Toys 2010

Like a record, baby, right round round round...

For many years, Katie and I have been using a tiny little food processor for our kitchen chopping needs. It's a great food processor, don't get me wrong... just really small. If we were ever prepping a large amount of food, we'd need to use the thing in phases and that just got to be a pain in the butt because you'd rarely have consistency.

A couple weeks ago, we finally took the plunge and bought ourselves a much larger food processor in the form of the Cuisinart Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor (model DLC-10S).

Food Processor 14

Geez, these things are not cheap. But once you've taken the plunge, there's no going back.

We used it for the first time last week to make large batches of guacamole and salsa. We like to make a lot of each and have it around for a while and even share with some friends. So if the Cuisinart can withstand all the chopping that would be necessary for Kapgar-scale batches, its place in our kitchen would be cemented.

Here are some photos of the affair. Bear in mind that I forgot to photograph the guacamole and only have shots of the salsa...

Cuisinart 05
Starting with the onions.

Cuisinart 04
Next come the tomatoes. Note the nicely chopped onion bed below
and Katie's blurred hand on the right.

Cuisinart 01
A blur of red through the feed tube.

Cuisinart 03
Adding more tomatoes through the feed tube while the rest is still blending.

Cuisinart 02
After everything is done chopping and mixing.

Cuisinart 09
Good stuff and perfectly made (the way that we like it).

This thing worked wonders with our Tex-Mex night. How do you say "hallelujah" in Spanish?

Here are some photos of the Cuisinart and all the stuff that came with it.

Cuisinart 07   Cuisinart 08
The blade is something you don't wanna mess around with and you don't want near kids. Click through on the photo to see how wicked the teeth are on that blade.

Cuisinart 11   Cuisinart 10
Other stuff includes (clockwise from top left in the first photo): dough kneading blade, detachable disc stem, stainless steel chopping/mixing blade, spatula, stainless steel shredding disc (cheese grater), and stainless steel slicing disc (4mm). In the right photo, we have what's called a flat chopping/baking cover.

Cuisinart 12   Cuisinart 13
The disc stem kinda confused me at first until the LEGO builder in me
put two and two together and got this.

Cuisinart 06
Or I could've just watched the nifty DVD that was also included. Stupid me.

This is a beautiful food processor and I'm so glad we got it. Especially considering we have Thanksgiving coming up and we're hosting this year.

It was also nice that we got it on sale. It was $50 off the list price at CSNstores.com.

My only complaint with the product is that it's not easy to store all the stuff that comes with it. Having some sort of case or pouch to store the extra blades and wheels and lids would be nice. At the very least blade edge covers to protect people as they feel around through their kitchen drawers trying to find them would protect from bloody finger tips.

As for CSNstores.com, I gotta admit I was a bit hesitant to purchase anything there. Why? Well, we've been burned by enough online stores in the past to wind up being very choosy about where we order online. 99% of our online orders are through Amazon or iTunes. Once you've found a place you like and trust, you rarely go elsewhere.

But we tried it anyway.

CSNstores.com is pretty much an online shopping mall. It's got a little bit of everything all broken up into individual stores to make browsing easier. If I could think up a product, I came pretty close to always finding it there.

The only problem was that even if I could find it listed on the site, it didn't always mean it was in stock. I was initially searching for a chef's knife that I had seen in a bricks-and-mortar store and they had it for a good price. However, it was on a 12- to 15-week backorder. So were most other knives I thought could work as a serviceable replacement. Heck, many other brands of food processor were also on backorder. I almost think that CSN would benefit from an advanced search option that would eliminate backorder and out-of-stock items in addition to the options for model, price, ship time, and user ratings. Just to make it easier to find what you want that is available for immediate shipping.

Speaking of shipping, this is where my mind was blown. I ordered the Cuisinart on a Sunday and had it in my grubby little hands that Wednesday. An hour after I got it, I received the shipping confirmation e-mail. No, not the delivery confirmation, the shipping confirmation. This can be perceived as both good and bad. It's good because the shipping was faster than anticipated. It's bad because their e-mail confirmation system needs to be tweaked a bit. For me to have received it on Wednesday, the shipping had to occur on Monday. Yet I didn't receive the confirmation until after I received the product. I'm willing to forgive this right now simply because I got the Cuisinart so quickly.

All in all, my reviews...

  • The Cuisinart Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor - 4.5/5.0 stars. I maintain that some sort of case or pouch for all the extra bits and pieces would be nice.
  • CSNstores.com - 3.5/5.0 stars. They have a great and varied selection of products, but a large number of search results came back as out of stock or backordered. And they need to improve their e-mail confirmation system. But I would certainly use the site again, especially if they come back with a better price than Amazon or my local bricks-and-mortar store.

'nuff said.

For the record, and to keep the FCC happy, this is a solicited and paid review.


Hit me baby one more time...

Welcome to Snippet Wednesday. Just barely making the cut (again), but I'm here!

ALDI
Katie was out trying to use our bank card to buy something today when it was declined. We theorized that it was just a communication error with the scanner, but then it happened at a second place. She called the bank and found out that both of our bank cards had been canceled and new ones issued due to a data compromise on the part of a vendor. While at work, Katie had two customers come in paying by check because their bank cards had also been canceled by their respective banks. They told Katie it was due to ALDI Grocery Stores.

We had seen something on a news teaser last week, but never saw the actual story, so I Googled it and wound up with a bunch of stories about a debit card/PIN number swiping scam that had been occuring at several Chicagoland ALDIs (ours in St. Charles included) as well as some in Indianapolis. Oh yay! As a preventative measure, most banks canceled the cards of customers that had been used at potentially effected stores. Nothing had happened to our account, but it did make us wonder if this was how my bank card got spoofed last year. Hmmm...

So a tip to all you ALDI shoppers, USE CASH!

Brittany
Recently, Katie and I started watching Glee. We're pretty much all caught up on season 1 (missed a couple episodes, unfortunately) and we're up to date on season 2. It's an interesting show. Very well done and the actors are pretty good (even though I want to bitchslap Rachel Barry nearly every episode). I can understand why people are Gleeks over it.

Brittany But if there's any one aspect of the show that Katie and I love more than anything, it's Brittany. For those of you who haven't watched, she's one of the Cheerios (the school's cheerleaders) that is actually part of the New Directions (the glee club) and she is to this show what Ralphie Wiggum is to The Simpsons. Both are minor characters that usually meld into the background save for an occasional one liner that is typically more memorable than anything else in the show. She's got some true gems like...

"Sometimes I forget my middle name."

"I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist."

"Does he mean like a burglar alarm?" (when told to use protection during sex)

"This room looks like that room on that spaceship when I got probed."

"It's a male duck." (when asked what a ballad is)

This week's episode, though, was Brittany's time to shine as it was all about Britney Spears. When all done up in terms of costume, hair, and makeup, I often couldn't tell the difference between Brittany and Britney. Eerily uncanny. But, dayamn! Brittany was rockin' the episode. The actress who plays her, Heather Morris, is a former dancer for Beyonce and it shows. She's got serious moves. I've seen her dance in previous episodes, but this was an entirely different ball of wax. All Brittany, all the time. I liked it.

Kevin
I got an e-mail the other day from a guy who shares my last name. I opened and read it and he detailed for me a family vacation they had taken, how his family was doing, that his dog had died and how he was feeling as a result.

Then he wished me a happy 62nd birthday.

Woah. Hold the phone. My birthday's not until December. And, while I know I'm getting up there in age, I'm certainly no 62.

Turns out he was trying to contact a different Kevin Apgar. One whose name I've seen many times when I've Googled myself and he even used to return higher results than me. Not anymore. I've kinda become cooler than him.

I explained this all in a reply e-mail to my mystery sender.

And I offered condolences on the loss of Gus. Sounded like a good dog.

WWF
Now that Katie and I both have iPhones, we've taken to playing a few games here and there. Our latest addiction is Words With Friends, which is basically a spin on Scrabble. Just a little looser in terms of useable words.

If you're a WWF fiend, look us up and challenge us. I'm "kapgar" and Katie is "ktkat216."

Okay, I'm outta here. Talk to you soon. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


All I've got is this touch-tone phone...

This is officially the first post I've written using the Typepad app on my new iPhone.

Yes, I bit the bullet and finally upgraded from my Blackberry. But before anybody freaks out about the $200 price tag, it's best if I admit now that I only spent $25 on it.

How?

Over the weekend, Katie came up with the brilliant idea of asking if the Apple Store would accept gift certificates from the local Chamber of Commerce. I doubted it, but we asked and they said yes. I'd been collecting those things for a couple years now and had amassed quite a few of them. Enough to make my iPhone pretty close to free anyway.

So now I'm working at learning a whole new way to use a phone and it's not bad, but definitely different. In a good way.

Apps rock. The camera rocks. The system speed rocks.

I'm still getting used to the lack of a tactile keyboard and that's not easy. And I have to work with Apple tonight to get the iTunes software on Katie's laptop to work with all the profiles and saved data that is in the iMac version.

Why? Seems iPhone 4s don't work with the old copy of Mac OSX on the iMac. So no syncing just yet. Wish me luck on that one. Gonna need it. It would suck to have to set everything back up from scratch.

More of a review to come after I've played with it a while longer.


I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real...

Apple_time_capsule My Time Capsule died.

The external hard drive that we use as a data backup source, the primary operating drive for iTunes, and the recipient of data from the Time Machine on Katie's MacBook.

It up and died.

While it's not terrible, it's not good either. 

We won't have to pay hundreds of dollars to a data recovery company. Why? We have all our photos on the internal hard drive of our iMac (thankfully I hadn't deleted a bunch like I was going to). We found all of Katie's grad school files on a thumbdrive. I can download the most recent copies of websites I was working on from their servers. Almost anything else is so incidental so as no to be of no real concern.

Save for my music.

I had run out of hard drive space on the iMac so I resorted to using the Time Capsule as the primary drive for iTunes. I had no choice. I just have too much damn music.

The good news is that I do have it all on my iPod (and people thought having a 160GB iPod was stupid... ha!). I just need to figure out how best to get it from my iPod back onto a hard drive in iTunes. Any suggestions from anyone who has done this in the past? I know that there are pieces of freeware out there that can do this, but have never heard from a person who has used any of them. My buddy Eric told me of a piece of software last night as we were leaving Pitchfork, but I can't remember the name. I may have to contact him unless one of you jogs my memory with a suggestion.

There is one shining light in this whole thing and that is that Apple is going to replace the Time Capsule free of charge. They're going to send out a new one today and I should have it by the middle of next week. 

They are doing this because the MacBook is still in warranty and the Time Capsule serves as the backup destination for Time Machine on that computer. If we weren't doing that, I may have had a little more difficulty getting the free replacement since the manufacturer's warranty on the Time Capsule is kaput and they don't offer AppleCare plans on them.

Say what you want about Apple, and there are plenty of haters willing to do that, but at least they are trying to make things right and they do give a damn about their customers. I used the Apple Expert system on their website and they called me up within five minutes of the time I scheduled the callback and they walked me through potential fixes and, when those failed, they told me how they were going to take care of it. Very calm, very professional, very much aiming to make the customer happy.

And people wonder why I'm willing to pay more for Apple products. Now you know.

Never got service like this when I was a PC owner.

Oh, and I am going to buy another external hard drive that will be used as nothing but my iTunes music drive. Time Capsule can back that up (and not do double duty as an operating drive as a result). Suggestions on external HDs that play nice with MacOS?

Okay, it's not totally unrelated.

It is about Apple and is a video that was played at yesterday's press conference about the iPhone 4 and its antenna problems. I love it.

I don't get the hoopla either. I know several people with iPhone 4s and none of them have been having problems. Are they missing out? Should they be trying to make problems so they can cash in or be part of the pity party?


Get up, get up, get busy, do it...

I'm trying something new for the next month.

In an attempt at a final melting off of weight for Florida in May, Katie and I are back on the Weight Watchers points plan and we're going to the gym in the morning.

What's the big difference? Well, we actually have been keeping points using our phones so we have our list available to us 24/7 and going to the gym in the morning ensures we really go. Katie's been pretty good about going upwards of four or more times a week for the last several weeks. But I've had greater difficulty with all kinds of things planned at night during the week (signings, work, general laziness). During these same "last several weeks," I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've made it to the gym.

That's changing starting yesterday.

I've been packing my clothes for the day the night before. I'm waking up at 5:15. I'm not using the snooze bar. I'm at the gym by 5:30 or 5:40. My workout is done by a little before 7. I shower and change in the locker room. And I'm off to work by 7:20. No ifs, ands, or buts.

So far I've felt really good both days that I've stuck to this plan. I'm more awake throughout the day. I'm more relaxed. I feel better when I leave work knowing that I can just go home and crash instead of going to the gym and fighting it out with the post-work crowd for machines and weights.

I'm sick of being fat.

Fuck this shit.

The more I learn about the iPad, the more I love it.

No, I still don't have one. And I won't for some time. Gotta pay off Florida and the cruise next year. Heck, I haven't even played with it in an Apple Store and I work two blocks from one. I don't want to tease myself just yet.

Plus, considering some of the lengths that people are going to in order to get their hands on one, I think I may just wait until the fervor dies down a bit. If you're going to be afraid to use one of these things in public, what's the point?

Besides, I prefer my fingers intact.

I think I'll aim for the fourth generation iPhone when it comes out later this year. If it's anything like what Gizmodo reported (and the likelihood is VERY STRONG in this regard considering the actions Apple has taken in response to the loss and reveal), then me likey! It's pretty. Nice physical changes from the earlier versions.

500x_iphone4_01
Photo courtesy of Gizmodo

And I pwedict a bwoody Eastuh...

I know it's a day early, but I wanted to make sure I got these good wishes out to all of you when you might actually see them.

So, have a great Dead Bunny Day!

Happy Easter

Seriously, though, have a great holiday (if you celebrate) and, if you're traveling anywhere, do so safely, okay?

Funny thing... seems that everybody I know thinks that, at this moment, I'm in line at one of any number of local Apple Stores (we have five in the Chicago area that I know of) waiting to get my grubby hands an iPad.

Okay, yeah, I'm an Apple Whore (tm), but when did I become an early adopting Apple Whore (tm)? I got my first iPod more than three years after they first came out. I still don't have an iPhone (but everyone around me seems to). No Apple TV. I must be missing something.

I do think the iPad is one of the coolest things around and I do want one. Just not yet. Maybe a couple more generations in unless I win a lottery sometime soon.

So, um, no review of the iPad from me anytime soon. Sorry if that disappoints you.


I get lost...

I swear, sometimes the stupidest things can make you completely lose track of time.

Tetrisgb1 For me, today, it was one of those old handheld Tetris games (literally Tetris, the actual game, you sickos). Katie and I found a bunch of them recently and discovered the batteries, after years of non-use, still work.

This morning, I woke up and got out of bed and started playing it instead of taking my shower and getting ready for work. I figured I could get in a couple dozen rows of a game and then pause it to continue later. That's kinda how Katie and I take to this Tetris game, one person starts, another continues, and so on and so forth to see how far we can get (our record is 985 rows and it took a couple weeks of on-again/off-again play).

Well, I sat there this morning and started playing a new game and got sucked in.

A little while later, Katie comes in and informs me that nearly a half hour had elapsed. I was more than 160 rows deep in the game and seriously needed to start getting ready for work.

I need to watch out for that damn game. I feel I could easily lose a whole day to it.

Two years ago, I took part in an NCAA March Madness bracket pool with some people I know. I did pretty decently.

Last year, I did horrifically.

I think I discovered the reason why... two years ago, Katie helped me with my brackets. Last year, she didn't because I was in a rush to get them done in time and she wasn't around to help.

Damn right she helped out again this year. She pretty much took it over. She has a strange insight when it comes to this sort of thing.

And all I can say is... GO UK!


Tell me the tales of war...

For a little while now, I had been tentatively looking forward to Neil Gaiman coming to my old hometown of Naperville as part of the Naperville READS program that they host annually. I say "tentatively" because, while I've read a couple of his books and enjoyed them as well as his Sandman graphic novels, I've had the worst time getting through Good Omens (tried to read it twice now) and I wasn't a fan of the movie adaptation of his fairy tale Coraline.

But, with the signing and reading happening next Tuesday, I was getting a little hyped up.

I went out today and spent a while anguishing over which of his many graphic novels I wanted to buy to have signed (I only own his novels, but had always borrowed his graphic novels from friends or the library). With helpful advice from some of my cool Tweeps including @lesombre, @lynneNaranek, and @MightyHunter, I chose a hardcover copy of Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

Then I went to pick up the ticket for entry to the event.

As the woman handed it to me, she informed me that things had changed and that Gaiman was only going to do a reading and discussion... no signing.

WTF? Seriously? I know this program is all about promoting reading and whatnot, but the cool thing was that they always got great authors to come in and SIGN BOOKS in addition to the reading and discussion.

C'mon Neil! Be my friend! Stick around and sign! Don't just sell pre-signed books!

Besides, Norm wants to take a picture with you. Don't make me Photoshop it.

Katie LOVES her iPod.

Red_hero20090909I got her the project RED iPod Nano, in case you wanted to know.

When I gave it to her, I already had it charged up and loaded with music and videos, including South Park, The Simpsons Movie, and Star Trek. Oh, and the UNO game I bought last year.

I gotta admit, it's one cool little device.

The fact that it has that Nike/iPod exercise tracker available plus the built-in radio with song tagging and live pause as well as the pedometer, video camera, built-in speaker, and shake shuffle makes it pretty damn rockin'. I almost want one, but still love the uber-capacity of my 160GB Classic iPod, which is actually about half full.

I haven't legitimately drooled over an iPod in a while.

This is totally drool-worthy!


I'm gonna find me a groovy little hippie pad...

The iPad is official. There is some rejoicing. There is some groaning. There have been jokes about the name. And some of my bloggy friends are already in on the action with their views on the new device, including Dave, Kevin, and Bob. You can find all the news you need about the iPad over on TUAW.

Being the Apple Whore that I am, I will admit tentative optimism about the device, initially. I really need to get in an Apple Store and play with it a bit and get some questions answered before I lay down my final verdict, but, for now, I like it.

This is funny since, upon initial inspection, it really comes off as no more than an iPhone on steroids and I am not an iPhone fan for several reasons. So why do I like this? Because it fixes some of the issues I have with the iPhone. Primarily the lack of a tactile keyboard. I CANNOT type on an iPhone for much longer than a search query or a text message. Anything longer and I start to go nuts. I just can't take it. So when I saw this, I swooned...

IPadwkeyboard

IT HAS A REAL KEYBOARD!!! Or, it can anyway. I'm pretty sure it comes separately.

Yes, that has been the breaking point for me with an iPhone. I will admit. The iPhone has killer apps and cool cross functionality between just about everything. But if I can't bring myself to even remotely tolerate the touchscreen keyboard, then why would I bother? This iPad feature settles that concern for me.

I will also admit that I've become more and more interested in some style of eBook reader lately, but I've never been able to decide between the Amazon Kindle, the Sony eReader, and the B&N Nook. All have their upsides and their downsides, in all honesty. But, now that Apple has entered the fray with the iBooks app on the iPad, I gotta say that one takes the cake at the moment. Reading a book on an iPhone or anything similar is too difficult (my wife actually tried it; she had headaches until she was finally done and declared "never again"). Too small a screen for a legitimately sized book. Plus, why wouldn't you want your eBook reader to double as a movie player or a Web browser? Only makes sense, doesn't it?

Okay, sure, you can't add software to it. It doesn't act like a real computer in many senses. But, as Dave said, it's not supposed to. This is the ultimate in-flight entertainment device. Small, thin, lightweight, solid-state drive, plays movies, reads books, plays music (I won't be using it for this), shows photos, browses the Web on WiFi or 3G (skipping the 3G part as I don't want to have to give AT&T any more money than I already am), etc., etc.

I'm kinda stoked.

'nuff said.

Why do people have problems going to the bathroom?

I was going to use the bathroom in an office building yesterday when I smelled something horrible. I went to investigate (MISTAKE! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!) and found that someone had shat on the toilet seat. Just left it there for the world to find. No attempt made to clean it up at all.

WTF PEOPLE??? Seriously? That's fucking disgusting. Animals like you should be tied in a barn and left there. Root around in your own shit for a few days.

I know it's technically illegal to place security cameras in bathrooms, but maybe it's time to revisit that law or at least find some way to work around it. Maybe the camera stays on while you're walking around in a bathroom and washing your hands or some such, but a pressure switch turns it off when you sit on the seat. That way you can at least see who comes and goes but not see them in the act.

Considering what custodial staff have to go through to clean that up, it's only fair that we can hold them responsible, don't you think?


Egghead boys with thin white legs...

We're kinda pissed at Best Buy right now.

Yesterday, after giving it a full night of charging, Katie's iPod crapped out. And I don't just mean battery death, the entire unit was showing no life at all. We were at the gym and she was trying to use it for working out and... nada.

Hate-geek-squad The reason we're pissed at Best Buy is that Katie had seen signs of the iPod going down the crapper and she described them to me. I took it into Best Buy's Geek Squad for warranty repair and they said they could not replicate any of the symptoms that I was having right there on the spot. I tried to explain that they were intermittent, they didn't happen all the time. They said sorry and that they could do nothing about it and refused to help me.

Now here we are, outside her warranty period and stuck with a dead iPod. Simply because Best Buy refuses, like always, to listen to their customers who know better about what is happening to their own electronic devices.

I know some people scam them and this is what they're trying to avoid. But when I am trying to explain a problem and then get that teenaged, pimply-faced, asshat Geek Squad fucknut looking at me like I don't know what I'm talking about (yeah, I'd LOVE to know what "extensive training" he went through that qualified him as an EXPERT on such matters) just pisses me off.

To anybody reading who may ever buy a gift for Katie or I down the line, please NO BEST BUY GIFT CARDS. We would much prefer a Visa or MasterCard gift card that gives us the option of choosing where to spend it. PLEASE!

If I can help it, I'm done with that place. Ever since the "Geek Squad" started, the holier-than-thou mentality in that retail hellhole skyrocketed through the roof. And it's only gotten worse since Circuit City stores closed down giving U.S. customers pretty much a single dedicated source for electronics purchases.

[Thank you, Random-Good-Stuff.com, for creating this fine T-shirt!]

Okay, not totally unrelated, but still...

After the death of the iPod at the gym, Katie and I made the painful decision to listen to the radio station that was playing over the PA. It's some crappy suburban Chicago top 40 station that I just cannot stand.

And how'd they annoy us this fine day? They played that God-awful "Summer Nights" or whatever it's called by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the Grease soundtrack.

Simultaneously, Katie and I groaned and looked at each other and said "oh Christ, no."

If anything good came of it, it's the reminder that my wife has never seen nor ever wants to see Grease and anything related to that movie makes her ill.

I love my wife.


Someone still loves you...

I'm a bit bummed.

I got in my truck this morning and found a fuse on the floor of the driver's side. Not an automotive fuse, but one from electronic components. I thought maybe the guys at the auto shop where I had my oil changed may have busted some tool and left me a fuse.

Sadly, not the case.

Turns out the plug end of my iPod dock decided to sever itself. The cap came loose and the plunger end and spring flew out... somewhere. I cannot locate the spring, plunger, or cap. I just have the dock unit and the fuse. I cannot plug the thing in at all.

No dock = no iPod = radio for Kevin during his work commute.

I guess I'm lucky I've been prepping for this to some degree. I've made it a point to listen to WXRT 93.1 FM every morning on the way to work since the new year began. I used to listen to that station all the time until iPod happened. Even when I stopped listening to the station, I was still subscribed to their podcasts.

Now I'm back. And I'm sure they appreciate it. I've missed it.

WXRT-FM