Archive for category Review

Fixed… For Good Now!

So, there is something that has always been annoying to me, and that is the plastic skid plate underneath the engine on my Jetta TDI, and not just the plastic skid plate itself, but also the side skirts that the skid plate attaches to. I think I have replaced the skid plate itself 5 times in the past 9 years I have owned the car, and then the plastic side skirts have broken at least 3 times, usually when there have been ice chunks in the road. This doesn’t even count the number of times I have had to mess with the stupid screws that hold the skid plate to the side skirts and the frame, or the little metal thing that holds the screw as well.

This thing is literally the bane of my existence with this car, which I otherwise completely and utterly love more than almost any other vehicle I have ever owned, the only one I love a little bit more is the Valcan 900 motorcycle I bought this year, so maybe it’s just newer which is why I love it a little more right now.

So I recently got my bumper fixed after a moron decided it was a good idea to try to put on his seatbelt with a broken arm while pulling out of the gas station, and thus hit and scratched up my bumper. Yeah, you are gonna pay for it when you do that, even though the scrapes were not a lot, they were enough and I wanted my pound of flesh for his stupidity.

So, I get the car back, and I am cruising down Storrow Drive on my way into Boston and I hear a slightly familiar sound as I go up and down over the undulating roadway that Storrow is.




Yup, I hear the skid plate scraping on the ground.

I stop when I am at my destination and take a look at the problem, and it is not exactly what I suspected, but it is more annoying than I expected. The skid plate was held in place perfectly and was completely attached to the side skirts and frame just as it’s supposed to be. However, the side skirt is broken up at the top where it connects to the frame up by the top of the wheel well.

Oh sure, great, another $200 to spend for the parts and labor to get the skirt replaced, because you can only buy them in pairs and it’s a PITA to do this without a lift.

So, I am done with plastic, it has some great uses but this really is not one of them.

After a massive amount of searching and reading through online forums, specifically ones at,, and, I decided to go to and purchase from them.

I ended up looking things over and bought the combo of the Panzer skid plate and the Full Metal Jacket side skirts. When something is talked about as much as they are on forums, then there has to be some truth to it. I chose the one that has the nice cut out for oil changes, so maybe I will go back to doing my own changes again, or it will just make it nice and easy for whoever I pay to do my oil changes instead of needing to deal with the old plastic plate again.

Now the real challenge set in, the waiting for it to be shipped and arrive. Fortunately, it came in 4 business days, so I got it last Thursday after ordering it the previous Saturday night. I can live with that.

So the installation went pretty easy, I got the installation done in about 3 hours, but in reality, if I had fully read the whole install guide and had all the tools I needed ahead of time, I could have had this wrapped up in 60-75 minutes.  I rolled the car up onto my tire ramps, and then was able to get under the car with little to no problem, I took off the old skid plate, and then easily took off the old side skirts which were practically falling off anyway.

Then it became a little more complicated, I needed to figure out how to use the “rivnuts” that they sent, and how to use the tool they send to get them put in, all in all, it was actually pretty simple, but it did take a couple minutes to sort it out and get comfortable with it.

I didn’t end up needing to purchase many tools to get this done, I used my standard ratchets and was fortunate enough to have an extender bar that was JUUUUUST long enough, although another 2 inches wouldn’t have been horrible.(insert Michael Scott saying “That’s what she said”). I did end up purchasing a 3 pack of ratchet swivel tips to be able to get at a couple of the bolts at weird angles, and also a nice can of grease. Who doesn’t love grease right? I hear it is the word.

So once I got in the rivnuts, I then popped on the mounting arms for the skid plate. These are pretty nice, they attach the skid plate to the upper part of the frame instead of attaching it to the side skirts, this puts less pressure and weight on the side skirts so they won’t break as easily, although with them now being metal instead of plastic, I don’t expect them to break anyway.

Then the side skirts go on, these went on smoothly without too much trouble, a little twisting and turning to get it done, but not much trouble.

Then the skid plate went on, this was a little tougher than the plastic one because it’s about 25 pounds or so instead of the 5 or 6 that the plastic one weighs, but it sure did attach nice and solid with the bolts into the rivnuts, I took it for a spin afterwards and it felt good, and sounded slightly more quiet than the old one, I suspect the way it attaches and the metal itself probably absorbs a bit more of the noise, and probably keeps a little more of the ground noise out from coming through as well.

Sadly, I did not take any really good pictures like I probably should have of the process, I have a couple from the iPhone, but they aren’t anything remarkable. It looks pretty much like all the stock pictures from over at Dieselgeek if you go check it out, they have some decent videos too.

Also, I did the install using the PDF version of the install guide on my iPad instead of having it printed out, and it was very nice, easy to zoom in on pics and such to make sure I was getting everything in the right spots.

Also, no major injuries occurred during the process. I got real dirty with grease and grime, and somehow my butt really hurts, I think the combination of using my muscles to wiggle in and out from under the car for 3 hours in combination with having ZERO padding on my ass to begin with contributed to that. Also, my arms and wrists got pretty sore in the process as well, holding them up and cranking on the ratchets to get the rivnuts in and then to get the bolts in took some time, and the angles didn’t help, definitely not things my wrists and arms are used to doing on a regular basis.

This is a video that shows Jim at DieselGeek installing the rivnuts.


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Not So Misdirected…

So, apparently my love of Wegman’s isn’t all that misdirected, they definitely are a great store, and I am definitely not the only person who thinks so. There was a recent Consumer Reports Survery that puts Wegman’s up at the top of all supermarkets in the country.

I am not surprised by this, nor am I surprised about a couple of other supermarkets up at the top which include Trader Joes and Market Basket, but I was surprised at some near the top(Costco), as well as some near the bottom(Shaw’s and Stop & Shop) but then a couple that I thought would be higher because of the cult following they have but they were just in the middle, Whole Foods.

Also really looking forward to the new Wegman’s that is coming to Burlington, it opens up in 73 days I think. I like the Northborough store, but it is kinda far to get to, and the Chestnut Hill store is actually terrible in my opinion. They made a lot of bad choices that stray from the normal things I expect from a Wegman’s store, and the whole feel and enjoyment of the store is affected by it, I won’t be going back there other than to show someone an example of a bad store to shop at for groceries.

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On the Road Again…

So it’s vacation time!

It’s mid to late June and we are heading out for a good old fashioned fly by the seat of our pants road trip, we are taking this trip in Anthony Bourdain style; no reservations!

We are heading down and will be spending a good deal of the trip in North Carolina, but we need to get that far first, we are spending time in the tiny little state of Delaware for a night, and then down through the Delmarva Peninsula and over a really expensive bridge, and into Virginia before getting to North Carolina, staying with friends in Raleigh for a night and then heading back up north through the Blue Ridge mountains, into Pennsylvania and then back home.

So today was day one of our trip, this is basically a beat feet day to get through all the boring places I drive through all the time, or places we have no interest in really seeing anything special in, it’s a quick trip out the Mass Pike, down 84, down 91, down the Wilbur Cross and Merritt parkways, over the Tappen Zee Bridge, past the massive Palisades Mall, to the Garden State Parkway, head south to the Jersey Turnpike, and then over the Delaware Memorial Bridge into the great state of Delaware. Maybe I will start an LLC while I am here, seems like that’s what everyone does in Delaware.

The trip down was good overall, no major traffic delays except coming up to the Tappen Zee Bridge, it mentioned roadwork so there were going to be some delays, I had no problem with that, although it took about 45 minutes to go about 5 miles which normally takes less than 5 minutes. I only got really annoyed when it was determined that there was no road work and the delay was just because all the stupid people seem to have a whole lot of trouble merging because of a lane drop from 4 to 3. Even with less than 500 feet of lane left, people were still jumping into the lane that was ending to try to shoot up ahead of other people.

One interesting thing we saw during this portion of the trip was a white Mitsubishi Lancer, which had a unique graphic on the rear window of the heavily tinted windows. What was this graphic you ask? Why it was a graphic which depicted “the shocker”, you either know it or you don’t, if you don’t then be glad. Go right ahead and call me a grumpy old man and I can tell you to get off my lawn, but what kind of tool actually puts something like that on the rear window of their car? Not only that, but he also had a custom overlay on his rear idiot light break light on his trunk that reads “suck it” in red when he hits the brakes. CLASSY!

So some things we noticed on the trip so far…

Douches on Motorcycles, apparently lots of people seem to think it’s smart to travel at 90+MPH on a sport bike weaving in and out of traffic, wearing sneakers, nylon shorts, and sleeveless t shirts, but hey, at least they had on a helmet so their brains won’t get splattered while they rip a dozen or so layers of skin off the rest of their body when they dump the bike.

They are expanding a lot of the southern part of the Jersey Turnpike, this appears to involve a lot of bridge building, the only problem I see is that a majority of the bridges they appear to be building have nothing to connect to them, no roads anywhere close to them that need to go over the highway. Governor Christie taking a page from Sarah Palin with bridges to nowhere?

Delaware is a state with apparently a whole lot of gun shops, tobacco shops, title loan shops, and pawn shops. Seems a bit depressed, but then you have the strip joints to make up for it, but it appears as though they can only take off their tops in those, so just a bit more depressing in there.

One interesting thing about the Delaware Memorial Bridge compared to other bridges I have seen, and driven over on this trip, there wasn’t even a minor attempt at putting up a fence or any type of blockade to prevent people from jumping, not even a Samaritans hotline number.

Delaware apparently has some problems with minors drinking, I have seem at least 6 different billboards all with the same ad on them; it’s an ad to remind people who buy alcohol that it’s illegal to give it to someone underage. Kinda makes you wonder what’s going on if they need to have a billboard ad campaign to remind people they can’t do that.

We have seen a bit of wildlife along the way, we tried to take some smaller roadways at times to make the scenery a little nicer for this reason. Unfortunately the majority of wildlife we saw was “sleeping” on the side of the road. Off the top of my head there were 4 possum, 2 raccoons, 1 cat, 2 deer, and a few things which even dental records won’t be able to identify. Although it was not all bad, we did see a lot of large birds like hawks, a few deer with a baby just south of Dover AFB, and something which was seen so quickly it could not actually be identified; Possibly a possum, rabbit, or badger.

So we got down to the Dover area, and we needed to find a place to stay, we found a couple listings online in the price range we wanted, unfortunately all the mom and pops were just way too too sketch, so we tried a couple more mainstream and the first few had no rooms, then the Sleep hotel might have rooms, but we had to wait til 6 to see if any actually would be available. Apparently they were on hold til 6, but if people didn’t check in by then they lose their room. So we checked out another hotel while killing 15 minutes to see if any would be free, the Holiday Inn Express only had smoking rooms, so that would have been no good at all. Back to the Sleep. We waited, we checked, we got a room! YAY, day one and we weren’t sleeping in the car, we haven’t failed yet!

So we got our room, went up and chilled for a bit, then checked out online where to head for dinner, we ended up picking a place called McGlynns here in Dover on Lake Silver. It was great! A tad loud but there was no wait for a table and we got a booth even, so not bad. It was a bit dark with all the old stained hardwood everywhere, but nice overall and a nice view on the water and the menu looked great. I had the sliced flank steak with garlic mashed potatoes, some steamed vegetables, and corn bread. It was great and the the flavors were nice, the cornbread was crumbly but wasn’t super dry, the mashed potatoes has a slightly odd texture but were delicious all around. Kate got the shrimp and grits, which also came with andouille sausage and garlic bread. This was awesome too, spicy sausage and the grits were cooked really really well. The garlic bread was huge but tasty.

Totally a dinner win after a total lunch lose.

Now to figure out our travel route for tomorrow and see what other interesting stuff awaits us in Delaware and into Maryland…

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So last night, I was on the way home with my GF who helped me and my siblings take a picture together to give to my mom as a mother’s day gift, and then picking up a new rug for the living room at Building 19 3/4 – yes, it was actually a spur of the moment stop and impulse buy, but it looks really good in the living room, I will post a picture in another blog or in my pictures at some point.

So prior to that stop we were cruising homeward bound and we were hungry, so we were trying to figure out where to go…

First, we ruled out fast food and pizza places for the obvious reason, then we ruled out a chain because that just wasn’t worth it and she wasn’t in the mood for chinese or japanese etc, so those were ruled out, however we had one last resort option if we couldn’t find someplace, and that was Chipotle, which is both a chain and sorta fast food, but it gets an exemption, tough to explain but it is just different so it gets one.

So we were cruising up RT 1 and seeing what is around and we finally get to RT1/128/95 and realize we have 2 options, Joe’s American Bar and Grill(technically a chain but not a big one so it is exempt) or Finz which is a semi local seafood sorta chain place, there are more than one of them anyway.

So we decide on Finz and make our way over there, it was only about 5:30 so we were pretty much still in old person time which is fine by me since it meant easy to get in and get a table and not too much noise, and yes, there were many an old person in there at the time.

I started off with a sour apple martini which was really good, we got some fresh rolls which were really warm and just plain awesome. Then we had the crispy calamari for an appetizer. WOW, that was the most tender and well made calamari I have ever had, it was crisp on the outside with a light flaky batter which had flavor but not so much as to overwhelm the flavor of the calamari, and the inside was soft and the furthest thing from rubbery you can imagine, it was perfectly cooked. The marinara and garlic butter dipping sauces were great compliments to it as well.

I chose the pan seared scallops with a cider reduction, with bacon whipped potatoes on the side. I was supposed to get a roasted corn and mushroom ragout, but I swapped it out for the much simpler asparagus spears. This dish was FANTASTIC, the scallops were fresh, perfectly cooked and the cider reduction complimented it perfectly. The potatoes were great and while there were no chunks of bacon, you could really taste the bacon in them, I am guessing they had bacon fat added to them for the flavor.

She had the pan seared shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, with pesto Israeli cous cous, and those were delicious as well, nicely cooked and the flavors mixed really well together.

THEN, we had dessert too to make it a perfectly decadent night, we got a square of chocolate marshmallow cheesecake which was absolutely divine, the layer of fudge-like chocolate on the top could have been sliced to about half thickness since it was a bit over powering, but man, even with that, the marshmallow flavored cheesecake center with the graham cracker crust was to die for, and glad we split it because I never would have been able to eat it myself, just too big.

I have eaten up at the one in Salem before, and I know at least one of you has as well, although you may just drink there, not sure exactly. While this one is not on the ocean, the atmosphere is great and the food just plain awesome. Definitely will be back at some point, but not too often since it can be a bit pricey, but definitely worth it if you want a nice, quiet, quality meal to treat yourself with your $$.


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Pretty Disappointed

So, I had a craving last night and went north from the airport instead of west to home…

I picked up a roast beef sandwich and chowder at Kelly’s Roast Beef on rt 1.

The sandwich, as always was great, the meat, the roll, everything was perfect.

The chowder however, left a lot to be desired.

Plenty of clam, that is for certain and the potatoes were a good size, however… it was far far too thin, far too few onions, and WAY too much sand!!


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Kind of Useful and Neat

and there are a few people out there who I think I want to  go covertly install this on their computers….

Click Me, You know you want to!

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Country’s BBQ in Troy, AL

Dinner was alright, got the conglomeration plate.

Ribs were good, the pulled pork was pretty good, but the beef was a bit overdone, and tough, I don’t mind overdone if it is fall off the bone and tender, but this was not that kind of beef.

I had some wings to start off with, and they were pretty mediocre, basically deep fried and then tossed with Red Hot, and def red hot though, not a generic.

What is it with pickles down here? I got a pulled pork sandwich for lunch at another local place, and the put pickles on it. What the hell? onions I can understand, but pickles on a pulled pork bbq sandwich?!?!? I spit out my first bite right onto the plate! it was gross!

Anyway, the conglomeration plate had a bed of pickle slices and pickled onions.


damn pickle pushers!


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To Semi Quote Denny Green – “It was what I thought it was”

That’s what I have to say about the Mexican Place called Hacienda’s here in Warsaw, IN.

It was exactly what I was expecting from a mexican resteraunt here in the state if Indiana.

I got the fajitas, tough to really screw it up… and they did not but it just was severely underwhelming of a meal… I skipped the beans, and no peppers with the fajitas.

I got 3 strips of chicken, and 5 strips of steak. but they gave me 5 fajitas wraps. Do they really think I can stretch that out to many wraps? Also, the onions, normally you would expect some nice slices or rings all saute’d up? Not at this place! Super high class! Ya know those micro-sized diced onions you get on a McDonald’s hamburger? Picture those saute’d up underneath my heaping portions of meat. Yeah, that REALLY got me all kinds of excited when it arrived to the table!!

The salsa tasted more like Hunts Tomato paste mixed with some jalapeno juice…


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Nice Cool, New Toy, With Great Timing!

So I broke down and bought myself a Slingbox…

If you know what they are, they are pretty damn cool, if you do not, well here comes the techie explanation.

It is a small component that I have plugged in at home, it connects to my cable line, and then has a network cord that connects to my router for internet access.

Now, anytime I have an internet connection, I can turn on the Slingbox software, and it will connect me to the slingbox sitting at my house and I can watch tv on my laptop using that cable connection. Neat huh? So now, while I am stuck at the airport, I can watch tv, any channel I have at home, I can flip through and watch.

The key thing and first reason for buying this device is for Red Sox games. Since I am traveling all of the time I miss an absolute ton of games since they are either not nationally televised or I am in an area that has no NESN service, not to mention missing out on the day games because I am at work.



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ALMOST!!! I Almost Let It Happen…

I almost let laziness and desperation allow me to completely abandon my personal standards for dinner and food…. There is absolutely NOTHING around here to eat for dinner, fast food is basically it! Not even a Chili’s or Applebee’s around here!

So yeah… I ended up getting a Little Caesars pizza and some crazy bread…..

However, I almost let my standards drop due to curiosity… similar to last week when I pulled into the wrong parking lot and almost ate at a Red Lobster instead of going to the correct parking lot, tonight, I almost went to a Long John Silvers tonight.

My God I am from NEW ENGLAND, I have always refused to eat at a seafood fast food restaurant chain, and I almost let myself… I was strong though… I resisted the laziness and found something else… not exactly healthy… but something that does not compromise my own personal standards of places to eat….

I couldn’t even find a local place to eat that did not look totally rat or cockroach infested or cost $50 a plate for dinner.


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