New Hampshire

by Berck

I’ve managed to talk my way out of coming to New Hampshire so far, but most of the rest of the competent folks at work have put in their shift. I reluctantly agreed, not because of any dislike for New Hampshire, but because the purpose of the work trip seems to me to have little value.

I’ve been saying for awhile that I’ve been to every state in the U.S. except for Alaska, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I was able to come up with a concrete example for every state except New Hampshire. My airline flew into MHT, so it seemed likely I’d done that at some point, but my logbook says I haven’t.

So now I’ve been to New Hampshire. It’s a weird state to have missed, but being an airline pilot is a weird way to see the country.

For whatever reason, the folks who went a year ago managed to go during prime leaf changing season, but the event this year was a few weeks later and the few remaining leaves are brown. The weather is not hot, which is good, but of course I’ve missed a big snow storm at home. It always snows when I leave home. (Home. I have a home, now. I don’t think I’d have said that a decade ago.)

As I watched an airline pilot go through a known crewmember checkpoint, I wondered if flying for a living is any better than it was a decade ago. There was only one known crewmember checkpoint in the country at the time I got furloughed. The airlines are now more desperate, and the pay is slightly better, but I’m not sure the quality of life has improved at all. My biggest complaints were that 5-on, 2-off is a stupid schedule for anyone, but is especially asinine for commuting pilots.

So my complaint wasn’t at all about travel. I like travel, though I hate flying in the back of airliners. The old Southwest biddies managed to keep the cabin temperature at about 78F on the way over, and I find that sort of heat in a closed airline cabin to be claustrophobic-inducing.

I miss geographic displacement. It’s good for the soul. But spending all day in this building is not:

This is my coworker unboxing our stuff. People I work with make questionable decisions regularly. That’s a box that was shipped on a pallet. It contained a single 4U rackmount unit that could have been shipped via UPS had it been packed in, you know, a normal box. The room is a lot bigger, but we’re under NDA’s so I had to make sure that I didn’t photograph anything anyone might care about.

I spent 10 hours in there yesterday, mostly working remotely and offering moral support to my coworker who dealt with other people. Our particular product, for some reason, has fans that at full volume produce noise levels comparable to a 737 at takeoff. I spent much of the morning figuring out how to throttle them back, but even so, the noise was bad. About 15 minutes before we left, I experienced piercing tinnitus unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I actually thought someone else had turned on something louder than our box, before I realized that it was all in my head. It persisted for an hour before it finally started to fade. I was worried it was going to be permanent, and I don’t think I’d have been able to live with it. So today I brought my noise-canceling headphones.

We managed to get what we needed to get done a little early today and headed out shortly before 3pm. I gave Gopal the choice of visiting a submarine or heading up the coast. He picked heading up the coast.

I managed to get the second-best rental car I’ve ever had by pure luck. I always choose “compact”, but more often than not I get “upgraded” to some American barge. I usually argue when this happens, and the rental companies never understand why I don’t think it’s an upgrade. I didn’t get upgraded, and was shocked to discover that my car was a loaded Ford Focus hatchback. It’s the same basic car as Jonah’s, only with more comfortable leather seats, heated seats, power seats, sunroof, heated steering wheel, navigation system, fog lights. It has a better turning radius, more comfortable suspension and more pleasant interior that Jonah’s car.

It’s also grey, (the second-worst color for a car), has a terrible automatic transmission (actually, it’s one of the best automatics I’ve ever used, but all automatics are terrible), isn’t very fast, doesn’t make a very good noise, is front wheel drive, exhibits a fair amount of torque steer for not actually producing any torque, and did I mention it has an automatic transmission?

The best part about it is that I know where everything is, and the second best part is that it has Android Auto. Which means I don’t need to use the terrible ford-supplied navigation system and can, instead, have google maps on a giant screen where it’s convenient. I don’t know how anyone ever found their way around New Hampshire without GPS.

I’m taking some amusing joy in knowing that I get to drive around in a Ford Focus rental while Jonah is driving around in a GMC cruise ship waiting for her Ford Focus to get fixed.

Here’s some photos.

I’ve always thought Kennebunkport was one of the more ridiculous place names and was surprised to drive through it accidentally.

My plan was to meander up to Portland, getting there about the time it got dark and find a good dinner. It gets dark at about 4:45pm here this time of year, so I misjudged by a bit, and ended up hopping over to I-95 after it did, since there didn’t seem much point in driving the winding beach roads in the dark.

Kelsey eventually returned my phone call. I’d called him because I knew he’d have a good recommendation for a place to eat in Portland, since he’d just spent weeks there. He did, and it was fantastic.


Belgian fries fried in duck fat.


Duck poutine. Fries fried in duck fat, duck confit, duck gravy, and a duck egg sunny side up.

I second his recommendation of Duckfat in Portland.

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