Jun 21, 2018

Remember when McDonalds used to sell Milkshakes?

Retro Dads tend to rant. It's what we do. You know what I mean..

"Turn off that light".. 
"Turn that heater down"..
"Get off my lawn!"

Get the point?  Well today I have a 'Dad Rant' that involves fast food giant McDonald's.
I must admit, there's not much these days that I eat from the McDonald's menu.  However, there are a few items that spark up nostalgia, that I still consume from time to time. One of them being their Milkshakes.

I say this, but in all actuality it's been well over a year since I've been able to even purchase a McDonald's Shake. And it's not from a lack of trying mind you. I think I'm on a current stretch of 13 visits now where I have been denied a McDonald's milkshake.

It really is the damnedest thing.  Upon ordering my shake, the person taking my order always responds in the following manner..

A) "The machine is being cleaned"
B) "The machine is broken" 
C) "We're out of Shake mix"

Now it's not my place to tell McDonald's how to run their business, but I have some experience in the food industry and have a suggestion for them.  How about trying to clean the machine before or after business hours?  Here's a novel idea.. how about maybe trying to get corporate to fix your broken machine?  Also.. having an adequate stock of shake mix on hand might be a good idea.

Not that I, or anyone else for that matter really believes that the machine is always broken or needs cleaning. I really don't know what the heck the reason is, but why is the problem existent throughout the entire company.. across different stores.. and in multiple States?  I don't know, is it a conspiracy? Some kind of cruel joke? I know I'm not the only one that experiences this. In fact.. When I say anything about it on social media, friends, family, and acquaintances come out of the woodwork saying they have the exact same problem!

The only way I may ever obtain a McDonald's Milkshake again.

So many times I just wanted a simple cheeseburger and a strawberry shake and couldn't satisfy my craving over this last year.  Not to mention the seasonal shakes I actually went out of my way to purchase. I tried to order McDonald's eggnog milkshake three times last winter to no avail.  Same story with the Shamrock Shake which I wasn't able to purchase twice this spring.  Anyway, I have all but given up on ever getting a milkshake from McDonald's again. It's just a waste of my time and frustrates me to no end, so I guess I need to find somewhere else to satisfy my cravings.

I actually went to a D-Luxe Burger not too long ago at Disney Springs and ordered a hamburger and a strawberry milkshake.  Subconsciously, well.. maybe not so subconsciously, I was actually expecting to hear that their shake machine was down.  I actually paused a moment when I didn't get denied, because I was so shocked that I was actually going to be able to order a shake!  Yep.. D-Luxe Burger apparently cleans their shake machine prior to opening, keeps it maintained and in working order, and makes their shakes fresh (No mix needed).  By far.. the shake was one of the best I've had in recent years.

Then I got cocky.  A week later I went to Ghiradelli Soda Fountain also located in Disney Springs and ordered a Strawberry Milkshake. They too had no problems taking my order!  I watched anxiously as they hand scooped strawberry ice cream into a mixer and hand spun my shake made to order.  What a concept, getting a shake any time you want.  I could actually get used to this!  But.. you can't always buy out of the time to visit a sit-down restaurant for a burger and a shake, not to mention the hit to the pocketbook. That's why the novel idea of being able to get a milkshake from a fast food drive up is so appealing.

Well folks, that's the end of my mini rant, I feel a little bit better, but I'll be damned if I'm not craving a shake now!  If there are any App developers out there looking for the next big app idea.. designing an app that notifies you of the closest McDonald's with a functioning shake machine might be a big hit.  Heck.. you'd definitely get my dollar!

Jun 17, 2018

1970s CHIMO 10 speed retro bike rebuild

Florida quite simply, is not the bicycling state that Colorado is.  In fact, we ranked #2 this year for most pedestrian and bicyclist deaths!  Needless to say, the biking culture here leaves something to be desired.  That being said, I feel bad that since I relocated here about a year ago from Colorado, I have not been very active in the hobby.  Thinking about the following retro bike rebuild however, makes me want to roll up my sleeves, start another project, and seek out new trails to explore.

During a home brewing session at my friend Mark's house a few summers ago, I noticed an old bike sitting under his deck, upside down, and covered in mud.  I inquired about the bike, and he explained that it was bought by his father in the mid 70s, who absolutely rode the heck out of it.  When Mark moved from Colorado to Arizona in the 90s as a young man, his dad handed the bike down to him, and Mark too put an incredible amount of miles on the bike on the streets of Phoenix.

The bike I'm referring to is pictured below.  It is a mid 70s 'Chimo Special' made by Hong Kong Bicycle (HKB) which is still in business to this very day.

Mark expressed that this bike had sat under his deck for over the last two decades.  He had always wanted to get the bike back into shape and give it back to his old man, but didn't know where to start, nor how to do it.  I immediately told him I'd be glad to tackle the restoration, and put a couple of my own bike projects on the back burner for my buddy.

So without further ado.. here are a slew of pictures, showing exactly what I had to work with, and the majority of steps that it took to get her back into shape.  Be forewarned that there are a ton of pictures accompanying this post.  Enjoy..

The first step of business was to knock the 20+ years of dirt off of it.

Mark was adamant that he wanted the decals on the bike preserved, so it would resemble its former self.  It was great luck that the HKB badge sticker on the head tube was in tact, but the "CHIMO" decals on the seat tube would have to be totally redone.

The chain was quite rusty and unbend-able.  I had a bit of struggle actually getting it off of the bike, but finally got it removed after about 5 minutes.  It's deplorable state scored it a two week long bath in rust remover and lubricant, followed by a good scrubbing with a wire brush.

There were some serious miles put on this bicycle, and no grease at all was left on the bearings.  Any grease remnants were caked onto the bearings and bearing cups.. baked with heat and friction into a hard crust.  Miraculously.. the crank, headset, and wheel bearings were all sound and totally reusable after cleaning and repacking.

 Shine baby shine!

When I delivered this bike to Mark, he asked how I got the steel to shine once again.  That question is easily answered in two parts..  patience, and a crap ton of steel wool.  I polished and scrubbed until it felt as if my fingers were going to fall off.  I believe you will see however, that the end results were worth it..





I was able to save the pedals that were original to this bike.  After an oiling and cleaning, they were both good to go, and will last for years to come.

The front and rear Shimano derailleurs were totally shot, so I dug up a set of Falcon derailleurs from the same decade to swap them out with.  After a thorough cleaning, oiling, and polishing, they looked good as new, and worked perfectly.

Amazing what some steel wool and elbow grease can do!

 New gum-wall tires can really pull the look of a bike together, and give it a nice 70s vibe

 All tore down and ready for repaint prep

This is what she looked like after a few coats of new paint.  The head tube badge was in pretty good shape, so I simply taped it off before painting.

I re-lettered the down tube with the 'Chimo' name using some vinyl lettering, and wrapped the tube with some auto pin striping.  It wasn't an exact match of the font type, so I cut and trimmed the letters a bit to help it better resemble the original lettering.  Not an exact match mind you, but close enough to make the bike easily identifiable as an HKB Chimo.  Several layers of clear coat shot over the lettering will assure it stands up for quite some time. 

 The finished product..

As I stood back to take a gander at the rebuilt Chimo, I was quite impressed with the overall engineering of this bike.  It has a sharp looking lugged steel frame that is surprisingly light.  The seat tube and head tube have fairly steep angles of around 70 degrees (give or take a few degrees).  

This bike was made when lots of road racing bikes were hitting the market, which might explain why the bottom bracket that houses the cranks is a full 13 inches off of the ground.  A bottom bracket that sits this high, allows you to lean the bike down around corners at an incredibly steep angle even while pedaling.  I'm not so sure I've ever owned or even seen a bike with a bottom bracket this high off of the ground.  It's really very impressive (to me anyway).  


Mark ended up giving this bike back to his father as a birthday present, and I happened to be there when he presented the gift.  His old man was ecstatic, and had no clue that the bike even still existed.  Instantly, memories of past rides on his bike started flooding back to him.  He couldn't believe he was once again reunited with his old bike, that had brought him so much joy and adventure over the years.  I could relate to exactly how he was feeling, which made being part of this whole experience more than worthwhile.

I was amazed at how great this bike held up over the years.  The majority of parts on this bike are original, and needed nothing more than cleaning, resurfacing, and lubrication.  Below is a list of every item I had to replace..

Two new tires and inner tubes
era specific bicycle seat
era specific kickstand
era specific frame cable clamps
brake and derailleur cables
front and rear derailleurs
Shimano gear shift lever set
handlebar tape
a few assorted nuts and bolts

Many folks see bikes in this type of condition and write them off as trash or scrap, but I'm the complete opposite.  I always see them as a blank canvas, or as bikes that simply need a little.. or a lot of TLC.

There's definitely a sense of relief, pride, and satisfaction that floods over me after a bike build is complete, and it's always a bit sad to me when a project is finished.  That rebuild will by no means be my last rodeo, and I'm sure it won't be long until I share results from my next retro project here on this site.

Jun 13, 2018

My kingdom for a Raspberry filled donut!

Hostess Raspberry filled Donuts

I know Hostess went through a big buyout in recent years, and unfortunately, the wonder that was Hostess Raspberry filled Donuts was a casualty of this corporate reorganization.  They obviously didn't make the cut for the updated product line and it's a shame, because they were one of my favorite items Hostess used to make.

I got hooked on these delightful powdered delicacies when I was 13 years old.  My best friend and I had a very successful spring with our lawn mowing and landscaping business, and concluded that we had rightly earned a Saturday off.  Friday night we stocked up on fishing gear, and farmed my friends yard for night crawlers. We turned in early and set our digital wrist watch alarms for 5:00 a.m.

Early the next morning we stopped at the local 7-11 on the way to our top secret fishing spot to stock up on some food and refreshments for the day.  I spotted the Hostess raspberry filled donuts on the shelf and excitedly bought a box for our breakfast.  I had seen them before, but my Mom would never buy them for me because she said I probably wouldn't like them.

We rode our bikes about five miles to our favorite fishing spot on the river.   After we cast our lines into the water, and waited for the fish to start biting, we cracked open the box of donuts and poured ourselves some coffee from our thermoses. I don't know if it was the serene atmosphere coupled with the feeling of independence we had that morning, but those raspberry donuts were about the best thing I had ever tasted.

As for the all day fishing trip.. we fished for all of 20 minutes when the clouds rolled over, the temperature dropped twenty degrees, and snow started flying.  Oh yeah, this story takes place in Northern Colorado, where freak snow storms in June have been known to happen from time to time.  We hurriedly packed up all of our gear and quickly hightailed it back to my friends house riding into the wind, dressed for 90 degree weather.

Sometime before 8:00 a.m. we walked through my friends front door soaking wet, and skin feeling blistered from the wind chill and snow. Walking through the dining room on the way to the kitchen, we came across his parents sitting at the table sipping their morning cup of coffee.  My friends mom poured us each a cup, and we all polished off the remaining donuts while he and I cursed the crazy Colorado weather.  And cursed it we did.. as it was 73 degrees by 1:00 that afternoon.  Like the locals say in Colorado.. "If you don't like the weather here, just wait ten minutes".

For years after.. I would think of this story every time I ate a Hostess raspberry filled doughnut.  Boy, how many times as a kid did I have such grand and glorious expectations which in the end, didn't quite turn out like I had planned.  As disgusted as I was during that particular instance however, I now look back fondly on this childhood memory and can't help but smile every time I do so.

I sure wish I could track down a reasonable simile to the Hostess Raspberry Filled Donut.  I could've sworn I saw some made by another brand on the shelves recently, but alas, they were nowhere to be found the next time I went to look for them. Does anyone else miss these powdery delights? Have you found a suitable replacement since their extinction?  Holler at me if you have!

Apr 9, 2018

80s / 90s Rap Group 3rd Bass

Tonight I was reminiscing about music I use to jam to in the early 90s.  Anyone else remember 3rd Bass?  Those guys could definitely spit some rhymes.  Here's two videos to jog your memory and get you moving.  Hypnotizing grooves.. incredible lyrics.. I love it!  I know what I'll be bumping in my car and iPod this week.  Enjoy..

Mar 15, 2018

A replacement for the discontinued Hostess Cherry Sweet Rolls

Remember these rolls?  Well I sure do.  In fact, they were a big part of my childhood growing up.  I can't count how many times my Mom would put these out for people she would invite over for coffee, or for visitors after dinner.  On weekends, my Dad would get up early to buy a newspaper, and would bring these home for us as a snack before breakfast.  And that tradition carried on for myself when I became an adult.

Everything about these rolls are still so very vivid in my mind.  The wax paper tray that surrounded the rolls.. the smell of the bread and cherries as you cracked open the package, the thick white icing on top of the rolls, and of course the great tasting rolls themselves.  Like so many other Hostess snack cakes, they have been discontinued in recent years.  This was one casualty of the brand that deeply saddened me.  You never like to see something you love and grew up with, simply just fade away.  Case in point.. Toys R' Us!  How many of us feel like part of our childhood just died?

Now if you've seen any of my YouTube snack cake videos, you know that Hostess has disappointed me on so many levels as of late, that Tastykake is fast becoming my favorite line of snack cakes.  So my heart skipped a beat when I spotted these Tastykake Cherry Sweet Rolls in the supermarket!

Could they be as good or better than the old Hostess Cherry Sweet Rolls?  I had to find out!  Nostalgia overtook me when I opened the package and the smell of the cherry filling and yeast leavened sweet bread hit me. That same type of soft wax paper tray even held the rolls tightly together just like the Hostess packaging used to.

As for the taste.. it was very similar with one exception.  That being, the white icing atop all of the rolls.  Tastykake opted to use a layer of glaze on these sweet rolls.  Hostess had that thick white icing that was very sweet, messy, or if getting close to the sell by date.. crunchy or brittle.  Hostess Sweet Rolls were definitely always better when heated up prior to serving.  A quick warm up would get that icing softened up and melted into the cracks and crevices of the sweet roll.

I must admit.. while the icing helped the Hostess Sweet Rolls to be iconic in their own way, I really don't miss it.  The great taste of the Hostess Cherry Sweet Roll would tend to get lost in that vast sea of icing.  The Tastykake Cherry Sweet Rolls have the perfect balance of glaze, cherry filling, and sweet bread.  While they are wonderful warmed up, they are every bit as enjoyable if you eat them right out of the package.  It's quite obvious that Tastykake went for a quality, rather than just trying to be a copycat, and it shows through and through.

Once again, Tastykake has come through for me again, and.. has managed to replace a sorely missed snack cake staple in my household.   

Mar 8, 2018

Review - Troy's Cuban Deli in Clermont Florida.

One thing I've learned since moving to Florida, is that people are a lot less patient and in a much bigger hurry than folks in Colorado. In fact, I'm not sure If I ever quite fully understood the term "Rat Race" until I relocated to the Orlando area. The madness that is the tourist industry, coupled with the sheer amount of people that live in here, can be a bit overwhelming to someone who's never experienced it and finds themselves suddenly thrust into the thick of it. 

With all that being said, in the midst of the madness and busyness, there are places like the one that I had breakfast at this morning.. 'Troy's Cuban Deli'. It seems that time moves a little bit slower as soon as you walk through the doors.  Something as simple as getting myself a Cuban coffee and an authentic Cuban breakfast aligns my chakras, gets me copacetic and feeling zen.

You wouldn't think such Simple Pleasures could do this, but it does for me. A lot of it has to do with the people there. The owners and staff are incredibly wonderful people which makes the experience all that more enjoyable. Orlando is such a huge Melting Pot, there are tons of places like this all over the place whether it be Puerto Rican, Colombian, Cuban, polish, etc.  And don't even get me started on the little pizzerias ran by folks that have moved down here from New York.  Fuhgettaboutit!! 

'Cuban Breakfast'
2 Eggs over easy, sweet plantains, croquettas, 
Sliced Ham & Swiss Cheese and buttered & pressed Cuban Toast.
Oh yeah.. it's under $5.00!

'Cafe' con Leche'
Made to order with Cuban Espresso, scalded milk, 
and for me.. sugar.  Always Sugar.
That nice froth you see on top is a result of sugar that's started to caramelize.

Cuban Sandwich
House made roast pork and ham, Swiss Cheese, pickles and Mustard, 
tucked in fresh Cuban bread, and pressed on a grill.

I often drop in for the Cuban Sandwiches, served with house made plantain chips.  If I'm really hungry (like I was on this particular day) I'll order a 'Papa Rellena'.. a mashed potato ball, stuffed with Picadillo (a seasoned ground beef) and deep fried.

Fresh pastries, Empenadas, Croquettas, and Papa Rellenas made all day long.

If you love Cuban food, this is the place to go in Clermont Florida.  The quality, value and taste is absolutely incredible.  The ambiance is great as well.  Bright colors, Cuban decor and an airy feel instantly get me into a happier mindset and lightens any burden or stress I may bring along with me.

Troy's Cuban Deli.. a place where I can go to de-stress and get recharged, all in the time it takes to drink my freshly made Cafe Con Leche and Cuban breakfast. I absolutely love it, and it's places like this that make me love the area I live so much.

Feb 19, 2018

Doritos BLAZE Review

I love Doritos and I LOVE Spicy Food.  Do Doritos BLAZE Impress?  You can find out in my newest YouTube video..