Have a Great Shani Day!

Post by Mark

Have you gotten your loved one a Shani today?


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Brunch at The Cheesecake Factory

Post by Mark

I passed by The Cheesecake Factory at The Avenues this morning for breakfast. Every Saturday morning from 10AM to 2PM they have a special brunch menu and I was curious to try their pancakes since I had heard they were really good. I ended up ordering two dishes for myself, the Monte Cristo Sandwich and the Buttermilk Pancakes. What is the Monte Cristo? This is the description from their website:

Monte Cristo Sandwich
Crunchy French Toast Stuffed with Bacon, Grilled Ham, Scrambled Eggs and Melted Swiss Cheese Dusted with Powdered Sugar and Served with Strawberry Preserves.

The Monte Cristo was ridiculously good, probably my favorite breakfast dish right now. Their pancakes now are also easily my favorite pancakes in Kuwait. They were really fluffy and light and I had to stop myself from finishing them. Which brings me to a very important problem with this breakfast.

THE CALORIES!

If you’re a calorie counter you’re in for a treat. The Monte Cristo Sandwich is a whopping 1,618 calories while the Buttermilk Pancakes are 1,310 calories. Try to figure out a way to burn those.

Service was so so. Took me a few tries to explain to the waiter I wanted pancakes and even when I pointed at it in the menu he thought I was pointing at another dish. I also told him to bring all the food together but my Monte Cristo came first. Not major issues but still worth noting. The pancakes cost KD3 while the Monte Cristo I think was KD4.250. I highly recommend both dishes and it’s too bad they only serve them on Saturdays. Oh and of course I wish they were both just 500 calories combined instead of being nearly 3,000…


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Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Review and Giveaway

Post by Mark

A few weeks back the local photography store AAB World provided me with the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 full frame lens to try out. My current collection of lenses that I use with my Nikon D800 are the Nikon 24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8. So at 35mm, the Sigma fit snugly between the 24mm and 50mm lens. Actually a bit too snugly because I stopped using both those lenses while I had the Sigma with me.

The first thing that caught my attention with the Sigma lens was the build quality. The lens is a lot larger than both my prime lenses and due to its all metal casing it felt more durable and a lot more solid. The reason I love prime lenses is because they’re so bright and with an open aperture of f/1.4, this Sigma lens is really bright.

I used the lens frequently during the period I had it with me and the 35mm range proved to be very versatile. The physical size of the lens didn’t bother me much and I actually found the larger lens easier to grip and balance the camera with while shooting. Nikon also have their own 35mm f/1.4 lens but costs around KD470 on Amazon. The Sigma on the other hand is selling for KD240 locally (cheaper than Amazon). That’s nearly half the price for what is basically a very similar lens. The lens is also available for Canon cameras.

If you own a full frame Canon or Nikon camera then you’re in for a treat because AAB World want to give away one of these lenses to my readers. The only requirement needed to win this lens is for you to own a full frame Nikon or Canon camera. To get a chance to win this lens just post the model of your camera in the comments below and I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow night using random.org.

Rules: Only one entry per person and please make sure you use a working email since the winner will be contacted by email. If winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours another winner will be randomly chosen. When collecting the prize you NEED to have your full frame camera with you.

If your camera isn’t one of the following you don’t qualify
Canon – 6D, 1D X, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, 5D, 1Ds Mk III, 1Ds Mk II, 1Ds
Nikon – D3, D3X, D3S, D4, D600, D700, D800

Update: I’ve closed the post for commenting and will be conducting the random draw this weekend.


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Review: Organica Fish & Chips

Post by Mark

Organica Fish & Chips has been open for a couple of years now but I just got to pass by and try it today. I ordered the large fish & chips platter which included 2 pieces of fish along with chips in addition I ordered an extra side order of calamari. I went to the Salmiya branch which has a lot of seating inside but since it was a nice sunny day I decided to sit outside.

While waiting for my meal I got served lemonade which I thought was a nice thing to do. Once my fish & chips basket came I snapped a few pictures before I dug in. I thought the whole basket tasted pretty bland and between the calamari and the fish I think I preferred the calamari. The tartar sauce which I personally believe makes or breaks a meal wasn’t that great either but it did help add some much needed flavor to the meal. On a side note if you want to know what good tartar sauce tastes like go to try it at Sheraton Hotel. Finally the chips were the most disappointing part of the meal, they were undercooked and soft which was a let down.

Overall, even though the fish basket didn’t awestruck me I still think it’s a good place to pass by for a quick bite. It’s not located in a mall, there’s lots of seating, places to park and the food was above average. Price wise the large fish & chips platter goes for KD3.750 (KD2.750 for the small) while the extra calamari cost me an additional KD1.400. They have three locations around Kuwait and if you want to find out more you can visit their website [Here]


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My KitchenAid 6.9L Mixer

Post by Mark

Just before Christmas I decided to get myself a KitchenAid mixer. Originally I wanted to get the regular 4.8L mixer similar to the one I reviewed back in 2011 but it turned out there was a new larger 6.9L KitchenAid mixer and I ended up getting that instead.

I used to think the regular KitchenAid mixer was pretty hardcore but once I saw the 6.9L version the regular one started looking pretty tame. Other than the obvious size difference the other thing that sticks out is the fact with the 6.9L KitchenAid the head doesn’t tilt. Instead, the bowl is locked into place and then lifted up towards the mixer head. Not sure what the advantage of this is but I like it better this way.

Since I got the mixer I’ve baked an apple pie, five different brownies, a cake and muffins. I could have done them all with the regular sized mixer but I realized my mixing is a lot less messier using the 6.9L mixer since with the larger bowl, whatever is inside it tends to stay inside. Also because you can raise or lower the bowl to the mixing head I tend to lower the bowl first before I stop the mixer and that way whatever is stuck on the paddle or whisk gets released into the bowl.

The 6.9L mixer has one major disadvantage over the regular 4.8L KitchenAid mixer and that is the lack of colors. While with the 4.8L mixer you have 29 different colors to choose from, with the 6.9L version you’re limited to just 5. The other more obvious downside is the price. The 6.9L mixer is more expensive than the smaller 4.8L mixer and it’s selling for KD283 here in Kuwait. Whichever you end up getting be it the 4.8L or 6.9L they’re both a lot of fun to use.

I got my KitchenAid from the dealer Mabrook in Shuwaikh but I also spotted them for sale at Williams-Sonoma. If you’re interested, here is a link to the Kuwait KitchenAid page on Facebook [Link]


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Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Post by Mark

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching is a cool concept that has been floating on YouTube for awhile now. The idea is you go to a public place, put on your headphones and then dance as if you’re at home alone while recording yourself doing it. After posting a video on 248PM last week called “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching: Airport“, I decided I wanted to do one as well. And I did. I headed to Souk Mubarkiya, found a cool spot and then recorded myself dancing to a song. It was hilarious and a lot of fun since no one around me knew what the hell was going on since they couldn’t hear any music and all they saw was some random white guy dancing in the middle of the road.

This was supposed to be just a quick test because I wanted to see if I had the balls to actually do it but a short clip got leaked out (complicated story) and somehow it ended up on YouTube which you can watch above. Since this was just a trial video I’m not planning to upload the full version online but the second one should be better and that one I’ll definitely upload onto YouTube myself. [YouTube]


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Thule 970XT Helium Bike Carrier

Post by Mark

I needed a bike carrier for my FJ and after looking at the locally available options I decided to order the Thule 970XT off Amazon. I didn’t want one of those flimsy bike carriers you strap onto the back of the car but instead wanted one that would fit into my FJ’s trailer hitch. I also didn’t want one that I’d have to bolt on and off since I knew it would be a hassle and I’d either end up leaving the carrier always on or not using it at all. After a bit of research I found the Thule 970XT.

There are a number of cool features in this Thule bike carrier. First because it’s mostly made of aluminum it’s pretty light weight and I can easily carry it with one hand. The second really cool feature is the fact you can fasten it and unfasten it to your car in under a minute and I’m not exaggerating here. Instead of using bolts to secure the bike carrier to the trailer hitch, the Thule 970XT uses an ingenious knob which you can tighten and loosen up to fasten into the hitch. This means I can leave the bike carrier in my trunk and hook it to my hitch only when I need to and very easily. It’s a really practical bike carrier to use and I don’t think there is any other one that can be hooked up to a car quicker than this.

There are other small cool features as well for example the knob that fastens the hitch to the trailer has a lock to prevent the carrier from being stolen. The bike carrier can also tilt down forward so you can open the trunk without removing the hitch and finally the bike carrier also comes with a locking cable so you can secure your bikes onto the carrier and not worry about anyone stealing them (easily).

I ordered the bike carrier from Amazon for around KD90 and had it shipped to my friends APO mailbox but, I just checked and Mr Babu are selling it for KD140 which is probably as much or less then what you would pay if you shipped it via Aramex. Here are some links:

Thule 970XT on Amazon
Thule 970XT on Mr Babu


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The Camaro ZL1

Post by Mark

I was contacted by Alghanim Automotive asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing the new Camaro ZL1. I’m honestly not a big fan of American cars and if they were asking me to review the regular Camaro I would have most likely said no, but… the ZL1 is a different kind of Camaro, it’s a Camaro with a V8 6.2L 580-freakin-HP monster engine. So I said yes.

There’s a popular saying that people don’t change, well that’s not true. I’m usually a law abiding, non-agressive and courteous driver, but once I started driving the ZL1 I changed. In my neighborhood I became the asshole down the street with the loud car who tries to run down all the cats. On the highway I became the jerk that cuts everyone off, at u-turns I became the douche that slides his car at full thrust and at red traffic lights I was the dipstick who kept revving his engine loudly. This car is dark and evil. It changes people. All I wanted to do is drive around with my middle finger sticking out the window while doing donuts in the middle of every intersection on the Gulf Road. Oh and a large FUCK YOU sticker on the rear window would have been nice as well. I really loved this car.

The ZL1 I picked up was pretty aggressive looking. The color was a very dark gray (jet black), the 20inch wheels were black and the interior was also black. If I was to choose a color combination for my car this would have been exactly it. I am really thankful to Alghanim for not providing me with a bright yellow Camaro with black stripes running down the middle since I would have most likely puked all over it. The interior as I mentioned was also black but they also used Alcantara (suede like material) for the steering wheel, gear stick and dash which made the interior very sporty looking. I had a choice between an auto and manual but since my stick shift skills are as good as Kim Kardashians acting skills, I chose the auto to the dismay of all my friends. I don’t regret I did. Although the automatic gearbox has a lot to be desired in term of responsiveness and speed, it didn’t really matter to me since I wasn’t on the track and I was just having too much fun with the car to notice. The car really is a lot of fun to drive. The first two days when I picked up the car it was raining so obviously the roads were wet and a 580HP rear wheel drive car on a wet surface is asking for trouble (the good kind). You really do need to respect the power which I wasn’t really doing hence why I got the scare of my life when I was driving at around 110KM/H and gave the car a kick down which to my surprise slid the ass sideways so much I nearly hit the car on my right. This car is a beast. It’s loud, it’s angry and it wants to kill you. I have no idea how I didn’t get stopped by the cops and deported in the five days I had the car. It was crazy good times.

I do have a bunch of negatives about the car though. For one thing the seats aren’t sporty enough. I would have wanted them to be deeper bucket seats and tighter since I was sliding left and right on my seat without much side support. The stereo was also a disappointment even though it was a 250w Boston Acoustics sound system, it just didn’t have the oomph. Externally, the front and sides of the car look pretty aggressive but the rear not so much. If I bought this car the first thing I’d do is replace the rear wing with a carbon version to match the carbon on the front hood, I’d also black out the chrome around the rear lights and more importantly replace the rear bumper with one more aggressive looking and possibly one with a rear carbon skirt. Finally gas consumption. If you drive the car like an old women the gas consumption is actually not that bad. On the other hand if you drive the car like it’s meant to be driven then you’re going to consume a lot of gas, and I mean A LOT of gas. There was one day where I filled the gas tank full three freakin times! I’ve never done that with ANY car before not even on long road trips.

The price of the auto ZL1 in Kuwait is KD19,695. The manual version is for slightly less at KD19,195. If you’re looking for a very fun monster but one that’s still comfortable as an everyday car then I can’t think of anything better than this. I want this car.

Note: No cats were harmed during the making of this review


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Review: The Nintendo Wii U

Post by Patrick

Wii U 1

It’s pretty impressive that a company founded back in 1889 still exists today and is considered one of the most innovative and creative companies in their field. Nintendo has survived throughout these years not by sheer luck, but by being able to adapt to markets and get ahead of the game. Nintendo didn’t always make video games – it started out making playing cards and when that business was waning the CEO of the time Hiroshi Yamauchis decided to move into other businesses like instant noodles, a taxi company, and even a TV network. Eventually, Nintendo made its way in the video game business and released the NES; 27 years later, Nintendo has finally released its sixth console, the Wii U.

Nintendo’s philosophy has never been about creating the most powerful console with the best graphics, but to create a console that anyone could enjoy, developers could create fun games for, and is affordable. They constantly try to innovate without going overboard. The Nintendo 64 was the first console to introduce analogue sticks and 4 player controller ports right out of the box that competitors adapted in the future. We’re seeing similar advancements with motion controls that Nintendo introduced with the Wii and now Nintendo has taken another step forward by introducing the Wii U and the Game Pad.

Mark was able to hook me up with a Wii U from X-cite to review and I got the chance to test it out by playing Super Mario Bros U, ZombiU, Nintendo Land and Batman Arkham City.

Wii U + gamepad

The first thing I was curious about was Nintendo’s new social network called the Miiverse and so far it’s been informative, entertaining, and pretty promising. For those who don’t know, the Miiverse is where you interact with other Wii U users through a community for every app or game out for the Wii U. So if you want to discuss some Youtube videos, you can go to the Youtube community and post about it there and other users can reply or give you a “Yeah!” (equivalent to a Facebook “Like”). If you want to discuss a specific game and you’re unsure about buying it, you can go to that game’s community and ask them about it. Other times, people will draw some really elaborate drawings using the Wii U’s gamepad and the community walls turn into a temporary art exhibit. And it works well – comments are posted instantly without delay. People will comment and try to solve things. For example, I was going through the ZombiU community and found a thread with over 25 comments of gamers trying to decipher some code someone found spray-painted on a wall in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if communities like this sprang up in the next iteration of consoles Microsoft and Sony release.

Read the rest of this entry »


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My new years resolution

Post by Mark


[YouTube]

I’m going to take part in a Spartan Race. [Link]

Update: Just found out about the Tough Guy competition (video below) which is based in the UK. Here is a exceprt from Wikipedia:

It has been widely described as “the toughest race in the world”, with up to one-third of the starters failing to finish in a typical year.

After 25 stagings of the winter event, Wilson still claimed nobody had ever finished the course according to his extremely demanding rules. The race, and its summer equivalent, has suffered two fatalities during its history.

Tough Guy™ from Mr Mouse on Vimeo.

Sounds like a lot of fun and the UK version of anything is usually more hardcore than the US one (Dirty Sanchez vs Jackass).


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