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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder with 37x Optical Zoom (Garnet Wine)

Canon FS-series are the next-generation Flash Memory format camcorders for shooting great video and photos. Flash memory format delivers delivering optimal image quality, quick response time, flexible media exchange, and extended recording times all in a compact and lightweight body. The FS100 provides outstanding features such as 48x Advanced Zoom an SDHC card slot for your once-in-a-lifetime memories.
1/6-inch, 1.07-megapixel CCD image sensor - Whether you’re shooting video or photos, you will benefit from the camcorder’s razor-sharp CCD image sensor.
Genuine Canon 48x Advanced Zoom - Capture the action from even farther away when using Canon’s exclusive Advanced Zoom. By utilizing Genuine Canon Optics and the DIGIC DV II Image Processor, Canon has developed a new way to extend beyond the optical zoom, both wide and telephoto, while continuing to maintain optimal image quality. With Canon’s Advanced Zoom, you can now enjoy stunning video from any distance.

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder with 37x Optical Zoom (Garnet Wine)

Technical Details

* Capture video to SDHC cards
* 37x Optical Zoom; image stabilizer
* Widescreen HR recording
* 2.7-inch widescreen LCD
* USB 2.0 compatible for fast file transfer

Customer feedback:

1. I had my eye on this thing before it was out, and saw reviews from some lucky people who got their hands on it before its release. Once I was able to order, Amazon shipped it in a not very well packaged box, but everything worked. It comes with a little remote, by the way, which came in handy when I connected the camcorder to our TV. So, the FS100 is compact. I knew it would be small, but I had no idea that the whole thing could sit in my hand. It also fits in my purse (and my purse isn't a huge "hobo" bag that many girls carry around these days). Because there are no "moving parts" and everything is recorded to a little memory card (SD), the camcorder is also very light and quiet. If it's still not quiet enough for you because you're in an extremely quiet surrounding, use an external mic.

2. I've been looking to update my old Sony Digital8 camcorder and have been looking primarily at Mini-DV. But, this flash camcorder caught my eye since the price of SD cards has become amazingly inexpensive. To transfer video from a DV recorder takes a lot of patience, gigabytes of storage, and hours of work. By contrast, a 4gig SDHC card in this camera can store an hour and 20 minutes at 6 mb/s. The camera will do 9 mb/s, but I don't recommend it if your final format is DVD since some players will have problems keeping up.
My suggestion is to ignore most of the instructions which Canon provides and keep the software CD's in the box. There's a cute warning attached to the USB cable which warns NOT to connect it without first installing the drivers. I connected it to my MAC running OS-X 10.4 and a warning came on the screen to plug in the AC adapter. Once I did that the camera came right up as a disk drive. The manual warns not to access the folders directly. I did that, too and simply copied them to the local hard drive (more on that in a minute). Then, the camera warned NOT to change modes, or disconnect the USB cable, or disconnect the power. Ok... then, after I dismount the USB drive, how do I unplug the camera :) The manual gives a clue to disconnect the USB first, then power off.

Canon VIXIA HF10 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 16 GB Internal Flash Memory and 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom

From Canon's long history of optical excellence, advanced image processing, superb performance and technological innovation in photographic and broadcast television cameras comes the latest in high definition camcorders. Now, with the light, compact Canon VIXIA HF10, you can have stunning AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) format recording with the ease and numerous benefits of Flash Memory. It's used in some of the world's most innovative electronic products such as laptop computers, MP3 players, PDAs and cell phones. Canon offers the best in Flash Memory with Dual Flash Memory- record to both the camcorder's 16 GB internal memory and a removable SDHC card, extending your available recording space and offering added flexibility in file transfer and playback.
Add to that the VIXIA HF10's Canon Exclusive features such as our own 3.3 Megapixel Full HD CMOS sensor and advanced DIGIC DV II Image Processor, SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization, Instant Auto Focus, our 2.7-inch Wide screen Multi-Angle Vivid LCD and the Genuine Canon 12x HD video zoom lens and you have a Flash Memory camcorder that's hard to beat and unmistakably Canon.

Canon VIXIA HF10 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 16 GB Internal Flash Memory and 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom

Technical Details

* Capture high-defintion video to 16 GB internal flash drive or SDHC cards
* 12x optical zoom; SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer
* 24p Cinema Mode; 30p Progressive Mode
* 2.7-inch widescreen Multi-Angle Vivid LCD
* Simultaneous photo capture

Customer feedback:

1. I had the award-winning HDV (tape-based) HV20 prior to this, and the HF10 is almost indistinguishable in terms of image quality. Given the dramatic difference in image data between an HDV image and an AVC image, that means this is one heck of a camcorder. I have tried out other AVC camcorders and have been really disappointed. Not so here, and I purchased this one. It has 24p and 30p recording, in addition to 60i. (Don't be confused by Canon's nomenclature, it is true 24p, just recorded in interlaced 60i.) The cinema mode has a bit of a wash-out effect on colors. The camcorder is surprisingly small. Power save mode is great, and is virtually instantaneously on when the LCD screen is opened. One warning about AVC in general, if you don't have a fast computer, it will grind it to a halt. I have a quad-core with 4 gig RAM and editing is fine, but I wouldn't want to use an old computer. Sony Vegas works great with the files. Wish the camcorder automatically saved to the SDHC card when the internal storage was full. Otherwise, this is the best thought out camcorder since my DVX-100.

2. The Canon HF100 is the same as the Canon HF10, except it has no internal memory (the HF10 has 16GB) and the HF100 is $200 cheaper. For $75 I can buy a 16GB SDHC card which works great with the camera;... you do the math.. ~ three 16GB cards for the same price has the HF10 which only has 16GB of memory (but can take external cards also)
Records video at Standard Definition (SD), 720p and 1080p (also takes still shots) This is a must for those that have upgraded to an HD TV and want to watch their home movies in HD.

Transcend 16 GB SDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card with Card Reader

With most point and shoot digital cameras quickly climbing the megapixel ladder, 6,8, and even 10 megapixel ratings are beginning to be commonplace. With Transcend SDHC cards, you can keep up with the larger files these high resolution cameras produce. With 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB capacities, you can store more photos without having to delete old photos on the card before you have the chance to save them to a PC or print them out.
Basic SD cards transfer data up to six times (6x) the data rate of the standard CD-ROM speed (900 kB/s). Transcend SDHC class 6 cards offer a minimum of 6 MB/s write speeds under the most demanding storage conditions. Some cameras require a high speed card to be able to record video smoothly or capture multiple still photographs in rapid succession. Check your device for maximum compatibility for your intended usage patterns.

Transcend 16 GB SDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card with Card Reader

Technical Details

* Protected with a Lifetime Warranty
* Ultra Performance "Class 6" speed
* Capture images faster than a standard SD card
* Includes convenient storage/carry case1
* Write protect switch to prevent accidental image erasure

Customer feedback:

1. I purchased the 16GB version (Transcend 16GB SDHC CARD with Compact Card Reader) of this package a few months ago. The card was meant to be used in my Canon S5 camera. But I soon discovered that it works extremely well with the included card reader as an USB flash drive (much larger and faster than my SanDisk 4GB Cruzer Micro). So I ended up using it mainly for data backup and transfer between my laptop and desktop computers. The card has proven to be fast and reliable in the past 2-3 months of daily usage.
As first I was skeptical about Transcend's speed rating of 'class 6', which means minimum 6MB/S when writing. But my own benchmark results (see Customer Images) showed that this card is capable of writing typical photo files at 10.5MB/S - nearly twice its specified minimum data transfer rate. Just for reference, the Sandisk 8GB EXTREME III claims a faster speed of 20MB/S, but it costs about twice as much.

2. I've been recording video with a Panasonic HDC-SD9 camcorder at the highest resolution 1920x1080 @ 60i, thats 60 interlaced frames per second, I really expected this flash card to give me problems because of the low price, but to its credit I've been able to record approx. 2 hours of nonstop video with no hicups. Very solid product, I currently own two of them.

Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote

The Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote was engineered to serve as your integrated control center for the entire Xbox 360 experience. Enter a new world of digital entertainment with the touch of a single button. Play DVD movies and music, plus control your TV and your Media Center PC with one controller. The centralized, glowing Xbox Guide Button gives you quick access to your digital movies, music, and games library, and backlit buttons make the keypad easy to see in a darkened home theater. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Windows XP Media Center Edition Button and Media Center Edition functionality are featured A, B, X, and Y buttons are included for basic control of your Xbox 360 system, even without a controller Numbered and backlight keypad gives you full functionality, even in the dark.

Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote

Product Features

* Power your Xbox 360 system on or off without leaving the couch
* The Xbox Guide Button allows for easy navigation of the Xbox Gamer Guide
* Includes control buttons for your music, pictures, and more
* The Xbox 360 supports progressive-scan for DVD playback functionality, including a control for opening and closing the tray
* The remote supports universal TV and console functionality, including volume and mute buttons and up-and-down channel changing

Customer feedback:

A) This remote is PERFECT if...

1. You would like one, easy-to-use remote to control both basic TV and an Xbox 360 that doubles as your DVD player.
2. The only buttons you would need for the TV are: Channels, Volume (TV speaker/output control only), Numerical channel input, Muting, *INTPUT SELECTION* (yes, it CAN switch between your TV's inputs), Return (to toggle between 2 TV channels), and Power.
3. You do not need specialized/advanced buttons found on a OEM remote or advanced learning remote for the TV.
4. You do not need to control a A/V receiver, DVD player (other than XBOX 360), or a digital cable box (Tivo, DVR, etc.)
5. You are on a budget but would still like a quality remote.

If you can say yes to all or most, then don't hesitate to grab one of these remotes. You will be completely satisfied. Especially with immediate access to the tactile DVD buttons versus the 360's annoying on-screen DVD navigation.

B) If you use your XBox 360 to watch DVDs, I definitely recommend taking look at this remote. It makes moving through your DVD easy and "normal". Yes, you can use the standard controller to access the DVD menu items - but it's a royal pain to move through the various menus and sub-menus to get to some of the items. Also, it's not very intuitive for non gamers to page through to the items.
In comparison, this controller is incredible easy. it looks like and acts like any other TV remove. You have the standard buttons that everybody knows how to use - play, pause, fast forward, rewind. If someone walks into the room, you don't have to page through a menu quickly - you just hit the pause button. The controller is a nice size, too - large, easy to use buttons.

Xbox 360 Memory Unit 512MB

Product Features

* Transport your Memory Unit in the portable carrying case that fits on your keychain
* Requires no setup - Just plug it in, and you can save your favorite games
* Xbox 360 holds up to two Memory Units, so you can easily Upgrade to more Storage space



Xbox 360 Memory Unit 512MB

Customer feedback:

1. I purchased this memory card to move my profile and saved games from one Xbox 360 to a newer one, and it worked perfectly. The process of copying data from the hard drive to the memory card is simple and fast, and I may keep the card as a backup in case something happens to our new Xbox in the future. If you need a way to backup your save games, or if you are buying a newer machine and want to transfer your data, this is the best way to go, and I do recommend buying one for that purpose.

2. Vital for backing up profiles and important game saves. Very stable and much more convinient and portable than the harddrive.
Plus++ mine came with a free copy of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved installed on it! It wasn't advertised as such on Amazon, but is was indicated on the packaging when i got it. The game is a tremendous amount of fun with a whole lot of replayability. Definitley a pleasant surprise!

Xbox 360 Charge Base

Conveniently store and charge two Xbox 360 Wireless Controllers with Nyko¿s Charge Base 360. The Charge Base 360 comes with two custom NiMH rechargeable batteries that feature special contact points allowing for an easy drop-in and charge power solution for your wireless controllers. The dual port recharging dock is AC powered, and plugs into any standard outlet, requiring no cables back to the 360 console. Each rechargeable battery powers the wireless controller for up to 25 hours, and charges a single battery in 2 hours, or both batteries simultaneously in 4. The Charge Base 360 is the ideal charging solution for all Xbox 360 owners.

Xbox 360 Charge Base

Product Features

* Drop-in design allows for easy and rapid recharging of wireless controllers
* 2 custom NiMH rechargeable batteries supply up to 25 hours of play time
* Rapid recharge base stores two wireless controllers
* Plugs into any wall outlet for a faster charge than USB
* LED charge indicator lights. Design matches the d├ęcor of the Xbox 360 console and controllers.

Customer feedback:

1. I waited to write this review until I had used the product for two weeks. I had planned to order a different charging unit till I saw this one. Prviously I had used a microsoft charger, but I was unhappy with its performance and the constant swapping of batteries. So far I am in love with this unit. Sure, the battery must be attached to the charger, you can't have the headphones plugged in and the lights are bright, but the super quick cgarging time and convenience make it worth it! So far the batteries have lasted through even my longest HALO 3 sessions. I liked it so much I immediately bought another for my buddy and he reports zero issues with his as well.

2. I really enjoy this charge base.

Pros:
-You don't have to take the batteries out, obviously.
-LED's provide notification for charging / charged. Eventually turn off when charged.
-Provides a stable home for your controllers so they're not sitting all over the room.

Con's:
-As discussed, you can't charge the controllers with the microphone attached. This is HARDLY a con. Just unplug the microphone. You have to take into consideration that if this unit was designed to keep the microphones attached to the controllers it would probably be an overall larger unit.

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

The Xbox 360 Black Wireless Controller gives you 30 feet of room to play your favorite games. You'll get up to 40 hours of gameplay from two standard AA batteries -- or connect a Play & Charge cable for uninterrupted play. Plug the Xbox 360 Headset into the controller for full duplex voice communication - a wireless first. With quick access to Xbox 360 features including DVDs, music, pictures, and more, along with the ability to support four wireless controllers simultaneously, gamers can experience wireless freedom, precision, high quality, and performance for endless gameplay. Vibration Control with On/Off settings Xbox Guide Button gives you quick access to all your favorite Xbox 360 system activities

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

Product Features
Color: Black

* 30-foot wireless range
* Integrated 2.4GHz high-performance wireless technology
* Ergonomic design enables maximum comfort and endless gameplay
* Left and right shoulder buttons
* Two Analog pressure-point triggers, two vibration feedback motors, eight-way directional pad are included

Customer feedback:

1. If you've got an XBox 360, you really need to get your hand on one or two wireless controllers. These controllers are GREAT for keeping your gaming area free of clutter. To start with, the controller is much smaller than the standard XBox controller was. For control items, you start with the standard blue X, yellow Y, red B and green A buttons. There are two thumbsticks, one on the upper left and one in the center right. There is also a directional (d-pad) in the lower left.
Next, you have a pair of shoulder buttons at the "top" of the unit, up above the other buttons. You also have a pair of triggers below those shoulder buttons. Finally, you have a center X button that can be used to turn the console on and off, plus a "start" and "back" tiny white buttons on either side of it.

2. Ok, so this is basically just the white controller painted black. To be honest, the white controllers don't look too bad, its the white console that looks terrible. But that is my opinion. On to the facts. The black controller is almost exactly the same, but part of the grip is more "matte" than the white one. The white controller always makes me sweat for some reason because it is too smooth. These look great however. The colors are well matched even though it may not look like it in the pictures. I'd definitely recommend picking these up if you have an elite, or if you have core/premium and you want the black ones so the grime doesn't show as much, I'd highly recommend these.

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter

Designed for versatility and ease, the Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter enhances your Xbox 360 experience in the digital home, seamlessly synchronizing with the Xbox 360 system. You can easily transfer videos and music to your Xbox 360 system from your Media Center PC, chat with your friends, play games via Xbox Live, and more all without the clutter of wires.

Product Features

* Highly versatile and supports 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a
* Powered seamlessly by your Xbox 360 gaming console, so there's no external power adapter to plug in
* You can transfer high-definition video and CD-quality music from your Media Center PC to your Xbox 360 via 802.11a wireless media support

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter

Customer feedback:

1. To install, you simply insert the USB plug into the USB port on the backside of the Xbox 360. This Network adapter snaps into place so it never moves and the cable is just long enough preventing clutter. A very intelligent design. Software set up was a breeze. In my situation, it was automatic after a few menu selections. I did have a concern that there would be a problem because I am using an Apple Airport. But, no problems at all.
Also, the range I receive is better than what others have mentioned here. I live in a two story house. My Airport (wireless hub) is located on the east side of the second floor, in a book case next to the outer wall. My Xbox 360 is located in an outer corner of the den on the first floor on the west side of the house. Basically, the signal is going from upstairs to downstairs and from one side of the house to the other. I was actually surprised that it worked without me having to rearrange either room.

2. I was using a basic Linksys wireless game adapter with my 360, and it worked fine. However, it needed to be connected to a PC for firmware updates (making it impossible for Mac users), and was generally more difficult to set up than the "official" adapter from Microsoft.
I ended up getting this adapter on sale, and setting it up was a snap. It gets decent throughput, and saves some energy over an external adapter, because it only uses power when you have the Xbox 360 on. It was also nice to see that this supports WPA networks. If your time is valuable to you, this is probably worth the extra few dollars over similar products. You just snap it on, enter your network's password, and you're off.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit

With the Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit, you can recharge in a flash and kiss disposable batteries goodbye. Your Xbox 360 Wireless Controller needs a new battery? Swap in a fresh pack from the Quick Charge Kit. Multiple wireless controllers? Pick up a couple of extras, so you'll always be ready with a fully charged battery that's ready to go. Quickly recharge up to two battery packs at the same time.

Product Features

* A cleaner charging solution - no wires to plug into your console
* Charge one battery pack in less than two hours -- or two packs in less than four hours
* Battery offers up to 25 hours of play per charge
* Always ready and easily accessible - no need to stow it after each use
* One rechargeable battery pack is included in the Quick Charge Kit; additional packs sold separately

Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit

Customer feedback:

1. I bought the Play and Charge kit (which converts your wireless controller into a wired one while the battery is being charged up) when the X360 launched last year. It does the job, but it takes way too long to recharge the batteries and, while it gave the appearance of charging the batteries while the X360 was in standby mode, that didn't seem to speed the process up all that much. So, I was hyped when I saw that the Quick Charge kit was coming out and I'm glad I picked one up.
Not only can the Quick Charge kit charge up more than one battery at a time, it charges the batteries (at least ) 10 x's faster than the Play and Charge kit. I've had this kit for two weeks now and I can confirm that it does charge up a spent X360 controller battery in about 2 hours and two in about four. Most of mine have charged fast than those times, but I've never let one of the batteries totally die before switching it out (the ring of light flashing that the current battery is dying drives me nuts). The Quick Charge kit comes with one rechargeable battery, so be sure to pick up an extra if you don't already have one. With at least one extra charged battery @ all times, you should be set.

2. This is an excellent option for people who own the wireless controllers. It will save you money over time. The wireless controller of the XB360 can go through a set (2) of AA batteries in about two week's time, if you play heavily. This is a well-designed and attractive product. The color of the unit matches the color of the 360 perfectly. It is an excellent addition to your collection of accessories for your 360. I bought one of these units and tested it. It worked as advertised. The performance of the battery pack is better than a set of rechargeable NiMH (1600 mAH) from Rayovac. However, the battery pack did not perform as well as a set of Energizer Alkalines. The Alkalines lasted slightly longer than the Microsoft battery pack.

Xbox 360 Console

Xbox 360 sets a new pace for digital entertainment. More than just a cutting-edge game system, Xbox 360 also integrates high-definition video, DVD movie playback, digital music, photos, and online connectivity into one sleek, small tower.
Xbox 360 is much smaller than its predecessor--it measures approximately 3.3 by 12.2 by 10.2 inches and weighs 7.7 lbs. It's powered by custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU with three symmetrical cores each running at 3.2 GHz. It also carries a custom ATI graphics processor 10 MB of embedded DRAM. This is powerful enough to draw 500 million triangles per second. In other words, it makes for great looking games in standard TV definition, and even better thanks to built-in support for HDTV 1080i televisions. It also supports the widescreen 16:9 format.
The unit has a 12x dual-layer DVD-ROM drive, which plays both the game media and progressive-scan DVD movies right out of the box. For game-save and media storage this console package includes a 120GB hard drive. Along with storing files, the hard drive will make the Xbox 360 backward-compatible with part of the existing Xbox game library.

Xbox 360 Console

Product Features
Edition: Elite 120GB w/ Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones

* Premium black finish
* 120GB hard drive
* Sleek black finish wireless controller
* HDMI lets you get HD video (up to 1080p)
* Includes 2 games - LEGO Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda

Customer feedback:

1. For me, new owner, the first thing was the large 120gb HDD. I'm a moderately hardcore gamer, and don't want to have to think twice about space left on my hard drive. However, now there is the 60gb version which should be great for most people. But if you look at the price of the 120gb HDD alone ($150), the Elite is a much better deal.
The HDMI output was the second major deciding factor for me as I wanted the best possible picture from my games and movies. Plus my TV has more HDMI ports than component cable connections.
Also, right now the Xbox Live network is by far the strongest online gaming network. The others might and probably will catch up in the future, but right now Xbox live is the top online gaming network. So being able to play online with family and friends right now was important. Not many people have a PS3, which means that A: play games offline, or online by yourself; or B: make new online friends in a small gaming network. I chose the Xbox.

2. Overall, the system is great--they did much better this time around when compared to the original Xbox. There are tons of great games, and you can download all kinds of demos, stream Netflix movies, and harass your friends online. I do have a few qualms though, which are mostly related to the greediness that I perceive Microsoft to have. I was really excited about the fact that the Wii had a built in wireless networking card (though the online options for that system are scant at best). Nonetheless, I thought that it was a great move, particularly having grown up in the time of the original Nintendo that came packaged with a few controllers, a light gun, the system, all of the necessary cables and a couple of games. That was awesome, just to be able to get the basic package and have an awesome time with it out of the box without having to drop a few hundred dollars more. While this bundle aimed to do this to a degree, it fell short in a few other ways: I had to drop $90 on a wireless network adapter, another $36 on a second controller, $40 on an Xbox Live membership, etc. Sure, I'm a big boy, and I make enough money to buy my own toys now, but I had to spend more than $150 beyond the cost of this bundle just to be able to play with friends (both locally and remotely).

The Rules of Eating Chocolate

§ If you've got melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too
slowly.

§ Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices & strawberries all
count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

§ The problem: How to get 2 pounds of chocolate home from the store in a
hot car The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

§ Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It'll take the edge off
your appetite and you'll eat less.

§ If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge.
Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to
protect themselves.

§ If I eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate, is that a
balanced diet? Don't they actually counteract each other?

§ Money talks. Chocolate sings.

§ Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

§ Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That
way, at least you'll get one thing done.

§ A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories
in one place. Isn't that handy?

§ If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if
you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?

Humour: You Know It's Time to Diet When..

* You dance and it makes the band skip.

* You are diagnosed with the flesh eating virus, and the doctor gives you 22
more years to live.

* You put mayonnaise on an aspirin.

* You go to the zoo and the elephants throw you peanuts.

* Your driver's license says, "Picture continued on other side."

* You ran away and they had to use all four sides of the milk carton for
your picture.

* You learn you were born with a silver shovel in your mouth.

* You could sell shade.

* Your blood type is Ragu.

* You need an appointment to attend an 'open house'.

Top 10 Beef Grilling Tips

Keep beef refrigerated. Grilling times are based on beef being taken directly from the refrigerator to the grill - not at room temperature. If you shape burgers in advance, cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Avoid flare-ups. Trim excess fat from meats to avoid flare-ups while grilling

Turn properly. Use long-handled tongs for turning steaks; spatulas for burgers. A fork will pierce the beef causing loss of flavorful juices.

Use a thermometer. The best way to determine doneness of steaks and burgers is to use an instant-read thermometer. It registers in seconds, but is not heat-resistant so it cannot be left in food while it cooks. Insert the thermometer horizontally into the center of steaks and burgers to check the internal temperature.

Know correct internal temperatures. Cook burgers to at least 160°F (medium doneness), until the centers are no longer pink and the juices show no pink color. Cook steaks to at least 145°F (medium rare doneness). Beef will be very pink in the center and slightly brown toward the exterior.

Check steaks visually. The doneness of steaks also can be determined visually by making a small cut near the center with a sharp knife and checking the color. For bone-in steaks, make a small cut near the bone.

Choose appropriate steaks and know when to marinate. If desired, tender beef steaks can be marinated for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours to add flavor. These include: Porterhouse/ T-Bone, top loin, tenderloin, rib-eye, rib, top sirloin, chuck eye and chuck top blade steaks as well as the new Beef Value Cuts - shoulder top blade (Flat Iron) and shoulder center (Ranch Steak). Less tender steaks should be marinated for at least 6 hours or as long as overnight in a mixture containing a food acid or tenderizing enzyme. These include: flank, skirt, top round and chuck shoulder steaks.

Marinating "musts." Always marinate in the refrigerator. If a marinade has been in contact with uncooked beef, it must be brought to a full rolling boil before it can be eaten as a sauce.

Practice food safety. Never take beef off the grill and return it to the same platter that held raw beef unless the platter has been washed in hot soapy water.

Humour: 101 Ways To Annoy People

1. Sing the Batman theme incessantly.

2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sensual massage."

3. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

4. Learn Morse code, and have conversations with friends in public consisting entirely of "Beeeep Bip Bip Beeep Bip..."

5. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

6. Amuse yourself for endless hours by hooking a camcorder to your TV and then pointing it at the screen. <

7. Speak only in a "robot" voice.

8. Push all the flat Lego pieces together tightly.

9. Start each meal by conspicuously licking all your food, and announce that this is so no one will "swipe your grub".

10. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 98 copies.

11. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.

12. Sniffle incessantly.

13. Leave your turn signal on for fifty miles.

14. Name your dog "Dog." 15. Insist on keeping your car windshield
wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."

16. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what YOU think."

17. Claim that you must always wear a bicycle helmet as part of your "astronaut training."

18. Declare your apartment an independent nation, and sue your neighbors upstairs for "violating your airspace".

19. Forget the punchline to a long joke, but assure the listener it was a "real hoot."

20. Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with Lysol.

21. Practice making fax and modem noises.

22. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc:" them to your boss.

23. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.

24. Invent nonsense computer jargon in conversations, and see if people play along to avoid the appearance of ignorance.

25. Erect an elaborate network of ropes in your backyard, and tell the neighbors you are a "spider person."

26. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with the prophesy."

27. Wear a special hip holster for your

remote control.

28. Do not add any inflection to the end of your sentences, producing
awkward silences with the impression that you'll be saying more any
moment.

29. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

30. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.

31. Give a play-by-play account of a persons every action in a nasal Howard Cosell voice.

32. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.

33. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."

34. Drum on every available surface.

35. Staple papers in the middle of the page.

36. Ask 1-800 operators for dates.

37. Produce a rental video consisting entirely of dire FBI copyright warnings.

38. Sew anti-theft detector strips

into peoples backpacks.

39. Hide dairy products in inaccessible places.

40. Write the surprise ending to a novel on its first page.

41. Set alarms for random times.

42. Order a side of pork rinds with your filet mignon.

43. Instead of Gallo, serve Night Train next Thanksgiving.

44. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a "croaking" noise.

45. Honk and wave to strangers.

46. Dress only in clothes colored Hunters Orange.

47. Change channels five minutes before the end of every show.

48. Tape pieces of "Sweating to the Oldies" over climactic parts of rental movies.

49. Wear your pants backwards.

50. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints by the cash register.

51. Begin all your sentences with "ooh la la!"

52. ONLY TYPE IN UPPERCASE.

53. only type in lowercase.

54. dont use any punctuation either

55. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.

56. Pay for your dinner with pennies.

57. Tie jingle bells to all your clothes.

58. Repeat everything someone says, as a question.

59. Write "X - BURIED TREASURE" in random spots on all of someone's roadmaps.

60. Inform everyone you meet of your personal Kennedy assassination/UFO/ O.J Simpson conspiracy theories.

61. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, its gone now."

62. Light road flares on a birthday cake.

63. Wander around a restaurant, asking other diners for their parsley.

64. Leave tips in Bolivian currency.

65. Demand that everyone address you as "Conquistador."

66. At the laundromat, use one dryer for each of your socks.

67. When Christmas caroling, sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" until physically restrained.

68. Wear a cape that says "Magnificent One."

69. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.

70. Stand over someone's shoulder, mumbling, as they read.

71. Pretend your computer's mouse is a CB radio, and talk to it.

72. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of
your chin. When nearly done, announce "no, wait, I messed it up," and
repeat.

73. Drive half a block.

74. Inform others that they exist only in your imagination.

75. Ask people what gender they are.

76. Lick the filling out of all the Oreos, and place the cookie parts back.

77. Cultivate a Norwegian accent. If Norwegian, affect a Southern drawl.

78. Routinely handcuff yourself to furniture, informing the curious
that you don't want to fall off "in case the big one comes".

79. Deliberately hum songs that will remain lodged in co-workers
brains, such as "Feliz Navidad", the Archies "Sugar" or the Mr. Rogers
theme song.

80. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head. like a parakeet.

81. Lie obviously about trivial things such as the time of day.

82. Leave your Christmas lights up and lit until September.

83. Change your name to "AaJohn Aaaaasmith" for the great glory of
being first in the phone book. Claim it's a Hawaiian name, and demand
that people pronounce each "a."

84. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

85. Chew on pens that you've borrowed.

86. Wear a LOT of cologne.

87. Listen to 33rpm records at 45rpm speed, and claim the faster speed
is necessary because of your "superior mental processing."

88. Sing along at the opera.

89. Mow your lawn with scissors.

90. At a golf tournament, chant "swing-batabatabata-suhWING-batter!"

91. Ask the waitress for an extra seat for your "imaginary friend."

92. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.

93. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions, and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something

about "psychological profiles."

94. Stare at static on the TV and claim you can see a "magic picture."

95. Select the same song on the jukebox fifty times.

96. Never make eye contact.

97. Never break eye contact.

98. Construct elaborate "crop circles" in your front lawn.

99. Construct your own pretend "tricorder," and "scan" people with it, announcing the results.

100. Make appointments for the 31st of September.

101. Invite lots of people to other people's parties.

Humour: Songs from the Hospital "Hit Parade"

* I'll be Sewing You.

* Red Cells in the Sunset.

* It's Spleen a Long, Long Time.

* It Had to Be Flu.

* On the Bonny Banks of Glaucoma.

* Gonna Take a Sentimental Gurney.

* The Staphs and Streps Forever.

* Old Man's Liver.

* I've Grown Accustomed to Her Brace.

* The Girl from Emphysema.

* MRI Blue?

* My Melancolicky Baby.

* From Here to Maternity.

Joke: HUSBAND'S INFIDELITY

Your Honor," she told the judge, "I want a divorce. My husband has been cheating on me.

"That is a serious accusation," the judge said. "Do you have any evidence to substantiate this claim of your husband's infidelity?"

"Yes, Your Honor. Just last night I was walking down Broadway when I saw him go into a movie with another woman."

"Who was this other woman?" the judge asked.

"I don't know. I never saw her before."

"Then why didn't you follow them into the theatre and find out who she was. It may have been just a harmless coincidence. You should have gone in after them."

"I would have," she explained, "but the fellow I was with had already seen the picture."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hormone Replacement Therapy reduces risk of colon cancer

Hormone Replacement Therapy was a preferred solution for relieving some of the pressures of menopause in women such as hot flashes and insomnia, until a study came out in 2002 that revealed that HRT can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer. These findings complicated the solution of doing the therapy, and led to a dramatic reduction in its use. Now a new study complicates this even further, since it claims that statistical studies show that women taking the therapy (which involves the use of estrogen) can reduce their risk of colon cancer (link to article):


The studies presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research further complicate the debate about HRT, used to relieve the effects of menopause
including hot flashes and insomnia. "Women who did use these drugs had a 28 percent lower incidence rate than women who did not use these drugs," Limsui said in a statement. "But we still don't know how estrogen compounds work in cancer prevention, which is intriguing."
Women who used hormone-based contraceptive pills, for instance, did not have any different risk of colon cancer. "Based on our findings, we need to continue exploring the cancer pathways that might be affected by these hormones," Limsui said. A second study presented at the same meeting also showed HRT might protect against colon cancer, which is diagnosed in 54,000 US women a year and which kills 25,000 -- making it the third-leading cancer killer of women behind lung cancer and breast cancer.


This is a very interesting piece of research, and would need much more analysis to validate, since it would complicate the issues around HRT.

Research: Strangely, fruits and vegetables increases chances of colon cancer in smokers

A diet heavy in fruits and vegetables has always been recommended. Fruits and vegetables, if increased as a proportion of overall diet, is always helpful. Consumption of fruits and vegetables replaces other unhealthy items in the overall diet such as fried items or junk food. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is also useful in the fight against cancer. However, surprisingly, there is one category where an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables actually increases the risk of colon cancer, among smokers (link to article):


A high intake of fruit and vegetables appeared to reduce the risk among non-smokers but seemed to have the reverse effect on smokers, findings by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) showed. “People who eat 600 grammes or more vegetables and fruit a day appear to have a 20 to 25% lower chance of developing colon cancer than people who eat 220 grammes or less,” said the statement.
“For smokers, the consumption of vegetables and fruit appears, on the contrary, to increase the chances of colon cancer. Protection against colon cancer through the consumption of vegetables and fruit therefore appears to depend on smoking habits.” Colon cancer is the second-most common form of the disease in the Netherlands, after breast cancer, with 11,000 new cases diagnosed every year.


This was a surprising piece of information, and the conclusions from such a study is not reduce the consumption of fruits or vegetables, but to stop smoking.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cancer research: How to predict lung cancer in smokers

It is a known fact that smoking increases the chance of getting lung cancer, but this is a probability; the exact relation between a person's smoking and getting lung cancer is not known. A person who smokes often and heavily is more likely to get lung cancer (known fact), but the probability of getting lung cancer for a person who smokes 2 packs per day vs. a person who smokes 1 pack a day is not known. There is current research ongoing about how to actually identify the chance of a specific person (smoker) developing lung cancer. This article (link) talks about the research ongoing about whether a specific chemical in the urine of a smoker is a good predictor of whether a person is likely to develop lung cancer:


"A history of smoking has always been thought of as a predictor of lung cancer, but it is actually not very accurate. Smoking absolutely increases your risk, but why it does so in some people but not others is a big question," said Jian-Min Yuan, Ph.D., M.D., associate professor of public health at the University of Minnesota. NNAL has been shown to induce lung cancer in laboratory animals, but the effect in humans had not yet been examined.
Patients with a mid-range level of NNAL had a 43 percent increased risk of lung cancer, as compared to those with the lowest levels. On the other hand, those at the highest level had a more than two-fold increased risk of lung cancer after taking into account the effect of number of cigarettes per day, number of years of smoking, and urinary levels of cotinine on lung cancer risk. Besides, the researchers found that those with the highest levels of nicotine and NNAL had an 8.5-fold increase in the risk of lung cancer compared with smokers who had the lowest levels after accounting for smoking history.


Such research is very important, since it will help in determining lung cancer at an early stage among smokers, and maybe help in reducing the number of casualties and cancer afflicted people. Detecting cancers early is an important step in being able to successfully treat this disease.

Cancer: Body fitness plays an important factor

With recent research, there is a hunt for evaluating the genetic basis for a lot of cancers, and increasingly, researchers are finding that hereditary factors do play a role in the risk factors for cancer - as an example, women with a history of breast cancer in their family have an enhanced risk of developing breast cancer, and need to sign up for periodic scans and evaluations to determine that they are free of breast cancer. However, as this reasearch has developed, it has lead to a somewhat greater thought that eventually genetics is one of the most eminent reasons for developing cancer. To rebut this, experts are stating that in fact, genetics is much less important as a risk factor for causing cancer as compared to some other factors such as lack of exercise and body weight (link to article):


Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for the World cancer Research Fund (WCRF) dispelled the myth insisting lack of exercise and being overweight - causes three times as many cases of cancer as genetics. According to her, 39 per cent of the most common cancers, including breast and bowel, could be prevented through a good diet, exercising and keeping weight under control. "It’s important to dispel the myth that cancer is just down to genes," the Telegraph quoted Thompson as saying.
"It could possibly be even more than this, if only five per cent of cancers are as a result of our genes, then an unhealthy diet and lifestyle could cause eight times more cancer cases. "If people do have a family history, then this is important information for them personally, but overall this inherited genetic predisposition is uncommon. "Specific genes for breast and bowel cancer have been identified, but these are rare and account for a very small percentage of cancer cases, whereas more than a third of the most common cancers could be prevented by following a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight," she added.


This is a pretty clear statement; we all know that exercise and weight reduction are important factors to achieve a better health and reduce illnesses such as blood pressure, heart ailments and diabetes; one should also consider that the probability of cancer prevention is another benefit.

Research: Using a herbal extract to fight pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a dangerous form of cancer (details: Malignancy of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause symptoms. If the tumor blocks the common bile duct and bile cannot pass into the digestive system, the skin and whites of the eyes may become yellow (jaundiced), and the urine darker as a result of accumulated bile pigment called bilirubin).
Cancer of the pancreas has markedly increased in incidence over the decades and now ranks as the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the US. Despite the high mortality rate associated with pancreatic cancer, its causation is poorly understood. Smoking is known to be a major risk factor. Cigarette smokers develop cancer of the pancreas two to three times more often than do nonsmokers. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer. Cancer of the pancreas is rarely curable. The overall survival rate is less than 4%.
Hence, research that delves into how to find cures for pancreatic cancers is very imporatant; and finding of naturally occurring or laboratory created compounds that could help in the cure is very important. Here is some information about a promising herb that could help in stopping the development of pancreatic cancer (link to article):


Thymoquinone, the major constituent of the oil extract from a middle-eastern herbal seed called Nigella sativa, reduced the release of inflammatory mediators in pancreatic cancer cells, according to Hwyda Arafat, associate professor of surgery, Jefferson Medical College (JMC).
Nigella sativa seeds and oil are used in traditional medicine in the Middle East and in other parts of Asia, for treating some immunity and inflammatory disorders, Arafat said. Previous studies have also shown it to have anti-cancer effects on prostate and colon cancers, said a Jefferson release.


Any development in the fight against pancreatic cancer is very useful, and if this herb does turn out to be an important tool in the effort, then this development would be a watershed. Giving hopes to the family of those who are suffering from pancreatic cancer is also equally important.

Research: Burnt meat and link with pancreatic cancer

Eating well done meat, done on a barbecue or a grill or deep friend, is an essential part of the eating habits of many cultures, and can be very tasty. The whole experience of sitting with friends and family and enjoying food off a barbecue or a grill is important to the image of an American suburban family, and well embellished through movies and popular culture. However, research has emerged that links the dangerous pancreatic form of cancer to the practise of almost burning food while cooking it (baking or forming it in a stew does not have the same reaction). Link to article:


According to Kristin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the finding is linked to consumption of well and very well done meats cooked by frying, grilling or barbecuing. Cooking in this way can form carcinogens, which do not form when meat is baked or stewed. Over the course of nine years, researchers identified 208 cases of pancreatic cancer. Preferences for high temperature cooked meat were generally linked with an increased risk; subjects who preferred very well done steak were almost 60 percent as likely to get pancreatic cancer as compared to those who ate steak less well done or did not eat steak.
"However, those who enjoy either fried or barbecued meat should consider turning down the heat or cutting off burned portions when it's finished; cook meat sufficiently to kill bacteria without excess charring. In addition, the precursors of cancer-causing compounds can be reduced by microwaving the meat for a few minutes and pouring off the juices before cooking it on the grill,” the expert added.


As like other research, the research does not conclusively link these methods of cooking to getting pancreatic cancer, however, there is no harm in slightly modifying the cooking habits in order to decrease the risk.

Study: Walnuts reduce the risk of cancer

Walnuts are supposed to be among the safer nuts to eat. They are suppose to contain Omega-3 fatty acids, supposed to be good for cholestoral, and for the heart. This is of course in comparison to the other type of nuts that are generally more sought after, such as salted peanuts, salted almonds, pistachios, and a few others. Well, here is a study that links the consumption of walnuts to a reduced risk of contracting breast cancer. Keep in mind that the study was done on laboratory animals, and not on humans, in general, walnuts are better as a quick snack rather than eating fatty or fried stuff (and if the cancer stuff works out to be true, what is the harm?). Link to article:


"We know that a healthy diet overall prevents all manner of chronic diseases,” the expert added. To reach the conclusion, researchers studied mice that were fed a diet that they estimated was the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day. A separate group of mice were fed a control diet. Standard testing showed that walnut consumption significantly decreased breast tumor incidence, the number of glands with a tumor and tumor size.
Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids
contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well.


To have absolutely proof, one would need to wait for more research in this area; however for women who would like to take the chance on reducing their risk levels for breast cancer, there is nothing wrong in making a small amount of walnuts as a part of a regular diet.

Joke: HIGH FAT DIETS

A Doctor was addressing a large audience in Tampa. "The material
we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting
here, years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach
lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High fat diets can be
disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the
germs in our drinking water."

"But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all, and we
all have eaten, or will eat. Would anyone care to guess what food
causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?"

After several seconds of quiet, a small 75-year-old Jewish man in the front row, raised his hand and said, "Vedding Cake?"

Adult Joke: FETISH

A young man is being pursued by a young admiring woman. Eventually,he has no choice but to grant her a private audience.

Relentlessly she asks him for a quickie in the sack though he
tried hard to refuse her. Finally giving in to her demands for carnal
knowledge, he says "Ok, but there is one condition: I have a particular
fetish that you must perform in order to sleep with me."

"I'll do anything for you" replies the succubus. "Just name it."

So the man says to the woman, "You know ... I really enjoy it when
there's a sort of lightning effect. So you must reach over to that
switch on the wall and flick it on and off every few seconds."

The woman agrees and starts flicking the light switch off with her left arm. She then asks "Now can I fuck you?"

"Not quite yet" replies the man. "Lightning is nice, but it
doesn't really mean much without thunder. So with your right leg, I
want you to open and close the cabinet door whenever you flick the
light on."

"Ok" says the horny young maid, and she begins to coordinate her
flicks and clacks. "Now can I fuck you?" she asks as she is switching
between arm and leg movements.

"Not quite yet" replies the man. "This is all very nice, but there
can't really be thunder and lightning without wind. I'd like you to
reach behind your head with your right hand and open and shut the
windows."

She says "Ok" and begins opening the shutter and closing it with
her right hand. And of course, it's raining and some drops are coming
in the window.

So there she is, making lightning with her left hand, creating
thunder with her right leg, and using her right hand to make wind and
rain. Desperate and beyond understanding of his fetish, the young woman
finally begs him "NOW can we fuck? PLEASE?!"

And the young man looks at her shocked and says, "What do you mean 'have sex'? In this weather?"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Setting proper diet goals and eating desired foods

For a diabetic, it is very important to keep a track of the food items a person consumes. Due to the inability of the body to process glucose properly, glucose levels in the blood stream can go up rapidly if the wrong sorts of food are eaten. It is recommended to prepare a proper food chart, and be sure about the food one is eating. It is somewhat uncomfortable for those people who have a sweet tooth, or like to eat junk food, but there is no getting around the problem; diabetes commands that a person learn to control their food intake as well as the type of food they are eating. It is equally important to make sure that a proper exercise regime is maintained, and weight levels are controlled, since obesity tends to decrease the metabolic count as well as reduce the glucose processing. Here is an article that presents details and is well worth reading (link to article):


Marriages are often used as excuses to laze around, skip exercise routines, party and enjoy. While most of us are lucky enough to get away with it, for a diabetic, diet and exercise go hand in hand. If you are one, make sure you prepare a ‘to-do’ list and follow it. Remember that you must have a diet that has a good balance of nutrition and taste.
About 15 to 20 per cent of calorie intake should come from protein.
Roughly 15 to 20 per cent of calorie intake should also come from fat.
About 60 to 70 per cent of your calorie intake should be in the form of carbohydrates. Include more of complex carbohydrates than simple ones as they breakdown more slowly to release glucose.
Decrease fat in the diet. Roast, bake or broil instead of frying. Trim the fat off meat and the skin off poultry, and avoid adding fat while cooking.
Increase fibre in your meals — including 40 gms of dietary fibre daily is beneficial.
Reduce sugar. Avoid adding sugar to beverages like tea, coffees, cereals etc.


There are many more tips in the article, and offer a lot of good suggestions that help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels down, and reduce the onset of other complications that come with diabetes. These are tips that are worth observing.

Research: Sleep and diabetes

There are a number of factors that are risk factors for getting diabetes (specially the Type 2 variety). These include factors such as the diet, hereditary factors, the amount of exercise that a person gets, and a few others, but very few people would have expected that sleep would be one of the factors. A study has found that too much or too little sleep can affect whether a person developes Type 2 diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance (link to article):


The risk is 2½ times higher for people who sleep less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours a night, according to the study published in journal Sleep Medicine. To reach the conclusion, researchers analysed the life habits of 276 subjects over a 6-year period. They determined that over the timespan, approximately 20 percent of those with long and short sleep duration developed type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance versus only 7 percent among subjects who were average duration sleepers.
The researchers also point out that diabetes is not the only risk associated with sleep duration. A growing number of studies have shed light on a similar relationship between sleep and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality. The authors observe that among adults, between 7 and 8 hours of nighttime sleep appears to be the optimum duration to protect against common diseases and premature death.

Even though people know that getting atleast 7-8 hours of sleep is optimum, more and more people are getting much lower levels of sleep, not realizing that this fast pace of life is affecting their health.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hotel bans an entire town

People in the hospitality business see all kinds of guests - there are the quiet ones, there are the polite ones, there are the ones who can cause all kinds of trouble, and there are the ones who you really don't want at your place - they are not worth the kind of nuisance value that they cause. Most hotels shrug off, or maybe blacklist certain guests, but have you ever heard of a hotel having continuous bad experiences with guests from a certain town, and then consequently banning everybody from that town ? Well, read on (link to article):


A motel owner in New Zealand -- fed up with one too many incidents of rowdy behavior -- has banned an entire town from checking in as guests. Steve Donnelly, the owner of the Supreme Motor Lodge in the town of Palmerston North, said he decided to yank the welcome mat for the 16,000 residents of Wainuiomata because "each time they visited, our life became less exciting." "I'm not Santa Claus. I can't figure out who's naughty and who's nice," he said. "So we went ahead and banned all of them."
Donnelly said he banned the town after three groups of people from Wainuiomata checked in on separate occasions over a six-month period, riling other guests at the 51-room hotel. "We have moms and dads who come here with two or three kids to relax," he said. "They don't want some loudmouth spitting on the pavement, flirting with girls and swearing." The "no vacancy" extends to the members of parliament, as Wainuiomata lawmaker Trevor Mallard found out when he came to test the ban.


One does not know the law on this, but to blacklist an entire town, including people who may be law-abiding may not be something that could hold up in a court of law.

What police officers in Britain's do inside the royal palace

For those who were earlier shocked at the separation between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and some of the lurid tales of affairs and other such juicy stuff that was revealed over the years. However, the concept was still that the Palace was a serious place, and that everything over there would be formal, and maybe a bit boring. However, if you read about the antics of some of the police inside the Palace, you would find that things can get pretty interesting inside the palace (link to article):


Police officers responsible for protecting the British royal family handled firearms when drunk, traded pornography and steroids and sat on Queen Elizabeth II's throne in comical poses, it has been alleged in a London court. At one point Cooper "suggested" there had been a procedure among armed officers at the palace whereby one officer on duty would sleep while the others kept watch for their superior.
The court also heard that officers protecting the royals lost more than £250,000 ($365,800) to a spread betting venture called "The Currency Club," one of a number of apparently successful sidelines Page allegedly set up to clear spiraling debts, PA said. Cooper suggested that McGregor had been "one of those police officers" using mobile patrols to deliver cash to other police officers based in Royal Protection who were involved in financial matters.


The image of police and that of the palace has been totally serious in the past, but maybe no longer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recipe: TANYA'S TOMATO BISQUE

Ingredients

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, with juices

1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1 cup water

2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons sugar (start with this amount and add more if desired. The original recipe uses almost twice that much)

DIRECTIONS

Put all ingredients in a pot and whisk together. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Makes about 6 servings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Black & Decker VEC1093DBD Smart Battery 40/20/10/4 Amp Battery Charger

When your car battery goes dead, a jump-start is only a quick fix for the problem that may reoccur. The solution is to recharge the battery, using a product like the Black & Decker Smart Battery Charger. The Smart Battery Charger is fully automatic and electronic, with a Digital Smart microprocessor control and an LED indicator for selecting your charging rate. The three stage automatic rapid charging operates at 40 amps, 20 amps, 10 amps, and 4 amps, with an average 5 minute engine start time and 4.5 hour full battery charge.
It uses a 3-stage automatic high-frequency charging technology to build the battery back up to its normal output level, making it more efficient at charging than conventional model chargers. The Smart Battery Charger also has a spark-resistant reverse hook-up and overcharge protection circuit built into it to insure that the clamps are not accidentally affixed to the opposite terminals, which would damage the battery. The automatic float mode monitoring tells the unit when the battery is ready to avoid overcharging.

Black & Decker VEC1093DBD Smart Battery 40/20/10/4 Amp Battery Charger

Product Features

* Spark-resistant design for added safety
* Reverse hook-up warning alarm to prevent damage to vehicle or electronics
* Features easy connectivity for battery clips and ring terminals or vehicle DC plug
* Two year warranty
* Spark resistant reverse hook-up protection

Customer feedback:

1. Very impressed so far. Used it to recondition 2 batteries and charge up 2 others and it has worked flawlessly. Never impressed with Black and Decker tools but I think they got it right this time. Time will tell and I would have given it 5 stars if it holds up for a few years.

2. This battery charger is very versatile and powerful for its size. I am a mechanic and it is nice to have all the features of a full size battery charger in a unit that will fit in my toolbox. Looks big, but is fairly lightweight. Highly recommended.

Schumacher IPD-1800 Instant Power Jump-Starter with Docking Station

This instant power charger comes with a 12-volt, 18 amp-hour maintenance-free lead acid battery. It assures ample starting power for extreme conditions and has easy to read LEDs for battery charge status; red indicating low charge, yellow indicating medium charge, and green indicating full charge. It also includes a built-in halogen light for emergencies.


Product Features

* Portable, 12-volt instant power charger
* Built-in halogen light for emergency or work zone lighting
* 18 amp-hour maintenance-free lead acid battery
* Integrated docking station provides power to start the car or truck
* LED display indicates battery charge

Schumacher IPD-1800 Instant Power Jump-Starter with Docking Station

Customer feedback:

1. The reasons that I bought this charger is because it has a docking stations which can be used to charge and store the unit when not in use. After the charging is completed, the docking station will enter a "floating charge" mode to prevent overcharging. Some other charger need to be monitored carefully since overcharging can damage the battery. With this unit, I can just leave it and forget it... Also, this unit is small enough that my wife can use it to jumpstart her minivan. Some other multifunction charger are so heavy, you'd have to be a weightlifter to carry the thing.

2. I use this as an alternate 12V power source to power a 12V air compressor and it is a great product! It can power a Spot Light(15 watts/12V) for 12 hours. So it doesn't have a problem at all when I blow up tires, floats etc.

Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps

This fully automatic onboard battery charger is a 1.5-amp charger which plugs onto an electrical wall outlet. It has a 12-ft power cord, charges 12-volt batteries, and keeps larger batteries warm even under cold temperatures. This plug-in trickle charger has reverse polarity protection and can install next to the battery on automobiles, boats, tractors, golf carts, and other equipment. Appropriate hardware and mounting brackets are included with this battery charger.

Product Features

* 1.5-amp charger with 12-ft power cord
* Has reverse polarity protection
* Molded with plastic weather proof case
* Plugs into an electrical wall outlet
* Can install next to the battery on automobiles, boats, tractors, golf carts, and other equipment

Schumacher SE-1-12S Fully Automatic Onboard Battery Charger - 1.5 Amps

Customer feedback:

1. Works great to keep your battery topped off on cold winter nights, and for days of long storage. Instead of dragging out your conventional charger and cables, then putting everything away when finished! Just mount this small unit under your hood, plug in a small AC extension cord, and close the hood. (not affecting alarm operation). It can charge a dead battery (not recommended) but it can take 24 to 36 hours.

2. I installed this in one of my SUV's that is not driven for weeks at a time. The Schumacher unit keeps a perfect charge and does not overheat or dry out the battery. The clock, radio, and GPS settings are all preserved and the charger does not seem to draw much power when the battery is charged. I am very satisfied with the operation of the unit. The installation was a breeze with the included hardware and the instructions were clear and easy.

Toro Ultra 12 Amp Variable Speed Electric Blower/Vacuum With Metal Impeller

Powerful and effective, the Toro Ultra 3-in-1 Blower, Vacuum, and Leaf Shredder makes completing yard work fun and easy. With air speeds up to 235 mph, this electric blower nevertheless is lighter, quieter, and cleaner than similar gas blowers. And with a sleek, ergonomical design, it's a tool that is easy to use and will grab your neighbors' attention.
Tackle big clean-up jobs the right way with this powerful blower vac. A variable speed 12 Amp motor lets you select from an infinite variety of speeds between 112 mph and 235 mph. This means that you can use low speeds to clear off hard surfaces and clean up tight areas without making a mess and without sacrificing the blower's high-speed functionality.
A convenient quick-release latch lets you convert your blower into a vacuum in seconds without any tools, while a metal impeller makes it easy to mulch debris. The magnesium serrated metal blades on the impeller shred leaves and other unwanted debris into a fine mulch that you can use around your lawn and garden, saving money and recycling important nutrients. It also makes it easy to dispose of unwanted yard waste, since the impeller can reduce 16 bags’ worth of leaves to one bag.

Toro Ultra 12 Amp Variable Speed Electric Blower/Vacuum With Metal Impeller

Technical Details

* 12 Amp electric blower/vacuum provides power and versatility to tackle every clean-up chore
* Leaf shredder reduces 16 bags of leaves to 1 bag
* Rugged metal impeller and infinite variable speed motor
* Exclusive cord-lock system holds power cord firmly in place
* Powerful handheld blower delivers up to 235 mph of air flow

Customer feedback:

1. The Toro Ultra Blower and Vac does everything I need. Let's list the advantages. It is amazingly light and doesn't strain your back lugging its bulk plus a heavy bag of leaves around the way a gas powered model does - this is very important and not to be dismissed as you get up in years. It always starts when you turn the knob - you sure can't say that about gasoline powered garden equipment. It converts from a blower to a vac very quickly without needing a screwdriver and undue force - Toro obviously corrected this problem from the prior model. It is very quiet compared with gas models - your neighbors will appreciate this. It doesn't have a spark plug or an air filter that needs frequent attention. It doesn't get dirty, grimy, and oily from gasoline exhaust and leaky carburetors and tubing. You don't have to buy expensive gasoline and oil and be required to mix and find a place to store a separate highly inflammable gas/oil mixture. The Toro has a cast magnesium impeller that handles the occasional twig or stone quite handily. The leaf bag is well designed, it disconnects easily and is a snap to empty. The vac suction and air blast from the blower seems equivalent to the Echo.

2. This blower/vac is the best lawn tool I have ever purchased. To think I used to rake my leaves! I live in an established neighborhood with huge maples and oaks that produce large amounts of tree-litter and a small to moderately sized yard (~6000 sq/ft total(?)). Dragging a cord around is not that much of a hassle for me, and it is well worth the power to weight and noise ratio this blower has (not to mention its lack of required maintenence). In fact, it is more powerful and quieter than most gas-powered blowers, most of which do not vac. (Plus, your neighbors may appreciate is lack of air and relative noise pollution).
The metal impeller in this model was the selling point for me and I was not disappointed. It sucks up twigs and bits of mulch without worry. In fact, the continuously adjustable suction allows you to suck up leaves over mulched areas. Pinecones and hidden rocks also will not terribly damage the metal impeller.

Schumacher SE-3010 Fast Charge Starter Charger

Schumacher now has five Farm and Ranch models of battery chargers that can handle any and all charging needs of farmers and ranchers alike - from trickle charging to immediate engine starts. For 6 and 12 volt applications - ATV through combines - the line of Schumacher battery chargers has more market specific features and benefits than anyone else.

Technical Details

* For farm, marine, RV, and home use
* Back lit for constant charging status
* For 6 and 12 volt batteries
* Reverse hook-up protection
* 6' power cord and output cables for 12' reach

Schumacher SE-3010 Fast Charge Starter Charger

Customer feedback:

The Schumacher SE-3010 packs a powerful punch - I needed this one because of it's size - I did not want to be wheeling around a big one in the snow & ice. Too much of a hassle. Shumacher is a name known for battery chargers.
The only complaint I have is the handle - I would have preferred a tubular metal one, with a rubber coating - instead of a plastic one.
I'll probably make my own - because of Murphy's law - the handle will break, then the charger falls to the ground - then I'll be at square one again....
I am extremely satisfied though. Extremely (except for the handle)

Trying to land an airplane in the absence of a pilot

When you are being driven by somebody else, and something happens to the driver, most people will attempt to take over the driving themselves. Even if that fails, there is a good chance that even an accident will not lead to severe injuries; what happens when the controls are more complicated, and the injuries / damages that would happen in an accident are more likely to happen ? We are so dependent on air travel that we do not even try to consider the case of what happens when something happens to the pilot of the aircraft; well in the case of this small craft, there was a passenger who was able to fly the aircraft with some coaching (link to article):


It's a nightmarish scenario straight out of the movies: A passenger is forced to land a plane after its pilot becomes incapacitated. The reality was playing aboard a plane over Florida on Sunday in what the National Air Traffic Controllers Association called "an Easter miracle." The pilot notified controllers that the plane was at 9,000 feet and climbing, said Steve Wallace, Miami Center spokesman for the association. However, a controller at the center tried twice to raise the pilot after that and received no response, Wallace said.
After a few moments, a different voice came over the radio: Passenger Doug White told air traffic controllers the pilot was unconscious and they needed help. His wife and two teenage daughters were flying home to Louisiana with him, he said. He reported the plane's autopilot was on and the plane was continuing to climb from 10,000 feet. White later told the Naples Daily News he has a pilot's license and about 130 hours experience flying a single engine Cessna, but had never flown the larger, faster King Air.


This was a good coincidence, however, one shudders to think what would happen in the case when there was nobody available to pilot the aircraft; the family would have been acute distress at the impending disaster.

Girl forced to choose between parents and country

In a reflection of how law does not take into account human factors, or emotions, a teenage girl was placed in the horrendous position of having to choose between the country where she was born, and her parents (whom she may not be able to physically meet for 5 more years). In a case in Japan, a girl (Noriko Calderon), born to illegal immigrants, was given a choice of staying on in Japan, or returning on with her parents who were getting deported back to the Philippines. Her parents, Filipinos Arlan and Sarah Calderon, were illegal immigrants to Japan in the early 1990's, who then married in Japan and settled down there, and Noriko was born in Japan, and lived there for all of her young life. She is for all purposes a Japanese citizen (but not legally so, being granted a one year visa that will need to be extended annually), speaking only Japanese, and getting educated in Japan's schooling system.
However, her life (and that of her parents) was totally turned upside down one day in 2006 when Noriko's mother (Sarah Calderon) was arrested by authorities and accused of being an illegal immigrant. Her parents fought the legal battle till the end, but Japan is very strict about immigration controls and Noriko's parents lost in the end, finally being deported. And the decision for Noriko was hers to take (stay or go with her parents) (link to article):


Arlan found a stable job working for a construction company. Noriko grew up Japanese, attending school and never learning her parents' native language. Noriko, like many Tokyo girls her age, loves hip-hop and hopes to be a dancer or a teacher at a dance school someday. But her future in the only country she's ever known went into limbo when Japanese immigration authorities arrested her mother in 2006.
Japan's Immigration Bureau in a statement to CNN said the couple's illegal presence in the country as an "extremely malicious" violation that "shakes the foundation of Japan's immigration control." But when it came to 13 year old Noriko, the government gave the girl a choice: Her country or her parents. "Japan is my homeland," says Noriko, when asked why she is choosing to stay behind. She will move in with an aunt, allowed to stay in Japan under a visa that the government will reassess yearly. Her life, say her parents, will be better in Japan. She'll have schooling and the dreams a big city like Tokyo can offer her, versus the impoverished farm community her parents will move back to in the Philippines.


However heart-breaking the story, this is not a story that happens rarely. Such scenes are repeated in Japan and many other countries on a regular basis. Some countries are more liberal, allowing people to see a path for becoming citizens when they have been in the country for a long time; in other cases, it is equally traumatic when the child gets automatic citizenship due to having been born there, while the parents get no such benefit and are deported back to their original countries.
One slight twist happens in some such cases when the families do not retain any papers of their original country's citizenship, and their original country refuses to take them, asking for proof that these people were indeed their citizens in the first place.

One tree destroys home, another warns

In huge storms, the speed of wind is many times enough to blow down trees; in many case, these falling trees cause a lot of damage - they can destroy vehicles on which they fall, they can break down large sections of houses if they fall on the house. What happens when a person is inside the house when a tree falls on the house ? Nothing good happens; in some cases, the result can be fatal. However, would you believe that a falling tree actually saved a person from another such falling tree ? Read on (link to article):


Kiefer was sitting on his sofa Monday morning while a brief but intense windstorm blew through the Atlanta, Georgia, area, including Decatur. He heard a tree crash in his backyard and got up to investigate. That tree knocked down a chain-link fence, and Kiefer was getting worried about several other large backyard trees that were swaying in the wind.
"Couple of hours ago my knees where shaking pretty good," he admitted. But, he said, God was looking out for him. "Actually, he saved my life," Kiefer said. "When I came outside to investigate that noise, that was my warning to get up off that couch. And then, not to go back in the house when it got real windy, but to stand right there where that tree stopped. There are no coincidences."


To be in such a life threatening moment, and then realize that you are saved due to some act of providence is enough to bring back the belief in a god or guardian angel looking out for you.

What not to do while driving

When driving, what are some of the key things that people are advised ? You should be sober, capable of driving, and not getting diverted. So this means no driving while under the influence of alcohol, no talking on the phone, and certainly no involvement in sexual activities. People found involved in any of these activities are liable to face action, and maybe even jailed (and these also have an impact on their driving record). So what do you about a person who does more than one of these at the same time (link to article):


A Seattle man was arrested for drinking under the influence of alcohol and having sex while driving last weekend, the Washington State Patrol reported. The incident happened when a state trooper noticed a sport utility vehicle drifting between lanes and driving at unusual speeds, sometimes speeding up then slowing down to well below the speed limit on Interstate 90, near Bellevue’s Bellevue Way, about 1:20 a.m. Friday.
State trooper Jeff Merrill, who wrote the news release, said in an interview Wednesday that „embracing while driving“ is a misdemeanor. In this case, the woman said she was performing oral sex on the driver while he was driving.


This guy was under the influence of alcohol, and was having oral sex performed on him, and was driving at the same time. Not only is he a risk to himself and other occupants of the car, but a serious risk to other people on the road; no way should such a person be allowed to continue driving.

Having sex while driving

When the passion strikes you, there is a strong urge to engage in amorous relations. So, for example, people have been known to initiate sex in varied locations, including different parts of the house, and even in public (there was this couple in Dubai who were prosecuted for having sex on the beach, and had to spend some prison time). However, in some situations, the behavior of people gets downright weird when it comes to sex. Consider the following case:


A SPEEDY lover faces a big fine and the loss of his licence after police caught him having sex with his girlfriend while travelling at 133km/h on a motorway. The 28-year-old man and his 22-year-old girlfriend were caught in the act by Norwegian traffic police on the E18 highway, some 40km west of Oslo, on Easter Sunday.
“It was veering from one side to the other because the woman was sitting on the man's lap while he was driving and doing the act, shall we say,” said Tor Stein Hagen, a superintendent with Soendre Buskerund district police. “He couldn't see much because her back was in the way. Why they did it on a highway with such a high risk we don't know.”

This couple was indulging in something that was downright stupid, and will have to suffer because of their actions. Having sex while driving (that too at high speed) is extremely dangerous, not only to themselves, but to others on the road as well.