Roku's Streaming Stick helps make travel not as horrible

I hate to travel, but Roku's Streaming Stick lets me take my home TV viewing experience with me.

While we've tried AppleTV, Xbox One, and a Google Chromecast stick, my daughter and I both prefer Roku. We've got all the apps we like loaded, and our profile's and linked devices keep everything current.

The stick is just too handy. I plug it into the back of my hotel room's TV and magically all my media appears.

Roku Streaming Stick (3600R) (2016 Model) via Amazon Read the rest

Red Star Tales: A Century of Russian and Soviet Science Fiction

Russian science fiction is rarely cheerful or upbeat, but if you want to read some fantastic dystopian futures, Red Star Tales is the collection for you. Read the rest

Chew resistant leash for dogs who need a chew resistant leash

Oh, Nemo! My Great Pyrenees has yet to chew through this $15 rope leash.

I tell my housesitters to never leave Nemo tied up to anything. Ignoring the obvious risk he'll pull whatever you've tied him to apart, Nemo only takes a few seconds to chew his way free of most fabric and some braided metal cables. This leash holds up better than most.

The woven "mountain climbing rope" takes a bit more mastication and chewing on than a normal ribbon style one. This extends the time you can turn your back from approximated 90 seconds to perhaps 4 minutes. If I go for 5 minutes, I will usually find a Great Pyrenees wandering close to the nearest source of food.

The rope is moderately reflective. The handle comfortable. The clip heavy duty. This is a pretty good leash for big dogs.

Best Soft reflective Dog training Leash- Chew resistant 4ft. bright nylon increased safety for night walking - for Medium and Large breeds via Amazon Read the rest

Frank Ostaseski's 'Five Invitations'

The Five Invitations shares Frank Ostaseski's decades of experience helping hospice patients and their loved ones turn their grief and loss towards a fuller life. Written from the heart, Frank's experiences and observations are invaluable. Read the rest

Saved by a tempered glass screen protector, again

My daughter called me, laughing, to say she'd need another tempered glass screen protector for her iPhone.

These extra layers of glass on your phone really work. $8 every 4 months is a lot better than losing $100 every 2.

OMOTON 2.5D Round Edge 9H Tempered Glass Anti-Scratch Screen Protector for iPhone SE/ 5S/ 5C/ 5 - Clear (2 Pack) via Amazon Read the rest

Fantastic vinyl Star Wars Rebels Chopper bobblehead

This is a beautiful model of Chopper. Star Wars Rebels C1-10P is a sociopathic astromech, and my favorite droid!

Rescued from the wreckage of a Clone Wars Y Wing fighter by a young Hera Syndulla, Chopper is one cantankerous old warrior. I've loved him the first, and watched dutifully for his appearance in Rogue One. My favorite scene with Chop is probably the one where he suggests leaving an annoying force-sensitive baby on a boobytrapped starship.

Now Chopper can hang out next to the BB-8 I never play with.

Funko Pop Star Wars Rebels Chopper Vinyl Bobble-Head Figure, 3.75-Inch via Amazon Read the rest

Kitchen shears to spatchcock a chicken

I needed kitchen shears, so I might spatchcock a chicken. These do the job nicely.

This fantastic video from America's Test Kitchen has kept me busy. It involves fun uses of cast iron.

I'm eager to try the 500F heated cast iron steak searing method, the chicken was fantastic. I also just like saying spatchcock.

KitchenAid Shears with Soft Grip Handles, Black via Amazon Read the rest

I tried a reader recommended $31 fountain pen

Reader Longname, via the Boing Boing BBS, suggested I try the TWSBI ECO. This $31 stainless steel nibbed fountain pen looks cool and is perfectly functional. Read the rest

A hat brush for brushing your hat

Got lint on your felt fedora? You need a hat brush.

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Quickly touch up waxed cotton waterproofing

This has been one heck of a rainy winter! Touching up spots where lots of water has washed the finish off my aging Belstaff Trialmaster is easiest when done with a bar of Otter Wax.

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Frostgrave, the popular fantasy skirmish game, gets a devilishly-good supplement

Last year, I had the pleasure of exploring “the Frozen City” of Felstad, aka Frostgrave, the ridiculously fun, retro-reminiscent fantasy miniatures game from Osprey. Designer Joseph McCullogh and Osprey have followed up the highly-successful Frostgrave book with a series of excellent supplements. The latest of these is Forgotten Pacts.

Frostgrave is a very psycho-geographical game, where the ancient, ruined, and magic-saturated city of Felstad is really a central character in the game. One of the things each follow-up book does is shine a light into some new corner of that dark and ruined world. And with that light is also illuminated new stories of the city’s past, new wizard and warband types, new magic, treasures to unearth, and new monstrous adversaries.

Forgotten Pacts accomplishes two goals in advancing the game and the setting of Frostgrave. It introduces a new region, the northern reaches of Felstad, and the barbarian tribesmen who have come down from the hills to plunder and explore there. The book also introduces a new magical discipline for courageous wizards to attempt: demonic summoning using pacts. Demon summoning was de rigor in this region of the city during its heyday and the barbarians have re-rediscovered the lost art of it among the temple ruins and incorporated the practice into their way of life. Venturing into this region, players’ wizards get the opportunity to find a demon’s True Name (basically an unpronounceable name rendered as a sigil) among the ruins, and with that name, attempt to conjure and forge a pact with a demon. Read the rest

iPhone 7 series Lightning audio + charging adaptor $10

Apple lives to make cables a problem. Here's the new iPhone 7 series adaptor you need at a price you can tolerate.

I hate spending more energy managing my iPhone's battery levels than I do enjoying a road trip. This adaptor solves Apple's latest giant cabling fuck you.

2 in 1 Lightning Adapter and Charger , Lightning to 3.5mm Aux Headphone Jack Audio Adapter for iphone 7 / 7 plus via Amazon Read the rest

Doane Paper: Grids + Lines for note taking with a fountain pen

Doane Paper makes wonderful pocket-sized notebooks with paper that is fantastically compatible with fountain pens.

I absolutely love my Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks, but they are big and rigid. These 5"x7" Doane Paper pads have similarly awesome paper, and fit in casual clothes pockets, if you need small they also make 3"x5".

The paper is slightly off-white and is quadruled with a light blue. My Levenger, Pilot and Parker's all glide over the paper very smoothly, tho the Pilot Vanishing point definetly shows its "travel-ness" when compared to the Duo-fold. Ink gets absorbed quickly and only slightly bleeds through unless I write with a heavy hand. I tried various Noodlers and Parker Quink black. Noodler's Blue Nose Bear is almost the same color as the grid lines.

Doane Paper Large Utility Edition, 3-Pack Grid + Lines Memo Notebooks via Amazon Read the rest

A pet stain and odor eliminator that really works

Repeated rainy days and limited opportunities to go outside sometimes put my dogs in a bad spot. When they relieve themselves indoors, Sunny and Honey is the best clean-up solution I've found.

The weather has been pretty rough here for most of January. Dog walks have been few and hard to come by. Occasionally someone makes 'a mistake' and when that happens I don't want my home to stink, so out comes the Sunny and Honey.

I've tried a number of brands. Sunny and Honey does a wonderful job of removing light stains and eliminating any pee pee smells. It is also very useful on cat and dog vomit, which happens year round. The light mint scent fades very quickly, and with it any sign that someone has made 'a mistake.'

As a person who lives with a lot of pets, Sunny and Honey is a must have.

Sunny and Honey Pet Stain & Odor Miracle - Enzyme Cleaner for Dog and Cat Urine, Feces, Vomit, Drool via Amazon Read the rest

Chew toys that last a giant dog multiple rainy days

I have a giant dog. Nemo is a Great Pyrenees. Finding toys that'll entertain him, without becoming shredded or hazardous, is challenging.

This rainy season we've been trapped inside quite a bit. Nemo gets a bit of nervous energy when this happens, and if I don't channel it into fun toys and distractions I'll be calling a carpenter.

Starmark's Wheeler is the longest lasting and most durable in their Everlasting Treat line. These toys allow a fitted, dense chewable to be inserted into a toy with the idea of making the treat accessible but still require work to chew. Nemo loves the Chicken and Bacon flavored treats, and one of either will last 2 days of chewing at it, or more. After several months of use The Wheeler itself has some small tears, but it has withstood multiple hours of chewing. Nemo frequently carries it around the house with him, keeping the Wheeler close at hand incase he wants to start working on it again.

The Amazon price on the treats is around 60% less than what I was paying at my local petshop.

Nemo's other favorite rainy day distraction these days, aside from barking, is his trusty old XXL KONG Extreme. I've only had to buy one. This sucker lasts, and lasts. My smaller dog, Pretzel, is the second generation of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to chew hers. These toys have not even got teeth marks on them, after years of abuse. The KONG is one of the easiest toys I've found to distract a dog for 30-45 minutes. Read the rest

Tempered glass screen protectors avert 4 disasters in 2 months

About 2 months ago I wrote about trying a tempered glass screen protector. I'm going to say they work great. I'm a fan of the Omoton brand ones, they make them for almost every glass fronted device.

About 2 weeks into iPhone stewardship, my 9-year-old texted to report her first screen break. I was concerned and highly interested -- did just the protector break, or the phone's actual screen? The screen protector worked wonderfully, it shattered but stuck to the undamaged screen. The phone remained usable even with the protector cracked. When next I saw her, we replaced it with the 2nd in the 2-pack and off on her merry way she went.

I was actually putting the wrenches back in their plasti-form wrench box neatly for once. One slipped from my hand and struck my waiting iPhone midscreen. A small impact spot, like a bullet shot, had several spiderweb veins reaching across the protector. Screen undamaged.

Over the holidays my daughter was off on the east coast with her mother's family. I got call telling me she'd need a new screen protector but everything was OK. Seems her phone went down a flight of stairs. I went back to Amazon and splurged on another $7.00 set of 2 for her phone.

Not everything went wrong that could go wrong during my VW Vanagon Westfalia adventure to an oasis in the deserts of northern Baja Mexico, but a hell of a lot that didn't have to did. During a trip that involved as much bad judgement as beautiful vistas, I dropped my phone on more than a few rocks and only the FSM knows what else. Read the rest

Inside XTC's "Complicated Game"

It is perhaps very telling that all of the review blurbs on the back cover of Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt's Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC are written by fellow musicians and songwriters. Andy Partridge has always been a musician's musician.

Complicated Game is a series of candid and detailed interviews with Andy Partridge about many of XTC's most well-known songs. Todd Bernhardt, the interviewer, is a fellow musician, XTC mega-fan, and friend of Andy's, so they don't shy away from discussing the nitty-gritty details of chord changes, instruments used, studio hacks, and other compositional and engineering minutia.

In the chapter on "Senses Working Overtime," Andy explains how the whole song came about as he was fooling around on a new Martin guitar and he played a "messed-up E-flat." He thought it sounded very Medieval so he tried to find other chords that went with it (A-flat minor and D-flat). He says the rest of the song sort of composed itself from there. We also learn that "English Settlement" was their "new instruments record." The bandmembers had all just gotten new instruments (Andy, the Martin, Dave Gregory, a 12-string Richenbacker, Colin Moulding, a fretless bass) and they were excited to noodle around on them to see what they could do.

There are many other interesting and fun revelations in the book. "This is Pop," from White Music, was Andy's way of rejecting the pigeonholing of the punk label, making sure that everyone was reminded that this is pop music, plain and simple, and that ain't a dirty word. Read the rest

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