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November 19, 2017

hibiscus tea

Tags: Food | Restaurants — 12:23 pm Comments (0)

hibiscus tea photo

The new to me hotness -> hibiscus tea and the best is supposed to come from the Sudan (wish I knew someone who could get us some).

Supposed benefits including weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, and pro-liver but not at high doses.

Every tea seller has hibiscus tea but seems a lot are in blend form w/ black tea or berries, e.g Imperial Red from Imperial Tea. They can’t seem to just sell and call it plain hibiscus tea, has to be some blend with some branded name. Luckily Berkeley Bowl has some just hibiscus tea.

I’m not going to link to bad Google results for Karkade recipes which is a sweet hibiscus drink (no links to an Egyptian or Sudanese website for a recipe? really?). It’s basically dried hibiscus, sugar, and water which is also agua de jamaica.

And I had no idea that jamaica was hibiscus. I didn’t know what it was, just thought jamaica tasted good. Who knew? Anyway, it was nice to get introduced to hibiscus tea and will probably need to drink up other teas/mix it up a bit before I go overboard and get sick of it. Hasn’t happened yet though.



November 14, 2017

iPhone X etc.

Tags: Everyday Life — 10:21 pm Comments (0)

Some of the major phones fighting in 2017/2018 are:

If I was in the market for a new phone, I’d probably get the Google Pixel 2 if not the Apple iPhone SE for $350.

The R11S and Mi Mix 2 look pretty cool. The Essential phone might be doa even though the ceramic/titanium build is really nice and I hope they do well.

So iPhone X for $1,150. LOL! No. If Google had priced their Pixel phones at a lower price point, they may have significantly made a dent with market share because they’re getting book ended by the iPhone X and iPhone SE. Might not be a concern though and they don’t really do volume with their phones. Regardless, the price of the iPhone X is just too high, cost of computing goes lower not higher so their pricing is way out of whack. You’ll see next year.

Google has other manufacturers to consider to distribute their Android/Google Assistant/other apps/Google Search which is really where they make their money in this razor/razor blade model of theirs. Google is right though, the battle is with cloud apps, hardware isn’t the bottleneck when it comes to user experiences.

Anyhow, it’s nice to see that phones are getting really good and fast and phones like the iPhone 6, Pixel, earlier Nexus and Galaxy phones are starting to last longer like 4 years or so maintaining a nice level of speed and responsiveness for everyday tasks. Before, it made sense to upgrade every year or two because there was a significant speed and performance bump, but now not so much. Which is a nice place to be.

 

 



November 13, 2017

thoughts on solar panels (again)

Tags: Everyday Life — 6:20 pm Comments (0)

Sunpower and Tesla/Panasonic seem to have the best solar panels with over 300 watts and 20% efficiency. Next gen solar panels may reach 45% and even greater efficiency still after those go to market (w/ in next 5-10 years?).

The problem for us is still breakeven. We’re low in our electric consumption, about 250kWh per month on average. We’re usually under 300kWh and sometimes even under 200kWh during the summer. That usage comes out to be $500 a year on electrical (even with PG&E raising prices/price gouging after the San Bruno pipeline explosion) .

$500 a year on electrical with a 7 year breakeven point means the cost of the solar system that makes sense would have to be $3,500 total. Even extended to a 10 year breakeven, we’re looking at $5,000. The cost of a 2kW system is roughly $9,600 ($7,000 after incentives). For 2.5kW it would cost $11,500 ($8,000 after incentives). So, we are getting closer on price but we’re probably still a good 10 years away because the cost isn’t just in the solar panels, it’s mostly the labor for installation.

Cost of one panel is around $300 – $350. We need about 6-8 of them which is about $3,000. The rest of the material costs are the railings, converters, wiring so another $1,000 or less. This DIY solar system kit is about $4,300, if I was super handy, this kit could be an option.

Anyhow, won’t be surprised if we start seeing 500kWh panels at 40-50% efficiency which means all we’ll need are four panels to power up the house and that’ll probably happen within the next 5 years. It could even be 1000kWh panels and all we’ll need are two panels. That would aesthetically (to our roof line) be pretty nice.

In any case, we’re still a no go for solar panels because our breakeven just isn’t there– enough so that Tesla/Solar City and others won’t even bother to come out. But I have a feeling a 500kWh panel w/ 45% efficiency at $200 a panel isn’t too far away. Then we’ll be at $3,500 for a fully installed system sooner than later, *if* we can find someone to do the install.



October 25, 2017

Tesla 3 vs Chevy Bolt etc

Tags: Cars — 12:19 pm Comments (0)

Tesla Model 3 is *THE* car that’s changing the world and saving our environmental future. The long range 310 mile version will cost about $57,000 while the base car is $35,000 (but no one is getting that version). How Tesla will do with mass production is going to be interesting, in the long run they’ll do fine.

$57k is not bad, given 5.1 0-60 seconds (BMW 340i is 4.6 seconds and $60k), all electric, no emissions, likely less maintenance, plus the cool factor.

The true competitors of Tesla Model 3 are the BMW 3 series, Audi S4, Lexus IS and ES. The competition isn’t Prius or Bolt or Leaf or even the BMWi series. Fit and finish aren’t in the same league. Teslas are head turners.

I do like the Chevy Bolt a lot (but not enough to consider buying one). You’re looking at $44k for the souped up version. 0-60 is 6.5 seconds which isn’t bad with a 238 mile range.

The Chevy Bolt looks great. Other cars in its style genre are the Chevy Spark and Sonic, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa Note, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius C, Ford Fiesta, and you could probably also include Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. So price is the issue, the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are in the $15k-$17k range and the Prius C starts at $20k.

When the Chevy Bolt drops down to $20k and all these other vehicles become fully electrified (which will happen), then we’ve got a ball game. It is nice to see all the Chevy Bolts on the road from folks upgrading from what I presume their Toyota Prius. At the end of the day, the Chevy Bolt is just a good looking and seemingly useful car.



October 4, 2017

Penrose – Oakland

Tags: Food | Restaurants — 12:34 am Comments (0)

birthday meal saving for posterity, pretty good steak – Penrose Oakland

Storm hill hanger steak with mushrooms, jimmy nardello peppers, coco nero beans & chimichurri from Penrose Instagram page

Whole mt. lassen trout from Penrose Instagram page



sense of urgency and finesse

Tags: Everyday Life — 12:27 am Comments (0)

Two elements that the French Laundry in Yountville strives for 1) creating and working with a sense of urgency, and 2) doing things with finesse. Baby steps.



June 30, 2017

BMW X3 – 2018

Tags: Cars — 3:06 pm Comments (0)

BMW X3 2018

The new BMW X3 looks nice, definitely much more aggressive looking and less soccer mom. Can’t wait to see this as an all electric vehicle with 270-300+ miles of range.

Apparently this thing has more ground clearance too. Not sure what’s going on with the quasi-M branding but too bad a true M version with a manual isn’t available. Otherwise, yea!



June 27, 2017

cioppino recipe

Tags: Recipes — 1:34 pm Comments (0)

pizzaiolo's fish stew

Pizzaiolo’s fish stew (via Instagram)

Ingredients/Instructions

– saute until translucent
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced

– add and bring to boil
1 1/2 cup of sauvignon blanc

– add and simmer covered for 25-30 minutes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 8 oz bottles of clam juice
1/2 cup of water
2 pinches of red pepper flakes
5-6 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf

– finish broth
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of butter

– saute separately and add
1 1/2 lbs of fish, monkfish or halibut (or 1lb of U-10 scallops)

– finish/garnish
1 lb littleneck clams 5 minutes
1 lb of shrimp 2 minutes
1 lb of PEI mussels 1 minute
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

serve w/ toast and aioli



January 1, 2017

MacBook Pro 2016

Tags: Everyday Life — 5:47 am Comments (0)

I love the non-touchbar version of the MacBook Pro. Looking down at a keyboard to find buttons doesn’t make sense to me so went with the non-touchbar model. I could also complain about the price and battery life (which you can do every time) but the specs and design are solid. There seems to be quite a few lukewarm reviews out there but that’s mostly because people are in need of ad/page views.

The MacBook Pro is still the best laptop in the market by a wide margin from a quality, design, and spec perspective. The Dell XPS laptops and Razer Blade laptops (stealth version) are also ones I’d consider.

Specs:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i7
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 2k display, although I’m hooking up to a Dell P2415Q 4k external display
  • weighs 3 lbs. and effectively has a 4 hour battery life (this does need to be way better)
  • USB C and the headphone port are great as the only ports

The sad thing about the MacBook Pro is that it’s pretty close to complete as a product (which is what you would expect after 25 years!). You can certainly improve on the internals but this thing can’t really get any thinner, lighter, louder, or brighter and no more ports to remove.

Of course a laptop can always get faster but this thing is already pretty fast and the bottleneck is on the connectivity and the server side. The real innovation is happening w/ the iPad and iPhone, still quite a few things that can be done there.

So yet again, this particular MacBook Pro defines laptop because there’s really very little left to do to make this an even better product. However, I’m curious to see how Chromebooks continue to evolve (especially versus tablet improvements) since a browser based OS or just a web based experience is what most folks use and need, and a significantly cheaper price point gets the Web out there to more people.

 



August 22, 2016

asset accumulation

Tags: Everyday Life — 2:40 pm Comments (0)

A couple of nice, pretty mid-life crisis things to possibly purchase at age 40 or 50 but mostly to look at and pine for considering it ain’t ever gonna happen :-) These two things and that boat (ok, yacht) I posted last time.

Baum Orbis

DSC_0363-001

Porsche Cayman S

 



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