The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor

hrm-garmin I have a Garmin Forerunner watch that I use for jogging. One of the features that I heavily rely on for my training purposes is the heart rate monitor. This is an optional accessory that was bundled with my watch at the time of purchase and added approximately $100 to the price (I’m not sure without having to look it up).

I do my marathon training strictly by heart rate zone, so I need the data to be accurate. After about a year of daily use, I started getting extremely erratic readings. I did everything you’re supposed to do in those situations: changed the battery, washed the strap, did a hard reset, etc. Nothing worked.

Since I was just under the warranty period, I was able to send the strap in to Garmin for a free replacement. The thing is, that would take 2 weeks — and I couldn’t afford to lose that much training time.

So I bit the bullet and bought another HRM and chest strap. This time I paid something like $70 on Amazon, and splurged for Next Day shipping so as not to lose any more training opportunities.

The new strap and monitor work flawlessly. I’m now back to getting the data I need to hit my personal best for my next race, and am happy with the product. I just wish I didn’t need to replace the thing so fast in the first place.

I did receive a free replacement from Garmin, as promised, so now I have two chest straps and two monitors. I’m using my old one again (no problems so far) and am keeping the new one as a backup.

Again, I like what the Garmin HRM does (I think it’s one of the most accurate products on the market), but wish it lasted longer. The same thing happened with my old HRM (with the plastic chest strap) from a previous watch model.

With the optical HRMs that are coming out now, I doubt I’ll be using these chest strap-types much longer. But hopefully they’ll last at least one more year each!

Karaoke microphone

My mom and her friends are really into karaoke. One of them regularly hosts theme parties (e.g. disco) where they all dress accordingly and sing relevant songs. It’s kind of dorky, but hey, they’re 65+, so whatever.

Anyway, my mom has her own karaoke machine (naturally), but broke her microphone. So I’m planning to surprise her with a new one for her birthday. I’ve been looking for the best microphone for vocals at a reasonable price, and have a few leads that I’d like to investigate further.

But I have to move quickly on this one, as I know my mom can’t go long without doing her karaoke. I can’t keep stalling forever!

Beginner’s Lock Pick Set

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.38.16 AM I’ve been interested in lock picking ever since I was a kid. I grew up on detective novels and police procedurals, and one thing that all the protagonists in these books can do is pick locks. But it’s not something I’ve actively pursued — until now.

I decided to buy a beginner’s lock pick set from an online store. The set included four different kinds of picks, a tension wrench, and a leather case for the tools. It also came with a “how-to” book. The price was $16.95 + shipping, which was pretty much all I wanted to spend to start with.

I also went to the dollar store and bought a couple of padlocks to practice on. I figured if I couldn’t pick these after some practice, I shouldn’t bother moving on.

Anyway, I’m no judge of tool quality, so I can’t really speak to that aspect of my purchase. But what I can tell you is that I successfully “bypassed” the locks I purchased using the tools in this kit!

Let’s make one thing clear: I’m sure there are people out there that could have opened these cheapo locks with nothing more than a couple of paperclips and/or bobby pins. But I have tried doing that a million times over the years and have NEVER been able to open even the crappiest lock that way. So I want to believe the tools helped me at least a little bit.

The “How To” guide wasn’t that good. It only had info that is widely available online, so I didn’t get anything out of it. I guess a total beginner who hadn’t done any research beforehand might find it useful, though.

Overall, I am happy with my purchase. Honestly, I probably could have found better deals/bigger beginner kits if I’d spent more time looking, but I just went with the first store I came across. Still — no regrets here!

Personalized Kids Gifts

airplane luggage My nephew will be “graduating” from preschool next month and will be heading to kindergarten soon. I’ve been looking around for a gift for him, and found plenty to choose from on this website. They have backpacks, suitcases, lunch boxes, and more in designs suitable for young kids all the way up to teenagers. The best part is that the gifts can be personalized. I’m definitely doing that if I order something, because let’s face it: kids love seeing their name in print!

City pride t-shirts

atlanta_ga-white-full Although I no longer live in the town I grew up in, I still hold many fond memories of the place. Some recent nostalgia drove me to search for name-emblazoned products on eBay so I could show off my hometown pride. Since I come from a rather large city, I had a lot to choose from.

One shirt that caught my attention was this design from a company called Great Citees. They can print up these map-like shirts for any locale in the U.S. at a very reasonable price (less than $15). The shirts are available in a few different colors and designs, and are a fairly decent Hanes 100% cotton product. The company offers free domestic shipping on four or more shirts and a reasonable charge for international orders.

I haven’t put my shirt through too many wash/dry cycles yet, so I can’t say with certainty how long it will last. But it seems to be doing okay after a couple of weeks and should fare just as well as any typical Zazzle-type order. All in all, I’m satisfied with what I got!