Great for its time, kind of hard to get through now.

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks)

Price: $17.48


Pros: Pretty strong character development and interesting villains

Cons: Dated storytelling style and artwork can make it a tough read

While during a science exhibition into Earth’s orbit; Reed Richards, (Mr. Fantastic) Sue Storm (Invisible Girl), Ben Grimm (The Thing), and Johnny Storm ( The Human Torch) are bombarded with cosmic rays through their ship that leaves the group forever changed. When they return to Earth they learn that they have developed super human powers, and together they decide to help protect humanity as the Fantastic Four. -summary


Thanks to Marvel’s Masterworks line of TPBs people can take a trip into the time stream to read the stories that started it all. Since I wasn’t born at this time and I only read bits and pieces of these storylines through random issues, it had been a treat for me to see where my superheroes came from. To be honest though, while I have enjoyed some of these earlier stories such as The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers; some of these titles really show their age and just don’t read very well. The Uncanny X-Men and The Mighty Thor are some of those titles, and sad to say the Fantastic Four never really appealed to me much at least until The Coming of Galactus. Written by Stan Lee, this TPB collects issues 1 – 10 of Marvel’s First Family dating back to 1961 – 1963.

Stan Lee’s writing was good for that time period, and the stories can be quick and fun but they can also be a pain for those whom are more use to modern comic book storylines. The plots are short and simple with a new baddie appearing mainly to take over the world, and the FF needs to stop them. If this TPB should be notable for anything then it’s key first appearances of classic villains such as Dr. Doom, The Skrulls, The Mole Man, and even the Puppet-Master.

Dr. Doom makes the greatest impression though, and it’s obvious why he went on to become Marvel’s premier villain for a very long time. He was just very charismatic and dangerous, as he easily tricks and captures the FF in their very first encounter. Namor the Submariner made his return to comics in these pages, and he had to be an instant classic as a villain for the FF and humanity with such a  realistic drive.

Stan Lee gives the heroes their due; he attempts and succeeds to bring in some realism in regards to developing the heroes. While Reed, Sue, and Johnny’s powers are wonderful in their own right, and they can pretty much turn them off and on like a light switch. It’s Ben Grimm who clearly suffers being trapped as the rocky looking monster. His temper tantrums and frequent arguments with Human Torch brings out his inner turmoil, which makes him quite a sympathetic and believable character. I always understood what made him a fan favorite, but reading it from the beginning always helped out because the Ben Grimm I grew up reading already learned to cope with his curse.

The legendary Jack Kirby’s artwork is very dated, but one can clearly see the imagination and potential for better stories later. However, he still does a splendid job capturing the will and intensity to win in the battle between Thing and Sub-Mariner, which is the main highlight here for me. The facial expressions and body language are done very well, and many of the action segments are fairly entertaining but nowhere as brilliantly done as later titles once the action becomes more physical and personal. The recoloring is very well done: bright and pretty detailed.

Overall, while these stories have their moments of fun; this is something I can only recommend to hardcore collectors, and fans from that era whom still believe that the best stories are from that time. I’m a serious collector and comic lover but I found myself taking breaks through this, and there wasn’t that much of an urgency to finish it during my first read through. I kind of doubt if I’ll ever read this again, yet at the same time I can’t see myself parting ways with this title either. If you’re not the type whom needs to read everything, then you can continue staying up to date and back tracking to the periods you’re already use to.





See it at the History Channel website 

(3/5) decent

Pros: Nice sense of pacing; intriguing premise

Cons: Quite similar in its set-up to Curse of Oak Island; can we really believe everything here?

It’s been somewhat disheartening in recent months to see television producers begin to produce clones of shows that aren’t that all that great in the first place. After the monster hunt show Finding Bigfoot became one of Animal Planet’s most widely-viewed and most talked-about programs, it wasn’t long before a gaggle of similar, increasingly phony time-wasters would pop up and stretch the genre of cryptozoological reality shows to the breaking point (can the genre ever pull itself back from the ludicrous extremes of Alaska Monsters?). I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised by this chain of events considering the entertainment business’ continual and ongoing habit of attempting to remake or redo various successes irregardless of whether doing so seems like a good idea, but when the History Channel recently decided to clone a program in Curse of Oak Island that deals with a fascinating subject but is undeniably dull and fairly pointless, I was initially very skeptical. Fortunately, the resulting program, Search for the Lost Giants which premiered in late 2014, is perhaps better and more intriguing than the show that inspired it and just may be the one that finally uncovers something truly astounding.

the vieras
The expressions say everything you need to know: The Vieras take their giant hunting seriously.

Like The Curse of Oak Island, Lost Giants chronicles the efforts of a pair of brothers who, after successful business careers, decide to pour some of their fortunes into a rather outrageous pet project. Jim and Bill Viera made careers as New England stonemasons, but in their free time set about researching legends and folklore that dealt with giants – humanoids of extraordinary proportions often reputed to have double rows of teeth. After uncovering a seemingly endless trail of archival reports of these beings, the Vieras set about trying to track down actual remains – though there have been a number of giant skeletons supposedly recovered over the years, no one seems to know the whereabouts of any of them. This, as might be expected, seems to point to a conspiracy in which the scientific establishment has covered up truths that don’t quite fit in with their version of human evolution.

Entrance to the Goshen Tunnel
Entrance to the Goshen Mystery Tunnel. Could it hold the remains of a giant?

In any case, through its initial three episodes, Search for the Lost Giants has alternated a pair of ongoing storylines. The apparent main one in the show deals with a so-called “mystery tunnel” located in Goshen, Massachusetts. Appearing to have been constructed in the pre-colonial era, this underground tunnel measures some seventy feet long, has been constructed out of stone, and is reputed to contain a secret chamber – one which may or may not house the remains of a giant. The Vieras set about investigating the shaft and stumble upon a possible location for the undiscovered chamber. Their goal now is to convince a local archaeologist that a full-blown excavation of the site is not only warranted, but necessary. All the while this storyline progresses, the brothers also are seen traveling across the country investigating reports of giants and attempting to track down other possible remains. Thus far, some of these leads have proven fruitful: in the Missouri Ozarks, the brothers not only come across an archival photograph of purported remains, but also uncovered a large incisor that may or may not come from a human of huge proportions.

pouring smoke
Pouring smoke into the tunnel in an attempt to prove the existence of a secret chamber.

Produced by Left/Right Productions, perhaps best known for producing episodes of PBS’ outstanding Frontline, Lost Giants is photographed and edited extremely well, having an approach that makes it seem a bit more credible than many similar programs. Set up as a pseudo-reality show that follows the Vieras on their quest to prove that giants actually existed, I maybe most appreciated the fact that this program cuts to the chase. It really does seem to focus its efforts almost exclusively on the actual search for giants, which is commendable considering that many of these programs seem more interested in making minor TV stars out of the people involved than in solving any sort of mystery. I think this show also does a fine job of providing a background by which a viewer at the very least can start to appreciate why the Vieras are going on a quest to examine something that seems ridiculous from a logical standpoint. An intermittent narration expounds on the ways in which giants have manifested themselves in popular culture (the stories of Paul Bunyan, Jack and the Beanstalk, David and Goliath, and the Cyclops are just a few well-known myths which feature these beings), and with the wealth of archival newspaper articles seen during the show, the idea that giants may have actually existed starts to seem more plausible.

death of goliath
The death of Goliath. Is it possible that historical accounts of giants are in fact accurate?

Personally, I think the Vieras are a more likable, approachable pair than the Lagina brothers, who feature at the center of the Oak Island show. One gets a sense that Jim and Bill Viera are nice guys who just happen to have a somewhat outlandish hobby, while I frequently get tired of hearing the more whiny Laginas complain about all the money they’re spending to get limited results while treasure hunting in Canada. Part of this may come down to the fact that the Vieras seem to be blue collar guys: a viewer is able to relate to them more than the almost arrogant, obviously white collar Laginas and while the Vieras realize that hard work will be the thing that makes their investigation a success, the Laginas seem convinced that they can solve the Oak Island mystery simply by spending more and more cash. Finally, although the premise of the show may seem outrageous, I actually think that the theories proposed in Lost Giants are more reasonable and maybe even credible than the load of malarkey that Oak Island often proposes as theoretical or actual fact: I’ve heard about enough speculation about how relics from King Solomon’s temple magically wound up buried in the muck off the coast of Nova Scotia.

hard work
I’m glad to see the Vieras believe that hard work will be the way to solve this mystery, but will their dedication pay off in the end?

Ultimately, the thing about Lost Giants that separates it from the Oak Island program is its sense of pacing. While Oak Island bogs down in episodes in which nothing major seems to happen, the timeline of events in Lost Giants moves ahead steadily. It’s appears that the producers of this show learned a few things from the things that came before it – and well they should have. The result is a tighter, more compelling program that might not be slam-bang entertaining in the same way that fictional programs are, but is certainly enigmatic and intriguing. I’m rather looking forward to seeing what happens down the line on this show – episode three ended with an archaeologist agreeing that the Goshen Mystery Tunnel merited a more scientific investigation. Search for the Lost Giants might not be to everyone’s taste or be the best thing that’s ever appeared on television, but I think it’s worth checking out.

Chubby, Portly, Just Plain Round

Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue


portly (2)

See it at Amazon 


Pros: Weather Resistant, Indoor Outdoor usage, Fun item

Cons: None Noted

Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue, measuring 7 x 9.25 x 6.25 inches and weighing about 1.5 pounds, this portly is a striking addition purchased with thought to add to the oasis critters already in place below the trumpet vine climbing upon a tall mulberry tree. This little chunky is too cute to leave outdoors in the cold!

Prepared of high quality poly resin composite this hand decorated, multi-hued, polystone bluebird makes an excellent garden decoration or a splendid mantle deco. Devised to be weather resistant, resin is non-porous to avert cracking, fragmenting and flaking away of the piece. Gamboge, resin, is an extensively used material readied via use of synthetic or natural polymers. Resin is often employed for creating objects, ingredients and items to be shaped, cleaved or liquefied prior to being formed into a final form.

Resin polystone items can be successfully displayed indoors or out. Whether placed outdoors in the garden, on porch or patio or on the mantle; these charming chicks can be expected to remain attractive and in good shape for many seasons to come.

Evergreen Portlys continue to be consumer favorites. The chunky figures defined by stout, plump bodies are inimitably sculpted and hand-painted creating an appealing, natural in appearance, resin figure.

Sitting with the appearance of a youngster just learning to fly, on a chilly morning when resting for a moment to catch her breath and puff out her feathers for warmth; this little birdlet appears as many of the fledglings I see each spring. Feathers have appeared, mom and dad are nearby encouraging flight and the little stalwart is tired but game to try the tricky business of flight.

Each miniature feather is delineated, across head and shoulders down the back and to wings and tail we see blue. Chest is orangey with each feather standing defined. Bright eyes, seed eating beak, one more wee denizen of the air is all but ready to set out into the sky and into the life nature foretold when she first broke through the shell holding her. That mom and dad have done their job well is seen in the portly appearance of this small avian.

Evergreen Portlys presented in a multiplicity of bird and critter forms appearing with signature, rounded plump physiques are charming whether exhibited indoors or out.

 Happy to recommend Evergreen Enterprises Bluebird Portly Garden statue.

Other portlys available Amazon and a diversity of other online sites  includes birds, frogs, and even raccoons.


I like knowing something of the companies from whom I make purchase.  Internet search indicates:


In depth Time line appears on Company website:

 1993 Evergreen Enterprises was born when Company President Ting Xu and her parents started creating flags in their garage and sold them at the Virginia State Fair.

1994 Evergreen growth continued with 10 flag kiosks in Virginia and North Carolina and participation in 40 trade shows. Ting Xu’s brother, James Xu, joined the business and dedicated the next two years to helping build the company.

1995 Evergreen expanded product offerings and entered the ceramics business. Frank Qiu, Ting Xu’s husband, sold his successful insurance agency and came onboard to spearhead the company’s advancement.

This was a year of several key milestones including first wholesaler show, first gift show in Atlanta, first catalog and first warehouse (5,000 s.f.)

1996 The company continued focus on developing inventory, product design, importing and distribution and broke the $1 million mark in sales.

1997 Evergreen continued expansion by hiring more office staff and salespeople. Logistics and quality of product materials were key focus areas, and the company introduced three-dimensional flags to the marketplace.

2000 phenomenal growth led to Evergreen Enterprises doubling staff and cultivated more relationships with manufacturing facilities abroad to accommodate customer demand.

2002 The company established a new logistics facility in China.

2003 Evergreen broke ground for a new warehouse storage facility at their corporate headquarters in Richmond, VA. The Cypress Home brand of ceramic kitchen decor was launched.

2004 acquisition of Ashford Court, home textile manufacturer, brought Evergreen into a new product arena including bedding, pillows, throws and tabletop textiles.

2005 Working with local artists and the city of Virginia Beach, VA, Evergreen aided in the design and manufacture a massive statue of King Neptune to be displayed on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, commemorating the long-running Neptune Festival. It is the largest bronze statue built since the Statue of Liberty.

2006 With a commitment to quality products, Evergreen acquired Cape Craftsmen, LLC and planned to grow the Cape Craftsmen business beyond its foundational accent furniture with the addition of textiles and other home accents.

2007 The company introduced its newly renovated business – to business online resource center providing consumers access to over 5,000 items available online 24/7.

2008 West Coast showroom at the World Market Center in Las Vegas opened, Evergreen partnered with full line distributors to sell products in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

The Just the Right Shoe line launched with the help of its creator, Lorraine Vail, and under Evergreen’s brand expanded its distribution worldwide.

2009 Evergreen continued to move forward, with acquisition of New Creative Enterprises.

2010 With more than 100 territory managers nationwide and an expansion of the Atlanta showroom Evergreen growth continued with the acquisition of Plow & Hearth, a multichannel retailer with Virginia roots.

2011 creation of Evergreen Enterprises Canada established Evergreen’s first direct sales force outside the U.S.

Acquisition of Team Sports America more than tripled Evergreen’s licensed sports product offering. Evergreen opened a new Memphis distribution center as well as renovated and expanded its Richmond headquarters.

2012 Evergreen further expanded its licensed sports portfolio with the acquisition of the SC Sports product line.

2013 marks Evergreen’s 20th anniversary.

Evergreen expanded its accessories and jewelry line into a new brand called Blossom Boutique. The Evergreen Enterprises Careers page was given a design and content upgrade.

Other portlys available include birds, frogs, and even raccoons.

Rewriting American History, One Episode at a Time: AMERICA UNEARTHED

AMERICA UNEARTHED on the History Channel


See it at the History Channel website 

(3/5) decent

Pros: Interesting topics and much food for thought

Cons: Arguments made don’t entirely hold up to standards of logic

Premiering in late 2012 and playing in a similar manner to some of History Channel’s other speculative documentaries, America Unearthed chronicles the attempts by forensic geologist Scott Wolter to prove his theory that “the history that we were all taught growing up is wrong.” I first saw Wolter when he appeared on a two hour documentary special about the Templars in America that focused heavily on the Kensington Rune Stone that some people believe represents a pre-Columbian land claim. The entirety of the Unearthed series expands on the basic premise of that special, as Wolter travels across the country examining mysterious locations, deciphering clues and evidence, and attempts to make a case for various alternative theories of American history.

Scott Wolter and his trademark skeptical scowl.

Earlier on in the show’s run run, Wolter seemed determined to reinforce the idea that Christobal Colon (i.e. Christopher Columbus) wasn’t the first person to discover the “new world.” Frankly, one would almost have to be completely oblivious to history to believe the notion that Columbus actually discovered America – the Vikings clearly were on the North American continent well before Columbus ever gazed out over the oceans and there’s physical proof to back up the claim. In the first two seasons of America Unearthed, Wolter went much further, exploring the ideas that groups as varied as the ancient Hebrews, Phoenicians, Minoans, Polynesians, Templars, and others came to the Americas well in advance of 1492. Another major point of investigation in the program is the idea that the Freemasons have more to do with the founding of America than most people have been led to believe. It seems like the vast majority of the episodes of this show making some reference – fleeting or otherwise – to the institution of the Freemasons.

newport tower
Newport Tower in Rhode Island has been proposed by Wolter as being proof of the Templars coming to America.

As the program enters its third season in late 2014, there appears to have been something of a shift in the main goals of the show and a different approach is being taken. The first episode (initially aired on November 8, 2014) dealt with the idea that Davy Crockett (the “King of the Wild Frontier”) survived his supposed last stand at the Alamo and went on to live out his days quietly in Alabama. A land claim from 1859 which is signed by someone named David Crockett forms the basis of the investigation which reveals some intriguing archival news articles as well as some insight from actual Crockett descendents. The third season’s second episode dealt with the search in Arizona for the mysterious Lost Dutchman gold mine. By interviewing local treasure hunters, Wolter tracks down potential locations for the legendary mine which has long been pursued by those seeking fortune, and pursues the idea that the shaft is hidden in plain sight. I have to say that I’m a fan of the program branching out and focusing on more a variety of topics: the examination of pre-Columbian American exploration and settlement was growing a bit tiresome after two seasons, but I somehow doubt that viewers have seen and heard the last of it.

…yeah, but did he survive the Alamo or not?

Like the vast majority of television shows these days, America Unearthed is set up as a pseudo-reality show, following Wolter around as if a viewer is tagging along on his everyday activities. Some episodes of the show feature more obvious reality moments and seem heavily manipulated, particularly when Wolter’s family shows up, becoming key figures in the way the show plays out. Generally speaking, the show is edited in the same manner one would expect a mystery to, with text messages and phone calls appearing at opportune moments to provide a much-needed clue when the investigation hits a (potentially literal) brick wall. Clearly, there’s some level of scripting and planning going on behind the scenes – many of these situations seem a little too convenient to be representations of reality – and this leads to the major problem I have with the show.

Logic frequently doesn’t seem to be one of this show’s strong points.

As is the case with a indisputably interesting but untrustworthy show like Ancient Aliens, there’s simply no way I can buy everything presented in this show as being absolute fact. To the program’s benefit, there does appear to be some level of science being applied to the investigations here since Wolter makes every effort to authenticate various artifacts he finds. Still, his final conclusions at the end of most episodes very nearly seem to be pulled out of thin air with scant evidence used to back them up. In the case of the Crockett land claim, Wolter examines the handwriting between a known Crockett signature and the one featured on the claim, and even though the two samples don’t look identical, concludes that the same David Crockett actually signed both, explaining the differences in handwriting to the fact that Crockett would have been quite elderly by the late 1850s. I should say that I have seen Wolter straight shoot down some theories that he’s been investigating (his examination of Rockwall, TX proved that the massive underground “wall” surrounding the town is an entirely natural phenomenon and not the result of an ancient civilization’s construction program), but more often then not, he concludes the show by making an ambiguous claim that contradicts what most people would accept as being historical fact.

indiana jones
While he’s a forensic geologist by trade, Wolter more often comes across as a sort of bootleg treasure hunter, the Jeff Meldrum of the archaeological world.

In short, it seems as though the show’s underlying goal is to throw a wrench in the established history of the United States, and it often seems as if the logic used in getting to a point where an outrageous claim can be made is rather suspect (the same thing can be said about any of the arguments put forth in Ancient Aliens or the related In Search of Aliens). In some ways, this isn’t an entirely bad thing: it makes this show very intriguing for a viewer who has a working knowledge of American history. I also like the fact that America Unearthed gives the viewer a wide variety of enigmatic locations, artifacts, and ideas that he can then research on his own and make up his own mind about. I guess my point is that a viewer shouldn’t mandatorily accept everything and maybe even anything this show has to say…but that is pretty much par for the course on TV anymore.

The show’s producers seem to realize that some of their arguments aren’t exactly unflappable, and they’ve designed this show to be super slick and efficient. It’s photographed and edited very competently, and the use of dramatic music really heightens the impact of certain sequences. There’s a watertight organizational structure that acts to keep things straight in a viewer’s head: maps show the locations where Wolter’s investigation is being conducted and point-by-point lists establish the “facts” as Wolter has established them. Though, like The Curse of Oak Island, America Unearthed isn’t the most exciting program on television, I think the topics discussed in the show are rather fascinating and Wolter is an agreeable enough host/main character. The program as a whole definitely would appeal to history buffs, though perhaps not to those who are close-minded with regard to new ideas or alternate ways of thinking. America Unearthed certainly winds up causing more controversy than providing definitive, provable solutions and/or answers, but I think it’s worthwhile as thought-provoking television and would recommend it.

Lightweight, positive poetry

Bawb’s Raven Feathers by Robert Chomany

See it at Amazon 


Pros: Very upbeat, leaves you feeling lighter

Cons: Uncomplicated, simplistic, redundant

This is a collection of short poems by Robert Chomany. Most of the poems are one stanza in length, with four or six lines. A few are slightly longer. The book is just over one hundred pages long, with each page having a poem. There are also a few pages with just lines on them, I believe they are intended to allow the reader to attempt poetry himself or herself. The book is divided into sections on slightly different topics like Balance, Healing, Energy, and Positivity. At the beginning of each section, there is a brief introduction in prose describing what the next group of poems will be about.

If one looks at the technical aspects of the poems, the meter is clear and regular and the rhyming is strong without ever feeling forced. However, if one looks at the contents of the poems, several things become apparent. The main one is that they are highly redundant and repetitive. How many different ways can someone laud positivity? This book shows you dozens. The poems are not complex although they are somewhat more complicated than one would find in a greeting card. In my opinion, these poems would be excellent for thought-for-the-day calendars.

I think that I should have researched this book more after I was offered a free copy in exchange for an objective review. I think that I saw the word “Raven,” and hoped for something dark and gritty along the lines of Edgar Allen Poe. These poems are certainly not dark or gritty like one would get from Edgar Allen Poe and they are not as sophisticated or as complex as any of the masters like Poe, Whitman, Frost, or even Dickinson. This collection of poems would be great for someone looking for light poetry with a definite emphasis on positivity and related topics.


“No Theory, No Matter How Outrageous, Can Be Ignored:” THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND

THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND on History Channel


See it at The History Channel website 

(2.5/5) MEH

Pros: The Oak Island Mystery!
Cons: Reality TV moments; simply isn’t all that compelling

In 1795, eighteen year old Daniel McGinnis stumbled upon something off the coast of Nova Scotia on Oak Island. Seeing evidence of a recent dig, McGinnis and some companions began excavation of the site and eventually came upon a shaft which has become known over the years as “The Money Pit,” both because it’s rumored to have treasure at the bottom of it and because of the amount of money that various persons have invested in an attempt to discover said treasure. In 1803 and after having reaching a depth of 90 feet, a stone bearing a mysterious inscription (believed by some to have read “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried”) was found in the pit but shortly thereafter, the entire shaft began to fill with sea water, as if the excavation had tripped a booby trap set by the original diggers. For the past two hundred years, Oak Island has been the site of numerous treasure hunting operations which have littered the island with holes, destabilized the ground, and destroyed most of the potential clues relating to the site, but this hasn’t stopped people from dreaming about what may potentially lie buried on the island.

one of the many holes on the island
One of the many holes dug into the island over the years.

In early 2014, History Channel premiered a new program entitled The Curse of Oak Island in which a multi-person team led by brothers Marty and Rick Lagina, who effectively own half the island, attempt to discover just what lies hidden there. Set up as a reality show that chronicles efforts not only to uncover the truth behind various legends relating to the Oak Island mystery but also detail the excavations and digs taking place there, The Curse of Oak Island revolves around the notion that the island is cursed. Six people have died while excavating in and around The Money Pit, and legend has it that one more must perish before the treasure can be uncovered. Can we expect high drama at some point in the show’s run? Only time will tell…

Marty and Rick Lagina. The show’s all about them – and they let a viewer know it.

During the show’s first season, Marty and Rick mainly went about draining a mysterious, triangle-shaped swamp and exploring a man-made cove on the island. While there wasn’t much progress in actually discovering any treasure, the team did make a few tantalizing finds – notably, a large amount of coconut fiber which apparently was used as fill material in the creation of the cove and additionally, a 17th century copper coin. Since there are no coconut trees on Oak Island, the fiber is an indication that perhaps the legends of Caribbean pirates traveling to the location may in fact be true, and the appearance of the coin seems to corroborate the story. Season two of the show picks off right where the first season ended, showing Marty and Rick preparing for another digging season on Oak Island. As expected in any reality show, there’s plenty of turmoil and potential problems relating to their operations, one of which is a piece of government legislation that would put an end to any and all treasure hunting on site. Furthermore, the team runs into problems when attempting to use a incredibly heavy drilling rig to find the location of either the original Money Pit or one of the many subsequent so-called “seeker shafts” that were constructed in an attempt to locate a supposed treasure vault that’s rumored to be situated at a depth of around 140 feet underground.

Memorial to those who perished while seeking the Oak Island Treasure, but will a seventh name be added?

Obviously designed to be entertainment on some sort of level and having a premise that is undeniably seductive and fascinating, The Curse of Oak Island is a well-produced and tightly constructed show, yet it suffers from being yet another program on a presumably educational channel that I can’t in good conscience entirely trust. The reality show format means that there seems to be an awful lot of manipulation going on with how the circumstances happening on the island are related to the camera and presented for the viewer, and the fact that no significant news stories have been put forth about this excavation only solidifies for me that much of what is going on here may in fact be fabricated or at least not entirely authentic. The lack of news coverage also makes it tough for me to believe that much of anything significant will ever be found on Oak Island, and therefore this show doesn’t so much seem to be working towards a monumental discovery as just serving as a semi-agreeable time waste.

what treasure?
What treasure lies at the bottom of these semi-collapsed shafts?

Keeping with the traditions of the many borderline ludicrous “documentaries” on the History Channel (I’m talking about you American Unearthed and Ancient Aliens), The Curse of Oak Island focuses a large amount of attention on some rather cockamamie ideas about what actually is buried on the island and who put it there. These theories involve everyone from the Templars, to famous Caribbean pirates, to the English government, to the ancient Phoenicians, and early in season two, Marty and Rick entertain an idea proposed by treasure hunter J. Hutton Pulitzer that treasures from King Solomon’s temple (such as the Ark of the Covenant) may have been hidden on Oak Island. Theories like these are a staple of programs like Ancient Aliens, and at times, it almost seems like the purpose in including ideas like this in History Channel shows is simply to name-drop and thereby give some sort of credibility to programs that in no way shape or form deserve it (not helping matters is the fact that Curse is produced by the same company as Ancient Aliens and narrated by Robert Clotworthy, who also provides the frequently goofy and obnoxious commentary for that show).

sludging away in the Oak Island swamp
Sludging away in the Oak Island Swamp.

I should at this point say that the most enjoyable thing I get out of this show is watching Marty and Rick Lagina (who aren’t especially compelling or even likable as main characters) fail in their efforts to find anything on the island. Millions upon millions of dollars have been blown at Oak Island over the past few centuries, and I’m not entirely sure that the Lagina’s money will be enough to uncover anything. That the Lagina’s whole problem-solving approach seems to be to throw boatloads of money at the issue until it works out only makes it even more gleefully satisfying to see when they don’t get the results they want. To be completely honest, while it’d be interesting to see what exactly the ultimate secret of Oak Island really is, I don’t at all wish to see a historical discovery be made by this group of whining and almost cocky treasure hunters who (despite their claims to be “respecting history and Nova Scotia”), have made no effort of adhering to archaeological standards. Hell, the group of people featured in this show (which also features several life-long Oak Island excavators such as Dan Blankenship and his son Dave) would probably be as likely to destroy something they found through sheer incompetence than to actually recover it.

endless money
Can seemingly endless cash reserves finally solve the mystery of Oak Island?

Having been rather familiar with the Oak Island mystery before watching this show, I find the most intriguing thing about it to be the brief historical segments relating to the discovery of the pit and the various excavations that have occurred on site. The Curse of Oak Island makes use of some wonderful archival materials and occasionally reveals some captivating stories from the island’s history, but nothing can quite make up for the fact that, when taken individually, none of the episodes of this program are all that exciting to watch. Painfully dull at times since there’s very little honest humor on display, the program also suffers from the fact that the situation featured here simply doesn’t have much tension despite the many, phony cliffhanger moments set up through a slick editing scheme. Though I’ll sit through most any of the current wave of documentary-like reality shows dealing with mysterious circumstances or phenomena since I enjoy these sorts of subjects, Curse of Oak Island has to be one of the most boring of the lot. I’d say it’s something that most people would be better off skipping – at least until something legitimately valuable is discovered.


Afternoon Nap by Dimensions (Paint by number kit)

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions

puppy pbn box


See it at Amazon  (ignore the fact that their listing says “needlecraft” )


Pros: relaxing activity that yields a great-looking result

Cons: a few mistakes on the board

I enjoy craft kits.  And I have absolutely no natural talent.  Therefore, adult-sized paint by number kits are a great way for me to be able to paint something pretty.  There are a few brands out there.  This review is for a picture called “Afternoon Nap” by the Dimensions company.

Dimensions products come with canvas boards that are of high quality.  However, I’ve read some reviews where people complained that theirs arrived bent.  I’ve not had this happen, but I would simply call the company and (I presume) they would send me a replacement.  Your board should be completely flat.

The board has the design drawn on it, in a light gray color.  The design is broken into teeny tiny spots, which must be filled in with the correct color paint.  In this case, 12 paints are provided, but there are 24 different colors in this design.  This is because Dimensions kits require mixing colors.  So, there are 12 numbered paints.  And 12 colors (indicated by letters) that can only be achieved by mixing two paints together.

While they provide instructions how to do this, they do not provide any container for the mixed product.  I ended up using paint canisters that I had left over from previously completed kits.  However, you’ll need to think about what you’ll use to contain the mixed paint, before you get started.

The need to mix the paints adds another level of complication to the kit.  While the actual mixing isn’t difficult, the problem is that if you run out of your mixed paint before you finish with it, you’ll be stuck trying to re-mix and achieve the same shade.  Not so easy.  I am always finding little spots that need touch-up, and if you don’t have any more of the mixed color to do the touch-up, you’re stuck.  I ended up using colors that were “close enough” to do the touch-ups, but the results aren’t always ideal.

Dimensions kits come with one paintbrush, and it’s a bit too thick for some of the fine detail work.  I suggest buying a few high-quality acrylic brushes in various thicknesses before you get started.

Back to the board for a moment.  Dimensions does one thing that’s really smart.  The spaces on the board for the lightest color (in this case, a bright white) are not labeled.  The purpose of this is to make it easier to use the lightest color.  After all, the light paints require several coats in order to cover the labels and the outlines.  So by leaving off the labels for the lightest spots, it’s one less thing to worry about covering up.  The problem is that no one is perfect, not even the folks at Dimensions.  They make mistakes.  Like leaving a spot un-labeled on the board.  So when you come across an unlabeled spot, you have to make sure it’s supposed to be for the lightest color, rather than a mistake.

Another problem I had is that their design did not go all the way to the edges of the board.  They stopped about an inch away from the border.  I suppose they figured that everyone would frame their pictures and cover up that last inch?  All I know is, I want my picture to go all the way to the edge, so I extrapolated.

Finally, in this particular picture, they used an all-black background.  I found this to be a bit boring.  So I added some brown shading to my background.

Other than these few issues, I enjoyed my time painting “Afternoon Nap” and am pleased with the result.  The picture looks great – just as good as the one on the box, I think.  This is a small painting – only 11 X 14, which means you can complete the project rather quickly – just a couple weeks, if you spend a couple hours at a time.

I wouldn’t think this is a great project for kids.  The spaces are extremely small, and the need to mix paints adds a level of complication.  This project is for adults with patience, and a steady hand, who don’t mind detailed work.

At a cost of around $15, this is a great kit – my napping puppy and I are very happy with it!

Here is my finished product:

puppy pbn2


Other adult-sized paint by number kits:

Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper

Beef & Dumplings — Yum

Campbell’s® Chunky™ Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup



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Pros: Husband likes it, good taste, Campbell’s supports women’s heart health program

Cons: 800mg sodium

Campbell’s® Chunky™ Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup that eats like a meal®. When you’re hungry, you need Chunky®.   Chunky It fills you up right®

Fall into winter I buy a good bit of canned soups. Husband enjoys homemade and canned soups and he particularly likes Campbell’s canned soups.   The 18.8 oz can is about the right size for him to heat up in the microwave while I am in the classroom and away from the house during the day.

I enjoy the advertising surrounding chunky soups; both Husband and I enjoy football, the various advertising campaigns set in place using football players and their moms are always interesting, fun and entertaining. And, they trigger the notion to get a can or two when I am shopping at our local Reasors Supermarket.

The label notes that Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables Soup offers a full serving of vegetables and is crafted using Lean Meat.

I find Chunky soup is eaten more readily in our house than are some of the less hefty soups available. Husband takes to heart the notion that 30 selections filled with good sized pieces of vegetables and meat allow a nice variety of tasty flavors from which to choose to fill his perhaps NFL size hunger.

Now and then I do take some of the Campbells soups in the smaller containers to school to heat for lunch in our school Microwavable, I find the chunky soups while being a dandy size for Husband who stands taller than I and weighs somewhat more than do I tends to be a larger portion than I need to assuage my hunger. I like that Campbell’s works to meet the needs of all consumers rather than just those with larger appetites.

Occasionally I do prepare noodles or rice and pour a can or two of Chunky Soup over it for a quick lunch or light supper on snowy winter days. I find The Country Beef & Dumplings with Hearty Vegetables to be a tasty topping for rice or noodles; filled with good sized pieces of carrots and celery, seasoned beef, diced tomatoes in Juice, and peas as well as tomato puree, for added flavor the soup adds just the right touch for a cold winter meal as we watch football.

For a good source of protein, potassium and vitamins A & C Husband and I enjoy flavorful soups filled with vegetables and lean pieces of meat.


Nutrition Facts from the Campbell’s website: Amount Per Serving = serving size 1 cup

Calories 130

Fat Calories 15

Sodium 800mg

Carbohydrates 20g

Dietary Fiber 3g

Sugars 8g

Protein 8g

* from the Campbell’s Website:  The nutrition information contained in this list of Nutrition Facts is based on our current data. However, because the data may change from time to time, this information may not always be identical to the nutritional label information of products on shelf.

This is a long lived, pantry shelf type product, store at room temperature, container is metal can, fully cooked contents, heat and serve. Can has pull tab for quick opening.

Ingredients from label include: Water, Carrots, Seasoned Beef, Eggs, Enriched Wheat Durum Flour, Salt, Spices, Celery diced Tomatoes in Juice, Tomato Puree, Peas

Contains 2% or less of the following: Food Starch Modified, Onions Dehydrated, Sugar, Salt, Beef Stock, Beef Flavors, Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin , Dehydrated Garlic, Caramel Color, Flavoring, Gelatin, Onions , Spices , Lactic Acid , Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Citric Acid

Spaetzle Dumplings ingredients include: Water, Enriched Wheat Flour


I like knowing something of the company’s from which I buy products, internet search and Campbell’s website perusal indicates:

Launched in 1869 by New Jerseyites Joseph A. Campbell and Abraham Anderson. The slogan for the company since 1978 has been “Mmm Mmm Good.”

Campbell Soup Company, frequently known as Campbell’s, is an American manufacturer of canned soups and related products.

A worldwide supplier; Campbell’s headquartered in Camden, New Jersey products are sold in 120 countries

Internet search indicates: The Campbell Soup corporation  supports the ‘go red’ campaign to bring awareness to women and others that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women.

As part of Campbell’s mission to nourish people’s lives everywhere, every day, Campbell continues to offer a growing variety of heart-healthy products. “This year marks our seventh year supporting the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, and we’ve never been more proud to be a part of the organization’s efforts to raise awareness of the risks of heart disease among women. Campbell is dedicated to making great-tasting products that help people eat and live better, and our pledge of $5.4 million to the Go Red for Women movement through 2015 is a critical piece of this commitment.” Ed Carolan, Vice President and General Manager, Soup and Simple Meals, Campbell Soup Company. To further this important cause, we invite you to join us in supporting the Go Red For Women movement.

Campbell Soup Company owns some of the world’s most powerful sauce, beverage, and snack brands, including Prego, Pace, V8, SpaghettiOs, Pepperidge Farm, and Godiva. Each of these brands is number one or two in its segment. Since its introduction over two decades ago, Prego pasta sauce has become a popular part of Italian meals prepared in American homes. Created more than 50 years ago, Pace Mexican sauces have built unwavering loyalty with consumers in western U.S. markets. V8 vegetable juice, introduced almost 70 years ago, remains on trend for today’s health conscious consumers.

Pepperidge Farm is consistently ranked by consumers among the top two percent of brands worldwide in brand equity. Pepperidge Farm has almost 5,000 employees and 3,000 independent distributors. Pepperidge Farm products are available nationwide and in 40 countries around the world. There are eight Pepperidge Farm production sites throughout the United States which produce indulgent cookies and treats, fresh breads, fun snacks, and meal solutions.

Pepperidge Farm has been committed to quality in all of its products for nearly 70 years.

Godiva is recognized around the world as the leader in fine chocolates. From its famous truffles to its European style biscuits, and gourmet coffees, Godiva Chocolatier has been dedicated to excellence and innovation in the Belgian tradition for nearly 80 years.

Campbell Place

Camden, New Jersey 08103-1701

United States


Born in 1996 and already retired!

Seamore the Seal, TY Beanie Baby



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Pros: surface clean, plushy, very cute

Cons: none noted for collectors who enjoy Beanies

Seamore the Seal, TY Beanie Baby born December 1996 is a white, 7 inch, Retired Plush, Stuffed Animal Toy Style 4029.

 From the Ty Beanie Babies Collection this little cutey is complete with heart tag, is one of the Aquatic Water style TY Beanies.

Inside the tag reads: Seamore is a little white seal Fish and clams are her favorite meal Playing and laughing in the sand She’s the happiest seal in the land!

As a Certified product from Ty’s passionately popular Beanie Babies Collection Seamore is another of the highly collectible toys enjoyed by children and adults alike. As always before purchase check to be sure the familiar heart-shaped tag signifying you’ve purchased an authentic Ty product means this is a handmade item crafted to conform with the finest quality standards in the industry

 Crafted of a plushy polyester fabric, Seamore is a honey of a seal pup, with black nose, eyes, eyebrows and whiskers. One of the few of the Beanies I have having set in poly eyes and nose this wee seal pup will not be a toy for a small child, but as a member of my collection it is a dandy.

For the reason that Beanies are not filled with Styrofoam pellets, Beanies are poseable little critters. Ty® Beanie Babies®’ Seamore is one of a series of the decidedly distinguishable, iconic plush seal figures presented by the Ty Company.

Ty Inc., originated in 1993 when Ty Warner of Illinois fashioned his original small, animal shaped, fabric bag, packed it with wee white, pellets and sent it to the market place, has since become a major competitor in the toy race.

Seamore is a sassy, little girl with inquisitive eyes sweet expression and joyous demeanor.

I never know what to expect, but am frequently surprised and delighted when entering our local jumble shops. I find a fair share of Beanie’s hang tags in place, clean and unsullied available at minimal cost. Seamore seemed to be waiting just for me, she caught my eye immediately and appeared to smile as I placed her in my basket.

Plush is cushy, seams are nicely sewn, eyes are glossy, stable, poly, well attached and secure.

Subsequent to the 1993 beginning, Ty Inc has fashioned nearly 400 diverse Beanie Babies in variable sizes from the minute softies appearing as a McDonald’s happy meal toys, to Beanie Buddies as larger sizes of traditional Beanies measuring about 8 inches., Ballz, Bow Wow Beanies, and Ty Girlz all have their own fan bases.

If purchasing at yard sales, jumble shop, garage sales and the like; be sure to always check to assure that the Trademark Ty Beanie, heart shaped tag is in place to guarantee purchase is a genuine Ty product.

I have been a sporadic collector for many years, and to be very frank am glad that I held off until recently to become more collection minded, the Beanies I might have paid many dollars for a few years ago I am finding in mint to near mint condition at a dollar or little more and my collection is growing nicely.

Ty® Inc. is an PLUSH ANIMAL Toy Company based in Westmont, Illinois. The most celebrated line of products fashioned by this company are the BEANIE BABIES®, nonetheless, Ty also fabricates other lines of stuffed toys.

The Ty logo is a red heart with the lower-case letters “ty.” A tag in this shape is found affixed to all Ty stuffed toys, and inside each tag is the name of the particular toy in addition to a 4 line verse about it.

As a tribute to the American sprit; The chairman, CEO, sole owner and founder of Ty is Ty Warner, an unmarried, childless, benevolent magnate who first took a piece of cloth, shaped it like an animal, filled it with poly material pellets, launched one of the most fruitful of all businesses in the world.

My individual introduction to the world of Beanies® began in 1996 when long lines of adults could be seen lengthening across the cafe and out the door, and at times, down the sidewalk of local McDonald’s® eateries.

Teenie Beanie Babies® Smaller, entertaining versions of Beanie Babies were included in McDonald’s Happy Meals®. Numerous succeeding promotions took place with various wee Beanies available.

From the Baby Ty® sequence of tiny soft plush animals planned for toddlers to an always escalating assemblage of Beanie Babies featuring miscellaneous styles and alternatives of handheld plush animals jam-packed with cotton and poly bits, to Pillow Pals®, cushy, large sized replicas of some true Beanies along with interpretations of make-believe Beanie Babies to huge, extra-large and Oversize Beanie Buddies® jam-packed with filling and pellets to Ty Classics highlighting predictable plush critters crafted from variable types of textile and packed with traditional pellets and stuffing, to Pinkys®, animals fashioned on the main using pink and white fabric, to Pluffies® made of washable fabric engendered for small children, to Punkies®, stuffed animals featuring critters covered with long hair, to Ornaments® and Valenteenies®, Bow Wow Beanies®, Ballz, and Beanie Boppers®, and Teenie Beanie Boppers®, Alphabet Beanies® and Angeline®, Beanie Kids® Attic Treasures®, Ty Girlz®, Ty Gear®, offerings provided by Ty Inc. continues to increase.

A lesson imparted by Ty Warner, solitary owner of Ty Inc., the company behind Beanie Babies may be do what you enjoy, do it well, promote and diversify.

Currently Warner owns fashionable hotels from California to New York, promotes a number of

Benevolent events and continues to present Beanies for world wide consumption.

While I like some of my 5 -8 inch items, my personal favorites continue to be the Teenie Weenies I got back in the day at McDonald’s.

 Happy to recommend Seamore the Seal, TY Beanie Baby

 –I find this product online from various sites as well as on shelves in a number of walk in shops.  Price varies by when and when purchase is made.

 Ty Inc   280 Chestnut Ave  Westmont, IL, 60559 United States

Vintage and works great

Alladin Stanley® Vacuum Bottle


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Pros: made to last, and it does

Cons: heavy for arthritic hands

My vintage, American made, Alladin Stanley® vacuum bottle is a well-made, dandy of a vaccum bottle. My dad carried a glass lined thermos bottle in his lunch box for years so my experience with the Alladin Stanley vacuum bottle was limited, I did see a few during childhood but had no idea what they were, or how handy.

Dad’s thermos suffered a broken liner now and again, the liner was replaceable.

My children are Lads, Boy Scouting became a major experience in our lives for many years, kids were cubbies and continued in the program through Webelo and Scouts. I became an adult Scouter and noticed many fellow scouters, generally older men carrying the Alladin Stanley vacuum bottles during troop campouts, Camporees and the like. It was during those scouting events that I came to recognize the utility of these sturdy, well built containers.

First appearing in 1913; the all-steel vacuum bottle invented by William Stanley Jr. revolutionized the container industry by corroborating that steel can be used in lieu of glass to insulate.

Stanley using public has long realized that Stanley products are fabricated to last the lifespan of the owner and beyond. Of course the better care we show these useful containers the nicer they will remain, the longer they can be expected to last and the better they are likely to accomplish.

Today I use both my sturdy Alladin Stanley bottle and containers made by thermos. I have foregone using most thermos having glass liners for the reason my dad needed to replace the liner on occasion; they break.

Newer Thermos bottles are all metal, keep hot coffee hot and are lighter weight, skinnier and easier for me to carry to school in my rolling case than is my more bulky Stanley.

On the other hand, my handy Stanley bottle is often found in the car during winter trips. I have never been snowed in, off the road or whatever, however, the BSA motto, Be Prepared, is well engrained, with the Stanley bottle I know the water I put into it will not freeze whatever the temp and water as liquid will be available for drinking  in case it is needed during the snowy trips north to see son and family during winter.

As I age and arthritis in my hands continues to progress I find my Stanley bottle is becoming heavy and difficult for me to maneuver. I have no intention to set it aside, we will continue to use my handleless bottle for water especially during winter. However, I do intend to avail myself of one of the bottles having a handle on the side. The bottle, intended to hold coffee during trips or campouts, will still be heavy, however, I will be able to lift it using the handle, and will not need help with the bottle for many more trips or excursions to come.

I like that suggestions and recommendations for making optimum usage of Stanley products, including suggestion regarding making oatmeal in the bottle, are available on the Pacific Market International, PMI Stanley® website. I even found a downloadable pdf regarding care presented on the website.

 Care & Use of Stanley Stainless Steel products data regarding how to best use Stanley products per the website includes several cautions including;

– Do NOT use in microwave, oven or dishwasher!

-Don’t overfill with hot drinks; overfilling may lead to spillage and searing. The fill capacity is planned to be complete just below the lid base.

-When filled with hot liquid Stainless Steel Mugs should be used with caution when children are in proximity.

-Stainless Steel Water bottles are not intended for usage with hot beverages.

-Bottle lid should be attached firmly to prevent spills, and possible harm from spillage against bare skin.

-In order to minimize bacterial growth, Stanley bottles are not recommended for storage of warm milk products or baby foods.

The Stanley website includes recommendations for CARE & USE OF STAINLESS STEEL PRODUCTS includes:

-Wash products before use. To clean, wash with warm water and mild detergent. Let product stand for five minutes. Pour out washing water and rinse with warm water.

-Should inner area become discolored, a concoction of baking soda and water can be used. Add solution, let product stand uncapped, open for 60 minutes then rinse meticulously.

-Caution: bleach or cleansers containing chlorine to clean should not be used with Stanley vacuum bottles.

-Pre-heating or pre-chilling the Stanley bottle by adding steaming hot or ice-cold water, as mother’s of my generation always suggested, does aide in keeping coffee or other beverages hot or cold for a longer period. Fill bottle with hot or cold liquid; let stand for five minutes, empty the contents, add coffee or other beverage to be stored in the bottle.

-Stanley, a brand of PMI offers replacement parts on their website including cups, stoppers or gaskets, as well as food, drink and spirit container, mugs and cups.

-I like that Stanley products are warranted to be free from any defect in workmanship or materials and to be Thermally efficient provided used according to the instructions.

Note: This warranty does not cover component parts or malfunction due to alteration, misuse, or accident. If you have any questions regarding this or any other Stanley product, please call our customer service department

-Please note do not return product to retailer.

 Happy to recommend my vintage bottle: Standing about 14.5 inches in height and about 4 inches outer diameter; my bottle is one of the green, hammered outer shell types.

 While New bottles and other Stanley products are available on Amazon and Stanley websites; I will likely check jumble shop before purchase.


2401 Elliott Ave. 4th Fl

Seattle, WA USA 98121


Timeline per the Stanley website:


1913 William Stanley Jr. invents the all-steel vacuum bottle and revolutionizes the industry by proving steel can be used in place of glass to insulate.

 1915 The Stanley insulating company begins mass production of the Stanley vacuum bottle, insulating jugs and beverage servers.

 1942 Stanley bottles are first carried on WWII B-17’s, beginning a long history of use on military aircraft.

 1953 The iconic hammertone green is introduced for the first time on a Stanley bottle.

 1960’s A majority of airlines, ocean liners, railroads, and hospitals around the country now use Stanley commercial products.

 1970’s Modernized Stanley vacuum bottles gain popularity with the American workforce, making it the most popular vacuum bottle in history.

 1995 William Stanley Jr., who had obtained 129 patents related to both electricity and insulation during his career, is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 2002 Seattle, WA based PMI purchases the Stanley brand streamlining the design and manufacturing process while staying true to the brand’s legacy of durability and relevance.

 2006 The Outdoor Industry welcomes the Stanley brand. Within a few short years, Stanley Outdoor products will have made explorations all over the world including Mt Everest, North and South poles.

 2008 eCycle®, our proprietary blend of recycled material is first introduced in the Stanley Recycled & Recyclable 16oz Tumbler, first to offer reusable, BPA-free recycled and recyclable coffee mugs.

 2012 Outside Magazine names the Stanley Vacuum Bottle as one of “The Most Influential Gear of All Time.”

2013 We turn 100.