Sunday, July 24, 2016

Evaluating purchases 2

Some more things that I bought, or received as gifts after asking for them, and how they worked out for me.

Fixr tool:  I have an unhealthy fixation with multitools.  Somehow, it seems like my life will get organized if only I have the right set of tools in my pocket.  Even if that is true, however, this tool isn't the one.  It looks awesome, and it is very solidly constructed.  The one weakness is the rotating gold part, which you have to move to get to the blade and the screwdrivers.  It was pretty tight at first, but quickly became loose and rotated in my pocket.  This left an exposed blade and made it snag on everything.  The screwdrivers are hard to use, even if you can get the rotating component to hold still, which you rarely can.  The "box opener" is the jagged part.  Seriously, it works if you push hard enough but it isn't very good.  The worst of all is the blade, which you'll notice tucked into the middle of the tool right above the word "rotate" in the picture above.  This blade might be useful for cutting a piece of string, but that's about it; it's far too enclosed to cut anything else.  About the only thing this tool looks like it would be good for is as a pry bar.

"Reading" glasses:  Even though I asked for these things, I have to admit that they looked like quite a gimmick at first.  These glasses are constructed with mirrors that allow you to see at a 90 degree angle, i.e. you can effectively see your feet with your eyes pointing straight ahead.  The advantage of this is that you can lie in a prone position, where you can normally only see the ceiling, and view things like television or books that are perpedicular to the bed.  They have an obvious use for people who have to lie prone for medical reasons, but they seem like they are otherwise fit chiefly for the lazy.  Actually, though, I've found them to be very useful.  I was getting to a point where sitting up was very hard on my back, and you pretty much can't read while lying on your stomach, so flat on my back was the only comfortable position.  These allow me to read a book or use a tablet easily.  The mirrors seem to magnify the image just a little, which makes it possible to read even though the book might be at a little greater distance than you would normally hold it.  About the only downside to these glasses is that there is nothing holding your eyes away from the clear plastic that you see through, so it is very easy to smudge them.  Probably it wouldn't be too hard to affix something to set your eyes back about 1/8".  Also, I lost the screw to one of the arms, and I found that regular glasses screws are much too small to use as a replacement.  I just stuck a short piece of wire through the arm to hold it in place.

Butter crock: I heard about these nifty devices from a friend at work.  You put water in the cylindrical part and then submerge the butter bell upside-down in it.  The advantage to this arrangement is that it keeps an airtight seal around the butter, so you can leave it on the table, where it stays soft, instead of keeping it in the refrigerator.  There are some caveats.  Butter does sometimes fall into the water, and you have to change the water every day or two or three.  Some people claim that you can just leave butter on the table in a regular butter dish for the same length of time, a claim I haven't tested.  I got this for my wife, who appreciates real butter instead of spreadable margarine, and she loves it.  It is a little high maintenance, but soft butter is a treat that everyone should experience.  I had forgotten how good butter was until I tried it with this.

Foaming soap dispenser:  I have read a number of complaints with this dispenser, but they don't relate to the central feature, which (for me) is that fact that it ejects foaming soap rather than liquid soap.  I find it much more pleasant to get foam into my hands than liquid soap, which is gooey and has to be worked into a lather.  Unfortunately, the ones we got did not come with instructions, so I didn't know how much water to add in with the soap.  At first I tried about a 1:1 ratio, which resulted in getting liquid soap for a few days before any foam came out.  I later read another dispenser's instructions that said to add water at a 5:1 ratio with soap.  It did not specify a need to shake the dispenser at any point, although I have tried this off and on when results were not satisfactory.  I don't know how these things work, but it seems to me that water and soap do not mix spontaneously, so you need to have a way to make sure both get into the pump.  Sometimes they do work, very nicely, and you get a rich later straight from the nozzle.  Other times, you get plain liquid soap (too thick) or a very watery foam that requires you to squirt several times before you have enough to wash your hands.  The latter was problematic for our dispenser because it didn't seem to have a good spring, so we practically had to pull the pump back up each time to get more out.  (It worked fine if you didn't use it for an hour.)  I have found them, on the whole, more trouble than they are worth.  It's not too hard to find a good container (although it's not trivial, either, as cheap plastic can be dressed up to look like anything), but getting a good pump seems to be nearly impossible, and I would gladly pay 2 or 3 times as much for one that would work consistently and not wear out for years.

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