Emory Schley: Can old Christmas cards still be useful after they're read? - Ocala

Emory Schley: Can old Christmas cards still be useful after they're read? - Ocala

Emory Schley: Can old Christmas cards still be useful after they're read? - Ocala

Posted: 11 Jan 2020 02:37 AM PST

And also a word about refrigerator woes

Linda Lohr from On Top of the World has a question for you: "Hello Sly Guy! Do any of your readers have a use for old Christmas cards? It seems a shame not to reuse them at least once. Thank you for all your great columns. And a Happy New Year to you and Dearly Beloved!"

Linda, we save our old Christmas cards, both for their sentimental value and to have a record of the sender's address so we can return the favor the following Christmas. But perhaps other readers have a better use for them...

How about it, readers? What do YOU do with old Christmas cards?

REFRIGERATOR WOES: We had been talking about refrigerator brands to avoid. Bob Mikler, Ocala, wrote: "Your reader's recent note about the problems with the ice-maker on their new refrigerator really hit home. We, too, are victims of the same defective ice-maker. Its main problem is not properly defrosting, and continually icing up. Unfortunately, we waited too long to seek repairs, and the repair wound up being out of warranty. We wound up paying for two visits, plus the cost of a new ice-maker.

"But," he continued, "the replacement is no better than the original. Exact same problem. So now about once a month to perhaps six weeks, I get out my portable steam cleaner, which has a real nice flex hose, and in about five minutes time I can melt all the ice away so it works for another month or so.

"To ensure a supply of ice when it acts up, when it IS working, we will periodically dump the tray into a sack to put into the freezer. The refrigerator is pretty, but because of the ice-maker problems, it's pretty much a pain in the you-know-what. All of the good features are pretty much wiped out by the troubles with the ice-maker."

Bob, we used to have similar problems but found just turning the ice-maker off for an hour or two whenever it started acting up would generally fix the problem. You might try that instead of what you're doing now and see if it works for you.

JUST THINKING: Back many decades ago when I was in the Army, the U.S. Government was still reeling from the unprecedented actions of a few service members during the then-recent Korean Conflict. Later known by what it actually was, the Korean War shocked the populace when a few American prisoners succumbed to Communist indoctrination techniques that were collectively known as "brainwashing." Those who failed to resist became Turncoats when they later refused repatriation at the end of the active hostilities.

Brainwashing was a strange but mysterious subject to the general populace, and the Army responded to the crisis by creating classes revealing those insidious indoctrination techniques, how to recognize them for what they were, and how to resist whatever appeal they might present to those exposed to them.

I was stationed in what was then West Germany, and it was well-known that Soviet spies and stooges from behind the Iron Curtain haunted those areas in West Germany where GIs tended to congregate during off-duty hours. Gasthauses were a popular venue for such activities, we were warned. Some of them in Augsburg were officially declared off-limits for all American personnel.

I attended countless classes on those indoctrination techniques — and while at the time it all seemed rather nebulous, and even boring at times, today I'm glad I was exposed to those classes and what they taught. They opened my eyes to much of what we see going on in contemporary society, right here in the United States of America today. Those same techniques, those same arguments have run amok in our once genteel society. It's practiced by both major political parties. I see evidence of what I interpret as brainwashing and indoctrination all around me. It's in the mass media, it's on TV, in the movies and even in our schools.

What once was abhorrent has today become de rigueur.

As boring as those old classes were, I nonetheless found myself fascinated by the techniques and the potential they held for eventually changing social norms and society itself, for better or for worse.

Today, we sit around and allow all this to take place right in front of us, and our children and grandchildren are totally mindless and unaware of what is going on.

The old Soviet KGB agents were masters of the techniques and refined and perfected them. Protecting our hard-earned freedom requires eternal vigilance is what used to be taught in our schools. I don't know if it still is or not. But for the concerned citizens or even the curious, here's what a former KGB agent and defector had to say about subversion a number of years ago. Considering the political tenor of our time, you may find this to be of interest: https://tinyurl.com/tndkzx7

Please send your comments to slyguy73@gmail.com and include your FULL name and town. This column appears each Thursday and Saturday on page B1 and at ocala.com

The Philips handheld garment steamer is a perfect Christmas gift for fashionistas and business travellers – and we've found a deal - Real Homes

Posted: 18 Dec 2019 12:00 AM PST

Why is the Philips handheld garment steamer the perfect Christmas gift for just about anyone? Well, if you've ever travelled with clothes that crease in your luggage, you've probably thought something along the lines of, 'I wish had something to get those creases out...something portable and lightweight, but powerful, but not an iron...'. 

Your prayers have been answered with the arrival of handheld clothes steamers, and these devices really are game changers where it comes to reviving clothes that have been cramped in a suitcase. 

Philips Steam & Go Plus Handheld Garment Steamer, Black

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

So, why is the Philips Steam&Go Plus so good? Let's start with the most important feature: the powerful crease removal. This really does the job very, very well; we've tried it on a wrinkled suit (a nightmare to de-crease, as anyone who's ever owned a suit will know), and it worked a treat. 

Best handheld steam cleaners for carpets, wood floors, and more - Mashable

Posted: 01 Oct 2018 12:00 AM PDT

Make your cleaning tasks easier, faster, and more eco-friendly with our favorite picks.

Editors independently select all products and services featured here. If you buy something through our links, we may receive a commission.

Let's face it: Unless you're Rachel Lindsay from season 13 of The Bachelorette, you probably don't take pleasure in dancing around with your vacuum cleaner all day.

But cleaning your living space is just one of those adult things we all have to do. So how can you make that process as quick and painless as possible? Enter the handheld steam cleaner. Many handheld steam cleaners offer a more eco-friendly and more modern alternative to whipping out the mop and cleaning chemicals. That's because the only thing you need to get rid of 99.99 percent of the germs and bacteria in your home is steam, heated from plain old water.

There's a reason bed bug exterminators use steam to eradicate the invasive species from your home. Steam cleaners have extreme heat that can kill germs, bacteria, mold, dust mites, and yes — even pests like fleas and bed bugs.

There are several other benefits to handheld steam cleaners. They're portable enough for hard-to-reach areas, powerful enough to remove sticky substances, and dry quickly enough to beat plain old water cleaning.

However, if you're in the market for a handheld steam cleaner, you'll want to consider several factors. For example, some steam cleaners are meant for deeper cleans, while others are meant for spot removal. Some specialize in fabrics while others focus on hard tiles. There's also a limit to what you can clean with steam cleaners. Delicate fabrics, walls with paint, and certain types of flooring may warp if you're not careful about proper usage.

When it comes down to it, you'll have to decide your primary purpose for buying a handheld steam cleaner. Are you looking to refresh your clothes, removes stains on upholstery, get rid of grout, or find an all-in-one solution? Narrowing down your primary reasons for getting one will help you make the best purchase possible. And hopefully, that'll mean less time spent cleaning and more time spent doing what you actually enjoy.

Let's dive into the pros and cons of several different handheld steam cleaners so you can find the best one for your home.

9-piece accessory set • Most affordable • Small • Fast heating • Stands upright by itself
Reviewers have reported it overheating after 10 minutes • Cord could be longer • People with hand pain may hurt from holding down trigger
This handheld option is a great starter for those who aren't ready to splurge on a big or expensive alternative.
If you don't have much to spend on a steam cleaner but still want something that gets the icky job done, this one is your best best. The PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner is the most affordable option by far. It also boasts more accessories than just about any of its competitors — even the ones that costs hundreds of dollars more. The 9-piece accessory set includes features such as an extension hose, ironing brush, straight nozzle, and window squeegee.
It's lightweight and portable — even smaller and more compact than some of the other handheld steam cleaners included in this roundup. PurSteam is safe to use on many different types of surfaces, from laminate tiles to washable wallpaper. Additionally, it boats a warm-up time of only 3-4 minutes.
The biggest downsides reviewers noted included the necessity to refill with water more often because of its small size. Some people also noted that holding down the trigger for long periods of time was difficult if they already had pre-existing hand pains.
Overall, though, this budget option has earned an average of four stars out of over 700 customer reviews. As Anne C. Reade put it in her Amazon review:

"My countertops are white ceramic tiles with white grouting. After a few minutes of steaming my countertops are gleaming and look brand new. Among the many attachments are a window cleaner and a clothing steamer. Customer relations are the best I have ever seen. Emails are answered immediately. Telephone calls are very helpful. There was a problem with my first unit do they sent me a new steam cleaner without my even asking. They didn't even ask me to return anything. Did I mention that I love my steam cleaner? Makes heavy cleaning much quicker and easier."

Long handle for easy floor cleaning • Detachable handheld steam cleaner included • Longer-lasting steam times • Easy to maneuver
Handheld directions can be confusing • On the higher price end for mops
Despite any minor problems, this is one of the most powerful, easy, and chemical-free ways to clean your floors (and then some).

2. Light 'N Easy Steam Mop Cleaner

Ditch the mop water and make cleaning your floors faster, easier, and more sanitary with two different types of handheld products in one.
  • Weight: 6.3 pounds
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Attachments included: Nozzle
This steam mop is a fan favorite on Amazon, clocking in an average of 4.5 stars from nearly 1,500 reviews. The Light 'N Easy Steam Mop Cleaner has a wide range of functionalities that you can use, but its standout feature is the ease of use for cleaning floors.
Unlike handheld-only steamers which would require you to bend down to the ground, the handle makes for easier floor mopping. Its powerful steam usage also lifts grout and other ingrained dirts with more power than your average mop.
The steam mop cleaner has a 20-foot cord, allowing you a fair amount of leeway to move around the place as you clean. It also has a detachable handheld steamer if you don't feel like lugging the entire mop around with you. That helps to steam clean other surfaces such as pillows, clothes, or other kitchen items.
The water reservoir within the steam cleaner will give you about 20-25 minutes of cleaning on the lowest setting, trumping the refill time of other smaller handheld cleaners out there. Much like the other steamers, you won't need to add any detergents to clean the floor. The steam kills 99.99 percent of bacteria and helps you eliminate pollutants and chemicals from your floor cleaning routine without sacrificing the cleanliness of your home.
As Helen L. put it in her Amazon review:

"This steam mop is fantastic! This is my first steam mop and after searching for quite some time both online and in stores I decided on this one because of all the good reviews. I am very happy that I did. I have only had this machine for a couple of days, and I was so excited I started using it the minute it arrived. I love it. It is lightweight yet sturdy, is so very easy to use and does a great job. We have a lot of tile in our home and I was able to clean quickly and efficiently. Cleaning floors has never been so easy. I love that it doesn't need any harsh cleaners and the floor dries very quickly, no soggy residue, and a very clean floor. The versatility is also a great plus, this little machine can do so much."

Near commercial-grade power without the price • Longer-lasting steam time than many of its competitors • Highly versatile for just about every type of household use
Almost too powerful - be wary with wallpaper or paint if you don't want to remove it • No gauge to see how full the tank is with water • Short cord
If you're looking for a powerful and versatile tool for nearly any kind of cleaning scenario, this is well worth the investment.

3. Wagner On-Demand Steam Cleaner

This versatile product works for just about every cleaning scenario you could imagine, without using cleaning chemicals.
  • Weight: 16.4 pounds
  • Cord length: Spec not specified
  • Attachments included: Jet nozzle, Nozzle brushes, Steam plate, Large cleaning brush, Squeegee
The Wagner On-Demand Steam Cleaner has gained praise for its strength and longevity. It's even drawn comparisons to commercial-grade steam cleaners, which cost about 10 times more.
For those looking for a generic use, heavy-duty tool, this is likely your ideal pick. The cleaner can last 45 minutes without a water top-up and has a wide range of accessories that support various types of household cleaning. That means everything from barbecue grills to tires, wheels, sofas and bathroom fixtures.
Its long hose and extensions will also make it easy for you to clean around various parts of the house without being limited by the cord. Additionally, if you're working on a renovation job around your home, you'll find the features that allow you to remove wallpaper especially helpful. Of course, this feature can be a double-edged sword: its power means you'll have to be careful with it if you don't want to accidentally damage heat-sensitive materials.
Overall, reviewers praised Wagner's on its diverse ability to loosen adhesives and gummy items, sanitize children's toys, eliminate bed bugs, and get rid of grease and grout. As Pedro put in his Amazon review:

"OMG, this thing works. I cleaned grout lines that never been cleaned for the past 5 years and it did the job. Note that the steam is very hot and keeping the trigger on will prevent water buildup in the hose so keep using it to prevent that. I normally don't advise people to buy things but this steamer is equal to a commercial grade one used at hotels, I know that because I work at a Casino and this outperformed the $2000 one they bought for clean use."

Made to remove old and difficult stains that get stuck in upholstery • Great for people who have children and pets • Allows you to use additional cleaning products with it
Not as versatile as some other steam cleaners • Not as eco-friendly because it uses cleaners • On the higher price end
If upholstery or fabric is your biggest concern, you'll find this tool the most useful.
Maybe those stains, crumbs, and other small blights on your home are your biggest gripe. That's where the Bissell spot cleaner comes in, which specializes in carpet and upholstery cleaning. The 5-flex hose helps you clean items such as area rugs and stairs in hard-to-reach spots. 
Reviewers with children and pets were especially happy with this product, which helps clean up those daily messes that would usually leave unsightly stains. Yes, think stains like wine, paw prints, coffee, mud, and even — shudder — vomit. 
Unlike many of the steam cleaners featured in this article, the Bissell allows you to use additional cleaning products with it. For example, shampooing your carpet to deep clean it and remove odors. Its large capacity tank will also allow you to wait longer than some competitor products to refill with water. 
However, you don't just have to limit it to your couch and carpets. The Bissell SpotClean is also great for auto interiors and stairs, with an attachment tool shaped for the job. As L. Blace put it in their Amazon review:

"My couch ottoman was disgusting after 6 years of kids, pets, and general living. Final straw was when the cranky old cat decided to puke twice in one night while we were out on it. Ordered the Bissell 3624 and it took care of it with no problem... even after waiting 2 days for it to arrive. Not surprisingly, the dirty water was disgusting [...] It did take me a couple of minutes to figure out how to prime the water for the first time, but once it started flowing, it was very easy to use."

More affordable option for fabric cleaning • Small, portable, and easy to store • Easy to fully clean
Smaller and less powerful than full-sized upright carpet cleaners • Not as eco-friendly because it uses cleaners
If you're looking to clean smaller carpet areas and not larger ones, this is a great value.
This Bissell SpotLifter Powerbrush Handheld Deep Cleaner is nearly half the price of its Bissell SpotClean cousin, while still offering many of the same benefits.
The handheld cleaner features rotating brushes and suction to lift difficult stains from your carpet or upholstery. It's also much smaller than the SpotClean, making for easy storage. The manual spray trigger allows you to control how much cleaning solution you want to use. And for those who dislike the clean up and maintenance portion, there's an easily removable brush cartridge.
Much like its full-sized counterparts, you can use upright carpet cleaners to deep clean spots quickly and efficiently. It helps you keep spots off your carpet clean in between those bigger deep cleans.
Additionally, the 18-foot long power cord will allow you to clean as long as you need to. This runs counter to some other cleaners, which will quite literally run out of steam sometimes within 10 minutes. Reviewers were pleased with the Bissell SpotLifter's ability to clean up after small pet messes, juice spills, and even beer stains.
As Curious Cate put it on her Amazon review:

"I am so glad I purchased this product. My cat leaves nasty hairball messes on my carpet...never the tile.. This happens very often and I haven't been satisfied with the cleaning processes I've tried. I had stains on my carpet and a funky odor in the air.. I started to look at upright carpet cleaners and determined they were too big for my small space. I spotted this little guy and upon reading the reviews, almost didn't buy it. But the review that spoke to the suction process and how to make it work effectively, swayed me. I love this product! [...] The cleanser included with the machine is great. Removes stains and has a nice fragrance. A very, very good purchase for me. Small and efficient."

More portable than most other hard surface cleaners • Very fast heat up time • Chemical free and more eco-friendly
Only works for smaller spots and not larger ones • Doesn't perform as well on fabrics
This is designed for people who are looking for a small, portable, and affordable option for hard surface cleaning.

6. Bissell Steam Shot Hard-Surface Cleaner

  • Weight: 3.95 pounds
  • Cord length: 20 feet
  • Attachments include: Accessory nozzle, Detail brush tool, Flat scraping tool, Angle concentrator tool, Grout brush tool, Fabric steamer tool, Window squeegee tool
For tubs, countertops, floors, and windows, the Bissell Steam Shot has your number. This version is more portable and affordable than the larger steam cleaners that tackle hard surfaces. That means getting rid of grout in between tiles, cleaning oven grates, and removing dust from floor baseboards.
It also has a faster heat-up time than nearly all its competitors: a short 30 seconds, as opposed to up to four to five minutes for the larger cleaners. Reviewers were very happy with being able to ditch both the mop bucket and harmful chemicals in their bathroom and kitchen cleaning routine.
You won't be impeded by its 20-foot power cord. It also boasts one of the highest ratios of accessories, including an extension hose, grout brush, fabric steamer, window squeegee, and detail brush. Although the tank capacity isn't the largest, it works perfectly well for spot jobs and smaller cleaning tasks.
As A. Marie put it in her review:

"This is my go to from now on as I don't like to use chemicals to clean. It completely transformed my stainless steel sink, grout, dirty stove, and toaster oven. I also used it to disinfect our toilets. Agreed that for some things it does require some elbow grease, but it makes any job more satisfying and easier. Best purchase I've made for the house in a long time."

More affordable than most other steamers • Portable and easy to bring while traveling • Quick startup time
Not as versatile as other upholstery steam cleaners • Runs out of water fairly quickly
You'll be happy with this product if you use it what it's for — but not if you want it to do deep cleaning upholstery work.
Look out board meeting, because here you come with your fresh-pressed clothes! This PurSteam product is made for those who want to show up anywhere looking presentable, even if you've crammed your wardrobe into a suitcase and are on the road.
The steamer has a short, 90-second heating time, allowing you to freshen up your clothes last minute right before bolting out the door. Its 9-foot power cord will also allow ease of use wherever you are in the room.
Reviewers lauded this product for its portability in travel situations, getting rid of wrinkles quickly, and the fact that it doesn't take up much space in the home. People were also happy to finally ditch their iron and have something more effective and easy to use.
Additionally, the steamer allows for other fabric care, such as lightweight cleaning of pillows and curtains. However, you'll be disappointed if you try to use in the same way as the other steam cleaners here meant for spot removal and deep cleans on upholstery. At the end of the day, it's for removing wrinkles, refreshing, and sanitizing your clothes.
As reviewer Elizabeth Stovall put it:

"I previously had a non-portable garment steamer, and it was bulky and took a while to heat up. So I decided to get this on a whim. I am SOOO GLAD I did! It is so easy to use and heats up in seconds. It's the best steamer I've ever used. The reservoir is small, but since the water heats so quickly, I dont mind refilling it when needed. Worth every penny! I am tossing the big, bulky one I had. This works as a total replacement and takes up less space."


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