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.

EDIT: On 9/18/2015, nearly a month after opening the initial ticket, I was finally issued a refund on my OffGrid case from Incipio. 

 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.