Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nissan Thermos

I consider myself to be something of a water bottle connoisseur - I always have one on me and have at one time owned most of the greats including the classic and updated Nalgenes, Klean Kanteen, Kor, and the good old plastic Evians. Although I have made good use of the aforementioned bottles, I'd yet to find the bottle. As such, my ears perked up when, while on the cruise, Maggie claimed to have found the "perfect" water bottle - the Nissan thermos ( http://www.amazon.com/Therrmos-Nissan-Stainless-Backpack-Bottle/dp/B000K604P0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1248100604&sr=8-1 ). Though I was intrigued, I'd been down that road before: someone takes a casual sip from their newest sporty accessory then casually mentions how their life has been revolutionized by the bottle that is getting cooler and cooler the longer you look at it. Skip to two months later after you've invested in the bottle for yourself only to find that the lid doesn't stay on and the bottle doesn't stay upright. Suffice it to say I had my doubts. But Maggie made drinking out of that thing look like so much fun - I had to try it. I've had mine now for about a week. After much contemplation and experimentation, I feel I am in a decent position to review it. Here are my thoughts:

In my opinion, when evaluating the quality of a water bottle, one should consider how it compares to others bottles in terms of the following domains: 1. mobility, 2. topple potential, 3. spillage, 4. sippage, 5. content, 6. appearance, and 7. price on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = comparable to the best, 1 = comparable to the worst).

1. Mobility: This term simply refers to how cumbersome or easy it is to travel with the bottle. Without any improvements, I'd say the Nissan scores about a 6. Mobility is the bottle's greatest weakness. There is no easy finger loop or strap for carrying it, which means you basically have to carry it by hand. The Klean Kanteens ran into the same problem and ultimately ended up selling an alternative top to address the issue, although the desirable cap must be purchased separately ( http://www.amazon.com/Klean-Kanteen-Sport-Cap-2-0/dp/B0026QD0RG/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1248100844&sr=8-6 ). Unfortunately, Nissan offers nothing at the moment to facilitate mobility; as such, I fashioned a water bottle sling out of Velcro from Mat's drum kit and an extra strap I had lying around (see picture). With the sling in place, I'd say the Nissan earns about a 9 in mobility - darn near perfect (if I do say so myself)!

2. Topple potential: Simply put: how likely is it that your bottle will topple over? Unfortunately, the Nissan is a bit top heavy, which means it doesn't take much to knock it over. It fits in the cup holders in my car, but the cup holders aren't deep enough to keep it from falling over. The Nissan is definitely not as bad as the Kor bottle when it comes to topple potential (if you look at the Kor funny it goes flying), but it isn't nearly as sturdy as the Klean Kanteens. Unfortunately there is no easy fix for this problem:( As such, I give the Nissan a 7 when it comes to topple potential.

3. Spillage: Related to topple potential, spillage concerns the potential for leakage. In other words, will the bottle dump water all over you when you go to take a sip and/or if toppled over will it spill water? As this is one of the few factors that can result in public humiliation on account of the water bottle, I consider this a very important category. I'm happy to report that the Nissan is very sturdy and I've yet to experience much if any leakage upon drinking or spilling. It's probably equivalent to the Klean Kanteen on this front; I give it a 9.

4. Sippage: In other words, is it pleasurable to drink from this bottle? In many ways, I consider this the true test of a bottle's quality. If it has a sturdy top, that enables you to quench your thirst without choking from a cascade of water, you are in luck. Again, the Nissan provides excellent sippage. I'd go so far as to say that it is one of the most enjoyable bottles to drink from on the market today. I consider it superior to Klean Kanteen and Kor, and far better than the wide rim Nalgenes from back in the day. Final score: 10.

5. Content: Basically, the effect the bottle has on the water or other liquid you are using it to transport. This is where the Nissan blows all other bottles out of the water (pun intended) as it is a THERMOS. Water stays cool, while tea and coffee stay hot. You cannot gauge the temperature of the content by the outside (i.e. if you pour something hot into the bottle it will not scald your hand when you pick it up). I think any water bottle would be hard pressed to beat a thermos when it comes to insulation. As for the effect it has on the taste of your water, again, the Nissan is unmatched. I found that even Klean Kanteen sometimes imparted an alkaline after taste on my water. My final score for the Nissan is a 10 when it comes to content.

6. Appearance: This is pretty straight forward - how pretty is your bottle? Unfortunately, Nissan isn't the sexiest bottle on the market. Klean Kanteens are getting increasingly stylish and even Kor now has a range of colors to choose from. The Nissan looks like... well, it looks like a thermos. It now comes in espresso, in an addition to the standard silver, but it's definitely lagging behind the competition when it comes to appearance. Final score: 7.

7. Price: Can you afford it? The Nissan is pricey (about 30 dollars on Amazon). That said, it is a thermos and they are typically more expensive than standard water bottles. Given that Klean Kanteens run between 15 and 30 dollars, I actually think the Nissan is a pretty good deal. Also, they offer a lifetime warranty - which I've found in the past to be invaluable when dealing with water bottles as mechanical tops often break. The mouth piece is stellar and, as a thermos, it is already insulated, so you shouldn't need to purchase anything beyond the bottle (unless of course you decide to go for a sling). As such, I'd say it is well priced. Final score: 8

Final thoughts: The Nissan is a great bottle. Thermos is definitely the way to go. It would be much improved if it weren't so top heavy and if it came with a sling or strap, but, relative to the competition, this is a great bottle!

Final grade: A


This past week we twice had the opportunity to play Colosseum - once when Mat's friend Mike was in town and then again over the weekend with Maslow and Katrina. Colosseum is a Days of Wonder game that has been well reviewed (according to the sites I viewed when trying to find a good board game to get Mat for his birthday). In general, I like this game - the aim is to put on the best "performance" over five rounds. Each round has five phases in which players either 1. invest, 2. bid on necessary performance components, 3. trade components, 4. put on a show, and 5. tally points. My critique is that 5 rounds each with 5 phases is a bit cumbersome. I have found it difficult to plan far enough in advance to make the most of the later rounds, which are ultimately the most important. I think the game would be much improved with one less round, although Mat pointed out that doing so would require some tweaking to the overall design. In general, this is a game I'd recommend! B

MJ Tribute (despite finger)

Busted finger...

Mat's friend Jason was in town last weekend. He and I are remarkably similar with the exception of one glaring distinction - he requires very little sleep. I decided to take the Jason challenge when he was staying with us, which entails going to bed after him, waking up before him, and drinking... well, there's no point in trying to keep up with him on that front, so the challenge in this domain is really just to function on very little sleep while also sipping on something during the evening. I was sure I'd beaten him on Saturday morning. I of course ended up totally disappointed when I learned that he wasn't still in bed when I came down stairs that morning, rather, he was making small talk outside with the neighbors while finishing up a book he'd started that morning while waiting for me and Mat to wake up. At the end of the weekend all I had to show for myself was a broken finger thanks to some hardcore Wallyballing. Suffice it to say I lost the Jason challenge... AGAIN!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cruise Pics

Dominica, then ice skating on the ship

More of Dominica

Me and Mat in Aruba

Weird Al Remembers Michael Jackson

Filed under: Michael Jackson


Legendary pop music parodist Weird Al Yankovic has written a touching remembrance for Rolling Stone about the passing of Michael Jackson.

Yankovic, who parodied both Beat It (Eat It) and Bad (Fat), reveals on the magazine's website that Michael was a gracious man who didn't mind being poked fun of and was an avid fan of Weird Al's movie UHF.

Writes Yankovic:

The first time around I pursued Michael Jackson about a song parody, it was a shot in the dark. We're talking about the most popular and famous person in the known universe, and here I was, this goofy comedy songwriter. He not only returned our phone calls, but he approved it. He thought it was a funny idea. Then when we did the second parody, "Fat," he was nice enough to let us use his subway set for the video, so he's always been very supportive.

The first time I met him in person was long after I had gotten permission to do "Eat It" back in 1984. There's a contract somewhere that has his signature next to mine, proving that we are the co-writers of "Eat It," which is surrealistic in and of itself. The first time I actually ran into him was backstage at one of his concerts, this was maybe four years later, when Even Worse came out with my second parody, "Fat." I went backstage, and he was seeing a lot of people, but I brought along a gold record of Even Worse to present to him, and he was very gracious and thanked me for it and said some nice things. After the fact, I thought, "That's probably the last thing Michael Jackson needs, another gold record for his storage locker." Seeing him in person was amazing, it was otherworldly. He was and continues to be so iconic, it's hard to even conceive of him as a human being. He always was bigger than life.

Our second meeting was a TV show taping. He was performing "Black or White," and I remember Slash was onstage and I talked to [Michael] briefly afterwards. He told me he would play my movie, UHF, for his friends at Neverland Ranch, and he was very soft-spoken, very quiet, but always very friendly to me.

I considered parodying "Black or White" around that time. Michael wasn't quite so into it, because he thought "Black or White" was more of a message song, and he didn't feel as comfortable with a parody of that one, which I completely understood, and in a way, he did me a huge favor, because I was already getting pegged as the guy who did MichaelJackson parodies, and because he wasn't so into it, I decided to go with Nirvana, which wound up revitalizing my career. I don?t know what kind of career I would have today if it hadn't been for Michael Jackson. In a very real sense, he jump-started my career. "Eat It" basically changed me from an unknown into a guy that got recognized at Burger King.