Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good Excuse for Another Upgrade

My Spanish Spice hybrid plant is getting taller than the walls of my grow... thingy. It's not really a closet or cabinet. I guess it's just pieces of wood with mylar arranged into a box. Anyway, when I closet the lid the top of the plant touches it. I need to do something to raise the top a few inches. I'll probably do something like a table with 4 legs that rest on the existing walls. The light will be mounted under the new table/lid thing. I probably won't use the reflector for the bulb anymore because it would actually limit the spread of light inside the box. We'll see.

Just another progress report: Habanero below has tons of buds. Woohoo!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sprouts Coming Along

Here are a couple more poblano sprout pictures. They seem to be growing trouble free in the hydro system. Of course I still have to see if they damp off but I don't see it coming from the looks of things.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Poblanos!!! The first 4 seeds I started from the border bowl germinator are now starting to sprout. The picture directly below is one of the my mini pots with 2 poblanos just coming to the surface.

About 12 hours later here they are again. You can see the one that's about a centimeter high starting to unfurl its cotyledons(first pair of leaves).

The media being used for the grow pots is a mix of clay rocks, pea gravel, and play sand, in that order from bottom to top. The seeds were planted at the bottom of the sand layer. That gave maybe a half a centimeter for the seeds to grow through before they hit light. As noted before, these pots were sitting in my full strength hydro system the whole time from when they just had tap roots a few millimeters long.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Even More Germination... and More

I seriously have to order more border bowls from taco bell. When I came home from work today almost all the poblano seeds had tap roots sticking out. There were only 3 left. I decided to use the space left over from planting out the started seeds by popping in some jalapeno seeds I saved. Those seeds are fairly fresh but I hope I get something out of them.

Also the pumice planting media is working out really good! It holds water well without having a wet surface. From what I read on the net chili plants don't like "wet feet" and pumice does a really good job of draining off after absorbing its limit of water.

The anaheims are sitting in coconut coir pots that also help with good drainage but I ran across a problem today. Roots easily grow through the sides of those things and with them hanging out in the light it's just asking for a mold problem. So I just took some square plastic pots and set the coco pots directly in them. Easy fix.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Germination and More

Well another seed germinated in my patented Taco Bell border bowl germinator. I forgot to mention in the last post that these seeds are poblano peppers. What, another pepper? Yep, cause I like em. I also checked on the seeds I already planted and moved into my hydroponic system. The tap roots are about twice as long as they were yesterday and growing down into the media(that's a good sign of course). This also means that they're doing fine in the full strength nutrient solution, saving me from having to do more work. That solution, by the way, is at 15-85-55. Yeah that's what it says on the bottle. Seemed crazy to me too but it's been in the system for over 2 weeks now and everything looks good.

The peppers I have now are poblano, jalapeno, habanero, anaheim, and serrano. The habanero has a bunch of little buds on it and i can't wait to make an omelettte out of them.

And here are my anaheims sitting in the upgraded flood tray. I'm trying out a different media with these, pumice. So far so good.

Jack's Brewing Co.: The Knockout

Jack's Brewing Co.
39176 Argonaut Way
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 796-2036

I've been going to Jack's for a little over a year now. I was surprised a place like this existed and in my own city no less. Before the guys at work took me here I always thought the place was some kind of expensive steak house. Well I was wrong on both counts although they do have good steak from what I hear. Not only is the sports bar atmosphere great, made evident by tables full of die hard sports fans, but it's also a microbrewery. Yeah, they make beer!!!! I love the penalty shot porter and I'd review just that if I could think of a system. Read my review and go there yourself. This place would kick Applebee's ass to the moon.

The knockout is the best burger these guys have and is also my usual. Imagine a well seasoned medium burger patty with pastrami and red and green hot peppers on top, all in between 2 sesame seed buns. McDonald's can't come close. One of the key parts on determining taste is the fact that the waitresses never forget to ask you how you want your patty cooked. And these guys seem to have medium down to a science. It's a very good blend of spice, seasoning, and of course meat.

Now you've seen my burger reviews before and usually I have trouble determining where they lie in authenticity. This is one of those exceptions that you'd take a bite out of and say, "That's a damn good slice of America!" No kidding. And it also helps being surrounded by flat screen TVs and giant beer stiles.

As much acclaim as I give this particulat burger, do notice a little trouble on the consistency. It's a really really really small thing really... really. It's the juiciness. Some days I can have a nice clean burger experience but other times it's all out juicefest. I can't comment on the consistency of the juice itself but it has never affected the taste. I just don't like having to look down at my shirt every bite to see if I stained it. Wow, I have to say I've never had such a spiel on burger juice.

Cost to Serving:
Very fair. There' not much more I can say about it really. You pay for the burger and get a free side of fries and as much sauce as you want. Hint: try the pepper sauce.

My ultimate review of Jack's knockout is very good. It gets even better with the right microbrew beer. Meat, beer, sports... and yet this place still never manages to turn into a sausagefest, if you get my drift. The staff is like a small family although I don't think many of them are realated at all. Hell, one of the guys at work even invited them to their wedding and THEY CAME!!! And even brought 2 kegs of beer! Go to hooters and see how many of those girls would come to your wedding.
Price Paid: ~8.95
Price I'd Pay: ~9.50
Cumulative Rating: 7.5 (but I'm tempted to go higher to avoid beatings at work)
If you thought that a free straw was good, how about a free straw and all you can slather sauce?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Update

Here are 2 completely stained and clearcoated panels. No paper yet. I'll fill you in more as things come along.

Lots of Changes(continued)

I upgraded the flow tray to a 3 gallon transparent tupperware type container. It took me a while to find one that sat perfectly on top of the existing reservoir. Actually I found the same reservoir container at OSH and set different containers on the lid until I found one that was perfect. Sure I got some weird stares from the staff but its not like I cared. Anyway, I drilled straight through the bottom of the flood tray and lid of the reservoir and friction fit a 3/8 vinyl hose with about 3/4 of an inch sticking up from the bottom of the new tray.

You can see where I threaded the hose and attached a t-adapter with short hoses going into the grooves around the bottom of the tray. That groove was an extra bonus and helps completely siphon out the nutrient solution after the flood cycle. Cool points... That second thing sticking up is a second hole drilled and threaded as in the first hose to act as the overflow. It stands about 2 and a half inches allowing a flood to that height.

I sort of regretted placing the overflow so close to the t adapter as it was a bastard working in such close quarters. As you can see below, the flood test was a success!

Lots of Changes

Phew, a lot of changes and additions have happened since the last update. There's so much in fact that I have to separate everything into 2 posts.

This first post shows my Taco Bell Border Bowl germinator. Yes, a Border Bowl from Taco Bell. I used the paper towel germination method in which seeds are placed in between or on top of a folded moist paper towel. As you can see from the second and third picture, the seeds placed on top of the paper towel had a pretty good rate of germination. The third picture shows the seeds placed in between the folds. Out of all those seeds only the one to the bottom right started. All of these seeds have only been in germinator for about a day and a half. They've gone through about 14 hours of darkness and 22 hours of light. I'll give it up to 2 weeks to let the others start up.

After planting the 4 with tap roots I set them in the old ebb 'n' flow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shoji Project: Day 5, 6, 7.....??

Alright, as you can see I've finally laid down 2 coats of the sedona red on a panel. This one's ready for the clearcoat. Another panel is propped up in my living room drying its second stain coat. Let me tell you now. Laying stain on the lattices is a bastard. I put at least 3 or 4 coats on those damn things just to get the color to match the color on the redwood frame. I don't foresee using poplar wood in the future unless it is absolutely necessary. Also, I've renewed my hate for oil based stain. It just takes too long to dry and you don't get nearly the vivid color you get from water based. Even the brush cleaning is easier. And even though I'd need to sand one more time to flatten the grain, it's still less frustrating than waiting for the damn stain to dry. At least it gives me something to do. But anyway, the color is very decent and the above picture gives no justice to that. I just hope that the water based clear coat I put on later doesn't react with the oil based stain. I'm thinking that I may have to go water based spar urethane. Oh, and as far as the finish selection, it's most likely going to be satin even though I enjoy shiny things.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Erik's Delicafe: Chicken Pesto Sandwich

Erik's Delicafe
2551 San Ramon Valley Blv
San Ramon, CA 94583
(925) 743-0101

I've been to several of these restaurants all over the place, from Redwood City, to Fremont, to San Ramon. Everything is pretty much the same except for the serving sizes. I may or may not get into that later though. This place is usually packed at lunchtime, which is a very good sign. Almost everything has alfalfa sprouts. I used to hate it but I forgot to ask the clerks to not include it enough times that I got used to them. Here we go:

The main flavor in the Chicken Pesto, interestingly enough, is not chicken. Even more so if you get the alfalfa. In which case the main flavor is alfalfa then the pesto. But even without the alfalfa the pesto flavor is very subtle and barely masking the taste of what I "call cold cut chicken juice". Sure that description makes it sound bad but I don't mean it that way. It's like biting into the kind of chicken they put on a chicken caesar salad. I think it would be great with some kind of whole breast and not little chunks of meat. All in all, I like it and it has earned it's way up to my usual at Erik's.

Uh, an Italian/American hybrid sandwich is my best guess as to the origin of this cuisine. Do Italians use alfalfa? Let's just call it deli for simplicity. Although there's no definite origin that I can think of, this type of cuisine is so common that it has established itself as the originless "Deli". That's good enough for me and a special case for this rating. Yes, very "Deli".

Not counting the different size servings at different locations I think the consistency is spot on. It like they have a deli sandwich making machine back there. Though it is a little disturbing to me that I can't see my cold sandwich being made up front. I don't know, it's just one of my things I guess.

Cost to Serving:
Depending on the location you eat at this rating changes. For example, the Redwood City Erik's gives you a pretty big roll while the San Ramon Erik's, which is pictured above, looks way dinky. I'll just try to average out here. I usually get the combo like everyone else but this one's price seems to be masked by the combo items. Take a look at the individual sandwich prices some time. I have to take in account the chicken to sandwich ratio and exploded size due to alfalfa sprouts.

If you're feeling extra snobby but want a decent bargain, come to Erik's and hang out with the rest of the seemingly wannabe rich people and businessmen. That atmosphere is as constant as old people at a Buttercup Kitchen, which I hate by the way.
Price Paid: ~7.50
Price I'd Pay: ~7
Cumulative Rating: 6.50
Look Ma, I looks like a business man!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stain Selection

Well it looks like I didn't get a lot of support from the poll. Those who did vote ended up evening out. So I went to the store and bought a couple sample stains: Natural Cherry and Sedona Red.

Natural Cherry:

Sedona Red:

After a day of thinking I've decided to go with the Sedona Red. What pulled me that way was the similarity of the shade with my cherry finished futon frame. I've already started staining one frame and I'll get a pic of that up when I have one complete.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thinning, Separating, Upgrading... Peating

The chili plants have blasted off and some of the pots were getting crowded so I picked up a plant tray at OSH and some of those little peat pellets that expand when you dunk them in water. The latter was because I realized that I didn't have enough net pots if I put each plant in its own pot. One of the basils wilted after I moved it but there's already new growth so I expect it to come back after a couple new leaves form. I also put aluminum foil all over the place to help reflect useful light. I wanted to buy some reflective duct tape but that stuff was unexpectedly expensive.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Shoji Project: Day 4

I woke up at 9 this morning and routed out the remaining frame pieces. After a putting the last 2 frames together and a having a blooper with one of them I'm taking a break. I don't even know if I'll do the lattice work today. I'm bushed after working a straight 5 hours and not getting enough sleep the prior night. Well, at least the Sharks held off elimination again on game 5... Uh, here's the 5 semi-finished frames together. In that picture the screen spans 6 and a half feet.

I don't have enough room in my apartment for me to take a full picture of the damn thing. And I tried every angle, believe me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Just Something for You to Read

No new reviews today unfortunately. I ate at 2 new places this week which I've yet to build up a consistency rating for. The other 3 days I ate at places I've already rated. What was that Mexican place we at at with Joe and Noah, next to the porn shop, Mike? Bah... Hopefully I can rate Jack's Brewing Co. next week. I can't believe I forgot to put that on the list. Not just good burgers but good microbrew beer as well. Maybe Nations Giant Burger will get a review too. Also I foresee a rating coming up in a couple weeks for Falafels etc.. I like their little sauce bar where you can get as much chilli sauce as you want. But be careful or you'll be singing Ring of Fire the next day. Well it looks like have a meal plan for at least 3 days next week. See? This post was productive after all.

Dual Updates

I have 2 pieces of news to report today, as I watch game 5 of the SJ Sharks and Dallas Stars series. GO SHARKS! Anyway, I just noticed this morning that a few of my chili plants have gotten taller than my basil. The basil was the tallest just a day ago. I had to rearrange my pots so the now taller chilies don't block the shorter plants.

Also, I took a few of those pizza box supports, that you used to use as a kid to hold footballs, to raise the flood trays from the lid of the reservoir. I did this because I noticed that the solution could not completely drain with the surface tension clinging to the bottoms of the trays. Now the solution drains back into the reservoir completely. I always knew I could use those things for more than just helping my pizza and holding up footballs for punts.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

System Upgrade

Well I switched out the reservoir with a roughneck bin. I used the existing flood trays and just rerouted the water pump line through the sides so they could be set on top. The solution drains though the bottom of the trays and through holes drilled into the lid of the reservoir. The main water line runs up through the lid and is split with a T-adapter. The system is runs quieter and less light gets though to the solution.