Monday, December 31, 2007

Photos: Crossing IUPUI

Editorial Note: I've added a new post topic area called "Photos" that will exclusively contain facts and photos posts with very limited commentary. Renderings and commentary will fall under the "Development" topic area.

IUPUI has a couple new crosswalk markings on New York St. that clearly identify that you're on IUPUI campus. The photos below are the crosswalk at West St., between Inlow Hall and Military Park, though there's at least one more at the intersection with University Blvd.

One of the standard IUPUI logos is at either end of the crosswalk.

A large IUPUI Jaguar logo is at the center.

Monday's Five Ws (and One H)

Who is going to the Hoosier Beer Geek NYE party tonight at Deano's Vino? Festivities kick off in the Fountain Square restaurant at 9pm.

What do you think of the exterior on the Broadbent Building? Stone work has begun and it looks remarkably more impressive than I would have guessed from the renderings. I'll probably take pictures soon but I think it needs to be seen first-hand.

When should I start my next homebrew and what style should I make?

Where will I end up tonight? Who knows!

Why doesn't Bear Republic distribute in Indiana? Almost every state around us has it!

How was your Christmas? Did you get all the gifts you wanted?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

(And as you may have noticed, I won't be posting again until next week, most likely after I've recovered from Hoosier Beer Geek's New Years Eve Party....)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Development: JW Marriott, Take Trois

The big news in the Indy development world is the release of new renderings for the JW Marriott complex. This hotel is the final cog in a long-term plan to reposition Indy to host more and larger conventions. An analysis by Price Waterhouse Cooper in 2003 called for doubling the size of the Indiana Convention Center -- made possible by the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium and razing of the RCA Dome -- and the addition of a single, 800-1000 room "headquarters" hotel. A JW Marriott hotel proposal was selected in December 2006 to serve as that hotel. Coverage of the hotel redesign can be found here, here, and here, with commentary available here and here.

This is the third design for the complex: the original announcement in October 2006, the long-anticipated and widely criticized redesign made public in May 2007, and this somewhat unexpected, under-the-radar redesign that was released yesterday. Reports indicate that Dean White, the billionaire owner of Whiteco Industries, personally selected this design from among eight that HOK and CSO Architects put together. (I'd kill to see the other seven designs...)

Since it's original concept, the total price of the project has skyrocketed from $250M to $325M to $425M. Thankfully, the public subsidy has remained constant at $48.5M, with the additional expense borne by the developers, REI Real Estate Services and Whiteco Industries. The project has similarly increased in height, from 25 to 29 to 34 stories. The final design is 373 feet tall, which will make the JW Marriott the 7th tallest building in Indy at completion.

A full set of renderings are available from the Indy Star here. The "Victory Field Angle" below provides the sole direct comparison of the three designs, as the original design provided a single conceptual rendering. The design morphed from boring cube to boring slab, before settling on this final sleek, tall, gently curving design. While not dramatically less wide or tall, the third design feels significantly more vertical than the second design. The bump in height also moves the building above the height of the general massing in downtown, a difference that should be even more dramatic given it's position offset from the core of buildings in downtown. Unfortunately, while the tower redesign is being widely praised, early indications are that the pedestrian experience has not improved. I'll withhold judgment on this until more detailed renderings at street-level are available.

Original Concept, October 2006

Redesign 1, May 2007
Redesign 2, December 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Beer: This n' That

  • Badaboomz's keg of Hop Juice has run dry and they may be moving the Double Bastard over to that tap. (Nitrogen? Handpull? Honestly, I don't know enough about beer tap service, so can anyone point me to a good primer on the subject?)
  • Parti Pak has a few cases of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout if anybody's interested. A 4-pack will set you back $18.99, but it's delicious. (Yes, I know I can't shut up about this beer!)
  • On Matt's Beer Blog's recommendation, I finally tried Sierra Nevada's Harvest Ale. Very tasty stuff -- check out Matt's review for more info. There are maybe a dozen still available at Parti Pak in 24 oz. bottles for $4.99.
  • Rock Bottom downtown is tapping Old Curmudgeon tomorrow night (Wednesday the 19th) at 6pm. According to the Brewers of Indiana Guild, it's a Double IPA. Rock Bottom northside will be simultaneously tapping it if you don't want to head downtown.
  • While doing some Southside shopping I decided to pop into Shallos. They have a keg of Oaked Arrogant Bastard waiting in the back for the Double Bastard to be finished. Get in there and have a pint of Double Bastard so we can get to the Oaked AB! Also of note: Shallos has the BEST wings I've yet tasted in the city. Having grown up in Western NY, this is what I think wings are supposed to taste like, with sauce cooked right into the wing. Screw bw3s cook-'em-naked-then-slather-'em style.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday's Five Ws (and One H)

Who has been to the reopened Central Library? I meant to get over there for the Grand Opening last weekend but I was busy reading up on homebrewing. Sometime when I get a second, I'll pop over there to wander around.

What is going on with this Hearthview condo project at Indiana and Capitol? It's been almost 8 months since the land sale without a peep.

When will my new brew be done? The wort had an original gravity of 1.068 and the measurement last night was 1.020. The instructions indicate the final should be 1.008-1.016, so it's getting close. I can't wait! (Even the sample tastes good!)

Where are you going for Christmas? I'm headed to snowy Rochester, NY where I'm going to hit up "Beers of the World" for anything we can't get in Indy.

Why do I hate the new mini-carts at O'Malia's? Because EVERYONE is using them and you can't move around the store easily anymore. I thought they were great at first, but come on people -- you don't need a cart to pick up 8 items!

(And yes, it's O'Malia's to me. I'm boycotting the new name.)

How far will the Colts go in the playoffs this year? And what to do about Marvin Harrison? I say either he plays next weekend or he sits down for the season. At this point, it's a very real possibility that a rusty Harrison could be detrimental during the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Development: Cosmopolitan on the Canal

Flaherty & Collins' mixed-use development, Cosmopolitan on the Canal, was announced almost exactly one year ago. The project, located at the corner of Michigan and Senate with canal-front access, is to include 218 apartments, 18,000 square feet of retail, and a 338-space parking garage with a number of spaces designated for public use.

UPDATE: Looking at the "Key Plan" for each floor, the total number of units is just 206. Interesting that it went down, considering that they added a floor of residential in the "main" building at Michigan and Senate. More UPDATE: I found a sheet noting that there still 218 units, so I went back and recounted the number of units. I missed 8 two-story units (therefore, double counted them), so the count is actually 198. Either there's a discrepancy in their schematics or I've miscounted. I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem likely that I'd be off by 20.

A groundbreaking had been expected by the end of November. We still haven't seen any dirt move at the project site, but I've rounded up some new renderings that will hopefully tide us over for now. They're dated December 7th, 2007, which at least shows that the project is still moving forward (they've also registered two different domain names). The architect is The Housing Studio of Charlotte, NC. Flaherty & Collins most ambitious project, 210 Trade, is currently being built in Charlotte, though The Housing Studio did not design that building.

First, let's take a look at the renderings. Some of my usual thin commentary will follow. Here is the original sketch of the Michigan/Senate corner from a year ago:

And here are the latest renderings (click on any of these for a larger version):

Corner Elevation, Senate side

Senate Elevation

Senate Garage Elevation (north/right of previous elevation)

Michigan Elevation

Michigan/Senate Corner Elevation

Canal Elevation


Courtyard Siteplan

Michigan/Senate Retail Siteplan

Some observations, starting with the positive:

1. The height has apparently increased from four to six stories in the main building with a seven-story peak at the intersection of Michigan and Senate. The rest of the project appears to be four stories, with one story sunk at canal-level (i.e. the canal-front sections are one story below grade and three above).

2. The detailing looks great and is a significant improvement over the original design that was decent, if a bit clunky. I can't wait to see it in color.


1. The parking garage entrance is located on Senate. I assume this was done to make it more visible as a public parking garage for the canal, but it's disappointing that they couldn't negotiate access from North St., leaving the Senate frontage for more retail. Looking at the schematics, it doesn't appear that they own any land directly abutting North St.

2. The canal-level retail is extremely small. There appears to be one retail unit, a canal-front space immediately north of the Indiana Historical Society. The canal-level frontage north of the courtyard cutout is exclusively residential. This was likely done to create a buffer with the Watermark condos immediately north of this project, but it's disappointing nonetheless.

UPDATE: In looking more closely at the canal-front retail, there is a dashed line cutting through that space, presumably indicating that it could be divided into two spaces. The available space is still pathetically small.

What do you guys think of the new design? I'm particularly curious what the architecture professionals/buffs out there think of the detailing.

Beer: The First Homebrew

On Monday night I triple-checked my instructions, cracked open a Two Hearted Ale and plunged into making my first homebrew. It wasn't really that hard, just very time-consuming. I thought it was going to take about two and a half hours and it ended up taking almost four by the time I put the baby to sleep. And my hands were dried and cracking by the end because of my obsessive hand washing. All in the name of homebrew!

In terms of timing, the most surprising step may have been how long it took to return the pot to boiling after adding the malt. I didn't time it exactly, but it seemed like it took almost as long as getting the water to the first boil. Or maybe it just seemed that long because I was being obsessive about not letting the pot boil-over. That almost happened anyway when I added the first bag of hops -- it probably got within 1/8"! I also lost a little time because I didn't have enough ice to completely cool the wort and had to let it slowly cool the final 30 degrees or so. Things to remember for next time.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of the journey. (And to anybody with experience that sees something grossly wrong, I'm definitely open to constructive criticism.)

The Equipment

The Ingredients

Sanitized Accessories

Steeping the crushed crystal malt

Bringing the malt extract to a boil

Hops smell good!

Boiling the hops (chinook)

Time for more beer, celebrating with a Double Bastard

Cooling the wort

Straining the wort


Hour 0

Hour 21

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gear: Vudu

This morning I noticed an AP technology article about an interesting device/service combo called Vudu. Vudu was launched back in October and is a streaming/downloading movie service that works through a proprietary set-top device that they sell. The big news today was the announcement that they will start selling high definition movies through their service, beginning with The Bourne Trilogy.

This is a fantastic service in concept. Movie download sites have largely failed because their business model is movies downloaded to a computer to be viewed there. Unless you're among the handful of people that have an HTPC hooked up to a TV, viewing movies through a computer is a less-than-ideal and certainly uncomfortable way to watch movies.

Vudu's model is to sell a device that directly connects your TV to their movie service through your existing broadband internet connection, wired or wireless. This eliminates the clumsy and cumbersome computer interface from the equation. The movie side of the company currently offers 5000 standard definition movies available for rent or sale. They plan to offer more HD movies over time.

I'm impressed in theory with their roll-out of HD movie downloads. I had thought we were years from this being a reality, hamstrung by insufficient internet bandwidth and movie studios still leery of digital distribution. I'd like to see Vudu in action before passing judgment, but my instinct is that movies will either take a day or more to download -- current HD movie encodings are on the order of 20-25GB -- or will be compressed, slightly-below-HD versions.

The possibility of seeing it in action is hampered by the high cost of entry: the set-top device currently costs $399. I find it hard to believe that the device actually costs that much to produce. Apple sells a similar product called Apple TV starting around $275. For a startup desperate for users and likely hemorrhaging money anyway, they should be selling the player at-cost or better, subsidizing part of the cost to get potential users on board. The alternatives for HD movies are much more appealing right now: HD-DVD players for $225 and Blu-ray players for $299, both with much larger selections of movies.

Given the cost and current lack of HD movies, I won't be jumping onboard anytime soon. But I'm hopeful for the future of the concept and wish Vudu the best of luck.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beer: Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew!

I've been toying with getting into homebrewing for months. On Saturday, I finally decided to take the plunge and bought an equipment kit. I went to Great Fermentations, which, according to everybody I talked to, is definitely the place for rookie homebrewers in Indy. They've got three levels of introductory kits that differ in the quality of the fermenter and accessories. I'm pretty sure I'm going to love this and will be in it for the long-haul, so I went with the best kit they had. Some of the accessories are higher quality than the other kits but the main difference is that it comes with two glass carboys, one 6.5 gallon as the primary fermenter and one 5 gallon as the secondary fermenter. I don't think I'll need the secondary fermenter for my first couple batches, but I figure I'll be glad I have it in the long-run.

The kit also included a copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian that I was going to buy separately anyway. It's an excellent beginners guide and is considered by many to be the bible of homebrewing.

Being that I live in an apartment, finding space for the carboy was a little tricky. I don't want a mess all over a bed, TV, or clothes in a closet if I screw something up and end up with a sticky beer explosion. Luckily we've got two bathrooms, one with a tub and one with a shower stall. The shower stall has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and is now my new brewery!

My first beer is from an ingredients kit called "California Style Imperial Pale." The people in the store said that's another name for double IPA, though it's described online as, "Our take on the popular Arrogant Bastard Ale." If mine comes out half as good as Arrogant Bastard, I'll be pretty pleased. I'll be making up the wort tonight and I'll keep you guys posted on my progress. I'm excited and a little nervous about screwing it up, but I keep reminding myself of Charlie Papazian's credo:

"Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew!"

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 7, 2007

DIG-B Update

Apologizes for the paucity of posts. It's been a busy week for me combined with slow news, getting sick and crappy weather for taking pictures that doesn't figure to let up for a while. I should have some interesting new things to put up next week.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday's Five Ws (and One H)

Who has tried the Ram seasonal, "Old Jack’s Blizzard Ale," an Imperial ESB?

Aside: check out Rita Kohn, a Nuvo writer who appears to have taken over for Terry Kirts as their restaurant reviewer (or maybe filling in while they look for a permanent replacement). She's apparently quite a fan of beer, having written reviews of downtown brew pubs The Ram last week and Alcatraz this week, as well as a number of other beer-related articles in the past several months.

What ale should I serve with a standing rib roast? (I'm thinking Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, but I'm open to suggestions.)

When will I actually start shopping for Christmas gifts? (This item will keep appearing until I do!)

Where will you be Friday night? How about Big Car in Fountain Square, where Hoosier Beer Geek is offering a free beer tasting from 7-9pm?
UPDATE: HBG has posted the beer lineup for Friday.

Why did they have to change the name of O'Malias to Marsh the Marketplace? (And who's going to try out their extended-'til-2am hours tomorrow? The checkout person I talked to yesterday said it's only a one week experiment; if sales aren't good it'll drop back to midnight, which I think is plenty.)

How shocking/refreshing is it going to be when the next President takes office and we don't feel like they're constantly trying to deceive and mislead us? (Just most of the time...)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Beer: Lucky Me

Turns out Badaboomz was (unknowingly) holding out and they actually had two bottles of Founders Breakfast Stout stashed in the back of their cooler. Apparently that kind of thing happens when you store a gazillion bottled beers! And little did I know, they have a carry-out alcohol license. This is mainly for serving people staying in the Hampton Inn rooms above them but any patron can take advantage. Their standard bar pricing makes carry out a little silly for most beers -- just go to a liquor store and save some bucks -- but for the rare items on their menu, this is your only option. Things like Breakfast Stout, which I happily took with me.

I also scored some Goose Island Bourbon County Stout at Kahns, making it two-for-two on the beers I wanted to find last week. Kahns had a full row of 'em when I was there and, just like the Goose Island Imperial IPA, they charge $19.99 for 4 bottles. But as Lance says in Pulp Fiction, "when you shoot it, you'll know where that extra money went.....this one's a fuckin' madman."

(Please don't shoot it, though. It tastes much better in your mouth.)

Interesting GIFT IDEAS for beer lovers: Kahns has a couple of those ridiculously large bottles of Stone Double Bastard. I forget the exact price, but I think it may have been $70. If you're interested, I'd suggest calling them at 251-9463 to verify the price and availability. I also noticed that they've got 1.32 gallon mini-kegs of Bell's Two Hearted Ale for $21. Are those new or have I just never seen them before? And finally, they've got an assortment of mixed 12-packs containing three each of four different holiday seasonal beers like Delirium Noel, Bell's Winter White, and various "winter warmers."

More Badaboomz tidbits:
  • Blue Moon is on the way out, to be replaced by Brugge White. They actually killed Blue Moon about a week ago in anticipation of the White, but Brugge Beer is behind schedule and they won't have it available for a couple more weeks. Once they do, Badaboomz will have both Black and White available. Blue Moon is back on tap for now.
  • Badaboomz has not one, not two, but three different internet domain names. and both take you to the same place where you can see their food menu, but takes you to an entirely different page where you can also view their beer menu. It's dated by a couple months right now but still gives you a good idea of their pricing and selection, about 75% of which really never changes. The bartender promised they'll get it updated soon and that it will be regularly updated in the future.
  • Sign up for their email update list at the bar, which should also become active soon.
Someone needs to stop me....I'm developing a Badaboomz habit....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Photos: Economy Plumbing Supply Building

I intended to get out this weekend and take some pictures around town, but instead a cold decided to ruin my weekend. Not that today's weather would have been particularly conducive to taking pictures anyway! In lieu of something new, here are some pictures I took a couple weeks ago. You may have noticed this building while driving south on Capitol between Walnut and North.

If you look closely, you'll see that this building was actually built for "Ford Cars & Trucks."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gear: The HD Format War (continued)

The Toshiba HD-A3 arrived earlier this week and I promised I was going to write about my experience with it. Unfortunately, the installation of the player was so simple, I don't have much to write. I plugged it in, connected it by HDMI cable to my HDTV and it plays all my discs perfectly at 1080i. A perfectly seamless process, unlike most electronics installations these days. Honestly, I wish I had gotten a player sooner. The headaches with playing HD-DVDs on my HTPC were really not worth it, though I did end up with a much lower price and a boat-load of free HD-DVDs.

Instead, here's some more about the HD format war. With the Christmas shopping season on, things are certainly heating up. Word is that Toshiba sold 90k HD-DVD players during the week that the Toshiba HD-A2s went on sale for $98 at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Good news for them, but HD-DVD still has a smaller installed base compared to Blu-ray when PS3s being used to watch Blu-ray movies are factored in. The entry level Sony player (BDP-S300) is still selling for about twice the Toshiba HD-A3, so we'll how sales go through the holiday season. Toshiba seems well aware that this time is crucial for HD-DVD.

Disc sales numbers for the week including Black Friday are now in, showing an almost 3-to-1 advantage for Blu-ray, up from 2-to-1 in recent months. At first glance, this might seem odd with jump in HD-DVD player sales, but it's pretty likely that a large number of those players were bought as Christmas gifts. The bump in Blu-ray sales could also be explained by high sales of new releases. January disc sales numbers should prove telling.

In any case, I still hold firm to my belief that both formats will live on. Sony CEO Howard Stringer seems to share my view, having recently said he believes the war will end in a stalemate. Naturally, he quickly backpedaled from that position, but the fact that the head of the company arguably winning the war even hinted that we'll end up with a stalemate is pretty interesting.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday's Five Ws (and One H)

Who is going to drive me home at the end of the Hoosier Beer Geek New Year's Eve Party at Deano's Vino?

What is going to become of all the proposed downtown developments when Ballard becomes mayor?

When will I actually start shopping for Christmas gifts?

Where can I find Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and Founders Breakfast Stout?

Why can't the NFL get over themselves so people can actually watch their product (like tonight's excellent Cowboys-Packers matchup)?

How does Buggs Temple still not have their menus online?

Development: Canal Refurb Project Pulled

In what is fast becoming a pattern, the $3.2M refurb project of the Ohio St. basin of the Downtown Canal has been pulled until Mayor-elect Ballard and his team can take a look at the proposal. This proposal is months old -- renderings for the project are dated 04.30.07 -- but I first read of this over at Property Lines on November 19th and now, just 10 days later, it's already being shelved.

As the Star notes, the Ohio St. basin is one of the oldest sections of Canal and it certainly could use some attention. The City did some half-assed work on the crumbling steps about a year ago and it looks terrible. But $3.2M? That seems like an awfully high price tag, especially given the crumbling infrastructure all over the City. Compared to some road surfaces and neighborhood sidewalks, this area of the canal is practically brand new and perfectly serviceable.

The Star has a 7-page, 1.3MB PDF of the proposal available here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beer: A Night at Badaboomz

My wife and I celebrated 6 months being married by going to Badaboomz last night (am I lucky or what?!). Since it was a special night, we decided to splurge a little and went with more interesting/expensive options than we normally do. This was helped by the fact that one of their Tuesday drink specials is $1 off goblets, which are normally a stiff $6.50 for about 8 or 9 oz. Everything we ordered was something we'd never had before.

We decided to start off big and went with Stone Double Bastard Ale on tap. Man that's a tasty beer. The bartender was nice enough to provide us with a sample of regular Arrogant Bastard so we could taste them side-by-side. The Double is more hopped than the regular but manages to still be more balanced overall. And of course it's quite a bit more alcoholic, 10% to 7.2%. Beer Advocate users rank this as the 39th best beer in the world.

We knew we needed something in our stomachs, so we paired the Double with some wings and pub chips. I love their house-made pub chips, a delicious mix of sweet and regular potato chips that puts my hand on autopilot going back to the bowl. A perfect accompaniment to an evening of drinking beer.

After the Double Bastard was gone, we decided to switch to splitting 12 oz bottles. The menu mentioned "Founders Harvest Ale (limited release)" so we had to try one of those. The bartender told us that they had a very limited quantity to start with and only had 4 left. One sip and we ordered a second to we could each have a full beer! Another guy at the bar ordered one later, leaving just one lonely beer in the cooler. Matt's Beer Blog has a review of Three Floyd's Harvest Ale as well as some information about the harvest ale style. As Matt discusses in his Three Floyd's review, the Founders Harvest Ale is also a "wet hopped ale." Beer Advocate classifies the Founders as a Pale Ale, but I'd put it more in the IPA category. Very hoppy and refreshing.

The bartender also let us know that they recently got in some of the limited-release beers from Goose Island, including the Imperial IPA and the Bourbon County Stout. I've still got a couple bottles of the Imperial IPA at home, so we went with Bourbon County Stout. My god that beer is delicious! Creamy, chocalatey and carmely with vanilla hints and some coffee. Wonderful, coating mouthfeel. If I ever see this at a store, I'm buyin' a whole bunch. Beer Advocate users rank this as the 21st best beer in the world, and I whole-heartedly agree.

For our last beer, we decided to go for a big splurge and spent $15 to try 120 Minute IPA for the first time. I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but it wasn't what I put in my mouth. Huge disappointment. Much too sweet for my taste. I read recently in a wine book that alcohol is partially perceived by your tongue as sweet, so it's likely that some of the sweetness of this beer is linked to its 21% abv. What I was most surprised by was its hoppiness, or rather it's un-hoppiness. I was expecting a huge hop blast, but if anything I think it's less hoppy than the 90 Minute IPA. I'm glad I tried it -- and I took the bottle to prove it -- but I doubt I'll be back soon. 90 Minute is more my taste and costs much less.

Other interesting info we picked up from the bartender:
  • The Lafayette Rd. Badaboomz only shares the name and menu of the downtown location. It has a different owner and an independent beer selection. If you've never been, they've got a handful of interesting beers but overall it doesn't come close to the selection downtown.
  • Badaboomz recently received a case of Founders Breakfast Stout that, as is apparently quite common, was immediately split between owner Mike DeWeese and other employees before it ever saw the cooler shelves. Oh well, I don't blame 'em! Anybody know where it can be had around town right now?
  • The owner of Three Floyds brewery apparently owns a small piece of Badaboomz. That's how they're able to get Dreadnaught on tap every once-in-a-while. Apparently Badaboomz is the only place outside of the FFF Brew Pub that you can ever get Dreadnaught on tap. I asked if they could twist the arm of the the FFF's owner to get Alpha Khan on tap. The bartender actually wrote it down, so we'll see if anything comes of it (cross your fingers, Matt!).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Development: Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge

First reported here more than a month ago, a "real" news outlet finally picked up the Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge (Payton's Place) story while I was away for Thanksgiving. Jeff Swiatek did the digging that I don't have the time or connections to do and reports that it will house a "family restaurant" with some seating on a second-floor balcony addition. Unfortunately, no opening date is reported.

Gear: Toshiba HD-A3

I cracked.

I'm not proud to say it, but I've given up on my HD-DVD-on-HTPC experiment. It was fun for a while, getting HD-DVDs to play on the cheap -- Xbox360 HD-DVD drive connected to the HTPC, playing the discs with PowerDVD and output to the HDTV through HDMI -- but sometimes klugey is just klugey and you have to move on.

Things were fine with all discs through the first half of this year, but recently I've been having more and more problems playing HD-DVD rentals from Netflix. Fortunately, I was always able to make them work and I happen to enjoy working through those kind of problems. That is, until Transformers arrived. Whatever they did with that disc simply doesn't like my setup and I was never able to make it work. That seriously pissed me off, since I'm almost sure it has to do with some new quirk of HD-DVD Digital Rights Management (DRM). Goddamn corporations making it so legitimate hardware owners can't view legitimate content...ugh....that's a diatribe for another time.

Anyway, since it finally failed me I've decided I'm sick of futzing around with this setup and it's time for a dedicated set-top box. A couple Fridays ago, Wal-Mart and Best Buy both put the entry-level Toshiba HD-A2 on sale for just $98, apparently trying to move stock to make room for the new HD-A3. Unfortunately, I didn't know about it until it was over. Some other online stores had left-overs in the days after that sale at prices only a little above $98 and I tried grabbing one. They ended up running out of stock as well. Oh well.

Last Wednesday, I received an email from Amazon advertising the HD-A3 for $197 with 10 free HD-DVDs and I jumped on it. Word is that the player is basically the same as the HD-A2, just a refresh of some of the internal components to cut production costs. It differs from the higher end models primarily in that it only outputs video at 1080i as opposed to 1080p. My HDTV is only 1080i, so that's no problem for me. The 10 free discs includes the two in the HD-A3 box (300 and The Bourne Identity), 3 immediately free from Amazon (from a selection of about 15), and the on-going Toshiba promotion for 5 free with a mail-in rebate. Seemed too good to pass up so I went with it.

It should be here sometime this week and I'll have another post talking about my experience with my new toy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to Dallas this afternoon, so no new posts until next Monday. I'll be in Southlake, which I think has a strange "No Beer Over 5% abv" law that basically precludes any interesting beer from being stocked in the grocery stores. On the bright side I'm going to try to get over to nearby Grapevine to try Big Buck, one of two brew pubs in a small chain that gets pretty decent reviews on Beer Advocate.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Photo: The Bridge on the Fall Creek

Here's a bonus photo from my Riley Hospital set that I think turned out pretty cool. I took this on the pedestrian bridge over Fall Creek between 10th St. and the old Indianapolis Water building.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photos: Riley Hospital for Children Simon Family Tower Photo Update

Riley Hospital for Children Simon Family Tower Facts:
  • Cost: $235M (part of a 10-year expansion plan expected to cost $500M)
  • Height: 10 stories, 210' (64m), 27th tallest building in Indy at completion
  • Floor Space: 675,000 sq.ft.
  • Project Start Date: June, 2006
  • Expected Completion: 2013 (some areas will begin to open in 2009)
  • Riley Hospital for Children first opened in 1924

Some renderings: From the West:
From the Northwest:
From the Northeast:
From the East:
From the South:
The West Facade:
The South Facade:
From a distance, you can tell how it will
stand out on the IUPUI/IUSM campus:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beer: This n' That

Kahn's Fine Wine: Kahn's currently has Goose Island Imperial IPA in stock. It doesn't come cheap -- a 4-pack will set you back $19.99 -- but this is a fairly rare beer to come across and I've heard it's absolutely incredible. They got 3 cases in on Saturday, though they're a little lighter after my brother and I raided them. Their beer guru estimates it won't last more than a week, so get there quickly if you want some.

Badaboomz: I recently met the bartender/beer buyer for Badaboomz for the first time. Very interesting guy that LOVES his beers. I hadn't been to Badaboomz in a couple months but stopped by specifically to get some Brugge Black. They've got some other interesting things on tap right now: Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, New Albanian Hoptimus, Two Brothers Hop Juice, Gouden Carolus Noël and Bell's Batch 8000. Also of note is that you can get a bomber of Stone Imperial Russian Stout for a reasonable $9.50, as opposed to the ridiculous $25 that Shallo's wants for it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

DIG-B Gear Update

You may have noticed that Gear posts have fallen by the wayside. A quick glance at the labels sidebar shows more posts about Buggs Temple than Gear. This blog is obviously still a work-in-progress, but it seems that there are four reasons for this:
  • Gear posts take considerably more time to write because there's generally a lot more detail to include and getting things just right is important in case somebody stumbles upon this blog and wants to follow a project.
  • The few posts I have written don't seem to garner the same interest and response, though I do get a lot of random Google hits from places like Romania and Pakistan that land on Gear posts. I better not be unwittingly aiding the terrorists...
  • Whereas there's room to work in local niches of beer and development, there's a glut of national electronics and technology websites doing a far more comprehensive job than I could ever do here.
  • The biggest reason: this blog seems to have become my new "gear" outlet, taking up all the time I used to spend obsessing about my next project. I haven't even purchased the parts for the last project I wrote about -- an infrared receiver for my HTPC -- let alone worked on the project!
I guess the long and short of it is that you can expect Gear posts to be few and far between. Apologies to those that were interested in those posts. I promise it's not gone forever, if for no other reason than DI-B sucks as a blog name.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beer: Craft Beer vs. Fine Wine Price

For fun, I thought I'd work through a quick little calculation to compare the cost of the alcohol content in fine wine vs. craft beer. Yes, I'm a geeky engineer. First, the contestants:
  • For beer, I decided to go with a 6-pack price of $10. That's probably a hair above craft beer average, but it's a nice neat number to work with. For alcohol content, most craft beer ranges from 5-10%, so let's split the difference and go with 7.5%.
  • Wine price is a little trickier, as the range is much larger. I'm going to abitrarily go with a $15 bottle. Fine wine is generally about 12-14%, so let's split the difference again and go with 13%.

Beer Calculations:

  • 6 * 12 oz. bottles = 72 oz.
  • 72 oz. * 7.5% = 5.4 oz. alc.
  • $10 / 5.4 oz alc. = $1.85/oz. alc.

Wine Calculations

  • 750ml bottle = 25.36 oz.
  • 25.36 oz. * 13% = 3.3 oz. alc.
  • $15 / 3.3 oz. alc. = $4.55/oz. alc.

Interesting: the alcohol in fine wine costs almost 2.5 times the alcohol in craft beer.

For even more fun, I researched the most expensive bottles of beer and wine ever sold to see how they compare. This article says the most expensive beer ever sold is called Tutankhamun Ale -- an ale brewed based on archeological evidence at an excavation site -- the first bottle of which sold for $7,686. Unfortunately, I can't find information about the alcohol content of the beer or size of the bottle, which makes calculations difficult. Since this is all for fun, let's assume 12oz at a generous 10% abv.

The most expensive wine ever sold was a Chateau Lafite 1787 Bordeaux that went for $160,000 at auction. Again, who knows the exact volume or alcohol content, but let's assume 750ml (25.36 oz.) at a generous 15% abv.

Tutankhamun Ale Calculations:

  • 12 oz. * 10% = 1.2 oz. alc.
  • $7,686 / 1.2 oz. alc. = $6,405/oz. alc.

Chateau Lafite 1787 Bordeaux Calculations:

  • 25.36 oz. * 15% = 3.8 oz. alc.
  • $160,000 / 3.8 oz. alc. = $42,105/oz. alc.
The uber-comparison makes the difference even greater, with wine over 6.5 times as expensive as the beer. Hope you enjoyed this comparison!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Photos: Biocrossroads Area

With a little extra time after lunch I decided to try to take some pictures of the Riley Hospital Tower addition (in case you haven't heard, the Simon's are giving $40M to Riley Hospital). I was trying to get a wide perspective of the construction by driving up Indiana and ended up driving SW off Indiana toward the White River.

I haven't been back there in years. When I first moved here five plus years ago, I used to drive around everywhere to get a feel for the city. This area is so funky and awesome! You've got the abandoned Bush Stadium, the White River and the greenway trail, an old railroad track (the Beltway RR? anyone know?), the classic old Indianapolis Water treatment plant, and tons of warehouse buildings, several of which seem to be occupied by IUPUI.

That last part is worth noting because this area has been earmarked by the city for future development of an integrated life sciences research area called Biocrossroads. IUPUI has apparently been buying up property all along this stretch in preparation for this. A large swath has already been cleared on the north side of Indiana between Fall Creek and Rembrandt St.

I'll probably post some pictures of the Riley Hospital Tower in the next couple days, along with some renderings I just discovered. For now, here's a quick look at the area around the water treatment plant where I was today:

The Indianapolis Water treatment plant:

Railroad Bridge over White River (Candlewood Suites and Park Place Apartments, formerly Riverpointe, in the distance):

The slowly decaying main entrance to Bush Stadium:

Water treatment plant with Riley Hospital tower in the distance (yes, a $235M construction project apparently gets you two big yellow cranes):