the semester begins; also, making beer

This was the first week of class in my 6th (!) semester at Berkeley. Here at Berkeley EECS they believe in making grad students take plenty of classes, and I’ve got a few more to get through before I’ll be done. I’m taking one class that’s a full-blown lecture setup, with problem sets, a project, and even a midterm and a final. Yuck… but if I make it through I will have completed my inside minor in “Theory,” and I’ll have just one more class left to take. I’m also in a “reading” class taught by James, which basically consists of reading a paper or two every week and discussing it in a group–much lower work load. If only I could find a theory class that fit that same mold, I’d be a happy camper. I’ve got a paper deadline in April, and also around that time I’ll be giving my quals, which if I pass I will be “ABD” (all but dissertation), very exciting.

Also exciting is the 6-gallon glass jar on the floor in my kitchen that is filled with fermenting beer. Now, lest you think too much of me, brewing beer is not, as far as I can tell, cool to do anymore. No, it’s squarely in that awkward stage between being cool and retro. I know this because whenever I mention that I’m doing it to someone the response is usually “You too?” or “Oh yeah, I used to brew beer a few years ago,” or something along these lines. But ponder this, hipsters: beer for $0.10/bottle in raw materials never goes out of style. My first batch is a wheat beer, which has been fermenting for about a week and is ready to go into bottles. After it’s in there, I’ll have to wait a couple of more weeks before I can try it. I’ll be sure to give a full report, assuming I’m not killed by some super bacteria I’ve bred along with the yeast.

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