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M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge" RSS Feed (Torrance, CA USA)
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Vornado 660 Whole Room Air Circulator
Vornado 660 Whole Room Air Circulator
Price: $96.00
19 used & new from $86.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 660 Is a Worthy Upgrade, July 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I assume this is a new model because when I filled up the house with Vornado fans in every room five years ago this model didn't exist. I have two of their flagship models, purchased years ago, for about the same price as the 660 and they are not as good for two reasons. They have a dial switch with only 3 settings. At their lowest setting, they don't generate as much cool air as the 660. With the 660 in contrast, there are five buttons at the top of the fan: one is a power button; the others go from high to gradations of the lowest. I'm sitting in my office right now with the setting on second to lowest. It's whisper quiet and generating pleasant cool air all around me. Clearly, the 660 is an upgrade. Highly recommended.


Take This Man: A Memoir
Take This Man: A Memoir
by Brando Skyhorse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.71
57 used & new from $13.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Kind of Mexican Am I?, July 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Brando Skyhorse grew up with a false identity imposed on by his mother who for various reasons-mentally ill, egotistical, narcissistic--doesn't find her true Mexican identity exciting enough, so she creates a mythology of being part of a grand American Indian family. Her control over her son is often cruel, heartless, and selfish. Worse, she brings stepfathers into her son's life, some who are criminals she met by writing them personal ads while they were in prison. We are never told explicitly what kind of mental illness, if any, Brando's mother suffered from, but we can infer she may very well be bipolar.

In spite of the abuse Brando suffers from, he craves permanence and connection and he bonds with many of his stepfathers in spite of their egregious character flaws and abusive behavior toward him. Treated like a slave at times, Brando learns how to enable his mother and stepfathers and this role will eventually become a hardship in different ways, which articulated in the book's second half: his intellectual maturity and college success. Crushed by depression and the constant demands of his needy mother, he is so distracted by her constant tirades (phone conversations from her home in Echo Park to his place of study, Stanford), his college matriculation is shaky, as are his attempts at finding relationships.

In the end, this is a survival story and a very good one. It wonderfully has no axe to grind or spite against his lifelong adversaries; rather, it is a wise, fair-minded account of the remarkable abuses he suffered by his mother who, with all her mythologies, is unquestionably a larger-than-life figure.

Take This Man is a rigorous, compelling memoir about a man who must carve his own strength, intellect, and identity in the face of insurmountable odds. As he writes, "My upbringing was cobbled together from so many different parents, I identified with almost no culture except `pop.'" Who was I really? My name itself seemed like a celebrity construct borne from a hallucinogenic orgy in a field: `Were your parents hippies?' I spent a third of my life as an Indian, a third denying I was Mexican, and this current third asking, What kind of Mexican am I?"

Brando's memoir explores these complexities and struggles with vivid anecdotes and hard-fought wisdom. Highly recommended.


A Piece of Cake
A Piece of Cake
by LeUyen Pham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.67
62 used & new from $4.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Having Your Cake and Eating It Too, July 24, 2014
This review is from: A Piece of Cake (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With good illustrations and a compelling storyline that keeps my 4-year-old twins entertained and requesting this every day since I got a week ago, A Piece of Cake is about a mouse who can't say no to all his friends requesting a slice of cake he made for his bird friend. Along the way of the mouse's journey, the cake shrinks to nothing but a new, bigger and better cake replaces it through creativity and cooperation. Teaching problem-solving and social reciprocity lessons with a mouse's journey is both edifying and entertaining. Highly recommended.


Orient EL06001D Men's M-Force Beast Blue Dial Stainless Steel Power Reserve Automatic Watch
Orient EL06001D Men's M-Force Beast Blue Dial Stainless Steel Power Reserve Automatic Watch
Offered by Discount Watch Store
Price: $499.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orient Blue Beast, July 13, 2014
Very subtle shade of blue. Depending on the light, you will think it's a black dial but then it will slowly transition from black to blue. Not as electric blue as the stunning Seiko Sawtooth blue dial but a more mysterious, shifting blue. The lume markers are excellent. Good in-house Orient automatic movement. The bracelet H-links are perfect for the case. Not too busy. I like the power meter that lets you know how charged the watch is. It plays like a 47mm on the wrist. A very nice blue Beast.


Orient Men's SEL06001D0 M-Force Beast Analog Display Japanese Automatic Silver Watch
Orient Men's SEL06001D0 M-Force Beast Analog Display Japanese Automatic Silver Watch
Price: $610.31
3 used & new from $596.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Orient Beast Plays Well on the Wrist, July 13, 2014
Plays very nice on the wrist. It's big but not too big playing like a 47mm. Good lume. In-house Orient movement with a power meter to let you know who charged it is. The crown is on the left so it won't dig into your wrist if you wear on your left wrist. Unidirectional bezel has smooth click. This is a very class, bold watch, often called the "Beast" by its fans. Amazon will have it on sale from time to time for under $340. Recommended.


Tivoli Audio SBBLUS Songbook (Blue/Silver)
Tivoli Audio SBBLUS Songbook (Blue/Silver)
Price: $199.99
4 used & new from $198.00

5.0 out of 5 stars ... and I use this in the bathroom and it's perfect because it doesn't leave a large footprint, July 12, 2014
My wife and I use this in the bathroom and it's perfect because it doesn't leave a large footprint. The reception, while not as strong as my C.Crane SW-Radio, is strong enough to get local stations and even the hard to get KPCC Pasadena radio 40 miles from my Torrance location. AM is above average. The rechargeable batteries are good for when you want to use an outdoor radio. The fidelity is above average but hardly room filling.

I don't recommend this radio for bedside use as it will knock over very easily. For bedside, I recommend the Sangean WR-2. However, for general use the Tivoli Songbook, which has an iPod line to enjoy its speaker through your iPod, is a very good radio, much better than the Tivoli analog models. Recommended.


The Other Language
The Other Language
by Francesca Marciano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.27
58 used & new from $12.11

5.0 out of 5 stars If Alice Munro Were Italian, July 11, 2014
This review is from: The Other Language (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Imagine if Alice Munro were writing fiction set in Italy writing about female protagonists facing colossal life change through divorce, the death of a mother, the death of a spouse, the relocation to a foreign environment. Imagine those Alice Munro-like long stories that have the powerful concision to feel like novels after you’re done reading them. That’s the draw of Francesca’ Marciano’s short story collection The Other Language.

The title story is about a teenage girl who finds her first romance in Greece during vacation after her mother’s death and as she grows up she comes to have a radically different perception of the boy who seduced her. In “Chanel” a TV writer anticipates fame by winning a prestigious award in Italy and against her better judgment buys an expensive dress she cannot afford. The tale has some sly allusions to Gogol’s “The Overcoat.” In “Big Island, Small Island” a woman visits her ex-lover who has re-located to a small African coastal town where he enjoys being a big fish in a little pond and the story reads like a fable similar to Chekhov’s “Gooseberries.” In “The Presence of Men” a divorcee buys an affordable house in a small Italian town and struggles to ingratiate herself with the town matriarch. “Indian Soiree” is about a couple falling out of love and is amazing in the way that it never lapses into familiarity or cliché. “The Club” is about a widow who moves to a coastal African town where everyone in her life dies from some catastrophic accident and the woman begins to wonder if the small town is cursed.

Marciano’s writing is a joy to read. She has presumably written these stories in English and they were not translated from the Italian as far as I know. She is a first-rate, generous writer who in these 275 pages dishes up enough richness of several novels. Highly recommended.


The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession
The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession
by Dana Goldstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Know Why There’s a War on Teachers, July 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dana Goldstein has written an informative and convincing portrait of teachers in America as being despised and scapegoated in different parts of history for different reasons. Currently, idealogues would like to blame teachers for everything bad that came in the wake of the Great 2008 Recession. In short, teachers are, in America anyway, an embattled class. Unlike other cultures, which have a healthy view of teachers, Americans have historically had a schizoid view of them: They are either worthless leeches or “superhuman” saviors. In contrast, Goldstein mentions that in South Korea teachers are “nation builders” and in Finland teaching is one of the top three desirable professions.

We learn that by the early 19th Century, leaders of the teacher movement, rejecting their puritanical influences, created a secular religion to impose moral reform on students. To save money, the schools relied on women who were seen to be intellectually inferior to men and thus began our nation’s sexist-driven contempt for teaching, associating it with a job that requires “lower minds” to implement its goals.

As we look at teachers under fire today, we see that they are still underpaid and asked to “teach to the test,” giving multiple-choice tests that too often compromise real education. Some award-winning teachers, we learn from this book, quit after their classes are audited to see how many minutes the teachers are spending per class addressing course objectives. Goldstein finishes her book with several common sense approaches to quelling the “war against teachers” and bringing real learning into the classroom. Highly recommended.


Problems with People: Stories
Problems with People: Stories
by David Guterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.81
82 used & new from $8.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Prose Stylist with Some Story Ending Problems, July 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The good news in Guterson's collection (I've never read Guterson, much venerated writer, before) is that the prose is assured, precise, clean and very pleasing to read; the opening paragraph is always deft at creating the character's immediate crisis and sensibility; every story has a concrete, tactile sense of place; in the better stories, the characters suffer with confusion and ambiguity in their lives in a way that is convincing and satisfying.

However, the less than good news, for me anyway, is that there is a sentimental streak in some of the stories that read like romances dressed up in literary fiction such as the very promising "Paradise" about a senior citizen couple dating from match.com and dealing with the awkwardness of intimacy in a convincing and hilarious manner until the story diverts into the woman telling a very long, overdone, sentimental story about a lost love from her teen years.

Another problem I had is that Guterson ends too many of his stories in the same way with the character straining for credulity over his or her life situation and the story ending on a question, and here I paraphrase, "Is this really happening to me?" This ending became a bit pat and predictable in a half dozen of the stories.

So while I'm impressed with Guterson's prose style and his adroit creation of character in the compressed short story form, I found my problem with sentimentality and pat endings to give this collection three and a half stars.


Citizen Men's BN2029-01E Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter Analog Display Japanese Quartz Black Watch
Citizen Men's BN2029-01E Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter Analog Display Japanese Quartz Black Watch
Offered by Princeton Watches
Price: $712.50
5 used & new from $712.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold and Toolish without Being Ostentatious, June 30, 2014
Don't be afraid of the 53mm stated bezel size. The bezel is actually 49mm and is only 53mm if you count the depthmeter sticking out of the case on the left side. The watch has a thick bezel and a deep dish look, yet the overall look isn't oversized ostentation; rather, it is toolish and purposeful, the way a diver watch should look.

No consulting the manual for hours on end to change the time. The screw-down crown operates like any analog watch, which for me is a good thing as I hate complicated operations involving the pressing and toggling of three different buttons. Of course, you'll have to consult the manual if you're going to operate the depthmeter while swimming but that's not my worry as the nearby pool renders me only a few feet below water.

The rubber strap is soft and comfortable and this was a relief as I hate most straps because they are either too rigid and leave my wrist itchy and sweaty. Not so with this buttery soft one. Of course, any rubber strap will get hot on your wrist over time. That's just the nature of the beast.

The bezel is smooth and feels upscale suggesting strong build quality.

I'm six feet and 230 pounds with a 7.5 inch wrist and the watch fits me perfectly with just a little overlap on the strap suggesting it would probably fit someone with a wrist of up to nine inches; however, if your wrist is smaller than 7 inches, this watch is probably too big for you.

If you're the right size for this watch and you're looking for bold wrist presence and a timepiece that has Eco-Drive solar power (no battery changes), and will be worn for water activities and casual, then I give the Aqualand BN2029 the highest recommendation.


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