Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Etronic Ultra Comfort Massage Travel Neck Pillow



This is very similar to the kind of neck pillow you have seen on airplanes.   It claims to have six massage programs to choose.   I had difficulty differentiating between the choices.  It does rock and roll.  You can really feel the vibration.   I'm not sure I found it soothing though.   I'm afraid it would give me a headache.   I do like the three year warranty.  That is a plus in any product.

The pillow is a bit snug for my 18.5" neck.  I did not find it comfortable to snap the closure as it felt too much like a turtle neck.  The elastic strap allows the pillow to be put over the car head rest which is very convenient.   Lowest setting was comfortable, I found the higher setting more annoying than relaxing

I am going to elicit opinions from family members and see what they think of the pillow.

Later,  I guess I'm in a family of non-pillow people.   The interest was mild and non currently users of pillows didn't seem inclined to become pillow people.  All agreed that they have seen this type of pillow on just about every flight they take.   The only people who really claimed to like the pillow were grandkids.  The pillow itself wasn't a problem but the vibration seemed to dissuade the adults.  The kids loved the vibration aspect.    I suspect the pillow will be a big hit for people who already used this type of pillow and will regard the vibration aspect as an upgrade.  $14.99 at Amazon. 

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Auto Train, An Amtrak Failure




The Auto Train was not long ago a more civilized and genteel method of travel.  Our past experience has shown the bloom is off of the rose.   Now the Auto Train is simply another means to get from point A to point B.   From what I have gleaned on the Internet, one disgruntled congressman is responsible for derailing this very popular train.   Congressman John Mica from Florida appears to have the destruction of rail service as one of his primary goals.  

It is dismaying to see that an elected representative can be so short sighted as to not recognize the importance of rail travel.   The Auto Train has available coach and compartment travel from Lorton Virginia to Sanford Florida.   You paid for your ticket in either coach or compartment and you paid for your vehicle to be transported.   It doesn't take a mathematician to see that if you remove several hundred cars a day from I95, you are reducing pollution, traffic and wear and tear on a seriously overburdened highway. 

The differential between a coach ticket and a compartment is significant, depending on the date of travel more than $400.00 each way.  That differential meant in the past that compartment travelers had  wine tasting upon arrival and had wine for dinner.   Due to budget constraints the wine has been eliminated.   Not only that, the staff has been cut and an additional coach class car has been added.  This adds eighty plus people who need care and decreased significantly the number of people who were barely adequate for service needs prior to the downsizing. 

The lounge car that previously was used for the compartment passengers wine tasting has been eliminated.   The wine tasting and the socializing that ensued meant that new friends could be made and a trip could be congenial rather than burdensome    The elimination of the lounge car made dinner more difficult as well.   The dining car was overburdened.   The staff was forced to run to the bar car to get wine and to collect the money for said wine leaving their tables to their own devices.   You can't get coffee if you have no server.  

My personal disappointment is that a long train ride that was made far more acceptable due to amenities that I was willing to pay for has now become little more than a cattle car with ribbons.   Congratulations to Congressman Mica in the destruction of a civilized method of travel and the ensuing increase in road traffic, pollution and wear and tear on our highways.   His short sighted cost cutting will add up to far more destruction of both our infrastructure and our way of life.   Adeiu Auto Train, I will now ship my car and fly.  No fun at all but at least I will save some money.



If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OXO Tot Seedling High Chair


Okay, my first thought was that a high chair should be less expensive.  Of course I am a grandparent so my take on the size of the price is based on decades old experience.   I am impressed with this high chair regardless of price.

It assembled easily.
It adjusts easily.
The seat cover is removable and washable.
The seat reclines.
The tray is flat and sits flat on the counter.
The tray is two piece so you can remove the top layer of the tray and carry off the food disaster that no doubt lies on the tray.
This puppy is solid, built like a tank, it is constructed quite strongly and should hold up to the most rambunctious toddler.
If you are anticipating an arrival, this would be an excellent gift.
There are a lot of less expensive high chairs out there but this is a good value for the money.  If you are planning on more than one kid, this would be a no brainer due to it's well constructed nature. 
From the vendor:
·                           3 levels of tool-free seat height and depth adjustability that grow with the child
·                           Adjustable, contoured seat is perfect for tots from 4 months to 3 years; Smooth surfaces are easy to wipe clean; Tray cover is removable and dishwasher safe for easy clean up; Cushion is stain resistant, wipe able and easily removable for machine washing
·                           Large buttons are comfortable and intuitive for easy high chair adjustments; Seat has three reclining positions and five height settings for optimal comfort
·                           Tray is light and easy to remove or replace with one hand, leaving the other free for baby and rests flat on table to prevent bowls and cups from tipping when removing baby from chair; Tray stores on back of legs for added convenience
·                           Scratch resistant, locking wheels provide flexibility and mobility; The frame can be disassembled into two parts for convenient storage; Tool free assembly and adjustment
·                            
The seedling chair will stay with your child from 4 months to 3 years, adjusting and growing with them. The contoured seat is great for infants still on the bottle, and can recline back if they fall asleep right after feeding. The chair easily adjusts to the perfect angle for babies to self feed with bottles or Sippy cups. Five different height settings make it easy to feed baby whether you're standing or sitting. The lowest setting is also great for being close to older siblings, and the highest setting can be used for having baby up at table height. The depth adjustable tray has different settings to accommodate your growing baby, and stores on the back of the chair's legs when not in use. We know how eating time can be messy, so the chair and cushions are easily wipe able for quick cleanup of crumbs and other sticky situations. The removable tray cover is dishwasher safe and the stain resistant cushion is easily removable and machine washable for those extra big messes.


If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Protect Yourself With FREE Surveillance Software




In celebration of my geekiness I downloaded ispy camera software prior to a recent hotel stay.  A person very close to me (name withheld due to my desire to continue life as I know it.) suggested I was paranoid.   Well...

Imagine our surprise the first time I left my laptop running with the software active, we saw disturbing photos of someone in our room.   The person seemed to be looking at our stuff, peered into the camera and then left without taking anything. This was not a room cleaning person.  I sent one video set to my phone and took the video to the hotel management for their reaction.  I asked if this person was employed by the hotel and if he was supposed to be in our room.  The manager said the intruder was a maintenance man and he would check into it.   After waiting several days I approached another manager who got back to me within 15 minutes and explained there had been a maintenance issue  in our hall and the intruder was checking all the rooms.  Frankly the excuse reeked of cover-up as the intruder was definitely looking over our stuff.  

Interestingly enough after I asked if they wanted different angles from my other cameras and I confirmed multiple cameras accompany me everywhere, we only saw cleaning people after that.  BTW it is disturbing to see the cleaning person put clean pillow cases on your pillows and then throw the pillows on the dirty floor while she made the bed.

The laborious point I am trying to make is that you can increase your personal safety and decrease the likelihood of being a victim with free software.   ispy is free unless you want the video sent remotely or have the ability to view your camera through the WEB.  Having the software running and storing the video on your personal computer is free.  The camera is motion activated and operates in the background.  You can have a screen saver running as camouflage.  It is easy to install and certainly is eye opening.

WardenCam is another free software package that allows you to use an old cell phone as a camera and the Internet to view said camera on your cell phone.  The only problem with that is you need a decent wifi signal to connect to the Internet.  The hotel's wifi was pitifully slow so WardenCam did not work but I have tested it with a good wifi and it works really slick too.  Again,FREE!

Paraphrasing Frank Burns of Mash, "you aren't paranoid if everyone is after you".  Check out these free aps and protect yourself when you travel.


 If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Colgate Optic White Toothbrush Plus Whitening Pen


This is an ok product.  It claims two day results and after five days of use I see some positive changes.   I had hoped for a more dramatic change but I will continue to use it until the gel is gone.  The two day claim should be revised and I think the product will then be perceived as better.  If you expect immediate results you end up disappointed but if you expect gradual results, I think you will be satisfied.   It is easy to use but their brush is really stiff and thus a bit painful on the gum line.  Overall a good product, $13.80 at Amazon.

From the vendor:
Safety Warning
Keep out of reach of children. Do not use with children under the age of 12. If more than amount used for whitening is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or call a Poison Control Center. Avoid contact with eyes. If product contacts the eyes, rinse thoroughly with water. If irritation of the gums or mouth occurs, discontinue use.

Ingredients
Dimethicone, paraffinum liquidum, PVP, trimethylsiloxysilicate/dimethiconol crosspolymer, hydrogen peroxide, polyethylene, flavor, sodium saccharin

Directions
For best results, use 2 times daily until gel pen is empty. Start using a new Optic White Toothbrush + Whitening Pen every 3 months.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Crayola Create 2 Destroy Dino Destruction Metropolitan Mayhem


This is a cute set.  Every kid seems to love dinosaurs.   This kit has two dinosaurs and two volcanoes.  The idea is to make things to destroy with the molding clay and then destroy them with your dinosaurs and flying boulders from your volcanoes.   The boulder flying part is pretty lame but it does work.  For sheer destruction you are dependent on your dinosaurs.  The dinos are sturdy and will no doubt survive long after the rest of the kit has died.   The provided molds are not terribly sturdy but imagination will allow the kids to create things besides what the molds suggest.   I don't know how often the Morphix (modeling clay) will hold up.  As with most products such as this, keeping it clean will no doubt extend the life of the product.  

A nice toy that should generate enthusiasm with the four to six age range.

From the Vendor:

What's in the Box

Two dinosaur figures, two volcano launchers, three 8-ounce tubs of Morphix, 19 molds, and play mat.
At a Glance:
·                     Create and destroy a city skyline with dino figures and molds
·                     Two volcanoes launch boulders
·                     Make vehicles, buildings and more with 19 Morphix molds
·                     Colorful play mat brings the city to life
·                     Connects to other Create2Destroy Sets

 If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Matchbox Mission: Croc Escape Playset





This is another play set using the Matchbox size cars.   It works fine with the included car.   I currently do not have any Hotwheel or other competing cars in the Matchbox size to test with the set.  I will have more availability in a month or so and if I find any incompatibility I will come back and add to this post.   I am aware that due to the configuration some vehicles won't work but I think compatibility is important in these toys.

The set is reasonably sturdy.   As in any toy, the exuberance of the child will have a major bearing on durability.   I think the addition of some of the other sets to increase the complexity and play value would be a good idea.   Overall this seems like a fun toy.

$20.00 at Amazon

From the vendor:
It's a big beast in the big city! The giant croc has swallowed a vehicle, and only you can save it! Rumble over the rocky bridge, climb the "stone" staircase and zoom down the ramp to the rescue. But be careful! One false move, and you're croc bait! Play set features working croc jaws, rocking bridge and moving staircase. Includes one Matchbox construction vehicle; additional vehicles sold separately. The play set connects to other sets (sold separately) to expand the world and the fun! Ages 3 and over.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.
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