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Customer Reviews: 424
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Helpful Votes: 3072

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Patrick O RSS Feed (San Dimas, CA United States)

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Verilux HappyLight Liberty 7.5K Energy Lamp
Verilux HappyLight Liberty 7.5K Energy Lamp
Price: $57.95
6 used & new from $57.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Let there be light, September 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I live in Southern California, which seems like one of the last places a person would need something like this. I blame the 4 years I spent in the Chicago area for a persistent case of SAD that hits anytime the clouds cover the sun for more than a couple days, which happens here on occasion. More of an issue is the fact that I work inside, at my desk, with no windows either at my home office or my work office. I have young kids, which affects my sleep, and all this adds up to mood shifts and dark internal shadows if I'm not careful. So, I'm very attentive to getting sun as I can, but when I can't I'm especially attentive to ways I can keep my focus steady when I need it.

I have a Verilux VT05FWW1 HappyLight Energy Lamp 5000 at work, and a Verilux desk lamp at home, but I realized that my work lamp provides more of a consistent charge than my desk lamp, so I'm very happy to have an energy lamp for home as well. This is where I get up early and end up having more focused work.

As far as this particular model, I like it better than the 5000 model I have at work. Both work the same way, with a low and a high setting providing a light treatment for varying amount of time. I realized I have to ease into sitting in front of these as they do have an effect on my sleep habits and my eyes (I'm susceptible to migraines). This is brighter. This one also has a lens option, which essentially provides 4 levels of brightness between the two. There's a softer lens that has a bluish tent to the frosted plastic and a white lens that allows more brightness. You have to unscrew the top to change the lenses, and they provide a little screwdriver on a chain that can be kept around the plug or another convenient place. It's inconvenient enough that you won't want to switch the lenses regularly, like if there are two different people/preferences.

As far as style, it doesn't necessarily stand out, but it's noticeable. The footprint is about the size of a desklamp but it's a rectangle so looks like something new and different. I've been asked about it at work, usually with a nice followup comment. People appreciate the need for these.

Replacement bulbs cost about twenty dollars here on Amazon.

I'm happy with it, liking the 7.5K more than the 5K while about the same size and shape. If you need some light because of the weather or your job situation, this is definitely a worthwhile investment.

The 10K model is brighter, and allows for tilt or wall mounting, so if you're wanting more flexibility that might be the way to go.

The Plover: A Novel
The Plover: A Novel
by Brian Doyle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.62
65 used & new from $11.83

3.0 out of 5 stars stormy weather boys, September 22, 2014
This review is from: The Plover: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yeah, three stars. There it is. Before I get to why, a little preface. Doyle is clearly a great writer, a master of the craft. I wish I could write even near as well as Brian Doyle. So, three stars? Yeah. The thing about Amazon is its not really about a literary review in the classic sense. It's a place where people go to buy stuff, including books, and so the reviews are meant to help readers figure out if they want to make a purchase. I chose to read this book based on the stellar reviews. This now is the review I wish I had read before picking it.

Like I said, Doyle is a great writer, at the height of contemporary fashion in style. And he knows this is true and his fans know this is true. If you disagree you're likely wrong and worthy of being a tool of knowing amusement by your self-appointed betters. Which means it's a risk to not join the popular kids at their table, especially when they're probably right.

I'm not a big literary fiction aficionado, either in girth or purchase history, but I've been a voracious reader my whole life. Jack London and Michener shaped my junior high and high school years. Dostoevsky and Milton arrived in college. Yoskikawa and so many others filled my time. Mark Twain came a bit late, when I found his short stories and then his travel musings. All still favorites. My current profession involves reading a significant amount of very deep and complicated prose. So, I read fiction mostly for relaxation, content neither with shallow or bombast. Doyle's background and topic intrigued me, though. I'm a SoCal guy with connections to the northwest. I love sailing. I love reading books about voyages. Richard Henry Dana got me started with his depiction of early 19th century California. I've camped on islands off the coast, slept next to sea gulls and elephant seals. As a fan of early Irish tales and monastic writings, Brendan's voyage is a beloved text. I liked the idea, the background, the thrust of The Plover's description.

So, three stars. That's what I'm left with. Pure craft? 5 stars. The whole package? That's what I'm assessing, and it's 3.

First, what I like. A lot of literary fiction involves hyperbolic characters, outlandish humanity intended to stir the waters of bourgeois ennui. Put them in a skeleton plot and let them bump into each other. Doyle's characters aren't particularly real, but they're close, and there's a plot, even some drama and development, that gets a reader from one spot to the next. A man on a solo cruise quickly gains company and then encounters injustice, maybe evil, even while there's restoration, more restoration than solitude might have offered. Everyone is damaged but damaged in different ways, trying to make their way back to light and voice. There's a mystical quality as well, the birds and the ocean itself characters with their own voices and comments. I know what it's like to talk to trees and birds and bodies of water. I know what it's like when they talk back. I liked Doyle's ecological breadth, it felt holistic, true to those who find a deep resonance in and with an often contrary Nature.

Lots of imagery and a way with words that pulls the reader in very specific directions, using not only the words, but grammar and paragraphs. It's a modern art approach to writing where the goal isn't always a specific image but rather a mood.

The problem, for me, is that the mood is so entirely chaotic. I remember camping on a mile square island off the coast a few years ago. Usually a very serene sort of place. A few newcomers came with us. Very extroverted. Talked all the time, everything needing a commentary. No rest. Other campers had the same approach. Frenzy, busyness, every space filled to the brim with words. So, many words.

That's what I ran into with Doyle's work. So many words, so much frenzy and chaos. Well-crafted and designed, to be sure, but everything just kept pouring and pouring over me, no quiet, no rest. Have you ever driven in a rainstorm? Doyle's story is like that. So, so many words pouring at the reader it gets hard to get at the underlying story. This is intentional. Paragraphs go on for 2 pages, maybe more, never a rest. The characters jump from issue to topic, short comments, no marks, just a flurry of interactions, blending into an attempt at broaching inner perceptions, but they are the perceptions of frenzy and chaos.

Dana's Two Years, in contrast, had frenzy and work behind the scenes but he was a contemplative writer, thoughtful in reflection. Exposing the reader to reality but bringing in a calm despite the storms. Doyle pours a bucket of water over you in the middle of a hurricane. It's exhausting. But that's why it can also be so exhilarating to other readers. I get it. I get the 5 star reviews. I don't necessarily disagree with them.

I just didn't enjoy camping with that frenzy a few years ago and I didn't really enjoy wading into the frenzy of chaotic souls, as more and more words kept pouring over me that I felt like I was drowning in words and asides and paragraphs without a break.

Also, I've talked to seagulls and pelicans and so many other birds. I slept on an island where seagulls are born and raised, every square foot except the campsite had a mama and chicks. I heard them talk all day and night. Mark Twain got his bird characters and voices down, he knew the jays for who they are, spot on with the crows. I didn't recognize the birds Doyle portrayed. They were more like puppets, possessed forms with an outside voice. They seemed like they were spirit voices, not the voice of the birds themselves. But again, literary fiction tends to use characters more than portray characters, and Doyle uses his birds to add an aura of seeming mysticism. Which might sound very authentic if you've only heard about people talking with birds.

Short review: read an example. If you are drawn in by a page of writing, you'll like the book, it's like that all the way through. If it doesn't stick, it won't. If you're someone who likes to talk a lot about everything you see, the sunset, the waves, the birds flying by all have their own commentary, this will fit. If you like contemplation, quiet, restfulness in a scene seen or described, this will be a frustrating book, full of noise and frenzy. I'm the latter sort

Dirt Devil SD40050 Dash Bagless Canister
Dirt Devil SD40050 Dash Bagless Canister
Price: $99.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vacuuming bliss, September 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've always been part of an upright vacuum family. Canister vacuums were foreign, something I saw on television. Our current vacuum is on its last legs, no longer the workhorse it was when we got it, so we've been looking for something that better fit our needs.

With a 2 year old running around and a 2 month old, a good vacuum is a daily necessity. We have different surfaces including carpet and tile in the house.

Breaking tradition, I went with this model. I'm happy with it. While I'm not use to pulling the canister around quite yet, it's very easy to do. Light and maneuverable. The long hose is much more flexible than our old upright, of course. Powerwise, it's quite potent, no loss from our upright, and because it gets around nooks and crannies better, it's really easier to do all the edging and under furniture in more fluid steps.

Because it's lighter and smaller, it's easier to move around and stores neatly on its side, so takes up less space. Definitely a winner for us so far.

Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Price: $29.92
7 used & new from $29.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's an oven! For toasting!, September 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife had an old toaster she brought into our marriage 6 years ago, history before that unknown to me but clearly sketchy. I've been looking for a replacement, and yet couldn't settle on something. Toaster oven is a happy convenience rather than a necessity. But I've been getting tired of turning on the big oven, and never really like microwaving food that should be crispy, so I got this with high hopes.

Hasn't disappointed. It's a basic toaster oven. But it does that well. It's designed more for cooking straight on the grill, and with that in mind fits a 9" pizza. Mechanical, with big ol' knobs, so very familiar to the way toasters have been for a while. .

It gets hot on the outside, so that's a bit of a concern for us with a smallish kitchen. It's pretty easy to clean, however, and that's a great bonus. If you're in a market for a toaster oven that fits all the classic definitions, this is a great choice. I find I'm using it for a lot more than toast. Made a great chicken sandwich yesterday and on the toasting setting it cooked both the breaded chicken and the bun quite nicely, in much less time than the regular oven, with all the same taste (which the microwave doesn't provide).

Corel Painter 2015
Corel Painter 2015
Price: $398.99
11 used & new from $394.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying if you don't have it. Worth an upgrade from previous versions? Maybe, September 19, 2014
This review is from: Corel Painter 2015 (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For reference, I've used Painter X2 and Painter X3 prior to using this version.

I also have and use the Adobe CC suite. Which is sort of a moot issue, as there's nothing Adobe does that compares with Painter.

If you're an artist and thinking of digital art and are wondering if it should be this or another program, stop right here. Buy it. Especially if you're a student as there's a much reduced price student version. Just buy it.

Painter is a program that is, in almost every case, more limited by the artistic skill of the user rather than the software. You have almost infinite control of style, brushes, color, with a wide variety of effects. The effects and other tools are reminiscent of Photoshop, so there is some overlap, but this goes way beyond Photoshop in sheer creative potential.

Corel makes software that is fine-tuned, runs well on a variety of machines. A Wacom (standard) or Huion (highly reviewed budget) drawing tablet really brings the best of out this software.

The big question for someone familiar with Painter is if its worth the upgrade. I'd say a qualified yes. The program does run faster on both my laptop and desktop. There's no lag, for instance, with the real watercolor setting, which tended to slow down X3 on my laptop. I have a touchscreen laptop and response is fluid and easy.

New features besides that aren't plenty, this isn't a revolutionary new version, keeping it very familiar to Painter veterans. What's new and potentially worth it to some are the new particle brushes. Essentially, these are effects that can be drawn live on the painting, rather than added like other programs do. Create a wide variety of textures and looks that really make your art pop. Really, these help lesser artists create advanced looks in their art with a quick brush stroke. Purists won't need or want it, unless they want to speed up the process. There's advanced controls to adjust minute aspects of each element.

These are especially useful if you're into fantasy art, character design, or scenery, providing an array of intricate textures that can take your work to the next level.

Another upgrade is the ability to fine tune the jitter control even further, allowing for even more natural look of the digital art. That's something advanced artists might value.

So, 2015 is all that is great about previous versions of Painter with some fine-tuned software that runs faster and tools that help intermediate users seem advanced, and help advanced users save time and make even more advanced art.

Definitely recommend if you're an artist. Probably overkill if you're just looking for a basic tool for the kids or casual use. Recommend upgrade if you do fantasy scenes or feel discontent with previous versions digital "look". This 2015 version is really blurring the lines even further between computer and physical artistry.

George Foreman GR1036BTR 5-Minute Burger Grill
George Foreman GR1036BTR 5-Minute Burger Grill
Price: $23.74
6 used & new from $23.74

4.0 out of 5 stars good for quick cooking, a bit small, September 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like toasted buns. There, I said it. I like my buns toasted. We have an older model George Foreman Grill, pretty big, got it about 6 years ago for our wedding. All the features you could want. Big cooking space, different plates, adjustable tilt (drain the fat or keep the fat!). But, if you wanted your buns toasted, you'd have to turn the oven on. Or, just use the BBQ. Which is what I started doing more and more. To the point the Foreman didn't make sense to keep out in our space deprived kitchen.

Saw this, told my wife about it. She balked at first. Another one?! She asked, with a edge of frustration with me. We don't use the one we have! I was deflated. It was already on its way.

It arrived. It's so small, she said. I know! That won't take up half the space of the other one, she said. I know! And look on top, I said. It toasts buns! That convinced her. Suspect delivery became an approved item.

It's really simplified. Permanent tilt and plates. Instant on, quick heating (like most sandwich machines). It's definitely small. We usually get 1/3 pound burgers from Costco, and this will only fit one of those. So, it's a 2 person cooker like a 2 person tent sleeps 2 people. Sure, if they're small, but not in most circumstances. What I really like is the ease of use for my own lunches. Chicken sandwich, hot dogs, quick grilled cheese. Things I normally wouldn't make because I'd have to use the oven (and heating the house in our SoCal summer isn't done lightly).

Very pleased. Definitely recommend, but only if you think of it more in personal or small meal terms, not really for family use (unless everyone gets their own, which you then could call George II, George III, George IV, etc. But who would do such a thing?!)

Chummie Elite Bedwetting Alarm with 5 Tones, Vibration and One Drop Detection Technology, Green
Chummie Elite Bedwetting Alarm with 5 Tones, Vibration and One Drop Detection Technology, Green
Offered by Theos Medical Systems
Price: $79.95
2 used & new from $79.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up! You're wetting!, September 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Our daughter is on the younger edge of the recommended age, so I wasn't sure if this would work. I was willing to hold on and see if it didn't.

Well, we're happy. She still has accidents but the Chummie definitely lives up to its claims. It wakes her up, and lets her know. It's not magic, doesn't stop anythng on its own, it's just supposed to alert kids they're wet. Works with the brain and gets them to match the feeling with the wakefulness.

I got it out and was a little surprised at first. What was I expecting? I don't really know? A pad? This is wearable, but it's not seemingly too awkward. Everything is easily "installed" and the alarm switches from a sound to vibration depending on the setting, meaning this is something that will travel well. The sounds change so the child doesn't acclimate. Those of us who have slept through alarm clocks know how possible this is.

We're not at the 2 month point yet, just a bit more than half of that, but we're definitely seeing increased awareness and interest in getting up at night.

Scotts EZ Seed Sun and Shade Seed Mix, 3.75-Pound Jug
Scotts EZ Seed Sun and Shade Seed Mix, 3.75-Pound Jug
Price: $15.49
6 used & new from $15.49

4.0 out of 5 stars yard rogaine, September 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After a hot So Cal summer and multi-year drought conditions, we have a pretty patchy lawn. It's not big and we're currently renting, which means I don't want to and don't need to spend money on it. But, with kids, I want a usuable lawn for them to play on, and I want a nice lawn to look at. If I owned, I'd likely invest in a more drought sensible landscaping. But, that's for a later time.

This is for now. I'm waiting for the summer to finally end before I do a larger spread, but in the interest of a review I tried it out on one particular patch. Doesn't get the most sun, doesn't stay in the shade, so I figure it's a good play to begin the restoration. Worked the soil a bit, have already been watering, and tried this out. Another reason for a small patch is because it needs a lot of extra watering at first, and I don't want to pay for a lot of extra water if this stuff doesn't work.

Another thing. I have a lot of other interest and responsibilities besides my yard. So, I don't want to spend time in ways that might, in the long run, save me money. My time is worth a lot more than the money I'd save.

Verdict? I'm satisfied. This works fine. I saw some growth and I'm keeping watch on it. It won't quite match the rest of the lawn, the part that remains, but I'm not too concerned about that. I would like to have a little growth and maybe I'll think about getting matching seed later on when there's coverage.

Easy, seems to work, all in one. Just add water.

Saucony Hydralite Short Sleeve, Carbon, Medium
Saucony Hydralite Short Sleeve, Carbon, Medium

5.0 out of 5 stars great exercise shirt, September 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At the beginning of summer, I realized I needed to get back into running after a year away. I thought one way of encouraging myself would be to have a better selection of shirts and shorts, rather than the t-shirts I had been wearing. I know. That's a recipe for being a sporty dressed lounger. Turns out it worked. I've been running most every morning (except the last week with a minor knee issue I don't want to aggravate)

So, I went on Amazon and looked at what was available, picking a few selections of wicking and light shirts. A couple good ones and a less than good one.

This is a really good one. First of all, it's advertised as being loose fitting, but I got a tighter fit with a medium size for my 6" 207 pound body. I say tighter because it actually did fit, though a bit snug. Length was totally fine. When (not if) I get another one, I'll get a large. My only issue was that the collar is a bit tight around the neck, and I like a looser fit collar. I'm hoping the large I buy has that.

The material is more of mesh look, though that might sound bad. It's a thin and light material that isn't at all transparent when you're wearing it, so doesn't come off as a mesh shirt. It's very breathable, very light, easily stored and taken out. This is a great shirt for going to the gym without a big bag, going traveling in a warm climate.

The carbon color is like the picture.

Dr. Smith's Diaper Ointment Rash Spray, 3.5 Ounce
Dr. Smith's Diaper Ointment Rash Spray, 3.5 Ounce
Price: $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars No go for us, September 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Our 2 year old is vocal, which helps in reviewing items like this. For us, this worked fine, I like the spray, the ingredients, etc.

Our daughter doesn't like it. After using it twice, she tells us not to use it. She actually seemed more agitated after we used it than before. Got up in the middle of the night and asked for powder. Her rash was worse.

Because it didn't seem to help, there's not a lot of commitment on our part.

Which is a bit sad, because I really liked the idea of this.

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