StrongBags Vortex 2 Luggage Review

StrongBagVortex2

I am a frequent flyer with United Platinum 1K status which means I’ve flown over 100,000 miles in the past year alone. I’ve flown almost 400 segments in the last ten years and I have spent over 850 nights in various Marriott hotels. Why the stats? Because I’ve been on a lot of business trips and I’ve owned a single suitcase for the majority of them. That bag is a StrongBags Vortex 2 Flight Crew Luggage Roller that I have had for four years (since 2012) and I’m here to give it a real “I’ve hauled it around the world” review.  (more…)

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1980s Guild X-500s

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I’m not really much of a Jazz player, but I am a guitar guy and I’m definitely a Guild guitar guy, so when the chance came about to buy a Guild X-500 made in 1984, I jumped at the chance under the premise that it would inspire me to brush up on my jazz chops.

Being a gear hound, the chance for a second X-500 of similar vintage (1986) was too good to pass up so I ended up with two of these big ‘ol Guilds and thought, “Why not write about them?” and here we are.

These guitar were a bit of a challenge for me to write about because their proper use is a bit outside of my comfort zone. They are guitars, however, and me being me, I was not afraid to sit down and run them through their paces in order to write up what I could about the instruments. Let’s dig in and see how they fared.

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Cozy Tales: Afterword

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If you’ve read this book and think you’d like a Newfoundland dog of your own, I strongly urge you to reconsider.  Every year hundreds of giant breed dogs are put up for adoption or worse, destroyed because someone fell in love with the fluffy little puppy and brought it home, only to be overwhelmed by slobber, food, vet bills, and the sheer size of their full grown dog. If you cannot make a commitment to this – or any – animal to keep it forever, then please don’t get one. Would you give up a son or daughter because they got too big? Certainly not. Anyone who thinks a Newfoundland is any less than a child doesn’t understand the breed.

Breeders ask a lot of questions to see if you are capable of being responsible for a Newfie. They don’t want to see their pups end up in shelters two years from now. The scene where I describe being grilled by the breeder really happened. When we started talking to rescue, they were even more insistent that we be the right kind of people. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: Epilogue

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This book was written over the course of about three years, starting just before Cozy’s death. It was then re-edited and posted online almost 10 years later. Often, while writing, I would become overwhelmed with grief and sit sobbing in my chair, alone, wishing my Cozy were there to comfort me. I usually write late at night when everyone else is asleep, so my family was blissfully unaware of my suffering. Writing was cathartic as I’d hoped, but it was difficult none-the-less. The easier parts I wrote while sitting in various Starbucks in the area. If you’ve seen a quiet guy sitting in the corner of a New Jersey Starbucks writing on his Macbook Pro wearing a Tilly hat, it might have been me. Actually except for the Tilly hat that describes many of the people in Starbucks. I can only hope that there will soon be a run on Tilly hats so that I might retain my secret identity. The chair in the picture is the table in Starbuck where I wrote. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 62. Empty Wrecked House

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For the first time in ten years, there were no dogs in our house, but we could still hear them.

We would hear their collars clinking on their water bowls. Sometimes I would hear them snore at night. Other times I would hear them scratch at the door, only to become overwhelmed with sadness after catching myself walking to the door to let them in.

We continued to hear the dogs, but there were no dogs to be heard. There was no snoring, no woofing, and no other disturbances except those caused by Meghan and Colleen. Even with two wonderful, energetic children, the house seemed somehow devoid of life. Cozy had been the one to fill the house with life. She had been the one to show us that we were capable parents. (more…)

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Guild 1981 M-80

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After buying, playing, and testing a 1975 M-80 CS, I decided to see about scoring an early ’80s model to see how it differed. I managed to score this tobacco burst beauty for a great price and sat down to play it, eagerly anticipating my first outing with not only a 1980’s Guild, but my first experience with Guild’s XR-7 pickups.

This guitar is unlike most of the Guilds I’ve owned in some ways while still retaining the core elements of what makes Guilds such a great guitars. But first, a bit of an introduction about Guild M-80s is in order.  (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 61. Daisy’s Last Stand

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As a room mom at Meghan’s school, Lauren often went on class trips when they did something fun. She had left Daisy alone for six hours on one such trip which was the longest Daisy had been left unsupervised in quite some time. When Lauren got home she called me in tears telling me that Daisy was dying because she was almost unresponsive. I told her that I would come right home.

I was working up near the New York border at the time, so “coming right home” meant a 90 minute trip, and when I got home Daisy did indeed seem to be nearing the end of her time with us as she seemed to be barely breathing and had no energy. She didn’t even have her eyes open while Lauren spent hours with her that afternoon lying on the floor and talking to her. Daisy seemed as though she would draw a final shuddering breath and be gone at any moment. (more…)

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Guild 1975 M-80 CS

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This odd-looking guitar came to me at the right price so I couldn’t pass up the chance to own, play, and write about the seemingly not very popular Guild M-80-CS. This example is from 1975, and is in pretty darn good condition for an almost 40-year-old guitar. Let’s take a close-up look at this 1970s Guild and see if they’re worth buying should you happen across one in your travels.

Spoiler: the answer to that last question is almost always yes when it comes to vintage Guild electric guitars.  (more…)

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Guild 1974 Bluesbird M-75

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After recently reviewing a 1997 Guild Bluesbird and a 2016 Guild Bluesbird, I decided that I’d like to try one of the earlier 1970s models and searched around until I found this 1974 M-75 CS model on Reverb for a great price. In fact, it was a really great price likely due to the finish damage and wear obvious in the photos. Even though it’s got some warts, the guitar is structurally and electrically sound, which means that it plays and sounds great, even if it’s not up to my normal standards of near-mint guitars.

In honor of this guitars long and less-than-pristene past, I opted to photograph it right as it came from the box in all its dusty, dirty, and finish-marred glory. Let’s see how it fares given my normal desire for bright and shiny instruments. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 60. Daisy Saves the Day

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Since we lived in the woods, we often had wild turkeys roam by our yard. When Cozy was alive she would bark and scare them off, so they never got too close. In fact with Cozy around, the only thing that would come inside the fence were the numerous insects and the gas man. He liked big dogs, as did many of the insects.

At any rate, Daisy had gotten very sick, and didn’t go outside much except to relieve herself. One day we had a flock of wild turkeys come visit. Cozy hadn’t been around for over a year at this point, so two of them decided to fly inside the fence. (more…)

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