Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pascal's Wager

* singing this portion of the classic gospel song "Be Grateful" *

God has not promised sunshine
because that's not the way it's going to be.

Sometimes, we have to get a little rain
mixed with God's sunshine and a little pain.

It makes me appreciate the...good times.
So, be grateful.

So, you've got to be grateful
for it will be alright.


2010 sure has been a roller-coaster ride of a year; I feel the worst of it is over. I questioned a lot of things this year and I think both my family and I have had to deal with a lot, but we proved to be stronger than our circumstances and tragedies. I'm happy now. I'm genuinely happy.

Religion is more about spirituality for me and I believe that a person can only begin to live a healthy, stress-free life once they have realized their life is beyond their physical being, and in effect, connect to their spiritual being. Being spiritually-centered is a journey that many people aren't willing to take unless they have hit rock bottom. Tragedies, job loss, divorce, break ups, terminal illnesses. I, on the other hand, use spirituality to fuel my day-to-day function and stay grounded.

When I think about my year and all the tragedies, pain, stress, etc., I can honestly say that I knew while going through it that it would get better. That type of faith in such unfortunate situations isn't easy, so thank God I had that spiritual foundation and faith that whispered to me, letting me know in times of pain that things were going to be alright.

The thing is, no matter how agnostic or apathetic we are about religion, spirituality or God, in general, the truth is at some point in your life you realize that you, yourself, are not enough. It is then that you look to something else, a higher power, a friend, or an escape. You have to decide for yourself that whatever you believe in is greater than yourself, regardless of what exactly is that you choose.

I have chosen and will continue to choose God, because He hasn't failed me yet. My personal advice is to adopt Pascal's Wager as an approach to your spiritual beliefs.

[Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal that, even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.] - from Wikipedia.

Today is October 31st, a Sunday, and I'm advocating for God. I personally believe my religion suits me and many others best, but find a religion that works for you, because if you don't believe, then there is no point in practicing it. I just want everyone to be able to have faith in something, because without faith, it's hard to navigate life without being bitter and scorned. You have to trust that divinity is working through your life and the ups and downs are building blocks of a healthy spiritual you.

Think about it...



Monday, October 4, 2010

Turning Welch's Into Wine...

BRB, running to the grocery store.

Turning Welch's Into Wine In 48 Hours

Turning Welch's Into Wine In 48 HoursI'm taking the last sip of home-brewed purple liquid. It's sweet yet balanced, fizzy yet quenching, smooth yet these words look a bit blurry. It tastes like a dangerously well-mixed drink. And just 48 short hours ago, it was Welch's.

Yes, good old Welch's Concord Grape Juice. And something about enjoying the beverage in such an adult manner makes my inner child weep.

I haven't touched the stuff since I was 10. Welch's, along with pretty much any processed fruit juice, is just too sugary for me to enjoy. Beyond a stiff margarita, I've found the world of frou frou mixed drinks have been lost on my palate. I don't judge those of you who enjoy all those syrupy, rum-infused rainbows garnished with alcohol, but...I take that back. I do judge you. I'm a booze, juice, food and general topics snob.

But I had to test the claims of Spike Your Juice, a yeast-based kit that ferments any 100% fruit juice, so long as it has 20G of sugar or more per serving, into an alcoholic brew with anywhere from 4-14% ABV. That puts the resulting potency somewhere between beer and wine. With a healthy 30G of sugar per serving, Welch's is a prime candidate for home fermentation.
Turning Welch's Into Wine In 48 Hours
You add a tiny yeast packet—about the same amount you might add to a bread-loaf of dough—to a 64 oz bottle of juice at room temperature. You ditch the normal cap for an included rubber stopper—one that allows gas to escape the bottle while otherwise keeping an airtight seal. And then you wait.

Apparently, this fast fermentation process is borrowed from the production of Federweißer, a German grape-based booze. Indeed, you can even make an authentic Federweißer with the kit.

Yeast munches on both the fructose and sucrose, then it expels alcohol along with CO2. My bottle of Welch's, as it transcended its forefathers through its alcoholic metamorphosis, fizzed after a bit of waiting. Then, after 24 hours, it bubbled like that slime from Ghostbusters 2.
Turning Welch's Into Wine In 48 Hours
The substance spilled out the airlock cap onto my counter, rebelling from its family-friendly roots with a new identity all its own.

What had I done?

"I swear you're making poison," my wife warns. I pretend I'm not afraid.

Another day later, and the juice had calmed down, still bubbling incessantly, but with the micro bubbles of champagne rather than the soapy bubbles of painful sequels.

Just an hour ago, I decided to pour a bit on the rocks since it fermented at room temperature. I tentatively sipped, expecting something that I could barely swallow. Instead, I was brought back to my childhood. Grape freezepops, grape sodas, grape jelly...but with a kick at the end. I wouldn't call it a burn, but a microbrew-like presence of alcohol behind the flavor.

After 2 1/2 glasses, it makes for a quick, harsh buzz—akin to the helmet of weight you get around your brow from vodka. There's no way this is 4% ABV—I'd guess it's closer to 8 or 10%.
Turning Welch's Into Wine In 48 Hours
I don't think I could drink the stuff every day. But I will say this: If Spike Your Juice were around during my childhood, I fear that Welch's concord grape could have had an entirely different connotation. Plus there's no way I'd have ever grown this tall.

Now whoever figures out how to spike peanut butter will be my personal savior. [Spike Your Juice]

Send an email to Mark Wilson, the author of this post, at mark@gizmodo.com.