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The Plain of Dead Cities: A Syrian Tale
The Plain of Dead Cities: A Syrian Tale
by Bruce McLaren
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.95
59 used & new from $13.48

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Travel Writing With A Solid Historical-Cultural Base, August 19, 2014
This is a fine book for people who read 'travel' books of an adventurous kind and for readers who are familiar with ancient Mesopotamia and its long string of successive civilization and for readers who like to muse on philosophical questions pertaining to spirituality and religion. That covers quite a range of readers. Many of them will not be interested in every topic that is on offer here. In 'The Plain of Dead Cities', Bruce McLaren builds upon earlier classic travellers: Sir Richard Burton, T E Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger. These are all restless souls who needed to keep moving over the next rise and to find new challenges to stimulate their minds.

As much as anything, this is a journey we are invited along on in order to expand our understanding of Syria, of a range of its cities both ancient and modern, and of the ceaseless ebb and flow of conflicting ethnic and religious rivalries that have driven conflict here over thousands of years, regardless of who was in charge. I learned something new from McLaren's presentation of the sweep of history: Syria has often been dominated by once-persecuted minority groups who have used superior organization and fighting will to escape some form of tyranny of the majority. Given unremitting internal conflict, Syria's survivors learn to live for the day in the expectation that the current state of affairs won't last forever. Outsiders might well ponder if there is any wisdom in becoming involved with internal matters: Alexander the Great and his Hellenic successors, Rome and its legions, the Ottomans and the French and British colonialists have all walked away from their contentious investments in the land and its people.

Mostly, this is a book for educated readers who don't mind a good bit of poetic language and of armchair philosophising. They will be well-served and they will find the book reads at a good pace. Other readers will not rate this book as highly as I do.


Five Star Composition Book, 100 College-Ruled Sheets, 9.75 x 7.5 Inch Sheet Size, Lime (72861)
Five Star Composition Book, 100 College-Ruled Sheets, 9.75 x 7.5 Inch Sheet Size, Lime (72861)
Price: $13.89
2 used & new from $4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Tough One-Subject Notebook, August 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First, the blurb that led me to order this item called it a two subject composition book. The item I received did not include a subject divider. What I did get was a very sturdy, vinyl covered and stitched thread-bound composition book. The inside of the front cover includes a fill-in format for class schedules based on seven days in a week and eight periods in a study day. The inside of the back cover includes all sorts of measurement conversion tables that would prove to be most handy in a lab class. With a page size of 9.75 x 7.5 inches (closed), the book will fit on a public school desk top and the cover folds back on itself to also save desk space. 'College ruled' means .25 inch of space between the light blue guide lines for note taking. Pages are ruled front and back. Paper quality is just good enough so that notes made in gel pen ink don't bleed through and text on both sides of a page remains legible.

Due to the binding, pages really shouldn't be removed from the book because pages in the back of the book will then become loose: double pages are left uncut at the spine of the book and the stitching is through the mid-point of the whole sheaf of pages. Students who like to tear out sheets will want to purchase a spiral bound notebook and students who like to organize and reorganize their notes will still want to use a three-ring, open and close binder.


Mead Trapper Pocket Folder, Plastic, 2 Pockets, 8.5 x 11 Inches, Red (33220)
Mead Trapper Pocket Folder, Plastic, 2 Pockets, 8.5 x 11 Inches, Red (33220)
Offered by Grand Bazaar Imports
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Fine Organizing System, August 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm an old fella who has a granddaughter who needs to go back to school. I also write on subjects that benefit from subdivision. Vine offered me a chance to look at a 'Trapper Keeper'...a hefty ring binder that is designed to hold these closable envelopes. Well...I really liked the 'Keeper' and now I have to purchase plenty of the folders. First of all, the whole system is colour-coded. I have an application for storing documents that will benefit from division by colour. I have more money than sense. Believe me, these things can add up! Even for my (let's say) five subdivisions, I need five 'keepers' and each 'keeper' requires four folders: I am into the $150. range just for storage.

Nobody ever said I was smart...but these things are beautiful and they will help me organise 'stuff', like clippings from news papers and photos, that sits in drawers and needs organizing. If you also have grandchildren who might benefit from a file organization system with 'envelope' capabilities to hold artwork and documents, this is the best option I have seen in decades.


Nocturne
Nocturne
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $12.41
63 used & new from $3.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Like Charlie Haden? Buy This First, August 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Nocturne (Audio CD)
For me, this is the Charlie Haden album to own: I like the Latin theme. I also own 'The Haunted Heart', which is a 'project' album that dips into 'classic movies' as a theme. I find that Haden's bass is much more in evidence here. His bass lines are what jazz lovers remember about him...and so I say: get this and pass on 'Haunted Heart' unless you are someone who really 'gets' (understands) what he is up to. I am not in that league. My favourite bassists are 'produced' farther forward in their jazz groups


Phonak (20 Pack) Medium Open Domes
Phonak (20 Pack) Medium Open Domes
Offered by Local Battery
Price: $12.23
3 used & new from $9.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Domes Are Necessary Maintenace...but not Frequent or Expensive Maintenace, August 15, 2014
This review is from: Phonak (20 Pack) Medium Open Domes
I have high-end hearing enhancement instruments (say 'hearing aids and you will also be right'). Mine are Swiss-made and I can attest, due to problems my mother has had with 'lesser' value-priced models, that they are worth their money. Okay...the next 'hard fact' is that some parts of the instrument package need regular replacement. The domes protect you and your skin from electrical shock, even from the low levels of current flowing from the small batteries in the instrument. I have used Phonak domes for several years and have replaced them 'as needed.' In writing this review, I have wrestled with what to say about 'life cycle.' All of my domes have lasted for at least three months. None of them have slipped off to become lodged in my ear. For legal reasons, the package warns users to see their audiologist to extract any dome that might become dislodged...and that is probably good advice...but I can clearly see how to solve this problem, which has never occurred over several years of use, without endangering anything: the domes do not intrude into the ear canal.


The Burglar on the Prowl (Bernie Rhodenbarr)
The Burglar on the Prowl (Bernie Rhodenbarr)
by Lawrence Block
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.50
119 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Still Strong...After All These Years, August 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bernie the Burglar is my favourite Lawrence Block character. If he is yours, look no farther and buy this latest offering. I have probably read all of this series up to and including this one. Somewhere along the line, we may find Bernie's nightly drinks with Carolne, the (early) avowed Lesbian to be a bit formulaic. Well...'cosies' do rely on the welcome revisiting of Homes and Watson or whoever. This is a 'cutting edge' twist on 'partnership.' If you get tired of it...step away for a bit and come back: in this outing the chemistry is fresh as ever. Not to claim a direct equal in theme or whatever...anyone who loves Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin should also find deep enjoyment in this series. Like I reviewed it' I loved it!


Victorinox Forged 8-Inch Offset Bread Knife
Victorinox Forged 8-Inch Offset Bread Knife

5.0 out of 5 stars THE CHOICE for Bread/Sandwich Knives, August 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a knife lover who will use fine technology to maintain a blade...but there comes a time when a new knife of a particular type is in order. I have been absolutely delighted with this 8-inch, offset slicer. First, it is forged and not 'stamped', which is a sign of premium quality. I have owned 'stamped' knives and have soon changed them out for forged version. Next, I made a mistake and previously purchased a six-inch version of this 'wavy' edged knife. The eight-inch is far more useful. Supposing you are not an 'old dog' like me, what is this different edge configuration good for? It has been designed to allow aggressive teeth to cut a crust and for other teeth to cut a more delicate crumb inside. Okay, this sounds like baked goods...but the same logic applies to thick skinned vegetables with softer, juicier interiors. In short, this is fine for zucchini and for tomatoes. It is also the 'right' knife for sectioning filled sandwiches, which have a natural tendency to slide one way or the other under the uniform pressure of a straight-edged knife.

Supposing you are a professional in a deli, fit and finish and balance are very important for all-day work. This Victorinox item will suit you well. The offset design is a key feature and the balance of the blade versus the handle inspires confidence. In my copy, the milling of the scales in relation to the handle metal could have been better. Well...I am not slicing for very long at a time. Out of the box, this knife races through my crusty breads...and that is in comparison to (aging) fine blades from a variety of makers.


Featuring the Saint (The Saint Series)
Featuring the Saint (The Saint Series)
by Leslie Charteris
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
23 used & new from $8.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves To Be Kept in Print; Makes New Friends, August 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a page-turner! I admit I first read these books a good many years ago. I am delighted they are being reprinted. For me, these three 'novelettes' do not suffer at all from the ravages of time. This is especially true if you like 'time-travel' experiences into the world of suave heroes who are possessed with (to me) incredible self-confidence that they can back up at a moment's notice. The violence here is 'B-Movie' and pre-Sam Peckingpaw. Well, the collection debuted in 1930. In our time, think 'Roger Moore' and you get the persona for 'The Saint.' Nothing is ever out of control and pity the poor criminal who might challenge our hero. Some of the dialog and action are a bit 'old-fashioned' and those moments do call for a suspension of disbelief. Taken at bedtime, these stories will produce a satisfied and peaceful slumber. Slashers have yet to enter the lexicon of murder fiction.


DII Kitchen Millennium Microfiber Scrub, Scour and Polish Cloths, Machine Washable, Perfect Hostess Gift for Cleaning, Drying and Polishing, Nautical Blue, Set of 6
DII Kitchen Millennium Microfiber Scrub, Scour and Polish Cloths, Machine Washable, Perfect Hostess Gift for Cleaning, Drying and Polishing, Nautical Blue, Set of 6
Price: $10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I like this set, August 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like this set. They don't shrink that much when washed and there is a textured surface for whatever surface you are cleaning. I've only used these a few times each so I can't say how long each type of surface will last. I can say that most of the cloths I have purchased over the last few years are 'consumable.' What we do get here is a 'scouring' surface that will abrade moderate 'crust' from a metal surface. If you lubricate the pan first and don't 'sear' things, all the better when it comes to cleaning time. Things just get better with the wiping and polishing cloths. They work fine, especially when compared to other microfiber products. Again, these may not be 'lifetime' products. Keep in mind that, in my lifetime, 'cleaning' cloths were ones that had already led an active life for other purposes. Cleaning activities are not kind to fabrics. So...we have two of each texture in this set. I have found this set to be useful and of reasonable value. Expect to need to repurchase them later. They will prove to be good cleaning companions.


KONA French Press ~ Black Premium Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker with 34-Ounce Heat Resistant Glass and Stainless Steel Plunger
KONA French Press ~ Black Premium Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker with 34-Ounce Heat Resistant Glass and Stainless Steel Plunger
Offered by Idylc Homes
Price: $29.98
4 used & new from $22.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Secure Bond Of Carafe with Cradle, Good Filtering, August 3, 2014
NOTE: 11/25/214. Idylic Homes has recently updated and improved the plunger and mesh screen on this unit. New units are shipped with a plunger whose bottom support features a more solid metal disc with a number of circular cut-outs and, most especially, a spiral coil around the outside diameter that offers a tighter seal by reinforcing the mesh and better holding it against the glass during the press.

These days there are a bewildering number of ways to experience good coffee at home. Most real coffee drinkers probably have several devices sitting on shelves or on countertops; some days using one of them; some days using another. This 'Kona French Press #1' is a fine device in the press style. An earlier Vine reviewer points out that, at least when new, the fit of the mesh filter keeps the grounds out of the coffee and that is what I experienced as well. A BIG plus for me is that the carafe is borosilicate glass, which is less prone to fail due to thermal shock than today's 'Pyrex' glass formula. Equally important, the glass is bonded to the attractive outside handle and 'cradle'. My Bodum coffee press carafes are loose and they can slip around and up and down when pressing and pouring. This system is much more secure!

French press systems produce a coffee that is robust in flavour and mouth feel in comparison to using the same beans and grind in a drip system. Even using a burr grinder and this fine steel mesh filter, there will be some sediment (not grounds) in the coffee and this is typically desirable for French press fans. Aromatic and flavoursome oils pass through the mesh filter in a way they don't do in paper-filtered drip machines. One can easily see the water/coffee ratio and can vary the strength of the brew to suit one's taste. For times when these qualities are desired, get out your French press carafe and taste your favourite beans in a different way!

It is no reflection on the Kona French Press to point out that all French Presses require more user commitment in making coffee than do automatic drip systems or something like a Nespresso system that will maintain a supply of properly heated water. Even with the plunger pressed down, some continued leaching of coffee continues. Idyllic Homes recommends that the pressed coffee be decanted into another container (say, a thermal carafe) if the coffee is not poured into cups right away. Common press carafe sizes are too small for two persons who drink their morning coffee by the mug so two go-rounds are necessary for my wife and me. This carafe claims a maximum 34-ounce size but shouldn't be filled that much if you want to be sure to avoid spillage while pressing. I measured a safe 24-ounces of brew using 3 rounded spoons (spoon included in package) of grounds. For workday morning coffee, an automatic drip machine on a timer is the way to go to produce convenient coffee by the mug. I'd save the Kona press for a special cup after dinner.


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