Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing Precision Driving School

Tuesday, April 30th 2019 at 8:06 pm
by Jonah

https://photos.app.goo.gl/f8HE2YgC8LBBb1Dp7

Grapes and Sausage

Wednesday, April 17th 2019 at 8:06 pm
by Jonah

My boss taught me this recipe, and it is so good.

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian sausage

1 big bunch red seedless grapes

Balsamic vinegar.

Take a Dutch oven. Put one pound of good Italian sausage in it. My favorite is sausage from our local meat market Andy’s, but in a pinch I have also used Boulder Sausage. I have used both sweet and Italian sausage, and both are good. Loose sausage is best, but you can also take links and squeeze the sausage out of them. Destem and dump in a big bunch of red seedless grapes. Dump in enough balsamic vinegar to come halfway up the grapes that are resting on the bottom. Cover and put on a grill on moderate heat until the sausage is cooked all the way and the balsamic vinegar has cooked into a sludge, usually about an hour. Smash the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula. Serve with fresh bread.

If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can also use a pot and put it in the oven. You can also cook this on a burner on the stove, but you have to be careful that it doesn’t stick.

This is a great dish for the summer because you can cook it outside and not heat up your house. You can also use the grill to cook other things while it’s off in a corner cooking away.

Buran

Tuesday, February 5th 2019 at 7:12 pm
by Berck

I’ve always been perplexed that the Soviets bothered to copy our Space Shuttle. The shuttle was a terrible design, it made no economic sense, it was unsafe, unreliable, and a great example of design by committee and execution by democracy.

The Soviets’ version, Buran, was way better than ours. It could fly unmanned and even land itself, something it did on its only flight. Ours theoretically had an autoland system, but the one time it was tried, it was clear early on that it was going to botch the landing, so the commander took over. Buran, although it only ever flew unmanned, had an escape system that could be used at all phases of flight that likely would have saved the crews of both of our shuttle disasters. Not to mention that the Columbia disaster couldn’t have happened to Buran because it didn’t have external foam.

So why did the Soviets bother to build it, and if it was so good, why did it only fly once?

They didn’t believe NASA’s absurd cost predictions (which were obviously false), so they assumed that it was a poor disguise for a military vehicle. Possibilities the USSR considered:
(1) The obvious advantage of the space shuttle was that it could bring things *back* from space. So, maybe the USA was developing a space-based laser missile-defense system that could only be developed and calibrated in outer space. The space shuttle would allow the USA to deploy, test, then recapture these laser satellites.
(2) The shuttle was a first-strike nuclear bomber in disguise. We had a plan to be able to launch the shuttle from Vanderburg and have it land after a single orbit. Our claim is apparently that we wanted to be able to service spy satellites on such a single-orbit mission, but it theoretically had the capability to drop a nuclear bomb on the USSR during that orbit. That would make it the fastest nuclear strike option available to us. It’s also possible that the space shuttle could while in a stable orbit, at the last minute, adjust its orbit, pop into the atmosphere, drop a bomb, and make it home with no warning.

Even more concerning to the Soviets was the possibilities they hadn’t yet considered. They were so worried about this, they decided that they needed to have one just because we had one. When the military advantage we were hoping for became obvious, they’d have their platform all ready. So, they flew it once, proved it worked, and waited to see what to do with it.

It turns out, we did service Hubble with it, which is probably the only thing it did that we couldn’t have just as easily done with a cheaper expendable system. Also, reusability fit in well with the newly-formed religious fervour surrounding environmentalism.

I’m curious to find out if one day we’ll get some declassified documents that show we did, in fact, have some of the very sorts of ideas the Soviets were worried about. It’s not paranoia if they’re out to get you.

The Professor enjoys books.

Tuesday, January 15th 2019 at 7:38 pm
by Jonah

New Hampshire

Tuesday, November 13th 2018 at 8:00 pm
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.