Welcome! I am an engineer, programmer, designer, and all-around geek. You may be interested in some of my electrical and mechanical projects. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt and remember to wear your safety glasses.

The Musical Swings at Unity School

In February I provided some engineering assistance to Melissa Norelli Hassan and Gemma Ward of Delray Beach's Unity School. Together we turned their playground swingset into an interactive musical exhibit inspired by the touring musical swings that visited West Palm Beach last year. Read more here.

A Cocktail for Hemingway's Birthday: The Daiquiri

Today, July 21st, we honor the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, a man that did more for cocktail culture, simply by drinking, than almost any career barman can claim for a lifetime in his trade. But what will we drink? The choice of Hemingway cocktails is wide, of course: Death in the Afternoon, Death in the Gulf Stream (he's a dangerous man to drink with), Green Isaac's Special, the long list of standards that appear in his books. But probably the most characteristic classic out of the vast Hemingway drinking-lore is the simple Daiquiri.

Saint Patrick's Day Cocktail: the Emerald

Although famous for drinking generally, Ireland isn't exactly well-known for its contributions to cocktail culture. The country produces maybe three potential ingredients of note: Guinness, Bailey's, and Irish Whiskey; but the combination of all three in the form of an Irish Car Bomb manages to also mix in a threat of violence (to your head at least) and offers the sort of unpleasant novelty drinking that we're not about here.

One of America's two main contributions to the celebration of Saint Patrick's day* is the adulteration of domestic lager with green food-coloring, which is quite a bit worse.

But for a more sophisticated way to enjoy something Irish this Friday, try the Emerald:

  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey (I used Jameson's because it was handy, and because I visited the former distillery last summer)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth (the remains of February's Carpano Antica, still fine after a month in the fridge)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Just like last month, stir all ingredients in a mixing glass or shaker with ice, but do NOT shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon. Cocktail fans will recognize that this drink is a Manhattan with Irish whiskey and orange bitters in place of rye and Angostura.

Sláinte!

* The other is corned beef.

Link Dump, March 2017

  • By now surely everyone has heard that SpaceX has accepted “significant deposits” from two private citizens for a trip around the moon, using SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon Heavy rocket. The video above is some lovely footage from the last SpaceX mission, showing their reusable booster returning to a landing pad at Cape Canaveral.
  • Not to be outdone, Blue Origin have revealed completed units of its new BE-4 engine, intended for their own orbital New Glenn platform.
  • Paris-based startup Hypersuit is developing a virtual reality platform that the user lies down on, simulating bird-like flight, spacewalks, swimming, etc. I’ve got a personal story to tell about this. The first time I tried a development version of Oculus Rift with my friends Antonio Haley and Jon Lusk, one of the demos was a 360 degree video of a wingsuit flight from a cliff in some impressively vertiginous fjord someplace, probably Norway. After trying it standing up, my first instinct was to run to our warehouse area and bring over a furniture dolly (a sort of wheeled platform for moving cargo around) to lie on, belly-down as wingsuit flyers do. One of my comrades brought over a desk fan to add something to the simulation. Obviously I looked ridiculous. But I’m glad someone did something serious along these lines!
  • And another wacky idea from France: a fleet of autonomous personal hydrofoils for urban river transport? It looks cool enough but I'm skeptical of this one; it's a bit too TED-friendly if you take my meaning.
  • The port of Rotterdam has been operating some aquatic robots designed to collect floating trash. I’ve considered building something like this. In coastal south Florida there are many marine canals in residential backyards and there’s quite a bit of trash in those canals, to the point that real estate agents know that lots at the end of those canals, where trash accumulates, are less desirable. To my mind, the dealbreaker with selling a trash-collecting skimmer robot is the prosaic part of frequently having to lift a heap of gathered trash from some sort of bin in the robot, four feet up from the water surface, to the homeowner’s dock for disposal. But we’ll see what operational experience in Rotterdam reveals!

Valentine's Day Cocktail: the Boulevardier

This month's drink is a variation on the classic Negroni, with whiskey in the place of gin to make it even more suitable for winter. It's a good cocktail to make on Valentine's Day: sophisticated, sexy, and, well, red. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Stir all ingredients in a “mixing glass” or a shaker with ice, but do NOT shake it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass—I keep them in the freezer, but you can fill a glass with some ice and water while you build the drink to get it cold quickly. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange.

This month I used some Redemption Rye because it's good and reasonably priced and, whether they realize it or not, so many people have the dangerous practice of treating Saint Valentine's Day as an opportunity for redemption, don't they? Using bourbon instead would be perfectly traditional as well, and might result in a sweeter or richer-tasting drink, while rye will tend to emphasize the herbal character of the Campari and vermouth.

Some variations:

  • Use bourbon instead of rye
  • Increase the whiskey to 1.5 oz. This will further deemphasize the bitterness of this drink.
  • If you really don't like Campari, and many people don't, try Aperol instead. It might help you get into this class of cocktails.

Enjoy!

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