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Sir Charles Panther "Life is hard. It's harder when you're stupid." RSS Feed (Alexandria, Virginny, USandA)
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Hill's Ideal Balance Canine Adult Roasted Beef & Zucchini Stew Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-Pack
Hill's Ideal Balance Canine Adult Roasted Beef & Zucchini Stew Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-Pack
Price: $29.97
2 used & new from $29.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Wet Dog Food, Expensive, June 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The dog loves this stuff. She eats it up like crazy, getting all antsy when I open the can and even whining when I take too long to mix it into her dry food.

The can is easy-open, with a nice pull tab on the top. The cans are the right size to provide half a can at each feeding, when mixed with dry dog food.

The smell is that of a standard wet dog food; I’m not smelling anything out of the ordinary or special here. The physical appearance is really not so great, with a distinctly unattractive gray color. With its meat chunks and carrot pieces adding some orange color, this is just not an attractive product when out of the can. It looks like, well, ah…something not good. But then again, I’m not buying it to look at it; I’m buying it to feed to the dog, and she just freeking loves it. I note that it most definitely does not look like the photo on the outside of the can.

The consistency is moderately wet, so that it flows easily from the can, unlike most somewhat dryer wet foods that come out in one canned-cranberry-sauce style can mold, complete with the little ridges on the side.

As for the contents, I guess zucchini is good, with roasted zucchini even better, but I can’t remember the last time I heard of a wolf, or even a domestic dog raiding someone’s zucchini patch. I’ve never known dogs to go for carrots or zucchini; that’s a very human health conceit, not a canine one. So again, we have a pet food made to look like human food so the humans will buy it, thinking they’ll feed their dogs the same things that they (humans/owners) like and which are good for them (humans/owners), so then it must be good for the dog, too. That’s not to say that this food isn’t expressly made for a dog, or that it’s bad for them…

Price. You get 12 cans for approximately $30. That’s about $2.50/can, down to $1.25/serving, if you go with the half-a-can at mealtime, as I’ve done. This plan would have this case last only 12 days, as you’re going through a can a day with a morning and evening feeding. So, that would come out to more than $60/month if you go all out with this food for your dog ($720/year).

That being said, the can’s Daily Feeding Guide states that my roughly 80-pound lab is recommended for 5 ½ to 7 2/3 cans per day. Per day! So that’s a minimum of roughly $12.50/day to feed the dog. She’d love it, sure, but that shakes out to be more than $4500/year. Sorry, can’t do that.

Bottom line: The dog likes this, so I do, too. If I could feed it to her every day, I would, but I just can’t afford it. So, if I see this on the shelf from time to time I’ll probably get some for her as a treat, but just can’t swing this as standard food.


Armitron Sport Men's Quartz Resin Fitness Watch, Color:Black (Model: 20/5108BRG)
Armitron Sport Men's Quartz Resin Fitness Watch, Color:Black (Model: 20/5108BRG)
Price: $41.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Budget Sports Watch, Almost a Sports-Dress Watch, June 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have previously received and reviewed (on 8 Feb 16) the red-accented version of this watch, Armitron 20/5108ORG. These two watches are identical except for their color accents, so I offer my earlier review in its entirety, with minor changes regarding the color.

I own now and have owned quite a few Casio G-Shocks in my time, and this watch is similar in appearance, and somewhat similar in performance. The G-Shock is my primary comparison with this watch. This watch is cheaper than a G-Shock, and is not quite as good, but is still a solid entry-level sports watch.

In the box you get the watch and a tiny little warranty/instructions booklet. It’s easy to get the watch out of the box and its packaging and onto your wrist quickly.

This is a pretty cool-looking man’s watch. The face is nice and big, which is very trendy now. It is not heavy at all. Nice color combination, with the rose gold (nicely more gold than rose) not over-represented. The gold tone almost makes this a nice dress watch. The rubber wristband is a nice flat matte black. The high school senior boy digs the watch, and already has claimed it. He relates that he’s had no problems with it in the shower, although he has not taken it swimming (and likely won’t).

Me, I’m a bit confused as to why both analog and digital time displays are used; that’s just redundant. Why waste battery power offering the same information twice? I’m an analog guy, so I think the three hands should be a lot bigger and more prominent on the face (but then again, they’d hide a lot of the digital content…). I like the digital for stopwatch and timekeeping functions, and found the buttons very easy to access and use, much more so than the G-Shock. The bottom and left digital displays are intuitive enough and easy to set up and read. But what exactly is the right-side digital display for? I have no idea what this digital meatball-thing does or is for.

Price. For all of the bells and whistles, the light, the digital displays, the price of approximately $41 is pretty good.

Documentation: there is a tiny little booklet, and I do mean tiny. Thumbing through it, I did feel a bit like Derek Zoolander trying to handle his microscopic cellphone. The diagrams and text are tiny, although not the smallest I’ve ever come across. The diagrams and instructions are clear and easy to follow, but the instruction booklet is for multiple models of Armitron watches, so you’ll need to pay attention to make sure you’re reading the portion for this specific watch. As for contact information, there is a generic URL and a single phone number to call for service; there is no email or physical address offered.

Bottom line: This is a pretty good watch for about $40. It has a lot of features, looks good, and performs well.


Signature Candle
Signature Candle
Price: $48.00

4.0 out of 5 stars One Lovely but Too Expensive Candle, June 24, 2016
This review is from: Signature Candle (Misc.)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Hey, I liked Sarah Jessica Parker in L.A. Story, sure, and her shape was quite literally magnificent in Honeymoon in Vegas, but I’m definitely not the right demographic to go out and buy a product just because it’s got “SJP” on the box, or on the product itself.

It comes in a nice muted pink box with an SJP on the top. The glass jar has a nice gold ring around the top and an unfortunate gold “SJP” set into a 2 ½” vertical oval on one side. Yeah, it’s a signature candle, but the product would be so much better without the oval and initials.

That being said, this is a nice candle. The wax melts evenly and nicely to clear, and it really does smell nice, very subtle and unique. I am definitely smelling clove in there, lots of indeterminate florals, maybe even some cardamom. It is a sophisticated and subtle scent, very good for a bedroom or living room, not really great for a family room or kitchen. It does not smell at all like the soapy-perfumy candles you usually find.

I’m told it’ll burn for 50 hours, and I guess that’s about right. I’m at about 30 hours now, and it does not appear to be at the halfway point yet.

My only problem with this product is its price, almost $50. I have never spent this much money on a candle, and likely never will. It’s unclear if the price is so high because it’s an SJP signature product, or because of the unidentified ingredients that make it smell so fantastic. Most likely, it’s a combination of the two.

Bottom line: this candle smells great, but I would never buy one like this at this price.


Sleep Master Memory Foam Mattress Topper, King
Sleep Master Memory Foam Mattress Topper, King
Price: $205.15
2 used & new from $199.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Big Squishy Sleeping Foam, June 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The packaging of this thing is amazing. A biggish box arrives, and it’s relatively heavy, about 40 pounds. Like Russian nesting dolls, you open up the big box to find another box inside. This is a bit of extraneous packaging, but it also guarantees that the product inside is well protected. You open the second box to find a nylon (material somewhat like Tyvek) bag, with the compressed mattress topper inside, literally straining to get out. Our topper literally burst the nylon bag like a Pillsbury biscuit roll the second we began to open it; no need to carefully cut open the bag per the included instructions…which very ironically and confoundingly are located inside the nylon bag. Once the nylon bag is off, the topper is inside heavyweight clear plastic. Lots of packaging, but the item arrives in pristine condition.

It is compressed for shipping, so needs some time to decompress and regain its intended shape. The instructions recommend 48 hours, but I had my bed made and was sleeping on this topper within ten hours, with no problems noted at all. There is a distinct plastic/industrial scent to the product, which the paperwork promises will dissipate and disappear within 72 hours. In my experience it took more like a week. They also note that the odor is not hazardous; now THAT’s a relief.

Documentation. It took some serious work to locate the paperwork for this product. It turns out that it is glued in an envelope to the inside of the nylon shipping bag holding the topper. That’s inside the first box, and inside the second box, and inside the nylon bag…with the topper inside it. I note that Steps 1 through 4 of the very handy setup instructions tell me how to open the boxes and open the packaging, but I can only get to these instructions after I have opened both boxes and the nylon bag... I recommend they find a better place to place their documentation…like affixed to the outside of the inner box.

There are no care instructions for the topper in the documentation. There is a care label on the topper itself, and the cover does zip off for cleaning.

With the documentation you get a product disclaimer about the topper’s shape and odor, and the setup instructions. There’s a big multi-fold pamphlet outlining all of the marvelous Zinus products. And you get a thank-you card that offers a 1-800 number, a customer service email address, and a Zinus corporate URL.

Some additional instructions might be good with this. The topper has a quilted top, but me being a foam topper rookie, do I put my mattress pad/cover over the topper? Or do I just put the sheet onto the topper? There is no guidance on this.

Putting the product into place was easy; it is not heavy. It is large, so mind the lamps and tabletop items around the bed. It’s immediately intuitive as to which side goes down and which side goes up (the quilted side). Interestingly, it is larger both in length and width than my king-size mattress. This gives the impression that you’re getting a lot of product, but it has proven to be a genuine problem, as the extra topper hanging over the edges makes the bed much harder to make and to keep presentable, and sitting on the edge of the bed tends to pull the overhanging topper edge down, pulling it from the opposite side of the bed, further messing up the bed.

There are no straps or elastic corners to the topper, to hold it in place and centered on your mattress. I would recommend this as an addition to the product, or maybe even an after-sale option you could buy.

Also, note that it adds four inches to your bed height, which will take some adjustment. My fitted and regular sheets/bedding went over/on both the topper and mattress relatively easily.

Sleeping. Just lying on this is comfortable, on your front or back. It’s easy to sink down in, and the form welcomes you, pulls you in, and holds you very nicely. That’s great if you’re a flat back or stomach sleeper. But if you’re a side sleeper it’s not quite as friendly. As this is a squishy product—this is literally what it’s for—you can just lift and slide as you’d do with a mattress; it takes a lot more work to roll over with this squishy topper in place. I dig a firm mattress, and I tend to roll somewhat, and this was noticeably more difficult with this topper on my bed. Consequently, I’m taking it off and giving it to one of the kids.

I note that it’s definitely warmer than just my mattress alone, which in general I find favorable. This would be a great addition to your bed for cold-weather months.

Bottom line: This is a pretty neat product, but just not suit my bed, the way I like to keep my bed, and the way in which I like to sleep.


Woolite INSTAclean Stain Remover, 1742
Woolite INSTAclean Stain Remover, 1742
Price: $13.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Stain Remover, June 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I’ve always used Woolite, learned that from my parents. It’s for the delicates and the hand-washed stuff in the sink, and most recently I’ve found it to be the best way to clean your oriental carpets. So, I’m a loyal consumer, but didn’t know anything about its stain-removing capacity; I’ve always been a Shout guy.

I used this with a number of challenges, some beat-up t-shirts with long-established stains, some stained kitchen towels, and some jerseys and newer t-shirts with primarily ink and light oil stains. While I did not expect this product to completely remove all of the stains, which it did not, it did remove a lot more than I thought it would. There were some very longstanding food stains on these cotton dish towels, and this product did very well in removing them, after rather minimal pre-treating and letting the items soak a bit.

Bottom line: I am pleasantly surprised by the performance of this product in removing stains. If I see it in the store and if it’s priced competitively, I will buy.


Bestoss 2000mah Universal Ultra Compact Portable Slim Battery External Battery Pack Portable Charger Power Bank for Smart Phone (white)
Bestoss 2000mah Universal Ultra Compact Portable Slim Battery External Battery Pack Portable Charger Power Bank for Smart Phone (white)
Offered by Kingtoss Direct
Price: $15.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Questionable Mobile Device Power Pack, June 16, 2016
Disclosure: I was offered this item and accepted it, promising a fair and honest review in return.

This device looks pretty slick, a small and slim power bank, that you might even be able to carry in a largish wallet, but still very easily mobile in a shirt or pants pocket. But, I had problems with this device charging both a Samsung smartphone and an older iPod.

You get a short 7” connection cord, with one end having a micro USB connection with an attached adapter for an iPhone. The other end has a standard USB male plug, with an included adapter for micro USB. The tiny little USB-to-micro-USB adapter is loose, without any kind of keeper device, and it was less than a week and I had completely lost the stupid thing, having to buy a replacement to continue to attempt to use this product.

The power bank arrived charged fully, at least that was my interpretation from looking at the LED indicators on the bank and comparing them with the confusing user manual text. But when I plugged this into both devices, there was no indication of charge taking place, no “charging” indicator lights on either device. Yes, I tried with a couple of other charging cords, and also could not get a “charging” light to show on my Android phone or iPod, nor did the “charging” indicator come on for either.

I found it easy to charge the power bank using both a wall socket and a computer USB port. The bank’s indicator lights showed that it was charging, and after a modest amount of time, the lights seemed to indicate that it was fully charged.

Documentation. There is a simple three-fold glossy pamphlet, printed front and back. It looks pretty slick, but really isn’t telling you that much. The Chinglish is pretty bad: “Power indicator on the related position on, shows present power.” What? There are some diagrams, which are labeled relatively well, but then again, all this thing is is a block with a button, some lights and a connection cord…how hard is it to develop a simple and easy to understand diagram for that? As for contact information, there is none whatsoever; that is pathetic customer support, and as I’ve said in other reviews, implies that the manufacturer is not proud of/will not stand behind the product. From my experience with it, I think I see why.

Price: About $15 for this device is a pretty good price, if it actually worked.

Bottom line: This is a small power bank that arrives charged, charges well, but in my case failed to deliver any charge to a mobile device.


Clara Clark Premier 1800 Collection Camouflage Printed Design Bed Sheet Set, Queen, Blue
Clara Clark Premier 1800 Collection Camouflage Printed Design Bed Sheet Set, Queen, Blue
Price: $40.53

3.0 out of 5 stars Spendy Trendy Sheets, Experienced Color Bleed, June 16, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an “okay” set of stylized bedsheets and pillow cases.

We put them straight to use, right out of the package. The fitted sheet was a bit loose on the mattress. The flat sheet went on fine, as did the two pillow cases. The teenage boy “tester” had no problem with the sheet set, said he thought it was soft enough. He liked the design, and it just happens to go with his existing comforter.

For the first wash, we put it in on our standard setting of Electrolux “normal,” with warm water. No, I didn’t read the care instructions first, and this set promptly turned three white pillow covers a delightful lavender color. This is the first time since I have had this washing machine—a good five years now—that we have had colors run in any way, including some very bright and brand-new reds and oranges, so this was a real surprise. Yeah, looking at the instructions again it does say to wash cold, but I still can't say I have any faith in the color-fastness of this or other products from this manufacturer. How is it that they bleed that much color on their first wash, in moderately warm water?

Coming out of the wash, yeah, they seem a bit duller in color. The fiber weave has tightened up a bit, so the fit on both the fitted sheet and pillow cases seems a little bit tighter, but still perfectly serviceable.

Price. A little over $40 for this set seems a bit expensive to me. I was thinking more like $30 for the set, as it’s not that substantial. Maybe “extra heavy brushed microfiber fabric” costs more; I dunno.

Bottom line: Given the problem with the color bleed, I can’t say I’ll be looking for these sheets again.


Wilderness Blue Buffalo Bayou Blend Dog Biscuits, 8 oz
Wilderness Blue Buffalo Bayou Blend Dog Biscuits, 8 oz
Price: $5.04
6 used & new from $5.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Alligator/Catfish Biscuits, at a Good Price, June 13, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Now, I’ve eaten alligator, and I’ve eaten catfish, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen or provided to my dog a biscuit incorporating these ingredients. Very interesting.

The dog loves these things…of course. They smell kinda funky, are crunchy, and apparently they’ve got a good doggie taste.

They have that traditional dog-meal smell, tinged with a distinctly sour-fishy-like scent. It’s not overpowering, but you can definitely smell it in the biscuits. The dog could really smell it, too; she learned this smell very quickly, and was happy whenever she caught a whiff of it. The plastic bag features a resealable closure, so you can close them up to keep them fresh and/or to keep that fishy smell inside.

As for taste, yeah, I tasted it, they taste like a traditional dog biscuit, with a distinct tang of salty/fishy. As dog biscuits go, I’m usually okay with the basic taste, kind of a low-budge hardtack, but I didn’t like the taste of these things. As I said above, the dog loves these things, so it doesn’t really matter what I think of the taste.

Of course, as a Blue Buffalo product, it’s apparently nutritious for the dog, too. The package offers lots of details on this, if you’d care to read it all.

Price. At less than $5 for this package, this is a pretty good deal. The biscuits are a nice size for a treat, and there are plenty inside the package, which makes it last a good long time. I do note that some of the other flavors in the same 8-oz package are priced higher than this one, at least one of them more than double the price of this item. So, pay attention to what you’re ordering.

Bottom line: this is a very well received dog treat at a great price.


OMGAI Paracord Bracelet Multifunction Outdoors Survival w/ Flint Fire Starter Scraper Whistle Kits Black
OMGAI Paracord Bracelet Multifunction Outdoors Survival w/ Flint Fire Starter Scraper Whistle Kits Black
Offered by YunKun City
Price: $4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Budget Paracord Survival Bracelet, June 13, 2016
Disclosure: I was offered this item and accepted it, promising a fair and honest review in return.

The only thing you get in this package is the bracelet, in a clear cellophane wrapper. There is a sticker that says “Multifunction Outdoors Survival Paracord Bracelet w/ Flint Fire Starter Scraper Whistle Kits Black” [sic]. There are no instructions or any other documentation that tells you what you’re getting with this product. And as far as I can tell, all you get here is the paracord and a steel-and-flint fire starting combination.

Yes, the whistle works. It is shrill and piercing, and is audible at a good distance in the woods.

I could not get the flint fire starter to produce a single spark. I’ve been a scout adult leader for almost twelve years now, so I know all about flint-and-steel firestarting, but I could not get this rig to product a single spark.

The tail-end of the 3.5 to 4m of paracord is in a visible spot, so would be easy to begin to unravel. It is held in place by a tiny bit of hot-knife fusing at the edge.

Price: Approximately $10 for this product seems a bit much, as all it really consists of is paracord, a plastic closure (with the integrated whistle), and the unfortunate flint-and-steel components. I would guess this should come in at more like the $8 range.

Bottom line: This is a very basic paracord bracelet; I have seen better. One of its chief selling points is the flint-and-steel firestarting system, which failed to operate for this experienced user.


Solar Lights, Outdoor/Garden Waterproof Solar Motion Light - Wireless Security LED Light - Bright - for Outdoor Wall/Deck/Pole - Auto ON/OFF - No Tools Required - Vont
Solar Lights, Outdoor/Garden Waterproof Solar Motion Light - Wireless Security LED Light - Bright - for Outdoor Wall/Deck/Pole - Auto ON/OFF - No Tools Required - Vont
Offered by Divine LEDs
Price: $66.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Dim/Bright Solar Night Light, June 13, 2016
Disclosure: I was offered this item and accepted it, promising a fair and honest review in return.

This is a simple and very easy to mount and use outdoor solar light.

It arrives in a nice recyclable box, with the light, mounting hardware, an unlocking key, and documentation. The battery is charged and the light works upon receipt—nice. My product doesn't quite look like the product image featured here. The solar panel appears differently, and the model I received has a big VONT in the space between the solar panel and the light assembly.

The operation of this light is that when sufficiently dark it automatically switches on to an always-on dim/night light mode, and then upon detecting nearby motion, the brighter light kicks on. Not bad, but this product should have some kind of way to defeat the night light feature, to make it optional. I want some outdoor lighting, sure, but I also like wonderful, pure nighttime dark. I don’t really need an outdoor night light. This worked wonderfully for over a week, with no problems charging, and a great dim light followed by a nice bright light when motion was detected.

Documentation. The documentation is very good, with no awful Chinglish mistakes. Everything is explained very well, including a numbered notation on the lamp diagram to the mounting hole, clearly indicating is as “hole.” That’s thoroughness. There is a support email, as well as the Vont corporate URL and indications you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There are no phone numbers.

Bottom line: If you need an outdoor solar light in a place you’d always like a little light on, this will do the trick, and will kick into high as you approach and move under it. But if you’d like a light that switches on/off and otherwise is dark, this one can’t do it.


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