Culinary Circle Pizza Gift Card Giveaway!

October was National Pizza Month and while it’s now National Turkey and Black Friday Shopping Month, thanks to the generosity of Cub Foods, you all have a chance at winning a $10 Cub gift card just by reading this post about their Culinary Circle frozen pizzas and commenting on below! Rules are easy:

    1. Read the post
    2. Comment about your love of everything that is sodium-laden frozen pizza or whatever else your heart desires
    3. One lucky person will win a $10 Cub gift card to be mailed to them to which they can use it for anything they wish at their local Cub.
    4. The drawing will occur on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 at 11:59:59 PM and the winner notified via e-mail.

This week Cub had a special buy two of their Culinary Circle pizzas for $10 ($5/ea) and The Wife headed over to the store to pick up two. She came home toting their Ultra Thin Crust Garlic Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread pizzas. There are plenty of others to choose from including Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza and Rising Crust BBQ Chicken Pizza, both of which sound pretty tasty and provide comparable styles to what you can find over in Target’s frozen food section under their own internal brand names.

The pizza boxes are quite hilarious. First off, down in the lower left hand corner is a little image of someone kneeding or rolling out dough but superimposed over these pictures are the words, “PRODUCT IS NOT HANDMADE,” you know, just in case you were under the insane misconception that a $5 frozen pizza from Cub foods was made with farm fresh ingredients, no chemical stabilizers, and was hand-tossed and assembled by a team of experienced pizza-makers before being flash-frozen and stuffed into a cardboard box. Next up are the photos on the front. While the Chicken Bacon Ranch was actually somewhat similar to the real deal, the Chicken Alfredo came out completely green, as it were more pesto than Alfredo. If this was a review about salsa, I would delve into the list of ingredients, but in the case of these, not handmade products, I’m going to save you all the 50 minute laboratory-raised, chemically induced, food science lesson and let you think up random combinations of 16+ letters and call it good.

Due to the relatively small size of the pizzas, we decided to bake both at the same time. While the one pizza was a relatively standard cook time, the other had an option for upwards of 20+ minutes. I mean, good things that come to those who wait and all but really? 20+ minutes for a tiny frozen pizza is more than too much IMO.

Anyway, the pizzas were out of the oven and cut up well. The crusts were thin and crispy and held the ingredients well. The chicken cubes were large, abundant, and carried their flavor as expected. The other toppings, aside from the chicken, were also well represented and you could taste each one, for the most part. While I thought the Chicken, Bacon, Ranch pizza was decent for a $5 off-brand frozen pizza, I found the Chicken Alfredo pizza more or less inedible. I don’t know if it was the overdone parsley turning the pizza pesto green or the fact that it just wasn’t that good, but I took one piece and left the rest for tomorrow and possibly never again.

Overall, I thought that for $5, the pizzas were ok and while I would only stick with the Chicken/Bacon/Ranch in the future, out of the two we tried, I found them quite comparable to other similarly priced pizzas and certainly in line with what you will find from store brands at Target. I have found that making French bread pizzas using quality ingredients is just as inexpensive as these were and are a lot healthier and take less time to cook so I see no reason to walk through this exercise again, but in a pinch (both in shopping time and pennies), Cub’s Culinary Circle pizzas could certainly do the trick.

So what do you think about these? If you won the Cub gift card would you use it to try one of these pizzas or would you just use it to supplement your usual weekly grocery shopping? Are frozen pizzas a regular item on your shopping list? If so what brands and what flavors does your family prefer? Whatever you have to say go ahead and comment on and get entered into the drawing!

Most Online Reviews Are Completely Useless?!

According to this MarketWatch article, 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills located overseas. These ‘paid shills’ are paid between one and ten dollars per review because a one star bump in review status can mean between five and nine percent more customers for a particular business. While Yelp does its own policing, the sheer volume of these fraudulent reviews means that it’s become nearly impossible to catch them all and only 16% of these reviews were marked as the work of shills.

From the article:

Fraudulent reviews are growing as more businesses become aware of the importance of social media and compete with rivals for public affection. “The problem is definitely more widespread than the Attorney General’s investigation,” Luca says. “That’s just one small piece of the puzzle.” (A Yelp spokeswoman says its software helps filter many fakes before most users get to read them.)

Consumers can also be influenced to see the world through rose-tinted glasses. Of the top reviews on Amazon analyzed in a 2011 study by technology entrepreneur Filip Keeler and Trevor Pinch, a professor at Cornell University’s department of science and technology studies, over 80% were positive. The study, “Free Lunch,” concluded that 85% of the most prolific reviewers are part of “Amazon Vine”— the site’s “most trusted” reviewers — and received free products from publishers, agents and manufacturers. This, Kessler says, can make them unpaid agents rather than consumer advocates. “Consumers should not rely solely on Amazon reviews,” he says.

[...]

How can consumers tell if a review is not what it appears to be? Consumers should look closely at the source and language of one-star reviews to see if a company could be dissing a rival and pay equally close attention to five-star reviews in case the business itself has decided to award itself the highest praise possible, Luca says. “There is little incentive for a business to leave a mediocre review,” according to “Fake It Till You Make It.” “Hence, the distribution of fake reviews should tend to be more extreme than that of legitimate reviews.” That’s why some sports — like gymnastics — use a “trimmed mean” where the highest and lowest scores are discarded. Ratings for legitimate reviews show a “sharp peak” at four-out-of-five stars, the study found.

While the majority of people still place a lot more weight behind the recommendations of those they know personally, these sorts of games are happening across all sorts of online review sites including Yelp and Amazon and more should be done to raise the general public’s awareness of the existence of such scams.

We here at Lazy Lightning do a much better job at policing the comments that come under reviews written here than what you’ll see elsewhere and you can guarantee that any comment approved from previously unknown authors is placed under careful scrutiny by myself and the rest of the community. While this methodology is by no means perfect, it is far better than what you’re likely to see elsewhere and we take great pride in ensuring accurate and unbiased original written reviews and commenter submissions.

What do you think about this one? How much faith do you put into the reviews of others when you make your own purchase decisions? Do you consult Yelp, Urbanspoon, Amazon, etc reviews prior to purchasing a product? How much salt do you take them with? Do you regularly concur with the opinions of others you know personally more than those you read online? How often do you agree with the reviews penned on this site and how likely are they to influence where you spend your money?

Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Father Shelters Son from Girlfriend by Beating Her

According to this Dakota County Criminal Complaint, a Father of the Year candidate from West St Paul allegedly did not much care for the way his girlfriend spoke to him in front of his son and decided to teach both his son and his girlfriend on the proper way to care for a woman.

From the complaint:

At 11:27 p.m., MW called the police, reporting that a male was refusing to leave a residence. At the time police arrived at the West St. Paul residence, the male had left the residence. MW told police that the defendant had to leave and she was not going to allow “this” to happen anymore. MW provided a statement to police. She stated that she and the defendant have been together since last November, and they have lived together for a month. Earlier that day, they were barbequing outside. When she entered the residence, the defendant had music playing loudly; MW asked him to turn it down. This angered the defendant because his son was present and he did not like how MW was talking to him in front of his son. The defendant punched MW on the right side of her face and she believes she lost consciousness. MW did not know how long she was “out”. MW vaguely remembers being lifted up, pushed onto the couch and punched multiple times. At that point, NNG ran out of the apartment. The defendant told his son to “watch” NNG so she does not call police.

What better way to teach your son proper manners than to put someone in their place by punching them in the face repeatedly, even while they’re, at best, semi-conscious? It’s evident this young man is going to have such great opportunity to grow up and become a stellar role model for his own children; how can we ever repay his father for such a lesson?! While his son could potentially be over the age of 20, he’s more likely quite a few years younger and in his most impressionable years. In all honesty, it’s sad to read stories like this one.

What do you think about this Dakota County Criminal Complaint? Do you think the son has a chance at growing up to be a decent human being when his father is beating women and asking him to watch them so they don’t call the police? If the son were young, do you think additional charges should be levied due to what he allowed his son to witness and the potential damage it could have caused? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Website is Back

I had to move to professional hosting. Yes, this is something I never wanted to do and it costs more money in the long run than doing it myself but, I just don’t have the time to maintain the webserver in my house anymore especially with two kids, a job which takes up a good bit of my time, and several days a week out of town. I’m at the point in life where I just want stuff to work.

I believe I have a good majority of stuff working to the bare minimum level. Many of the customizations will not be working yet, if ever (depends on the flexibility of the host and what tools I have available to me) but the basics should be back up and running.

For those who have concerns about their provided e-mail address being hosted on another provider’s site and not in my own grubby little hands, please let me know at billandkimroehl@gmail.com and I will work with you to make changes to the database to make this more comfortable for you.

If you find anything is not working (aside from the damn comment ratings will I will get back soon), please comment on below with what it is so I can slowly make my way through the list.