Used a Sawzall (31/366)

Tim Allen as Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor

A “Sawzall“, or a reciprocating saw is a type of power saw that cuts with a pushing and pulling reciprocating motion of the toothed blade while the user guides the saw along the desired path.

We’re selling our 3-door freezer and 3-door refrigerator from our closed-down store, and we actually had the units in place before the walls were complete, so we realized to get these pieces out, the easiest way would be to actually cut a new doorway for them. This was fine since the new tenants are just going to gut the place anyway, and it gave me a chance to help demolish something with good reason.

Our friend Gil was at the store today for this, and I asked him if I could help with the job. Here was our weapon of choice (it’s actually cordless – the extension cord was for the shop vac we were going to use to suck up all the dust from the cutting):

We started out by finding the electrical wiring in the wall (cutting through live power lines with a metal tool is shockingly no fun at all!) – Gil traced out an area where the lines probably were (electricians generally wire lines at waist high) and used a small circular saw to cut one side of the wall so we could remove it and see what was going on behind. I got to rip the panel out. So fun.

After we knew where the electrical stuff was, we knew how far we could cut without worrying about it. I got to cut mostly everything and Gil did the points where the wires were. We took the rest of our side of the wall out, and then cut the drywall on the other side. After all that, we removed the big drywall slab from the other side, Gil did some final cutting at the base board area, and we had our doorway.

This was awesome. Now I know the basics of cutting into a solid [non load-bearing] wall. I don’t know how often I’d need to use a Sawzall, but I can’t wait to have an excuse again.

Related Links:
Bare-Tool Makita BJR182Z 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Makita BL1830-2 18-Volt 3.0 AH Battery, 2-Pack


Watched the Documentary Film "How Beer Saved the World" (30/366)

“He was a wise man who invented beer.”

Continuing with my documentary series of 2012, tonight I watched the Discovery Channel’s “How Beer Saved The World“.

Here’s the trailer:

I knew that beer was consumed in the middle ages because water wasn’t always necessarily safe to drink, and that some of our founding fathers were home-brewers, and of course if a pirate isn’t drinking rum, he’s drinking mead or ale of some kind … but I never knew so many fascinating facts about beer until watching this film.

Here are some of them:

~ People point to the agricultural revolution involving barley grown for bread, but evidence suggests that barley was actually being cultivated 3,000 years before bread was being made. It was being cultivated to make neolithic beer.

~ The first written language “Cuneiform” had a word for beer, and it’s everywhere in the ancient dictionaries or “word lists”. One of the most important word lists found has over 160 different words related to beer. That’s more than the eskimos have for “snow”.

~ Egyptians used beer as currency, and pyramid builders were paid 1 gallon of beer a day. It would have taken 231,414,717 gallons of beer to build the pyramid of Giza. Everyone drank beer – not so much for the alcoholic content, (this beer was only about 3% alcohol) but for nutrients in it.

~ Tetracyclene was found in Egyptian bones from 3,000 years ago, and scientists couldn’t understand why this modern antibiotic (first documented in 1945) was so prevalent in the Egyptians. Researchers brewed beer according to an ancient Egyptian recipe and the result was rich in Tetracyclene. Modern day antibiotics themselves weren’t developed until 1928.

~ Beer was often consumed instead of water because it was safe to drink while not all water sources were safe. What made the beer safe to drink? The boiling process. Early peoples didn’t know this was the reason, but they did know that beer was good. It was brought on long voyages because even “safe” water would spoil over time. It kept the settlers alive on the Mayflower. They were headed for Virginia, but actually ran out of beer so they ended up landing at Plymouth Rock – a place they deemed suitable for brewing more beer.

~ America’s National Anthem melody was borrowed from a men’s social club anthem, which was storied to be a drinking song.

~ Louis Pasteur, the famous French scientist remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, and the father of “germ theory“, was studying beer (not milk), and why it sometimes spoiled.

~ While there were designs for refrigeration systems as early as 1748, Lager arrived in the US in the 1840’s from Germany. Lager is cold brewed, and that had to done with ice, so at the time brewers were only able to make it in cold seasons. So brewers poured money into refrigeration research. The Cold Ammonia machine was the first commercial refrigeration machine made in 1881, and it was made for beer.

If you like beer, or history, for that matter, you should watch this documentary. It’s a lot of fun, but also very educational. Some of the claims made in it are a bit of a stretch, but all of the little known facts about beer really are surprising. And of course, the experience is not at all dampened with the addition of a frosty beverage.

Related Links:
How Beer Saved The World DVD

Eaten at San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib (29/366)

“If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?”
John Cleese

The House of Prime Rib is a San Francisco institution. They’ve been serving their supreme cuts of rib roast, baked potatoes the size of small footballs, and delicious creamed spinach with bacon since they were established in 1949. Even famous figure skater (and local) Brian Boitano named HOPR the best prime rib he’s ever eaten, and has childhood memories of dining there with his parents, who even went on dates there together before they were married.

So as a native San Franciscan, I was shocked an appalled to realize I had actually never been there. I thought I had. I swore I had. But while watching an episode of Tony Bourdain‘s No Reservations, I realized I didn’t recognize the interior of the restaurant. Nick and I even had several conversations where I tried to convince him I had gone there – and he was with me on two different occasions! “You mean Ruth’s Chris?” he said. No way! There was NO WAY I had never been to House of Prime Rib. But I was wrong. And as shocked an appalled as I was, I also realized, this was actually kind of awesome. I’d finally get to go!

It was Wayne’s last night in SF for the weekend, so we decided we should take him to a special dinner. What place more epic, more San Francisco, than the House of Prime Rib? Even the famous Blue Angels and of course, the San Francisco 49ers have left tokens of their appreciation here!

HOPR basically has two choices on the menu – Prime Rib, or fish. Here’s what the menu reads:

Our Roast Beef:
Carved at your table, to your specifications, from our unique stainless steel serving carts. We serve only the best beef available, the top 2% of all beef marketed. Although this incurs additional expense, our Mid-Western corn-fed beef aged for 21 days, is the most tender, juicy and flavorful beef available.
The City Cut: A smaller cut for the lighter appetite.
House of Prime Rib Cut: A hearty portion of juicy, tender beef.
The English Cut: Some feel that a thinner slice produces the better flavor.
King Henry VIII Cut: Extra-generous, thick cut of prime beef, for king size appetites.
Children’s Prime Rib Dinner: Complete with milk and ice cream. (For children 8 and under.)
Fresh fish: Ask your server for today’s special catch and price.

Dinner Accompaniments Included with Prime Rib Dinners:
The Salad Bowl : A colorful mixture of healthy, crisp, seasonal greens prepared at your table, tossed in our unique house dressing.
Mashed Potatoes : A generous steaming helping of the all American favorite, served with thick brown gravy.
Baked Potato : A superior sized Idaho potato served with butter and sour cream, with a sprinkle of chives.
Yorkshire Pudding : Straight from merry olde England! Light, airy batter baked to a golden brown dome, with a fluffy interior to soak up those savory beef juices.
Creamed Spinach : A light dish of garden spinach whipped with fresh cream and pieces of bacon.
Fresh Cream of Horseradish Sauce

So all you have to do basically, is choose your cut (and what type of potatoes you want), and you’re good to go. The price difference between the cuts is minimal, so there wasn’t much agonizing over which one to choose. We all went for the King Henry VIII cut. Go big or go home. This majestically ginormous cut is just the way one should enjoy Prime Rib. It’s also the only cut to include the bone. Plus, if you’re able to finish your King Henry slab, they’ll offer you another small slice on the house. No one ever leaves hungry at The House of Prime Rib.

Our waiter came and made the famous HOPR salad table side:

It was delicious. Soon after, came the rest of our feast. The Metal Meat Zeppelin was rolled out:

And from its cave of supreme savoriness:

Came our magical King Henry cuts. The plates were glorious:

And I was serious about the baked potatoes:

Even though we were in a whirlwind of meat magnificence, Nick actually managed to get to that second slice after finishing his King cut. That’s my husband.

House of Prime rib serves fantastic food. It’s definitely the place to bring someone visiting San Francisco – that is if they like juicy, tender, dry-aged, salt-packed, then slow roasted meat. Because that is what they serve here, and plenty of it. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the wine list isn’t bad. I also appreciate that they offer sparkling or still water at no charge (yes, I love my bubbles)! I’m anxious to find another person who hasn’t been there so we have an excuse to bring them. Have you been? We’ll take you!

Related Links:
House Of Prime Rib
The Complete Meat Cookbook

Driven the Crooked Part of Lombard Street (28/366)

“Every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, except insofar as it doesn’t.”
~ Sir Arthur Eddington

A section of Lombard Street in Russian Hill in San Francisco has been dubbed, “The Crookedest street in the world”. Though that’s up for debate (Vermont Street, also in San Francisco, is supposedly even more crooked when measuring of sinuosity index for each street), Lombard street is still the famous tourist destination. Although I’ve been down the street before, and even brought out-of-town friends there, I recently realized I’d never actually driven down the street.

Our friend Wayne is in town from Australia this weekend and even though he’d seen Lombard Street before, he’d never gone down the world-renowned crooked street. What a perfect opportunity for me to drive it – and have a cameraman there as well!

After hiking the Filbert Street steps up to Coit Tower and enjoying the awesome views there, we hopped in the car and headed over to Lombard. There’s usually a lineup of cars waiting to drive down, so we were prepared – but we were lucky – there were only a few cars in front of us. We drove down. The turns are so much fun! We saw people walking up the sides of the street (there are stairs on each side of the roadway) and I wondered how the people who live on this block feel about all the tourists that frequent their street.

This was so cool (and the camera was having such a hard time focusing with the low light) that we decided we should make another pass. We hoped that we’d be lucky again and not hit too much traffic – and we were! There were two cars in front of us, but no one behind us … until we had started down the street. We saw a car coming and thought our plans were foiled – we were going to stop at some point while driving down to take a picture. But then we realized that that car was moving slower than we were and we had a pretty good sized gap between us, so I stopped the car for a second and Wayne jumped out. I thought he was going to just take a picture and hop back in, but he ended up running away from the car and to the side of the road to take pictures of me actually driving. Crazy Australian! Now I was driving down the street cracking up and yelling, “Get back in the car!”. I’m thinking the people who live on this block probably do hate the tourists frequenting it. At least the kind like me.

When we got to the bottom of the hill, we stopped to take the iconic shot showing all the turns, and we realized we had started the next wave. There were now seven cars on the block! Awesome.

This was super fun. I’d recommend going at night when it’s probably less crowded, and of course on a weekday. When driving down, remember that for the most part, everyone else is going for the same tourist experience, so I don’t think you need to worry about driving too slow. Everyone wants their drive down the “Crookedest Street” to last a little while. But be sure to have a quick camera with you!

Related Links:
San Francisco & Northern California (Eyewitness Travel Guide)

Done Modified Rope Climbs (27/366)

“Easier to climb up, than to just hang on.”
SIr Ronald Harwood

Today’s CrossFit WOD included 15ft. rope climbs. In our garage gym, we do have a rope, but it’s a bit slippery and we only have just over 9 feet clearance. Besides all that, I’ve never done a real rope climb. When we did Tough Mudder last year, we had to climb ropes, but the ropes had knots tied in them, and a fellow Mudder held the rope taut for me so it was easier for me to climb up. But like I said, I’ve never actually done a “real” [CrossFit standard] rope climb. Today, I was able to do a modification of a rope climb so I could do the WOD and work on my rope skills (or familiarity at least).

To do this modified rope climb, I started out by lying down on the floor, and used just my grip and arms to “climb” myself up to a standing position, then reversed my way back down.

This is a good modification for progressing into rope climbs – for those who are uncomfortable and/or aren’t yet strong or familiar enough with the rope to climb it by themselves. It’s pretty fun, too. 3, 2, 1 … GO!

Related Links: (really where you should get your ropes from)
CFF 50′ Polypropylene Rope – 1.5″ thick

Eaten Bibimbap (26/366)

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
~ Julia Child

I love Korean food. Korean barbecue especially, but I’ll go anywhere that serves Korean food. Not all Korean food is spicy, but a lot of it is, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

While eating with our friend Frankie a while ago, the Korean dish “Bibimbap” came up in the conversation, and although it is as much a signature of Korean dishes as fried rice is of Chinese dishes, I had never had it.

This weekend, our friend Wayne is in town from Australia, so we decided we should take him to eat some not just delicious food, but some that he might not get too much of back home. We went to Muguboka Restaurant in the Richmond District – it’s one of our favorite places – the people there are always friendly, the service is fast, and the food is delicious.

We ordered our regular barbecue items: kalbi (marinated beef short ribs), daeje bulgogi (spicy marinated pork), and dak galbi (barbecue chicken), and we also got an order of Dolsot Bibimbap on our waitress’s suggestion (almost every other table in the restaurant had an order of this dish!). We joked that the rest of our party was coming later. We had so much food!

The difference between Dolsot Bibimbap and regular Bibimbap is that that “dolsot” means “stone pot”, and the Bibimbap is served in one of these super hot stone bowls – it’s so hot that everything that touches it sizzles, so the inside is coated with a bit of sesame seed oil, and the rice that touches the sides of the bowls becomes golden brown and crispy – almost crunchy. A great texture addition to this dish.

It looked beautiful when it came to the table, and everything was sizzling. I don’t actually like fried (sunny-side up) eggs, but that’s how it’s served on Bibimbap, so I was all for it. I did wonder how I was supposed to eat this dish though. It was presented so nicely – beef, julienned carrots, daikon (I think), bean sprouts, cucumber, the fried egg, and seaweed on top. I thought I was probably supposed to mix it up, but I thought I’d just try a bit of it all first without mixing the whole thing up in the bowl.

It was pretty good. But it seemed like it might be missing something. Then our waitress came by our table and showed us the gochujang – chili pepper paste – and said, “this is the sauce that you mix everything up with!”. Awesome. With the verification from our waitress, I happily swirled the magical chili sauce over the Bibimbap.

I mixed it all up, and it looked even more wonderful:

And it was. All the flavors mixed together were delicious, and with the sauce, it was perfect. Meaty, chewy, crispy, salty, sweet, fresh, spicy. The only problem is that now we have ANOTHER dish to order when we go out for Korean food. Order Bibimbap next time you go to Korean food. You won’t be disappointed.

Related Links:
Bibimbap Wiki
Sunchang Gochujang (Chili Sauce) 500g

Cleaned Coins with Cola (25/366)

“Character must be kept bright as well as clean.”
Lord Chesterfield

A while ago, when they were first starting to mint them, I was collecting the US States Quarters Series. Over the years I stopped and my collection is probably in the back of a drawer somewhere in the house; but recently when I was counting out our till at the teahouse, I thought, what a great opportunity to get a load of those quarters back! Of course, I would have done better if I had started looking through the quarters when the teahouse was still in business, but there were still a good amount of quarters in the till and from our tips collection.

Most of the coins were in pretty good shape, but some of them were kinda gross:

I decided to wash the whole lot. I had read about cleaning coins with sodas like Coke and Dr. Pepper because they have phosphoric acid in them, which actually in its pure form, is used as a rust removal agent (lemon-lime sodas have citric acid in them, and they’re also reported to have similar cleaning uses). I thought that sounded cool, so I decided to shine up my treasure of quarters with some cola.

I dumped all the coins in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and poured in a can of Dr. Pepper. I wanted to make sure all the quarters were submerged, so I spread them out evenly after squeezing most of the air out of the bag. I left them in their soda bath overnight.

I noted which ones were particularly gross, and today I went over a few of those with a toothbrush. Then I dumped them all in a colander and rinsed them off.

I sudsed them up with a bit of dishwashing liquid and gave them a second rinse, just to be sure all the sticky soda was washed off, and placed them all out to dry. While the toughest ones didn’t come out immaculate, look at the before and after!

This was a cool little experiment. I do have to note that while perusing for corrosive cola stories, I learned that while the phosphoric acid in these sodas probably does have a bit to do with their cleaning abilities, the main reason they can be used as cleanser with good results is because they contain
carbonic acid (which is why people use club soda on fresh stains – and club soda doesn’t leave a sticky residue!). Citrus sodas on the other hand may have more acidity in them. I should also note that it is absolutely NOT recommended to clean coins that you think may be valuable – you could severely lessen the value (say, all the way down to face) of the coin by removing the patina that develops when coins age. Since these are so new, I wasn’t afraid of that. If you are collecting the States Quarters Series (or the new “America the Beautiful” series), I highly recommend cleaning them so they look bright and shiny. I can’t wait for my collection to be complete!

Related Links:
State Series Quarters Collector Map