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Friday, 27 November 2020


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Mike, i am afraid that your $85 DeWalt (a good price!) is an analog drill and, really, for all but the most superficial use is noticeably inferior to brushless drills. These brushless tools have the inherent ability to deliver almost exactly the same torque to the bit irrespective of battery charge state. Analog tools lose -- as you know -- power all through their battery discharge and often induce battery swaps when only half-charge depleted.

I find DeWalt's amazon offerings bewildering and i see "bare" brushless DeWalt models for $100 but they lack the battery and charger; the cheapest all-up is $200 but that is for a somewhat larger 1/2 inch, 20v, unit (compared to 3/8, 12v, for your referenced drill.)

Virtually every tool brand offers a brushless line and they are all superior in use to analog for the reasons cited. My personal three year experience is with Lowe's Kobalt 24v brushless kit for $100 or only $15 more. I -- and a lot of others -- have been thrilled with mine and it is a model that often matches or beats DeWalt in cordless drill comparisons (of which there are many).

Brushless makes any task easier and holds promise to largely replace corded tools for most applications.

-- gary

[The one I picked says "BRUSHLESS" right on the side of the handle, and it's in the description too. Did I mess up? --Mike]

Speaking of smart lights, these battery-powered motion- and light-sensing night lights have been great around the house:


I haven't tried this Version 2 yet but really like the original, which is still sold. Batteries last forever (18 months + in my case). There's also a plug-in version without motion sensing.

I suppose animal cohabitants might limit some applications.

"Now the barn lights turn on automatically when it gets dark and turn off by themselves after dawn. Perfect."

No, it's not perfect. I live in a very rural place, and me and my wife changed all the auto light fixtures, in order to preserve the immaculate dawn view :)

Not gonna lie here...at first glance I thought the Cuisinart was a print dryer. The eye see’s what the mind wants.

Do people still use dry mount presses?
Oh never mind (in best Emily Litella voice)

That's Omnivore, sir ;)

There are also bulbs that have a motion sensor, so that they turn on when they detect motion. I have had one in my entrance for years already. When I come home late at night it automatically turns on, but only at night as it also has the day light sensor. A standard bulb, not a light fixture. Might not work so well outdoors with animals around and grass moving.

We haven't bought anything this Black Friday (or last year's, or the year before's) - just don't see the point. Mostly the goods on sale seem to be leftovers and 'specially bought in' stuff. And this year, at the moment, we can't go to the shops anyway because we're in (semi-) lockdown. And finally - it's not our (English) tradition anyway! A plague on it, sez I, along with Halloween.

But I'm with you on requiring people to work on what ought to be a holiday. Once upon a time the New Year sales started in, like, January... then they crept back into the space between Christmas and the end of December; and now they start on 26th of December, Boxing Day, which in (most of) the UK is a Bank Holiday (possibly not in Scotland) (and I could tell you far more than you want to know about 'Bank Holidays': how they arose, what they are, and what they're not. Hint - they're not actually national holidays.)

At least the shops stay shut on the 25th, as far as I'm aware. Mostly. I think. Supermarkets and pharmacies may be open....

Rant 1. You have a funny idea of what is humane. Releasing trapped animals out into a strange environment away from their home range is not humane. That trap is basically a version of the usual ‘trapdoor’ trap used in U.K. to catch rabbits for sale and is the reverse of humane even without water, with water it would be illegal in U.K.. If you must trap & release mice use a Longworth-type trap with bedding and food and check it regularly.

The traditional spring trap if correctly set is the nearest thing to a humane trap and there are some that electrocute mice but I don’t know how good they are.

Rant 2. It’s been so annoying that all these cordless implements use different battery formats. At last there are tools that use a ‘universal’ battery across drills, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, vacuum cleaners etc! Unfortunately there are several of these ‘universal’ standards produced by the various manufacturers so we are no better off, plus ça change ... :(.

[Their "home range" is my basement and, at night, my kitchen countertop. So, sorry, but they do not get to stay in their "home range" even if that is what would be most comfortable for them. --Mike]

I have to confess that I actively encourage mice & voles in the garden (habitat not food) because my dogs love to hunt them when there are no squirrels around. It does mean I have to keep on top of them getting into the house ;).

We have this Tomcat live catch mouse trap. It’s very clever, cheap, and effective. I can’t say that for the other five kinds we’ve tried. We get a handful of the little critters each winter end they seem no worse for wear when we release them.



Do understand as a retail employee who was in the management sector for 8
years and was in charge of Black Friday setup and execution I would work until 2am Thanksgiving eve only to return @ 5am Friday morn. Inventory eve was far worse and totally abusive. I’m a senior now and am very happy giving up the responsibilities.

As you contemplate gifts, I urge you to consider donations to your favorite museums. Most here in CA have been closed for almost all year and many are in dire straights.

Hi Mike, in the above, you wrote "Simple to operate but not intuitive, so read the instructions, and alert helpful family members or housekeepers as to how to change the bag." And you are talking about a ... trash can (!!) I work with User Experience (UX) and design, and it frustrates me, how complicated some things are to operate these days.

Donald Norman in his book "The Design of Everyday Things" explains how the complexity of operating a certain category of apparatus typically takes on a "U-shape". First, it is very complicated (think wet collodion), then it becomes easier (Kodak Roll-film) and easier (Olympus OM-2n, etc), but the it starts getting more complex again, as more features are added in an ad-hoc manner (wiz. my "Modern" OM-D, which refused to fire the flash in a recent portrait session, because it was on "silent shutter").

My favourite camera at the moment ?? The Leica M8, because it simply does what I ask it to do - every time. And it's about as simple as my M3.

Another great read on UX - also for laypersons - is Steve Krug's "Don't make me Think!"


On that mouse trap... I didn't check the price so maybe it's worth the electricity it uses. But the same design principle has been used for decades in hunting camps throughout the North Maine Woods. Fill a bucket halfway with water, stick a dowel through a beverage can (Budweiser is a popular choice), lay dowel/can over top of the bucket and walk away. For camps that are often untended for whole seasons, it just keeps on working without having to be reset. But hey, if you wanna plug something in, go for it.

I’ve never understood the catch and release approach to a mouse problem. The CDC page on rodent diseases is a little scary.

  • A mouse lives 9 to 12 months
  • After six weeks of living, a mouse is sexually active
  • A typical mouse will have 5-6 young up to 8 different times per year
  • All these new mice also become sexually in six weeks
  • Mice can climb well
  • Their droppings are scattered everywhere
  • Mice can carry a myriad of diseases with the most common being Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)

Hey Mike...How are you and that Breville coffee grinder you purchased and reviewed several years ago getting on?

I can also recommend the VIVO mount, I have the one with the base:

More than a surge protector, I'd recommend a UPS Sine wave:

Regarding the mouse trap, I found this video entertaining:

I would also put your main referer link front and center for other items :)

Mike --

Oh goodness, i did not see that in the headline for the advert (but now i see that it is in the detailed description). Usually that is the first thing claimed in the advert copy.

My bad. But "yes" these are way better than analog drills for the reasons cited.

-- gary

We live in the bush in northern Minnesota, so mice, mostly deer mice (paromyscus maniculatus), in the house are a regular part of life. The best trap is Jawz by J.T.Eaton company. They're $3 for a pair and are humane killers, doing the job quickly and efficiently. A mouse swimming in a bucket of water until it finally drowns is not a good way to die. Mice are the cheeseburgers of nature, food for numerous predators, and their life is short.

As for parkas, I've noticed they are most common in places with deep cold and places that are not very cold. I live in climate zone 2a, where a temperature between 40-45 degrees below zero has a 95% chance of occurring every year. Even with climate change, that still holds here. I put on long underwear, a flannel shirt, and a blaze orange windbreaker hoodie lined with fleece. That's good for 30s below zero. At 40 below, I put on a parka. At 60 below, I put on a snowmobile suit under the parka. These are air temperatures, not wind chill.

People wearing parkas in mild climates do so because they never get acclimatized to cold. I underdress early in the season to force my body to acclimatize. When it hit mid-60s above in the first week of November, I was suffering from heat and couldn't stand it. Now, we're back into single digits, and it's much more comfortable to be outside.

I bought an Olympus E-M5 Mark III with 12-45 f4 lens on Black Friday from National Camera Exchange in the Twin Cities. Price was the same as the big discount houses, but I paid a little extra sales tax, which I don't mind doing. I'm hoping the phase detect auto focus will improve my birds in flight photography, especially with the like new used Leica 100-400 lens I recently picked up. I know most people would prefer the E-M1 Mark III, but I prefer the form factor of the M5, and tests show that for birds in flight, the Mark III versions of the M1 and M5 are virtually identical and better than the M1 Mark II.

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