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Thule Women's Capstone Hiking Pack, Crown Jewel/Potion, 32-Liter
Thule Women's Capstone Hiking Pack, Crown Jewel/Potion, 32-Liter
Price: $159.95
3 used & new from $159.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Practical Pack That is Superbly Designed …, May 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I trust Thule. My first experience with a Thule product was a truck bed bike rack almost 20 years ago … it performed flawlessly and even outlasted my truck. My search for a snowboard roof-rack also ended with Thule offering the type of pack I was looking for. While I had no doubt that the THULE WOMEN’S CAPSTONE HIKING PACK (32L) was going to be a quality product, my “hands-on” experience with the pack left me thoroughly impressed.

WHAT IT IS:

- This 32L pack is designed for day/overnight hikes, but is great for just about any situation requiring storage while on the move (biking, school, taking the kids to the park, etc.)

- The pack has a main zippered storage compartment that contains another zippered compartment and an open pocket inside, there is a large, open “stash” pocket on the outside and water bottle sleeves on each side of the pack.

- Padded shoulder and waist straps can be harnessed to keep the pack in place. The straps have jersey lining for additional comfort/breathability and the waist straps provide additional storage space (one side has a zippered pocket and the other has a mesh open pocket).

- An adjustable suspension system is integrated into the pack that allows the weight of the pack’s contents to be distributed for desired comfort.

- An attached rain cover that envelopes the entire pack is conveniently zippered into its own compartment at the bottom of the pack.

- Loops are attached to hold trekking poles.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS PACK:

- The common-sense and simplicity incorporated into the pack’s design indicate that the creators of the pack know the market they are serving. The location and accessibility of all pockets on the pack accommodate a variety of needs. Too many packs are zipper-happy and that can be an inconvenience at times. I like the balance of “stash” pockets for easy access and zippered storage for added security. All zippers have extended loops or finger hooks that provide a sure grip, even when gloves are worn.

- The pack is made of Cordura which is both lightweight and very rugged/durable (not susceptible to tearing or scuffing). The color (Crown Jewel/Potion) is tasteful, not gaudy.

- The waist and shoulder straps are adequately padded and completely adjustable for desired comfort. The ability to harness these straps (at the chest and at the waist) provides additional comfort and stability by keeping the pack from shifting around on the back.

- I found the adjustable suspension a little tricky to access/adjust (my hands are large), but it does allow the user to shift the load of the pack to a more comfortable position. A taught meshed webbing strip effectively keeps the suspension system (two aluminum bars and a plastic locking mechanism) from coming into contact with the wearer’s back. Even when laying down or sitting with your back against a wall, your back will not touch the suspension system.

- While no hydration system is provided, the CAPSTONE is designed to hold a reservoir (by using the stash pocket inside the main compartment). There is an opening at the top of the pack that allows for the reservoir’s drinking tube to be pulled through and there are two elastic Cordura bands on each shoulder strap to hold the drinking tube in place on the desired side. While I was able to place a 100 oz. reservoir in the pack, a 70 oz. reservoir would be optimal.

- I love the built-in rain cover … it’s smartly zippered into its own compartment in an unobtrusive place at the bottom and is large enough to completely cover a full/expanded pack.

- I also like the stretchy, meshed pockets on the waist straps. The zippered pocket is large enough to hold an average-sized camera (but the protection the pocket offers is minimal).

The CAPSTONE 32L HIKING PACK is a wonderfully rugged and completely functional pack that is extremely comfortable. While this pack is “designed for women”, it felt just as comfortable on my back as it did my wife and daughters’ backs. The CAPSTONE has all the essentials I would deem necessary in a quality pack: rugged, yet lightweight … plentiful, easy-access storage … hydration system compatible … chest and waist harnessing … adjustable suspension and protection from the elements (rain cover). A superior product built to last.


SimplyBeautiful Deluxe Razor and Brush Stand, Chrome
SimplyBeautiful Deluxe Razor and Brush Stand, Chrome
Offered by SimplyBeautiful
Price: $14.79
2 used & new from $14.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, Well-Made and Sharp-Looking Stand …, May 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Purchasing a razor/brush stand was the last step in my transition from shaving with disposable razors to a single-blade safety razor. I simply was tired of resting my shaving brush on its side to dry and putting my razor in an old jewelry bag. The SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL DELUXE RAZOR AND BRUSH STAND (chrome) proved to be a much better alternative for my brush and razor storage; it also looks good.

When I pulled the stand out of the box, I was surprised at how solid it was. The stand has a weighted base attached to a post with a twin-forked attachment at the top for holding most standard safety razors and shaving brushes. The design of the stand is simple, but seeing and handling the stand proved that the picture of it does it no justice. The weighted base has a foam rubber disk underneath that keeps the stand in place. The forks for holding the brush and razor are tilted up at the ends to keep the items in place. I use a long handled Merkur razor and an Escali brush … the stand holds both like a champ.

I can see that using a stand is the best way for letting the brush dry (as you aren’t supposed to let it dry by sitting it with the bristles facing up). Aside from its function, I really like how the stand looks and I’m impressed with its solid construction. The knurling in the middle and top of the post provide nice accents to the overall appearance and the chrome really shines.


Outdoor Tech OT1700 Kodiak Mini - 2600 Mah Ruggedized Water Resistant Portable Charger/External Battery (Black)
Outdoor Tech OT1700 Kodiak Mini - 2600 Mah Ruggedized Water Resistant Portable Charger/External Battery (Black)
Price: $24.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rugged and Sufficient When In a Pinch …, May 8, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The market is flooded with portable chargers, so there are plenty of options available to suit a variety of personal needs and budgetary tastes. Although the OUTDOOR TECH OT1700 charger possesses average charging capacity, it’s good for emergencies and its rugged design is a big plus.

WHAT IT IS:

- A tube-shaped charger is roughly the size of a glue-stick encased in lattice-textured rubber.

- The top of the “tube” flips open on one end to reveal one micro and one standard USB port. Also provided is a 12” cable with a micro-USB plug on one and a standard-USB plug on the other. The cable serves as the conduit to charge the charger itself and provide juice from the charger to your desired electronic device.

HOW IT PERFORMS:

- It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the OT7100 (an indicator light shows red when charging and green when fully charged).

- The 2600 mAh capacity of the OT1700 is not overwhelming, but it was enough to fully charge my Blackberry Z10 and half-charge a second Blackberry.

- All operations (charging the charger and charging devices from the charger) are simple processes.

- I only wish it was designed so the cable could be stored in the tube.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE OT1700:

- That the charger is encased with textured rubber is a big plus for me. When the rubber cap (which is tethered to the charger) is closed, the sensitive ports are sealed from dust/dirt and moisture/water splashes (not submersion); it is also protected from being dropped. The texture of the rubber and tubular design allow for a solid grip. The overall protective design of the charger makes it great for stashing most anywhere without fear of it getting damaged (when cap is sealed shut): pocket, purse, gym bag, glove box, tackle box, etc.

While there are chargers with higher capacity, this is charger is more than adequate as an emergency charger or for using in a non-office/home environment. It’s tough, easy to handle and easier to use.


Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeve - Model 7051 Original Blue
Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeve - Model 7051 Original Blue
Offered by Gillingham High Performance
Price: $42.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-designed, Comfortable and Effective …, May 5, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a “retired” powerlifter, I started noticing the effects of my heavy lifting as I entered my 40s. First, the longer recovery period, then the joints started “acting-up”. Being a heavy squatter, I had a decision to make; give up lifting heavier weights I still was capable of handling (but less comfortably) or find ways to work around the problem (lift smarter). My brother-in-law (a professional natural bodybuilder and personal trainer) strongly suggested the REHBAND 7mm KNEE SLEEVES and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the results I’m experiencing.

WHAT THEY ARE:

- 7mm thick neoprene sleeves that slide over the knees for support and warmth. The sleeves are long enough to completely cover the knees, as well as several inches above and below the knees. They are articulated to provide both comfort and flexibility even when your knees are fully flexed.

- These sleeves are sold INDIVIDUALLY (not as a pair).

WHAT THEY ARE NOT:

- The REHBAND 7mm KNEE SLEEVES are NOT designed as a strength aid and shouldn’t be considered as a substitute for knee wraps. In fact several “Raw” (no-equipment) powerlifting organizations now permit use of sleeves for support/safety purposes in their meets. Although some sleeves (SBD) appear to be designed for achieving gains, the REHBANDs are not.

HOW THEY PERFORM:

- The first thing I noticed was how comfortable it was wearing these sleeves at all times (standing, partial and full knee flexion). The articulated design allows full flexion without any feel of pinching behind the knees.

- The thickness of the neoprene creates a snug fit and retains heat well … your knees WILL sweat (but you won’t know it until you take them off). This combination of snugness and warmth is the support I needed to ease/eliminate the aggravating aches/pain spikes (from age, not injury) I was experiencing when doing squats and leg presses. The support was effective enough to allow me to lift with more confidence and peace-of-mind.

- The fit was perfect (I ordered a size down) and the sleeves stayed in place … no need to keep pulling them up or make adjustments. The seams are strong and I have no concern of any material tearing.

- You will need to hand wash them periodically (let them dry naturally) or they will smell over time from all the sweat they soak-up.

A WORD ABOUT SIZING:

- This is a tricky issue. Rehband states you should measure your knee’s circumference from the middle of the knee (in cm) and use their sizing chart. My knee measured at 40cm which was considered an XL. After some consideration, I opted to order a size down because the Large was “up to 39cm” and XL started at 39cm (1cm difference was close enough). I’m glad I did as I am fairly certain an XL would have generated a looser-than-desired fit for me. I wanted snug, not super-tight and ordering a size down gave me the fit I desired. To some degree, I think it helps to consider the general size of your legs (quads and calves) if you’re thinking of deviating from the size chart.

I love the REHBAND 7mm KNEE SLEEVES; the warmth and support they provide have considerably helped my aching knees and makes leg day a more enjoyable event. I bought a smaller sized 7mm knee sleeve to use for my elbow (in lieu of an arm-specific sleeve) and its performance is what led me to get the sleeve for my knees. Not cheap, but worth every penny.


Torn Togas: The Dark Side of Greek Life
Torn Togas: The Dark Side of Greek Life
by Esther Wright
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $3.93

1.0 out of 5 stars Animal House or Sons of Anarchy?, May 2, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
With the recent Rolling Stone/UVA fraternity “rape” issue being national news, I was interested in seeking literature that detailed fraternity/sorority life. I was surprised at what little there is to offer on the subject matter (there are more books discussing IBS than the Greek system). TORN TOGAS was the first book I picked up and boy what a hot mess it proved to be.

With the book’s subtitle being “The truth about fraternities and sororities” I was expecting TORN TOGAS to be a “hit piece” … but it proved to be much worse than that. Instead of taking an objective approach to the subject matter, the author opts to personally generalize and condemn the Greek system (nationwide) with such emotional vigor that it makes one question the book’s veracity. Esther Wright obviously had an axe to grind. Wright’s personal input amid a hodge-podge of “studies” and random headlines (spanning decades) turn TORN TOGAS into an over-dramatized, preachy diatribe that seems more suited as a network drama series screenplay than an honest attempt to explain the Greek system. The book reminded me of a scene in “The Goldbergs” sitcom where Beverly reacts to her son’s desire to play hockey: “How much will you be moving when a skate glides over your windpipe? It happened to Judy Muntz's nephew and now he can only communicate with a Speak & Spell he wears around his neck.” TORN TOGAS is laughably similar as it seriously attempts to portray joining a Greek organization as being a life or death decision.

So, what’s wrong with this book? Most everything. First of all, if you are not in a fraternity or sorority AND you have no friends or family in such organizations, then Esther Wright has you in her sights. TORN TOGAS warns naïve students and parents that the worst things that can happen to a college student (other than being drafted and sent to war) are waiting for them behind the walls of sorority and fraternity houses. Armed with the eye-catching list of provocative dangers, she aims to lead you through the mine field of the Greek system; a minefield that includes: rape, humiliation, rampant drug/alcohol abuse, risky sex/abortions, beatings, ‘roid rage, plastic surgery, eating disorders, massive debt, racism and even death. Amazingly, the author experienced (directly or indirectly) all of these events as a fraternity little sister and member of a sorority during her college years … Florence Nightingale or even Seal Team Six can’t compete with Wright’s exploits. The sheer number of worst-case scenarios notched on Wright’s belt generates the biggest ding in the book’s credibility. But, this is what she believes the Greek system offers: personal injury and/or death.

Another issue I have with TORN TOGAS is that Wright paints the entire Greek system with her opinion: “most” fraternities present awards to those who sleep with the most women, monogamy is considered taboo in “most fraternities” or “While many Greek members are spending their time focusing on who can hold the most shots before puking, other students are getting an education and planning for their future.” These type of ridiculous statements are peppered throughout the book. My personal experience and those of friends who were also in Greek organizations around the nation (including my wife) don’t reflect these stereotypes. I was in college the same time as the author, but after reading her book, she may have attended school in another galaxy (California). TORN TOGAS paints Greek organizations in an unnecessarily bad light. Sure, members of such organizations can and will do stupid, reckless things … that will never change. But, bad behavior exists in other student organizations as well: athletic teams, ROTC, marching bands, academic and other social clubs. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t even consider that; to Esther Wright, Greek organizations are no different from outlaw motorcycle clubs, prison gangs or Al Qaeda. Ironically, the author waits until page 172 of the 175 page book before she lists anything positive about the Greek system (a system she willingly stayed a part of throughout college). To offset those few paragraphs of positives, she follows the book’s afterword with about 7 pages of crisis organization info covering everything from gang-rape to toenail fungus.

The author, when writing of her own behavior, provides some of the most absurd parts of the book. Many of her accounts are so over-the-top, it became hard to take any aspect of the book seriously. In one passage, referring to the supposed peer pressure Greeks exhibit toward consuming alcohol, Wright gripes about being “made” to feel guilty for not drinking … because she was scheduled for a surgery the next day. Going to a beer party the night before surgery … simply brilliant. She also says the obsession to achieve the “Greek” image of a perfect body led her to get a medical procedure (the “Glamour Shot” portrait of the author on the book’s dust cover alludes to the continuance of image-issues). The same physical obsession has her claiming “25%” of her fraternity friends were on steroids which leads her to indulge on the myth of “roid rage” (which all these friends, of course, exhibited). Another part of the book, Wright describes how a night of drinking led to a hangover that required her to “miss a few days of school” and that she’d “often heard fraternity members talking about women they’d gang-raped”. But the crème-de-la-crème is when she (as a fraternity little sister) claims she interrupted two of her fellow little-sisters being “raped” by fraternity brothers but did nothing: “We all knew it was rape, yet we kept quiet for FEAR OF LOSING OUR SOCIAL TIES.” If I’m not mistaken, she basically admits participating in the cover-up a violent crime against two of her “friends” so she could still be viewed as “cool” … now, THAT’S sisterhood! Throughout the book, Wright blames fraternities and sororities, but all the evidence she provides leads to the problem being more about she and her friends’ inability to think for themselves and act rationally.

TORN TOGAS is nothing more than a personal vendetta aimed at steering people away from organizations based on the supposed behavior exhibited by the author and her cohorts. It’s both preachy, misleading and relies on assumptions and questionable personal accounts to illustrate points. Honestly, joining a Greek organization is a personal decision that requires one to think for themselves and like ANY organization/group there are always going to be positives/negatives and good/bad people to contend with. Most rational people (and I include myself) wouldn’t have put up with a fraction of the garbage the author claims to have suffered through. Bottom line, you can always quit an organization if it behaves in a manner you don’t like, which is something Esther Wright either refused or didn’t have the wherewithal to do herself. Obviously, I’m still looking for a more objective book on the Greek system.


kate spade new york Women's 1YRU0445 Metro Grand Crystal-Accented Watch with Black Leather Band
kate spade new york Women's 1YRU0445 Metro Grand Crystal-Accented Watch with Black Leather Band
Price: $201.85
5 used & new from $196.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Eye-catching, but Not Ostentatious …, April 30, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This watch is an elegant and versatile piece that can worn when dressed-up or dressed casually.

This watch has several nice features:

- The large face is bold-looking, but thin and unobtrusive.

- The crystals are tastefully placed around the face edge and rows of crystals mark the hours (in lieu of numbers) … the subtleness of the crystals adds a touch of “bling” without appearing gaudy.

- The simple, black, leather band is comfortable and the buckle is both sturdy and easy to adjust.

Overall, the KATE SPADE METRO GRAND watch is eye-catching, but not ostentatious … a classic women’s watch for all occasions.


Hitler's Last Secretary: A Firsthand Account of Life with Hitler
Hitler's Last Secretary: A Firsthand Account of Life with Hitler
by Traudl Junge
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.83
70 used & new from $6.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Unique Perspective …, April 30, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While the life of Adolph Hitler has been well-documented in text and film, our understanding of his ultimate demise is heavily based on words and memory of Traudl Junge (nee Humps). HITLER’S LAST SECRETARY provides a fly-on-the-wall perspective that reveals one of history’s most notorious figures as being rather dull.

I first saw Traudl Junge on several episodes of the “World at War” (the fabulous and comprehensive British documentary of the Second World War) and found her eyewitness account of Hitler’s last days quite memorable. As Hitler’s youngest secretary, she became a trusted member of his inner circle (he even dictated his last will and testament to her). From the peak of his power in 1942 to his cowardly demise underneath the ruins of Berlin, Junge saw Hitler in a variety of lights: relaxing atop the Eagle’s Nest, bantering with Nazi lapdogs, surviving an assassination attempt and his somewhat odd relationship with Eva Braun … she saw it all. While much of the book centers on her casual observances, Junge provides enough extraordinary details to make it all worth reading and I found it hard to put the book down once I started reading.

Even though Junge wrote the book a few years after the war, I never sensed that absolution was her purpose in writing the book … she simply had a story worth telling. There are points in the book where hindsight comes into play, but most of her story is pretty straightforward. She makes no bones that Hitler’s charisma and power were hard to ignore and admits that working for him was a pleasant experience overall. Of course, one wonders to what extent she was aware of the atrocities being committed under her boss’ order. There are instances in the book where the Nazi’s pervasive attitude toward Jews is known/accepted (including one moment where a respected woman with Jewish lineage appears to have been “spared” by Hitler), but this is an issue that Junge opts not to indulge … the war is what takes front and center. The reader is left to judge whether Junge’s account was intentionally void of such particulars or that she simply wasn’t privy to certain matters. The individuals she is exposed to on a regular basis represent a “who’s who” of Nazi war criminals (Himmler, Boremann, Goebbels, etc.), so it is plausible to assume she was aware (to some degree) of Nazi atrocities.

While the movie “Downfall” (which draws heavily from Junge’s experiences), portrays Hitler as a raging madman reaching the end of his rope, the book doesn’t deliver any of the movie’s intensity. In fact, much of the book details a different side of Hitler … less of a madman and more of a simple, boring and somewhat strange man. Junge’s interactions with Hitler are always described as being pleasant. She notes many of the man’s idiosyncrasies, including his hypochondria (requiring daily “injections”), his penchant for napping in front of guests, the affection he has for his dog (“Blondi”) and his oddly platonic relationship with Eva Braun. In fact, Junge speaks more negatively about Hitler’s bootlicking followers and confidents. Simply put, the book does not paint Hitler as the detestable person we know he proved to be. But, it is not difficult to believe that Junge’s experience with the man never led her to draw such a conclusion at the time as he was always kind and respectful toward her. While some may view her book as “humanizing” such a despicable figure, I have always felt the stereotypical depiction of ruthless dictators as a monstrous “supervillains” tends to inadvertently aggrandize these people and make them larger than life. Junge’s observations of Hitler do not portray him as anything special.

HITLER’S LAST SECRETARY offers a smooth read, even though it mainly consists of one long chapter (one reason it was hard to put down). I found the details provided about Hitler and his inner circle quite fascinating: the interior of the Berghof retreat, Eva Braun’s clothes and demeanor, Hitler’s eating habits, his opinions on mundane topics (like his disdain for smoking) and frank commentary on those close to Hitler. Junge provides a much clearer image of the chaos that erupted deep within the bunker in the war’s final days, including Goebbels decision to poison his six children, Hitler/Eva Braun’s wedding ceremony, as well as their suicides and the subsequent disposal of her bodies (which she doesn’t witness first hand). Even though Junge’s own account ends with her emerging from the bunker, Melissa Muller provides an informative and interesting final chapter that picks up where Junge’s writing stopped. This final chapter serves as a biography of Traudl Junge from the war’s end through the 1990s.

HITLER’S LAST SECRETARY is a worthy read as it offers a fascinating peek inside the machine responsible for mankind’s greatest tragedy. While some readers may question the author’s intent or be turned off by her unapologetic/straightforward approach to the subject matter, it is hard to ignore the historical significance of Traudl Junge’s observations.


Barilla Bacon and Cheese and Meat Sauce Variety Pack, 24 Ounce (Pack of 4)
Barilla Bacon and Cheese and Meat Sauce Variety Pack, 24 Ounce (Pack of 4)
Price: $16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Bacon and Cheese for the Win!, April 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Our family has been using the same brand of jarred marinara for years and regardless of the wide variety of flavors offered; other than differing levels of spiciness, they all pretty much taste the same to me. I was more than impressed with BARILLA’S marinara (specifically, its Bacon & Cheese and its Meat sauce) … the texture and flavors offered by both were certainly unique.

Bacon and Cheese:

- I initially thought this unique flavor combo would be “too much”, but I was quite surprised. By far, the most unique flavor of jarred marinara I’ve tried. This particular sauce has a distinctive cheese aroma with a hint of bacon. The sauce is thick with a wonderful hint of sweetness that reminds me of the homemade sauce used by our favorite Jersey-style pizza joint … very tasty! What I liked most was that the sauce isn’t overwhelmed by the bacon and cheese flavors; they blend well with the tomatoes and offer a distinctively different flavor. So many sauces disappointingly overwhelm the natural sweetness of the tomato with “Italian” seasonings, like basil … not this sauce.

- A single serving (1/2 cup) contains: 1.5g fat, 480mg sodium, 12g carbs (8g sugar/1g fiber) and 2g protein.

Meat sauce:

- I generally add my own ground beef and/or sausage to jarred marinara, so I was somewhat skeptical about jarred meat sauce. But, this sauce manages to provide a rich meaty flavor and a thick enough texture to stand on its own. This marinara is somewhat mild and the meat accents rather than overpowers the distinctively (naturally) sweet tomato flavor I prefer in a marinara.

- A single serving (1/2 cup) contains: 1g fat, 480mg sodium, 13g carbs (7g sugar/3g fiber) and 2g protein.

I really love the slightly sweet tomato flavors offered by both types of BARILLA marinara. These sauces offer a nice alternative to the standard over-spiced, salty sauces I’ve been stuck accepting over the years.


Black & Decker PS1000B 3-Cup Ergo Chopper with 2 Nestable Bowls, Black
Black & Decker PS1000B 3-Cup Ergo Chopper with 2 Nestable Bowls, Black
Price: $18.33
5 used & new from $15.58

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convenient, Easy-to-Clean Little Workhorse …, April 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My chopping choices at home are the cheap “as seen on TV” “Slap Chop” (don’t laugh … it works, but disassembly/re-assembly makes it a pain to clean) or the cumbersome Cuisinart (also a pain to clean). The BLACK & DECKER ERGO CHOPPER combines the convenience of a hand-held chopper, decent power, practical storage and easy cleaning.

WHAT IT IS:

- A 3-cup electric (the product photos don’t reveal a cord, alluding to it possibly being battery powered). The 200 watt motor can be operated at two pulse speeds.

- In addition to the motor, the chopper comes with: two 3-cup clear plastic containers for chopping and storage, 2 plastic disks that serve as both lids to the containers and baseplates to keep the bowls in place when chopping and a single, removable stainless steel chopping blade.

HOW IT PERFORMS:

- Assembly and operation is a cinch: simply place the blade in its slot at the bottom of a container, fit the motor over the container so it connects to the blade arm and chop away. The two speed pulse buttons large and positioned for easy use. The clear containers allow you to clearly see results to determine necessary chopping speeds.

- The lid doubles as a coaster/skid plate for the container to keep the container from sliding or (more importantly) tipping when chopping. After chopping, the lids can be snapped on the container to store the contents.

- The BLACK & DECKER ERGO is a solid, tough chopper that performed better and more smoothly than I expected. My first experience was chopping almonds for pancakes and it did the job easily and effectively … good-bye “Slap Chop”. It cuts through vegetables and fruit with little effort. I was surprised at how effective the little blade was … it is sharper than it looks.

- The container bowls have measurements on the side and nest. The entire ensemble leaves a footprint that is smaller than a stack of cereal bowls … a true space saver.

- Clean-up is just as easy. The bowls and blade are dishwasher safe and the motor can simply be wiped clean.

ONE GRIPE:

- It only uses a chopping blade (so far). Would love to see slicing or whipping attachments being available in the future to increase the ERGO’S versatility.

The BLACK & DECKER ERGO is a handy, convenient and efficient kitchen tool. It is perfect for those who want the benefits of having a solid chopper, but want to avoid the expense/bulk of a food processor or the complications associated with a cheaper hand chopper. A solid, thoughtfully made product.


Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith
Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith
by David Ritz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.41
135 used & new from $0.05

5.0 out of 5 stars (Dude) Can Write a Book …, April 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had no doubt that I would get around to read Joe Perry’s autobiography; Perry’s outro solo on “No More, No More” is what inspired me to pick up a guitar almost 40 years ago. While fame/infamy seems to go hand-in-hand with the rock-n-roll memoirs being cranked out these days, surprisingly few include anything of substance and most seem to rely on shock value over a worthy story. Arguably, ROCKS proves several things: 1. in some cases, an individual member’s perspective of a band is necessary, honest and believable, 2. the experience of surviving 40+ years in the unforgiving world of rock-n-roll and remaining on top is a tale worth hearing about, 3. Joe Perry is a pretty damn good storyteller.

Aerosmith, one of rock’s preeminent American bands, has certainly provided a cautious template for every band that followed it. That template includes the band’s hard-scrabble beginning, rise to fame, exploitation, fall from grace and resurrection. Joe Perry, as a founding member and half of the “Toxic Twins” (the name given to the drug-fueled, but prolific songwriting partnership he shares with Steven Tyler), arguably has the best perspective (and best demeanor) to honestly divulge the band’s dirt. While ROCKS is NOT a flame-throwing, bomb-dropping shocker, Perry certainly delivers the hard truths about Aerosmith’s tumultuous history, his tempestuous relationship with Tyler, the women, the drugs and the resilience needed to bring life back to a band that he left for dead.

What impressed me about ROCKS more than anything was Perry’s open and even-handed approach to the book and the band. Ever since I first got into Aerosmith (mid-to-late 70s), I was not only intrigued by their bluesy, edgy, hard-driving sound, but also the band’s general PO’d appearance (check out the cover of their first album) … they looked as edgy and hard-driving as they sounded. While we all are aware that Steven Tyler as the screaming, screeching mouthpiece of Aerosmith (on and off stage), Perry always came across as the silent, brooding union-shop leader representing the blue-collar team comprised of the other band members (Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton). With ROCKS, Perry sheds that quiet persona and truly opens up by sharing vivid details of his life in and outside of Aerosmith. While the crux of the book certainly centers on his band, we also get an interesting and somewhat un-stereotypical image of his personal life and family. Sure, drugs and alcohol share a sizeable chunk of the books pages, but his devotion to family is an underlying theme from beginning to end. Perry reveals that behind the thunder of his Marshall stacks, the clouds of coke-dust and mobs of screaming fans is a surprisingly grounded, savvy man who admits he’s always been the type of guy devoted to the woman he’s with (somewhat astonishing considering the band’s first apex occurred during the golden era of groupies). I found the manner in which Perry discusses his life to be quite engaging … he has a knack of generating a vivid picture of events without being verbose or getting off track (unlike many memoirs I’ve read). Perry actually comes across as quite humble and respectful … even when discussing the trials and tribulations involving his relationship with Tyler and his ex-wife Elyssa.

So, what makes ROCKS rock? To put it simply, the journey. Readers don’t have to be a fan of Aerosmith to enjoy the front-car view of the 40+ year rollercoaster ride that is Perry’s life. It details the hedonism we expect from a rock icon, without the bombast. And, while he delivers the goods on his relationship with Tyler, he does more to debunk the myths associated with their relationship than pour gasoline on a simmering fire. For example, I distinctly remember (as a kid) going to a pizza joint with my baseball team after a game and hearing someone tell us than the Aerosmith concert was cancelled because Tyler and Perry got into a fistfight on stage the previous night … well, that never happened (Perry states the brotherly animosity between he and Tyler has never come to blows). Sure, there are a few barbs thrown at his “toxic twin”, but overall, regardless of what the media may depict, there has always been a brotherly bond amongst all members of the band … even when things fell apart in the early 80s. Despite the lack of overt drama and “gotcha” moments, the book delivers a steady rolling account of minor and significant events that keeps you interested the whole way through. Surprisingly, it’s not solely a Perry/Tyler affair, the book provides a nice overview of the band that sheds light on the other member’s contributions. Additionally, we get some insight on the business side of rock music (including a cult-like manager whose control creeped into the bands' personal lives) and the interaction amongst fellow rock icons (the pages are filled with such contacts) … Perry paints himself quite humbly throughout. While I’ve always been a fan of Perry and Aerosmith; reading his story makes me appreciate the band even more as it is evident their success is hard earned. I loved getting the details on how Aerosmith became the villains (and the only segment worth watching) in the “Sgt. Pepper” movie with Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. Or, how they re-worked “Walk this Way” with RunDMC; vaulting them into the realm of MTV and generating more fame and wealth than ever. Through it all, Perry has remained grounded and focused (on his music and family). I guess I was expecting a controversial expose (like so many other rock memoirs), but found myself immersed in a more believable story that proved to be just as interesting.

ROCKS is a worthy read because it is entertaining, informative and more importantly, well-written. A must read for fans of Aerosmith and rock music alike.
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