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OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Bowl Scraper Set
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Bowl Scraper Set
Price: $9.95
5 used & new from $9.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK for thinner mixtures, August 31, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you're doing cake batter or syrup or something that's generally runny and eminently pourable, these scrapers do an OK job of squeegee-ing the mess out of most shapes of bowls. If you're making bread or anything else that you really, truly need a bowl scraper for, they are just way, way, way too flimsy. The soft silicone also attracts dirt like a magnet, so keeping them genuinely clean is kind of an ongoing chore.

Paprika (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
Paprika (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
by Yasutaka Tsutsui
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.98
74 used & new from $6.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not especially well translated, August 16, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Translating Japanese literature is hard. Translating surrealistic Japanese literature is even harder. Things that can be fun to read in a language that eschews the use of pronouns often become horribly tedious when converted into one that insists upon them, but it can be done well on occasion. This, unfortunately, was not such an occasion, and getting through most of this Paprika's stilted prose is honestly pretty difficult. The story is interesting, and you can make sense of it if you try hard enough, but I think it will continue to struggle to find an audience here until the publisher invests in a better translation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2013 8:20 AM PDT

California Air Tools CAT-1610A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 Hp 1.6-Gallon Aluminum Tank Air Compressor
California Air Tools CAT-1610A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 Hp 1.6-Gallon Aluminum Tank Air Compressor
Price: $194.00
3 used & new from $194.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for finish carpentry, June 26, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is absolutely not what you want if you want to do roofing, framing, or spray finishing, but if you mostly sink brads, pins or narrow-crown staples, it's amazing. It definitely makes noise, but it won't shake the entire house down to its foundation. It's also pretty well built, so it'd take some serious mishandling to damage one in shipping.

My complaints are all pretty insignificant: The instruction manual is more or less useless; took me a good five minute to figure out where I was supposed to screw the filter in and there's really not much in it that's not already printed on the giant warning stickers all over the compressor itself. The cord is also really surprisingly short, and they warn against using an extension cord for reasons which are beyond me. It's not even capable of reaching any of the overhead outlets in my garage while it's sitting on the floor, so I'm afraid I have no choice but to break that little rule.

It's also impossible to attach an average moisture filter to the coupling on account of how close it sits to the tank--there's just no clearance for one. Not really a big deal since it's not practical for spraying applications anyway, but it's worth noting.

All-in-all, it's a great compressor for the money.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2014 10:37 PM PDT

Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray - Stratus Blue
Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray - Stratus Blue
Price: $8.50
20 used & new from $6.79

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what all the fuss is about, June 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So there was a big fuss about these being the greatest ice cube trays known to mankind on some consumer review blog that basically just regurgitates the content of reviews from Cook's Illustrated and slaps their name on it. I've never been particularly happy with any ice cube tray I've owned, and these were cheap enough, so I figured I'd give them a try.

These trays will definitely hold water inside them long enough to freeze it, so in that regard, they are wonderful. In every other regard, they are exactly the same as every other ice cube tray I've ever used. It takes a lot of effort to push the cubes out, and you invariably end up pushing out more than you actually wanted because it's still a big, single-piece tray. I wouldn't really harp on that being an issue were it not for the emphatic pronouncements of Tovolo's apparent mechanical superiority in the cube removal arena--something I've found to be completely imaginary in actual practice. Where it differs from the rest of the market is in the size of the cubes it produces. More specifically, they're too big to fit in any glass I own.

Oh yeah, and the disgusting taste/smell is impossible to ignore or get rid of. Wash it all you want, it never goes away.

In short: People who call themselves "mixologists" aren't particularly valuable sources of information and I will not be basing any further purchasing decisions on their rantings.

Sony RMVLZ620 Universal Remote Control (Black)
Sony RMVLZ620 Universal Remote Control (Black)
Offered by Foster Ave.
Price: $19.49
31 used & new from $10.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Several giant steps backward, May 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've used prior generations of this device for many years, with my most recent model being the RM-VL600. No one would ever accuse Sony of making any of them easy-to-program, but the RM-VLZ620 is virtually impossible. After spending at least 30 minutes attempting to get a single set of device commands programmed, I have three major complaints:

The RM-VLZ620 refuses to even enter learning mode if it does not have brand new batteries in it. And they'd better be right-off-the-conveyor-belt new, too, as it is ridiculously strict about this. You won't know what's going on, because no part of the manual--not even the troubleshooting section--mentions it, but you'll select the button you want to program and the "SET" light will just turn off. No blinking sequence to look up or anything. Just silent failure.

Entering programming mode is also an utterly bizarre incantation of button pushes and holds that take a really long time to perform. This matters a lot more than you'd think it would, because unlike all previous models, the RM-VLZ620 resets itself after every learning operation. If you forget to go back and re-select the device button before you select the next button you want to program, you'll exit learning mode altogether and be forced to repeat the aforementioned incantation to get back there. In practice, this happened to me about every other button, and by the time I managed to get it back into learning mode, I had forgotten which button I had left off on. This is just stupid.

The RM-VLZ620 is hands-down the least effective "learner" in its family. It fails to read other remotes' signals constantly, forcing me to repeat the learning process over and over again before it actually succeeds in learning. My ancient RM-VL600 almost never fails to pick one up under identical conditions, and it's been dropped so many times it barely even stays together anymore.

Once it does manage to tell you it succeeded in learning a command, it has significant problems actually re-transmitting them. A single, brief, completely normal button push more-often-than-not registers as three or more button pushes on the thing you're trying to control, and there appears to be nothing that can be done about this. Again, never had this problem with any previous generation.

On to more nitpicky things, there's no "Exit" button anywhere. I can't find a single remote in my house that doesn't have an "Exit" button as they are usually quite necessary for navigating on screen menus. Instead, Sony gave us a "Favorites" button where "Exit" should go. I have no idea what the point of this is.

Yeah, it's cheap, but my aging RM-VL600 was about twelve bucks, and it actually works.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2013 7:35 AM PDT

Havahart Spray Away Elite II Hose-Free Motion Activated Sprinkler Animal Repellent 5269
Havahart Spray Away Elite II Hose-Free Motion Activated Sprinkler Animal Repellent 5269
Price: $179.99
6 used & new from $125.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solar has its drawbacks, April 27, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This unit more-or-less does what it says it will, but the fact that it's pumping water up out of a reservoir instead of simply tripping a solenoid to let it through at normal pressure means it's pretty power hungry. If you happen to live in a coastal town, or are simply in the middle of winter when "direct sunlight" is never actually available, you may have a very difficult time keeping it charged; assuming you can get it charged at all.

The sensor doesn't seem to pick up on gophers very well, which is the primary use I happened to have for it. It will trip sometimes, but I'm not too sure it's doing anything to reduce the number of unsightly mounds they leave for me every morning. It also doesn't spray particularly far, but it's probably adequate for smaller yards. One thing I'd really like to see at this price point is a basic timer so users can specifically target nocturnal or diurnal pests.

The portability is awesome, but you make a lot of tradeoffs to get it. I'm not convinced it's worth three times what Contech wants for their versions.

Robot Coupe R2N Commercial Food Processor 3 qt. Gray, 120v
Robot Coupe R2N Commercial Food Processor 3 qt. Gray, 120v
Offered by A-to-Z Supply
Price: Click here to see our price
11 used & new from $930.00

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it was made to do, April 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you've ever even glanced into a restaurant kitchen, you've probably seen one or more of these sitting on a counter. They're more powerful, quieter and easier to clean than any consumer model food processor I've ever seen. With one of these, you can actually mince lemongrass and grate cheese faster than you'd ever be able to by hand without burning out a motor. They can also knead small amounts of dough, but you need to adopt a pulse-and-rest technique rather than let it run as you would a stand mixer. They used to make plastic blades for this purpose, but most people found them to be less effective than the regular one, so I think they stopped making them.

The slicing disc is of pretty limited value. If you need lots of limes or something to float around a punch bowl, it'll do just fine. Otherwise, you're probably better off with a Benriner or sharp knife. It's a nice extra to have in the box, but if you're considering it just for that feature, it's really not worth the counter space at all. That super-expensive disc also isn't easily sharpenable.

Given its size, you'll have to be working with fairly voluminous quantities for maximum effectiveness. If you're only prepping a couple handfuls of something, it'll probably just get slung up against the edge of the bowl where it will dodge the blades completely. Of course, if you *want* a coarse chop, that limitation can quickly turn into a feature.

The plastic work bowl will hang on to strong odors a bit, but not any more so than any other food processor out there. Hot water and vinegar mitigates this pretty well, but if you frequently need to do garlic and pastry in the same day, you might want to consider the much more expensive stainless steel "Ultra" version.

Cleanup is amazingly simple. There are no weird little nooks or grooves to trap food in at all. That doesn't really sound like that big of a deal, but not wanting to get toothpicks out to clean the lid is something that's kept my KitchenAid gathering dust on its shelf for years.

While they're definitely not priced to fly off of department store shelves, if you need one, there's no substitute.

Contech StayAway Motion-Activated Pet Deterrent
Contech StayAway Motion-Activated Pet Deterrent
Price: $47.18
38 used & new from $38.00

4.0 out of 5 stars One shot was all it took, March 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Our cat likes to jump up on top of the stove and eat anything she sees, even if the burners happen to be on. Needless to say, this is incredibly dangerous, and she's made herself violently ill by lapping up bacon fat on more than one occasion. Aluminum foil and plastic bags did nothing, but I set one of these up on the counter, and she's been too terrified to set foot near the stove since her first encounter with it.

Its sensor is unfortunately quite blind in the dark, so you have to give it a little bit of light to work with or it won't detect any motion at all. The switch is also disappointingly cheap, and it doesn't always turn on or off as you would expect it to when flipping it from one side to the other. Overall, I think it's pretty overpriced, but I couldn't make one any cheaper, and it definitely got the job done.

Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
by Naomi Duguid
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.33
74 used & new from $10.97

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some skill required, March 9, 2013
You should reflexively ignore anyone who compares any Burmese recipe they struggle to prepare to a dish they paid way too much for at Burma Superstar in San Francisco. The food there is terrible, loaded with MSG-laden ingredients (watch the delivery and/or garbage trucks out front someday if you disagree) and not at all anything you'd ever want to buy a book about. Additionally, if your braised pork comes out tough, you flat out don't know how to braise--not the book's fault.

There are lots of good Burmese recipes in here, but you do have to have a modicum of skill to pull them off. Ingredients vary in quality and potency, so if anything doesn't taste quite the way you want it to after using the numbers in the book, adjust them! I have done this and the Junta did not show up with rifles at my front door.

Overall, I think I'll continue to get way more mileage out of Robert Danhi's book (which is absolutely not Burma-centric in any way), but this is a great one to have on the shelf as well.

Pressure Cooker Perfection
Pressure Cooker Perfection
by Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.04
51 used & new from $10.75

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful info, March 9, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book definitely is "meat-centric," but so is the American diet--for better or for worse--so it's not surprising for any America's Test Kitchen publication. The focus is on relatively simple one-pot meals you can feed a small family with and not on all the different ways pressure cookers can be used.

That said, they are still a little repetitive. Once you learn how to braise meat, you don't really need to see 80 variations of it, but there are different sauces and preparations in most of them, so it's hard to fault them too heavily for the lack of technical variety.

The recipes are all geared toward owners of the smaller, cheaper cookers out there, so if you've got a big one, you'll probably want to either scale them up or stick a smaller vessel onto a trivet and do your cooking in it rather than right on the bottom.

Nothing groundbreaking, but it's a good book for the price, and there are lots of color pictures.

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