Sly Mongoose is a great adventure with depth!

August 27, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews, books 

I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Tobias Buckell’s latest novel, Sly Mongoose, which is a kick ass adventure novel with loads of action. Sly Mongoose mixes together several cool ideas including zombies, autonomous robot creatures and a man with internal technology fusing with rusting misshapen technology to become whole again all while still conveying a well thought out plot.

Sly Mongoose also provided me with something to chew on as Tobias explores governments and the pitfalls that come with different kinds of ruling societies ranging from the old school council of elders style taking place in Yatapek to the, everyone must vote, government of the Aeolian Consensus. My favorite protagonist Pepper takes a young emissary to task over the shortcomings of this severely democratic process in a scene which caused me to explore my own conceptions about government and the differing forms democracy takes.

“What do you call sex without consent, Pepper?” She leaned forward like a large cat.

“Rape,” Pepper said evenly.

An invisible trap sprung. She smiled, reciting a script that came easily to her. Pepper imagined it being taught in schools to Aeolians all around Chilo. “Indeed. Rape. It is the consent that is the key. What is the act of governing without consent?”

“Getting shit done.” Pepper didn’t like getting lectured at by little girls, even if they embodied the will of millions.

She ignored his irritated reply. “Think of government as a marriage Pepper. You’ve entered into a bond, but it does not mean that the right to do certain things are guaranteed. A wife who doesn’t consent can still be raped, as an elected government can still run over its people. Better to do make sure that permission is asked for each act, every time. Better yet to make the government vanish: run by monthly volunteers and automated frameworks. For a month you’ve been chosen to be a judge, study hard. Next year you’ll be a filing clerk for a month. We all serve. We all vote. We’re the government.”

“That crap’s nice until you have a threat breathing down your your neck,” Pepper growled. “Even the Athenians you adore so much turned quickly towards strong leaders when it came time to face invaders. Our time on Chilo is countable in days. You will need leaders, not town meetings.”

She recoiled from the intensity he hissed the last word out with. He noticed that she had bags under her eyes. It was late into the night, and she was just a tired, stressed out teenager. “Well,” she whispered. “It did turn out rather well for the Athenians, throwing away freedom for a good defense, didn’t it? After centuries under the boot of the Satraps, I would have thought dying free would beat living safe.”

Amazingly Tobias is able to provoke these questions all while providing a race to the end adventure. This is his third book and it is clear that he has further honed his writing chops. If you can’t find anything deeper than the action in Sly Mongoose, I suggest you avoid the deep end of the swimming pool. Sly Mongoose was able to pull me in much quicker than the first two books and I felt even more connected to Pepper and Timas than I did to John DeBrun in Crystal Rain.

This novel is sure to be enjoyable even to readers who missed out on the planetary adventure that was Crystal Rain and the space opera of Ragamuffin. I think the first two books and his short stories only whetted my appetite for Sly Mongoose. I was thrilled to see Pepper get the attention and time his character deserved. I truly hope that we see more of Pepper in the future. If you aren’t familiar with Pepper, my best description would be Chuck Norris circa Delta Force a little bit of shaft, one part terminator, a dash of Steven Hawking and dreds…don’t forget the dreds.

Also be sure to check out his next novel, which is part of the Halo series called, Halo: The Cole Protocol. If you need to get acquainted with Pepper check out Fish Merchant which makes for an excellent introduction to his character, and follow it up with Manumission which provides a sense of who Pepper is.

The solar powered apocalypse

August 20, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews, Tech, books 

I’ve been reading quite a bit of post apocalyptic fiction lately, becoming completely enthralled by Jeff Carlson’s Plague Year and the followup novel Plague War in which any piece of land below 10,000 feet has become uninhabitable due to a nasty bit of nanotech. The nanotech pulls apart humans in order to create replications of itself and has divided not only the U.S. but countries worldwide. The two books have proven to be an enjoyable ride and kept me up late last night while I finished Plague War. You can check out the book trailer as well as the first few chapters of Plague War and Plague year at

The book got me thinking that in all of the post apocalyptic fiction I have been reading lately nobody has used been using solar power to survive. Even in the altered future gasoline is still one of the most important resources for individuals and governments.

I find this somewhat surprising given the provenance of solar powered accessories in the marketplace. There are solar powered ties, purses, backpacks, tables and even mini solar powered “receivers” which can be found in many stores. I hope that some new fiction in the future has at least one survivor which gets by through the use of a solar powered item that would be within the grasp of an everyday person.

I know if I sense an upcoming plague or disaster of epic proportions I’ll be busting in to my local Bestbuy, scavenging every battery in site as well as the collection of solar backpacks. Hitting up the sporting goods store next door to get decked out in the finest outdoor apparel and switching my cavalier for a Hummer on the way to stock up on non perishable food, then heading for the hills. See you there!

Review: AntiPoleez gets rid of beer breath!

June 12, 2008 by Josh · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, Tech 

A week or so a package arrived from AntiPoleez, makers of a product which removes the odor of alcohol, tobacco and garlic from your breath. In my experience mints, freshened my breath but they still left a distinct odor of alcohol. These lozenges did a great job of removing offending odors from my breath. For a little bit more about the product I’ll share the following from their website,

AntiPoleez eliminates bad breath resulting from consumption of alcohol, tobacco and food. Unlike breath fresheners and gum AntiPoleez does not just mask the unwanted odor with heavy mint or fruit scent, it eliminates it and does not leave any other. The unique combination of components work to increase the consumption of breath producing molecules by the epithelium of the mucous coat of the upper respiratory passages resulting in clean, fresh breath.

It’s not the best association but you can think of it like Oust for your mouth.

I have tried the AntiPoleez on several occasions and based on my unscientific tests, aka asking my wife if I still smell of any of the offending odors, it works! The first test I put the breath freshener through was a sub covered in spicy mustard and onions. I was pleased with the ability of the lozenges to quickly remove the lingering taste in my mouth and to dull the bad breath associated with eating lots of onions.

I also tried the lozenges on several occasions to remove the odor of alcohol from my breath. For these challenges I chose to drink beer and see how well it removed the odor from my breath. I found that it did a great job of pulling the alcohol odor off of my breath, and leaving my mouth tasting, well like I hadn’t been drinking. I think I enjoy the mouth cleaning properties of the lozenges almost as much as its ability to remove the alcohol odor from my breath. As far as the taste of taste of AntiPoleez, it doesn’t taste bad but it won’t be winning any awards for flavor. I’d place it somewhere between licorice and cough drop with menthol.

Since I don’t smoke I wasn’t able to try out the tobacco removal portion of the lozenges but based on the performance I had I would imagine it would perform admirably there as well.

On a final note and really the only downside, while the lozenge does a great job of stripping the offending odors from your breath, it didn’t always leave me with “Tic Tac” fresh breath. This isn’t a deal breaker for me as the bad odors were gone which is all I was looking for. If I wanted to get kissably fresh breath I’d be popping some mints anyway.

AntiPoleez is avialable online starting at $2.99 a pack with discounts for larger quantities. It should also be on store shelves soon. I highly recommend you pick a pack up, if only to be amazed at how good it actually works. Remember don’t drink and drive!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review sample of this product, but don’t worry if it sucked I’d tell you.

Tul Pen Overload!

February 14, 2008 by Josh · 35 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

I got home to work today to find a load of Tul pens! You may remember the awesome handwriting analysis that the Tul website is running right now from previous coverage here. Well recently I was contacted by the ad agency that created the handwriting analysis campaign and they provided a little background on Andy Bobrow the “Dr” who analyzes your handwriting at He is famous for his work with Malcom in the Middle and for a spoof documentary, The old negro space program, in which if you will, or if I may say he is really quite hilarious.

Read more

All I Want for Christmas is a JIMI

November 25, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

JIMI CollageShortly after I got my first job at Bluffton I was trying to find a way to hold the slew of cards I was carrying as well as some cash without pulling a George Costanza.  One of the options I found was the JIMI wallet which is a perfect front pocket wallet.  The JIMI is able to hold a good number of cards as well as cash.  One cool aspect of the JIMI is that when you pay for stuff, people always notice the cool wallet you have.  Though this can lead to having to explain why you have a JIMI in your hands to a 60 year old lady, most times though it is a cool conversation.

Right now there is a sale on JIMIs and you can Buy 4 get 1 free.  That means, One for you, one for your significant other, one for your kid, one for your dog and one free you can send to your favorite blogger. The JIMI store also has some cool SD card and Nintendo DS holders. The JIMI comes with a 2 year warranty and the company has been great when I had the ID clip snap after a year and a half.  With one email I was sent free of charge a new ID Holder/Clip.  This would make a great Christmas gift for loads of different people but especially teens and college students.

Guitar Hero III Continues to Bring the Fun!

November 6, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Games, Reviews 

Guitar Hero 3 360 boxI was skeptical about Guitar Hero III leading up to the release due to the possibility of a disk containing Guitar Hero II and 80 new songs being shoved into a shiny green case.  Last night I had the chance to play it with one of my close friends and while we only played the career mode, I was thoroughly impressed!

The mechanics of the game remained essentially the same, the battle mode really shined for me.  Unfortunately I haven’t played through the career mode long enough to figure out what triggers it other than possibly moving every other venue.  Nonetheless the battle mode pits your skills of playing several small riffs some of which will deliver a attack reward token.  It is up to you to time your attacks in order to inflict the most damage on an opponent.  The mode is challenging but very fun!  After the battle you win the opportunity to play a song by the artist or their band which is also a great time.

The career mode does well with these new additions and the songs which make up your set list represent  a broader range of music and consequentially I knew less of the songs.  This took some of the fun of Guitar Hero II out of the equation.  I think we can all agree that mashing out your favorite or at least easily recognized tune is way more fun than plodding through an unrecognized ballad.  Yet the career mode is enjoyable and as with Guitar Hero II my musical tastes have already been expanded.  My final observations about Guitar Hero III is that the riffs required to gain star power are longer and the overall difficulty ramps up very quickly as you hit the 3rd and 4th gig.

The game is very fun and I will likely pick it up after I graduate in May and have more time to put into gaming.  The franchise is obviously doing well with Activision raking in 115 Million from GHII in its first week as well as the expectation it will be hard to find through the holidays.

Don’t Enter 1408, But Watch It!

October 21, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies, Reviews 

Amber and I just finished watching 1408.  This movie starring John Cusack is amazing.  This movie simultaneously earns two awards from me.  1408 ranks in my top 20 movies (top 5 scary movies if you are counting) and Movie I never want to see again.

1408 is one of the freakiest movies I have seen…ever.  The screenplay, adapted from a short story by Stephen King does a marvelous job of taking you places you don’t see coming again and again.  The move eschews the standard “pop goes the weasel” scare moments horror and scary movies have turned to recently for invoking genuine fear.

Thankfully the movie includes some “lighter” moments when viewers can laugh at the dark, dark humor.  You should watch this movie…with other people…in the day….with a nice unicorn chaser.

Spirit of Texas Salsa Rocks!

October 16, 2007 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

You may have noticed the addition of a sponsor to the site shortly after the redesign went live. Spirit of Texas Salsa Company based out of Texas is a new advertiser and in lue of the first payment I asked for a case of salsa. I don’t think I have mentioned it here before but not much compares to delicious salsa and some salty tortilla chips.

I tried the Mild, Medium, and Hot flavors from Spirit of Texas Salsa Company and I would have to say my personal favorite is the medium with Hot in a close second. The medium has a great range of flavors including just the right amount of cilantro. All of the flavors have a great consistency which sits somewhere between the “chunky” you find in the national brands and the more pureed version of salsa that is common in local Mexican restaurants. The mild has good flavor but lacks enough kick for me.

I shared the Medium and the Hot with my classmates tonite and everyone enjoyed the flavor and the Hot became a challenge for a few. I think if the hot could be a little bit less hot or the medium was bumped up just a little I would have the perfect blend. The bump in heat could come form either some more black pepper This is easily rmedied for my personal taste by dropping some hot into the medium!

Right now you can get the Salsa in select stores in many Southern states and online by visiting their gourmet food store or clicking the link in the right sidebar. I am hoping I can talk the local supermarket into carrying the salsa since it looks like I will run out quickly. If you work for Fresh Encounters in Findlay, OH or know who to reach to get a product on the shelf let me know.

As of today October 16, they are running a special in that you can get a free jar of salsa by paying the $5.00 shipping which is a steal for salsa this good.

Next Page »