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E. Schechter's Profile

Customer Reviews: 161
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Reviews Written by
E. Schechter RSS Feed (West Chester, PA United States)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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BLACK+DECKER TR2400SD 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster, Stainless Steel
BLACK+DECKER TR2400SD 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster, Stainless Steel
Price: $34.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite a good toaster with a few procedural issues., July 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's a very competent toaster--works well, toasts evenly, does OK with everything I have put into it so far. I have had no problem at all with bagels, but I do slice the bagels in two before toasting. (No, they are not inferior skinny bagels; I buy them fresh from a Jewish bagel place; most times I can even get them still warm.) The slots are pretty wide, and should accept most things that one would want to put in a toaster. The retro design is neatly done, and the crumb tray is easy to clean. Thus, as a no-frills two-slice pop-up toaster, I would certainly recommend it quite highly.

HOWEVER, there are considerations that might affect a purchase. Even though it seems quite well-made, for those who have a problem with it, it is made in China.

The thing that made me somewhat unhappy has to do with the 2-year guarantee, which has a list of exclusions that make it virtually meaningless. Particularly, if you want it repaired, you have to send it to a repair center in Latin America (there are quite a few, but none in the US), and the guarantee does not cover the shipping. Thus, if you buy it, and you need repairs, probably you should be willing to toss it and buy a new one. This is not too big a deal in the real world, since so many things are fairly inexpensive disposable appliances, and this set of complications is probably no worse than many. Tossing things out is a waste, but the prices make it the practical and no-hassle solution in many cases.

It does, though, make me feel a bit insulted that they think I am so stupid that I won't notice this folderol.


South Main Hardware 810108 TSA-Accepted Resettable Luggage Lock (2 Pack), Orange
South Main Hardware 810108 TSA-Accepted Resettable Luggage Lock (2 Pack), Orange
Price: $9.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Can't complain. It is what it says it is., June 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is described as a light-duty plastic TSA lock that doesn't cost too much, and that is exactly what it is. The 'light-duty' part tells me not to use it for things that are valuable or irreplaceable, so I would not put it on anything that has to be entrusted to strangers. I'll take one of them for my gym bag; when it is not in a locker, it is in a nearly public area; I haven't decided about the other one, but something suitable will turn up.

No one seems to be pretending that it is a great lock; but it is functional and serves the same purpose as the sign by the mailbox saying that I have an alarm system: discouragement before the fact.

I might be the exception, but I had no trouble setting the locks or opening them later.

Digression: I have a jaundiced view of _any_ TSA lock no matter its quality; even if the TSA people are honest (as most of them doubtless are), how many baggage handlers, here and abroad, have a duplicate of the little gizmo that the TSA uses to open these locks? If the lock is broken, one can try for something then and there; if it is intact, it might be some hours and/or distance before any loss is noticed. I'm sure there are other ways to avoid such trouble, but I no longer carry anything I would regret losing in my checked baggage. It's a rather sad situation.


Liquid Fence HG-71106 Deer & Rabbit Repellent, 32 oz
Liquid Fence HG-71106 Deer & Rabbit Repellent, 32 oz
Price: $39.97
5 used & new from $32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied for Summer at Least, June 10, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I can't be specific about deer, because the most deer damage happens in winter, and it is June. We have a large herd of them in the neighborhood, and they do nibble a few things in warm weather. They have not been eating them since we started using Liquid Fence; however, that could be a matter of preference by the deer ("No thanks--I had rhododendron buds for lunch").

The rabbits are a different story; they are voracious eaters of herbaceous ornamentals, and they can go through a bed of hosta and other things of that ilk overnight. Since we started using this product, they haven't eaten a thing; all the plants are intact, and we have a large rabbit population. The Liquid Fence is the only change in our procedures, so I have to call it a roaring success.

There are two points to note:

1. The bottle I was given does not have a spray attachment, so before you buy you will need to check if what you are ordering is a spray bottle so you can get a separate bottle if it is not. It does not need dilution; just a plain spray bottle will be fine.

2. As you spray it, keep upwind of it, or it will repel you, too.


Farberware 4-Piece Never-Needs-Sharpening Steak Knife Set, Black
Farberware 4-Piece Never-Needs-Sharpening Steak Knife Set, Black
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent steak knives, just not very thrilling, June 2, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's nothing wrong with them, and they are more than adequate for inexpensive steak knives. They are the finely serrated type that doesn't do much well _except_ cut cooked meat. They will not substitute for a paring knife or a utility knife, but then it didn't claim to do that; let's be fair. I saw no reason for the 'hand wash only' instruction unless they are afraid people might cut themselves, which could happen; the knives have that pointy irregular edge. I've been putting them in the dishwasher, and neither they nor I have come to any harm.

One other possible use: they look enough like some more expensive steak knives to fill in the place settings if you have more people than knives. They wouldn't be mistaken for the good stuff, but they wouldn't be a distraction for the eye. And as steak knives, they work well enough. In fact, if your good I-paid-too-much-for-these steak knives are not serrated (as mine aren't), and you haven't sharpened them lately (as I haven't), these would probably be preferable.


Baggies Storage Bags with Ties, Gallon (Case of 9)
Baggies Storage Bags with Ties, Gallon (Case of 9)
Offered by Please and Thank You LLC
Price: $47.73
4 used & new from $47.71

4.0 out of 5 stars The inconvenience demons are at it again, May 21, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have liked these for years, and I have no idea why the supermarkets would stop carrying such a useful and economical product. If you go to customer service and ask where the Baggies are, someone will lead you to the regular gallon plastic storage bags.

They do not seem to see the difference between a roll of bags that, when you are in a hurry, allows you easily to tear one bag off at a time and a box of bags that lets you reach for a bag and come up with a handful of the things and then have to worry about getting the excess back in the box when/if you have time.

The product itself is as good as it gets, and I thank Amazon for carrying it.

BUT--on this latest purchase, some genius has decided that the roll of bags does not need a cardboard center, and that's why there is a star missing. I know that there are some toilet papers sold without a center now, but toilet paper is put on a holder that keeps things more or less straight and useful, at least up to the last part of it.

Baggies are one of those things that have to be pulled off the roll while one is holding the box. and all boxes of that sort have been specially designed by fiends to come apart at the ends as they are used; yes, one can try to repair the box, but I don't see why I should have to--I would gladly pay a few cents more to have a box that holds together.

Thus, as the roll diminishes, one ends up squeezing the box remnants around the rolled-up bags and trying to pull and separate one from the next; this method works (with appropriate cursing and obscenities as the twist ties fall onto the floor), but it is far from optimal. It stops working for the last 5-6 bags, which you have to manually unroll and tear apart.

Leaving out the cardboard middle was a STUPID idea.

I live in hope that no one ever decides that this is what should be done with a 200-ft roll of aluminum foil.


Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature
Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature
by Jordan Fisher Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.01
74 used & new from $11.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like this book and find it fascinating, May 4, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wanted to like this book and find it fascinating, but I couldn't. The author manages to hit the un-sweet spot in several ways.

The type of audience the book aims at is a bit muddled, because he wanted to write both an engaging popular account and a detailed analysis of the problems of wildlife management in the national parks. In the end, he does neither very well.

He has tried to hang the narrative onto an account of a civil trial for damages brought by the parents of a young man who was killed by a bear in Yellowstone. This type of frame has been used by others in both fact and fiction to produce riveting accounts that keep the reader engaged by "What comes next" on two levels. There are problems with it here, and the first is that the trial isn't very interesting. It is meant to be a vehicle for examining the different opinions held by different witnesses about wildlife and conservation in the park. The opinions are stated, but the relationship to the trial has no urgency. Of course one feels sorry for the parents, but when all is said and done, the man was in a dangerous place acting in an uninformed way that was also dangerous. And why was it uninformed? There was literature about how to camp in the park available at the Park Service facility. The author's theory is that he was afraid to take it because he was AWOL from the Alabama National Guard and was frightened that someone might turn him in--unlikely, I think. In the end, regrettable as his death was, he was exercising his freedom to take the consequences of his own actions, as the courts finally found. So, however it went, there was no great injustice being brought to account in the trial.

The main intent of the book is to explain different approaches to animal management in national parks, particularly those with grizzly bears. It is a picture of confusion obvious the moment the problem is stated. What are the parks for? Are they there so that the citizenry can observe and enjoy the scenery/wildlife in relative safety, or are they there to attempt to preserve wilderness areas with scenery/wildlife as intact as possible? Mr. Smith is a former park ranger, so one has to accept his opinions as well-informed, but also to take his view of the Park Service and its confused, ever-changing management policies with a bit of sympathy for the Park Service employees. I mean, have you ever worked for the government? There is a strong tendency to give administrative and policy-governing positions to people who might be good administrators, but who know very little about the realities of the actual problems they are supposed to take care of. And that boss has a boss, who has a boss, until there is a level that knows little and cares less--never saw a study he didn't love and want to implement, no matter that the last study said something entirely different, which earlier had been implemented also. And with all this, the political realities intrude from time to time to force favoritism toward this faction or that faction, like it or not.

_Of course_ there are different viewpoints and different arguments in favor of each. One thing that is made very clear is that there is nothing in the national parks that can truly be called wilderness. There seems to be a sort of Heisenberg-type uncertainty: once man has seen and touched wilderness, it's not wilderness; it is, to a greater or lesser extent, tame, and the question becomes one of how tame it is to be allowed to become. Everyone accepts that it is not good policy to have bears eating the people; but the people want to see the bears in some sort of unfenced setting. Which do you keep away from which, and how? Mr. Smith likes the idea of research into bear behavior and particular bears that are potential threats to determine the best way to have a good world for the bears without too many people being eaten, and he makes a good case for this reasoned approach; he resents the extent to which the Park Service interferes with it in order to optimize the tourist experience and handle the exigencies of the moment with ad hoc policies that sometimes do more harm than good.

The book is not really very well written, and I admit I skimmed over about a fourth of it. Mr. Smith is passionate about his subject, but he appears never to have had an old witch of an English teacher who insisted that he make an outline. Good idea, but heavy going.


Xfinity Internet (75 Mbps)
Xfinity Internet (75 Mbps)
Offered by Comcast XFINITY
Price: $0.00
4 used & new from $0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sort of an another-ish opinion. Partly., April 2, 2016
This review is from: Xfinity Internet (75 Mbps)
It's not THAT bad. We've been with them for a long time--maybe 25 years--and the biggest complaint I have is that they cost WAY too much, and they decrease your download speed if you decrease the number of TV channels you want; that's not playing fair. The cost is so much too much that I am looking for somewhere else to go, but my only fairly reliable alternative around here is Verizon, and let me tell you about my wireless bill someday.

Anyway, the issues I have are all on the administrative/organizational side, and that's the missing two stars. The service side has been flawless. I call them complaining, and usually the problem goes away in fifteen minutes or less; if it doesn't, they call back and explain what's happening and give me an duration estimate. These sorts of things don't happen often, easily less than once a year. I've never had a speed problem. When I told them I wanted to buy my own modem, they said I should go for it.

If the problem is on my end, it is not unusual for them to have someone competent at my house within an hour or two. If an appointment is necessary, it isn't going to be very long, and the people will be there on time. And if the problem is something supremely stupid that I have done and could have fixed myself, they _never_ treat me like an idiot and point and giggle; that means a lot.

Disclaimer: I allow that the uniform excellence of their service may be affected by my living within 30 miles of their corporate headquarters. They might keep closer tabs on their locals, so I'm not saying that anyone else is wrong. And I get the same runaround about their packages that everyone else does, so that really is inexcusable.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2016 2:07 PM PDT


Clear Eyes Pure Relief Multi-Symptom .3 fluid ounces from Clear Eyes
Clear Eyes Pure Relief Multi-Symptom .3 fluid ounces from Clear Eyes
Price: $9.88
9 used & new from $4.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Judging the value of the claims vs. the actual product not easy sometimes., March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The description of these eye drops says that the dispensing end of the bottle has a revolutionary filter/barrier/whatever that prevents contamination of the contents, which contain no preservatives. Also, there is a list of things that go wrong with your eyes that these drops are good for; I quote: " red, burning, itchy, dry, irritated, gritty or watery eyes."

Who knows? I've never had a problem with contaminated eye drops, but somebody must have, since we are warned about it from time to time. Since this claims to have no preservatives, I suppose the premise is that preservatives in eye drops are a Bad Thing. I don't know how significant either of these factors is in real life. I do know that the special cap that is supposed to be preventing contamination is something of a pain because it makes the container a bit inflexible, and so squeezing enough to obtain an eye drop may give you several more.

But I can judge it as an eye drop. It's OK. Good as most. Lubricates. Cheaper than some. I have been using Systane Ultra because that's what my ophthalmologist recommended after I had cataract surgery. The soothing effect of the Clear Eyes doesn't seem to last as long as that of the Systane, but that could be subjective, and equal quantities would be difficult to measure.

I don't see anything wrong with it, though. I intend to finish the bottle. If it sounds good, try it and see what it does for you.


The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World
The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World
by Steve Hely
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.39
71 used & new from $11.83

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LIKE this book! And the guy who wrote it, too, March 19, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Reading this book was like sitting down with an old friend over a beer or two and listening to his tale of the interesting things he has just done, Mr. Hely uses an enjoyable combination of very fluent writing with an informal approach to his subject. I've read many travel books over the years; there are some that have been funnier than this one, and some that have been more descriptive than this one. I do not remember one that gave such a "this is the way I would probably have looked at it" feeling. If some magnificent famous historical whatever is, in everyday reality, as boring as all getout, he walks away from it and on to the next thing; he understands the "Ok, I've seen the magnificent thing; now where can I get a sandwich around here?" feeling, The people he meets are more interesting than the sights he sees. And the people are paramount; there are no recitations of how he found weed and how much he smoked, or of his conquests (or even lack thereof) among t he local females or even his expenses.. He speaks to the reader personally, but his trip is not about his derring-do; it's about where he went and the people he met and what he heard (nobody really believes that stuff about that fish in the Amazon anymore, do they?)

Along the way he tells stories from Central/South American history and culture, almost all of it stuff I didn't know before, because the schools taught me about dates and results rather than about personalities and possibilities. The schools tended to skimp on South America, anyway.

Not a book for the ages, perhaps, but not to be casually tossed aside either. The man is a _good_ writer, and he knows how to create a mood. Much recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2016 9:51 PM PDT


Trappey's Peppers in Vinegar, Hot, 4.5 oz, (3 pack)
Trappey's Peppers in Vinegar, Hot, 4.5 oz, (3 pack)
Offered by Terrific Deal, Inc.
Price: $11.61
12 used & new from $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Southern girl living in the north: this stuff is great!, March 16, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Do you know that there are many people living in the north who have never even heard of pepper sauce? I've been missing it, and now I've found it.

My recommendation is that you not try to pour more vinegar over the peppers when it is used up. As the vinegar level goes down, eat the peppers. They are delicious on the side, particularly of seafood dishes. Cut up into 4 -5 pieces per pepper, they make a good burst of flavor on tacos or in enchiladas or even sprinkled on a salad. They liven up refried beans wonderfully.

My mother used to nibble on them straight from the bottle, but, as mothers usually are, she was tougher than I am.

These are excellent quality, and I'll keep buying them.


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