Gorilla Rack shelving units are awesome

10 years ago we decluttered our garage and Carla bought several Gorilla Rack shelving units from Amazon. They are awesome. I've assembled shelving units before, and they required either nuts and bolts or little brackets, but the Gorilla Rack units have parts that fit together without extra hardware. I built the first shelving unit in about 30 minutes. The second one took me 15 minutes, and the third one was done in 10 minutes. The pieces fit together without any fussing and the unit is free of sharp edges. It's very sturdy, too. Read the rest

Exhaustive reviews of ceiling fans

I'm considering buying the Oxygen Solis [Amazon], a tactical EDC ceiling fan, and chanced across the YouTube channel Vintage Fans and More looking for opinions. It's a large collection of surprisingly informative reviews of ceiling fans, visits to fan manufacturers and ceiling fan trade shows, etc., and the creator is up-front about his connections to the trade.

He even has the perfect hairstyle for illustrating turbulent air vortices.

Vintage Fans & More is a unique place where past and present meet, and where the future is awaited with great anticipation. What began on YouTube as a preservation of yesteryear’s electric fans has grown to encompass not only fans from every era, but also other areas of lighting design and home decor. Expect an unexpected variety; this is a new expansion for VF&M in the greater world of design, spanning decades and bringing them together in one place.

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A good solar powered LED illuminated street address sign

I bought this solar powered LED illuminated street address sign earlier this month and am really happy with it. The light is is bright and makes it easy for people to find our house. It comes with several sheets of adhesive numbers that you stick onto a white plastic panel. It also comes with mounting screws, but I attached it to the side of a metal mailbox so I used outdoor mounting tape instead. My address has five numbers and I had no problem fitting them on the panel, using the included cardboard placement template.

I paid full price for it, but the seller has a code 5UZYEDUV to let you buy it at a good discount. Read the rest

Extend your Wi-Fi with powerline networking

I’ve tried many ways to extend Wi-Fi through my house. Powerline networking, which creates networks through electrical wiring, works the best for me. TP-Link has this kit with 2 units. One unit plugs into your wall outlet and router. The other unit can be plugged into any wall outlet in your house to provide Wi-Fi in that area. I've had great results with it.

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Good deal on an excellent cat scratching post

We have three cats. We bought this large heavy duty scratching post in December 2015 and all three cats used it countless times throughout the day. By February 2018 it was pretty thrashed so we bought a replacement. They never get tired of using it. They also like to jump onto the little platform at the top to survey the room. We bought a second one for the upstairs. Highly recommended. Read the rest

Excellent low-cost brush pens for art and calligraphy

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens come in a 2-pack for on Amazon. They look like pens, but instead of a nib they have a brush, which allows you to draw lines of varying widths. They’re a lot of fun to use. Read the rest

I reviewed William Gibson's novel "Agency" for today's LA Times

My latest LA Times review is for William Gibson's new novel Agency, sequel to his outstanding 2014 novel "The Peripheral," which marked his return to explicitly futuristic science fiction after his amazing and audacious "Pattern Recognition" novels, which treated the recent past as though it was a speculative future setting. Read the rest

Year of the Rabbit: a graphic novel memoir of one family's life under the Khmer Rouge

In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.

The Monsters Know What They're Doing: an RPG sourcebook for DMs who want to imbue monsters with deep, smart tactics

For years, Keith Ammann has maintained his blog, The Monsters Know What They're Doing, in which he carefully laid out the logical tactics that the monsters of Dungeons and Dragons would use in combat, based on their alignment, stats, and habitats, creating sophisticated advice for Dungeon Masters hoping to move their combat encounters from rote stab-stab-kill affairs into distinctive, memorable strategy-and-tactics affairs that created not just variety and challenges for players, but also depth and verisimilitude. Now, Ammann's work has been collected in the first of two planned volumes: The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters is one of the most interesting, thoughtful, smart RPG sourcebooks I've ever read.

A Public Service: a comprehensive, comprehensible guide to leaking documents to journalists and public service groups without getting caught

In A Public Service, activist/trainer Tim Schwartz presents the clearest-ever guide to securely blowing the whistle, explaining how to exfiltrate sensitive information from a corrupt employer -- ranging from governments to private firms -- and get it into the hands of a journalist or public interest group in a way that maximizes your chances of making a difference (and minimizes your chances of getting caught).

Review: Aeropress Go, the best travel coffee you'll ever brew

I've been writing about the Aeropress coffee maker for years, an ingenious, compact, low-cost way of brewing outstanding coffee with vastly less fuss and variation than any other method. For a decade, I've kept an Aeropress in my travel bag, even adding a collapsible silicone kettle for those hotel rooms lacking even a standard coffee-maker to heat water with.

After more than a decade, Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg's YA classics The PLAIN Janes are back!

[I adored Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg's YA graphic novels The PLAIN Janes and Janes in Love, which were the defining titles for the late, lamented Minx imprint from DC comics. A decade later, the creators have gotten the rights back and there's a new edition Little, Brown. We're honored to have an exclusive transcript of Cecil and Jim in conversation, discussing the origins of Plain Janes. Make no mistake: this reissue is amazing news, and Plain James is an underappreciated monster of a classic, finally getting another day in the spotlight. If you haven't read it, consider yourself lucky, because you're about to get another chance. -Cory]

This cheap professional grade electric razor is an upgrade I never knew I wanted

I started going bald in my mid-twenties, thanks to a combination of stress and shitty genes. I put up with it, right up to the point where I started thinking about getting a hair cut that would mask the amount of hair that I had lost. Realizing that, for me at least, this was the way to vain insanity, I went to my barber and told him to shave it all off, right down to the wood. I've been shaving my head ever since. For close to two decades, that shaving was done with either a straight razor or an old school safety razor, depending on whether or not I was traveling. Unfortunately, my relationship with sharp things and hot lather came to an end this past September. As part of  a physical with my new family doctor, it was discovered that I had an 80% blockage in my ticker—I'd been trying to kill myself, for years, with booze and bad food (and once again, shitty genes.) I had a stent put in me and was prescribed a ton of cardiac-related medications, blood thinners, included. My doctor made it clear that shaving with an exposed blade needed to be a thing that I didn't do anymore. Any injuries to my scalp, no matter how minor, would bleed like a sunovabitch. "You should invest in an electric razor," My cardiologist told me. "You'll get used to it, real quick," my friend Richard, who'd has a stent put in his heart the year before, told me. Read the rest

Review: SpotHero should be called SpotZero

SpotHero is an app that lets you reserve parking in advance. It seemed like a cool idea, so I installed it and gave it a try when I had a business lunch on Tuesday. I entered the name of the restaurant in Hollywood and SpotHero showed me a map of parking spots near the restaurant. I found one on the corner of Argyle and Sunset for $6.

When I arrived at the parking lot, I found that the entrance was barricaded. A worker standing by the entrance told me that the entire lot had been rented for the day. I showed her my SpotHero reservation, and she called for the lot attendant who came over told me the same thing. He said I could go to another lot at the corner of Hollywood and Vine and that I "might be able to work something out with them." He described the lot, but when I drove there I couldn't find the lot he was talking about, and I had my doubts that they would let me park there anyway.

At this point, I was already late for my meeting. Fortunately, I found a metered spot in the street, which is rare for this area, and paid $8 for 2 hours. So I ended up being late and paying $14 for parking.

After my meeting, I contacted SpotHero through Twitter to let them know about the problem with the lot. I received a reply on Wednesday morning:

This is Emily from SpotHero, our Social Media Monitor passed your information along to me.

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92-year-old's memoir tells the forgotten story of a German official who sabotaged Nazi deportations and saved more Jews than Schindler

Hans Calmeyer was a left-wing German lawyer -- his law license was temporarily suspended when he was accused of being a Communist -- who was inducted into the German army under the Nazis, who put him in charge of an office that determined which Dutch people would be deported to Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation. Read the rest

Mozilla updates its "Privacy Not Included" gift guide for 2019

As with last year, the Mozilla Foundation's privacy researchers have produced a guide to electronic gifts called "Privacy Not Included," which rates gadgets on a "creepiness" scale, with devices like the Sonos One SL dumb "smart speaker" (Sonos ripped out all the junk that isn't about playing music) getting top marks, and Ring Security Cams, Nest Cams, Amazon Echos, and other cam/mic-equipped gadgets coming in as "Super Creepy!" (the exclamation point is part of the rating). Read the rest

Why do new psychotherapies work, and then stop?

On Slate Star Codex, psychiatrist Scott Alexander offers a "book review of "All Therapy Books", which is a jumping-off point for asking how it is that psychotherapy is periodically rocked by new therapies that seem to perform incredibly well, but whose confirmed efficacy shelves off over time. Read the rest

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