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Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Price: $16.19

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even President Obama warned her..., September 30, 2015
* I received an advance review copy from a friend a few weeks ago and I have to say that whether or not you're a Hillary fan - "Unlikeable" is as compelling as author Edward Klein's previous two examinations about the Clintons - or more to the point - his examinations of the Clintons' RELATIONSHIPS with other big wheels in Washington. Because other readers have already written summaries about what Hillary - according to Klein - is all about, I'll focus on just two (2) of the many takeaways I got from this book.

* 1 of 2) - As a journalist, I ask again - how much of Klein's work is true? However objectionable it is that most of Klein's sources are anonymous - I reach the inescapable conclusion that the more unflattering assertions against Hillary are highly placed and credible members of the Democratic Party. Why? Because it's hard to believe any GOP operative could poach incendiary word-for-word conversations between the Clintons and others - without being physically in the same rooms. The irony is much of the inflammatory material in "Unlikeable" appears - to me, anyway - to be coming NOT from right-wing partisans - but from satellite extensions of the Clintons themselves.

* And the elephant in the room that bolsters Klein's credibility - is that Klein himself, a self-admitted JFK fan and a former editor at Newsweek, Vanity Fair and the New York Times Magazine - has never been successfully sued for libel - nor have any of his books been successfully discredited as being loaded with patent lies. If untrue, there would be more than enough to warrant the Clintons suing Klein and his publishers for libel. But it hasn't happened (yet), dating back to Klein's first book about Hillary in 2005. (In Journalism 101 we're taught that Truth is the best defense against libel - and that public figures like Hillary must prove malice - AND - that blatant untruths have been printed which have caused irreparable harm.)

* If you're a Hillary fan, you have every right to regard "Unlikeable" as tabloid filth, but that's an opinion, not a fact, framed by what you bring to the table. When the same type of books are written about GOP figures, your emotions may provide a better sense of what I'm talking about.

* 2 of 2) - At this snapshot in time - the most "contemporaneously relevant" slice of material in this more than 250-page book has to do with the controversy over Hillary's decision to install a private email server when she was U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to early 2013. Without apology or qualification, Klein asserts that President Obama - and key members of his administration - explicitly warned Hillary to not do it, despite her paranoia about snooping enemies during her many years as a public figure.

* I admit I do get the feeling that the President's closest personal adviser, Valerie Jarrett, has a key role in campaign and policy strategy, including the release of adverse information against Hillary. Nothing gets by her and this might explain, 1) why so many "insiders" were willing - (or got permission) - to air the Clintons' dirty laundry to Edward Klein, and, 2) why the President's own administration - (and not some right-wing conspiracy) - is more responsible for the FBI's investigation of the email server issue - to proceed without obstruction. When the heat turned up against Hillary, she asked the President to help, i.e., to "call off his dogs." According to Klein, the President turned Hillary down.

* In sum, "Unlikeable" may be a lot of things, but it is not boring, Based on what was revealed previously about the sour relations between the Clintons and the Obamas in Klein's "Blood Feud" (2014) - the behind-the-scenes narrative remains unchanged. It's true that millions love and admire Hillary Clinton outside of Washington. But inside the Beltway, she is feared and resented by enough people in the highest reaches of the Democratic Party - adding another layer of woe on top of the antipathy she has long gotten from the GOP. She might still get the White House because of the fracturing of the GOP, but for now, Vice President Joe Biden appears to have less baggage just being his authentic self, e.g., the same guy in public and private, untouched by scandals, real or imagined, a loyalist to the President in ways that Hillary is not.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2015 10:59 AM PDT

Did You Ever Have A Family
Did You Ever Have A Family
by Bill Clegg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.30
70 used & new from $9.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Horrific tragedy grabbed my attention - but didn't hold it, leaving me in a confused daze..., September 27, 2015
* I think initial sales of this critically acclaimed book will be good because readers will be drawn to a fabulous premise that taps into our fears about titanic familial loss.

* But Bill Clegg's "Did You Ever Have A Family" - (note the absence of a question mark in the title) - forces us to over-guess and over-speculate everything as it rolls about a dozen characters with their own chapters - some relevant, some not at all. This is an obviously humorless book that requires, despite its modest length, some effort to finish. And I lay the blame on the author's choice to jump from one point of view to another, creating confusion and disabling sustained emotional engagement. It presents too many takes about the instant loss of family members in an accident of mundane origin. There are some good reflections offered, e.g., exploring the "what could have beens and what should have beens" - and the resentments and gossip which are an infuriating part of humans reacting to traumas.

* However, it becomes clear by chapter four - that the author cares less about what killed the family - and more about how a humongous loss - generates diverse reactions. I'm getting tired of books with Rashomon-style narratives - so common in many novels - which feature too many points of view. This story shows promise, but was oddly not engrossing. For example, while some actions by the characters felt logical - others felt pointless, e.g., a woman in mourning ("Lydia") - is so starved for affection that she repeatedly and knowingly enables a con artist to scam her for thousands - just to hear his faceless voice on the phone expressing bogus words of love.

* Ultimately, this book's shattering set-up - suggests something important and vital will be explored about death. To me, it never happens. If the takeaway is death - and our reactions to it - are random and ordinary and beyond reason - well, the journey isn't worth it when there are too many exits off the freeway. What could've been a linear, punch-in-the-gut novel spotlighting the same truths presented by the author - gets bogged down in a "start-and-stop-and-restart" narrative that hurts readability and clarity. In sum, "Did You Ever Have A Family" feels like an epic road trip by people fleeing geographies of time, place and mind - who are all seeking answers to things they can't articulate nor are likely to reveal themselves. Acceptance might arrive for some, however real, illusory or transitory - but again, I felt this book was much tougher than expected to finish. Grade: B-

Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Teaspoons 36.8 Oz
Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Teaspoons 36.8 Oz
Offered by EZoverstock
Price: $25.19
18 used & new from $25.19

5.0 out of 5 stars WARNING - BE CAREFUL if you want to avoid sugar., September 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING THE CORRECT PRODUCT. Don't make the same mistake I did. The color scheme and markings for "sugared" and "sugar-free" orange-flavored Metamucil are nearly identical.

* If you're watching your weight and need to avoid sugar, buy this: Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Doses / 36.8 Oz.

* DON'T BUY: Metamucil Orange Sugar Smooth Texture Powder 114 Doses / 48.2 oz.

* Note that standard orange-flavored Metamucil has 16 grams of sugar per serving - while the sugar-free version has 0 grams. The "sugared" version also comes in a bottle that is 12 ounces HEAVIER - but in a strange quirk of packaging - offers way FEWER doses, i.e., 114 "sugared" doses vs. 180 "sugar-free" doses.

* I've tried both products and in my view, the sugar-free product mixes better with tap water and leaves less gummy residue along the sides of your glass. And it tastes the same to me.

* In sum, "sugar-free" version costs a little more and weighs less - but you get 66 MORE doses. This gives you an idea of how much thicker and heavier "sugared" Metamucil is. Do the math and you'll see that the "sugar-free" version offers a better value. Just make sure your bottle has the "SUGAR FREE" BLUE STRIPE visible near the bottom. I hope this helps.

Cellairis - C3 Universal Bluetooth Headset Silver
Cellairis - C3 Universal Bluetooth Headset Silver
Offered by Cellular Hookup
Price: $6.13

2.0 out of 5 stars What happens when you buy a Bluetooth headset for under $10?, September 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is among the least expensive Bluetooth-pairing-with-cellphone earpieces available and it's obvious why. While it pairs fine with most devices - it falls way short of being acceptable.

Its most glaring shortfall is sound quality. With outgoing calls, your friends can barely hear you, which suggests a poor microphone. And with incoming calls, you can barely hear what people are saying, which suggests a poor earpiece.

Naturally, at this price point, there isn't much if any customizing available. There is no volume control - and I can imagine this device would perform terribly outdoors. (All of my tests were conducted indoors without much ambient noise.)

If you need to save money but still want a higher grade device, may I suggest the aLLreLi® 3S BlueTooth 4.1 Wireless Headset w/ Microphone and Volume Control. It cost me only a few dollars more and it was worth it. This is what I bought when I returned this Cellairis C3 for a refund.

I'm not wild about over-paying for Bluetooth headsets and this alternate ALLreLI 3S model - while not perfect nor high-end - proved excellent for my needs.

The Top 10 Greatest American Women: Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, ... Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton
The Top 10 Greatest American Women: Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, ... Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton
Price: $8.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A strange misfire from Charles River Editors..., September 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* There's nothing partisan about what I'm about to write - but in my view, it is WAY too early to anoint Hillary Clinton as one of the 10 "GREATEST" women in American history.

* Whether you like the following names or not, you could make a case for others to join this list ahead of Mrs. Clinton, e.g., Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), Shirley Chisholm (first African American woman to run for president), Harriet Beecher Stowe (writer of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), Betty Friedan (pioneering feminist) and Harriet Tubman (black abolitionist).

* Let's put some distance - namely, more years and decades - before definitive historical judgments are made about contemporaneous (still living) public figures.

* Many of the products by Charles River Editors provide "capsule summaries" of their subjects in a handy "booklet or pamphlet" format. This one, even at more than 400 pages - is no different. However, this is the first time I've encountered a Charles River title that undercuts efforts to preserve its historical credibility and integrity.

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo
Price: $179.99

298 of 336 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I ALMOST RETURNED THE ECHO, but I changed my mind. Here's why., June 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Amazon Echo (Electronics)
* I was one of the lucky Echo beta buyers in January who finally received it in May 2015 with the remote control included. Future buyers who want the remote will have to pay more to get it, and that's a shame.

* I like the remote because while the microphones in the top of the Echo are fine, whenever I'm in another room, I have to pivot my head towards the Echo - and speak louder and enunciate more clearly - to get it to understand me.

* With the remote you don't have to say the Echo wake-up word, "Alexa" before every command. You just press the microphone icon on the remote - speak - and Echo will respond. This is handy when I'm not in the kitchen where my Echo sits. The remote also has "next," "back," "volume up" and "volume down" buttons - which come in handy when you want to skip news stories or music tracks from your music library, Pandora, etc.

* As far as the Echo itself, there have already been thousands of reviews, so I'll summarize the following:


1 of 5. - At first, its primary function seemed redundant in my home. It felt like just another music player, augmented with a way to provide weather forecasts and sports scores conveniently. I didn't feel I needed another radio or music player, especially one that isn't portable.

2 of 5. - The Echo remains VERY limited in what it can do. It can't provide answers to MANY questions. You'll still have to use search engine links on a smart phone or computer to get what you need.

3 of 5. - After initial set-up - the Echo is still disproportionately dependent upon the Echo App to execute "custom commands." For example, if you ask Echo for your favorite sports team's won-loss record, it's stumped. If you ask Echo to give you the latest news near your home, it can't. Echo can only give you "global news" you can already get on CNN.

4 of 5. - The Echo App is only available for iPhones and Android phones. It's not available for Windows Phones. However much the Windows Phone and the Microsoft name are denigrated by many - Windows Phones are still among the top three operating smart phone systems in the world with more than 35 million users. I know that's a tiny number compared to Android and iOS - but it's still significant. My workaround is to use my wife's Android phone - or to go to my desktop - to make adjustments - or to access my "to-do and shopping lists." (More about those "lists" below.)

5 of 5. - There will be "new and improved" Echos available soon. And this worries me. Since this is the first of what will be many iterations of this device - I'm concerned that within a year or two - an "upgraded 2.0-like" Echo will roll out, rendering the Echo I have now obsolete. I thought I might return this, hold off for improvements to be made and then pay more for them later. (Akin to how the original Kindle evolved from the primitive device it once was - into the Kindle Paperwhite that has near universal acceptance today.)


1 of 4. - Despite its limitations, the Echo is a game changer. The fantasy of talking to a device that responds to voice commands - in open space - without touching a button - like the Hal 9000 computer in 1968's landmark film, "2001: A Space Odyssey" - is steps away from becoming as common as a microwave oven. A lot of kinks still need to be worked out, but if we can put a man on the moon in 1969, then an Echo that can do almost everything - in multiple rooms - is now within reach for consumers.

2 of 4. - Despite the Echo App not being available across all operating phone systems - its best asset right now might be the management of the aforementioned "shopping and to-do lists." Shopping lists are created mostly as items pop in our heads. The same for "to-do" lists. After getting past my gripes about Echo's "fun" functions as a music player - I realize how much I've enjoyed the convenience of seeing my lists pop up on the Echo App on a compatible smartphone with a good data plan outside my home. Unfortunately, you can't delete items mistakenly added to your shopping list by telling the Echo to remove them. You have to go to your Echo app and physically get rid of them. That's an unnecessary extra step.

3 of 4. - The more you get familiar with the Echo and the Echo Remote - which are inextricably linked to the Echo App, things get easier. If you ask Echo, "Alexa, what's the traffic like?" - she'll give the estimated commute time from your location to your office. You must first set up your destination in the Echo App, but after that, you don't have to think about it. You just ask. Another plus is Amazon IS CONSTANTLY UPDATING the functionality of the Echo via the Cloud, sending me email notices a few times a week about a new feature that's been added, e.g., controlling MORE appliances via what's called a "WinkHUB" - or creating custom commands via a website called "IFTTT" ("If This, Then That" - over at IFTTT.com) - which isn't hard to set-up.

4 of 4. - Most important. I am betting - given Amazon's history of improving functionality of its devices - while anticipating potential customer irritation if it releases the next Echo too soon - that most future improvements will be introduced as described above, i.e., via the Cloud - and not require hardware changes.

*** CONCLUSION... ***

In sum, after initial set-up, I want the Echo to become a truly "hands-free" device. If it can provide news about what's going on in my region - AND - if it can get "smarter" by incorporating more "text-to-speech" answers from a search engine - (instead of forwarding search links with potential answers to the Echo App) - I truly believe the Amazon Echo will be transformed from being a "novelty" gadget - into something indispensable found in every home.

Grade: B.
Comment Comments (38) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2015 9:04 PM PDT

amFilm® Motorola Moto G (1st Gen.) Screen Protector Anti-Glare/Anti-Fingerprint (3-Pack) [Lifetime Warranty]
amFilm® Motorola Moto G (1st Gen.) Screen Protector Anti-Glare/Anti-Fingerprint (3-Pack) [Lifetime Warranty]
Offered by TechMatte
Price: $6.95
2 used & new from $6.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Customer support raises this screen protector into outer space, December 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* I do not work for nor am I friends with anyone affiliated with this product.

* To me, applying a screen protector is the most aggravating part of "prepping" a new smartphone.

* Yet as I write this, the amFilm screen protector on my first generation Moto G is perfect. No bubbles, no aggravating dust particles, nothing.

* However, this took some doing and four protectors to get it right, even with the You Tube tutorial that can be reached via the link provided in the package. After I ran out of protectors, amFilm's customer service support (TechMatte) was great, sending out another batch of three (3) protectors that enabled me to "keep trying."

* Here's the twist. The "hinge" method recommended by most - didn't work for me. The included rubber bands - (which BTW, are clear, and NOT the more common which are tan) - hold the protector in place while you apply taped "hinges" which wrap around the long edge. When you take off the rubber bands, this allows the protector to lay down onto the screen. Well, in spite of numerous tries, the protector was always a tiny bit out of alignment along the edges. I took away a star because the squeeze card to remove bubbles - is made of hard cardboard and not plastic - and the corners can permanently bend, rendering them less effective.

* The weird thing is the "straight on" application method I've always used for smart phones - worked better for me. I washed my hands, went into a near-dust free room, turned off the heaters and A/C. I got some gloves, peeled off the protector, exposing the sticky side - and I lined up the bottom edges to my phone with my right hand. I used my left hand to hold the other end of the protector by its edges, gradually lowering and lifting the protector from the screen to remove stray particles or bubbles with the dust removal stickers that are included.

* The end result is perfection. The anti-glare, anti-fingerprint technology is wonderful. But this maker also deserves kudos for going the extra mile when it comes to service. The day after my order, I got an e-mail from the manufacturer - making sure I was happy - with a plea to let it know if I run into problems. I did - and I got a quick response and quick replacements.

* I think practice is critical, because every protector is different. I recommend this product because it's well made - AND because its makers will go out of their way to give you as many "practice runs" - with as many extra protectors shipped to your home - until you get it right. The manufacturer will NOT let you fail. Grade: A-.

Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar 114 Teaspoons 48.2 Oz
Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar 114 Teaspoons 48.2 Oz
Offered by Morgan Enterprise
Price: $20.43
30 used & new from $18.75

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING - BE CAREFUL if you want to avoid sugar., August 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* BE CAREFUL. The color scheme and markings for this product are nearly identical to the "sugar-free" version of the same thing.

* If you're watching your weight and want to avoid a lot of sugar, buy the Metamucil Psyllium Fiber Supplement Orange Sugar Free Smooth Texture Powder 180 Doses, 36.8 Ounce instead. It's 12 ounces lighter - but you'll get 66 MORE doses than the product you see here.

* I've tried both products and the sugar-free version - Metamucil Psyllium Fiber Supplement Orange Sugar Free Smooth Texture Powder 180 Doses, 36.8 Ounce - mixes better with tap water and leaves way less gummy residue along the sides of your glass - and tastes the same as the "sugared" version. The product you see here - requires warm water to mix properly.

* In sum, the "sugared" version costs less - but you only get 114 doses out of it - vs. 180 doses you get from the sugar-free version. The irony is the "sugared" version weighs MORE - but gives you 66 FEWER doses. This gives you an idea of how much thicker and heavier the "sugared" Metamucil is. Do the math and the "sugar-free" version is a better value. I hope this helps.

Duck Brand HP260 High Performance 3.1 Mil Packaging Tape, 1.88-Inch x 60-Yard Roll, Crystal Clear, 6-Pack + 2 Bonus Rolls (1067839)
Duck Brand HP260 High Performance 3.1 Mil Packaging Tape, 1.88-Inch x 60-Yard Roll, Crystal Clear, 6-Pack + 2 Bonus Rolls (1067839)
Price: $20.90
23 used & new from $19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more flimsy budget packing tape brands for me!, August 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* You get what you pay for.

* After years of "cutting corners," buying packing tape that is as thin as tissue paper - I finally took advantage of a deal and bought 8 rolls of the Duck HP260 brand. I'll NEVER go back to using budget 2-inch wide packing tape again.

* The Duck HP260 doesn't tear, doesn't crease, doesn't go limp when you cut a piece - it lays on smooth and is very strong. It's not quite as strong as reinforced paper tape but who wants the hassle of licking paper tape all day long?

* This product is as tough as nails and is the "go to" product when it comes to reliable and strong plastic tape for packing boxes. It has the right thickness to stand "straight up" when dispensed - and then goes on smooth and molds and conforms to whatever box or doo-dad that you're packing.

* Thumbs up, all the way.

Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
by Katy Butler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.13
97 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The path to a better way of death is strewn with obstacles., July 7, 2014
* For me, the key takeaways from Katy Butler's journalistic memoir, "Knocking On Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death" - were as follows:

1. Dementia is a miserable path to death. Do not draw it out.

2. Be aware that a giant chunk of your savings will be drained during your last few months on earth - because of procedures which are unlikely to improve the quality of your life - nor change the course of terminal conditions.

3. Embrace comforts wherever you can find them, otherwise you'll go insane.

4. Remember that a "911 call" about an aging parent is sometimes the gateway back into a health care system that places a ridiculously high value on prolonging life - even if quality of life has already fallen through the floor.

* While there are many other good points in this book, these were the most compelling for me. (As I write this, my father, who has terminal Alzheimer's disease, is in an assisted living facility with few if any coherent thoughts in his head.)

* This is an immensely readable book about the author's journey handling the decline of her parents. It's loaded with personal observations, hard-core stats and wrenching scenes of frustration, especially over failed efforts to convince health professionals to disconnect a pacemaker that prolonged the life of her severely frail, incontinent and dementia-riddled father.

* Butler's hard-to-please mother comes across strong-willed and bossy - however correct she turned out to be when her husband's death informed the way she took control of her own impending death - by rejecting life-prolonging medical procedures.

* I took away a star because portions of this book which deal with Buddhism and other spiritual coping strategies - didn't resonate with me. But this was a personal reaction on my part - and to be fair, this is a memoir that represents truths as the author sees them - which she's entitled to express. Most readers will be fine with her spiritual reflections - even though the concrete advice she gives readers near the end of her book - felt more practical to me.

* Katy Butler's past contributions to the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the New York Times and other high-profile publications - gives her street cred as a journalist. In the end, "Knocking On Heaven's Door" provides, in my view, a good blend of journalism, memoir and "how to" advice - which makes it one of the best books I've read about aging parents - and their children like me who are caring for them.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2015 8:11 PM PDT

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