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Saturday, November 27, 2004

  4:16 PM - Moved in, and almost moved out
Over the past two months I've been going through the very exciting, yet incredibly stressful process of acquiring and then moving into a new home. My first house, in fact. Tomorrow will probably be the final trip to the old apartment. As for my new place, I am already pretty much moved in, although it does need a few repairs and upgrades before I can really settle down.
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  4:02 PM - It ended well. The second rack is going to be better than the first!
Some friends stepped in to help with my self-inflicted bottle shortage. The beer is exceptionally clear now thanks to the second racking, so I predict it is going to taste much better than the first batch. (First batch as yet untested.)
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Monday, November 15, 2004

  10:38 PM - All's well that ends well. But did it end well? Time will tell.
I have a 12L carboy in addition to the standard 23L, and now I've found one more use for that. I transferred half of my beer to the smaller carboy, filling it almost to the brim. Then, I had more than enough bottles left to take care of the rest.

Of course, that just bought some time. The beer is safe from spoilage now, but I will still need to bottle it soon.
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  7:05 PM - 99 bottles of beer on the ... floor :-/
At last, the time came to bottle the nice red ale I have had percolating for the past two or three weeks. A premium brew, nothing but the best ingredients.

Ah yes, bottling night. The arduous work of washing and sanitizing all those bottles, but with that wonderful payoff of watching the beer flow.

But it was not to be. I washed 54 bottles all in one go, and set them to dry on my bottle tree. That's as many as it can hold. Usually I don't wash that many at once, but I was on a roll.

Then I sat down to relax and watch TV while they dry, before washing the last dozen bottles that I would need. I would fill the first 54 while the last dozen dried.

An hour later, bottles completely out of mind and almost dry, I hear a huge "CRASH!" from downstairs.

It was then I realized I had not moved the bottle tree to the floor. It was up on a ledge, and apparently not as stable as I thought. I had thought about moving it but it slipped my mind. And that, obviously, was not the only place it slipped from.

Where once there were 54 bottles, painstakenly cleaned and ready to be filled, now, alas, there was a huge pile of broken bottles and glass shards!

From the rubble I managed to salvage just 23 bottles. My beautiful collection is decimated and my ale, though ready for bottling, has nowhere to go!

This is indeed a sad day for all concerned.
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Monday, November 01, 2004

  6:10 PM - There is no deep reality
In life, in philosophy, in science, there is often a convergence of ideas. Lots of great thinkers have probably said this better than I can, but it's on my mind today so I may as well write it down: Reality is a fleeting thing, hardly there and ever-changing.

Electrons are particles and waves. Light is both, too, but in a different way. Matter and energy are interchangeable. Stated another way, matter is energy. Thus, substance need not have substance and indeed, if you look at anything closely enough, the bulk of its volume is just empty space anyway! Particles pop into and out of extistance (observance) all the time, and where they apppear is by no means certain, either.

I like to think that there are some unchanging things in the universe. It makes sense, and the thought is very comforting. Yet, common sense rarely applies on the very large or the very small scales, only on the mundane scale of our own experience.

At least there is the law of conservation of matter and energy: Enet = mnetc2. It is reassuring to know that at least this one thing is not going to change, even if that one thing is virtually infinite and altogether unknowable.

But what about meaning? If there is no "real" reality, how can anything have meaning? Well, as with certain Austrian half-doomed domestic felines, perhaps the observer and the mode of observation cause reality to leave its state of flux, to become solid and knowable in some aspect. Put another way, it is the observer who gives an object its meaning.

On the small scale, measurements are always uncertain. The more precisely you measure a particle's position, the less precisely you can know its velocity. Is there an analog in human experience? Through our perception, through our experience, we extract meaning from an object or event. But what do we lose through this process?

To the one who experienced it, the object loses its "is"-ness, its pure existance, the timeless unknowable state that it had for us before we knew it, and to which we can never fully return. In short we lose a bit of our sense of "wonder", that special way a child has of looking at things, before he or she knows what they are.

There is an uncertainty priciple at work here too: the more precisely we give meaning to a thing, the less wonder we are able to experience when we encounter that thing again.

So, there is a risk in our search for meaning. In coming to know a thing, we might lose something far more important. We should try to conserve our sense of wonder as long as we can; we shouldn't squander it.

But we are creatures of reason: it is our nature to look for meaning in things. I wouldn't be writing here if that weren't true, nor would you have continued to read this drivel. So what we must do after we tear all the wonder out of an experience is to look deeper. Find some previously unconceived mystery hiding within, now laid bare by our experience. Then leave that mystery unexplored, at least for a while. Wonder about it occasionally, and never forget to take joy in the unknown.
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