“Machined” Air: Unstuffing The House

Winter is right around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere now, and at least in our neck of the woods, that means cold weather and snow. We don’t really mind that … actually enjoy cross-country skiing … but having to keep the house closed up makes for a pretty stale, nasty environment inside.

fresh airSo, we’ve been thinking about buying an air filter machine for some time now, and I’ve finally gotten motivated to do some research on the topic and finally invest in one.

The first thing I learned is that air purifiers fall into two basic classes: electrostatic devices that use ionization to attract dust and other particles to an electrically-charged surface that you clean periodically, and those that use HEPA filters that capture the impurities as they pass through.

The obvious advantage of the electrostatic ones is that you don’t have the added expenses of replacing filters. However, I’ve read several reports indicating that the ozone produced by some of these machines can be harmful to your health. Largely defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

With that in mind, I’m leaning more toward purifiers that use the HEPA filters. Even then, though, it’s clear that none of them are a panacea: practically every model I’ve looked at fails to capture one or more types of airborne gunk. This is a bit disappointing, but it is what it is.

In the end, I reckon we’ll go with a relatively inexpensive one to start with that has generally good reviews, and see what happens. If it helps our indoor air even a little bit this winter, it will be worth it.

Three Deer and No Camera!

Last week, while out for a little hike in a nearby state park, I had a truly wonderful experience. When I came around a bend in the trail, three deer were standing not more than 100 feet from me. I stopped, and they turned and looked at me for a moment. Then, clearly accustomed to humans being in their neighborhood, they casually sauntered off into the brush and vanished from sight.

young deerCool, huh?

Anyway, one of the things I wish I’d done at the time was try to get their picture with my smart phone. This just didn’t occur to me in the moment, but got me to thinking about trying my hand at a little nature photography.

A subsequent search online led me to discover a type of gadget known as a deer trail camera. These devices take a photo or video automatically when something passes in front of them and triggers an infrared sensor. Most of them also have night photographic capabilities.

I guess I was somewhat aware of these things before, but as I read more about them, I started to get excited about the possibilities.

For one thing, I have quite a large backyard with an adjacent undeveloped lot, and while I haven’t seen any deer from my kitchen window, I’m sure I get some animal visitors, especially at night. Setting up a trail cam to capture images of any four-legged guests that happened by would be easy enough, and would hopefully produce some pretty nifty pictures to share.

So, the next step will be understanding the features of wildlife cameras better so I can pick out the best one for my modest needs. This should be fun!

Getting Educated on Photo Scanners

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got tons of photographs stored away in albums, boxes, drawers and cupboards. They take up a lot of space, and can deteriorate quickly if not kept in acid-free containers and other precautions taken.

scanningFor this reason, I’m thinking about digitizing them with a high resolution scanner. This will eliminate worries about these visual memories literally fading away, and free up more room for me to fill with other things. 😉

Since I hadn’t shopped for a scanner before, I figured I’d better do some research first. I found this article to be very helpful, in spite of it being several years old.

The first thing it pointed out is that, no matter what technology I use, this is going to be a very time-consuming job. Practically speaking, I probably won’t be able to scan literally every picture. It may be worthwhile to sort through them ahead of time to decide which are most important to me, and digitize those first. At the very least, pre-sorting will make it easier to identify duplicates so I don’t scan the same image twice.

Another good tip from the article was that, perhaps not surprisingly, all-in-one devices that also function as printers, copiers and fax machines generally produce poorer quality scans. In fact, the author pretty much stated that you get what you pay for when it comes to these machines.

Also, among the specifications recommended was batch mode capability. This could be a big time saver, allowing me to scan multiple photos in one go, rather than having to place them in the device one at a time.

Finally, it seems obvious to me that I’ll need a flatbed scanner, as opposed to one that I’d feed the pictures into. The latter, I suspect, could damage the photos, and result in a poor quality scan at the same time.

At this point, I’ve got a pretty good idea of the what type of machine I need and the specs to look for, so the next step will be to check out some reviews. After that, I’ll be off to my favorite online retailers and see what kind of pricing I can get. Wish me luck!

Two-Seat Stroller Shopping (for a Friend!)

A close friend of mine is pregnant with twins. She and her husband are very excited, and more than a little frazzled preparing for the big day as they try to make sure they have everything they’ll need to care for two new arrivals.

Knowing my passion for shopping, they’ve enlisted me to help with new purchases. In effect, that means I get to spend someone else’s money … how awesome is that? 

Seriously, though, one of the main things they’re in need of is a double stroller, so I started doing some digging. One of the first things I came across was this short, but helpful video from Parents Magazine:

While I don’t have children of my own, I’d always believed that the side-by-side strollers would be a problem going through doors, but this video suggests otherwise.

After a little more surfing, I found an article at What To Expect that somewhat contradicts the notion that the side-by-side models fit through doors easily. This makes more sense to me intuitively.

The other option is a tandem or inline stroller, where one seat is positioned behind the other. This would be better for narrow store aisles and doorways, but it seems like the child in back is stuck with a much more restricted view of the world going by. Especially for twins, I’d guess a side-by-side is a better choice for this reason, and this in-depth guide from BabyGearLab seems to back me up on this.

That same article also recommends that, in the case of twins, a stroller that can accommodate two infant carriers is ideal. This makes it easier to move the children from the car to the stroller and back without disturbing them … and if the babies are sleeping, do you really want to disturb them???

Overall, then, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what type of stroller my friends should be shopping for. I’m looking forward to sitting down at the laptop with them and picking one out soon!

Hey There!

Welcome to Exclusively Sam!

Actually, my full name is Samantha, but I don’t stand on formality much! 🙂

In staying with the informal theme, there won’t be anything snooty or high-minded about this blog. It’s just going to feature random things about my life here in the U.S. of A. I’m interested in a lot of different topics, which figures to result in a pretty wide variety of posts.

Among other things, in true American fashion, I really love to shop. So, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the various products I’m considering whipping out the plastic to buy, as well as info about the research I do before taking the plunge. While I’ve been guilty of impulse purchases, when it comes to more expensive items, I like to do some digging to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth.

Anyway, I hope you’ll drop by again soon and see what I’m up to. Thanks for reading!