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Das Keyboard Professional Model S for Mac (DASK3PROMS1MACCLI)
Das Keyboard Professional Model S for Mac (DASK3PROMS1MACCLI)
Offered by Beach Audio
Price: $134.95
13 used & new from $82.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes A Racket, October 20, 2012
Is this a good thing?

Absolutely.

Clackety, clackety, clackety, clack. It's the sound of productivity. As I'm typing, I visualize old time pool secretaries, fingers flying over the Selectric keys, clackety, clackety, clackety, clack.

Does this have a place in today's world?

Totally.

The positive, crisp and precise feedback of the mechanical keys minimizes mistakes, at least that's how it seems to me.

Everything about the DAS Keyboard is solid, bomb proof and professional. Two included USB ports on the right hand side are a convenient feature. And it looks great sitting in front of my 27" iMac.

So why four stars and not five?

For hard to explain reasons, the Fn key has been relocated from its usual position to an odd location three keys to the right of the space bar. This is a real nuisance, and needlessly compromises an otherwise excellent product.


Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Lemon, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 6)
Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Lemon, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 6)
Offered by TheNewMall
Price: $24.61
6 used & new from $19.95

28 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eat a Sandwich; Save the Planet, October 19, 2012
Read the packaging for these sardines and you can't help but feel you're saving Mother Earth as you chomp on your sandwich. But digging down beneath the surface, there's not so much to be excited about. Unless of course BPA free packaging is your primary purchase criterion. If so, buy em now and don't read any further.

If not there are some issues to be aware of...

I understand that Wild Planet is the brand. But what about the "wild" sardines? I'm not aware that the sardine has been domesticated, and the lowly pilchards that swarm the seas in massive schools sometimes visible from outer space are not amenable to aquaculture.

On the other hand, qualifying these sardines as wild, notwithstanding the fact that there's no other kind, does confer a seemingly significant though clearly misplaced credibility. No doubt this will boost sales to a gullible buying public.

Then there's the matter of what happens to these fish after they're "sustainably caught along the California coast". The small print provides a clue in that these bad boys are "processed in Viet Nam". So what's really going on is that our diminutive sardines take on a heavy carbon footprint, travelling as they do from the west coast to the far east and back again, presumably to harvest the otherwise mutually exclusive benefits of buy-local chic and low labor costs. Nonetheless, we read that, "These sardines are considered a `Best Choice for Sustainability' by a consensus of environmental organizations".

There are other issues as well.

The health benefits of chowing down on this product are highly touted. For instance, "Ounce for ounce, Wild Planet sardines provide 3 times more calcium and phosphorus than milk...". OK, fair enough. But is this, as implied, unique to the Wild Planet variety only, or is it once again a characteristic of all sardines? Unfortunately, it's the latter.

We also learn that these "delicious meaty portions" are "cleaned and scaled". Buyer beware: this is quite different from "skinless and boneless". "Cleaned" in this context must mean something other that what is commonly expected by the use of this word in conjunction with fish. Be prepared to either eat the vertebral column and various entrails, or to remove (clean) them yourself.

How do they taste?

Not bad, if you're into schmaltz herring. The lemon juice in which they're packed adds a bit of zip, but these babies are smoked and have a characteristic smoky, salty taste.

But don't worry. It's not just any smoke, but "aqueous natural smoke" that they're treated with...
Comment Comments (17) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2013 4:40 PM PDT


Waging Heavy Peace
Waging Heavy Peace
by Neil Young
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.79
264 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Intimate and Conversational, October 19, 2012
This review is from: Waging Heavy Peace (Hardcover)
This book is Neil Young schmoozing about this and that, in no particular sequence, sharing what happens to be on his mind in the moment, sharing it with the reader as if he's right there in the room with you. Some people seem to like this style of writing, others not so much. I did.

While the fact that this is not a typical sex, drugs and rock and roll expose may disappoint some, I found it refreshing and endlessly interesting. Waging Heavy Peace is a window into the mind of a deep, complex and multifaceted person. What's actually revealed is very rich, goes far beyond the music alone, and in so doing provides a context for better understanding Young's remarkable creativity.

So apart from the music, the life, and the relationships, we learn about the author's passion for old cars, model trains, the environment and appropriate energy sources, ultra high quality sound, the archiving of this and that and various permutations and combinations of all of the above rolled together into one. It's fascinating.

To get a feel for what this is like, here's a snippet on Neil's work with Lionel, the iconic model train brand:

"During the development of what is now Lionel's system for control of action and sound on a model railroad, I became obsessed. There are so many ways to model the actions and sounds of a machine like a locomotive, it is endless - and the complexity is like a drug. For instance, every action has a sound, and every sound has variables. Every sound variable needs an algorithm based on an action, and every action needs a variable control mechanism and a sensor to monitor its position or at least predict its position, possibly based on the positions of other related moving parts of the machine's systems. To me this is a stimulant. I am fascinated by it, by all of the possibilities. Every sound needs to be recorded in such a way that it is variable by an algorithm based on the mechanical action of by the controller. You can see how I get hung up.

The end result is music."

Indeed.


The Orvis Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing for Stillwater Trout: Flies, Presentations, and Equipment for Taking Trout in Lakes and Ponds
The Orvis Pocket Guide to Fly Fishing for Stillwater Trout: Flies, Presentations, and Equipment for Taking Trout in Lakes and Ponds
by Jim Lepage
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $12.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Pocket Sized But Packed With Information, September 27, 2012
Stillwater trout are tough.

In a lake or pond they'll move around in search of food; you search for them in different places under different conditions. These environments provide wide menu options for our favorite fish - fly selection can be a daunting challenge. And water that doesn't move allows the trout plenty of time to study and critique your presentation. If it isn't dead spot on, nothing doing.

On the other hand, these same conditions allow trout to grow larger in stillwater than they ever would in a stream. If you're after a trophy, mastering the challenges of lakes and ponds is a must.

This little Orvis book will help you do it. It's loaded with practical advice, how to tips, and tactics that will at least give you a fighting chance. While at 117 small pages it's a quick read, I find myself going back to it again and again.

Carefully studying its content will help to level the playing field.

Like I said, stillwater trout are tough...


Lovable Lyle (Lyle the Crocodile)
Lovable Lyle (Lyle the Crocodile)
by Bernard Waber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.54
133 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody Kvells For Lyle - Until..., September 26, 2012
An unidentified enemy darkens the sunny and idyllic world of our favorite Upper East Side crocodile.

The book begins with a quick inventory of those who do love Lyle. There seemingly are no exceptions; this section ends with a picture of Lyle in the park, looking somewhat like Saint Francis of Assisi, birds perching on his head, kittens nestling up against him as butterflies flit about and a happy squirrel approaches. The caption reads, "And in return Lyle loved the whole, wide, wonderful world. He didn't have one single enemy in it... or so he thought".

I must digress to talk about Waber's exceptional illustrations. The expressions of abject adoration that he manages impart to the drawings of Lyle's admirers are simply astonishing. Forty years after its creation, his art has a vintage feel, but is so expressive and loaded with detail, that it will hold the attention of readers of all ages.

Anyway, getting back to the story, the love fest is interrupted by a note signed, "Your enemy" and stating, "I hate you".

In the next section of the book Lyle confronts the pain of rejection, while the Primm family, with whom he lives, tries to discover the identity of the hate monger. All the while the nasty notes keep coming. Mrs. Primm and Lyle even come across the scrawled graffiti, "Down With Crocodiles".

Eventually, the sleuthing pays off and the enemy is identified as Clover Sue Hipple, a little girl whose family has recently moved into the neighborhood. All of Clover Sue's friends love Lyle and play with him, but Mrs. Hipple won't let CS join in the fun. Hence the animosity.

Another digression, this one dealing with the genius of Waber's choice of names. A little girl, new in the neighborhood and named Clover Sue Hipple? This is rich, and contributes to the bizarre atmosphere that ascribes normalcy to the clearly abnormal condition of a highly civilized reptilian, at home on the streets of Manhattan. The better known William Steig later carried this tradition of zany names to a much wider audience.

Anyway, in the end all is well. Redemption reigns and enmity is overcome. Lovable Lyle indeed...


Tempest (Deluxe Limited Edition)
Tempest (Deluxe Limited Edition)
Offered by kylakins
Price: $6.05
65 used & new from $0.32

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Fight Em With Whiskey, Morphine and Gin, September 11, 2012
Tempest is a violent album. There's a lot of fighting going on, and a lot of dying too. It's bleak, stark, and kind of scary...

It's also quite remarkable. Dylan never ceases to amaze, setting off in unexpected new directions even at age 71.

In Scarlet town you fight your father's foes
Up on the hill a chilly wind blows
You fight em on high and you fight em down in
You fight em with whiskey, morphine and gin

What's going on here?

Dylan in 2012, talking to Rolling Stone about Tempest: "I wanted to make something more religious. I just didn't have enough [religious songs]".

Dylan in 1965 talking to reporters at a press conference: "I'm not on drugs. I just have a nervous disorder".

Hmmm...

Anyway, this time around Bob goes on to comment that it's an album, "where anything goes and you just gotta believe it will make sense".

So it is, and yeah, so you do.

Much has been written about the darkness that shrouds the songs of Tempest. And yes, dark it is indeed, as may befit the times. Dylan's always been adept at pointing out which way the wind is blowing and sometimes it ain't pretty. The times they are a changin', but not necessarily for the better.

And so it starts with Duquesne Whistle,

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like it's gonna sweep my world away...

Can't you hear that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like the sky's gonna blow apart

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like it's gonna kill me dead...

And so, only a few verses into Tempest, death makes its entrance, and stays there pretty much to the end.

The sound of all this is taut - like something's going to snap at any moment. It's blues / rock with banjo, violin and accordion woven in, and over it all Dylan's voice; broken, tattered, tortured and torn, perfect for expressing the shadows that seem to grip the songwriter's soul in his seventy first year.

Next up is Soon After Midnight, which on the surface sounds like a light hearted ditty. But listen closer:

My heart is cheerful it's never fearful
I've been down on the killing floors
I'm in no great hurry
I'm not afraid of your fury
I've faced stronger walls than yours

In Narrow Way things get a bit gruesome...

Ever since the British burned the White House down
There's a bleeding mood in the heart of town
I saw you drinking from an empty cup
I saw you buried and I saw you dug up
It's a long road; it's a long and narrow way

Sure is.

Look at what's going on in Long and Wasted Years:

My enemy crashed into the dust
Stopped dead in his tracks and he lost his lust
He was run down hard and he broke apart
He died in shame, he had an iron heart
I wear dark glasses to cover my eyes
There are secrets in `em that I can't disguise

No doubt.

Pay in Blood takes us to an even bleaker place.

Night after night
Day after day
They strip your useless
Hopes away
The more I take
The more I give
The more I die
The more I live.

And then the eerie and hypnotic Scarlet Town. Sounding a bit like Man in Long Black Coat comingled with Senor (Tales of Yankee Power), Dylan takes us through the haunted streets:

In Scarlet Town in the hot noon hours
There's palm leaf shadows and scattered flowers
Beggars crouching at the gate
Help comes, but it comes too late
By marble slabs and in fields of stone
You make your humble wishes known
I touched the garment but the hem was torn
In Scarlet Town where I was born

Did Bob really say that he didn't have enough religious songs? Or is he just sprinkling in the imagery for the fun of it?

The mayhem continues in Early Roman Kings.

I can strip you of life
Strip you of breath
Ship you on down
To the house of death

The next song, Tin Angel is a sinister and urgent telling of a tale of a love triangle that ends in blood. Here's how Dylan sets up the arrival of the avenger:

Well he threw down his helmet
And his cross handled sword
He renounced his faith
He denied his lord
He crawled on his belly
Put his ear to the wall
One way or another gonna end it all.

And then the final two songs - Tempest, about the sinking of the Titanic and Roll on John, about the murder of John Lennon.

So.

Bob sets out to write a bunch of religious songs and comes up with darkness, death, murder and mayhem. I guess you just have to take him at his word when he says "...you just gotta believe it will make sense".

Along the way it'll give you a lot to think about. And it'll grab a hold of you too.


Vidalia Chop Wizard
Vidalia Chop Wizard
Offered by AsSeenOnTVGuys
Price: $19.95
40 used & new from $15.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Short Shrift of Borscht, September 10, 2012
This review is from: Vidalia Chop Wizard (Kitchen)
OK

I have this recipe for Moldovan borscht. It specifies, among other things, that the beets (six of them) are cut into pieces 1/4" x 1/4" x 3/4". Actually doing this was an endless nightmare, and then there were the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and all manner of other veggies to deal with. It was brutal.

Then my wife bought me the Chop Wizard.

All the schvitz is now a matter of the past. This thing is simple, inexpensive, and really works. I can't imagine how I lived without it.

Not only does the work go faster, but the results are also superior; sharply cut, uniform morsels that improve any and every meal.

What are you waiting for?

Buy it!


Fisherman Eyewear Slim Vision DDE10SV Magnifier + 1.50 Power Reading Glasses
Fisherman Eyewear Slim Vision DDE10SV Magnifier + 1.50 Power Reading Glasses

3.0 out of 5 stars Flimsy, August 31, 2012
These things are lightweight, maybe too lightweight.

They break, get scratched, or are otherwise damaged all too easily.

They don't really find a consistent resting place on your nose.

But they work until they break, look good, and only cost ten bucks.

A quintessential three star product.


Q-Tips Cotton Swabs, Precision Tips, 170 Count (Pack of 3)
Q-Tips Cotton Swabs, Precision Tips, 170 Count (Pack of 3)
Price: $8.07
4 used & new from $8.07

3.0 out of 5 stars What's the Point?, August 28, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
OK - these Q-tips have pointy tips!

Big deal...

This looks to me like a bit of new product development overreach.

The packaging describes them as "the Ultimate Home and Beauty Tool specially designed for touch-ups and getting into small spaces". So, we can use them on lips, eyes, nails, brows, jewelry, glue and paint, electronics and appliances and window sills and moldings. To delve more deeply into the possibilities, the buyer is invited to visit the Q-tip web site "For tips and tricks on using Precision Tips".

Hmmm. Tips on using tips...

Here we learn, for example, "Q-tips® cotton swabs and new Q-tips® Precision Tips(tm) cotton swabs make great little paintbrushes for kids, pottery tools, and more!"

So both regular Q-tips and the pointy variety both make great little paintbrushes...

Really, do you really need to buy an additional item?

The marketeers bet you do, but I don't.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury (Lyle the Crocodile)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury (Lyle the Crocodile)
by Bernard Waber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.01
81 used & new from $2.93

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasury Indeed, August 27, 2012
This 50th anniversary (of the publishing of The House on East 88th Street) edition brings together four great crocodile tales: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile; Lyle Walks the Dogs; Lyle and the Birthday Party; and of course the one that touched off all the craziness, The House on East 88th Street.

As far as I'm concerned these (with the possible exception of Walks the Dogs) are some of the best kid's books that have ever been written.

Lyle is a large and very friendly crocodile who, for reasons that are never really explained, inhabits Manhattan (the Upper East Side to be precise) and interacts with the ordinary ebb and flow of life in the city.

Of course nothing about this is ordinary; it's bizarre, surreal, zany and an awful lot of fun.

Waber spins masterful and artfully illustrated tales with cleverness and wit. At the same time, there's a message in each one that's positive, wholesome and good. The author pioneers a style later adopted by William Steig, but entirely without the darkness associated with that later writer's work.

I could read these stories over and over again to my daughters and never get tired of them.

The stories that is. And of course, also the daughters...


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