March 18, 2012

Best kraut I have ever made, or eaten.

On February 26th, I started a batch of sauerkraut. This must be my eight or ninth batch of kraut.

This one was significantly better than any other I have made.

I started out with salt a cabbage, just as usual:

But after I chopped and salted the cabbage, I put it in my crock and then started pounding it with a large wooden spoon. I pounded it with the spoon end, and I pounded it with the handle end. I pounded and pounded, as this was the advice from my mother in law:
From Trouta's Birthday Party
who is from Germany.

I was also meticulous with the cleanliness of the crock. I used some iodine based brewing disinfectant generously given me my Dr John, the chairman of my board. 

I think those two things made quite a difference.

This weekend, I shared the kraut with family.

It reinforced my love of fermentation!

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Happy krauting to all of you!

March 16, 2012

Kidney Stones

I won't make this long.

 Earlier this week I was doubled over in pain with the same feeling that I had back in 2001 when Doreen and I went to Spain. This time, we had medical help.

 It was Kidney Stones.

 (I had a picture from the CT, but I gave it to my doctor! So, no visuals)

 There is nothing so painful. Vicodin helps. A lot.

 I went to our Dr on Wednesday, had a CT scan Wednesday afternoon, arranged with a urologist (I had to find one) to have a stent put in today (Friday)

 I am home, and so far, so good!
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March 10, 2012

Motor Sports Ranch, Tracking the M3

One of the great things about driving a car like the BMW M3 (mine is a 2011 E90, which means it is a four door sedan) is that while it is a great, street legal, easy to drive car for commuting, (a good Daily Driver in gear head lingo) it is also a fairly high performance machine that can be put on a racetrack (called, in the way of the verbification of the world, "tracking") and you can push it closer to the limits of the car's technical specs.

Well, "you" if you have the training and experience to know how to wring those last few mile per hour out of the car before the tires lose their cohesion to the track.

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That is not me.

Not that I don't want it to be me.

So last week I asked some friends about what it would take to get my M3 on the track. It may surprise you, but there is a very active sports car culture in this country.

So after just two inquiries, a friend of mine, who is a member of the Motor Sports Ranch, sort of a club for racing said he would be happy to do a little training with me.

I agreed eagerly, and though the weather has been terrible in Houston this week, we made an appointment to meet at MSR at 9:00 AM Saturday. It was raining almost the whole drive down to the track, but that didn't really bother me. If Tim said we can run in the wet, we can run in the wet. I got to the track just shy before 9:00 (no, I didn't speed on the way there) and Tim was there shortly.

We picked up some helmets (and head socks!), went to his garage (he has a nice little Mazda Miata MX-5 track car as well as his own M3 coupe - that is an E92 for the gear heads) and we went through some off the track training.

 Keep your arms a little crooked.

Hands at 3:15 and 9:45.

Brake only in the straits, accelerate gently.

Do everything gently.

There are three points to think about in a corner - the turn in point, the apex, the exit point.

Don't brake as you turn, accelerate gently (if at all!) until you hit the apex, then gently pull into the next part of the track. It seems to take a lot of thinking.

So we get out on the track, with Tim at the wheel of my car.

Here is the track:

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We make three or four runs (counterclockwise) Tim explaining each turn and little chicane in the track as we go through it.

I try to absorb as much as possible, but sometimes it just goes in one ear and out the other.

Then we pull into the pit area and I take the wheel.

I am both nervous and exited.

There was one very good result of the rain - we had the track to ourselves. This meant that there was nobody (other than Tim, and he was too gracious to do so) to laugh at me. I didn't have to worry about getting in anyone's way, and I could just concentrate on the car and the track.

We ran about an hour, with Tim sometimes taking the wheel from the passenger seat. That help, though was scary at times.

It would have been interesting to have a recording of the conversation - it was often something like this:

"Brake now.

Accelerate. That's right, more. more. more.

Slow a bit, now brake - harder. Turn in, look for the apex, Good!"

I was trying to listen, watch, brake accelerate, and turn all at the same time.

It was a blast!

I am indebted to Tim and his patience, and I will have to try this whole thing again.

Driving on a track is a lot of work, and takes an enormous amount of concentration. It is nothing like driving on city streets, but I think it will make you a better driver.

I am looking forward to doing this again.