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Jon Norris RSS Feed (Oregon, USA)
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Turtle Beach Ear Force XO Seven Pro Premium Gaming Headset with Superhuman Hearing for Xbox One (TBS-2228-01)
Turtle Beach Ear Force XO Seven Pro Premium Gaming Headset with Superhuman Hearing for Xbox One (TBS-2228-01)
Price: $159.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Great headphones, December 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are great! I am not a gamer, but I was interested in the fact that Turtle Beach has seen fit to add a connector system to allow different function for the headset. I tried it with my cell phone, and it worked wonderfully! These rival the Koss Pro 4AA headphones which I use as a reference (and may be even better). Great isolation (obviously), and great frequency response, at least from informal hearing tests (didn't do any test bench stuff).

The fit is very nice and comfortable - butter soft leathery ear cushions and a well-padded ergonomic headband. These will be great for laying back and listening to great music, putting you in your own little world. Build quality looks quite good, and I especially love the vintage-styled cloth covered cords. Way cool.

The headphones themselves have a short cord which terminates in a DIN style jack, which allows the connection of different cords/ends for different functions. It also allows for future expansion, whether they designed it with that in mind or not.

I am pleased and impressed. Definitely recommended.


Taylor 7209 Glass Digital Cal Max Scale
Taylor 7209 Glass Digital Cal Max Scale
Price: $29.99
30 used & new from $22.20

2.0 out of 5 stars not very satisfactory at all, December 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't sure how I would like this scale. I am not fond of glass surfaces on tables and such, and stepping on this only reinforced that lack of fondness. Since it it slippery glass, one must be very careful standing on it, as it would be extremely easy to slip on it, especially with wet feet, for example.

First of all, the instructions were pretty bad. No diagrams at all, and many of the 5 pages of text were taken up with a commercial for Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a somewhat unscientific Victorian-era gimmick for classifying people's body fat percentage (very popular right now with authoritarian "health" Nazis). There is enough bad science as it is, and I don't care for people promoting bad information, especially where health is concerned. Strike one.

The use of the scale is not at all intuitive, and I found its function to be quite erratic. The instructions make it clear that it must be on a hard flat surface, and that it will not work on carpet of any kind (carpet does not belong in bathrooms anyway, in my humble opinion). I tried it on two different types of carpet, and it went berserk. They were right about that.

When used on a hard linoleum over concrete floor, it functioned somewhat better, but was still flaky. It would switch back and forth between metric and real measurements, with a decided preference for metric, and had trouble holding a reading. Strike two. (And if you want to know why I am a metric refusenik, read Civilization One.)

I tested it against a scale which has be proven to be very close (within a pound) to the medical scale in my doctor's office, and this scale read 6 pounds higher than that proven scale. Strike three, you're out.

It may look cool, if you like the glass look thing, and be all "digital" and such, but I was not impressed. The lack of decent instructions, the flaky performance, and all the talk about BMI and the related "Cal-Max" function, keep me from recommending this scale.

And worrying about tenths (or hundredths) of a pound is silly. One's weight can vary more than a pound just by air pressure variations. The fit of certain known clothing items can be a far better gauge of weight gain or loss on a daily basis (unless they stretch or adjust, that is), or long term. Don't let people beat you up over minute, normal fluctuations. Overweight is the new smoking, that is to say, the next psyop to victimize the common person. (For which the causes and cures are well known already, and have nothing to do with "will power" or morality.)

I don't like it. Might make interesting art . . . .


HAMMERHEAD HLCL01 Compact Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser with Clamp
HAMMERHEAD HLCL01 Compact Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser with Clamp
Price: $69.99

4.0 out of 5 stars works well, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a nice little level. I think that laser levels such as this can be a godsend for many tasks.

The construction is a bit on the flimsy side. That said, I did have an incident where the level and its clamp fell off a table about 28 inches to a carpet covered concrete floor, and it kept working. The clamp is very rugged, but the laser itself is plastic and feels kind of cheap.

Still, it does work well, and if you are careful with it, it should be fine.

There is a button on top which cycles the laser through its different modes, off, crossed horizontal and vertical lines, horizontal line, vertical line. On the side is a sliding switch which unlocks the internal gimbals and allows the laser unit inside to swing free to establish level. You can then lock the internals down for a fixed set of lines.

There is a camera thread mount in the bottom. The clamp is quite hearty, with several adjustments to position the laser after clamping to a solid object for stability.

It’s not perfect, it’s not professional grade, but it does work, and should be fine if cared for properly.


Bushnell PowerSync SolarWrap Mini USB Charger
Bushnell PowerSync SolarWrap Mini USB Charger
Price: $41.96
23 used & new from $34.99

3.0 out of 5 stars works okay, not spectacular, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a nicely packaged portable battery for recharging USB-based devices.

I tested it on my cell and running a USB powered calculator after charging in with a wall adapter I have for other devices. A wall charger is not included.

It took right around 4 hours to charge from the wall, as per the packaging claim. I was able to charge about a 495 mAh deficit in my cell phone in about 90 minutes. This used about half of the claimed 1000 mAh capacity. The rest of that capacity I used to run a USB calculator for about 10 minutes (not doing much).

I have not been able to test the solar cell recharging, given the time of year and lack of direct light here, but since the claims for 4 hour charging from the wall was accurate, I have no reason to doubt that it would take a good 10 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the device. Thus, it would not be of much use except at the very height of Summer with 10 hours of direct sunlight available.

It seems well made and the roll up system is clever, if probably not very durable. This could be quite handy under the right circumstances, but its utility is limited. It is not just a gimmick, it actually does work, just slowly. I have much better devices which charge from the wall, but do not have a solar component. Bearing in mind its limitations, it certainly is useful.


Health Enterprises Ultra Wrap Athletic Tape
Health Enterprises Ultra Wrap Athletic Tape
Price: $12.96

4.0 out of 5 stars substitute for “Ace Bandage” type wrap, December 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a slightly stretchy wrap designed to replace an “Ace Bandage” style wrap for ankles, wrists, etc.

It is latex and neoprene free, according to the packaging, and while it feels much like a very soft neoprene, I haven’t tested it on anyone with allergies. It is layered to allow the covered area to “breathe,” and is claimed to be good for around 10 uses.

It feels much like a very soft cross between neoprene and vet wrap, and does seem to wrap well without being uncomfortable. It is held in place by an approximately 1.5 by 2 inch plastic patch which acts like a hook-and-loop closure. It has held very well for my tests, although these kinds of fasteners do wear out after a while.

While I haven’t had any injuries to test it on (thankfully), I do think it would do the job nicely, and with a bit more style than the older style of wrap. I have never cared for the “skintone” color of beige that so much of this kind of thing is produced in, but I suppose that it appeals to some. I think it looks strange and tacky, but who cares what it looks like if it works?

If I ever need a wrap like this, I would definitely put his high on the list.


Bagua Mud-wading Step and Basic Eight Palms(English Subtitled)
Bagua Mud-wading Step and Basic Eight Palms(English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars very good instruction, November 13, 2014
I have to agree that this instructor is very good. Instructions are clear and concise, his movements are fluid and natural, his energy is smooth and gentle, and he is obviously the real deal. (As I practiced the palm positions along with him, I could feel qi moving in my palms - this is always a sign for me that the instructor is good. When this can happen from a video it is a very good sign indeed.)

There is not too much history and theory (which you should also learn - it is just good to concentrate on one thing at a time), just good, basic instruction in the proper basic movements.

Insofar as it is possible to learn bagua from a video, this set is a very good place to start. If one has not had any personal instruction from a good instructor, it will be difficult to learn the more subtle aspects of the art and possible to get bad habits started.

However, for those who have had good instruction in taiji or similar arts, this video and the companion will be very useful.

Recommended.


The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family
The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family
by Isis Aquarian
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.13
55 used & new from $13.89

4.0 out of 5 stars great narrative of a blast from the past, November 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I came across this material by one of those strange, synchronistic “coincidences” which feel like they are not coincidences at all.

Some time ago, I had a girlfriend who had been involved with Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO and another offshoot group which ran a restaurant in Los Angeles, and whose leader, “Father,” had died in a hang gliding accident in Hawaii. I didn’t know much more about the group, other than a few of the names of those involved, and never gave it much thought, given the number of communes which sprang up in the 60s (I know other people from various groups from those days).

I haven’t had much occasion to think about all this for some time, as I lost touch with her decades ago.

Then, the other day, I just happened to be looking up the Yogi’s name to make sure I got the spelling right on a quote. My eye was drawn to the list of his famous students and a certain Father Yod jumped out at me from the list. I suddenly was struck by the thought that this might be the person my friend had mentioned. Boy, howdy, was I right. I had no idea the group was as famous or as significant as they were.

I immediately ordered the DVD and a few books to learn more and to see if I could find pictures or mention of her. It was a real trip down memory lane, for while there was no mention of her, in the book I did find others she had mentioned: a picture of one of the women she sang with on a tape she shared with me, and mention of the other women she sang with, as well as mention of the the father of her son (I had the opportunity to speak to both her son and his father once on the phone).

There were a few details I remembered from our conversations decades ago, and there was a familiar feeling to the whole story, since I had vicariously experienced some of it through her (she also taught me a few things from her time with these various groups).

This book is a documentary by former members of the group and it reveals more details about the history and evolution of the Source Family during its short existence. It is also far more detailed than the DVD and adds some clarity to statements made on the DVD. (For example there was more contact between Father Yod and his previous families than was made evident on the DVD.)

The pictures from the 60s and 70s were quite interesting, as they usually are for me, having gone through that time period in the relative cultural obscurity of rural Oregon.

I enjoyed the story told by other members of this group, and it helped add a depth and understanding of the time she had spent with these people.

I was also struck by how we were all so naive and innocent, and did not understand the true depths of the ideas, cultures, and spiritual practices involved, and the truly fragmentary and corrupted nature of the information we had available about all those topics. The degree to which the wealthy elite, secret societies, the churches, and intelligence agencies have corrupted, misinformed, misguided, and manipulated the fragmentary knowledge of our true past and heritage is far deeper than we knew in those times.

It is easy to pass judgment on those times and the people who were experimenting and truly trying to find something better, and it is equally easy to pass off people like Father Yod as simply charismatic con men. The truth is something a bit more involved than that, although there is always a bit of the con in any charismatic leader.

There is a lot to be learned from ancient practices from many cultures, and there are always going to be those who would seek to deny you access to the benefits of such study. There are also those who would take advantage of your desire to seek suck answers, but fortunately there are also those who will assist. Many times, people are a mixture of motives.

Although I would not characterize this as a cautionary tale, I think there is much to be learned from the social/spiritual experiments of the 60s/70s, and some of that will be found here.


Source Family
Source Family
DVD ~ Source Family
Price: $17.19
14 used & new from $12.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Blast from the past, November 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Source Family (DVD)
I came across this material by one of those strange, synchronistic “coincidences” which feel like they are not coincidences at all.

Some time ago, I had a girlfriend who had been involved with Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO and another offshoot group which ran a restaurant in Los Angeles, and whose leader, “Father,” had died in a hang gliding accident in Hawaii. I didn’t know much more about the group, other than a few of the names of those involved, and never gave it much thought, given the number of communes which sprang up in the 60s (I know other people from various groups from those days).

I haven’t had much occasion to think about this for some time, as I lost touch with her many, many years ago.

Then, the other day, I just happened to be looking up the Yogi’s name to make sure I got the spelling right on a quote. My eye was drawn to the list of his famous students and a certain Father Yod jumped out at me from the list. I suddenly was struck by the thought that this might be the person my friend had mentioned. Boy, howdy, was I right.

I immediately ordered this DVD and a few books to add to the information on the web, and to see if I could find any pictures of her with the group or stories involving her. It was a real trip down memory lane, for while there was no mention of her, in the book I did find others she had mentioned, including the father of her child. (I will do a review of the book as well.)

The DVD is a documentary by former members of the group, as are the books, and they reveal more details about the history and evolution of the Source Family during its short existence.

The footage and pictures from the 60s was quite interesting, as I had experienced that decade from the extreme cultural distance of rural Oregon (set your watches back 50 years, they used to say around here). The music, the social and political issues, all seemed to come back as I watched the DVD and matched the information against what me friend had told me.

While I enjoyed the story told by other members of this group, I was struck by the manner in which they always seemed to fail, and often due to the ego issues of the leader being in a role of having way too much power over the others (whether given freely or not). It was also a reminder of how so many in my generation were seeking the utopian dream of a perfect, spiritual gathering of people to forge a new (old, actually), social order which would provide a more satisfying experience of life than our current society.

I was also struck by how we were all so naive and innocent, and did not understand the true depths of the ideas, cultures, and spiritual practices involved, and the truly fragmentary and corrupted nature of the information we had available about all those topics. The degree to which the wealthy elite, secret societies, the churches, and intelligence agencies have corrupted, misinformed, misguided, and manipulated the fragmentary knowledge of our true past and heritage is far deeper than we knew in those times.

It is easy to pass judgment on those times and the people who were experimenting and truly trying to find something better, and it is equally easy to pass off people like Father Yod as simply charismatic con men. The truth is something a bit more involved than that (although there is always a bit of the con in any charismatic leader), and if you want a glimpse of some of what that is, I suggest you watch this DVD and read the book, “The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and the Source Family.”

Their music seems also to have had some influence in those times as well.

There is a lot to be learned from ancient practices from many cultures, and there are always going to be those who would seek to deny you access to the benefits of such study. There are also those who would take advantage of your desire to seek suck answers, but fortunately there are also those who will assist. Many times, people are a mixture of motives.

Although I would not characterize this as a cautionary tale, I think there is much to be learned from the social/spiritual experiments of the 60s, and some of that will be found here.


Aim Sports 2-7X42 30mm Scout Scope/Rangefinder
Aim Sports 2-7X42 30mm Scout Scope/Rangefinder
Offered by US-DEALS
Price: $56.75
10 used & new from $51.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quality much higher than I expected, November 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this for my experimental 12 gauge platform, to test the idea of a scout scope and see if it would work for me. (My vision makes it difficult for me to use iron sights.) I had been reading and studying the scout rifle concept, and thought the long eye relief might work better with my vision. I prefer scopes to iron sights, and have worked so many years with my eyes glued to various kinds of cameras that using optics is kind of second nature to me.

I didn’t expect much, considering the price of the scope. I have been using cameras, binoculars, and telescopes for about 5 decades, and know the trade-offs involved in price versus quality in optics. I simply hoped the scope would work well enough for me to judge the usefulness of the concept.

My experimental setup is a Rossi single shot 12 gauge with various sub-caliber inserts. I have been using it to test various cartridges to see if I liked them, without the expense of buying a complete gun in the given caliber. I have added small picatinny rails to test sights, optics, and other rail-based attachments.

(As an aside, the only insert I have found with any reasonable amount of accuracy is the Gagemate Pocket Sniper series, 10 inch inserts. Smaller Gagemate inserts and insert from others I have tried were all woefully lacking in accuracy and consistency. Despite the recommendations of some “survival” experts, I think these inserts have very limited usefulness. The Pocket Sniper I use cost more than my Rossi shotgun, and you could almost buy brand new Rossi rifles in each caliber for what the Pocket Sniper cost. I would imagine the rifles would be far more accurate and useful as well. While Rossi seems to have ceased selling many rifles with interchangeable barrels, there are still some of those, too. A better option, IMHO. For a lot more money, the new kid on the block for multi-caliber rifles is MGI - check out the Hydra. If you have the cash, that would be the way to go, again IMHO.)

Anyway, back to this scope.

Due to a problem with the insert I was using, my first outing with the scope was aggravating. It was nearly impossible to get anything on the paper, even at 25 yards! This was very strange, since I had bore-sighted the scope with a laser insert, and it had sighted in very nicely (more on that later), even out to 50 yards.

Once I figured out the problem (o-ring replacement in the insert - these inserts become increasingly, wildly inaccurate as the o-rings degrade), the scope worked quite well. I found that it was extremely easy to hold on target, the scope/mount (I used the mounting rings included with the scope at first) handled 12 gauge recoil (00 buck) without complaint, and with the long eye relief the scope was a dream to use.

The 42 mm front lens give great light gathering ability (bright image), and the focus and zero held perfectly over the entire zoom range. Frankly, I was amazed that it performed so well at this price point. I expected I would have to spend 4-5 times as much for a scope this good.

That said, I am no expert on modern optics, and it could just be that the price of really good optics has gone through the floor without my noticing. Doesn’t matter - I think this scope is a great buy at this price.

I found that I could use it easily with my glasses on, and that I had no trouble holding target and using the finest markings of the reticle with ease. And I love the reticle! I like the range finding style, and prefer reticles which have features that allow easy “Kentucky windage” adjustments in a repeatable, measurable way (mil dots and such).

I have a laser boresight for the Rossi which fits in the breech of the barrel (looks like an all-brass shell). Using a piece of reflective tape on a target, I boresighted the scope at 25 and again at 50 yards. The adjustments were easy and the clicks crisp. Again, I was impressed by the fit and finish of the scope, as well as the function. It was easy to “click” the crosshairs over and up until they centered nicely over the reflected dot of the laser. One must use a screwdriver or similar item to adjust the windage and elevation, it is not a finger-adjustable process.

The only thing I can think of to improve the scope would be to illuminate the reticle.

Since I have put the gun away for the Winter, I am now playing around with various ways to use the scope for a general spotting scope and binocular substitute.

I am quite happy with it and will definitely be getting more for future guns (like that MGI Hydra).


Palo Medical Apallo 2 Walking Cane, Black
Palo Medical Apallo 2 Walking Cane, Black

3.0 out of 5 stars mixed feelings, November 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This cane incorporates some good ideas for people who need to use such items.

The swing-out handle for your second hand definitely helps one to use upper body strength to get out of a chair and onto your feet. The cane is adjustable in roughly one inch increments, and feels pretty solid for the most part, considering its light weight.

The handles were one of the few really nice features, with good ergonomics.

However, there are a few areas in which I found it lacking.

The threaded ring around the lower part of the cane shaft was cross-threaded and jammed when I got the cane, making it impossible to adjust the cane’s length. It took considerable effort to break it free and allow the cane shaft to be adjusted. Looking at the threads on the tubing, it seemed to me that they were too fine a thread for this application, and that a stronger (deeper) thread should have been used. (I’m not a machinist, so my terminology may not be precise, but you get the idea.)

There are also similar problems with the light in the top handle. The lens housing, which must be taken off to change batteries (a pair of CR-2032s), also uses very tiny, fine threads, and it is extremely difficult to get them to thread properly. Cross threading is a major problem, and since the unit is plastic (and not high quality plastic, at that), it can be difficult to change batteries (the batteries that came with the unit were DOA, so I had to change them to get the light working).

The switch for the light is very cheap and flimsy. It will break very quickly. Also, it is placed right at the top of the handle, and is extremely easy to switch on and off accidentally. The light is mounted to point straight ahead of the handle, and would be moving all over the place if one were walking, so I doubt it would be very useful unless one were standing still. It is reasonably bright, but given the quality and brightness of LED lights under $10 dollars these days, I find it sadly lacking.

There is also a wrist strap hanging in a place which would not allow one to use it very easily to keep the cane near your hand, although one would be able to hang it up with the strap easily.

There were very minimal instructions.

Depending on one’s actual condition, this cane might be useful, but I would hesitate to trust it completely with my full weight. I’m sure there are people out there who could benefit from this cane, but I would encourage you to check it out thoroughly before trusting it completely.

I found that the design suggested all kinds of modifications to make it into a costume space weapon for Halloween or other cosplay. It does seem to inspire those kinds of thoughts in me for some reason.


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