Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekend breakfast

Over the past few years or so, I've tried to create a tradition of making breakfast at least on one of the weekend mornings for the family but usually Sunday. This is about what it looks like but with a bit more bacon, eggs (scrambled and over-easy), toast (french or toasted).

Add Dunkin Donuts coffee for me, milk for the family and breakfast is good to go in the House of Jay.

I believe creating this tradition has worked as many times my kids have had friends stay the night and I hear them say, "Dude, you picked a good night to stay over because my Dad makes breakfast with bacon and eggs in the morning!"

I'm a good—no, great Dad and husband!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Good Kill (2014)

Good Kill (2014). This movie stars Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot. He sits in a box flying military drones for overwatch or killing people as ordered. He starts to have issues with his job. You can read the rest at IMDB. Based on actual events.

Final verdict: The movie was kind of slow. It was kind of predictable. It was kind of boring. I'd pass on this one.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Watched this movie today from the comfort of my couch via the world wide web. No, I didn't download it but I did watch it through my browser via a will-remain-unnamed website. I'm glad I did. I feel that I might have been disappointed if I rented the DVD and would have absolutely been disappointed if I paid $8+ to watch this in the theater.

I'm all about the action but that's at like the Nitro Circus or Monster Truck events. You go in expecting just straight on action and excitement. However for a movie, I expect a little more. Not a lot more but enough.

This movie had no substance, no story, no real reason to keep my interest. I don't need a full-on story but something other than just driving and killing which overall just weren't that great (the driving and killing). The action scenes like the crashes, explosions and killings have all been seen many, MANY times before. There was no start to the movie. At the beginning, it had some voice over about some shit that I can't recall or even really understood but then it jumped right into the action. Well, first there was a stomping on and killing of a two-headed lizard by Max where he scoops up the carcass and eats it. What point that had to do with anything other than he was hungry is beyond me! So, then it jumps right into the action with Max rushing to get into his vehicle and then getting chased by a spray-paint huffing, white-body painted "gang." They capture him and this form of Max becomes kind of cowardly, if you ask me. Not like the Mel Gibson version where yes he gets captured but he still has a set of balls and takes the torture or whatever like a man. Tom Hardy's version seemed more panicky. I guess he just doesn't seem as hardened and experienced as the previous Maxes. Now, he did become a little more hardened as the movie progressed but the intial impression for me was kind of wimpy. Charlize Theron's character, Furiosa, was more manly. It just kind of bothered me.

The gang leader seemed decrepit. It shows him having some scars and work done on his back scars. It reminded me ala Baron Harkonnen from Dune. However, he wears some kind of oxygen mask ala Bane and he's much better. Also, when he speaks in the movie, it's difficult to understand what he is saying. Some of the time I was wondering if he was speaking a foreign language and I was looking for subtitles.

So, before I get too long-winded, George Miller decided that "high-speed" action and explosions without really anything else would make for a good movie. For me, he was wrong. I've read and heard from other people that it was "good," "awesome," "beyond expectation," etc. I don't know what's wrong with them/me but I totally disagree. It did remind me more of the original movie but without the thin story line it had and without anything new brought to the table other than bigger explosions which weren't always great. It's like Miller said, "Okay, we haven't had an explosion for like two minutes so blow that truck up now."

I really found it difficult to watch it through to the end. However, I just cannot not complete a movie — well there have been one or two probably — no matter how awful it is.

In the end, I just wasn't feeling this movie. I wanted it to be awesome. Hell, I would have taken good. Instead I was left with what the fuck and disapointment.

FINAL VERDICT: Rent it if you must. But make sure you don't spend more than a couple of dollars. If you happen to find short clips of the movie with the chases and explosions, watch those as that's about what you get in the full movie.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Benihana Dallas

My oldest wanted to go to Benihana Dallas for a birthday celebration. It's sort of pricey but it's not like a regular thing. This is a special day.

However, I personally am not a huge fan of the food or the fanfare. I think it's basic food with basic entertainment from a chef whose ethnicity quite often does not match that of the restaurant's name but more of the massive land mass just south of the Rio Grande! No matter how they try to sound when they speak, Jorge is not Miyagi.

Anyway, the photo is of my plate with beef, chicken, shrimp and some fried rice. I enhanced it with some color filters to make it look more enticing than in real life or at least eye-appealing.

Again, the food's not terrible but I think I can get just as good from Mei Mei's Chinese Buffet off of Central Expressway and Meadow Rd and pay about a third of the cost.

Hopefully, this phase has passed now from my children's birthday dining wants.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dugan's Moving Company

Dugan's Moving Company located at Hebron & Josey in Carrolton — at least when I used them.

Used this company almost three years ago. Started a review back then but never completed it because I got busy with life important things. Yelp has reminded me to complete my review but today I decided to follow through.

As many others have mentioned...

DO NOT USE DUGAN'S MOVING COMPANY!

Here's my story...

Emailed Brad Dugan, owner of Dugan's Moving, after calling another recommended moving company (Alpine Moving Co) who were very short & rude on the phone-like he was so busy he didn't need another customer. I didn't want to lose it in case Brad was just as rude is why I emailed. Brad finally called three days later. Brad said they were available for my dates because he currently wasn't very busy. Red flag #1?

We talked cost & he quoted something around $400 if I remember correctly because I told him he would not have to do ANYTHING but move already-packed boxes & furniture which I placed almost all of it downstairs in my living room by myself over a few weeks before my move. The biggest things they had to move were a couple of computer desk armoires measuring about 36" wide x 20" deep x 60" high & no more than 75 lbs. I was also only moving about a mile away.

Night before the move, it rained pretty good all night. It was pretty wet the morning of the move but had stopped raining. Brad calls around 8 a.m. asking if I still wanted to do my move. Like I had a choice, idiot! I told him I had to be moved out by that day (my last in the place) because that was the earliest time my other place would be open—it was a tight time frame. Brad reluctantly said okay but it'll take him a bit to get his guys together. Really!? Should he not have had them already gathered & waiting for me to tell him to not come instead of assuming I'd cancel? Or maybe call and confirm the night before? Red flag #2?

They finally show around 11 a.m. — 6 guys & one 27' truck although a few drove their personal trucks since they all wouldn't fit in the moving truck. They all seemed nice enough. 4 guys in their 20s & 2 older guys about 40+. Brad was one of them. He's a heavy set guy & he barked orders to the others. He maybe carried five small items but I'm sure he felt like he did a lot more. He kept telling me that his guys really didn't want to work today because of the weather so they were going to try and "book" it to get done in a few hours or less. Red flag #3?

I had hardwood floors at my old place except the stairs to the 2nd floor. I laid down towels to keep the mud & water at bay as much as possible why the movers were going in & out. Once the truck was loaded they drove roughly one mile to my new place to unload. I had them move one desk armoire upstairs in my new place because my wife didn't want me doing it later. EVERYTHING else they just had to bring in & place in my living room for me to unpack, place and/or set up later. Simple right? All the ease that I made for them was definitely going to be $400 or less, right?

So, my mother-in-law offered to pay for the move & she was also the one that gave me their contact info. It was a small move but she wasn't hugely impressed with them previously because she thought they overcharged for a simple move she too had. However, I was in a time crunch & limited on who I could call without getting thoroughly raked over with the costs. Well, I (my mother-in-law) still got raked in the costs.

My mother-in-law was doing a walk through while I was handling something else and noticed that they had damaged the computer armoire they had moved upstairs. How the hell it happened I have no idea. Two guys moved it up in the new place but I had moved it upstairs in my old place by myself without ANY damage! It's funny but they seemed like they tried to hide it. Five guys hovering in a circle around the item like they were trying to keep prying eyes from seeing what they're doing. Just weird. My mother-in-law talked with Brad about it and he said he'd take off $75 (I think it was) from the total cost. Red flag #4?

That was such a great savings I tell ya. I believe the total cost was around $650. My mother-in-law said I was quoted $400 & Brad started saying stupid stuff like, "Well we came in the rain & I had to bring two extra guys so we could get it done quicker, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH." Basically, reasons that should not have been shared & I could not believe he was arguing his point of overcharging us. My mother-in-law & I must have been in crazy good moods as we just said, "Screw it!" & she paid. I personally would've argued a bit more if I was paying but I figured if it was really something she wanted, she would have argued more too! Although, a few days later she had thought about it more & it grated on her that she wasn't more upfront about her disgust of Dugan's Moving's service & price!

So once again, unless you want to be screwed over...

DO NOT USE DUGAN's MOVING COMPANY!!!

The damage they caused and subsequently tried to "fix" on my armoire.



Now that I think about it, I wonder why they would have wood glue on hand unless they've damaged wooden furniture before.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Aukey 20000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank

Some weeks ago I saw a deal on the Aukey 20000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank from Amazon.com.  I've been looking for a good, decent portable charger for my devices, especially my S3.  I've seen a few deals here and there from my Frys.com daily/weekly emails but nothing that really stood out to me because the products weren't mildly/heavily reviewed.  Although some might have been worth a chance for $5-$10 after the promo code, I just couldn't pull the trigger.  However, when I saw this deal for the Aukey, I was about to take a trip to Austin & then The Woodlands, Texas. I didn't want to be stuck without a way to charge my phone because I wasn't going to be around an outlet for at least 6-8 hours of the day(s) when I would be in those cities.

I read many reviews about the Aukey as well as other comparable power banks.  Many reviewers mentioned going with some other brands if price wasn't an issue.  However, for the price, the Aukey was pretty much thumbs-up from every reviewer.  Most reviewers mentioned that this was fairly heavy and slightly bulky to be considered truly portable but I wasn't really looking for something that I'd carry in my shorts/pants pocket.  I was really looking for portable to be carried in some kind of pack whether it be a back/string/fanny pack.  Again, after a day or two of browsing looking for any "real" negative reviews, I took the leap to purchase for the grand charge of $15.99.

It took two days from order to delivery which I didn't expect any less from my Amazon Prime membership -- and luckily this seller was able to provide the two-day shipping for Prime although I would have had no problem waiting as I didn't need the power bank that quickly, 5-7 days shipping would have sufficed.

GENERAL OVERVIEW w/images


The above image is just a shot of the top of the Aukey.


The above image is another shot of the top of the Aukey but this angle shows the white button with some blue lights. The white button is two-fold. Push and hold the button and the LED flashlight will come on. Push it again to turn it off. Push the button once, and the blue lights you see in the image will show. These blue lights show the remaining capacity of the Aukey charger. Four lights is fully charged, three is 3/4, two 1/2 and one is 1/4.


The above image is just simply a shot of the input for charging the Aukey. It accepts a micro USB cord.


The above image shows the Aukey's USB outputs as well as the LED flashlight. The LED light is bright enough for many tasks. I don't know where or when I'd really use it in place of some other flashlight LED such as the one on my Samsung Galaxy S3. If for some reason it is the ONLY thing available, then yes it would be used but otherwise, I did not buy the Aukey for the flashlight.

The USB output on the left is a 1.0A and the one on the right is a 2.1A. Each is designated by one lightning bolt for the 1.0A and two lightning bolts for the 2.1A. This is significant in the fact that the 2.1A charges faster than the 1.0A and the 2.1A is able to charge more power hungry devices like say a Samsung/Apple tablet.

 

The two images above give you a sense of the size of the battery pack compared to my S3. It roughly measures 6" long by 3" wide and about 1/2" thick. I don't know the exact weight, maybe a pound, but it's (obviously) much heavier than my S3.

PERFORMANCE

So, in my non-scientific testing, I found that it took about just over an hour for the Aukey power bank to fully charge my Samsung S3 from about 9% using the 2.1A port. I was able to fully charge my S3 multiple times...I don't know maybe five or so times...my 64GB iPod Touch, and two S4s (my kids' phones) before the battery pack showed two blue lights. I didn't fully drain it before I charged the Aukey battery pack. I don't know how long it took to fully charge because I plugged it in around 9 p.m., went to sleep, and then unplugged it fully charged around 7:30 a.m. the next morning. I have yet to charge it again - it's been about a week - but have used it three times to charge my S3 from about 15-20% to full charge. It's still showing four blue lights.

CONCLUSION

Again, in my not-so-scientific manner, I am satisfied with the purchase of my Aukey 20000mAh Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank. I actually ordered this on February 19th so I figured it was enough time to give a fairly proper review of the my use of this product. I would consider this product portable only in the fact that you CAN easily carry it around in a backpack, laptop bag, or such. I wouldn't be carrying this around in my shorts/pants pocket as the weight is just not that comfortable to be having it bouncing around or weighting down in your shorts/pants. That's what one of those pocket one-time per charge charging battery packs are for but I wanted a little more at the time of my purchase and for just three times the cost of some of those pocket chargers this was worth it to me. As I check out this product on Amazon right now, it's currently priced at $34.99. I think that's still a good deal but to each his own.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Map Packs

Why is Sony still charging $14.99 for the Call of Duty: Black Ops map packs? Black Ops came out in, what, 2010? How many new games have we had since then: MW3, BLOPSII, Ghosts, Advance Warfare and coming soon, BLOPSIII? If one were to buy these four map packs, they could essentially buy a brand new game in the series or if they found a good discounted deal like previously owned, two or more of the new games could be bought.

Yes, I still play BLOPS. I am more attuned to the weaponry in it than the newer games, especially when it comes to playing Gun Game or Core-Pure. I can't stop loving running around with my double-barreled Olympia shotgun and a pistol owning the other team and hearing on my earpiece after the game is over, "Who the hell is running around with a shotgun!?" Brings a smile to my face every time!

So, back to the costs of these map packs...just ridiculous! C'mon Sony, how about charging $15 for all four? I have two PS3 and two copies of BLOPS. If I want to purchase the new maps, I'd have to buy for both for my kids to be able to play on one or both of the PS3 systems.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Meshack's Bar-be-cue Shack, Garland, TX

Some of us friends and coworkers were going to be in the Garland area around lunch time during our work week and decided to try this place. It doesn't open until 10:30 a.m. but we heard it gets busy quickly. In fact, we got there around 11 a.m. and there were already twelve people in line and three in the "waiting area."

We waited in line for about thirty minutes before we got to approach the very small, barred order window. Think of those movies where you see some crack house where they just slide a metal, wood or glass window open to about four to six inches max so you can't really reach in or if you did, it'd probably hurt like a bitch because the person on the other side could slam the "door" shut quickly enough to bust the wrist or forearm.

Not knowing about this place before we got there, I was doing some quick Googling in line to see what was said about this place on Yelp. There was also some article in the food blog of D Magazine called Side Dish.
 
There were a few options that sounded tasty but the overall consensus on Yelp or Side Dish or wherever it was said do not pass on the item called "Da' Jasper."(pic inset) which is a huge entree/sandwich thing and you won't know that unless you read about it somewhere or until after you receive it after ordering it.

So let me tell you what it is. It's starts with two bottoms of sandwich buns, then chopped/shredded brisket, then 6-8 halves of four inch sausages finished with the tops of the buns. When I initially received my order, I didn't think it was supposed to be some kind of double sandwich meal. I thought it was weird to just see the bun tops but just figured it was the way they did their "Texas toast." Speaking of toast, I wold prefer it if the buns were toasted on grill because they might have stood up a little better to the meats which were slightly over-drenched with sauce. The sauce wasn't bad but so much sauce was one of the reasons why I didn't know what the Da' Jasper was. Overall it was pretty darn good. It was a lot of food and I could only eat half. Actually, I probably could have eaten it all but I would have been so miserable at work that I was smart and only kept to half. Funny thing about ordering Da' Jasper was that they only gave me four tiny thin napkins which was ridiculous.

You can probably do a Google of Meshack's yourself but I'll give you a head start: here, here, here, here, here and here. They all pretty much say the same thing which is...

GIVE IT A TRY...you won't be disappointed!