Friday, August 31, 2007

Product Review: Ryka MC-2 Walking Shoes

First things first, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell all of you that I didn't wear these shoes. No, not because I didn't have time or because I was slacking in my product review work-rate. No, I didn't wear these shoes because I am a man.

These shoes are for the ladies. Especially for the ladies.

I suppose I could try to BS about them, but, really, what would be the point? That's not how I roll.

Having said all of that, I will say that my lovely wife, known in the blogosphere as Mrs Gunfighter (or as she SHOULD be known, Dr. Mrs. Gunfighter) DID wear them. Not only did she wear them during a period of day to day activities, she wore them while were were on vacation... at Disney World. Uh huh!

According to Mrs GF, the most immediately remarkable thing about these shoes is that they were comfortable instantly, they needed no real break-in period.

The shoes never gave her a blister nor did they cause any pain, even after two weeks of walking through the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Disney's MGM Studio, and all of the other places, including SeaWorld, that we went during the trial period.

Another notable thing about these shoes is that they aren't ugly. These shoes look like any other high-end athletic shoe that is made for serious athletes (and walkers ARE serious athletes, OK?). I am sure you all have gone to sporting goods stores and seen what are passed off as "walking" shoes, when in reality the shoes look more like they were made for the nice old folks at the Shady Tree rest home.

All in all, these shoes performed flawlessly over the two-week test period.

Mrs Gunfighter gives full marks!

Ryka products and their descriptions can be found at their website: www.ryka.com

This product Review is brought to you by the Parent Blogging Network.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Product Review: KINeSYS Sunblock

All of you know that your pal Gunfighter loves to talk about products that he likes. Today, I want to mention something new. KINeSYS sunblock.

This stuff is the bomb, folks, and if you'll stop squirming, I'll tell you why.

First things first: If you are asking yourself, probably aloud: "Gee Gunfighter, you're black... why do you care about sunblock?" Well here is your answer: "Because sunburns hurt, and if you spend as much time in the sun as I do, you'd better be using it, too!"

Now, about this KINeSYS stuff. When I received my sample in the mail, I figured that it couldn't be any better than any other sunblock, and to tell you the truth, I don't thin that it protected me any better, but there were some major differences between this stuff and a lot of what is out there on the market. First, I used the bottle's pump action to apply this stuff to myself AND soccergirl. OK, not that uncommon, but I like it. Next, it goes on without being so creamy that I have to spend ten minutes trying to rub it in, so that I won't look like Dennis Haysbert in kabuki makeup.

I applied the KinEsys and once it had dried (in less than a minute) I took soccergirl to our community pool. During the three hours that she spent playing with her friends, I watched and listened to Parliament/Funkadelic on my Ipod, all the while sweating in the northern Virginia sun. Although I took frequent breaks to hydrate so that I wouldn't drop dead, I didn't reapply the sunblock.

As it turns out, I didn't burn and neither did soccergirl, even though she was in and out of the pool throughout the three hours.

This stuff turned out to be pretty good.

I don't know that it is the best sunblock that I ever used, but it sure worked every bit as well as the better stuff that I have used.

GF

This product review was brought to you by the Parent Blogger Network

Book Review: Fathering Your School-Age Child:

In some places they say that the way to measure someones intelligence is to measure it against the degree to which they agree with you. If I were to use that yardstick, I would have to conclude the Armin Brott, the Author of Fathering Your School-Age Child - A Dad's Guide To The Wonder Years, is a friggin' genius!

Armin Brott, A Marine Corps veteran (Woo Hoo!), is a bestselling author and lecturer on the subject of fatherhood. Most of you who read my blog know how serious I am about being a dad... well, Armin Brott is serious about it, too, and has given us dads a very clear and concise primer on some things for us to pay attention to when it comes to our young school-age children.

This book is a guide to what to expect and how to deal with children from ages three to nine years old... what Brott calls "The Wonder Years", and I have to tell you, that right from the beginning of this book, I found myself circling things and highlighting like mad, and saying to my wife: "hey! listen to this!".

Each chapter in the book is broken down like this: What's Going On With Your Child; What's Going On With You; You and Your Child; You and Your Partner. In each of these sections, the author speaks specifically to each point, discussing things that our kids are doing developmentally, our interactions with them, and our interactions with our partners in parenting.

This book has an incredible amount of information that will help a father know what is happening in the development of his child educationally as well as emotionally. Brott teaches us about educational choices, discipline, developing physical, intellectual and emotional traits, activities to do with our kids throughout the age-range covered, the use/abuse of the media, school sports, being an involved parent at school (prepare for rejection, dads!), and so many other things that I can't properly list them.

OK, Men! Listen to your pal, Gunfighter... you know that I would never bullshit you about anything concerning our children, so read this book and pay attention to what it says. It's important to you and your kids. Ladies, you, too, know that good ol' GF would never BS you about the kiddies. If you have young children, give this book to your partner... he'll thank you for it, and you and your children will benefit from it.

If you take anything from this review, take this: This is an excellent resource for any man who is truly interested in doing a real man's job: Being an involved father to his children

GF

Armin Brott has a website at MrDad.com. You can find out all about his books, DVD's, and lectures, there.

This review is brought to you by the Parent Bloggers Network

Book Review: The End of Blackness

In this book, the author, Debra Dickerson tells some home truths... truths that may be hard to hear for some people... some of the tough things that we, as black Americans, should have been saying for many many years.

Ms Dickerson deserves full marks for having the courage to skewer many of the sacred cows that we have been praying to for so many years. Further, she doesn't shrink from taking stab at today's almost-useless civil rights leaders.

It is time, and past time for us to be proud of who we are for what we are and what we have done in this country. Not because white people will acknowledge it... some will, some won't, but so what? The acknowledgement of others shouldn't be the goal of ethnic pride. That said, it should also be said that ethnic pride shouldn't be a bar to the pride that comes from being an American.

It is time, and past time for us to stop seeing ourselves only in comparison to how we are treated by white people... or any other people, including other black people. Black Americans have done remarkable things. We are inseparably woven into the fabric of American history and society.

It is time, and past time for us to stop pretending that we exist outside of American society. We don't. This is our country! We are full citizens, but must begin to act like it. We should walk tall, be proud, look others in the eye with dignity and self-respect.

As Americans, we should be sure of ourselves and of our pivotal role in the building, and the success of this great country. We don't need to wait for the approval of other people to feel good about ourselves. This is childish behavior.

This book could have been written better, Ms. Dickerson's writing is disjointed in some places, but that doesn't detract from the message.

While I don't share every conclusion that the author comes to, she deserves full marks for having the courage to say things that needed to be said in an open forum.

Dickerson is right... the mind truly is the last plantation. The gate is open, and all we need do is walk through it, opt in, and be a participant in creating our own destinies.

GF

Book Review: Bootmaker To The Nation

Four years ago, I read this book on the strong advice of a friend of mine. That friend was a great gentleman and devotee` of early American history named John Grubb. Before his untimely death nearly two years ago, John was a bookseller at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's center, and could always be relied upon to point me toward the next great book on the period. I am glad I took his advice on this one.

The author of this book, Dr. John Slade, has hit a historical home run with this well-told tale of the birth of our republic.

Told from the viewpoints of Benjamin York, a pressed British seaman that deserts in 1775 Boston, and Genevieve, the Massachusetts farm girl he marries. The story takes us from the beginning of our war of independence at Lexington & Concord, to it's end at the Siege of Yorktown.

Not only does Slade tell the story well, he does something that will truly shock some people: He teaches you every bit as much as he entertains! This is no dry historical tome that will send you off to sleep after the first few pages. No, indeed. When you put this book down, you will have a real feeling and understanding about the American Revolution that so few people ever get.

When you read this book, Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill will become real places and real battles, not just a dry collection of ates and factoids from high school. Not only will you see the battles as real, but the people as well. From the hunger of the foot soldier, to the real moral and tactical dilemmas facing the various commanders.

Slade makes people like George Washington, and Nathaniel Greene real flesh-and-blood men, not the cardboard heroes we often read about. The fact that he makes them human makes them all the more heroic.

Another point in Slade's favor is that he doesn't fail to discuss the southern theater of operations. Many Americans don't realize that the bloodiest fighting of the war took place in the Carolina's, and that the most militarily significant battle of the southern campaign was that of Guilford Courthouse, in North Carolina.

Slade has done nothing short of brilliant work here.

Read this book. You won't be disappointed.

Book Review: GhettoNation

I found this book at the College of William & Mary bookstore (Barnes & Noble), while we were on our Spring Break trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, last month.

I was very excited about it, in fact, I was so excited about it, Mrs. Gunfighter bought it for me as a gift* I couldn't wait to read it, and I started it the next night.

The premise of the book was a discussion and critique on the use of the term "ghetto" in contemporary American parlance, the proliferation of "ghetto culture" which devalues education, is demeaning to women and promulgates the worst of Black American stereotypes as black culture. The author, Cora Daniels also discusses who benefits from "ghetto culture" and whom it destroys.

I enjoyed the book, and although I didn't agree with every conclusion that Ms. Daniels arrived at, we certainly agree about the incredible damage that "ghetto culture" is having in the United States today.

One of the main points that Daniels makes in her book is that, unlike in days past, the word ghetto rarely equates to a geographic location. Today, ghetto is a set of values, a behavior, in short; a mindset.

The following are my opinons:

Once upon a time, ignorant, uncouth behavior was something that we used to see and shake our collective heads about, silently tsk-tsking at people doing stupid and self-destructive things... many people would say or think to themselves: "Well, what do you expect from those people, especially peole who live there?"

Today, that same behavior (obnoxious swearing in public; baggy jeans hanging off of your ass; rude, unwelcome, attention towards women) isn't only tolerated... it's celebrated (in the suburbs no less!). Some of you are no doubt shaking your head and saying: "not by me it isn't!", that's great, but it sure as hell IS celebrated by enough people to make several industries hugely profitable.

Instead of screaming about it, people today shrug their shoulders and say (cue the Paris Hilton voice) "God, that's SO ghetto!"

Make no mistake my friends, the multicultural society that so many of us have advocated has arrived... and it isn't what you thought it would be. Multiculturalism today, isn't about the blending and uplifting the various cultures that make America. Today, multiculturalism means that white kids buy most of the gangsta rap that is produced. Multiculturalism has come to mean the glorification of ghetto dress and behavior, it is the mainstreaming of destructive pathological behavior.

The clothes, the music, the language of "ghetto" has become welcome in America... and we should all be ashamed. The tabloids celebrate scum, yes... I said scum, like 50 cent, Jay-Z, Eminem, K-Fed, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, and any number of the fountains of filth that pollute our homes, and our children's schools. Worse yet, the mainstream media have been so completely cowed that they say nothing about ghetto behavior for fear of being labeled racist.

Multiculturalism today, has given us the phenomenon of the so-called "Wiggers"

In this manner we have indeed become "GhettoNation"

We should be collectively ashamed.

A few months ago, I blogged about the following: Several years ago, famed comedian, actor, and educator, Bill Cosby had the nerve to speak out about the pathology of ghetto culture, and he was reviled by many, from black activists to white liberals, for having the guts to speak the truth. Unfortunately, Cora Daniels, in her otherwise excellent book, agrees with many of those that lashed out at Cosby..., but in the opinion of this humble blogger, Cosby was, and still is, absolutely right.

Peace,

GF

* Your pal, Gunfighter, loves to read. Gifts of books or bookstore giftcards never get wasted on me.

Beer!

This is one of my favorite beers.

It's called Dead Guy Ale, and it is produced by the Rogue brewery, in Oregon.

If you like malty, yeasty beers, this one is for you. It isn't high brow beer, but it's good, tasty, manly beer.

That's right. I said manly. It isn't a beer for anyone who drinks light, or worse "Lite" beer. It isn't for the dilletante. It isn't for ANYone who puts lime in their beer.

Try it, if you aren't one of the people listed above, you'll like it.

Trust me. I know beer.

GF

Under Armour

Are any of you familiar with this company? They sell all sorts of sporting apparel for men, women, and children. In addition, they sell "Tactical" gear, including underwear, and they are quite popular with military and police personnel. Their claim to fame is making lightweight garments that help wick away sweat in order to keep you cool(er) in the summer, and warmer in the winter.

I'm all about good gear, but to tell you the truth, at this stage in my career, I leave it to the younger folks to do the sweltering and the freezing most of the time... the benefits of seniority, I guess.

Anyway, I still get all sorts of catalogues from companies that want us to buy whatever new "must have" item is out this month.

Well, Under Armour is no different, and I recently got their 2007 catalogue. I flipped through it figuring that is just more of the same stuff that I won't be buying, until I go to the women's apparel and saw this:

The Power Thong:

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This is the text that went with the photo:

POWER THONG

"The Under Armour® performance thong, delivered in an athletic cut to prevent riding and chafing. Seamless construction and knit-in labeling ensure an unobtrusive garment that moves with you."

I'm guessing that the term "unobtrusive garment has something to do with visible panty lines.

OK... when the SWAT team is about to move in on a barricaded suspect, who may be armed...

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... does anybody give a crap about a visible panty line?

Tactical uniforms tend to be baggy because you may need to fight or run or do things that tighter clothing might be too restrictive for.

I am trying to think of a delicate way to ask one of the women that I work with if they would wear such a thing on an operation.

CD Review: Kathrine McPhee

Kat McPhee has finally released her first post American Idol CD. The following are my thoughts about it.

Katherine McPhee is a pretty girl with a sweet, strong voice but…

There is already a Christina Aguilera in the world.

There is already a Mariah Carey in the world.

Kat McPhee is neither one of them, and she shouldn't try to be… but she tries on this CD. In fact, she tries too hard!

Bloody awful is what it is. It’s musical torture.

Don’t buy it.

Don’t download it.

Don’t put it on your iPod.

DON’T DON’T DON’T

Product Endorsement: PNY Flash Drive

I truly love the whole idea of being able to drag around multiple gigabytes of information in my pocket... or on a key chain or in "Inside-The-Beltway" fashion, on a lanyard around my neck.

I love the convenience of being able to write at practically any computer that I can find to use, and easily keep blogs posts, memos, lesson plans, my CV (you never know when you may need it), or pictures with you wherever I go.

I have a few flash drives that I use... one primary and two back-ups. They all have essentially the same information on them because I like a certain amount of redundancy... which brings me to my endorsement.

The PNY Flash Drive:

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As you know, I was home with Olivia, yesterday, because of the two or three flakes of snow that fell here in the DC area. I tried to be a smart and resourceful fellow and get at least SOME of the laundry done, thereby reducing the amount left to be done over the weekend. Smart, right? Well, I washed the uniform shirts...

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...that I had worn earlier in the week... assuming that I had already cleaned out my pockets, as I always try to do (my shirts have four large pockets). Well, I did that load of laundry, and then tossed it all in the dryer.

When I unloaded the dryer, my 1GB flash drive fell to the floor at my feet. I wasn't pleased about that at all since there were some things on it that I hadn't backed up yet.

Fearing the worst, I attached the drive to my computer this morning, and would you believe that it was just fine? It was fully operational.

So, if you want sturdy, get yourself one of these drives from PNY.