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October 19,2008 (WeekendEdition)

We took advantage of the nice weather this weekend and went for a drive.  About 40 minutes from the city is Shelborne Farm.  Folks head there on sunny Fall days because it is the place to go for picking apples... ALL kinds of apples.

Apple picking is a great way to spend a day, and afterwards you get to go home and bake a pie.  The trails are well marked, there are plenty of things to see and do, and when you have had enough, you can walk to the farm stand and get a hot cup of hot cider (and a donut).

Picking the apples is the easy part.  The hard part is choosing what kind of apples to pick.  There are dozens of different kinds at any given time.  We know nothing about apples, but anything with the name "delicious" went into the bag.

After a few minutes of picking, we understood the meaning of the phrase "low-hanging fruit."  While easier to pick than the ones requiring a ladder, the unpicked low-hanging ones tend to be either bruised or already bitten by, something.  And the ones on the ground? Just leave them for the squirrels.

There is more than just apple picking at Shelborne Farm.  There are pony and hay rides, a petting zoo, and even a tractor track for any tykes brave enough to get in the rink.  It was kind of ticklish to feed the llama. 

After an hour of walking up and down the different aisles of apples, we were ready for something hot to warm us up.  Judging by the line at the farm stand, quite a few others had the same idea.

There won't be many more days with fantastic colors like the one on Sunday, so if you want to take off early and go for a walk, we won't tell :-) [Permalink] - Apple Picking


October 18,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Last weekend we were up in Maine doing some hiking.  One of the tasty treats that kept us going was pineapple jerky from the Hawaiian Jerky Co.  We would have taken a photo of the jerky out of the package, but by the time we got back from the hike, it was all eaten! 

The general concensus was that the pineapple jerky was much better than the standard sugary, dried, chunks of pineapple.  The jerky is light weight, does not take up much room, and is individually wrapped.  Perfect to have in the day-pack no matter how long you plan on being out. 

If you are looking a healthy snack, you should give this pineapple jerky a try.  You can find them from our friends at Jerky.com.  They also have lots of other kinds of jerky should you want to round out your fruit with some protein :-)  [Permalink] - Pineapple Jerky


October 17,2008 (WaterfallFriday)

A few weeks ago, we drove to Manhattan to have brunch with our friend Kathy.  It was kind of a gray day and we were not quite sure what to do before heading back to Boston.  We had heard there was an art installation of "waterfalls" around the city.  One of them was under the Brooklyn Bridge.  Since we were on the East Side, we decided to check it out.

We had always seen the Brooklyn Bridge from far away as we crossed over from Long Island to Manhattan.  This was the first time we've ever seen the Brooklyn Bridge up close.  The best view of the waterfall was from the Manhattan side. 

We parked the car and walked along the path next to the bridge.  Next time we'll have to walk across the bridge and get some photos from that perspective.

At the foot of the bridge on the Manhattan side is the South Street Seaport.  It is quite the tourist destination any day of the week and especially so on the weekends. 

We strolled around for a while, but decided that we were still too full from brunch to eat anything else before heading back to Boston.  If you find yourself in NYC and are looking for some place fun, head downtwon to the Brooklyn Bridge.  You'll find something to fill your day.  [Permalink] - Brooklyn Bridge


October 16,2008 (BatteryTechThursday)

It has been a year since we first reviewed the Sanyo eneloop batteries.  During that time, we have been using them in our cameras, electronics, and every other piece of gear that takes AA or AAA batteries.  The eneloops have performed so well that we have stopped using any other kind of AA and AAA batteries.

When we heard Sanyo had introduced some "adapters" for the eneloops, we were eager to check them out.  What we found was that Sanyo has put together an interesting package they call a "Travel Pack" consisting of a charger, AA and AAA eneloops, C-size and D-size adapters, all neatly contained in an organizer.

The adapters are plastic shells sized to fit a AA eneloop battery so it can be used when a different battery form factor is required.  This is a very clever solution for times when a different size battery is needed and not available.

The eneloops are the best rechargeable batteries we have ever used.  They charge up quickly, retain their charge, and are powerful enough for today's power-hungry electronics.  If you are currently not using rechargeable batteries, you should.  If you are using rechargeables, but they are not eneloops, you should switch.  They are THAT good.  [Permalink] - eneloop Travel Pack


October 15,2008 (WildWednesday)

We took a FirstLook at the Handpresso Wild back in September.  With the Columbus Day weekend trip coming up, we thought it would be a good opportunity to take it with us to Maine and do the FirstUse report up there. 

The kitchen in the rental unit had a typical drip coffee machine, so we were glad we brought this portable unit along.   Everyone probably had some experience using a drip coffee machine.  Making espresso using the Handpresso Wild is just as simple.  All it takes are four easy steps:  pour in hot water, add pod, pump to pressurize, release pressure

The hand pump's action was very smooth.  The built-in gauge has clear green/red indicators to tell you when to stop pumping.  We had no problems getting the internal pressure up to 16 bars. 

To make the espresso, all we had to do was press the button and release the pressure.  The water is pushed through the filter pod and into the cup.

The espresso made from the Handpresso was surprisingly tasty.  The creme was not as thick.  The flavor was as rich as what we had with many of the pod units we have tested in the past.

The Handpresso Wild is certainly handy to have when "in the wild."  The obvious limitation is the need for hot water.   A small insulated canister would be the simplest solution.  Handpresso has a unit with an integrated temperature gauge and should be available in the US by then end of the year.  We'll try it out and report back when we get one in house. In the mean time, we'll take this Handpresso Wild along with us and will keep an eye out for hot water during our travels. [Permalink] - Handpresso Wild


October 14,2008 (ReaderTechTuesday)

"Reading is fun-damental."  That was what we were taught growing up.  Reading IS fun, but it got a bit more fun with the Amazon Kindle.  The Kindle is an e-book reader similar in concept to the one from Sony.  Both are pretty cool, but because the Kindle is backed by the giant bookseller Amazon, it is a quantum leap ahead of the Sony unit where it really counts...access to stuff you want to read.

We brought a Kindle along with us to Maine this past weekend.  It is a little bigger than a typical paperback book, but can carry so much more content.  It's perfect for those who like to read more than one book at a time.

Unlike laptop screens, the surface is frosted to minimize reflections.  The result is text that is readable in both shade and direct sunlight.  Like real paper, the Kindle's e-ink display is viewable even at extreme angles

Unlike real paper, the e-ink display is interactive.  To navigate around and to control the cursor, there are buttons all over the surface of the Kindle.  Their locations and placement are designed based on how one would hold the device.

The Amazon Kindle is the most polished ebook reader we have seen to date.  Its controls are easy to use.  The interface is well thought out.  The free wireless capability is a compelling feature not available in the competition. 

There are a lot of reviews of the Kindle v1.0 out on the web.  Our gripe with them was that none had any decent photos of the unit.  Amazon has announced that an update of the Kindle will soon be available.  We will do a more in-depth review of this next version when it is available.  Until then, click on any of the images here for a better look at Kindle v1.0.   [Permalink] - Amazon Kindle


October 13,2008 (ColumbusDay)

Columbus Day is usually the last day where many shops and restaurants stay open in Maine.  We like going up there for this weekend because the rental prices are quite inexpensive.  The bugs, as well as most of the tourists, are gone.  The weather is still warm enough during the day that we can drive with the top down. 

It was certainly a great day for continuing our lobster roll "research."  We noticed lobster prices were around $3.99/lb, even in the more expensive places like Kennebunkport. 

This was the lowest lobster prices have been in quite some time.  Clearly, others were also taking advantage of the rates as The Clam Shack was doing a booming end-of-the-season business.

As usual, the weekend went by too quickly.  Next year our plans are to go to Monhegan Island for Columbus Day.  It is a small island, but there should be plenty of room that weekend.  Feel free to come join us if you can!  [Permalink] - Columbus Day


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