Clone Wars!

November 2008:

Clone wars!

At last back amongst the surviving packets on the grand isobaric terrain of the intArweb.  In my travels I have seen many lonely deserted packets, dropped needlessly from their groups… 8, 32, thousands… why do they not care for the feelings of a single packet, leaving them to separate into fragments of bits at our very feet.  But behold, I have before me packets folded to my bidding.  Networks staged on the very air over my living establishment are now mine, MINE, at my very bidding… my beckoned call to bow upon my every whim and desire.

Oh yes… I have internet access now.  Clandestinely perhaps, but I never claimed to be a Greenpeace activist.  I’m not armed enough for that role, yet.

June 2010:

Time progresses and this blog consists of things I have ran across and/or learned within the last 2 years.  In some cases, simply being a documentation for me to refer to later, along with sharing to the rest of the world.  I forget more than I ever type, sadly.
No longer am I clandestinely pirating airwaves to gain ‘net access.  I find my own connection to be far more sound.  That, and I can afford it now ;)

Fresh Water Kefir from Yemoos Nourishing Cultures

After fighting for a week or two with getting the water kefir I purchased from Cultures For Health to be normal, I finally gave up and purchased a package of NON-dehydrated water kefir grains from Yamoos Nourishing Cultures. (http://www.yamoos.com)  I was really surprised at how thick and ready they were!  The package contained liquid surrounding the grains, which was a welcome sight.  It was an immediate usage, just cut open the pouch and toss it into the sugar water.  I really do wish Cultures of Health would have done that instead of being dehydrated.  I realize they say it’s to stabilize them during shipment but I shouldn’t have to struggle to get my water kefir grains to act proper.  They should work right out of the package, with no “activation time”.

Right now, Cultures For Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com) is on my last nerve.  First the Kombucha I ordered from them basically sits there and does nothing, as I have another Kombucha SCOBY purchased from Kombucha Kamp (http://www.kombuchakamp.com) that is already done it’s first fermentation.  It seems I’m going to need to avoid anything dehydrated, but then again I guess I am new to the whole swing of things and need to learn somehow…

Anyhow, that’s my beef for the day.  More later.

First taste: kombucha fermented tea (scoby from kombuchakamp)

After about 7-8 days of fermenting my sugar and tea with the kombucha scoby, I pulled out a small scotch glass and poured a small amount into it.  The smell is definitively kombucha with its lightly vinegary scent, and clean body.  I tasted it and immediately noticed several flavored at once, a sort of vinegar undertone with woodsy main taste with a few other notes around it.  Definitely delicious.

The body of the container now has the entire surface covered with a new scoby that is slowly growing.  Yeast clusters are blow the surface, where you can definitely see the work being done.  The entire bottom of the container is coated with yeast, a remnant there from the life cycle of each yeast and passing to the floor after its life is over.  I can see now the plus side of a conical brewing system, but the glass versions of those are $500+.  Not my cup of tea, no pun intended.

so yeah, that’s my kombucha brewing so far, and I am leaving it until 21-30 days.  I have a continuous brew system, so all I will do is add more sugar tea to the mix after this cycle is finished.  That one will only take 5-7 days maximum with all of the existing kombucha surrounding it, and away we go!

My houses temperature in the kitchen area where it resides is about 82 degrees, according to the thermometer on the wall.

More updates as time goes.

Milk Kefir – first fermentation run

After activating my milk kefir purchased from Cultures For Health (in dehydrated form, not my favorite but it is what it is), I’ve reached the point of the first fermentation run after activation!  I’m lactose intolerant, so bacteria that breaks down lactose into it’s simpler components makes my life far better.  Not to mention the added benefits of gut bacteria being added, along with the additional vitamins and such.  It’s also fun to screw around in the kitchen :-)

photo

That’s how it looks as it’s fermenting.  Pretty simple and easy – whole milk in jar, milk kefir grains plopped in, and a thin tightly woven fabric over the top, and a rubber band holding it on.  I pick the jar up and swirl it once or twice a day in order to get the bacteria worked around in there. (it does help)

photo

After I let it sit for 24 hours and it was thick and *just* starting to get lumps, I swirl it good to mix everything together then toss a funnel onto the jar seen above and put a strainer over the funnel to pour it through.  It’s not necessary, but it’s called the second fermentation process.  It helps more B vitamins become bioavailable, along with other things in it becoming bioavailable.  It’s also the time you can include flavors that you want!  Since this is my first time, I haven’t done any experimentation since I just wanted to taste the base.  This is what I’ve seen as good ideas for flavoring:

  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Vanilla + cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  • Garlic or onion (for use in savory kefir dip)
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Chopped fruit

photo

After 8 hours of second fermentation, I figured I’d take the time to try it for my first time.  The glass above is how it looks, much thicker than milk at room temperature.

photo

As can be seen in the glass above, the fermentation has broken down the milk quite nicely.  The taste is unique, vinegary with a hint of various other flavors.  As a base product, I can see this being very easily manipulated to my liking.  The major plus side to it all is that it’s very good for the digestive system.  The flora that is in the milk after fermentation makes yogurt pale in comparison.  I’m storing the 4 cups in the lock-top bottle, and brewing 1-cup at a time since it only takes 24 hours for each fermentation.  As a single guy, 1 cup of milk (of any type) for drinking is enough for any day, especially when there are other beverages such as water kefir!  (and soon after it brews, kombucha)

Here’s to health, and trying new things.  

As a side note for those that have come to this page that are lactose intolerant – After drinking 2 glasses of milk kefir 6-7 hours ago, my digestion is fine.  I’ve not had any symptoms of lactose intolerance so the lactose was broken down correctly.

Kombucha Kamp Kombucha SCOBY Received!

scoby-instructions

I just received the kombucha scoby I ordered through Kombucha Kamp. (www.kombuchakamp.com)
live-scoby

For those that haven’t read my following posts on the subject, I originally ordered a kombucha scoby through Cultures For Health. (www.culturesforhealth.com)
scoby-dry

The main issue I had was the fact that everything comes dried and needs to be rehydrated.  By textbook, that’s a terrific idea.  However, in reality it takes about 30 days to rehydrate and is remarkably fragile and unstable as a bacteria colony.  I still figure I will give both a try side by side, however I’ve decided I can’t wait 30 days to reach the point of being able to make kombucha which is the reason I went with the Kombucha Kamp version.

The first thing I noticed was the fact that as soon as you get the Kombucha Kamp scoby you immediately start making your first batch!  Not only that, but it’s not a small amount… it’s a gallon.  I started with a continuous brewing system with the Kombucha Kamp version.  A fancy name for a container with a faucet and an open top.
empty-container

I brought 2 cups of purified water to a boil, then let it cool for 2 minutes.  As I was doing that, I warmed the container with hot water to make sure it wouldn’t crack.  After that, I poured the 2 cups of water into the container, then placed the tea that came with the kombucha into the water.
teabag

After allowing the tea to steep in the hot water for 10 minutes, I removed the bag.  I then put 1 cup of cane sugar into the hot water and stirred it in.  I then placed 8 more cups of room temperature purified water into the hot water, which brought the temperature down to ~100 degrees fahrenheit.  I waited until the temperature dropped to 95 degrees and then opened the bag of scoby/starter tea to slide it into the container.  I then tossed a muslin cloth over the top and put a rubber band around it to hold in place.
full-container

Now to wait 7-21 days for the brewing/fermentation.

Oh yeah… and I can wait 24 more days for this to become able to brew:
full-container-cfh-scoby

CentOS 7 Test Run (text installation)

I’ve lapsed quite a bit on trying new distributions of Linux as they come out, and with Red Hat 7.x coming out I figured it was time to get up off my duff and dig into a new distro!  With text installation of course, I can’t stand GUI installations.

Of course being that I have no direct link to any RHEL 7.x installation, I had to use CentOS 7.x which I know is slightly different.  That being said, I’m quite impressed.

During boot when the boot screen appears I hit escape, being dumped to the LILO prompt.  I then typed “linux text”, and on to the text installation procedure it went!
CentOS 7.x went back to the Unix roots it seems, losing the curses style interface and bringing a more text-only style.  Selecting a number of a displayed text menu would draw a submenu.  It was dead simple to install, walking 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and installation happened.  Of course a little self control is necessary and knowing which number comes after the other.  Also, reading is necessary, which seems to be hard for some admins.

The nice part I noticed is the integration of virtualization into the installation, allowing you to choose that the server will be a virtualization server, hosting others via QEmu or Virtualbox through the KVM interfacing.  I haven’t experimented with the quality of virtualization, however.

Of note is the fact that the normal chkconfig tool that set the precedence of the /etc/init.d files (and whether they ran or not) is now not the tool of use.  It looks like Red Hat has replaced the /etc/init.d idea with their own systemd interface.  I’m not sure how it ties together, but a command systemctl is the interface to showing what functions are running at boot or different runlevels, along with whether they run.  I’m not sure where the files are located, but I do know that /etc/rc.d/init.d/* is handled in a legacy fashion.  Also, IPv6 is handled during installation, which is nice if you have an IPv6 network.

Mind you, the information I gleaned from CentOS 7.x was with a 15-30 minute installation/messing-around then off to do other things.  That means I’m obviously low on the totem pole as far as experience with it currently.

Experimentation with Kefir & Kombucha

Fermented foods help digestion, and include vitamins that are good for you.  Commonly, I eat homemade yogurt which is a fermented food, but you can only eat so much of one thing.  That, and I don’t have a humungous amount of space in my refrigerator for more than 12 bottles of yogurt.  I figured I’d stretch my fermented food diet, so I’m starting to experiment with kefir (both water & milk), along with kombucha fermented tea.  Living in Arizona, the temperatures are almost spot-on for kefir & kombucha fermentation, since the incubation temperatures are 68-85 degrees fahrenheit.  My house usually sits about 80 degrees, which makes it nearly idiot-proof.  I purchased starters for all three from Cultures For Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com) but there are many other places on the net you can get it from, OR if you have a friend who uses it they should have lots of the grains available to give you.  (it grows continuously)

First thing to do is have a glass container that is cleaned thoroughly with no aluminum.

water kefir activation

Water kefir couldn’t get any simpler.  You heat the unchlorinated/unfluoridated water (I use bottled water) to somewhere between 68-85 degrees fahrenheit, mix cane sugar into it, then toss your water kefir grains in.  Put the container into a place away from direct sunlight for 3-5 days.

Milk kefir is about the same, except you use milk instead of water.  I haven’t used mine yet (I have to buy some milk), however the huge plus side is that it makes milk digestible for those that are lactose intolerant.  During the fermentation, the lactose is broken down into simple sugars much like happens when yogurt is made.

kombucha activation

Kombucha fermented tea is another fermented beverage that makes tea into a positive digestion experience.  I’ve yet to taste it since I’m just now activating the scoby (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) that I purchased.  However, theoretically it has a tart taste with a combination of tea and whatever other flavors added to it which can be performed during a second fermentation after the scoby has been removed.  Fermentation time for kombucha is much longer than kefir, about 21-30 days.  After that time, the scoby is removed (and added into another batch) and the remaining beverage can be put into a sealed bottle with whatever you’d like to make it taste like.  Grape juice, orange juice, whatever.  If it’s put into a sealed bottle, it should be burped daily to keep the pressure in check.  It can be alcoholic if left in second fermentation for 3+ days.

I’ll post again once I’m complete with the activation, and I make my first batch of water kefir & kombucha.  The milk kefir will be trailing behind since I need to buy some milk first.

 

EDIT 8/1/2014
After a day or two of having my kombucha scoby sit (with little activity obviously since it’s dehydrated and it takes 30 days to activate), I started thinking to myself how valuable time really is.  Seriously, when you’re working 5 days a week, with only a few hours in the evening off and you buy something to make a beverage, do you really want to wait a month for something to become able to be used so you can wait another month for the outcome?  Not myself.  While I understand the reasoning, I found a website that sells the scoby in a more natural form.  kombuchakamp.com sells the scoby in a little packet with the starter tea surrounding it.  It’s advertised as being packed right before shipping to you, so it’s fresh and can be tossed into action immediately.  I ordered a scoby (at the time yesterday it was 24.88 + free shipping) and waiting for it to arrive.  According to the website, it’ll be 2-3 days until it’s shipped, and then about 3-5 days for delivery.  (About a week)  In the meantime, I’m leaving the scoby I purchased from culturesforhealth.com in it’s sugar tea mixture, and I’ll see how things work with that as well.  Worst case scenario it’ll mold over and I’ll toss it, best case scenario I’ll have a second scoby in a month or two.  We’ll see how things work out.

EDIT 8/4/2014
A picture of the scoby that came from Cultures For Health, as I opened the sealed plastic wrapper.  It was dried and brittle.  As of right now, no activity is occuring in the sugar tea still, though I’m figuring with a 30 day time period I’m only on day 6.
scoby-dry

BIN/CUE Files and turning them into ISO on Apple OS X

I found myself with BIN & CUE files and not being able to access the files inside of it.  I run OS X Mavericks, and just like most operating systems you can’t directly access BIN & CUE files.  There are also very few applications on OS X that can access the data inside unless it’s some sort of video… which applications like VLC can access inside of the BIN file.  Fortunately/unfortunately, the files I tried accessing were data files.

After lots of bouncing around the net, I found a console app called “bchunk” which is a typical Unix application.  I downloaded it, unzipped it, tossed it into my /usr/bin directory (sudo cp chunk /usr/bin) so it’s in my path whenever I want it, then “sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/bchunk” for to change permissions to execute for all. 

http://jamesnsears.com/code/bchunk.zip
This is a Mach-O i386 binary, and I ran it on OS X 10.9.4 (Mavericks) so it’s known functional.

The syntax is as follows:

Usage: bchunk [-v] [-r] [-p (PSX)] [-w (wav)] [-s (swabaudio)]
        <image.bin> <image.cue> <basename>
Example: bchunk foo.bin foo.cue foo
-v  Verbose mode
-r  Raw mode for MODE2/2352: write all 2352 bytes from offset 0 (VCD/MPEG)
-p  PSX mode for MODE2/2352: write 2336 bytes from offset 24
(default MODE2/2352 mode writes 2048 bytes from offset 24)
-w  Output audio files in WAV format
-s  swabaudio: swap byte order in audio tracks

It’s super simple to run.  I went to my downloads directory on the commandline and ran “/usr/bin/bchunk mybin.bin mycue.cue iso” of course with the names changed.  iso is the base name of the output ISO file, and of course the BIN & CUE names are respective of the ones being converted.

Thought I’d share!