Tag Archives | Cbias

Christmas in Brooklyn? Fuhgetaboutit! #LoveThisCity #CBias

As part of a promotional bit I’m doing for Mastercard’s Priceless (a loyalty program offered exclusively for Mastercard holders), I made a trip into the city during a busy Sunday afternoon just before Christmas.  And by city I mean New York.  And by Sunday I mean last year (this is kind of an old post).

One of the secrets I’ve learned when visiting the city is to hit downtown on Sundays to avoid the crowds.  Downtown includes the financial district which is a veritable ghost town during the weekends, making me feel like I have the city all to myself.  It’s one of my favorite places to go then, particularly because I’m right near the waterfront, affording me gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River.

It’s probably for these reasons that I always tend to gravitate towards going downtown instead of hitting up Times Square or Central Park.  There’s also another reason though.  How many of you have ever seen those gorgeous photos of the Manhattan skyline that includes all of downtown plus the Statue of Liberty?  Ever wonder what vantage point these photos were being taken from?  It should have been obvious to me, but for the longest time it never occurred to me that they were being taken from the Brooklyn side of the East River, until one day when I stumbled onto Brooklyn’s Promenade and saw it for myself.

Brooklyn Promenade and Fence

It only took me 30 years to find this place.

After downtown, this is probably the best place to go during the evenings.  My general routine is to either drive or take public transit to the financial district, then walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to visit the Promenade.  They are still renovating this area to convert it into a full fledged city park, but most of the grounds are accessible and includes one of my favorite ice cream haunts (The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory), along with plenty of eateries to choose from (and of course, what else, Starbucks).  The famous Grimaldi’s is also right here if you’re in the need for some touristy trappy Brooklyn pizza, and finally the River Cafe, one of those places you only eat at if you’re looking to propose to someone (because the food is going to cost you almost as much as the diamond ring will).

If I’m here, I usually wait for the sun to go down and I’m eventually rewarded with the kind of Christmas lights you can enjoy all year long:

Manhattan Skyline

Very Christmas-y… #LoveThisCity

So how does Mastercard fit in?  They have an attractive loyalty program called Priceless that offers generous discounts (and sometimes freebies) for travel oriented cardholders, usually tailored for those visiting or frequenting major cities.  Though I usually check out the offers for New York, they also have intriguing offers in Chicago and Los Angeles as well (with more cities on the way, including international.)

Ice Cream is the new health food sign

YES

Some of the offers look pretty generous too, with my favorite being the cupcakes deal.  (Don’t hate.)  I’ve always liked these kind of discounts, and while they tend to be oriented towards business travelers, it’s still basically taking luxury items or services and price breaking them to make them more affordable for those of us in the lower upper middle class traveling on our dime.

Brooklyn Bridge and Lights at Night

The costs to dine at River Cafe here: $200+. The cost to enjoy the this view: PRICELESS

Thanks for reading.  Remember, if you ever visit New York and you want to see the best possible view of Manhattan’s skyline, the Brooklyn Promenade is where you need to be.

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and MasterCard #CBias #SocialFabric #LoveThisCity

Using the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment to feed the Black Stallion #CBias #engineluv

The shop described in this blog post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are supremely and awesomely my own.

I was never much of a car guy when growing up, and being an apartment dweller for so many years, I never had an opportunity to work on my car within the comfort of my own property, so whenever an oil change or maintenance needed to be done, I’d just take my ride to the dealer.

It’s a routine that served me very well though: I’ve owned my car for 7 years and counting and it has yet to fail me, needing nothing more than a maintenance schedule I keep track of using software on my PC. Over the years I learned to religiously use fuel injection cleaners after every oil change too, just to keep it all in peak condition.

This time though I decided to up my game by taking a look at the STP Multi-Purpose Motor Treatment, which serves not only as a fuel additive but an oil additive too, touting additional benefits (such as stopping rough idles, preventing fuel line freezes, stabilizing and improving fuel efficiency and more). These were all benefits that weren’t covered by the the run of the mill fuel injection cleaner I usually get, so I was intrigued to see how much of a difference this additive would make, and went out to pick up a can at nearby Auto Zone.

One thing about Long Island though, this may be the only place in the country that could have every imaginable retail and chain store you could think of, and yet not have anything you’re looking for. Sure enough:

Empty Shelf

Sigh.

Walmart was the next closest thing to me, so I dropped by there and THANKFULLY, a few STP cans were awaiting me. I grabbed one and a Pepsi Max, then hit the self checkout machine, (which of course failed on me, forcing me to wait until a cashier finally came around to hook me up). I had my can though, so it was time to hit up my garage and get started. And by garage, I mean the beach:

Captree Bridge on Long Island

Now THIS is where you work on a car.

This is where I usually come whenever I want to spread out and clean up my car without anyone bothering me, and it was a perfect day too. I got out and stretched a bit, then looked to see if I could pour the STP additive in straight from the can. Nope, not quite, the mouth is a little too big and won’t fit through the opening, so I needed to use a funnel.

long funnel

Funny, I don’t remember my funnel being this ridiculously long. Ah well.

After I stuck my funnel in it was an easy pour. The instructions say the 16 oz. can can treat 21 gallons, and while my tank was only 19, I poured the whole thing in anyway. I have no place or room to keep any excess fluids around, and since there were no warnings indicating that my car would explode into a fiery ball of brimstone and death if I used too much additive, I figured I was safe.

I wiped down the funnel when I was done and tossed the can, along with a few other items of trash.

Banana and STP can

I almost slipped on my own banana here.

And that was that. I sat back and let the engine idle a bit before taking off to find a Starbucks and enjoy me some caramel hot chocolate to celebrate a job well done and a Thanksgiving weekend off.

Hyundai Santa Fe and Sunshine

Occasionally, just occasionally, Long Island does give me a nice view.

By the way, If you like up STP’s Facebook page you can get a coupon, so check it out, as well as their Twitter feed for the latest on STP products and promotions.

Not to outdo STP or anything, but I also put together a Google+ Album of my shopping experience, plus an *ahem* blockbuster movie trailer for your enjoyment:

Aside

MAN UP… and make money! Get paid by @CollectiveBias to write about products MEN love

If you’re a male blogger with a decent audience and interested in making good pocket money, I definitely recommend checking Collective Bias out, a social shopping agency that pays social media influencers to shop and promote all kinds of brands.  Due to the nature of their business they’ve drawn in far more women than men (particularly mommy bloggers), but are currently seeking to balance that out, especially for those brands that cater to a more male demographic.  The payouts are generous and worth the effort (I’m personally being paid $100 for this promotion) and registration/membership is free.  If you want to sign up, visit the Social Fabric community and use the the code JulyMALE.  Go for it!  After all, why should the women have all the fun?  ;-)

Digitizing my cold hard cash at Coinstar for a gift card and a woman (but mostly a gift card) #NOFEECoinstar #CBias

Due to being awesome, I have been paid (at Coinstar’s request) to blog about Coinstar’s products/services as part of a Collective Bias shopper insights study.  All opinions are my own, but they are awesome opinions.

Because I’m a guy, I like to keep my spare change in a sophisticated and completely hi-tech manner: my jean pockets.  None of those man purses or pouches for me thank you very much.  I am HARDCORE.

So on the occasion that I pull out some greens to pay for something, I usually jam whatever spare change I get from the purchase into my pockets, then unload them into a pouch inside my suitcase when I’m back at the hotel, and ultimately into my coin bank when I return home from another crazy traveling adventure.  My coin bank is cleverly designed to be completely undetectable to the naked eye.

Coca Cola Soda Can Coin Bank

State of the art, undetectable coin bank.

That’s generally been my habit since I graduated college, though usually when I’m ready to cash in I head over to the credit union.  I’ve tried the Coinstar machine once before at Stop & Shop but lost nearly $8 from the fee I had to pay just to redeem my cash, so I never bothered to use it again, at least until now, when they got smart and introduced a NO FEE option.

Koko inspects a fake coin bank

“Yeaaah, I don’t think this is a real soda can.”

With my coin bank now at capacity, there was no better time to give Coinstar another try, so I grabbed my *ahem* soda can, and headed over to my favorite Stop & Shop. (BTW, check out Coinstar at Facebook and Twitter.)

For whatever reason Stop & Shop has that vibe that makes me prefer going there for groceries over other supermarkets, and particularly because their self checkouts are blazing fast and usually don’t have a line to them.  Anything that allows me to run in and run out with bags full of food in as little time as possible is WINNING in my book. (Check out Stop and Shop’s Facebook page for more info about their supermarkets.)

Coinstar Machine at Stop and Shop

A slot machine I can work with.

The Coinstar here was located next to Redbox and their customer support/lotto center, right by the entrance. About as convenient a place as you could hope for.  Long Island being what it is though (as in, filled with rancid, uncouth human beings such as myself), I basically got shoved aside by some battle axe of an old lady who wanted to use the Coinstar machine, not to redeem coins mind you, but to scratch off an instant lotto game she had just purchased.  Sigh.

The battle axe finally left, so I finally had the machine to myself, and started sifting through the NO FEE options.  As it turned out you can select from a variety of different gift certificates, but I was surprised to find out that despite touting the option of redeeming your coins for a Stop & Shop gift card, there weren’t any gift card choices that you could actually use at Stop & Shop itself.  Weird.

Gift Card Options at Coinstar

Y U NO GIV Stop & Shop option?

Ultimately I picked Amazon.com as it has the widest range of goods, though I might have picked a Stop & Shop card instead had that option been available.  I slowly dumped my coins in, and watched and listened as the machine chirped and beeped away while tallying my coins.  Net total:  $77.28.

Total coins redeemed for Amazon.com via Coinstar

Wow, I should save coins more often.

The machine then gave me a second chance to turn my coins to cash instead, but the fee was nearly 10 cents to a dollar.  Um, no.

Gift Card Receipt from Coinstar

I cropped out the gift code.  No freebies for you.

That said, this was pretty convenient, as long as the NO FEE options offer a nice library of gift cards to choose from I’ll likely continue to use this in the future than go to the credit union (where I have to wait in line and then stand there like an idiot while they slooooooowly tally the coins.)  Plus I rarely visit my credit union anyway, so this kinda works out perfectly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a few niceties I’d like to buy off of Amazon.com now…

Oh and if you have a moment check out my Coinstar Google+ album and share.  Thanks for reading!

A crate’s worth of International Delight iced coffees #IcedCoffee #cBias

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias… even though err, I didn’t actually shop for anything, and this was really more of a giveaway, but I’m disclosing it here so I don’t get arrested for practicing capitalism or something.

The giveaway entailed getting a free crate of International Delight Iced Coffees and sending it to a vict– err I mean a lucky winner, so I picked Casey Petersen, who has been a friend of mine for years, where we enjoy a sort of real life House-Wilson friendship, me being the ornery Dr. House, him being the weenie-who-loves-everybody Wilson.

Casey Petersen Blog

My blog is better.

He recently started a brand new job at Collective Bias, so it seemed appropriate to send him boatloads of sugar and caffeine to keep him awake and lively so he can continue to steal my ideas and advance his career on the shoulders of my superior intellect. Just kidding. (He only steals half my ideas.)

But seriously, the iced coffees should help. I’ve previewed the flavors in another post and been since gulping them down to help me get over the winter blues.

International Delight Iced Coffee Cartons

Putting your coffee on ice.

I think International Delight may actually have something here, especially because I’m not aware of any other brand offering iced coffee in cartons you could easily pick up in the dairy section (ID’s own coffees will be available starting January 15th, 2012 in the dairy section of Walmart.)

If you see and decide to grab a carton then, let me know what you think. My friend liked the Mocha flavor, but I’m all about the Original.

Previewing Upcoming Iced Coffee Treats – #IcedCoffee #CBias

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias, which I am participating in due to being a greedy capitalist and because I like iced coffee, but mostly because I’m a greedy capitalist.

I seem to have a love/hate relationship going with coffee in general. The blend has to be just right for me to keep from spitting it out like I just drank gas fluid. Same deal with iced coffee too. But when they get the taste JUST right, it can be a psychedelic experience, yo.

That’s why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out International Delight’s new upcoming Iced Coffee blends: Original, Vanilla and Mocha. (The coffees will soon be available in the dairy section at your local Walmart, January 15th, 2012.)

International Delight Iced Coffees with Teddy Bear

Koko awaits his coffee treat…

I was surprised to see them arrive in milk cartons, since I was expecting the more flashy and shapely containers like I’ve seen with their usual cream selections, but eh, as long as it keeps it preserved…

International Delight Iced Coffee Carton Label

Well, it wouldn’t be iced coffee if it didn’t have ice.

Love the insulated glass they sent me too, does a nice job of keeping things cold. I decided to sample the Original first, and must say, that seemed to strike the perfect balance between coffee and milk creamy taste, especially since I like my coffee the same way Winston Wolf likes it: lots of cream, lots of sugar.

International Delight Iced Coffee with Whip Cream

Added some whip cream, which in hindsight was a completely unnecessary ingredient.

I then tried the Vanilla and err… hmmmm. I guess I was expecting more of a vanilla ice cream kind of taste, but here vanilla was more like vanilla extract. Don’t really have a taste for that, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Original.

The Mocha might be been the most disappointing though. I didn’t really taste the mocha at all and the blend here was more like sugar and water than anything resembling the familiar taste of chocolatey goodness.

The amount of sugar is a bit staggering too, almost 30 grams per serving, so careful not to drink TOO much.

Koko goes for a sip...

Koko takes a sip…

 

International Delight Iced Coffee with Teddy Bear Passed Out

… and passes out from the sugar overdose.

With so many coffee drinkers eschewing sugar for dieting or low carbing purposes, I personally think International Delight needs to invest in creating sugar free versions of these drink as well, but that’s just my opinion.

As far as the Original goes, I’m definitely hitting that up once it comes out on the 15th. Unless it’s 2 degrees out, then I’ll probably hold off till the summer so I don’t look rather silly freezing my inwards from sipping icey cold coffee.

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