Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Micrographia (Tiny Handwriting) Remedy

If your handwriting has become tiny and virtually illegible (as is common with Parkinsonism and Parkinson's Disease), there are a few things I've discovered that might help you, too.

To return your illegible handwriting to readable, try the following:

1. Get some Manuscript Tablets from the 99 cent store or other source. Alternatively, get some wide-ruled notebook paper. Use the lines, which are about a quarter of an inch (one centimeter) apart, as guidelines for the size of your lower-case letters. Each letter must reach from one line to another. Yes, a quarter of an inch tall. Caps, and letters with ascenders and descenders, are two lines big.

2. Slow down. You'll notice that you can't scribble very fast when the letters are that large. I also noticed that with my micrographia I was trying to write in a hurry. By slowing down a lot, I could write legibly (when my meds were working). Slowly formed large letters can result. Writing slowly, for me, has proven more effective than practicing loops and swirls.

3. If you have Parkinson's Disease or Parkinsonism, try taking your medicine half an hour before meals or two hours after meals. It is said that food protein interferes with the carbidopa-levodopa.

I like writing on newsprint pads. (Newsprint is that brown, soft paper once common in elementary school. Its soft texture makes the pen glide across the page better. I also like PaperMate and Bic stick pens with the easy gliding ink. Some gel pens are good for ease of writing, too.

Writing annotations in the margins of books might look strange with large handwriting, but at least the notes can be read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cuisinart Grind and Brew Thermal 12-cup Coffee Maker Review

The Cuisinart Grind and Brew Thermal 12-cup Coffee Maker makes good coffee, if you need a large amount. The maker does have a 2 and a 4 cup setting, but it is really designed for larger brews. If you need 10 or 12 cups at a time, consider this machine.

+ It can brew up to 12 cups (that is, 6 ounce cups) at a time.
+ It can grind coffee beans and brew the coffee.
+ It can brew pre-ground coffee by simply pressing the Grind Off button.
+ It includes a Brew Strength setting with three levels of strength.
+ It includes a stainless steel carafe

- The hot plate is on only during brewing, and then turns off.
- Pouring coffee requires turning the carafe very far over, and rinsing requires turning it upside down. It does not pour as easily as other carafes.
- Weekly cleaning of coffee powder build  up is needed.

If you drink a large amount of coffee at each brew, such as an office, this machine might serve you well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hamilton Beach Grind and Brew Coffee Maker Model 49989 Review

For a great cup of coffee made from fresh ground beans, the Hamilton Beach  Grind and Brew Coffee Maker (Model 49989) is a possibility.

+ You can brew one cup or two at the same time
+ The coffee brews directly into the cup or cups--there is no carafe to wash.
+ The cup base is adjustable (two positions) to accommodate regular and tall cups or mugs.
+ You can make coffee either by grinding fresh coffee beans or by using pre-ground coffee.

- The grind function sounds like an air raid siren. It's very loud and runs twice for each brew.
- There is no hot plate to keep the coffee hot before you want to drink it. In a way, that makes sense, because when you brew just one cup, you probably want to enjoy it right away.
- Because the coffee brews directly into a cup (which is often cold) and not into a heated carafe, I find it necessary to heat the coffee for 36 seconds in the microwave oven. (Why 36? The 30 second button leaves the mug at the back of the oven with the handle away from me. 36 seconds rotates the mug back around to the front. If you don't have a rotating plate you won't have this problem.)
- Because the coffee is diverted sideways in case you want to put two mugs side by side for a two-cup brew, it's necessary to position one cup for a one-cup brew carefully so there is no dripping outside the mug.
- With a small mug, the coffee sometimes splashes out onto the counter.

Overall, the Hamilton Beach Grind and Brew coffee maker makes very good coffee, reasonably quickly, and is easy to clean and maintain. The noise of the grinder is the major negative.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Narrow Neck Bottle Brush and Cleaner

If you have a narrow-neck bottle that needs to be cleaned inside, you can use an ordinary bottle brush. But what if you (a) don't have a bottle brush or (b) the bottle brush is not long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle?

I was faced with this dilemma recently, and adding to the problem was that the bottle--a humming bird feeder--is square rather than round, making it necessary to have a brush with sideways bristles.

The sideways bristles, of course, immediately suggested a toothbrush, which I easily obtained. But it was too short to reach the bottom of the bottle. 

Solution: A quick trip to the tool bench in the garage. I drilled a hole in the end of the toothbrush and screwed about a quarter of an inch of a three-inch drywall screw into the end. This lengthened the brush enough to clean the entire bottle.

Note that you can use many different kinds and lengths of screws--or even a piece of screw rod--to make a brush with whatever length you require. Home Depot and Lowe's both carry the screws you might need.