Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Silverstone Challenge

On April 24, I attended The Silverstone Challenge together with some of my work colleagues. The Silverstone Challenge is an entire day of racing in ten different cars at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire/Buckinghamshire in the UK. It’s a truly cool experience! Worth every penny. Compared to the Danish car scene, it’s even kind of cheap – only £615pp for the event + £20pp for an accident damage waiver = £635pp + VAT, i.e. approx 5.800 DKK.

The day started out in the Silverstone Circuit clubhouse, where we had a traditional English breakfast, were divided into competing teams, signed a you-cannot-sue-us-if-you-get-hurt waiver, supplied contact information to be used in case of an accident, got an introduction and got a pep talk.

During the morning, I drove a Ford Fiesta ST Rally on a very muddy rally circuit, a Land Rover Defender on some muddy hills and through 2-3 foot deep water, an Audi R8 V10 and an Audi TT RS. The two Audis were raced on the 5.9 km Grand Prix Circuit. I really learnt a lot from the rally driving – it was a nice way to start the day. The R8 seriously kicked your ass with a large, heavy, metal-nosed boot when you put your foot down 🙂 It would have been better – at least for an inexperienced driver like me – to drive the TT before the R8, or drive the R8 later in the day, but somebody had to start in the R8s… The four cars were driven together with instructors, who helped one keep the cars on the tarmac and gave a lot of valuable tips.

I don’t remember, whether I drove a Caterham 7 before or after lunch, but that car was definitely my favorite. IT’S SO MUCH FUN! The Caterham 7 is a rear wheel driven race car with a temper, and you get to spin it round and round between cones on a parking lot, while the tires burn and the rear end is all over the place. You drive it alone, i.e. without an instructor, and the goal is to have fun and set a fast lap time. In most of the other cars, your driving performance is rated with a score in percent rather than your lap times being measured. Check it out on my scorecard to the right – click on it for a large version.

After a much needed lunch, the afternoon offered more awesome driving experiences. There were so many impressions throughout the day that I might screw up the order of the events, but please bear with me. My driving is usually limited to short trips in my parents’ car every three months or so, and on April 24, I was put in the driver’s seat of one supercar after another and told to give full throttle – to go flat out. To put it mildly, beads of sweat were forming on my forehead. Oh yeah, I felt alive 🙂

During the afternoon, I drove a Formula Silverstone Single-Seater, a Mégane Renault Sport 250, a Ferrari 360 F1 Modena, a Nissan 370Z and a Nissan GT-R. Where the latter four are road cars, the single-seater is a proper race car. Simultaneously with all the other members of my team, I got to race a single-seater for 20-25 minutes on the 1.7 km Stowe Circuit. The picture in the top of this post shows me driving the single-seater. Overtaking was clearly communicated using flags, but just think about it… We were 16 racing newbies on the circuit, all at once, in thin fiberglass boxes with 1600 cc, 140 bhp engines strapped on. Even though I made an effort to drive safely (I felt my concentration was a bit flaky at the time), I got to experience flat out on the long stretches of the circuit several times. What a rush! Everything shakes, you feel the incredible acceleration and the air pressure, and your buttocks are only 5-10 cm from the tarmac.

The Mégane and the 370Z were good experiences, where I really felt in control. They were powerful, but unlike the R8, and to some degree the GT-R, they do not surprise you with a gigantic, almost unmanageable power oomph, when the accelerator reaches the last third. Weight distribution was very important in the heavy, rear wheel driven Ferrari, and since I didn’t really master that, I had trouble keeping it on the tarmac. It might have been partly due to lack of concentration, just like my instructor wrote on my scorecard. The Silverstone Challenge really wears you out. As the GT-R was my last car of the day, I was ready for its oomph, and I actually had two very nice laps in it, before the day ended a bit early due to a guy crashing a Ferrari. The guy didn’t get a scratch, but I don’t know about the Ferrari.

The instructors and the remaining staff are totally cool people. If you show the instructors that you do what they tell you, they let you drive as fast as you want. In my case that meant going flat out on the long stretches and only breaking in the last millisecond. It probably means that for most people. You end up trusting the instructors with your life – I wouldn’t have driven that fast or braked that late, if I was alone in the cars. It is clear that they have a solid grip on the situation. Another example is that two guys accidentally bumped into each other in the single-seaters, resulting in each car losing a wheel. After the guys had been checked for injuries and had recovered a little, they were offered to go back onto the circuit in new cars. No scolding at all. Later, during the award ceremony, they were handed broken parts from the crashed cars as trophies.

The day ended with afternoon tea, an award ceremony and a summary of the day’s activities. The speaker, who also spoke during breakfast and lunch, was very entertaining. We were handed a completion certificate, a photo of ourselves driving a single-seater and a photo of our team surrounding a single-seater.

We, i.e. my group, not all Silverstone Challenge attendees, stayed at Villiers Hotel in Buckingham, which is only 10.6 km from the Silverstone Circuit. Their breakfast buffet lacked healthy sources of protein and consisted primarily of “fast” carbohydrates and fat. I’m sorry, but I find that annoying. Even worse is that they were somewhat stingy with their coffee. Just fill some thermos and put them on the tables or near the buffet, please. Some of us mainlines caffeine on a daily basis and needs it to keep withdrawal symptoms away… We had to leave early both mornings, so we didn’t have time to explore their breakfast menu with hot dishes. Well, on the race day it didn’t really matter, as we were served traditional English breakfast in the clubhouse. I tend to believe that their hot breakfast dishes would have been nothing less than first class, as their restaurant served us some very delicious dishes for dinner 🙂

I had rib eye steak, white chocolate tiramisu, Cajun chicken, flat iron steak and some kind of tart/pie. All dishes were perfectly prepared and very tasty.

Prior to the trip, I thought of it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but now I know that it wasn’t my last trip of that kind 🙂

Anyone with a driver’s license should try a day at Silverstone.

OpenBSD installation stick

I have just installed OpenBSD on my Thinkpad X60, which is a laptop without a CD/DVD drive. After many searches, I have reached the conclusion that there is too little information on the internet on how to create a bootable USB stick from which you can start an OpenBSD installation. To help remedy that, I will present “my” procedure for creating one. The installation process started by the stick requires internet connectivity, as the OpenBSD file sets are not put on the stick. Do not thoughtlessly copy/paste the commands below – if you get the devices wrong, you might overwrite your system’s hard drive rather than the stick. The procedure requires local, privileged access to a running OpenBSD system. Download a desired bsd.rd file from a mirror, connect the stick and go ahead. It might take several seconds, or even minutes, to perform some of the writes to the stick, so be patient.

$ dmesg | tail -n 2
sd1 at scsibus3 targ 1 lun 0:  SCSI2 0/direct removable serial.18a503022D9C6807FA4F
sd1: 3823MB, 512 bytes/sector, 7829504 sectors
$ sudo fdisk -iy sd1
Writing MBR at offset 0.
$ sudo disklabel -E sd1
Label editor (enter '?' for help at any prompt)
> a a
offset: [64] (enter)
size: [7823591] 32M
Rounding size to cylinder (16065 sectors): 80261
FS type: [4.2BSD] (enter)
Rounding size to bsize (32 sectors): 80256
> q
Write new label?: [y] (enter)
$ sudo newfs /dev/rsd1a
/dev/rsd1a: 39.2MB in 80256 sectors of 512 bytes
4 cylinder groups of 9.80MB, 627 blocks, 1280 inodes each
super-block backups (for fsck -b #) at:
32, 20096, 40160, 60224,
$ sudo mount /dev/sd1a /mnt
$ sudo cp bsd.rd /mnt/bsd
$ sudo cp /usr/mdec/boot /mnt/
$ sudo /usr/mdec/installboot /mnt/boot /usr/mdec/biosboot sd1
$ sudo umount /mnt

Connect the stick to the laptop and boot from it.

Say cheese!

Following this recipe, I have made cheese from skimmed milk 🙂

The process is very simple so don’t be afraid to try it at home. You need 2 L milk, 0,5 dL vinegar, 0,5 dL water, a teaspoon of salt, a measuring cup, a 3 L pot, a sieve and a bowl. Begin by mixing the vinegar and the water in the cup. Pour the milk into the pot and bring it to the point of simmering – remember to stir continuously to avoid burning the bottom of the pot. When it simmers, keep stirring and add the vinegar-water-mixture gradually, until the milk separates into curds and whey. The curds are the cheese. The separation is complete when the whey turns transparent and gets a yellow tinge. You might not need to use all of the vinegar-water-mixture. Use the sieve over a sink to pour out the whey and keep the curds.  Rinse the curds in the sieve under a running tap – be sure to get rid of all the vinegar. Let the curds drip dry and place them in the bowl. Massage the teaspoon of salt into the curds. Find a glass or plastic container and press the curds together in it. Finally, seal the container with a lid or a plastic bag and let it rest in the refrigerator until the next day.

Unfortunately, I cannot claim that my first step into cheese manufacturing was a success. I burnt the bottom of my pot, and the cheese is absolutely tasteless. Using fatter milk and adding spices might yield better results.

Veal rump and root vegetables

Just before winter I put an eighth of a calf in my freezer – approx 35 kg of high quality veal. I have on several occasions promised especially my parents that I would cook some of it for them. Yesterday they decided to collect 🙂

The menu should have been veal rump, roasted root vegetables, whole grain garlic bread and red wine, and it was, with the exception of the bread, which I forgot about. The bread’s packaging tells you to store them frozen until preparation time, but when you are behind schedule and are busy in your kitchen, the “out of sight, out of mind” saying kicks in. The rump had crushed garlic, canola oil, salt and pepper rubbed into it. If you are a Dane and you are unsure which cut, I’m talking about, it is what we call a cuvettesteg. The vegetables were potatoes, carrots, parsnips, red onions and garlic. They were seared in a soup pot with generous amounts of canola oil and then put in a baking pan with some vegetable broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The wine was a very good Italian from 2009 – Novacorte Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – a gift from a dear friend.

It was the first time I have ever bought raw parsnips. Damn they become delicious when roasted!

Food porn:

I admit that the rump became a bit too well done. I really need a better cooking thermometer.

The day before yesterday, I decided to try out this recipe for making ice cream with just one ingredient. The idea is that you freeze one or more bananas, chop them and blend them. I wasn’t patient enough and ended up with banana soft serve, but I guess the basic idea has some merit.

I have this idea, that if you blend some unfrozen bananas and stir the blended mass regularly while freezing it, you might be able to make “real” banana ice cream. No way around it – it must be tested 🙂

Tanita light body age test

My workplace is located in the NOVI Research Park, and today, NOVI offered a free Tanita “light” body age test. As far as I know, the light part is due to the fact that fitness measurements are excluded. The test focuses only on body composition. You provide your gender (if not obvious, hehe), age and height. Then you stand barefooted on an advanced bathroom scale, which measures your weight and electrical impedance. The scale then calculates your fat percent, fat mass, fat-free mass (FFM), muscle mass, total body water (TBW), TBW percent, bone mass, basal metabolic rate (BMR), metabolic age, visceral fat rating, body mass index (BMI), ideal body weight and degree of obesity. A lot of the numbers are probably pretty unreliable – but is it still fun to be tested 🙂

According to the physician who performed the test, my numbers are generally very fine. If you, however, want to point out weaknesses, I was told to increase my muscle mass and get a bit closer to the ideal body weight of 79.4 kg. Apparently, the very low metabolic age of 12 is due low muscle mass. It is sadly not a positive thing that my metabolic age is that low…

Indian-inspired lentil soup

Last night I made a large batch of Indian-inspired lentil soup with chicken and skyr. I really recommend this recipe – it’s very delicious. I am pleasantly surprised that somewhat boring lentils can be made into something good.

As one of my friends pointed out, a dairy product such as skyr doesn’t really make sense in an Indian dish. Skyr does, however, add some protein and smoothness to the dish, so I added it anyway. Cows are not sacred in my kitchen.

Ingredients:

900 g green lentils
500 g chopped onions
500 g chopped tomatoes
50 g chopped garlic
450 g chopped chicken breast or similar
1 kg skyr
4 L vegetable broth
Canola oil, lemon juice, curry, chili, cumin, ginger, freshly ground pepper, salt

You will need a large soup pot (8 L or more) and a hand blender. Rinse lentils and tomatoes. If your chicken meat isn’t pre-cooked (mine was), then chop it, season it, roast it and set it aside. Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes. Roast onions and garlic for a couple of minutes in some canola oil in the soup pot. Add curry, chili, cumin and ginger, stir it thoroughly and roast for a couple of minutes. The trick is to burn the spices a bit. Add vegetable broth, season with salt and pepper, put on a lid and let the dish reach its boiling point. Add lentils, tomatoes and a small cup of lemon juice and let it simmer for 30-60 minutes – until the lentils dissolve a bit. Blend the dish thoroughly with a hand blender. Add chicken and skyr, stir and let it simmer for an additional 10-20 minutes. Season the dish with more spices, if it needs it. Voilà, dinner’s served!

The amount of energy in the dish and its distribution of course vary, depending on your particular selection of ingredients. My batch had approx 22 MJ, distributed 34% on protein, 52% on carbohydrate and 14% on fat. The dish is supposedly very healthy, as it contains a lot of fiber and protein, it is very filling, it is lean, and its fat is mostly unsaturated.

Top Gear Live and Easter

So what have I been up to, since I haven’t posted anything for a while? 🙂

I have had two weekends in a row, where I was on call for the first time for my new workplace, and I have had an awesome weekend in Copenhagen, where I saw the Top Gear Live show. In between, I have of course been doing my job, training for Copenhagen Marathon, weightlifting in the fitness center and watching a huge number of old NCIS episodes.

The Copenhagen tour was together with my work colleagues. We left Aalborg on Saturday morning in a fancy bus with rolls, cake, coffee, Dr. Nielsen and draft beer 🙂 With a stop at McDonald’s in Odense, we reached Copenhagen mid-afternoon, checked in at Avenue Hotel and walked to Forum – the place where Top Gear Live was held. It was an awesome show! Insane stunt driving, car smashing, supercars, car curling, tire burning, funny jokes and much more. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and the Danish co-host Anders Breinholt kept up a good pace through the entire show. After the show we visited Famo for a nine course menu. Highly palatable. Thoroughly satiated, we explored the nightlife of Copenhagen.

Sunday featured high-speed racing in a BMW 1 Series M Coupé driven by Marco Sørensen. This is the car and driver seen on the above picture. The car has a 3 liter engine, 6 cylinders and 340 hp, and it does 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. In Denmark, the car’s price starts at a “small” million DKK. Marco put the pedal to the metal and gave us a number of breathless rounds with squealing tires and fuming brakes. Thanks to Bayern AutoGroup for making the car available.

Now I’m going to enjoy Easter with good coffee, family and two cute dogs 🙂