The problem we face is that most methods of making popcorn aren't great. Movie theater popcorn tastes great, but is expensive and makes you feel sick after a while. Microwave popcorn is usually pretty gross (plus, I refuse to use a microwave.) Air poppers make the popcorn taste like air. My previous favorite method was to cook the popcorn over the stove in a big pot. This results in absolutely delicious popcorn, but it's difficult to pop all the kernels without burning some, and it's not too fun cleaning up the big pot afterwards.
Two weeks ago I was idly browsing a deal site when I came across the subject of this review : the Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. It was on sale for $25 through Amazon (and still is). People seemed to love it, so I ordered it without hesitation.
When the package arrived, I couldn't wait to try it. We had an ice storm here in Austin, TX, but I braved it and made it to the supermarket to buy some popcorn. All they had was crappy store brand popcorn, so I still haven't tried it with anything better than that.
There are a couple key things to look for in your cutlery. First is the construction of the blade. The two types of blades are forged blades and stamped blades. Stamped blades are machine cut from thin pieces of metal and then ground into a knife. Forged knives are hand shaped from a thicker steel blank and then ground into a knife. It's easy to tell which is which by holding a knife. Forged knives are heavier, while stamped knives are flimsy. Forged knives also hold their edge much longer - always buy them.
It's also important to have a full tang blade. The tang is the part of the knife that extends into the handle. Full tang means that it extends throughout the whole handle, while other types of tangs extend only an inch or two in. Having a full tang means that the knife will be weighted better and that there's less of a chance of the knife breaking. All high quality knives are full tang.
Weighting and balancing are also important. When held properly, you want for the knife to be evenly balanced so that no effort is required to keep it straight. This seems like a minor consideration, but cutting herbs with a handle-heavy knife will get annoying very fast because you can't use the knife's weight to your advantage.
I'm unemployed for only three days and I've already made a new site. This is one that I've been thinking about doing for a while, but just finally got around to it. If you were a member of my forums, you would have already seen it, along with a couple other new projects I'm working on.
Anyway, if I were to sit down and think of my strengths and interests, I would come up with the impossible talent of being one of the greatest consumers on earth. For any given product category, from down comforters to toasters, I could tell you what the absolute best item is. In an effort to turn this seemingly useless gift into something, allow me to present Best in the Land.com.
Several times a week (perhaps even once a day), I'll write about a product that I know has no equal. Occasionally I'll write about something too expensive for normal people to buy, but most of the time I'll focus on practical purchases. Most of the products I'm planning on writing about I actually own. Those that I don't own I have used extensively.
The problem is that these superior methods of cooking often take a long time, particularly the oven. If I have leftovers from a restaurant, I like to put them in the oven. Three hundred fifty degrees for about 15-20 minutes makes them taste just like they did the night before. Unfortunately it takes much longer than that in practice because the oven must be preheated.
Welcome to the world of the Panasonic Light Oven. This sucker has been around for several years now, but hasn't really been popular because no one can tell if it's a microwave, toaster, toaster oven, or something else. The answer is that it's basically a cross between a toaster oven, an oven, and the divine warmth of jesus.
The Light Oven works through two methods that you've never seen before. The first are these weird ceramic bars inside the box. The bars are infrared heaters which heat the middle of the food. This isn't like a microwave where they heat the middle of the food and turn it into a leathery mush - it's just as if an oven heated it.
At first glance you might overlook this bag. What makes this plain looking bag so great?
The problem with most carry on luggage is that it's too small for more than a weekend trip. If I'm spending $279 on a bag, I'd better be able to use it on long trips as well as short trips. The Switchback 22 gets around this issue by combining two bags. They took a suitcase that was the largest allowed by every airline, and then attached a good sized backpack to the front of it.
Portable audio players traditionally have poor quality amplifiers built in. Because you're used to it, you probably don't notice that the louder it gets the worse it sounds. Static gets introduced, instruments blend together, and frequencies get distorted. Ipods are known to have among the worst audio quality in the portable music market. A headphone amplifier takes the burden off of the player and does all of the amplification. It also processes the sound, which I'll get into in a minute.
So who needs a headphone amp? Ideal candidates are people who have high end headphones, or even just big headphones. These phones need more power to drive them, so they tax the player even more than usual. Examples are the Etymotic Research and Shure E5 headphones. Another time when it's essential to have an amp is when you're trying to split the audio between two pairs of headphones, as this doubles the power needed from the player.
Have you ever noticed that wearing headphones for a long time is uncomfortable and makes you feel restless? There's a reason for this. When we hear audio in real life, it's never only coming in through one ear. Even if someone's yelling at you directly from your left, your right ear gets a little bit of that through your bones and skin as well as from reflections of the sound. This is called crossfeed. When you listen to headphones, there are some sounds that only come in from one ear. This fatigues your brain because the sound seems so unnatural and it can't place its location. A good headphone amp will automatically crossfeed a bit of audio from each channel to the other ear, resulting in a much more pleasant and relaxing listening experience. This sounds like a bunch of bull, but the difference is obvious once you have an amp.
I normally hate socks. Before smartwool I had only 4 pair, which I wore only when exercising. My main criteria when buying shoes (and I have gone through phases where I have bought lots of shoes), is to buy shoes that don't require socks. So if you can tolerate the thought of socks, you're already a step ahead of me.
For some reason, I like textiles more than your average 25 year old. I think that wool is an amazing material and I have read about it extensively. It is an excellent insulator, which means that it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The fibers are very strong, so it can't be flattened over time like cotton (that's why wool rugs are so popular). It has natural oils that repel dirt. It wicks away moisture and can hold up to 1/3 of its weight in water before feeling wet. It even absorbs odors.
When I heard about Smartwool socks, I wasn't excited. I had a pair of wool socks before, but they were far too itchy and thick for me. I read that these socks were used on Everest, though, and that they weren't itchy. I had to try them for myself.
Fired might be a harsh word, but as of today I no longer work at the glorious Smiley Media. Working there was really fun, and I learned some interesting things, but at the end of the day I don't think I'm really meant to work in an office.
The only part I'll really miss are the people at Smiley Media. Steve is really good at hiring interesting people, so it was fun to be in that type of atmosphere every day. Unfortunately I never really "got into" the work, and thus I wasn't nearly as effective as I should have been. I felt somewhat guilty about that the whole time, occasionally pushing myself to be more useful, but found it hard to maintain. Since I helped hire two really good employees for the company, I may still help them find more, so if you're awesome and want to work there, let me know.
Now here's the thing: Smiley was such an awesome place to work, and I still couldn't hack it. This means that there is no way I will ever get a job again. The only possible exception is a really cool experiment that I'll be conducting soon, but you'll agree that it hardly counts.
First, a couple blog notes. I haven't been posting as much because my free time has been filled with writing my new book. More info and the cover are in the forums. Also, lots of people have been linking to me recently. I really appreciate it!
For those who don't know, waterboarding is a controversial subject these days. It's an torture method which is used to interrogate suspects and designed to simulate drowning. Supposedly it's so bad that the average marine can only handle it for 15 seconds.
So, a couple of my friends, LadyTea and Doug share a goal of losing some weight. Neither is fat, but they each want to slim down a bit before the summer. So, in the interest of motivation, I have promised to post a picture of LadyTea in her bikini and Doug in a speedo on May 1st.
So, prepare yourselves to witness the beauty of two svelte people who are committed to their goals. (By the way... I have two awesome stories coming soon... haven't had the time to type them up yet)