Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gastronomical Observations

For the first time in three years I actually made the smoked turkey as recommended in the recipe. I had always hesitated at one step or another for fear that the combined ingredients would make the turkey too sweet. I was so wrong. The end product from the Epicurious recipe was balanced and substantial, without modification. The only misgiving I would have would be making a pan gravy: if you use a roasting pan, the fluids yielded by this bird will be 1) very salty from the exuded brine, and 2) very smoky. Still, the pan fluids from this recipe were so rich, so very tasty from the orange, mustard, and maple, that I might just try and make a gravy from these pan fluids next year.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Moving Pictures

Katahdin Summit, October 13th 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Good point

IAG has a very good point about the Airbus meltdown

Too Much

One thing you notice about the past is that it was a lot smarter. People like Gibbons and Newton were making quantum leaps in human knowledge doing little more than just thinking about it very hard. I used to marvel at this. The Fall of Rome researched without the Internet?! Inconceivable! After the experience on the AT, however, and after a summary period of being a wart on the bum of my old life, I've determined that the surfeit of knowledge, like the surfeit of jalapeno poppers, is a bad thing.

Like jalapeno poppers, knowledge in this modern world is everywhere, sticks to your guts, and smells delicious. If you do not know something, you can know it in moments by opening your friendly google page and entering "wikipedia whatever". Then you know it. This, however, cuts out the most important part of learning: pretending to know something you don't. I don't know how many new avenues of thought I've arrived at by pretending to know things I don't. I imagine that the sum of Mankind would be a lot smaller if it weren't for people pretending to know things that they don't in fact know. To be honest, this makes a sort of sense. The human brain's memory storage mechanisms are relatively weak compared to its ability to hook things together. We don't remember things so well, but we synthesize like nobody's business.

When we get away from civilization, Google, and Wikipedia, we are forced to actually think about the knowledge in our head- and make up explanations for those things we can't look up instantly. Sometimes those explanations are good ones. I'm pretty sure we'd still be exploring the underpinnings of the Ether if Wikipedia and CNN had been around in 1912. Unfortunately, like jalapeno poppers, this pure distillate of knowledge in the 21st century is impossible to remove yourself from. It's how we communicate and how we live, as isolated nodes in an enourmous hive-mind we call "Western Civilization". You just can't stop eating the damn things.

Unfortunately, sucking knowledge and jalapeno poppers will get you to only one place: morbid obesity. And on that note, I'm going for a walk. A stroll, rather.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Glass Jaw?

It's amazing how things can change in just a few months. When I was leaving for the wilderness, everyone had Boeing on the ropes, on one knee, with its trainer in tears. There were a few who pointed out the big manufacturer's advantages: better capitalization; a virtually endless larder of military contracts; the fact that their planes still did what they did quite well even after ten or twenty years. For the most part, though, the air transport business was jumping up and down like a JV Cheerleader team: Go Go Airbus!

As it turned out, a lot of the statistics we got on the new generation of Airbus planes look like they came from an aeronautical branch of Arthur Anderson. Everything from cabin to burn. Just google Airbus to read the dirge for the "Airbus Century". Cancellations include Austrian, JAL, TAM, Emirates (ouch), Qantas, Virgin, and God knows who else as EADS picks out the dirt. Doubtless one of the chief problems lay in selling a very large aircraft that had not quite been put through all its paces. Once you sell you are locked in, which means, well, that there's a very strong incentive to overlook problems with the aircraft. Which means that investigators from Emirates will be visiting your facility shortly. And then, lawyers.

Another long term problem that the company is experiencing is its market. The LCC carriers are tying down their growth as they truly discover what "low-cost" means (and as the CRS advantage fades, with better data sharing among legacy carriers). It means bigger problems for Airbus than for the older Boeing, which can still make a fortune just selling parts for its flying fossils. The China market for Airbus is proving to be, well, a China market- which means you do your business their way, or you can not do business at all. If it's anything like the Chinese and Indian software companies, they'll buy one aircraft, reverse-engineer it and sell it for the price of a used Lexus.

I won't join in on the cat-calling of Airbus yet. Sure, they'll have some growth problems, and it's possible the bigger LCCs might disintegrate or be absorbed by the end of the decade. But we don't know what the hell Boeing is doing right now. Airbus has some great, great logistical advantages for any carrier, and a lot of fantastic features and ideas. What's the reigning heavyweight going to do now that he's found his quick competitor has a glass jaw? I have a funny feeling they'll just send more teams down to Washington, to send more no-bid contracts their way.