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My wife and I have both been very ill. So I have not had any time to be on this site. I appologise to all my friends for my absence.

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since 11/06/2004


OH E-Pipe 618 21/02/2016

A relaxing 'smoke'.

OH E-Pipe 618 For me smoking a pipe has always been more a male rather than female pursuit. When it became unfashionable to actually smoke tobacco products due to the health considerations for both the primary user and those who may also be affected by secondary smoke it was necessary to introduce some other method of getting the nicotine 'fix'. So the first generations of e-cigarettes were introduced but here, for me, I found there was a problem. There was a distinct lack of taste and there was nothing to see. They were heavier than the normal cigarettes and didn't feel "right". There was no plume of smoke arising and no exhausted smoke coming out of the smoker either. These may have been the good points but the lack of such obvious visual clues also was a drawback. Then there was the new "Vaping" which introduced a second generation of e-cigarettes. Here a replaceable liquid {#} was heated until it vaporized and this is what the 'smoker' draws into his/her mouth and possibly lungs. This is quite noticeable and gives an immediate visual cue to the 'smoker'. I found that 'smoking' these e-cigarettes was very similar to using an actual pipe so as there were actual pipes on the market I went and purchased one, the E pipe 618. Manufacturers advertising features. * Fashion and cool design of pipe shape * A healthy way of smoking, no harmless for yourself and people around you * No tobacco, burning, tar, cigarette butts and horrible smells * Convenient, durable and repeatable use * Can be ...

The Lost Starship - Vaughn Heppner 27/03/2015

A Hail Mary play.

The Lost Starship - Vaughn Heppner There is quite an extensive publicity synopsis for this work. It says;- "Ten thousand years ago, a single alien super-ship survived a desperate battle. The vessel's dying crew set the AI on automatic to defend the smashed rubble of their planet. Legend has it the faithful ship continues to patrol the empty battlefield, obeying its last order throughout the lonely centuries. In the here and now, Earth needs a miracle. Out of the Beyond invade the New Men, stronger, faster and smarter than the old. Their superior warships and advanced technology destroy every fleet sent to stop them. Their spies have infiltrated the government and traitors plague Earth’s military. Captain Maddox of Star Watch Intelligence wonders if the ancient legend could be true. Would such an old starship be able to face the technology of the New Men? On the run from killers, Maddox searches for a group of talented misfits. He seeks Keith Maker, a drunken ex-strikefighter ace, Doctor Dana Rich the clone thief stuck on a prison planet and Lieutenant Valerie Noonan, the only person to have faced the New Men in battle and survived to tell about it. Maddox has to find a place hidden in the Beyond and bring back a ship no one can enter. If he fails, the New Men will replace the old. If he succeeds, humanity might just have a fighting chance…" If ever there was a time for “Hail Mary play” # then this is it. The 'New Men' have captured three systems and absolutely nothing has been heard from them since. Three ...

Coopers of Stortford Electronic Vegetable and Fruit Peeler 12/03/2015

Hands free vegetable peeling

Coopers of Stortford Electronic Vegetable and Fruit Peeler The problem. Basically it’s getting older. Recently my wife has complained of a lack of power in her hands, specifically when opening jars or peeling potatoes. So ever the helpful sort I did a quick search on-line and bought this. The Solution. An electric vegetable peeler from Coopers of Stortford. We already had a battery powered, handheld type but my wife didn't like it any more. I'm sure that I saw an advert for this type though I cannot recall when or who the supplier was. What does the publicity say about this product? Peels potatoes. fruits and vegetables instantly at the push of a button The Robotized arm adjusts to every thickness, shape and textures. Includes a hand thumb knife to scoop out the potato eyes Built in storage underneath the unit: compartments for 2 spare blades plus battery storage and the handy thumb knife Operates with a 6V adaptor (included) and can also function with 4 AA batteries (not included) Measures H28.5cm xW14.5cm (11¼in x5¾). Made of durable ABS plastic. Item Weight: 449 g Boxed-product Weight: 640 g Shipping weight 1Kg or 2Lbs per unit. Bulk orders may vary. Not dishwasher safe. You are advised that this machine will cope with the following fruits and vegetables; Potatoes Cucumbers Apples Pears Peaches Turnips Onions Tomatoes Radishes Kiwis The product. On opening the plain brown cardboard box I found the unit securely wrapped in bubble plastic. It came with a 6v wall transformer plug ...

Vapourlites VL eGo 650 Electronic Cigarette 23/02/2015

Know your enemy or smoke free.

Vapourlites VL eGo 650 Electronic Cigarette In recent years my health has not been the best. Its part of the 'joys' of getting older that certain parts of our bodies start to fail. Add in certain injuries into the mix and you may not always expect a full and active life. It was back in 2004 that I was informed that I could expect 5-7 years more. In consultation with my doctors I had started to monitor certain vital elements in myself. After all I cannot run down to my doctor's surgery every few days so when one of these critical elements hit a trigger point it was time for an appointment. As a result certain changes were proposed to my lifestyle. I was informed in no uncertain terms that I had to stop smoking. So to please him and my wife, I said I would give it a try. It is very necessary that the person concerned has the desire and will to quit smoking. You may want to but be unable to overcome the craving for cigarettes so any program depends on you. I was advised (told) to wear patches and for an additional nicotine 'fix' I could suck on an inhaler. The nursing sister who dispensed said meds also stated that whilst the NHS had no definitive position on the e-cigarettes some people had found them useful. Now I had tried some of these e-cigarettes some time ago and whilst I had reviewed and even recommended them I had found that the ones I had used somewhat less than totally satisfactory in the long run. I believe now it was because of their lack of any taste, unless you had opted for menthol flavoured ...

Islands Of Rage And Hope - John Ringo 29/01/2015

A Sisyphean task (1).

Islands Of Rage And Hope - John Ringo Islands of rage and hope is the third installment of John Ringo's Black tide rising saga. Following the deliberate creation and release of a virus like organism most of mankind has perished or been turned into mindless flesh eating beings that are called "Zombies" by the survivors. Survival rates are about 1% of the pre plague population. These survivors exist in small pockets all over the world and for those who were at sea time is fast running out as their supplies are used. What started as a family enterprise by Steve Smith and his family (wife and two daughters) has now grown into a collection of some six thousand persons based on a number of ships both small and medium sized that have been salvaged from their former occupants. In many cases it was the infected who were swarming and had to be killed to the last one. There are remnants of the pre plague navy but they are submariners confined to their ships and here again supplies of food are starting to run low. Those who were uninfected cannot come into contact with the survivors in case they also come into contact with the virus. So a vaccine is urgently required. One was starting to be developed when everything fell apart so a first class hospital facility is a necessity. But when things fell apart there was lots of mindless destruction and there are still large numbers of the infecteds around on land. This work is about the search for such facilities and also about how people cope with the new reality. For ...

The Saviour - David Drake, Tony Daniel 18/01/2015

How do you overthrow a God?

The Saviour - David Drake, Tony Daniel In giving the background information on this and the previous work I may inadvertently give certain spoilers, though I try not to give away the full narrative of the plot elements. The Land. Duisberg is a land rather like ancient Egypt. Imagine a very large island or a small continent that has a high backbone of mountains. High enough to block the prevailing westerly winds. Even the lowest peaks are above seven thousand feet. So most of the rain and snow falls in these mountains and some forms glaciers. On very rare occasions some rain and snow will make it to the far side of the mountains where the river sits. This river drains the whole western side of the island/continent from these rare rains and glacier melt. As the river flows towards the sea it has cut a winding valley through the land. This falls in a number of steps to the actual river channel itself. Like the Nile there are cataracts along its length. It is this extremely long river valley that holds a civilization, about 950 miles long but not that wide averaging only some 20 miles but much less in places. River water is what is used to irrigate the land on either side of the river channel that is somewhat higher flatland using a mechanism that is itself water powered. Some buildings are of stone, most are of mud brick or wattle and daub. Domesticated animals are a kind of bird analogue that is used for pulling, riding and eating and a similar very dangerous crocodile analogue lives in the ...

Trial by Fire - Charles E Gannon 31/12/2014

Stoking the interstellar fires.

Trial by Fire - Charles E Gannon Sequel to national bestseller Fire with Fire. Science fiction adventure on a grand scale. The publicity write up for this novel is as follows:- "When reluctant interstellar diplomat and intelligence operative Caine Riordan returns from humanity's first encounter with alien races, sudden war clouds burst. With Earth's fleet shattered by a sneak attack and its survivors fighting for their lives, Caine must rely upon both his first contact and weaponry skills to contend with the non-humanoid enemy. And when the technologically-superior attackers sweep aside the solar system's last defenses and traitorous corporations invite the invaders to land 'security forces,' humanity fights back with its best weapons: cunning, inventiveness, and guts. But as Earth hurtles towards a final trial by fire that is certain to scar its collective memory, Caine discovers that there may also be large and disturbing gaps in that memory. Clues point to a much earlier inter-species apocalypse, buried in humanity's own prehistory. Which raises a terrifying possibility: what if the aliens' invasion of Earth is not one of conquest, but preemption? And what if their harrowing memories of a long-past cataclysmic war make them willing to do anything to keep it from reigniting? Even if that means exterminating the human race." The timeline for the events in this story is from Nov 2119 to June 2120 Suppose that humanity had quite a presence in space inside the Solar System. And one day ...

Coopers Delux Garden Machete 20/12/2014

Hack, slash and chop.

Coopers Delux Garden Machete The problem. With the back end of my garden over run with ivy I have been trying a number of different methods of control and eradication. There are quite a number of plants in close proximity that I don't want to loose so my powerful weedkiller is out. I do use it 'over the wall' onto my neighbours property in the hope of destroying a major portion of this infestation. But there are parts that can only be got at with a knife. I have used the bill hook on some portions but have decided that for some others a machete might just be the thing. The machete is a very heavy duty knife. It can be used for a number of agricultural purposes in cutting down vegetation and also in some domestic situations in chopping up veggies and carving. (Though I cannot see many people in this country doing that) I am rather unsure of the genesis of the machete; there appear to be quite a number of historical types that are rather similar. Many believing that the Greek Kopis which was a tool/weapon may be a progenitor; similarly the Saxon Seax, though generally far smaller, is similar. What ever the original forefather was this is an efficient chopping/cutting tool that occurs in many places around the world. Machete's in general. These should be made of a medium - high carbon steel. The blade is typically 32.5 to 45 centimeters (12.8 to 17.7 in) long and usually under 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. The handle is generally two pieces of wood that are either bolted or riveted on ...

Coopers Lightweight Mono-pod Camera Binocular Mount Walking Stick 13/12/2014

A useful thingy to have.

Coopers Lightweight Mono-pod Camera Binocular Mount Walking Stick There are times when walking with a stick places you at a certain disadvantage. To start with one hand has to hold on to the stick. So if you also happen to be keen on photography or birdwatching. you may only have one hand free to start. Also carrying around a lot of equipment like the camera, several lens types and either a tripod or mono-pod can leave you weighed down. Some of these things can be heavy and rather fiddly. So for quite some time I had been wondering about how to combine a walking stick with a mono-pod. I already have a large "Manfrotto" mono-pod and I tried using this as a walking stick but without a proper handle on the top it was somewhat less than satisfactory. It worked but was very heavy as the mono-pod is made of steel. (Why I didn't think to do an on-line search I cannot imagine) So when leafing through one of those catalogues that are sometimes included in magazines I was interested to see this for sale at a very reasonable price. Also if it doesn't work I haven't spent too much as I have since found that there are quite some examples for sale on-line at a wide variety of prices. So what do you get for your money? This is advertised as a lightweight item made of aluminum that can extend from 73cm to 155cm (28.75in-61in), and weighs in at just 400g (14oz). I measured it from fully closed ground tip to screw head at 76cm and fully extended at 159cm. There are large cartouches with STOP in them on the two inner poles. This is where I assume ...

Falcon Enamelware 45026 Dinner plate 30/11/2014

Not just for camping.

Falcon Enamelware 45026 Dinner plate This is the Falcon 45026 enamelware dinner plate. There isn't really that much that you can say about a dinner plate. Generally its round and you eat your dinner off it. But it can be more. Unlike ceramic or stoneware this plate is made of metal with two layers of porcelain enamel glaze applied to it. Enamelling is a process that has been known about for many centuries and has been used to make some exquisite jewelry. Basically it involves crushed glass, either coloured or plain with a metal ore for colour being mixed into a thick paste and plastered onto the base object and then the whole thing being fired hot enough to melt the glass but not the base. I would assume that the white colour comes from the rather ubiquitous titanium dioxide. It is a fairly heavy duty steel but like any enamel this will chip if handled violently. However unlike ceramic wear this plate will not break if dropped. This makes it a good product to take camping when any dinnerware is likely to endure a rougher passage than any delicate ceramics. But it is also very useful around the kitchen and table. This plate is rated for oven, freezer or dishwasher but is not rated for microwave use.(Though I have used it so) In colour it is white with a strip of blue applied to the outermost rim giving a rather retro look according to several reviews I have read. (Just like Granny had! Granny, I was using these as a young soldier. So perhaps I now deserve the title "Action man Granddad" that I ...

Pyrex Impressions Pie Dish 23/11/2014

What's tea on for tonight?

Pyrex Impressions Pie Dish The problem. Recently I suffered an accident in the kitchen. I had been cooking a chicken meal for my wife and myself when the pie dish I was using broke. Chicken and veggies all over the floor and I haven't even got a dog to help with the clearing up. I uttered some rather rude words in several languages then set about clearing up with my wife’s help whilst trying to figure what we could have quickly for food without recourse to the nearest take away. Then I started to try and find a replacement. I don't know quite why but it has taken quite a long time but eventually I found what I was searching for. The Pyrex "Impressions" pie dish. I sent off an order for two on a Tuesday and received my goods by Thursday. They arrived very securely packed in a large cardboard box. This was lined with a layer of large 'bubble' plastic and each dish was also completely wrapped in a further layer of this bubble plastic and secured with sticky tape marked 'fragile'. The box was also marked fragile. The dish. These dishes are advertised as:- *White *Pyrex Quality Guaranteed - Practical / Durable / Easy to use. Retains Heat Longer. Ideal for Serving *Oven safe up to 250 * C *Microwave safe *Dishwasher safe *Freezer safe up to - (minus) 20 In size the dish is some 28cm in diameter over two handles (one a side) that are 2cm in width. The sides are slightly fluted along the top edge and slope into the base that is some 24cm in diameter. The dish is almost 5cm deep. So ...

Neilsen Bill Hook Wooden Handle 14/11/2014

Weeds get the chop with this.

Neilsen Bill Hook Wooden Handle As I may have mentioned I am having a problem with ivy growing in from a neighbour’s garden. This garden is almost totally overgrown with this pesky stuff now not having been touched in many years. I wasn't even sure if that neighbour was still in residence but another neighbour assures me he is. Still this stuff was growing over the rear wall and even invading my shed. I had cut it back some time previously using a bowie knife, but this time the shoots were far thicker so that this knife was not effective. Now I do have my swords (1) but I was hardly going to use that! So it was on-line to get a heavier tool. I wanted a heavier chopping tool like a machete or a billhook, in the end I got both. This review concerns the billhook. History. The billhook is a tool whose history goes back a long way. Examples have been found dating to the Bronze Age; in fact I was watching an archeology programme the other day of an excavation of a Romano-British late Iron Age site when an example of this was unearthed. Traditionally these tools were made of low carbon mild steel as the hard edge of a sword isn't needed here and this tool can easily be re-sharpened in the field. As this is going to be used in the field then the edge may well come into violent contact with dirt, stones or even rocks by accident any of which could seriously damage the razor edge of a high-carbon steel sword or other bladed weapon. Primarily used in agriculture to cut woody materials such as shrubs and ...

Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook - Terry Pratchett 26/10/2014

For the discerning traveler.

Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook - Terry Pratchett Mrs. Bradshaw's handbook is a small book relating to Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Firstly the [roundworld] facts. George Bradshaw (1801-1853) was a cartographer, printer and publisher. He started by publishing railway timetables and that at a time when there were a great many companies all over the country. Some large, many small. Together with these timetables he started to include guides to the various towns and to the attractions therein. Details of good hotels and dining were a must for the traveler of this time. Michael Portillo has made several series of journeys using his (1863) Bradshaw’s guide which have been shown on television in half hourly segments whereby he visits towns and places mentioned in the original Bradshaw to find what remains of these attractions. [I'd love to see him try this] In 2013 Sir Terry Pratchett published a work entitled 'Raising steam' about the introduction of a steam powered railway onto the Discworld. In this work there is mention of a Mrs. Bradshaw who intends to travel on the new railway. The publicity synopsis says the following about this work:- Authorized by Mr Lipwig of the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway himself, Mrs. Georgina Bradshaw’s invaluable guide to the destinations and diversions of the railway deserves a place in the luggage of any traveler, or indeed armchair traveler, upon the Disc. *From the twine walk of Great Slack to the souks of Zemphis: edifying sights along the route ...

Rosate 36 12/10/2014

Domestic overkill.

Rosate 36 The garden of our house was starting to be infested with ivy growing over the back wall from a neighbour’s garden. My wife 'asked' me to 'do something' about it in that tone of exasperation that wives are sometimes known to take. Generally it means "I want it done now". So it was a case of looking into the problem. I had taken my Bowie type knife to this weed some time ago and had cut down rather a lot, or so I thought, but now it had really come on. This time my knife just wasn't enough. So I bought a billhook and chopped away. I could clear some but by no means all. Whilst on-line buying the billhook I had come across a deal for a sprayer and a 'strong' weedkiller. So I bought it without doing my usual rather extensive research first. (My mistake) What arrived in the post was a cardboard box containing a 1 liter bottle of Rosate 36, described as -Very strong professional Glyphosate weedkiller. Apparently this one litre bottle can be used to cover an area of 2000 square meters!!! and it will kill practically every plant including trees. (#) Upon examination of this bottle I found that it was predominately for agricultural use rather than any domestic product. As a part of the deal you receive a set of thin surgical type gloves and a measuring cap. I would most firmly recommend that before opening the bottle you put on a mask and gloves. The product bottle comes with a child proof lid that I had to cut through before opening. Even then there is a shiny ...

Kingfisher 5 Litre Pressure Sprayer 28/09/2014

Pump up the pressure

Kingfisher 5 Litre Pressure Sprayer The problem. The back end of my garden is becoming over run with ivy from a neighbours property. It appears that he is rather eccentric, according to another neighbour. It is said be doesn't like green and gardening so he hasn't done anything about his garden in years. Now most of it is bare concrete, or it was as it has slowly been covered by ivy. So it was time for me to do something about it especially as I found that the ivy had penetrated into my garden shed. Having examined the problem, I couldn't just climb into his property and attack the weed; I had to have some extra tools to do a job. Part of the job could be directly attacked with a sharp blade. I tried my trusty Bowie knife but that proved too small, so I bought a bill hook. This proved rather more effective but there was a lot I couldn't reach so I had to go with a chemical weedkiller. Having decided that I wanted a sprayer it was time to decide what type. I certainly didn't want a small hand type as the area to be covered is rather large. Anything less than 1 Litre just wouldn’t be worth while. It all depends on just what area you want to cover. Too small a sprayer and you are having to break off to refill. To large and you have unused capacity. But I didn't want one that was too big either. Remembering that water weighs in at almost 1Kg per litre I didn’t want to be lugging around too great a weight either. So that ruled out the higher quantity end. I didn't want to spend too much either. I wanted ...
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