Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Agil Headset Filters Out Noise in Busy Public Places

Traveling a lot results in being in areas that are often overcrowded and rather loud. This is because of the large congestion of people talking about basically anything and everything. You can easily become frustrated by this noise if you are also talking to someone else or attempting to concentrate on something important. The Agil communication device gives us a glimmer of hope towards rectifying this problem through clever technology.

Agil was created to help filter the sounds in your surroundings. The device uses basic technology to help focus your attention on one specific sound. In order to properly work the person that you are communicating with must also have on an Agil device. The two devices can uniquely link with one another to communicate. Once they are linked all of the other sound will be filtered out and thus allow you to carry on a conversation minus all the interruptions.

The creators understood that it would be quite the hassle to create a product that you would only use for that one specific use. This is why they have also managed to make the device capable with MP3 players, cellphones, and headphones. Basically, it is very similar to a BlueTooth device but has the ability to filter out sounds as well. This offers hope for the Agil to receive continues updates to it’s software and become a more ideal product to own.

A quick test of the Agil showed that it does indeed work. I was quite impressed on how it was able to filter the sound around me. My first thought is that the device would work like a set of headphones in which sound can still enter depending on how loud you have the sound coming through the headphones at. However, the Agil uses smart technology to tune out the otherwise annoying sounds around you. Quite clever and very useful.

My overall opinion of this product is that it is cool yet needs a lot of retooling. It really does not offer that much besides filtering sound. In a society that is all about technology a product like this will need to become even more capable than it already is. Future developments of the Agil will be key in it becoming a successful tool in the fight against other people simply being too loud.

Steven A. Mottor, Product Review, 2010

Labels: Agil Headset Filters Out Noise in Busy Public Places

A Review of Theatres Near Waukesha, Wisconsin

In the Waukesha, Wisconsin area, several movie theatres are within driving distance.

Majestic Cinema: 770 Springdale Road, Brookfield, WI. The Majestic Cinema in Brookfield is definitely huge, but whether that leads to majesty is up for debate. In a recent article, I criticized the Majestic Cinema for being too ostentatious. While the theatre has a very calloused, business-like vibe, crammed full of many stores, it does have nice amenities within the theatres themselves. Stadium seating, large screens, and crystal clear audio heighten the viewing experience at the Majestic. The Majestic contains a pizzeria, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, and lounge for impressive convenience-but, as aforementioned, the theatre’s many shops make it seem like a bustling marketplace rather than a relaxing cinematic environment.

Hillside Cinemas: 2950 Hillside Drive, Delafield, WI. Just down the highway from the Majestic, Hillside Cinemas offers a more traditional theatre-going experience. Standard popcorn, nacho, and candy concession options are at an average price; admission is comparable to the larger, nearby Majestic Cinema. The theatre has a small arcade to help you pass the time while waiting for a show to start. The theatre screens are decent sized and feature stadium-style seating. Overall, Delafield’s Hillside theatre is a great choice for a relaxed movie-going experience. As an added bonus, Hillside also has occasional discounts on children’s movies.

Ridge Cinemas: 5200 South Moorland Road, New Berlin, WI. Owned and operated by Marcus Theatres, this 20 screen cinema has stadium seating in every theatre, surround sound, and standard theatre screen sizes. The location has prices similar to Hillside and the Majestic plus affordable concessions.

Budget South: 4475 South 108th Street, Greenfield, WI. Slightly further removed from the local Waukesha area, Silver Cinemas’ Budget South theatre is worth the extra few minutes of driving. The theatre has some fun pinball machines and other arcade games in the lobby, excellent concession prices, and, better still, dirt cheap admissions prices. Of course, there’s a catch, the budget theatre does not play movies right after their release dates. If you can wait a few extra weeks to see an upcoming film, going to see a flick at Budget South will save you a lot of money. The screens are decent-sized, with good quality audio, but unfortunately the theatres do not have stadium seating.

The Oriental: 2230 North Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI. In a recent review of the Oriental, I gave the theatre almost exclusively positive remarks. The theatre is not overwhelming impressive because of location or price-it is even further out-of-the way for Waukesha residents than the Budget South, and its prices are comparable to other theatres. What is impressive about the Oriental is the beautiful, vintage feel of the theatre, as well as the theatre’s propensity for playing independent films and niche mainstream titles. The theatre is worth the extra miles on your car if you want to see a unique show in a unique environment. The theatre does not feature stadium seating or amazing picture quality, but the overall ambiance and film-selection quality of the theatre is impeccable.

Labels: A Review of Theatres Near Waukesha, Wisconsin

A Tribute to Our Dogs of War

This weekend is Memorial Day here in the good old US of A. It’s a time to remember those that paid the ultimate price to protect the freedom and liberty we enjoy today.

As a bonus this tribute is accompanied by family gatherings, plenty of food and the targeting of high probability treat machines.

While a lot of stories will be written about the human sacrifices made by our military heroes, rarely will there be a bark out to the special support provided by dogs. Admittedly our feline “friends” do not receive coverage either, but that’s because they are on perpetual college deferment programs. They’re takers, dogs are givers.

As I sit back, I picture what all the Private Rovers have gone through in support of our country during times of war. I can’t help but imagine myself with a combat helmet strapped around my large cranium and a cigarette dangling from my snout as I peer out of a foxhole. I smell the German Shepherds coming at me, but I stand tough and defend my turf and my country. I’m John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood all rolled up into one fur suit (I guess I could lose a few pounds).

The reality is I’d probably run away like a Yorkie on his first day at doggie day care. Had it been up to me to defend this country, it would be likely that we’d all be barking German today. What can I say? I like to sleep on a bed, mooch food from my parents and snuggle my sister Moose. In short, I’m soft…and a coward.

That’s why I am so grateful for those that have the strength, courage, and self-discipline to not only make it in this man’s army, but to thrive in it as well. These are special dogs and should be thanked for their sacrifice.

I think the K-9 promise says it all:

My eyes are your eyes, to watch and protect you and yours.
My ears are your ears to hear and detect evil minds in the dark.
My nose is your nose to scent the invader of your domain.
And so you may live, my life is also yours.

Let me give my heartfelt thanks to all service dogs past, present and future for all that you do for this country and your fellow man. For moving tributes please visit to read the stories of our latest fallen heroes.

After you do, feel free to head to Hamburger Hill, better known as the grill out back.

To honor our heroes, I’m giving away a free, personalized, and pawtographed book of Bad to the Bone: Memoir of a Doggie Blogger by best selling canine author Bo Hoefinger. To win it just head on over to and leave a quick little story, observation or comment.

Labels: A Tribute to Our Dogs of War

8 Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off

Whether your watching weight after stepping on your bathroom scale, as a New Year’s resolution, or per your doctor’s orders, these tips have great slim-down potential and will arm you with the information needed to keep the weight off for more than just a few months.

Our daily nutritional intake should be balanced. Following a balanced diet is vital to keep the body in balance and for a healthier heart and strong bones. These tips are not intended to be used as a “diet” (in the dieting sense) merely to inform and provide guidance for your journey towards better health and wellness.

These eight easy-to-follow tips are based upon extensive research using the 2005 federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a starting point, emerging science and nutrition tips gleaned from Prevention magazine. The information below is intended to assist you make better decisions about your health. It is not intended to be a substitute for treatment or advice from your healthcare provider. As with any medical decision, consult your physician before starting an exercise program and major changes in your daily diet. If you suspect that you have a medical problem, seek competent medical care.

Keep salt in check and balance your mineral intake.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation for daily sodium intake is 2,300mg. Most Americans consume more than twice that amount while forgetting to balance their diet by eating potassium-rich fruits and vegetables and failing to get a sufficient amount of calcium.

One doesn’t necessarily need to sacrifice your palate and scrimp on the amount of salt on your food. As long as you balance your sodium intake and boost your consumption of other mineral-rich foods containing potassium, calcium and magnesium. Potassium in produce, for instance, will help lower blood pressure and counter the effects of sodium.

In 2006, the second National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES II), which included in excess of 7,000 participants and followed them for almost 14 years, produced one curious finding. People who ate less sodium were more likely to experience fatal heart attacks or strokes. Having too little sodium in you system might very well affect the central nervous system and blood pressure.

No one is ready to suggest that we should overindulge in salt and there is still speculation that sodium restriction may not prolong life as previously believed. Many people do not experience a spike in blood pressure with increased sodium intake. Research is still ongoing. Consult your primary caregiver before drastically altering you sodium intake.

The importance of daily protein.

Protein has an amino acid — leucine, found in fish, poultry, dairy and meat — is essential for developing lean muscle and the amount you receive is important. You should be eating two servings of protein (2- or 3- ounces per serving) every day. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne found that women who consumed the same number of calories, while increasing their protein intake, lost more weight and retained more lean body mass compared to those on a diet lower in protein. Why?

While most Americans get more than double the needed protein, it doesn’t serve them well. Eating more than 6 ounces per day does not provide any additional benefits. It backfires. Too much protein doesn’t allow the body to utilize the protein’s amino acids effectively. The excess protein will cause you to exceed your daily caloric intake and the extra calories will likely be stored as fat.

Not crazy about meat? Beans offer a healthy way to add protein and other helpful nutrients. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario found that the darker the bean the better, but don’t discount soybeans — which are yellow. “In addition to preventing heart disease, soy foods and soy protein appear to protect against breast, prostrate ,and colon cancer,” explains James Anderson, M.D., a professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Kentucky.

Fiber-rich whole grains and you.

Whole grain foods include oatmeal, brown rice, wheat germ and whole-wheat bread. “Whole grains contain at least 2 g of fiber per serving,” says Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

Prevention magazine recommends getting 3-4 servings of whole grains a day to boost your energy level, heart health and wellness overall. Combined with a minimum intake of 25-30 mg of fiber a day, whole grains may also be slimming. For those having a diet of whole wheat versus refined grains, the potential for weight loss is higher. This is probably true because eating fiber-rich whole grains will “stick to you” and help prevent overeating by decreasing your hunger pangs.

Other benefits from eating more fiber-rich whole grains is a healthier heart. “Dietary fiber accounts for 80% or the heart protection you get from whole grains,” says Anderson. Fiber studies are showing that fiber is emerging as a preventive (and treatment) for diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Eat fresh produce every 2-3 hours.

Snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables during the day instead of soda, chips and candy will aid in weight loss. Three of these snacks a day will help you lose about a pound per week. The new Dietary Guidelines suggest 13 servings per day for very active people — teenage boys for example. For the rest of us, 7-10 servings is more realistic and still offer you superb disease protection and provide the best nutritional value for your calorie intake. A produce-rich diet arms your body against diabetes, heart disease and assist in cancer prevention.

Ideally, include at least one serving a day of the most beneficial produce, preferable whole: dark green (broccoli, kale or greens), orange (squash or carrots) red (tomatoes) or citrus (oranges, grapefruit). To maximize your body’s disease fighting ability while losing a pound or two enjoy a piece of fruit or celery and carrot sticks every few hours.

Eat mixed nuts daily.

“As a nutritionist, I always say ‘eat a variety of foods’, and that’s really important when it comes to nuts,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Each type of nut has a different nutritional value and, subsequently, varied benefits. Brazil nuts, for example, are a great source of selenium and walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Recent research has shown, according to Rodale, that most varieties of nuts — such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts — contain beta sitosterol and campesterol. These plant chemicals have the ability to lower harmful blood cholesterol levels.

An ounce of nuts have 180 calories. Be sure to control portions sizes and concentrate on enjoying them as a snack. For optimal results, choose unsalted nuts. It doesn’t matter if they are dry-roasted or ground into a butter. The benefits and calories are the same.

Eat small servings of fish twice weekly.

Fish is the one of the best sources of fats that assist in reducing the risk of heart disease — omega-3 fatty acids. Fried fish doesn’t count. University of Washington researchers discovered that fried fish eaters received none of the healthy benefits from fish that was broiled, grilled or baked. In fact, their risk of heart attack increased. The unhealthy fats present from frying fish (and other foods as well) negate the beneficial ones. Additionally, Barbara Olendzki, R.D., nutrition program director at the University of Massachusetts Medical School recommends trimming away the skin and fat before preparing.

Watch your fats.

Pick your battles! Get rid of trans fats and keep saturated fats — found in dairy and meats — to a minimum. For optimal heath and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and eye disorders (and even make your skin more supple) make a conscience effort to consume more monounsaturated fats such as flax seed and olive oil, which contain more heart-healthy ligands than other oils. Most of us already ingest sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats from processed foods made with corn, soybean or sunflower oils.

More is not necessarily better. Experts suggest limiting yourself to about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of these healthy fats out of a total of 4 1/2 tablespoons per day.

Drink fluids.

Replacing lost fluids can work wonders for your waistline. A recent National Academy of Sciences found that after drinking 17 ounces of water, the participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30% within 10 minutes and peaked about 40 minutes later. Don’t worry. You don’t need to chug as much water as the men and women in the study. Most women need eleven 8-ounce cups of fluid each day, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be water. A cup of tea counts, plus tea injects your system with a powerful infusion of antioxidants and pholyphenols. Juice and an occasional soda also counts — just watch the sugar.

Prevention magazine surprisingly reported, “booze counts towards your daily liquid quota, meaning you can consume alcoholic beverages in moderation if you are not at risk for certain types of hormonal cancers.” They are not condoning drinking seven drinks on Friday night, nor did they encourage anyone to start drinking. If you’re already drinking a glass of wine everyday, that’s fine. Wine has proven to have health benefits, but there isn’t any added benefit to consuming more than that. Check with your doctor.

More from Associated Content

“Laziness, Exercise and the Health of the Union”
“10 Nutrition Tips for Better Health.”

Personal Experiences
Prevention magazine
University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter (1995). Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005)
Cohen, H.W., et al.”Sodium Intake and Mortality in the NHANES II Follow-up Study.” AM. J. Med. 2006
Kitchenmandu: A nutrition blog for men and stay-at-home dads.
Rodale pamphlet: “Lose it fast, make it last.” (2007)

Labels: 8 Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off

A Field Guide to Online Paid Surveys

Try googling the phrase “make money online” and you will quickly see that one of the top cited ways, if not the first search you will find, to making money online is by doing paid surveys. If you think about it, this sounds really nice. You are asked a couple of questions on various topics, sometimes because you are an expert, or you have purchased or used a product or service. Of course the truth is that most of the time you are chosen for surveys because you are the one who the companies want to purchase their products or services. That way, with their surveys they can find out what you really want for their next series of products and of course they sort of get a small advertisement. Well now, since these companies find out what you like and you are really a significant part of their research and development team, why not be compensated for this task.

Yes all these sound quite nice. The main problem with this picture is that you only receive a small fraction of the money that companies spend for these surveys. There are many reasons for this. First the middleman takes a big share of the money paid by the companies for these surveys. The second reason is of course the fact that many people are surveyed, and thus share the grand reward. So at the end of the day you really don’t make that much money per survey. However, surveys can be fun and exciting and they can also be a hobby for some people. Sometimes you might receive products before anybody else sees them on the shelf of the store. Other times you can see shows and advertisements before they reach your television set. Do you remember how many times you said, “Wow, is this a stupid ad?” or “This thing is on TV?” Well by voicing your opinions through surveys you can modify what is going to be on TV, on the radio, etc. or even stop it from going live. And of course one must not forget the sweepstakes that surveys commonly use to lure people into taking them. While I haven’t won any of them, it would be nice to win $100, a Nintendo Wii, or even a new car. So, yes surveys do not pay as much for a monthly salary, and even the hourly wage is not as good, but if you are a person who has time to kill when watching a boring show on TV anyway, well it might be worth trying it.

Before you go out there googling the survey sites and register for everyone of them, let me give you a couple of tips. First of all create a separate email address. Some sites might sell your email address and you will fill up your inbox with spam email. I am not saying that all survey sites do so, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Second, it is my own opinion that you should not pay to do surveys. You should only be paid. So I would definitely take out of the list all the sites that request you to pay them so that they can send you more surveys. My next tip would be to find reviews for each survey site you want to register for. If reviews don’t exist, there might be many reasons for it so I would not be panicked. Of course on the same note try to find if there are claims for these website that they have scammed people. This usually is the best way to look for a review. A really great website that provides reviews and rating for the survey sites is survey police. I would not recommend every single websites in their top 100 list, but I would say that definitely the ones in the top 10 are a good start. Finally, and I believe this is the most important tip, be careful of what information you share and what files you download. I would say try to limit the information as much as possible and if during one survey you don’t feel comfortable, just stop the survey.

As I already mentioned, doing surveys is really not a way to make a lot of money online. It is probably fun to do sometimes, and if some weekday evenings you are not doing anything else it might be worth it. But apart from that, I don’t think you can rely on them to help significantly increase your income. Just use them as a hobby and enjoy the rewards you do get.

Please visit the following website to find some recommended paid survey websites:


Labels: A Field Guide to Online Paid Surveys

An Analysis of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard goes back and forth between two states: one of “stalking”, in which she gives an intense and constant attention to the things around her, and the other of an almost unaware state, in which she herself practically becomes part of the natural surroundings around her, without regard to time, in what she refers to as the present. Both states heavily differ from one another. Additionally, both these stalking and unaware states allow Dillard to become more in-tune with her surroundings, but in entirely different ways.

Throughout Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Dillard describes numerous experiences she’s had in the past, both aware and unaware, and uses them to express the lessons she learns and closeness she obtains to nature. Dillard seems torn on whether or not self-conscious or unself-conscious is a better state to experience the world in. She values self-consciousness and even states that self-consciousness is one thing that separates us both from our creator and fellow creatures, for without it we would be less aware of our surroundings and less apt to learn about and obtain information about nature and the creatures we see around us. It is evident that Dillard appreciates learning about all different types of plants and animals while at Tinker Creek. But while Dillard values the self-conscious state, she also has numerous criticisms of it as well. She believes that being self-conscious can hinder living and experiencing the present and the now. Dillard suggests the better and ultimate state to live in, in regards to experiencing the present and the now, is that of “innocence,” or seeing the world as it is with a disregard to time; an unaware state. This innocence allows her to experience rather than learn, as innocence, according to Dillard, is the spirit’s “unself-conscious state at any moment of pure devotion to any object” and that experiencing these moments allow us to “live them as purely as we can, in the present” (Dillard 82). Ultimately, Dillard finds both the self-conscious state and the unself-conscious state necessary when experiencing, connecting, and learning about nature.

Dillard stalks certain creatures in order to witness them in their natural surroundings. Particularly, in her chapter “Stalking,” Dillard talks about her unique approach to witnessing nature in which she quietly sits and observes animals interacting with their surroundings. She watches a praying mantis lay her eggs, a muskrat feeding along the banks of Tinker Creek, a mosquito land on the back of a snake and feed off its blood. She describes the feeling it gives her and that it’s something that helps her learn and observe what’s happening around her in the natural world while at Tinker Creek. Of stalking and self-consciously witnessing nature, Dillard states, “I am prying into secrets again, and taking my chances. I might not see anything happen; I might see nothing but light on the water. I walk home exhilarated or becalmed, but always changed, alive” (Dillard 184).

Oppositely, there are moments throughout the book in which Dillard simply lets go of herself and her consciousness. One of the most memorable moments in the book, one that she refers back to often, is in which Dillard experiences this unself-consciousness in her chapter “The Present.” Dillard finds herself standing at a gas station, patting the puppy, and staring out at the mountains, losing herself in them for moments, declaring, “I am more alive than all the world” (Dillard 78). She describes this state as innocence, an unself-consciousness as opposed to a self-consciousness. When she returns from this lost, unself-conscious state, she declares, “but the second I become aware of myself at any of these activities-looking over my own shoulder, as it were-the tree vanishes, uprooted from the spot and flung out of sight as if it had never grown” (Dillard 81). It’s evident that she values these unself-conscious moments and truly comes alive in spirit and in her own writing when she experiences them.

Overall, it’s apparent that Dillard is torn between experiencing the world in two different ways. On one end of the spectrum, she’s self-conscious of the world, stalking it and taking all of it in. On the other end, Dillard let’s go of herself periodically and gets lost in her surroundings, not examining them, but becoming part of them, their colors, their scents, textures, and feelings. Dillard also does indeed say that “innocence is a better world” and “self-consciousness is the curse of the city and all that sophistication implies.” However, Dillard continues to live in a world of self-consciousness and continues to stalk her surroundings, deeming both states of self-consciousness and unself-consciousness of value to her.

I believe that Dillard, through Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, as well as the other authors we have read, gives us the correct tools to experience nature. We can’t fully experience all nature has to offer through books and readings or even come close to it. We must take from all that we read during this block a set of tools in which we apply to our surroundings and obtain our own experiences and truth and closeness to nature as we desire.


Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Published: 1974.

Labels: An Analysis of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Aromatherapy for Children

Aromatherapy is an excellent healing modality for children because it is gentle and without side effects. It is safe to use (unless children have epilepsy- some oils may trigger seizures; talk to your doctor or a qualified practitioner of aromatherapy if your child is epileptic). Children certainly prefer it to bad-tasting medication or swallowing pills.

The best method of using aromatherapy for children is in the bath. The healing properties of the oils are absorbed through the skin. The warm water is also soothing and healing.

For children under the age of two, only the mildest oils should be used. These include lavender, chamomile (both German chamomile and Roman chamomile), and tea tree oils.

Lavender and chamomile are both soothing and calming. Try these for a colicky baby or for a sick child that needs to rest. Add two drops to three drops to a baby bath, or if you take the baby into the bath with you, eight drops into a full tub of water.

Tea tree oil is good for any type of illness or infection. Add to a bath or to water used for a sponge bath. Again, use two to three drops for a baby bath or eight drops for a full tub of water. You can use lavender or chamomile in conjunction with tea tree oil, but only use two or three drops TOTAL, not two or three drops of each oil.

For children over two, you can use a wider variety of oils. Add four drops of oil to a half tub of water and eight drops to a full tub. Again you can combine oils, but do not use more than four or eight drops total.

Following is a list of common childhood ailments and oils that can be used to treat them.

Chicken pox- lavender

Colds and flu- lemon, lime, orange, tea tree

Congestion- eucalyptus

Cough- lemon balm, marjoram, violet leaf

Earache- German chamomile

Fever- yarrow

Headache- lavender

Lice- geranium (This is treated differently. Instead of a bath, mix four drops in two tablespoons of a base oil such as almond oil. Massage into the hair thoroughly. Let rest for several minutes, then wash out).

Nausea- lavender, peppermint

Sleeplessness- German chamomile, lavender, Roman chamomile

Sore throat- clary sage

Sprains and strains- German chamomile, lavender, Roman chamomile

Tonsillitis- bay laurel

For teens, geranium, lemongrass, lime, and sage will help with oily skin and acne.

Labels: Aromatherapy for Children

A Dream Come True, Turned into My Personal Nightmare: My Review of Cartridge World

Owning a Dell printer has it’s setbacks. The ink cartridges cannot be purchased in any store. They must be purchased online on the web site, or by phone, which means you must have a credit card available, and you will also have to wait for it to arrive. I wish I had my old printer back. Those were the days when I could walk into any office supply store, purchase a generic ink cartridge, and continue with my business. But, since Dell did not inform me of their ink purchasing policy, here I sit with an empty cartridge once again.

Last Friday I stumbled on a site advertising the refilling of ink cartridges at a huge discount. The name of the store was Cartridge World, and a branch was to be opening soon in my area. It was like a dream come true, like when AOL went from five cents a minuet to unlimited usage. Imagine, I could gather all my empty cartridges, and bring them to Cartridge World for refilling, and have them back the very same day.

I first spoke to the clerk on the phone to get some information. How much would it cost? How long would it take to refill? And are you open yet? Black cartridges would be $15.75, and color slightly higher. although prices vary for different makes. But anyhow you look at it, it’s just ink, and most of us use gallons of it, so the cheaper the better. Not to mention the good we are doing for the environment when we recycle. The clerk was polite, and enthused, it would only take about twenty minuets to refill, and yes! they had just opened on the Monday.

I had to work on Saturday so I sent a friend to Cartridge World to refill my cartridges. I gave him 3 empties, one black and two color. I meant to give him two blacks and a color, my mistake. But that was OK, because when my current black was getting low, I could just run to Cartridge World and have my empty refilled again, and I would have color ink nearly forever, since I hardly ever used it. He had to wait longer than we thought, so he left them there, and picked them up a couple hours later. The clerk did give a $2.00 coupon for the wasted gas and time, however.

Today was my day off from work, and I had plans of printing out stacks of material that was long overdue, not to mention my Prison Uprise newsletter to send out. I got up early in the morning and finished the newsletter. Placed the refilled cartridges in my printer, and printed out an alignment page. Well, the printer kept calling for another alignment page, until finally 4 or 5 had been printed. “What a waste of ink” I thought to myself.

As the newsletter began printing out, I could see it was of poor quality. Some spots you could hardly read. There were spaces in-between the words, and I knew something was wrong with the cartridge. I immediately called the store and told the clerk what my problem was. She told me to bring the cartridge in and they would check it for me. After all they guarantee there products 100%. But I was all of a sudden not so happy anymore. I had the feeling of gloom that my balloon was about to pop.

I quickly removed the cartridge, and along with a test print and pages of wasted alignment readouts, I headed for the store which is about 15 minuets from my house. An inconvenience to say the least, but I needed this cartridge if I was going to get anything done today that I had planned.

When I arrived at the store, I was greeted by a friendly clerk, who was more than happy to take my cartridge to check. But it was more than just getting another one. I had come to this store to save money and time. And now I was losing money and time. What about all this wasted ink on these test papers? What about all the time wasted driving back and forth? I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to interrupt what I was doing to get this problem fixed. My solution to Dell’s purchasing policy wasn’t looking too good. “I want some kind of reimbursement for all of this,” I was thinking.

I looked around the store as I was waiting for the clerk to return with my cartridge. It was clean and orderly, Everything new. Another clerk, or perhaps the owner came from the back and began answering my questions. “So, It’s not a guarantee that when someone brings a cartridge in, it will be able to be refilled”? I snapped. “We test print them before we allow them to leave the store” she said,”and if they don’t print correctly, they can’t leave.” That should have been fair enough, but I wasn’t happy about all this. She told me about all the Dell cartridges they refilled all week and how mine was the first they had a problem with. But of coarse it would be mine!

This is where it gets worse. After about five minuets or so the original clerk returned to tell me that my cartridge was broke. It couldn’t be refilled because the “tracks” or something were broke. “They can go at anytime” she said. Pop, goes the balloon. I am now without a black cartridge at all. I have to go home, call Dell and order one on line, since they had no empties, or refilled Dell’s in stock. Not a happy camper anymore. It will be maybe 3 days before I can print anything out.

My experience at Cartridge World was poor. I feel I wasted more time and money than if I had just called Dell in the first place and ordered my ink cartridge. I think I was maybe too hard on the girls working there, and the circumstances were a bit out of their control. Although they guarantee their work, there are no guarantees you’ll go home with a filled cartridge, however.

I can blame this experience on Murphy’s Law, “where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” or even on Mercury Retrograde, when the planet Mercury causes havoc on any means of communication, or simply on bad luck. Will I go back to Cartridge World? Will I take my chances, and hope this was just a one time thing? I swore I wouldn’t. But only time will tell if I change my mind. Next time you need an ink cartridge refilled, you can always try your luck with Cartridge World.

Labels: A Dream Come True, Turned into My Personal Nightmare: My Review of Cartridge World

Antibiotic Resistance Focus of "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week'

The FDA released a press announcement today to bring awareness to smart use of antibiotics. According to the release, the FDA and CDC are teaming up this week for “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week”, which runs November 15-21. The misuse of antibiotics is pegged as the cause for drug resistant bacterial infections. This information is being shared with the public in advance of the typical cold and flu season to educate consumers about proper antibiotic usage.

The FDA lists three tips to taking antibiotics properly, which include taking all of your medication as prescribed, not saving medication for later use, and not taking or sharing your medication with another person. Antibiotics are prescribed to combat infections based upon many factors, such as which antibiotic typically works best to treat a specific condition. In other words, what might be prescribed for a bacterial sinus infection may not be the best choice of medicine for a bladder infection.

Interestingly, the FDA fingers doctors for over-prescribing, caving into patient demand …

One interesting aspect of the FDA’s press announcement is that it begins with fingering doctors for over-prescribing antibiotics. Patients suffering from a viral infection want antibiotics to cure their illness. The takeaway here should be that doctors need to be firmer with a no when asked for antibiotics when clearly the prescription is not indicated. Not only does caving into patient demand cost patients and insurance companies money that doesn’t need to be spent at pharmacies, it also contributes to antibiotic resistance.

While letting pushy consumers off the hook!

The press announcement carefully tiptoes around the issue of patients outright asking their doctors for antibiotics when they suffer from a virus, such as the common cold. While it does mention this briefly in the opening paragraph (hence, it is an important point), the FDA left this important warning off their list of recommendations, instead focusing on medicine sharing, completing one’s prescription and not saving one’s medicine for later as ways to combat antibiotic resistance. Instead, the FDA should have asked health care consumers to visit their health care providers this cold and flu season without an expectation of leaving with a prescription, thus taking the pressure off a doctor to prescribe an unnecessary antibiotic.

FDA Press Announcement, dated 11/15/2010, retrieved 11/15/2010

Labels: Antibiotic Resistance Focus of "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week'

A Guide to Self-Defense Tutorials Online

Learning self-defense is as easy as browsing online. You can find a plethora of videos, articles and images dedicated to teaching the art of self-defense. This guide will discuss several different online tutorials rated for their ease of learning and likely effectiveness with a maximum of five stars.

The first batch of tutorials comes from a site called Self Defense Central. The web site boasts a variety of pictorial (with written instructions) and video self-defense tutorials. The web site also features articles on the topic of self-defense and forums for registered users. Each tutorial can be viewed for free on the web site without registration.

One of the tutorials from Self Defense Central is titled “Self Defense on the Ground-Attacker Choking.” This self-defense tutorial is pictorial with photos placed above each written step. It is easy to understand making it easy to learn. Basically you will loosen the grip of the strangler by using the force of your arms. However I worry about the true effectiveness of this self-defense move. You must be fast so that you can catch the strangler unaware which means those who are panicked or nervous may have a difficult time successfully pulling off this move.The attacker may very well become aware of what you are trying to do and tighten their grip around your neck.

Ease of Learning Rating: *****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: **

The next tutorial I will review from Self Defense Central is titled “Mini Video Lesson Knife Attack Straight Stab #2”. This self-defense move is more complicated than the first move but is clearly explained in the tutorial. This move is meant as a defense against an attacker attempting to stab you with their knife. In the tutorial the instructor speaks clearly and shows the move from both sides ensuring that the watcher fully understands the move. With lots of practice I can see this as being an effective self-defense move against a real life attacker. Of course if you are nervous you may have some problem with remembering each step. The length of time it would take to complete this move is also a factor in its true effectiveness. Strength may be of little concern as this defensive move will likely throw your attacker off guard.

Ease of Learning Rating: ****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: ****

One final self-defense move I will review from this site is titled “Mini Video Lesson-Gun Attack Rear-Low”. Again the instructions and actions in the video are clear and easy to understand. The tutorial is built upon a combination of self-defense moves in order to harm the attacker and strip the gun away from them. This self-defense move may be effective as the attacker will likely be stunned and your counterattacks will harm them allowing you to easily strip the weapon and gain control of the situation. The defensive move shown in this tutorial could very well save your life if you are ever in the situation of being held at gunpoint.

Ease of Learning Rating: ****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: *****

To register at Self-defense Central for free, click here.

The next website I will be reviewing is called Expert Village which claims to be the world’s largest “How-To” video website. I was able to find many different videos demonstrating self-defense moves on this website. The tutorials are made by different “experts” who submit the videos to Expert Village to be viewed for free. Keep in mind that you will have to view random advertisements popping up on the video screen on occasion which may become annoying and distracting.

The first self-defense tutorial that I watched on Expert Village was titled “The Wedge Move in Koden Kan Martial Arts: Free Online Self-defense Lessons”. This self-defense tutorial video was made by Madison Warner who has been a karate instructor for ten years. Madison demonstrates “The Wedge” move which is meant as a self-defense against a strangler positioned in front of you, the defender. This self-defense tutorial was easy to understand as the instructor demonstrated the move by herself and then with a partner, or “attacker”. There weren’t many steps which makes it easy to remember when faced by an attacker.

Ease of Learning Rating: ****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: ****

The next self-defense tutorial is titled “Self-defense Video: Defending a Punch” and was made by Jason Hall, a professional self-defense instructor. This defense tutorial will likely prove helpful when engaged in a fist fight with your attacker. The strategy is by far the simplest and easiest to understand of the self-defense tutorial videos already reviewed. While the moves may not need to be used often, or hopefully not at all, they may come in handy. You should keep in mind that when engaged in a real life fist fight with an attacker the blows may not be so “structured” and the above move may prove to be less helpful.

Ease of Learning Rating: *****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: ***

The last self-defense video I will review from Expert Village is titled “How to Escape From a Wrist Grab: Kung Fu Self-defense Moves”. This video was made by Sifu Dan Schmidt, a national Kung Fu champion. The tutorial demonstrates to the viewer how to handle a situation where an attacker grabs you by the wrist. The instructor explains the purpose of each step and makes it clear why each one is important. The moves shown in the tutorial are easy to imitate and act out and do not rely on strength for effectiveness. Each step was shown in this tutorial from the distraction to the defensive attack and then to the attacker laying flat on the ground. Strength plays no role in this self-defense move. With practice it can be an effective way to keep yourself from falling victim to an attacker.

Ease of Learning Rating: *****

Likely Effectiveness Rating: *****

When looking for a good self-defense tutorial online you should consider three things. 1. How easy is the video, article or pictorial to follow? 2. How effective would the self-defense move be? 3. Are the moves too complicated for real life situations? Learning self-defense is a smart choice. Online tutorials make learning convenient and easy.

Labels: A Guide to Self-Defense Tutorials Online

A Walking Movie Site Tour of Chicago's Loop

“Come on, baby, don’t you want to go/Back to that same old place, sweet home, Chicago?” the Blues Brothers sang. Chicago is rich in movie filming locations, and a number of recent movies feature shots of Chicago’s downtown and Loop area. It’s easy to get to downtown via Metra, disembarking at Millennium Station; or almost any CTA elevated line. Parking in downtown Chicago is expensive, so public transportation is the best option. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a good map, and of course don’t forget your camera. There are an immense number of famous movie places that can be seen in just a small area in and around the Loop.

Start your walking tour at the Art Institute of Chicago at Michigan and Adams, in the heart of downtown. While the Chagall windows are being renovated as of fall 2009, you can visit “Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte,” as seen in Mandy Patinkin’s and Bernadette Peter’s Sunday in the Park with George and take a tour of the museum like Matthew Broderick did in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When you’re done enjoying the museum, walk across Michigan Avenue, and continue following Matthew Broderick’s route in that o-so-hot red convertible by walking north up Michigan Avenue towards the river.

At the corner of Michigan and Washington you’ll see the Chicago Cultural Center. Formerly the headquarters of the Chicago Public Library system, the interior was featured in Brian De Palma’s masterpiece, The Untouchables. This movie about Elliot Ness’ battle with Al Capone starred Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro. Walk up the inlaid white Carerra marble staircase to admire the beautiful Tiffany dome on the second floor, the largest in the world.

Head back out to Michigan Avenue and continue your tour by heading north to the Chicago River. As you cross Randolph, look up at the former Associates building, now the Smurfit-Stone Building, featured in the climax of the movie Adventures in Babysitting. It’s popularly referred to as the “Diamond” building because of the slanted roof.

Keep walking north on Michigan, and take a moment to pop down the stairs at Lower Wacker Drive. The underbelly of Chicago appears in many movies, including Batman Begins. Harrison Ford approaches Jeroen Krabbe’s car in The Fugitive. Elisabeth Shue’s character bails out her car from “Thor” (Vincent D’Onofrio) in Adventures in Babysitting. Walking back up to Upper Wacker Drive you can see the spot where Sandra Bullock got her hot dog and had a chat with her boss in the movie While You Were Sleeping.

Cross the river and make a right onto one of the most filmed walkways in the city, along the banks of the Chicago River. It’s appeared inE.R., My Big Fat Greek Wedding, While You Were Sleeping, and many other movies and TV shows. Often filmed at night with the Wrigley building lit up in the background, it’s a standard scenery shot establishing the Chicago locale. Enjoy the art deco-style globe lights and the views of the oft-filmed Tribune Tower, and take a peek down at the Chicago River, seen in its dyed green state in The Fugitive, and covered with police boats in The Blues Brothers.

Cross back to the south bank of the Chicago River and continue your movie tour walking west along Upper Wacker Drive. Turn south at Clark Street. At Clark and Randolph you’ll see the Thompson Center, formerly the State of Illinois Center, with a huge glass atrium featured in the finale of Billy Crystal’s and Gregory Hines’ 1986 movie Running Scared. Continuing south on Clark you’ll pass the Cook County Building, 118 North Clark. The exterior scenes of the tax assessor’s office in The Blues Brothers were filmed here. One block south is the Daley Civic Center, 50 West Washington. Check out the Picasso bird-woman sculpture in Daley Plaza, also appearing in The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller, and many other Chicago movies.

From here, walk west one block to LaSalle, then turn left. Head south five blocks to Adams to see the post office from The Untouchables. Continue another block south to Jackson, then east two blocks to Dearborn. You’ll pass the signature Chicago Elevated tracks, or “El”. The tracks encircle downtown and form the loop of “The Loop.” The next stop on your movie tour of Chicago’s Loop: the Union League Club at 65 West Jackson, host to Julia Roberts inMy Best Friend’s Wedding. Continue east three blocks back to Michigan Avenue. This ends your loop of the Loop and your downtown Chicago movie tour.

If you have time and want a fun add-on on the near North side you can see a few more great Chicago movie sites. Catch a northbound #145 bus along Michigan and head north to Walton Street, two blocks north of Water Tower Place. You’ll see the famous Drake Hotel. Tom Cruise visited twice: once for and Risky Business and then again for Mission: Impossible. The Drake also appears in the climax of Geena Davis, Dustin Hoffman’s and Andy Garcia’s Hero, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. A few blocks west is the Newberry Library, survivor of the Great Chicago Fire and recent filming site for The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Thanks for coming on this Chicago movie tour and enjoy your visit to the Second City.

“Movie Locations”,

Internet Movie Data Base

Labels: A Walking Movie Site Tour of Chicago's Loop

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