Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Joyo de Nicaragua

Didn't like this one. Didn't burn well and was rolled way to loosely. I had a hard time lighting it and it burned up one side and then went out. Horrible! They got a big rating in Cigar Aficionado, but I disagree. I won't spend my time on this again unless its free.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Macanudo [cigar review]

When you purchase a cigar that's sealed in its own glass tube, you have a certain right to look forward to a blissful smoke. That presupposition proved perfectly precise for my latest balcony vacation.

I must admit, I have sinned. Not just your typical day-to-day sins, but a very horrific sin. I did a good friend the nastiest trick I could have... Allow me to confess. During our latest wine party I cracked open the seal on a Macanundo that I purchased a while back and stuck it under my friends nose. Of course, I did this at about midnight and the two of us never shared the distinct pleasure of smoking it together.

Well I will share that experience vicariously with you now (and him if he has forgiven me and reads this blog again).

Today was not bad. It actually got up to 34 degrees F. After a long Minnesota winter, that's like a heat wave. So, I donned a light jacket, grabbed my el-cheapo cigar cutter, a pack of matches and I headed out.

This cigar was among the best smokes I have ever had. It has a rich undertone of oil with the smell of oak and leather. At the same time it wasn't overpowering even though it was a robusto. This smoked evenly right to the end. It wasn't a hot smoking cigar. What do I mean by that? Well it felt like I was getting the flavor when I took a draw and not the fire. Some cigars seem loosely put together and draw in to much of the heat. This was a perfect balance. I got a good draw that didn't feel like I was sucking air through a straw, while maintaining a smoothness that wasn't burning.

I would recommend this brand to anyone.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grilling Again!

So one good thing has come with daylight savings time... I have officially fired up my grill. Yes folks, I am once again in my element. I did a little on it through the fearsome winter, but the season is open now!

This morning, as I exchanged my LP tank for a fresh one at the local box store, I could just smell that esoteric aroma filling my nostrils again. Ah, grilling. Cooking the way God intended. Just you, a chunk of meat and fire. Actually, I've made some taste vegetables on the grill as well as some delightful fruits as well. Ah life is good once again, at least at the dinner table!

So join me for the next few weeks as I move through a series of grilling posts. I don't have a planned number of posts to do, but I'll move through some basic principles as well as offer some hard learned tips and recipes as I bring you a tour of Lucky's Grill.

Bon Appetite!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


There has been a flurry of posts ever since the opening of Watchmen this weekend. How to adequately explain it?? I'll try this; take the director of 300 and give him a platform similar to Gotham city. Now through in some outstanding graphics an out of this world soundtrack and a movie that doesn't take itself to seriously.

This is the best movie by far that I have seen this year. Don't worry though if you haven't read the graphic novel. I went into this film a virgin on not only the novel, but the overall concept. My wife gave me a low-down as we were walking in (she read the novel). Still, the "briefing" was like this: "There are a bunch of guys and it all starts with one of them dying. That's like a catalyst, oh and they go to Mars." At that point I didn't know what to expect.

Don't go to this one though if you saw 300 and couldn't stomach it. The graphic violence caries over. Although the story made up for any excessive use of blood and guts that producers put in. You had to think and yet at the same time I had a pretty good idea of who... ooops! I almost gave it away. Let's just say there is a really good bait and switch in this movie.

There is not doubt that this will be a permanent DVD in our collection!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skype and calls over the internet

Have you jumped on board the Skype train yet? Not sure what Skype is? Well I'll describe what Skype is and how a huge world of internet calls has opened up, making the standard wall phone a thing of the past. Not to mention I give an idea on how to save a bundle on international calls.

Skype is a software application that allows you to make PC to PC phone calls...for free. What is even cooler is if you have a webcam, you can video chat for free too. Skype has a new interface that may or may not be user-friendly depending on your tastes. For an overview of that go to CNET's video on Skype.

The gear is realatively unexciting. All you need is a mic and a set of head phones. Set up a free Skype account and off you go. You can talk completely free of charges, PC to PC, with anyone that has a Skype account. You can also makes calls to traditional phone numbers, but that costs extra.

Now, on to why I included a router in my 5 best electronics post... VoIP or Voice over IP, essentially making phone calls over a broadband internet connection started in the early 90's. With the g and now n types of wireless networks (getting back to the router), you can make phone calls without interuption over those networks. That's why the router is cool. Let me explain more, cause I can tell I haven't hooked you yet.

There are a number of wireless VoIP phones out on the market today. Here is a sampling of them:
  1. Belkin Wi-Fi for Skype
  2. Netgear SPH200W
With these, or any WiFi phone you have, all you need is a wireless signal and you're making calls for pennies on the dollar compared to a mobile phone. Not to mention, you have friends in Germany or Spain? No problem. There really isn't anything like a domestic or international call anymore. Just get online...done.

Skype has its own line up of phones as well and offers goodies on thier website like headphones and a host of wireless access points for your home.

What's the deal with VoIP? Well I'll de-mystify it for you. There are a ton of VoIP companies out there, the biggest being Vonage, Verizon and Skype (not necessarily in that order). They have a mishmash of goodies including their own routers that will turn your existing POTS (plain old telephone service) and turn them into a VoIP, to straight up VoIP phones that can hold 500 or more contacts. Some of these phones have remarkable features and fantastic user interfaces. No more "how do I transfer this call?" at work.

What if you want to use your WiFi enabled mobile phone to hop on a network? Well that's available too. Its called FMC or fixed mobile convergence. A good example of this is T-Mobile's hot spot. This service essentially lets you pick and choose between mobile minutes and WiFi freedom.

It all comes back to the router. Cut those wires, that's what I say. With the high price of copper these days, why not go wireless? Its getting faster and more powerful all the time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Wine Party Results

We had a rudimentary, rather informal scoring system that we stumbled through at the wine party I recently introduced, one post back. Here is how the wines ranked:
  1. Go Go Red (Cannon River) - really by far the best wine there. It had an extremly pleasant, smooth taste that ended wonderfully.
  2. Hastings Reserve (Alexis Bailey) - this was a well liked young port. It made a fantastic desert wine.
  3. Honeywine (Winehaven) - a very sweet white, this did very well and merited a pronouncement as my wife's favorite wine of all time.
  4. Cranberry (Winehaven) - this is a very delightful sweet red wine. The cranberry taste is not overwhelming and would pair nicely with a red meat or stew.
  5. Sogn Blanc (Cannon River) - this was a semi fragrant white with a good, mellow taste. People that appreciate whites, appreciated this one.
  6. West 7th (Cannon River) - I suppose the reason this is a house wine is because its bland and would go with anything. A step above water really, but not offensive to the palet.
  7. Highbush Cranberry Honeywine (Minnestalgia) - this was a wine brought by some dear friends. Little did they know it was horrible. This didn't rank 7th, it ranked 107th. I wouldn't buy this as a gag gift. It smelled and tasted like dirt... no lie. There was such a thick sediment in the bottle that we are pretty sure there was a bottling error, leading to spoiling. I hope so, because right now I would never buy another Minnestalgia wine.