Platinum Vodka

platinum vodka
platinum vodka

Platinum vodka may look like one of those expensive Polish or Russian Vodkas, but how does it taste? It didn’t take me very long to find out. I discovered the Platinum at Costco’s liquor partner store just yesterday while looking for my favorite, Ruskova. I found this instead: Platinum brand Vodka, in a big, 1.75 liter bottle for only $12.99. The icing on the cake was the free sample of Cinnamon whiskey that was tied to the top of the bottle. But more on that later. Back to Platinum:

Platinum Vodka is Smooth

Don’t think for one minute that Platinum is one of the best vodkas just for it’s name and pretty, blue bottle. On the other hand for a $13.00 1.75 liter package, it’s certainly a decent vodka. I removed the cinnamon whiskey sample from the lid, twisted off the blue cap and poured about a half ounce in my stainless steel shaker. I always drink vodkas warm when first sampling them. The Platinum had a very noticeable alcohol-burn to its nose, but the front taste was not nearly as bitter and harsh as I expected. It went down rather smoothly and had a very crisp, pepper taste with just a bit of vanilla to it as it rounds out going down. I’d rank this maybe a tad below the Ruskova Vodka, but clearly better than Taaka.

Who Makes Platinum Vodka

Platinum vodka is actually made by the makers of Taaka Vodka, so I suppose you could say this is their upgraded model. The bottle advertises that it has been distilled 7 times which is surely an improvement over the Taaka which has no indication at all that it’s even been distilled a second time.

Light Taste – Doesn’t Overpower

I dropped a couple of olives in a glass; poured in a couple of ounces of Platinum and shook it vigorously with crushed ice. I enjoyed the first martini and the 2nd one was even better. Platinum does not have a whole lot of taste, but it is bright, crisp and relatively clean for such a bargain-priced vodka.

 See the Rest of Our Vodka Ratings

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Fried Pork Rinds

What are the Best Fried Pork Rinds?

How do you rate Macs Pork Rinds? 

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macs pork rindsIf you like pork cracklins, there is only one choice: Macs fried pork rinds are simply the best. Most pork rinds, pork skins or pork cracklins are very dry, airy and light. They taste pretty good, but they stick in your throat and with out lots of water can literally be dangerous. And have you ever noticed that with your typical bag of pork rinds, you’re always hunting in the bag, for that special, greasier, dark piece of crackling that is crisper and juicier than the rest? Well, that’s what you’ll love about Macs Pork Skins – literally every cracklin’ bite has those attributes. If you truly judge the best pork rinds by taste and are not worried about what some might say is healthy, you’ll definitely think Macs pork rinds are the best. Speaking of healthy snacks, how do pork skins measure up?

Are Fried Pork Rinds Healthy?

Sometimes its not the ingredients in the food that makes a snack healthy, but what is not in the snack. Macs pork skins are healthy by virtue of what is not in them. There are no carbs and no trans-fats or other fake-o oils like canola. Unless you’re one of those old-fashioned type who still believe the age-old myth that saturated fats and cholesterol are unhealthy, there really isn’t much reason not to eat a few pork skins or cracklings between meals. They are essentially fried-out fat with a little bit of sodium, saturated fats and cholestero. None of these nutritional ingredients in fried pork skins have proven to be the least bit dangerous to our health, though some popular, outdated advice insists on telling us otherwise. While Macs do contain a decent amount of sodium, that is another thing that is completely harmless for most of us. See here: Attack on Salt. The main, nutritious advantage to fried pork rinds is that they taste good and satisfy our natural appetite for fat and salt in between meals. If you’re interested in the actual ingredients, here is the nutritional information on the Macs Fried Crackling Curls bag:

Fried Pork Rinds Nutrition

pork rinds nutrition
Push the label to see exactly what ingredients are in Macs Fried Pork Skins. Don’t let the saturated fats and salt scare you. That’s what we want in a satisfying snack, It’s what our body craves.

Pork Cracklins vs Pork Rinds

You might hear the term, pork cracklins associated with cooking recipes. In Mexican cuisine, they call them, Chicharrones. Chicharrones are simply fried pork skins and they taste very good with pinto beans or inside your bean burrito. They are typically smaller, richer and less dry than most fried pork rinds in the bag that you buy at the grocery store. But, the Mac pork rinds are a different story. Is one better than the other? Homemade Chicharrones and Macs Pork Rinds are similar – both of them are delicious.

Microwavable Pork Rinds

Another popular fad is to put un-fried pork skins in the microwave until they fill up with air and pop. This might sound like a fun thing to do, but I’d rather have Mac pork rinds. You’ll never make your microwaved pork skins taste as good as Macs!

Guilt-Free Snacking

They taste great and they aren’t nearly as unhealthy as you’ve been told. In fact, eating pork rinds might even help you lose weight by satisfying your cravings and helping you cut out carbs, cookies and other starches.

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How to Make Philaroni Cheese Steak

philaroni cheese steakIf you’ve ever visited Philadelphia, chances are good that you absolutely love Philly Cheese Steaks. The problem is how do you get or make a Philly Cheese Steak when you’re not in Philadelphia? Living in the Denver metro area most of my life and having visited dozens of other cities, I’m convinced that it can’t be done anywhere else besides Philly. The key ingredient is the bread – you just can’t get that pillowy-soft, wondrous, magical bread to come out the same in Denver or anywhere else. The steak, onions, peppers and oil – even the cheese can be duplicated in other cities relatively successfully. But, without the great Philly bread it will never live up to your mouth-watering expecations of an authentic Philly Cheese Steak. So what do you do? The first thing you gotta do is give up the bread. Philadelphia, the great city of brotherly love is known for it’s tremendous bakeries and delicious bread. You can’t duplicate that at home. Here’s another idea:

The Bread-less Philly Cheese Steak

I’m not much into follow recipes, so there’s no sense in me handing them out either. What I’ll do is share with you the experience and concept and you can choose the ingredients, instructions and cooking temperature, yourself. First, some brief history on how the bread-less, Philaroni Cheese Steaks was invented: One evening for dinner, my wife decided to fry up some thinly sliced steaks with onions and green peppers. As she heated up the oil and placed the peppers and onions into the frying skillet, my senses were instantly greeted with the nostalgic memory of the first time I enjoyed a real Philly cheese steak in downtown Philadelpia. Everything smelled perfect. At the last minute, we remembered, we didn’t have any rice, pasta, mashed potatoes or anything in the way of carbs to go along with the steak, onions and peppers. It was at that time my wife remembered that she had one of those handy, instant plastic tub of Country Crock, Macaroni and Cheese. I’m not a big fan of mac ‘n cheese, but why not? So, we doled out the steak, onions and peppers and put a pile of mac ‘n cheese on the side. As I started delving into the main course, I immediately felt it could use some cheese. So, why not the Mac ‘n cheese that was already on my plate. I mixed the macaroni and cheese in with the steak, onions and peppers and thought it definitely brought the taste of Philly a little closer to home. The beauty of the dish is that you can experiment and try a variety of different brands of mac ‘n cheese, or make your own, Philly-style, to go with it. Thus, the invention of the Philaroni Cheese Steak was born.

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Google Analytics iPhone

google analytics iphone

Google Analytics iPhone Apps

Google Analytics iPhone Apps are a dime a dozen, but which one is best? It’s no secret. Website designers love analytics. If you manage several websites like I do, you probably spend more time monitoring your traffic on your iPhone or Android mobile device than on your PC or Laptop. Over the years, I’ve found it difficult to muster the energy and focus to sit in front of a computer or laptop screen and look at a bunch of boring reports, charts, statistics and trends. I asked myself: wouldn’t it be easier, more enjoyable and relaxing to monitor Google analytics on an iPhone or similar device? Only if the iPhone app does what I need it to do and is easy to use. I’ve used only two apps that really do a good job with mobile analytics – in fact, both of them do it better than the real thing on the desktop.

AnalyticsApp

AnalyticsAppThis is the first analytics app I got for my iPhone and I still consider it the best: It’s listed in the app store, simply as AnalyticsApp and at $6.99, is ranked as one of the most expensive apps I’ve ever purchased. The AnalyticsApp is quick and easy to use. Simply enter in your Google account info and AnalyticsApp will automatically load up all of your websites as an easy-to-read, scrollable list. Touch the website you want to view and get instant access to your website traffic from yesterday, today or a date range of your choice. Unlike the actual analytics website, the traffic and visitor information is updated by the minute – and very accurate. For some reason, the AnalyticsApp is not ranked very highly by others. For a two week period, analyticsapp stopped working for me and I began using the program below. A quick update fixed the problem and I quickly went back to this one as my favorite.

Quicklytics

quicklyticsQuicklytics is one slick little iPhone app and is ranked very highly by its users at the app store. When I first began using Quicklytics I was instantly impressed with the hourly charts with yesterday vs today or weekly comparisons of visitor traffic. Pressing your finger on any of the charts drills down to the fine details of keyword results, landing pages, top pages, etc.. There is a ton of information on Quicklytics. Unfortunately, I found it a bit tiresome and cumbersome going from one site to another. You have to scroll page by page. When you have 25 websites, that gets to be a hassle. When the iTunes store reported the update to my original, favorite AnalyticsApp, I quickly went back, despite having just recently spent $5.99 on Quicklytics. I’ll keep them both on my phone, because they represent the best of Google Analytics Apps for the iPhone.

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Best Men’s Underwear

Best Mens Underwear
a Review
best mens underwear

In the movie, Stripes, Bill Murray says, I rarely wear underwear and when I do it is usually something unusual.  Well, I’m hear to tell you that just the opposite is true with me. I always wear underwear and it is never something unusual. I’ve tried jockey shorts (they’re too tight), boxer shorts (they’re too loose) and gimmicky gift underwear (they’re too goofy). To me, the best men’s underwear is the traditional, usual, white briefs. Now, that we’ve narrowed it down to best type of men’s underwear, what is the best brand. Before we delve into that, I’ve begun to notice a few quality problems with men’s underwear in general.

Best Mens Underwear and Most Annoying Problems

  1. They lose their elasticity and won’t stay on.
  2. They have a tag or stitching that scratches your waist or tailbone.
  3. They develop holes.
  4. They lose their shape and fit.
  5. The inside flap or crease no longer stays closed.

Honestly, I’ve bought underwear that starts falling apart after only the 3rd or 4th time it is washed. Some men’s underwear seems prone to lose its elasticity. While I’ve been known to pack a small ice pack between my back and the elastic, it really is no excuse for it to fall apart so easily. Other underwear seem to hold up fine. It is really annoying when underwear no longer keeps the same shape and fits like it did when it was new and what’s up with all the holes? That’s just plain cheap material. Probably the worst thing at all is when that inside crease no longer stays folded together. Might as well act like Bill Murray and where no underwear at all. With that said, here are the rankings for best mens underwear.

Fruit of the Loom underwear is aptly named. They might as well be made from banana peels. They hold up worse than any other brand of underwear I’ve tried in the last 20 years. It seems as though they were good at one time, but perhaps they started manufacturing them elsewhere (like in China?) to save costs. The Fruit of the Loom brand are notorious for losing their elasticity. Haynes holds together much better, but the material seems thin and cheap and they develop holes over-time. Good products often prompt me to write articles in order to recommend them. I was so happy with the Kirkland white mens mid-rise underwear from Costco that I had to say something good about them. They are head and shoulders better around your waist than any other pair of mens underwear.


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Best Football Magazine

best football magazinePhil Steele not only produces the best football magazine, but maybe the greatest magazine of all time on any topic. Granted, the Phil Steele college football edition only comes out once a year, but the wealth of information in this thick magazine surpasses that of any publication I’ve ever known. Unlike pro sports, college football has over 100 teams in the league! What’s more, the players in college football change every 3-4 years as they graduate and move on. The recruiting season takes place only a few months before later summer football practice begins and long before the actual rosters have been announced. One has to wonder how a football expert or group of experts can know so much about every team and get it published before summer camp begins. Phil Steele delivers more than just a wealth of college football information; but the most accurate forecasts. Other college football magazines don’t even come close.

Ratings on Best Football Magazine

There is no sense rating them, Phil Steele puts the other college football magazines to shame. The only other college football magazines that come to mind when I look for Phil Steele in the magazine stands are Lindy’s and Athlons. You could paste both Lindy’s and Athlons together and they still wouldn’t have as much information as the 2012, 344-page Phil Steele College Football Preview this year. But it’s more than just information, but meaningful information that sets Phil Steele’s College Football Preview apart from the rest. But if we must, let’s rate the other college football magazines:

If it seems like I am being a little harsh or exaggerating then you simply haven’t compared Phil Steele’s with the rest of them. All college football magazines publish statistics, rosters and their predictions for the upcoming season, but Steele takes it to a new level. Steele not only provides statistics and predictions, but gives interesting and meaningful incite and stories to help you make your own conclusions. Even if you don’t use the magazine to help you predict the games, you will enjoy reading about all of the conferences, teams and players. It really is amazing that there can be so much information packed into one publication each and every year. Phil Steele is hands-down the best football magazine on the planet.

Top-25 College Football Rankings

Athlons Sports Top-25

  1. USC Trojans
  2. LSU Tigers
  3. Alabama Crimson Tide
  4. Oregon Ducks
  5. Oklahoma Sooners
  6. Ohio State Buckeyes
  7. Michigan Wolverines
  8. Georgia Bulldogs
  9. Florida State Seminoles
  10. South Carolina Gamecocks
  11. Texas Longhorns
  12. West Virginia Mountaineers
  13. Arkansas Razorbacks
  14. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  15. Clemson Tigers
  16. Virginia Tech Hokies
  17. Wisconsin Badgers
  18. Michigan State Spartans
  19. Oklahoma State Cowboys
  20. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  21. Stanford Cardinal
  22. TCU Horned Frogs
  23. Louisville Cardinals
  24. Boise State Broncos
  25. Washington Huskies

Lindy’s Sports Top-25

  1. LSU Tigers
  2. USC Trojans
  3. Alabama Crimson Tide
  4. Oklahoma Sooners
  5. Oregon Ducks
  6. Georgia Bull Dogs
  7. Michigan Wolverines
  8. Florida State Seminoles
  9. Arkansas Razorbacks
  10. West Virginia Mountaineers
  11. South Carolina Gamecocks
  12. Michigan State Spartans
  13. Clemson Tigers
  14. Ohio State Buckeyes
  15. TCU Horned Frogs
  16. Oklahoma State Cowboys
  17. Wisconsin Badgers
  18. Virginia Tech Hokies
  19. Texas Longhorns
  20. Florida Gators
  21. Standford Cardinal
  22. Kansas State Wildcats
  23. Louisville Cardinals
  24. Boise State Broncos
  25. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Phil Steele’s College Football 2012 Top-25

  1. Florida State Seminoles
  2. Oklahoma Sooners
  3. LSU Tigers
  4. USC Trojans
  5. Alabama Crimson Tide
  6. Oregon Ducks
  7. Texas Longhorns
  8. Georgia Bulldogs
  9. Wisconsin Badgers
  10. Florida Gators
  11. Ohio State Buckeyes
  12. Oklahoma State Cowboys
  13. North Carolina Tarheels
  14. Clemson Tigers
  15. UCF Knights
  16. Arkansas Razorbacks
  17. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  18. Stanford Cardinal
  19. Michigan State
  20. South Florida Bulls
  21. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  22. Michigan Wolverines
  23. South Carolina Gamecocks
  24. Virginia Tech Hokies
  25. West Virginia Mountaineers
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Top 10 Car Insurance Companies

top 10 car insurance companiesEvery year JD Power and Associates ranks the Top 10 car insurance companies from top-to-bottom. While 2012 is over half-way behind us, it takes a while for the results of the previous year to be calculated. In reality, JD Power ranks 32 Auto insurers in all. We could easily publish them all, but who in the world is going to want to call an auto insurance company that couldn’t even make the top-10? The Top-10 Car Insurance Companies is probably a more meaningful list to give us a starting point in choosing the best match for our needs. Auto insurance companies are ranked on a variety of criteria:

Top 10 Car Insurance Companies

Ratings Criteria

  • Experience of Customer
  • Options Offered by Car Insurance Company
  • Policies offered by Auto Insurer
  • Quality of Billing and Payment
  • Policy and Premium Pricing

Let’s be honest: most of us look at price first when shopping for car insurance. That’s only natural – we cannot really judge the experience and customer service satisfaction until we’ve spent some time with our insurer – and hopefully, we have very little occasion to call them – except of course when we change automobiles. JD Power and Associates a rather informal rating scale that goes like this:

Top-10 Car Insurance Companies Rating Scale

  • Among the Best
  • Better than Most
  • About Average
  • The Rest

If Among the Best, ranks as an A, that means, The Rest, must rank as a D since there is no fifth lowest position in the rankings. Perhaps, JD Power and Associates doesn’t want to offend anyone too badly? Among the Top-10 Car Insurance companies, there are none that rank worse than a C or, About Average.

Top 10 Car Insurance Companies Rated for 2011

A-Rated Insurance Companies

  • Amica Insurance

B-Rated Insurance Companies

  • Erie Insurance
  • Shelter
  • Auto-Owners Insurance
  • Ameriprise
  • State Farm

C-Rated Insurance Companies

  • Geico
  • State Auto
  • American Family
  • Industry Average
  • Alfe Insurance

D-Rated Insurance Companies

Do we really want to talk about those?

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