I’m Going to be a Tech Reviewer 

Once upon a time, I reviewed software and technology for a website I no longer care to name. Since then, I don’t think I have written a single article on the topic. Now that I’m several years removed from that nightmare, I want to work my way back. Technology has progressed so much during that time and I want to be a part of it. I know the landscape is crowded with contenders in this category. I have no interest in being like everyone else. As always, I’ll approach things from my perspective and only my perspective.

I want to review everything from the affordable to the top of the line and from the new to the old. I want to shed light on the obscure while adding another perspective on the common. Talking to tech companies and reviewing their products was a thrill to me at one time. I see no reason why I shouldn’t get back to that. As time goes on, more tech is coming out, not less. Plus, it’s not all Samsung and Apple. There are many other players that deserve just as much coverage. I plan to talk about them in the greatest amount of detail.

I’ve been watching tech unboxing videos on YouTube lately. These videos have proven to me how little I know about tech in the present day. I had an Android phone at one point before I switched to Apple. I love my Apple, but Android has come such a long way. Yet, I have not held an Android phone in my hand in years. That doesn’t include innovation in printing, headphones, and other areas of tech. If I can’t get my hands on it, I will still talk about it. I seriously hope I can get my hands on it though.

I will always perform my due diligence to ensure that what I’m reviewing isn’t being picked up by everyone else and their dog. I want to be that guy that people ask “Where do you find this stuff?” The idea of that excites me. Consider me the Andrew Zimmern of tech reviews, except instead of bizarre foods I’m going to talk about bizarre tech. Join me on this journey and we’ll see where it goes together. I’m hoping to develop a relationship with the audience where they send me tech to talk about along with the companies that make it.

Let’s begin!

Starting My Own Restaurant Empire 

I’m all about things that used to be here and are now gone. The idea of something dominating the landscape for years and then just disappearing makes absolutely no sense to me. I hate it when icons are paved over in favor of less interesting destinations. We have to do whatever we can to preserve our history and heritage. Letting soulless corporations pave over everything is a good way to fail at that pursuit.

The city in which I live, Ogden, Utah, has its share of recently departed icons. These establishments include Utah Noodle Parlor, Dee’s Family Restaurant, Ye Lion’s Den, Sandy’s Fine Foods, and China Nite. This journey will be complicated because of the varied status of each location.

Utah Noodle Parlor and Dee’s Family Restaurant could be acquired tomorrow. They’re both still standing and vacant or for sale. Ye Lion’s Den would have to be completely redone. According to the business next door to where Ye Lion’s Den, the space it once occupied is stripped down. There’s nothing left. Sandy’s Fine Foods might be a waiting game. Their building is currently occupied by a restaurant that has attempted to alter the iconic look of the place. Plus, the former owners operate a popular catering service in the area. China Nite would have to be rebuilt or restarted at another location. It has since been demolished.

I want to acquire all these places, restore them to their former glory, open the doors, and start serving the people. I want to give countless locals the opportunity to pursue sustainable employment. I want to bring culture back to a city and county that seems to be doing everything in its power to abandon it. I let an icon of my community slip into the abyss before. I’m not about to do it again.

Money is the sticking point here as it is with so many things in life. Completing this project would require millions of dollars up front, not to mention what would be needed to keep going later on. I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit. Restaurants in a community lack identity if they don’t have an elder statesman among them. The past few years haven’t been kind to the older restaurants in my city. I’m hoping that the people will rise up and make sure that years to come are much improved for our storied establishments.

Pig & A Jelly Jar

Pig & A Jelly Jar is an obsession of mine. I’ve been there a couple times and absolutely love it. I haven’t had an item on their menu do anything other than impress me. They even serve great coffee, which is uncommon, especially here in Utah. This place is at the top of my list of eateries whenever I decide to go out a bite. 

I’m disheartened when I see so many people expressing their disappointment with this culinary palace. It appears that a lot of these reviews came from people who were either too picky or had a bad experience and, rather than let Pig & A Jelly Jar rectify the situation, decided to blast it out across the internet. Reviews like these are the reason why I don’t trust online reviews whatsoever. People see negativity and whizz past intent, punishing fine eateries in the process. I applaud the owner of Pig & A Jelly Jar, Amy B., for her willingness to respond to every review, no matter how silly or petty.

Whenever I write a review as positive as this one, people think I’m in the pocket of the thing I’m reviewing. On the contrary, the people at Pig & A Jelly Jar don’t know me from a hole in the ground. I’ve been through their doors a couple times. I’ve never introduced myself though. My words are as genuine as the effort they put into each of their dishes.

I’ve eaten at a lot of places. I hate it when a place tries to add artificial ingredients into my meal. I like for my food to be as natural as what I make at home. I’m not interested in leaving my house unless someone is going to come correct with what they’re serving me.

If you’re looking for a place that serves food that’s as real as it gets, head over to Pig & A Jelly Jar. They have locations in Ogden and Salt Lake City. I’ve only been to their Ogden location, which is as comfy and cozy as a restaurant can be. I feel like the people who work at this place are my friends. I like how I feel like I’m a part of their family whenever I sit at one of their tables. As I sit here, I find myself thinking about their menu. Maybe you’ll see me there chowing down on something delightful.

Black Bear Diner: An Aggravating Agitator

A little while ago, I was excited to see Black Bear Diner move into the building that was once occupied by Blockbuster Video in Ogden, Utah. I was excited until I went there and had a meal though. To say that their service was bad was an understatement. It was so bad that it impacted the quality of the food itself. I was so disgusted at their utter indifference and profound incompetence. I thought that this might have been the result of coming to a restaurant that had just opened its doors. I made it a point to come back later.

My second visit was the same as the first. They forgot about me and I had to ask for a table two or three times. Our server stopped coming to our table shortly after they dropped off the entrees. I had to seek someone out to pay my check and get out of that place. I vowed never to come back again, but I’m not that kind of guy. I like to present my concerns to companies that have let me down in the hopes that they could showcase their best side, winning me back as a customer in the process.

I’m tired of companies who feel like individual customers do not matter. They play a numbers game, thinking that they’re doing well even if a few customers might not have the highest opinion of them. That’s depressing. Smaller businesses don’t do that to their customers. They treat everyone who walks through their doors like they’re family members. This is the way every company needs to think regardless of their size or level of success. I get the sense that Black Bear Diner does things this way, even though they’re successful and located in several states.

I love food. There’s nothing that disappoints me more than when a place that’s supposed to serve food well lets me down. I get that there are bad restaurants. Based on the reviews they’re getting, Black Bear Diner does not seem to fit into the category of lackluster eateries. Yet, my experiences with them put them near the bottom of the list of places at which I would like to eat in my area. This disconnect is troubling to say the least. Perhaps someone with Black Bear Diner might reach from the darkness and enlighten me on what makes them a place worth visiting.

Misadventures in Hot Dog Consumption 

I love hot dogs. I don’t care what’s in them. I just love them. They have to be done right or else they’re nothing more than a supporting actor to the leading dynamo known as hamburgers. I have found some places that succeed in this regard while others produce a hot dog that’s so insufficient that it might as well be served by the dozen. The area I live in is not loaded with a large amount of quality eating establishments. I know I need to venture outside of my immediate area to find other contenders. I will probably do that at some point. First, I need to find out what’s out there.

One thing that’s always surprised me is the ineptitude of the fast food juggernauts to produce a decent hot dog. McDonald’s has tried it a few times with less than impressive results. Ray Kroc, the man who’s commonly referred to as the founder of McDonald’s even though he was just the guy who bought the company from the actual founders, the McDonald brothers, prevented McDonald’s from serving hot dogs due to the unpredictability of their ingredients. Burger King has one on their menu right now. I don’t trust it.

Wienerschnitzel has a location right down the street from my house. I went there once and never will again. Their hot dogs are a lifeless waste of the soggy buns they’re put in. Freddy’s, a joint that recently came into my area from parts unknown, has hot dogs but they’re small. I have to buy a burger to get a complete meal out of the arrangement. I love Freddy’s and would recommend them to anyone who has them in their town. They need to work on beefing up their hot dogs if they want to be a contender.

I get that I could make hot dogs at home. Where’s the fun in that though? I make hot dogs one way and they’re not that impressive. I could make those hot dogs every day of the week for very little money. That’s not fun. I want a hot dog that’s interesting. A hot dog that’s made using recipes and techniques perfected by passionate people over the course of years. I want a hot dog that I think about when I’m no longer in the place from which I’ve ordered it. I’ve found that dog and am going to write about it next.

Clog Proof Coffee Grinder

Would it be too much to ask for a company to make a coffee grinder that doesn’t clog? My insufferable grinder clogs all the time. It always seems to do it at the worst possible time too. Why is that? The last time I checked a coffee grinder is something that’s supposed to grind coffee. When it doesn’t grind coffee, it’s no longer a coffee grinder. It’s just a machine that makes a lot of noise. I find myself having to resist the urge to throw the contraption across the room every time I have to dig out the needle noise pliers to get the 1/8 of a teaspoon of grounds out of the gears.

I received a manual grinder and it did not get the job done. I had to exert a considerable amount of effort to get a minimal amount of grounds. I kept trying to make the process more efficient and was left with the same lackluster results. I have yet to write a review about this product because I feel like I’m not using it right. I plan on writing the manufacturer of this product to see if there’s some sort of remedy to this situation.

I’m really hoping that another company steps up to the plate to make a better grinder. A grinder that blows through a pound at a time without getting clogged. I saw a grinder like this at my favorite coffee laboratory, Daily Rose Espresso in Layton, Utah. The proprietors of this establishment fed a bag of coffee through a beastly looking grinder and it spit it out like it was nothing. I’m sure there similar contraptions in other coffee shops across the country. The cost of these machines is so significant that it makes it difficult for the average coffee drinker to get their hands on them. There has to be a better way.

I’ve pondered launching a Kickstarter campaign to turn a clog proof coffee grinder into a reality. In order for me to go into that project, I would have to research all the grinders. I haven’t done that yet. I will continue to search for this kind of grinder until I’m able to add it to my repertoire. Coffee drinkers deserve better grinders than the ones they’re getting. If I can’t find a grinder to recommend to them, I will put the wheels in motion to ensure that it’s created.

On the Futility of Memorials

A memorial goes a long way, but it can only go so far. Remembering something is all well and good. If that thing isn’t here, you can remember it all you want. The thing you’re remembering isn’t going to come back. You will feel better for awhile having remembered it. This feeling will subside, making it even more difficult to process your loss than if you had done nothing at all. I’m not advocating for the abolition of memorials in all their forms. What I’m saying is we need to do more to appreciate and preserve what we love while it’s still here.

I’m lucky to have not dealt with a lot of loved ones passing away. Family members have died of old age, but I didn’t have good relationships with a lot of them. Only two losses were substantial. I found ways to overcome those losses because I knew we had shared many great moments and left on good terms. I miss them often. However, for some reason, I don’t miss them so much that I wish they were still here. It would be wonderful if they were. I just remind myself their number was up and anything we could have done in our relationship was accomplished and then some.

I often regret the fact that I didn’t spearhead an effort to save the Cinedome 70 in Riverdale, Utah sooner. I should’ve acted the moment I saw a for sale sign attached to the building. Public interest would’ve been up and all the damage vandals inflicted on the structure could’ve been avoided. I realize that a lot of people think I’m foolish for admiring a building that’s now long gone. I get it. I just love buildings that are loaded with personality, especially buildings that were constructed by passionate people.

Modern architecture is soulless and lifeless. Nothing but a bunch of straight edges and open windows. Corporations rule the day and they prioritize designs that are easy and cheap to replicate. Consumers go for these establishments because they’re everywhere. They pass up the little places, thinking that they should avoid them since the owner wasn’t able to plunk down the money to outfit everything with the newest and the best. Whatever happened to appreciating the little guy? I wish the juggernauts would go out of business tomorrow, allowing for the up and comers to create the jobs and make things enjoyable again.

Kill Cliff Review 

Kill Cliff is one of those companies that makes products that leave you baffled. That’s what happened when I tried some of their drinks. They were one of the companies that participated in the cold brew reviews on the old version of this blog. While I quickly wrote the reviews for all the other contenders, the words didn’t come as easily for me when it came to Kill Cliff. I chalk this difficulty down to my philosophy about reviews. I don’t want to tear someone to shreds because who am I to act like the almighty authority on any given subject.

That being said, every product I tried from Kill Cliff was not my cup of tea. Each of them tasted stranger than the last. I think it had something to do with the fact that their drinks are sweetened with Stevia. I’m not one for artificial sweeteners, so I feel like the results of this review were inconclusive. Someone who likes drinks that have Stevia in them would be all over Kill Cliff products. I’m not one of those people. I’m also not a person who wants to take away from the hard work someone else is doing.

I enjoy cold brew coffees in all their forms. I tried some out of this world varieties. To come across one that failed to live up to my expectations left me disappointed. I questioned whether I had the expertise to be able to adequately review these drinks. I wondered if I had tried so many of the same beverage that my mouth became desensitized to what really mattered. Reviewing several versions of a similar product is challenging that way. Eventually it all runs together and you can’t taste anything, let alone the nuances of the individual products.

I don’t fault Kill Cliff for sweetening their drinks the way they do. Artificial sweeteners are a welcome alternative to the sweetness found in all other drinks. It all comes down to a person’s individual preference. If they don’t prefer Stevia, they’re not going to like drinks that have Stevia in them. That doesn’t mean that the Stevia drinks are bad. They’re just not what the drinker prefers. I encourage anyone who has had and enjoyed drinks that contain Stevia to try Kill Cliff products. You will be impressed and come back for more. 

Did You Go to the Wilshire Theatre?

The Wilshire Theatre was a movie palace that stood and entertained many from 1968 to 1998 in Ogden, Utah. I do not recall whether I went to this theater in my youth. I mostly became aware of its existence when doing research for my campaign to save the Cinedome 70. Since the moment I became aware of it, it has been the focus of many of my thoughts. I keep coming back to it because of the lack of information that’s available. In the age where there’s a hundred high resolution photos depicting every angle of everything, the only pictures that are available are grainy images ripped out of the newspaper.

I refuse to believe that a theater can be in a community for 30 years and leave such a small paper trail. I plan on starting a Facebook page much like the one I created for the Cinedome. Granted, it will be more of a memorial page than anything else since the theater has been gone for two decades. I want to find stories and pictures, giving this great establishment the afterlife it deserves. I’m tired of seeing former pillars of the community being lost in the abyss of history.

I would love to go back to the days when movie theaters were personal. The people who ran them knew you by name. You didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for tickets and concessions. I hate going to the movies now because it seems like they don’t care. Large, impersonal theaters with unnecessarily loud sound systems packed to the brim with inconsiderate ruffians. Our movie viewing experience is this way because we wanted it. We were fooled by the glitz and glamour of the multiplexes. Little did we know that we’d have nothing but multiplexes in a few short years.

Why does everything we used to love end up sucking? The Wilshire Theatre is not the only theater that has fallen victim to the multiplexes over the years. It surely won’t be the last. I’m saddened at the fact that it’s impossible to find any information about certain things. More people need to tell stories of places like the Wilshire. Maybe then we might have a shot of restoring the world of the movie houses and leaving behind the scourge of corporate influence. Corporations control everything. I wish they would leave the world of cinema alone.

Ballad of the Cinedome 70

I’m in awe of the fact that my failed campaign to save the Cinedome 70 in Riverdale, Utah is coming up on its 7th anniversary. While the campaign failed to actually save the theater, it succeeded in making sure that it didn’t go out quietly. I thought the idea of a theater that had been in a community for decades disappearing in the blink of an eye was a travesty. I had to unite the troops to make sure that this didn’t happen. In hindsight, my efforts were startlingly inept in every sense of the word.

If I could go back, I would have started my campaign much earlier. This might not have been feasible though. When the theater closed in 2001, I was a little over 14 years old. I enjoyed the aesthetics of the theater every time I went through Riverdale. At that age, I was more self-centered than I would care to admit. By the time I developed a more selfless mindset, it was too late and the theater was on its way out. I should have organized a campaign to raise the funds to buy the theater. I had a decade to do it. I will never know why I failed in this regard.

From the ashes of this cinematic palace, a car dealership rose to the sky. The owner of this dealership is the Larry H. Miller Corporation. They’re not a mom and pop operation. They operate countless dealerships and movie theaters throughout the state of Utah and beyond and own the Utah Jazz. A community fixture was bulldozed for a replaceable business that could easily close if the economy went south. I stood at the feat of a corporate juggernaut and didn’t blink. My unwavering defiance mattered very little as LHM had the money and legal resources to bury me.

I appreciate the fact that there’s a painting and plaque in the dealership building. It doesn’t say that the theater was there or for how long. Really it’s a piece of art that blends into the background. I fear that the Cinedome has been forgotten and I’m responsible. I will not let that happen. I will make it a point to talk about it a lot more in the future. Perhaps I might be able to get a mention or two of it in local media. As I did during the campaign, I’m not ruling anything out.