|Introduction||Gillette Mach 3|
|Tide Sport||Kinesis Keyboard|
|Dyson Vacuum Cleaner||SMC Lumbar Extender|
|Fentiman’s Soda||Nielsen-Massey Orange Extract|
|Microfibre Cloth||SteamTek Floor Mop|
|AreoGrow AeroGarden||Starfrit Can Opener|
|TeFal Frying Pan||Opi Nail Polish|
|Liberté Yogurt||Rubbermaid Cereal Containers|
|TV Shows||Denby Pottery|
|Sonicare/Philips Sonic Toothbrush||Stance Socks|
|Braun Multimix Blender||Links|
These are the products I personally endorse. None of the companies mentioned gave me any payment or gift. In this day of hype, it is so rare to find a product that lives up to its advertising. These products do. I repeat, these are not advertisements. They are unpaid endorsements.
Softsoap makes a clear tangerine-scented liquid foaming hand soap. Because you can see it, you can easily tell when you have spread it evenly all over your hands. It is a pleasant scent. It quickly gets your hands clean and odour-free. It comes in other scents.
When you first get it, you must twist the pump counter clockwise to engage the pump.
Every laundry detergent claims to have a clean fresh scent. They don’t. They have unpleasant chemical odours. They also claim to remove obnoxious odours from your laundry. They don’t. However, Tide Sport (aka Tide Plus Sport High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent with Febreze Freshness) does what it claims. If you prerinse smelly laundry in the sink with some Tide Sport, it eliminates the odour, leaving a quite pleasant smell.
On 2014-02-07 I bought a Dyson DC51 upright vacuum cleaner. It is a high end machine costing about twice the competition. The motor is inside a rotating ball. This makes it very easy to maneuver. It is lighter that my old vacuum, but I would not call it light. It’s ability to pick up dust, lint, dirt… is quite phenomenal. The suction from the hose is astounding. You can see the dirt in a clear canister. It makes a slightly annoying high pitch sound like a circular saw. There are no motors in the little purple cyclone funnels.
The English-free instructions are utterly baffling and in microscopic type. The web page with a getting started video did not work. However, Dyson service sent me to this one that deliberately has no audio. download manual The DC 50 manual is no longer posted on the Dyson website. Materials on the website were similarly English-free and inscrutable. I have managed figure out by experiment what the buttons do. It turns out they do provide an eight-page manual after all. However, it is filled with English-free diagrams showing you where various buttons are, but tells you absolutely nothing about what they are for.
Here is the manual something like what Dyson should have provided. Dyson is welcome to borrow anything they please to enhance their own future documentation.
|Dyson DC51 Vacuum Cleaner Buttons|
|Red banana-shaped button on the front top of the dust canister with white circle-| icon||Power on/off|
|Grey banana-shaped button on the front top of the dust canister with black ∞ logo, (which actually represents the roller bar)||Gentle beating.|
|Large red banana button on the front top of the dust canister.||Release the handle so that it can be pushed down into the vacuum for storage.|
|Small red U-shaped button on top of the dust canister.||Detach/open the dust container.|
|Small red circular button on the back of the handle||Allow wand to extend or shrink. It must be fully shrunk to fit in its cradle.|
|Red rectangular slider on the bottom||Allow you to remove the roller bar.|
|On the left ball cover is a blue plastic disc.||To remove it, unscrew it. Inside is a large white circular paper filter. To remove it, unscrew it too.|
|Two small Dixie spoons on the roller bar||When in the up position, open the roller bar for cleaning.|
At least once in your life, savour a glass of Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock Soda. It is made of pear juice, ginger, dandelion, burdock and aniseed. I would best describe it as root beer for adults. It has an incredibly rich delicious flavour that changes subtly as you hold it in your mouth, like a fine wine. It is not bitter or medicinal. If it were illegal it would be much better known. If you can’t find it, try their Cherry Tree Cola, which is also pretty good.
I dropped a package containing a pair of 3M ScotchBrite microfibre cloths into my shopping cart and was horrified to discover they cost about . However, they are worth the price. They clean glasses and screens many times faster and better than anything I have ever used. Further, they are soft, they don’t scratch and they are reusable.
All you do is add water when it tells you to and add two nutrient tablets when it tells you to. It turns its lights on and off automatically. It circulates the water with a small pump. My first attempt failed. The plants browned and died. The AeroGarden people explained that the nutrient tablets had become warm and damp and sweated out one of the micronutrients. I tried again, this time being careful to rinse in the residue on the fertilizer packets, and this time the plants are growing fast enough to see the difference every day. The instructions say to add water when a light comes on, but I find you must actually add water every second day or the plants will start to droop.
Even with its artificial light, it produces only about half the carbon of a comparable amount of food grown and shipped from field to home.
The surprise is how much fun this thing is. It is like watching a magic trick. Out of water, some small tablets and air materialises living vibrant little plants right before your eyes. Watching over a period of days you can watch the plants competing for light. You can compare their different life strategies. It is, oddly, like watching small animals.
The is something very satisfying and supremely delicious about eating chives or basil you grew mere seconds after they were picked. I was expected only a token harvest, but the unit produces enough so we can eat fresh herbs in salads, sandwiches, on pizza, in soup every day. The Italian Basil grows so fast I have to prune it back daily to keep it from overpowering the other herbs. As I type, a wonderful odour is wafting from the oven. I beefed up a store-bought frozen McCain pizza with a selection of fresh herbs.
Its lights are very bright. Most people could not sleep in a room with it, though I do.
The smaller AeroGarden 3 unit is not just a half-sized version. It has no water pump. It uses a noisier vibrator-style air pump to circulate the water. The vibrator gets even noisier when the water is low. There is no flow of water over the plant cups. The cups dip into the water. The light is even brighter and plants, especially the roots, appear to grow even faster than with the full size unit. You cannot vary the number of hours a day the lights stay on. It is fixed at 17.
I talk more about AeroGardens in my essay on marijuana and my automated greenhouse student project.
TeFal is a French company that makes non-stick cookware. I am impressed. The surface truly is easy to clean. It is reasonably durable. The large pan I have has a nice solid look and feel. It was not even that expensive. After a few years the surface wears off. You can buy a variety of thicknesses of coating which translates into usable life.$27.94
|recommend electronic⇒T-Fal Professional Total Nonstick 12-1/2-Inch Saute Pan|
|The pans come in various thicknesses/durability of the non-stick coating. Unfortunately Amazon does not specify which this one is, though the word professional sounds promising.|
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock|
Philips née Sonicare makes an electric toothbrush that gets your teeth cleaner than anything else I have ever used. When Philips bought out Sonicare they expanded the line to 9 different brush head types. The basic model is all you need. The original, which I use, is called the Elite. It lets you use any toothpaste you want. Some other electric toothbrushes make you forgo toothpaste because it wears out the gears. The Sonicare has a timer that keeps you honest, though they have recently dropped the quadrant timer is the low-end model. The brushes last six months. The batteries lose their ability to hold a charge after about three years. I am on my fourth entire unit. It arrived 2012-03-29 it is still going fine, but it now takes longer to reach full charge. There is very little to wear out other than the rechargeable batteries. It works at sonic frequencies, much faster than other brands. Going back to a manual brush feels like using a tree branch in comparison. The brush itself can get clogged with toothpaste. Take the head apart and clean it out with some dental floss or a toothpick and it will became re-energised. If it saves you even one cavity it has more than paid for itself, though as toothbrushes go, they are very pricey, including the replacement brushes. Each time you brush your teeth, in terms of number of brushstrokes, it is like brushing your teeth manually thirty times.$138.47
|recommend electronic⇒Philips/Sonicare Essence Sonic Toothbrush|
This is the older fatter Essence style that I use myself. It is cheaper than the newer models without the fancy not-that-useful features. The only thing seriously wrong with it is after about 3 years, the rechargeable battery gradually loses the ability to hold a charge and you have no option but to discard the whole unit or buy an new handle from the USA. I don’t know if any of the newer models are any better. This model comes with only one brush head. Philips has also disabled the quadrant timer to remind you to get on with the next quarter of your mouth. I suspect they did that hoping to irritate people into buying the crazy expensive models. Phht!
I have discovered you can get even better results with it by holding it vertically for part of the brushing. It then brushes each tooth side-to-side rather than up and down over the entire tooth length. You can think of it as like sweeping a floor in two directions.
The replaceable heads cost about $20 each and last 6 months. This sounds exorbitant until you consider how much you save in dentist bills. Each time you brush your teeth with a sonic toothbrush, in terms of number of brushstrokes, it is like brushing your teeth manually thirty times. 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
Philips/Sonicare created the original sonic toothbrush, but now there are other brands too. I am not familiar with them. Amazon sells this model under four different part numbers and four different prices. You have to look around even within Amazon to get the best deal.
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock|
You swish Plax around your mouth before you brush. It contains sodium benzoate which dissolves the glue that bacteria use to cling to your teeth. It makes quite a difference in how clean you can get your teeth. I find the green flavour is the most palatable. The red is pretty disgusting. You can buy generic equivalents cheaper. Finishing with hydrogen peroxide will cheaply whiten your teeth and kill bacteria.
The Braun multimix hand blender is so convenient to mix up a batch of Gatorade or orange juice or my morning smoothy. It can even do a number of other chopping jobs. You can make perfect Jello with one by mixing with two cups of hot water instead of the usual one hot, one cold. They are dirt cheap, durable and easy to clean. The problem is you can’t get spare parts for any Braun product.
I thought the Gillette Mach 3 Razor Blades blades were just so much marketing silliness, but when I tried them, I discovered they are just great. Mach 3s cut your beard quickly. You can’t cut yourself with them even if you try. You get a close shave. They last a long time without going dull. They are relatively easy to clean. They are very expensive but given their durability, they are probably cheaper than other brands. Most stores keep them in locked cabinets to discourage shoplifters. If you don’t see them on the shelves, ask the clerk. The head is a little on the big side, like maneuvering a barge around your face, but other than that, I consider this is by far the best razor I have ever used, and I have tried pretty well everything.
Originally I was attracted by the handsome male models in the ads, however, I’m not the only one who likes the blades. I told my sister about them and she said she had on multiple occasions heard men extolling their virtues in the super market line. That normally only happens in commercials.
If you have not shaved in a few days, you have to press fairly hard however, or the hairs can lie flat and escape the blades. I hope this is obvious, but just in case, to get a close shave:
Gillette has now come out with a 5 blade version and a vibrator called the Fusion. This is just too ridiculous. I am sticking with my Mach 3.
The trick to getting a really close shave is to listen carefully to the sound the razor makes running over your face. It will go silent once you have all the whiskers. You still need some special visual attention around the corners of the mouth and just under the nostrils. I find lathering, shaving with the grain, lathering again then shaving against the grain gives perfect results without scraping yourself raw.
Febreze is advertised to take odours out of fabrics. Amazingly, it does. It works by trapping smelly molecules in little molecular tube cages. It does not really get rid of odours, it just traps them. It gets oil odours out of massage sheets which don’t come out even with repeated launderings.
However, Tide with Febreze in the formulation makes clothes too itchy to wear.
Their recent ads suggest using the product as a substitute for cleaning. That is gross.
The original product had little odour of its own. They are spoiling it with heavy perfumes that hurt your nose.
The Kinesis DSK (Dvorak Standard Keyboard) Keyboard is outrageously priced, but it pays over and over in increased speed and reduced wrist strain. To read more about it see my essay on it. It comes in both QWERTY and Dvorak versions. It is so different in feel from a regular keyboard, you might as well go whole hog and get the faster Dvorak version.
The SMC Lumbar Extender is a very simple sturdy device that works almost like magic fix a sore or cramped back. You just lie on it and relax gradually and you feel a few pops, and suddenly your back feels fine. I slide it to three different positions and repeat. It is a bit overpriced. It works quite a bit better than a log or chesterfield arm. The secret may be the gap down the middle. It takes quite a bit of strength to assemble.
Nielsen-Massey make a line of organic extracts including orange, vanilla, almond, coffee … These of amazingly good quality. They are extremely concentrated and utterly delicious. I like to use them to flavour coffee. The almond extract is a product to restore your faith in people. It is intoxicatingly delicious. It does not smell in the least artificial. It has a complex odour. It is a bit like Christmas past in a bottle. Nielsen-Massey set out to make the best extract on earth no compromises. It is potent. In fact, it is so strong, it is hard not to over do it. I found just moistening a finger and rubbing around the lip of cup of coffee is often too much. It should come with some sort of eye dropper for measuring out tiny amounts. I transfer a bit to a small bottle with a precise eyedropper for use. The orange extract is similarly magnificent and potent. The problem is finding a retail store that carries the particular essence you want. Many that advertise they carry Nielsen-Massey just carry the vanillas. Check this list of online stores, what they carry and where they ship to.
The world is crawling with incompetently designed can openers. They drop the can, fail to cut the lid completely, require placing the can with precision, they are hard to clean… The Starfrit little beaver can opener is wonderful. It a marvel of engineering.
This is a remarkably well designed kitchen gadget. Anyone who designs consumer products should study it. It only costs and it will likely last the rest of your life.
If it ever fails to open a can in one rotation, spray the workings with WD40 and clean out any gunk with a cotton swab. It will then work as good as new.
It is odd for me to be endorsing nail polish given I have never used it. However, two of my sisters and Alyssa Campanella (Miss USA 2011), my nephew Torrance Coombs’ SO (Significant Other) (whom you might know as Thomas Culpeper in The Tutors or Sebastian in Reign), told me was the best brand when I asked which kind to get for my female roommate. A little name-dropping there. They all recommended Opi. Apparently Opi started out making dental supplies, which is where they learned to make the polishes durable. They are double to triple the price of other brands and come in tiny 15 mls (1.01 US tablespoons) bottles, but I am told are worth it. You might want to get the remover and top coat you harden with an incandescent light bulb that are formulated to work with these polishes. Opi also make some pricey artificial gel nails. I was surprised to find out it is translucent. It is a fairly subtle effect compared with the usual nail polishes that look like liquid blood.
The colours have whimsical names like: Kiss on the Chic, Royal Flush Blush, No no Bora Boraing Pink, Geneva Diva, Sephora’s Technogirl, A Rose at Dawn and Brokeby Noon, I East Mainely Lobster, I’m not Really a Waitress, Fresh Frog Of Bel Air, Gettin’ Miss Piggy With it and My Chihuahua Bites.
I got some for my room mate for Christmas. The particular colour she tried first seemed almost invisible, translucent, showing through the white tips, which was just the effect she wanted.
This simple product, officially called a 1.5 gallon Rubbermaid Flex and Seal Canister, has a kind of Zen perfection about it. It does its job perfectly without any fuss or extraneous gadgetry. The lid stays on when you want it to. The lid pops open when you want it to. The hole is just the right size for a reasonable stream of cereal to come out. It locks up air tight to preserve the cereal and keep out insects. It is big enough to hold a large box of cereal but not so big you can’t hold it in one hand. It is easy to grab. It is easy to refill. Whoever designed it is a genius and someone who deeply cares about his work and getting it just right. The slash of wine colour makes it easy to tell apart from other containers. It is easy to clean since there are no sharp angles to collect dirt. Surely he/she took it home to test in a real life environment to get it so bang on. It has only one minor flaw — it is possible for your roommate to put the lid on backwards. Then you can’t get a grip on the container on the opposite end from the hole. And finally it is only .
One of the great food treats of the Pacific Northwest is smoked wild salmon. The best way to eat it to get invited to a first nations gathering where they roast the salmon on sticks poked into the ground surrounding a campfire. If you buy some canned salmon at your local grocery store you are bound to be disappointed. It will be soggy and soft with no salmon flavour. If you buy dried smoked salmon, you will have to take out a mortgage. You can buy salmon-flavoured cream cheese, which is quite delicious, but not nearly as strongly flavoured.
However, a local cannery makes some very good canned salmon. It is firm, nicely smoked, packed to the brim (rather than half water). Their website is FinestAtSea.com. You can snail mail them at St Jean’s Cannery Ltd., Nanaimo, BC Canada V9R 6Z5. The product you want is called King of Fishes Smoked Wild Pink Salmon.
In 2000 I bought a set of Denby Energy pattern plates and cereal bowls. Not one of them has broken or chipped. It is not that I have never dropped them. They were quite expensive, but it is pleasing to own something so durable and aesthetically pleasing. They project solidity and permanence. Unfortunately, in 2008 Denby discontinued the Energy pattern. The image above is the Jet pattern which is similar. Since then, I have acquired an Denby imperial blue coffee beaker and two blue Jetty Cornflower dinner plates. The beaker has a nicely rounded interior which makes it easy to clean. The handle has a decent sized opening for my big clumsy fingers. It has a minimalist elegance, but nothing flashy. I have an emotional attachment to quality objects. I want them to stay with me for the rest of my life. Ideally,= clothes would be the same way.
There are three reasons I like Stance socks (aka NStance):
They cost perhaps twice what other socks do, but they are more than worth it.
You can buy them a some of Stance’s designs mail order from Freestyle Extreme in Britain. They will ship world wide. Their prices are half what they are elsewhere. The also take PayPal. They focus mostly on the sports team designs. They don’t carry the really wild stuff. You have to scroll the menu to see the Stance brand socks.
Swell and Zumiez have a good selection.
There is a similar company Darn Tough Vermont that makes durable wool socks with a lifetime guarantee. Their designs are not quite so wild and colourful, but they are not boring black either.
There is a secret Sock Club London. Its members are anonymous and they have no web site. I guess you contact them by approaching someone in London wearing interesting socks, while wearing some yourself. It is open to both men and women.
|recommend electronic⇒Bach: A Strange Beauty|
|I have just heard (2014-06-28) the most incredible recording . It made me burst into tears of joy repeatedly. Another person said it made them want to fly. It is available from Amazon on CD and MP3. Simone Dinnerstein is a young pianist who completely knocked my socks off. She plays Bach with perfect control, but with rollicking, full-blooded joy. Borrow it from the library or from a friend. If you love Bach, you owe it to yourself to hear this before you die. It is as distinctive as Glenn Gould, but completely different.|
|Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock|
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