Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kitchen Remodel Stage 3

It's been a while, but i finally got some more work done on the Kitchen. Stage 3 is the lower cabinets along with the sink. This one was the most work so far as i had to do some plumbing work too but it worked out. Tearing out the old cabinets was more work than the upper cabinets as well.Demo.

Val helping with the cabinets.

I got it torn out.

I made a bit of a mess but that's called progress.

Steve the plumber.

It seems i forgot to take a picture of this section completed so i'll have to add that in later. The current status though is all the lower cabinets are in and the old countertops are just resting on them until we finish the floor and peninsula and then we'll do all the countertops together. Should be fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 5 - Rocheforte and others.

Disclaimer: this is Belgium and having a beer at lunch is completely normal.

4 of us went out to lunch today and ended up with lasagna and beer at some pub and both were quite good. I had the Rocheforte 10 as that was on my list as Matt's favorite beer when he was in Belgium. This particular beer could definitely be a problem if you're not careful. It was 11.3% alcohol, but you don't taste it like with the Westmalle Trippel. The Rocheforte is very smooth and remarkably tasty. This is indeed my favorite beer in Belgium or elsewhere.

For dinner that night we went to The Lodge again (yes, 3 nights in a row) and i had a Kasteelbier Bruin (11%) which was hearty and dark and almost as good as the Rocheforte. Last i had a Ciney Bruin (7%) which had a more crisp taste. It was still dark, but not as hearty as the Kasteelbier and ranked a little lower on the taste scale.

I didn't have time to buy beer before heading to the airport the next morning so i ended up paying $20 for 4 bottles of the Rocheforte 8 and a Rocheforte glass. I haven't tried it yet but i'm hoping it's similar to the Rocheforte 10 that was my favorite.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 4 - Duvel, Westmalle Dubbel

I went out to dinner with Pishko and Phil at 'The Lodge' mainly because it was 5 minutes from the fab and had good beer. It was quite cold out and it takes a long time for my little Fiat Punto diesel to warm up. Incidentally, i found that i could get it warmed up by the time i got to The Lodge if i drove in 1st gear the whole way. It made quite a racket pushed against the rev limiter (5,500rpm for those interested) but did warm up.

Anyways, back to the moral of this story. Beer.

I had been told that a lot of Americans that come over to Belgium like Duvel so i tried that. It was decently stiff at 8.5% but pretty light and not so great making it doubly apparent that Americans are wrong when it comes to beer.

We decided to have another as we were eating dinner and all and rather than just ask for any suggestion, i pushed for a suggestion for something dark. To this request i was granted a Westmalle Dubbel. I was a bit dubious at first since the Westmalle Trippel i had the night before left something to be desired but the Dubbel did shine.

The Dubbel it turns out was much better than the Trippel and the Duvel. It was only 7% but dark and hearty and quite good. This was the first of the Trappist beers i liked better than the Irish Stout i had the first night.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 3 - Westmalle Trippel (Trappist)

Last night I went with Phil's recommendation and had a Westmalle Trippel. This is another trappist brewery and this particular beer was 9.5% alcohol and you could tell.

Thankfully he told me to pour it in a single pour and to leave the last little bit in the bottle because there's always some yeast left at the bottom that you don't want to drink.

My beer looked just like the picture I found on the website. Same glass and everything. It was a little lighter (color, flavor, not alcohol) than the Chimay I had last night and had a bit of an odd flavor too.

It was good, but I didn't care for the flavor as much as the Chimay or the Irish stout i had my first night over here. I also had a taste of Phil's 2nd beer, an Orval. This was much fruitier than the Trippel (possibly because it has 1/3 less alcohol) but the flavor was ok.

So now I've tried 3 of the 5 trappist brewery's since I've been here and overall I guess I'm not terribly impressed. It's still better than the beer back home though. Apparently my tastes just aren't refined enough or something since the trappist beers are supposed to be the best in the world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 2 - Chimay (Trappist)

Tonight we had dinner at a Greek place that was pretty good. I don't really know what i ordered, but I'm told it was lamb and it came in a little bag with some brown sauce.

They had the Trappist Chimay which was pretty good but I liked the stout i had last night better. The Chimay had a bit of an odd aftertaste i thought.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 1 - Murphy's Irish Stout

I had something in a black can on the plane. Not sure what it was but it was medium in color and not very cold. It was better than a Cass in the back of Mr. An’s cab in Korea, but it wasn’t great. It was drinkable though.

It took me 2 hours to find the hotel from the airport. Street signs in Belgium are terrible. I wound up at the Courtyard Marriott somehow and asked directions which helped a little, but it still took me an hour to find the Renaissance after that.

I ate dinner in a little square right across the way from the hotel entrance. Not much was open but the sports bar which worked. The San Diego Chargers vs. the New Orleans Saints was on the big screen so it was decent enough entertainment. The beers weren’t on the menu so I asked the waitress and the only word I caught that she said was ‘stout’ so I ordered that. Turned out to be a Murphy’s Irish Stout. It was quite dark with a decent head and not too bitter but almost creamy. That would be my ‘professional’ opinion. It was very good in fact. 4 days to go.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I climbed a mountain!

My friend Donny called me up in September and said he had some extra passes to climb Mt. Whitney and asked if I wanted to go. I've never climbed a mountain and wasn't in particularly good shape but jumped on the opportunity anyway. I've had a growing desire the last year or two to 'do stuff' and this seemed to fit in perfectly. Really what it comes down to is wanting to do worthwhile things as opposed to just being busy all the time. Anyways, I made it to the gym a bunch of times to run hills on the treadmill and get some time on the stairmaster as well as climb Mission Peak with a 25-35lb pack 3 times. Plus I got to buy a bunch of fun new stuff from REI for the trip (20dg sleeping bag, trekking poles, etc.).

It ended up just being me, Donny and his boss Russ that went which worked out well since we only needed 1 tent, stove and water filter between the 3 of us. We left Fremont at 3:30am on Friday the 17th to drive to the base at 8,000 feet. We then hiked up to the first camp at 10,000 feet to spend the night.

In the morning we headed up to the summit with just day packs which was nice. Our packs were 33-35lbs for the first leg but more like 15lbs for the summit leg. By the time we got to the top the packs were actually pretty light since we had drank most of our water and were wearing all our clothes.

It was a beautiful hike up until it started to lightly snow and get kind of windy at around 13,000 feet.
Unfortunately after you get to crest in the picture above, you go down a ways and traverse 3 miles until coming back up to the summit.
The summit is actually a ways off to the right of the peak in this picture of one of the lakes below.
The peak in this picture is actually the summit.
It was quite cold up top (23 dg according to the $10 Harbor Freight temp sensor I brought) and it was nice to have the summit house to warm up and relax a little in.

The view from the top.

The road you see down at the bottom is where we drove in. Our hike actually started in the trees about 1/3 of the way up the picture.When we came back down it was late and dark and cold, and we were very happy to see our sleeping bags.
When we got up in the morning the stream where we got water had formed several small ice dams. It was pretty neat looking actually.We actually overslept our alarms in the morning and then hiked back to the car and were on our way home. We then made it back to Fremont around 6pm Sunday. It was a long and tiring weekend but it was a lot of fun too. I think if I climb it again, I'm going to go in the summer when it's warmer. Granted, I'm probably not going again any time soon, but you never know.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Once again, through no fault of my own, stereotypes were reinforced.

Last week I was in my first car accident. Korean Jerome and I were in his jeep on our way into the Emart parking garage (Korean WalMart) and the lady in front of us stopped to talk to the parking attendant. When she started again, she put her car in reverse instead of drive and backed into us. We were going uphill so she hit us decently hard and did a number the back of her Kia and busted up Jerome’s (apparently fragile) bumper.

It was pretty sad actually, her husband was away on a business trip and getting home that night so she was going to the store to buy stuff to make him a really nice dinner. Instead, he'll be coming home to dented Kia and an increase in his insurance premiums.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sometimes stereotypes happen for a reason. Or, in the absence of reason, anecdotal evidence.

The first time I rode in my sister-in-law's car, she told me to watch out because she's short, Asian, and a woman.

Well at least she didn't hit a curb, launch over a 2 foot wall and land in a round-about like this lady did at Val's old work today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Steve and Val go to Italy

So this was funnier at 4am when we left for the airport, but our neighbor just bought a Smart car and parks it behind her Jeep.

We landed in Rome at 9am and managed to get to the hotel and check in by 10:30am which was great since breakfast was open till 11. I’m not sure if we were supposed to eat on the morning we arrived, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. Oh, we got a swanky room upgrade too. What you can’t see in the picture is the walk-in closet, the balcony and the really nice bathroom with toilet, bidet, shower and bathtub. Good times.

I’ve always liked the outer edge of the Coliseum for some reason.

They have a stage inside now that I don’t remember from last time I was there. It really doesn’t seem to fit, but maybe they use it for shooting movies or something.

That would be us, as taken by a nice Indian man who seemed to be following us; or at least going in the same direction at the same speed and pausing in the same places.

Sometimes you just got to climb up on a rock and flex.

Neat clouds.

They are the same height. That is neat.

Arch in the Forum.

More Forum

Just because it looks cool.

This is apparently where the Vestal Virgins hung out when they weren’t in their box seats in the Coliseum or being buried alive for not being virgins.


Can you tell which fingers aren’t original?

There haven’t been any pictures of naked dudes yet despite their prevalence.

Via Di S. Teodoro

In lower case.

By a fountain I think.

Hottie wife.

Spanish Steps

Fountain/round-a-bout near the train station on our way to dinner.

Same fountain. Closer.

I don’t remember the name, but it was neat looking at night.

Coliseum at night with speeding cars. The cars weren’t actually going very fast, but the shutter was going slow. I have a remarkably steady hand if I do say so myself though.

St. Peters Basilica.

The bell on top of St. Peters

This is the line to get into the Vatican. It extends around a corner and down 1 block to the left of the picture and then off the right side of the picture it turns right, goes a block, turns left, goes 3 blocks and then you get to the ropes that mark the entrance to the airport style security. It was well worth the 80 euros it cost to have a guided tour if only to skip that line. They were nice enough to walk us by the line so we could feel good about our purchase though.

Admit it. It’s funny.

15 ft tall bronze statue. Of a pine cone. Go figure.

Fighting with snakes or something. I think it looks cool though and if we ever have a daughter, I’ll have to put a full size replica in our front yard so she won’t be able to date until she moves out.


Matt, at least you don’t have plaster cracks in your priceless works of art…

This is apparently really famous….

Some old guy

Walk like an Egyptian.

Statue with blue eyes. Freaky.

I really liked this statue.

Venice is neat. So are old maps.

Yeah, he’s been dead forty some years. They claim it’s going to be a miracle if he makes it 50 years without decomposing. Then he gets to be a saint.

Val’s favorite statue.

Pigeon anyone?

Disemboweled statue. 1st of many at the Dumo in Milan

Lots of spires. Pretty cool looking though.

Excessively graphic statue/wall decoration of David and Galiath on the outside of the Dumo in Milan.

You didn’t know He had a website did you.

Lots of stained glass.

Apparently the black marble is harder than the white and wears slower. The floor is left with kind of a lumpy feel.

Yep, that’s his skin slung over his shoulder. This is also a famous statue in the Dumo.

That red dot up at the top is apparently where they keep “one of the nails from Jesus’ cross”. They only take it down for people to look at once or twice a year. It’s kind of a big deal so says the guidebook.

It’s supposed to be good luck to grind your heel on this mosaic bull’s testicles. Not sure why but we did it anyways.

Val enjoying Venice.

Little boat, little boat…

So we ended up having lunch during an afternoon squall but with food and 2 (half) bottles of wine, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Raining. Still Romantic?

Laughing at the wind. But not in the crazy way.

How tough do you think it is to row (?) a boat while holding an umbrella?

The ever popular ‘keep-the-tent-from-collapsing-by pushing-the-water-out-with-a-food tray-technique’. Note the audience in awe.

On one of the bridges after the rain. We ate at the restaurant down to the right between my shoulder and the little bird.

There I go trying to be artsy again but it looks like I had a little much flash. Granted I haven’t figured out how to reduce my flash yet so I’m kind of stuck. Guess I’ll keep my day job.

Isn’t she cute?

And she ate the paper…

Check out the Cal Trans orange pants on the Venetian paramedic.

This is that bridge we were standing on earlier.

Not too many mullets in Italy but we found one.

Nice place for a stroll

A nice place to have lunch.

Practicing I guess.

I’m Tony the Tiger and I approve this message.

Just taking a rest.

I want a knocker like that someday.

We really liked the Rick Steves guidebook. Thanks for the tip E.

Short bus. Hee heee.

It’s a little hard to see, but this guy is actually doing the moonwalk with his little Michael Jackson hand puppet. It was creepy, but you had to watch.

Stop. In the name of the tinyist stop light ever.

One of my pet peeves. Claiming something is home made when it’s clearly made at a store.

We almost got to see the Pantheon.

Ringo in the house!

It looks like truck.

We’re destined to come back to Italy since we threw coins over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain.

How many people are there in this picture?

If crowds are supposed to be light in August, I don’t even want to see the Trevi fountain during peak season.

Another mini bus. You didn’t think it was really that small did you.

Us at an arch across the way from the coliseum.

The statue throwing down the peace sign actually has new fingers.

Vandalismo Terrore!

Remember that poor bull’s testicles we talked about earlier? Here’s our good luck.

Swamp coolers in the subway.

Look at me be a tourist.

Hanging out at the bus stop in Venice.

Pretending to sleep on the plane on the way home.