Fermentation Apparatus Explosion
Although it may sound like a prog-rock band, in fact, "Fermentation Apparatus Explosion" is not a band title. It's my experience last night.
Having finished The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart, I decided to finally forego the excuses of "I can't make beer because I don't have any space.", "I can't make beer because I don't have any time." "I can't make beer because I don't have any of the specialized material you need to make beer." The Drunken Botanist reads "if you put any sugar-water mixture outside, yeast will find it and ferment." Compounding conclusions, I met a girl at a party who routinely made pineapple beer from the scraps at work, and decided, "Okay, I can do that."
Last Thursday after halfheartedly researching recipes, I bought a pineapple, chopped of the skin and stuck it in a Whole Foods growler filled with brown sugar water laced with cloves. Now to sit. And don't worry, home fermentation is happily allowed by the state of Tennessee as long as your batches do not exceed 5 gallons. Check your at-home brewing laws before you embark on this endeavor.
The recipes listed the fermentation should be done within 48-hours, but you could wait longer if you desired a stronger beverage. I wagered I'd check it Sunday giving it that additional time. The results were less than expected. I opened the growler to only a slight *pop*, disappointingly lacking in the carbon-dioxide of good fermentation. An impulse activity, I suspected the water from my Zero-Water filter (please see my expounding on the merits of the Zero-Water filter at the end of this saga) still held remnants of chlorine though advertisements claimed it didn't, thus killing much of the bacteria. Next time to use purely distilled water.
Still, maybe it would work. I placed it back in it's hidey-hole near my poorly insulated back door, the warmest place in the house. Expecting I would find much of the same, I didn't touch it for another 4 days -hoping the extra time would allow it to work.
And then, we came home from the symphony Thursday night. Hangry and tired, I went to bed. Boyfriend who had been in the kitchen came in, shocked, "Did you break a bottle?" My hangry can be excessive, but what? Coming out to see the remnants of brown glass in the entry-way, I pieced together the mystery. The fermentation worked! And exploded. At-home brewing guides will warn you of this, and of course, I pay no heed to warnings. If I were a more cautious person, I would have opened the top every day to release the pressure, but I'm a person of excitement and intrigue. I didn't want to check up on it every day; I wanted to leave it and experience surprise and awe at success.
Or lose my rewards in process. The fun part of being a scientist is that failure isn't failure. Failure is information. Failure is, "Oh, these are the things I should do differently for success." And you fail and you fail until one day you discover you've finally achieved exactly what you wanted. And hopefully you've documented the process to know how you got there. So now, I shall try again and perhaps next time I will have better results if not a better story.
And now for why Zero-Water is great.
The Zero-Water is the best water filter option I've found. A 5-Stage filter containing charcoal and high-grade resin -which looks suspiciously like the resin I use at work to get sub-ppb(parts per billion) level contaminants. "Oh, but I read my water report from the county, I know I'm fine." Yes, but that's the water that comes out of their system. Then that water enters a network of piping to travel to your house that's over 50 years old, and as far and we can tell, doesn't undergo maintenance except when there's a problem. As a corrosion control chemist, the pipes in America have me worried. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but by damn, using a water filter seems a small price to pay against heavy metal poisoning or the other crud that may be lurking.
Free to Be the Greatest, I'm Alive
Four years ago, if anyone had been able to adequately describe what my new job at the Tennessee Valley Authority would be like, I would have told my hiring team "No thank you, very much." If they could relay just how stressful the demands are, I would have said no. If they had told me 60 and 72 hour work weeks would become a near norm, I would have said no. If they had told me how physically demanding it would be, I may have said yes because I like for my workout to be my job. But if they had told me how emotionally demanding it is, I would have said no. Even if I had known how much money I would actually make for enduring all this instead of the offered salary which seem lucrative compared to my current income, I would have said no.
I would have turned on my heel and gone straight back to play ("work") at Whole Foods until my year of deferral was up, then trudged to Chicago for my Pharmacognosy PhD and attempted to live the kind of hustle-life it takes to be a scientific researcher in the present era. But I didn't know, and instead I took the appearingly cushy blue collar job with the good salary, benefits and time-off guaranteed to provide me with my true life goal of traveling the world.
All of this to say, I am glad I took my job.
When I graduated college, my fellow honors friends were becoming Rhodes scholars and Fulbright scholars and going to Med School. I had deferred graduate school to work at a grocery store. Admittedly, I was floundering. Knowing neither where I wanted to go nor what I wanted to do, I withered under the expectations of glory I'd had for my life comparing it to the prestige of my classmates' accomplishments. And frankly, after working so hard for so long, I just didn't want to work anymore. When the opportunity to move to Chattanooga came along, my impulsive instincts kicked in, and I said, "Well, at least I won't be here anymore." So many young people believe the locale is the source of their problems, and if only they were to move somewhere new, everything would be different. Sorry to say this isn't the case -your problems are mostly internal and will find you wherever you roam. But I am among the lucky, and moving to a new place did help.
I love my job because it allows me to do things I never imagined possible. It has forced me to grow up -not necessarily something I wanted at 22, but I'll agree it's for the best, I has forced me to be more compassionate and forgiving. It has forced me to be more flexible and adaptive. And it has forced me to get over myself.
For two years especially, I've worked to put online the first nuclear reactor of the 21st century. It's been 20 years since the world got a new operational nuclear unit, and that's the one I worked to keep online while adding all the duties of the next generation. Armed with only my sterile academic knowledge, I can now rip apart a piece of $100,000 equipment and put it back together again without blinking an eye. If a certain chemical concentration goes under a specific level forcing the plant to shut down within 8 hours, I know how to go out and revive the motive force of its pump. And I can do all manner of things which people who understand what I'm describing see as trivial and people who don't understand what I am describing see as superhuman. I know force, pressure, motion and what it means to break apart physical matter and use the energy to fuel life on earth.
Despite the technical knowledge I'm impressed for having learned, I'm far more impressed with what I've been able to dig up in myself. The management books I'm given to study talk about having a "Full Bucket". A full bucket being a metaphor for a full heart. One that can give time and energy and care without becoming embittered or spiteful. It's very easy to slip into spite that people aren't doing their jobs or aren't listening to reason or are ignoring what matters to please their corporate masters as you probably know. As an Aries, I'm an especially spiteful person -the fact that this job has conquered that tendency in me is a reason to rejoice alone.
It's not hard for me to let things go now. Even if my first impulse is to be snarky or flippant or fly into a condescending rage, it takes only a heartbeat for that impulse to subside. It's not hard for me to be forgiving now. If you're given a hundred things which are all the "Most important thing" needing to be completed on a timeline of immediately, who can blame you if something slips? It's not hard for me to shutout feelings of negativity that arise in myself and in others, because negativity is just too easy and just too destructive. I never thought I would reach a point where I could give and give and give more, because giving more is actually important.
What are the consequences of you not doing you job to other people? Clearly, if you don't do your job, you may be fired and without funds which would be inconvenient. But ask yourself, what would happen to other people if you don't perform your job correctly? If I don't perform my job correctly, at the worst, people could die. At the bad, they could be physically harmed. Both unlikely, but possible. While I'll joke I'm overcome by corporate propaganda, I quote without hesitation "We protect the health and safety of the general public." as mission one. We were founded on three E's "Energy, Environment and Economic Development". To use the resources of the Tennessee Valley to create energy for economic development while maintaining the beautiful environment around us. Even if my job isn't my passion, I am aligned with its importance. And I can keep doing it because someone has to I've got stamina.
Just a Woman in STEM finding her way