Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Consumers Scammed at Outlet Malls?

I found this great article through consumerist.com on how outlet shopping is a bit of a scam.

The article found here, discusses how outlet malls differ from regular malls.

One issue the article identifies is the sunk cost idea that once you have invested the gas, time etc to trek out the large distances to these outlet malls, that you feel compelled to buy things. I definitely think this happened to me once before college, when shopping for a major climate change.

Second, it points out that often the outlet stores actually sell inferior products from the same brand name. This is like how different brands slap their logo on items which are not as well built as their normal line or higher end lines of merchandise.

Finally, the last thing that I found to be really true is that the notion of Suggested Retail Price is a total fiction. Although I am fairly price sensitive I keep lists complete with non sale retail prices on most significant items I purchase. Currently significant is anything over 50 bucks.

So with a normal retailer or an online retailer I can sniff out the best deal. I find its important to be cognizant of whether or not you will pay for shipping and or sales tax. Many great retailers like REI, allow you to ship to a store for free. I must say with REI I have been extremely satisfied with the experience.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Review of Aluminum Pot Lifter

REI

This portable aluminum handle lets you lift and move backpacking pots off your camp stove.

Great little tool!

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 8/1/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Pros: Durable, Lightweight, Compact

Best Uses: Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I got tired of trying to move hot lids with gloves and or bandannas. Stumbled across this tool at REI and bought one on impulse. Just used it on a three day trip and it performs brilliantly. I suppose it could dent lighter pans and pots. I use it with an open country 2 qt pot and it works wonderfully with it. It makes it easy to poor boiling water into mugs, bowls and food packets!

Example with an open country pot

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My Review of Open Country 2 Quart Pot with Lid

REI

This durable, heavy-duty aluminum kettle stands up to the rigors of the backcountry.

Great little pot for backpackers!

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 8/1/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Pros: Durable, Compact, Lightweight

Cons: Need a pot lifter, Difficult to Clean

Best Uses: Car Camping, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

This is a great little pot! In my opinion there is no need for the budget minded traveler to spend too much on a fancy set of pots. This is the solution. This one pot is all you need. Lightweight, cheap and pretty durable.

Combine this with an aluminum pot lifter and you are good to go. Period.

Pot on top of pocket rocket for scale!

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My Review of Brunton Can Stand

REI

Increase the stability of your Brunton backpacking stove or lantern. Can Stand is designed to fit most common fuel canisters.

Great acessory for your instable stove!

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 8/1/2009

5 5

Gift: No

Pros: Compact, Functional, Lightweight, Easy to Use

Best Uses: Backcountry Camping

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

This is a great little can stand. Combine it with an MSR fuel canister and things are much better. I use mine with a Pocket Rocket and it makes it far more stable.

Brunton Can Stand Supporting Pocket rocket!

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My Review of MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove

REI

Hands-down winner in the race for space! The tiny MSR Pocket Rocket stove delivers full-size performance yet fits into the smallest corner of your pack.

Great Little Stove

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 8/1/2009

4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Compact, Powerful, Easy to Light, Lightweight

Cons: Need to bring lighter, Need to ad a can stand

Best Uses: Car Camping, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

This is a great little stove. I have been using one for over a year now.

Its a little unstable in the stock version. I improved mine by adding a Brunton can stand from REI which fits the MSR fuel canisters perfectly. Also unlike a jetfuel you have to bring a lighter or matches.

Its super lightweight and small and a great option for the budget minded backpacker. I would get a small 1 or 2QT Open Country saucepan and you are good to go!

WIth a can stand

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This is how small it is sans fuel tank

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Twinedog Climbs Mt. Whitney July 25, 2009


After much anticipation the Twinedog finally climbed Mt. Whitney. If at first you don't succeed try at least once more!

Well after dedicating a couple of days off work (its good to be the boss) my friend Zac, Joe and I headed up to Lone Pine with the intention of climbing Mt. Langley, a 14,000 footer but not quite whitney.

However, when we arrived at the multi-agency visitor center in Lone Pine, CA we discovered that they indeed had 7 cancellations for that day, Thursday July 23, 2009.

So we were issued permits on the spot and took off for the portal, after a quick stop at a sporting goods store.

We didn't get on the trail till like 11:50 a.m. because we had to pack up all our gear. The first day we made it to Outpost Camp and spent a leisurely night.

The next day we got up early, packed up our gear and made it to Trail Camp. After a long afternoon and nights rest, we were more than ready to summit Whitney the next morning.
I had planned on a three day approach so that we could acclimate to the high altitude, especially because I wasn't in the best shape.

The final day we didn't pack up our gear but instead left the tents up and carried small summit packs. It still took like 4 hours to reach the summit and an additional 2 hours to get back.

But an amazing trip! Totally worth it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Review of Gregory Palisade 80 Pack

REI

A classic favorite, the redesigned Gregory Palisade pack features all-angle access and an updated suspension for a week on the trail.

Solid Pack!

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 7/27/2009

4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Comfortable, Easy To Load, Large Capacity, Highly Adjustable

Cons: No outside mesh storage

Best Uses: Heavy Loads

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I have used this backpack now on three multi night trips, most recently in a trip to summit Mount Whitney. It is pretty comfortable for the loads carried 50 pounds or so, and highly adjustable.
It also has lots of space, a place for your trekking poles when you're not using them, and the top converts to a fanny pack.

Personally I wish Gregory would make the top into a backpack for when you summit a peak or take a side trip.

I wish there was a mesh pocket on the outside like on the Lassen's I used to rent. I made do jury rigging some elastic cord with a plastic part that allows me to sinch the cord though. I always want to be able to place wet or moist items on the outside of the pack as I frequently swim while on multi day trips. I also wish that there was a clip for my camelback tube. But it does have holes on both sides so that you can have your drinking tube on either side.

All in all a good bag which can handle anything from weekends to longer treks pretty easily. I don't have the budget for two pack; if I did I would probably get a smaller capacity Gregory for weekend trips and a Whitney for the long treks. But the Palisade is an excellent compromise for the budget minded backpacker. Also I would say get it on sale like I did.

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My Review of Open Country 700 Watt Dehydrator

REI

From soups and sauces to fruit rolls and jerky, you can make your own yummy and nutritious trail food with this fast and simple dehydrator.

Great for backpackers!

Twinedog Los Angeles, CA 7/27/2009

4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Easy To Clean, Stable, Durable

Cons: Bulky

Best Uses: Hiking, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I finally got a chance to use my dehydrator and test out the results on a recent backpacking trip. This dehydrator does a good job of dehydrating pre-made meals for backpacking. I made spaghetti with Italian sausage and marinara sauce and it dehydrated beautifully. I also dehydrated garlic mashed potatoes and some mangoes. If you are interested in cookbooks I recommend the Backpack Gourmet.

But one serious con is that only one fruit roll up tray is included with this item. Also REI does not sell extra trays, clean a screens or fruit roll up liners. I had to buy them separately online. But a decent deal on sale or with a 20% off coupon.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dell Customer Service Problems

Well my Dell problems are still not resolved. We have gotten so fed up with the you need to call back in 2-3 business days constant routine for a few weeks , so we decided to dispute the charges with the credit card.

I am so tired of dealing with rude Indian customer service reps on the phone. I have been lied too repeatedly, and hung up on several times. I can't get a straight answer and they insist that I keep calling them even though to reach a human being takes between 5-10 minutes and thats each time you get hung up on too!

NEVER BUY A DELL!

Here is a metafilter question I asked with some guidance for how to handle a problem with Dell Customer Service.

Dell you lost my business for life. As a business owner who will be growing my business for decades to come the loss of my business as well as all the other owners you have no doubt pissed off, will eventually catch up with your bottom line and share price.

See you in Chapter 11@!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dell Customer Service Hell

Dell computer's customer service is hands down the worst customer service on the planet. I have been hung up on repeatedly. Told to call back repeatedly in 2-3 business days. Some representatives have refused to provide an employee id number claiming that they do not have one. When you finally get a manager they tell you nothing different.

When I asked a manager to at least provide me with an extension number to get through and avoid the 20 minutes of navigating the phone menu until I get to a live person, they refused to do so.


I will never buy a Dell computer again!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twinedog endorses David T. Vahedi for City Council 5th District



I too am a life long resident( minus college) of District 5 of Los Angeles.

I happen to know that David T. Vahedi has been very involved in the community in recent years. He participates in the neighborhood council where the people who actually care about quality of life issues get involved. He will not be a developer's whore like the current city councilman. BTW I don't endorse Jack Weiss for City Attorney.

Please join me in voting for David T. Vahedi.