Sunday, December 07, 2008

A few gift ideas...

First, all but one of these four are tool-oriented, but these are tools that I own and use...having gone through myriad tools in my time, I've found these very useful and reliable around the house...and I figured just maybe someone might like to know a good gift idea and a good deal on a useful item.

First up is my cordless screwdriver. I've been through countless Black & Decker straight handled ones that sit in a charger, but this one at Lowe's caught my eye a few months ago. It's a small angled KOBALT drill with a lithium-ion charges quickly without using a cradle, comes with a neat little case for everything, and most importantly it has a long-lasting and strongly-torqued motor. I've been very impressed with its power packed in its small affordable package. It takes all hexagonal based bits, be it screwdriver, drill bits, or socket wrenches, too:

All tape measures are not created equal. However, all are lost equally as easy! This particular Stanley 'LeverLock' model has been my favored tape measure of you extend the tape, it holds securely without sliding back in in the least. Admittedly, lots of tape measures do (even other Stanleys)...however, it's the mechanism that handles the retraction that is oh-so sweet to deal with:'s this black bar on the bottom, and all you do is depress it and it reels flawlessly back in. My other Stanley had a yellow tab on the front, but was not a very easy and natural thing to use to lock the tape. This model you don't have to lock the tape: it locks itself and with a simple finger press you're back to square one.

I was given one of these glass waterers earlier and was told they really do water your plants when you're gone for several days, if that's a concern. I'll admit that the glass globe might look overwhelming in a smaller potted plant, but I'll also tell you it WORKS. You fill it with water and stick it down in the soil, and by natural processes releases just the amount of water needed to keep the soil moist. And so I looked for such a thing for the Christmas tree, as a good fresh one will drink a good bit of water...if I'm out of town a few days, it would be nice to know the water could be replenished. Alas, Wal-mart had nothing...Lowe's had nothing...just not the gardening season, I guess. Lo and behold, I walked into a True Value Hardware store Saturday for something completely different, and there, in my face were 2-packs of these useful items on sale for $9.99:

You have to treat them with care as they're blown glass, but if you know someone who likes taking care of plants and can't always be there to water them, this is a great idea. Well packed in styrofoam, too...and they're already set up under the tree to give extra water in case the tree needs it.

Last up is a tool I use and abuse in my flute work and other household repairs. The most common name is a "Dremel" tool, though that is but one brand name. It's a variable speed shaft that accepts grinders and cutters of various types, allowing one to carve, cut, sand, bore, polish myriad materials like wood, plastic, metal, etc. I have a variable speed Dremel that has a powerful motor and scads of bits I've collected and replaced. However, this past summer I had gone on a trip and took a cheap imitation of one with me that I got from an online cheap tool distributor...oh, I got some use out of it, but eventually it rolled over dead thanks to the cheap metal components that just couldn't run with the big dogs. And so, I went to the nearest store, in this case Wal-Mart, and only had a couple of choices...this Black & Decker RTX was the one I picked:

At around $25, it was quite inexpensive, yet had 3 speeds and touted its "quick change" mechanism as a strong selling point. Especially when I'm working on my flutes and blocks, I'm constantly changing bits, and the idea of doing so quickly without a wrench or pliers was long as it worked. Let the record show it works extremely well:

You just pull back on the tab like I did above and it locks the shaft...simple hand pressure turns the knurled knob, take out and slip in a new bit, hand-tighten, then flip the lever down and you're ready to rumble. I wish this unit had a continual variable speed instead of 3 switch speeds, but it is my current go-to unit. Affordable and easy to use, and heretofore has run the race I need it to.


The aside to this blog is that the above pictures were taken by my newly repaired Canon S2 that I turned into Best Buy for warranty repair back in October. When I turned it in, I sarcastically blogged that it would take 2-3 months to get it back...the Geek Squad commandeer that took my repair in said "no, only 2-3 weeks" and gave me an estimated October 28 return date.

Halloween came and went. Thanksgiving came and went. The calendar flipped into December and FINALLY it returned that first week. It has a whole new lens and motor mechanism, and I have to say that after initial test I made, it's actually better than new. It took a long time, a few days shy of 2 months as the repair center had to wait on special parts to come in, but it's back to it's wonderful functioning self. I am well pleased, to say the least.

Happy Holiday-ing, all y'all! And stay healthy! I'm battling larynghitis for a third day, and VERY glad I don't have any on-air responsibilities right now!

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