Friday, March 21, 2008

Go Ducks!

Oregon v. Mississippi State tonight in the NCAA Tourney. Update: Well, dang.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How Amazon tried to poison me

Not long ago, I ordered a pack of four CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) light bulbs from It was a wicked deal that sold out too fast for us to post on dealnews.

When I received my CFLs, I didn't know what they were, because Amazon shipped them in a padded manila envelope. Surely, I thought, Amazon wouldn't ship as fragile an item as light bulbs in a manila envelope. Right?

I opened the package, found that it was indeed my CFLs, and also found that two of the bulbs had broken, as seen here:

If you look at the two middle bulbs, you can see that they're indeed partially shattered. I had just read this Consumer Reports piece on how CFLs contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin, and to dispose of broken CFLs properly. OMG, Amazon is trying to KILL ME!

What's the actual risk of mercury exposure from two broken CFL bulbs? The answer is, INSTANT DEATH. No really ... the actual answer is, the risk is apparently low. It's not likely that this amount of mercury would be dangerous. However, the risk isn't zero. Mercury in CFLs is metallic, not liquid, mercury, but it can turn into mercury vapor easily, which can then be inhaled into your lungs. And that's a risk, since it can then damage your central nervous system, kidneys, and liver.

FWIW, Amazon refunded my money without question. But Amazon Customer Service didn't answer my question: Why in the world would Amazon ship a breakable item (that contains a poison no less) in a manila envelope and not in a box?

More info:

Logitech refurb? A-OK

I've always been a fan of factory-refurbished Apple products, but I've had mixed success with refurbished products that aren't from Apple. Witness my refurb Samsung LCD TV with its noticeable blemishes on the cabinet.

So, I'm happy to report that my new, refurbished Logitech MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse is flawless and indistinguishable from the new ones I already own. Chuck and Jim also inspected it and couldn't find a flaw. At $45 without rebate hassles, it's a bargain compared to the typical $80 or more you'll see for a new one.

This mouse joins my other two MX Revolution Mice (one for dealpad, one for NY office, one for Huntsville office) as the best mouse I've owned yet. It replaces a Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer, which was much cheaper and suckier. The Logitech mouse better fits my hand, weighs more (which is especially good when doing detail work), and has a much smarter scroll wheel that lets you get from the top of dealnews to the bottom with one flick.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The W Bed review update: It kinda sucks

We're throwing out the bed we bought for the dealpad. Read the original dealpad review. It's The W Bed Queen Plush Top Mattress.

This was a bargain at $627 shipped, but after being on it for 6 months (really more like 3 months, since I split time between NY and Huntsville), I've found that it's gotten softer and that it's slightly concave in the middle. Kari has always had a bad back, and this bed is waaaay too soft for her.

We're replacing it with the Sonno Mattress (in Medium Queen) from DWR. It costs $1,000 more ... ouch ... but the bed does wonders for Kari's back. I don't like it as much as Kari, but I don't hate it. And I've got to admit it's good for my back when I lie on my back. (However, it can make my shoulders sore when sleeping on my sides.) Despite that high cost, it's cheaper than the competing products from Tempur-Pedic. This is our second Sonno; the first is still in Huntsville and is just fine after a year of use. Kari had asked for one in NY, I looked at the deal on The W bed and said, C'mon, let's try it. Well, if I hadn't cheaped out on the bed the first time around, I'd have been better off. Kari 1, Dan 0.

Jeff Contray, dealnews' Managing Editor, has owned the same W bed for about the same amount of time. Said Jeff, "I don't know that I'm very happy with it." He and I agree that this bed doesn't have the same feel as the beds in actual W Hotels. Surely those beds don't start to suck in 6 months.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

dealpad: Garlic roller

Kari's favorite new kitchen gadget is our Zak Designs E-Z-Rol Garlic Peeler. Roll a garlic clove in this for a second, and its shell pops right off. We got ours at Amazon for $7.99 with free s&h via Prime. Lessee ... I love garlic, Kari loves preparing food with garlic because of this peeler. WIN.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Kari and I went to see Spam-A-Lot today. Bloody brilliant. The best spot was completely unexpected, when the Knights Who Say "Ni" gave their new name. They sang song lyrics referencing Cloud 9 -- I forget the song -- and at the end changed Cloud 9 to "Client 9."
A Spitzer joke in Spam-A-Lot! Brilliant.