Friday, August 28, 2015

Taco Bell Firey Ghost Pepper Daredevil Loaded Griller

I'm not generally a fan of Taco Bell. I find that, aside from the occasional diversions like the Volcano Taco and the Blackjack Taco, the offerings on the menu are pretty bland. Had it not been for their monopoly on Mountain Dew Baja Blast, I would probably never set foot in the place. Yet, the prospect of having something that's actually spicy from a fast food restaurant lured me in this week. Taco Bell's newest menu addition, the Dare Devil Loaded Griller. Each DareDevil Loaded Griller features a grilled burrito filled with seasoned beef, red tortilla chips, nacho cheese, and one of three spicy sauces: Mild Chipotle, Hot Habanero, and Fiery Ghost Pepper. What caught my attention was the Fiery Ghost Pepper.

A lot of fast food places have been using "Ghost Pepper" as a marketing gimmick lately and have come up short when it came down to actually bringing the heat. So, when I tried the Fiery Ghost Pepper Dare Devil Loaded Griller at Taco Bell earlier this week, I was expecting a dud. After eating one, though, I was pleasantly surprised. There's actually some kick to it; not enough to set off any alarms, but enough that it'll have you reaching for your Baja Blast. It's like eating a Taco Bell Chili Cheese Burrito with Volcano Sauce. The ghost pepper sauce is also the only one of the new sauce offerings that isn’t sour cream-based, so as soon as you taste it, you'll feel the heat. The other two sauces feature a spicy build up rather than immediate heat. The ghost pepper sauce is more vinegary and seemed to overpower everything else while soaking into the texture of the tortilla chips. making it hard to distinguish the flavors of anything else. 

Several hours after eating it, I found that the Taco Bell Fiery Ghost Pepper Dare Devil Loaded Griller was aptly named, as it continued to haunt my bowels for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Battery Cases

I certainly love my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. It has an amazing camera, a great display and a screaming fast processor. The one thing it fails at (aside from RAM management) is battery life. I can barely get a day's usage out of a full charge. Instead of carrying around a number of external battery backs, I've decided that using a protective case for my Galaxy S6 Edge that has a battery embedded within it is the way to go. I've already explored a few options. Here is what I've found so far:

Samsung Galaxy S6 Battery Case Review Round-Up

Power Case

You can find this case on and other websites under a host of different names such as Power Case, LoveLifeMall, etc. The price runs anywhere between $15 and $25. You might hear claims that it handles Fast Charge (Qualcomm Quick Charge) and that it can charge the phone while it's connected to the case, but that hasn't been my experience. Despite those drawbacks, the Power Case has been pretty reliable. I can get close to a full charge from 20% on my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. And the kickstand is a nice feature.

Incipio OffGrid

I know that there are a fair amount of people who are really pleased with this case, but, I'm not a fan. The Incipio OffGrid makes a lot of promises: It supports Fast Charge, it stores enough charge to bring the Galaxy S6 up to 100% and then some and it even comes with an SD slot so that you can get your expandable storage back. This is a great battery case....when it actually works. Mine seems to only work about 50% of the time. Often, I'll hit the charge button and the Off Grid case will charge my phone for about 10-30 minutes. Then, the case will stop charging and my S6 will go crazy, displaying "The Dock Is Connected" in the notification bar over and over again. This happens despite my S6 and the case both reporting a full charge before I go out in the morning. I contacted Incipio support and this was their reply:

We have received a few inquiries regarding your situation and we would like to provide some technical information on the case that could help troubleshoot your issue.

When having the case plugged into the wall, with the phone inside the case, the charge is going to pass through the case and charge the phone (pass-through charging). Once the phone hits 100%, then the case will start to charge. The one thing that will affect this is if there are any apps running the background of your phone. The apps running (such as email, social media notifications, or anything else pulling data) will cause the phone to discharge so essentially the pass-through may continuously go to the phone and not charge the case at all (depending on how much power the phone is discharging). This is an intended design and does not indicate an defect within the case. For proper charging, we recommend turning off the phone completely to charge your case or to charge the case without the phone installed to completely charge the case to 100% battery life.

If the case is not charging properly even with the phone completely turned off or removed from the case, then this would be indicative of a charging issue and may require replacing.

For $89, I shouldn't have to charge the phone and the case separately. I'm thinking mine requires replacing. Even though I have to wade through that particular issue, I'm still pretty geeked about the added storage feature. That particular feature has been very reliable (despite it blue screening my phone the first time I used it)  and I like being able to store my music locally so that I don't have to eat up my data every time I want to listen to some tunes.

 Mophie Juice Pack

The $100 price tag on this one has kept me from pulling the trigger, but, I may have to now considering how the Incipio OffGRID has failed. Mophie has a great reputation to begin with and I've yet to hear anything negative about it. Mophie claims that the Juice Pack for the Galaxy S6 will give you up to 100% charge and reports are that it does so pretty quickly. I may have to investigate this option further if the Incipio off Grid doesn't pan out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sun King Brewey Employee Hates Tom Brady

An employee at an Indianapolis based brewery apparently hates Patriots quarterback Tom Brady quite a bit. Sun King Brewery, which supplies beer to Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, accidentally released 20,000 cans of their Wee Mac Scottish Ale with "Tom Brady Sux" printed next to the canning date. On May 13, a Sun King employee who has been identified as Biscuit, stamped the cans during the height of "DeflateGate". Sun King Brewery, which is known for having a little fun with their date stamps released a statement via Twitter: "A SKB employee had fun w the canning date coder. While we don't condoned [sic] the message we understand his Colts passion."

What would really be funny would be if the cans were not pumped with C02, so when you opened your can there was no pressure.

Tom Brady Sux

Monday, August 10, 2015

Venus Fly Trap

We took the family to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis this past weekend. We had quite a time among the gorgeous displays and we ended up taking home a few plants from the gift shop. This botanical haul included a venus fly trap.

Venus flytraps are the most commonly recognized and cultivated carnivorous plant. When we took the one home pictured below, the botanist who sold it to us offered some great tips on caring for a venus fly trap.

  • Give them as much light as you can. Full direct sunlight for at least four hours a day is best. 
  • Water your venus fly trap with “pure” water (low in mineral content), either distilled or rain water. Do not keep them sitting in water. 
  • They prefer damp soil in a nutrient poor medium such as peat, sphagnum moss or sand and perlite in some combination. 
  • There's no need to catch insects for them and feed them directly. They'll handle that themselves.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Everest University Calls Me

A recruiter from Everest University called looking for Clovis  the other day. Clovis had been playing phone tag with these folks, and, while doing so, had been wooed by other for-profit universities eager to get a chunk of his G.I. Bill. Everest has been the focus of a number of scandals over the years, so much so that it divested itself from its parent corporation, Corinthian Colleges Inc in order to make it look like less of a scam school.

Anyway, Clovis took the call and was quite disappointed that the rep wasn't nearly as excited to talk to him as he was to talk to her. Clovis then informed her that if she didn't up the amps on her excitement meter, he'd have to attend Ararat University instead.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tombstone Bratwurst Pizza Review

Jason and I decided to have a pizza and beer night this past weekend. We were going to kick it off by trying the Tombstone Limited Edition Bratwurst Pizza. I wish we hadn't. At first glance, bratwurst and pizza aren't two tastes that seem to go together naturally. Especially when you get it from your grocer's frozen foods section.

The main problem with Tombstone Bratwurst Pizza is that it's trying too hard to straddle the concepts of bratwurst and pizza. The bratwurst is sliced thin similar to what you'd expect from pepperoni which cuts down on the overall bratwurst flavor. It gets overwhelmed by the cheese, sauce peppers and onions. And. a note about the sauce: I see what Tombstone is doing here. They're trying to make the tomato sauce taste a bit like ketchup so they it'll go well with their spicy brown mustard. It doesn't work.

Overall, Tombstone has an interesting concept with their Bratwurst Pizza, but they need to revert back to their traditional sauce and make their bratwurst slices thicker. For my money, we should have gone with the Tombstone Diablo Pizza instead. Maybe next time.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Nigerian 419 Scammer Called Me

I found the following e-mail in my main email account recently:

Hi, I am David C. Lee, Chief Inspection Agent- United Nations Inspection Unit at John F. Kennedy International airport, New York- working hand in hand with Department of Homeland Security and U.S Customs and Border Protection. During our investigation, I discovered an abandoned shipment from a Diplomat from London, UK and when scanned it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in a metal trunk box weighing approximately 25kg each. The consignment was abandoned because the Content was not properly declared by the consignee as money rather it was declared as personal effect to avoid diversion by the shipping agent and also the Diplomat inability to pay for Non Inspection Fees.

On my assumption, each of the boxes will contain about $3Million to $4Million each and the consignment is still left in the storage house till today. The consignment are two metal boxes with weight of about 25kg each (Internal dimension: W61 x H156 x D73 (cm). Effective capacity: 110 LBS.). Approximately, the details of the consignment including your name and address, the official document from United Nation office in London are tagged on the Metal Trunk boxes.


You can send the required details to me by email for onward delivery. All communication must be held extremely confidential. I can get everything concluded within 5-6 hours upon your acceptance and proceed to your address for delivery if you assure me of sharing the content 30% for me / 70% with you on my arrival to your house.

I want us to transact this business with you and share the money, since the shipper has abandoned it and disappeared. I will pay for the Non inspection fee and arrange for the boxes to be moved out of this airport to your address by myself. But I will share it 30%/70% with you. Make sure Respond to me via my direct EMAIL: [redacted]

Below is my direct telephone number. Call me as soon as you receive this mail and send me all the requested information to my email.

David C. Lee

Anyway, I sent my SPAM phone number along to the guy and he eventually called. At first, he forgot to disguise his number, so it came up on my phone as coming from Nigeria. He quickly hung up and called back with a number from Texas. Here's the call:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Insure vs. Ensure

Perhaps I have become a bit of a curmudgeon in my advancing years, but it seems to me that, the older I get, the more annoyed I become by "official" communications with obvious grammatical errors. Far be it from me to criticize, considering the fact that this blog is almost certainly rife with such errors. However, I think a consumer facing business should be held to a higher standard. Take the sign below, for example. It's a classic misunderstanding of ensure vs insure.

What's The Difference Between Ensure And Insure?

Insure is used for referring to financial insurance policies.

Ensure is used when the meaning is "to make certain".

Sure, some style guides claim that ensure and insure are interchangeable,  but these are the same folks that claim that "literally" can be used in a non-literal,  figurative sense. And don't get me started on that one.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Review Of Pixels

Because of the less-than-stellar reviews (19% on Rotten Tomatoes), I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but, I actually liked Pixels. Now, I'm no Adam Sandler fanboy. I've loathed just about everything he has put out in the last five years. We saw it during our date night this weekend and, despite me dreading it, a lot of laughs were had in this movie.

Pixels is based off of a short film of the same name. The original short film is only about two minutes long, so a lot of filler had to be added in order to bring it up to feature length. Much of the filler seems to derive from an episode of Futurama where video game characters wage war on Earth. Throw in a contrived romance and add some Adam Sander-isms and you've got Pixels. And it's actually a decent movie.

Peter Dinklage's character, Eddie "Fireblaster" Plant, was hilarious. His jokes were not simply lame puns and one liners like Adam Sandler's character. Eddie provides us with situational comedy which is great to see in a Happy Madison film. Josh Gad's character is the perfect embodiment of all those conspiratards out there. He is the perfect neckbeard virgin character, and he steps away from the normal nerd character who solves math problems. Gad's karaoke scene was great and the love between Gad's character and Ashley Benson's character, Lady Lisa, is the embodiment of the neckbeard dream of ingame character love coming to life. I will say that the romance between Sandler and Monaghan felt forced. They don't have a lot of chemistry. Still, I appreciated Sander roping in the zaniness this time around

So, why have people been savaging this movie? The plot is formulaic, requires quite a few leaps in logic to work and has a number of subplots that are left unresolved at the end.  And there isn't exactly a lot of reverence paid to the arcade characters that they use in Pixels. I have heard a lot of people screaming in outrage about how Q*Bert shouldn't be able to speak English, but that didn't bother me. It's made very clear that he wasn't actually Q*Bert but an alien embodiment of him. What did bother me was the general lack of knowledge about the very games that Pixels pays tribute to. Pac-Man arcade cheat codes? Really? No mention of the Donkey Kong kill screen? Come on!

All in all, Pixels, despite its flaws, is actually a pretty funny movie and I was happy to have seen it. I might actually watch it again when it comes out on DVD. There. I said it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fashion Batteries

I was out with the family on Sunday and we popped into our local Dollar Tree to pick up some cheap necessities. While putzing around, I happened upon a pack of Fashion Batteries. Now, I'm generally not one to cheap out on batteries unless they're going into a device that I won't use heavily like a TV remote. Still, even at a $1 price point, I can't see why anyone would want to go with fashion batteries as if they're some sort of accessory to whatever device you plan to use them in. Unless you've got a clear device, nobody is going to see your fashion batteries. I guess they may look alright if you've lost the battery cover to your device, assuming you don't duct tape over them to keep them in place.

Fashion Batteries: A Fun Accessory For Your Device That Nobody Else Will Be Able To See!

Monday, July 20, 2015

I Saw Whitesnake Over The Weekend

On Friday, I headed out to South Elgin, IL to see my brother and go to a Whitesnake concert at Vasa Park. Originally, the show was going to be held at the Gunnar Anderson Forest Preserve in Geneva, but Kane County denied the organizers a permit. All told, Vasa Park handled the show pretty well. There was a bit of pain getting into the park and the lines for beer were way too long, but overall we had a good experience.

The first band up was supposed to be "The Answer", but, due to a brief rain, they weren't able to perform. Instead, Foghat kicked off the night. Foghat, of course, is best known for their hit "Slow Ride". I gotta say, despite Charlie Huhn's considerable talent, I was missing Lonesome Dave by that point in the show.

I was still in the beer line getting ready to shell out $8 for a 12oz cup of Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy when Whitesnake finally took the stage. David Coverdale has had issues with his voice in the past, but he sounded pretty solid. Coverdale was in true form and seemed to be having a great time. I especially appreciated his good humor regarding the bugs that kept dive bombing the stage throughout their set.

We left the show during Whitensake's encore, just to make sure we got out of Vesa Park at a decent hour. All things considered, it was a great show and the promoters did a pretty good job of pulling it all together.

David Coverdale still knows what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Federal Grant Money Scammers Call Me

You'd think that, if a bunch of scammers wanted to appear as if they were from the United States government, they'd try to use callers without thick accents. I got a call yesterday from someone claiming to be from the U.S. Government Grants Department. She couldn't even pronounce "grants" correctly and said that her name was "Vixie". As she muddled through reading her script, she indicated that I had been selected to receive $7,000 in grant money which I would never have to pay back. Had the call continued, I'm sure she would have asked for my checking account information to supposedly deposit the money. But, the call didn't last that long. She hung up as soon as I started to question her credentials.

These boiler-room scammers have been pretty prevalent lately, so much so that the Federal Trade Commission has issued an alert about people running the Government Grant Scam. It's an interesting read with a number of great tips on how to protect yourself.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Star Wars Actor Arrested After Chase

You've got to feel bad for Jake Lloyd. At ten years old he gets the dream role of young Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) in the first Star Wars movie in over a decade only to get cited as one of the primary reasons why the movie sucked. The backlash was so bad that he actually retired from acting and destroyed all of his memorabilia. All the hate he gets for supposedly "ruining" Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is undeserved. This was a movie that was so bad that it even made Liam Neeson look like a terrible actor. While some of the actors were able to rise above George Lucas' terrible writing and dialogue, it's a feat that a child actor couldn't hope to achieve.

Jake Lloyd was thrust into the spotlight again recently after leading cops in Charleston, South Carolina on a high speed chase. Lloyd had been involved in a minor traffic incident, and possibly fearing arrest for driving without a license, decided to make a break for it. Lloyd weaved around cars and even used the median to pass them as his speed reached in excess of 117 mph. One has to wonder if Lloyd squealed "Now THIS is podracing!"or possibly "It's Turbo Time!!" during the chase.

The chase ended when Lloyd lost control, spun out ("I'll try spinning! That's a good trick!") and crashed his vehicle into some trees. Jake Lloyd was charged with reckless driving, failure to stop, resisting arrest and driving without a license. Toxicology came back negative except for a high midichlorian count.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How To Unlock Gifty On Crossy Road

After playing Crossy Road ad nauseum for the past few weeks, I've unlocked nearly all of the characters, including most of the hidden mystery characters that aren't available in the gacha prize machine. Today, we're going to talk about one of my favorite mystery characters: Gifty.

Gifty is essentially a chicken wrapped as a Christmas gift with its feet hanging out of the box. To unlock Gifty, you'll have to play as Festive Chicken. After about 70 hops, you'll run into a clearing with a giant Christmas tree in the middle. Run up to the tree and it will explode with presents and coins. Then, once your run is over, Gifty will unlock.

I've made a video below demonstrating how to unlock Gifty in Crossy Road:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wash Me

We spent the weekend downtown to take in dinner and show and to celebrate our anniversary. The hotel we stayed in offers spaces as a public parking garage, and, apparently, they have long-term passes. This is evidenced by the car I passed in the garage that had a lot of interesting writing on it.