Happy 102nd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

This picture was taken two years ago on Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday. Who could have imagined that the beloved author would still be alive today? From Ramona and Henry, to Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle, to the older teens experiencing their first crush, Mrs. Cleary has instilled a love for reading in many of us for generations. Today, schools across the nation celebrated National D.E.A.R.(Drop Everything and Read Day) in honor of this great author.

Beverly Cleary may have struggled in her early years learning to read according to her website. She could sympathized with struggling readers, as she started out in the low level readers’ groups at school. In third grade, she was encouraged by the librarian to write books for children when she grew up. She wanted to write the books as she would later describe as,  “From my own experience and from the world around me.”

As a result, she has written books for kids such as:

Henry Huggins– her first book published in 1950

The popular Ramona collection- of which there are 8 books!

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

FIFTEEN

Dear Mr. Henshaw

and more!

She was even asked to write some books based on the show Leave it to Beaver, and she wrote three of them- Leave it to Beaver, Beaver and Wally, and Here’s Beaver!

Her books are cherished all over the world, and have been published in over 25 different languages. She has received many awards and honors over the years including three Newbery awards for Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984, Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982. In 2008, the Fernwood Grammar School she once attended  was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School.

As a child, I couldn’t get enough of the Ramona series and the books about Henry and his dog, Ribsy. I also enjoyed Dear Mr. Henshaw as a teenager.  What was your favorite book? Let us know in the comments.

 

God is not Missing from our Schools!

A friend posted on her Facebook page today:

“No one can remove God from schools.
You are in charge of God’s involvement in school, extracurriculars, holidays, or your job. If you believe – He’s there. If you want to pray- you can pray. No one is stopping you- the individual.
You don’t need a PA announcement to make it official. You don’t need a group to lead the prayer or a loudspeaker to make it a public event.
No one has taken God from schools without your permission.
If you feel God is missing- that’s on you – not the government, the school board or your neighbors.
If He is missing – where did you leave Him?”

There are many things about Christianity right now that get my hackles up. This is a major pet peeve of mine. In the aftermath of a tragedy, people are saying that things like this happen because “God isn’t allowed in schools.”

So what they are saying is that God isn’t omnipresent? Got it.

What they are really saying, though, is that they are upset that they can’t say a public prayer over the intercom or have the class read the Bible every day. These are the things that are supposedly keeping God out of our schools. They want coaches to lead prayers at football games and allow kids to tell their peers they are going to hell during lunch time, because that makes everyone want to become a Christian, right?

Let me pose this question: If God allowed all these bad things to happen in schools because supposedly he isn’t allowed in schools, then why did He allow 26 people to be shot in a Texas church? Was He not there, either?

People think that it’s all cute to pass around ridiculous memes like this, but all it’s doing is making Christians look more ridiculous.

If you want God to be in schools, then teach your kids how to give Christ-like love. God does not need a public speech or prayer to be included in our schools. For more on that, read my previous article about Praying in Public and the Stink it Causes.

 

Review of ToughTested Jolt All Purpose Jump Starter

If you have ever been in an area where no one is around and your car breaks down, you might need a device like the one I’m about to review. It’s called the Jolt by ToughTested, and it’s a flashlight that can charge your phone AND jumpstart your car!

Now, ToughTested makes a lot of products from chargers to Powerbanks, solar products and headsets + more. Their products seem to be geared to those who want heavy duty stuff. This flashlight is no exception. It’s very heavy duty- the metal strong enough to break windows.

The bottom of the flashlight opens to reveal an input(5V/2A) to plug in the micro USB cable(included). It has the output(5V/2A) to use to charge your phone/tablet/or other micro USB item. An led indicator lights up to tell you how much battery life you have left. It charged my Samsung Galaxy S7 fully and still had 40% left.

 

The 12V output is where you connect the included jumper cables. These items, and also a little USB car charger comes in a handsome carrying bag with two zippered compartments to separate all the items.

The jumper cables have instructions connected to the cable that say you need to have over 3 lights to jumpstart your vehicle, so you will probably want to make sure that it is charged every time you go out.

Doing this review, I learned a little bit about portable jump starters from this site which suggests that you don’t leave your portable jump starter in your vehicle- especially if it’s extremely cold. The article also suggests that the jump starter might not help you if your battery is completely dead, or has very low cold cranking amps. So it’s a good idea to bring this in out of the cold, and make sure that it is charged frequently. Maybe

We haven’t tested this out on a car battery, but will change the review when we have the chance to do so. So far, it’s been proven to be a nice bright flashlight with 1,000 lumen, and there is supposedly a waterproof level of IP63, however, the safety instructions say not to expose the product to rain or water.

Speaking of flashlight, I couldn’t figure out how to get the 5 different modes going (low, medium, blinding, seizure-inducer (or strobe), and SOS mode). My 14 year old figured it out for me, though. Just press lightly on the power button after you have turned it on, and it will rotate through the modes. I would suggest that the company send a little more detailed instruction book, but the jump starter cables do have good instructions on how to work them connected to the wire.

Here is a video showing the product at work…

All-in-all a nice product to have in case of an emergency. It does have a big price tag of $189.99, but the portable jump starter article that I linked does say that the best ones are more expensive, so maybe that’s a factor.

Disclaimer: ToughTested sent us this product for free to review in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Yubico Yubikey 4 Security Keys Provides Extra Security for Passwords

In a world where computer hacking and phishing seem to be commonplace problems, web users need some added security in their pocket. The Yubikey 4 series by Yubico can help solve this dilemma in a simple little device that attaches to your keychain or lanyard.

In reviewing this product, I got a bit of an education on internet security. Today it’s easy for people to get hacked, and sites like Google are suggesting 2FA (or Two Factor Authorization). This key will provide that 2FA without the extra hassle.

This handy little key is super secure and easy to use. You simply plug it into your device, and tap the button (which is NOT a biometric reader).  You can use it to log into Windows, Google, Facebook, e-mail, and all kinds of other sites. This can give your laptop some extra security if someone comes across it in the public, they won’t be able to get access to anything on your computer (unless you have left the key in it).

It looks like this little key could get easily damaged, but it can withstand being run over by a car, and even make it through the washing machine (although, we didn’t test this on our sample we received at CES this year).

At $40 for the USB-A form, the pricetag on this little key might seem steep for some, but for those who want and need that extra security, it can be well worth it. There are other forms you can get that serve the same function, but can be used semi-permanently in your device. The most expensive one is the USB-C nano, and that is $60. It is meant to stay in the port.

You can find this and other Yubikey products on their website, and even on Amazon.com.

CES 2018 with ShowStoppers

For those of you who are not in the know, CES covers many places in Las Vegas including the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands/Venetian Convention Center Areas, and much more. Not only that, there are after-parties to attend, such as the CES Unveiled that I covered two days ago.

Among the most famous of these after parties is Showstoppers, and this one usually requires some kind of special invitation. Here are some of the companies that I had the opportunity to see.

I realize that this photo is a little blurry, but it gives you a good idea of what one of these after-parties are like. Note the elaborate backdrop in one of these casinos, which was the Wynn. Then there are the booths set up, and I didn’t get any good shots of the great cuisine.

Here’s another shot of the room. It really is awesome to be there.

Always glad to see that my old friends at Beyerdynamic are up to their old and new tricks. I don’t remember what the name of this particular headphone was, but I sure as heck want to report on it.

Glad to see that JLab was also on the scene with their headphones.

I always like what Supertooth has in stores, and they are getting into that wireless earbuds game with the TW1.

My friends at Jabra had some great stuff on display, and they never stop with their awesome.

Here is a bag that will give a loud alarm if you attempt to break in to it. It is an idea that really should have happened a long time ago.

This is a combination of a game with an app for something really interesting known as Beasts of Balance.

Speaking of games, I loved this handheld for mobile devices from Gamesir, and hopefully will get to report on it soon.

Electrica Meccanica had their Solo Car on display inside. I am told that they drove it in, and this fully electric vehicle is so skinny that i believe it, don’t you?

This particular robot by Somnox is one you can sleep with. Yes, that sounds a little bad, but it has this comfortable breathing thing going on that reminds me of snuggling next to a dog on a lonely night.

Here’s some Tough Tested products that I hope to review here in the near future.

Uh, here’s a robot. I saw a lot of these at CES this year.

Nothing I like more than some interlocking triangles that can literally brighten up a room.

Yes, that is me, petting a duck. Aflac had this display where they are creating these toy ducks to help kids with cancer. I will report on that later, but I was so glad that I could pet this duck. After years of feeding them bread and never touching them, I finally had my chance. There are some things that technology cannot provide, as nature does.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide for Christmas 2017

Well, if you are like me, then you probably are wondering why you put off your Christmas shopping so late in the year. For those that are wanting to get that perfect gift for the holiday season should check out these items. Some of you will recognize this as my Black Friday Gift Guide, but I added a few things that I have recently reviewed.

How about Headphones?

Let’s start with Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 Studio.

You might want to get some when you sleep with the Soft-Tones Pillow Speaker. You can also try the SleepPhones by Acoustic Sheep.

There are models that are wired and wireless from ZAGG’s iFrogz.

You can get some great earbuds from 1More with the Dual Driver LTNG ANC In-Ear Headphones.

Also, Outdoor technologies has a good pair, along with some Bluetooth earbuds you can read about here. Speaking of Bluetooth earbuds…

Need a pair of Bluetooth earbuds?

I would suggest the Jabra Elite 25e for wired action. For wireless action, check out the New Elite Sport, also from Jabra.

The SleepPhones have a wireless version.

Oh, did I mention the iHome Fit (iB71), because that exists too.

Then there is the MOXYO Mission Wireless Earbuds.

There’s a Computer Accessory for you!

I recommend the IOGEAR Compact USB-C Docking Station with PD Pass-Thru and the Thunderbolt 3 to Dual 4K DisplayPort Adapter.

Then there is the OWC Thunderbolt Dock 3.

J5Create has several types that you can read about here and here. There’s some more J5 accessories available here.

You should see what Accell is making.

Need a Case for your Smartphone/Tablet?

UAG has some great ones like the iPhone 8/7 like the Monarch and PYLO, as well as the iPhone X.

Go with brands like Patchworks!

Something really unusual is this thing from Vibes Audio.

Now Toast gives you some good cover as well!

Catalyst also has several of them for the iPhone X and Apple Watch.

BGZ Brands also has the Lander Moab case for protection against the cold!

There are also some great ones from X-Doria. This might not be a case, but I recommend Armpocket for when you take your phone out on the road.

Speck has some really terrific cases, and you can read about the ones for Samsung and Apple.

Oh, you should also get yourself a screen protector, like the type made by Invisible Shield.

Then there are the ones from Nomad.

There are also some from Bodyguardz.

If you want a Folio case for your iPad, check out these two from ZAGG.

Also, UAG has your Google Pixel covered with these cases.

Looking for a gift for a gamer?

There is the Crusher Wireless from Skullcandy.

There is the Custom Game for Beyerdynamic. Then there is always the SteelSeries Rival 110.

There is also the Logitech G433, a 7.1 Wired Surround Gaming Headset.

Chargers are always needed!

There are ChargeHub X3 and X5.

Check out the Kodiak Plus 2.0 from Outdoor Technology.

It is similar to the Nomad 3-Port Hub, Powerpack, and the Charging Cables.

You can also go wireless with your charging thanks to the Mophie Wireless Charging Base.

Check out the RapidX DualX and X5 Rapid Car Charger.

I wish this one is available, but it is the Fingerpow.

Then there is the myCharge AdventureUltra and AdventureMax. Not only that, there is the myCharge Adventure JumpStart.

You can also go solar with the PowerKeep 12 and 36, as well as the Powerkeep Wanderer.

The M-EDGE Packlight, Tech Sackpack, and 8000 mAh Power Bank are also worth it.

Then there is the Bobine Flexible iPhone Dock.

Need to Boost your phones’ reception?

I would recommend the Wilson Drive Sleek Signal Booster for cars.

How about a Bluetooth speaker?

There is the iHome iBT77 Speaker as well as the iBT374. Then there is the iAVS1 for the Amazon Echo Dot. There is also the iPLWBT5 for the Apple Watch and your smartphone.

Oh, there is also two from Outdoor Technology, the Turtle Shell 3.0 and Buckshot 2.0.

Need a keyboard?

Check out the Matias Wireless Aluminum Keyboard with Backlight.

Cherry also has the MX Board Silent and the G80-3850 MX Brown 3.0.

I also had a fun time with the Snakebyte Key:Board Ultra.

Got a musician on your list?

I’m going to recommend two products from IK Multimedia with the iRig Mic HD 2 and the iRig Keys I/O 25.

Like taking pictures with your smartphone?

Get yourself an Olloclip Pivot!

How about something for a biker?

No problem. Get the SmartHalo.

Want something for the kitchen?

Look no further than the Gourmia GTA1500 Digital Electric Air Fryer, Griller, and Roaster.

You might want to check out the Bedol Squirt Water Clock.

How about a GPS device?

Seriously, check out the TomTom GO 52 Navigation Unit.

Traveling for the holiday?

I recommend the eGee Touch TSA Smart Travel Lock.

Also, there are two great backs from Cocoon Innovations that I will recommend. The first is the Graphite 15-inch brief and the second is the TECH 16-inch backpack.

What a more connected home?

If you want some automated bulbs, check out Sengled’s Classic Kit A19.

Speaking of home, you can do some home improvement with the TapHanger

Speck Christmas, Part 1: Presidio CLEAR, GRIP, and GRIP + GLITTER for Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

It’s been since the beginning of the year since I reviewed Speck products, so I was quite pleased to be reviewing some of their products for the newer products like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and the Note 8. These are the ones with Presidio in their name, presumably after that famous neighborhood in San Francisco.

Speck Presidio CLEAR for the Samsung Galaxy S8

Well, it’s pretty easy to see why this is called the Presidio Clear, because this case is…yeah, I don’t really need to say it.

The Presidio is made of some transparent Impactium, and I’m very certain that I can’t find that on the table of elements. Still, if you want to give your Galaxy S8 some protection from eight-foot drops, I would go with this guy, who keeps it pretty clear as well.

The Presidio Clear is also designed to be very scratch resistant, so should you require protection of this type, I would suggest going for it. You can get it on the Speck site for $19.97, but that might be a holiday discount as it is regularly $39.95.

Speck Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

I’m going to do two reviews for the price of one, because there really isn’t much difference between the Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 as there is from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Unless we are talking about size here.

Like the CLEAR, the GRIP is easy to see how it got its name. See how ribbed it is on the sides? Good luck trying to accidentally drop your device when it is wearing one of these.

Oh, and it also has an Impactium Shock Barrier on the inside, and I’m considering calling whoever assembles the Table of Elements and adding it. You can add the Presidio GRIP to your Samsung Galaxy S8 here discounted to half-price for $19.97 or your Galaxy Note 8 here discounted to half-price for $22.47.

Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Okay, before I talk about the Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Galaxy Note 8, I should bring up something that I should have brought up when I was talking about the GRIP.

That is, it has two layers of Impactium, and it is military grade drop-tested at 10 feet (3 meters). Like the GRIP, it is very soft, and it has the ribbed sides for non-slippage.

So, it is a great case, and it comes with glitter! It sparkles under the light like a vampire, the Twilight kind. You can pick it up on the Speck site for about $49.95. I don’t think there is a discount going on this guy, though.

Cocoon Innovations, Part 2: TECH 16-inch Backpack

And now it is time to review another Cocoon Innovations product with the TECH 16-inch backpack. I will have to say that it is a small step up from the last product I reviewed, but that is good, right?

Oh yes, it is very good. In fact, I decided to show this particular image here for those who are unaware of what the GRID-IT system looks like. Those are those elastic straps I was talking about that hold your individual accessories, and that should make a lot of sense if it hadn’t before.

Unlike the soft briefcase that I reviewed, this product is a backpack, and it can hold laptops up to 16 inches. It also has a dedicated iPad compartment, but it doesn’t really have a furry lining or anything for it. The backpack does have a water-resistant ballistic nylon exterior, so I guess you can feel good about taking it in the rain.

You should be able to purchase the TECH 16-inch backpack for about $89.99 on the Cocoon Innovations site for $89.99.

Cocoon Innovations, Part 1: Graphite 15-inch Brief

There is one thing that I like, and that is Cocoon Innovations. They were the pioneers of the GRID-IT system that I wrote about before here. I was fortunate enough to write about two other great Cocoon Innovations products, starting with the Graphite 15-inch brief.

From the description, you can tell what it can carry with 15-inch laptops, accomodating up to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. When you open it up, their are lots of pockets. One of them is the faux-fur for the laptop, which has some real soft fur on the inside. Then there is a faux-fur pocket good for a tablet like an iPad, a smaller one.

There is a zipper pocket on the inside, but that almost makes me want to say “who cares”. I’ve already mentioned that this particular guy has the GRID-IT inside, and if you are not familiar with it, here is what that is: it is a bunch of elastic straps made to hold a whole bunch of things.

Yes, these straps allow for you to store cables, chargers, and…hey, is that a GoPro on that? Yes, it is, which means you are capable of a carrying a lot, and you don’t have to worry about shuffling through your bag to find anything.

On the whole, I would recommend it, and it can be purchased on the Cocoon Innovations site for about $89.99.

#ChurchToo: Victims Speak up About Sexual Abuse Within the Church

We talked about the #MeToo movement that was initiated by Alyssa Milano after the Harvey Weinstein scandals came out. There’s another important related topic to this that Christians need to be aware of. A new awareness campaign is coming to the light with #ChurchToo.

Yes, sexual abuse happens in churches as well. Not just the Catholics, but LDS, Protestants, et al.

People are taking to Twitter and other social media to bring this to light.

I find in general that people get a false sense of security when it comes to leadership, and most other people in religious settings. Many trust that because one is a youth pastor, or a leader of a church, that no harm can be done. I’ve heard too many terrible stories to think otherwise.

In the church we previously attended, they did make sure to do background checks for those working in the nurseries. Men were only allowed to change the diapers of their own children. I am still trying to decide if that is sexist, but I can see it as the church trying to cover themselves, which is probably smart on their part. Personally, I thought parents should be called to do their own diaper changes, but that was because nursery workers could get stretched thin at times. Of course, nursery age isn’t the only ones needing to be protected, so I encourage parishioners to find out what is being done to protect kids of all ages in their church.

 

Another thing that churches need to stop doing, and I mentioned this in the #MeToo post, is we need to stop blaming the victims. This really needs to stop. Women and girls shouldn’t be told that they need to wear a cover up from head to toe to make sure that they don’t cause boys/men to stumble. Our boys should learn how to properly treat females no matter what they wear.

The list goes on, and I encourage you to check out all the #ChurchToo stories.

Leave your thoughts and stories on this in the comments below!