bits and whiskies

Sat down at the computer today for the first time in a while and installed docker. I have it installed on most of my machines and got round to it on the vivomini today. Was a simple matter to run:

sudo apt install docker.io

enter my password and off it went. Docker containers include everything you’re likely to need to run a particular batch of software. Installing software is rarely simple and may rely on the presence of other packages which leads into a vicious circle of finding all the dependencies and installing them. In this case, I wanted to try the new-ish docker container for the Archives Unleashed Toolkit which, in earlier days and been a little challenging in a on docker environment. Whereas this version was dead simple via docker on a linux command line:

Step 1 sudo docker pull archivesunleashed/docker-aut
Step 2 sudo docker run --rm -it archivesunleashed/docker-aut

Both steps took a while but I think it was around 15-20 minutes altogether on my ADSL2 house wifi (my NBN option is HFC and that’s been delayed several months). When the second step finished I was greeted with the opening screen for the spark shell and ready to work. Very nice and will have more of a play later.

For now, I’m currently downloading Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds and rather looking forward to revisiting my favourite game of 2017, and possibly even my favourite game since Skyrim. Actually, I’m not sure on the latter and I haven’t actually stopped playing Skyrim. I have been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed: Origins over the last couple of months and it feels like there’s still so much to explore. Some of it is a bit repetitive yet it’s wonderful exploring such a well realised version of Egypt, in the time of Cleopatra, and its surrounds. With that said, I’m at the point where I’m going to ease back and pop into it occasionally rather than have it as my primary game.

Then there was whisky. All the bottles I had opened in early November are now finished. Back then I had 9 bottles altogether with 5 open, now  9 bottles and 4 open. Actually I have an additional 7 bottles but they’re each 50ml and combined are equivalent to a single bottle. My partner bought me a box of 4 peated malts for christmas, and I picked up a taster pack of 3 Loch Lomond whiskies. Whiskies opened include:

  • Hellyers Road 10 year old (46.2%) – a nice, soft dram from Tasmania. Usually retails around $90 and I think I’m on my second bottle.
  • Ben Nevis 18 year old (single cask, 54.7%) – strong but delish, loving this one and on to the second bottle. This was $240 and is part of a fund raiser for a new distillery in Corowa, NSW.
  • BenRiach Peated Cask Strength Single Malt (56%) – also strong and also delish. This was $150 and I have a suspicion that BenRiach is turning out to be one of my favourite distilleries after Highland Park and Overeem. I have also enjoyed their 17 year old PX cask.
  • Glenmorangie: The Duthac (43%) – more yum. This was a christmas present and was released for travel retail and is primarily available at duty free places at airports, Singapore in this instance. Part finished in Pedro Ximinez casks. Sherry casks are my preferred and the Pedro Ximinez (PX) seems to raise that a notch or two.

Speaking of Pedro, I rather like sherry straight too. I used to prefer ports and muscats, and even had a port barrel maturing at one stage. I suspect if I ever do another barrel it will be for sherry. Of sherries, the Pedro Ximinez or PX (though it seems irreverent to shorten it such) is turning out to be my favourite. I have been trying out various releases from cheap to expensive, the most expensive being around $55 for 350ml! My favourite, while a little pricey, seems to be the Cardenal Cisneros at $56/750ml, though cheap compared to whisky.

opened bottles

I’m a member (but mostly lurk) of a couple of facebook groups on whisky: the Australian Whisky Appreciation Society (AWAS) and the Highland Park Appreciation Society. I’m on the former cause it’s sorta local and I’ve been getting more and more into whisky. I’m on the latter as I think it was Highland Park that first made whisky click for me and it remains one of my faves. I have even been to the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, where Highland Park is located but that was before I’d gotten into whisky. I visited a few distilleries on the mainland via a backpacker’s bus and must have picked up some Highland Park duty free. There’s only two distilleries on Orkney, Highland Park and Scapa though I’ve never tasted the latter and they seem to be much smaller whereas Highland seems huge and expanding.

Anyways, there was a recent thread on AWAS about how many bottles people had, and how many they had open. I figured that bottles owned would range from a few to lots, while bottles opened would range from a few to a few more. I was a little wrong on the latter assumption. Most folk seemed to have a third to two thirds of their collection open. This is ok if you’ve got 10-20 bottles but beyond that it gets sort of scary. Some folk have 70 bottles with 60 opened, or several hundred with a few hundred open. I can see easily, how whisky can be as dangerous as book collecting.

Once you open a whisky it is affected by the air that gets in, some well some not so much. I know from my own experience that if you open a whisky and leave it a few years it can go a little off. For some whiskies, additional air improves it over several months. Others need to be drunk quickly. I recall having an 18 year old Glenfiddich that tasted horrible by the time I finished it a couple of years after opening.

Taking stock of my current state of play: I have 5 bottles open out of a total of 9. To be honest, I’m a bit staggered I have so many: both open and unopened. Every time I buy a new bottle it is tempting to open it immediately. Thankfully, regular tastings and whisky fairs has reduced that temptation and improved my appreciation. Plus I have a significant understanding of collectivitis via books which are my first priority. So far at least whisky collecting has proven cheaper than book collecting.

The 5 I have open currently include:

  • Highland Park Viking Scars (10 year old) – very smooth, easy drop. It’s relatively cheap at $75 though lacks complexity. A nice, regular quaffer.
  • McHenry 6th barrel release – oh my! I love this so. Molasses and toffee. A delish Tassie whisky. The distillery in Port Arthur was alas shut when we were in Hobart last but keen to visit next time. I did meet the man himself at the Oak Barrel’s Whisky Fair and it was lovely chatting to him. Last week I picked up the 3rd barrel release.
  • Ben Nevis 1997 – 20 year old single cask, bottled specially for the Oak Barrel Whisky Fair. I have bottle 8 of 60. Delish but much improved with a few drops of water. At 48.6% alcohol it tastes much stronger but the water really opens it up.
  • Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve – was on special recently at my local for $99 (from $134). The ultimate Yamazaki is the 18 year old that sells out quickly, even at $1,000+ and then re-sells for several thousand. I have tasted the 18 year old and it is yum but I ain’t paying stupid money. This one is nice and works well as a quaffer with a bit of character.
  • Overeem sherry cask – this is probably my favourite whisky and comes from the last cask that Casey Overeem made before selling to Lark. This is my second bottle from that cask and it is oh so good. Overeem mostly mature in either port or sherry casks and while I don’t mind the port, I usually prefer the sherry cask.

avoidance

I drank the McHenrys 6th release 3 nights in a row this week and it’s like a lovely toffee verging on rich christmas cake. I know where I can a bottle from their 3rd release, and 4th for that matter, but avoiding it as it’s a little pricey. Though today I picked up a discounted bottle of the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, at $99 it’s a wee bit cheaper than the 18 year old that seems to sell in uncomfortable four figure amounts.

Somehow I have found myself on Amazon…just looking at stuff, minding my own business. I could for example get a whisky flask that looks a game cartridge, or even a dodgy looking steampunk version. On the other hand, the Disruptor Rifle looks rather cool but I’ve got nowhere to display it currently and it might not be quite the thing to put on my filing cabinet at work.

I occasionally, and this may surprise some, look longingly at Richie Rich collections. I had lots of comics as a kid and I’d like to say they were really cool in a pre-hipster sort of way but nyah, I bought the regular stuff not the niche. I had lots of Richie Rich comics, the story of the poor little rich boy. Though I did also have the english whizzer and chips with its stories of Mustapha Millions. Actually I did have a bunch of Captain America too. In later years I think I even have a complete run of the Babylon 5 comics. There’s a new book on gaming that came out a month or so back that looks rather interesting: Blood, Sweat and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made.

Other temptations include omnibus collections of the original Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even a couple of books on Soviet bus stops. Every other week there seems to be a new omnibus featuring Captain America and The Avengers though the really big temptation at the moment is the Complete Collection of S.H.I.E.L.D. as I’m currently enjoying the 3rd season of Agents of SHIELD via DVD. Also glad to see that an omnibus has been released of the new Ms Marvel of which I’ve read the first couple of releases. I tend not to buy much in paperback these days and prefer to wait for the hardcover omnibus releases…afterall they look rather nice on the shelf and hopefully last a bit longer.

Haven’t bought any books so far but may revisit later in the evening.

random mutterings

Following a tweet this morning:

I’ve fallen down something of a rabbit hole. I made references in my response to that tweet to usenet and newsgroup creation groups. Of course, I popped into google groups and found usenet posts of my own from the early 1990s in aus.net.news and aus.sf, some of which are a wee bit cringeworthy. Oh well, it’s all about the learning…I tell myself.

Tonight, I revisited one of my earlier blogs, 2002 this time, and found an entry that I could turn into a tweet:

as sure enough, it’s still running and is in its 23rd year. I am saddened, but unsurprised at how many links no longer work. Yet shocked to discover that my link to mutt, an unix based email program, not only works but is still being updated in 2017. The link still works for pine, another email program, but development ceased in 2008. Even slrn still exists (last update in 2016) and can be grabbed in linux via apt-get.

a shipping crane by the waterSpeaking of apt-get, a tool for installing software on linux, I am liking having linux running as its own machine. Been a long time since I’ve had it on a dedicated device. I’ve set up my new box as dual mode with windows but I’m barely touching the windows side and I’m already musing on wiping it altogether. Running it in a virtualbox always had an edge of frustration, it was slower, a little clunky, and some things just never worked as you were dealing with linux and virtualbox. Now it’s just linux and stuff mostly works; muscle memory in my fingers seems to guide me through.

In other news, I am conscious I should blog more on whisky stuff. I’ve been learning lots in the last year and have a good sense of what I like. The most important lesson however is to keep trying new things and being open to things that you might otherwise expect not to like. I’m very fond of whisky matured in sherry casks, but port casks not so much. Yet I am currently sipping a delicious drop from McHenry’s in Tasmania, matured in ex bourbon barrels and finished in a port cask. So utterly delish. Also I think I need to dedicate a post to Highland Park as I’ve had so many of their releases, yet know there’s so many I haven’t had. Have also been enjoying their new 10 year old Viking Scars which is a relatively cheap whisky at $75.

Here’s my blog entry from October 2003 that I suspect includes my first mention of eating seahorse. I had a busy month in December 2003 with much to think about including the dreaded digital divide and longevity of URLs ironically. A year later, my final post noted that of the then top 100 movies screened in Australia (by box office takings), I’d seen 92. I know now that it’s not 93 as I have definitely not seen Ghost. Whereas December 2004 is full of thoughts regarding my first NLS, and my first attempts at live blogging. I think I live blogged using a psion 5mx (which I still have) connected via infrared to my mobile phone which in turn handled a dial up connection to my ISP. Also thoughts regarding how to set up some sort of group blogging thang for the following NLS though I think we ended up using ALIA’s forum for discussion in the end. December 2004 was also when I finally registered my own domain that now points here.

I continue to enjoy browsing the casualness of my blogging in those early days; blogging was about random bits and pieces, content in response to links I stumbled upon. A sentence here, a paragraph there; mutterings on this and that. Was fun. Is still fun.

a little booze…

…is better than a lot of booze, and occasionally abstinence is even better. I was reading the thoughts on alcohol from one of the organisers of the next iteration of the New Librarians’ Symposium in Canberra in a couple of weeks and really like that they made a conscious decision for non boozy social events. There’s a bunch of reasons why this is a good thing which she covers, not least about ensuring a comfortable, inclusive environment.

Drinking at professional events is a bit of a tightope at times mixing with concerns about mixing and social engagement, yet ensuring that you remain professional and the old chestnut of the grey areas around the overlaps of personal and professional. Different people have different tolerances for alcohol and behave differently after a few drinks. I used to argue that I needed to have several drinks before I could be comfortable enough to dance :)

abseiling down a canyon in CreteLooking back over my own history of booze, in my early days of conferencing, my attitude was along the lines of “free booze, yes please!”. I didn’t get full on drunk very often but I liked to be tipsy and maintaining tipsy is a tricky thing and it’s too easy to tip over beyond tipsy. I think mostly I did okay and as far as I’m aware didn’t do anything too  stupid…I tend to do the really stupid stuff sober. At the same time I’m now conscious that I don’t need to drink and stay to the end of the festivities; staying for a while and then leaving can be rather healthy.

At a personal level, sometimes my drinking has been good and sometimes bad. I used to argue that wine should be an essential part of every meal and would always have a glass or two. Then I’d like to have glass while cooking, in those rare times I actually cooked (I hate cooking but cook well enough to get by) and I eventually noticed that I was moving from a glass or two a night, to half a bottle, to most of the bottle…thinking so long as there’s one glass left all is well. That’s not healthy nor sustainable, and I did manage to ease back from that direction when I took stock.

A few years ago, I stopped drinking entirely for several months. I’d been concerned for some time about my sleeping and partners reported that I was often restless and snored horribly; they expressed concerns re sleep apnea too. Following a breakup, I saw a sleep specialist and had an overnight sleeping test with lots of diodes on my head. Slacker that I am it took me a couple of years to get round to finding out the results. I didn’t have sleep apnea however that was a period when I was drinking more and when I went back for the diagnosis I was drinking less and sleeping better.

As a result of my decision to stop drinking altogether I found that I slept a lot better and lost a significant amount of weight. I’d like to say that it stopped my snoring, however it remained the case that like my father, I am a world-class snoring champion. These days, I try to avoid wine on weekday evenings though I occasionally lapse and when I do, it does affect my sleeping. I do enjoy a dram of whisky in the late evening, preferably around 9pm, after 10pm is too late and might affect my sleep.

On the weekends, I like a nice beer or two in the afternoon while spending a few hours on the couch engaged with the playstation. Catch-ups with friends usually involves an afternoon of drinking at one of the many craft distilleries in the inner west. Serving sizes are small and the environment is more conducive to chatting than bingeing. I still like to drink but try to ensure that I don’t drink too much these days.

thoughts of pedro

One of these days I may get round to blogging a list of all the whiskies I like though it’s fair to say I have strong leanings toward sherry casks and regular strength whiskies, cask strength is mostly not for me. I’ve just opened a bottle of 16 year old Balvenie (triple cask) which is rather pleasant. My current favourite at the moment however is a newish one from Laphroaig that was matured in Pedro Ximenez casks and is 48% alcohol: Laphroaig’s PX Cask. Interestingly I bought a litre at the airport for about AD$110 but have seen it retailing locally for around $200.

five overdue

It’s been over a month since I last blogged and even longer since I did a round-up of interesting articles. I blame post #blogjune recovery. I’ve had a quick dash back through the last month or so of tweeted articles and chose these 5. I was going to include this list of gaming terms but decided I didn’t agree with some of the definitions. So here’s an overdue list of five things: