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silentbob

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About silentbob

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    North Potomac, MD

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  1. silentbob

    Video Door Bells

    This is dead-on. Unfortunately, "doorbell" was not one of the labels on the circuit panel in our basement (only "lighting") so we had to use trial-and-error to figure out which one to shut off during installation. That and drilling a hole outside were the two most time-consuming tasks, but I'm not remotely handy and was able to complete the steps otherwise. We have a few other Nest devices at home and they were all fairly idiot-proof too. I'm pleased so far.
  2. Some friends and I had an early dinner here the other day. The tonkotsu broth was excellent, rich without being overpowering or salty. Noodles were a disappointment though, pretty bland and not much chew. Fatty pork was delightful. Portions seemed tiny for the price, and I'm not a big eater by any means. We ordered three appetizers but they didn't arrive until after the ramen did. Very unfortunate. They do say on the menu that the grilled yellowtail collar takes 20 minutes though.
  3. We were really hoping to eat at the Tysons location on Saturday at 11:30 am but apparently, unlike most of the other restaurants in the Galleria, it doesn't open until noon. With our two year-old's nap schedule, we couldn't wait and ended up driving 10 minutes down 123 to Sushi Yoshi, which was great as expected.
  4. We're going to Japan next summer! AMEX had a 30 percent bonus on Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin Atlantic (which is also a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards), where first class round-trip tickets on ANA are 120K miles (compared to 110K one-way on United). So we managed to find two seats for the IAD-NRT non-stop and pulled the trigger, having to use "only" about 200K of our points saved up from sign-up bonuses and so forth. I cleaned out our stash 125K of MR points which became 165K miles on Virgin Atlantic with the AMEX bonus and then used Chase for the remaining 75K. These seats typically go for over $12K booking with cash, so we ended up getting 10 cents per point in redemption value on paper. Of course we would never spend $12K on a plane ticket, so the true point value was somewhat lower, but this is one of those aspirational redemptions that AMEX and Chase make possible. Exploiting redemption sweet spots in an airline's FF program helps too. We're likely taking a side trip to Sapporo to see the lavender farms, and one-way flights on Japan Airlines (a OneWorld partner) cost only 4500 points in coach on British Airways Avios.
  5. We're in the market for a new "every day" pot (6 or 8 quarts), but I'm really not sure which way to go. Both stainless steel and non-stick teflon seem too limiting. My initial thought was to go the anodized route, like the Anolon Nouvelle Copper stock pot, but I keep reading conflicting information about safety and whether anodized cookware is truly free of PFOAs, PTFEs, etc. I also looked into eco-friendly products like the the Greenpan, but according to the test kitchen publications they don't perform well. Any other ideas, insights, or tips on where to take our search next?
  6. silentbob

    Venice, Italy

    On Joe H.'s recommendation many years ago, we had dinner at Osteria alle Testiere and were not at all disappointed. Lovely razor clams.
  7. silentbob

    Boston and Cambridge, MA

    I'd consider going to Craigie on Main more than once. The pastries at Flour Bakery are really good too. And although I haven't been, Café du Pays is Eater Boston's reigning Restaurant of the Year.
  8. I've never eaten at KC, but FWIW we had brunch at Fiola Mare before a Sunday matinee recently. Only a 10-15 minute walk, not a big deal when temperatures outside are okay.
  9. silentbob

    Hamburgers

    Why thin burgers are better than thick ones Nothing earth-shatteringly new or surprising in this article. The logic makes sense to me regarding Maillard and balance of ingredients in a sandwich. That said, I think this rule tends to be true only when the quality of meat is average/decent or worse (i.e., at most burger places). But if and when you get Ray's Hell Burger quality patties, thick all the way. That's still the gold standard for me, too.
  10. silentbob

    Seattle, WA

    We're headed to Seattle for a week next month, staying near Lake Union. With two young kids in tow, I doubt we'll be eating at any of the finer-dining establishments that have been discussed extensively upthread. Based on some initial cursory research here and elsewhere, the short list of places where I'm thinking we'll go includes Meat & Bread (a few blocks from our hotel, loved the sandwiches there when were we in Vancouver), Tsukushinbo, Il Corvo, Poke to the Max, and Un Bien. Maybe Junebaby if it's remotely child-friendly? Any other suggestions?
  11. Yep, the AMEX FHR benefit for Platinum cardholders, if you like staying at nice hotels, can be super-useful. Sometimes there are stay 2 or 3 nights, get one free offers. And many hotels throw in $100 in food/beverage, spa, or general use credit when you book through AMEX FHR. Plus you get free breakfast for two (obviously more valuable at some properties than others), early check-in at noon if available, at least a one-category room upgrade if available, and guaranteed late checkout. Their rates are often a bit higher than booking through the aggregators or hotels directly, but these ancillary benefits in the aggregate often more than make up for the rate difference.
  12. I agree with the sentiment -- to a certain point. Part of me is "meh" about hustling. There's a time and place for it in every sport (i.e., high-leverage situations). And I suppose having a team culture of hustling vs. loafing could be valuable if it means trying harder during practice. But when the score is lopsided and/or the stakes are lower, hustling can be counter-productive if it materially increases the chances of injury. Pro athletes, especially the ones that get paid a lot, are usually much more valuable healthy and playing than hurt/disabled. Not many traditionalists believe this, but staying healthy and managing your body are as much a skill IMO as hand-eye coordination, power, or superior footwork. Lionel Messi is apparently legendary in his energy conservation skills. LeBron is aware of this issue too. Like it or not, Father Time is undefeated and older athletes have to pick their spots for when to turn their higher gears on and off. It's easy for young minor leaguers to go all out 100 percent of the time, because their bodies heal more quickly and hustling often helps mask other deficiencies (i.e., if their on-field production was better, they wouldn't be stuck in the minors). So yeah, the fake hustle of running out pop-ups or come-backers to the pitcher in a blow-out does nothing for me.
  13. The Instagram photo that they posted this weekend of all the wine that had to be tossed was really sad to see. We'll definitely make it a point to go back often once they re-open.
  14. Dizengoff has expanded in recent years, most conveniently IMO to the Whole Foods by the Franklin Institute and Art Museum. There's a food hall-style set-up on the main level that also includes Federal Donuts and Goldie. Plus underground parking is free for 90 minutes and there are spots for charging electric vehicles. Most importantly, shakshuka is available on Saturdays too -- only Sundays at the downtown location -- and was enjoyably spicy when we ordered it the other day.
  15. The Southwest card seems fine enough, though I wouldn't necessarily view the CSR as that much pricier. It's true that the annual fee is $450, but you basically get two-thirds of it back in the form of a $300 travel credit (that can be used for airfare, parking, public transportation, car rental, and so forth). And in the ordinary course of spending, these travel expenses (plus all restaurant dining!) generate 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Most travel bloggers view UR points as worth somewhere between 1.5 and 2 cents per point when redeemed properly, so that means an effective 5 or 6 percent rebate on all your travel/restaurant spend. You do get about half of the Southwest annual fee back in the form of a travel credit, though the card is new and we have no idea in practice yet what qualifies for reimbursement. The best reason to get this card now is that, in theory, you can earn about 80K in Southwest points towards the 110K needed in 2018 to qualify for Companion Pass in 2019, which is super-valuable if you travel a lot on Southwest. But if you're only flying a couple of times per year, it's not worth tying yourself down to one airline. And the chances for bonused spend, unlike with the CSR, are much narrower with an airline-specific card. The CSR is also better IMO because UR points are a very flexible currency -- they can either be redeemed directly for travel spend or transferred to miles/points with a wide variety of airlines. Southwest points have a fairly fixed value and can't be leveraged as effectively.
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