Personalized Kids' Books

Date Sat, July 12 2008

You know those personalized books you see advertised in coupon booklets? The idea seems really cute. I know I’ve seriously considered doing something like that for my sister before. PersonalisedStories.com offers children’s books as well as DVDs, music, singing stuffed animals and more.

I took a look but thought the site is lacking for a 5 year old girl. While she might like the Scooby Doo book or stuffed animals (of which she has plenty!) I thought the products were aimed for younger crowds – she’s 5 – or boys. They have a lot of superhero stuff (Spiderman, Batman) and sports but most everything else has religious undertones. There are some ballerina books but I know my sister wouldn’t like those.

There are Flinstones and LooneyTunes books but those seem a bit dated. Someone her age might not enjoy them as much as something like Dora, Blue’s Clues, or SpongeBob. There is a song section – which does include Disney Princesses (which she loves) – but these are quite a bit pricier than the personalized books. There’s also a Dora DVD which is, again, pretty pricey.

I like the idea of personalized books but think it’s hit or miss depending upon the child in question. I think younger toddlers and boys will be more at home with the books as there’s less choice for girls. Both genders would enjoy the singing stuffies but I’d probably pass on the music and DVDs – regular music and DVDs can be purchased for fractions of the price.

The other thing I see is that, while there are big names in the store, there’s a lot of generic junk that seems a little “cheap.” I think there’s definitely room for more products which use updated characters; overall, there is not a ton of variety and there is definitely room for expansion.

If there’s a little one you like to spoil, personalized stories might just be the way to go!

On the road again..

Date Thu, July 10 2008


You know the one thing I’m looking forward to? Road trips. I don’t know what’s in Texas but I think I might like to (and in a vehicle with A/C to boot). I haven’t gone on a lot of road trips and they all have very specific destinations and routes but I do know that, with the right people, they’re a TON of fun!

We’ve been loathe to do that here being in a foreign country with tiny roads that are not named like American roads and without a cell phone but most of that won’t be an issue back in the states and, hey, we could always check out something like Garmin GPS so we don’t get lost!

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TGI Fridays Cheddar and Bacon Potato Skins

Date Thu, July 10 2008


I hadn’t really planned on reviewing any food items here but I was so disappointed in this product that I had to. Now, I love potato skins, even the worst tend to be pretty good. We all know they’re bad for us but, hey, I’m from Wisconsin and that’s how we like things. TGI Fridays Cheddar and Bacon Potatoes Skins are the really bad kind of worst.

So this frozen box clad in the traditional Fridays red and white stripes contains about 6 skins and seems to imply that you can have this delectable and sinful treat previously only available in their restaurants, right in your own home and for less time, too!

I quickly open the box to find the skins are laying looks in a bag inside all upside down and bacon bits have fallen off. Now, these skins are much smaller than, say, a pizza where you can toss any loose toppings back on and there was basically no saving anything that had fallen off.

Next I notice the “cheese.” As I mentioned, I’m from Wisconsin and I am damned picky about my dairy products. Happy cows do not come from California and California would not know real milk if it bit them on the nose but that is neither here nor there. What is here, or rather, was on my cooking sheet were frozen potato skins with a big dollop of what looked like frozen Cheez Wiz, something which quite definitely is not cheese but pretends to be, and a few speckles of bacon.

Whatever. I pop them in the oven, come back about 10 minutes later and see that the cheese is not doing what cheese should be doing and that is melting into a greasy, gooey, delicious mess. I give them some more time and this still has not happened.

I decided to give them a chomp anyway. I usually have my potato skins with sour cream or ranch so I opted for the former. Right away these potato skins were bland and lacking in any sort of taste. The sour cream wasn’t cutting it so I upped the ante, to ranch, just to make these things palatable.

I tried to pop some others in the microwave to see if it really was just that I wasn’t heating them enough but the cheese just did not do what cheese should do. This was nothing like the wonderful treat served in TGI Fridays and it paled even in comparison to the mediocre skins I usually must resort to.

The additional heating proved that this simply is not a product made with cheese but an imitation which may be yellow but retains none of the other cheesy characters we all love.

So what’s left? The bacon had no taste, what little was left on the skins. The potato itself was not horrible but there seems to be a lot of it considering as these are just the skins. Parts seemed a bit dry and the “cheese” wasn’t spread very evenly – if that would even have helped – so I drowned the last of these skins in ranch and down the hatch they went.

The ranch was very good.

My 2cents? Skip it. Enjoy it at the restaurant but this poor imitation is a disgrace to the name.

My name is Cole and I do not endorse this product!

Medical Break-throughs

Date Tue, July 8 2008

Since our newspaper is a military one, I often see articles about the great medical strides being made to aid service members and veterans who have suffered physical and emotional injuries. I am always amazed at the robots and more involved in some of the replacement limbs, yet I know that’s just the tip of the ice berg. What the medical world today can do to improve quality of life, fight, prevent and correct injuries and illnesses is simply crazy.

Some such things include everything from insulin delivery services to joint replacement, to implants, to orthopedics, to medical diagnostics which test and screen to help patients get an accurate diagnoses. This is essentially important because even the best technology can’t save a life if the issue is unknown.

It’s really amazing what can be done and with recent thoughts about methods that could possibly cure herpes, chicken pox and shingles, it seems that things that almost everyone has had (or will have) to deal with can soon become things of the past, like small pox.

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Micro Wireless, Optical Mouse

Date Mon, July 7 2008

My wireless, optical mouse by Micro is now a few years old. I picked it up while working at Wal-mart which places the date of purchase somewhere between 2004 and 2006; I’ll call it 2005 for the sake of ease.

Although it has some visible signs of wear – the silver coating on the exterior has worn off on places where the fingers and hand usually sit – this little electronic has proved very useful for me.

Now, the one issue I had is that this Micro mouse is not completely wireless. It has a receiver which plugs into my computers PS2/mouse port. Which also means it don’t work with any system without a PS2 port. Currently, that are many wireless mice available with just a tiny USB adapter so this is no longer an issue. Overall, it’s not a big deal because the mouse isn’t connected to any cords and that’s what matter.

I found that the speed of the optical mouse really is improved over the speed of the old “ball” style mouse I had. Furthermore, the optical mouse never gets full of dirt, pet hair and lint that needs to be cleaned out. It doesn’t seem to be quite as accurate or quick for games that require that so a traditional optical mouse would probably work better.

It’s also held up incredibly well with literally no issues. It’s important to remember that the wireless mouse will go ‘idle’ after a period of disuse and this is easily fixed by clicking a button – that simple!

Another thing to remember is that, after changing batteries, a button must be pressed on the receiver and while the green light is blinking, the ‘reset’ must be activated on the bottom of the Micro mouse. This is far from a hassle.

My biggest issue, I think, and it really affects my husband more than me is that you are frequently changing batteries. I accepted that as a given and that might be a deal breaker for some, if you’re like that, you might consider purchasing a new rechargeable style mouse.

Other than that, the only draw back is that the mouse is shaped slightly different from typical mice. It’s very egg-shaped and wide along the sides whereas other mice are narrower on the sides, this might feel a bit large or awkward for some at first but it’s a quick adjustment.


I’ll leave you with another plus and that is the Optical Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel PS/2 is equipped with buttons on either side that function as “back” and “forward” buttons. I use these frequently when browsing the web and love them!

Overall, the Optical Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel PS/2 is a good investment which stands the test of time well. Wireless mice are not the best for certain activities, like gaming, and a rechargeable, wireless mouse does not require the frequent change of batteries. Regardless, I still like my optical, wireless mouse by Micro.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Date Mon, July 7 2008

..is hard. Good thing I’m not competitive like that. In fact, sometimes I am loathe to change which is no wonder with the ever-changing state of technology. I barely got over the idea of high definition TV like HDTV and Blu Ray by the time they announced the winner. Actually, I don’t know if they announced it as much as I noticed Disney had taken Sony’s side and the electronics sections were being rearranged to make room for a plethora of blue-sheeted discs which promised to enhance your viewing pleasure.

Of course, high def TV is only one of the things I don’t seem to be very good at keeping up with. Digital TV? Okay, that doesn’t seem too difficult to grasp but I never would have known about it without heading home for vacation.

Online calling services and VOIP are things that completely blow my mind. They just sit, right out of reach, in the folder of technology I have labeled “Don’t even think about touching this one, Cole!” Truthfully, they probably make more sense than my ignorance mind allows for but I just haven’t the time or motivation to find out what that sense is.

What I do know is that, with every new invention or technology, I had to add another cord to the amassing snake that leads from from the entertainment and converges at a power strip from its twin originating from behind the desk.

I guess it’s good for me that people have come up with ways to condense these cords – like the technology in HDMI interfaces which give one “an interface between any audio/video source, such as a set-top box, DVD player, or A/V receiver and an audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television (DTV), over a single cable.” The mess becomes even less when you figure in HDMI wall plate which can be placed almost invisibly behind wall-mounted flat panels TVs.

But that’s still a way off for me. I’m waiting to buy a digital television until Blu Ray DVD players come down in price – then I’ll invest in both.

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Hot Hot Heat!

Date Sun, July 6 2008

It’s not so much hot as humid. I’ve never lived without humidity but I suspect I would enjoy it much more. I still wouldn’t love the heat, but it wouldn’t suck so bad. I sweat a lot. It’s gross and unfeminine and is part of the reason I am loathe to wear clothes most of the time as well as why I tend to hate cleaning. It also clogs pores so the summery days (and nights!) usually mean I am bound to break out more. Luckily for me, these are many acne treatments – some of which I’ve discussed here – and I’ve never needed anything more expensive or difficult to find than most drug store brands (also, my acne has never been as bad as some). Still, it’s good to know there’s prescription stuff out there to chase those peckys blemishes out of town.