2015 Suburban MyLink video from and SD Card

A few months ago I purchased a new 2015 Suburban with the MyLink system. The truck has two SD card slots. One in the front console and one in the rear console.

The Manual states that you can put music and videos on the SD cards and play them on the entertainment center. The driver screen will play BluRays and DVDs when the truck is in Park. Otherwise the video only shows on the back screens which is logical. For several months I have been trying to get video to play from the SD Card. I have tried many formats yet every time I search for videos on the SD card, it tells me there are none found.

Today I tried putting the SD card with videos on it in the back SD slot and then played them from the rear screens. It finally worked. I have no idea why the front screen won’t play videos from the SD card while in Park but it will not. I spent a great deal of time searching the Internet for an answer to this so I thought I would post this now that I have figured it out.


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Technological advancements in Flashlights?

I am not sure but, I think the last time I purchased a flashlight was in 2003.  It was a Maglite 3D.  I have carried that flashlight in my truck for years.  It’s built like a tank and works when I keep the batteries fresh.

But, recently I purchased a couple of new flashlights and have been shocked at the technological advancements in the seemingly simple flashlight.  My first recent purchase was a Surefire G2-LED.  This flashlight is easily twice as bright as the Maglite 3D but is only 5.14 inches long and weighs only 4.10 ounces.  That’s about the weight of one of the batteries in the Maglite.  The G2-LED uses CR123 batteries that are small, light and put out 3 volts instead of the normal 1.5 of typical batteries used in flashlights.  This means the two CR123 batteries used in the G2-LED put out 6 volts and has a runtime of 55 minutes before dropping to 50% brightness.  In contrast the 3 D cells used in the Maglite have a combined output of 4.5 volts with a runtime of about an hour until the brightness drops to 50%.

I am not sure when the shift in flashlight technology turned to the CR123 battery and LED emitters.  But, these two changes have provided consumers with much smaller, lighter and more powerful flashlights.

I was a bit put off by the price of these new flashlights, the Surefire G2-LED cost around $70 US.  But, after using it and experiencing the advantages in real life situations, I can say it was worth every penny.

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My problems with Gayton Animal Hospital, Richmond, Va.

I have used Gayton Animal Hospital for almost two years.  In that time I have been mostly happy with the care they have provided for my dog.  However, a recent incident has proven that there is a serious lack of professionalism in this business.

Recently, I made an appointment for my dog’s annual shots and checkup.  The night before the appointment, I received a call from Gayton Animal Hospital telling me there was no need for me to come in because they were no longer going to treat my dog.  When I enquired why, I was told, I guess because of his age.  I was certain that this must be a mistake.  I requested the Doctor who normally saw Keyser to call me so I could get a clear understanding of what was going on.  Over the course of four days and two more calls to the Vet, I never received a return call from anyone at Gayton Animal Hospital.  Following are copies of a letter I received from Gayton Animal Hospital and my reply.

I would recommend anyone who wants good communication with their Vet to steer clear of Gayton Animal Hospital.

Following is the letter I received from Gayton Animal Hospital and my reply.


Below is my reply to Gayton Animal Hospital.

Dr. Tisnado
Gayton Animal Hospital
9764 Gayton Road
Richmond, Va 23238

September 19, 2009

Dr. Tisnado

I am in receipt of your letter dated September 16, 2009.  I am in complete agreement that open communication is essential for an effective veterinary-client-patient relationship.

It is this exact issue that I have with Gayton Animal Hospital and Dr. Tisnado.

In the course of four business days, no one from Gayton Animal Hospital has been able to find a moment to call me and explain why Dr. Tisnado will no longer treat Keyser because of his age.

On August 12, 2009 Keyser and I visited Gayton Animal Hospital for his annual check-up and shots.  Keyser had also recently began having issues walking.  During that visit Dr. Tisnado discovered that Keyser most likely had a ruptured disc that was causing issues with his ability to control the back half of his body.  She decided to wait on his annual shots until after this issue had been addressed.  That day, I took Keyser to a surgeon recommended by Dr. Tisnado who agreed with her assessment.  The following day I took Keyser to northern Virginia for an MRI.  The next day Keyser underwent surgery for four ruptured discs.

Since then, Keyer has been recovering well and has recently even been able to walk up and down stairs.  On September, 15 2009 Keyser and I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who was very encouraged with Keyser’s progress.  I then decided it was time to return to Gayton Animal Hospital for his annual shots.

At 3:08PM on September 15, I called Gayton Animal Hospital to make this appointment.  The appointment was set for 9AM the next morning, Wednesday.  At 6:44PM Tuesday evening I received a call from a young lady at Gayton Animal Hospital and her message to me was effectively the following:  “There is no need for you to come in tomorrow, Dr. Tisnado will no longer see Keyser.”  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  I was clearly upset.  I enquired as to why and was told “I guess because of his age”.  I was extremely shocked and upset at this point but, I hoped there was some miscommunication.  I did not want to believe that this was true.  I could not believe that Dr. Tisnado was no longer going to treat Keyser because of his age.  Especially since I had just been through so much with him.  I requested that Dr. Tisnado call me so that we could discuss this and hopefully clear it up.

After not hearing from Dr. Tisnado, I called Gayton Animal Hospital again on Wednesday September, 16 to again request some clarification on this issue.  I was polite describing the situation to the lady who answered the phone and she was very helpful.  She assured me that I would receive a return call from either Dr. Tisnado or the office manager later that day.

On Friday September, 18 having not heard from anyone at Gayton Animal Hospital, I called to once again gain clarification.  Again, I was polite in explaining the situation and asked to speak with Dr. Tisnado.  I was placed on hold and when she returned I was told that I would be receiving a letter explaining the situation.  I did inform her that I felt the level of communication from Gayton Animal Hospital was unacceptable.  Which it has been.

As it stands, I understand that Gayton Animal Hospital had already made the decision to no longer treat Keyser because of his advanced age.  No one from Gayton Animal Hospital has been able to find a moment during four business days to call and clear this up.

I would like Keyser’s records mailed to me and I will deliver them to his new veterinarian.  I find the actions of Gayton Animal Hospital and the lack of communication to be completely unacceptable and unprofessional.

I will be sure to share my experience with Gayton Animal Hospital with as many people as I can.

For any Veterinarian to refuse to treat a pet because of their advanced age is morally bankrupt.


Kevin Mahler

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The most amazing Cole Slaw

I found this on epicurious.com and after making it the first time, it now compliments my BBQ every time I cook.

This recipe says it makes 8 servings but I think that must be for giants.  I have made this as is for parties up to 25 people and have still had left overs.

2 1/2 pound green cabbage, cored and cut into 3 inch chunks, then finely chopped or shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 1/4 cups mayonnaie
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar

Toss all vegetables in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar, then toss with the slaw.  Chill, cover, stir occasionally, for at least an hour.

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Recipes to try

Watching Diners, Drive-in and Dives. These are some recipes I want to try.

Veggie Burger

Crab Cakes

Clam Chowder

Kiwi Snow Kone

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Wagyu Beef – The best beef you will ever taste!

About 6 months ago, I discovered a new butcher in Goochland, Virginia, Nadolski’s.  Since then, I have learned more about meat and have experienced some of the best tasting, tender meat ever.  Jon sends out a newsletter via email about every week or so.  

In one of these emails he featured some Dry Aged NY Strips.  Even though, I considered myself fairly knowledgeable about meat, I had no idea about Dry Aged Beef.  I purchased a couple and found them to be much more flavorful than beef I was used to purchasing from the grocery store.  However, I have never been a fan of NY Strips.  I much prefer Ribeyes.  

A week or two later he featured some Wagyu Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeyes.  So I decided to venture into Dry Aged beef once more.  Now before you go searching for Wagyu steaks, you should know they are very expensive.  I cooked two last evening and the two 30oz steaks cost me $126.00.  However, this easily fed four adults with leftovers.  If you search the internet for Wagyu beef, you will realize my butcher is very reasonable with his pricing.  I would suggest checking with a local butcher to see if they can order the steaks for you rather than try over the internet.

When I cook filets or normal ribeyes, I usually use a marinade called Dales.  However, after doing a little research on the best way to cook Wagyus, I decided to just season them with Kosher Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper.  I pan sear them then finish in the oven or to the top rack of the grill for indirect heat to cook to medium rare.  I have only cooked them on the grill once.  Many articles on the internet recommend against it since the steaks will essentially pour melting fat into the fire causing flare ups.  I seared mine on a cast iron griddle placed on the grill and allowed to get to a high temperature.  Then I placed the steaks on the top rack of the grill to finish cooking.

With what these steaks cost, I only cook them occasionally.  But, when I do it’s quite a treat!

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My Favorite BBQ Sauce

There are plenty of BBQ sauces I make and use.  But, this one is my favoirte and seems to be a big hit with my friends as well. It’s easy to make and works for pulled BBQ or ribs. Although, I will say I prefer it on pulled BBQ and like thicker sauces for ribs.


1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1 TBlspn Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tspn Kosher Salt
1/2 Tspn Crushed Red Pepper (or to taste)
Juice from one Lemon Fresh Squeezed


Mix the ingredients well. The Ketchup will take some time to mix in. Take the time to do it fully. Heat the mixture to a brief low boil.

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Hints for beginners

  • Do not open your smoker to see how it’s going or show off to your arriving guests.  BBQ takes time, lots of time and it takes the smoker a long time to recover from an opening. Get a remote meat thermometer and use that to check on things without opening the smoker. During a 6 hour cook, I might open my smoker once before the last 30 mins when I’m applying apple cider to keep it moist or BBQ sauce on ribs.
  • Get a spray bottle and fill it with apple cider.  Use it towards the end of cooking a boston butt to keep it moist.
  • Buy spices in bulk from Penzeys.  
  • Make your own rubs and sauces.  It’s not that hard and you will quickly find tastes you like.
  • Go to a BBQ contest and ask questions.
  • Be patient with BBQ.  While I am normally an immediate gratification type of person, I have learned Zen like patients with BBQ and it pays off.
  • Use a chimney to light your charcoal.  
  • Not at first but, soon after you master some of the skills start using lump charcoal instead of briquets.  Lump burns hotter and creates less ash than briquets.  However, lump requires more attention as it burns to keep the fire burning stably.
  • Do not use smoking wood with bark on it.  Knock the bark off with a hammer or hatchet.
  • The only time you should consider chips for smoking wood is if you are using a grill instead of a proper smoker.  
  • There is no need to soak your smoking wood unless you are using chips.  See above.
  • When adjusting vents, wait 30 minutes before looking for results on the thermometer.  The smoker thermometer, not the meat thermometer.
  • Put a layer of charcoal in the fire tray of your smoker.  Light a chimney of charcoal and let it burn until it’s ready.  Then spread the lit charcoal over the fire tray, depending on how much your fire tray holds this could be enough for a complete cook of a boston butt.  This is often refereed to as the Minion Method.  
  • Stick with Baby Back Ribs when cooking ribs.
  • Remove the membrane from ribs.  Use a knife to get it started then use a dry paper towel to hold onto it while you pull it off.
  • Cook ribs meat side down.
  • Boston Butts and Ribs do not need to be turned over when smoking.
  • Add smoking wood right after putting your meat in the smoker.
  • On a Smokey Mountain, use the bottom vents to adjust the temperature, leave the top vent fully opened.
  • The safe temperature for pork is 165f.  If you cook a boston butt to 165 it makes a fine chopped pork.  If you want pulled pork, you must cook it to 190 or 195f.
  • Pulled pork is much better than chopped pork.
  • Let your meat rest before serving.  When a boston butt is done, wrap in aluminum foil and sit it in a cooler (no ice) for an hour.  For ribs, wrap in aluminum foil and let rest at least 30 minutes.  This is actually something you should do with all meats no matter how you cook them.
  • When making BBQ Sauces, heat until they boil then let simmer for some time.  The tastes blend so much better when heated.  There is real chemistry in cooking.
  • Wear shoes whenever around the smoker.  Hot coals can end up anywhere.  In a related hint, never cook with a smoker on a wooden deck.
  • Keep a water hose or fire extinguisher close by when cooking.
  • Always wash your hands after handling proteins (meat).
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Meat for pulled pork BBQ


The first confusing item for me when I started cooking BBQ was the meat.  Most BBQ restaurants and home BBQ cookers use Boston Butts.  Which are technically the upper pork shoulder.  I have yet to find any reliable source for why it is called a Boston Butt even though the Wiki link provided offers a pretty logical one.  But, you will often hear them called “butts” and “shoulders”.  They can be purchased either “blade in” or “boneless”.  I choose to get mine blade in.  It makes it easier to evaluate if the butt is done by checking the bone.  If the butt has reached temperature and the blade bone moves easily in the meat, the butt is done. However, if you get your butts bone in, make sure your thermometer is not touching the bone when checking temperature.  The bone heats up long before the meat does.  I once cooked four butts and was shocked at how quickly they were cooking until I realized my temperature probe was touching the bone.
BBQ is different than most types of cooking.  You cannot plan on a butt cooking at say 225 for 6 hours.  BBQ is done when it decides to be done.  I have had butts ready in 5 hours and I have have had other butts that took 7 hours to be done.  If you are on a tight schedule, cook hamburgers.  

I usually purchase my butts from a local grocery chain, Ukrops.  If you read many of my articles you will know that I am a pretty big fan of Costco.  But, when it comes to Boston Butts, I don’t recommend getting them from Costco.  The one time I did, I was very disappointed in the taste.  To temper that, I do buy baby back ribs from Costco and am happy with the results. 

Recently a new butcher opened about 40 minutes from my house that specializes in local meats.  For Mother’s Day he cut me a complete pork shoulder (upper and lower shoulder, butts are from the upper shoulder) from a locally raised pig named Lucinda.  Yes, my family thought it was odd to know the name of the pig they were eating.  But, everyone loved the BBQ.  I even received my greatest compliment ever that day.  I converted a two year vegetarian back to a meatetarian with my pulled pork.

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The butt should have some fat on it when you cook it.  However, I sometimes find that butts have almost a 1/2″ of fat on one side.  I trim that to about 1/4″ or slightly less of fat before applying rubs and cooking.

One more comment about cuts of meat for pulled pork.  I mentioned the shoulder I purchased from my local butcher.  Meats packed for sale in grocery stores have some salt and other preservatives added.  While I don’t think this contributes any significant change in taste, I will say that I could notice a positive difference in taste with my butcher purchased shoulder.

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BBQ Tool Chest


A little over a year ago I read an article from epicurious.com about how to cook pulled pork BBQ.  Since summer had just started and I had recently purchased a new grill, I decided to give it a try.  After following the recipe and ending up with some pretty good chopped pork BBQ I started reading more.  It wasn’t long before I landed on the Virtual Weber Bullet website and started reading about how to cook BBQ properly.  While I am a fan of epicurious.com, the article I read was close but missed the target by a pretty big margin.

Here are some helpful hints I have learned over the past year of cooking pulled pork BBQ, ribs and various other foods that find their way to my smoker.

Smoker?  Yes, the first thing I would say to anyone considering getting into BBQ or preparing ribs is to get a smoker.  Your grill is great for steaks and burgers but it has several limitations that keep it from being an effective tool for preparing amazing BBQ.  Yes, you can cook ribs on your grill and I’m sure your ribs are amazing.  But, after the first time you cook your ribs on a smoker, you will never cook ribs on your grill again!

The first thing I will share with you is that smokers are not easy to find in retail stores.  I have occasionally seen them in Home Depot or Lowes but, not very often.  That being said, I purchased my first smoker, a Brinkman, locally from Lowes.  I tend to be a bit impatient at times.  However, after plenty of reading I knew I wanted a Weber Smokey Mountain.  My Weber Smokey Mountain came from Amazon.com.  If you watch the website over the course of  a month or so, you will find the price fluctuates quite a bit.  I saved about $30 on mine by just waiting until it was on sale.  For what it’s worth, Weber has the best support I have ever experienced.  My Smokey Mountain arrived with some damage.  One simple call to Weber and I had replacement parts in a couple of days.  If you have been keeping score at home, you now realize I have two smokers.  I still use them both.  The Brinkman is smaller than the Weber and is great for camping (it fits in my Coleman Popup Camper pretty easily) and it makes a great second smoker when I’m cooking for large groups.  There are also times when I want to cook ribs and pulled pork.  Having two smokers comes in handy in many ways.

If you are in the market for a smoker you might want to consider the new 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain.  When I purchased mine, there was only an 18″ version available.  While I have cooked a lot of food on my smoker at a time, there have been times when I wish I had a bit more room.  The 18″ should be plenty big enough if you are just cooking for a family of four or five.  But, I often cook for groups as large as fifty.  

Now that you have the basic tool needed for BBQ there are several ancillary tools you will want to go along with it.  I will break these down into “Must have” and “Nice to have” categories.  

Must Have:

  • A Charcoal Chimney.  Never use lighter fluid when cooking BBQ (ok, I have once when I forgot my chimney while camping and it wasn’t horrible).  
  • Welding gloves for handling hot Smokers, Charcoal Chimneys, Grills, and anything else hot but not food.  I purchased mine at Lowes and love them.  Most any pair will work.
  • Rubber gloves for food handling.  I found mine at a local Ace Hardware store.  I picked a pair with some texture to them so it is easier to hold slippery food.  The best way to clean these is to wash your hands while wearing the gloves.
  • Large commercial grade aluminum foil.  I usually get mine at Costco.  While normal kitchen aluminum foil will work, you will eventually want the large commercial grade stuff.
  • Spices purchased in bulk.  Buying spices at the grocery store is very expensive.  Penzeys sells nothing but spices.  I’m lucky that there is a retail store local to me.  Their website will let you know the closest location to you but, you can also order online.  I recommend subscribing to their free catalog.  I buy paprika by the pound now that I BBQ.
  • Large tongs, you don’t want to use a fork to flip your food.  Puncturing the meat allows moisture to escape.
  • A meat thermometer.  While any meat thermometer will work, I really like my wireless Maverick ET-7.  BBQ is a game of waiting. It’s nice to be able to monitor what’s going on in my smoker from inside my house.  Make sure you check out their newer wireless thermometer.  
  • Kosher Salt.  I realize this is covered in other articles of mine about BBQ but I feel it is so important I had to include it in the “Must have” section of tools.

Nice to have:

  • Chaffing Dish, stand and food trays.  I purchase mine from Costco and use them anytime I’m cooking BBQ or ribs.
  • Mop used for putting BBQ sauce on ribs and shoulders.
  • Rib Rack for cooking more ribs than will fit on your smoker.
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