The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Happy Halloween!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! Have the trick-or-treaters come by your house yet? I know some towns had their official trick-or-treating last night, but mine is doing it today, which is of course better.

What kind of candy are you giving out this year? I always give out Snickers or Twix because those are my favorites and obviously I’ll need to eat any leftovers we might have. I tried giving away non-candy treats one year, like McDonald’s gift certificates and things like that, but the gesture wasn’t as appreciated.

What do you think? Is it better to give out traditional candy, or do you prefer handing out something healthier like fruit or nuts? Have you ever gone the extra mile and given a gift certificate for a local business, such as the best carpet cleaning holly springs nc has to offer or the tastiest pizza Raleigh residents could ever hope to eat? Those things are way too expensive to give to every single trick-or-treater, but it would be cool to give out one certificate at random and really make someone’s night!

Anyway, have fun and stay safe today!

Radio Shack Laser Pointer

I’ve always wanted a laser pointer, but never really had a good reason for buying one before. Then I learned that people use them as toys for their cats (and sometimes dogs), and that was good enough for me. I went out and bought one in the hopes that my dog would somehow be attracted to it.

I went with a Radio Shack model because I couldn’t really find anything else at the mall. It was $30, which was a bit more than I was expecting to pay, but not too bad, I guess. At first, the laser pointer is extremely fun. I’m not sure what is so mesmerizing about being able to control a thin beam of light, but everyone in my family enjoyed it. And yes, my dog actually did react to it — for a while, anyway, and then he got bored.

That’s pretty much where things stand now. The laser pointer sits in the pen holder on my desk, and I occasionally pull it down to point the beam around at random stuff in the house. The packaging said the beam can reach up to 600ft., and I’d say that’s about right. I took it outside and could clearly see the beam on a neighbor’s pool fence way at the other end of my subdivision. But that doesn’t do me much good here at home.

So…I guess if there’s anyone out there that still makes presentations needing a laser pointer, this would be as good as any. If you’re just looking for a cat toy, I recommend going with something cheaper. As for me, I need to quit with these impulse buys!

Dr. Scholl’s Smooth My Sole Pedicure Tool

I have dry, cracked heels that bug me to death because they’re so ugly to look at. They’re not painful or itchy or anything like that; they just look terrible. Regular pumice stones never seemed to do much, so I decided to try the Dr. Scholl’s Smooth My Sole Micro File pedicure tool.

This tool has “micro file” blades that are arranged like a vegetable grater. The packaging claims that the blades are sharp enough to remove dead skin, yet gentle enough not to pop a balloon. Sure enough, the tool didn’t hurt at all while using it, nor did it cause bleeding or anything like that.

But — I still didn’t get the results I wanted. The Smooth My Sole tool didn’t quite peel the dead skin all the way off my heels (no matter how long I stuck with it), so now the skin looks even worse than before, if you can believe that. It’s all ragged and disgusting. The Smooth My Sole also came with an emery board sticker to use for smoothing, but I really didn’t want this to be a two-step process.

Anyway, I’m not all that impressed with the Smooth My Sole pedicure tool. It might work for some women, but it just made my heels look worse. Guess I’ll go back to regular pumice!

Fieldhouse Sweatpants by Champion

I practically live in sweatpants all through the fall and winter, so I need a new pair virtually every year. This time I decided to order the “Fieldhouse” model by Champion. Being MU alum, I bought a black pair that has the word “Mizzou” screenprinted down the left leg in big letters.

These sweatpants are very comfortable. I love the open legs and wide waistband, plus the two front pockets come in handy for carrying my iPod or cash when I run out to the store. These sweatpants look particularly good when paired with a tight tee, which is how I prefer to wear them.

But there are two problems I have with the pants. First, the drawstring is REALLY thick, making it virtually impossible to tie. If I tie it, it ends up looking ridiculous because the resulting bow is just way too thick and noticeable. Second, the pants are too long. I purchased a size S, but they’re a good 2 inches too long for me (I’m 5’5″). (And no, I didn’t try them on first because I ordered them online.) So to wear them, I have to roll the cuffs, which looks kinda dumb for sweatpants. I’ll probably have to take them to a seamstress to get that taken carer of.

Anyway, overall I think these sweatpants are pretty cool. I could’ve gotten a cheaper pair, but gladly paid $30 so I could show support for my school!

180s Tahoe Ear Warmers

I jog outside even in the winter, which means I have to wear something to keep my ears warm. I don’t like beanies or caps because those types of full head coverings cause too much sweat to accumulate on my forehead, which in turn can cause acne outbreaks (which I’m always susceptible to). That’s why I prefer behind-the-head ear warmers.

I recently needed a new pair after somehow losing my old ones. I found these Tahoe ear warmers from a brand called 180s while I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I liked that they had different sizes for men and women (rather than the dreaded one-size-fits-all) and that the headband is adjustable. I decided to give them a try even though they were pretty expensive at $20 a pop.

So far, I really like them! They fit well, don’t slip too much when I’m jogging, and are collapsible so I can put them in my pocket or wear them around my forearm if I start to get too hot while out on a run.

The only thing I’m worried about with these is the white sherpa fleece lining. Surely that lining will get dingy and dirty after a while…yuck!

Anyway, if you want a behind-the-head ear warmer that will keep you warm while playing outdoor sports or that won’t mess up your hairstyle as you go to work or school, then I recommend giving 180s a try. They have several different styles, including ones that easily accommodate headphones for your MP3 player.

Animal Planet Radio Controlled Snake

We hardly ever go to Toys R Us anymore (we just shop online), but had to pick up a last-minute gift for a birthday party and didn’t have time to order anything from the Internet. While browsing in the store, my son came across this Animal Planet Radio Controlled Rattlesnake and begged to get it (another reason shopping online trumps going to the store!).

He’d been a good boy recently, so we went ahead and paid the $30 for it. The promotional video that was playing right by the display did a wonderful job of selling the snake as being somewhat realistic and fun.

The snake actually does work fairly well, insofar as the “slithering” action goes. That movement seems realistic, despite the toy rolling on wheels instead of actually slithering on the ground.

The one thing that the video didn’t show, however, is that the snake makes a very loud mechanical noise that’s fairly typical of RC toys. Because of that noise, any semblance of “reality” (not that we were expecting much, mind you) went right out the window. You’re not going to scare or trick anyone with this thing.

My son played with the snake extensively the first night we had it, and has taken it out a couple more times since then. But for the most part, it’s just gathering dust in his room — exactly like all his other non-video game toys. Sigh. When will I ever learn???

Kindle Lighted Cover

Along with my new Kindle 3 with keyboard, I bought a leather lighted cover. This is the Amazon brand cover, and is way better than the cheap faux thing they distributed for free with the first generation models. The cover is made of a genuine leather exterior and has soft microfiber suede on the inside for added protection for the device.

The best part about it, IMO, is the built-in LED light. It is retractable, and pulls out from the back of the cover when needed. It doesn’t take any batteries, either, as it draws power from the Kindle itself when the unit is turned on (The cover has two gold plated “hinge points” that conduct electricity from the Kindle to the light when the light is pulled out). The light provides great coverage for about 90% of the screen only, though. It used to be frustrating as hell to have a bit of a dark patch on the screen, but I’ve gotten used to it by now.

Anyway, I really love this Kindle lighted cover. It’s far more convenient to use than the separate Mighty Bright Book Light that I was carrying around with my first generation Kindle, and I think it’s great that I never have to think about batteries.

The only thing I don’t like about this cover is its price. $49.99 is VERY steep, and boosted my total outlay to nearly $200. Oh, well… If I get three good years out of both products, I’ll be happy!

Kindle 3 Wifi (with Keyboard)

When my first generation Kindle gave out several months ago, I decided not to replace it. I figured I could still read ebooks on my Sony Reader or my iPad, so there was no sense in getting another device. But actually, those devices just don’t compare to the Kindle’s size, comfort, and e-ink display, so I ended up buying a Kindle 3 Wifi with keyboard a couple weeks ago.

I went with the Kindle 3 despite knowing that the new line of touchscreen models is coming out next month because I liked the dimensions of the Kindle 3. I don’t want my e-reader to be either too small (the newer Kindles are all more compact) or too big (it’s impossible for me to get comfortable reading an iPad while lying on my side in bed (my preferred reading position).

I’m happy to report that the Kindle 3 is everything I hoped it would be. It’s comfortable to hold, easy to “turn” the pages, and the keyboard is light years better than in the first generation. I am also very impressed by the improvements in the e-ink technology. The “print” is noticeably clearer and crisper than on the first generation unit.

Another improvement, IMO, is the placement of the power/sleep switch. That’s now at the bottom of the unit instead of on the back panel, making it much easier to turn the device on and off even when it’s housed in a carrying case.

Overall, I have to say that I’m in love with my Kindle. Forget about other e-book readers; they just can’t compare to the Kindle!!!