Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Challenge Accepted

It wasn't the classic "eyes bigger than stomach" scenario.  I knew from the menu that the sandwich was way too much food for me...but I wanted to see one in person.  Had I known that every other table around us was also going to order at least one and I would end up seeing quite a few before mine even arrived, I probably would have opted for something else.

Last night, Angie and I met a couple of friends went to Bennigan's.  For being a chain restaurant, I think Bennigan's does a really good job of providing tasty food.  Their Monte Cristo, Pub Bites (sliders), Fish & Chips, and  Pot Roast are all very good...but their Chicken Tenders are completely amazing.  Their chicken tenders pretty much ruined everyone else's chicken tenders/fingers for me for a couple years.  Going in, I knew it was going to be a tough decision.

That's not forced perception photography.  This
burger is big and taller than your beverage glass.
I don't make it to Bennigan's often...and it had been about a little over a year since the last visit.  Last time, the menu was all about mini-food - sliders of 4 or 5 different varieties, sampler sizes of a lot of different foods.  I wholeheartedly support this...I love mini-food.  I don't know the science but miniaturization makes food delicious.  However, this time it was all about the Big Irish...a doubling of their hamburger.  I am not usually one that goes for what I call "Hardee's/Carl's Jr Sizing" but for some reason this struck me as something that I wanted to put in my mouth.

So what's a Big Irish?  Basically Bennigan's takes any of its burgers and doubles them - two 8oz beef patties, double the toppings, with a club bun between them like a Big Mac.  I chose the Guinness burger - bacon, cheddar cheese, crispy fried onions, and a Guinness stout glaze.  I was surprised that it looked pretty much like the picture.  Good advertising there, that doesn't happen often.

This thing is big...about the size of my head.  The sad thing is that I wasn't extra hungry.  I just wanted to see it.  Angie ordered a regular Guinness burger, so I was able to make direct comparisons...and my burger was the big brother who played football and weight lifted in high school but now 15 years later is just a giant slab of a human...not fat, just thick and meaty and huge to her regular sized burger.

I wasn't really even sure how to begin with such a tower of meat.  I held it up to my mouth and tried to figure out the best way to eat this monstrosity.  After running the calculations in my mind, I determined that there was no good way to eat it and just started in.  I tilted the base toward me, figuring that the base bun is smaller and therefore I would be able to take a bigger vertical bite on the burger.  Opening as wide as I could and slightly smashing the burger, I still didn't even make it halfway - my teeth just barely nicked the middle club bun.  As I set it back down, I could feel the burger silently, Jabba laughing at my pathetic attempt to eat it.

I felt small and weak, once again mocked by the larger kids around me.  Fuck you burger!  I was determined, this burger was not going to ridicule me with contempt in its burger eyes.  I was going to stand up to this bully of a burger and I was going to eat the whole thing.

It wasn't easy...taking as large of bites as I could, I still only made it 90% through the sandwich in 2 bites.  I had to take 3 largish (but closer to normal) bites vertically to make each horizontal bite depth through the sandwich.  Each time I took a bite, it felt like I was smearing the burger across my face.  About 40% of the way through the sandwich, structural integrity started to fail and it quickly started becoming harder and messier to eat.  Much messier.  Around the 3/4 point, I was full and my delicious side of sweet potato fries was virtually untouched.  I thought about quitting but I continued the fight.  The last two bites were the hardest...I literally had to psych myself up to eat them.  I felt like that triathlete or marathon runner who collapsed within site of the finish line. You can see the finish line and you think the last stretch would be easy, but instead it just reminds you that you have more to go.  But I ate them, finishing the burger and declaring myself a fat guy in training.  My entire head and arms felt sticky from the Guinness glaze...but man that was a tasty burger.  Seriously, it tasted delicious the entire time...even when I was feeling stuffed and dreading the next bite, the burger still tasted great.

I was very full but, but I wasn't so full that I felt sick (surprisingly).  I totally thought I was going to be the guy from the AlkaSeltzer commercial, but after sitting and talking for about 30 minutes, I felt pretty decent.  Still very full but not uncomfortably so.  I usually don't eat a lot.  I am the type of person that can go to McDonald's and be perfectly happy with two regular hamburgers or gets the smaller 8 oz steak when eating out.  It may have only been a 1 pound burger but for me that is quite a lot.  A competitive eater I will not be. Adam Richman I tip my hat to you.

I just looked up the calories:  a regular Guinness burger is supposed to have 915 calories, so I would say 1830 - 70 (because of only a partial second bun) = 1760 calories.  Bleh.  On the bright side that was 20 hours ago and I am still not even remotely hungry.  I am both proud and sickened by myself for eating it won't happen again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shut Up and Take my Money pt 2

SPACE ELEVATORS!  An elevator that can take you into space!  Ok, not least not yet.  We (the human race) are however, on the technological cusp of being able to create such a thing.  Why would we want to do this?  Many reasons: experiments, science, ease of launching future missions to other planets, not as much waste as rocket launches, etc...  But really, I mostly dream of affordable space tourism, would it still be expensive - yes.  Would it be cheaper than launching a rocket or even a space plane for short trips out of the atmosphere- almost certainly yes, and by a lot (instead of millions of dollars or even hundred thousands, a space elevator could be in the tens of thousand and possibly even less).

I liked this kickstarter because it wasn't just a "one and done" program.  It has a short term goal (as all kickstarter projects must) but the company also has long term visions.  Plans for not just next year, but 10+ years down the road.  Development.  Maybe I will be around when this all comes to fruition, maybe I won't; but we need to start somewhere and at some time.  I am willing to jump in and help and follow this project as it develops.

It probably won't actually look like this,
the cable will more likely be about the
size of a sheet of paper.
Imagine - regular & routine trips being available to Earth orbit, the moon, Venus, Mars, asteroids, and beyond.  All without the extreme g-forces, noise, and pollution of a rocket launch as your elevator car quietly climbs a cable through the atmosphere.  It could happen some day.   Government is not supporting as much research as it once did, so it is up to us - the citizens, the dreamers, the believers.  This is a project that I believe in and something that I believe could change humanity's relationship with space forever.  The space elevator has been a dream of visionaries for 150 years, but now with carbon nanotubes it could finally be possible.

If you dream of the stars, join me in supporting the Space Elevator kickstarter

Friday, September 7, 2012

What I Got for the Money

Bags of Crap have still been slipping through my grasp...oh, I have been tantalizingly close a couple time.  Woot people (wooters?) know what I mean...seeing the Crap and submitting Your order only to be told it had sold out in the past 5 seconds that it took to process your order.  It is so frustrating...but then the feeling of supreme triumph when you finally do snag a bag of crap wouldn't exist if it was easy.  However, just because I understand that the rarity of getting a BoC is one of the things that makes it special; this knowledge does not allay feelings of frustration and disappointment from missing out.

Luckily, Graveyard Mall (GYM) was there for me once again to provide a sense of mystery and gambling into my life with their Custom Mystery Box.  GYM's mystery boxes are popular that they keep making new versions:  Kitchen Mystery Box, Women's Mystery Box, As Seen On TV Mystery Box, Candle Mystery Box, etc...  Those are all well and good, but they don't hold the same draw for me as the Custom Mystery Box.  I think it is because the other mystery boxes are so limiting on what they contain.  As I have said before, what you are really buying is hope and a sense of anticipation...there could be anything in the box before it actually arrives.  It's the whole Schrödinger's Cat syndrome...until you actually check, it could be your dreams (or crap).  The Custom Mystery Box is unique in that, you tell GYM a little about yourself and they try to pick items that will suit you...although I am sure some (most) items are overstocked and everyone probably gets them.
Anytime I get a box, I reenact scene
from Seven in my mind:
"What's in the box? What's in the box!"

Once again, I was surprised how big the box was when it came.  I think it was bigger than last time, although not quite as heavy.  It didn't have as many items as last time either, although a couple were definitely bigger ticket items.  Here is what I got for $30 + $6 shipping (in the order that they came out of the box).  You should be able to click to embiggen all photos.

Reflection of me not included...
that costs extra.
1)  Iowa State Cyclone Scoreboard Clock (with date & temperature) - I am not really a Cyclone fan.  Not through any fault of theirs.  It is just that I am not much of a sports fan at all (except for hockey) and when people are talking sports I mostly just think "Go sportsball team!" or "He excels at the game in which he plays."  This is the large wall clock version that they had a couple years looks to be around 13" x 9", not the smaller desk clocks available now.  My brother has a Hawkeye version that he got for Christmas a few years ago...I am pretty sure at that time these clocks retailed for around $80 (but I think have been on clearance since then for about half that).  When unboxed for the picture, I did notice that a small part of the plastic housing had broken.  It was on the back though and wouldn't be visible and could easily be fixed with a little super glue.  This is a really nice clock...just not for me, so my friend Cam (who is a big cyclone fan) just got a bonus birthday present.  Happy Birthday Hetero-Life Pal.

A little creepy and!
2) Littler Dippers bunny airfresheners by Ganz (2 pack) - Fabric rabbits that have a wax base and smell like "Fresh Peaches."  And yes, yes they do smell like peaches.  When I first opened the box it was a little over-whelming (and this is with the bunnies still in their plastic wrap), but they smelled pleasant once the air moved around a little and dispersed the aroma.  I can't imagine working in a store with a bunch of these on the shelf, I think it would make you want to vomit, especially if it was a bunch of competing smells.  Hmmm, I am not really a rabbit guy, so maybe one will get gifted to my niece...or maybe they will get thrown in the back of a closet to freshen out of site (waiting quietly in the dark, eyes slowly going blind, waiting for their chance to attack).  I couldn't find this model must have been a limited run!  Amazon sells a puppy version though (that has a springtime floral scent) for around $10 each.  I have to think these were overstocked and just thrown in the box without looking at the "custom" info.  Oh, well.  I didn't want to open the plastic, so I am not sure if just the wax base was smelly or the cloth too.  It kind of looked like the cloth fabric had a bit of a wax coating so that the rabbits could be posed a little bit, but I am not sure...if so, the thought of touching them creeps me out.  On second thought, these will be given away.

yep, that's what it does.
3)  Hoselink Quick Connect System - Designed in Australia, this is a quick connect/disconnect system for your hose and outdoor faucets.  Which is pretty cool, although I probably don't change my hose and accessories enough to justify this.  Since I didn't plant a vegetable garden this year, I don't even think I have used my hose more than once.  However, my nozzle did break last fall, so just getting a new nozzle is nice.  This kit sells for $25 on Amazon.  Looking at Hoselink's website, it almost looks like hoses down under don't come with the typical threaded ends we see here, and you just push the end of an unfinished hose onto a push-on hose fitting.  If that is the case, I can see how this quick connect system would be really useful there.  And if that is true, I consider it information learned and knowledge is priceless...I will now consider myself a well informed connoisseur of Australian hose workings.

Yes, a nuclear blast just went
off outside my window.
4) Black Leather Desk Clock with Double Pen Stand by Buddy Products - So yep, it is a black leather desk clock with double pen stand, not much else to say about it...oh except "Leather...nice. Leattthhhaaa!" <said in Tin Tin's voice>.  Oh, did I forget to mentiion that it is from the Roma Collection.  THE Roma you know it's quality.  OK, I have no idea what the Roma collection is, but this thing seems like a decent enough clock and pen's just not my style.  I don't believe in putting personal belongings on my desk: A) it often just looks messy and unprofessional, B) if I have a reason to quit I want to be able to just walk out without worrying about personal belonings, and C) I know someone would steal one of the pens and then I would have a sad empty pen stand always taunting me about the absence of the pen.  It's decent enough I guess, but it reminds me of something that a kid would get for his dad for Father's Day.  Holy crap - Amazon sells this for $40. I really figured that it would be $10...Roma Collection indeed!

Have some pride in yourself.
5) Coralite dust-away Sweeper (2 pack) - generic sweeper brooms similar to Swiffer.  No cleaning cloths were included...but sounds like they work with pretty much any generic cleaning cloth.  This actually is pretty good for me, I have hardwood floors throughout the house and my Swiffer broom broke a while back.  I've been meaning to buy a new one but always forget.  My one problem with these is the lack of confidence...not by me, but by the company.  Shouldn't your product's name be capitalized?  It should be "Dust-Away" like you mean it, instead of "dust-away" kind-of, we think, maybe.  Plus you capitalize Sweeper?  That is the part that isn't part of the proper noun.  It's like calling myself michael-gubby Human.  Capitalization - you are doing it wrong.  dust-away you will be considered inferior until you get some pride in yourself and capitalize correctly.  These run $6 on Amazon.

a secret weakness
6) Common Sense Socks, Black (12 pairs) - I believe GYM sold these a while back as "12 pairs of brand name socks for $15."  Yes, I guess they do have a brand name on them, "Common Sense", but it is not a brand name that I have ever heard of, nor did a 5 second internet search yield any results.  A little known fact about me - I love new socks, but at the same time hate buying new socks.  I don't know why but for some reason I have a hard time just randomly buying new socks.  So, I usually wait until all my current socks are completely destroyed and have holes before breaking down and buying new socks.  For this reason, I am actually pretty happy about this item in the mystery box.  I usually get athletic style socks in either white or black...these are not as thick as those (I am trying them out today), but are much thicker than your standard dress socks.  So although I wish there was a little more padding for my tender, baby-like soft feet;  these are pretty comfortable and surprisingly warm for their thickness.  Also made in the USA, so I am literally standing on other citizen's hard work and it feels like...Freedom!  Not really, it feels like 85% acrylic and 15% nylon elastic.

pretty happy with this
7) Dickies TW769 Storm Fleece Pullover - This is my favorite item out of the box.  I don't need another hoodie as I have many, but this is a good looking unit and pretty darn comfy.  Water resistant fleece with a quarter zipper for easy of dressing and removal (looks closer to 1/2 zipper to me, but whatever, it works nice).  Laminated forearm for increased water protection.  Kangaroo pocket, as well as, zippered pocket in front; and small zippered pocket on bicep.  Looks good and feels warm.  Retail was originally $52.  It is slightly big on me, so I am deciding whether to keep or give as a gift.  I know it probably ruins my hipster cred, but I am usually not a Dickies fan...but this is really nice item.

Adding it all up (at original MSRP or the best price that I can find) that makes this box worth about $240...that makes it 87.5% off retail.  Not too bad.  I got some things that I like and some gifts for others.  I felt like I got a pretty good deal.

Win! Win! Win!'s a profit deal. Takes the pressure off!
I do have a few things that I can't use (i.e. - desk clock, smelly bunnies, and a handful of other stuff that I have gotten from mystery boxes and bags of crap in the past) - do you want a chance to win a crap item that I don't have a use for?  It's easy - just send me an email with the subject "I want crap!" and your name in the body...just so I know who I am talking to.  I will randomly select some winners from all entrants at the end of September 2012...and I will send you FREE CRAP.  I paid for this crap, but will send it to you for that you too can know the anticipation, hope, and eventual disappointment of expecting crap in the mail.  Sorry, this offer is only limited to those in the United States, and if you win I will need a physical address to ship to (sorry - no PO Boxes or  APOs).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shut Up and Take my Money pt 1

I am a big fan of Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  Being a fan directly supporting musicians, artists, movie makers, designers, etc.. is what I have always wanted to be able to do.  Not being like a full time philanthropist (I wish I had that kind of money) but just telling someone that I really like their work and hope they make more.  I would always try to buy a t-shirt or CD from a live show or from their direct website (even if I already had it).  I figured that this was the best way that I could support them the most.  Sure, I could buy the CD at the store or even a used CD shop for cheaper, but I knew that the artists themselves would get little or no money from that sale.  If I liked a band, I wanted them to be successful and be around for a while.

Sometimes, I wished I could do more.  Sometimes, I even tried...but it was always awkward for all of us.  Most bands/artists, just don't expect someone, even a fan, to come up and try to give them money.  They weren't sure how to react, and usually just refused.  If taken, there was no guarantee that the money would actually be put to a use for the good of the band.  I like to thank that it helped the band record their next album, get to their next show, or even eat a healthy meal on the road...but I was often afraid that it went to alcohol or worse.  There just wasn't a better way to support someone at the time.

There have been many times I have thought to myself "I would have bought that."  After hearing about some band that broke up because of money stress, leaving an album have finished and unreleased.  Or the great movie that never got made...but they couldn't find a studio to support them.  Or that idea that sounds awesome but its such a niche product that it doesn't get made because of the risk of a small market.  I used to think this all the time, but thanks to Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others; I can now say "Shut up and take my money."

Here is one of the projects that I am currently supporting: Is This Heaven?

This is a film about Frank Meeink, an ex-skinhead who became a civil rights activist, going on a journey of spiritual discovery and examining different faiths and religions (feeling conflicted with rise in hate speech used in religion nowadays).

There are several reasons that I am supporting this film.  One of the biggest is that I have met Frankie and find his story of overcoming hate to be inspiring and optimistic for the human race.  The second reason is that it is a local project, I like supporting local projects because I think we need to nurture our local culture and artists.  Finally, I just think it could be an interesting film...I am not religious but can see religion used for both good (hope and helping people) and bad (fear and denying people rights).  I think Frank's journey will be interesting and show that people of different religions have more in common than not.

I think it is a worthy project.  Join me in supporting it.