Weekly Roundup – May 1 – 7, 2017

The Backfire Effect

I love The Oatmeal, a web comic that sometimes has a point and sometimes doesn’t. The author released a comic this week about the Backfire Effect, a subset of strong confirmation bias.

If you do nothing else, please go read the comic and think about it. As the illustrator encourages you, please read all the way to the end – it is worth it.

This is something that we have to battle consciously. We should all be aware that we (humans) are animals and most of our actions are driven by primitive lizard-brain instincts and coasting along based on previous information. Take the time and opportunity to consider new information, debate yourself, debate others, and learn more about the world! It is worth it and you’ll be a better person. Start here!

Geothermal Energy in Iceland

In an effort to move from dirty to clean energy, Iceland completed a energy well in January that reaches nearly three miles into the earth. This is an amazing accomplishment and I love that it is named after Thor.

Unlike solar and wind, the other popular non-destructive renewable energy sources, geothermal energy can provide base-load level power (at least from my understanding) meaning it is a true substitute for fossil fuels. In reading some discussion on this, it was mentioned that geothermal energy costs 4-5 cents per KwH, making it on par with natural gas for shallow wells. This particular well is deeper so the cost in drilling was likely much higher than a shallow well so it is unknown what the cost per KwH is or will be.

That being said, I think we too often get caught up in analyzing the cost of our energy sources. For me, personally, I’d be happy to pay more for power as long as I knew it was certifiably coming from a non-fossil fuel source. Perhaps this is a privileged viewpoint because of the budget that my family works within, but I can’t be certain of that. In my mind, it is just like shopping at Costco instead of Walmart / Sam’s Club. You may occasionally pay more for the same volume of product, but at Costco the workers receive a solid wage and benefits.

Uber in Trouble?

It has been revealed that Uber is facing a criminal probe into their effort to circumvent law enforcement efforts regarding the illegality of their service. I am not an Uber fan – like most “sharing economy” providers, they pass negative externalities onto society as a whole by circumventing regulations that they feel are antiquated. While taxi monopolies are not great, there is a reason that regulations in regards to car service and other personal transportation exists. There should be a concerted effort to revise those regulations rather than decide, as a company, to help bypass the law. AirBNB is another company that engages in these practices and it drives me crazy that they are held up as bastions of capitalism because they encapsulate so many of the negative aspects.

President Trump Quits an Interview

It seems the press is finally attempting to get actual answers rather than vague hand waving from our current POTUS. I’m all for this, and this transcript from CBS News shows what happens when they try.

An Essay on Civil Democracy

While reading an editorial in regards to Trump’s 100th-day rally speech, I encountered a link to an essay by the former President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, entitled Politics, Morality & Civility. It regards the principles of democracy in an open society and necessity of the body politic’s participation in a rational and disciplined way.

I encourage everyone to give it a read, especially those of us who say they value policy over the team sports nature of our current two-party system. The essay by itself is about a dozen pages, but I encourage reading the foreword and thinking through the group discussion questions at the end on your own or with a partner.

Literally vs Seriously – Literally Wins

There was a common meme going around during the election, coined by Peter Thiel, that supporters of Donald Trump took him seriously but not literally, whereas people who opposed him took him literally but not seriously. I guess the latter half were right as I keep reading article filled with regret for Trump doing the things he said he was going to.

First it was stories about people who were upset about a repeal of the ACA, now it is regret from farmers who benefit from NAFTA as Trump readies a pull-out. Who can forget the woman who effectively voted to deport her own husband?

I don’t know why people are surprised – it is like ordering a big beautiful chocolate cake and being surprised when the cocoa deliciousness arrives in front of you instead of a down-home apple pie.

The Comey Letter

On October 28th of last year, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress which was promptly leaked by Jason Chaffetz. The statisticians at 538 argue that the letter cost Clinton the presidency and I agree. The worst part is there was nothing in the letter that was at all damning, but sensationalist headlines from sources that should have known better (I’m looking at you New York Times) made it seem like it was a stupendous development.

Secretary Clinton stated this plainly in a recent interview and I find it hard to disagree. She knows her campaign made mistakes, and it did and she admitted as much, but she would likely be POTUS without that letter. I wonder if we’ll ever see a single document from an executive agency have such wide ranging effects on the direction of the country again.

Economic Reality and Bernie Sanders

Someone made this comment on Reddit, and I thought it pretty concisely summed up my discomfort with Sanders’ policies and plans and why I thought Hillary Clinton was a better option.

What bugs me about Sanders is that he’s the first Democrat candidate in decades to use fudged numbers in his budget proposals. Republicans have been doing this for two decades- put out a budget where numbers don’t add up, then claim “growth” will fix the shortcomings. Sanders is the first Democrat to do it- both Clintons, Obama, Kerry, etc all put out responsible budget proposals- and he barely got any backlash for it.

/u/WhyYouAreVeryWrong

The term for what the poster in question is talking about is dynamic scoring which the Republican party is again using to try to justify enormous tax cuts. A magic asterisk with a projection of 4% annual GDP growth does not a realistic budget make.

Bernie Sanders is a Donald Trump style personality who views the world in black and white and used slogans to rile up people who refuse to acknowledge the world is a complicated place. His ideals are admirable, and I believe in a lot of the things he purports to stand for, but his actual ability to accomplish the things he kept saying was always in question.

The AHCA is a Disaster for the Vast Majority of Americans

Shortly after the narrow passage of the AHCA in the house, the New York Times published a winners and losers article briefly discussing who will benefit and who will not from the bill (if it passes the Senate in its current form).

Angela and I fall into almost all of the winner categories, but I can’t see this bill as anything other than an abomination. It gives the most to the people who need it the least and deprives the most dispossessed members society of benefits that have a meaningful impact on their day to day lives. I do not understand how Republican members of the House of Representatives think that this is a win when it will disproportionately affect their constituents negatively.

Healthcare is 1/6 of the national economy and Republicans rushed to pass a bill that would drastically affect nearly everyone and all I’m left to do is wonder why. It is easy to fall into emotional and moral conversations when talking about healthcare, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who can argue in good faith that a healthy and productive populace is bad for society. Now, we’ll be moving back towards people bailing on their insurance and going to the ER everytime they need treatment. Insurance companies will return to a policy of aggressively denying coverage and claims in order to increase profits. What a nightmare for normal people who are just trying to do the right thing.

At least it appears that the Senate is going to be adult about the whole thing.

Thoughts on Self-Esteem

I’ve been thinking about self-esteem a lot lately – not from an academic perspective, but from a personal perspective. In thinking about the topic, I suppose the most important question is easily “What is my self-esteem level and is it healthy or not?” From there, we get into conversations about raising low or unhealthy self-esteem, which I believe to be outside the scope of my ability to discuss in any productive way.

What I’ve come to realize over the last few months in evaluating my personal level of self-esteem is that it swings wildly between extremes. I’d say that ~90% of the time I feel an extremely high level of confidence in the actualization of my best self. I am who I am, I believe what I believe, and I’m confident in my own dignity and principles. I know I have the ability to be the version of myself that I can respect and believe that my life’s trend is to become more that person with every day.

It would be a mistake to insist that these feelings stem completely from an innate sense of worth. Some of it surely stems from a variety of accomplishments that I am proud of in varying degrees. The life that Angela and I have built together is one that makes it easy to look around and feel great.

That being said, there eventually come stretches of days, sometimes even weeks at a time, where my self-esteem takes a nosedive and I doubt everything that I think I know about myself. I doubt my decisions, I doubt my reasoning and ability, and I doubt whether I’m the person I should be or even the person I want to be. The questions come quickly, and I inevitably end up in a terrible mood:

  • Is my net-worth too low? Have I made the right financial decisions? Are we on the right track or should I do something different with my money?
  • Why am I not stronger? Can I even be stronger? Everyone else seems stronger than me.
  • Why aren’t I leaner? Can I even be leaner? Everyone else seems leaner than me.
  • Is my business really a success or am I just inevitably going to fail? Am I doing enough or am I doing too much?

Comparisons to other people, both those I know personally and in the abstract, allow me to paint myself in a negative light and I end up in a death spiral to a nadir of self-worth. The worst part is that it is all in my head – there’s no external pressure or positive or negative feedback that cause these episodes of internal despair. All I know is that they are real and they are tough to deal with. When I stop feeling confident in myself it is like I’m no longer the real Nick Ohrn but am just playing a character who acts a lot like Nick Ohrn would.

Eventually the feelings subside for what seems like no reason (again, no external pressure or feedback) and everything goes back to being great. I sometimes wonder if this is something to be defeated or if it is something that I’m just supposed to deal with.

So why write this post in the first place? It certainly doesn’t add much of a useful data point, but I’m hoping that, just like my post about grieving my sister, it helps other people deal with similar feelings. I have often felt abnormal only to discover that someone wrote about feeling or experiencing something just like I have and it makes me feel better, so hopefully this post can help someone, eventually, in a similar way.

Basic Fitness Advice

A few of my friends recently asked for some advice on getting in better shape this year. The goals were the same:

  • Feel better in daily life
  • Lose a little bit of weight
  • Fill out (or not fill out) clothing a little better
  • Do not get hurt

I’m not a fitness expert – my main qualifications are that I’m in decent shape and have taken pretty good care of myself over the last decade of my life. I’m not sure if it is entirely appropriate for me to offer this advice, but I did so anyways and wanted to share it with anyone else who might benefit from it.

Nutrition

Every person’s body is different and I am not a dietitian. As such, my nutrition advice is always very general:

  • Do not buy or eat junk food
  • Cook for yourself at home / try not to go out for food too much
  • Drink a bunch of water throughout the day

My personal diet is full of eggs, oatmeal, ground bison and bison steaks, more eggs, some egg whites, additional eggs, guacamole, and the occasional protein shake. I eat pretty much the same thing every day and that doesn’t bother me, but it does bother other people.

I eat a ton every day but I’m a 210 pound male with a lot of muscle trying to roughly maintain my current weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, eat less. If you’re trying to gain weight, eat a ton and worry about trimming off excess fat later. It isn’t rocket science, but you do need to monitor the way your body changes over the course of a few weeks and adjust as necessary.

Also, eat a cookie (or delicious brownie your wife makes) every once in a while. Tasty food is a great part of life. Just don’t go overboard when indulging.

Exercise

This is directed mostly at “untrained males” because that is who my friends are, but the general principles pretty much apply to anyone new to weightlifting or just getting back into an exercise program.

Buy a speed rope and start every workout with 10 minutes of jumping – start with 15 seconds on, 45 seconds off and then proceed to 30/30 and 45/15 once you feel comfortable with what you’ve been doing. Jumping rope burns a ton of calories in a little bit of time and will get your heart racing for the rest of the workout. There’s usually a cardio/studio room in gyms like this where you can do this. Your muscles should be all warmed up and ready to go after you jump.

Do the following workout 3 days a week (preferably M-W-F or T-Th-Sa):

  1. 3 (sets) x 8 (repetitions) barbell back squat
  2. 3 x 8 barbell deadlift
  3. 3 x 8 barbell bench press
  4. 3 x 8 seated dumbbell military press

You should be doing weight that you are comfortable with but makes it challenging to finish the set. Do not be concerned with what anyone else is doing in terms of weight. You are competing against your own body – not anyone else’s.

Finish up with a 5 minute cooldown on the stationary bike or something else.

Rest 2-3 minutes in between each set. Each exercise is linked to a video that shows exactly how to do it. However, that’s often not enough. If you don’t feel comfortable just going off the videos, my recommendation would be to purchase 3 training sessions with someone at whatever gym you’re joining and tell them you want to do the above (don’t let them sell you anything different) and you want to ensure that you have good form and won’t hurt yourself. You want them to teach you how to do it so you can do it on your own. Make this absolutely clear if you decide to go this route.

These are the major lifts and pretty much all you ever need to do unless you want to achieve some specific look. You’ll likely lose weight and feel better. You’ll see pretty rapid gains in strength and then plateau – that is absolutely normal. Make sure you’re pushing yourself and are slightly uncomfortable as that means you’re doing it right.

The workout, including warmup and cooldown, should take about an hour and will leave you feeling great.

Thirty

I figure turning 30 is momentous enough that I should blog about it. I’ve learned so much about life, myself, and others over the past decade that I wanted to take a few minutes to look back and reflect on those things. I’m going to concentrate on the things I’ve experienced over the last decade, as going back any further than that doesn’t seem very meaningful any more. If you decide to continue reading, I promise to try not to ramble so much.

Let’s start with something that I think about every single day of my life.

I am a very, very lucky man

A lot of what happens in life is entirely out of our control. I’m convinced at this point that the best we can do as individuals is put ourselves in the position to maximize the good things that happen to us, minimize the bad things, and take advantage of events or circumstances that can benefit us.

Please don’t misunderstand – I am a huge believer in hard work and planning (if you know me, you’ll know how much personal goals play a part in my life) – those are the things that put you in position to benefit from luck when it comes your way.

Just looking at my business, it is incredibly easy to see the role that luck has played. Consider the following:

  • I just happened to specialize in a very particular CMS / platform that now powers a full 25% of publicly accessible websites on the internet
  • I somehow managed to be one of the first development contractors for an amazing agency / group of people that provided me an astounding amount of meaningful benefits (honestly, it is hard for me to even list the number of ways that Modern Tribe nee Shane & Peter helped me as I was starting my freelance career – if you’re reading this, thank you so much)
  • I was approached to write a book (and did so!) at 23, less than a year into my career, and was mentioned in a “For Dummies” book by an important industry figure – bucket list item complete!

What part did I play in any of these things? The only one I really took action to make happen is the second one, and even that one is kind of up in the air. The studio job ad on FreelanceSwitch (now defunct) was one of many I responded to and I’m sure that I was one of many freelancers they interviewed. That it worked out and we made such a connection was mostly luck (and I’m so happy it did).

Very bad things happen in life and they are not fair

My sister died 4 years ago. It was completely unexpected. One night I was texting her and the next morning my mom called me to tell me Renee was dead.

It took me a while to come to terms with the situation. I’m sure the same is true for anyone who loses a close friend or family member suddenly. I kept thinking “this isn’t fair” and I certainly don’t think I was wrong.

The simple truth of the matter is that life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Just like the good luck I mentioned above, these are often things we can’t control at all. We, collectively, have to deal with the situations the best we can and move on from there.

My wife is amazing

I was tempted to make this a general point about stable relationships being important, but I don’t feel qualified to speak in general about the way other people’s relationships work. Instead, I’ll just talk about the one I’m a part of.

Not to belabor the point or anything, but Angela, my wife, is amazing.

On December 18th, we’ll celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. That day will also mark the 11th anniversary of the start of our relationship (when we visited the Museum of Science & Industry and looked at the Christmas trees). This may sound cliche, but I truly love Angela more than the day we got married and my affection for her continues to grow with each passing day.

I think about our relationship and am so happy that I have found a true partner in life. We complement each other in our strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, we are individuals with our own opinions – no person is subservient to the other. I feel like I’m not explaining it adequately, but this is the best I can do.

I look at what we have together and I hope that other couples we know have the same connection because it is truly amazing.

Needing help is not a sign of weakness

I mentioned above how hard it was dealing with my sister dying. After years of battling depression and hiding in my work, I finally went and got help in dealing with it. I didn’t believe I was ever going to be able to be happy again and now I’m happier than I’ve ever been before.

I was afraid of getting help because I thought it made me less of a man. I thought it meant I was broken – damaged goods in need of repair. I wish I had been less stubborn and spent less of my life in the state I was in.

If you need help for whatever reason, asking for it or seeking it out is not a sign of weakness. Please do not be scared like I was – you can most likely get the help you need and there are probably people around you who love you and care about you enough to help you get it if you need it.

Having friends is important

This may seem obvious to some of you, but I was oblivious to this fact until the last few years. I’ve always been an introvert and thought that I didn’t really need anybody else in my life other than my wife to be happy.

For me, this proved to be untrue. I needed people in my life who I can hang out with. People who shared a common interest. I found that through flag football and I’m so happy I did.

The one thing that is most important here is to find people who are truly your friend. We all have Twitter and Facebook friends / acquaintances these days, and that’s awesome. However, make sure that you are loyal to the people in your life and that you involve people in your life that will be loyal to you. People who will be there to help you out when you need it.

For me, I strive to be a true friend to the people I care about. So, if you ever need anything, please let me know!

Getting older doesn’t necessarily make you a bad athlete

This will be the last point because its a fun one. As I approached 30 I was a little worried that my skills as an athlete were going to diminish rapidly. I’d be just another workout warrior pumping iron and building my show muscles. Luckily for me, that’s not the case!

I’m so glad I found flag football here in Las Vegas a few years ago and have gotten the chance to compete the last few seasons. It has been unbelievably rewarding to test myself against other men (and a couple women) of varying skill levels as the years have gone by. I believe I have mostly succeeded in acquitting myself well.

Someday I expect my athleticism to fade, but I’m going to fight that battle as long as I can!

On to 40!

I’m excited to begin the next decade of my life and I can only hope it will be as fun and rewarding as the previous one has been. Thank you, sincerely, to all the people who have helped to shape the last 10 years of my life. It wouldn’t have been the same without you :-)

100 Days of Squats, a Retrospective

On June 9th, I finished 100 days of consecutive squatting. I was inspired to take on this challenge by Cory Gregory after an article of his was published in FitnessRX for Men. It promised increased strength, better endurance, and the ability to call yourself a badass and mean it.

I’ve taken the last week or so to really think about what I learned from the program, both about my body and about myself, and to figure out how to share the parts that I think are most important. I’ll get to that later in this post, but I think its important to identify a couple of things first; where I was when I started, and what the workouts that I did over the course of my 100 days actually looked like.

My Starting Condition

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. I’m 5’10” tall and weigh around 200 pounds. The weight fluctuates from 195-205 depending on how gluttonous I’m feeling in any particular week. I hesitate to give an exact bodyweight percentage, but I’m definitely under 10% and most likely around 8% most of the time.

I’ve been weight training consistently for about eight years now with very little in the way of breaks. My morning routine is essentially:

  1. Wake up
  2. Prepare for workout
  3. Workout really hard
  4. Get on with my day

It has been that way without exception ever since I started to recover from my busted up shoulders in college. My workouts prior to this program were already heavy on squats, with me squatting at least twice a week with many weeks containing three legs days depending on how I was feeling. I love squatting, especially because it doesn’t put stress on my shoulder joints, which are definitely the weakest parts of my body. I tend to squat like a hybrid powerlifter / bodybuilder, with a mix of high-rep and high-weight workouts.

One important note: I lift raw, meaning I don’t use a weightlifting belt, knee wraps, wrist straps, or any other form of assistance. That’s how it has been for about six years now and I love it. I feel like it protects my body because I’m not able to push myself past the threshold of what I am physically able, and gives me a limit to push against as I drive for new performance.

The Workouts

The article that Cory Gregory published was a little light on details of what you were supposed to do from an actual implementation standpoint. He had listed a typical workout that he would do, but the most important part I gained from his writing was to just do some type of squats every day for the 100 days and you’d fulfill the requirements. As a note, he later published a four week squat everyday workout that I know some people have been following that is much more prescriptive. It might be a good place to start.

I always squatted first before working out whatever other body part I was targeting on a specific day. I felt like it got me in the mood to push myself harder with the other work I was going to be doing. In general, the workouts looked like one of the following two options:

High Rep Workout: Pick one of high-bar back, low-bar back, or front squat and do five sets of 12.

High Weight Workout: Pick one of high-bar back, low-bar-back, or front squat and do (back/front) 135/135 x 8, 225/185 x 8, 315/225 x 8, 405 / 315 x 3, 455 / 365 x 1.

There were times during the 100 day program where I didn’t have access to a barbell for some reason or another. On those days, I did 5 sets of 20 bodyweight squats to keep my streak alive. Reasons for being without a barbell include traveling for business (conferences / consulting) or being out of my house and thus away from my gym because of home repairs.

Without exception, I made sure that I did some form of squat workout every day for 100 days. That includes flag football game days where I’d get up before my games, get my squat workout in, and then go play football. Once, I didn’t have time to do it before my games so I had to do my squats after a doubleheader in the middle of the afternoon. That was probably the toughest single day of the 100 days.

My Impressions and Conclusions

If you check out the #squateveryday hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see tons of testimonials from people about how they’re hitting new PRs and really upping their squat game, doing things that they’ve never done before. That’s awesome! Unfortunately, those things didn’t happen for me.

I loved the program, but I was already a 500 pound squatter at sub-200 pounds when I started my 100 days. I’m not an elite strength athlete by any means, but that’s a lot of weight to move around. Without dedicated strength training, there’s very little room to grow from there for someone at my weight and height.

As such, I didn’t expect to get substantially stronger because I structure my training to ensure a good mix between athleticism (to make sure I continue to be good at flag football), strength (for my ego), and physique (for my vanity).

The reason I did this program was to test my mental fortitude. Could I really do something hard for 100 days without breaking? Could I push myself every single day on something that I enjoyed initially but I knew would turn into a slog after a while? Apparently the answer is a resounding YES. I’m proud of myself for completing the program.

Now, I intend to apply the principles to other facets of my life, especially my business. A lot of what makes a business person successful is the ability to continually do the small things that add up over time to make a big difference. Now that I was able to spend 100 days in a row doing something I really enjoy, I’m looking for the equivalent challenge for my business life.

As for squatting, I love it and will continue to do it. I’d like to hit a high-bar back squat of 405 x 8 and a front squat of 405 x 1 (in the same workout) by the end of the year. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll hit those marks as I push towards them consistently.

Hiking at Mount Charleston

After a great win yesterday at flag football, Angela suggested we head up to Mount Charleston to do some hiking and see what Fitz would do in the snow. After some initial hesitation on my part, due to both tiredness and laziness, I agreed it would be a good idea.

We both knew the hiking trails were close, but we had no idea it would take less than an hour to get to the trailhead we wanted. After lacing up our hiking boots, we headed out.

To our surprise, Fitz was not surprised by the snow at all. I expected a little more caution, but our dog is apparently an all-terrain model:

After seeing that he was comfortable with the compressed snow, we decided to take it up a notch and delve into some deeper drifts:

Finally, we thought we’d try to get Fitz to do some adventure wiener shots – that didn’t work out so well:

He did eventually strike a pose that I reasonably believe you could call majestic:

Our dog likes to flex as much as Nick does
Our dog likes to flex as much as Nick does

I tried to get Fitz to pose with me, but that didn’t work as well:

"C'mon Fitz, just look at the camera"
“C’mon Fitz, just look at the camera”
"Fine, don't look at the camera, I guess"
“Fine, don’t look at the camera, I guess”

We had better luck when decided to take our family picture:

Family hiking picture
Family hiking picture

We had a really great time. We spent about an hour and a half in the hiking area before heading home. It was a little muddy and I was tired so we didn’t hike the entirety of the Mary Jane Falls trails that we stopped at. We’ll definitely be going back, though, especially during the summer months!

Squat Fun!

Angela and I had another great workout today. It consisted primarily of lots and lots of squats, and I thought I’d post a sampling of what we did:

Angela Back Squat – 135 x 10

Nick Back Squat – 225 x 20

Nick Front Squat – 275 x 1

Nick Front Squat – 315 x 1

Deadlift Fun!

Angela and I deadlifted today and it was great. We took some videos and I wanted to share them! I need to work on finishing at the top a little bit better, pushing my hips through, but Angela absolutely killed it!

Angela Deadlift – 185 x 6

Nick Deadlift – 225 x 15

Nick Deadlift – 315 x 15

For this one, the first rep got cut off somehow so you only see 14. I swear I did 15, though.

Model Rocketry as a Family

One of the things that has been on our to do list for a while is to build and launch a large model rocket. We finally assembled a kit towards the end of last year, but it languished unlaunched in my office for the past few months as we prepared for our big move.

I used to launch model rockets as a kid, but the biggest engines I ever sent into the sky were C level engines from Estes. I wanted to do something bigger now that I’m an adult, so Angela and I built a bigger rocket that holds an E engine.

Today, the wind was finally right for a launch and we headed out to a nearby empty area to blast it off. Here’s our bright blue rocket (in retrospect, not a great color for tracking, but whatever):

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After checking the launch controller a final time and hooking up the ignition wires, Angela and Fitz were ready to launch:

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The rocket went really, really high. It got to the point where we couldn’t really track it anymore, although I did see it turn over at the apex.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction and the nose cone didn’t pop so the rocket dived nose first straight into the ground about 200 yards from where it was launched.

WP_20150216_006

WP_20150216_007

A cursory investigation revealed that the engine tube decoupled from its attachment points and allowed the engine to push itself up into the rocket. This caused the second “pop” to not fire on the engine, so the wadding and parachute were not ejected. Oh well – we know what to do better next time!

Delmonico Steakhouse at The Palazzo

Angela and I had the pleasure of dining at Delmonico Steakhouse tonight at The Palazzo here in Las Vegas. We didn’t manage to snag any pictures, but I wanted to give a brief review of the food and our dining experience.

We arrived around 5:15 PM to find we were one of only three parties dining at the time. We were seated as soon as we checked in and promptly greeted by our server who quickly fetched us ice water and menus. Bread (which was actually deliciously buttery popovers) arrived shortly thereafter. We decided on our meal quickly, having looked at the menu prior to leaving home, and our waiter was present to take our order as soon as we put our menus down.

We ordered the Caesar salad for 2 (prepared table side) and the Chateaubriand for 2 (cut table side), which comes with sides of asparagus and mashed potatoes. After nibbling on our popovers for a few minutes, we noticed our waiter roll a mobile preparation station up to our table. Then, to my amazement, he started to make Caesar salad dressing from the ingredients right in front of us. It was a delightful little experience, and he chatted with us for a little bit as he finished things up. The salad tasted great – super fresh and flavorful, but not too heavy. It came with thin Parmesan toast, which was super tasty.

After we finished our salads, up rolls another mobile prep station, this time with a lit burner. Our waiter appears with a pan containing our steak and asparagus, as well as a bowl of freshly prepared mashed potatoes. He moved the steak from the burner to the cutting board and sliced it in half to allow us to check the temperature. It was perfectly medium rare, so he moved the asparagus to marinate in steak juices while cutting our meat into six approximately equal pieces. Our food was then distributed evenly on to two plates and served to us simultaneously (another waiter appeared out of nowhere just when he was needed).

Everything was delicious. The steak had a wonderful char that sealed the juices in and made every bite a delight. The seasoning was bold but not overwhelming. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and tasted great and the mashed potatoes were out of this world tasty. It was a wonderful entree, and the portion was just right for me.

Because we were already splurging, Angela and I each decided to get desert. She chose the key lime pie and I selected a chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. As an accompaniment, we ordered a French press full of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. My cake was everything I love in a desert – chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate with just a hint of fruit. Angela’s key lime pie was “delicious.” The coffee was worth the ridiculous amount they were charging for it – I drank it black so as not to spoil the delightful aroma and full flavor of the brew.

The service was top notch throughout our meal, and we were wholly impressed by the experience as a whole. I can’t say we’ll definitely go back (too many awesome restaurants in this city to choose from) but I would never hesitate to recommend it as a place to splurge on a bunch of amazing food and a great overall experience.