Kombucha Part II

October 28, 2016

When you have your basic kombucha routine going, consider taking your practice to the next level.

Secondary Fermentation

  1. Start with one 16 ounce mason style jar
  2. Puree your favorite fruit, enough to cover the bottom of the jar a half inch high
  3. Pour puree into jar
  4. Top the jar off with fresh kombucha
  5. Place the lid on the jar
  6. Let the jar sit, out of sunlight, 48 hours
  7. Refrigerate for a week (or more, will last a long time in the fridge)
  8. When you are ready to enjoy, scrape the fruit off the top, and drink

This is a bare bones guide to making your first batch of Kombucha.

On a difficulty scale from 1 to 10 this Make Your Own guide is a 2.

To keep it simple, we are going to make one 1/2 gallon batch.

What do I need?

  • Pot (1) to boil water and make tea
  • Water (64 ounces)
  • Tea bags (4) prefer black like Earl Gray
  • Sugar (1/2 Cup)
  • One 1/2 Gallon glass jar (Walmart)
  • One Scoby (will explain at the end)

How do I pull it all together?

  1. In your pot, bring 32 Ounces of water to just shy of a boil
  2. Input tea bags, and leave in the water just shy of boiling, for 20 minutes
  3. After 20 minutes, remove the tea bags, input your sugar and allow it to dissolve
  4. Take the pot off the heat, and cool sweet tea to room temperature
  5. Pour your cool sweet tea into your 1/2 gallon jar
  6. Top the jar off with another 32 ounces of water
  7. Input Scoby (see below)
  8. Cover the top with a coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band.
  9. Let the jar sit out of the way, out of direct sunlight, for ten days
  10. Refrigerate and drink as you wish

Note: At the end of the first ten days, if you want to start batch number two, repeat steps 1-7 before steps 8-10.

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What is a Scoby and how do I make one?

The Scoby is short for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (Scoby), and it turns your sweet tea into Kombucha.

  1. Buy a bottle of plain unflavored Kombucha at the grocery store
  2. Pour the contents into a glass jar
  3. Cover the top with a coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band
  4. Let the jar sit out of the way, out of direct sunlight, for 14 days
  5. What you will find in the jar at the end of the 14 days in your new Scoby

Harold A Brown

March 16, 2016

Many of you are aware of my Dad’s passing, the morning of Thursday, March 5, 2016 at the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He had been driving West from Tennessee to visit me and my family in Maricopa, Arizona (Phoenix Area). Several folks have asked me to write down the details of his last days. The following is based on information gathered from various sources including conversations with Dad and his doctors at the hospital before he passed, folks he talked to during his trip, and the contents of his wallet. I write this and hope it will provide some comfort to those who loved him.

Harold A Brown

Preface: For those of you who did not know, Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (cancer) three years ago. He had what was considered a successful stem cell transplant two years ago, thanks to the amazing staff at Vanderbilt Medical. Dad always said he would die with his disease, not from it. Dad was right, once again.

Dad’s Last Days: Dad set off on his last great road trip on Friday, February 26, 2016. He had been planning the trip for months and was very excited to see me, my wife Linda, and our son Henrik. Dad stopped in North Little Rock, Arkansas to visit his cousin. They had a nice meal at the Outback Steakhouse, Dad had a burger and fries, and a Dr Pepper. Dad and Kathleen talked until the early hours on Saturday, February 27, but despite insistence he stay and rest before continuing his journey West, Dad decided to drive on.

Dad made the trip West through Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, stopping twice along the way to check into a hotel and rest. By Monday, February 29 Dad had made it about 80 miles West of Albuquerque and started feeling really tired. He stopped at the Sky City Hotel in Acoma, New Mexico and checked in. Dad said he was so tired he got into bed without changing into his pajamas. He got up later that night, changed into his pajamas, and went back to sleep. The next day he woke up feeling even more tired, and decided to stay another night. Dad did that for the next two nights, each time thinking he would wake up feeling better. On the morning of Thursday, March 3 Dad knew something was very wrong. He woke up, called his primary oncologist, and was told to get himself to the closest Emergency Room.

Crystelle had been in contact with Dad every day of his trip. When they spoke Thursday morning he admitted to being in bad shape and heading to the Emergency Room. Crystelle called me and I started the drive East not knowing where exactly I would need to go. Dad found help getting to the local Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Hospital (ACL) in Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico where he was treated for severe dehydration. After some time, and careful negotiation, Crystelle was able to get Dad transferred to the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque where they were better equipped to treat. Dad was admitted to their Emergency Room at 3:30 PM. I arrived at 7:30 PM. Shortly after my arrival Dad was taken to have an ultrasound done on his Kidneys since the fluid output was not keeping up with the input.

After we returned to his room, I texted Crystelle and we agreed she would take the next available flight to Albuquerque.

At around 10:30 Dad was transferred to a room in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

After a restless night’s sleep, Dad sat up in bed about 9:30 AM the next morning and put his head in his hands. The nurse running some tests asked Dad if he was in any pain. The last articulate words I heard Dad say were, to the nurse, or perhaps to me, himself, or God, “I’m just so weary”.

I picked Crystelle up at the airport at noon on Wednesday, March 4. We talked in the hospital parking lot about Dad’s state. Prepared as possible, we went up to Dad’s room. Crystelle spent a lot of time talking to Dad. He did respond to her several times, and there was ample indication he was aware we were there by his side.

Dad had a rough night, and the next morning his heart stopped.

Causes: The doctors were tireless. They turned over so many stones to piece the puzzle of Dad’s condition together in order to treat. In the end they were able to figure out somewhere either before or during Dad’s trip he had picked up the H1N1 flu, contracted Pneumonia, and as a result of the re-hydration, had Sepsis. Any one of those complications would have killed a lesser man. He fought to the end, but passed without any pain, surrounded by his children.

Postlogue: Dad was an amazing human being. One of a kind. Complicated but practical to his core. He was a renaissance man, artist by trade, but a good athlete, great coach and prolific mentor. He was a craftsman, poet, and historian. He loved his friend and family, and the evidence of that was certainly well represented at his memorial. The experience was amazing and surreal, to see friends from 40, 30, 20, 10 years past there to share a story and say goodbye.

One more thing: My cousin called me the night after the memorial and asked if Dad had planned his memorial before his passing. He was so impressed with every detail. For that, our family would like to thank two amazing men, and two of Dad’s closest friends, Larry Yarborough and Bill Craig. I know how much you loved Dad, and that he also loved you.

High Definition Audio

May 30, 2015

I am not sure I would describe myself as an audiophile. I am a music fan. I am not a music snob. Well, maybe just a little. About a year ago something made me curious about sticking my toe into the water that is high definition audio. I treaded slowly in and have come to a handful of conclusions that may be helpful to others.

1. Lossless is good enough. Most people simply do not have the ear for anything more. It is not like moving from regular television to HDTV in my experience. And if you do not have the hardware, forget about songs with a 5,000 bit rate (kilobits per second or kbps) that cost $30 to but one album.

2. Hardware is key. Invest in an awesome pair of non trendy headphones. Buy the best pair you can afford. I bought a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P7. They are amazing. There are better pairs out there but that is the best I was willing to even consider and I agonized over spending that much money on headphones for over six months.

3. Like with breakfast cereal, you get what you pay for, but not always. I actually think that trendy headphones are sold like snake oil. Just a gut feeling. High end however is high end, with established brands sans celebrity spokespeople.

4. Invest in a digital to analog converter (DAC). Here you do not need to buy the most expensive DAC you can afford. Put that towards your headphones. But make no mistake. You DO want a DAC. It levels your experience up at least as much as the headphones do. The brand Alpen makes a few different FiiO DAC models. I chose a relatively inexpensive portable device the FiiO E17 that doubles as a amplifier. Works great with my iMac where I listen to my lossless files at a bit rate around 1,000 kbps and on my iPhone where I stream music from the Rdio application at a bit rate of 320 kbps. If you are keeping score, iTunes songs are typically 128 to 256.

In conclusion, I have listened to pieces of music a hundred times and with this setup heard instruments that I didn’t even know where in the arrangement before. That trigged one really big smile. Ear to ear, pun intended. Happy listening!

Owen

Eulogy for Paul Bang

January 30, 2015

The word eulogy has a Greek origin. It is a speech or writing in praise of a recent dearly departed. This is my first. I wrote this a few weeks ago and never had an opportunity to have it delivered. I share it here instead. These words are for my dearly departed friend Paul Bang. Paul died recently after what can be described as complications from cancer. Paul decided in what can in its best light be seen as a sort of act of bravery in his situation. I do not care to argue that in any way. Paul decided to call it a life, quits, on his own terms. For Paul.

Paul was a great storyteller. As I write this, I wish I could ask Paul, “Hey, how would you write this?” I would not ask him what he would write about himself. That would be too obvious. I would ask him about the broad strokes of what he would share, and maybe a little bit about how he would share it.

When I first moved to Southern California I knew exactly two people. Paul was my first new friend out there. We worked together. Offices in downtown Burbank. We stayed friends and in the end Paul was one of my oldest friends. He did things I found outrageous. He once flew to San Francisco to meet my wife and I for dinner. He rented a car and driver and had us chauffeured all over the city in style. Never mind Las Vegas trips. Never mind dinners in Los Angeles. Too many to share. Paul had style. Paul was generous.

Truth is Paul was most of the reason we stayed in touch for so many years. Paul was a friend keeper. Someone who does not let their good friends drift too far away. He would call from time to time, and for example, ask for my perspective on a situation. Sometimes it might be advice about how to deal with a workplace challenge. He would always thank me in a funny voice for “my white friend perspective”. I think I know what he meant. It did not require definition.

I have imagined many times over the past weeks, being able to say a real goodbye to Paul. To look him in the eye and tell him how much I miss him. The sadness from his leaving us. I would have used different words, harsher words to his face, and Paul would have appreciated the brutal honesty and emotion. I will tell him now, and imagine him here with me, I miss you brother. Good bye, friend. God speed you to your next, and if not or in the meantime, may your rest be peaceful.

Owen