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Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas
Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas
by David Banis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.56
33 used & new from $13.41

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fun than I expected, January 25, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To be honest, I almost didn't order this. I mean, I live here, what would I use this book for? However we get a lot of young new hires fresh out of college where I work and I regularly find myself introducing them to the city, so I thought I’d end up loaning this out a lot. However when I sat down to peruse it I found it was a really entertaining read. It’s not just a bland compendium of data, rather a cultural tour of Portland that uses city data as a framework. It’s educational and funny in turns, and overall an enjoyable read. While most useful to newer residents, I think anyone intrigued with this odd little city would enjoy it. It’s also an interesting dissection of a city. Most of us live in them but we don’t always think about what that means. While Portland is perhaps a bit different, it’s in most ways a typical mid-sized American city and this book is a fun introspection on that animal. So don’t let the title put you off (if it does), this book is a nice bit of quasi-educational fun.


OCZ Storage Solutions Vector 180 Series 120GB 2.5-Inch SATA III SSD with Toshiba A19nm NAND VTR180-25SAT3-120G
OCZ Storage Solutions Vector 180 Series 120GB 2.5-Inch SATA III SSD with Toshiba A19nm NAND VTR180-25SAT3-120G
Price: $74.99
17 used & new from $74.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value but not the best performance, January 15, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've got the smallest of these (120GB) and it's proven to be a great upgrade for a desktop that's used primarily for web browsing and light office apps. I looked up some performance numbers and overall this model seems to sit in the "middle-low" end of the pack in terms of speed. If you are going to be writing a lot of data this is not the drive for you, but to improve the performance of a home PC it's a good choice. I always shop for the best price between the major brands for home PCs and laptops (Samsung, Intel, OCZ, San Disk, Kingston, Crucial). Samsung and Intel are my first choice, but I won't pay more than a 10% premium for a home pc. For anything critical (work or school pc) I buy the second tier SSDs. Again I look at the same list of vendors but Intel and Samsung are my first choice. Intel probably has the best overall SSDs (in terms of reliability) but they usually cost a little more.


Oliver & Iris Bolster Donut Lounge Dog Bed, Medium, Chocolate
Oliver & Iris Bolster Donut Lounge Dog Bed, Medium, Chocolate
Price: $69.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dog approved - and easy to clean up, January 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a nice soft dog pillow that's fairly easy to run through the wash. First off it was a hit with the dog, and that's the most important thing. The sides are perfect for a dog who likes a bit of pillow for their head. You can unzip and remove the bolster which allows you to fit it into pretty much any washer. The bottom has a decent amount of padding. Like any dog pillow it picks up a lot of hair, but regular vacuuming and the occasional wash looks like it will keep it in pretty good shape. Oh and incidentally when I washed it I though in a dye absorbing sheet to see how much it bled and there was pretty much zero brown dye on the sheet. To me that's a good sign that they are using decent fabric and dyes.


The Copper Gauntlet (Magisterium, Book 2)
The Copper Gauntlet (Magisterium, Book 2)
by Holly Black
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.97
64 used & new from $6.78

5.0 out of 5 stars A hit with my son, January 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this for my oldest son (age 9) who loves almost any kind of "adventure fiction". He had read the first book in this series (The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book 1) and he really enjoyed it. I always read several chapters and skim through the books I buy for my kids and I found the writing to be accessible to kids without dumbing things down - maybe not as compelling to adults but that's not the target audience. My son ripped through it and said he really liked it and that it was "as good or better than the first book in the series". It's now in the hands of his slightly older cousin who also seems to be enjoying it. And for me that's enough: good clean literary fun for kids.

I see some people complaining about the similarity with the "Harry Potter" series but I think this book has it's own voice. (And let's face it the "magical school" trope was popularized by authors like Terry Pratchett long before JK Rowling took a stab at it). I can definitely recommend this as a good series for kids who read above the 4th grade level.


L'il Critters Gummy Vites Complete Multivitamin, 190-Count
L'il Critters Gummy Vites Complete Multivitamin, 190-Count
Price: $10.47
2 used & new from $10.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Kids love them, but there are quality control issues to consider, December 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With some reluctance I've been giving these to my kids for most of the past year. When the "Gummy" style vitamin first came out there were lots of quality issues. Things have improved a lot, but there are still issues. Just this past summer, Church & Dwight Corp (which sells the Lil Critters and Vitafusion line of vitamin gummies) had to recall their Vitamin D product in Canada because the contained up to 4x the amount of Vitamin D on the label. Previous tests by Consumer Labs Inc. had found less egregious problems in the U.S. a few years back. Competing products have had similar or worse problems, especially with Vitamin D levels. The most recent tests I could find on this product by Consumer Labs had it listed as "Not Approved" because the Folate levels (listed at 144mcg) varied from 122-244mcg, so up to 174.3% of the listed amount. That's still well below the RDA, so I'm not too worried, but it doesn't inspire confidence that they have good quality control practices.

So why do I use it? Well despite their issues they still do better than a lot of their competitors. The only product that consistently beats this on quality (by my measure) are the "Flintstone Gummy" products by Bayer. However Bayer uses some dubious food colors in their products. The amounts are small, so it probably doesn't matter, but it does become a case of deciding between two less than ideal products. In the end I'll probably just switch my kids back to regular chewable vitamins which have a better quality record, less sugar, and very little food coloring.

To minimize the quality control risks I give my kids one gummy in the morning and one in the evening, so it's less likely that I'm slamming my kid with more vitamins than they should ingest (assuming there were to be a problem). Again, I consider the risk low, but not zero. It's nice that kids like to eat these vitamins, but I'm not sure the convenience tradeoff is worth worrying about quality control issues. All that being said if you have a picky eater who doesn't like the hard chewables, I would suggest these or Flintstones Gummies. Neither is "perfect" but I think they are the two best choices out there.


Orbit 80053 24-In. Pusher Snow Shovel with Plastic Edge
Orbit 80053 24-In. Pusher Snow Shovel with Plastic Edge
Price: $41.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for clearing long sidewalks - you'll still want a regular snow shovel, December 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a perfectly good choice for pushing a lot of snow out of the way. It's big and wide, so if you're talking compact snow it's going to take some strength to use this - however for most people it's less strain than shoveling and tossing snow. The shovel itself it lightweight and easy to handle. It's a solid feeling plastic (with a metal shaft), and it looks like it will hold up well to regular use. This is a great tool for clearing long walks or driveways. You literally plow the snow off to the side rather than lift it. You'll still want a regular shovel for clearing out tight spots and for getting that last bit of ice off the walk, but for clearing most of the snow off a walk way this is going to go a lot faster than a shovel. If you've got the room or need for two snow shovels, this is an excellent pusher. If you are tight for space or only need to occasionally clear out a small area I'd suggest something like this: Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo.


CybertronPC Patriot-HBX TGMPATHBX0025OR Desktop (Orange)
CybertronPC Patriot-HBX TGMPATHBX0025OR Desktop (Orange)
Price: $489.55
5 used & new from $483.50

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT a gaming PC, December 27, 2015
This isn't a bad computer for web browsing and very light weight games, but this is by no definition a gaming computer. The CPU is on par with low to mid ranged CPUs released by Intel 5-6 years ago. A typical low-end Intel Core i3 on the market today will score 4x higher on CPU Mark. The graphics are an integrated Radeon HD 8370D. That means it share the same RAM as the CPU. AMD makes some awesome integrated graphics however this is not one of them. You will find the performance to be under pretty much any current Intel integrated graphics (most of which are also unsuitable for gaming).

In short this computer is not capable of playing any modern 3D game at any settings worth bothering with. So the only reason to buy this is to surf the web or to play very, very old games.


Crayola Comic By Me Kit
Crayola Comic By Me Kit
Price: $29.63
20 used & new from $23.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic gift for a creative kid, December 21, 2015
This review is from: Crayola Comic By Me Kit (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First off, as best I can tell, this is completely identical to the Lulu Jr. My Comic Book - Create Your Own Comic that my kids have used in the past. Now we don't have the starting materials anymore, so I can't set them side-by-side, but as memory serves they seem to be the same product. Overall that's a good thing though I was assuming Crayola had developed their own product and I was interested to see what they would do.

Still it's a good product to copy. The "Lulu Jr line of make your own book and make your own comic is a very good line of products. You get some simple to follow rules on what you need to do for them to produce a book and some pages to draw you comic on. You get some extras in case of mistakes. You do your own paneling (or forgo them completely) so you can make them any size you want. Smaller kids may just want to draw away, but older kids will benefit from a decent set of tips on comic drawing. This would be a really good complement to a comic-drawing class. In my area there are a couple of options for kids, you might see is available locally. If you search the web for "How to Create a Comic Strip With Your Kids" you can find some good sites with videos that will help you and your kids make it more "comic like."

All that being said this is fun right out of the box and your kids will absolutely love making their own comics. If you like this try out some of the "make your own book" sets. These are great ways to get kids to do some interesting integrative thinking and give them something tangible to show of their accomplishment. I just wish they had these when I was a kid...


Orbit 80085 Ergonomic Snow Shovel with Steel Wearstrip, 20"
Orbit 80085 Ergonomic Snow Shovel with Steel Wearstrip, 20"
Price: $32.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent snow shovel, December 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using a Suncast SC3250 18-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo four about seven years now and I've been pretty happy with it. I've got kids old enough to help out with snow shoveling so I decided to add this to our collection. It compares well with the Suncast. Both have good "ergonomic" designs that enable you to do a little less bending when using the shovel. The orbit is wider by 2" which is nice but the Suncast (which is a shovel/pusher combo) is deeper. Overall build quality seems to be similar. I think the Orbit might have a slightly smarter design, but the difference isn't extreme. I wouldn't say I love either one but they get the job done and don't cost much.

If I had to stick with one tool I'd go with a ergo shovel/pusher combo from either brand. However if it's a snow shovel you want, this is a pretty good choice.


Cuisinart CSB-158 Smoke and Humidity Grill Box, Silver/Black
Cuisinart CSB-158 Smoke and Humidity Grill Box, Silver/Black
Price: $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good compact smoker box, December 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've tried a couple of smoker boxes. This is the first one I've tried that allows you to have a water pan separate from the wood chips. I've used it a few times now and it's definitely an effective smoker. I like that it's compact so it won't take up much grill space. My first smoker box was long and flat. It just ended up getting in the way and I tossed it. As for the water side... For higher heat cooking you boil the water off too fast to make much impact but for low heat cooking it works pretty well. Naturally for long cook times you'll have to top it off. The build quality seems decent: the metal is coated so hopefully it won't rust. Overall a handy little smoker box to have around and the price is reasonable.


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