A Review of the Sylvania Bluetooth CD Boombox

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page, nor is it the actual image of the product I am reviewing in this piece, but it is close enough and it is related.

I was born in the late 1980s and was a child throughout the 1990s.

Therefore, like most people born during this era, I have an appreciation for the boom box.

As I’ve mentioned before, whilst I was married, my then-wife, now ex-wife, and I would frequently do laundry at the house of her ex-brother-in-law.

We would then cook and run errands for him, in exchange for using his washer and dryer.

His deceased daughter (actually the aspiring writer whose death compelled me to launch this blog), had purchased a Sylvania Boombox from the Ruble, I mean, the Dollar General sometime before being killed in a traffic accident. After her passing, her dad (my ex-wife’s ex-brother-in-law) kept that boom box on his back porch and frequently listened to Classic Rock stations with it.

I would use it to listen to NPR while doing laundry. My then-wife would watch television with her nephews.

I was surprised by the tuning accuracy, especially on FM, despite using the power cord as an antenna and having a fairly simple rotary tuner.

It wasn’t long before I wanted one.

In the late Summer of 2017, I drove to the local Dollar General to purchase one for myself. Of course, there were none in stock so I probably made my frequent remark on how it isn’t the Dollar General but rather the Ruble General. Subsequently, I ended up buying one on eBay.

The one I purchased on eBay didn’t perform as well, so I ended up donating it to charity.

In January of 2018, I left my wife, after years of a tense and faulty marriage, and in May of 2018, I moved into my own apartment after spending the prior three months with an older friend.

From this nicer Dollar General, I purchased a television antenna, a portable fan, and a new Sylvania Boom Box, which is the one shown in the featured image but not the actual model that this piece will be a review thereof.

This model could filter out the interference from a nearby FM transmitter despite having a seemingly simple rotary tuning system.

I used it for about a year, then gave it to a neighbor.

In March of 2021, as I had planned, I purchased the updated version which features Bluetooth.

The model number is a Sylvania SRCD202DG-BT-EO and this will be the product reviewed in this piece.

I have yet to use the CD player feature because CD’s have become mostly obsolete.

I haven’t tried the AM radio feature either, because I have other radios for AM listening.

I tried the FM feature because I was hoping that it could filter out the nearby transmitter like its predecessor models. It does to a degree, but the power cord doubles as the FM antenna and it needs to be in a certain position to catch the NPR station I want.

Unless I was anticipating a hurricane or other disaster that results in an extended power failure I wouldn’t like to purchase the 6 C batteries needed to power this off the grid.

If I had a device that didn’t feature Bluetooth, there is an auxiliary in jack that allows this to be used as a set of speakers.

The speakers put out decent audio, but nothing like a more powerful stereo system.

The Bluetooth feature is where this is a winner.

I have downloaded some scanner and radio apps for my tablet and I pair it with his device.

With this setup, I can hear scanner feeds and radio broadcasts both locally and around the world.

And, yes, NPR is among those feeds.

So is the BBC World Service.

So are some interesting railroad and marine scanner feeds.

As a Christian I know I must needs be careful whilst listening to NPR.

Like one of my recent characters, I listen to NPR mostly because doing so enhances my vocabulary. I don’t particularly care for their biased reporting and I find it is getting worse since I began listening in the Summer of 2017. Case in point, as I’ve mentioned before, it was after hours of listening to NPR for the first time that I began referring to the Dollar General as the Ruble General. Some of the content on there does indeed enrich my mind.

I used to romanticize finding a better woman than my ex-wife and she and I moving into the neighborhood where I used to do laundry, then she and I would sit at home and listen to NPR. We would later have a daughter who would sing in the school choir. This dream almost came true when I met my ex-girlfriend but sunk after she called it quits on me a year and some months later.

There is still something I romanticize about sitting on a back porch in the later afternoon and listening to NPR, but the biased reporting is getting to be too much for it to be enjoyable. NPR is supposed to serve the entire American public, not just certain political factions. I would consider myself politically moderate and so was NPR at the time I began listening. But now, I find, it is leaning way towards the left and that isn’t fair.

All right, let me get off of my soapbox because I doubt it does any good.

My one complaint about this boombox is that the FM reception could be a little better, but at least it appears to have an AFC circuit, though not as well-performing as its predecessor models.

I keep it in my living room on a shelf next to a vintage scanner, a Realistic Pro 2022. That scanner may be slow, but it has the best audio quality I’ve ever seen in a scanner.

The feature I use most is Bluetooth, which provides significantly better audio quality when streaming on my tablet.

I would give this a 4.6 out of 5-star rating because I wish the FM reception was a little better and I wish the speakers could be a little louder.

This particular model is sold only at The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General for $26+taxes. Considering the build quality and all that it does, I would say it is a fair price, provided one is actually in stock. Some Dollar Generals are notorious for product shortages, long lines in checkout, and cluttered aisles, hence me calling it Ruble General, to begin with. For those who don’t know, the Ruble was the official currency of The Soviet Union and I’ve heard countless reports of the shopping experiences there similar to what I’ve seen in some Dollar Generals, hence me coming up with that idea.

All in all, I guess this, therefore, concludes my review on the Sylvania Bluetooth CD Boombox.

I hope that you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of The Sony ICF-P26 AM/FM Portable Radio

Just so we’re all clear, I do not own the featured image on this page and I give credit to whomsoever credit is due.

I always enjoyed listening to the radio growing up.

The style of radio that I enjoy most are those that resemble the transistor radios made from the 1950s through the 1980s. There is just something about that style.

By the way, such a style is getting rarer and rarer as time goes by.

I believe it was some time in 2015 when I discovered the Sony ICF-P26 and, fun fact, it was through a MEME I saw on social media.

I finally bought one in March of 2017 and so I have owned one of these radios for almost your years.

That radio by the way is what this piece will be a review thereof.

In reality, I had been wanting to write this review since July of 2018, when I started writing product reviews, but there have been numerous distractions that hindered me from doing so.

In March of 2017, I had a little bit extra money, so I ordered a Sony ICF-P26 on eBay.

It came in a few days later and I began to use it extensively. It even gained a spot for a few years in my EDC backpack.

I was thoroughly impressed by the clear and generous sound, the tuning accuracy, the reception range (especially on AM, but FM as well), and the overall solid feel when handling this radio.

On every trip I took, it was a frequent companion, allowing me to hear local radio stations. One of my rituals is while traveling I wash my face, then shave as soon as I enter the hotel or motel room. For some reason traveling in a car for an extended period, even with the windows up makes my face ultra dirty. I also like to be clean-shaven when going out and about anywhere, so after washing my face, I shave, then apply the Aqua Velva. Usually while shaving in a place besides home, I listen to a local music station. One particular memory I have about carrying out this ritual is being in Texas and hearing Jim Ed Brown sing “Pop a Top” on a local AM station. Music sounds so much richer when played on AM and Jim Ed Brown already had a very rich voice, so it was a very pleasant experience. When not traveling, I used to listen to NPR whilst I was doing my laundry.

I did keep this radio when my ex-wife and I split up the community property and I left her a Sangean DT-200VX because she always liked it and I was trying to make the divorce as painless as possible. She and I are on much better terms now but I am 100% sure that we are not compatible as husband and wife. I just wish I would have realized this before the relationship became too serious. Well, she clearly stated that she wanted to marry me six days after meeting me. At the time, I was thrilled, because I didn’t see the red flags yet.

Speaking of red flags, my one gripe about this radio is that it lacks an AFC circuit. This wasn’t an issue at my previous residences but is very much an issue at my current residence since I am only a few blocks away from an FM transmitter. That station’s signal bleeds all over my FM dial and drowns out almost all other FM stations that would normally be available. So I upgraded (and I use that term loosely) to a cheap, unbranded radio, that has a phase lock loop synthesized oscillator, for most of my portable FM listening. It also gets AM (mediocre) and Weather (quite well, actually), but isn’t as solidly built as my Sony. Although it is as small as an MP3 player and I do have a dedicated pocket for it in my EDC backpack. However, on some nights I will still use this Sony for AM listening, both local and long-distance. If I’m not in my neighborhood and have it with me, I will also use my Sony for FM listening.

A few evenings ago when Winter Storm Uri was wreaking havoc across the country, our local governments and our electric utility companies were advising us to conserve power until 10:00 PM. So, I unplugged all of my grid-powered electronics, set my central heater (which is electric) to 68 Degrees Fahrenheit and I even turned off the lights. To be able to see, I used a highly efficient battery-powered LED lantern. My previous product review was about that very lantern. And for entertainment, I listened to the AM band on my Sony radio. I did some AM DXing until finally, I decided to listen to WSB out of Atlanta. There is a local show on there that I have listened to a time or two prior. It is a good, wholesome, and even Christian show. They were talking about Rush Limbaugh’s passing. I listened until the signal faded out. By that point, it was past Ten O’Clock, so I resumed my “normal” nighttime activities. The AM ferrite bar antenna on this radio isn’t very big, so it’s not the best radio for AM DXing, but, in my location, it will catch most of the clear channel AM stations between The Rockies and Appalachians after dark.

A very wise feature on this radio is that it isn’t turned off or on by the volume potentiometer, but rather a three-position sliding switch “OFF” “AM” “FM.” There is a volume potentiometer and after almost four years of use and three years of carrying in my EDC backpack, it needs to be dusted out. To tune the radio, a knob is connected to a slide rule indicator. For FM listening, there is a telescopic antenna that can be changed out if it is ever damaged. Why can’t all radios be made this way?

There is also a removable nylon lanyard.

Two other features on this radio include a green LED, whose brightness indicates how much battery power is left and a red LED which indicates that the radio is locked on a station’s signal.

For power, it runs on two AA batteries. I always used Alkalines and always had generous run times. I think the run time is rated at 35 or so hours on a set of batteries but I’m not 100% sure.

Currently, I have my Sony radio on a night table in my living room, but if I were to have to travel, especially to evacuate from a hurricane, it will be coming with me.

If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these, they are widely available online and even in some brick-and-mortar establishments.

I give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars and this rating is subjective to where one uses it. Had it been manufactured with an AFC circuit, I would have given it the full 5 stars.

Sony is a reputable brand and they make some fine radios, so why couldn’t they have installed an AFC circuit and made this radio even better?

I’ve mentioned on social media in the past how I wish all FM radios would have an AFC circuit, but terrestrial analog radio is gradually dying out, much to my dismay.

In the event of an emergency remember KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid! The simpler a communications system is, the less chance there is for failure and typically the cheaper the equipment. Analog terrestrial radio should remain in use, at least as a means of communicating important information to the public, especially in the event of an emergency!

I’ll get either one or another response for this statement and it is:

You’re preaching to the choir (from those who think like me.)

OR

Change is inevitable (from those who don’t realize what I realize.)

Currently, I am thinking of buying a Bluetooth-capable radio very soon so I can pair it with my tablet and Stream online radio stations. The model I am looking at is sold at The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General and if it is like its predecessor model, then it will have an AFC circuit, which is the other reason for me to consider purchasing it.

So, yes I do embrace new technology, but I also have a prepper mindset, not to mention I hold a General Class Amateur Radio license, and therefore am very much aware of how older simpler technology is more reliable, especially as a means of mass communications.

Well, look at this, I’ve turned a product review into a lecture.

My apologies.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

I guess this concludes my review of the Sony ICF-P26.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the Energizer Weatheready LED Floating Lantern

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. It is the property of Energizer Holdings, LLC.

I have written a decent amount on how there are American Equivalents of the Eveready Dolphin and the Energizer Weatheready LED Floating Lantern is what triggered my discovery of them. It is also what this piece will be a review thereof.

One day, in April of 2015, I discovered that the battery in my Ford Taurus was dead. I was visiting my grandparents when I made this unfortunate discovery. So, I used my Paw Paw’s car (a Buick Century, which would later become my car) to give myself a jump. Once my Taurus cranked, I took it to Wal Mart to exchange for a new battery, since it was under warranty. Well, long story short, it turns out my starter was bad. I had driven through some flooded streets a few weeks prior and I believe this is what shorted out my starter. There is also a severe problem with the design of the 2007 Ford Taurus that causes oil and possibly other engine fluids to leak on the starter and short it out because it is located in a very unfortunate place. My vehicle was totally disabled by this point and I was parked near the automotive area.

All in all, while waiting for a wrecker to come, I, as usual, had gone to look at the flashlights in Wal*Mart.

There I saw it, an Energizer Weatheready LED floating lantern.

It looked very cool! Some time prior, I had read about the Eveready Dolphin Lanterns that were sold in Australia and New Zealand and this looked like an Americanized version of them

Not only that, after reading the specs, I learned it boasted an output of 150 Lumens with a beam distance of 365 Meters or ~1197.5 Feet and a runtime of 35 hours.

Even though I knew I would be hit with an expensive car repair bill and money would be tight, I knew I just had to have one of these. I mean it was only ~$10, but I was married at the time and on a fixed income.

After I went home, I began to research the new flashlight I saw. I began to learn that other American flashlights had a Dolphin version of them.

I was glued to my computer indefinitely.

So, in a few days, my car was fixed and life was back to normal.

I sold a few hand tools to a friend and was able to get the cash, to which I subsequently made a beeline to Wal Mart and purchased it.

I then went to The Family Dollar and purchased a battery.

A few days later, there was some severe weather that was passing through my area.

Upon learning of a tornado warning issued for our parish, my then-wife now ex-wife and I had to evacuate our second-story apartment with little more than the clothes on our back. I had a Mini Maglite AAA LED flashlight in my pants pocket and my new lantern in my hand. The sky became dark as night, even though it was midmorning.

It subsequently came in handy, many times especially when I was out walking after dark. Remember, this was 2015, so LED flashlight technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now. I think it truly modernized in 2017, but I digress. I used to walk for exercise a lot back then and I think I should start doing this again. I was indeed considerably skinnier in 2015 than I am now.

The lantern had the best of both worlds: A wide spill of generous light and a pinpoint beam that could light up objects more than three football fields away. It was kind to the batteries that powered it, even when using a cheap Carbon Zinc battery. I had once dropped mine of concrete and thus failed to maintain a Christian vocabulary, but it still survived and functioned as if nothing happened to it.

It truly was an awesome flashlight, quite possibly the best plastic flashlight for the money. The given specs are true, unlike with some flashlights whose marketing departments tend to exaggerate things.

Unfortunately, Energizer discontinued it at some point in 2016. I actually purchased another one on clearance to give to my grandparents for their 70th wedding anniversary. After they passed in 2018 and 2019, it was given back to me.

I don’t get Energizer at all, they make some really nice consumer-grade flashlights, but then they are very quick to pull them from the market. However, they also make some junky flashlights but keep those on the market for decades, sometimes. I can think of many flashlights that are no longer made but should be. I have even written at length about this in the past, on forums, on social media, and even on this blog.

If you’re wondering what happened to this lantern, I am writing about, I’m glad to say that I still have it and I still use it, though not as extensively as I once did. My ex-wife and I split up the community property amicably and I kept most of my flashlights. As for the ones I didn’t keep, I instructed her to give them to her nephews. But I did keep this flashlight.

I used it last night when we were instructed by our government officials to conserve electricity for a few hours. So, I put my central heat to 68 degrees, unplugged most of my electronics, and turned off the lights. For entertainment, I did AM DXing on a battery-powered Sony radio, mostly listening to the clear channel powerhouse WSB out of Atlanta. I used that lantern as a light source instead of turning on the electric lights.

It has served me faithfully during the last few hurricanes as well.

All in all, this was one of the better flashlights made by Energizer.

Well, all the American versions of the Eveready Dolphin are made well.

And the Eveready Dolphin is tremendously popular in Australia and New Zealand that I think it even has commercials for it aired during soap operas!

I make it a point when talking to any Aussie to ask him or her about the Eveready Dolphin and they all immediately had something to say, usually positive.

I don’t think any American flashlight has ever had that kind of universal familiarity, by the way, although Maglite comes close but by a very long shot.

What else can I say?

There may now be flashlights that can throw a beam and have efficient battery use that is more compact, but can they float in the event of going overboard?

Probably not.

So even though this flashlight would be considered bulky and awkward by many, it still is a winner and I hope Energizer comes out with another American version of the Eveready Dolphin soon.

That’s all for now.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece and I sincerely hope that you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

Garrity Flashlights have Fallen from Grace

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image.

It is the property of Smart Brands International.

I like the old school Garrity image with the sunburst better, but I chose to use their current logo because this piece is about how Garrity has fallen from grace.

I associate their old sunburst logo with their glory days, the likes of which we will probably never see again.

So, for the past few weeks, I have been romanticizing the flashlights that were on the market during the mid-2000s decade.

I had been highly fascinated by flashlights as a child, but then suppressed the interest in my teens years due to fear of harassment by peers for liking them.

In 2005, I realized that flashlights are indeed cool, and no longer did I care if someone was to harass me for liking flashlights. The strange thing is, no one harassed me like they did in grade school simply for liking flashlights and some even joined me in my flashlight hobby.

I guess that is why I am currently romanticizing the flashlights made during the mid-2000’s decade, because it was the time in my life when I finally mustered up the courage to embrace what I love, no matter what anyone else thought.

Also, there were some very nice flashlights on the market at this time.

It was a time of heated battle between the light bulb and the LED. During this particular time, the light bulb was still winning, at least in terms of brightness, throw and color temperature.

Spoiler Alert: Several years later (in about 2012 or so) the LED would ultimately win all of these categories except in terms of being EMP proof.

So lately, I’ve been looking at flashlight company websites that were archived in The Wayback Machine between 2004 and 2007.

This activity has provided me with hours of entertainment and reminiscing.

There are three companies of which I had been extensively looking at archived versions of their websites:

…Maglite…
…Streamlight…
…AND…
…Garrity…

I had known about Garrity and Maglite since about 1998, but wouldn’t learn of Streamlight until October 24, 2004, when I saw their Stinger flashlight being sold at the then newly opened Academy Sports and Outdoors. I wouldn’t own one of their lights until some time in 2009. I actually was tempted to purchase a Streamlight Junior (the Xenon version) in January of 2006 but forewent the purchase and now I could kick myself for not seizing that opportunity. It is now discontinued and extremely rare now. At the moment I currently EDC the LED version of the Streamlight Junior and have done so since January of 2019. Academy used to sell some awesome flashlights in those days, not so much now, but I digress.

In this piece, I will focus on Garrity and how they have fallen from grace probably worse than any other flashlight company out there.
Change my mind!

Maglite has seen its ups and downs but as of now, they are making some fairly nice flashlights.

Likewise, Streamlight has always been awesome and in 2021, they are cooler than ever, though I wish they would bring back some of their vintage models just for old time sake. Plus I didn’t know about Streamlight until I was 17, so I wish they could bring back some of those vintage products just to give their more recent fans a taste of their original glory!

Garrity, on the other hand, used to be such a wonderful company, but now they are pretty pathetic. All of their current and designs look and feel flimsy. Their brightness is only marginal, especially when compared against Eveready/Energizer, their most similar competitor.

From the 1980s until about 2007, though, Garrity was making some pretty nice flashlights and it seemed they had a model for just about every market.

I do remember growing up how a lot of the men in my neighborhood had a Garrity Tuff Lite (the 1990s version.) By the way, the most recent incarnation of the Tuff Lite is pathetic, but the 1980s and 1990s versions of the Tuff Life were probably one of the best consumer flashlights out there. Their Krypton bulbs seemed to cast out such a pure white beam, even when used with simple cheap Carbon Zinc or Carbon Zinc Chloride (don’t let the phrase Heavy Duty fool you) batteries. I was given one for Christmas in 1998 and I still have it though, I need to do some restoration on it. The same quality was with their Rugged Lite series, which was introduced in 1994 but sadly discontinued sometime in 2004. That, by the way, was my favorite flashlight before I discovered tactical flashlights. My favorite version was the yellow 2AA model, which I first bought in June of 1998. I had a 4AA Garrity Touch ‘N’ Lite in my closet as a preteen. When I decided to permanently carry a flashlight on me (May 5, 2005), the model of my choice was a Garrity K009, which was a compact, almost tactical 3AAA LED flashlight that came bundled with a Nylon carrying pouch as well as red and blue lens filters. When I acquired my first job, later on in May of 2005, I EDCed a Garrity A300G. That was a 2AA Aluminum flashlight with a Xenon bulb. It was slightly similar to a Mini Maglite but sold for a few dollars cheaper. It is also probably the closest I will ever get to a Xenon Streamlight Junior! Those who know about the bulbs both of these flashlights take will get my reference…

So, if you, the reader, haven’t figured it out yet, Garrity holds a special place in my heart. Likewise, it breaks my heart to see them market these inferior flashlights that they are producing as of lately

Garrity flashlights were once sold at retailers such as Ride Aid, Wal*Mart, K*Mart, True Value, West Marine, and many truck stops.

Throughout my twenties, I had acquired many Garrity flashlights, mostly as new-old-stock at some of these retailers or on eBay.

In January of 2007, I bought a GTech LED at Wal*Mart whilst pulling an all-nighter and going out on a drive with my then-girlfriend, now ex-wife.

In the Fall of 2007, Garrity was doing remakes of some of their classic products and selling them at The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General and The Family Dollar. I was able to get some Tuff Lites which were almost identical to the 1990s versions.

In 2011, on two separate occasions, my then-wife, now ex-wife bought me a Garrity G-Tech Floating Lantern on clearance at West Marine. When I left her, in January of 2018, I gave them back to her. Don’t get me wrong, they were built very well and they could sure cast a very sharp beam, but I was feeling a mixture of guilt and pride when I left her, and I didn’t want to keep anything she gave me aside from a pair of work boots.

I will say that while my marriage to this woman was faulty, there were some good times.

I now think that it was brain damage due to complications from her hydrocephalus that altered her personality and made her so mean.

There’s only so much I could take and in my defense, I stood by her for almost eight years after she sustained the brain damage.

Also in 2011, after seeing me post so much about it, a fellow member on CandlepowerForums mailed me a Garrity Mini Rugged Lite, which I have on my desk while I am typing this piece.

In 2013 and 2015, I purchased an iBeam 6 Volt Floating Lantern from Rite Aid. The green lantern from 2013 was NOS but the blue lantern from 2015 was brand new as Garrity had been revived. The former was better than the latter.

In 2016, I purchased an LED Tuff Lite, on eBay, thinking it would be great, but it broke a few days later, with only gentle use.

It was about that time when I realized that while Garrity had been revived, these new products were inferior.

I don’t understand how a company that once made some pretty nice flashlights now makes pee poor flashlights.

Take for example their current product line (and my scathing commentary):

9 LED 3AAA Flashlight: This is just a rebadged mass-produced cheap flashlight that would normally sell for $1 apiece but the price is jacked up a few more dollars because the name Garrity is on it. Don’t tighten the tailcap too much or it will crack!

2AA/2D Value Lite: This design of this flashlight was stolen from a similar flashlight that Energizer made in the early 2000s. Since Garrity or whoever owns them at this point wants to bring back designs from that era, how about using their own instead?

Navigator 2AA LED Flashlight: This is nothing more than a rebadged Duracell Voyager. It’s a fairly decent light but why can’t Garrity be more original like they once were?

Rugged LED Flashlight: This one is an abomination and personal to me! First of all, this is simply a rebadged Duracell Industrial. It will never be as cool as the original Garrity Rugged Lite of the 1990s which was my favorite flashlight as a child! Furthermore, if it is built like the Duracell Industrial, then it will crack all-too-easily. Seriously, why couldn’t Garrity have built it like their Rugged Lite of bygone times and simply fit it with a PR based LED module? Oh, right that would make too much sense and maybe make too many people happy!

Trailblazer LED Flashlight: This may be the only [halfway] decent flashlight in their product line. I cannot complain about the specs, but I wonder exactly how rugged this flashlight is and what grade of Aluminum is used in its construction. Furthermore, why can’t it be anodized with a black finish? Finally, I think the switch boot sticks out a bit too much.

G-Tech 2D LED Flashlight: This looks nothing like the original G-Tech and if my memory serves me correctly this current design was stolen from Rayovac. Just for the record, sorry folks, there is no cool multi-tool hidden inside either!

LED Touch ‘N Lite: A modern twist on a classic. Well, except I think since it has LEDs instead of a KPR bulb the run time of just 16 hours could be significantly improved, but what do I know?

LED Work Light Penlight: A cross between a rebadged Duracell Daylite and a knockoff of one of Streamlight’s penlights? Again, Garrity used to have their own independent and original ideas! Now they feel the need to take from others just to stay relevant? What is even more agonizing is that this excuse for a flashlight puts out a measly 45 Lumens for only 1 hour despite running on 2 AAA batteries. Those poor specs were never acceptable.

60 Lumen Headlamp: Here we have Garrity trying hard but failing to be like Streamlight. I mean it would be a pretty neat light if the design were Garrity’s original work and it was 2006, not 2021!

ibeam100 Headlamp: Looks original, indeed, but flimsy. Probably would only be useful in a corporate or academic setting for a facility director doing close up work. However, it only has one output setting and that is 100 Lumens which would likely be inappropriate for most close-up work.

Tuff MP: A multipurpose (as the MP initials suggest) two in one flashlight. I must say, this actually looks original but is neither cool nor tuff (sic.) It looks just as flimsy as almost anything else Garrity makes these days.

ibeam LED Lantern: This is certainly nothing like their original iBeam lanterns. In fact, this design was stolen from Rayovac. Gosh durnit, Garrity, couldn’t you have retained the original iBeam design and maybe just fitted it with a nice PR LED module?

LED Safety Keylite: I must admit that this looks neat and original, but the good looks don’t compensate for the shoddy performance. It gives off a measly 12 Lumens on a single AAA battery. Maybe, just maybe if it were constructed of metal instead of plastic not only could it be more rugged but a more powerful LED engine could be used. But that would mean making flashlights that are actually nice.

LED LifeLite: The website claims new and improved. I smell bovine droppings! First of all, this light gives off only 53 Lumens despite being driven by the equivalent of 3AA batteries. Secondly, it only runs for 9 hours, then it must be chucked. Not very green at all! Actually, in 2015 whatever company makes flashlights for the Wal*Mart brand Ozark Trail borrowed this idea and managed to improve on it by instead offering it to be run on 3 replaceable AA batteries, but with the otherwise same form factor.

That, my friends, is a list of all the flashlights currently made under the Garrity name.

Please know that while I at times felt pretty smug and even witty in writing these not so nice reviews, that I am heartbroken and tremendously disappointed that a flashlight company that I once loved in my childhood is now, this heartless soul-less conglomerate with cheesy knock-offs.

I don’t know what goes on in these board rooms but whatever the case it is neither wise nor fruitful. Consumers are more informed than ever these days and they now know a sub-par flashlight when they see one. If Garrity would start making flashlights like they did before this proverbial fall from grace and incorporated modern LED technology, then they just might be restored to their former glory. I won’t hold my breath for that though. While I may be respected amongst the flashlight community, these directors in these board rooms don’t give a single durn about what I have to say.

Well because of that, they have lost a once faithful and loyal customer.

Furthermore, those of you who know me well enough know how much I love flashlights and equally know that if I am saying anything ill about a flashlight, I am not taking any pleasure in my words.

I would have liked to elaborate more on this, but maybe I will in the form of fiction quite possibly about a young couple honeymooning in a lakeside cottage and enjoying some alone time by the light of a vintage Garrity lantern on a stormy late afternoon. I could incorporate a Radio Shack Weather Cube and some other cool gadgets as well! Radio Shack is another company I loved that fell from grace by the way.

All in all, this concludes my piece.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed…

Thank you for reading and God bless.

Back to “Articles I have Written”

 

 

 

 

 

A Review of The Uniden BC144XL Programmable Desktop Scanner

Just so everyone knows, I am not the owner of this featured image; it is from a picture that I Googled and cropped.

I had first discovered scanner radios in the Summer of 2001 at the age of fourteen and a half.

However, I had little to no income due to my age and my parents aren’t big on technology to appreciate such a device. It angered them that I could potentially eavesdrop on other’s communications, especially law enforcement and government operations. In fact, they were appalled when they found out that such an item existed.

And, at the time, even an entry-level scanner cost at least $100, brand new.

So, I had no hopes of getting one.

Well, until September of 2002, that is.

My local Wal*Mart had a Uniden BC144XL on clearance for $30.00+tax.

I borrowed the money and purchased it at once.

That was the first scanner I ever owned and what this piece will be a review of.

At first, I had a slight amount of consumer’s remorse when I took it home and set it up.

There was only a two-digit LED display, that didn’t show the full frequency readout.

There were no search functions, which meant I could only program the frequencies I knew-this resulted in a lot of trial and error.

I later found out that at the time, local law enforcement in my Parish was on the Louisiana 800 MHz Motorola Smartzone Trunked System, so I could not pick them up whatsoever with this scanner-and boy I was ticked off at that fact!

While it was capable of picking up The Feds, there were no Federal Government operations within range.

However, I did find some use for it and I ended up enjoying it.

For example, I frequently listened to my local fire department and eventually neighboring fire departments. I discovered 2 Meter local Amateur Radio operations in my area. I listened in on analog cordless phones that operated in the VHF Low Band. There were some local businesses and utilities with wide-area repeater coverage that I would listen to. And I would eventually use it for listening to marine communications and even railroads, some months later.

In December of 2002, with the money I was gifted for Christmas, I upgraded to a Uniden BC80XLT, which had more channels, covered 800 MHz, had search functions, and was portable. I had that newer until the Fall of 2005 when someone sabotaged it. I may write a review of it someday.

I sold my first scanner approximately a year later because I needed the money for other things.

For years, I regretted selling it, especially in more recent years when the bulk of my scanner listening transitioned from law enforcement to railroad and marine traffic.

On this day, January 3, 2021, I purchased a duplicate Uniden BC144XL in fairly decent condition for roughly the same price I paid back in September 2002. It was a late birthday present to me from myself. Thank God for eBay! I plan to use it in conjunction with my Realistic Pro-59, which I shall compare it to.

In these ways it is better than the Realistic Pro-59:
It has double the channel memory with sixteen channels as opposed to eight.
It also covers 29-54 MHz in addition to 137-174 MHz and 406-512 MHz.

The Realistic Pro-59, has better antenna connections, though, at least in my humble but honest opinion.

The user interface between the Uniden BC144XL and the Realistic Pro-59 is very similar, with the Uniden BC144XL being more advanced.

Well, they are both Unidens though one is a true Uniden and the other is a rebadged Uniden made for Radio Shack under the Realistic name.

I don’t have the receiver sensitivity ratings for this scanner, but I am durn sure that it is more sensitive than any of its modern-day counterparts and that is a crying shame. I was amazed at how far away it could pull in signals from, even with just the stock antenna. I cannot wait for my duplicate to come in the mail!

I already have a general idea of what I am going to program in it:

The first few channels will be for local and neighboring fire departments (almost all on VHF High Band.)

Then I will store my local utilities (Electrical on VHF Low Band, Waterworks on UHF Band.)

Then a few amateur radio frequencies (2 Meter and 70 Centimeter Bands. Might even program some 6 Meter and 10 Meter FM frequencies since a new sunspot cycle is beginning!)

Then railroad and marine, that is a must (VHF High Band.)

Finally maybe a few local businesses (Mostly UHF Band.)

I haven’t decided where in my residence that I want to use it, since I already have a tabletop scanner in each room.

I will admit that I bought it for the sentimental value but also for the powerful sensitivity because I’m convinced that it pulls in signals clearly that my newer scanners won’t even stop on.

In my teens, I would have given it a low rating, maybe 1 or 2 out of 5 stars, because of all it lacked

However, at the age of thirty-four and with totally different listening habits I can give this scanner a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, only because it lacks a full frequency display and a search function. However, it does make up for it in being well-built, long-lasting, and extra sensitive.

I mean many scanners that were made 25-35 years ago still work perfectly even though they may be partially or even mostly obsolete. Well, they are still perfectly fine for most of my listening tastes!

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:

Will any scanner made today or even within the last decade still be functioning 25-35 years in the future?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

All in all, I guess this concludes my review of Uniden BC144XL.

I cannot wait for my duplicate to come in the mail and I hope that you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!0

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the SwissGear 3906 Backpack

Just so we can be clear, I do not own the featured image on this page. Rather, I downloaded it from SwissGear’s company website and it is their property, not mine.

Now, I had thoroughly enjoyed my SwissGear 3918 Backpack which I owned from July of 2020 until some time in October of 2020 when an integral part of it cracked.

I had spent the night at a friend’s house and there is a woman who sponges off of him. She is constantly bringing shady characters into his house and I am sometimes afraid that they will steal my belongings. So, I had kept my SwissGear backpack underneath the seat of the car I owned at the time. The next morning I retrieved it and the plastic piece that regulates the suspension straps had cracked. I could no longer use that strap. To say the least, I was ticked off.

So, later that day, I exchanged it at my local Target for store credit loaded on a gift card. I bought another SwissGear backpack but, I didn’t fancy it much. I’m not sure of the exact model number but I intend to sell it when I can.

So, then on November 3, 2020, I had a little money left over after paying all my monthly expenses. Therefore, on that day, after voting, of course, I purchased a SwissGear 3906 Backpack and that is what this piece will be a review of. Honestly, I hope this is the last backpack I will need for at least a few years.

Let me first say that as many of you know, I have a compulsive need to EDC or everyday carry. I’ve been engaging in this behavior positively since the age of seven (early 1994.) So I’ve been doing this long before it was cool and I have caught some considerable degrees of flak over the years for being this way. After all, it wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that EDC became accepted as a norm. I’m not sure about catholic churches but definitely in Protestant churches many of the faithful bring their EDC items to church services. I mean, I have been doing so since about 2017.

So I have had this backpack for a little over a month and a half at the time of writing this and so far I enjoy it even more so than my 3918. I think the reason why I like it even more because there is more carrying space for items that I specifically carry.

As mentioned in a previous review of SwissGear backpacks, I have high regard for the Swiss. So, naturally, I like to show off an item that represents them. Furthermore, the emblem of the cross against the red background is also one of my ways I make a statement for Jesus Christ and my faith in Him. That is why I use Swiss themed backpacks and other travel gear whenever I can.

What stands out most about why I like this particular model so much is in addition to a laptop sleeve as well as a tablet sleeve, there is also a sleeve for files and folders. I also appreciate the fact that there is a place for books where I can place my Bible and Bible study materials.

There is a place for my medication and medical supplies.

There is a compartment for my glasses

There are spaces for the small items I carry with me.

There are pockets where I can carry drinks.

And there is even a spot for me to put my computer repair tools!

This is what the company website had to say about the SwissGear 3906:

“Pack your essentials for school, work, or your next adventure with the Swissgear 3906 Laptop Backpack. Made of a durable polyester fabric, this bag has all the features you are looking for in an everyday backpack and is the ideal companion for those that are always on the go.

Built around an ergonomically sound shoulder strap and back panel carrying system, this backpack features a large main compartment perfectly suited for carrying bulkier items such as binders and books. Also featured is an electronics-only compartment for better laptop protection as well as a full-featured organizer compartment for pens, notepads, and ID cards. Remain hydrated by putting that water bottle or cold drink in either of the two stretch mesh side pockets. And for those frequently needed items, there is even a spot for them in the top compact zip pocket and the well-disguised front vertical zippered pocket.”

SwissGear is indeed telling the truth here!

I think this company makes the perfect everyday carry and travel accessories for any civilian!

SwissGear’s website also lists these additional features (and I shall add my commentary on them):

Electronics compartment with padded tablet pocket and padded laptop sleeve with built-in corner hold-down strap designed to carry most 15″ portable computers-I don’t currently own a laptop but I hope to in the future. However, I do carry my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard here.

Large capacity main compartments with built-in file/folder pocket-Perfect for carrying my Bible and related materials.

Organizer compartment with key/clip fob, slip pocket, and multiple divider pockets-I carry my tactical flashlights and radios here.

Front quick access pocket and vertical-zip pocket and for more frequently needed items-This is where I carry my medicine and medical supplies.

Ergonomically contoured, padded shoulder straps with built-in suspension and breathable mesh fabric for hours of carrying comfort Padded, Airflow back panel with mesh fabric for superior back ventilation and support-As mentioned before, this makes carrying comfortable even in hot climates. This also is a more comfortable carrying method considering my lower back pain.

Add-a-bag trolley strap on back panel to easily glide over carry-on’s telescopic handle-This makes rail, air, or bus travel easier, at least when carrying multiple pieces of luggage.

Twin-compartment side mesh pockets for two water bottles and more-Perfect for staying hydrated whilst on the go.

Padded top carry handle with side metal carabiner-style D-ring to attach gear to-This is where I attach my keys.

Mini loop for hanging-I guess this would be useful for schoolchildren when they hang up their backpacks.

The physical specifications according to the company website are as follows:
Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 6.5 inches or 45.72 X 30.48 X 16.51 centimeters.
Tare Weight: 1.1 pounds or .0498951607 kilograms.
Volume: 23.7 Liters or 6.260877641 American Gallons or 5.213271185 British Gallons.

…And, yes, I did indeed use my Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro to carry out the conversion of these measuring units!…

…Furthermore, that said calculator does indeed have a place in this backpack!…

So, yes I do enjoy this backpack probably more than the others I have owned. I just hope this one will actually last me for at least a few years. I said that already but it definitely bears repeating.

I will probably continue to purchase SwissGear products to meet my carrying and travels needs as long as they are available.

I cannot think of a better travel gear company for the money.

Therefore I give this backpack a rating of five out of five stars!

And this concludes my review of the SwissGear 3906 Backpack.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the NiteCore i4000R Tactical Flashlight

Just so you, the reader, know, I do not own the featured image on this page. Rather it is the property of NiteCore, a Chinese manufacturer of tactical grade flashlights.

I have stated it several times before and I will gladly state it again:

Flashlights made by NiteCore are the best flashlights to come out of Mainland China and quite possibly, the best products to come out of Mainland China period.

I have been a fan of NiteCore flashlights since mid-2017 when I purchased the MT06 tactical penlight.

In January of 2018, I subsequently purchased a NiteCore MT20A and in the latter parts of that year, wrote a review of it.

Then in April of 2020, I purchased a NiteCore i4000R from the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong on eBay and it took over a month to arrive in my mailbox. That said tactical flashlight is what this piece will be a review thereof.

In the time it took for this flashlight to traverse its warehouse in Hong Kong to my mailbox on the outskirts of Houma, Louisiana, I was getting quite annoyed and anxious. I was also paranoid about it being contaminated with the Novel 2019 SARS Coronavirus. Still, I was quite excited when it finally arrived. Immediately, I charged up the battery and when it was full, I began carrying it in my backpack.

The NiteCore i4000R boasts a maximum light output of 4,400 Lumens-that is over four times brighter than a standard household 60 Watt bulb!

It is top-heavy and also features a crenelated strike bezel, which can be deployed in defending oneself.

If that weren’t enough, the tactical strobe feature has a constantly changing strobe pattern, making it even more effective as a self-defense weapon.

This flashlight is primarily marketed to law enforcement, but can also give peace of mind to any civilian who knows how to use a flashlight for self-defense. Furthermore, it can be carried in places where “true” weapons (such as guns and knives) are downright forbidden because legally it is not a weapon!

On an ordinary day, I will usually carry my Streamlight Junior LED flashlight.

However, if I expect any sort of trouble, I will carry my NiteCore i4000R.

I have never had to use it as a weapon, but I know it will give me at least some degree of peace.

I have used my Streamlight Junior halfway as a weapon, when confronting someone knocking on my door or my neighbor’s door at a strange hour. I must admit that both times, the person knocking was harmless and someone we knew, but they were disoriented and stepped back at least a few feet. My Paw Paw, God rest his soul, taught me the tactic of shining a bright flashlight into the eyes of someone at the door, to disorient him or her. Of course, his flashlights of choice were those budget friendly 6 Volt lanterns and, if you, the reader, haven’t figured it out by now, my flashlights of choice are lightweight, compact tactical models. His flashlights put out 60-75 Lumens but in their defense, they had the Candlepower to back those Lumens up. My flashlights, on the other hand, put out hundreds and, in this case, a few thousand Lumens, but overall, don’t have the Candlepower to back those Lumens up. However, his flashlights likely would fail in a truly tactical situation, whereas mine would still be going strong.

Except for self-defense applications, this flashlight would likely be overkill for most civilians. However, to a flashaholic such as myself, this is one of the best flashlights I own. It was even used by me as a self-defense instrument in a dream I recently had.

By the way, this is on par with the best flashlights made here in The States and even those made in Germany!

I will go over some of the features and specifications, as listed by the company website:

As I stated before, the maximum output is 4,400 Lumens, provided by four independently controlled Cree XP-L2 V6 LED circuits.

…Bare with me, my back is starting to hurt tremendously. I’m about to take a Baclofen and chase it with some orange juice. Be right back…

…All right, I am back. It’s my ex-wife’s fault that I have this back injury because she insisted we make groceries on a rainy day, and of course, trying to be a good husband, I gave in to her request, but then I slipped and fell down some wet stairs and though I didn’t know it at the time, I ruined my lower back muscles from the impact of the fall. Now I cannot even write at length, much less almost any other form of work that which I was qualified to do, because of this injury. Of course, she likely feels no guilt about this because she hated the overwhelming majority of my written content…

So with that 4,400 Lumens is a throw of 230 Meters or ~755 Feet and beam intensity of 13,300 Candlepower. According to the company website, this amount of light given off by this illumination instrument is “ideal for law enforcement, assault operations, self defense, search and patrols.”

Also, according to the company website, further elaborating on the four independently controlled LED circuits, which are, “Powered by a constant current circuit to provide durable usage with guaranteed safety.”

The featured rechargeable battery is a NiteCore patented 21700i Lithium-Ion battery.

The strobe featured can be instantly accessed by a dedicated button, even while the flashlight is off! I think this, aside from the tremendous amount of brightness if the best selling point of this flashlight.

And of course, there is the Advanced, Randomly Changing Strobe, which I think is the second best selling point! Human eyes are unable to adapt to the strobe.

There is an anti-impact reverse polarity protection system, which makes this ideal to be used mounted on a firearm!

The flashlight has a built-in charging port that uses a standard USB-C connection and is covered by a metal ring.

Also featured is an advanced temperature regulation system that adapts to the ambient temperature.

Furthermore, there is a last used mode memory, power indicator light which is accurate down to one-tenth of a volt IP-68 water resistance and a 1-meter drop impact resistance.

Finally, the lens is crystal-coated and scratch resistant and the Aerospace Aluminum body is has a military-grade HA-III hard-anodized finish!

The physical specifications are:
Tube Diameter: 25.4 millimeters or 1 inch.
Head Diameter: 32.6 millimeters or 1.28 inches-this makes the flashlight top-heavy and therefore excellent for striking in self-defense tactics.
Tail Diameter: 28 millimeters or 1.1 inches.
Overall Length: 159 millimeters or 6.26 inches-short enough to carry concealed in most hip pockets.
Total Weight: 135 grams or 4.76 ounces or just over a quarter of a pound-will not weigh the end-user down, even for a long period on foot.

The brightness levels are as follows:
Turbo Mode: 4,400 Lumens, 13,300 Candlepower, 230 Meters or ~755 Feet Beam Distance and 30 Minute Runtime.
High Mode: 1,100 Lumens, 3,300 Candlepower, 115 Meters or ~377.3 Feet Beam Distance and 2 Hour, Fifteen Minute Runtime.
…My back is starting to hurt again, but if I take another Baclofen it will be the third one in a twenty-four-hour period…
…I will try and press on but I am in a great deal of pain!…
Mid Mode: 330 Lumens, 930 Candlepower, 61 Meters or ~200.13 Feet Beam Distance and 7 Hour, 45 Minute Runtime.
Low Mode: 50 Lumens, 160 Candlepower, 25 Meters or ~82 Feet Beam Distance and 40 Hour Runtime.
Ultra-Low Mode: 2 Lumens, 4 Candlepower, 4 Meters or~13.12 Feet Beam Distance and 380 Hour Runtime.

By the way, I used the previously reviewed Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro to convert some of these Metric Units into English Units!

I typically use it whenever I need to express any such measurement in both English and Metric units for my product reviews!

Included Accessories:
NTH20 Tactical Holster-designed specifically for law enforcement and also compatible with MOLLE systems.
CR123 Battery Magazine-in case the rechargeable battery is depleted and there is no charging source nearby.

While I do carry this flashlight in my EDC backpack, I have only carried it on my person for any given amount of time quite sparingly. The last time I carried it was because I had spotted a shady young man walking around my church at night. We were finishing up our evening Bible Study and Prayer Meeting and it does get dark this time of year, but I was escorting two ladies (a mother and daughter) home on foot and did not trust this fellow as far as I could throw him. Thank God, while I was holding the flashlight and ready to deploy it as a defensive weapon, I did not have to. My God is more effective than any weapon ever created! I could think of a handful of other times I was ready to deploy this flashlight but didn’t have to.

All in all, I definitely like this flashlight and I wish American companies could make something of this caliber but at an affordable price.

I give this product a 4.95 out of 5 stars only because I wish the tactical tail switch was better recessed to prevent accidental activation.

Other than that keep up the good work, NiteCore! As much as I hate to admit it, your company is beginning to put American and even German-made flashlights to shame!

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of the NiteCore i4000R Tactical Flashlight. I hope you, the reader, have been informed, illuminated and maybe even entertained. May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro Calculator

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. I must need give credit whereupon credit is due and the featured image is property of Texas Instruments, inc.

For almost as long as I had been fascinated by flashlights, I too have been fascinated by calculators. Similar to my fascination with flashlights, my fascination with calculators has waxed and waned throughout my childhood and adolescence, but they are both very strong in my adult years.

My two favorite brands of calculators are Casio and Texas Instruments and I like the latter a little more than the former.

I had begun permanently carrying a calculator in the latter parts of 2012, namely a TI-12 Math Explorer (the 1997 version.) In the following months afterward, I also had begun to carry with it a TI-30XA (the current version.)

In March of 2014, my writing had started to evolve, as did my experience in repairing or souping up computers had increased. I had also begun to start doing research more extensively on calculators. Soon, I had realized there was a Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro that was put on the market some three years before that. It wasn’t long before I wanted one. In June of 2014, I had spent my spending money on a flashlight that I still carry to this day. However, a family member had gifted me $20 from a sum of money he had won at a casino. I didn’t split that money with my then-wife, now ex-wife, because after all, she has a major hang-up about gambling. So, I was free to use that money however I had pleased. We were babysitting two of her nephews that following day and I took them to ride with me to the Houma suburb of Bayou Cane, so I could secretly purchase that said calculator. They kept the secret safe with me and goofed off with me for the entire ride. I stopped at an Office Depot because I knew that was the only store that stocked it locally year-round. Sadly it was out of stock. However, after talking to the sales associate and later the manager, I had learned that I could have it shipped to my residence at no extra charge. Happily, I went with that option, paying the first $20 in cash and the remaining amount after sales tax with my debit card. A brand new TI-36 X Pro arrived on my doorstep a few days later, via UPS. And that said calculator is what this piece will be a review thereof.

As soon as it arrived on my doorstep, I opened it up, then used it to convert one unit used to measure barometric pressure into another unit used to measure barometric pressure. The weather was changing that day, as in quite frequent in Louisiana. I was amazed at the accuracy and precision with which it carried out the conversion. I began carrying it in a dedicated pouch of my EDC backpack along with the Mini Maglite I had purchased earlier that month.

Yes, I will admit that there are plenty of features on this calculator that I will probably never need, nor do I understand what they represent. While I am pretty proficient at arithmetic, I am terrible at almost all other higher level Mathematics. Still, there are certain features on this machine that I frequently use, especially when doing unit conversions or even just simply writing out my monthly budget. There are even base-n calculations such as converting between decimal, hexadecimal and octal, which come in handy with programming higher level scanner radios or if I ever needed to assist a computer programmer or coder.

And not only that, I believe this is the best looking scientific calculator that is currently on the [common] market. Change my mind!

In the days and weeks after purchasing this calculator, I went on to write some pretty wonderful stories and the one that stands out most is my “Grocer and Writer” stories. Maybe the tremendous pleasure I associated with finally owning this calculator created the ideal mental state and electrochemistry to be creative? Of course in the hours before beginning those stories, I took a trip to the New Orleans area.

I have since purchased spare units, but I keep my original TI-36 X Pro in a safe undisclosed location because it does have sentimental value.  It has sentimental value because certain items of mine cause me to have a connection with someone whom I had known in my childhood (January-July of 1991) but since lost all contact with. This calculator and flashlight somehow have that connection. I now think that this girl I had briefly known in my childhood may have been an angel because I spent years searching for her but with no success. She would now be in her mid-to-late thirties, assuming she was born between 1984 and 1987. During most of the year of 2014, which was the beginning of the end of my faulty former marriage, I had begun to desire to find this now young lady again, so I strongly associate the year 2014 in general with her. Before I met my ex-wife and even after to an extent, this girl from my childhood was the inspiration for my writing and was the unknown driving force to cause me to pursue writing. In the latter parts of 2018 until December 4/5 2019, I was in a very loving relationship with a young lady, who in many ways reminded me of the girl from my childhood and was even born in the year in which she and I were, for lack of a better word, together. If you, the reader, poke around in the fiction section of this blog, you will see some of the stories where I have derived my inspiration from this girl I once knew.

My first one came off the assembly line somewhere in China in February of 2014. My current unit, which I still EDC, came of the assembly line somewhere in The Philippines in April of 2017. I’m wondering if the updated units in the Philippines have corrected the software bug that plagued the earlier models?…

All in all, I will now list some of the features and specifications that the TI-36 X Pro has to offer:

By the way, I’ve obtained this information from the company website, but I also added my commentary…

Four-line display-very clear too!

One- and two-variable statistics-I would likely never use this feature, but who knows.

MultiView™ display shows multiple calculations at the same time on screen-Excellent for writing a budget or balancing a checking account!

Select degrees/radians, floating/fix, number format modes-Very useful with navigating with a GPS or several different GPS units!

Choose from three solvers: numeric equation, polynomial and system of linear equations-This would have been nice in high school, but probably would have landed me in trouble! This particular model came on the market five years after I graduated high school anyway.

Display a defined function in a tabular form-The best way to show a function without an actual graph!

Determine the numeric derivative and integral for real functions.
Perform vectors and matrices using a vector and matrix entry window.

The last two features involve high-level mathematics that goes way above my head, but maybe one day, I’ll try to learn it.

The TI-36 X Pro is recommended for the following STEM-related courses:
Algebra I and II-Probably forbidden or at least frowned upon because of its built-in equation solver.
Geometry-Overkill and again probably frowned upon.
Trigonometry-A Graphing model would be of more use.
Statistics-Never took this course, but I can imagine its usefulness.
Calculus-There are features that would come in handy for this course, though I never took it.
Biology-Probably overkill.
Chemistry-Probably is forbidden or at the very least frowned upon because of the permanently stored constants.
Physics-As with chemistry, it’s probably forbidden or frowned upon, for the same reasons, though I never took physics.
Computer science-Could be very useful, especially with those learning programming.
College math-Actually we were required a TI-84.
College science-Never took these courses, but I see where the store constants may be of great use.
College engineering-Never took any of these courses either, but I know this calculator is popular with all engineering.

According to the company website, here is a more detailed list of the functions, some of which I had already commented on:
Review and edit previous entries via a scrollable home screen
Paste inputs or outputs into new calculations
MathPrint™ feature entry and output mode for viewing calculations in math notation, including answers in terms of pi, square roots and fraction
Three solvers: numeric equation, polynomial and system of linear equations
Numeric derivative and integral for real functions
Vectors and Matrices
Symbolic notation of π
Toggle key to change the form of answers between exact and decimal approximation
Stacked Fractions and Fraction functions
Fraction/decimal/percent conversions
Change between improper fractions and mixed numbers
Automatic simplification of fractions
Random number and random integer generator
Central MODE menu for selecting calculator mode settings
Menu settings
Functions accessed directly through keys or through pull-down menus
Negation key
One constant operator feature
Combinations and permutations
Trigonometry
Hyperbolics
Logs and antilogs
Convert angles from degrees to radians to grads
%, x², ¹/x, yˆx, π, x!
Fixed decimal capability
(x,y) Table feature with Auto and Ask-x options
Basic Data/List Editor with three lists
List Formulas
One- and two-variable statistics with permanent stat variable input storage
EOS (Equation Operating System)
Nine physical constants
Eighteen metric/English conversions
Up to eight pending operations
Up to 23 levels of parentheses
Error recovery capability
Quick/easy reset of calculator via two-key press or menu for exam purposes
Eight memory variables (x, y, z, t, a, b, c, d)
Scientific and engineering notation

And here are some of the physical characteristics:
Four-line × 16-character, easier-to-read LCD display
Battery powered with solar cell assistance to lengthen battery life
Auto Power Off
Hard plastic, color-coded keys
Non-skid rubber feet
Impact-resistant cover with quick-reference card
Snap-on protective hard case

Even though, as I had mentioned before, there are some features on this calculator that go way above my head, it is still one of my favorites if not my favorite calculators ever made.

I carry it in a dedicated compartment of my EDC backpack where I store the rest of my tool that which I use to repair or soup up computers. Like most other Texas Instruments devices, it is built very ruggedly and will last, likely way past its obsolescence where it will then be a cool collector’s item.

While I have owned one of these is some way shape or form since June of 2014 and it is December of 2020 at the time I am writing this, I still thoroughly enjoy this device and give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars, only because of the software bug concerning fractions involving Pi.

This, therefore, concludes my review of the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro. I hope you, the reader, have been informed, entertained, and maybe even enlightened!

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of THE MINI MAGLITE LED PRO 2-CELL AA COMBO PACK

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. It is the property of Mag Instrument of Ontario, California.

I have been fascinated by trains and railroading since infancy but didn’t have the time to take up a strong interest in it until I was twenty-four going on twenty-five.

Likewise, I had been fascinated by all sorts of watercraft and marine logistics since my early teen years but didn’t get seriously interested until I was twenty-eight going on twenty-nine.

AND

I have had a waxing and waning fascination in aircraft and other subjects aviation-related (especially avionics) since childhood, but I’ve never been able to flesh out this interest as I wanted to.

…So…

What does railroading, marine logistics, and, aviation all have in common?

If you, the reader, guessed something along the lines of transportation, you are technically correct.

Why just technically correct?

Well, there is something else that brings these hobbies into a common thread, at least here in The States.

What is it, then?

It’s simple, really: Their communications can all be heard on a scanner and on an entry-level budget-friendly model at that.

And I’ve been fascinated by scanners since I learned of their existence at the age of fourteen.

Well, for now at least, all of these communications can be heard on just about every scanner. Sadly, American railroads are slowly upgrading their communications to a system that could only be heard on a premium or deluxe model of scanner. Also, Positive Train Control when fully implemented might make listening to railroad traffic on a scanner a thing of the past. Railroads in Europe and Asia already use a sophisticated communications system similar to cellular phones. Its very technology and backbone are based on GSM. Scanners are at best frowned upon and at worst downright illegal in most of Europe and Asia, anyway. For those who wish to know, scanners are perfectly legal in Oceania and the railroad communications there are still in the clear, but they operate on UHF as opposed to VHF, which strikes me as odd, but apparently, it works for them. As for Africa, I’m not sure at all, but if I had to make an educated guess, railroad communications probably are considerably variable from one location to another. The laws concerning scanners in Africa are likely just as variable.

BUT…

VHF Airband and VHF Marine Band are implemented Internationally so their communications on even the most basic scanners will be in the clear for some time to come. Like, maybe even decades.

For the first thirty-one years of my life, I pretty much lived within scanning distance of busy mainline railroad and even a branch line. Therefore, I could hear both the train crew as well as the dispatcher clearly on my scanner. Fun fact, I didn’t own a scanner until I was fifteen and didn’t hear railroad communications on my scanner until I was sixteen and I didn’t truly understand them until I was twenty-four.

Then, I moved to the Northern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana.

At this new location, I usually can only hear the train dispatcher’s side of the conversation but not the train crew side. When conditions are just right, I’ll hear both sides, but this is not too common.

Anyway, I don’t ever see myself having the funds to afford one of these deluxe or premium scanners that will intercept these future railroad communications even if I was located in closer proximity to a railroad line. So, I am slowly getting out of my railroad hobby and will continue to do so unless something drastic happens.

In my new location on the outskirts of Houma, I am just a few air miles from several navigable waterways and likewise just a few air miles from a moderately busy airport (KHUM.)

So, since age twenty-eight-going-on-twenty-nine, I have begun listening to marine communications much more often. I pretty much understand the communications about movements on waterways and I am trying to understand the communications that pertain to all the supporting operations heard on VHF Marine.

I also have some VHF Airband channels programmed in my scanner, mostly to give me something to hear while my scanner is not picking up traffic on other channels. Because of my relative proximity to the airport, I hear the tower with great ease and I also hear incoming aircraft contacting the tower. Most of the traffic that goes through this airport is small personal planes, some commuter and charter flights, corporate jets flying petroleum executives around, and, maybe even some cargo planes carrying petroleum-related equipment. This airport is big enough to be strategically important but small enough to be charming and friendly. Also, several heliports near me are used for helicopters bringing personnel to and from drilling platforms in The Gulf of Mexico. It would help me tremendously if I could learn to understand what is being said on these channels. I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube that explain aviation communications, but to no avail. The controllers and pilots talk way to fast and my hearing is slightly damaged as it is. Still, it seems fun to listen to and also looks cool to have that chatter in the background. It even makes me look important while I am out shopping in East Houma (the location of the airport KHUM) and I have aviation chatter coming from a radio on my person. I do a great deal of my shopping in East Houma because my residence is a shorter drive to the stores there. For example, I get my prescriptions filled at a pharmacy in East Houma. I also frequently make my groceries at the Wal*Mart in East Houma, because it is closer to my residence and there is less traffic to fight.

It was late September 2020 and I was making groceries one evening at the Wal*Mart in East Houma. Months before this, my interest in aviation had started to wax again. Since it is closer to the airport than my residence is and also considerably closer to a major waterway, I listen to aviation and marine traffic while I shop there. It makes me look important and it entertains me. Virtually every time I shop at any Wal*Mart, I visit the flashlight section. So on that evening in late September of 2020, I was looking at the flashlights before I began to make my groceries. I saw a Mini Maglite Pro (which is probably the only American made flashlight sold at this Wal*Mart) in the glass case. But this wasn’t the usual Mini Maglite Pro with batteries and a free nylon holster. No, while this one did also have batteries, it instead came with a lanyard, pocket clip, anti-roll lens retainer, and three lenses, Red, Blue, and Clear. But the price was about the same for a Mini Maglite Pro with just the holster. I knew that I would set aside some money when my monthly disability pension came in and purchase it. I did just that on the day my last check was deposited, after paying my rent, utilities, and other bills, of course. I hurriedly purchased it, then made a beeline home so I could register the serial number to my name. By the way, that aforementioned flashlight with those said accessories is actually what this piece will be a review of.

The Mini Maglite Pro flashlight has evolved slightly since its inception in 2012. I still have my first Mini Maglite Pro that I bought in September of 2012, actually but this new one is somewhat brighter.

When the Mini Maglite Pro came on the market in 2012, it boasted a whopping 226 lumens for about two hours. That was a huge advancement considering it ran on two AA batteries. But the color tint was too blue or cold, even though it was very bright for its time.

Fast forward to about 2019, the light engine in the Mini Maglite Pro was upgraded. It now boasts a whole 332 lumens and the color tint is now much more neutral white but maybe still a slight hint of blue. The run time is still the same, which means LEDs are getting more and more efficient as time goes on.

Here is a list of specifications according to Maglite’s website:
An Overall Length of 6.607 Inches or 167.8 Millimeters-Short enough to EDC in most pockets.

A Barrel Diameter of 0.709 Inches or 18 Millimeters/A Head Diameter of 1 Inch or 25.4 Millimeters-Narrow enough to EDC without being noticed until needed but wide enough to not be misplaced easily.

A Total Weight of 4.15 ounces 117.75 grams (including batteries)-Definitely light enough to keep the end-user mobile even on foot for an extended period.

A Beam Distance of 172 Meters or ~564 Feet-Ample range to see and be seen in the dark.

A General Light Output of 332 Lumens-More than enough light for most applications.

A Peak Beam Intensity of 7399 Candelas-Could be better, but, hey, it’s an LED.

A Drop Impact Rating of 1 Meter or ~3.28 Feet-Unless the LED engine is more fragile than we all think, this rating is probably listed for CYB purposes.

A Water Resistance Rating of IPX4-Again, this rating too is probably an underestimate but is officially listed for CYB purposes.

What does this have to do with my interest in aviation?

That is what I assume, you the reader, are asking, right?

Quite a bit!

I shall explain:

From my research I’ve done on aviators, they make decent money, so they can afford quality products. I’ve only seen them with high-quality flashlights many times, much more expensive than a Maglite. They want a product that is durable and therefore more reliable because all aviation is life or death critical. From what I read and seen in real life too, many pilots frequently carry some sort of Mini Maglite or another pocket-sized tactical flashlight on their person even when they’re not flying. Aviators appreciate a flashlight that can have varying degrees of brightness and light color options. Well, this flashlight offers those features, albeit in a very primitive way. Instead of multiple color LEDs or different brightness modes, lens filters came bundled. Without a lens filter, the LED puts out a whole 332 lumens of light. This comes in handy for pre-flight inspections of the aircraft. However, once in the cockpit and especially during a nighttime flight, only a slight amount of brightness is needed and excessive amounts of brightness can be harmful. I’ve read conflicting sources of information that Red is the preferred color for night time aviation because it doesn’t degrade night vision, and from other sources, I’ve heard Blue is better because it shows certain features on maps and charts better. Yet another source says Green, for similar reasons as Red. I’m not exactly sure why this didn’t have a Green lens filter bundled as well. After all, there is another Maglite that comes bundled with a Green lens, so why can’t this one? I was pretty disappointed when there was no Green lens but instead an extra Clear lens. Like what the heck-a-rooney were they thinking? I think I will stick with Red for night vision because I’ve seen other cockpit lights and they are always Red. As far as the pocket clip, this design has been around probably as long as the original Mini Maglite. Not sure how effective it is though. I’m sure it could clip quite well to a pen holder in a flight bag, but I wouldn’t trust it clipped to a pants pocket because of the flashlight’s top-heaviness. The lanyard is probably Maglite’s dumbest design there is! Countless Mini Maglites and even more Maglite Solitaires or Marquis have been lost forever because of this dumb lanyard design. Maybe instead there could be a ring with a loophole that fits under the head assembly, but what do I know? But with the current design, the body of the flashlight gets unintentionally unscrewed from the tail cap and falls only God knows where!

So, the fact that I purchased this flashlight at a Wal*Mart that is fairly close to an airport (sentimental, I know) and the fact that my interest in aviation is coming back to me are two factors that made me purchase this flashlight.

And yes, I am EDCing it with the Red lens in use.

But, I don’t think I will ever fly any type of aircraft.

I might be a passenger again. Regardless of what type of transport, this will come in handy for reading at night and not disturbing those around me.

But I don’t even have to think that high.

I frequently go on road trips with a friend and I do assist my friend while he drives.

I’m almost sure he is on the Autism Spectrum and a sudden bright light while he is driving in the dark would likely cause him to have a meltdown. However, since I am assisting him, I need to see to retrieve whatever item he needs. This is perfect so long as I have that Red lens filter installed.

And anyone who works in the transportation and logistics industry at night would appreciate this flashlight.

Locomotive Engineers, Captains in the wheelhouse of a waterborne vessel, and even long haul truck drivers could all appreciate this flashlight with its accessories.

I do, however, have some points to take off:

-0.25 points for the short run-time-Maglite can do better than this even if some brightness is sacrificed.
-0.50 points for lack of a Green lens filter-seriously, why Maglite?
-0.25 points for the lanyard design that plagues all Mini Maglites and Maglite Solitaire/Marquis.

Therefore, I give this product a rating of four out of five stars.

I know this was a long piece but I thank you, the reader, for bearing with me until the very end and I hope you have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

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A Review of the LifeLong Baby BoomBox 2225

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon on November 28, 2004.

I was out shopping in the Houma area with my Dad and my brother.

My Dad had gone for a haircut, and then I drove with my brother and we went shopping.

I don’t recall if my brother bought anything or not, but I went to GoodWill and saw something I just had to have.

It was a LifeLong Baby Boom Box, model number 2225, and that will be the item that this piece is a review of.

This neat little radio was selling for 84 Cents + tax at my local GoodWill and I had a five-dollar bill on my person, so happily I purchased it.

We then drove back and picked my Dad up and eventually went home.

This may seem like a wonderful time of my life, but it wasn’t.

I had broken down with schizophrenia that previous summer and had since stabilized, but was on a medication that did treat my positive symptoms quite well but made my negative symptoms worse.

Therefore, my ability to feel pleasure was severely hindered at best and non-existant at worst.

During this time of my life, there were only two activities I engaged in that caused me to feel any pleasure at all.

They were:

Watching soap operas.

AND

Listening to the radio.

So, a good bit of my free time entailed one of these two activities.

This was pre-Katrina, so there were a lot more radio broadcasts in my area to choose from then there are in 2020.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Hurricane Katrina ruined radio broadcasting in New Orleans and it has yet to recover some fifteen years later.

By the way, my condition would not improve until late January of 2006 when I was prescribed a different medicine.

So, this radio became a constant companion of mine for the next several months.

I had quickly realized that it was just compact enough to fit in my school uniform pants pocket.

Therefore, I took it to school every day and it would entertain me while waiting for after school activities.

I would usually keep it tuned to KCIL which at the time was on 107.5 MHz.

Country music was very good at this point, but it also kept me updated on the weather.

This may come as a shock to you, the reader, but during this time of my life, I didn’t EDC a dedicated Weather Radio.

However, I did frequently carry a higher-end Motorola Talkabout two way radio that also had weather built-in.

I remember one evening in early December of 2004, doing some volunteer work for Key Club at a local catholic church. Well, that radio, which was in my pocket, informed me of some stormy weather that was due in my area later that evening.

I spent many afternoons waiting for Key Club meetings listening to that radio sitting or standing on the stairwells.

On the evening of my eighteenth birthday, it was with this radio that I caught WSM out of Nashville.

Unfortunately, it killed on me in May or June of 2005. All I remember was sitting outside at night listening to it and then it broke.

Though it sounds very well, it’s not exactly the most rugged radio there is.

I don’t have a complete list of all the technical specs, but I’ll list what I know:

It has a Frequency Range of 540-1700 KHz on AM and 88-108 MHz on FM.

It is powered by 4 AA batteries.

Since it is a boom box, there are two front-firing speakers with very adequate maybe even stereo sound.

The tuner is not very selective and it usually only picks up the stronger, nearby stations.

Still, for 84 Cents plus tax, this was not a bad find.

They go for much more on eBay nowadays.

I will still deduct a whole point for the tuner being so poor and the design not being rugged enough, so all in all, I give it a radio of 4 out of 5 stars.

This was good for me while I was in high school, and yes, helped me maintain my sanity, literally, but I’ve since upgraded to better radios to listen to.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

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