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Christopher Meyer RSS Feed (Appleton, WI USA)

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IRIS 4-Piece Weathertight Heavy Duty Storage Tote, 21.8-Gallon, Black
IRIS 4-Piece Weathertight Heavy Duty Storage Tote, 21.8-Gallon, Black
Price: $130.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongest storage trunks I've found, August 4, 2014
We bought four of these storage tubs last fall for camping. We use two for our pantry, one for various supplies, and the other for whatever else we need to pack (it was for our pots/pans before we bought a camp kitchen). These are extremely heavy duty, even when loaded with many canned goods they hold up well.

They also seal very well. On a camping trip last fall, we stored a loaf of banana bread in one for 3 days. Fast forward to spring, when we opened that crate it still smelled like banana bread!

Also, I don't know if I'd recommend trying this, but on another camping trip we left two of these outside overnight. While the racoons inspected them, they didn't get them open. Maybe smarter racoons would figure it out, but if you are planning to do this, you could always lock the two sides to definitely keep the racoons from getting inside.

I can't say enough good things about these, they are much stronger than the 1 and 2 star reviews would make you believe. I can't imagine what it would take to crack one of these, because ours have survived many camping trips without showing any wear or tear. Definitely worth the money and great for camping, hunting, or storing things in your garage/basement that you want to keep dry.


A New World: Chaos
A New World: Chaos
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Zombie Apocalypse story, flawed by some 'new writer' mistakes, November 21, 2013
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I find it hard to rate this book. I liked it and couldn't put it down, but as a new writer Mr. O'Brien has made mistakes that wouldn’t have made it past an editor. At best I think this is probably a three and a half star book, but since that isn't an option I'll round it up to four even though I’m not sure this book quite deserves it.

Several negative reviews mention the level of detail in this book. I don’t think detail is bad in and of itself, but what probably made the problem worse was the fact that the chapters are very long without a break. Had the author broken the chapters up into smaller chunks, I think the problems with the level of detail would have worked themselves out.

Other reviews bash this book because they feel that the author and the main character are one and the same. Reading the author’s biography, he has led an interesting life so he clearly has a lot of personal experience to pull from. I think the problem here was the use of first person perspective. It’s a tricky perspective to write from, and in this first book the author clearly hasn’t mastered it. The end result is that the other characters seem one-dimensional and the readers find it hard to relate to the main character.

There are also some structural problems with the book. Suspension of disbelief is compromised because of the incredible circumstances that start off the book with no explanation forthcoming until much later. When that explanation finally comes, it is still a bit hard to swallow the premise. On top of that, we throw in some unbelievable coincidences as the book progresses. I won’t get into the specifics because I don’t want to spoil the book, but for those who are struggling with the beginning I will suggest that you stick with the book because eventually we are given an explanation, weak as it may be.

If you’ve made it this far in my review, you must think I hate this book… but I really liked it. It is a good story that held my attention and left me wanting more. It isn’t going to win any literary awards, but that is the case for most of the zombie apocalypse fiction out there. This type of book is the new take on the ‘men’s adventure’ genre, which is essentially the male equivalent to the typical romance novel. It’s a guilty pleasure, and this book deserves a spot in that genre. It’s a good first effort and I suspect with his background the author has more to offer. I’m looking forward to starting on the next book and will review it when I’m done.


Blue Hill, 52"x90"; Classic Blue Tavern Check, Flannel Backed, Vinyl Tablecloth; "Made in the U.S.A"
Blue Hill, 52"x90"; Classic Blue Tavern Check, Flannel Backed, Vinyl Tablecloth; "Made in the U.S.A"
Offered by Blue Hill Products LLC
Price: $19.99
2 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The classic tablecloth lives on!, October 24, 2013
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I needed a tablecloth for camping, and have seen some many that are poorly made and not durable. Then I found this one on Amazon and based on the reviews decided to pick one up. I'm glad I did! This is a nice, heavy duty tablecloth just like your parents or grandparents may have had in their camping gear. If you weren't lucky enough to inherit theirs, buying one of these is the next best thing. We used it in some harsh weather conditions (cold, heavy rain) and it held up just fine. I suspect we'll have many years of excellent service out of this. I suspect if I had gone with a cheap tablecloth that I'd be replacing it already, so well worth the investment.


Coleman 9 1/2-Inch Steel Non-Stick Fry Pan
Coleman 9 1/2-Inch Steel Non-Stick Fry Pan
Price: $9.97
19 used & new from $7.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware Coleman quality issues, October 24, 2013
I picked up one of these at a local store for a recent camping trip. On a previous trip I had used a stainless steel pan and wanted something with a folding handle and a non-stick surface. Well, this had the folding handle, but the non-stick definitely didn't live up to the name.

The pan was used on a Dual fuel dual burner Coleman stove. The pan was pre-heated before I added anything to the pan. First up were the breakfast sausages. Sausages are fatty, but yet somehow they started sticking in this pan. I come from Sheboygan WI (self-proclaimed bratwurst capital of the world) and know how to cook a sausage. I was perplexed. After the sausage I tried scramble eggs. I always start with some butter (for flavor), but even with that the eggs were sticking.

I've noticed on a few reviews of other Coleman non-stick gear that some people rave about the pans, and some hate them. I myself had great luck with a griddle that many other reviewers hated. I suspect that the cause is inconsistent quality in the non-stick coating process. Unfortunately quality control seems to be quite low in the Chinese factories that make these pans. When I was a teenager I spent a summer working in the offices at a factory that made products out of metal, and even at that company we would have batches of product that had to be scrapped or re-worked because of problems with coatings not properly applying. The difference is that we had quality control to identify the bad parts before they reached customers. That seems to be lacking here. Buyer beware, if you are lucky and get a pan from a good batch it will probably work great. If you end up like so many of us, you'll have wasted $10 and a good meal.

Do yourself a favor and find a product from a company that has some self-respect and still understands the meaning of quality control. After this experience I would seriously have to reconsider buying another Coleman product. Coleman, take note - your cost cutting measures may have increased profits in the short term, but in the long term you'll end up like so many other companies that failed to understand that a good reputation is hard to earn but easy to lose.


Coleman Aluminum Non-Stick Griddle
Coleman Aluminum Non-Stick Griddle
Price: $19.21
17 used & new from $18.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice lightweight griddle, October 23, 2013
I picked up one of these recently at a local store's end of season clearance. When I saw the other Amazon reviews, I was a bit worried but decided to give it a try anyway. We took it camping with us a few weeks ago and used it on a Coleman dual fuel two burner stove. Over the course of our trip we made bacon, pancakes, and fried eggs (over hard) on it. I had no problems with sticking, for the first batch of pancakes I did spray some cooking spray on it, but after that I forgot to re-apply the cooking spray and didn't used any for the next several batches. Despite that, I had no problems with sticking at all. Next I tried the fried eggs. I like to use a little butter in the pan before I crack open the eggs, more for flavor than for the non-stick properties. Again, no problems with sticking. When I was done cooking the pan wiped clean with a wet paper towel with absolutely no residue stuck to the surface.

I don't doubt some people had problems, which I suspect could be due to either pan quality or technique. One potential explanation is pan temperature, I make sure the pan is pre-heated before adding any food. However, it's also entirely possible that some of these pans have defective non-stick coatings. The same weekend I used this pan and loved it, I also used a Coleman frying pan and had breakfast sausages stick. That's one of the greasiest foods you can make, only slightly behind bacon. I tried scrambled eggs in that same pan and couldn't get the pan cleaned afterward. My stainless steel pan had less sticking than the so-called Coleman non-stick frying pan. So I suspect that the non-stick treatment process at Coleman's Chinese factories can vary in quality. In other words, you're taking your chances on this, when it works it seems to work well, but when it doesn't, well you've seen the other reviews. Just make sure wherever you buy this from has a good return policy and you'll be covered in either case.


Made in USA Can Opener (Red)
Made in USA Can Opener (Red)
Offered by 4 Peaks Technology LLC
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the reviews!, October 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Made in USA Can Opener (Red)
I've had an old Swing-a-way can opener for years, and it always worked really well. When I was shopping for a can opener to use for camping, I found out that the Swing-a-way can openers are now made in China, but then found that these are made in the US using the same tooling and factory that originally produced the American Swing-A-Way can openers. So I decided to give one of these a try.

Amazing! Since my other can opener is probably decades old, even though it works it doesn't open nearly as smoothly as this one. This thing slices through cans like they were made of butter. In fact, the new can opener went to my kitchen drawer, and before the next camping season I think I'll buy another one of these for the camping box.

I can confirm that these are identical to the Swing-a-way I already had. Also, the red handled one is exactly as pictured here and includes the bottle opener on the bottom handle. These may cost a bit more than cheap foreign can openers, but trust me they are worth every penny. They'll pay for themselves with the years of smooth opening you are sure to get from such a high quality product.


Learning Resources POP For Letters
Learning Resources POP For Letters
Price: $9.77
32 used & new from $7.25

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun game, February 29, 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
My daughter just turned four and knows her upper case letters quite well, but struggles with her lower case. She loves playing games, so I picked this up in hopes that it would help her learn her letters. She enjoys playing it a lot. I also have a six-year-old who plays along. He obviously knows his letters, so to make it more challenging for him, we require him to say a word that starts with the letter he picked. The only con to the game is that it can take a very long time. There are a lot of popcorn pieces and when a player draws a "POP" piece, he or she must return all of his/her pieces back to the popcorn box. We often quit at a set time and whoever has the most pieces wins the game. All in all, it's a fun way to teach young kids their letters.


The LEGO Ideas Book
The LEGO Ideas Book
by Daniel Lipkowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.09
161 used & new from $6.98

448 of 461 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideas, not instructions, September 21, 2011
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This review is from: The LEGO Ideas Book (Hardcover)
As a child of the 80's, I remember fondly the old LEGO Idea books. In those books, there were lots of photos of LEGO creations, and instructions that showed how to build some of the models in the book. I remember the Lego Idea Book 6000 the best, that's the one that follows Bill and Mary as they build a house, explore a city, travel to space, and then back in time to a medieval castle. When I saw the title of this book, the obvious connection was to those old books, so how does it compare?

The one thing that's missing is the instructions - this is not an instruction manual. Also, unlike Sean Kenney's smaller books (Cool City, Cool Cars and Trucks, and Cool Robots), this is a big book - nearly 200 pages! Like Sean's books, this book is filled with photos of LEGO creations. Like Sean's books, the intent of the book is to give you ideas on how to build things. You'll find that a lot of ideas can be crammed into 200 pages.

The book is broken up into sections, essentially these are: vehicles, buildings, spaceships & robots, castles, pirates & adventure, and real world creations. This last section is very interesting, showing you things such as picture frames and pencil holders made out of LEGO. As you can see, like the old LEGO Idea book, this book hits on many of LEGO's core themes.

Each of the sections starts out with a two page spread of useful parts that can be used to build creations in that section. I found that even these pages gave me ideas and started me thinking on how a particular part could be used. After that you'll find a number of creations beautifully photographed, often with multiple views which come in handy if you are attempting to reverse engineer one of the creations so that you can build it yourself. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a LEGO truck and wished I could see how the frame was built. The multiple angle photos in this book help so that you won't experience that problem. At the end of each section, you'll find a few pages where you "Meet the Builder." These include some interview style questions where you learn about the builder who wrote a particular section of the book. I was surprised to find that one of the builders is only 18!

I think LEGO fans of all ages will enjoy the book, but young children might have a hard time handling the book due to its size. The lack of instructions also mean that it is probably more suited to an experienced LEGO builder - either an older child or a parent who enjoys building with younger children. My six year old son enjoys paging through the book, but it's a bit much for my 3 year old to handle. Neither would be able to build anything in this book without my help.

Overall, I think this is another great book option to inspire LEGO builders - but remember this book is about ideas and imagination - and you can't write instructions for that. If you know what you are buying, I think you'll really like this book, but don't expect it to be what it is not. If you want instructions, try one of the Brickmaster books such as LEGO City Brickmaster.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2014 11:51 AM PDT


Cool City
Cool City
by Sean Kenney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.64
117 used & new from $0.01

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Sean Kenney, September 21, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Cool City (Hardcover)
I've been a fan of this author since stumbling upon his Cool Cars and Trucks a few years ago, so I was very excited when I heard that his third book was coming out. Once again, we are presented with many wonderful creations in LEGO to awe and inspire young and old builders alike.

I think it's important to understand what this book is and what it isn't. First off, you can see that the book is 32 pages. For those who have LEGO City sets, the average instruction manual probably has at least that many pages - so this isn't an instruction manual. This book doesn't have many words either - most of the pages have about one sentence at most.

What you will find in this book are many wonderful photos - in this case scenes out of a City made of LEGO bricks. Most of the creations are in minifig scale, but the author also includes some micro-scale creations as well to show you what is possible. The book includes a few simple instructions, in this case how to build a food cart, statue, some micro-scale buildings, a stop light, a soda machine, a food stand, and a couple of minfig scale buildings (one with a working elevator). The book also includes a bonus sticker sheet, which includes stickers for the soda machine, food cart, and street signs (among others).

The wonderful thing about Sean's books is that they appeal to a wide age range. My children (age 3 & 6) love these books for the photos which recreate scenes out of every day life in LEGO - and since the books are light on text they make great bedtime books for the kids. As your kids get older, they can use the instructions to build the models, or as inspiration to build their own creations. Even the adult fan of LEGO will enjoy paging through this book again and again, there are lots of techniques that you can pick up out of the photos. One interesting technique, for example, is the use of forced perspective to make buildings appear larger.

I rated this book four stars because I didn't like it quite as much as Sean's first book Cool Cars and Trucks, but if I hadn't read that book first I probably would have given this five stars.

In summary - if you are looking for a book that LEGO fans of all ages will enjoy paging through again and again - this is the book for you. If you are looking for more detailed instructions, check out something like LEGO City Brickmaster. Better yet, pick up both!


The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994: Identification and Price Guide, 2nd Edition
The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994: Identification and Price Guide, 2nd Edition
by Mark Bellomo
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $73.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisit my favorite childhood toys through this book, July 1, 2009
I don't consider myself a GI Joe collector. Back in 1982 when I was nine years old I liked to buy and play with GI Joe toys. For a few years, these were my favorite toys, with Star Wars coming in a close second. Then I grew up and didn't think much about GI Joe until I saw Hasbro's 25th anniversary line in 2007. But I don't collect vintage figures, so I wasn't sure if a price guide would be of any value to me.

Having bought this book and paged through it several times, I have to say I love it! The photos are spectacular, allowing me to revisit my childhood by flipping through the pages of this book. Even though there are great sites on the Internet like YoJoe that have archives of the old figures with photos, the photos in this book are all high quality which isn't always the case with photos online. The book is also filled with trivia on the history of the figures, including prototype back story that was changed prior to the figure going to production. I don't know of any place online that you'll find all of that historic information collected in one place.

So from the perspective of a non-collector, only a fan, is this book worth it? Absolutely. You'll find yourself flipping through the pages like you did the mail order catalogs of your childhood... wishing you could have all of these toys to play with once again.


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