature needs to be between 65˚F and 75˚F. Today was a bit warm for that, so that will have to come tomorrow.

In other random news, I’m a lazy bum and haven’t shaved in just over a week. I think I’m going to keep up with this plan of action until a) I get too annoyed with the long facial hair and have to trim/shave it down, or b) someone finally calls me an unkempt louse. I’m kind of curious to see how much red is in my beard. Downside is I’m seeing how many white hairs I’m growing from my face already.

Also, going to a stripper-less stag party on Thursday evening. Kind of glad for this; the last stag party I went to (and first ever attended) had a pair of strippers. I can see the appeal for some guys. It’s just not my cup of tea!

Transmission aborting. Early evening deluge is covering transmission equipment with stray water!

Firstly, errrr, ummm, wow, my “Archives” link to the right is horribly broken. I need to do something about that. But anyhoo…

This past week has been a more interesting one for a variety of reasons. Last Saturday’s opening concert of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was fantastic. The pieces weren’t quite as aurally powerful as last year’s opening pieces, but what they lacked in symphonic power they made up with in fantasy! Gil Shaham put on an amazing performance with Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, opus 25. It was such a beautiful and lively piece, and watching Shaham literally playing with his solo on the violin was just mind-blowing. I completely forgot how fun it is to watch these superb musicians have fun with their music. He looked like a little kid as he was playing: the excitement in his face, his bodily motions and just the way the music came out. Simply superb!

Sitting in row L was a perfect view of the stage, and I kid you not it feels like the perfect seat. I look straight ahead at the conductor’s podium, about as close to dead center as I can be. Thankfully, this is the seat I have for the other nine concerts in the season. As a perk for opening night, I was sitting next to a spouse to one of the second violinists. She’s originally from Idaho, so we shared a little reminiscence of the Midwest and talked about how life has been in Buffalo since we both came here. Her husband has played with the BPO for the past 30 or so years, so as she stated she’s been “spoiled” by attending nearly every concert for free. Can you see how green my face is right now??

I finally went down to the Elmwood Farmer’s Market last Saturday as well. I was pleasantly pleased with the selection of items down there, albeit I was disappointed to not see Niagara Landing (at least I don’t recall seeing them) in order to acquire some of their blueberry wine that I got to try at the Taste of Buffalo over the summer. I did get to pick up some leeks, homemade pasta, fresh apples and a loaf of Polish placek. I know I’ve had the placek somewhere before, but I really couldn’t remember where.

All in all, Saturday was a wonderful day!

Since then, I’ve been trying to hurriedly keep making dinners each night from scratch. I sort of gave up on that tonight from the stress load. The rest of the nights it turned out well, however. Spaghetti with chicken meatballs turned out better than I thought it would (for completely lacking bread crumbs, I had to sub crushed crackers instead). I’m getting much better at making veggie fried rice. Expeller-pressed peanut oil seems to make a world of difference (plus I love the smell), cutting my onions much coarser adds a world more flavor, and the bags of mixed frozen vegetables is an easy fix to getting that “mixed veggie” style to the fried rice without cutting up a bunch of random vegetables. I’ve even got hulled sesame seeds in bulk to sprinkle in, on, or over when I’m done! Tonight was supposed to be turkey and leeks in cream sauce, but that will just have to wait for Friday night now, as I do not think I’ll have the time for that tomorrow evening before the Ben Folds with the BPO concert.