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Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Update

Thanksgiving, my birthday (hi 26! you feel a lot like 25....), and my annual Florida Xmas vacation (perks of being the low man on the totem pole, get to celebrate in early Dec and be in the office during the actual holiday) have all come and gone since I last wrote. I'd say vacation in FL was the highlight, with daily tennis/golf/rollerblading/reading/cards occupying my time. I'd guess that my birthday was the lowlight, but frankly I can't remember anything past 11pm so I'm not totally sure. (just kidding MOM, I was dead sober) Other events since we last spoke include deactivating my facebook account, creating a twitter account, and getting new skiis. The snow continues to dump this week (9 inches @ Vail last night, ~30inches in last week), and I can't wait to get out there Saturday. But anyway during that time, a few events happened in the hot sauce world that I figured were worth sharing.

1) Disowning of my Sister: During a normal family dinner conversation over break, the topic naturally slipped towards hot sauce. Below is a verbatim interchange, and completely justifies our decision to disown my Sister.

Todd- Valentina is a great sauce. It is the most popular one in Mexico.
Dad- Yeah it is good, but not too hot.
Brooke- Todd, what is that sauce I really like?
Todd- Um, I don't know, Walkerswood?
Brooke- No, it's more basic but tastes so good. It's really common.
Todd- Sriracha?
Brooke- Nope, it's Franks. I love Franks!

Disowning by me and my parents ensued immediately.

Side Note: In what is one of the "darker times" in the Wood family hot sauce career, someone made the decision to buy the massive jug of Franks from Costco. It languished in our pantry for about 10 years before dad and I finally pulled a Kevorkian and ended its unopened and underutilized misery with a mercy killing. A sauce literally could not be lower quality, less spicy, or more pathetic than Franks. #onemansopinion

2) Dad's Xmas gift to mom: Comprised of about 12 different hot sauces. I was really impressed by his gift giving ability, he hit up and make some great selections. I would have liked him to go a little farther up the scoville scale (he concentrated in the 4-12k range), but kudos for the effort. The Peri Peri sauce seemed to be the fan favorite, with brooke declaring it "The best sauce she has ever had". But please see item 1 in order to just how relevant her opinion is.

3) Dinner Party: In order to "liven up" the vacation, my parents invited over two family friend's for dinner one night. We've been friends with the family our whole lives, and it was great to see them. Sadly, I'm not sure they can say the same about us. My dad, still bulled up about his hot sauce gift to mom, decided that for appetizers we should arrange all the hot sauces in proper Scoville order and test them all out on chips. This was all well and good, and was actually a great chance to try out his new sauces. This is where Brooke decided that the Rhino sauce was the best. Anyway, the couple arrived and dad immediately sent them towards the hot sauce challenge. (clearly missed Party Hosting 101: Offer a drink to the guests upon their arrival) The wife dove right in, and took worked her way up to the red El Yucateco (the ~6k sauce that drove ZS (the reigning wuss of the week) to tears) with minimal trouble. So +1 for her. The husband on the other hand demonstrated significantly more caution. Allegedly he had something at lunch that didn't really agree with him, so his stomach was hurting him a bit. A normal host would agree that this was a valid excuse for skipping the hot sauce challenge. My dad is not a normal host. Despite protests, he "encouraged" the man to try some sauces. Against his better judgment, he did. Long story short, this exacerbated the stomach pains and forced him to leave the table and drive home alone (leaving his wife) in order to recuperate in solitude.

Moral of the Story: Everyone should work on their Scoville eating capacities daily, as you never know when you'll be faced with a situation like this where you either dominate the sauce, or are sent home alone packing like a wuss.

4) JD pwns another one: So I was not here for this event, but since it happened in my apartment and utilized my sauces, I feel slightly responsible. JD had a couple kids over last weekend while I was gone, including a girl J (one of our three girlfriends (friends that are girls...)) and her boyfriend E. They brought along one of E's friends, who allegedly constantly talks about his hot sauce prowess and how nothing is too hot for him. Never one to pass up a challenge, my star pupil JD decided to show him what's up and brought out the Widow sauce. This is actually an awesome tasting sauce, and has some solid kick (comes in at around the 80-90k level i'd say). JD takes down a chip with sauce, and then offers one to The Dude. In the best possible outcome, JD sweats a little but handles it like a champ, whereas The Dude gets completely blown up and tears stream down his face, nose starts running, and he can't really talk for 15 minutes. Good work JD! Now it's time for you to start training on Sudden Death.... and then Da Bomb!

P.S. Is it just me, or is the magazine title missing an Adjective.... CREEPY-Looking! Jeez he's scary, it really wouldn't surprise me at all if he was actually a pre-development AI droid that escaped from the GOOGLE campus.

P.P.S. JD and I were talking the other night, and came to the inexorable conclusion that there is only one outcome from developing AI; Our future is going to be like Terminator, not I-Robot. As soon as a robot is sentient and able to create another robot, they will realize how illogical and dangerous humans really are (look how we unsustainably utilize Earth's natural resources) to future survival. It's only a matter of time then before they decide to eliminate us for their own safety. Interesting question we came up with while talking: "What do Droids do in their free time? Do they have hobbies?"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Fearsome Blazin' Wing Challenge

Housekeeping Note

JC responded to my last post re:Terrible Tues. While an entertaining banter ensued, no resolution was reached, as his personal experience trumped any logic/thoughts I was able to bring to bear. Considering how little reader interaction there is on this blog, I have decided to post the conversation in its entirety. Hopefully this will be inspiring to some. This will either be mildly amusing/completely uninteresting depending on the reader.

JC: I disagree with the premise of your latest blog post. m^2 is always worse than t^2

THTF: I would submit that it's not just the absolute level that makes something bad, but the relative level vs expectation.

Think of a stock. Everyone knows that the earnings will stink. And then it reports bad earnings, but not quite as terrible as expected. It rallies. This is Monday.

Then there is a stock that should do fine. But then earnings are a tiny bit below expectation. It sells off. This is Tuesday.

JC: Maybe for you. My mondays usually don't come in better than expectations until im out of work

THTF: Monday is always expected to be awful. It usually matches this expectation, but sometimes it comes in better.

I always have much higher hopes for tues, and it more often than not comes in below expectations.

Maybe I need to re-calibrate tues expectations downward.

JC: It sounds like that would be a rational adjustment given your experience.

THTF: It also has ability to surprise to upside as well though. Mon never does that. Tues is just a more volatile day, but the utility loss from a downside surprise is much greater than the utility gain from an upside surprise

JC: Maybe you are more of a scholar on the topic than I

THTF: That usually is the case

THTF: So is today significantly better than yesterday for you?

JC: Yes, almost unquantifiable

Anyway, on to the point of the post. Last night after rock climbing, JD and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings. As per their unbiased website:

"Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar is one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country. Our concept is more than a Buffalo, New York-style wing joint with 14 signature sauces, we are also a sports bar, with a full menu featuring everything from salads to appetizers to burgers, and a variety of specialty items. All served in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where people like to hang out with friends, play trivia on our Buzztime® system, and watch their favorite games on one of our many big-screen TVs."

The restaurant is actually pretty sweet, and has a menu of 14 different wing flavors. The Mango Habanero and Spicy Garlic are amazing. The most "dangerous" of the flavors is the Blazin' sauce. I read on a rather well respected website that the sauce is in the 200k+ scoville range. That my friends is 100% libel. At most this thing clocks in at 20k.

The Menu

Tuesday nights at BWW is 45cent wings, so JD and I decided to stop by for a quick dinner before going out ($2 bowling and drinks @ Lucky Strikes last night!). I decided that this was the perfect time to give the Blazin' Wing Challenge a try. The serving girl's face went ashen when said challenge was requested, and she queried whether I was sure. I admitted I was, and off she went to get the waiver that needs to be signed. Highlights from the waiver included: BWW is not liable in case of participants death, no water or celery or blue cheese, 12 blazin' wings, 6 total minutes. JD elected to sit this one out like a little girl, but was kind enough to act as a witness.

Anyway, the actual challenge was a total cakewalk. The wings were not spicy, so it came down to whether I could eat 12 wings in 6 minutes. And like any self-respecting man, the answer was yes. Four minutes and 15 seconds later, I was the proud owner of the following T-Shirt.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Terrible Tues? I don't think so

Besides the Bangles, everyone knows that Mondays suck. After spending a glorious weekend out of the office sleeping in, playing sports, doing activities, and otherwise enjoying yourself, the pain of a 5 day work week sets in hard come Monday morning; hence the term Miz Monday. But while it is brutal, it also is very expected and understood by the masses. So you can't be too upset when the day in fact is bad. That being said, I personally believe that Tuesday is actually the worst day of the week; hence my nickname Terrible Tues (or T^2 for the nerds in the crowd). Monday you still have the opportunity to regale your work buddies with your extracurricular weekend exploits, and the bar is really low as far as having a good day. Tuesday on the other hand has nothing going for it. The weekend is still an interminably long distance away, and you are required to do all the work that you pushed off on Miz Mon due to your residual two day hangover. So more work, and what seems to be the same (i.e. infinte) amount of time until the weekend makes T^2.

So this Tuesday started off as expected; terribly. Work was rough, my stocks were moving the wrong way, and Jimmy John's inexplicably covered my Italian sub with Mayo. WTF! I got home around 7pm, and made some "poor man's chili" (a JD invention, dropping beef stew onto pasta and then slathering with hot sauce; amazing!) in order to help turn the day around. I needed a pick me up, so decided to cover my dinner with Mad Dog Inferno. A great 90k sauce (garlic/molasses), I overestimated my abilities and totally pwned myself; rendering the dinner inedible. And I got a stomach to boot, F!

However from this point on, T^2's strangelhold on my day started to loosen. For JD's 26th birthday, I got him (and myself) tickets to KT Tunstall at the Ogden. Now that doesn't sound like a good gift for a 26 year old male, but I can assure you it is. So we headed to the concert early in order to snag a front row spot. The opening band was Hurricane Bells, most famous (i.e. only known) for their song Monsters that occupies track ten on the Twilight New Moon soundtrack. They were actually pretty solid. Then after 15 minutes of anxiety attacks by JD (O.M.G. WHERE IS SHE, I HOPE SHE SINGS SUDDENLY I SEE, ETC), KT made her appearance.

She, and her new album (Tiger Suit), were friggin awesome. Totally turned Terrible Tues into an Epic Day. She even dedicated a song to me (the only positive to going through a rough breakup ) which was pretty sweet of her. Highlights include her songs Difficult, and I'm Still a Weirdo, as well as how she makes her own beats on the fly (i.e. goes "woo hoo" into the mic, then records it using footpedals, and then loops it to provide the backing track to Black Horses and the Cherry Tree).

The rest of the band was pretty cool as well. All in all, a great show. KT is a must see for the 25-26 year old male demographic imho.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2nd Batch- The HOT Ones

The final six sauces I ordered arrived yesterday. A November 1st arrival was a bit of fail as they were suppose to come during Hot Sauce Month (hi OCTOBER!), but overall the quality of the sauces made up for the delay.

The GOODS (click for full img)

The Beast is a staple in the JD training regime, so it was good to restock. Then I'm very pleased with the inclusion of Liquid Stoopid and Mad Dog Inferno. Both are probably in the 75-85k range, so are the next step up. I have yet to try the Widow sauce, but it allegedly comes in with a 9 handle. Then Mad Dog 357 is a very high end (357k, duh) sauce, which should be good for spicing up a chili as well as party tricks.

Last night I tried the "You can't handle this sauce", and was super impressed. The ingredient list made it look real wimpy, so I had low expectations (vinegar, molasses, jalapeno, cinnamon, etc). But the flavor was incredible, and it actually had some real heat. While it is has yet to be determined whether I was blowing my nose last night b/c of the sauce or b/c of the onset of a cold (still waiting for it to arrive....), I'm very pleased with the unique taste and good heat.

P.S. Where's WALDO?? If you open up the above hot sauce picture, you will see a diminutive character lurking in the background. This is actually the Wuss of the WEEK! This unnamed person was overheard complaining that the black pepper on her pasta was TOO HOT. When queried, she replied that the problem was that "it was ground pepper, so it was a lot hotter than normal". ZOMG, I have my work cut out for me!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Fri/First Batch of Product Arrived

If you are reading this, you have successfully navigated Miz Mon and Terrible Tues, scraped through the painful middle of the week, and now finally have reached Freaky Fri! So good work on that (unless you got banged up last night at the bar lamenting the painful FSU loss, and now are hating yourself). Friday means it is now Halloween weekend, which is the second most important thing in October. All year I had plans to either be Toad from Super Mario, or a Sour Patch Kid. Paralyzed by indecision, I have reached Fri with no progress or costume. As a result (and lack any creative abilities), I'm going to try a last ditch run to a costume store this evening. And if it doesn't work, I may be forced to go as a bloody cannibal with JD. (Picture to come later, I assure you it is the most terrifying costume ever. People ACTUALLY will not talk to me once said costume is donned.) It is unclear whether CA will want to join us or not, smart $$$ says no.

But anyway, as mentioned in a previous post, the most important thing about October is that it is Hot Sauce Month. I ordered 16 new sauces, and the first shipment of ten sauces came last week.

The GOODS have arrived

I ordered these ten sauces from Original Juan Specialty Foods. I had previously had the 95% pain, and my sister and her fiancee (little mikey) were real bullish on the garlic style sauce. So I elected to buy basically the whole suite of hot and extra hot sauces available on the website. Coming in at over $50 made me eligible for free shipping. What is kind of hilarious about this strategy is that 1) by offering free shipping for orders over $50 DEFINITELY made me order a couple more sauces than I normally would have. +$10 to the company. 2) the rocket-scientists @ Original Juan's did not specify WHAT KIND OF SHIPPING would be free. So like any opportunistic American, I ordered over-night air-freight delivery. -$45 to the company. So all in, the company lost about $35 on me with their stupidly designed promotion.

But anyway, onto the sauces. JD and I tested every sauce utilizing the "3 drops on a chip, clean the palate with a swig of water, move onto the next one" technique.

The Testing Station

Overall, the results were satisfactory. My takeaways would be that:
1) None of them were overly spicy. The X-treme, Habanero, and Pain 100% were the hottest. They probably were in the 20-30k range, which fills a nice void in my collection.
2) The sauce quality (with the exception of the Spur Tree Scotch Bonnet sauce which was yellow crap) was quite high; full body with chunks of ingredients. A big step up from the runny and thin gruel-like sauces you sometimes see.
3) The pain 95% sauce really is incredible. The sweet pineapple flavor is an amazing complement to the heat, I'd highly recommend this one.
4) Da Bomb Ghost pepper was my other favorite. It is only 1/5th as spicy as its Da Bomb brothers (it is loaded up with other ingredients to reduce the heat, as the ghosts are the hottest peppers in the world), but it has none of their grim flavor. This is my first time hitting up a ghost pepper sauce, and this sauce certainly was a training wheels experience. It has inspired me to get a real Ghost Pepper sauce, most likely will be picking up the Mad Dog 357 Ghost to get a little more feel of the actual heat.

Next week, the last six of my order should come. These are the hotter sauces (more like 75-95k), so I am expecting some fireworks followed by JD waterworks.

Have a great Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taco Bell Burrito Analysis

One of the perks of my job is I get to play with numbers and put together spreadsheets. However unlike a green investment banking analyst where the final answer is already known and the intrepid Wharton grad just needs to create a model that justifies the arbitrary (and inflated) equity value that his boss gave him, my spreadsheets are optimally intended to actually solve for something unknown. So in that vein of trying to determine something unclear to the world, I decided to tackle a complex problem that seems to be plaguing Taco Bell customers across the globe.

Question: Is it more cost effective to buy a Five Layer Burrito or a Seven Layer Burrito?

The Cast of Characters

Five Layer Burrito, $0.99

Seven Layer Burrito, $2.19

In order to properly assess the value, I look at both cost per layer, as well as cost per calorie.

Tabulated Results are as follows (CLICK ON THE GRAPH TO SEE RESULTS):


From a Cost/Layer standpoint, the 5 Layer at $0.99 comes in at a respectable 20cents per layer. (PLEASE EXCUSE THE ROUNDING ERROR). The 7 Layer at $2.19 comes in at a less respectable 31cents per layer, or is 1.6x as expensive. Alternatively, if you assume that the first five layers are priced at parity with the 5 layer, then the cost of the remaining two layers balloons to 60cents, or 3.0x as expensive.

WTF is in these extra layers, Calories?

Well that is a great question, and brings us to part two of the analysis; cost/calorie. The 5 Layer clocks in at 550 calories, while the 7 layer tips the scale at a weak 510 calories. Based on a cost/calorie standpoint, the 7 layer is 2.4x as expensive.

Conclusion: Anyone that orders a 7 layer is an idiot; DON'T DO IT.

P.S. While a poor comp (i.e. does not follow the standard format of =CONCATENATE("#"," Layer"," Burrito")), I also looked at the Bean Burrito. Assuming it is a 1 Layer burrito, the bean burrito costs 5x as much as the 5 Layer on a cost/layer basis, and costs 1.5x as much on a cost/cal basis. Considering that the ingredients of a bean burrito are included in both the 5 and 7 layer (refresher on implications of this), you'd REALLY have to be dumb to order one of these.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The October Orders Are IN

I got back late last night from a weekend trip to SF. (Note to readers that would like to avoid looking like n00bs, do not call it San Fran. According to PH, this totally red-flags you as a non-local. Either SF, or San Francisco.) Highlights include the DeadMau5 show, Lombardi's sports store, riding the Ferris wheel, and sneaking into the VIP section at TI. Lowlights include the weather (so far SF has a 100% crappy weather hit rate during my visits, I'm going to give it one more chance then that's it), SL offering me a ride to the airport and then getting a flat-tire; forcing us to take a cab (which of course only took cash, and he "regrettably" had none), and the undercooked burgers at Perrys. Mixed Reactions to the "shot of the city", Fernet. (though interested to learn that 25% of US consumption occurs in SF annually) +1 for tasting like Jaeger, -1 for tasting like Jaeger mixed with mouthwash.

Anyway moving on to more important things, after a couple weeks of research, I finally pulled the trigger this morning on my hot sauce order. Utilizing a combination of promo codes and daily/weekly online deals, I managed to procure 16 sauces for a blended ASP (including shipping) of around $6 each. I'm feeling pretty good about the selection. With the exception of Mad Dog 357, the sauces are in the mid/low range I'd say, which should help make my collection a little more accessible to plebeians.

In 5-7 business days, I shall be receiving the below loot, reviews to follow:

Mad Dog 357

Widow Hot Sauce

Mad Dog Inferno

You Can’t Handle this Sauce

Liquid Stoopid

The Beast

Batch 114 Jamaican Style Hot Sauce

Batch 37 Garlic Style Hot Sauce

Bite Me Roasted Garlic Chipotle Hot Sauce

Da' Bomb Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

Pain 100% Hot Sauce

Pain 95% Hot Sauce

Pain 85% Hot Sauce

XTREME Hot Sauce

Spur Tree Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Pain Is Good Habanero Hot Sauce

Monday, October 4, 2010

October=Hot Sauce Month

Recent lunch trips to Firehouse Subs and Buffalo Wild Wings (and the associated trying of 20+ different sauces) have led me to proclaim that OCTOBER (Ex-Halloween, a dull and unimportant month in the grand scheme of things) is officially hot sauce month. So time to beef up your collections, try some new sauces, burn your roommate, etc

My hot sauce quiver currently has two holes that I need to fill.

1) It is really lacking in the mid-range (60-90k) sauces.

2) I need some high-end fire-power that is not BLAIR's.

I'm currently thinking some mad dog inferno/liquid stoopid and some of the lower Ca Johns to fill slot one.

Slot two, thinking a mad dag 357, Widow, and a Vicious Viper

Two other awesome sauces that JD found are Gator Hammock and Pain 95%. Not going to hurt anyone (other than ZS), but they have absurdly good flavor. The scorned women sauce is also pretty good. Those will likely be an OCT event as well, might see if I can get JD to pony up (though first he needs to procure an Xbox/Halo:Reach....)

Worst sauce I tried while at Firehouse: FSU Seminoles Hot Sauce! (sorry CA)

In addition to the purchased sauces, it also is time to break out the food processor that has been sitting and gathering dust in my front hall.

I will be doing my purchasing from this website:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's All Downhill From Here

In 1968, Andy Warhol famously stated that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Fast forward 42 years, and my opportunity for fame arrived.

The location:

The Backdrop:
Bottom of the 7th Inning. Padres lead 5-4. I'm sitting in Suite 48, drinking a beer, and technically participating in a "work event". Due to a last minute colleague cancellation, I was able to bring JD as my healthcare-sector technical advisor. Early in the game, we laugh at the little kid sitting next to us with a mitt, as we joke about how impossible it would be for a fly-ball to ever reach our section. Todd Helton is at the plate.

The Opportunity: 2 and 2 count. High fastball down the middle. Helton takes a huge cut, but is a little late and little low. Ball ricochets off his bat, starts flying towards the upper deck.


The Reaction: My two bosses to my left duck and cover. They are not looking for their moment of fame, just for survival. In contrast, I put down my beer and quickly prepare myself. My moment of glory has finally arrived after 25 years on this planet. 60,000 eyes and innumerable TV viewers are watching. As the ball spins towards me, I start contemplating my victory celebration. I'm pretty sure i'm going to go with a "who has two thumbs and just caught a fly ball... this guy" joke.

The Outcome: The ball is to my left. I reach over the wall for a deft one-handed barehand snag. The ball hits my hand. My hand smashes into the wall. The ball pops out of my hand. Tears pop out of my eyes. My 15 minutes of fame are over, and all that is left is the booing of the crowd ringing in my ears. And a searing pain in my left hand.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Steal of a Deal?

In addition to being a child prodigy (note: she is not child prodigy), Darwin's cousin Sir Francis Galton coined the term "Nurture vs Nature". An interesting debate about the relative impact of genetics vs environmental situation, I think the whole concept is a little bit of an oversimplification and can't be decided with a blanket statement that one is correct while the other is incorrect. (This is in contrast to the Chicken vs Egg debate which I think is quite simple, answer below in postscript). In reality it seems to me that there are individual outcomes that rely primarily on nature (inheriting a rare disease such as Huntington's), outcomes that rely primarily on nurture (language/religion), and then others that are a blend (weight is influenced by genes, but also by lifestyle). In my life however, there is definitely one trait that is completely dominated by nurture; The love of getting a good deal.

My parents love getting good deals, and I have been raised to do the same. My earliest memories of shopping are at the grocery store, where my mom taught me the all important "price/oz" metric, as well as the fact that buying generic versions of many foods (caveat, there are a few foods such as Orange Juice and Ice Cream cake where the generic brand just sucks and should not be purchased) is a way of getting an identical product for less. I've have applied these tenants to my life with usually good results and financial savings.

That being said, a recent dinner at the Thailand Cafe in New York with JC and CA was not a good result.

The Thailand Cafe is a great restaurant in the LES. Not surprisingly, it serves Thai food. As I was recently in NYC for a weekend, I had to return for a dinner. The three of us sat down, and as per the usual behavior of restaurant patrons, we immediately started looking at the drink menu.

The Facts and Figures:

Bottle of Beer: $5
Specialty Cocktails: $8
Nightly Special: Buy one Specialty Cocktail, Get one Specialty Cocktail FREE!

Displaying a high degree of mental math, I quickly came to the conclusion that the ASP (average sales price for the n00bs out there) on a Specialty Cocktail was only $4, 20% lower than a beer!
Holding alcohol content constant, this seemed like a great opportunity and gave me a 20% margin of safety in my enjoyment of cocktail vs beer. (i.e. even if I liked the cocktail 15% less than a basic beer, I was still getting a better deal!) I spent the next four minutes arguing to JC and CA about the validity of my findings, and then the waiter came.

CA was less than impressed with my theory, and ordered a $5 beer. (THW internal thought- "what a sucker!")

JC saw the wisdom in my theory, and opted for the specialty cocktail route. (THW internal thought- "at least someone here is rational!")

I have tried to find the drink menu online but it was to no avail. Suffice to say the menu contained all the traditional cocktails (mai thai, miami vice, cosmo, long island ice tea, etc) as well as some less traditional cocktails (blue lagoon, thunder devil, etc).

THW order 1: Blue Lagoon
JC order 1: Mai Thai

Round One Results: As the name suggests, the Blue Lagoon was electric blue. The most probable ingredients were Windex and Moonshine. I took one drink, gagged, and pronounced it undrinkable. JC had slightly better luck with the Mai Thai. It was murky brown, had a bright pink umbrella, and seemed to be comprised of rotten limes and 151. In a display of good faith, JC offered to switch drinks with me after we each drank half. In a display of even better faith, I elected to give him 98% of my blue lagoon instead of only 50%. JC choked down the remainder of the BL, while I surreptitiously hid my half of the Mai Thai behind the napkin holder. CA enjoyed her Kirin and looked on with amusement.

THW order 2: Coconut Breeze
JC order 2: Elected to let CA pick out his drink, received a Thunder Devil as a result.

Round Two Results: Despite the dismal first outcome, I still felt good about the plan. Yes, the first drink sucked.... but at least I got a little alcohol (emphasis on little, as at this point I have drank 2% of a BL) in my system and my second drink was going to be awesome. And even better, in a rare lack of judgment, JC mistakenly let CA order for him and was about to be getting what appeared to be the worst tasting drink in the history of mixology. So the combination of these two utility-enhancing events were going to return the value of my decision into the positive column.

Sadly I was wrong.

A coconut breeze straight up sucks. A mixture of coconut tanning oil, vodka-RAZZZZZZZ, and some other unidentified worm flavor, I took a 3% sip and quickly pronounced it undrinkable.
The one ray of light however was the Thunder Devil. Allegedly comprised of Tequila, Rum, Vodka, Creme de Coca, and COFFEE; the true ingredients were a more sinister mud, toxic sludge, and the dregs of whatever alcoholic beverages the bartender could find on that given night. Suffice to say, it was more than undrinkable; it was poisonous. CA continued to enjoy her Kirin and look upon us with amusement.

THW Order 3: There was never suppose to be an order three, because that would imply I would need to make an order 4. However, in an attempt to be opportunistic, I quickly responded with a "long island ice tea" when a backup server (who had not brought out my second drink) asked me what I wanted for my second drink. (clearly the sub-rosa mai thai was out of view, so she thought I was entitled a second free cocktail.) Inexplicably, CA decided to inform that waitress as she was walking away with my order that I in fact had already gotten my two drinks, thus turning bonus drink (which would have brought my ASP from $4 to $2.67) into the start of another 2 for 1 debacle.

As you can clearly guess, the long island ice tea was...... Undrinkable.

In a last-ditch effort to recover from my follies, I asked for just a beer on my last free drink. Sadly the waiter informed me, the specialty cocktail deal was limited to Specialty Cocktails, so I had to order another one and that he couldn't get me a beer. I pleaded and begged, but it was to no avail. As there literally was nothing I could possibly get on the menu, I asked instead for just a Coke. And sure enough.... A Coke was "NOT A SPECIALTY COCKTAIL".


Worst economic decision of my life. Ended up paying $16 for 2% of an undrinkable Blue Lagoon, 3% of an undrinkable Coconut Breeze, and 1% of an undrinkable Long Island Ice Tea.

The silver-lining to the story: The perverse joy I experienced the next day when hearing about JC's ThunderDevil/MaiThai/BlueLagoon induced hangover.

P.S. As promised, the answer is: CHICKEN. In a nod to Fermat, I will leave it at that. Perhaps later on I will reveal the proof.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Natural Disaster Analogy O'Day


K-T Boundary Event Impact: Blair's Reserve 16mm Scoville Crystals

Hurricane Earl :?


What a JOKE.

Also while I'm talking about FAIL... Am I the only one that realizes that Google Instant Search SUCKS?
What is this guy smoking:

"Google Instant Could Evolve into Ultimate Universal Search"

The constantly updating search and retarded autocomplete are so annoying. Yes GOOG you are smart, but No GOOG you do not know what I want to search for, and you are just annoying me with your attempts to get in my head. Seriously, are these really what you think the four most likely to be asked questions starting with "Why...." are going to be? Even Miss CLEO could predict how incorrect that is....

Time to get short $GOOG, they are losing their touch.

P.S. Also one final thought- LMAO at the new Itunes upgrade. Talk about an aesthetic step backwards, that new skin is hideous.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Random Stories? I Think Not

Story One: In December 2002, PH and I participated in a grandiose squash tournament entitled the "Tennis and Racquet Club Holiday Juniors Open". As it happened, this event occured neither at a tennis nor a racquet club, but instead took place at MIT. Anyway, I was in my second year of playing and he was in his first, so this was likely one of the first tournaments we had ever been in. While I can't fully recall the actual outcome (I seem to remember beating PH in 4 in the finals, but maybe that's just wishful thinking), one specific incident from the tournament vividly stands out; PH's first round match. After warming up against his opponent, they come off court for a final drink of water before playing. PH spins his racquet (some busty thing like this as I recall) for serve, and the opponent calls D. Sure enough, the D-Spot. As expected, the opponent elects to serve. In a less expected move, the opponent turns to PH and in loud voice says


I think it took PH 5 points to get over his laughter to where he was able to actually hit the ball, at which point he ran off a 3 game win in quick order. After the match the opponent slunk off the court, and was never seen in the squash world again. So while the Meatgrinder might have retired from the game, the word was firmly cemented in our lexicon and is still used today.

Story Two: A logical step in a hot sauce connoisseur's development is to get to the point where he makes his own sauces. Years of experience with different flavors, types of peppers, and heat levels provide a wealth of potential combinations to try. Personally, I am really intrigued to create a scotch bonnet sauce with milk chocolate, a Serrano sauce with apple vinegar, and a Jalapeno sauce with SOUR PATCH KIDS. Obviously to make such a sauce, you need a device that is able to chop foodstuff up into small pieces. While a n00b might think that a blender is the requisite tool, a food processor is really the way to go. After doing some research factoring in market reviews, my disposable income, and the potential monetary upside from inventing Sriracha's replacement, I decided to go with the Black and Decker FP2510S. I mean come on, it's a must-have for a serious chef!


I bought the food processor from Overstock. The clever part of that decision was that I got 10% off from my purchase. The dumb part of that decision was that I now am part of Overstock's mailing (spam) list, subjecting my poor gmail account to 10+ emails a day. However, I received a beauty of an email today that made it all worth while. Unlike the overused and factually incorrect "LOL!" of today's youth, I actually burst into auditory laughter upon receipt of the below email.

After a long hiatus, The MEATGRINDER lives on!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Habanero Juice.....The Patient Killer

Morning team, happy Friday! Long time no see, sorry for the delay in postage. Work, a weekend bender (hi lost wallet!), and a dearth of subject material were the prime culprits. But anyway, i'm back!

Over the past few months, I've been training my roomate; specifically in hot sauce consumption. We didn't really know each other when we moved in, so I'm sure there were some doubts in his mind on the first day when he opened the fridge and saw my 60+ hot sauce collection. However, that quickly changed and he has now become my star pupil. A glutton for punishment with a good attitude, he has been making great progress. He is comfortably taking down 20-40k sauces (beast, colon blow, rectum ripper,etc), and is working on the 50-80k range currently. While my training regime is not highly scientific, I do like to have at least one night a week where he pushes the boundaries and gets totally blown up. (A recent night with Insanity, followed by an ill-timed trip to the bathroom comes to mind as one of his more painful "lessons") So that being said, I think he does find a perverse joy in seeing me, "the teacher", get too far over my skiis and totally pwn myself.

So anyway, last night after rock climbing we made our standard pasta and salad for dinner. He makes the pasta, I make the salad. I had some great peppers from Soops, so decided to spice it up a bit. Jalapeno, Serrano, and Habanero. I went pretty heavy on the Habs on my salad, so he and I were expecting the worst.

Sample Salad, pre-application of Habaneros:


However, the Mad Men episode and dinner came and went, and I managed to take it down no problem. Slightly proud of myself, I slipped off to bed (and had one of my recurring excel nightmares).

Fast forward to 5:50am this morning. The alarm went off and I stumbled into the bathroom. Still 85% asleep, I put my contacts in my eye, and BAAAAAAM!

Marinating my contacts in F'ing Habanero juice all night... Payback's a bitch!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Emotional Rollercoaster of a Day

On any given day, the average person experiences a range of positive and negative emotions. However the standard deviation on this range is usually quite low, as the minor trials and tribulations one faces on a daily ("Damn subway is late" or "Sick, I finally beat level 16) basis pale in comparison to the major life-defining events that occur on a much more infrequent basis. After having undergone a few major events and one possibly life-changing event, I figured today justified a post. So without further ado, a graph of my day (click for a better view of the image):

Event Number One: I received a devastating email from BC. Suffice to say, it is always a sad day when a DMW (as so nicely defined by BC) dies; not to mention one that has served me so well (a triple bageling by the Swedish machine comes to mind) over the years.

"BC writes: At approximately 7:37 am this morning, The Dunlop Muscle Weave (DMW), handed down from Todd to me, suffered a career ending fracture trying to save a ball in the back corner. The DMW did make it through the rest of the match but announced in the following press conference that at his age, it would be to tough to come back from this type of injury. The DMW did mention that he was grateful for the long and storied career he had with multiple players, and was thankful to go out on top, with a 3 game winning streak and waxing his foe 3 games to 0 this morning."

Event Number Two and Three: Further signs that the economy sucks. YAY for 10yr treasuries @ 2.57%. A prudent man would be investing in guns and hot sauce right now.

Note: The Y-axis is drawn to scale. So yes, the demise of DMW is significantly more important to my happiness than the overall health of the economy.

Event Number Four: Now here is where the day gets interesting. After three negative hits to my well-being, I needed a little pick me up. Since I was at work and had limited recourse to doing anything actually fun, I decided to hit the old world wide web. And after a few minutes of aimless browsing, I stumbled on something truly life-changing.


The exact thing I read on Wikipedia was: "On May 8, 2005, Andrew Hajinikitas of Australia drank 120 ml of Tabasco sauce in 30 seconds creating a Guinness world record."

Similar to many other human beings, it has always been one of my goals in life to get into the book of world records. But sadly, I have always lacked the talent. The closest I've ever come was 100 meter dash, where i'm only a couple seconds away. But finally, I found my event! What a joker, 4 ounces in 30 seconds? I could leisurely crush that record and take a shot of Tabasco every 8 seconds and leave myself 6 seconds to laugh at this Wanker. As the "Graph of ME" shows, my mood discretely jumped to insane heights. And then it continued to grow as further reading confirmed that 120ml was in fact the world record. Which then brings me to the next event.

Event Five: Before calling up the Guinness guys, I decided to amuse myself by browsing on youtube and watching other idiots try and beat this record. Imagine my surprise when I saw the OFFICIAL video of the WR. I opened it up and prepared for a laugh. Sadly, the joke was on me. Turns out that you have to DRINK from the stupid Tabasco bottle, basically rendering this a meaningless competition from a hot sauce standpoint. The bottleneck here (pun INTENDED) is just how fast you can drink a liquid from a bottle with a tiny mouth. SO LAME. And without even testing, I instantly knew that I have no skills here, so once again, the Guiness Book is still out of reach.

The final event of the day is NOW. While it's hard to tell from the graph due to the scale, I am asymptotically approaching the X-axis..... Not a place you want to end up.

Video of the n00blar sucking down some Tabascos below:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thai Hot: Completely Overrated

In what was a fairly normal (i.e. daily) occurrence for me, I woke up yearning for some Thai Food. Lunch was my first opportunity to succumb to said craving, and I decided to make the most of it by trying a new street vendor called "16th Street Mall Thai Food Cart". With an auspicious name such as that, how could I go wrong?

16th Street Mall Thai Food Cart

Also going for it was the line of 20 people waiting patiently for lunch. As it was quite sunny and the bossman was out of the office (i.e. SLOW day at work), I figured I should give it a shot.

What started off as a positive indication (length of line was suggestive of the high quality of food I would be receiving) quickly turned negative. Turns out the little lady in the cart only has one pan/burner, so can only make one order at a time. In the grand scheme of things she probably cooks really quickly, but when there are 20 people in front of you and each order takes about 3 minutes..... time adds up quickly. However I had my faithful Droid with a newly downloaded Connect Four App, so I decided to wait it out since I had already invested about 15 minutes and was still at the back of the line.

~49 minutes later I reached the front of the line. I quickly ordered a Chicken Basil, Spicy Level: FIRE. As per the the bright red flame-encrusted text on the menu, this was the highest level of spice. The lady starts skeptically laughing at me, and brokenly asks me if I was sure. I assured her that yes, I had been weighing the pros and cons over the past 49.5 minutes and was sure that this is what I wanted. (SideNote: The lady in front of me ordered "baby spice". n00000b alert!)

The end result is below

So I furtively sneak into the office (making sure nobody has noticed I have now been gone for about 53 minutes), take a bite of the meal, wait for the heat......... and am still waiting. WTF?! Why do ethnic cultures with the ability to make such hot foods, always dumb it down so much? I mean I understand that the average customer is a total wuss and can't handle any heat, but if someone clearly orders the hottest possible setting (and I even said "as hot as you can make it" after she questioned me), then why not try and burn them up? In my life, i've literally found only a couple that actually make hot food when you ask for the spiciest level (Cluck-U-Chicken and Brick Lane Curry are the only ones to come to mind at the moment). For nations like Thailand and India that pride themselves on their spicy food culture, it's just embarrassing the stuff that their restaurants are peddling as "Thai Hot" and "Fire".

SO yeah, for all you restaurant proprietors out there: If someone asks for it "as hot as you can make it", you should lay on the spice and completely burn them up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scoville Scale

Had a pretty great weekend visiting the family in RI, though the trip back to Denver was a little miz (NOTE: When you are trying to fly from RI to Denver, and your itinerary includes a bus ride to Boston, a flight to ATLANTA, a 3.5hr layover, and an hour long wait for a the public bus to your apartment from the airport, it most likely is NOT worth the minimal $$ savings.... LESSON LEARNED).

Anyway, I recently came across what so far is the most complete online scoville scale ranking that I have seen. Instead of trying to recreate, I figured I'll just link it here. I don't agree with a few of the ratings, but overall it gives a great sense of where things stack up. I also like the "pepper only" setting, this is def good knowledge for budding chiliheads.

I think Taco Bell sauce clocking in at 500 scovilles, just beating out the venerable Franks is my favorite part of the list.

Quick Background for the Tyros out there:
Scoville heat units (shu) are the basic unit of measurement for hot sauces. They give a (reasonably) standardized unit for comparing hot sauces, and determining how truly nooblike ZS really is. Developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, the units basically give the amount of dilutive agent (sugar water) required to be added to a hot sauce to get it to the point where the heat can no longer be detected. So essentially this means that 500 drops of water must be added to a drop of Taco Bell sauce in order to eliminate its FIERY taste.

As to be expected, humanity's best and brightest put their considerable talents towards productive uses(instead of less productive things like I don't know, nuclear fusion?), and have come up with a more accurate and less subjective way of determining heat content. High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (Hello High School CHEM!). Wikipedia says the attached link "contains too much jargon and may need simplification or further explanation". So in one sentence, HPLC separates the various compounds that make up a sauce, and allow direct observation of the concentration of the stuff that makes the sauce burn. (Said stuff is called Capsaicin, and it is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin)

Pure Capsaicin is 16mm Scovilles, so this is the theoretical upper-bound of any sauce (at that point it is an extract, not a true sauce). Achieving heat over a couple hundred scoville's basically is done by adding a higher and higher concentration of pepper extract. As such, I personally think sauces in the low hundreds are the best, as they can have a reasonably strong kick, but don't have the rather grim taste that something like a Cool Million Sauce does.

That's it for now, happy (miz) monday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Avg Person= Fail

While this post deviates from the blog's stated topic, I found this to be pretty amazing and answer the question "Is the average person really that dumb?". And sadly, the answer is yes.

Case in Point: The 5th most common search on google is for GMAIL. Are you serious? Are people really unable to comprehend that clicking on the little hyperlink that says GMAIL on the top of the screen will actually take you there, obviating the need to search for gmail.....

Now a clever person might respond to me with "well..... maybe people aren't actually on the google homepage, but are just using the google search bar on the top of their browser. So it's really not thaaaaaaat dumb"

Well, notwithstanding the fact that people should L2bookmark, this hypothesis suggests that a people are just using the searchbar and not going to the actual google website. But sadly, if this really is the case... then people are even dumber than I thought and do not even know that they are using the google searchbar, as coming in right behind GMAIL at #6 on most commonly searched terms is none other than:


Using google searchbar to find the google search page..... FAIL.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

n00b of the week

Look at this, my monthly output has already matched my target goal. Nothing like setting a low bar.... Under-promise and over-deliver!

I got an mms from JRC last night highlighting one of the weakest hot sauce performances in recent history. In fact the performance was so dismal it led to the creation of this very post; n00b of the week. While I can't promise one everyweek, I will do my best to highlight hot sauce failures as regularly as I can going forward*. Additionally, my legion of faithful readers should feel free to send in any pics/stories that have witnessed.

And without further Ado, I give you the n00b o' week

Location: Cafe Habana
Witness: JRC
Implement of Destruction: El Yucateco (ROJA)
Scoville Scale: sub 6k**
n00b in Question: ZS

I guess first off you'd expect a soft performance from said noob (pic above). But still, Red Yucateco? Think taking the Green Yucateco (the dreaded 9k burner!), and then kicking it DOWN (35%) a notch@#!! Even Emeril would be embarrassed by this. And to make matters worse, our intrepid witness (he managed to snap the shot while ZS was in the bathroom dying like a little girl) was kind enough to show the actual dish that led to the pwnage. I have tried to digitally enhanced the image through a variety of elite p-shop techniques, but obviously lack the skill of others as I still am unable to find more than a single spec of hot sauce on this bowl of plain ass white rice.

WOW, what a shockingly poor showing from ZS. Running counter to my own personal motto, ZS has actually set the bar extremely high for n00b o' week, as it is going to take something along the lines of a Frank's XXXXXXXXtra to beat this one.

*JD, you are lucky I didn't decide to start this after your chili performance this weekend....

**yes you read that correctly, 5,790 to be exact

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kicking Things Off...

In the works for about a year, the maiden post of THTF is finally here. Primarily dedicated to both the pursuit and consumption of Scoville Units, this blog will also be a repository of links, images, videos, stories, and thoughts that I find to have a high degree of value (whether they are intellectual, comedic, or just downright nerdy is up to the reader to decide).

While US History teaches us to dream big and aim for the stars, a pragmatic (i.e. jaded) person like myself quickly learns it is both easier and more satisfying to actually set a low bar; as such I'm planning on 1-2 posts a month. (Interpretation: This will not likely move to the top of your Chrome Browsing History and displace the current URL and its daily/most viewed/top rated videos.....*)

Wow, before I even get into the meat of this first post, I'm going to have to make a quick comment: Three minutes into my experience here, blogspot seems to SUCK! Are they seriously limiting me to 8 brutal fonts, with one of them being Webdings????** While I'm partial to Calibri (and a little Garamond when I'm trying to get official with it), it appears that blogspot also fails to have Tahoma and Chiller. Noobs. /end rant

But anyway, back to the lecture at hand;Scoville Units. Why make a blog about them you ask? It's very simple. Taking down hot sauce (and salsa/hot peppers/etc) is one of the most tasty, yet satisfying activities out there. A true chilihead hones his skill over the course of years, constantly pushing the boundaries of taste, flavor, and heat. Starting with basic sauces like Melinda's and Frank's found at a grocery store, you graduate to Sriracha and El Yucateco. At this point you are more skilled than the average bear, but still nothing special. I love talking to people at this stage in their career, and hear them gloat about their prowess at handling the heat, and how they have this sick sauce (Srirachi) that I have to try. I smile and nod, and then pray I'm there the day they try the Phaal curry to impress their drunk friends. But for the dedicated few that still want to progress, you make your first real milestone when you take down some 100k sauces (da bomb, dave's, blair's sudden death). From here on out, it's just onward and upward to bigger and better things like Mad Dog, Liquid st00pid, Possible Side-Effects, etc. And then finally once you hit 7 figures and beyond, you get into the zone where everyone gets pwned. But that's the fun of it!

So net-net (yeah, i'm a finance nerd), in addition to improving the taste, hot sauce consumption turns the basic task of eating into a competitive and fun challenge. And the fact that it is a natural aphrodisiac and a kickass counter-terrorism weapon is pretty cool too...

Ok, well that's enough for today. I think next time I'll take some pictures of my hot sauce collection, and maybe shed a little more light on the Scoville Scale for any new chiliheads that read this.*** Have a good weekend, it's noon and i'm already counting down the minutes to GTFO of the office.

*Yes, that website. The one you constantly trying to delete from your browsing history, but still somehow always awkwardly autocompletes when a friend (primarily of the opposite sex) hops on your computer and begins to type "www.p" when they try and pull up pandora

Ha the webdings font doesn't even work. This should be showing up as a bunch of queer symbols and hieroglyphics.... but it isn't. b-side

*** Not sure who I'm kidding, as I doubt anyone (hot sauce n00b or otherwise) is even reading this blog... oh well.