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Upscale Done Wrong J & J Prime Rib House

My best friend recently took me to J&J’s House of Prime Rib in Parker, Colorado for my birthday dinner. Neither of us had been to this venue and we were eager to try it out. J&J’s menu is arranged like that of an upscale steak house, which would be fine if the surroundings and food quality backed it up.

If you are going to charge $30 for a 10 oz prime rib and a cluster of snow crab (basically a half a crab) and a salad as your special, then the food better be top quality and there should be ambiance. This meal and location had neither. The interior of the restaurant was simple and clean, but the expected touches were missing, there were no table cloths, the seating was basic padded wall booths and wooden tables that you would see in any Chili’s or Applebee’s and our table kept shifting every time it was touched.

I ordered the special, and my friend ordered a 10 oz, prime rib with a Caesar salad, and we shared an order of wine and leek sautéed mushrooms. Our Caesar salads turned out to be a pile of romaine lettuce ribs piled up with a splash of Caesar dressing poorly mixed in, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and croutons; all the ingredients were there, but the execution failed. For the most part until we got to the ribs of lettuce in the middle there was really no dressing to be found and the cheese simply feel to the plate. This dish would have been much more successful had the ribs been chopped into bite sized pieces and the salad tossed correctly. As for the mushrooms, the taste was there, although I think it would have been better had there been a little less or smaller chunks of leek. When someone puts a Crimini mushroom in their mouth they expect to taste the earthiness of a Crimini mushroom, not a mouth full of onion. The flavor of the prime rib was good however the cut of meat was very fatty. I left at least 2 oz. of fat sitting on my plate and inadvertently ate another ounce of fat trying to get the meat separated from the marbling. I think my crab was anorexic. For all the battle to get the shell apart there was very little meat inside of the 4 leg portion and the meat in the body was uneatable.

The server was very sweet, attentive and probably the best part of the experience. My only recommendation to her is to be a little less nervous. She was so flustered that it seemed she had a hard time getting out what she wanted to say, and then accidentally splashed very hot Au Jus on my arm. A little more confidence is all she needs though to be a top notch server.

Over all this steak house has potential to be a good little neighborhood eatery, but it is far from the upscale high end restaurant it is trying to pass itself off as.

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How to Make Your Product Go Viral


Originally posted at The Book Wheel.


Have you ever wondered why some things go viral? Jonah Berger did and his research culminated in his book, Contagious. If this sounds like a familiar concept then you probably read Malcolm Gladwell‘s Tipping Point. In Tipping Point, Gladwell attributes the viral spread of information/products/ideas to three types of people; mavens, connectors, and salespeople. In Contagious, Berger takes it one step further. Instead of focusing on the people that spread the information, he tries to identify what makes something worth sharing to begin with.

Amnesty Where Does the Madness Stop?

I am not a politician or a lawyer, and do not claim to be either. Nor am I a racist. I judge people strictly on their behavior, lack of respect, and the way in which they conduct themselves. Not by the color of their skin. I believe that all races have the equal ability to be douche bags. I tell you this only so that you know that the opinions and ideas I am about to express are not aimed at anyone because of their nationality, but instead in the cause of fairness to those who abide by the laws of legal entry. I do not normally voice my opinion on politics unless necessary, so what has prompted me to write this? A while back my mother who lives in Southern California and I were speaking about illegal aliens and the amnesty laws that seem to take effect every few years as a president is trying to get re-elected. One of the points that she brought up were those who were born here, but their parents were illegals. My answer to that, then they should be considered illegal aliens as well.

As I said I am not a lawyer, and don’t claim to be an expert on the law, but I do watch a lot of crime shows. Yes, I know that makes me sound ridiculous, but please bear with me. You see all the time in these shows where evidence is thrown out of court because it was discovered illegally, and they refer to “Poisonous fruit from the poisonous tree”. Well, with that train of thought wouldn’t someone born here illegally also be considered illegal? My proposition is to close that loop hole in the immigration laws, and make it if your parents are legal citizens and you were born here then you are automatically a citizen, but if your parents are illegal and you are born here, then you too are illegal. Then there is no debate about breaking up a family by sending the parents back to where they came from. This should have been how the immigration laws were written in the first place; to avoid providing an incentive to those who would rather break the law than abide by it.

The reason I say this is because what incentive are we really providing to those who follow the rules and take years to get their citizenship legally? Yes we are offering them the right to live and work here legally. However, by letting illegals cross our boarders, work here, live here, have children here that are immediately considered legal citizens and then grant these illegal citizens amnesty and citizenship we are saying it doesn’t matter if you follow our laws. I have many friends from many other countries that are here on VISA’s or have gone through the citizenship process and we have spoken on these issues. And, you may be surprised that even though they find the task of getting legal citizenship expensive and daunting, they agree with these thoughts. If they agree with it when they are the people struggling through the process, then why should we as Americans continue to make the process easier for those who truly do not respect our laws and blatantly show this by entering, living and working in our country illegally? It amazes me every time I see picketing and campaigning from illegal citizen groups wanting us to change our laws to suit them. Illegals are not our citizens and should not have the same citizenship rights or more importantly have their rights placed above those who are here legally. Instead maybe we should be fixing the loop hole that keeps watering the slippery slope and not reward them for ignoring our laws. Their countries would surely ship us back or imprison us in a heartbeat for being their illegally.

I know these thoughts are going to infuriate many, but hopefully they will make people start to think about those who are actually following the rules that actual Americans have put in place for a change instead of only those who choose to ignore them. If you choose to comment on this opinion piece, I only ask that you be respectful of each person’s right to have and voice their opinion and avoid hateful comments or name calling.


Rocky Horror Picture Show Live at the Crossroads Theater: Tonight Only

For all of those last minute planners looking for something fun to do this Friday evening following Halloween, check out the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” live performance at the Crossroads Theater in Denver. Although, it is instantly apparent that this is not remotely comparable to the movie version with its minimal costumes and non-existent sets, the twisted naughty sense of humor as the almost satirical performance along with the casts creating their own sound effects keeps the audience laughing and engaged.

Overall the singing is adequate with some performers meeting the challenge better than others, but the performances are entertaining. The live music is worth listening to and the decision to do a “Victor Victoria” style “Frank Frankfurter” is one of the best decisions they could have made to pull off this role.

All too often theater houses attempt to compete with a well-known cult classic with their performance only to fail by comparison. The Wit Theater Group’s choice to handle things in a more satirical adult humored fashion was the right choice, as it is this decision that makes this show a hit and worth watching.

A few notes to anyone interested in seeing the production, this is a limited engagement performance with the last showing being on November 2nd, and is a small theater so there are no bad seats in the house. Warning, Google and GPS are way off on their directions so make sure and give yourself enough time to find the venue. Google sent me six city blocks in the wrong direction of Colfax, and the couple next to me said that their GPS had it all wrong as well. There is limited parking in the underground lot to the back of the theater, but all other parking is by the curb.

Being a big fan of the movie it took me a few songs to get past comparing, but once I did I had a great time with the interactive format and the lively characters. It was a great way to spend Halloween with my College age daughter.


When Bend Could Break A Local Home Seller…..

This could easily be the case for those looking to sell from any of the mountain communities within a couple hundred miles of Denver. I used Bend, Oregon as an example.

No matter what the condition of the real estate market, the advertising and marketing of million dollar and up listings is always a challenge. There are always fewer potential buyers to go around. Even more concerning is that, frankly, it is not always the sharpest of realty agents that work their way up toward handling the luxury and high end properties.

This becomes an even bigger challenge when a listing is in or near a small town or community which often depends on luring in a buyer from out of area.

With this in mind, I decided to look for a current advertisement for a million dollar “plus” home in Bend, Oregon, which is a smaller community that I personally have never been to. Therefore, I would need to know something about the area as well as its “best” listings.

I went to the Bend Bulletin (local newspaper) web site and searched. Instead of my usual random pick of a listing, I decided to go for my “least” first impression and comment on that.

Out of ten listings that came up from my initial search, the home at 17062 Cooper Drive caught my attention above all of the others. Here is why.

The search page, even for homes at over $1,000,000, came up, like most, with one thumbnail photo and the first part of the description copy. In other words, it is intended to be (and NEEDS to be) the most flattering photo and most enticing description. With, in this instance, nine other homes to choose from, the first impression is of the utmost importance.

Keeping in mind that I did this search during September, I was amazed to find the photo of this listing showing snow on the ground and covering the home. I literally moved up closer to my computer screen and noticed that I could not see any shoveled or cleared path (not even a sidewalk) leading to the front steps of this home or to the snow covered porch. Incredibly, I could not see a garage or driveway! And this is for a home listed (at press time) for $,1395,000.

Thus, my first visual impression was a large home surrounded by snow, and this is September!

Next, I started reading the less than two sentences of the description next to this photo. And it begins by saying “This amazing 1.25 acre property has seven bedrooms……”.

Let me add that one of the homes in the same area, listed at $1,499,000, which showed ABOVE this Cooper Drive estate, shows “A gated estate on 25.72 acres…..” at the beginning of its thumbnail description.

Notice the significance of this first impression. I looked at this Cooper Drive thumbnail to see a photo of a snowbound home with seemingly no easy access, after having seen another property in the same general area with NO snow and with literally 24 MORE acres available for about $100,000 more.

If you were looking in the community of Bend for a property valued at near one and one-half million dollars (and it was September), which of those two properties would you gravitate toward?

Chances are you said the larger property.

This is my point. There is the importance of a first impression. One agent placed a flattering photo and started right off with the huge size of the lot and location within a gated community, while another uses a photo outdated by months and a poor comparison fact up at the beginning.

It didn’t matter what else came after, because potential buyers are far less likely to click on the Cooper Drive home for more information. Again, chances are most of the potential buyers are from out of area, meaning that a couple of miles of location makes no difference. The street address means nothing, in this instance.

I did go ahead and click on the listing detail page. And I found that it gets worse for the seller. A big part of the description copy which followed touches upon the large deck and the hot tub. Below that, the first of the features of the property detail was “central air”.

Normally, those factors are not a problem. Might even be important to a potential buyer. However, the only photo I have seen, to this point, shows the home as if it is snowbound. Hardly a fit for sitting on the deck or in the hot tub, let alone being concerned about the air conditioning.

What makes this more frustrating is that there are several additional photos available on the full page advertisement, and most of them are very flattering for the listing. Simply put, all this agent had to do (and should have done) was to pull the snow photo completely, and re-arrange the copy to highlight the features of the interior.

But since the listing agent did not do this, I’m afraid that the sellers on Cooper Drive will face the upcoming winter being snowed in at their unsold estate.


To reach the author of this post, Dave Kohl, click below …
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To contact the best Residential Real Estate broker in Denver click the Kentwood logo below and ask for Ed McWilliams.
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Nifty Novella: Sad Robot Stories

sad robot stories

Originally posted at The Book Wheel:

I received this book from CCLaP in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

When Rebecca at Love at First Book first recommended this book, I was a little bit wary because I’m not big into robots. I haven’t watched all of Wall-E and I fell asleep during iRobot. The only robots I like are the Brave Little Toaster and, of course, Rosie from The Jetsons. But, Rebecca rarely steers me wrong and the other reviews I had seen were overwhelmingly positive, so I bit the bullet.

Trust me, no one is more surprised by how much I loved this book than I am. Sad Robot Stories is a charming novella by the young Mason Johnson about a single robot, Robot. From his first day on the assembly line to his days working alongside humans, Robot knew that he was different. He was a little bit too interested in how humans interacted and began to pay attention to them. After being welcomed into the home of a human family, Robot knew he was forever changed.

The Reality of ‘When Science Goes Wrong’


Originally posted at The Book Wheel

When I first picked up this book I immediately went to Goodreads to see what other people thought. One of the biggest complaints is that it was too “sciency” or technical, which baffled me because it’s about science going wrong. That’s right – science. Of course it is going to have some scientific jargon! A chapter about hurricanes would be incomplete without a mention of the Coriolis effect, so I didn’t factor these complaints into my decision to read it. But while most of the scientific sections were about things I learned in high school, there were parts of the book that were really heavy on the technical terms. To be fair, they were necessary to understanding how and why things went wrong, but I did find myself skimming over the chapters about engineering and chemistry.

Not that that detracted from the book whatsoever. In the end, morbid curiosity and extremely approachable writing by Simon LeVay propelled me through the book. If you had asked me a week ago whether I thought human experiments were actually happening with catastrophic implications, I would have said no. Between the FDA, the review boards, and the internet, there couldn’t possibly be genetic testing that resulted in an ear bone growing in someone’s brain or blatantly ignoring FDA regulations, right?

‘Wicked Girls’ is Wicked Awesome

wicked girls

Originally posted at The Book Wheel:

I know, I know. My Boston roots are showing in the title of this post. But The Wicked Girls really is wicked awesome. I have, once again, to thank Jen at The Relentless Reader for stumbling across this book and sharing it with the rest of us. Without her, I never would have requested this one.

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood is about two girls who, at the age of 11, murdered a younger girl. The brutality of the murder was such that the two lived in infamy and were labelled by the press as The Wicked Girls. After aging out of separate juvenile detention centers and barred from speaking to each other ever again, the girls assume new identities and live their lives the best they know how. Kirsty becomes a journalist while Amber works at a local amusement park. Twenty years later, however, the two women inadvertently come face to face when a string of murders occur in Amber’s hometown and Kirsty is sent to cover them as part of the media circus. All too familiar with how the media can prey on victims, Kirsty is forced to weigh her conscience against her career.

Local Real Estate Market Coming Back

Old HouseR

Things appear to be looking up in the Denver area according to separate reports just issued. A realty firm issued a report showing that sellers are getting a larger percentage of their listing price this year compared with 2012 and that homes are spending about nine fewer days on the market compared with Summer 2012. MetroList shows an increase of available homes from April of this year to July 15, 2013.

Although neither report included comparisons to prices for these homes to prices prior to 2006, there are some positives with this information. It shows that there is reason to believe the Denver market is on the comeback trail.

However, as I continue to point out, more inventory means that each home for sale has more immediate and local competition. Thus, the need is still strong to properly advertise and promote each home for sale.

Trying this like a potential home buyer, I searched the site linked via the Denver Post (the largest local newspaper) in the $150,000 to $200,000 range for 2-bedroom single family homes in order starting with “lowest price”.

I wasn’t surprised with my finding, but am certainly disappointed. The very first house on the search (And how many agents would LOVE that placement?) merely served as another example of my point.

It was for a 3-bedroom home in Denver on Lowell Blvd. The primary photo not only showed a lawn in horrible condition (as much dirt as dead looking grass) but it turned out to be of the back yard. The “front view” photo also showed the terrible looking lawn and that there is (or did not appear to be) no garage, driveway, or on-property parking. The next photo showed the rear area with a mass of dirty concrete and a storage shed. Not one of these photos was flattering, to put it mildly.

Upon finally getting to the interior photos, we then see that the home is empty. In several photos, all we see is a dining room set, one chair, and the appliances. One of the photos shows what is either a basement or empty room with what is either concrete or horrible carpeting on there.

Simply put, not one of the photos (with the possible exception of a bathroom shot) adds any appeal to this property.

It took reading the description below to find out that two of the photos are to show the “new furnace”, even though none of the photos reflect the “new carpeting” stated. We also then find out that there is a “rear driveway” for parking, even though this is not shown in any of the photos. We are also told that the sewer line “has been replaced”.

Some of the next homes in my search had decent ads for them, but certainly not enough. If I was truly searching from out of area, I would probably have moved on after seeing that first ad, thinking if that was all $150,000 gets me I’d rather go elsewhere.

Just because the market conditions are better, it does not mean that an agent can be that careless about how a listing is advertised.


To reach the author of this post, Dave Kohl, click below …
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To contact the best Residential Real Estate broker in Denver click the Kentwood logo below and ask for Ed McWilliams.
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GM LOgo RGM Dealers

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The following are links to all the GM dealers in metro Denver
At the bottom is a GM link to a list of all the dealers in Colorado.
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A New Life in ‘1982’


Originally posted at The Book Wheel.

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you could go back and do it all over again? If you have, then you’ll race through this book that does exactly that. Author (and singer/songwriter) Lori Carson’s The Original 1982 is way of rewriting a woman’s life after having an abortion (this is on page 3 and is all over Goodreads, so it’s not a spoiler). Because the lives of Lori the author and Lisa the protagonist parallel each other’s so much, there has been some confusion about Lisa vs. Lori. But here’s what I could find out: The book is fiction but the life of Lisa is pretty similar to Lori’s, so it could be autobiographical. It’s up to the reader to decide.

But back to the book. Addressed to the daughter she never had, Lisa constructs an entire life for her daughter and herself from the early days of pregnancy and on through high school. Steeped in the reality that not everything is always rosy, Lisa’s daughter endures the trials and tribulations that the average girl experiences  (and then some). This was, perhaps, my favorite part about the story because when you’re rewriting your own life, you can make it anything you want it to be and Lisa opted to stay in the realm of the possible.

‘World’s Strongest’ is Spectacular

worlds strongest librarian

Originally posted at The Book Wheel:

Note: I requested this book from NetGalley and received it in exchange for an honest review.

Warning: If you plan to pick up this book, do it when you have nothing schedule for the next day or two. I made the mistake of starting this one at midnight as a “going to bed” book and read until 4 am.

That said, it’s pretty clear that I loved this book. I had heard great things about it on the blogger network but was a little put off by the weightlifting aspect. I knew that I would get around to it and its looming expiration date gave me the push I needed to finally get around to reading it.

Now, of course, I’m asking myself the following: What was I thinking? Why didn’t I pick this up earlier? What is wrong with me for putting this off? Because this book is fantastic. And when I say fantastic, I mean really fantastic.

To sum it up, The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne is about his own life struggling with his religious beliefs and battling severe Tourette syndrome while towering over everyone else (he’s 6’7″). Oh, and he works in a library, which is a struggle for someone who makes involuntary noises on a regular basis. But far from being clinical or scientific, the book is written in a way that made me feel as if the author were sitting in front of me telling his story. Holding nothing back, we take a life’s journey with Josh, from his Tourette Syndrome interfering with his love life to his doubts about his Mormon faith.

Why Renting Out A Home For Sale Makes Sense

Old HouseR

Some interesting findings in the just released CoreLogic report regarding rentals across the country. Overall, it COULD be good news for the entire real estate industry. Emphasis on “could”. Home owners and realty agents need to make it good news. Here is why.

CoreLogic’s “Renter Applicant Risk Index” shows a rise in rental applicant scores in terms of credit and “ability to meet lease obligations” among what it terms “prospective apartment renters” over the past year. In addition, the other significant finding from this report is that applicant incomes were up during the first quarter of 2013 compared with last year. (This report includes single family rentals as well as multi-family housing.)

As positive as this sounds, it seems odd that while the economy struggles and job uncertainty and availability has shown little to no change in most areas that more people are better qualified to rent. We need to explore why that is.

My theory is that too many people are afraid of buying a home in this market and plan to wait it out. Part of this is the fear of losing a job and factors not directly tied in to the real estate market. In addition, the days of merely sitting on a home and having the value increase are long gone. Until or unless they return, a percentage of people will be content to rent.

Many of those who fit into one or both of those categories currently have the funds to make a decent monthly payment, but do not wish to commit long term. Hence, the ability to rent for six months to one year and have the flexibility to buy if conditions improve.

Meanwhile, too many home owners who are not able to get what they need for their homes and thus cannot sell, are not interested in renting their homes as a means to get into another property.

This is why the research report COULD be good news. With so many more and qualified rental candidates out there, why can’t more sellers offer a “rent to buy” situation for their home?

It will take the realty agents to come around to this way of thinking, and to this point I’m not seeing it. While it does delay a full commission to the agent, an agent having several “rent to buy” situations is setting up for a nice payday down the road even though much of the “work” will have already been done.

Hopefully instead of waiting for the realty association to publish statistics comparing home sales to past years (which is not a motivation for a potential buyer), they will begin to promote a “rent to buy” scenario as an option to get sellers out of their current property.

The fewer homes for sale there are at a given time, the better the chance that home prices will return to previous levels and again show promise of profit potential over the years.

By not doing so, and with the increase in “quality” rental candidates, chances are many current home owners looking to sell are losing out because qualified “buyers” are renting where they know there are availabilities instead.

That is why these renters statistics COULD be good news. But first, the potential renters need the additional choices that current home owners could give them!

To reach the author of this post, Dave Kohl, click below …
Dave Kohl
To contact the best Residential Real Estate broker in Denver click the Kentwood logo below and ask for Ed McWilliams.
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New Release: ‘The House of Tides’ Explores Human Tragedy

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Originally released in the UK last summer, The House of Tides by Hanna Richell (interview below) tell the story of a family’s decade-long recovery after a tragic event leaves them reeling from unanswered questions. Told through the alternating views of Dora, her sister Cassie, and their mother, Helen, The House of Tides weaves a story of sadness, betrayal, and redemption.

The main focus of the book is on Pandora “Dora” Tide, the younger of two sisters, who is determined to face her past when she finds herself pregnant. Scared and confused, Dora returns to her childhood home to search for answers and seek closure from her distant mother. But in her quest for answers, Dora finds herself blindsided by the memories one tragic day a decade earlier – the one that changed her family forever.

From Castle Rock To A Solid Rock?

Old HouseR

It was interesting to learn about the City Council of Castle Rock giving unanimous approval to a multi-million dollar development fee for a significant residential and commercial development to be completed within the next three years.

The Really Big Bubble

Charlie RoseR

For those concerned about our financial state you should start by viewing the Charlie Rose interview with David Stockman and then read his book The Great Deformation (tome). I have yet to find any refuting his statements. You hould also view the CR interview with Jeremy Grantham in the same Economics category.
To return here, after viewing the interview, click the Return6 at the top left of screen.
To view the Charlie Rose interview click below
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Fantasy Football, 2013 Edition


If it hasn’t begun for some of you already, Fantasy Football Season is just around the corner.  It’s time to look over several hundred players and countless statistics, while the wives and girlfriends need to figure out what to do with all their spare time for the next six months.  Fantasy Football is not an event it’s a lifestyle.   It has created a completely new sports mindset.  It’s no longer about your favorite team winning, it’s about individual players excelling.  The prize, whether you’re in a money league or not, is, quite simply, bragging rights.

Colorado Split in Two?

CO Logo POst

Recently, there have been some major talks in North Eastern Colorado about that corner breaking off to form the 51st state of the U.S.; calling it North Colorado.

A Facebook fan page was created to track the progress and promote the idea. You can view that here. The people behind this initiative have decided that they are being forgotten or left behind by non supporters of the rural areas. U.S. Representative Cory Gardner from Yuma said this recently, “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame these people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders of our state.”

We have seen in the past where sections of states wanted to form their own state, but have not been met with success since the 1860’s, when the western counties of Virginia seceded to form the 35th state, which is now known as West Virginia.

There are still a lot of steps the counties of NE Colorado need to take before there will be any decisions made.  Here is an interesting video about the plans, and the stats that would be.