Drop ‘til you shop

When I read Consumer Reports, I simply want to know whether a certain camera takes a good photo, or whether a dishwasher will effectively clean the dishes even if I leave some of my wife’s baked lasagna on the plate. Instead, I get a great deal of unnecessary info that I really don’t care much about. Did you know that the camera strap on the Nikon D series is three millimeters thicker than the one on the Olympus TG-820? That the Amana dishwasher has only four rollers on the bottom rack but a Kenmore has six?

The newest consumer monthly is called Shop Smart 😉 and yes, that emoticon is part of the actual title. Honestly, I don’t want the cover of a publication winking at me. Playboy never winked at me and heaven knows it had good reason. It reminds me of a sign I saw in a supermarket window the other day: “Ground Beef.” Why is that in quotes? It’s really ground beef, isn’t it? Now imagine if the butcher handed the “meat” to you, told you how delish it was … and then he winked.

My favorite article this month was “Money-Wasting Kitchen Gadgets.” This is a helpful Shop Smart (; feature for anyone who has not yet bought a $19.95 pair of onion goggles but might consider them as a last-minute stocking stuffer for Aunt Mildred. The magazine gives a poor rating to the Williams-Sonoma mango pitter but is strangely silent on the company’s avocado cuber, corn husker and strawberry huller.

This month there was an interesting spread on the hazards of everyday products in your home. For example, aerosol hairspray can cause respiratory problems, although it helps if you don’t spray it in your nose. Also, cetylpyridinium chloride in your mouthwash (like Crest Pro-Health) can turn your tongue brown. I’ve been using this product for years, so now every time I pass a mirror I check things out. My wife thinks I’m auditioning to be a guitarist with Kiss.

Finally, I also discovered that cotton swabs can be dangerous. According to the otolaryngologist interviewed, these bathroom essentials can introduce bacteria in your ears. “Hello, Mr. Ear Canal, I’m a Q-tip and I’d like you to meet my friend Strep Tococcus.” I don’t think that really happens, but it would explain all the voices I keep hearing in my head.