The customer is always right

Our six-month “promotional rate” with Comcast just ended, so earlier this week I called to get a new rate. They put us on a package rate that includes internet and cable and tell me they'll need to send me a cable box for our new TV service.

“No thanks,” I say, “we don't want it. We just want internet service like before.”

“Are you sure?”, they ask. “Yes, I'm sure, just internet.”

“Your package rate includes cable TV,” they say.

“I don't want it,” I say, “even if it's part of the package. We're only interested in internet service.”

“Okay, they say, we'll disable the cable service and won't send the cable box.”

So that's why UPS just delivered this cable box from Comcast.

Review: Liquid Ice Energy Drinks

Liquid Ice Energy Drink – the "hidden gem" of the energy drink industry, according to its maker, aiming to be the "highest quality performance" and "best tasting" drink on the market.

Full disclosure: the manufacturer sent me free samples of these two drinks along with some assorted merchandise in exchange for this review. No other compensation was involved. These are my own opinions of these drinks.

According to the official website, this brand has been around since 2003 but with a somewhat limited distribution. No stores near me seem to carry it, so I hadn't heard of it until now.

Product Overview

Liquid Ice comes in three varieties: Blue, Red, and Zero. Note that these aren't flavors, just labels: one is blue, one is red, and one has zero sugar or carbs. (This review only covers Blue and Red.)

The stated nutritional facts for an 8.3oz can of Liquid Ice are comparable to an equivalent 8.4oz can of Red Bull, probably its closest competitor. (If you're super concerned about sugar content, you probably shouldn't be chugging energy drinks to begin with.) Both brands state 80mg of caffeine per serving in almost identically-sized cans. What Liquid Ice adds alongside that is 1000mg of taurine for a "sustained energy level" rather than a huge upfront jolt (Red Bull states only 1mg of taurine).

Liquid Ice Blue

It took a while to figure out how to describe the taste. It's sort of a blue raspberry flavor, very sweet and sugary but without any discernible aftertaste. If you liquified blue cotton candy, you might get this drink.

I did feel somewhat more alert after drinking the can, though I can't say whether that was due to the energy blend or the sugar. I'm inclined to think it was the caffeine, since there wasn't a sense of a sugar rush other drinks bring on.

Taste:
Energy:
Overall:

Liquid Ice Red

As with the Blue, the taste is tricky to describe. One press release even went so far as to call it a "unique, captive and unidentifiable flavor". My girlfriend suggested it tasted like carbonated red Kool-Aid, or maybe those red popsicles in plastic tubes. Personally, I liked this flavor more than the Blue.

As with the Blue, there was definitely an energy boost within about 20 minutes of emptying the can, and that sense of heightened alertness lasted perhaps an hour. For someone with a less-intense caffeine addiction habit, this would likely last longer.

Taste:
Energy:
Overall:

Overall

Sweet but not too sweet, enough of an energy boost to help you focus for an hour or so but without the sharp crash at the end. As with most drinks of the sort, you'll want to limit how many of these you drink in order to save your teeth and your waistline. Side note: while you can certainly drink this at room temperature, I'd recommend chilling it to near-freezing for the best experience.

The company says these drinks make great cocktail mixers and provides a number of suggested recipes. I'm not big on mixing alcohol and caffeine, but it's easy to imagine this would in fact make for some tasty drinks if you're into that.

After all that, my professional opinion here is not bad. Definitely a contender in the industry for those of us that prefer our caffeine fix come from a can rather than a coffee mug.

Wisconsin Tourism Slogans

After sharing the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's article on the new foods being introduced at the Wisconsin State Fair this year, one of my coworkers made the brilliant suggestion that I should really work for the Wisconsin tourism board.

Without further delay, I present to you new slogans for my home state that are sure to drive tourism revenue through the roof.

Wisconsin icon Milwaukee: At least we don't have as many murders as Chicago™

Wisconsin icon Milwaukee: Like Chicago, but cleaner!™

Wisconsin icon Wisconsin: Illinois' cleaner, safer, fatter cousin. (– Adam)

Wisconsin icon Milwaukee: Come for the beer, stay because you got blackout drunk and fell into the river™

Wisconsin icon Do you like cheese? Do you like beer? Do you like beer IN YOUR CHEESE? Milwaukee.™

Wisconsin icon Have you ever eaten a block of cheese filled with beer that's been fried, put on a stick, and covered in bacon? You have now. (– Adam)

Do your part to boost the economy – share your slogan!

Contributed via Twitter:

Wisconsin: Your first DUI is practically free! (– Jennifer)

(Wisconsin icon by Ted Grajeda, used under Creative Commons Attribution license.)

If You Give Tom a Cookie

My family is pretty awesome.

My sister is visiting us in Denver this weekend, and brought me a surprise. When we first moved to Denver, I told her that I missed the fudge-striped shortbread cookies from ALDI, a grocery store in the Midwest. She sent me a box with two packages of cookies. Hooray!

But then when she arrived in Denver herself, she had something more. She set a suitcase on the bed and handed me a card from my parents. "If you give Tom a cookie..." it said on the front. Gears start to turn in my head as I open the card. "He's gonna want a suitcase full."

No... it couldn't be. I unzip the suitcase, and...

That's a suitcase full of cookies, right there. Eighteen packages of cookies.

It's okay to be jealous.

Moved to Denver

, I packed most of my worldly possessions into a truck and drove a thousand miles across the country with my girlfriend to set up a new place to call "home".

Even considering the *ahem* challenges of compressing two apartments' worth of stuff into a single moving truck, the work of moving turned out to be pretty straightforward if not lengthier and more exhausting than anticipated. The exhaustion was equal parts physical and emotional – shuttling furniture and boxes to the truck for hours, summoning every ounce of Tetris mastery in my being to fit it in, making last-minute decisions of what could be considered expendable; saying goodbye to friends I'll only see on Facebook from now on, holding back tears while hugging my parents, getting into the truck and driving away.

But onwards we went, and eventually we made it through and arrived in Denver.

The process of setting up a new life is actually pretty tedious. There are emissions tests to be conducted. Vehicle registrations to transfer. Drivers licenses to acquire. Utilities to set up. Utilities to call support about when the internet doesn't work. Utilities to call support about again when the internet still doesn't work, and apparently requires a visit from a technician to resolve.

There's the inevitable trip to IKEA when you realize your new apartment has almost zero built-in storage and you now have nowhere to put any of your stuff that's just sitting around in boxes. The moment of sad realization at the register when you see how much you're spending. The mundane trips to grocery stores to stock your empty refrigerator. The constant re-arrangement of drawers and cabinets.

Now you have a new address, so you have to update every website you've ever given your billing and shipping addresses. The IRS wants to know you moved. The USPS wants to know you moved.

And then at some point... you look around and realize you're home. This is home now. There's art on the walls, and lamps in the corners, and fewer and fewer cardboard boxes sitting around making you feel guilty.

So here we are. It's been a fairly draining couple of weeks, but now we're all settled in. The weather has been gorgeous – warm and sunny, with the exception of a freak snowstorm on Mother's Day (70°F and sunny on Saturday, six inches of snow on Sunday, with Monday warm enough you could hardly tell it snowed at all). The scenery in Colorado is nothing short of beautiful, with plenty of hiking trails and open spaces for both us and our dog to explore to exhaustion. Even my car gets better fuel economy here.

I think we'll be okay.

In other news, I am now the Web Content Administrator for AORN, a non-profit organization in Denver, a position I'm especially excited to take on. After spending six years in a large corporation, as great as the people and experiences there were, I really wanted to find someplace smaller where each person could make a real difference. It'll also be particularly refreshing to have an income again, so there's that.