First of all this is really just a bunch of poppycock. You don’t need any of this stuff to enjoy real maple syrup at home. In 2015 I had done a cook very shortly after some very heavy sap collecting days. This yielded the lightest syrup I had ever made, so Jessi encouraged me to enter it in the Minnesota State Fair competition.
It was fun and I’d like to improve on my process a little, but doing these things by no means should preclude you from enjoying real maple syrup.
After the contest was over and I retrieved my syrup, I was also given a score-sheet. It was immediately apparent that I was out of the running right away due to two things:
- Density (worth 20 points) – score: 0 (57.1 Brix)
- Clarity (worth 15 points) – score: 0 (sugar sand – which you can clearly see in the photo)
Syrup density is measured by a sugar content degree scale called Brix. It’s measured using a hydrometer. I didn’t have a hydrometer for 2015, I simply went by the boiling temperature of somewhere around 219-221°F. In competition, they’re much more precise:
- Below 66.0 Brix – 0 points
- 66.0 to 66.9 Brix – 20 points
- 66.9 to 68.9 Brix – 15 points
- Greater than 68.9 Brix – 5 points
I was deducted in the clarity category for sugar sand. For the record, I do not mind sugar sand, and neither do some other producers. It’s really a matter of aesthetic. But so I can compete solely on flavor, I need to filter the sugar sand out of my competition batch(es).
For the next competition batch, I purchased the following from Sugar Bush Supply:
- 42 -0200 – Syrup Hydrometer, Dual Scale – Baumé and Brix (45 -75°) – $14
- 42 -0300-S – Slim hydrometer cup (8” hgt, 1” diam.) – $32
- 40-0100-F – Hobby Filter Pack (1 Final Filter 18” x 18”, 4 Pre-Filters 18” x 18”) – $8
- 62-0008 – Syrup Oval with Handle, 8 fl. oz. 28mm red leaf cap – 12 for $8.75
Again, I’ll stress that if you’re not going to compete, none of this stuff is necessary.
It was all about $75 after shipping. Sugar Bush Supply is rather old-school when it comes to ordering. You can view their catalog on their website, but you have to call, fax, mail, or email in your order.
The other two categories, color and flavor, account for 15 and 50 points, respectively. Color is somewhat of an educated guess. The tools to accurately grade color are far more expensive than the tools above. I give it a good guess on color: light, medium, or dark amber and call it good.
Flavor is where the real competition is, but I believe you need to have a full score in the other categories if you want to vie for a ribbon.
I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to compete in the state fair this year, as the weather has been very strange:
— Greg Seitz (@gregseitz) March 7, 2016
Hopefully we get back into “normal” spring weather (freezing at night, thawing during the day). Otherwise the sap season may be cut short and the competition will have to be put off until next year.
I’m excited about the prospects of a safer Osborne Rd. For the record I am for the 3 lane conversion the most of the proposed options. If the county were to mill and overlay tomorrow, this is a great low/no cost way to drastically increase safety and accessibility.
However, I feel this particular study does not draw from other cities past experience well enough. At the study meeting it was mentioned that the city of Crystal lamented that they did not do the 3 lane option for the full length of the roadway. I see the same sort of trepidation here.
Why not lower the speed limit to 30MPH? Residents in attendance at the meeting were obviously concerned about the speed as they’re asking for more enforcement. The real answer to enforcement is self-enforcement and the road diet would provide that. But why not lower the speed limit to 30? The odds of a pedestrian fatality at 40MPH is two times of that at 30MPH – and lets face it, travelers on a 35MPH road are going to be driving 40MPH.
Still Double-Wide in Places
I’m disappointed that the road starts with double-wide lanes at MN-47 and MN-65. I understand this is to accommodate the double left turn lanes from those roads onto Osborne. The real solution would be to reduce those to a single left turn lane and decrease the cycle time on those traffic signals so the single left turn lane does not back up. I realize this is MnDOT territory, and not likely to change.
Different East/West Treatment
The proposed treatment of the western side of Osborne is very different from the (preferred) treatment on the east side of Osborne.
Rather than creating a left turn lane(s) into lots that don’t yet exist, just use the 3-lane treatment for the entire roadway. Better to have a flexible system that accommodates existing users (like bicyclists) rather than reserving roadway such as dedicated left turn lanes for future development that doesn’t exist today.
More planters and crosswalks
For a consistent driver experience, and a much friendlier pedestrian experience, I’d suggest duplicating the planter option on all offset Fridley/Spring Lake Park cross-streets:
Adding more crosswalks and medians (stuff in the road) will help let drivers know that this is a complex environment with students, kids on bikes, emergency vehicles, hospital visitors, cyclists, pedestrians – all of which gives a clear indication to drivers that they should not be speeding through.
I like to tell the joke on bike to work day, “I’d ride my bike to work, but my wife doesn’t like it when I ride in the house.” I have worked remotely (at home) for several companies for the better part of 7 years. I consider myself an adept remote worker. When a friend of mine offered me to work with him, you’d think I’d think twice about the set-up.
Go into the office? Why?!? Well, first of all, going into the office is optional, I can still work from home. But I can also get away from any home distractions, which are surprisingly few as I’ve managed them over the years. However, I like the in-person conversations I’ve missed over the last 7 years.
The monitor on my desk at the office is 27″, so I’ve got that goin for me. But I think the primary consideration for me was the location. The office is exactly 1 mile from my house. It is also entirely downhill 😎 I now have the opportunity to become a full-time bike commuter as there are literally zero excuses. Some people think I’m crazy because I have a perfectly good car. But riding to work really hasn’t been bad even on the shortest and coldest Minnesota days.
I specifically recall riding home on December 21st, the shortest day of the year. I left at 5PM and while the sun was already down, the twilight of dusk was nice enough to provide me with a pleasant ride home. I did have to ride with lights, it just didn’t seem like the middle of the night .
My first ride in 2016
To clarify, I don’t ride into work every day. I enjoy biking and I’m an evangelist but not a hard-liner. If I’ve got to go somewhere far right after work, I’m going to drive in.
I procrastinated riding in during my first full week at work in 2016. We finally got some big snowfalls over the holidays. I was driving in because I hadn’t yet switched over to studded tires on my bike. I finally mounted the tires so I could ride in by Friday. I got up early to make sure I had enough air in the freshly swapped tires, fastened on my pannier and rode off. The ride in was great, a little snowy but the cloud cover meant it was comparatively warm.
At work a couple of coworkers admired my bike and were astonished I’d ridden in on a snowy day. It took one co-worker over an hour to drive in to the office – bleh!
Later that morning, there was a loud bang that came from near the front door that sounded like a gunshot. A woman from the neighboring company that sits closest to our entrance door screamed. I (and several co-workers) wondered aloud what it was. One of the concerns was that there was a shooter in the building. My friend Tom, who’s dad owned a gun range, remarked that it sounded like “AD” – accidental discharge. One of our coworkers apparently conceals and carries, and while he was on vacation Tom wondered if he had come back a day early.
I certainly did not rush to the entrance since there was a possibility of firearms involved. I was actually concerned about those who were getting up to investigate. Then someone reported back that it was my bike tire that exploded!
We all had theories about the expansion of gases since my bike was pumped up outside and was now being stored inside, but I don’t think that is entirely to blame since it wasn’t really that cold – ≈24°F. Luckily I came prepared with an extra tube and a C02 cartridge. I installed the new tube at lunch and filled it up so I could ride home alive and not shot dead. But when I left that afternoon my spare had gone flat as well. I hitched a ride with a coworker who was also still alive and not shot dead.
My suspicion is that it was a combination of things that caused the explosion. First there was obviously something sharp touching the tube (because of the 2nd flat). Over the weekend I checked the pressure of the rear tire with a gauge separate from the one on the bike pump, it was over-inflated. I think the 2nd factor was that the bike pump gauge was somewhat frozen, not fully reading however much I actually pumped into the tire. I purchased two new tubes and some new rim tape since the 2nd (patch-able) puncture on my spare tube was near the valve stem.
Live and learn. I’m just glad I’m still around to tell about it.