Friday, July 15, 2011

Does it blend?

My old standard cab Nissan Hardbody D21 2WD 4cyl truck was rather nice.
I had spent nearly $20k over 10 years modifying it to suit my desires:
Bucket seats.
Stereo that thumped.
Tinted windows.
Larger wheels.
Low-profile (sticky!) tires.
Big, highly effective brakes.
Polyurethane bushings.
Tuned suspension (spring rates, sway bars, etc.)
Modified motor.
Enhanced drivetrain (clutch, driveline, rearend, etc.)
Reduced weight body and chassis.

Some goddamn fuck-tard piece of shit ass-borne dick-less monkey(s) stole it out of my drivveway last September.

Well, I got shit back for my insurance. Thanks, Progressive, love you too...
Anyway, I bought two stock trucks from my insurance payout. I've been modifying one of them to make it as good as (if not better) than my old one.

Thankfully, it came with a new clutch and newish brakes. At least, it hooks up under power shifting and stops relatively well given the sad stock wheel/tire combo.

So far, all I have done is:
New grille, front bumper, clear corner lights, clear turn signals, rear 3" drop springs (Stillen) and front 3" drop control arms (DJM) lowering, new KYB GR-2 shocks, polyurethane leaf-spring bushings, upper and lower polyurethane bushings, all new ball joints, rear sway bar (Addco) and larger front (also Addco) sway bar, painted the chassis and replaced some engine sensors. All told, it goes, it turns, it stops. Oh, and I removed the rear bumper in place of a stock filler plate and license-plate holder in the interest of saving weight. Wrong end to save weight, I know. Shut up.

My next steps in upgrades, not really in any particular order:

Wheels and tires.
- I have some 18" x 9" Titan rims.
- I will be buying 245/40ZR18 Toyo RA1 tires. Good for all of 4k miles, if I am careful...
- I will also get some Pathfinder 15" chromies for daily use with relatively sticky rubber.

Rear LSD from a Pathfinder.
- I have one now. It has disk brakes, as well.
- I will have to remove the rear brake proportioning system to accommodate. Oh well.

KA24DE motor from a S14 240SX.
- I also have that now as well. Plus a transmission and accessories. Yikes!

- Figure 250+ HP to the wheels minimum. Exactly what every old truck needs!

- Two-stage metallic red from a 250IS Lexus or similar.

- Some nice buckets that might allow my 6'7" frame to hang onto this beast...

- Pathfinder cross-drilled cryogenic rotors and Hawk Blue pads.

- As dark as I can legally get away with.

- 4 x 6.5" 3-way speakers, 10" sub, 500+ total watts. What more could you possibly want?

Okay. The plan is in place. Watch, wait, see how long it takes to cross these off...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heidi's of Gresham

Breakfast today was Heidi's of Gresham. This is an old-school place done up all Alpine-lodge Germanic/Austrian/Switzerland style. It seems to appeal to both young and old, and has an attached "lounge". Other amenities include a wall o' greeting cards and an extensive gift shop. There are additional knick-knacks and tchotckes for sale throughout.

When I say it appeals I mean the lot is packed, and you have to wait in the lobby to get a seat. I see the same phenomenon at every Denny's I've ever been to (back before I appreciated food...) In retrospect, this should have been a warning, but my previous dining experience here had been so unremarkable that I didn't remember it. I had to go back and try it again. I continue to hold out hope that there is a dining area of excellence somewhere in my section of the city. That hope grows fainter every day. Good job, Gresham/Troutdale/Fairview/Happy Valley/Oregon City/Molalla/Wilsonville/Milwaukie/etc...

There is a pastry case on either side as you stand in line to get to the dining area, which I'm sure must improve their sales of those items. They didn't look any different than the same pastries at any grocery store, so I wasn't all that interested. There were some rather large eclairs on display in one of the cases that I was halfway tempted by.

Breaking my fast here entailed a bloody Mary. The mix was weak in all respects, with a very mild horseradish kick. It was a relatively small volume glass, and was dressed with stick of celery, a lime slice, a plain salt rim, and two large but slightly bland green olives. By the book, for sure. What did I expect? There are old people here, you might kill one of 'em if you put any flavor in the food, right?

I also had their coffee. And that is how remarkable it was.

My food came, and the verdict is: straight greasy spoon line cook fare.

I had some delicious ironed hash browns, some serviceable over-medium eggs, a little bit of some salty, fatty cured pork flavored bubble gum they were calling "bacon", and some French toast. The French toast came with a gravy boat full of syrup. Enough syrup to saturate an entire loaf of bread, easy. It had a nice congealing film on the top of it when I went to slop it on my plate. Yum! Also, part of a Florentine omelette which had mushrooms from a can and swiss cheese that was probably purchased in individual plastic wrapped slices (processed, for sure!) The spinach in the omlete was salty, and the eggs tasted vaguely of grilled cheese sandwich. Nice. How weird is it when the hash browns are the high point of your meal?

Once done with breakfast, I went to stand in line again to check out. The prices weren't even all that good, given that it's such mediocre fare.

I have learnt me a lesson for this second visit: DON'T GO LOOKING FOR GOOD FOOD IN GRESHAM! Also, write it down sooner so I don't make the same mistakes over and over. Note to self: you know how to make good hashbrowns. And bacon. And poached eggs. And coffee. And a damn fine bloody mary. What the hell are you doing complaining about places like this?

Heidi's: Take your grandparents there. As an aside, this place felt very similar to the TA truck stop in Fairview, although that breakfast was a buffet and the tables had telephones on them. The rest of the vibe was very similar to me.

Answer to self above: because sometimes you aren't in any state to cook on weekend mornings, but still need calories to hike! Best those calories be tasty and cheap...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Good Stuff

I've been busy, too busy for posting adventures, but I did want to recommend a really funny and entertaining site: Random Good Stuff. They have a give-away going on now, go check them out! They also have some very entertaining shopping links and some awesome flash games.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Temporary change of direction.

I have to pick a different tack. Changes in the wind dictate a course change. If you know me, this will probably come as no significant surprise. If you are unfortunate enough to lack an RSS feed, you'll prolly not get any further push updates by me, alas! Anyhoo, this site is getting new stuff. Lots of new stuff. It's crazy. It may appeal, it may not - flee if need be this is for me.

I'm going to break it down one time on some gear. I'm also going to flood reviews of hikes, restaurants, beer, etc. All these posts have been held up by the lack of connection since my outside-work internet has been extremely limited for about 6 months now. A story in itself, but that'll require a bit of careful editing - I've just not been diarizing as often as I ought. This current episode might just be the mental fiber need to clear the brain constipation...

What have I been doing during the winter? There is no end to the cool stuff that has happened in this period, and I did record some bits for later autodigestion. I post them shortly.

As far as the new gear that prompted this diarrhea is concerned, it's mostly pretty decent. I shopped it pretty hard. I so got not a ton of money, so these are for you if like relatively affordable high quality stuff.

So it begins:
Cousin Jason's Beer Story
Kershaw Damascus Scallion Frame Lock DLC + Damascus Scallion Frame Lock + F'ing Damascus Steel + Tuf Cloth
Daniel Cash's 1%'er
Hot Shit: Pepper Infused Vodka, Hot Sauce, Dried Peppers + Ketchup Fail
More Hot Shit: Ultimate Bloody Mary
Pocket Gear: Gerber Infinity Ultra 1 AA Light + Gerber Artifact + IDL Tools (both microtool models)
More Pocket Gear: Leatherman - all the good shit.
Desk Gear: Soyo 22" Widescreen Monitors + Razer Diamondback Mouses

Camping Gear: Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag + Sirius 2 Tent + Big Agnes Air Core Sleeping Pad
Drive From Hell: Chico/Stockton/San Francisco Trip + Clutch Slave + Bad Food
Deliciousness: Chico/Oroville/Corning Olives and Oil
Thrifty: Food in the woods + Mushrooms
Extreme hedonism: EaT + Bamboo + Special Occasions + Salty's + Some F'ing No'Po Breakfast Restaurant That Was Actually Really Good
Hikes: Saddle Mtn., Gorge Hike Summary
More Hikes: Plans for Spring/Summer/Fall

Monday, September 29, 2008

Home cooking.

Rather than eat at the roach coach around the corner from my house, last night Loni and I made our own tacos! I'd started some pinto beans soaking in the morning before our hike, and cooked them after I got back in my new stainless pressure cooker (thanks, Emily!)

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to buy good food. I got some thick handmade tortillas rather than stack two of the thin ones.
I also grabbed a giant slab of carne asada marinated meat, some Jalapenos, an onion, a bag o' limes.
Still had to get cilantro from Fred Meyers, but that's okay.
Salsa: Jalepeno, garlic, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt.
Taco: several strips of meat, a couple spoons of beans, and a couple spoons of salsa.
Overall, delicious. Should have got some serrano peppers for the salsa, because the jalepenos weren't that hot. I ate three and was stuffed. They tasted pretty authentic, even though my neighborhood anthrax shack doesn't use beans. Oh well. Fiber is ALWAYS good for you, right?

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Update: Added a habanero and serrano pepper to the salsa, to see if it could be kicked up a notch. The answer is yes. Also added some queso fresco for greater fat content, and cubed the beef for convenience. God, I could fork myself full of those tacos until I died of complete cardiovascular arrest from lipids plugging my pipes. Ahhhh.

Silver Star Mountain from Grouse Vista

Loni and I did Silver Star Mountain today. Our previous attempt a year or two ago failed on account of a painful knee plus running out of water. Current attempt was almost derailed on account of Loni has a cold. She wanted to hike anyway, and since it would otherwise have been a boring day we geared up ad headed out.

3.4 miles to the summit, 1000 vertical feet. It's a breeze exercise-wise, but the large loose rocks on long parts of the trail can be hard on the ankles. In much the same fashion, the road to Grouse Vista is hard on car suspension.

We had much trail munching, with huckleberries, salmonberries, blackberries, and thimbleberries. I also found small patches of chanterelles on the way up and the way back. Omelets for breakfast tomorrow, obviously.

The whole time we were on the trail, we could hear the routine cracking of a rifle at regular intervals. It didn't really affect us, but started to get irritating towards the end. The wind blew my brains out, but the various birds looked like they were having fun performing aerobatics in the gusts.

When we hit the top, it was fairly close to where we'd turned around the time before. So close! Oh well. We'd found fresh bear scat, same as our previous hike up this trail. Next trip, we'll be taking a detour to the Indian pits. We'll probably also do the Tarbell trail on the way up if we come via Grouse Vista.

The view is pretty amazing from up top. There is a concrete foundation on one side of the forked summit, and you can see Adams, Hood, Rainier, and St. Helens. It was sort of hazy, so my pictures don't show the peaks as well as I'd like.

There were some older folks arguing about the hikes they'd done while drinking some wine. Also a pack (herd?) of loud boys and girls wearing almost no clothes and drinking beer on top of the rocks. 6 people doesn't really constitute a herd, I guess. We'll say pack. I was jealous for a second because I didn't have beer, but then I saw the domestic swill they were guzzling. C'mon, if you're going to grab cans, get some Caldera or Dale's Pale Ale.

It was a nice slow hike up, and a somewhat quicker descent. On the way back, a couple passing reported a second-hand bear sighting on the trail. No bears were seen by us. Alas. This prompted an alphabetical listing of all of the things we'd seen on the trail, which occupied the next mile or so.
  • A is for Apples, which we forgot to buy.
  • B is for Black Bears, which we didn't see. Or Bolete mushrooms (many!) or Blackberry.
  • C is for Crowded, at the summit. Or Chanterelles, in my fridge. (Caterpiller!)
  • D is for Dogs, brought by everybody, apparently.
  • E is for Enteritis, and the hopes we don't get it from eating all those berries.
  • F is for Fall, bringing mushrooms and red leaves, also maybe waterfalls.
  • G is for Gun, being shot by the asshole down in the valley continuously for 4+ hours.
  • H is for Huckleberries. Yum. Also lots of them in the bear scat on the trail...
  • I is for Idiots. Drinking beer at the summit. Should've packed a pony keg at least, bros!
  • J is for Junko, what a cute little bird.
  • M is for Mushrooms, quite a few out early this year.
  • P is for Plants, none of which I know well enough to eat yet.
  • Q is for Quick, the descent from the summit.
  • R is for Rocks, my feet hurt. Somebody get me a tissue.
  • S is for Steep. At least for the first part. Also salmonberries.
  • T is for Tarbell, the trail we'll take next time. Also thimbleberries..
  • V is for View, although today was sort of hazy.
  • W is for Wind, trying to blow us off the mountain.

K, X, X, Y, and Z don't bring anything to mind, so I leave them be.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Country Cat is so fired.

The first visit to the hipster restaurant "The Country Cat" was okay. Mediocre bloody Mary, but attentive service and pretty tasty food (lemon preserves in their hollandaise were unusual but very good.) Somewhat on the high end for prices, so I never went back. The second visit was awful.

Loni and I did our traditional pre-hike breakfast, and chose this place again as it was almost on the way. We had a tattooed waitress with reddish Betty Boop style hair who was...attentive, but colder than ice. It didn't seem very busy, but she seemed really put out when pressed to provide service.

It all started to go downhill when we asked for EXTRA SPICY bloody Marys. We got the same ones as last time, if not weaker. Also, the last time we were here, the waiter/bartender guy suggested the Indio wasabi vodka because we were discussing local liquor. Took a bottle of it to a little party, thinking it'd make an interesting addition to the mix. As it turned out upon sampling, this vodka bears more than a slight resemblance to diesel fuel. You could see what they were attempting with this blend, but they failed badly... Oh well, hopefully it got drunk eventually. The guy making this recommendation would probably be the same guy mixing your Mary.

Our entrees were the huevos rancheros. When you pop $11 for a plate of the absolute cheapest down home ranch food you can imagine, you'd expect a lot of food, right? Or that it would be the most amazing plate of beans and eggs on tortillas you'd ever had, right?
    Not so much, either way:
  • Two tortillas.
  • Two eggs, over-poached (sigh.)
  • Some cheese.
  • A smattering of beans.
  • An ocean of mediocre green sauce.
  • Some mediocre salsa.
  • A dollop of sour cream.

I just priced this out, and the actual food cost of our meal was approx. $0.92 per plate. I just spent an extra $10 a plate for the vibe of having brunch in a stupid hipster cafe for an unsatisfying meal with an irritated waitress? That's one strike for the price, one strike for the food, one strike for the service. I don't even have a strike left for the drink.

Okay, that's as mean as I can be to this place. It'll succeed anyway. We need more breakfast places in this town.

Below is rambling, for my future reference. I'm just saving my thoughts on this visit, and it is pure blahblahblah. You should run away before your brain dissolves into the vapid essence of "my theory of what happens to restaurants", part one million.

I figure what happened is this: someone had an idea for a nightclub and breakfast cafe that was cool. Really cool. Awesome decor, awesome space, awesome staff. Everything would set the right mood, and be attended to so that everyone was happy. Drinks, food, music, it would have it all!

They pulled it off. It's called the Doug Fir.

Everyone else has been distant second comers for that competition, unfortunately. D.F.'s got a hotel on site, the best location close to both hipster SE and downtown, and they've been up for a while and getting better (fortunately!)

The Country Cat seems like a D.F. that could have been. It feels like it's getting burnt out and overloaded. They've lost the attention to detail that make a place stand out. It's attracted all the wrong folks (me and mine), real people, who aren't awesome! We're not the hung-over hedonist hipsters holding down semi-grown-up jobs who spend slightly too much money who frequent the night life part of this restaurant scene. We're just good food people, and normal folks, and neighborhood locals. On the menu, you make like your food is the bomb. But it's not. It's just fairly well executed regular food on a larger and faster production scale. For the prices, I could be eating at Francis or Genies or the Doug Fir or even Screen Door!
They all do it better and they're all bigger operations! I'm not sure what the Country Cat folks pay in rent, being that close to Stark's finest oddball storefront set. Tan-n'-tub (Your [sic] going the wrong way!), Foam Products, Ya Hala (my mind has a conscious association Ya Hala=Good), and a farmer's market. Maybe some of their food is from there? I can only hope...

I feel the same way about the Screen Door as I do about the Doug Fir. They've been up for a while, and they keep getting better! How is this possible? They get more expensive, but not really, and not by much more than the rest... I just have to give props to the places that make it, and that stay true to their food. It makes me want to eat out ALL THE TIME, just to see what'll come up as a special on the chalk board.

Francis also goes in this category. Their message is something like this: "You can always come for standard breakfast fare! Our specials are very well constructed. Eggs, good bacon, excellent breads, potatoes, pancakes, french toast, etc. But today only, you can try *THIS*!" Usually it's amazing. At Screen Door, it's always a meat or seafood dish, rarely anything vegetarian unless it's on their small plate list. Their breakfast standard fare involves fried chicken and waffles, which is AWESOME, just don't even think about going up Hamilton Mountain at speed if you eat the whole thing. I wanted to vomit several times during the ascent, and may have suffered minor strokes during the hike due to congealing fat in my brain.

It took, literally, half a bottle of weirdly watered-down Tabasco to bring the bloody Mary at Country Cat up to snuff. We even had to ASK for the Tabasco, like they were surprised it wasn't spicy enough... Their Mary has beef jerky on the skewer with a non-pitted olive and some sweet pickled green beans. Big deal. Save your jerky, pit your olive, and sweet has NO PLACE in a bloody Mary! Bring some HEAT, peeps! We ask for extra spicy, the appropriate response is "Would you like scalding, scorching, or face melting?" and that's it! Better yet, why don't you pit your olive and stuff it with an habanero, so you can shut up numb-skulls like me when we ask for it? Not too much to ask, I'd think, unless the rest of your clientele are completely wankers.

The best response I can think of from the house, when asked for a bloody Mary, Extra Spicy would be to offer the equivalent of a Salvador Molly's Great Ball o' Fire.

Those things are no joke, I ate the whole set of five with ALL the sauce at the old S.M. off Belmont only to find out the jerks had no film for their Polaroid camera. Later that night I felt like I was dying from the pain of the capsaicin-laced cheese passing through my body. I can handle one of these, no major problems. I even find it sort of exciting! No more than one, because that's when life gets all ugly. I'm pretty sure I was hallucinating for a bit after eating them.

Anyway, WAY too many words later, I arrive at this: Nobody makes a super-hot bloody Mary. I think it should be a mark of pride for a breakfast place to offer a superbly crafted and extremely remarkable Mary, virgin or otherwise that BRINGS THE HEAT. If nothing else, purchase a vial of Satan's Blood and throw a couple the drinks according to heat preference! My very first Genie's Bloody Extra Spicy was THAT HOT! Totally on fire in my mouth and brain, feeling awake and alive and fantastic. And on fire. Hot hot hot hot. Now, when you get a Genie's Bloody Extra Spicy you have to dump half a bottle of the Secret Aardvark sauce in 'em just to wake them up. Is that entirely me? I doubt it, I still have the same sensitivity to Tabasco I've always had. My spicy scale is still calibrated the same way. Maybe they aren't instilling their vodkas as long, or they aren't changing their peppers as often.