When you are working in the special effects industry there’s never enough time. You have to make things — and make them work – right now. One of the secrets of every special effects master is the use ofcyanoacrylate glue with an accelerator. The accelerator is called “Zip Kicker” and it makes super glue dry and cure instantly. You lay down the cyanoacrylate glue, and you put your piece of material in it, and then you lay down a little bit of the kicker right on top of it. The kicker increases the evaporative effect of the cyanoacrylate glue and it sets almost immediately. When you are making something complex with many parts, instant glue makes a HUGE difference.
Doodle is an excellent web app that allows a bunch of people with disparate and complicated schedules to determine the optimal meeting time or date among them. It is the easiest of these types of tools I have tried, and does not require people to register or do anything other than fill in their name and check off boxes. It is free. Doodle has advanced features that allow you to do “if this, then that” type of scheduling as well, but I have so far just used the basic set up.
This review is a replacement for the previously reviewed plastic Melnor Quick Connects. I did not write that review, but these brass connectors are MUCH better than the plastic ones.
These little brass hose connectors make the job of attaching and detaching hoses quick and simple. You pull the collar back on the female connector, and insert the male connector, and you’re ready to roll. Really, it just takes a second or two to provide a secure, leak-proof connection. There are several brands of cheap plastic connectors out there, but these brass ones will last a lifetime. I have a number of them that are 10+ years old, and they work amazingly well. I attach these to everything hose-related: faucets, both ends of the hoses, and all the attachments, and they save me a lot of time and annoyance.
There are two drawbacks to these connectors: people unfamiliar with them will unscrew the whole set up, so if you have handymen, contractors, or yard men who are going to deal with your hoses, you’ll need to explain how they work. The second is that they’re easily lost and misplaced. Even though these connectors are easily lost, they’re so long-lasting and sturdy that when they turn up again, they’ll work perfectly!
[Note: For those with multiple hoses Amazon also sells the male component on its own.--OH]
Nothing is more important for enjoyable bike riding than a saddle that fits right and feels good. Most of your weight presses down on some very sensitive parts of your body. Up until the 1970s, most bicycles came with leather saddles and for very good reasons. They breathed a little, better than plastic in hot weather, looked great and most important, they broke in over time and got more and more comfortable with every ride. After a few hundred miles, your leather saddle will feel like it is a custom fit.
Brooks England has made saddles since 1882, and they offer models for every taste and preference. Remarkably, they designed their “Imperial” model with the cutaway top to reduce perineal pressure for men and women back in the 1890s, a century before anyone else. You can still buy one today. Take a look at their Web site; you are nearly certain to find exactly what you want among the wide assortment of beautiful saddles available. It will arrive carefully packed in a beautifully printed box, including a wrench for adjusting and complete directions.
You’ll want to have it for a long time and you can. Brooks stands behind their products with a two year warranty and they will accept them for repairs forever. Buy a tin of their Proofide conditioner. It’s tiny and expensive, but a little goes a long way and that’s what they recommend for a perfectly broken-in saddle. You also want to make sure to keep it dry in the rain by covering it with a plastic bag, shower cap or the Brooks Rain Cover.
I have had a B17 on my road bike and a B67 on my city bike for nearly twenty years. They are a little heavier and more expensive than the plastic ones, but it’s hard to put a price on the lasting comfort and quality they represent.
[Former editor Elon Schoenholz first reviewed Brooks Saddles for CT back in 2009.--OH]
Since the 1980′s I have used many small camp stoves, but none compares to the Svea 123. This stove is famous for working well at high altitudes. It is light, reliable, simple, and will boil water fast. It does lack a simmer setting, even on its lowest setting. And it can be a bit much for some things, but when camping or backpacking a long simmer is rarely desired.
This uses standard white gas (Coleman Fuel) and can be refilled from partially full, giving it a great advantage over disposable cartridge pressurized gas models. It is fully self-contained which is a nice advantage over other stoves such as the Whisperlite, but at the expense of fuel capacity.
It has been made, nearly unchanged, since 1955. This is a testament to its reliability and usefulness. If I had to choose only one outdoor stove to use ever, this would be the one.
[For more information Optimus has a PDF fact sheet for the Svea stove. And, lastly, there is an excellent thread I highly recommend folks read explaining why the Svea stove is different (read: really reliable) over at Amazon.--OH]
Instead of the previously-reviewed Toto Washlet Toilet, there’s another bidet attachment option that is easier to install and use while being cheaper. The GoBidet is an adjustable arm that affixes to your existing toilet and swings into position when needed. I’ve been using mine for at least six years. We had one in a hotel down in Costa Rica and I liked it so much I found a stateside supplier. I find it much more flexible than the fixed bidet seat variety. Although it costs more than the BioBidet, the remote control handle makes a world of difference compared to a fixed tip. With the GoBidet, you’re actually able to aim the nozzle. It’s kind of like playing a twisted version of Space Invaders.
The bidet can be set to spray both hot and cold water, and the water hookups and mixing control are just like those in a single lever sink faucet. You move the water control lever up to increase water volume and to the left or right to make it colder or warmer. I have it hooked up to just the cold (attached to a ‘T’ from the toilet supply spigot). While it initially required some getting used to, I found it was easier than running a longer hose from the hot water hookup under the sink. Of course, in a new bathroom install you could run another hot water spigot next to the toilet supply. I’ve used warm water bidets before and would definitely recommend setting it up with the hot water, if at all possible. It’s $130, but they can be frequently found for less on eBay (new, of course).
NOTE: Check out this video for how to install and use the device. --sl
The Sun EZ-3 USX is a human-powered, recumbent, three wheeled vehicle. It engages me in a way that the Segway did not. I am amazed this product, what some call a “bent trike,” is not better known.
What’s significant about the USX? It’s the most comfortable human powered vehicle ever, more comfortable than many cars. It’s safe, practical, and affordable. I hate exercise but I find myself impatient to get my next chance to ride this thing. The USX is potentially a major step forward in promoting conservation and healthy exercise in America, but only if it becomes better known.
It was designed by Easy Racers near Santa Cruz, California, the same shop that designed the first bike to break 65 MPH, and is manufactured in Taiwan. Riding the USX is eerie, because it feels like relaxing on a perfect easy chair and performing aerobic exercise at once. You can go fast or slow, and both are wonderful. You can load the thing with 450 total pounds. You can pull carts. Some riders have decked out USX’s with ipod sound systems and other amenities. You can get rain roofs and car hitches.
There are some downsides. It’s heavy: 65 pounds. Going up hills is pleasant, but slower than on a bicycle. Some of the parts (bolts, screws, and bearings, in particular) are low-end and might need to be replaced sooner than you’d expect. It doesn’t come with some essential features, like rear view mirrors. (Mirrycle handlebar mirrors are the best after-market choice.) It’s hard to mount a front headlight. The best solution I have found is the rechargeable NiteRider Evolution. (I used nylon ties to extend the radius of the included universal handlebar mount so that it would fit on the frame.)
Some other upsides: Unlike a lot of bent trikes, the USX folds for easy transportation. I put it inside the back of our SUV instead of on a rack. There are three vendors of car hitches for it, though. (To fold, you have to undo two bolts and the chain guide. I added quick release fasteners to make folding easier. Be careful to choose a heavy-duty fastener to replace the bolt that releases the frame suspension.)
Another big plus: you sit high enough to be noticed by car drivers, though I also added a flag and extra lights to err on the side of caution. Although it looks wide, and encourages cars to give more room than is commanded by bicyclists, it is actually narrow enough to roll through a standard door. You can stand it up on end so it takes minimal room when parked. You can just stop and rest while going up hill- it has a parking brake.
There are lots of other bent trikes — dozens — but most are “performance-oriented” — made for athletes. Some of the athletic brands are Greenspeed, Catrike, and Windcheetah. I have tried some of them, and I think they are fun and interesting, but not what I want. They are expensive, very low slung (you’re practically on the ground while riding), and not so practical for non-atheletes. What I want is something that’s super easy to get in and out of, that’s fun to sit on while standing still, that’s high up enough to be safe around cars, and that is fun to ride slow, while on the phone or catching up on treo email. I want something for life, not for sport, and there’s not much competition in this niche. There is another interesting comfort-oriented bent trike, the Hase Leupus, from Germany. The Leupus is lighter and made of higher-end parts, but is disproportionately more expensive. The seat isn’t as comfortable as the USX — though it does have better suspension. Hase also makes super light versions, including titanium models.
Beware that sometimes enthusiast cults get lost in fantasy. The enthusiasm in the bent trike world sometimes reminds me of what happened with high-end consumer audio. Superstitions crowded out reality. People started to spend insane money on audio cables with impossible physical properties, for instance. The culture of high-end bent trikes is infected with nonsense physics and silly ideas.
Even though the USX is ridiculed by some hard-core bent bike enthusiasts, it is an important product, even aside from the low price. The ONLY company trying to support “regular” people with bent trikes right now is Sun. Hopefully there will be more soon. The USX is available online for about $800. If you buy online, know that Sun ships the USX without the parts well-tightened. If you can afford it, it makes more sense to buy retail from a good local bike shop for about $1000. The service will be very much worth it!