Friday, October 30, 2009

Tasting exotic beverages.

Today, we drank mead (hydromel) for the first time. But, the best thing is that...wait for it...I made it :). It gets even better: I never brew wine or any similar drink before. So, clearly, the guinea pig had to be me.

At first, I was afraid that it didn't brew long enough and it might still be in the basic components: "must", honey and water. So, rather than sipping a little, I tried a whole glass to see if there's enough alcohol in it.
Oh boy.., it was really really strong :). It took me about one hour to feel the alcohol effects diminishing.
If you're curious about the taste, it feels like a very sweet wine, with a honey aroma (the specimen I made tastes like this; but maybe the real thing made with strict methods, tastes very differently).

Getting back to the beginning, the whole experiment started a couple of weeks ago, after the grape harvesting. We took 2 liters of must (freshly pressed grape juice) with us, to Bucharest.
Upon arrival, I saw an almost empty bottle with honey, and the idea came simply to me. The rest is simple: added the parts, improvised an air lock, stirred it regularly, had patience and..voila :).
You may be wondering how I knew, in the first place, about this drink. Well, I read about it in childhood (probably ten years ago), in one of Karl's May novels: The Treasure of Silver Lake.

Back to present times; now I'll filter the mead again, in order to have a clearer product, and then of course, we'll finish it :).


Monday, October 26, 2009

Home sweet home.

Since last week, we've been two busy bees and moved together in an apartment (rented). So, now, we're settling in and making plans for the future.

First change. Couchsurfing profile update, a good news for all the couch-surfers who wish to visit Bucharest: we have a private room with an expandable couch ready for surfing :).

Second change.
Well, since Andra currently doesn't have time to post here, I'll break the news about the hobby turned into a sharing experience :).
We are currently making preparations for pottery classes which will be held by Andra, who is quite an expert in the field. More information can be found on her blog:

That's all for now, folks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Epiphany - a human reaction.

How come we usually acknowledge the really important things, only when it's too late?
It's not the first time this is proven to me..the hard way; but today an unpleasant event (to say the least) did manage to mark me more than I would have expected.

For now, let's not make this too personal, and talk in general.
We all meet new people all the time. With some, we have some small talk, while with others we connect a little more - have some interesting sharing of thoughts etc. In time, the recollection about most of these people fades away in our memory.

Now, let's say it comes to our attention that one of those smart persons we met and liked (but didn't try enough to know better) might leave forever, far far away to an unreachable area.

Question: what human reaction would surface in this case?
Well, there are a wide range of reactions at such news and I have little interest in analyzing all of them. However, in this particular case I realized that seen from a different perspective, it is no just "someone" leaving, but a possible good friend.
Then it hit me: the problem is that most of the time we loose ourselves in our comfort zone and conveniently forget to work a little - outside of it - for other important things.
It is only then, in the brink of a major change that we realize the passage of time and our inability to recover what has already been lost.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Motorcycle - Oil Change

Monday - rain and cold. Tuesday - rain, wind and even colder.. Darn, the motorcycle season can't end so soon.
The oil change had to be postponed, but today we finally managed to do it.

Of course, it didn't go exactly as planned, but when does it..? ;)
First bump: we realized that one wrench was missing from the tools case. Ironically, it was the one that I needed to open the oil drain :). I had to go to the nearest market and buy a new one.
Second bump: because of the drain screw positioning, the wrench barely got some grip on it; an extension would have been ideal. Anyway, we managed to open it, and Andra's help proved essential in this case.

After the hard part was over, we remembered about the photo camera:

I don't really know how she did it, but Andra didn't really get her hands dirty this time. I'll make sure next time she releases the drain screw, that should do it :).

Please ignore Suzi's looks - it rained, got dirty and I didn't get chance to wash it. Also, because of a small incident, the plastic fairing got cracked and I'm waiting for the insurance to solve it soon.

In the end, considering it was a first for us, we did a good job and learned quite a few things from this experience.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gaelic Music - A special song

A few months back, I came across some detailed information about Scotland and Ireland.
Don't really know how and why, but I got really connected and interested in their culture. Most likely the music served as a connection, as I always enjoyed songs with Gaelic influence.

I want to share with you, a song which I enjoy very much, like I never did before with any other songs: Karen Matheson - My father sent me to the house of sorrow.
Probably because I didn't understand anything other than the title, it was hard to keep the song in mind for too long, and each time when listening to it, it seemed almost like the first time.

In other news, it is late and tomorrow Andra and I have a special job to do: changing Suzi's oil for the first time. For me - it will be the 1st time with no help from another skilled motorcyclist; while for Andra it will really be the 1st time to get her hands dirty with motorcycle oil :).
So, I'll better hit the sack, and come back the following days with more details.

Enjoy the song in case you like the genre.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hobbies: Photography

Lets talk about hobbies and their benefits.

First - photography.
In my case, everything connected to photography started not longer than 2 years ago.
Before that, I only had a long term passion - reading, and some others that didn't last in time:
- programming: it was a real hobby for 1-2 years, as i enjoyed making programs and especially small games like: chess, table, poker, X-0; star-trek :). This passion has chances to reborn soon.
- building electronics from scratch. In high-school, there were almost two years of experimenting with electronics. I electrocuted myself a few times :) (my younger brother had something to do with it in one case), I burned my fingers in other occasions, and sometimes I even managed to build/modify something. For example, with some help I made a converter which transformed 9v into 700v - in order to power a fluorescent bulb from batteries (it is still working); also turned recorders into radios (by building a oscillating antenna circuit directly into the recorder unit); repaired broken equipment etc.

Anyway, that's in the past now.
My first digital camera was a second-hand one (3MP). No auto-focusing, poor sensor - awful pictures :), but good and useful experience.
Second camera: Canon A430 - a lot better picture quality, a form of manual control, and my first introduction into manipulating the camera settings in order to capture a good photo.
Third camera: Fuji S5600 - dslr like, but only on the outside. An improvement though reported to the previous one, but only comparing the manual control; the picture quality was lacking, especially in poor lighting conditions.
Fourth camera: DSLR - finally :). Nikon - D40, a whole new world for me.
Latest camera: Nikon D80 with the following lenses: 50 mm, 18 - 135, 55 - 200.

Considering that "a picture's worth a thousand words", I'll better let some of my dearest photos say the rest ;)

I'll conclude with an introduction to hobbies benefits in general, and related to photography.
A hobby is a way to enjoy something, and sometimes even excel in that particular thing. Some hobbies can become a vice (gaming for example), but that's a completely different matter.
Doing something else, other than the normal chores, enables one to exit the comfort zone and experiment new things. Furthermore, these kind of activities help in meeting new people with the same interests and skills (motorcycling has definitely done that for us).
Concerning the photography, first it helped us understand that there is more to taking photos than point and shoot. In my case, it helped me understand the technical stuff behind the process (I believe in being more than just a consumer) and also helped in the creativity area, as the whole photography concept requires sometimes seeing things from a different perspective. But I admit that in many cases it is useful to be in the right place, at the right time :).
Last, but not the least, it's good to have something else to do when you're getting bored :) in various situations: by the talk around you, in a filed trip or in the bus towards an objective, at a party etc.

More to come on the hobbies matter. Andra will have something special to present soon ;)

At home - grape harvesting

The last week-end we visited our parents in the rural area, and it happened to be the grape harvesting time. Well, we kind of timed this in order to have some ripe grapes before they were all gone ;).

Beside the work around the house, we managed to find some time to visit our grandmother. As usual, she never lets us leave empty-handed, no matter how much we protest.

Ah, and I forgot to ask for that exquisite cherry liqueur she makes :).

The time at home was short and we couldn't do all the things we wanted; but we won't miss them next time.