ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] perfectworry, LJ user Westrider, and Deb1789.  It also fills the "parent(s)" square in my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo  fest.  This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.


"Brewing Trouble"

 


Victor and Igor spent a pleasant morning
in the village teaching the children
how to figure things out.

Victor mashed up red cabbage leaves
to extract the deep purple juice
while Igor went about asking for
samples of things to mix into it.

Adam sat on the ground and
chewed the leftover cabbage pulp.

First Victor filled a row of cups,
leaving a bit of juice in the bowl.
"Now this will be our control,"
he said, pointing at the bowl,
"so we remember what
plain cabbage juice looks like."

Next Igor waved a hand
over the samples.  "Crina,
pick one thing to put in the first cup."

She grabbed the cider vinegar
and poured it in.

The cabbage juice turned red.

"Ooo!  Why did it do that?"
Crina asked, leaning forward.

"Vinegar is acidic," Igor explained.
"Ágota, choose something for the next cup."

She added the soap shavings,
and the cabbage juice turned blue.
"It's different!" she exclaimed.

"Soap tends to be alkaline," Igor said.
Quickly he grabbed Adam to stop him
from putting a sliver of soap in his mouth.
"It doesn't taste very good either."

"Can I put something in?"
asked Gyuri's son Traian,
who was between the girls in age.

"Go ahead," Igor said.
"Pick whatever you want."

Traian chose the cream.
"It didn't change," he said,
clearly disappointed.

"What do you think that means?"
Victor asked the boy.

"I did it wrong."

"Maybe, or there could be
some other explanation,"
Victor said.  "Think about
what happened before
and what happened just now.
What does that tell you?"

"Oh!  Oh!" Crina said,
bouncing in her place.
"I have an idea."

"It's Traian's turn now,"
Igor murmured.  "Give him
a moment to think."

"I dunno."  Traian shrugged.

"All right then, Crina?"
Victor invited.

"If vinegar goes red
and soap goes blue,
then maybe cream
is in the middle," she said.
"Purple's between red and blue,
so it wouldn't change any."

"Clever girl," Victor said,
clapping his soft hands.
"You figured it out."

Traian scowled at her.
"She's too smart for a girl."

Igor clucked his tongue at the boy.
"Nobody's too smart," he said.
"Why don't you try again, Traian?
See if you can guess what will
make the juice change color.
What's like vinegar?"

Traian stared at the samples,
his forehead wrinkling.  "Wine."

"Give it a try," Igor said.

Traian poured in the wine,
and even though it was white wine,
the cabbage juice turned red.
"I did it!" he crowed.

"You sure did," Igor said.

"See, see!  Red," Adam said,
reaching for the cup.

Victor scooted it out of reach
and handed him an apple instead.
Adam gnawed happily on the fruit.

Together Victor and Igor
coached the children through
the rest of the materials,
reminding them to check results
against the control sample.

When Dorottya came to pick up
her daughter Ágota, she frowned
over the clutter of cups.
"If you keep teaching them this,
they're going to wind up
as bad as Dénes," she said.

"This is a problem?" Victor said mildly.
"I thought you liked his brewing."

"I do, when he's brewing good liquor
that we can sell," Dorottya said.
"When he's brewing trouble,
that's a different thing altogether.
I've lost count of just how many
bottle bombs have gone off this month!"

Victor and Igor shared a look.
They'd already seen what could happen
when fermentation led to flying glass,
and neither of them wanted to see
Dénes get hurt again.

"What brought this on?" Igor asked
as he tidied up their supplies.
"Dénes usually knows what he's doing."

"He knew what he was  doing,"
Dorottya said.  "He has no idea
what he's doing now,  with all this
new inspiration from Csilla."

"We'll just drop by and have a chat
with him then," Victor said,
balancing Adam on his hip.

No sooner did they enter the shop
than Dénes pounced on them.
"Come see my new brewing!"
he exclaimed, waving them in.

"I'd rather not if it's likely to go bang,"
Victor said gently.  "Adam is with us."

"Oh, it's all right now -- I had Lóránt
make me a cabinet to hold the bottles,"
Dénes said as he pointed it out.

The cabinet had ten small doors,
each covered by a tin panel
with a star pattern punched in it
to provide ventilation.

"Shiny stars," Adam said,
reaching out toward one.

"See, I can put a different batch
into each section, and if one blows,
it won't break all the others," Dénes said.

"Or slice you to ribbons if you're in the room
when that happens," Igor said.

"I still jump when one goes off, though,"
Dénes admitted, rubbing the scar on his arm.

"But it hasn't stopped you from experimenting
with new recipes," Victor said. 

"Ah, nothing could do that," Dénes said.
He patted the cabinet.  "I'm always fiddling
with the old recipes, you know.
It's just now I have a lot more ideas."

"New ideas make for exciting science,"
Victor agreed with a smile.

"I'm not a scientist like you," Dénes said.
"I'm just a village brewer."

"Brewing is  science, Dénes," said Victor.
"Though to be sure, it's closer to Igor's work
than it is to most of mine."

"Well, if you think ... I could show you
my logbook," Dénes said slowly.  "You have to
promise not to copy anything from it, though."

"I would never steal another man's work,"
Igor said, looking him in the eye.

Dénes brought out the logbook,
thick creamy pages bound in brown leather,
full of his crabbed, awkward writing
and surprisingly deft sketches.

Poring over the notes, Victor realized
that Dénes was drawing in things
not just as illustrations but as replacements
for words that he didn't know how to write.

He also realized the source of the problems.

"You're changing too many things at once,"
Victor pointed out, finger on a relevant line.

Dénes frowned at him.  "I thought you said
that you don't know much about brewing."

"I don't need to," Victor said.  "That rule
applies to everything: if you're making
changes, only do one at a time, so you
can tell which change has what result.
If you change several things at once,
there's no way to know which one of them
altered the results in what way."

"And thus, why this batch of bottles
blew up but the others didn't," Igor added.

"Hmm," Dénes said thoughtfully.
His fingers drummed on the top
of the walnut cabinet.

"Me see," Adam demanded,
reaching for the logbook.

"This is a pretty boring book
for someone your age," Dénes said.
"Would you like one about food?"
He held out the little wooden book
with colorful illustrations of fruit that
he used to help his less-literate customers
choose what they wanted to buy.

"Apple!" said Adam.
That was painted on the front.

"Yes, that's an apple," Victor said.
"Can you tell me the others?"

He kept Adam occupied while Igor
helped Dénes look through the notes
and theorize why so many
of the bottles were exploding.

The two men talked about
yeasts and fruits, sugar and bubbles.
Then Igor went on and on about
some kind of mold that grew on grape skins.

Finally they closed the logbook,
and Adam handed back the fruit book.

"That should reduce the chance
of brewing trouble," Igor said.

Dénes gave him a rueful look.
"Dorottya asked you to stop by,
didn't she," he guessed.

"She wants you to be safe," Victor said.

"So do we," Igor added.  "I'd also like
to try your new recipes, whatever works --
and it's no good if they pop the bottles."

"True," Dénes said. 
"Thanks for the help."

"You can pay us back in brew,"
Victor said with a wink.

Dénes laughed.  "I'll do that."

* * *

Notes:

Scientific method entails a methodical observation of experiments, and the use of a control group.

Red cabbage (which is actually purple) is a classic kitchen chemistry material, because it turns red in the presence of an acid (such as vinegar) or blue in the presence of a base (such as soap).  Cream is neutral, so does not change the color.

At fifteen months, Adam has busy hands and enjoys mimicking actions.  He's also more proactive about demanding attention.

The new cabinet looks something like this; just imagine that each panel is its own door and the shelves inside are similarly divided.  It's made from walnut, a hard and shock-resistant wood.

Brewing science includes attention to yeast fermentation.  It is very popular with hobby-scientists.

Wooden books are most often used for babies and toddlers, but also in cases where something gets handled frequently and may need to withstand spills.
 
Bottle bombs are a known hazard of brewing.  There are tips on how to avoid them and how to prepare for them.

Redirection and distraction are ideal techniques for channeling a toddler's need to explore into constructive outlets.  As in martial arts, it is easier to deflect than to stop outright, and children's annoying behavior comes from growth needs that can cause trouble if stifled.  The key is to enable positive opportunities instead of yelling about negative ones.

Another great poem!

Date: 2014-10-15 07:11 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Denes may not be well /educated/ but he is above average for the time, and he is /smart/. The combination of images and logbook works wonderfully to support each other, but, as they noticed, the flaw wasn't in his records, but in his multiple-changes-at-once RUSH to try things.

Which, of course, put me in mind to parallel Denes' behavior along with Adam's. (GRIN.)

thanks for this one--I'm still mulling over parts of it.

Re: Another great poem!

Date: 2014-10-15 07:48 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Crina is at least /systematic/ when she is enthusiastic.

Adam, due to his age, not so much.

Denes, well, needs to learn to slow down a bit. ONE variable, please.

Re: Another great poem!

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Re: Another great poem!

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Re: Another great poem!

Date: 2014-10-17 04:41 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
There's an interesting technique for research, developed for industrial design, in which multiple variables which are related to entirely different parts of the project are changed simultaneously. For example, in designing a car, if you move the exhaust pipes while adjusting the shape of the cylinder, those are not necessarily "entangled" variables once you know what they affect. They will affect the resonance of the engine's structure, but for most manufacturers, they simply want faster research and don't care as much about the intermeshing physical resonance of the vehicle's systems.

What GM found with the Neon (original version) is that restructuring its engine's exhaust and cooling system to work with the system's natural resonance actually improved performance, because they could improve compression power while not fighting exhaust pressure as much. (They were actually trying to just reduce engine noise.) Sort of a Tesla fluid valve problem. Unfortunately, the Neon engine was only made for a few years because in the second model year they changed the body to "cab forward design" (probably to standardize body designs and give people the illusion of more personal space) and fucked over half of what made the Neon my favorite car -- while boosting the amount of glass to waste time and energy de-icing and de-fogging in cold weather. It was such a friendly, personably-sized vehicle. :/

(The Tesla fluid valve, or Tesla one-way valve, works by creating a much longer path for back-pressure and then turning it against itself, while providing a much more straightforward path for outflow. So the fluid in the valve will tend to only go one direction, with barely anything making it out the input when you try to pump stuff the wrong way -- less if you increase the pressure. But there are NO moving parts, only angled piping! So it's zero maintenance if you make it out of something that won't corrode, unlike flapper valves which break all the time.)
Edited (added parenthetical) Date: 2014-10-17 04:42 am (UTC)

Re: Another great poem!

Date: 2014-10-17 04:59 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Brewing is different in that it's all one /system/. Changing more than one variable at a time is no more useful to /systematic/ study than changing six things in a bread recipe, and wondering why there's burned goop on the ROOF of the oven is a likely result.


Though, I'd love to see someone actually study /bottles/ of the era. Bottling spirits led to the development of canning food, after all, and those bottles slowly changed from repurposed champagne bottles to the bail type Mason jars of the Civil War era.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-16 03:08 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Fun!

I really wish the scientific method was more widely taught. (I'm not really the one to complain -- despite my degree in computer science, I'm really more of a craftsman. But it's long been my contention that any field that finds it necessary to call itself a "science" probably isn't one.)
Edited Date: 2014-10-16 03:08 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-20 12:04 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (Default)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
This was a lot of fun, and educational too :)
Brewing is a science, but I think there is artistry in too, as in all creative endeavours from cooking to writing to building. You need both if you're going to come up with something new, and it can be hard for people to discover a balance. Denes will do much better now he understands how to harness his creativity by changing just one thing at a time and recording the results :)

I was reminded favourably of the Discworld's Alchemist Guild, whose guild house regularly blows up due to incautious chemical experimentation. (Next door is always the Gambler's Guild, and if someone asks why they keep moving next to the Alchemists, they're told "Didn't you see the name on the door?" :))

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-05 12:57 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
In one long running D&D campaign, we had some alchemist attempting scientific research. They got a lot of things that went "bang".

We finally built a special "lab" for them: a concrete slab with big iron posts set a bit inside the corners. The posts had bars sticking out near the top. But angling up from the post rather than straight out.

The walls were one piece and sturdy. and hung from the bars. We did something similar with the roof (two pieces that leaned against each other).

So if something went "bang" a little, the center of the roof might pop open a bit or the bottom of the walls swing out a bit. Let out the pressure without damaging the building much.

If they got a *big* boom, well, the walls and roof went flying, but were generally intact.

The alchemists? Well, we had clerics with healing spells on standby. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-16 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
We've been kept really busy in other things so have missed quite a lot of your poetry. It's good to read about Frankenstein's family again! One of our former roommates was into home brewing; we never heard of bottle bombs till now though.

--Rogan

Thank you!

Date: 2014-10-16 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> We've been kept really busy in other things so have missed quite a lot of your poetry. <<

Glad to have you back, then. Check Damask's thread if you haven't seen the recent poems: major revelation as to why she went apeshit this semester.

>> It's good to read about Frankenstein's family again! <<

I'm happy to hear that. I really had fun with them.

>> One of our former roommates was into home brewing; we never heard of bottle bombs till now though. <<

Bottle bombs are an inherent risk of fermentation. Some beverages they almost never happen, others they are more common. If you're careful, they are quite rare; some people never have a bottle go off. But if you're experimenting, then yeah, things can go bang. High pressure + glass containers = shrapnel. Hence what happened earlier in the series with Denes bleeding all over the floor.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-16 01:36 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
I'm really going to have to remember to keep a log book of recipes...I usually apply the scientific method to tweaking what I'm cooking, but I forget to write down the results. [which sometimes leads to me wracking my brains to recreate what I did] I need to make an old-fashioned family cookbook or something, but being dyslexic [and busy at the time!] kinda discourages me from writing stuff up.

Thoughts

Date: 2014-10-16 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I'm really going to have to remember to keep a log book of recipes...I usually apply the scientific method to tweaking what I'm cooking, but I forget to write down the results. [which sometimes leads to me wracking my brains to recreate what I did] <<

I usually write down mine so I can replicate things, although more of my recipes are flexible than finicky.

>> I need to make an old-fashioned family cookbook or something, but being dyslexic [and busy at the time!] kinda discourages me from writing stuff up. <<

Frustrating, yes, but worth a try. It doesn't have to be fancy. Mine wouldn't meet my own standards for a real cookbook because there are no photos, but the instructions are sound.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-16 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
If your dyslexia gets in the way, you might try video taping yourself putting together a new recipe for the first time or you could simply do a voice recording.
I'm such a strong visual learner that trying to learn how to do something by simply listening to someone talk drives me absolutely nuts because I'm constantly having to ask them to stop a minute while I write what they're saying down. I have very little memory for oral instruction although I can remember almost everything I read. You know when I finally found out that this is a type of learning disability? While I was taking teachers' education classes in college!
:^)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-17 05:36 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I don't learn well from videos and audio lessons unless I'm focused on something else as well, like the lesson materials. Too little interaction, with too little material that I can study at my own pace and read back and forth to figure out the details. So written texts work better for me, especially if illustrated.

But the best method for me is to pair a written, illustrated instruction set with hands-on practice and a teacher who does the work being taught... and is willing to show me how it's done.

I keep wishing I could return to the time when my mind was naturally structured in creative ways and computer programming, but I think those days are over now. If it does come back, all I need is a good text, a guide to the language(s) I'm using, and some API documentation. Everything else is figuring out how to design the interface for the process; the actual process behind the scenes is just a bunch of little bits communicating anyway.

(no subject)

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Try this ...

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(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-02 04:52 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (pooh)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I'd always wanted to have a beater laptop, covered in saran wrap, in the kitchen, for recipes... but somehow I forgot when I moved in here, with a six-butt kitchen and spare lappies galore. Thanks for reminding me!

Well...

Date: 2014-11-02 06:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Actually tablet computers are sold for kitchen-recipe use. There are programs and apps for all kinds of cooking with that in mind. You mount the thing on a wall or cabinet. I've seen them. It's quite clever. And there are no keys to get sticky.

Re: Well...

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Re: Well...

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(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-02 10:07 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
You know.. that's not a bad idea. I've an old laptop I can use for that. I can type ok after all [don't ask me why it shorts out my dyslexia but it does.]

Thanks mate!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-16 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
Very well crafted poem--lots of good concept material in it too--"food for thought" even for someone with a science background like me.
:^)

Thank you!

Date: 2014-10-16 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you found it so thought-provoking.

Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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Re: Thank you!

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(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-02 05:30 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Lemme guess, Alton Brown fan? :)

Brewing is Srs Bzns... I belong (loosely) to a foodie group with a motorcycle problem... hearing the guys go on about specific gravity, bitterness units, timing, temperature, cleaning procedures and chemicals, etc... and the output? BEER. (This one guy - he's an engineer for Intel - used his CNC mill (yes, he's that big a geek, he can fab his OWN funny parts) to help make a custom rack for his brewing setup... all the various bits he needs, including the propane tank, on a portable setup that looks a lot like a bellman's cart...)

And, no, these aren't the typical hog drivers you see bellied up to the tavern... these guys ride highly technical European or Japanese bikes and save their drinking until *after* the riding's done...

Wow!

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Re: Wow!

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Re: Wow!

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Re: Wow!

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Re: Wow!

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Date: 2017-06-05 12:44 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
When I was 4, mom made a number of jars of home canned grape juice. She had a friend looking after the house while we went on a trip.

When we got back the friend told of being startled by bottles exploding in the basement (apparently mom hadn't quite canned things right).

Luckily I was too young to have to help clean up the mess.

About half the surviving jars were grape juice, and the other half were decent vinegar. So mom got in the habit of letting me go get a jar when the pitcher of grape juice ran out in the fridge.

I could tell the difference between juice and vinegar, and I'd just put the lid back on if the jar had vinegar and set it aside for mom to use.

Then came the day I got a jar and it wasn't vinegar. And some while later (several glasses of juice later) mom noticed I was acting a bit odd.

She got suspicious and tried the juice, which in that *one* jar had turned into a pretty decent wine. Yup, I was drunk as a skunk.

But none of the other jars was wine. Though mom made sure to check them *herself* from then on.

When we made home brewed beer (and root beer) we never had any bottles explode, though.


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