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Feb 9-10,2008(WeekendEdition)

Another week has passed, but the post-CES stream of gear coming into the office continues to give the delivery guys a rigorous workout.  Quite a few interesting things showed up on the loading dock the last few days. 

The largest item is the GE Advantium Microwave Convection Oven.  It is the next of the DIY projects for the RainyDayKitchen, a series we started at the beginning of 2008.

The other items which showed up were equally innovative.  We came across a company called Civilian Lab.  They make a line of unique gear harness and case for active folks.  We'll have an indepth look at both in the upcoming months.

We also had a most interesting conversation with OXO, the kitchen utensils people.   We learned that they have since acquired the Candela line and have put their manufacturing muscles behind this fantastic product.  We will be looking at some of the new Candela offerings (Luau, DemiGlow) later in February.

Some RainyDayMagazine readers may find this next little bit of information more useful than others :-)  One trend we appreciate very much is the shift to using flash drives for sending out PR/Marketing materials to editors.  Not only is the information in a much more usable form, but once we no longer need it, we still have a perfectly useful flash drive and no paper to throw out or recycle!  Leave it to the Dirt Devil folks who make stuff to help us all clean up to think of ways to give us less stuff to clean up!  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 8,2008(FreeThinkingFriday)

Many readers of RainyDayMagazine know we are huge fans of toys, tools, and techniques which may improving our cognitive abilities.  Why? The brain is one of the most "hackable" gadget out there, everyone can do it, and it is just great fun!

A few weeks ago, we got an email from Beverly C. who pointed us to a product called ThinkBlocks she thought would be of interest to readers of RainyDayMagazine.  We checked it out and was immediately fascinate by its potentials.

ThinkBlocks are designed for teaching the act of "thinking."  These blocks were not dreamed up by some New Age touchy-feely guru. They are based on Dr. Cabrera's theories backed by research done at Cornell University.

ThinkBlocks are designed for teacher and students of all ages.  We are not quite sure how to do it yet, but we would like to get the reaction to the ThinkBlocks from a few different populations.  It would be interesting to see how different groups would interact with this unique product.  We'll have a FirstLook of the ThinkBlocks next week.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 7,2008(MedTestThursday)

Flu season is upon us.  If you meet with as many people as we do here at the magazine, it doesn't matter how many times you wash your hands, sooner or later you will come into contact with someone carrying the bug.  Half of the crew here got hit at the beginning of the week. 

Not one to pass up an opportunity to do some product testing, we decided to see if we could tell the difference between the various over-the-counter cold and flu medicines.  Our sampling was pretty low and the tests were not conducted with any semblance to statistically valid methods.  We tried a brand, if we felt better, we used it again.  If it didn't do anything, we went on to something else after 4 hours.

After 3 days of "sampling", the overall preference was for the Alka Seltzer Plus Flu tablets.  They were easy to use, tasted the best (no chaulky feel), and worked really well (relieved body aches and headaches) against whatever it was that we had.   Most of us hope to be back on our feet in a few days. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 6,2008(4706 Year of the Mouse)

To all of our readers who celebrate Chinese New Year, we wish all you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year :-)

The year 4706 is the Year of the Mouse.  A new year is always a good time to reevaluate ones direction and make needed course adjustments.  This year, we hope to not just point our readers to new and interesting gear and gadgets, but to different ways to see, enrich, and enjoy the year. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 4,2008(MoneyMonday)

If betting on the Pats to win the Super Bowl didn't get you the money for that 100" LCD TV, then perhaps you should consider a different way of making money.  TradeKing noticed that some of their best options traders are actually ex-football players. 

It is one of the reasons TradeKing modeled "The Options Playbook" after football plays.  If you have the skills and temperament, trading options may be for you.  TradeKing can't help you with the temperament, but the book may give you the skills.

We are going to check out the book and try an experiment over the course of the year. Come back next MoneyMonday to find out more about this fun year-long experiment. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 3,2008(WeekendEdition)

The crew in the RainyDayKitchen has tested their share of cleaning tools and gadgets.  When we asked them to check out the new Dirt Devil line they were thinking it would be more of the same.  However, when they saw the new Dirt Devil line, volunteers were suddenly a lot easier to find.

First up is the Dirt Devil KRUZ.  The KRUZ is a cross between a dust buster and an upright vacuum.  It is designed for chasing down dust bunnies and quick crumb cleanups.

The KRUZ comes partially assembled.  There are three main pieces (handle, motor, base) which fits together to form the unit.  The connectors are all designed to align and mate uniquely.  Most will find it simple to assemble the pieces.

We probably should read the directions, but since we rarely do...we saw no reason to start now :-)  The assembly steps seemed logical enough: attach the handle and base to the motor.  You will need a Philips screwdriver.

The base of the unit plugs into the motor via a central tube. On the side of the tube are two metal pins.  There are matching holes at the bottom of th motor unit.  The two pieces snaps and locks together.

The handle attaches to the upper part of the motor by sliding onto it.  It is held in placed with three screws.  Again no force is needed to mate the two pieces.  If it does not fit, you have the orientation wrong.  The entire assembly process took us about 15 minutes. 

When fully assembled, the KRUZ stands about 4' tall.  The switch is at the top of the handle.  The unit will fit neatly in a corner.  We will let it charge overnight before taking it on its FirstUse run.

The KRUZ, with its tiny footprint, can be stored just about anywhere there is a free square foot of space.  There is a perfect spot in the kitchen in the corner next to the bookcase.  It will be readily accessible, but yet mostly out of sight.  However, the KRUZ is so good looking that you may not care even if it is out in the middle of the room! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 2,2008(WeekendEdition)

Some weeks feel just like Christmas here at the office.  This is especially true right after CES and MacWorld.  Our interns have been opening up boxes filled with gadgety goodness all week long. 

What is interesting is now that technology has infiltrated every aspects of our daily lives, the items showing up are not limited to computers or electronics.  They are toys, kitchen items, and even books.

Even though February is a short month, it should still be quite an interesting one!  We have a few hidden surprises for sharp-eyed readers. Those of you who manage to find them all, we wish you luck in the drawing!!! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Feb 1,2008(FoodFriday)

Some nice black pepper, akin to what you might find on a sunny side up egg, is no stranger to those with a hankering for beef jerky. But with New England in the grip of a record cold wave we wanted something extra to stoke the home fires.  It just so happens Rainy Day had some Bull Whip Ring of Fire, Red Hot Pepper Beef Jerky on hand.

Vacuum packed to retain it’s punch this jerky is something of an unknown quantity. The label assures us it’s not only made from solid cuts of beef but that it is has a heat equivalent an order of magnitude or so beyond the norm. So would that be at just north of Tobasco Peppers (about 40,000 Scofield Units of heat) or at the top end of 16 million Scofield units where the essence of Capsaicin lives? . In these situations it’s good to be King and even better to be Editor because you can bring in one of your food testers to determine if there is life after ingestion. We had just the fellow. Recently returned from South Africa where he had sampled Biltong, a mild but flavorful variety of dried meat he was looking for something to ward off the chill.

You can see the results in the photo essay below. The upshot is while not for the faint of heart Ring of Fire has not only the heat but the requisite flavor to carry it off.

Bull Whip’s Ring of Fire beef jerky appears to be the perfect antidote for a cold winter’s night in New England. Unsure of what we’re getting into we have one of Magic Hat Brewery’s special winter beers at the ready, just in case I go the route of the Fab Four’s Human Torch.

Like any fine comestible the bouquet, or nose as the epicures say, of an aged jerky should be savoured prior to that first bite.  Without a doubt there is some heat in there.   I decide the first bite is best taken in the Roman reclining position.  “Ring of fire” is an apt name for this jerky. The heat is the perfect compliment to round out the rosy glow of a log on the hearth and the rich beef flavor.

In case my hair burst into flame the fire extinguisher was at the ready but a cool beer chaser turns out to be just the ticket for this hearty repast.  The next time you have to shovel the sidewalk and scrape the car’s windshield bring some of this along to warm you from the inside out. Taking a note from our editor’s intro we also tried it with some morning eggs instead of bacon. Delicious. - Jay Rogers (permalink)


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