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May 30, 2019

Danica Patrick deconstructs the IndyCar steering wheel

From USA Today

Anyone who thinks they could be a race car driver because they have a driver's license — it's just like coasting down the highway but faster, right? — will probably change their minds after seeing just how ridiculous some steering wheels are.

Retired NASCAR and IndyCar driver Danica Patrick explained in detail just how complicated it really is.

As an NBC analyst for the Indianapolis 500, Patrick brought a steering wheel on air and broke down its complexities.

Seriously, look at this thing.

It's like a video game controller on steroids — and you have to use it while driving well above 200 mph and inches apart from other race cars and the wall.

If you're a diehard racing fan, this likely doesn't come as too much of a surprise.

But if you're a casual fan, new to the sport, or are only somewhat aware the Indy 500 exists, it might blow your mind.

After seven seasons in IndyCar, Patrick raced six years in NASCAR before returning to her open-wheeled roots for last year's Indy 500 for a career finale.

She explained how much things had changed between her 2011 and 2018 Indy 500s, including cars not having a clutch pedal anymore.

Instead, the clutch is two paddles on the back of the steering wheel.

Patrick also broke down what some of the buttons on the front of the steering wheel do — everything from reverse to how to change the screen on the digital dashboard, in case drivers don't have enough to look at as they're pushing 230 mph.

May 30, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A virtual walk through the halls of Scotland's Lords of the Isles

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[Above, the Great Hall and the Lord's Quarters in the virtual reconstruction.]

From Atlas Obscura:

Some historical sites have been fully restored and renovated, while others are little more than foundations, sparks for the imagination.

But it can be a challenge to picture a grand structure when all you see is a somewhat organized pile of stones that used to be a home or a shop or a castle.

Now visitors to Finlaggan, the former seat of power for the Lords of the Isles, rulers of Hebrides and parts of mainland Scotland from the 13th to 15th centuries, will have more to see.

Modern tech has given the historical imagination a boost.

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Today the site of Finlaggan includes a few standing walls and a scatter of what were once building materials (above).

Archaeological discoveries at the site made by the Finlaggan Archaeological Project have provided enough information for the University of St. Andrews's Open Virtual Worlds Team and Smarthistory to digitally recreate medieval Finlaggan.

Visitors can now enter the virtual model and travel through the Great Hall (below),

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where the council held inaugurations and feasts, and other structures.

Can't make it to the islands of Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle, or the surrounding loch, where the Lords of the Isles once ruled?

No worries, the entire experience can be viewed through a virtual reality app or online videos.

"Finlaggan was an amazing place to recreate digitally," says Bess Rhodes, a researcher from the University of St. Andrews, via press release. "Even today the islands of Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle are beautiful places, and in the Middle Ages they were the site of a remarkable complex of buildings which blended local traditions with wider European trends."

The Lords of the Isles were said to be descendants of Somerled, a 12th-century prince.

The lordship there traditionally belonged to members of Clan Donald.

Despite the remote location, 126 miles from Scotland, the lords wielded tremendous influence.

When a new lord was chosen, the Bishop of Argyle and several other priests would attend the ceremony, along with the heads of various clans.

After the coronation, a giant feast went on for seven days.

When the Stewarts rose to power in 1371, they sought to curtail this influence — James IV, in particular, who in 1490 ordered a good sacking of Finlaggan.

The Lords of the Isles were so confident in their power and natural defenses that Finlaggan lacked any other fortifications.

James's army destroyed just about everything, reducing the settlement to rubble and ruins, and left it almost entirely out of historical memory.

Archaeological excavations have brought some of that memory back.

The hope of those involved with the virtual walkthrough is that it will help viewers understand the importance of Finlaggan and the Lords of the Isles for Scottish heritage and culture.

Says Ray Lafferty, secretary of the Finlaggan Trust, in a statement: "With this virtual reality reconstruction, we hope to give some sense of the site at the zenith of its power."

May 30, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

San Marzano Tomatoes

Pomodori Civardi Racemus

Go ahead, lick the screen, I won't tell.

From Atlas Obscura:

Grown in the volcanic soil around Mt. Vesuvius, these tomatoes are one of only a couple varieties used in authentic Neapolitan pizza.

On March 17, 1944, ash belched from the center of the Earth.

It sputtered up in great gusts through Mt. Vesuvius, clouding the air and sending the people of the surrounding villages running for shelter.

Lava streamed down the volcano's sides.

In the midst of a cataclysmic World War, Vesuvius's eruption — the worst in 72 years — was just one more egregious disaster.

But there was one living thing the explosion was good for: Campania's tomatoes.

They're called pomodori di San Marzano, after the Italian word for the yellow tomatoes first imported to Italy from the Americas, pomo di oro, or "golden apples."

They thrive in the rich volcanic soils of the Sarno River Valley in Southwest Italy's Campania, near the city of San Marzano, where their signature oblong shapes grow from rows of low vines.

Rich-fleshed, thin-skinned, and sweet, with sparing seeds and little acidity, thanks to the volcanic soil high in potassium and phosphorous, San Marzano tomatoes are prized throughout the world.

Their status isn't just due to where they grow.

Campania is the Southwest Italian region that also houses the city of Naples.

And Naples, of course, is the home of one of the world’s most famed culinary legacies: Neapolitan pizza.

For the pizzaioli or pizza makers of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, San Marzano tomatoes are one of only a few varieties that will do in a proper Neapolitan pie.


Over the years, these rare, blushing darlings have gained quite a mythology.

According to one myth, in 1770, the Viceroyalty of Peru sent the first San Marzano seeds as a gift to the King of Naples. 

While this likely isn't true, it is true that Europeans regarded the first tomatoes to make the transatlantic trip with widespread suspicion, believing them to be poisonous (a sensible assumption, considering the plants are related to deadly nightshade).

That wariness soon wore off, however, and today pomodori di San Marzano are protected by an official Protected Designation of Origin certification, meaning strict geographical and production standards govern what can be properly called a San Marzano tomato.

Tomatoes given this certification must not only be of the San Marzano variety, they must also be grown in the volcanic soil of the Sarno valley.

While the authentic variety are available in supermarkets and Italian specialty stores around the world, the best way to experience a San Marzano is in Campania itself.

Unlike typical supermarket tomatoes, which are picked green and ripened in warehouses, pomodori di San Marzano are picked under the setting sun in September when they're red and skin-splittingly ripe.

Vincenzo Miele

Try one fresh from a market table, still sun-warm, and you too will know why Italians originally referred to tomatoes as gold.

Need to know

You can find authentic canned San Marzano tomatoes in high-end grocery stores or Italian specialty shops, but look carefully.

Some cans may be labeled "San Marzano," but contain the San Marzano cultivar grown elsewhere.

True San Marzano tomatoes grown in Campania will bear the Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P. label.

Genuine pomodori di San Marzano are sold only whole or halved, so if the tomatoes are diced or chopped, they're not authentic.

Even with this certification, companies have been accused of pushing fake San Marzano tomatoes, so watch out lest you get duped by the siren song of a false fruit.

Despite this storied history, some food experts, in a controversial take on the subject, claim that canned San Marzanos can be bland, mushy, and generally not worth the extra cash you'll need to shell out to get them.

Final judgement of this contentious claim is yours alone.

May 30, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

xraytext: GAME ON

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Fair warning: there goes the day.

May 30, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

FryWall Splatter Guard

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From the website:

With this silicone splatter guard inside the rim of any pot or pan, spattering and sizzling food won't spray out. 

FryWall keeps all the sautéing and frying food contained even as it's exposed to high temperatures.
Even though the walls are high (kind of like a dog cone over your pan), the soft silicone is angled for easy access to the food.
So you can flip, brown, and sear while your shirt, kitchen, and you stay protected.
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Features and Details: 

• Washable: soap and rinse or put it in the dishwasher
• Collapses to save space when stored 
• Three sizes: 8"/10"/12"Ø

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$17.95 and up, depending on size.

May 30, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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