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Joe Ekaitis "gray-haired geek" RSS Feed (Southern California)

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Bar Keepers Friend® Cleanser & Polish: 12 OZ
Bar Keepers Friend® Cleanser & Polish: 12 OZ
Offered by Nutriment Trail
Price: $4.82
21 used & new from $1.91

28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What WON'T this stuff clean?, May 29, 2009
Well, OK, you can't take a bath in it or use it on delicate surfaces like finished wood and nonstick cookware, but for just about any hard nonporous material, it's the cleaner to reach for.

It's the Fountain of Youth for your stainless steel cookware, removing rainbow heat marks and mineral discoloration with minimal elbow grease. Used with a lighter touch, it makes your heirloom Corning Ware original Pyroceram cookware sparkle like the day Mom bought it. Ditto for Pyrex and Anchor Hocking glass ovenware, as well as stoneware slow cookers. I use it to clean those little specks off the window in the oven door after a self-cleaning cycle. The window's as clear as the day they delivered the stove.

If you're a fan of unlined copper bowls for beating egg whites, you already know about tarnish. A couple minutes with some Bar Keeper's Friend, and that copper bowl is ready for another batch of meringue or Belgian waffles.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2010 12:54 PM PDT


Culligan FM-15A Advanced Faucet Filter Kit
Culligan FM-15A Advanced Faucet Filter Kit
Price: $18.99
57 used & new from $13.77

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoulda shouted "Hey, Culligan Man!" sooner., April 26, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was a loyal PUR user until Procter & Gamble's greed destroyed what was once a great product. P&G's relentless downgrading of PUR's quality is driving customers away while the reviews for Brita's faucet-mount filters are only slightly less scathing. The common problem: planned obsolescence of that connection to the faucet. Unless it's made from high-grade thermoplastic or metal, the faucet connection will become hard and brittle as hot water passes through. Cracks develop, leaks begin to spring and in worst-case situations, the whole thing blows off while filling the sink to do the dishes. Seems both Brita and PUR are guilty of this cost-cutting measure.

Culligan's faucet filter features a metal connection with a removable aerator. Unlike PUR and Brita, the Culligan's replacement cartridge is the entire filtering system, so when you replace the cartridge, you don't have to worry about filtered water passing through an opening that's difficult or impossible to keep clean. You even get a fresh undamaged O-ring on each new filter, so there's even less likelihood of leaks.

The filtered water has the slight tang of spring water, though this might only be because the true taste was masked by the impurities removed. The taste is enhanced by chilling. The unit switches back to plain water automatically, so you're less likely to run hot water through the filter and render it useless.

I was going to withhold a star because the Culligan lacks a filter life monitor like the PUR and some Brita models, but knowing that this one will probably outlast several cartridge replacements, I'm happy to give it all five. I set a reminder in iCal on my MacBook Pro to remind me when to change the filter. Once the filter has been activated, you should replace it after 2 months regardless of how much water has passed through it to prevent bacterial and mold growth.

UPDATE JUNE 2012: We replaced our single-handle kitchen faucet with a high-arc 2-handle faucet. We had lost the adapters from the first filter so we bought a new one. One of the supplied adapters fit the internal threads and I've posted a photo of the filter on the new faucet. Even with the filter installed, there's more than enough clearance to fill a 1-gallon pitcher and enough room to fill and wash big pots and pans.


Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse
Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse
Price: $22.48
98 used & new from $15.96

199 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By any name, it's mightier than the mouse., April 14, 2009
Originally called the Logitech Marble Mouse Trackball, the TrackMan Marble Trackball is the superior alternative to the mouse. Unlike a mouse, it sits in one place and your fingers use that big burgundy ball to move the pointer. Your thumb does the clicking and once you get accustomed to it, using a mouse will seem quaint and clunky.

Long before the optical mouse rose to fame, Logitech was already employing optical technology in the TrackMan Marble and its siblings. Pop out the ball and you'll find a small rectangular window. Behind that window are an infrared LED and the sensor. Together, they track the movement of the marble's leopard spots. It might not be as sexy as the bright red glow of a conventional non-laser optical mouse but it gets the job done with more precision and comfort. The TrackMan Marble is even ambidextrous, allowing lefties to use it as easily as righties.

If you're wondering about scrolling without a wheel, it all depends on the operating system. With the Logitech Control Center software installed on a Mac, the mini-buttons scroll up and down. With Windows running Logitech SetPoint, configure the mini button nearest your thumb for Autoscroll. This turns the ball into a variable-speed scroll control that's as easy to master as a wheel.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2013 9:51 PM PST


Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch and 12-Inch Skillets Twin Pack
Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch and 12-Inch Skillets Twin Pack
Price: $61.10
19 used & new from $50.65

84 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy, no, INVEST in a set., March 14, 2009
Until hard-anodized aluminum came along, professional chefs scoffed at the very notion of nonstick cookware. Once they gave it a try, whole new culinary worlds opened up. How else can you whip up a scrambled eggs with cheese concoction and not leave half of it stuck to the pan? Meanwhile, the rest of us looked on wistfully and sighed at the high price, not to mention the fact that you can't just throw it in the dishwasher or look to the future and use it on an induction cooktop.

Infinite Circulon changed all that, especially with this 10-inch and 12-inch pair of open skillets. They're everything you expect from Circulon 2, like a nonstick surface that's really nonstick plus the ability to cook on ANY kind of stove, including induction. The hollow stainless steel handles really do stay cool on the stove while upping the in-the-oven temperature to a whopping 500 degrees F. When you're done, they can go right into the dishwasher and come out looking new, not pitted and corroded.

For a Lenten Friday dinner, we made whole wheat Fettuccine Marinara finished Bolognese-style, cooking and stirring the firm pasta in a couple cups of sauce until tender in the 12-inch skillet. Marinara sauce is hardly a challenge and it washed right out. On to a tougher challenge!

I made a couple fried egg and cold cut sandwiches the following Saturday, first frying the meat in the ungreased 12-incher, followed by the eggs without adding any grease or oil. Perfection! The eggs picked up a little of the browned bits left from frying the meat and that added some flavor. A quick hand-wash cleaned up with minimal effort.

Lately, the 10 inch skillet and my portable induction cooktop have become weekly visitors to the breakroom at work. Wednesday is hot breakfast day and I can turn out one omelet after another without having to scrape a mess out of the pan after each one. When we're in the mood for pancakes, I pack my Infinite Circulon round griddle.

As another reviewer points out, the manufacturer warns against using cooking spray, but it's OK to add a touch of oil for flavor. I oven fried a few strips of bacon and while the bacon drained on a layer of paper towels I poured off all of the grease, leaving behind a thin coating. I dumped in a double batch of Jiffy corn muffin mix and put it back into the oven for about 25 minutes. The result: a skillet Johnnycake that slipped right out and onto the cutting board. There's definitely an ooey-gooey pineapple upside-down cake in this skillet's future. It's already become my first choice when I need an easy-to-clean baking dish or small roasting pan for, say, a quartet of quarter-pound meatballs.

With its low price and cook-anywhere versatility, Infinite Circulon really is investment-quality cookware. When this pair of skillets is on sale, it's all that and a steal.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2014 3:55 PM PST


Olivetti Builds: Modern Architecture in Ivrea (Skira Library of Architecture)
Olivetti Builds: Modern Architecture in Ivrea (Skira Library of Architecture)
by Patrizia Bonifazio
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from $10.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the Typewriter was King, February 15, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Barely half a century ago, the office was a much different place. An executive could run a worldwide corporation and never learn how to type a letter, proposal or contract. That was the job of the secretary and while companies like Underwood, Smith Corona, Royal and IBM dominated the typewriter and office machine market in the USA, the rest of the world belonged to Olivetti.

What began in a red brick building in Ivrea, Italy would eventually become an empire that touched nearly every continent. But like many typewriter makers, Olivetti wasn't ready for the changes that began in the garages of northern California's computer hobbyists. Today Olivetti is a subsidiary of Telecom Italia and has become a trademark affixed to calculators, computer printers, copiers, fax machines and banking equipment. The only Olivetti-branded product you can buy in the USA is a typewriter from China that's sold by former rival Royal.

What makes Olivetti special is what the company left behind in Ivrea and all over the world, including the USA. Adriano Olivetti, son of founder Camillo, joined the company and immediately began a program of design, architecture and social services that made Olivetti THE place to work. If you worked for Olivetti in Ivrea during the middle of the 20th century, your children would most likely attend an Olivetti-built school and if you felt like a night at the movies, you went to the theater at Social Services, right across Via Jervis from the factory. Many employees lived in housing built or financed by Olivetti. In the USA, Olivetti manufactured Olivetti and Underwood typewriters, the Programma 101 desktop computer and copiers at a factory in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania designed by the iconic Louis Kahn. The company was still building new offices all the way into the late 1980s.

Olivetti tiptoed into the personal computer market but just couldn't get it right. They were quickly bowled over by the rest of the industry and the town of Ivrea felt it first. The world was buying fewer typewriters and mechanical adding machines while Olivetti's competitors began producing personal computers in Asia and Mexico. As manufacturing dried up, the city government pondered what to do. Wisely, their solution preserves Olivetti's architectural legacy: turn the streets into an open-air museum and encourage the current owners and tenants to take good care of the architectural gems they live and work in. Students of architecture and industrial design now flock to Ivrea. The sprawling ICO (Ing. Camillo Olivetti) factory has made a successful transition into a multi-use building. True, not as many jobs were created as were lost but Ivrea still has something to be proud of.

"Olivetti Builds" is the English translation of the official guidebook of Museo a cielo aperto dell'Architettura Moderna di Ivrea (Open-Air Museum of Modern Architecture in Ivrea). The book combines a concise history of the company with archival photos of Olivetti's buildings, including those in places like Brazil, Germany, Japan and the USA. The seven chapters follow the layout of the museum's information stations along the paved walking path that takes visitors past the original and expanded ICO factory, the Social Services center (now the museum's guest center), the former Study and Design Center, the stunning Palazzo Uffici 1 and 2 and finally past the remarkable Residential Unit West (a/k/a Talponia or Mole City because each apartment's front door is underground). Hop back into your rental car and take in Olivetti's grand finale, the typewriter-shaped Residential and Social Services East nicknamed La Serra (now a hotel).

The book contains an editorial flub that mars its historical accuracy. The chapter on design and corporate image misidentifies an advertising poster as the Olivetti Studio 42 typewriter, considered by many as one of Olivetti's most significant product designs. The illustration is actually Xanti Schawinsky's poster for Olivetti's first portable typewriter, the MP1. Your humble reader would also have welcomed a greater number of contemporary photos, but I guess that would be redundant if you're taking the walking tour.

Still, "Olivetti Builds" is a fascinating story of how one man, Adriano Olivetti sought to enhance the way people work and live only to have it all swept away by the tides of change. Olivetti's legacy is in the loving care of the people of Ivrea, a town at the top of my "Once Before I Die" list.


World Kitchen 1078931 SimplyLite 3 Quart Rectangular Baking Dish (Pack of 2)
World Kitchen 1078931 SimplyLite 3 Quart Rectangular Baking Dish (Pack of 2)

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CorningWare from Corning, New York, USA, January 18, 2009
If you ask World Kitchen via email, they'll claim "MADE IN USA" is insignificant to American consumers who welcomed imported CorningWare stoneware with open arms and consider it an improvement over the dear departed American-made Pyroceram.

Why, then, is "MADE IN USA" one of the major selling points of CorningWare's new SimplyLite lineup? Because it DOES matter and because CorningWare isn't just a brand. It's the very reason to buy the stuff as the superior alternative to stoneware.

SimplyLite recaptures CorningWare's heritage of innovation. It's made in Corning, New York from Vitrelle, the same material as Corelle LivingWare dishes. I bought this oblong baker at Target and handed it to my wife who immediately commented "What is this, plastic?" It really is that light in weight, but it'll do anything glass will do and a few things stoneware can't. Bake in it, freeze in it, put away leftovers in it without any worries about staining or reactions from acidic foods like tomato sauce. When you're through, throw it in the dishwasher. The only two places you can't use it are on the stove and under the broiler.

The surface is unusually smooth because Vitrelle is a composite of milky white glass under a layer of clear glass. That's why even baked-on mac 'n' cheese slides right off. Should there be any leftovers, the see-through plastic lid snaps on and leaves the contents visible.


CorningWare SimplyLite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish with Plastic Lid
CorningWare SimplyLite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish with Plastic Lid

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CorningWare from Corning, New York, USA., January 18, 2009
If you ask World Kitchen via email, they'll claim "MADE IN USA" is insignificant to American consumers who welcomed imported CorningWare stoneware with open arms and consider it an improvement over the dear departed American-made Pyroceram.

Why, then, is "MADE IN USA" one of the major selling points of CorningWare's new SimplyLite lineup? Because it DOES matter and because CorningWare isn't just a brand. It's the very reason to buy the stuff as the superior alternative to stoneware.

SimplyLite recaptures CorningWare's heritage of innovation. It's made in Corning, New York from Vitrelle, the same material as Corelle LivingWare dishes. I bought this oblong baker at Target and handed it to my wife who immediately commented "What is this, plastic?" It really is that light in weight, but it'll do anything glass will do and a few things stoneware can't. Bake in it, freeze in it, put away leftovers in it without any worries about staining or reactions from acidic foods like tomato sauce. When you're through, throw it in the dishwasher. The only two places you can't use it are on the stove and under the broiler.

The surface is unusually smooth because Vitrelle is a composite of milky white glass under a layer of clear glass. That's why even baked-on mac 'n' cheese slides right off. Should there be any leftovers, the see-through plastic lid snaps on and leaves the contents visible.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2011 8:45 AM PDT


Ronco Showtime Standard Rotisserie and Barbeque Oven White
Ronco Showtime Standard Rotisserie and Barbeque Oven White
Offered by DiscountsJungle
Price: $89.99
2 used & new from $89.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half-pound hamburgers, anyone?, January 2, 2009
Yes, I know, it's touted as a healthy way to cook your favorite lean proteins, but now and then, don't you just wanna throw caution to the winds and perhaps once every month or two indulge your inner carnivore? When we received one of these for Christmas, the very first thing we prepared were the juiciest and most perfectly cooked half-pound hamburgers this side of those boutique burger chains.

The basket accessory easily holds a quartet of half-pounders and even imparts some convincing grill marks! Just let 'em spin for 30 minutes with the heat on and follow it with a 10-minute heat-off tumble. Forty minutes seems like a long time to wait for a burger, but believe me, you won't regret it. You can pass the time by whipping up some Santa Fe spread (1 tsp. of chili powder to 1 cup of mayonnaise; add a few drops of Tabasco if you like a little back-of-the-throat tingle) and slicing some pepper Jack cheese and a big juicy onion while the buns toast. The cooking method that brings out the best flavor in poultry, pork and cuts of beef does the same thing for big brawny burgers without overcooking the outside before the center is done.

It's heaven on a bun. . . without the sinful price.


No Title Available

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian terra cotta meets its American cousin, December 31, 2008
With some of her Christmas loot, Cathy replaced our old worn Chinese stoneware dishes with two of these sets so we'd have enough for company. Amazingly, the eight place settings stack in a fraction of the space the old stuff occupied, and the bowls nest so well there's no danger of them toppling when you lift the stack to reach for a dinner plate or a bread 'n' butter plate. They've become our everyday dishes except when pasta is on the menu, which we serve on our Italian glazed terra cotta pasta plates (a pasta plate has a shallow well in the middle).

The Classic Cafe blue circular trim bears a family resemblance to the glazed terra cotta, and that's what caught Cathy's eye. The plates and bowls shrug off knife marks, spoon trails and fork scratches as if you were eating with plastic utensils. A trip through the dishwasher, and they sparkle like new. The old stuff was so scarred, half a can of Bar Keeper's Friend couldn't rub out the damage.

Call me sentimental but every time I set the table or grab a plate for a quick bite, I just have to turn it over and see the phrase MADE IN USA.

And, yes, I know the mugs come from places like China and Thailand. If only World Kitchen would bring back American-made white Pyrex (anyone remember it?) or Corning Ware Pyroceram as the base material for the mugs. Ah, well. . .


Shure WH20XLR Dynamic Microphone - Cardioid
Shure WH20XLR Dynamic Microphone - Cardioid
Price: $64.55
30 used & new from $60.71

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The microphone for multitaskers., September 8, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When we added on-screen hymn lyrics to the Mass at St. Mary's Church, my duties as choir singer and sound engineer suddenly included PowerPoint projectionist. I need a microphone that does its job without getting in the way, but it also has to be where I need it when I turn my attention from the audio mixer to the computer. Since I sit right next to the gear, we didn't need the expense of a wireless system (along with its appetite for batteries), and even a wired condenser headset mic was out of the question, budget-wise. For the money, the Shure WH20XLR is a gift from audio heaven.

The headband wraps around behind the head and slips over the ears. Like a pair of glasses, you can become so accustomed to the headband that you almost forget you're wearing it. The four-foot long thin cable routes out of the way behind the wearer's back and terminates in an XLR connector that clips to a pocket or belt, providing a disconnect point. The WH20XLR comes with a pair of windscreens and an additional cable routing clip.

The sound is what Shure is famous for: warm, with a natural presence that never sounds like the wearer is swallowing the mic. The frequency response is on a par with Shure's handheld mics, and the output has enough headroom that I can use the same pre-amp and fader settings as the rest of the mics.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2013 4:38 PM PDT


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