Day 37

Business Math at 8:30 a.m. was a tough way to start the day. The caffeine I used to get myself out of bed two-and-a-half hours ago had long since been completely metabolised, and my synapses were barely firing fast enough to turn the calculator on, let alone figure out how many more hockey sticks the Victoriaville factory had to sell, expressed as a percentage of production capacity, in order to break even. Oh sure, quibblers might carp that perhaps I should not have attended Great Lakes Brewery’s  monthly Project X cask event last night and imbibed several tasting glasses of cask ale. Bah.

After my misfiring neurons struggled unsuccessfully with x and his nefarious cousin y for an hour, I moved on to Intro to Brewing with Gordo Slater, where we examined the role of yeast in the fermentation tank, one step at a time. First, like a young married couple, the yeast has to settle into its new environment. This is the lag phase. Then it starts reproducing at an exponential rate (2>4>8>16>32>64>128, etc.), using sugar as well as the oxygen the brewer has craftily added to the wort. This stage produces a large foamy head in the tank (the “krausen”). Once all the oxygen in the wort has been used up, the yeast stops reproducing and settles into its quieter anaerobic “plateau” phase, content to spend its time talking on the phone while eating a molecule of sugar and emitting two molecules of alcohol and two molecules of carbon dioxide. Finally when all of the fermentable sugars have been used up, the yeast falls to the bottom of the fermentation tank in a swoon, where it can be collected and reused.

With the story of yeast out of the way, it was time to write Gordo’s mid-term exam. Ooooog. Let’s hope my misfiring synapses remembered enough to pass.

Post script: I woke up in the middle of the night knowing why I was having math problems earlier in the day. Let x = the number of hockey sticks AND let the price per unit = $1. My own personal eureka! moment. My only regret was that it was a eureka about Victoriaville hockey sticks, not something exciting like Archimedes’ gold crown problem or a reliable hangover cure.

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2 Comments on “Day 37”

  1. Canageek Says:

    Errrr, doubling each time would be an exponential rate: x^2 in this case. Logarithmic is a very, very slow rate of increase: Log(x) Logarithmic means to go up 1 you have to increase by an order of magnitude.


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