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Jill Clardy "So many books, so little time...." RSS Feed (Redwood City, CA USA)
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Canon EW-83H Lens Hood for EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
Canon EW-83H Lens Hood for EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
Price: $42.95
16 used & new from $23.57

5.0 out of 5 stars I Should Have Bought Genuine Canon Lens Hood to Begin With..., October 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I knocked the original lens hood off of my lens during a whale watching cruise and watched it sink below the surface of Monterey Bay. For a while I was using another non-Canon (Opteka) 77mm lens hood but it wasn't a good fit, because it would cause vignetting at the corners when the lens was wide open. Though it bugs me to pay >$40 for a small piece of plastic, I ordered the genuine Canon replacement. It's a snug fit on the lens and doesn't suffer from vignetting. I always feel more comfortable about the safety of m lens when I'm out walking around on a tour or doing street photography, because it does provide some additional protection to the front of the lens, as well as the ability to reduce sun flare.


Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
Offered by Firemall LLC
Price: $38.99
76 used & new from $35.00

5.0 out of 5 stars In-Ear Headphones Offer Significant Noise Cancellation, October 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These small In-Ear headphones are quite comfortable to wear on a long flight and offer fairly effective noise cancellation. I wore them during a 14-hour flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and was able to detect a significant difference in cabin noise with the noise cancellation feature turned on. The background roar of the engines is noticeably quieter. The audio quality is decent, making it easy to follow the dialogue during the inflight movies. You have to really wedge the earbuds into your ears, but once you find the right size (several sizes are included), they stay in place. The noise cancellation module clips onto your collar or shirt front so that it doesn't get lost in the seat or land on the floor. Thought the headphone cords are plenty long enough, the module to input plug cord could have been a bit longer. It barely reached to the plug in the armrest when the module was clipped to my collar.

The noise cancellation module takes standard batteries, unlike my old over-the-ear headphones which required a button battery. The module and cords fit into a small fabric pouch with a drawstring. I'm sure these very handy headphones will be accompanying me on many future trips.


Flight Behavior: A Novel
Flight Behavior: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Though Slow at Times, "Flight Behavior" is Richly Rewarding, October 7, 2014
My review is for the audiobook, read by the author. It was a treat to hear her voice; her southern accent fits the locale and lends an air of authenticity. Flight Behavior is a long book (~450 pages in the print version), and the audio CD's filled my daily commute hour for nearly 3 weeks. The story is at times slow moving and repetitive, so I can see why some readers found it boring, but I really enjoyed the listening experience.

Flight Behavior refers to the migration pattern of the Monarch butterflies which have gone awry and landed on a mountain above the Turnbow's property in Tennessee rather than continuing to their normal destination in Mexico. It also refers to the dissatisfaction of the main character, Dellarobia Turnbow, with the narrow strictures of her impoverished life in their small town. Married at 17 due to an unplanned pregnancy, Dellarobia gave up her plans to attend college. They live on the land owned by her in-laws in a small house built by the in-laws. The in-laws have she and her husband under their thumbs. Work is sporadic for her husband, and she spends her time chasing her 2 children and trying to make ends meet.

When Dellarobia discovers the Monarchs up on the mountain, she becomes a local celebrity since the community considers it a miracle of some sort. When the scientists descend to study the phenomenon, Dellarobia becomes very involved with their efforts and obsessed with the chief researcher, Ovid Byron. Dellarobia is very intelligent, with a questioning mind, and enjoys her exposure the college-educated visitors.

Kingsolver's science background really shows through in this novel, as we learn a lot about the habits of the Monarchs, and global warming in general. The language is rich and colorful, and Kingsolver's ability to develop fully-realized characters is really on display as well.

Another fine effort from Barbara Kingsolver.


W.E.
W.E.
DVD
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Spin on a Great Love Affair, October 7, 2014
This review is from: W.E. (Amazon Instant Video)
The film W.E. creatively weaves the historic love story of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson, with a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard into a beautiful tapestry that is somehow more than the sum of the parts. Both stories are enriched in the process.

Wally Winthrop, a young unhappily married woman (who happens to resemble Wallis Simpson), has given up her career at Sotheby's at the urging of her abusive, philandering husband. When she visits a Sotheby exhibition featuring items from the former King's estate, she becomes obsessed with the tale of their love story and long life together. She fondles the items to be auctioned and tries to imagine their time together. The world was focused on what the King gave up to marry Wallis, but Wally wanted to know the other side of the story - what the divorcee gave up to marry the King. The Duke and Duchess were maligned and ostracized and spent their 36 years together living in France. During her many visits to the auction house, Wally befriends a thoughtful, erudite Russian security guard, and a romance blossoms when she comes to him after being abused by her husband.

The transitions between the modern and historic stories are interesting and well done - not exactly time travelling, though there is at least one scene near the end in which both Wallis and Wally appear together. The sets and costumes are quite stunning, particularly those set in the 1930's, and the period detail appears to be quite accurate.

I'm not sure why this film bombed at the box office, perhaps because it is rather slow at times, but I certainly enjoyed watching and learning more of the story of the great historic love affair.


Pioneer Elite SC-85 9.2-Channel Class D3 Network A/V Receiver with HDMI 2.0
Pioneer Elite SC-85 9.2-Channel Class D3 Network A/V Receiver with HDMI 2.0
Price: $1,599.00
4 used & new from $1,189.95

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Foundation for a Complete Home Entertainment System Upgrade, October 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Please note that my review is for the SC-85 Model (reviews for all models are intermingled on this page).

From the moment you first remove the SC-85 Receiver from its shipping carton and inner product carton, you will start to get a sense that you have acquired a top-of-the-line device. It is solidly built, and very large. Weighing in at >33 lbs., the SC-85 will need to be placed on a very sturdy piece of furniture. Though the width is normal rack-width for electronic devices, it is considerably taller and deeper than the ~20 year old receiver we're replacing. This necessitated reorganizing all of our peripherals so that it rests on top of the built-in cabinets in our family room rather than on a bookshelf above the cabinet.

The control panel with it's gleaming input selector and volume control exudes elegance and sensible design. Only the essential controls are on the front control panel, since many of the functions are accessed from the remote control and IPad iControlAV5 control software. The Remote Control is surprisingly each to use, though frankly I haven't yet explored all of the features. A look at the back panel will give you a sense of the capabilities of this receiver: 8 HDMI Inputs, plus inputs for all of your peripherals, speakers, and more...

One of the features that appealed to me when I selected the receiver is the ability to stream audio from Pandora or Spotify; however what wasn't mentioned in the product description on Amazon is the fact that you have to buy a wifi adapter in order to accomplish that. The recommended device is poorly rated on Amazon (and costs ~$120), so more research is required before this feature can be enabled. I have also downloaded the IPad control software, but until the SC-85 is wifi capable, I won't have a chance to use it.

The documentation supplied with the receiver is reasonably complete and useful, but it is now clear that our adoption of this new device is going to be a case of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".... We'll need the wifi adapter, then new speakers, then probably a BluRay DVD payer, then probably an upgraded tv, then who-knows-what !

I really haven't had time to understand all of the capabilities and features of this receiver, nor will I probably ever use all of them; however from a non-audiophile's perspective, this is a superior and very welcome addition to our entertainment system. The SC-85 more than supports our current setup, and gives us plenty of room to grow. I expect to have this for 20 years, like our last receiver, and after that, I'll be too old to learn new technologies anyway :)


How to Build a Girl: A Novel
How to Build a Girl: A Novel
by Caitlin Moran
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.07
51 used & new from $13.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, Vulgar, Hilarious - Definitely Not the Way I Would Want to "Build A Girl", October 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Johanna Morrigan lives in the council estates, a train ride away from London (aka "the projects" where the struggling and nearly destitute lower economic classes live) with her unemployed parents and 4 siblings. Her Dad is a wannabe musician, now on disability income, a large portion of which he spends down at the pub. Her mom is suffering from a debilitating case of post-partum depression after the arrival of unplanned/unwanted twins. The household is barely clinging to the lowest rung of the economic ladder, particularly after their benefits are reduced by 11% - an act which Johanna blames herself for because she casually mentioned to a neighbor that her dad was on disability.

At age 14, Johanna appeared on a local tv show and acted out in a weird manner, and has been trying ever since to recover from that embarrassment. At age 16, she decides to make herself over into a rock music writer/critic, and to her credit, goes about it in a very thorough manner - she borrows CD's from the library, reads all the music magazines extensively and practices her writing skill. When she gets a writing gig for a London paper, she impresses them with her observations and writing, and starts to get more assignments. But here's where she starts to go off track. When she starts to make money, she decides to drop out of the last year of high school, and shockingly her parents allow this - she is giving part of her income to the household fund after all.

Johanna makes herself over into a rock/goth/ foul-talking, drinking, smoking, drug-experimenting, sex-addicted "cool" girl. Her parents either don't realize the extent of her depravity, or can't reel her in. Eventually she "builds a girl" that she doesn't even recognize - it's as if she's standing outside of her body observing another person. She lacerates nearly every band that she reviews in the most sarcastic and offensive language possible, and finally starts to realize that she is making herself very unlikeable.

The process of Johanna "building a girl" (who she calls Dolly Wilde after her favorite author Oscar Wilde) is at times hilarious, at times horrifying (why didn't anyone offer her guidance?), and even occasionally sickening. The language is foul and gritty and at times unbelievably graphic and crude. There is also a considerable amount of slang, some of it probably particular to the Midlands in the early 1990's, and numerous mentions of bands that you won't have heard of. As noted in some other reviews, some readers just won't be able to get past the grittiness of the novel and will give it up. But if you're willing to slog through that part (which is at least 50% of the book), you will be rewarded at the end when Johanna reboots and learns to "build a girl" that she'll be able to live with in the long term.

The language and situations are so over-the-top that they seem unreal (no one would really do all of that stuff would they?), which is a good reminder that this is just fiction - or is it?


Black and Decker PB1002R Fusion Blade Personal Blender
Black and Decker PB1002R Fusion Blade Personal Blender
Price: $34.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Elegance and Simplicity in a Very Useful Appliance, October 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was skeptical about acquiring another single-purpose kitchen gadget that could possibly end up in the dark recesses of a lower cupboard. But this very simple and elegantly designed little appliance really works ! I always have Greek yogurt, frozen berries, bananas and frequently other fresh fruits on hand, so combining them into a smoothie makes for a quick and easy meal or snack.

The beauty of the design is that the mixing canister is the drinking cup. You won't dirty another blending pitcher or waste any of the ingredients that inevitably pool in the bottom of a traditional blender. You load the ingredients into the plastic cup, screw on the lid with the blade, set it on the base and push the button. It's that easy ! I had to take the cup off of the base a few times and give it a good shake to distribute the ingredients so that the blade could do it's job, and in some cases I've had to add a bit more liquid if the mixture is too thick.

My routine for weekday mornings now is to load the yogurt and berries and chopped fruit into the cup in the evening and put that back in the fridge. In the morning, I just pour in a little juice or milk, add 5-6 ice cubes, blend and go. I can sip it during my morning commute or put it in the office refrigerator for a mid-morning snack. I might be bold enough to even try some green smoothies if I can figure out a palatable combination of veggies.

The motor is quite loud, but does it's job quickly so you won't awaken the entire household if you use it early in the morning. The motor base is quite compact, so won't take up much space whether you decide to leave it on the counter or stow it away in a cupboard. It's much safer for kids to use than a traditional blender where they could possibly stick a spoon or a finger into the exposed blade. My only complaint so far is that the mouth of the cup is rather small, so loading in some of the ingredients can be tedious and messy.


Fiber One Chewy Bars, Oats & Chocolate, 5-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)
Fiber One Chewy Bars, Oats & Chocolate, 5-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)
Price: $26.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Chewy and Chocolaty Without Too Many Calories, October 3, 2014
The Oats & Chocolate Fiber One bars are chewy and just sweet and chocolaty enough. At just 140 calories, they satisfy those mid-morning hunger pangs that tempt me to hit the office vending machine - which stocks much worse dietary choices !

I am accustomed to having plenty of fiber in my diet, so the 9 grams (35% of the Daily Value) don't give me the um, er, "repercussions" that others have written about. On the contrary, when the unpleasant side effects of insufficient fiber in my diet start to occur, adding the Fiber One bar into the daily regimen gets things moving smoothly again.

If you're into "bathroom humor" read a few of the 1 and 2-star reviews written by others who can't handle this amount of fiber - it's sure to give you a laugh !


The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals
The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals
by Eugenia Bone
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.76
57 used & new from $13.42

5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Cookbook, Focused on Full Utilization of Ingredients in Creative Ways, October 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Though I already have hundreds of cookbooks on my shelves, "The Kitchen Ecosystem" is totally unique in both concept and implementation, and after perusing it for a few weeks and trying a few recipes, I know this is going to become one of the staples of my cooking.

As the author writes in the intro: "There are three steps to preparing really delicious food: (1) makes dishes with as many seasonal ingredients as possible, using some, while the ingredients are fresh, in dishes to eat that night, and preserving the rest to use in the off-season; (2) replace the commercial products in the pantry with homemade ones; and (3) prepare base recipes from the parts you usually throw away, like bones and peels, and use them to bump up the flavor of other dishes."

I have always considered myself an accomplished and efficient cook, using fresh ingredients and wasting little food, but I've never felt I had the time to spend on preserving and canning and making homemade stocks. By adopting the author's no-nonsense approach, I now know that home made stocks are very simple, allowing you to use up scraps and carcasses and bones and other ingredients that you already have on hand - onion, celery, carrots, herbs. The stock doesn't have to be a separate project - let it simmer on the back burner while you're making the main dish. I have wasted countless cans of prepared stock over the years !

The chapters of the book are organized by alphabetically ingredient (40 in total) rather than recipe type, and the first page of each section is a flowchart of how you might use a single ingredient in multiple ways. For instance, Lemons can be used in "Braised Lamb with Lemons", "Lemon Meringue Pie", "Lemon Poppy Seed Cake" and "Chef Bill's Lemonade". You can preserve some lemons in Marmalade, and use the Marmalade in "Chicken Cutlets with Lemon Marmalade". You can use the scraps (peels) to make Limoncello. Now the next time Costco has giant bags of lemons for $7, I will know how to use every single one of them in creative and tasty ways.

The chapter on using every bit of the Asparagus stalk is a revelation - "Asparagus Frittata", "Asparagus Pesto", "Asparagus Stock", and "Asparagus Risotto". I've been throwing away a third of every stalk for years - now there is no need to waste them.

The final sections of the book include canning and preserving instructions, as well as information on preparing stocks, juices, syrups and granitas.

The cookbook is nicely designed, with a soft cover and binding that allows the pages to lay flat. The typography is neat and easy to read, with enough white space on the page to allow for notes. Almost every 2-page spread includes a full color photograph. A comprehensive index is included as well. Whether you're browsing for new recipes or looking for a way to incorporate a plentiful seasonal ingredient, "The Kitchen Ecosystem" will become one of your new favorites. The concept is perfect for cooks here in California where we have nearly year-round Farmer's Markets and continuous access to fresh seasonal produce.


OZ Naturals - THE BEST Vitamin C Serum For Your Face - Organic Vitamin C + Amino + Hyaluronic Acid Serum- Clinical Strength 20% Vitamin C with Vegan Hyaluronic Acid Leaves Your Skin Radiant & More Youthful By Neutralizing Free Radicals. This Anti Aging Serum Will Finally Give You The Results You've Been Looking For - ALLURE MAGAZINE'S Best In Beauty Vitamin C Serum -100% Satisfaction GUARANTEED
OZ Naturals - THE BEST Vitamin C Serum For Your Face - Organic Vitamin C + Amino + Hyaluronic Acid Serum- Clinical Strength 20% Vitamin C with Vegan Hyaluronic Acid Leaves Your Skin Radiant & More Youthful By Neutralizing Free Radicals. This Anti Aging Serum Will Finally Give You The Results You've Been Looking For - ALLURE MAGAZINE'S Best In Beauty Vitamin C Serum -100% Satisfaction GUARANTEED
Offered by OZ Naturals
Price: $21.95
20 used & new from $21.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Discernible Results - Yet...., October 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The OZ Naturals "Professional Anti Aging Serum " is formulated with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C which are widely touted as skin repairing elements. The label indicates that the serum is to be used before applying your favorite moisturizer. I massaged on a generous amount daily and let it dry before using the OZ Naturals "Professional Moisturizing Serum" and my usual Clinique moisturizer.

The serum is clear and watery and unscented, and leaves the skin feeling tight and dry after use, so I apply my moisturizer as soon as it's dry. 1 fl oz. brown glass bottle comes with an eye dropper that allows you to dispense a few drops onto your fingers before application to the face.

I used the product daily as directed for 2 months, and I took high resolution "before" and "after" digital images of my clean face (without makeup). Though I zoomed in and really tried to see a difference in my skin, there is no discernible improvement in lines and wrinkles. I really did not expect a dramatic improvement in my skin, given my age, but even a modest change would have been nice and would have convinced me to keep using these products after I've consumed the initial supply.

I do have very dry skin, so others may have better results.

I will continue to use the products until the supply is exhausted and will edit this review if I see any change in my skin. I received a complementary sample in exchange for my use and review of the product.


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