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This Is What Happens When 2 Guys Try to Eat the Entire Taco Bell Menu

This Is What Happens When 2 Guys Try to Eat the Entire Taco Bell Menu

Spoiler: There's vomit. Not for the queasy-stomached

Epic Meal Time may have the best crazy homemade calorie fests, but they've never gone and ordered the entire Taco Bell menu before. Or have they? Prove us wrong.

Anyway, OC Weekly brought to our attention these two California guys, competitive eaters who decided to take on the entire Taco Bell menu. drunken fests to never again, we imagine this Taco Bell fest falls into the "never again" category.

While some of us here may be a bit queasy after watching this video, eater Damon Wells told OC Weekly writer Michelle Woo that "it's like killing a spider, scary but satisfying once it's over." The process of eating the entire menu, however, was probably not as satisfying. Where is Kobayashi when you need him? Watch below.


A Pro’s Guide to Meal Plans for Weight Gain

Gaining weight. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? For the “throw caution to the wind, completely sedentary and willing to shove anything in their mouths” type of individual, weight gain is very easy. For the rest of us, (you know, the folks who are very thoughtful about how we eat, live an active lifestyle and for whatever reason, need to gain some weight), it can actually be quite difficult.

This is especially true if we are talking about hard charging athletes. In the world I live in (college strength and conditioning), cycling our training to increase muscle mass happens 2-3 times a year. My footballers, wrestlers, baseball kids and other “size” focused sports will inevitably be tasked with packing on weight. Not as often, but here and again, many of my female athletes will need to see a rise in their bodyweight for both performance and the armoring for normal wear and tear of their competitive seasons.

The Twinkies and Ice Cream Diet

Now, weight gain for weight gain’s sake is just as useless as a freakish dive when trying to trim up. Sure, a sudden surge in either direction can help meet some temporary goal, but the human body is masterful at finding some semblance of balance. Those folks who radically cut calories in an attempt to hit a weight loss goal will find themselves right back at their starting point once their normal eating habits resume, they rehydrate and start living their lives. The same is true for an 18,000 calorie weekend blowout of tacos, burgers, pizza and soda. Yes, you might see a sudden bump up, but once you carry on with your normal day-to-day, your body will move out the excess and pack some of those calories where we don’t want it (in your waist and hips).

Seriously Though…

Knowing that it is no one’s goal to increase weight by layering on body fat, we will agree that the goal is to increase lean body mass intelligently. In order to know how to get where you want to go, you need to know where you are. This does not mean simply knowing what the scale says. See, in order to hold your bodyweight exactly where it is at, there is a fairly rigid set amount of calories that you must ingest to stay put. Your height, current weight, age, and activity level, all have to be taken into consideration as you build an understanding of where your calorie thresholds sit. An easy way to do this is to go to your favorite search engine and type the letters: TDEE. Total Daily Energy Expenditure. I’ve visited about 10 different sites and my totals are within around 30 calories of one another. Once you have an understanding of what that number is, the rest becomes rather simple.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Understanding that this is a marathon and not a sprint, the smartest and healthiest way to gain permanent, steady weight is to increase your daily calories by 15-20% of your TDEE total. All things being equal, this should safely allow you to gain one pound a week for as long as you are trying to pack on the pounds. For the average sized guy, that will equate to about an additional 500 calories a day. Since 3,500 calories equals a pound, this is a responsible recommendation. If you increase that percentage over 20% of your TDEE, you are likely going to be packing on soft weight. Steady weight gain is the goal — not a massive surge. Gain any more than a pound a week and you can almost guarantee that a good portion of what you are seeing is fat gain.

Once you have your target number, you need to think about how those calories are going to break down on your plate. If you look at the research, the recommendations are fairly consistent for healthy (muscle) weight gain. Our focus will be how the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) break down to support our calorie count.

Proteins, The Building Block of Muscle

If you are trying to gain solid weight, then you must be detailed about your protein intake. Around 30-35% of your caloric intake should come from animal-sourced proteins. Chicken, fish, pork, eggs and red meats of all different cuts should be your go-to while building your body. For decades, many fattier meats have been demonized by mainstream thinking. Over the past couple of years, the research is pouring in that very lean meats are not the only sources you should consider. Anything in excess is likely a bad idea, but many of the meats we have been told to steer clear of are now understood as being as healthy as their leaner counterparts.

For example, red meats contain high amounts of leucine, an essential amino acid. It is reported that leucine is the only amino acid that halts muscle breakdown and triggers muscle synthesis. Additionally, leucine plays a critical role in regulating blood sugar levels. Think of it as a super amino! You get tons of it eating meats that were once considered taboo.

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

Not Your Mama’s Fats

Fats have gotten a really bad rap over the years. A research study published over 50 years ago, linked to the sugar industry, set in motion one of the most influential and potentially destructive trends in the understanding of nutrition we have ever seen. Fats were considered the devil and the food guide pyramid was born. With a model limiting fat intake to less than 10% of your daily intake, the powers that be instructed us to replace those calories with carbohydrates. Fast forward to today, and our food supply has been perverted with sugar at every turn.

Popularized by Dr. Atkins, and then recently furthered by the enormous popularity of the ketogenic diet , a very low-carb, high-fat diet has shown over and over not to be a threat to your health. Among other things, fats are an additional source of energy, are critical in vitamin absorption, help temperature regulation and are associated with several processes in hormone regulation – particularly testosterone.

You should aim to take in 25-30% of your calorie goal in good fats. Great choices of healthy fats include: avocados, macadamia nuts, olive oil, egg yolks, MCT oil, salmon, hard cheeses and butter (yes, butter).

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Carbohydrates – Tackling Fuel

If you haven’t seen The Waterboy, then the joke above has totally missed you. Carbohydrates are what give you your get-up-and-go. When most people think about energy, they are thinking about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates fuel the body for the day’s activities and provide the brain with glucose for clear thinking and optimal function.

Carbs are great fuel, but where we need to be careful with carbohydrates is where we are getting them from. Type in the words “carbohydrate’s job” in a Google search and up comes a photo of a soccer ball, a glass of milk and two Pop Tarts. As one of my doctor friends used to say, “Foods like Pop Tarts and Rice Krispies Treats are a pancreatic nightmare.” Sugar on top of sugar filled with sugar.

The rules for carbs in your weight gain then need to be strict. If it comes in a package loaded with preservatives and sits on a shelf, it’s off-limits. No crappy carbs for our plan of attack. Only clean, naturally sourced carbohydrate choices are going to suit our needs. Grains, fruits and veggies will be our go-to. Things like bananas, all different types of potatoes, berries, legumes, oatmeal, rice and quinoa are great choices.

Once you have the fat and protein percentages worked out, the rest of your caloric goals should be carbs. We want to place our ceiling for carbohydrates at 40%, so if for whatever reason your math has you missing the mark, meet your caloric needs by adding in a few more grams of fat or protein to hit your numbers.

A final word on carbohydrates: If you want to do it the right way and keep your weight gain exclusively to muscle, stay away from the junk carbs. Sweets of all kinds and sugary drinks are terrible choices. If you are meeting your carbohydrate needs this way, plan on seeing sloppy weight gain and host of potential health problems.

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

A Day in the Life

Let’s look at a hypothetical. Ray is the middle linebacker for Cal Poly Football. The coaches have told Ray, and me, he needs to gain 5-10 pounds before the season begins to find himself in contention for the starting position. He’s currently 228 pounds, and for him to even be relevant in the mind of the coaching staff, he needs to be in the mid 230s.

Ray’s current TDEE is 4,311 calories (a lot, I know). In an effort to be very strategic with his weight gain, we are setting Ray at 5,000 calories a day during this bulking time. I will take care of his workouts to make sure he’s doing all the right things in the weight room. His only job is to make sure he’s eating all of his calories.

Here’s what a day’s menu might look like for this young athlete:

Breakfast will be one of the higher fat concentrated meals to keep his energy steady for the long day ahead.

  • 4 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup pico de gallo
  • 1 cup greek yogurt

Macro totals in calories = 540 fat, 196 protein, 96 carbs
Meal total = 832 calories

Pre-Workout Meal

This meal is focused on getting a carb-dense, easy meal to fuel the intense lift and run.

  • 3 cups cooked oatmeal
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 large banana

Macro totals in calories = 333 fat, 80 protein, 540 carbs
Meal total = 953

Post-Workout Refuel

This “meal” is intended to replace any lost glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscle from the long training session. It is also the only time we are going to have Ray consume anything packaged/prepared.

Macro totals in calories = 27 fat, 80 protein, 324 carbohydrate
Refuel total = 431 calories

*This is a product formulated by Fluid’s Owner/Founder Richard Smith and I exclusively for Cal Poly’s football program. Along with a solid macronutrient set up, this product is loaded with vitamins and minerals ensuring my guys get at least one solid meal each day.

Another higher carbohydrate feeding to make sure his muscles are ready for tomorrow…

  • 3 cups gluten-free pasta cooked (spaghetti)
  • 2 cups homestyle spaghetti sauce with meat and vegetables
  • 2 pieces gluten-free bread

Macro totals in calories = 342 fat, 282 protein, 668 carbohydrate
Lunch total = 1292 calories

Snack Between Classes

We will start dropping the carbs, even out his blood sugar and fuel him for the final push through late afternoon classes.

Macro totals in calories = 333 fat, 188 protein, 44 carbohydrate
Snack total = 565 calories

His dinner will be primarily comprised of proteins. Fats will drop dramatically and his only carbs will be from vegetables.

Macro totals in calories = 36 fat, 396 protein, 72 carbohydrate
Dinner total = 504 calories

Pre-Bedtime Caesin Shake

A last calorie intake to fill his stomach with slow release proteins to keep a steady amino acid flow throughout his night of sleep.

Macro totals in calories = 4 fat, 228 protein, 212 carbohydrates
Bedtime total = 444

Grand Totals

First, Ray is never going to be hungry. The intent of setting him up this way is directly for performance, and less for pleasure eating. His training sessions are 2-2.5 hours, so he’s going to be in need of nutrients early in the day. Once the sun sets, and Ray lays his head down for the night, this is what his day breaks down to:

  • Grand total calories – 5021
  • Calories from proteins – 1450
  • Calories from fats – 1615
  • Calories from carbohydrates – 1956

29% proteins, 32% fats, 39% carbohydrates. Almost to the exact number, we hit our ratios and calories.

Troubleshooting Stubborn, or Excessive, Weight Gain

You might find yourself getting into trouble once you have calculated your TDEE, and then begin your weight gain program. I’m assuming you are going to be lifting weights and working in a program where your volumes are higher (a hypertrophy phase or muscle gain phase). When totaling your TDEE, you must take into account how you “intend on working” during this phase, which might be more aggressive than what you are doing now. If you add in cardio for whatever reason, or pick up a new hobby where physical activity is a feature, you need to account for all these activities so we don’t find ourselves in a calorie neutral or negative state. Your TDEE might shift some here and there, so you need to make sure that those calories are being considered and then consumed at the table.

Concurrently, you may have overshot what you think you are doing and now your calories are too high for what you are trying to do. Track your weight weekly so you keep frequent tabs on what is going on. Yes, there could be times when you are holding more water, or haven’t expelled recently, that need to be taken into account. But if you see a 5 pound surge in a week, you might have to go back and look at your numbers to make sure that you aren’t overshooting your target.

Timing of certain macros is also something to be considered. Excessive carbohydrates are simply going to be stored if they aren’t used. The most solid advice I can give you about when to take in a large percentage of your daily total carbohydrate intake would be before, and particularly after, your weight training session. Your muscles are completely zapped of glycogen after a hard charging lift and will soak up carbs like a sponge. Take in around 60% of your daily carbohydrate consumption during the pre- and post-workout meals.

Because we don’t want massive swings in insulin, the best approach for weight gain is to eat 4-6 times a day. No, each meal doesn’t have to be some elaborate production, but we need to divvy up the calories and spread them throughout the day so we can keep the engine fueled without taking in so much at once that the body has no choice other than to store it where we don’t want it.

But Food Prep Sucks…

I totally agree, but it needs to be done. The slipperiest of slopes is not having meals ready when you need to eat. What ends up happening when you don’t have everything prepped is that you find yourself going to the Taco Bell drive-thru, convincing yourself that six soft chicken tacos are healthy … because they are chicken. That is the kiss of death. I know I could get pushback on this, but not all calories are equal.

Having a meal prep service like Metabolic Meals takes the guess work, the prep and the headache out of making sure that you’re getting exactly what you need, when you need it. Because we want very healthy foods sourced from the best things on earth, it’s a wise decision to let the experts give you a hand in your weight gain and healthy eating goals.

Dr. Christopher R. Holder is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Cal Poly Athletics.


You Won’t Believe This TR - to See What Happens

Yes, you won’t believe how much I can write when so little happened. But, you’re here, so I guess click-bait DOES work, eh?

Okay, so we’re back. Who are we? You’ll have to read at least two paragraph’s in on the next post to find out. The next post, you ask?

Well, the following is a VERY long review of a 6 night stay in Key West. Maybe a travelogue. Or just a string of sarcastic rants strung together in a loose manner. Anyway, there isn’t much value to it, but I write them because I like to relive our trips.

This report includes good restaurants, not so good but not exactly bad restaurants, bars, flying insects, houses, music, cocktails, killer robots, and bickering flamingos. It’s epically long. Not an epic, mind you. Just epically long.

As usual, we really spend the week in Key West doing nothing and liking it. As usual, little anecdotes stick in my head, and I like to write about them. But, I could just say that we ate, drank, listened to some music, and walked around, and you’d get the gist.

So, then, why should you read this? I don’t know. But, if you’re brave, and if you have lots and lots of time to kill . . . well, have at it:

Why do we keep going back to Key West? We’ve explained that so much to friends and family, and been asked so many questions from people going, that I’ve written my own Key West primer. We love the combination of atmosphere, drinks, food, libations, walking culture, cocktails, music, adult beverages, open air venues, and also the alcohol. Plus, they have a really good bar scene there.

We were there a year ago, but it was only a short post-Cuba trip. It was time to return.

About us? Well, I’m 6’3, thin build and brown hair. I like candle lit dinners, long walks in the moonlight, and Kenny G. Oops. Wrong bio!

We are a late-40’s couple that has been coming to Key West for a full decade now. We travel often, and switch between site seeing trips and laid back trips. We have fallen in love with Key West, and keep coming back.

This was our seventh trip. Oddly enough, we haven’t stayed in the same place twice. This time we chose Lighthouse Court (If you’re keeping track, and why wouldn’t you be, those places were: Cypress House, Orchid Key, Truman Annex, Galleon, Marrero’s, Coco Plum, and now Lighthouse). Those places have ranged from average to very good, but we haven’t yet found one to be our permanent spot.

Note that I’m not counting the two visits when we were on a cruise with family or friends for a one day stop in KW. Even though we led off-the-beaten track tours, we still spent the day shuddering that we had become . . . “cruise people”.

Not this time, though. We picked Lighthouse Court because this needed to be a cheaper trip. I’m thinking we’re going to splurge for the Gardens or Marquesa next time, but for this time, Lighthouse was just fine. But, I get ahead of myself.

One more aside, since I mentioned not finding a favorite B&B/hotel. Some of our favorite bars and eateries also seem to ebb and flow from trip. It’s interesting to me to go back to earlier reports to read places we loved that have faded from favor (Fogerty’s), or places that we didn’t like at first but have completely turned around about (Banana Café).

One more thought on I wrote this paragraph 7 years ago, and it still holds true:

<<< Tangential Thought – As we add ‘must-go’ places each trip, I foresee it being tougher and tougher to plan our KW food and drink. Each trip will be an exercise in choosing which of our favorite places we want to skip in order to try something new. We either have to start eating 5 meals a day, or just stay longer. >>>

** Unless noted, prices reflect total bill, not including tip. Remember to tip well **

WED JAN 16, 2019 – “IN WHICH WE TRY AN OLD BAR AND A NEW BAR, BUT NOT A SOMETHING BORROWED OR SOMETHING BLUE BAR”.

We live in Philly (well, just outside of Philly, but I can get to the city limits in 4 mins of driving, so I’ll just call it Philly), and we prefer to fly in and out of Philly. But, what did I see last year, but NONSTOP FLIGHTS out of Newark Airport to Key West are now running. Now, I hate Newark, but the word nonstop is just music to our ears. So, on a cold Wed Philly morning, we head out about 7:30 am for the 90 min drive to Newark.

The flight is smooth, and we split a Primo Hoagie on the flight (mark Primo’s down for your next Philly trip. Trust me). We land more than 35 mins early. Woo hoo! We don’t check luggage, so we grab our bags from the plane and are the first to taxi line.

We ask the first in a line of only two taxis van if he’ll take just us, or if we should grab the smaller cab (we’ve been lied about this in past years). He takes just us, with just a little bit of grumping on the way. From the driver, I mean. Me grumping a bit is pretty normal.

We thought we’d be getting to the hotel about 4:30 pm, but everything is so smooth that we are there by 3:15. Our room is ready, the front desk is very welcoming, and they immediately bring us a requested fridge, and we are in shorts and off by 4 pm. Smooth!

After a short debate, we decide to eat a light snack and walk to the nearby Sinz. This is the new place by Garbo’s owners, so we had high hopes. They are set up in a Chipotle format. We get one taco each (chicken and pork), and they are just okay. Nothing terrible, nothing amazing, but it hits the spot. The wife however, sees queso and chips, so that gets added on. In fact, we grab a lid and take the remaining chips and liquid cheese-like substance to go. ($19)

We have now been in KW for an hour, and still haven’t had a drink. I mean, we took a taxi, checked in, slightly unpacked, and ate, but no alcohol. That cries inefficiency to me. Luckily this sad situation has an easy solution.

We walk to the Rum Bar, one of our favorites from last trip. Last time I was able to sit inside and get a rum flight, talking to the bartender. Today, the place is loud and mobbed. We don’t want to be inside with a crowd. Luckily, the wife grabs the last two outdoor seats.

A short time later, we’re on the porch of the Rum Bar with a mojito and a daiquiri, enjoying the sunshine. Hmm, we wouldn’t mind a small snack. Hey, look! A bag of chips and a container of queso. Outdoor snacks with our drinks! As usual, the wife is smart for thinking of taking them along.

It’s getting cold out. I mean, not Philly cold, where it was 20 something today, but too cold for sandals and shorts. We swing back to Truman, buy some water and some yogurt at CVS for breakfast to take to the room, and head back to the room. Why yogurt, when we are living in the land of breakfast? It’s to fulfill one of my wife’s bucket list fantasies.

Get your freaking mind out of the gutter. Not THAT kind of fantasy. Now, I’m not going to tell you why we have it until later. You perv.

Anyway, we drop off the water, change to sneakers and pants, and go to seek a bar. We decide it’s a cocktail night, so we head to Caroline’s Other Side, paying our due respects to the Porch, now the Abbey, as we walk in. We are beer snob . . . I mean enthusiasts, and the Abbey looks okay, but not as curated a list as the Porch.

We had never really spent any time in the Other Side before, but today we sidle up to the bar, with Bethany tending. They aren’t cheap, but they have a number of nicely crafted cocktails. We proceed to spend the night here. I work my way through the top 3 bourbon based drinks, dubbing the Banana Bread Old Fashioned the best, albeit too sweet to order more than one. Along the way we happily order food from Caroline’s. Never a favorite of mine, but it was good enough for sitting at the bar drinking our way through the menu. ($108)

All drunk things must come to an end (sometimes a stumbling end, but an end nonetheless), and thus do we return to bed.

THURS, JAN 17 – “DURING WHICH I LEARN WHICH OF THE TWO I PREFER, GIVEN A CHOICE OF MAKING OR DRINKING COCKTAILS.”

We get up at the crack of dawn . . . aw, who am I kidding? Actually, we do wake up a bit. We had asked for the darkest room they had, and there was only one window with blinds. Unfortunately, said window was on the deck, and there was a porch light on 24/7. It wasn’t terrible, but we would have preferred darker. Overall, we found the Lighthouse Court to be decent, but nothing special. The bathroom was redone, but the furniture was old. The mattress was kind of soft. Still, the price was good, and they were really nice and helpful. And, we’re in Key West, so no complaints!

It’s morning, and the wife decides she wants pancakes. My motto is pretty much that the wife gets what she wants. There’s a reason we’re going on 24 years of marriage. Anyway, we take a nice stroll to Sarabeth’s.

As we’re walking, my wife is feeling the claws of the demon caffeine begin to awaken. This is dramatic foreshadowing, but it kind of means – she wants coffee, and wants it soon.

Luckily, we don’t wait long, and soon enough we’re eating lemon ricotta pancakes and a red omelet (which was good, but kind of weird). All goes well, until we ask to pay and see that we are charged for two coffees.

If you’ve read my reviews before, then you have no excuse for punishing yourself this time around, but here you are anyway. But, also, you know that I tend to grab an espresso during the day at some point, and I kind of like coffee, but I am not a morning coffee drinker. My wife isn’t really a ‘coffee drinker’ either. Saying my wife kind of ‘likes coffee in the morning’ is like saying that humans ‘occasionally enjoy inhaling a breath of air’. For her, coffee is life and life is coffee. I am happy and proud to come in a close second. The point, if any of this has a point, is that we ordered one $3.50 coffee, and I tried two sips to see how it was.

We finish our meal and get the check, but see an issue. We ask the waitress about the double coffee on the bill. “Do you charge for refills?”, she asks. The waitress responds, in a murder mystery dinner theater “Ah HA!” moment, that “You two were sharing coffee so I have to charge you for two.” Now, neither of us mind paying for things, and we don’t like to take advantage or try and steal, but I think the $3.50 charge can cover the 0.25 ounces of coffee I had.

A quick sputter of protest from both of us garners a fast “I’ll take it off the bill” from our waitress, although it is said in a wry knowing way. I feel like a Scooby Doo villain. “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that nosy coffee watching waitress, and her drug addicted hallucinogenic talking dog”. So, really nothing against Sarabeth’s, but the coffee police leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Get it? Taste in our mouths? Get it? Come for the Trip Report. Stay for the puns!

We soldier on, brave souls that we are.

We walk some stores on Duval, see a new Ben & Jerry’s store, not yet open, and then head onto the Bight. We keep walking, staying close because soon we actually have something planned for the day. At home, I had read about a mixology class at Hot Tin Roof. It wasn’t advertised, or easy to find, but the friendly concierge at Ocean Key set us up. So, today, we would go behind the bar and learn how to make cocktails, rather than just drink them. Or so I thought.

But first, we’re a little hungry, and don’t want to show up starving for our cocktail adventure. We want a snack but not a full meal. We’re on the bight, and near one of our favorites, Duetto Pizza.

We decide to split a slice of a focaccia sandwich ($5, caprese, if you must know, and it was pretty good). We order our focaccia (foe-ka-sha) and take a seat near the counter.

In walks an older couple with a Texas accent and giving off the cruise ship vibe.

Texan, to owner: “Ah’d like ah slice of that foke-ah-see-ah”

Owner: “Yes, you want this foe-ka-sha?”

Texan: “Yep, the foke-ah-see-ah”

So, the wife and I sat and enjoyed our foke-ah-see-ah.

It’s now time to head to our Mixology Class at Hot Tin Roof. This is an awesomely fun time. Sheila is our bartend-structor, and it is just the two of us. She teaches us at least five drinks, tailors them to our tastes, lets us try our hand at a bunch of other things, and we have a blast for two hours. ($50 pp)

Okay, even without all the drinks, this was a really cool way to spend an afternoon. I plan to buy some more bar tools, and I know a few things about tending bar now. I recommend checking it out.

Oh, did I mention the part where she doesn’t make half drinks, but full size drinks. And we didn’t exactly have to drink them all. But, you know, wasting alcohol when children in China are sober just feels wrong. Luckily we tell Sheila that we will split drinks rather than make us each one, but still, it’s quite a lot.

And so, this afternoon gets just a wee bit blurry. Many drinks are Bourbon based, which means that I need to be the chivalrous one and drink them, rather than make my wife drink something she doesn’t like. I am gallant beyond belief, and I do all that I can to help out.

We head out after class and catch a gorgeous sunset from Ocean Key. I am running on 2.5 cylinders, and yet manage to take some great pics. We then head to Bien and split an amazing bowl. Bien was a favorite before, and still is.

We finish out the night at Smokin’ Tuna. We sit at the bar and catch some of the set of Massacoustics. They are pretty talented, but for some reason, I can’t figure out why, I get tired early and we call it a night.

FRI JAN 18 – “WHAT’S IN A NAME?”

We wake up. No, I don’t know what time it is. I’m sure a rooster was crowing somewhere, though. Not that this means anything for the Key West time challenged roosters.

We are out of the room by 8:45 am, and seeking breakfast. It’s warm out, just fantastic weather. We decide to give Croissants de France a try again. We had soured on it in the past, but the wife wants an egg on a croissant. I think Croissants de France is a pretty good place to get a croissant.

We arrive. They are out of Croissants. Excuse me? How can Croissants de France be out of Croissants? Isn’t that like Burger King running out of Burgers, or Taco Bell running out of Bells?

We journey on and figure we’ll give Banana Café another try. I know it is always on the top of everyone’s list, but the last (and also first) time we had crepes there, the food had so much cheese piled on it that I suspect a dairy farmer somewhere was able to retire in luxury.

This time, we get an omelet and a croissant sandwich. Note that they have croissants, and it isn’t even in their name. I realize now, though, that I didn’t ask if they were out of bananas. Maybe there was an island name shortage epidemic? Anyway, Banana Café is redeemed. The food was outstandingtastical. By which, I mean, really, really good. BC rockets back to the top of our list, and we will return again, making sure not to order anything with cheese. Oh, and the coffee is also great. My wife ordered one. I tasted it. No one yelled at me. Life is good. ($33)

We head out of BC, happy and full, and glad that de France made us come here. We walk out to the Southernmost pier, playing a game I like to call “Guess the number of cruise ships in port by eyeing the line at the buoy.” The buoy is long. The pier is pretty crowded as well, so I guess two ships.

After taking our mandatory ‘I’m sitting on the ocean pier in shorts and you’re home in single digit weather so ha, ha” pictures, we decide to try something else new.

We have never checked out the Butterfly Conservatory. We’ve been to two or three of those before, so we never had the inclination. We head in, and it’s only about 10:30 am. Apparently, this is the perfect time. Unlike other places, which had a sedentary garden full of, well, butterflies, this place must have trained them all to perform constant aerial acrobatics. Okay, sure, maybe it’s just that the worker told us that the butterflies are more active in the morning, and it was the perfect time. I prefer my reasoning. The insects are zooming everywhere, low on the ground, dive bombing from above and flitting around all over. It’s pretty cool to see.

The conservatory was only an hour diversion, but we have fun. The two there flamingos are cool, too. Like clockwork animatronics, they would go off yelling at each other every 10 mins. It was a back and forth, honk and screech, and neither looked to be listening to the other. The sign says it is mating season, and that they are performing rituals. I think instead that that they are an old married couple, constantly arguing, neither caring what the other said. Yeah, it was definitely more like that.

After communing with nature, we head for the upper/downer double. We have coffee at what used to be the Moka Café. The coffee isn’t as good. I have an espresso, because, as already noted, I don’t usually drink coffee. No one yells at me here, either.

We then go across the street to Cork & Stogie, an awesome beer bar. Its noon, so I plan to get something nice and light. I wind up with a 13% barrel aged stout, because why not. We sit on the chairs out front, nurse our drinks, and chill for an hour watching Duval go by. We admire the latest in cruise ship chic. Somewhere, someone is selling the perfect ensemble. Long pants, hat, giant backpack, cruise lanyard, and a camera with a Hubble-sized lens.

As we sit, I watch a girl open up the Adult VIP house across the street. Then she just sits on the front porch. She’s not advertising. She’s not soliciting. She’s not doing anything provocative. She just is sitting there. I wonder what goes on over there. I mean, I kind of can guess what goes on there, but how many people walk by Duval heading to the Buoy and think Oh, hey, let me stop in for a quick “whatever”? I’m not judging at all. I’m just kind of curious.

We sit for a while, as Key West gravity takes over. What is that? I have to steal from an earlier trip report: <’Key West Gravity’ – Defined as a documented phenomenon during which the gravity increases in open courtyards with pleasant breezes and good things to eat or drink. The nicer the weather, or the better the people watching view, the stronger the gravitational pull attempts to keep you in your seat>

Eventually, it's lunch time. We head to a KW favorite – Garbo’s Grill. We wonder if anything has changed now that the same lot building Grunt’s is gone and Hank’s took over. Rest assured, Garbo’s is still in the back, Hank’s has the same menu as Grunt’s if you want a beer or sangria, and as the food is as good as ever.

We get a burger and shrimp tacos ($29). I lie. One thing has changed. Hank’s has a few rows of chairs, with a musician playing outside. We chill here for a while, and it’s awesome. Garbo’s has become one of our spots for “If you stop on a cruise and want to experience Key West, go here”. We wish Hank’s had either liquor or a better beer selection, because we could see coming here more often.

It's almost time for one of the main reasons we came at this time of year – A Cheeseburger in Paradise at Margaritaville. Wait, that’s not it.

It’s the Key West House Tours. The wife loves touring houses. We did this before, years ago and both had fun. We get to see five house spread out over a mile & a half, mostly surrounding the cemetery. The big goal for our type-A selves is staying ahead of the three conch trains full of people heading to the houses.

The houses range from okay to fun, and I always marvel at the generosity of the people that open their houses to hordes of strangers. I barely open my house to family and friends. Sometimes I don’t even want to let myself in. The last house is a complete ‘down to the studs’ redo. It always makes us think about living in KW one day, versus just coming down and trying to pound our livers into submission. Maybe, one day. For now, the house tour is fun, and we beat the crowds to each place.

This event is scheduled for two days, 3-6. We expected it to take a while, but it’s a little over 90 mins when we are done the houses and heading to the bonus entry, the Saint Hotel. I guess the hotel thought it would be good marketing. They hand out some special (read as: really gut wrenching) free drink, which we try and do not drink, spoiled as we have been for good cocktails. We see our house tour people in a big line. After 30 secs, we realized we were waiting to see one of the hotel rooms. I figure that’s why Yelp and TripAdvisor exist, so we bail from the line. It’s much earlier than we thought. In fact, we have time for a happy hour!

We head along Whitehead to our hotel. Thinking it’s a beer day, we decide that beer and pretzels at the Waterfront Brewery is a good move. Plus, we have to get our thing. More on that later.

We stop at the Lighthouse. As we pass the room, we recall we have 2 for 1 mojito coupons for the Lighthouse bar that we were given at check in. Well, it’s a beer day, but far be it for us to cause offense by not trying out the bar. A daiquiri and a mojito later, we decide that the bar isn’t that good, but you know, we have to finish our drink. Courtesy and such.

We continue to the Waterfront. First, we stop at Turtle Kraals for our race packet. The wife has always wanted to run a 5k in Key West. She was actually jealous when, years ago, we saw a St. Patrick’s 5k run by on Duval. It just happened to be the half marathon and 5k this weekend, so she signed up.

I detest running. She told me that I could sleep in, but that would mean she was winning some competition that neither of us know we’re competing in, and I can’t lose like that, even if I’m not sure I’m playing. It’s a Type-A thing. If there’s a competition, I can’t sit idly by. So, I had agreed to run a 7 am 5k on a vacation Sunday. At least we know the weather will be warm.

We pick up our packets and seek out beer. We’ve killed enough time that it is happy hour at the Waterfront. We eat soft pretzels, have a few beers, and continue to chill out. We’ve loved the Waterfront in the past, and the beers are still good, but we’re still hoping they start carrying some guest taps again. They still have a lot to offer, and are really attentive, and the pretzels are good, so we expect to keep making the waterfront a regular stop, but we’re hoping it improves a little.

We’re getting hungry, so we do the typical Key West food debate. It’s never easy, because there are so many good places.

We zero in on trying Clemente, a new pizza place. They are much better than expected ($25). The food is great, and it seems like a little family place. We’ll definitely return here. We are Philly pizza eaters, so take our thoughts with a lump of salt. Ranking the KW Pizza, we still pick Duetto as the top choice. We think it’s: Duetto, Clemente, Mr. Z’s, Onlywood, Angela (haven’t made it to Roostica yet).

Seeking an after dinner drink (as opposed to the many before-dinner drinks), we head back to Hot Tin Roof. It is crazy busy, but we manage to get a seat at the bar. Travis is there, working his butt off. We met him at the end of our class, and found that he is a hard core mixologist. Anyone that makes an array of his own bitters to use in various drinks is far more than just a bartender. We get seats at the bar and Travis makes us a couple of his specialties They aren’t cheap ($33), but are very good. It is too busy for him to chat much, so we hang for a while, finish our drink, and head out.

We want some music, but it’s getting cold out. We decide to end the night at the oh-so-touristy but somehow still acceptable to us Irish Kevin’s. We catch NY Pauley, which we seem to do every time we walk in. I suspect there are 14 different guys wearing backwards baseball caps, all calling themselves NY Pauley. It’s not an everyday hangout, but sometimes it’s fun to grab a drink

SAT JAN 19 – “IN WHICH WE LEARN TO CHANGE OUR PLANS, EVEN WHEN WE DON’T REALLY HAVE PLANS”

We had intended to rent bikes and ride out to Stock Island, but the wife wasn’t feeling that well. We bag our plans, and suddenly find ourselves Planless in Key West. It’s very much like Sleepless in Seattle. I play the part of Tom Hanks. Sadly, no one is fooled into thinking I am Tom Hanks.

When in doubt of a direction, a good answer is always “Breakfast”. We decide to give Pepe’s a try, after 9 years since our last visit. The weather is warm almost too hot to run the next morning, but it’s great for a walk. Pepe’s has a 40 min wait. Neither of us are patient enough for more than a 40 sec wait, so we move on. We return to Azur. The service is slow, but the breakfast frittata is pretty good, and pretty cheap. Maybe not a top morning spot, but worth it for the price.

We didn’t get our bike ride, so to substitute we take a long walk out to Higgs beach. We stop in the East Martello garden club. They have a butterfly garden. We see a few monarch butterflies and scoff, jaded butterfly adventurers that we are now. We walk for a few hours, enjoying the doing nothing with gorgeous scenery. Well, expect for always passing the back of hotels trying to get to Higgs.

After our walk, we head back to Duval, and more importantly, air conditioning. We stop at Panini Schmamini for a veggie panini (good) and a smoothie. And ice cream at Flamingos, which is a KW tradition for the wife. Well, ice cream is a tradition for her. KW is just an excuse here, but we like Flamingos.

Speaking of traditions, I believe it is a firm tradition to always follow ice cream with rum? What? No, it isn’t? Well, it should be. In fact, I’m starting it now.

We proceed in the time honored and solemn tradition of following up ice cream with rum. We walk to the rum bar again, and this time it is quiet. We sit at the bar and chat with Mindy. She made up a rum flight for me last time. This time, she is awesome and gives me choices to smell in order to decide which rums to try. Fun! The wife bucks tradition and orders a gin and tonic. Is that gin good, she asks? Mindy answers – don’t know, it isn’t rum, never had it.

We’re quietly enjoying, along with a few others in the bar. In walks a group of 13, celebrating a 40th birthday. Adding 13 people is enough to put the rum bar over occupancy. They all order drinks, and Mindy goes into overdrive. The group is nice, and fun, but loud for the Rum Bar atmosphere. They eventually leave and the place slows down again. I finish up my flight and off we go. ($39)

It’s so nice out. We want outside music. We decide to check out Blue Macaw. And oh, hey, look. It’s Happy Hour. We aren’t fish eaters, so most of the Blue Macaw menu isn’t for us. We get some nachos, and two well drinks. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen too far on the upper end of alcohol, so now well drinks stand out to us. They are cheap though. We happily listen to the steel band for a while, and move on.

We watched the sunset, but we hadn’t yet checked out the sunset festival. Well, Mallory Square is mobbed. There were so many people blocking every angle that I’m not sure I could the sun at high noon, let alone at sunset. We don’t stick around for long. One thing we notice is the talent level at the festival. I’m all for performers, and I admire bravery, but some people singing really should be banned from singing alone in the shower, let alone in front of people.

What time is it? It’s music time. Again. We see people in the new Ben & Jerry’s store. It is workers doing a run through. I wonder if a chain will do well here.

We seek out a few places and wind up trying Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar. Yes, I know it’s a chain, but it has been getting good reviews. Certainly better than Señor Frog’s ever got. We hear music playing and check it out. It’s odd. The people are nice. There are multiple bars. We go to the first, outside bar. Oh, no, sorry. No beer taps out here. We head inside. Bartender there is also really nice. There’s no tap list, though. Luckily, she’ll read off the names . . . of the tap handles. There’s a Funky Buddha.

Okay, I get it. Not everyone is a beer person. But I expect a bartender to at least know the 8 or so beers they have. I ask her what kind of Funky Buddha. She can’t really pronounce the names either. (Flid-Liin for Floridian). Okay, not a beer place. We don’t eat here, but the food looks okay. Still, if I want a taco, I’m going to Amigo’s, or maybe Sinz, or Bad Boy Burrito. The jury is out. But, for a place to sip a beer and listen to music, it was fine.

We check the weather for tomorrow. A high in the 50’s. There’s 100% chance of rain all morning. High winds too. Sounds pleasant. Monday is supposed to be very cold. We have Latitudes reservations. Well, should be fun.

We have a pasta dinner at La Trattoria ($55), which was good, if a little bit pricy. Next time back to Mangia Mangia, which I think is more bang for the buck.

We head off to bed, dreading the 5:45 am wakeup so we can go run in the cold rain.

SUN JAN 20 – “DURING WHICH WE RUN EVEN THOUGH NO ONE IS CHASING US”

5:45 am. If you’re not flying home in the morning, or maybe stumbling home to bed after a late night, this time shouldn’t even exist on vacation. We wake up, check email. The run has been delayed for two hours due to weather. YES!! Good night.

7:45 am. This is a slightly more palatable time to rise up. Smart people that we are, we bought crappy ponchos at Walgreen’s the night before. This is one of best times I ever overpaid ($3 ea) for slightly tailored Saran Wrap. Hey, it wasn’t even Saran Wrap quality. These things were the low end version of the cheapo knock offs. I could shred it with a harsh word.

But, we walk outside in the pouring rain and howling wind, and we are very happy to have them. We walk the almost a mile up Caroline’s near Pepe’s for the start of the race. A thousand people are all trying to crawl under each 8 inch awning. We move to the parking garage. More wind, less rain. Okay, fair trade.

At 9:30, the race finally starts. The organizers knew something, because the rain stops in about 10 mins. We quickly shed our wafer-thin plastic (and anyone that can say the phrase “wafer thin” without doing it in a thick French accent needs to watch more Monty Python).

The 5K run . . actually isn’t that bad. We finish up and head right to the nearby Cuban Coffee Queen for caffeine. We walk by Date & Thyme and decide to grab post-race smoothies. They’re good . . . and expensive ($26). Awesome store name, though.

It’s about noon, and we have the rest of the day to make up for all the calories we lost running. We start at Amigo’s. Amigo’s changes greatly depending upon where you’re seated. Inside, and you’re at a cramped but good fast service Mexican restaurant. But, sit at the bar facing Captain Tony’s . . . and you’re part of Key West.

We grab the last two seats at the bar, get a burrito and a quesadilla (and a beer, but it’s only Hop Gun, so that sort of counts as strongish water). The food is fast but great ($32). We watch people milling about Capt. Tony’s and enjoy the view.

We head down the street to the Key Lime Pie Factory to pick up the wife’s reward for running. It’s her mandatory at least once per trip “Chocolate Covered Frozen Key Lime Pie On A Stick”, which I believe takes first prize for longest dessert name.

We do another installation of the Duval Crawl, popping into a few art galleries we haven’t missed. As usual, the wife takes the opportunity to call the cosmetic store greeters “rip-offs) as we pass by. I am thrilled to see that people are picketing one of the stores with large “Rip Off” signs. I can’t wait until these guys are finally kicked out.

We stop into Touch of Key West gallery. The owner has two dogs Grace, and Hope, a rambunctious one year old Airedale Terrier. We talk for a while, and play with the dogs. Dogs are by far the best greeters possible. Just think how much better those cosmetic stores would do if they had cute puppies outside and other dogs inside handing out samples. Ooo, I think I just figured out my next business venture. Dibs! No one else touch that idea. It’s mine!

It’s the NFL Conference Playoffs today. Our beloved Eagles lost last week. However, they are still the reigning Super Bowl champions for the next two weeks, so, for a rare time, we are non-bitter Philly Fans. Well, I mean, except that we detest the Patriots and want all things New England to lose. But, that’s not bitter. That’s just common sense.

We start football playoff game hopping. We start at Shots & Giggles. We hang out and talk to Lizzy for a while. She also works at Charlie Macs, the official Key West bar of the Philadelphia Eagles (who, by the way, in case you didn’t know, won the Super Bowl last year). She said that during the last Eagles playoff game, she rung up more drinks than she’s ever done before in her years of bartending. This is a point of pride for us, thank you very much.

After Shots, we walk to the Waterfront. As divine providence would have it (or just type-A planning), we sit down 3 mins before Happy Hour. We have a seat at the bar, pretzels, half price beer, and good seats for the game. ($27) Yeah, not a bad place for football at all. We debate Jack Flats or Charlie Macs for our next stop. After a while, we decide to check out Charlie Macs, it being the bar of the Eagles, who, while not playing anymore this season, won the championship last year. They are crowded, but we manage two bar seats.

We hang for a while, watching the Patriots not lose. We order dinner, which is just okay barbeque. The drink selection is just okay. The wait staff are generally either surly or just inattentive. This is your chance to insert a Philly joke. I’ll wait . . .

Okay, got that out of your system now? Good. Overall, we are not impressed with CMacs for the second time ($68). We won’t come back, unless the Eagles are in the playoffs (Oh, and hey, did you know that the Eagles . . .)

It’s late-ish, and we were up pretty early. We head to the Lighthouse and hit the soft and lumpy mattress that we currently call home.

MON JAN 21, 2019 – IN WHICH WE RISK FROSTBITE BY CHOOSING STUBBORNESS OVER COMMON SENSE

Brrr. We were warned that this might be the coldest day of the year. It is sunny and dry, but probably low 50’s. But this is our last full day, and we are determined to enjoy the kind of warm-ish weather. We put on long pants and take jackets with us as we head to try somewhere new (to us) – Breakfast Club, Too, near Pepe’s and the Bight.

BC is pretty crowded. The hostess is also the to-go coffee server. Everyone is hustling. We don’t wait long, and get a super friendly and helpful waiter. No, this isn’t Philly sarcasm. The guy was awesome. The food is good, even though I ordered a BC special called a Rostis (you’ll have to imagine the umlaut over the letter “O” ) (If you don’t know what an umlaut is, it’s German those two dots over a vowel that make metal bands like Motley Crue so cool).

The Rostis (pronounced roos-tee, because of the umlaut. See what you learn from trip reports? Granted, I’m making this up as I go along, so please don’t use this in your German class) . .. the Rostis is what happens when you take a skillet, add hash browns (good ones, mind you), then add three more servings of hash browns, cover it with some hash browns, and then put egg, cheese and other breakfasty things on it. Usually I call it quits after my fourth potato, so this was a bit much for me, but it was fun to try something different. We’ll return to BC in the future, but maybe I won’t return to a Rösti

Full, and fearing my order may have just kicked off a new potato famine, we walk out into the cold and meander. Meander is like wander, but with less purpose. We pass Peppers of Key West. We actually want to order some things, but the thought of tasting anything now after a filling breakfast isn’t a good one. Well, that, and there’s a cruise ship tour in there. They’re loud. Shrieking even. Good for them. Bad for us.

So, we meander and stop in a few stores along Simonton. Coco Monkey is a cute little shop. Then we walk into Seven Artists. We’re from Philly. We’re all antisocial and stuff. But damn if the owner, Jennifer, wasn’t the friendliest person we’ve ever met. We wound up talking chatting and playing with her bulldog Mr. Tootch. We wind up buying a painting and talking to Jennifer way longer than we planned. This sort of thing is Key West.

We return to Peppers. They’re much emptier. We try a few things, and buy a lot of things, shipping them home because TSA still fears liquids. We love the Peppers concept.

It’s cold out, but manageable. However, for our final day, we have our last first (as opposed to our first last) activity – dinner at Latitudes. We’ve talked about it for years, but finally decided to head out and do it. For those not in the know, Latitudes is a high end restaurant just a short 7 min ferry ride to the island behind Mallory Square. The ferry is free, but the restaurant requires a second mortgage.

I did my research, reserved a spot months earlier, and chose an optimal time to see the sunset. I wasn’t banking on wind chills in the low 50s. So, of course, we change into nicer clothing, sandals, heels (you imagine which one of us wore which shoe) and head to the dock behind Margaritaville Resort. We pass by the resort. I see no parrots, no cheeseburgers, no pirates, the clocks are not all reading 5 o’clock, and there are no fins anywhere. Freaking false advertising, says I.

The ferry is quick. The blast of wind on the unsheltered island as we exit the ferry is just as quick. Half the people on the ferry immediately ask for inside seating when they feel the air. The inside has a giant window looking out on the patio, but I didn’t set up a sunset dinner so we could watch from inside. The inside looks like a normal restaurant, and there is loud noise from all the diners. The wife and I decide that we’re troopers, and we’re seated on the patio under one of those giant free standing heaters. The ocean is one of the few things we hear. Well, that, and the cold wind. The heater is quite warm, provided you are five inches from the heating element which stands six feet off the ground. At table level, we feel little heat.

The one thing I hadn’t realized about the seating is that the real sunset view is from the area one step down from the patio, on the sand. The restaurant isn’t using this area, because as it stands only 4 groups are stupid enough to eat outside. Two of those groups change to the inside during the meal. But We Are Not Moving. So, we have a stunning view of the ocean and the Disney-fied palm trees covered with lights, but to see the actual sun, we need to either get up or kind of crane our necks around to see the sun. I file that away for next time, because it is still a wonderful atmosphere eating outside with that view.

By the time our appetizers arrive, we’re wearing our jackets, and very happy that the fancy restaurant has a giant flowing tablecloth. It’s nice and thick, flows to the floor, and makes an excellent impromptu blanket for our legs. As the sun sets, we get up and join others venturing out for pictures. Like reverse ground hogs, they emerge from inside, see the sun, and then scurry inside to announce another 2 hours of winter weather.

The food is fantastic. We have two different types of steaks, good drinks, and split a key lime pie slice for dessert. By this time, the sun is down, and the temperature drops more. If we were home, we’d be fine in this temp, but it’s not quite right for enjoying a leisurely ocean side meal. We stick it out the entire time (about 90 mins). Our waiter is in short sleeves, telling us he forgot his jacket at home. Luckily he wasn’t outside much, because most people were smart enough to be inside. We quickly get our check and tip for our fantastic service. ($170 for two apps, two meals, two drinks and 1 dessert)

We warm up for a few mins until the every half hour ferry arrives. Arriving ashore, we decide that Latitudes is wonderful, and would be even better were frostbite not a consideration. However, we aren’t foodies and food isn’t worth that much to us. We decide that we will make it an occasional special treat, not an every trip must do.

We’re full, but not too full for an after dinner drink. We’re next door to Hot Tin Roof. Monday night is a far cry from Friday night. It is empty, and the two bartenders (different ones) are pretty much waiting for something to happen. We get one drink, but the people aren’t real talkative, so we move on ($28)

Figuring we may as well end our night as we began, we return to Caroline’s Other Side. This time, Chase is our bartender, and he is awesome. We learn that each bartender makes their own drink of the day each day. Chase has a good ghost story that goes with his drink. We hang out for a while, having a great time Key Westing away ($42)

TUESDAY JAN 22, 2019 – WE HEAD HOME, AND SPEND TIME DEVISING PROPER PUNISHMENTS FOR SETTING ROBOTS LOOSE IN SOCIETY

We wake up at 7:45. For us, last days are always ‘hurry up and relax’ before we go home. Today is no different. We stay close and try out the new Moondog Café (formerly Six Toed Cat café. There is no mention of the number of digits of the moondog). It has been quite crowded every time we walked by, and has good reviews.

The breakfast is fantastic. The wife proclaims it one of the best French Toasts she’s ever had. As I am the one that makes French toast at home for special occasions, a small part of me dies inside, even as I agree with her. It is warm again, and we happily sit outside. The coffee is good, and I am not chastised at all for trying a few sips from her cup. All in all, a great place that is added to our return list ($34).

We buy a few pastries for the plane. Rather than make you wait, I’ll flash forward and just say that the pastries, eaten later, are also fantastic. They blow away the big cookie from Matheessons’ we ate earlier in the week (I did not write about the cookie. I will rectify that now. We bought a cookie. It was okay). If we want dessert, we will remember the pastry counter at Moondog.

We set out for our last Duval crawl. There are two ships in port today. One is a shorter Carnival cruise, meaning there are a lot of younger people in the first two blocks of Duval. The usual things like Starbucks and Hagan Daaz are mobbed.

We walk past Ben & Jerry’s. It’s open. No mention of their opening, no fanfare. We stick our head in to look. The wife even asks if this is the first day. They say ‘yep’ and not much else. I think of how Hagan Daaz is mobbed, and see three people come in to buy ice cream. I guess they’ll do okay.

We always try to stay local in Key West, and the wife much prefers Flamingos, we walk on. (I don’t really like ice cream. That does not make me a Communist. Just because I don’t like ice cream, or potato chips, or Nascar, or fast food burgers or . . . . . wow, maybe I am kind of messed up. Yeesh, trip report revelations are the worst kind). Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this chain does on Duval.

We debate lunch. We aren’t starving, but want something before we head to the airport. We decide on a major Key West Faux Pas – the repeat restaurant. It shouldn’t happen, but we wind up at Amigos again. Again, we get the last two seats at the bar (or else we would have moved on). The fajitas and tacos are great ($56).

With a final walk up Duval, we say so long and until next time to Key West. We get our bags from the Lighthouse and grab a ride to our favorite airport anywhere. We breeze through, and for the first time I get a rather expensive but good drink at the Last Chance bar ($12).

Our direct United flight to Newark NJ takes off on time. The pilot tells us that we’re on schedule to land 30 mins early. We’re so happy, and we love direct flights. Stopovers are so annoying.

The day isn’t done yet. Around Virginia, we start circling. The pilot tells us they are backed up at Newark. After changing destinations three times, we wind up having to land at Richmond for a refuel. The couple in front of us has WiFi, and tell us that there were issues with drones over Newark. United was actually great throughout all of this, keeping us informed and telling us what they knew without causing a panic, but we still landed two hours late. It is the right call, so I am annoyed at the situation, not United.

We find out later that two drones were in the Newark airports flight path. We doubt they will ever catch the people doing it, but they should be punished. One day Skynet will become self-aware, and they will regret giving robots these types of liberties.

We drive home, and so the trip ends. We’re home at midnight. It’s freezing. Real freezing, not I’m cold on the beach freezing. That’s okay. We know that we’ll see Key West again before too long.

Did you make it to the end? Thanks for sticking with me. Did you skip ahead to the end? Cheater! Or maybe just an Efficiency Expert. You choose.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

So, what did learn (or re-learn. Or un-learn) this trip:

* Revisit the places you didn’t like. Things can change.

* There isn’t time to hit up favorite places and new places. Do what you can do, and leave something for next time. Santiago’s Bodega, I’m looking at you here. We’ll be back, I promise.

* The great hotel search is sort of fun. I think repeating a place may feel like a failure at this point.

* Latitudes is gorgeous and excellent. We will go back, but it won’t be an every trip event.

* There are some really good high end cocktail places here.

* I have always raved about the Wind & Wine cruise, which we’ve done 4 times. Next time, we want to try one of the upscale cocktail cruises, like the Hindu or Appledore. This trip the weather and timing of actually having things planned didn’t allow us to do a sail (Latititudes, House Tour, NFL and Mixology were all at sailing times”.

* Key West is always changing. Restaurants and stores are always disappearing, with new ones showing up. Overall, though, the place is still wonderful. Just avoid the cruise ships.

If you liked this, you can check out our other Key West Trip Reports. They’re just as long.

Be sure to subscribe and click like. (Okay, just kidding. There’s no such subscription. Even if there were, you could click ‘tolerate’ or ‘show disdain’. Or click nothing. Whatever works for you. We’re from Philly. We can take it).

Dec 2018 - Short trip, staying at Coco Plum for 3 nights after returning from a Cuba cruise. No Trip Report. Life is full of little disappointments.


Texting Etiquette

So what's the proper etiquette for when a date goes well and when it doesn't?

Nice woman, pleasant date, good conversation, lots of stuff in common. But I wasn't certain about her for reasons. I wanted to think about it a little more before going on another date. So about 24 hours goes by and I get a text from here about how she understood there wasn't chemistry, etc. And that's fine. I tend to think she liked me, but whatever. Following that though, I asked around and apparently if you like someone you're supposed to text right after the date? Is that accurate?

So the next woman I go out with, I like her more and she's more my speed, so I text right away and she texts back that she had a great time too. Frankly, I wouldn't have texted so quickly because I think space is important. So we go out again a week later, have a fine time and she says she's busy for the next couple of days doing this, that, and the other. So I figured that was cool. I have stuff I can get done around the house, etc.

So I don't text her for two days. Then she texts me and says she's moving on. And that's fine. I just don't get attached easily. But my sister says to me, "You didn't text her for two days. "

I said, yeah, she was going to be gone almost all weekend, so I didn't think twice about it.

Anyway, it seems like if you're going to try and keep dating someone, there has to be this daily stream of contact, which seems. I don't know, odd something along the lines of forced interdependence.


Resident Evil 8 Village Trophy Guide

Village of Shadows is the hardest difficulty in Resident Evil 8 Village. In the Deluxe Edition with Trauma Pack DLC it’s unlocked from the start but it’s not recommended to begin on this difficulty (in the Standard Edition it’s not available from the start). As with other Resident Evil games it’s much better to beat the game on easiest difficulty first to unlock some Infinite Ammo Cheats. We’ll go over the recommended weapons/cheats and boss tips below.

Tips & Tricks / Mini-Walkthrough:

  • Before you even begin, you should unlock the S.T.A.K.E. (magnum) and all its upgrades and buy its infinite ammo cheat from the Bonus Shop (the bonus shop is available after 1st playthrough). The infinite ammo cheat does NOT disable trophies so make use of it! This costs 600,000 Lei for the weapon and its two attachments + 1,503,000 Lei for all Gunsmithy Upgrades. So 2,103,000 Lei total to fully upgrade the S.T.A.K.E. It deals 4500 damage per hit and kills most enemies in one hit. If you don’t want to “waste” so much money, you can fully upgrade it on one save to unlock its infinite ammo, buy the infinite ammo from Bonus Shop (120,000 CP), then reload previous save before spending all the money on upgrades. You can still use infinite ammo on the non-upgraded version (you only need to fully upgrade it once to unlock infinite ammo in the bonus shop). The damage upgrades for it are a must, the rest you don’t really need. If you don’t have 2.1 Million Lei, do another playthrough beforehand. Up until Moreau Boss the grenade launcher will be fine but after that it gets pretty useless because it doesn’t deal enough damage on the last few bosses.
  • Also buy infinite ammo for the “Dragoon” (Chris’s weapon). You will need it during the Chris part at the end of the game, without infinite ammo you will have a very bad time. If you don’t have enough CP yet, don’t worry, you can work on completing a few more challenges during your Village of Shadows playthrough.
  • Having cooked all Recipes from the Duke is a big help. These increase your Max Health and your Running Speed! See Resident Evil Village All Cooking Ingredients Locations.
  • Lycan Ambush: Barricade yourself in the buildings and shoot anything that comes through the door with STAKE or Grenade Launcher. Eventually when you lose some health a Lycan will grab you from behind automatically to initiate a cutscene that ends the ambush.
  • First Witch Boss: Unlike lower difficulties, there will be 2 of the Moroaica enemies (old hags) in the room with the boss. Use Grenade Launcher or STAKE to shoot them, then concentrate on the witch. Shoot out the 2nd window and also make use of the dungeon corridor where you came from – you can run away to the corridor to heal if needed.
  • Second / Third Witch Bosses: Are the same as previous difficulties, they just take a bit more damage but easily doable with Grenade Launcher or STAKE.
  • Lady Domitrescu Boss: She will move much faster and of course has more health. When she’s in the air and uses her insect swarm, stand in the little watchtower on the side of the roof, the bugs should ignore you there. Other than that just keep shooting at her with your infinite ammo weapon.
  • Moreau Boss: He has a lot of health but is easy enough to dodge. When he jumps to the roofs to cast acid rain, always stand under one of the roofs to take cover. Grenade Launcher still works if you don’t have the STAKE yet, but the STAKE will kill him much quicker.
  • Urias Boss (Stronghold): This is where the Grenade Launcher starts becoming useless and you really should have the infinite ammo STAKE to make your life easier. When he uses his spinning attack or his charged hammer attack (when he chases you until he deals a hammer blow) it can be very tricky to evade. If you have a fully upgraded STAKE his phases will be over pretty quickly and he shouldn’t give you much trouble. Hide behind the pillars, kill the mobs that spawn during the fight. If you run out of health items, remember during the Gamer Over screen you can choose to go to the Duke’s shop and buy as many health items as you need.
  • Sturm (Propeller Boss): Unlike lower difficulties, he won’t leave the weakpoint on his back exposed for long. Just shoot his propeller with the STAKE. He still takes damage, no need to hit the weakpoint on his back (basically impossible on this difficulty anyway). He takes a long time to go down even with the fully upgraded STAKE, but he’s easy enough to dodge. Heal up whenever you get hit, avoid the fire.
  • Heisenberg Boss: Shoot the red weakpoints on his body with the machine gun, this will stagger him. When he rushes towards you to deal an attack always use the rocket launcher to stun him. If your rocket launcher is reloading, drive sideways and block . If you are lucky he will miss you entirely, but if not you will at least block his attack.
  • Chris Part: This is the hardest section in the game, because you don’t have access to the STAKE. It’s highly recommended to buy infinite ammo for the Dragoon (Chris’s Assault Rifle) from the Bonus Shop. In the initial section up until the Laser Pointer part you can simply hold the Block Button and run past all enemies. While blocking they cannot grab you! Also throw Grenades at enemy groups on the road that block your path. Try not to use your 1 health item here, it’s better to keep it for later.
  • Chris Laser Pointer Part: On the back of the house with red chimney is a ladder you can climb. When you’re halfway up the ladder the enemies cannot attack you. You can camp there, then climb to the roof to aim the laser at the house. Repeat this (3 airstrikes on house total). Each time an airstrike lands it will also kill all enemies for you. Also remember to block enemy attacks. It’s okay to use a health item here. If you don’t have infinite ammo for the Assault Rifle, pick up all the ammo on the military boxes before moving on to the boss.
  • Chris Boss (Mace Urias Boss): Pick up all the health items before the fight (where you drop down into the cave). Stay very close to his left knee (to your right). Keep shooting with the Dragoon and use the laser pointer whenever it has recharged. When you stay close to his knee he often misses you with the mace. When he charges up his jump just run around the arena and he might miss you. After a few airstrikes he will be dead but shooting with the Dragoon speeds up the process too.
  • Miranda Boss: Just use fully upgraded STAKE and come with plenty of health items. The Duke has 99 health items in stock (if you die you can also go straight to the shop from the Game Over Screen to buy more). Always run away and heal up when you take a hit. The fight is the same as on lower difficulties, she just has more health, but with a fully upgraded STAKE you shouldn’t feel a big difference. When she is flying and charges up some orbs you can either shoot the orbs or block them. When the screen turns gray always walk sideways and she will miss you. When she’s flying walk sideways to get out of her way. When she’s in spider form block her attacks.

There are 4 Labyrinths in the game and each has 1 corresponding Labyrinth Ball (collectable items). The Labyrinths are miniature buildings, you put the Labyrinth ball in the Labyrinth and then must complete a minigame to guide the ball to the end of the labyrinth.

Luckily you only need to solve 1 Labyrinth for trophies and can ignore the others. The earliest opportunity is in Castle Dimitrescu.

Location Labyrinth Ball: Castle Domitrescu 2F, Opera Hall – on the 2nd floor of the Opera Hall you can find the “Flower Swords Ball” item in a chest by a window with an enemy. You go to the Opera Hall automatically as part of the story (where you must play the piano to get a key item).

Location Labyrinth: Castle Domitrescu 1F, Merchant’s Room – head back to where you met Duke the merchant in the castle. Next to him is a miniature castle. Put in the ball and guide it to the end of the castle to get the trophy.

You can find Crows during your visits to the village. When you approach, they will start to fly away. You must shoot 5 of them out of the sky. The easiest time to do this is on the 2nd village visit, after returning from Castle Dimitrescu. There are 4 Crows in the Graveyard and 2 at the start of the Field where you went through earlier. Have your shotgun ready and shoot them when they fly away.

There are 19 Breakable Windows in the Castle Dimitrescu section. They are included in the Collectible Guide.

For this you must hold to block and immediately after blocking an enemy’s melee attack you quickly press repeatedly to perform a counter attack. So at first you’re holding the button permanently, don’t let go of it. After the enemy has attacked (just after blocking) you spam very quickly. This results in pushing the enemy away and pops the trophy.

You find the F2 Sniper Rile in Castle Dimitrescu, in the Attic before heading to the roofs (where some flying demon monsters are). It’s in plain sight but technically it’s optional to pick up.

If you don’t have enough inventory space for it, either get rid of some inventory items or sell some of your inventory to the Duke in the Merchant’s room.

Your first enemy encounter in the game will be the Lycan Ambush. After fighting off the Lycans for a while, a big miniboss will spawn. He looks like a big Werewolf with black fur and is wielding a hammer. You can’t miss him because he’ll come to attack you. This is Urias, the miniboss you must defeat for this trophy. Normally you’d fight him much later in the game in the Stronghold section, but for this trophy you must kill him on the first encounter.

Step 1: Finish the story one time (any difficulty) to unlock the Extra Content Shop. After the story go to Main Menu > Bonuses > Extra Content Shop > WCX. Buy the “WCX” Assault Rifle for 30,000 CP (Completion Points). You should have enough CP after the story automatically.

Step 2: Buy the WCX Assault Rifle from the Duke Merchant during the story. You can simply reload an old Manual Save. Once you unlocked it at the Extra Content Shop it becomes available retroactively on your old saves, too. Now also buy the “Rifle Ammo” Recipe from the Merchant for 10,000 Lei (the recipe is only available after buying the WCX Assault Rifle).

Step 3: The trick is to craft Rifle Ammo. You can sell your crafted Rifle ammo to the Merchant for 7 Lei a piece! You need EXACTLY 777 or 7,777 or 77,777 for this trophy. Having any other amount won’t work, it has to be one of these 3 values exactly. The easiest option is to buy a lot of stuff to get to 0 Lei exactly. You can also sell/buy stacks of Pistol Ammo and other low value items until everything evens out to 0 Lei. Then simply sell 111 Rifle Ammo to the Merchant. 111 x 7 Lei = 777 Lei.

Here’s a picture of the full map at the last manual save point before exiting Heisenberg’s Factory:

Here’s the point at which the trophy should unlock:

You go to most areas automatically as part of the story. The only optional ones are:

  • After Moreau boss where you can use the crank to enter a side area with File #32 Collectible
  • Also after Moreau Boss when you can backtrack to the Drawbridge at the Lone Road and enter a boat to drive up and down the River (File #33 & Riverbank Treasure House where you do trophy Medium Rare)
  • Otto’s Mill to the left before entering the Stronghold area which is also where you find File #34.

The only area where you don’t necessarily have to go for Collectibles is the Riverbank Treasure House, but you must go there for trophy “Medium Rare” and it’s mentioned in the Collectible Guide.

The total cost for all 17 purchasable attachments is 1,061,000 Lei + 600,200 Lei for purchasable Weapons that have Attachments. So the grand total is 1,661,200 Lei. You should have enough money after your Village of Shadows playthrough if you followed the Trophy Roadmap.

This is best combined with the 3 hour speedrun / knife only playthrough / spending less than 10,000 Lei. See Knives Out for tips on how to combine all 4 trophies.

For this trophy you are limited to using a maximum of 4 healing items throughout the entire story. This sounds a bit daunting at first but on easy difficulty it’s not too bad. You actually recover some health over time on all difficulties, enough that you can take another hit. So if your screen is flashing red just run away from enemies until your health has automatically recovered, it does that without the use of any healing items. It’s best done in New Game+ because by then you will already have some Cooking Recipes from the first playthrough which permanently increase your health. After the story the game asks you to create a completed story save. You must then load this save from the main menu to begin NG+. You keep all your upgrades and inventory in this mode.

It’s best to keep your 4 heals for the final 2 bosses. Anything before then doesn’t need health items.

You also get healed automatically at some points, so don’t waste healing items before these points.

  • When entering Castle Dimitrescu (after first cutscene)
  • During House Beneviento
  • Before Heisenberg boss fight
  • After Heisenberg boss fight

This is best combined with the knife only playthrough / less than 4 healing items / spending less than 10,000 Lei. See Knives Out for tips on how to combine all 4 trophies.

3 Hours is a lot of time for the Speedrun. I did it in 2h 15min on my first attempt combining all these trophies including Knife Only. So there’s plenty of time. Pausing the game stops the timer and you can revert to a previous manual save if you think you took too long in a section.

For this you can’t spend more than 10,000 Lei (money) on a playthrough. It works in New Game+ even if you spent more than 10,000 already on your first playthrough. After the story it will ask you to create a completed story save. You can then load this save from the Main Menu to start NG+.

For this you must beat the entire game using only a melee weapon (one of the knives). You should beat the story first. Then you can buy the “Karambit Knife” from the Extra Content Shop in the Main Menu. It deals much more damage than the default knife. After the story you also unlock the “Challenges” Menu in the Pause Menu, which lets you keep track of this trophy and you can see there if you messed up. Make sure you do it in New Game+ on Casual (Easy) difficulty.

The in-game Challenge description says “Knives Out – Finish the story using nothing but close combat weapons (Not including the self-propelled artillery against Heisenberg, or when prompted to shoot in the final battle against Miranda).”

So the ONLY two bosses where you may briefly use weapons are Heisenberg during his first phase (while driving the vehicle) and Miranda at the end of the fight when she throws you down and creates a big yellow orb over her head (must shoot the orb), but must switch back to the knife immediately after to finish her off. You must also use weapons on the environment at a few points to advance the story, we’ll go over these below in the Mini-Walkthrough but here’s a quick overview: The 5 Bells Puzzle in Castle Dimitrescu (must also shoot 1 window in the roof and shoot the chandelier to reach the bells), blow up the wall in the Armory during one of the Witch minibosses (Pipe Bomb or Grenade Launcher, if the Witch takes splash damage from it that shouldn’t matter), shoot a piece of yellow wood during Moreau Reservoir area, the Grinder (orange dots under big spinning blade fan) in the Factory, when you fly towards a Ventilator Fan in the factory (shoot orange dot on fan), use the Laser Pointer 3 times on the House in Chris’s section (it will automatically kill nearby Lycans which is allowed, but DON’T use laser pointer against the Mace-wielding boss).

To be safe check your in-game Challenge tracker after each of these to make sure it still says 0. Shooting the environment seems to be generally okay, you just can’t shoot enemies with firearms outside of the two specific boss exceptions.

Tips & Tricks / Mini-Walkthrough:

  • Unlock the “Karambit Knife” from the Extra Content Shop (available after beating the story once). It is far stronger than the default knife. Then reload your last manual save before the final boss, buy Karambit Knife from Duke (200 Lei), beat final boss again, create finished story save, load finished story save from Main Menu to start New Game+ (Casual), now you will have the Karambit Knife in your inventory from the start. Alternatively, you can buy it at the first Duke merchant before Castle.
  • Play on Casual (Easy) difficulty. Enemies die much quicker on that difficulty.
  • You can keep track if you made a mistake via the Challenge Menu. From the Pause Menu click Challenge > scroll to Knives Out (faster to scroll up). It must show 0 on the counter. If it shows a number other than 0 in red, you made a mistake and won’t get the trophy. Make regular manual saves, and save into a different slot at each save point. Check the Challenges Menu from time to time to confirm the counter is still at 0. If it’s not, reload the manual saves until you find the point before you made a mistake.
  • Exception #1: Castle Dimitrescu, Atelier Room with 5 Bells – here you must shoot the bells with a weapon. You must also shoot the roof window once to break it so you can hit the bell outside. You are also allowed to hit the chandelier to make it swing so you can shoot the bell on it.
  • Lady Dimitrescu Boss: Just melee her in the face. When she’s flying in the air hide from her insect swarm. She will land after a short while and you can attack her again. At the end of the fight when she breaks the top of the tower you must melee her quickly.
  • Exception #2: Castle Dimitrescu, Armory – during one of the witch boss fights you must push a shelf out of the way and then blow up a wall to make cold air come in. Here you must break the wall with an explosive, no way around it. I used a Pipe Bomb here. It shouldn’t matter if the witch is in the blast radius, because she’s invulnerable to damage until the cold air comes in anyway. To be safe check in Pause Menu > Challenges > Knives Out afterward that your counter is still at 0.
  • Exception #3: Moreau Reservoir Area – after Moreau transforms into a fish (after you go down a windmill) you will be in a flooded reservoir area. There’s one piece of yellow wood that you must shoot to make a bridge. Because it’s too far away you can’t melee it.
  • Moreau Boss: Melee him in the face over and over again. When he jumps on the roofs and sprays his acid rain you should stand under a roof to not get hit. At that point he is near death and will go down in a few more hits to the head.
  • Urias Boss (Stronghold): Melee the mace-wielding boss at the end of the stronghold. Can walk around him in circles. Quickly run sideways when he tries to jump, gives you a good chance that he’ll miss you.
  • Exception #4: Heisenberg’s Factory, Grinder Area: In room with the spinning Grinder Blade (looks like a big fan) you must shoot the orange glowing dots under the grinder to stop it. But you are not allowed to shoot the 2 armored enemies that stalk you here. You have to run/crouch past them when they try to block your way.
  • Exception #5: Heisenberg’s Factory, Ventilation Shaft: When a Ventilator tries to suck you in and makes you fly in the air, you will have to shoot the ventilator fan in midair to stop it (hit the orange dot on it).
  • Sturm Boss (Propeller Boss): Let him run into a wall, this will stun him for a few seconds. Then crouch behind him and attack the orange glowing dot on his back. Repeat until he’s dead.
  • Exception #6 / Heisenberg Boss: After the Chris cutscene you get into a vehicle and go up an elevator. At the top of the elevator you must use the vehicle’s rocket launcher to shoot open a gate. You must also use the vehicle’s machine gun / rocket launcher in the first phase of the Heisenberg boss fight. Up until you go on foot. Once he throws you out of the vehicle and you are running around again, you must use your knife only! Try to hit his head with the knife and just keep meleeing all the time. After this he will throw you up in the air again and you will automatically use the vehicle’s rocket launcher as part of a cutscene to finish him off (this is normal, no way around it).
  • Exception #7: In the Chris section first try to run past all enemies, they will disappear automatically when you reach the Laser Pointer section. You must use the Laser Pointer 3 times in a row on the house to destroy it. This is fine. You can ignore all enemies here, just run away from them until the Laser (Airstrike) has recharged. The Airstrikes will kill the enemies but this is fine, it shouldn’t count as a kill. To be safe check Pause Menu > Challenges > Knives Out afterward that your counter is still at 0.
  • Mace-Wielding Boss Fight in Chris Section: You are NOT allowed to use the laser pointer during this fight. Melee his left leg (to your right) and his left arm (to your right). It will take about 10-15 minutes on Casual difficulty. A very long fight, but this is normal. You can tell you’re damaging him when there’s a spill of blood on each hit.
  • Exception #8 / Miranda Boss Fight: Melee her. When she uses her normal form just circle around her and hit her. When she uses her spider form hit her lower body (the black stuff), and if she attacks do an />block, when she uses her flying form always melee up and try to hit her bottom part (black stuff), when the screen goes gray run up to her and melee her when she appears, when she summons a big energy ball in the center hide behind the black vines, when she is flying and summons energy balls block them with />. At the end of the fight she will throw you down and you will pull out your Knife in a short animated sequence. Then you are lying on the ground and she will create a big yellow energy ball over her head. You HAVE TO shoot this energy ball to make it explode. Switch back to your knife immediately after. She will come at you but just keep swinging the knife and she will go down quickly.

It’s recommended to combine this with trophy Don’t Trust That Snake Oil which requires you to use four or less health items (I combine both and used 0, it’s quite easy). There are some points where you get healed automatically, so don’t waste health items before those points and keep your 4 uses for the Heisenberg / Chris / Miranda bosses.

Automatic Heals during story:

  • When entering Castle Dimitrescu (after first cutscene)
  • During House Beneviento
  • Before Heisenberg boss fight
  • After Heisenberg boss fight (when switching to Chris)

Buy all 76 figures costing 8,900 CP in total. Scroll over all of them afterward in “Figures” menu so the red flashing sign on them goes away. No need to enlarge all of them (you don’t need to press on any of them, just scroll over them).

Buy all 120 concept art costing 12,000 CP in total (100 per piece). Scroll over all of them afterward in “Concept Art” menu so the red flashing sign on them goes away. No need to enlarge all of them (you don’t need to press on any of them, just scroll over them).

/>Contributor Credits />

Massive thanks to the following people for helping with the creation of this guide:


35 Fast Food Restaurant Employees Warn About Things To Never Order

Liucija Adomaite and
Justinas Keturka

Most of us don&rsquot really think twice when ordering a Whopper. We naturally assume the burger is gonna be fresh as always, the meat will be smooth and tender, and that crisp lettuce will perfectly close up the whole palate. And more often than not, that&rsquos how it is.

But recently, Redditor u/Caseykins turned to fast food chain employees to find out what happens behind closed doors. The question read as follows: &ldquowhat&rsquos one item on your respective chain&rsquos menu that you will absolutely not eat under any circumstances?&rdquo and it got 18.3k upvotes.

From ice cream to chicken sandwiches, these are some of the worst products according to people who know what they&rsquore saying that honestly look very innocent to our hungry selves. So let&rsquos scroll to see the faux pas foods you'd better stay at a safe distance from.

One shift, I cut the hell out of my hand and bled into a tea urn. The shift manager told me to use it anyways and didn’t even let me wash my hands. I dumped all the tea out, reported it to the GM, and made up a lie about having a blood borne illness so they’d take things a little more seriously.

Things really are pretty bad if you have to lie about an illness to be taken seriously health-wise in the food industry

I was a shift supervisor at a fast food place and years later, I still refuse to eat anything with ice cream in it. The machine we had was always covered in mold and spoiled cream, while the owner's 'fix' was to scrape off a layer of mold and spray some Clorox on it.

Putting clorax! Down’t that make it poisonous

To find out more about what it&rsquos like to work in a fast food restaurant, Bored Panda reached out to the comic artist Kairi Sneed, also known by the Reddit handle TheLikeGuys3.

Kairi shared what working at Golden Corral was like. &ldquoIt almost felt like arriving in a foreign country,&rdquo he said and added: &ldquoI worked on the grill, and there were only 2 other employees in the kitchen that spoke fluent English, so you can only imagine how hectic it got during the Sunday after-church lunch rush.&rdquo

In the Reddit thread, Kairi wrote that he worked a month during his senior year of high school. The sight he won't forget is &ldquoRoaches. In. The. Meat. Freezer.&rdquo When asked if he ever saw more alarming sightings there, the Redditor said that it was just the roaches. &ldquoThat&rsquos the last thing you&rsquod want to see in a meat supply closet,&rdquo he added.

I was doing my thing one night, and the restaurant's owner is on the phone, trying to get his fryer filter repaired. I said I’d check it out. Inside were two large dead rats, or what was left of them, bones and fluff mostly. They had gotten into the machine via the purge pipe, and got stuck inside. So for probably a month or two, all the fried food from this establishment had been cooked in oil that had been filtered through two rotting rats.

Used to work at a small fast food place, and during training, my manager got mad at me for throwing out slimy corn. She showed me how she would just rinse the slime off in the sink and put it back. I find corn suspicious now.

Kairi said that he worked in several restaurants, &ldquoand let me tell you. it *really* depends on the dedication of the employee. Many times, I&rsquove seen people go above and beyond the call of duty, and those who&rsquove literally reused dropped products like it was nothing.&rdquo

When asked what&rsquos the item he&rsquod never order at Golden Corral, the Redditor replied: &ldquoAs far as buffets go, I stay away from the salads. More often than not, it&rsquos just a bag of lettuce, some with a few brown spots.&rdquo

I have watched the hairiest men make coleslaw with no gloves, and for perspective we make a giant tub at a time. You're literally armpit-deep sometimes in this bin to mix it correctly. Please don’t eat the coleslaw.

I discovered maggots crawling all over a box of moldy potatoes. I threw the box out, and I was cussed out. They fished them out and cut the maggot parts out of the potatoes and used them anyway. I quit that day.

Quit your job and call police

No, call the health department. Police can't and won't do anything

They should. Health dept. was no help when I had to give reports for mildew/mold at an apt. because of a flood.

aaauuuggghhh my brain hurts trying to read thhis

Exactly. How do they even stay in business doing this? Especially in US

I know when I worked at a pizza shop they always had an idea about when the health department would be coming so we'd get a big list of things to do and clean- things that are only done when expecting an inspection so they could pass and then get right back to grossness after the fact.

Oh, these stories are making me really glad I don't eat at fast food places.

All these keeping bad food things are so dumb since businesses can write off loses. food going bad is a loss. Smh!

I dealt with a similar situation when I worked concession stands for an NFL team. My booth was given a box of hot dog buns that had very noticeable rodent damage on the cardboard. We found rat droppings inside the box and about 40% of the buns had been gnawed. Management told us just sell the buns that weren’t damaged. I called corporate and the health department after the game.

Didn't Gordon Ramsay find something like this?

I work at a chain coffee shop where we make our own in-house chocolate sauce. Sounds nice, but it starts to mold within a few days. That shouldn't be a problem since we go through chocolate and make more daily, however, the chocolate sauce container only gets cleaned out properly if we run out during slow times. Otherwise we just dump fresh chocolate sauce on top and get right back to dealing with the rush.

There's a reason that the ice cream machine is down a lot. Sometimes it's for legit maintenance, other times though, it's to clean out the mold that likes to grow in the liquid mix. I only found out after a year. I was filling it one day and looked down. The stuff I saw was nightmare fuel and ruined me on their soft serve for a while.

Once I accidentally dropped a whole open box of frozen chicken patties on the floor and told my manager to write down the waste. He said, 'Just put them back in the box. The fryer oil will get rid of any germs.' Unfortunately, if food waste exceeded $100 a month, they would make the managers pay out of pocket for any additional expense. Seeing as everyone is underpaid, including the managers, you can probably guess the corners that would be cut to keep food cost as low as possible.

Years ago was in a local chippy and saw a man drop the fish on the floor and then pick it up and stick it in the fryer. Went back to work and said how disgusting I thought it was and someone there said 'but frying it will kill all the germs'. Didn't seem to care about what other bits might get cooked and served. Might not be harmful but it is still revolting.

Former BK employee of 6 years here. The food was actually good if it was fresh. The issue is the staff/management. Sauce bottles would never get completely emptied and cleaned. People wouldn’t change their gloves between doing different tasks, or would be texting with those gloves then make your food. Also, all the items that go into making your food (lettuce, cheese, etc) was all tracked via time stickers (think a little clock). So if you brought out new cheese, the rules were it could only be left at room temp for 4 hours. If you brought it out at 12, you’d mark the sticker for 4PM, at that point you should have thrown it away. Well that never happened. Everything got stickers replaced to make sure they were always good in case of surprise inspection.

Whenever I’d train people I gave a few rules to live by:

2. If it’s out of place, organize it

3. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t serve it

From a customer perspective, always order your food with a slight modification (light Mayo). This will ensure your food is made fresh instead of you getting one that has been made previously to speed things up however, can’t guarantee the food it’s being made with is fresh.


Tips to Prevent Stomach Pain after Eating

  • Keep a food journal to identify what may irritate your stomach.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Adhere to a regular eating schedule every day.
  • Avoid eating within two hours of bedtime.
  • Take small bites of food.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Manage small portions.
  • Limit or avoid foods that are spicy, fried, and have high-fat content.
  • Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks.
  • Remain in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after eating.

Conservatives are having epiphanies on tax rates (although not at WSJ).

Here’s the kind of article that I would only expect to find on the pages of Wall Street Journal. A tired and refuted by numerous studies argument for lower taxes on the rich. You see, the author argues, the rich pay a larger share of all income taxes (even more than they paid in 1950s) and thus their taxes should be cut.

In 1958, approximately two million filers (4.4% of all taxpayers) earned the $12,000 or more for married couples needed to face marginal rates as high as 30%. These Americans paid about 35% of all income taxes. And now? In 2010, 3.9 million taxpayers (2.75% of all taxpayers) were subjected to rates that were 33% or higher. These Americans—many of whom would hardly call themselves wealthy—reported an adjusted gross income of $209,000 or higher, and they paid 49.7% of all income taxes.

This is what puzzles me most in such arguments – consistent and probably deliberate refusal to look at other factors of such disproportion, such as increasingly barbell-shaped nature of income distribution. Also, notice how artfully the author uses those making $209,000 to make a point about the rich paying too much taxes, and then turns around and points out that they are not rich at all. Lumping together those making $209,000 and the 0.01% is convenient for 2 reasons: You get to show how large a share of taxes paid by that group while still making an impression on the layman reader that it is the 1% that pay 50% share of all taxes. What share of that 50% is paid by the middle class (and I do consider those making $209,000 middle class) is not explored at all.

The following is a simplistic and extreme example just to illustrate my point. Suppose we have a town with 100 citizens. 98 citizens are making $10,000 and 2 citizens making $500,000: At the flat rate of 35% the 98 guys’ share of total income taxes would be $10,000*98*0.35=$343,000 and the 2 rich guys’ share of total income taxes would be $500,000*2*0.35=$350,000 – more than 50%!! Outrageous, if you dismiss the fact that the 2 guys are making 50 times more than those 98 moochers.

Now imagine that the income is more evenly distributed: 30 guys make $10,000 60 guys make $20,000 and 5 guys make $100,000 (notice that the size of the total pie didn’t change). Now the share of the top bracket would contribute 5*$100,000*0.35=$175,000. And the share that all others would contribute – I’ll spare you the calculation – $525,000. Could it be that the rich paid less total share of taxes during the times when the income distribution was more even? As was the case in the 1950s?

These back of the envelope calculations would be even more compelling if I used the true rates. In reality, the bottom 30 guys pay no taxes at all (because they are too poor to pay any taxes) the top 5 guys pay 15% (as in capital gains), and the burden of taxation is being carried by those 60 guys in the middle. Since those 60 guys work for a living – they still would pay 35% rate and would generate $420,000 in taxes but the top 5 guys would pay only $75,000 in taxes. Not only the burden is being carries entirely by middle class, we are not even generating the same amount of tax revenues as we would if everyone paid the same rate.

At this point 2 clashing camps emerge: those who insist that the bottom 30 guys pay their share and those who insist that the top pay the same share as everyone else. I’m in the latter camp. In fact I would be willing to entertain the idea of a flat tax for everybody, as long as 2 conditions are met: capital gains are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income and the bottom guys are paid decent wages, so that paying 35% tax would not break their backs. But because I find that raising minimum wages to a satisfying level is an impossible feat (politically and practically), I, being realistic, simply advocate for raising the taxes on capital gains. And that’s where cries of class warfare begin to emerge. And that’s where I move to my next argument: Why is it that making money on money is supposed to be more sacred and revered than working for wages? Why are “entrepreneurs” (I use quotes, because I do not find anything entrepreneurial about investors who don’t produce anything and more often than not risk someone else’s money) more valuable members of society, as evidenced by tax rates, than teachers and nurses? If top bracket insist that they are “job creators”, shouldn’t Walmart workers, office workers, accountants, IT and other clock punchers insist on being called “business facilitators” and demand equal respect?

If this still seems like a sure path to socialism (or a “road to serfdom”) you have missed some recent epiphanies on the right. Here’s the quote from a recent American Conservative magazine article:

A capital gains tax rate (making money off money) that is lower than the earned income rate (making money off work) is just not fair. Bestowing that rate on hedge-fund managers through a specially designed loophole is just not fair. Allowing the rich to take mortgage deductions for second and third homes, or for homes worth over $1 million, is just not fair. Allowing business owners like me to take myriad deductions that our employees cannot take is just not fair. But, most of all, allowing the wealthy to pay very low tax rates while interest on the war debt accumulates, deficits continue, and middle-class incomes deteriorate is just not fair.”

At conservative National Review magazine Ramesh Ponnuru seems to be getting a grip on reality: Especially refreshing is this passage:

“The Republican story about how societies prosper — not just the Romney story — dwelt on the heroic entrepreneur stifled by taxes and regulations: an important story with which most people do not identify. The ordinary person does not see himself as a great innovator. He, or she, is trying to make a living and support or maybe start a family. A conservative reform of our health-care system and tax code, among other institutions, might help with these goals. About this person, however, Republicans have had little to say.”

Even William Kristol at the Weekly Standard is seeing the light:

“After all, surely Republican members of Congress understand there’s something crazy about appearing to fight to the death for a tax code in which Mitt Romney and others pay a 14 percent tax on millions of capital income​—​while silently allowing the payroll tax on labor to go up from 13.3 percent to 15.3 percent for all the working stiffs?”

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WE TESTED, BUT NOBODY USES OUR SITE. NOW WHAT?

In our “Now What?” series, experienced entrepreneurs discuss issues that real-life startups face. In this piece, Eric Ries talks about testing two-sided markets and gets real about usability testing, too (if you’re new to those terms, we’ve defined them below). If you have a startup challenge, and you’d like insight from an experienced entrepreneur, let us know in this short form. – Eds

The startup’s problem

We’re trying to create a marketplace for consumers (think: eBay, Etsy, or UrbanSitter—but a little more specialized). We’ve talked on the phone or in person to 100 buyers and 100 sellers who’ve told us they’d use the site. We’ve gotten 20 sellers to give us basic info on what they’re offering, and at what price. We’ve tested the idea by email, matching up two buyers with sellers the transactions were completed, everyone had good experiences and was enthusiastic about using the service again, so we built a bare-bones site. But after having contacted 150 more potential buyers by email and after having run a Google ad to draw buyers from outside our own network, nobody is buying. Now what?

About Eric Ries

In addition to serving as Editor at Large for The How, Eric Ries is an entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, published by Crown Business. He graduated in 2001 from Yale University with a B.S. in Computer Science. While an undergraduate, he co-founded Catalyst Recruiting. Ries continued his entrepreneurial career as a Senior Software Engineer at There.com, leading efforts in agile software development and user-generated content. He later co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup. In 2007, BusinessWeek named Ries one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech. In 2008, he served as a venture advisor at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers before moving on to advise startups independently. Today he serves on the board of directors for Code for America and on the advisory board of a number of technology startups and venture capital firms. In 2009, Ries was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership. In 2010, he was named entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School and is currently an IDEO Fellow. The Lean Startup methodology has been written about in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Inc.,Wired, Fast Company, and countless blogs. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Tara.

Interview with Eric Ries, August 2014. Edited and condensed here.

Sarah Milstein & Mercedes Kraus: What would be your first step here?

Eric: We don’t have a lot of detail on this situation, so here’s what I going to assume: This entrepreneur thinks that they’re going to be able to replace eBay by creating a much better buying and selling experience for some kind of product category that they’re very passionate about. I’m going to make a further assumption that this is what we call a sticky engine of growthbusiness. The idea here is that once you start using this product, you pretty much can’t stop. Products that have that character to them have a very specific kind of growth pattern. They have network effects, just like viral products have network effects, and they’re theoretically very similar, but the phenomena that you measure in the world is very different.

In the case of a company like eBay, the network effect is that, once you start using it, you can’t stop because everybody else is there, and it becomes the the de facto place where you buy or sell the product in question. So if you’re a Beanie Baby buyer, you can’t go anywhere else because all the product inventory is there. If you’re a Beanie Baby seller, then you can’t go anywhere else because all the customers are there. You’re stuck. But just because you buy your Beanie Babies on Ebay doesn’t mean you’re going to go tell your friends about it. You may be very private about the fact that you’re a Beanie Baby collector, and that’s fine. No problem. A Paypal or a Facebook is very different it doesn’t work if people you know don’t participate. So I’m going to assume that the eBay model is the goal, this product is for people who are obsessively buying and selling a collectible, like anime collectibles and Star Wars dolls and stuff like that, those kind of collectibles. Classic two-sided market.

Now, here’s the issue. Rule number one in a situation like this is always: Have you facilitated a transaction to show it can be done? We have, so we know that we can create some value. Now, what I want to know is: Can we get someone to stick to this, whatever the experience is that we’re trying to create? We want someone who’s going to use our product to say, “This is my place to be.” So we have to ask ourselves, “OK, now, what do I have to accomplish in order to make that a reality?”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I’m thinking, “I’m screwed.” Because buyers want the maximum inventory, and of course they’re going to check a lot of sites. How can we make this the place they want to go? We might try to figure out how to create a massive amount of inventory, so that they don’t need to go anywhere else. Here’s a great example: Reverb.com is a company I’m an investor in (in Chicago) that sells musical equipment like vintage guitars and amps, pedals, and stuff. The founder of Reverb had a guitar store already. So when the site launched, it had unbelievable inventory that you couldn’t find anywhere else. But the best part is that the store also buys used equipment. So if you were a customer, and you listed something, he would buy it, and you’d have a great experience. If you were looking, you’d find cool stuff, and you’d have a great experience, too.

That actually might be a model we could do with this startup. We could say, “I want to be a general purpose collectible site, but I can’t corner the market in all collectibles. But maybe I could corner the market in some specific kind where I could build up an inventory. I personally could put my own capital to work buy my stuff.”

A lot of people who want to create two-sided markets are chicken. They want to do e-commerce, but they don’t want to hold inventory. So just get over it. Or you can try the Airbnb trick of finding existing inventory at Craigslist and porting it over. There are a million different ways to create that additional inventory, and you can go crazy with it. But what startups forget is the goal: We want one customer to feel like they have to stick to our product. This is the cool thing about network effects. Very few people, if any, in a network experience the whole network at once. My telephone has value for me because I can call the other people in the network. The larger the network, the more people I call, the more valuable it is. But, how many people do I actually call in a day as an individual customer? For me as a customer, the value of the network is the number of other nodes in the network that I actually interact with, which, in a lot of cases, can be very, very, very small.


0. One centillion zero's Seconds Before the End of Time (5:59:59.One centillion nines PM Central U.S. Time, December 30, 100,000,000,000,000 A.D.) [ edit ]

    snorts the ashes of his Great X 3093258456 Grandchildren.
  • After a 3 day wait, the Moon finally crashes into the Big Ben. is laid for the 354,354,221,353,234,134,265,126,654,512,123,212,323,234,346,543,123,987,890,756,786,753,234,531,235,432,234,332,179,067,256,343,456,314,335,757,539,064,069,405,494,098,765,432,198,692,380,208,295,740,209,987,123,456,789,101st time.
  • Someone masturbated off of Paris Hilton for the 109,398,543,456,864,456,543,456,543,334,553,670,456,773,656,377,125,774,136,195,128,991,024,013,742,356,904,190,567,192nd time.
  • Canada and Australia, tired of being pushed around, finally take over the world.
  • The country of Lithuania,tired of no one knowing where it is takes over the world with Darth_Lithuanias awesome superpowers .Everyone asks how the hell they took over the universe.
  • The Danes finally accepts that the Tuborg and Carlsberg breweries makes the same beer with different names.
  • Jonny Bell dies for the 393,641,898,133,355,472,473,126,291,133,292,691,133,354,136,999,345,324,534,234,765,354,886,123,251,366,315th time.
  • All of the straight men will become gays.
  • The end of the 2 second battle of the morons known as the Battle of the Morons.
  • Spongebob isn't ready kills Luigi
  • Pokemon World gives birth through our universe.
  • Orochimaru finally dumps Sasuke.
  • Habbo finally dumps Sulake.
  • Disney finally admits that the dust in the Lion King did say SEX!
  • The world will begin to explode at 1:00 am Pacific Time in the US.
  • Mars will experience floods 'cause by typhoons created by aliens
  • God takes her first crap and realizes she isn't vegan after all.
  • Brain finally takes over the world. Sadly, Pinky reminds the Brain that the world is ending. Brain comments 'What a really stupid life I had. I finally take over the world, and now, it's dying out. Come, Pinky, we must prepare for the next minute.'. Pinky asks 'Why Brain, what are we going to do next minute?'. Brain replies 'The same thing we do every minute Pinky TRY TO SAVE THE WOR. ' but then the world explodes before someone can say 'They're Pinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!'
  • Ghosts will dominate the universe.
  • John Farnam announces final farewell tour, only to have another one at the beginning of time. millions die
  • The Philippines will dominate all the universes!
  • You put the lime in the coconut.
  • You shake it all up.
  • The Little Mermaid 'boner' hidden message is finally fixed up.
  • People finally believe that it's butter after all these years.
  • Science will abolish caused by typhoons.
  • Philippines will rename as Pikachu (a tribute for what Pikachu did for this country)
  • The jokes on Canada, Australia actually took over the world. Canadians get mad and kill dingos in retaliation. Dingo population plummets. Conversely, the survival rate for Australian babies rises.
  • The game of Monopoly you started with yourself finally ends.
  • Maids will become rich.
  • Santa becomes Times Man of the Nanosecond.500 dead
  • Everyone still in existence is blessed with extremely huge eyes.
  • Everyone chooses to reside forever at Woodstock where the concert lasts forever, you never have to sleep, everyone can be in the front row, the fields are made of candy, and Jimi Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner rings on through the ages.
  • Lucifer will kill himself because he's emo
  • Einstein will be given a chance to live again.
  • Our apples will bear pears.
  • Our pears rot.
  • Our rots. WTF?
  • North Pole will become a powerful state
  • Malaysia discovers its existence. millions injured, no cassualties
  • Antarctica will become a first world country learns the last letter of the englishalphabet. Unfortunately it was not right and are laughed at and shunned by all of humanity forcing them to live with apes for all eternity.
  • Jupiter eats Saturn.
  • The last person says the last yo mommajoke. hits itself, splits into a quadrillion pieces, and those pieces flow throughout the universe.
  • She goes out with That Guy is still alive.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
  • Michael Jackson comes to life with forty zombies and does Thriller.
  • Robo-Luongo destroys all the Toronto Maple Leafs, but is mortally wounded in the process when they cheat and summon Megatron. But we can rebuild him, we have the technology. (He will be back at around 1BC) makes a comeback, but is murdered 2 minutes afterwards by his loyal fans.
  • And Planet Scotland became a moon of Pluto (now a planet) everyone lived a happy life until Braveheart XXXXX decided to go to war against them. Unfortunately Russia's space station was "accidentally destroyed" during 8000-9000
  • And Africa still obsessed with YO mamma has a population of 7 because of Disease and bad decisions (not G8)
  • An armistice is signed which ends the Badger/Mushroom war. There is no real winner, but there is a Arctonyx-Agaricus bisporus anschluss (a badger-mushroom aliance) against that evil looking snake thingy.

This Article is severely abused by every idiot who has the ability to type. (Including myself.) [Original writer] Yeah, I didn't write that.

And you (me) still haven't gotten laid. 2 dead

I did. just yesterday. and now that time has ended, I'm getting laid all the time!


Watch the video: 10 Most OUTRAGEOUS Taco Bell Menu Items of All Time! (January 2022).