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):
After checking the launch controller a final time and hooking up the ignition wires, Angela and Fitz were ready to launch:
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.
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!
In late September, Angela and I journeyed to the east coast of the United States, visiting Boston, Rhode Island (Newport and Narraganset), and New York City. We had a ton of fun and did a lot of cool stuff. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, however, I’ll just let them tell the story:
Also, a wedding happened here, but I’m not about to steal someone else’s thunder by posting wedding pictures.
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.
Angela isn’t around to cook for me right now, so I’ve been trying my best to cook food that tastes good. Luckily, she took the time to walk me through a few things before she left. I’ve been putting my own twist on her recipes, but the majority of credit definitely goes to her.
This recipe is easy to make and is super delicious and nutritious. If you suck at cooking (like I kind of do), this is a meal even you can make.
This recipe is fairly basic. There are four main ingredients and five spices / herbs / seasonings. You also need two different oils for cooking.
4 red potatoes
1 bell pepper – red or orange
Red pepper flakes
Granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
Canola oil or Pam
I’d like to point out the granulated garlic. I didn’t even know this existed until I found it in our pantry. I’m really happy with it and would recommend it over garlic powder or salt.
In terms of equipment, you don’t need anything fancy: a spatula, a frying pan, a high-sided pan (with lid), and a bowl to dump everything in at the end.
Put both pans on the stove. Clean and dice the potatoes. When you’re almost done dicing the potatoes, turn the high sided pan on relatively high heat (7/10).
Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the pan – enough to mostly cover the bottom when you swirl the pan – and cover it. Finish dicing the potatoes. Once you’re done dicing, the pan and oil should be hot. To test, put a single potato piece in the oily part of the pan. It should sizzle.
Now, dump all the potatoes in the pan and season them. I don’t measure anything, I just use some of each of the things that are listed above. I find that experimenting until you find what works for you is best. Surprisingly, even though I’m not a fan of spicy food in general, I find myself dumping a ton of red pepper flakes in because I like the kick it gives the skillet.
After seasoning, cover the pan (so stuff doesn’t fly out) and then do that chef-y thing where they move the pan around in a vertical arc to get stuff to mix. It took me a while to figure it out, I’m sad to say, but it worked eventually. Keep the pan on high heat but make sure you do the aforementioned chef-y thing every 90 seconds or so to prevent burning.
Now, clean and dice the peppers and scallions. This should be a lot faster than the potatoes.
When done, put them in the pan with the potatoes and mix them. Turn the heat down (4/10) and let it simmer. You only need to mix every 120 seconds or so at this point.
Once the mixture has cooked for 5-6 minutes, turn the other pan on (6/10) and wait a minute, then spray with canola oil or Pam. Crack five eggs into the pan and let them get mostly done on the bottom. Don’t forget to keep mixing the potatoes. Once the bottom half of the eggs is all the way white, mix the potatoes one last time, turn off the heat to both pans, and flip the eggs.
Put the potato mixture in a big bowl and, after two minutes, put the eggs on top. The yolks should still be somewhat soft so you can mix it all together. If you’re feeling super daring, mix in 1/2 (or a full) avocado to add some extra richness. Here’s what my bowl ‘o skillet looks like:
I’d love to know if you try it! If I can make it, anyone can. It takes me about 20 minutes total now that I can chop everything reasonably fast, and I love the way it tastes.
A few days ago, Fitz and I were at the local dog park. Fitz is finally starting to get used to the other dogs and was being, somewhat surprisingly, polite to the yorkie and terrier mix that were in the pen with us.
I was talking to the other owners and one mentioned that he likes to take his dog hiking and he had recently taken her to the top of Lone Mountain. I asked if she needed any help along the way and he confirmed that, due to the amount of rock scrambling, he needed to lift her up at times on the way to the top.
In my mind a challenge was born. I decided Fitz was getting to the top of the mountain without any help.
Yesterday, Fitz and I headed out as soon as we woke up. The sun was still low as we arrived at the trail head. I could tell Fitz was excited about the journey ahead. I decided I’d be happy if he made it halfway before getting tired. I knew this was something unusual for our little dachshund.
You can imagine my surprise as we reached the halfway point and Fitz showed no signs of slowing. He was ready to head for the peak. He let me know by continually bursting onwards and upwards.
In what seemed like no time at all we reached the summit. I’m proud to say that Fitz received no help as we headed to the top. He used his powerful little legs to hop on rocks and leap over crevices.
The way down was only slightly more eventful because we encountered another owner and dog. Fitz got into a barking match with the other canine, presumably discussing ownership of the turf.
Alas, Fitz’s energy ran low as we reached the car. After drinking almost a full liter of water, he fell soundly asleep on the passenger seat and stayed asleep almost the entirety of the day.
A long time ago, I made the last post about our picks for each week. We continued to pick the games, but I stopped posting them here on the blog because of a lack of time.
With the super bowl less than a week away at this point, I figured it was time to loop back and post the final results. Here’s a complete breakdown of our record by week. Just as a reminder, we started in Week 2 and didn’t pick the Thursday game that week. Also, for some reason, we stopped picking the tiebreaker starting in Week 14, so that doesn’t change after that point.
Tiebreaker (Angela – Nick)
As you can see, we both made pretty good picks throughout the season. Angela beat me out in the end, though, and she deserved it. She did her homework, watched the injury report, and picked her teams strategically. I tried to stay on top of things, but Angela always knew something I didn’t.
Angela and I made a small bet, but by the time the season was over I’d already bought my “prize” for myself as a birthday present. Angela won, but I’ll admit I welched on the bet. Instead of cleaning the apartment on my hands and knees, I purchased a voucher for house cleaning so that I could spend time with my wife rather than scrubbing floors and walls.
Overall, this was fun. It was kind of a pain in the ass to keep track of things manually (plus we could both see the other person’s picks depending on who picked first) so next year I’m going to propose we use one of the pick’em games on NFL.com or ESPN.com.
My hat is off to my beautiful wife for being a better game picker than I am. We’ll see who wins next year!
This is the fifth week of our season long pick ’em contest. Angela and I had five picks that differed last week and Angela managed to take the lead by winning one more than I. Here’s our records from last week:
And our overall records:
We’re also picking the Monday night score and whoever gets closer gets one tiebreaker point. Angela won last week so our current tiebreaker record is:
Recently, my Aunt Susan linked to a documentary regarding the NFL’s denial of a link between football and head trauma and the ongoing scandal that has resulted from the actions (and inaction) of the league. She asked what my brother and I thought about it which led me to think about what football has meant to me in general.
Let me lead by saying that I think it is unfortunate that the NFL has gone to the lengths it has to deny that football can have a negative impact on the brain health of players. Anyone with a lick of common sense can look at the recent research and see that repeated concussions are bad and that small head traumas add up over time. I think the NFL could act as a leader in more meaningful ways than they currently are:
Mandate safer helmets which have been determined to provide better protection against head trauma
Suspend players for violent hits rather than just fining them (unlike college, I believe these suspensions should be issued post-game rather than in-game)
Require that player helmets fit appropriately – a helmet coming off should cause a player to miss the remainder of the half
Reduce the number of total games played over a season (or increase the active roster size substantially)
I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could be done. Major changes like revisions to the nature of helmet construction (padded foam rubber instead of hard plastic shells) and removing kickoffs from the game could be viable options down the line. Of course, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the things that the league is doing already to protect players:
Hits to the head are punished (although it seems to be somewhat inconsistent)
Concussion testing is now mandatory for players showing symptoms
The NFL is promoting the Heads Up Football program in a big way (which is a huge deal, in all honesty)
All this being said, none of the recent research affects the way I feel about football, either as a player or a spectator. Here’s what I said on Facebook:
I know I’ve had concussions while playing and it may have affected me for the rest of my life. Also, the position I played is particularly susceptible to repeated small impacts, which some research has shown is actually worse than single big hits.
All that being said, I wouldn’t trade my playing experience for anything. I learned the value of camaraderie and being part of a team. I had experiences that I’ll remember the rest of my life and a lot of my physical fitness can be attributed directly to football. I think there are ways to make the game safer and I’m hoping they’re implemented, but I’ll never feel bad about enjoying the sport.
I love football. I loved playing and I love watching it. It is a chess game played by large, athletic men (and some women) who need to work together in a very precise way to achieve a shared outcome.
As a player, I experienced the whole gamut of human emotions almost every time I stepped on the field. From pure elation to the deepest despair. Sadness, joy, loneliness, and togetherness – all of these could be felt in a single game. I learned about myself as a man and as a leader. I pushed myself to the limits and the only thing I regret is not playing longer than I did.
As a spectator, I enjoy the technical aspect of the game. While most people who watch football follow the ball and watch the skill position players, I more often than not am watching the intricate stunts and blitz pickups by the defensive and offensive lines. I’m watching the techniques of the linebackers as they read their keys and either drop into coverage or attack. I yell at the TV and boo the refs like everyone else (if not, what’s the point of being a fan) but my enjoyment goes to a deeper level than the play on the screen.
If Angela and I are blessed with a male child in the coming years, I’ll probably encourage him to give football a try when he reaches adolescence and I think Angela will, too. I believe strongly that the benefits of a structured football program outweigh the risks.
I took about 6 weeks off of lifting weights in the months of July and August. I started lifting again at the beginning of September and it took a few weeks to get my body used to the stresses again. Last week, I finally felt like I used to and decided to ramp up my workouts a little bit. This past week has been a bit of a challenge, but I’m happy with the way things worked out and will be reusing this workout for at least the next 3 weeks.
There’s a few important things to note about my workout:
It is a hybrid split-body workout – most days get their own body part
I do intense cardio every day but Thursday
I don’t lift weights on the weekends
I decided on the weights I would use ahead of time so I wasn’t thinking during the workout
I felt like this week went really well. I feel stronger than I did at the beginning of the week and I feel accomplished because of what I did. I think the plan I followed could be used by pretty much anyone (with modifications to the weight based on your strength levels, obviously). Here’s what I did for cardio and on each day:
Every day except Thurdsay, I do 15 rounds of jump rope. Each round is 60 seconds of work followed by a 45 second rest period. I jump as fast as I can and try to mix it up by jumping on one foot, jogging while jumping rope, jumping in a staggered stance, etc.
Monday – Shoulders
Barbell Overhead Press: 95×8, 115×8, 135×8, 155×8
Barbell Upright Row: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 20×12, 20×12, 30×8
Barbell Front Raise: 45×12, 45×12, 65×8
Shrug: 135×12, 135×12, 185×8
Tuesday – Legs
Back Squat: 135×8, 185×8, 225×8, 275×8
Front Squat: 95×8, 115×8, 135×8
Overhead Squat: 95×8, 95×8, 95×8
Romanian Deadlift: 145×8, 145×8, 145×8
Good Mornings: 135×8, 135×8, 135×8
Wednesday – Chest and Back
Barbell Bench Press: 135×8, 185×8, 205×8, 225×8
Dumbbell Chest Flyes: 30×12, 30×12, 30×12
Pull Up (strict form): 4 sets to failure (between 8 and 15, usually)