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Dockers Men's Signature Khaki Straight Flat Front Stretch Pant, Black (Stretch), 36 34
Dockers Men's Signature Khaki Straight Flat Front Stretch Pant, Black (Stretch), 36 34
Price: $14.56

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars - I'm as happy with these as I am with the other Dockers I own, July 21, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wear Dockers to work most of the time, and sadly I've been putting on a little weight lately so some of my other pants have been feeling tighter. So while I get to work getting back in shape I wanted some pants that give me a little more room. Mission accomplished.

These pants fit well and are quite comfortable. They seem to breathe well and move with me.

The size fits as expected and has the usual Dockers quality - good seams, zippers, pockets, etc.

All in all a very nice pair of pants. I'll be keeping this style in mind the next time I need to replace some work pants...the fall is coming.

5 stars - I'm as happy with these as I am with the other Dockers I own


Of Treasons Born (Treasons Cycle)
Of Treasons Born (Treasons Cycle)
by J.L. Doty
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.84
36 used & new from $6.75

3.0 out of 5 stars In all candor I will not be recommending this book to my usual circle of friends who are looking for a new read. Sorry., July 21, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a book I chose to read and review for a few different reasons. I enjoy military action/adventure (e.g., Clancy), dystopian story lines (e.g., Hunger Games, Red Rising), and good summer reads.

I launched into this read and it didn't take more than a few days to finish. At 253pp and medium sized font, reading this book was not a major investment of time.

There were a lot of things I liked about the book:
1) The sci/fi military (naval) connection hooks me more often than not.
2) The intergalactic technologies and scientific premises were also interesting
3) The future of humanity card is always a fun one for authors to play with.
4) The characters were largely interesting and better developed than I would have imagined for this plot-driven novel, and the writing was crisp and did not interfere with the storytelling
5) The background has tons of potential, yet felt completely to me to be undeveloped. More on this later.
There were also, sadly, a number of things that did not score well with me:
1) It felt like the author couldn't quite make up his mind about what kind of book he wanted this to be...I mean the main character starts out as a preteen boy and ends up as a late teenager or even a little older, but the things he has these youth doing essentially, at least IMO, disqualify this as a youth or young adult work of fiction. SPOILER - it frankly really bothered me when the main character is frequenting brothels as a customer before the age of 14, I don't care that he's in the navy...OK, call me a prude, but it just didn't work for me.
2) The language is periodically quite coarse...again sure this is the navy and all, but in the centuries between now and the future of this book you'd think that they would have come up with new jargon. But if not, at least I'd have thought that the author might have shown a little more restraint.
3) There was too heavy an emphasis on casual sex and sexual dialog and innuendo for this book to target a youth or young adult audience, or even be a comfortable read for me.
4) Back to the lack of deep development and lack of back story...There was no explanation about why they are at war and even who they are fighting, when this all started and why it continues to go on and on for generations. There are also intimations about class structure and class status and the role it plays in society, but nothing about it that you can really sink your teeth into. I'm not saying that the author has to tell us everything, but to me it felt a little like I was reading a work by James Dashner (The Maze Runner), who IMO is notoriously tight-lipped in his books and leaves the reader in the dark as much as are the characters.

While a fun read, this book is not on par with other books to which I would compare it, e.g., Ender's Game, Red Rising, The Hunger Games.

Did I enjoy this book? Yes, but with caveats...I was put off by the strong (very strong) language, the all too frequent sexual content, and the lack of back story and context. All in all this works out to about 3 stars for me, but in all candor I will not be recommending this book to my usual circle of friends and associates who are constantly on the look out for a new read. Sorry.


The Jungle Book (BD + DVD + Digital HD) [Blu-ray]
The Jungle Book (BD + DVD + Digital HD) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Neel Sethi
Price: $24.96

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure why they made King Louie so scary...but that wasn't my call. IMO not really a movie for the younger kid crowd, July 14, 2016
There is little new in this live action version of the classic story by Rudyard Kipling, but Disney still does it right, mostly. Of course Kipling's stories are somewhat fantastical to be sure, even whimsical, but this telling has many things going for it. The CGI animals are incredible. The actors do a good job carrying their characters, and I have to say that I liked the casting. This cast is not likely to be matched anytime soon. I mean, come on, Bill Murray does a great Baloo (though he lacks that booming bass voice we came to love in the animated Disney version), Ben Kingsley does a noble job as Bageera the panther, Idris Elba makes a fine antagonist to Mowgli, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa (though her appearance is all too short), and Christopher Walken as King Louie.

I'm not sure why they made King Louie so scary...but that wasn't my call.

All in all, the casting was great, the CGI was amazing, and they did a good job telling the same tale - the Disney version of the tale with ver variations. Maybe that's what left me a little flat. Anyway, don't get me wrong, this is a great offering, but IMO it is NOT a children's movie - too scary for the younger crowd, thus 4 stars.


Sleep Master Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Twin
Sleep Master Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Twin
Price: $118.67
2 used & new from $115.00

5.0 out of 5 stars This topper makes an average mattress good and a good mattress fantastic., July 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A very nice addition to any bed.

This topper makes an average mattress good and a good mattress fantastic.

The topper is extremely comfortable.

Alternative uses of this topper include using this as a pad for a reading nook, window seat, or even as a topper for a futon couch that may need a little help.


In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
by Nathaniel Philbrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.86
520 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't think you know the whole story because you watched the movie..., July 12, 2016
As a marine biologist I find myself attracted to all kinds of stories, accounts, and experiences that people have with the sea. I went to see the movie, "In the Heart of the Sea" and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, after having read the book of the same name I now have a more complete understanding of what happened, as well as some suggestions about why things may have happened the way they did.

Mr. Philbrick does a masterful job of recounting the tale of the Essex, the ill-fated Nantucket whale ship that was rammed and sunk by a large whale in the central Pacific Ocean.

It's doubtful that anyone can ever know the entire story about anything, but this book does a fantastic job of telling what we do know. This well-researched account includes descriptions of the people involved on land as well as those at sea. There is a nice account of what it's like to have been aboard a whale ship. I have to admit that I was shocked when I learned that an average sized whale ship was crewed by as few as 20 or so people. I would have imagined many more being involved.

I was also greatly intrigued to learn more about the practice of drawing lots among those adrift at sea when times get extremely dire. You'll have to read the book to learn more about this.

If you have already watched the movie before reading the book, the prepared for many differences between the two stories. They share the same core narrative, but the movie includes many instances of increased dramatization and deviations from the historical account. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book AND the the movie, but don't think that you are getting the same info both places.

The narrative was clear, the writing is top-notch, and the tale, well, how can you top a historical account of a ship being sunk by a whale? This is the same event that provided the core of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick."

The final verdict? 5 stars for anyone interested in historical non-fiction and the sea.


Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat with Large, Easy-to-Read Display
Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Programmable Thermostat with Large, Easy-to-Read Display
Price: $54.99

5.0 out of 5 stars We are SUPER happy to have this unit to replace our old one - it's easier to set, see, and use, July 11, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We had a major furnace problem about 18 months ago, and result of that problem was that the furnace repair people installed a new thermostat. it was frankly non-intuitive to set, work with, and adjust. So, I jumped at the chance to try out this thermostat.

OK, so I'm moderately handy but not incredibly so. I mean, how can you live into your 50s without learning to do at least a few things? Anyway, 'd never replaced a thermostat before, so I did the most unnatural thing ever (for some people) I read the installation manual that came with the new thermostat. :-)

I removed the old thermostat wired this one and had it completely installed within about 15 minutes. I was taking my time and being very deliberate - marking wires, etc., but even so the job didn't take long at all.

Oh, word to the wise...make sure that you turn off the power supply to your furnace before replacing the thermostat. You can typically do this at your fuse box.

Once the thermostat was wired and secured in place...BTW thus unit comes with screws and sleeves for securing the unit into drywall (nice)...and I flipped the power to the furnace back on, I was able to test it. I set the time, morning, daily, evening and nighttime temperatures, and then tested the unit by manually bumping the target temperature above the temperature threshold. It took a minute or so for the furnace to activate, but on it came. Also, it took about a minute or so to turn off once I bumped the target temp below the set threshold.

Be advised that it can take an hour or longer for the thermostat's room temperature readout to match ambient temperature when it's first installed. After that however, it tracks temperatures nicely.

We are SUPER happy to have this unit to replace the old one.

The controls and readouts are easier to use and see.

5 stars - no complaints!


Beethoven
Beethoven
DVD ~ Charles Grodin
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $7.66
58 used & new from $0.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average kids and dog family movie - there's a dark side, July 8, 2016
This review is from: Beethoven (DVD)
Charles Grodin headlines this family (well, mostly family) film. It's a common story...the kids want a dog and the dad doesn't. They finally get one, and it's Beethoven. This St. Bernard pup grows up and grows on you. He of course works his way into their hearts, but things turn nasty when the the family crosses paths with yuppie wheeler-dealer financiers and a veterinarian who is not what he seems. The normally affable Disney-esque Dean Jones plays the dark vet.

I've said too much already, but this is a movie worth watching. The dialog is witty, the characters are appropriately fun, stand-offish or creepy, depending, and the story though somewhat trite in the family-pet category, has interesting twists and turns enough to keep even adults engaged.

On an aside, I have to say that my favorite bit-player is the career woman in the couple who arrives to talk over a deal with the dad. She is the two-time Emmy Award winner Patricia Heaton, a.k.a. Frankie Heck of the sitcom "The Middle."

Good stuff, and 5 stars.


Flight World War II
Flight World War II
DVD ~ Faran Tahir
Price: $6.59
29 used & new from $2.38

3.0 out of 5 stars There is little original or engaging about the show, and it is just not quite good/bad enough to qualify as a cult classic, July 6, 2016
This review is from: Flight World War II (DVD)
The biggest claim to fame of this movie was that Faran Tahir was the plane captain....better known as the captain of the ill fated USS Kelvin in Star Trek (2009). That in itself made the movie watchable for me and pulled me through to the end.

I like sci-fi and I like war movies, so this looked like an interesting, though totally cheesy possibility. So I bit and gave it a look. Once it got going it was kind of like watching a train wreck...you just know it's going to be terrible, but you just can't look away. And yes, it ends up being pretty terrible, so terrible in fact that it's not all that bad.

SPOILER ALERT

An "International Airlines" airliner was flying somewhere over the Atlantic was forced to fly through a strange atmospheric storm-like anomaly and when they emerges it's gone from afternoon to nighttime and they are flying somewhere over land. The plane's radio gear is working but there's no one on the air. Yes, you got it, the screenwriters used the exact same plot twist that was used was used in the 1980 movie, "The Final Countdown" where the USS Nimitz was transported back to December 1941.

This time however, the airliner is over 1940 WWII Europe.

A couple of apparently happy-go-lucky history professors with expertise in 20th century history, especially WWII, just happen to be on board and they are the ones who reach the conclusion that they have gone back in time.

Before you know it the plane is buzzed by German Me 262 jet fighters - a plane type that was not in service until years later. Also, they finally make contact with someone on the ground who's in the British Army and they learn that Dunkirk was a disaster with hundreds of thousands of allied troops killed or captured - the plane passengers learn that history has somehow changed. This is of course an interesting time-travel alternative reality premise that's a favorite of sci-fi writers, but sadly little was done with it in this film.

OK, I do have a few major issues with some of the action, especially when the Me 262s make multiple attack runs at the airliner. The Me 262s were faster than the airliner and were armed with four 30 mm cannons. There were at times as many as four fighters attacking at once. The movie shows many shots striking home, but inside no one is hit and frankly the fuselage doesn't really incur any damage. What were the fighters shooting? Ping pong balls?! Ha ha. Also there is a surface to air missile shot at the plane at one point, and no such system existed until after WWII. Of course fans can claim an alternative history, and sure, that's ok, but super unlikely.

I know this is a very low budget film, and it feels largely that way. The part that comes across as terribly low-rent are the scenes on the ground when their ground contact is shown.

There is very little resolution to the whole movie, though there is an interesting plot twist at the very end of the film that's fun.

All in all this is only a reasonably fun time. I didn't hate or dislike it, and deem it IMO officially "okay." Thus the 3 stars.

There is little particularly original or engaging about the show, and it is just not quite good/bad enough to qualify as a cult classic like Sharknado.

Everyone in the film plays it straight. This makes it a bit funny.

All in all, it's OK - 3 stars


Reebok running Gloves, M
Reebok running Gloves, M
Price: $21.43
2 used & new from $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A piece of apparel like this is extremely important especially if you are out and about when it's dark, June 29, 2016
This review is from: Reebok Running Gloves (Sports)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These gloves are being marketed as night trail running gloves. While they may work well there, this is not their only niche. These gloves are brightly colored and have reflective strips on them. This makes them highly visible to anything with headlights, and if you happen to run either at night or early in the morning then being seen by traffic is extremely important.

The construction is sound and the gloves are comfortable. The material seems to wick moisture away quickly and efficiently.

The color and style are appealing, and are highly functional - for safety, both in terms of visibility and to protect your hands for incidental contact with various objects.

All in all a great glove...I'm glad to have them on hand (no pun intended :-)


Coleman Divide+ 225 lm LED Headlamp with Battery Lock
Coleman Divide+ 225 lm LED Headlamp with Battery Lock
Price: $19.42
18 used & new from $14.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great unit - all the right things in all the right places., June 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wildest headlamp dreams may have come true.

This headlamp has many fine features.

OK, first of all, about the lamp. Physical dimensions 2 3/4" (68mm) wide, 1 5/8" (43mm) tall, and 1 1/2" (34mm) deep. The strap is elastic and 1" wide (25.4mm). The strap is in two parts: one part runs along the back of the lamp and has a plastic loop where it and the adjustable second strap attach. The other side has a permanent attachment for the adjustable strap and is where the strap length can be adjusted. The strap can be adjusted from about 4.5" in diameter to about 8" in diameter.

There is a foam backing on the lamp and the material in the strap is comfortable to the touch.

The lamp angle is adjustable to 5 different positions, These range from directly ahead to 90o down. These positions would be useful for everything from doing detailed close-up work to illuminating a large area. It can also be adjusted so one could easily read while they were lying down. Nice.

There are 5 different lamp settings. Simply press the power button on the top of the lamp repeatedly as follows for the following lamp settings:
1 click - red light
2 clicks - low power spotlight
3 clicks - low power floodlight
4 clicks - high power spotlight
5 clicks - high power floodlight

I have now owned this lamp long enough to test the reliability of the durations advertised by the manufacturer. If their data are correct you could expect the following battery durations for new AAA batteries as follows:
low spot (20 lumens/60 hrs)
low flood (50 lumens/12 hrs)
high spot (100 lumens/6 hrs)
high flood (225 lumens/65 mins)
red light ?????

The new technology that the Coleman Co. is promoting with this headlamp is a "battery lock" feature. That is, if you grip the back of the lamp with one hand and the front with the other and then pull, the two halves will separate slightly and a red line will appear in the middle. As long as the red line is showing the lamp cannot be turned on. To turn the lamp on, simply press the front and back together and press the power button on the top.

The battery compartment is opened by pushing up on the tab labeled "battery" on the bottom of the lamp. I was able to do this with my fingers, but it would be easier if I had a standard screw driver or perhaps a thin coin like a dime to do this.

All in all this lamp really does appear to have all of the bells and whistles pretty much anyone could want.

5 stars - no complaints


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