Archive for July, 2008

Dining At Ray’s The Steaks In Arlington, VA

I’ve been to some of the best steak joints in the Washington DC/Northern VA area, and always on the hunt for the next greatest one. I had heard of a place in Arlington by the name of Ray’s The Steaks…and that was next on my list.

Ray’s The Steaks is in this pretty crappy looking shopping center, in a place that just doesn’t look so special. They did have a line though!? The restaurant is so popular that they don’t even take reservations, the best you can do is come after 4:30pm and choose a time that they can try their best to get you in if you come back. Here’s the inside, nothing special:

Inside Ray's the Steak

Who cares what it looks like though, right?? We were there for good food and a good atmosphere. When you sit down, you’ll find a little place of spicy cashews…good start, these little guys are tasty!? We started off with a couple of shrimp and scallop appetizers:

Appetizer's at Ray's the Steak

Definitely a good start, the shrimp were big, and the flavoring was excellent. The real question though is how are the steaks?? I personally had the filet, and I can’t remember specifically what my friends got but I want to say one of them had the cajun ribeye. I tried a little bit, WOW. The flavoring was so good, and I’m told I can do a filet in a cajun style. I’m dying to go back and try this. The filet was up there as one of the best filets I’ve ever had (top 3).

Everybody I was with (3 others) were all extremely impressed with the food, and we can’t wait to go back. On top of the food being great, the prices were also pretty reasonable. The check for the four of us was about $250 before wine/tip.

When we were waiting for our table, there was a place next door with no visible sign (that I saw), but the place was packed. I later found out it was another Ray’s establishment by the name of Ray’s Hell Burger. Apparently the burgers there are ridiculously good, and start at about $6.50. This will definitely be next on the list.

If you’re in the Washington DC area, want a good steak in a lively/young atmosphere, without worrying about getting dressed up…make sure you head over to Ray’s The Steaks.

Ray’s the Steaks
1725 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 841-7297

Taking The 100 Pushup Challenge

A couple weeks ago my blogging buddy Derek posted about the 100 push up challenge he was taking on. Derek is even giving away some cash and t-shirts to participators. The actual program itself is from HundredPushups.com, and it’s a 6-week challenge that can get your pushup #’s to 100.

Once I read about the program from Derek, I decided I’d give it a shot myself. The first thing they want you to do is take an initial test, which I didn’t do. The initial test has two reasons for being there. One is to have a benchmark and see how much you can improve, and two is to put you in the appropriate “level” in order to see how many pushups you’ll be doing in each set for the first two weeks.

I didn’t take the initial test because I knew I could enough that would put me into the top level, and I didn’t want to be sore for the start of the program haha. I wish I did it though, so I knew what my max was, but I’m guessing it would have been around 20-something.

So now I’m about to start the 2nd week of the program, and so far so good. The program wants you to do pushups three times a week, so I’m doing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The first day was a bit rough, going from not doing pushups in a while, to doing a bunch…but it wasn’t too bad. The second day was probably the toughest, I was definitely the most sore, and it was fairly difficult to complete the sets. By Friday though, I seemed to fly through everything, even though I was doing more pushups than on Wednesday.

Week 2, which I start today, seems fairly comparable to week 1…so it shouldn’t be too bad. The line between week 2 and week 3 is pretty hardcore, so we’ll see how week 3 manages next week. By the end of 6 weeks, I should hopefully be able to do 100 pushups in one sitting.

If you have already taken the challenge, are doing the challenge, or want to do the challenge, post a comment and let me know what’s up. It’s a nice little workout, and who wouldn’t want to say they could do 100 pushups!

Dining At Texas De Brazil

Back in November I wrote about how you can get 50% off of Texas De Brazil, a Brazilian steakhouse. Now 7 months later I finally got a chance to try it out for myself. If you remember, I had previously been to Chima, which is also a higher-end version of this style of restaurant. I’ve also been to another one by the name of Malibu Grill, which is the same style but much lower end.

Texas De Brazil is slightly more laid back than Chima, but offers a nice contemporary atmosphere. While it is more laid back, the prices are about the same, with a dinner coming in at about $50 a head.

To start off, you can grab a plate for the salads/sides area. I preferred the variety here over Chima, there was a better selection of food that I liked…in fact there are 40 items. I highly recommend the potatoes and lobster bisque.

sides

Each dinner also comes with a fried banana which was interesting and delicious:

Fried bananas

When you’re ready for the meats, simply flip your marker to green and gauchos are at your service providing a wide variety to your place. From bacon wrapped filet mignon to lamb, they have it all:

Plate of meat

Overall I’d have to say that I prefered Texas De Brazil over Chima. While Chima was a much fancier restaurant, I prefer the more laid back (but still very nice) style that Texas De Brazil provides for this type of dining. The only other style of this restaurant in the same class that I know of is Fogo de Chao, which I haven’t tried yet.

Carbon Fiber Madness On My Desk

As you may or may not know, I run a blog on carbon fiber by the name of Carbon Fiber Gear. I got a pretty cool package on Saturday from the guys over at RaceChairs.com that included a carbon fiber mousepad, carbon fiber coasters, and a carbon fiber paperweight that featured a gas cap from an actual Ferrari:

Carbon fiber goodies

You’ll see a carbon fiber pen in the picture as well, that was a present for an ex girlfriend…but I thought I’d throw it into the mix. This stuff is all pretty neat, and very high quality. RaceChairs sent this stuff over so that we’d write about it on Carbon Fiber Gear…by actually having the products in hand, we can give a more in-depth and personable review with real pictures that we take. It allows for more original content, and a more effective post in terms of generating new business for RaceChairs. Very smart of them!

Look for actual posts on each of these products on Carbon Fiber Gear in the near future!

Nice Pic Of My Viper In The Mail

I checked the mailbox yesterday, and found a letter from Maryland addressed to me. I opened it up, and was surprised to see this:

Viper speeding citation

A speed camera got me going 38 in a 25, which automatically sends me a citation. Luckily, it’s only a civil fine, so it was just $40 with no points and no affect on insurance rates. As you can probably guess, it’s just a revenue maker for the county.

Aside from the suckage factor of getting the ticket, the technology behind everything is actually pretty cool. They give you a website you can go to, along with your citation number and pin, you can access the high resolution version of the pictures the camera took. Here’s one scaled down slightly:

Viper speeding

It’s actually a pretty nice picture, I was surprised they were using something so clear.

I posted this story on the Viper forums, and there are all sorts of responses about how this is unconstitutional, etc. I’m not really sure what the truth is, but it doesn’t seem right that they can give me a citation with a picture of the car and make me pay without proving I did anything of fault. Innocent until proven guilty right?? Some of the more interesting responses worth looking further into are below:

It doesn’t even matter if you weren’t behind the wheel, the car’s registered owner is the one who gets fined. Purely a revenue source for the county, under the guise of “safety.”

I don’t know how legislation like this even gets passed. How can you accuse/fine an individual when you have no proof they were operating the vehicle in question?

It’s actually unconstitutional since you can’t cross-examine a machine.

We have speed and red light cameras in metro Phoenix, with more on the way. I wouldn’t pay it. Throw it away if it wasn’t sent registered or certified mail. If no one signed for it, how do they know you received it in the mail? In AZ if you are not “served” within 90 days of the ticket…..your off the hook. Check your local laws, but if it was me, and you didn’t receive it by registered or certified mail……it’s in file 13!

The most interesting I think being the last quote. I wonder if that’s actually true. Any legal junkies know what the truth is?

Completed: Lexus Performance Driving Academy 2008

Back in April I wrote about the Lexus Performance Driving Academy, which I just attended this past weekend. Now that I’ve gone through the academy, I wanted to post my thoughts…I’ll take you through my day.

As a reminder, there were two different programs that were available. One on Friday was $295, but allowed you to get hands on with the new 416hp Lexus IS-F. On the weekend (which I did not attend) was free, but didn’t give you IS-F goodness. Two of my friends attended the Friday program with me, so they stayed over my place on Thursday so we could all go together Friday morning.

To get into the driving spirit, I drove my Viper with Alex riding in the passenger seat, while Eric rode his modified Subaru STI. The driving academy was located at Summit Point in West Virginia, which is about an hour drive from where I live. The drive up to the track was fun, especially getting into WV, we got to experience some twisty roads that really got us prepped up for what was ahead.

We arrived at about 11:30am and saw the parking lot was full of all sorts of fun cars. There were a ton of Lexus’s (including some IS-F’s), as well as a bunch of Corvette’s. There was even a new Bentley Continental Flying Spur. A Mercedes Sprinter shuttle picked us up from the lot and drove us over to the event.

We had about an hour before anything started, so we were provided a lunch inside a tent with an IS-F to gawk at. Lunch was surprisingly good, with a variety of foods like chicken, maceroni & cheese, cheese biscuits, cookies, and more. They also had an IS-F simulator setup that was pretty neat, and very hard…it made me a little worried about what to expect later on.

Lexus performance driving academy buffet

Lexus IS-F simulator

After lunch, we had a little opening chat, and then it was off to our groups first event, the advanced techniques classrooms. This was a very helpful course that went over a variety of techniques and showing the lines of the track. They also had a simulator setup in the room with a 2nd screen that was linked to a camera that showed the pedal area. This was extremely helpful because they had a pro driver go up there and show us how to drive the course. Seeing what his feet were actually doing was very beneficial. The instructor then chose me to go on the simulator and try it out for myself. All I have to say is it’s much harder than it looks. I luckily had the pro driver next to me giving me pointers like when to apply brakes and give more gas. Even so, I ended up slamming into the wall!

The next event was called “lead/follow”. This is where groups of 3-4 IS-F’s would follow a pro driver on a road course. The idea behind this is to really get an idea of the lines on the track, by following the pro driver you could learn fairly easily. We had to go arounds of about 3 laps, the second go, the pro driver was much more agressive, which made it way more fun.

Lexus IS-F\'s road racing

Here’s a video from lead/follow:

After lead/follow, we took a shuttle to another track where we would do something called the relay. This was an event where our group split up into two different teams. Each person drove around the track, and each individual time was added to the total. We amazingly ended up tieing at 7:12. The track here was incredibly slick as they covered it in peanut oil since it’s used for training for police, CIA, secret service, etc…and they use it to do stuff like drifting around the track.

The following event was the autocross where a cone track was setup with all sorts of turns, etc. This was a timed event, each person got two practice laps, and then two officially timed laps to try and get the lowest time possible. The benchmark time was set by a pro driver at something like 21.1 seconds. This was the same pro driver that set the lap time for Mazda’s Rev It Up national event. The reason this is so impressive is because the Rev It Up event was about 25,000 people that tried to beat his lap time, and only person did. Then he went right back out, and in one go, beat that persons time.

Lexus IS-F\'s

The lap time is set by the amount of time it takes to complete one lap, if you hit any cones, 2 seconds is added to the time. Also, at the end of the lap you are supposed to stop within a coned box…if you don’t, 5 seconds is added to your time. On my first two practice laps I ran a 24.xx and then a 23.8x. Afterwards, I ran my two official lap times and I got a 22.9x and then a 22.7x. These were actually very good times, in fact, I had the 4th fastest time out of the group of about 150 or so people!? The fastest time of the day was 22.1 seconds.

The last event was the hot lap, which one was one of the best experiences I’ve had. The hot lap was when you go out on the track with a professional driver and he goes as fast as he could. I posted a video of a lap, but it does no justice!? It literally feels like a roller coaster in real life, I kept banging my head against the car every time we’d hit a turn…either way, check it out for yourself:

Afterwords there was another meal, along with a closing speech sort of thing. Before we left, we all received gift bags that had the following items:

  • $750 certificate off of a new 2008/2009 Lexus
  • Kaboom drink
  • A watch on a carabiner
  • Wired magazine
  • Lexus “F” hat
  • Kaboom t-shirt
  • Lexus IS-F DVD
  • $30 gift card for XM Radio
  • Lexus pen

Freebies from Lexus performance driving academy

The Lexus Performance Driving Academy was well worth the $295, and I would easily do it again. It was no holds bar with the cars we drove, and I definitely learned a lot to improve myself with driving.