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October 12,2008 (WeekendEdition)

We have been waiting for the right opportunity to photograph the Wicked Laser InTheWild.  We brought it with us to Maine, hoping there would be a few clear nights so we could get some photos of it in action.

The first night we set up the telescope and took a few experimental shots to establish the settings needed to capture the laser

At first, we had a little trouble keeping the laser from moving.  It took a bit of trial and error to get the shutter timing right, but once we got it worked out, the shots came out a lot sharper than we thought they would.

Some were skeptical that the laser could even be seen at night, but there was enough dust in the air to scatter the light and make the laser visible.  It was quite amazing to be able to point at individual stars with the Wicked Laser and have someone else see what you were pointing at.

The beam from the Wicked Laser is very bright and will be easily visible at dusk.  It will be a useful addition to anyone's astronomical toolkit. It is not a toy and must be used responsibly. BTW, we wouldn't point a laser up in the night sky in the city for the off chance that we would accidentally "light up" an aircraft and temporarily blind the pilot. The FAA takes a rather dim view of these "accidents."  [Permalink] - Wicked Laser InTheWild


October 11,2008 (WeekendEdition)

The RainyDayMagazine editorial crew went on their annual Maine Columbus Day outing this weekend.  As with previous trips, we left the interns in charge, rented a house on the marsh and settled in for three days of feasting, napping, and other low impact activities.

New England had a wet Summer and is experiencing a warm Fall.  With the warmer temparature, the leaves should stay on longer and the colors be more vibrant.  The weather forecast for the weekend was clear, sunny, and cool... perfect for hiking and foliage activities. 

A few of us took a walk in the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve in Wells.  The foliage was past peak, but the colors were still quite impressive.  The walk was not too strenous, but it did help us work up an appetite for lunch.

Another of our Maine traditions is the search for the perfect lobster roll.  This year we discovered Allen and Karen Merrill's Lobster-On-A-Roll on our way back from the foliage hike. Their sandwiches were the best we've had since the ones from Old Orchard Beach.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the house and "resting."  The marsh behind the house was the perfect setting for bird watching and enjoying the sunset.

Here is a toast to all of you readers out there.  We hope you are enjoying your Columbus Day weekend! [Permalink] - Weekend In Maine


October 10,2008 (FurryFriendsFriday)

This odd little story showed up in our InBox this morning.  It was sufficiently off-beat that we thought most of our readers would appreciate it.

This "pet store" is actually a New York art exhibit created by Banksy, the here-to-for unidentified street artist from the UK.  The point of the exhibit is to contrast the often contradictory relationship many of us have with pets and people.

Many of us "love" having pets, but we also love eating meat.  Others ignore the homeless on the streets, but may have health insurance for their pets.  This exhibit was sufficiently thought provoking that we decided to share it.

Since the exhibit is in NYC, we'll try to check it out before it leaves town.  If any of you readers do manage to get there before we do, send us your thoughts on the installation.   [Permalink] - Banksy


October 9,2008 (HeadlightTechThursday)

Installing the new litronic headlights in the Boxster was even faster and simpler than replacing the oxygen sensor.  We have been wanting to upgrade the headlights on the Boxster for years, but we could never justify the cost to the bean counters' satisfaction.  However, when we noticed some melting of the lens cover in the existing halogen units, it was exactly the excuse we needed to convince Purchasing that we needed replacements.

The reasons for the melting are not clear, but it did appear to be getting worse. The bulbs had been replaced, but only with OEM units.  No modifications of any kind were made to the lights.  Both sides had problems, but the passenger side was worse than the driver side.

The Boxster light assembly is designed to be user-removeable for bulb replacement.  The entire unit will slide out when unlocked using a special tool in the Porsche kit.  To access the "release" port, the interior carpet in the front trunk must be pulled back.

Once released, the unit just slid out with no problems.  Upon closer inspection, one can see the channel guides on the side, the lever, and the single connector in the back.

Installation of the new litronic module is just a reverse of the extraction process.  We pushed the new unit in and used the tool to lock it in place.

We took a photo of the new and old headlights to show the difference in the quality of the light (new litronic on the passenger side, old halogen on the driver side).  Even in daylight it was interesting to note how much whiter the litronics were compared to the halogens.

In addtion to the color difference, the litronic version also moved the amber covers to the inside of the unit.  Some like the cleaner all silver look, others still preferred the original amber.

Below is a photo with both litronic units installed.  It will take a little time for everyone to get used to the new "no amber" look, but the more important thing is how these new lights perform.

We waited until dark and switched on the new lights.  They fired right up with a small popping sound and lit up the grounds.  These things are BRIGHT!  This upgrade was probably the easiest Boxster project we have done to date.  It may also be the one which will have the most significant impact on the usability of the car. 

We have received quite a few emails from readers asking about dealing with a UK vendor.  Well, we can't say enough good things about our shopping experience with Forest Fine.  If you are looking to upgrade, send Rob at Forest Fine an email.  Let him know you read about them here.  [Permalink] - Boxster Litronic Install


October 8,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

A few weeks ago we ordered a set of litronic headlights for the Boxster from a company called Forest Fine.  None of us had heard of them before, but they checked out fine, so we placed our order.  About a week later UPS delivered a giant box to the office. 

The guys in the RainyDayGarage were a little surprised at the size of the package, but since it was shipped from the UK, they assumed it was just really well padded.  When they opened up the package, they found two large boxes and lots of smaller boxes.  So what were all these other items???

The larger boxes were the litronic headlights themselves.  They came well packaged, were brand new, and exactly as expected.  The smaller boxes turned out to be the rear lights, side markers, and other accessory pieces.  These pieces are usually not included when you order these lights from the dealer.

When we placed the order with Forest Fine, they informed us that they were not able to get the US or Canadian version of the lights from Bosch. However, PPBB board member Larry J, who had purchased a set from another vendor, clued us in to the fact that the Euro version work just fine over here.  The UK version, however, has some differences not suitable for the US, so don't order those.  Rob at Forest Fine said getting the Euro version would be no problem. 

The prices for our litronic headlights came to about $1500 ($1200 + $300 UPS shipping).  The exchange rates will fluctuate so your prices may differ.  In any case, we found them to be more than 50% cheaper than dealer prices and that's just for the headlights!  Once in a while you may find a set for sale up on EBay, but they usually sell for around $1300 used.  The other pieces are usually auctioned off separately.   If you are looking for litronic lights for your Porsche Boxster, Forest Fine has the best deal available anywhere.  We'll post the installation write-up tomorrow.  Come back and see the difference between the old and the new lights.  We think you'll be amazed.  [Permalink] - Boxster Litronic Upgrade


October 7,2008 (TrainYourMindTuesday)

Many people start studying Aikido to train their body.  Those who stick with it soon come to realize that training in Aikido is really about training the mind.  Students who train at Shobu Aikido of Boston have the priviledge of studying under Gleason Sensei.  Gleason Sensei's style of teaching is both physically and intellectually stimulating.  The training is physical, but at the end of class, one often feels full of energy and mentally refreshed.

The dojo had been in Newton for four years, but has recently moved to the edge of Cambridge and Somerville.  One of the reasons was to make the dojo accessible to more people.  After six months of work, Shobu Aikido of Boston's new dojo has officially opened and is now accepting new students (beginners and advanced).  Later in October, they will be adding a children's program, taught by Gleason Sensei himself. 

If you are looking to sharpen your mind this Fall, check out a class.  The best days to observe a class are Tuesdays or Thursdays (Gleason Sensei teaches on those nights).  We hope to see you on the mat!  [Permalink] - Aikido mind


October 6,2008 (MoneyMonday)

We almost bought some MCD (McDonald's) last week, but since the $700 billion dollar "buy-in" didn't pass, we held off making a purchase.  It turned out that it was better (as in, not as bad) to just be holding cash.  Today's worldwide free-fall was definitely not for those with weak constitutions.  I guess we'll just have to sit on the sidelines and wait for this "lack-of-confidence" tsunami to pass.

Last Monday we had left interested readers hanging as to where WE would put our money in the health care area.  Some of us here did well investing in small biopharmaceutical companies, but in the long run Big Pharma is probably a safer place to stash our money.  In the Big Pharma sector, no one is bigger than Pfizer.  The problem with Pfizer and all of the others is that: their pipelines are drying up; drugs are coming off patent; and generics are going to eat Big Pharma's lunch.

Looking at Pfizer's 10 year chart, one would be hard-pressed to say this company has done much for their investors. We would agree if it wasn't for one fundamental shift in thinking.  Ten years ago, Big Pharma companies all wanted to find the next blockbuster "billion-dollar" drug themselves.  Today, all of them are actively seeking struggling biotechs with good pipelines to snap up on the cheap.  In this climate, many struggling small biotechs are going for a song.  If we were looking for some place to park a chunk of money for ten years, we would put it in the "Bank of Pfizer." [Permalink] - Bank Of Pfizer


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