Best of the Budget Chargers: BQ-CC55 vs FCT344 vs BQ-CC17

Editor's Note: I'm pleased to introduce Jim Hyman as a new writer for FilterJoe for the battery category. With my research and writing energy mostly devoted to baseball these days, it's great to have another knowledgeable battery enthusiast on board to research and write articles with even more depth and testing than I did. Expect more battery related articles and reviews in the future from Jim, and I will continue to provide the annual battery update — Joe Golton
Fujitsu FCT344 vs Panasonic BQ-CC55 vs Panasonic BQ-CC17

We’re here today to look at three advanced compact budget smart battery chargers: the Panasonic BQ-CC17, the Fujitsu FCT344, and the Panasonic BQ-CC55.

Continue reading “Best of the Budget Chargers: BQ-CC55 vs FCT344 vs BQ-CC17”

One Player’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (The Beginning)

Making it onto a college baseball program and staying with it for all 4 years is not easy. Playing high school baseball also has its challenges.

Want to know what it takes?

I’ve been curious myself about what it takes and how it works to play baseball all the way from Little League to college. I’m curious because my own 12-year-old son has been telling me since the age of 2 that he wants to become a professional baseball player. It’s an improbable dream. But it’s a dream that may be shared by over a million kids at any given time.

Though I’ve learned bits and pieces about playing baseball at the higher levels over the years, it wasn’t until I read a very detailed chronicle of one player’s journey that it all began to make sense. This player, who I shall call Leo, is a talented and hard-working baseball player. Leo made it all the way from Little League to college baseball.

The hard way.

The baseball journey can be hard
Image courtesy of Robert Montenegro at

This is part 1 of my retelling of the story of Leo’s journey from Little League to College Baseball.

Continue reading “One Player’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (The Beginning)”

New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats

In January 2018, many youth baseball players will need to buy a new bat with the USABat standard. Here are the details, starting with facts, moving on to advice, and ending with opinions about this change.


I interviewed several authorities for this article, including Russell Hartford, who is the “bat guy” at USA baseball, in addition to his role as Director of National Team Championships.

Continue reading “New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats”

Air Cleaners and Beyond: Lessons from a Decade of Filtering Air

I could be called the “First Lady of Filtering” and not just because I’m married to FilterJoe. As someone with allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities, filtering the air helps keeps me healthy and comfortable. Sometimes it makes it possible for me to be places and do activities that I’d otherwise avoid. I’m making a guest appearance to share about what’s worked for me after more than a decade of research, trial, error, and success.

The author wearing a mask to avoid breathing campfire smoke.

Though many articles review products such as air cleaners and vacuums, few recount someone’s longtime experience with them. Over the years I have found a combination of air filtering products (two masks, three types of air cleaners, and a vacuum) that works to cover most breath-challenging situations that arise in my life. Remarkably, most of these exact models are still available.

In this article, I discuss why and how those products work for me and how you might find the right ones for you. I also provide tips connected to the situations where I use those products. Continue reading “Air Cleaners and Beyond: Lessons from a Decade of Filtering Air”

Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything

The stats that matter most for youth baseball change as kids age. You’ll want to first read Part 3 of the youth baseball stats series if you want to get the most out of Part 4:

Part 1: It’s Hard – how to gather, interpret and apply baseball data to improve youth baseball play

Part 2: Appropriate coach pitch stats – ages 7-8

Part 3: Appropriate kid pitch stats – ages 9-10

This post discusses the stats that matter when kids move to the bigger 50/70 field and the full rules of baseball begin. In our PONY league, this starts with the Bronco division, ages 11-12. Continue reading “Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything”

What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?

Drop -12.5 prominently displayed on Louisville Slugger bat

Bat drop is printed weight, in ounces, minus printed length, in inches. For example, a bat labeled 13.5 ounces and 26 inches has a bat drop of minus 12.5 (13.5-26 = -12.5).

To get the right bat, you just need to match the right drop, weight, and length printed on the bat to the age, height, and weight of the player.

It’s that simple, right?


Continue reading “What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?”

Preparing for 100,000 Page Views per Month

Once every year or so, I get obsessed with making improvements to my site. Last year it was modernizing and customizing my WordPress theme. This time, it’s:

  • Better hosting (more reliable, much faster)
  • SSL (greater security, even faster)

Continue reading “Preparing for 100,000 Page Views per Month”

Best 5 Strategy Board Games for Families

The typical U.S. family has a deck of cards and a few games in the closet. Most have heard of few, if any, of the best family games to come out in recent years. This is too bad, because quite a few of these games are far more fun and interesting than just about every game invented before 1995.

5 best family strategy games
5 Great Family Strategy Games
(latest editions may look different from pictured games)
Ticket to Ride, Catan, Pandemic, Stone Age, and Dominion

This article profiles 5 modern strategy games that are terrific for the whole family, including ours.

Continue reading “Best 5 Strategy Board Games for Families”

Stone Age Review: A Great Family Game that is not Primitive

Imagine you are the leader of a Stone Age tribe. To survive and prosper, your tribe must hunt for food, develop agriculture, gather resources, make and use tools, construct buildings, raise children, and develop civilization. If your tribe doesn’t strike the right balance, your people may starve, or may be surpassed by neighboring tribes.

You can experience all this with a game I strongly recommend for families:

Stone Age

2016-07-22 08.22.46

Many modern games attempt to have some kind of theme. However, you know a theme is not transporting you to another time and place when you think primarily about optimizing efficient placement of colored cubes. That pretty much sums up many modern “Euro” games: Place colored cubes efficiently.

When we play Stone Age, the board components and graphics combine beautifully with game mechanics to immerse us in a way that’s rare for a board game. We feed people, we gather wood, we build buildings . . . And if our people don’t eat, they starve. It even comes with a dice-rolling cup made of rawhide. Please pass the stinky cup!

Continue reading “Stone Age Review: A Great Family Game that is not Primitive”

Dominion Review: Great Game for Busy Families

All my life I’ve loved board and card games. I’m therefore often asked for recommendations. My busy sister Anita (owner/operator of The Flying Squirrel Bakery Café), recently asked:

Can you recommend a good, quick game? We like Monopoly, but it takes too long. We want something that’s easy to learn and play that also has strategy and variety.

My recommendation:

Dominion: Big Box

Dominion, Prosperity, and Alchemy are included in the Big Box

Dominion, which often takes less than 30 minutes to play, fits my sister’s criteria well. If I were to recommend a family collection of fewer than 10 board or card games to own, this would be one of them. It would be my top pick for very busy households.

The rest of this review combines two articles into one:

  • Description of Dominion’s game play and what makes it so good for such a wide variety of families
  • Basic and advanced Dominion strategy

Continue reading “Dominion Review: Great Game for Busy Families”