09/29/2012 archive

Lime Rock Grand-Am 2012

Sort of a tradition.

You see, they moved it on me, used to be Memorial Day weekend every year.   But I suppose we’re lucky to have it at all and this year it’s the final Grand-Am race of the season.

Lime Rock Park is the only race I’ve actually been to, as opposed to watching it on TV.  It’s interesting in a couple of respects.

First of all Lime Rock really is a park.  Lakeville is the back end of beyond, many solid miles of 2 lane distant from the highway.  There are a few buildings and a bridge to the infield and that’s it.  Spectators bring a cooler and a blanket and sit on the ground under the trees, some even camp out for the weekend so there are little tents all over the place.  When my Dad and my brother and I went we hung out on ‘the hill’ where you can see the first 4 turns and most of the main straight.

The other thing you notice about it is it’s extremely narrow and it’s hard to imagine any passing goes on, although it happens all the time.

Which brings me to the second interesting thing about Lime Rock, these are Sports Cars and there are 4 different classes of them running on track at the same time with varying speeds (which can make it confusing to watch).

The exotic looking and fastest ones are ‘prototype’ cars and come in 2 flavors, enclosed and open cockpit.  They generally have a seat for a navigator/mechanic (though it’s mostly an anachronism).

Then there are 2 classes of ‘touring (production)’ cars, Corvettes and everyone else.  They look like Porsches and Audis and BMWs and Corvettes (surprise) but they’re not generally street legal.  The touring cars are 20 or 30 miles an hour slower than the prototypes so when I say passing all the time I mean ALL the time, they’re kind of like rolling road blocks.

Speaking of road, as much racing takes place off it as on it and the only penalty is tearing up your undercarriage.  There is also a tendency to spend a lot of time figuring out which direction you are pointing after your last spin.  While there are a lot of bumps and offs surprisingly few of them are race ending.

For a Sports Car race Lime Rock is mercifully short.  The name races- LeMans, Daytona, Sebring are endurance races with several driver changes, to say nothing of tires and fuel.  It’s not uncommon for a badly damaged car to spend several hours in the pits and come back to race competitively, victory margins are measured in hours and minutes rather than seconds.

They don’t race on Sunday because the neighbors complain, but when people talk about Memorial Day being the busiest weekend in motor sports they’re generally including Lime Rock whether they know it or not.

Some minor updates.  There are now only 2 classes, Daytona Prototype (DP) and Grand Touring (GT).  Corvette will be duking it out with Maranello and BMW in the DP.

This will be Mazda’s final GT race using RX-8s.  I must admit they are a family favorite and I’ve driven a number of them far too fast.  People say the Wankel is not particularly ‘green’ but it produces so much power for the weight (it’s essentially a two stroke combustion cycle) that you can put a lot of enhancements on it and use very little fuel or displacement for a given level of performance.  ‘Stock’ cars are de-tuned so they only go 140 mph in the show room parking lot (need to check those rear end stress factors).

Coverage on Speed starts at 3 pm ET.  The Super Tuner title was decided yesterday and will be broadcast on Speed October 13 at 2 pm.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

A Dynamic Duo: Beets and Beet Greens

Beet Green Fritata

Use whatever color beet you choose for this week’s recipes. The red ones will be higher in anthocyanins, the pigment-based phytonutrients that are believed to have strong antioxidant properties. But yellow and pink beets have a lot going for them nutritionally as well. All beets are rich in folates, potassium and the B-complex vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Beet Greens Frittata

Cut the frittata into wedges and serve as a main dish or into smaller diamonds and serve as an hors d’oeuvre. It packs well in a lunchbox too.

Beets and Goat Cheese on a Bed of Spinach

This dish is much less elaborate than Wolfgang Puck’s iconic goat cheese and beet napoleon, but it hits all the same delicious notes

Beet and Chickpea Salad With Anchovy Dressing

Canned or home-cooked chickpeas will work in this pungent and flavorful Provençal salad.

Beet and Beet Green Fritters

If you get the oil hot enough before you fry these delicious fritters, much of the oil will remain in the pan.

Beet and Potato Salad

With a yogurt vinaigrette, this dish is a healthier and more piquant version of a French takeout staple known as salade Russe.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Mary Ellen Hannibal: Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf

THIS month, a group of environmental nonprofits said they would challenge the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. Since there are only about 328 wolves in a state with a historic blood thirst for the hides of these top predators, the nonprofits are probably right that lacking protection, Wyoming wolves are toast.

Many Americans, even as they view the extermination of a species as morally anathema, struggle to grasp the tangible effects of the loss of wolves. It turns out that, far from being freeloaders on the top of the food chain, wolves have a powerful effect on the well-being of the ecosystems around them – from the survival of trees and riverbank vegetation to, perhaps surprisingly, the health of the populations of their prey. [..]

Many biologists have warned that we are approaching another mass extinction. The wolf is still endangered and should be protected in its own right. But we should also recognize that bringing all the planet’s threatened and endangered species back to healthy numbers – as well as mitigating the effects of climate change – means keeping top predators around.

New York Times: An Unfinished Campaign Against Polio

Leaders of the global fight to eradicate polio vowed at the United Nations on Thursday to step up their efforts to eliminate the virus from the three countries where the disease still has a foothold – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The challenge is that those countries are troubled by political unrest, violence and social customs that can interfere with the delivery of vaccines to the children and adults who need protection. [..]

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said he would enlist agencies of the United Nations to make eradication a top priority this year. Ridding the world of polio should be a crucial part of a broad campaign to immunize all children against infectious diseases.

Ira Chernus: Israel Versus Iran: Netanyahu’s Cartoon Version

I was driving home listening to NPR when the top-of-the-hour headlines came on. First item: Just moments earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the UN General Assembly, “warned that by next summer Iran could have weapons-grade nuclear material.” Then a clip of Netanyahu, trying to sound chilling: “At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.”

Nothing?, I wondered. Not even the melting of the polar ice caps, or a huge spike in global food prices, or an accidental launch of one of the many nukes that the U.S. and Russia still keep on hair-trigger alert?

Then I asked myself, Why is this big news? Everyone knew what Netanyahu was going to say. Everyone knows that he’s been beating the war drum for years to build his political base at home. Meanwhile, as everyone knows, he’s alienating the rest of the world. Top U.S. political and military leaders, and many of Israel’s top leaders, want him to cut it out before he stumbles us into a war that no serious person (very possible not even Netanyahu) really wants. There’s nothing new here, though there is something really dangerous in giving these bellicose words top billing when they hardly deserve it.

Frida Berrigan: Sister Act-ivists

Nuns. If the picture that jumps to your mind is from “The Sound of Music” or “Lilies of the Field” or even “Sister Act” (one or two or on Broadway), it is time to take another look at sisterhood. On the picket line, the police line-up, the convention dais, women religious are living their faith out loud.

I started thinking about nuns on the way home from Chicago, where I helped the Eighth Day Center for Justice celebrate 38 years of fighting the good fight. Made up of congregations of nuns, Eighth Day works to end torture (throughout the world, but also right in Chicago, where the police and correctional departments have committed grievous crimes against inmates), organizes to end the war in Afghanistan (they were on the streets every day NATO deployed to Chicago) and supports local union organizing efforts. Back in the day, each congregation sent a nun to participate in Eighth Day organizing, but with so many fewer nuns now, the group is now a hybrid of older women religious (nuns) and young people hired to represent many of the orders. The younger generation brings new energy, flair and ideas to the group, enriching it in many ways. In turn, these young people enter into a real and rich relationship with wise and feisty women. The event was an awesome display of intergenerational cooperation – hip and diverse and never a minute behind on schedule.

Eugene Robinson: Deluded by ‘Skewed’ Polls

Conservative activist circles are abuzz with a new conspiracy theory: Polls showing President Obama with a growing lead over Mitt Romney are deliberately being skewed by the Liberal Mainstream Media so that Republicans will be disheartened and stay home on Election Day.

This is denial and self-delusion, but not of the harmless kind. It’s a false narrative that encourages the Republican Party to take the wrong lessons from this election, no matter the outcome.

The whole atmosphere surrounding the presidential race is different since the party conventions. The Obama campaign has begun warning supporters about the perils of overconfidence. Romney, meanwhile, wages a daily battle to keep the words “beleaguered” and “embattled” from latching onto his candidacy.

David Sirota: The Choice Between Automatons and Leaders

Ask corporate executives what they really want in a legislator, and they probably won’t use words like “principled” or “well-informed.” If the cocktails are appropriately strong and inhibitions are consequently reduced, executives will likely tell you in a moment of candor that the best politician, from their perspective, is the one who is incurious and who possesses very little policy expertise. They don’t want people with inconvenient morals, ethics or brains getting in their way. They want the equivalent of T-1000s from the “Terminator” films: unthinking, fully programmable cyborgs willing and able to shape-shift in order to carry out a mission.

Alas, it is rare to get such an admission in public, and it is even more rare to get said admission in the pages of a major publication. That’s why Businessweek’s recent examination of the country’s marquee U.S. Senate race is so significant. In looking at the Massachusetts matchup between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren, the magazine quotes Brown fundraiser Lawrence McDonald, a former Lehman trader, acknowledging that he and his Wall Street friends hate the idea of an independently informed legislator who might bring her own wisdom to Washington.

On This Day In History September 29

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 29 is the 272nd day of the year (273rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 93 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1547, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is born this day near Madrid.

Cervantes led an adventurous life and achieved much popular success, but he nevertheless struggled financially throughout his life. Little is know about his childhood, except that he was a favorite student of Madrid humanist Juan Lopez, and that his father was an apothecary.

In 1569, Cervantes was living in Rome and working for a future cardinal. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Spanish fleet to fight against the Turks. At the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, he took three bullets and suffered permanent damage to his left hand. Later, he was stationed at Palermo and Naples. On the way home to Madrid in 1575, he and his brother Roderigo were captured by Barbary pirates and held captive in Algiers. Cervantes was ransomed after five years of captivity and returned to Madrid, where he began writing. Although his records indicate he wrote 20 to 30 plays, only two survive. In 1585, he published a romance. During this time, he married a woman 18 years younger than he was and had an illegitimate daughter, whom he raised in his household. He worked as a tax collector and as a requisitioner of supplies for the navy, but was jailed for irregularities in his accounting. Some historians believe he formulated the idea for Don Quixote while in jail.

In 1604, he received the license to publish Don Quixote. Although the book began as a satire of chivalric epics, it was far more complex than a simple satire. The book blended traditional genres to create a sad portrait of a penniless man striving to live by the ideals of the past. The book was a huge success and brought Cervantes literary respect and position, but did not generate much money. He wrote dramas and short stories until a phony sequel, penned by another writer, prompted him to write Don Quixote, Part II in 1615.

Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616. In honor of the date on which both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died, UNESCO established April 23 as the International Day of the Book. (Shakespeare and Cervantes, however, did not actually die on the same day, as the April 23 date for Shakespeare is Julian calendar (Old Style) and the April 23 date for Cervantes is Gregorian calendar (New Style) as those were the calendars in effect in England and in Spain, respectively, at that time. The Gregorian calendar was then ten days ahead of the Julian.)  

What’s Cooking: Apple Tart

Galette de Pommes au CalvadosAlthough this year’s fruit crops were effected by the weather, some apple varieties are in abundance. Gala, one of my favorites for making tarts and apple sauce, is one of them.

I use it to make an easy fall tart I found at Epicurious. Gala apples are firm, crisp and naturally sweet so there is less sugar used in this recipe than would be used if an tarter apple was used. It also uses Calvados, an apple brandy, for a delicious apple sauce base. Regular brandy can be substituted if Calvados isn’t available. It can also be left out but the apple sauce and accompanying whipped cream will be missing that special flavor.

I always double or triple the applesauce recipe since it goes well with roast pork or as an accompaniment for pancakes or waffles.

Galette de Pommes au Calvados


   All-butter pastry dough

   1 3/4 pound Gala apples

   2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

   1/3 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar

   Calvados applesauce

   3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

   1 1/2 tablespoons apple jelly

   1 cup chilled heavy cream

   1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

   1 1/2 tablespoons Calvados

   Special equipment: parchment paper; a large baking sheet (at least 14 inches wide)


Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a rough 16-inch round (1/8 inch thick), then transfer carefully to parchment-lined large baking sheet. Loosely fold in edge of pastry where necessary to fit on baking sheet, then chill, covered loosely with plastic wrap, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

While pastry is chilling, peel and core apples, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Toss slices with lemon juice and 1/3 cup granulated sugar.

Put baking sheet with pastry on a work surface and unfold any edges so pastry is flat. Spread applesauce over pastry, leaving a 2-inch border, and top sauce with sliced apples, mounding slightly. Fold edges of dough over filling, partially covering apples (center will not be covered) and pleating dough as necessary. Dot apples with butter, then brush pastry edge lightly with water and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar. Bake galette in middle of oven until pastry is golden and apples are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

While galette is baking, melt apple jelly in a very small saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring.

Slide baked galette on parchment onto a rack, then brush with melted jelly and cool galette until warm or room temperature.

Beat together cream and confectioners sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until cream just holds soft peaks, then beat in Calvados. Serve galette topped with dollops of Calvados cream.

yield: Makes 8 servings

active time: 45 min

total time: 3 3/4 hr

Cooks’ note: • Galette can be made 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Recipes for the All-Butter Pastry Dough and the Calvados Applesauce are below the fold.

Bon appétit

Popular Culture 20120928 — Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick Side 2

Last time we covered the first side of the 1972 album.  The link in that piece goes to the history of the record and has a link to the wonderful album cover and you should look at that if you have not already.

Since this is one long (21:06 minutes) song, we shall do like we did the last time and break it into chunks.  Just hit the pause button after each chunk and we shall discuss.  For your convenience I have also posted the entire lyrics before the embed.  Here we go!