Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas Artmas!

Merry Christmas Artmas! This year, my sister gave everyone in our family a number of paintings, and I gave my parents my tile table. As a result of this massive art exchange, we started to use the term which either my father or I invented to describe this holiest of days, Artmas. Unfortunately, Artmas is not adequately captured in its full glory by a cheap camera phone with a partially cracked lens.

Last Minute Grout Work - Christmas Artmas Eve 2010

This was taken with my mother's amazing camera.
I love working with tile, especially when I individually created every single tile.
Working on a fun project with a nice fire is about the most fun way I could imagine spending Christmas Artmas.

I had to cut four tiles to place a Zia in the center. My mother was not exactly thrilled that her front room became a construction zone, but she understood with it being Christmas Artmas and all.

I'm not sure why my eyes often times look three quarters closed when I smile for a picture...

My mother decided she was sick of waiting for grandchildren, so she purchased some from a gypsy woman. This is me, my father, and my two adopted siblings, Rufus (named after J. Rufus Fears, the best lecturer ever) and Juliet. My clothing is post-lumerjacking.

The Final Product - Only about two years in the making

My father will likely come up with an attractive oak edge for the table. The tile work is done, but the project still requires some sort of edging to complete the look.

This is one of the many paintings my sister gave me. This image was taken from without permission.

My good friend Oleg, and his mother and sister, gave me an expensive watch for Christmas Artmas. Oleg is (correctly) convinced that I need to upgrade my wardrobe, starting with a nice watch and some shoes. I agree with him.

My father playing Alan Gast at handball at the Deming Country Club.

I had a very nice time in Silver City with my family. In addition to the wonderful presents I received, playing handball with my family, building fires and doing a little lumberjacking all made it a very nice vacation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

I have many things to be thankful for. The first thing I am thankful for is my family. My parents have been extremely loving and supportive throughout my life. The gifts they have given me in terms of skills, attitudes and perspectives have been invaluable. I am also thankful for my sister. She always has a way of making everything beautiful. My friends also have been a very supportive force in my life that I am thankful for. Whenever I feel bad, I think about my wonderful family and the friends. Sometimes I feel sad about the friends that I don't see quite as much anymore, but I give thanks for everything they have taught me through direct interaction and reflection.

This Thanksgiving, I went to Silver City. My friend Oleg came down for the amazing Thanksgiving dinner my mom made (the baked broccoli with blue cheese, and the turkey legs, were my favorite) and to help on a construction project.

My father is converting an old shop into a guest house. Over the Thanksgiving break, we build the frame for the floor to sit on.

Oleg helping prepare the masonry wall for a supporting 2x10.

This kid is named James. He is probably the best worker I have ever seen help at my parent's place. He's an expert welder, and also quite skilled at general construction. He single handedly anchored all of the supports into the masonry with my dad's hammer drill as well as helped out with all of the other construction.

My Dad

Oleg Semenov - мой друг

However, Oleg Semenov does not like to be explicitly identified on my blog, and he decided to use violence to coerce this citizen journalist into silence. The below images provide photographic evidence.

Everything is all framed in. None of this will be visible whatsoever when the floor is put on, and the walls are up.

The framing project was a nice way to spend time with my friends and family over the holiday weekend. Of course, as a good American, it is important to celebrate Consumptionmas. This year for Consumptionmas, I purchased a laptop for $400 from Walmart. Such... Low... Prices... My father was especially interested in my Consumptionmas plans this year, and he was kind enough to go to Walmart for me after he finished his work in Silver City early in the morning while I was still asleep. The Consumptionmas revelers were out in such force, that by about 7:00 a.m. my father purchased the second-to-last laptop for me. My budget was around $400, and I am very satisfied I was able to spend barely over $400 and get this laptop.

Probably the most fun part of the trip was dancing with Jennifer at the amazing Flame Convention Center in Silver City. The Flame is a gigantic metal building with three or so partitions. I believe each partition contains a bar, and can basically be it's own venue relatively independently of the other partitions. During the weekend festivities, two of the partitions were combined. Jennifer knows my family, and our parents know each other, but this was the first time we met. She is extremely into Latin dancing. Thanks to David Romero down in Socorro from my days at New Mexico Tech, I am decent enough at salsa dancing to be able to improvise my swing dancing moves in without feeling completely retarded. Of course, drinking alcohol before hand always helps *with the way one perceives* dancing. *May not actually help with the reality of dancing.

No trip to Silver City is complete without visiting my uncle, Rob Stinar. It's always nice stopping by to see how he's doing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Socorro Springs Bottled Beer Present

In about two weeks, I'll be visiting my friend Norelle in Ridgecrest California. Norelle and I went to New Mexico Tech in Socorro together. While asking Norelle if I can bring her anything, the only thing she wanted was some pumpkin beer from the microbrewery. So, I embarked on a beer bottling adventure, as transporting their growlers through a month of time and 700 miles would not be feasible.

Socorro Springs only sells Growlers (1/2 gallon jugs) of their beer, or pints. I bottle two gallons in total (four growlers).

Growlers leak. The seal on a growler lid bleeds out carbonation, and eventually this leak becomes a gas exchange between the atmosphere and the bottle. Beer doesn't do so well sitting in air. About the longest I feel comfortable drinking a growler would be about two weeks after it has been filled. There are exceptions, and it's good to occasionally cultivate a spirit of adventure, but flat, spoiled beer is no fun. Luckily, my computer science graduate school friend Nate Gauntt is an expert at all things beer.

Nate - Adding CO2 to a keg of his in order to add as much carbonation to the pumpkin beer as possible before we bottle it.

Nate filling up the empty bottles he gave me for the project.

Nate explained we want to keep everything as cold as possible in an attempt to minimize out gasing of CO2.

As an added bonus, the girls were making cupcakes while the guys were bottling beer.

The final output - nicely bottled beer.

I actually did help with the different stages of this process, but being the photographer made it difficult to get any Brian Stinar action shots. Nate helped me understand a lot about making beer, and the entire evening was very fun. Thanks Nate!

After a beer and a cupcake, we enjoyed Harry Potter and some pizza.

My friend Norelle, who will hopefully be enjoying the beer from my bottling project soon.