Overall, things went pretty well. I managed to forget to add finings to the boil, but that's just a cosmetic touch. There were no boilovers, I hit the hops schedule right on, and Pablo's cooling coils functioned marvelously. The problems started when I tried tranferring the cooled wort to the fermenter. My equipment for this seems to work best with three hands. Since I'm not quite so well endowed, this usually means that having someone to help with the transfer is a Good ThingTM. If I had any doubts about this assessment before tonight, I hereby stand humbled and converted.
First, the siphon hose clogged. The exercise to clear it involves shaking it while hoping you won't have to start the siphon again since a) it's not entirely sanitary and b) it's a pain. I was managing this while bracing the funnel and making sure the end of the hose that was in the pot stayed put just fine until the phone rang. Under normal circumstances, this would be ok, and given the delicate nature of the process in which I was embroiled I probably shouldn't have attempted to be the hero and answer the phone.
I decided to be a hero, and it's pretty easy to guess what happened next.
Introducing the need for a fourth hand into my already precarious situation led, predictably, to the funnel, already filled with wort, to tip. And then fall sideways until it dumped a large puddle of proto-beer onto the kitchen floor. As I tried to catch it, I dropped the phone into said puddle and knocked the funnel off the carboy and... onto the floor.
This is where it gets really good.
In hopes of minimizing the damage, I quickly picked up the now contaminated funnel and rested it on the pot. With the tube submerged in the wort. Just as I realized how incredibly stupid that was the siphon hose opened up. Throughout this, I had managed to keep the hose in the pot and my beer began pouring out onto the floor. You would think that I'd make a move to slow or stop the stream, but I just looked at siphon and said, "Oh, so NOW you work."
Gods, but I'm dumb.
Everything's been dumped, and I'm in the process of cleaning. For those of you playing at home, I am now exactly one botch away from having dumped as much beer as I've successfully made. Next time I try to offer advice about this process, just tell me to shut up.
UPDATE: In retrospect, with the exception of all the swearing and the sad sad dumping of proto-beer, it was pretty funny. The scene was like something straight out of 1930's slapstick.