Products & Merchandise

How ’bout some “Drop-Dead” shower caddies….

I can’t recall that I have ever purchased a ‘shower caddy’ before but was certainly familiar with what they were and the purpose they served. And given the fact that a shower caddy is such a very common bathroom accessory and available product, well past that I never gave them much thought. That was until yesterday morning when I decided I needed one to hang on the shower door of my home’s half-bath.

Walmart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and of course Amazon, I just knew they would be available from all types of outlets. So as always the first thing I did was consulted the Google search to see who had what and exactly what style might catch my eye. Given the fact that these are but mere shower caddies probably selling from between $10 to $30, it shouldn’t be hard to find one I liked.

Search engines are a bit like roulette wheels given you never know who is going to show up in the number one position of Google. But coming up first yesterday morning was the big box hardware store Lowe’s. Now at that moment I thought that was great, after all I only live about a mile or so from a local Lowe’s store. So I did a search on the Lowe’s website for shower caddies and the first of those drop-dead caddies showed up. Now trust me, before you look at the Lowe’s ad shown below you need to have taken all your heart medication because I guarantee you’re about to see a drop-dead shower caddy….

OK…. now if you’re still with me I hope you noted that the caddy is even made of plastic and it looks like a 3-tier soap dish to me. And that price does definitely say $399, I know cause I stared at it for almost five minutes, mouth open thinking I was hallucinating. Then I thought that perhaps the shower caddy was somehow permanently attached to the shower so the shower itself came with it. Now that would make sense but alas, the price was just for the shower caddy it turns out.

After regaining my composure I concluded that surely that was simply a typo in the ad with regard to the price. So I dropped down to the next shower caddy and there it was, the generic shower caddy that one would think they could get just about anywhere for $15 to $20 but not this one, this was another one of those drop-dead Lowe’s shower caddies….

Well, that was the last straw for me. Time to leave ‘la-la land’ or OZ or where ever the hell I was, regain my composure and go find one of the surely millions of shower caddies priced accordingly. I decided to go to Amazon next and within a matter of minutes had found the caddy I wanted.

As you may have readily noted the Amazon caddy which is quite similar to the Lowe’s caddy just above, it is only $19.99, made of steel and is available in two different styles and three different finishes. So not only is it $295 dollars cheaper but it is actually more versatile. Now I don’t pretend to know what is going on with the Lowe’s shower caddies shown above nor do I intend to pursue an answer. Fact of the matter is I was simply so taken back and shocked at the Lowe’s prices that I just had to share the experience and of course, the “drop-dead” shower caddies! 🙁

The CFL… No, not the Canadian Football League!

I recently had a CFL (Compact Flourescent Lamp) in my kitchen that would begin blinking rapidly, sometimes even going off after a period of time. I would always go over and switch it off at the light swith when that happened, then switch it back on to see if it would stop the blinking. It wouldn’t but I found if I waited for a couple of minutes and then flipped the switch back on and the light would again be working fine. It would normally work fine for 30 – 45 minutes before it would start acting up. My kitchen ceiling bulb is 150 watt and they are fairly expensive bulbs so it was my intent to squeeze every penny of my purchase price out of it before ultimately disposing of it for non-performance.

Normally I was only in the kitchen for short periods so the bulb would not be an issue, it usually acted up in the evening when I would be cooking my evening meal since I was spending a longer time in my kitchen. Finally however it got to be more of an aggravation than my ‘chef’ temperment could digest so I got a new bulb from cabinet and replaced it.

End of story, right? Well, not so fast it would seem. After I removed and replaced the bulb and then began to closely look at the bulb I saw obvious burn marks at the bulb base and melted plastic which gave me a real jolt and I found quite disconcerting. It looked to me that I was holding in my hand what appeared to be a definite fire hazard. I took the photos below of the bulb, to see a larger version be sure and click on the photo….

CFL Bulb - 01

CFL Bulb - 02
CFL Bulb - 03

I decided this issue warranted some serious investigation so I immediately began checking into this issue on-line I was totally surprised at what I was to read from several seemingly reliable sources. First and foremost was the fact that what I am seeing in those photographs of my bulb are absolutely normal characteristics of the bulb and present no fire risk whatsoever. Are you kidding me? Burnt, melted bases are normal with a CFL?

Below is a specific quote from National Geographic’s ‘Green Guide’ regarding the burn marks and associated melting similar to those shown in my photographs….

“Bulbs burn out when the ballast overheats and an electronic component, the Voltage Dependent Resistor (VDR), opens up like a fuse in your home’s fuse box, shutting off the circuit and generating heat and possibly a small amount of smoke. This might sound dangerous, but the VDR is a cut-off switch that prevents any hazards. The melted plastic you’re seeing where the glass coil connects to the ballast is simply a sign that the heat is escaping as intended in the design of the bulb.”

In a nutshell, healthy CFL bulbs may emit a bit of smoke and smell and have burnt-looking bases when they die, but that’s as it should be — there’s no fire danger to any of that, and indeed the bulbs are functioning properly when they act that way.

However, flames shooting out the side of a bulb is not the way things should be. It needs be kept in mind that any electrical device can malfunction, either through manufacturing defects or as a result of misuse by consumers. Says Globe of the bulb in the photo, “As for this particular incident, the mention of flames/fire in the story is certainly outside of the norm and as such we would encourage the consumer to bring the bulb to their local fire marshal and/or safety authority to further investigate.”

Well, it may be standard operating procedure for them but I find that a bit hard to come to terms with. Besides, whose sitting around spending all their time watching light bulbs to see if their bases are melting or even worse, shooting out fire.

I’ve currently got mostly CFL bulbs though out the house with a few exceptions of some old incandescent that haven’t given up the ghost yet. I have never purchased one of the new LED light bulbs but understand they are quite expensive. Well expensive or not, it may be time to abandoned the CFL league of bulbs. I don’t think melted and burned bases is something I’m comfortable with living with…. 🙁

Fellow consumer, here’s a little trick of the trade!

As a consumer, I have from time to time purchased an item, usually something electronic in nature, that doesn’t do what I had thought it would do or at the very least, hoped it would do. Sometimes getting less than we expected in a product we purchased can be blamed on misleading advertisement or more often than not, just the lack of sufficient information about the product at the time of our purchase.

Well, a while back I found a great way to help resolve many of those disappointments and frustrations. That is to simply go on-line, locate the “user manual” for the specific product your interested in purchasing, downloading it via the Internet and reading through it prior to making a purchase. These user manuals by the way are almost always made available in ‘pdf’ format. I have to admit that more times than not I have found that the product I thought I wanted would not actually fulfill all my expectations. On occasion however, there were times when it actually exceeded my expectations.

FZ-150 User Manua;

My most recent buying experience was to review and contemplate the purchase of a specific new digital camera. Having specific needs and desires regarding the camera’s capabilities, I went to the manufacturer’s website, queried the “model number/user manual” (Lumix FZ150 User Manual) I was contemplating purchasing, and was able to download the appropriate user manual and get all the detailed information I needed to confirm this was the appropriate item for me to purchase that would suit my needs. Often you can just “Google” the model of the item you are interested in followed by the words ‘user manual’ and get it that way. These downloaded user manuals are almost always the exact manual you will get in the box with your purchase. And in most cases the downloaded version is much easier to read on your computer than they are in their physical state. As an example, here are three 3) typical manuals I downloaded for products I have purchased…

AT&T Cordless Telephone User Manual

Craftsman Electric Edger – User Manual

Philips Sonicare User Manual

I have done this in the past for electric shavers, vacuum cleaners, portable telephones and cameras as well as those included above. You might want to give it a try next time you are considering a purchase that most probably has a manual of some sort required for its use and/or maintenance. 🙂

The New Alarm Clock….

Alarm ClockI have for a while now been looking for a computer-based alarm clock and have finally found one very much to my liking. I should quickly note that such computer-based alarm clocks of course do not function if the computer is turned off when it is time for the alarm to go off so that is obviously important to note. But you do want it to function when the computer is turned on, even when the computer is in the so called ‘sleep’ mode. I have finally found one much to my liking.

For me personally, when I am even washing or drying clothes I need that little reminding nudge to remind me that my clothes have finished washing or drying as the case may be. This little alarm clock is perfect for those sorts of tasks. Sometimes I may need to call my sister a couple of days from now or perhaps make an appointment in a day or two. This is again an easy way to document that reminder so that I have backup if I don’t remember which is more likely than not at my age. There are several alarm sounds available to choose from, anything from a crowing rooster to a cuckoo clock. There are of course bells, buzzers and horns for something a little less entertaining. I have set mine up to play a rousing musical selection.

Now I am neither selling this software nor do I have any vested interest. I’m just very picky about my alarm clocks and this one for me personally fits the bill in a number of ways. If you want to get rid of that string round your finger or all those dang sticky notes stuck everywhere, you might want to look into something like this. The software company offering this particular alarm clock, Comfort Software Group, has a free version which is great if you just want something that works within the confines of a 24-hour period and is pretty basic. Here is a link to that one for downloading…. Free Alarm Clock

For the much more sophisticated version where you can pick both dates and times, either one-time or recurring, and much more. You can do everything with this one in my estimation. You can download a fully-functional trial version (30 day trail) of this particular one and then if you decide it serves you well, you can then purchase your lifetime license for $19.95 and have an alarm clock for life! Here is the link for that one…. Hot Alarm Clock

Out with the old…. In with the new!

Old-Ironing-Board-Cover-Old-Grey-BoyPerhaps it’s just me but sometimes we humans can be quite an odd lot. Especially when it comes to some of the choices we make in our day to day lives.

Being “frugal” I would think is an admirable human trait but our individual application of such an act in our daily lives can at times border on the completely ridiculous to the outright hilarious.

Such an example has just occurred in my own life recently. Last Thursday, after some 43 years as best I can estimate, my ironing board cover as well as my patience for dealing with such a relic reached its final conclusion. I refused to deal with the aggravation of the old cover any longer and went out and purchased a new one.

Now the old one back in the early 1970’s when I figure I bought it probably cost me around $7 to $10 dollars, perhaps. My new one I just purchased was $19.19. But here is the puzzler in all of this. When it comes to items of considerable expense such as an automobile, for the least little excuse I use to go out and trade my perceived heap of junk which normally was only around three years old and purchase a new one and we are talking thousands of dollars here. Perhaps the car did have a nick or two on it or even a small scratch but had it reached its dismal end? Well of course not!

New-Ironing-Board-Cover-Tropical-Splender

I consider myself being endowed with a reasonable amount of common sense so why would one hang on to an ironing board cover that is literally falling apart and that would only cost $20 to replace… and yet go out and trade for new cars every few years when the new car smell had barely disappeared from a car which costs thousands of dollars, to say the least?

Obviously I cannot answer my own posed question so I am left within the grasps of a self inflicted conundrum. Referring back to my opening statement where I surmised we were all part of an odd lot was perhaps a bit presumptuous on my part. Perhaps I am the only human among us who would dare to keep an ironing board cover for 43 years and then complain about having to buy a new one!

Status Symbol Extraordinaire – The White Sidewall

Fifties Cars - 109

In many cultures automobiles, as well as being a means of transportation of course, have also enjoyed being status symbols for the most part. And in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in particular one of the primary accessories for those automobiles that was foremost in contributing to their standing as a status symbol were white sidewall tires. And if you were unfortunate enough to not have white sidewall tires, well you could be assured that you were for the most part completely ignored by your fellow automobile owners.

Just about everyone was smitten with the white sidewall tire status symbol. You wanted them on your car, you wanted them on your motorcycle, your bicycle, your tricycle or if you were fortunate enough, even your pedal car.

White Sidewall Combo(Click to Enlarge)

It was easy to absorb the cost of such tires when purchasing a car but when it came time to replace those worn out tires, that was a whole different story. They didn’t come cheap because the tire manufacturers knew what the consumer preferred. Black sidewall tires were considerably cheaper but humiliating to have to put on your automobile, but in the end you had to go with what you could afford.

Walla, enters the “Port-A-Wall”….

Port-A-Wall-Example(Click to Enlarge)

The Port-A-Wall was a stand-alone white sidewall that could actually be installed onto a black sidewall tire replicating white sidewalls. They were an immediate hit. Especially with those of us who were teenagers and were fortunate to even own a car. Nothing worse than being dumped by a girlfriend because your car didn’t have white sidewall tires! Whatever one chose to call them… portawalls, slap-ons, flappers, Mickies or just plain old fake white walls they saved our young collective teenage asses when it came to the women.

They did take some effort and a little work to install properly. You had to deflate each tire and slip the inside edge of the white wall under the wheel rim, then re-inflate the tire thereby securing the inside edge of the white sidewall under the rim of the tire which held the sidewall in place. Here is a short video for those who have any interest as to how it is exactly done.

In closing it should be noted that those subject Port-A-Walls are still available to this day. Last time I checked they were running on average anywhere from $50 to $75 for a set of four. White sidewall tires are no longer the status symbol they once were. Now days everyone wants black sidewalls and lots of ‘tire shine’. Go figure… 😕

Taking it to the limit one day at a time….

I probably shouldn’t write about this subject without knocking on wood since I don’t want to jinx myself or bring down any bad luck on myself but….

I’m curious, do any of you have something that has for all practical purposes outlived its standard ‘shelf life’ of some measure but you have boldly taken it where no man has gone before? Well, such is the case with my refrigerator I think. My Kenmore refrigerator was manufactured in June of 1989 and I purchased it in the fall of 1990 at Sears. So it would seem I am approaching my 25th anniversary.

Kenmore-Refrigerator-1990(My Kenmore Refridgerator – 1990 – ?)

There have been a few times over the years when a power outage has hit and my dear friend has seemed to have taken its own sweet time about getting things chilled down but in the end, it has never failed.

Perhaps it has now become somewhat of a personal challenge, a death race shall we say. Should I go ahead and purchase a new refrigerator at my age or shall I stand fast on the chance that I go before the fridge? Should I put all my efforts into outlasting the fridge or should I simply take the much wiser approach and replace it before I’m left in a freezerless (new word) dilemma?

I have taken the time to sit down and try to put my true feelings into words. It is surely prudent to let my refrigerator know how much I appreciated its steadfastness and loyalty over the years. So it is with my “Ode to a Fridge” that I try to convey my thanks for all those years. And now that it is finished I think that I shall print it out on some nice, fancy paper and place it on the refrigerator door so that my fridge never doubts its worth.

“Ode to a Fridge”

I think that I shall never see
A fridge that’s been as good to me.
There to meet my every need
Day to day like a faithful steed.

Standing tall through thick and thin
With your sturdy shelves and large veggie bin.
The stores within, they may come and go
But your love for them all, you continue to show.

Your gentle hum soothes the mind
You have no fear of the passing time.
I cannot bear to think of the day
When the Sear’s truck comes to cart you away.

Your days like mine are surely numbered
But the chains of death remain encumbered.
So on we will go until our end
Stand tall to the wall my steadfast friend.

For now my dear fridge together we stay
Looking forward to each freezer filled day.
I’ll keep you clean so you continue to shine
So let’s take it to the limit one day at a time.

A Show of Force….

Sheriff’s Department Vehicle

While reading the paper this morning the photo of a rather dark and ominous vehicle immediately caught my eye which I have posted above. I was a bit in awe of course initially but then as I finished reading the caption under the photograph I really had to chuckle when I read it had only been used once and that was to serve a warrant.

Now if it was being used to serve a warrant to the kingpin of some drug cartel I could perhaps understand such cautionary measures and show of force but I seem to be envisioning that it was used to serve the warrant to some poor little old lady sitting on her front porch swing knitting and had failed to show for her court date over an overdue parking ticket. Say it isn’t so…. 😀

My trips to the grocery store or supermarket these days are not quite as enjoyable as they used to be some years back. It seemed to me in those days gone by that no matter how much time you may have spent looking for an item; dealing with rude people in the food aisles or waiting in long check-out lines as you got near the cashier to check out, all those issues seemed to fade away and your spirits were somehow lifted when you got to the magazine racks and those beloved tabloids.

I’ve actually only noticed one of those journalistic treasures sitting there in the rack these days and it focuses solely on celebrities. It’s the typical stuff, who’s having an affair with who; whose baby is she really pregnant with; has so and so really had a butt transplant; you know what I’m talking about because I’m sure you have all seen them.

Well, I miss the ones we use to have. The ones with the “real news” and not this made up gossip stuff. It was the journalistic fodder that was Pulitzer Prize worthy. How can we forget some of those gut-retching headlines…?

Tabloid Cover 1(Click to Enlarge)

Tabloid Cover 2(Click to Enlarge)

See… I can tell, one look and you are already beginning to remember. And I can remember just how bad I wanted to pick one of those tabloids up and read it but my vanity just would not let me do it. It would be too embarrassing. What if someone was watching – they would surely be thinking I believed it all and god forbid if I were to ever get caught purchasing one. I would have been more prone to buy a Playboy Magazine while standing in front of my preacher and the choir director as to have someone see me purchase a tabloid newspaper.

But what a smile would slide across my face from the pleasure of those headlines. I truly miss not seeing those any longer but at least for a brief moment here on the old blog I can share a brief memory and hopefully as smile also…

Tabloid Cover 3(Click to Enlarge)

Are those recent CVS Pharmacy accolades questionable?

CVS Pharmacey 1

Wednesday of this week the big news was that CVS Caremark Corporation, parent company of some 7,600 CVS Pharmacy outlets, was going to drop tobacco products from its sales inventories. And it seems the media was abuzz over such a bold and admirable move by such a retail giant. CVS noted that dropping tobacco products from it sales inventories would cost the chain over 2-billion dollars of income annually. But, ah how fast we forget….

CVS stated that they believe that removing tobacco products from their shelves will help build their image as a healthcare provider. Well I would say that was absolutely a true statement. But have we already forgotten last year’s “BIG” news regarding CVS and the fact that they charged more for prescription based medications than almost any other pharmacy in the country. In many cases, almost three times as much as the lower priced pharmacies.

CVS Pharmacey 2

In a study done by Consumer Reports last year the table below shows comparison costs of five generic drugs at various pharmaceutical outlets:

CVS Pharmacey 3

So before everyone shouts out all those accolades in the direction of CVS, you might want to perhaps look a little deeper at that company’s touted profits sacrifice, especially if you are an older individual or senior who is on regiments of one or more prescriptions daily. Seems to me there’s a really good chance that if the public at large embraces their actions, the move could in fact drive business in their direction, thereby increasing their profits which may actually have been their design.