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KitchenAid KHBC208ER Commercial Series NSF Certified Immersion Blender, 8-Inch, Empire Red
KitchenAid KHBC208ER Commercial Series NSF Certified Immersion Blender, 8-Inch, Empire Red
Price: $120.49
4 used & new from $120.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful but not very effective, August 3, 2016
I bought this blender from another online retailer for a lower price, but I'll post my review here. The blender is big and heavy -- about 50% bigger in both length and diameter than a typical household model. It seems powerful -- the lights in my kitchen actually dim briefly when I turn it on. And it makes a deafening racket, especially on its higher-speed setting. Unfortunately it doesn't do a very good job of blending or pureeing food. It takes several minutes of churning and noise to get an acceptably smooth texture of cream of cauliflower soup, for example. A good immersion blender will "catch" the soup in the pot, setting up a circulating flow like a little whirlpool that quickly draws in the soup to be pureed by the whirring blade. This blender, despite its power, has a hard time doing that. It's like a race car that just sits there spinning its wheels, burning rubber without going anywhere. Also, as others have noted, because of its size it's really no good for small amounts -- less than a couple quarts, say. On a positive note, the detachable shaft is easy to put on and take off and can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.


UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record
UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record
by Leslie Kean
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.61
90 used & new from $4.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to see here..., June 15, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I found this book disappointing. Mostly it's a rehash of a few previously and widely reported, decades-old UFO incidents, all of which have been discussed and dissected in far more detail in other books. The angle this book takes is to present these incidents via written testimony of individuals -- aircraft pilots, military personnel, scientists, government officials, etc. -- whose observations and conclusions the author deems to be unimpeachable. Her hope is that the testimony of these well-trained "experiencers" (to use a term of art in this area) will lend some credibility to the phenomenon, which she believes is too often dismissed as mere folklore or science fiction, and perhaps thereby to motivate the authorities (i.e., the U.S. government) to undertake a serious investigation of the matter. For me, however, the accounts in this book were pretty dull and pro forma, differing little in detail or insight from similar accounts in many other books.

Another problem is that although the author calls repeatedly for serious investigation, it's not at all clear how such an unpredictable and irreproducible phenomenon, for which there is no physical evidence aside from a few blurry photographs and inconclusive radar images, *could* be satisfactorily investigated. It's not as if there's a pile of crashed UFOs somewhere that are being deliberately ignored. What exactly does the author expect the government to do? This question isn't answered.

The author does devote a chapter to the possibility of an X-Files-type cover-up, whereby a super-secret cabal buried deep within the government, hidden even from the President himself, is busily reverse-engineering alien technology and at the same time spreading a fog of disinformation about UFOs to the general public and their elected representatives. She admits this possibility on the basis of a single paragraph in a memo written by a British intelligence official over two decades ago, which vaguely refers to a "small group" in the U.S. government that is "studying" the UFO phenomenon. Hardly a smoking gun.

In the end this book sheds no new light on the UFO phenomenon and is a dull read to boot.


Snow Ice Traction Shoe Walking Running Cleats Rubber Anti No Slip Grip Spikes
Snow Ice Traction Shoe Walking Running Cleats Rubber Anti No Slip Grip Spikes
Offered by Quik Solve
Price: $24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Work as advertised, February 16, 2016
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I was surprised how well these gadgets work. Essentially big rubber bands with ten small cleats on the bottom, they stretch and snap easily over the soles of your shoes or boots. I ordered the large size, and they fit snugly over my size 10 Dr. Martens. We recently had a light snowfall followed by freezing rain here in western Massachusetts. Streets and sidewalks were covered with snow, slush, and a lot of glare ice. I strapped these on and ventured out for a long, brisk walk with no trouble or discomfort at all -- I may as well have been walking on dry pavement. Those little cleats provided excellent grip and traction, even on the ice. It remains to be seen how durable these are. Frankly, they don't look or feel very rugged. But looks can be deceiving, so I'll hope for the best.


Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
by Ted Koppel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.55
153 used & new from $5.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Scary, but not entirely convincing., January 15, 2016
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Stephen King has nothing on Ted Koppel when it comes to giving his readers nightmares. "Lights Out" is a very scary book! In words that are at the same time pedantic and alarmist, Mr. Koppel argues that the United States is a mere Internet hack attack away from a disaster of biblical proportions: the complete loss of electricity affecting a third or more of the country for weeks, months, even years, with the result that 90% of the population in the affected region would perish. This is not a technical book. Anyone expecting to learn how the electrical grid operates and exactly how it's interconnected with and depends on the public Internet will be disappointed. Likening the electrical grid to a balloon with multiple inlets into which air is pumped and outlets from which air escapes is about as technically detailed as the author gets. Much of the book is devoted to summaries of the author's interviews with current and former government officials and industry experts, who more or less agree, with varying degrees of concern, that the electrical grid is vulnerable, but who more or less have failed to develop any effective mitigation plan. I couldn't help but notice that the biggest prophets of doom among the experts interviewed often worked for companies providing security services to the government. On the other hand, those most dismissive of the potential for disaster were electric company executives who would have to spend a ton of money to drive the risk to zero.

The last third or so of the book is an admiring, if incongruous, description of how the Mormon church has ensured that its members will be cared for, and therefore able to survive, in the event of an apocalyptic disaster. Although the author doesn't say so explicitly, the implication is that the U.S. government should be taking similar steps to provide similar security for the rest of the population. But whether and how the Mormon approach, which basically amounts to independently sourcing and stockpiling essentials, would scale for the entire U.S. population is not examined in the book.

I had a lot of questions that were touched on but not clearly answered. For example, as other reviewers have pointed out, the electrical grid has been around and functioning reasonably reliably for a hundred years -- long before the Internet was invented. Much of the technology employed to control and protect the grid also predates the Internet and furthermore is electro-mechanical (i.e., not Internet-dependent) in nature (circuit breakers, relays, surge protectors, etc.). So how and why a cyberattack would put the whole system out of commission for months or years is not at all clear. As evidence for the harmful consequences of a cyberattack, the author repeatedly cites the recent hack against Sony, allegedly by North Korea, which compromised the company's intellectual property and leaked a bunch of embarrassing emails, as well as the hack against Iran, allegedly by the U.S. and Israel, which damaged a uranium enrichment facility. But neither of these attacks had anything to do with the electric grid.

The author actually considers three different "attack scenarios" against the electric grid: Cyberattacks are the focus of much of the book, but he also briefly discusses so-called kinetic attacks, whereby bombs, missiles, or guns could be used to destroy critical grid components, and an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, whereby a nuclear device detonated high in the atmosphere could disable the grid. But he doesn't really distinguish among these scenarios in terms of their likelihood to occur or their destructive potential. For example, he seems to assume that the damage resulting from a cyberattack would be of the same order as that of a kinetic attack. But while it's plausible that the simultaneous physical destruction of multiple critical substations over a wide geographical region by means of bombs or missiles might well spell disaster, it's not clear such an attack is at all likely and therefore something to worry about. Furthermore, the author does not explain how a cyberattack, which is admittedly less far-fetched, could cause the same kind of widespread *physical* damage. And whether an EMP attack should be any more concerning now in the Internet age than when the nuclear threat first emerged sixty years ago is doubtful.

In the end I did not find the author's case for a looming disaster entirely compelling. It will not induce me to decamp to a cabin in the woods stocked with freeze-dried food or to join the Mormon church, but it was an interesting, thought-provoking read nevertheless.


The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story
The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story
by John A. Keel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.81
56 used & new from $7.48

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's the deal with Keel?, May 19, 2015
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This is a strange book, to say the least. I bought it and read it because I enjoyed the 2002 movie of the same name and thought the book would cast some light on some of the more mysterious elements of the film -- provide a backstory, so to speak. But although the Mothman and his alleged appearances in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, are touched upon here and there throughout the book, it is mostly a compendium of unrelated vignettes of strange occurrences involving UFOs, Men in Black, and various other paranormal phenomena. These episodes are a hodgepodge -- recounted in no particular order, without rhyme or reason as to place or time, and in no apparent service of a narrative thread. What's more, I couldn't tell whether the author was a skeptic or a true believer. Indeed he often seemed to be both at the same time, as when, for example, he refers to "fictitious space people," but then in the very same sentence goes on to claim these entities "interfere overtly in our affairs." In telling some of the stories he adopts a snide tone as if to say "isn't this the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard?" But in telling others he seems to be dead serious, even providing footnotes and references as if to say "I know this seems incredible but it's absolutely true." With no apparent irony he belittles other so-called "ufologists" and paranormal investigators as charlatans and cranks while repeatedly highlighting his own career doing exactly the same thing! In the end, I'd have to say if you were a fan of the X-files or of all the ghosts, monsters, and mysteries shows on cable these days, you'll probably enjoy this book, which is entirely similar in subject matter but without the interminable commercials.


Dr. Martens 8053 5 Eye Padded Collar Boot,Gaucho Crazy Horse,9 UK/Women's 11 Men's 10 M US
Dr. Martens 8053 5 Eye Padded Collar Boot,Gaucho Crazy Horse,9 UK/Women's 11 Men's 10 M US
Offered by OutdoorEquipped
Price: $84.70
16 used & new from $79.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as durable as they used to be..., May 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've worn successive pairs of Dr. Martens in this particular style (8053) for a long time and have generally found the shoes to be both comfortable and durable; in fact I used to think they were practically indestructible -- the shoes would hold up well through several years of daily wear. I bought my most recent pair through Amazon in December, 2014. I noticed today, less than six months later, that the outsole of one shoe has cracked and split all the way through to the insole. The quality of these shoes is clearly not what it used to be.


No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Broke the first time I used it., February 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this walking stick to provide a little extra purchase when walking on icy roads and sidewalks. Unfortunately it broke within ten minutes the first time I took it out. The problem is the mechanism that locks the adjustable column to a comfortable length seems to be very flimsy, so after a few raps on the pavement as you're walking along, it simply fails to hold and the whole thing falls apart.


Staub 7 Quart Oval Cocotte, Grenadine
Staub 7 Quart Oval Cocotte, Grenadine
Offered by Gear for Cooks
Price: $344.95
4 used & new from $344.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beauty is only skin deep..., September 20, 2014
Staub cookware is comparable in price to Le Creuset and somewhat more expensive than All Clad, but in my opinion it does not perform quite as well as either of its competitors. Where it falls short is in the speed and evenness of browning food -- a pot roast or chicken parts for example. Both Le Creuset and All Clad do a better job in that respect. Staub's dark colored interior is also a mixed blessing. It does not discolor the way a Le Creuset pot, which has an off-white enamel interior, will, but it's difficult to gauge the development of the "fond" as food sears in a Staub pot because you can't see it very well against the black bottom. As a consequence it's more likely to scorch on the bottom without the cook being aware.It does look good, however, if you store your pots and pans on open shelving.


Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America
Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America
by John Waters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.77
135 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too clever by half, June 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like other reviewers, I thought I was going to like this book more than I did. I wasn't so much put off by the sexual and drug-related shenanigans as by the distractingly obscure references to movies, actors, and film industry arcana that cluttered nearly every page in the first two-thirds of the book, as well as by all the terribly labored pop culture references -- the author was just trying too hard to be risque and clever I thought. I did enjoy the last third of the book, wherein he recounted his actual hitch-hiking experience and which was a bit less frenetically written than his imagined adventures.


Amana RFS12TS Medium-Duty Microwave Oven, 1200W
Amana RFS12TS Medium-Duty Microwave Oven, 1200W
Offered by Burkett Restaurant Equipment and Supplies
Price: Click here to see our price
7 used & new from $929.00

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Product failed in less than six months, April 14, 2014
I bought this microwave to replace an old Quasar oven that served me well for over 30 years.The Quasar was rugged, solid, built like a tank. All of the modern, consumer-grade ovens I looked at -- even high-end brands like Kitchen Aid, Viking, and DCS -- seemed flimsy by comparison, an impression bolstered by numerous online reviews complaining about their lack of durability. I wanted something that was going to last more than a year or two, and figured a commercial-grade microwave would be more likely to meet that requirement. Time will tell...

I do have a few initial observations, though, that may be of interest to prospective buyers: First, this oven is not warranted by the manufacturer for residential use. This means if anything goes wrong with it -- even if only a week after you buy it -- you'll have to pay to have it fixed (unless you can work something out with Amazon). Second, the unit's electrical plug does not fit into a standard 3-prong, 120-volt outlet. You'll have to have an electrician install a dedicated 20-amp circuit with a 20-amp outlet, or buy a 20-amp plug adapter and hope it doesn't trip a breaker if you plug it into a standard outlet. Third, the unit is very noisy. A loud fan comes on as soon as the door is opened even if you don't actually activate the oven, and the fan stays on a minute or two after the door is closed or an operating cycle is completed. Fourth, the unit is very heavy (64 lbs) despite it's relatively compact size. You'll need a hand truck to move it and two people to lift it into position. Fifth, it does not have a rotating carousel as most modern ovens do, nor does it have any of the bells and whistles (e.g., temperature probe, moisture sensor, automatic defrost, pre-programmed cooking cycles, time-of-day clock, etc.) of consumer models. Sixth, it's very powerful. Even its lowest power setting is too potent just to keep something warm, which means you can't use it to hold something at serving temperature (e.g., a bowl of mashed potatoes) after it's cooked.

Update (October, 2014) -- As I mentioned in my original review above, the main reason I spent almost $1000 on a countertop microwave oven was with the hope of having a rugged, durable appliance that would provide many years of trouble free operation. Well, after less than six months of light use in my home kitchen, it's broken. The cooling fan seized dramatically -- with a lot of popping, sizzling noises and the odor of burnt electrical insulation. In retrospect I would have been better off buying a Panasonic or LG model for a fraction of the price. Live and learn...


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