Review: Special K Cracker Chips

Special K Cracker ChipsI love new snack products – particularly when they are made by Pepperidge Farm. This time, I ventured into new territory. Kellogg’s created Special K Cracker Chips to compete with styrofoam cakes, alias rice cakes. They are much better, when that is the comparison. But when compared to Pepperidge Farm’s Baked Naturals, they are a faint shadow of snack goodness.

They are nicely crunchy, but the flavor is a bit weird. I only tried cheddar, but I’m not willing to buy the other flavors. The texture was not outstanding. I thought the price was a bit high: $3.79, which is a lot for just 4 ounces of snacks. Thus my my decision to not explore further flavors.

My wife likes these two aspects – they are low calorie and are pretty much gluten-free.

Verdict? Pass.


Quick Review: The Help Movie

The Help was great.

The movie certainly was not perfect. White ladies were all made out to be demons, except for Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan and the hurting character, Celia Foote. The African American ladies were painted as almost angels.

True, the situation was appalling. People like Skeeter, Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson – and Martin Luther King – put their lives on the line to stand up for what was right, and helped culture and society change. Highlighting that courage and strength of character was worth the price of admission alone.

The visual texture was excellent. Pacing was fine. I thought not reading the book was an advantage; the experience of enjoying the story stood on its own. My wife had read the book and still fully enjoyed the film. But she had comparisons of how the film was different than the book, such as how the film was softer in its treatment of characters.

The film challenged my way of thinking about injustice in the world today. Similar conditions of virtual (and real) slavery still abound. What am I doing to change things?


Super 8 movie review

ET mixed with Aliens mixed with Jurassic Park. Add in a lot of intelligence. Then you have Super 8.

My 15-year-old son and I saw Super 8 last night. We thoroughly enjoyed it. J.J. Abrams, the director of the TV series Lost, added that same level of suspense to the film – except you don’t have to wait five years to solve the mystery.

Visually, it’s stunning. The crashes and attacks are totally in your face. The slow-moving scenes are treated with care and respect.

There is way more character development than most action movies provide… a teenage romance is almost the film’s centerpiece.

The PG-13 rating is appropriate. My 10-year-old daughter would have been too scared. And some of the kids swear like sailors.

Verdict? Go, if my description makes the film sound appealing to you. It may be the best film of the summer.

Finally, here’s another worthy review from my brother: on Amazon. (Scroll down on that page.)

Still photo courtesy of


Better parents, not better kids

little-buddyI was amused by this “Little Buddy” device that Best Buy sells. It’s a GPS unit that your child is supposed to carry around so that you will always know where they are.

I can see this being a good thing for children of high profile people, where kidnapping might be a possibility. But normal people? My advice is to communicate with your child. Ideally you have a trusting relationship with them – they tell you where they are and when they expect to return. A pay-as-you-go mobile phone would allow them to communicate with you in a situation where they need to make a new plan. And that would cost less than the $15 a month that the Insignia plan requires (if your agreement with your kid is that you will pay for those kinds of calls or texts only).

Finally, I admit that we are of course not perfect parents. And also, some kids just make bad choices. I don’t think those kind of kids would readily carry around a “Little Buddy” in their pocket or backpack. Chances are, they’d leave it at their friends house before they went off wherever it was they wanted to go.


Ignite Boulder 7

ignite7boulderIgnite Boulder 7 was last Thursday, December 10th. This was the second Ignite Boulder event I went to and the third Ignite. (Denver was my first.)

In short, this one wasn’t as good as it could have been. No bad reflection on Andrew Hyde, the host. He was trying his hardest to keep things on track. But that was an impossible task.

The bad? Expletives were the main meal rather than the spice. And this time, the crowd had a little too much to drink at the pre-party. Many would yell whenever they felt like it – whether their contribution was helpful or not. The yellers must have been used to the Twitter environment, where it is OK to comment on everything. They forgot the basic difference… Twitter allows people the option to listen. At Ignite Boulder 7, there was no option.

The good? Still a great way to experience some new ideas in a fast-moving, live format.


Mac Christmas

snow-l-2If the Mac user in your life has not upgraded to Snow Leopard, now is the time!

Quite simply, this was the easiest and fastest upgrade of any operating system I have ever done.

If they are going to do it:

1. Make sure they have a current Time Machine backup. (They will need an external hard drive – here’s my choice.)

2. Make sure they first run SnowChecker, the free application that will tell them which applications they have will need to upgrade. (Download the installer for each application and then install them after Snow Leopard is live.)

As of this writing, you can buy Snow Leopard for $25 from Amazon. (Add four pencils to get free shipping.) You can get a family 5-pack for $43 (with free shipping) or the Box Set that includes the latest versions of iLife and iWork for $138 (also with free shipping).

That Mac-user you know and love will hug you! As the reviews have said, it is indeed zippier than the previous operating system, (regular) Leopard.

Disclaimer: Your results may vary. And if a lawyer were sitting in the room with me, they would say that I cannot be held liable for any lost data or system failures.


Review: Fantastic Mr Fox

mr-foxOver the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Heather, Rachel and I had the privilege of seeing the new film, Fantastic Mr Fox.

We loved it.

There was enough good stuff for an 8-year-old to enjoy, as well as plenty of stuff that only adults would appreciate. Why did I love it so much? There were plenty of shiny bits. The texture of the film went deep. I rarely want to see a film twice, but this one hit that level. There was so much lovingly-crafted detail that I wanted to see it again to catch what I missed the first time. (Sadly, my second viewing will be on the small screen, I’m sure.)

The film commented on the human experience in ways that were profound and simple at the same time. (Background on the story is here.)

Go see it! Today. I must warn you that it is quirky… if you prefer only mainstream experiences, check out another film.

Pic courtesy of the film’s website.


It was really good, but I’m not rich


I admit. I’m a sucker for new products.

So Metromint was an easy one for me to try – I like mint, and I don’t like sugary drinks (very often). Plus, it was on sale for about a third off the list price.

Verdict? Good. Nice clean taste. The bottles said “-6 degrees” (Spearmint) and “-8 degrees” (Peppermint). That’s a bit confusing – are you supposed to chill them to that temperature for maximum enjoyment? (If you were, there would have to be some anti-freeze ingredient.)

Final verdict? Don’t buy. Why?

1. The bottled water problem of your having to dispose of or recycle the bottle and the environmental costs of transporting the water to your store. (Pipes do it cheaper – if you live in North America, anyhow.)

2. Try my much cheaper version here. Not as cool-looking, but it does taste good.