Taking another lick at the 'Big Lick'
Don’t judge my life of the past few months solely by this website. Things have changed. Really.
As most of you know, my wife Lindsay and I moved back to Roanoke, Va., in December of last year. We both found exciting opportunities back in the mountains where we first met. She with the New River Valley location of The Roanoke Times as a designer and editor, and I with the newly launched Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute as their web manager.
The move wasn’t without challenges. We swapped our 1,800 square-foot house for an 800 square-foot apartment. We moved just as the cold and snow settled in. I’m sure our dog Saaz hated us for a couple weeks.
And homebrewing? That took some figuring out. (Fortunately, my quality hasn’t suffered.)
But we found some great tenants for our Knoxville house, and the actual move was a snap if you ignore the movers failing to show up in Roanoke. Also, pro tip: Ryder, not UHaul.
Did I mention I ride a free trolley to work?
Work is work
I’ve been spending my days at work doing at little bit of everything. Colleagues working at start-ups can probably identify with me here.
My proudest accomplishment so far is building the Institute a new content management system using the awesome Python framework Django. With this came a re-imaging of the current design and helping plan a new development environment for the Institute and its labs.
I’ve also worn my designer hat quite a lot. There are several high-profile labs within the Institute: The Human Neuroimaging Laboratory, The Advanced Recovery Research Institute and the Kelly Lab among them. I’ve designed websites (not yet implemented) for those three.
Other duties include: consulting with coworkers on web best practices; marketing the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Series, which brings internationally renowned scientists to Roanoke; and taking photographs and writing content.
Put simply, I’m using all the skills I’ve learned in my career so far.
Finding my balance
I’m back on the bike.
Knoxville had a cycling scene, but it and I never got along together. Traffic on the roads to trails killed my enthusasim for mountain biking. And I never seemed to find the good road routes. (Also, bad air quality.)
But the mountains of Southwest Virginia have always been good to me, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s my favorite cycling road bar none.
And don’t get me started on the trails at Carvin’s Cove!
I’m even racing again:
- 2nd place Mill Mountain Disco Series No. 2 (sport)
- 2nd place Mill Mountain Disco Series No. 3 (sport)
- 1st place Mill Mountain Disco Series No. 4 (sport)
- 1st place Virginia Commonwealth Games Mill Mountain Time Trial (sport)
- 1st place Virginia Commonwealth Games Carvin’s Cove Cross County (sport)
- 1st place Roanoke Criterium Series (B race)
- 4th place Roanoke Criterium Series (B race)
I’ve already planned a slew of cyclocross races in the Fall.
Brewing up a storm
Cycling has been consuming a lot of my time, but that hasn’t stopped me from brewing fantastic beer in 800 square feet. And I’ve done so at least twice a month on average.
I had to relearn my process in order to hit my numbers without throwing out my back-hulking gallons of water up and down a spiral staircase. I also had to buy an outdoor storage shed to fit everything (damn bulk grain orders).
But I’ve hit my stride.
I recently delivered on-the-numbers American IPA, Smoked Porter and Brown Porter to the Blacksburg BrewDo for judging. I’ve only entered two competitions previously, with scores in the lower to mid 30s.
I’m hopeful about my American Stout being entered in this month’s StarCity Brewers’ Guild competition.
And I believe the best is yet to come.