Thanks to today’s technology, I always have either my snapshot camera or my cell camera with me, enabling me to snap pics of random stuff around me, since you just never know what you’re going to see.
Just think, in the pre-cellphone era, I couldn’t have taken the following picture that I snapped this morning while sitting at a red light: a man on a bicycle carrying part of his barbecue grill.
Crossing the street in incoming traffic.
Gotta love South Florida!
To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations – such is a pleasure beyond compare.” – Kenko Yoshida
Thanks to a dear and loving husband who knows just the thing to thrill me, I’ve enjoyed reading books on my Kindle for almost a year now. I love my little literary machine. There’s a Team Kindle/Team iPad battle going on since Apple released its new supercool gadget. I got to play around with the iPad yesterday, and found that I quite love it. But the two machines have completely different purposes as far as I’m concerned. Will I get an iPad? Yes. Will it replace my Kindle? Nope. There’s room in my heart for both. That said, I thought I should send some Kindle love out into the universe right now, so I put together a little list of what I love about my reader. Please bear in mind that I didn’t write this list to knock the iPad, but rather simply to share what I love about the Kindle.
10 Things I Love about My Kindle:
1. As an avid reader who currently lives in a space-challenged condo, my slim little Kindle’s got plenty of room to house all the books I love.
2. My Kindle screen looks just like a paper page out of the book (sorry iPad, but my eyes quickly got tired on your lit-up reader app).
3. Lots of the classic reads are free downloads. While I haven’t started on it yet, I’m proud to say a free copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War patiently awaits me on my home screen.
4. My Kindle leads to fun conversations with strangers. I take it with me everywhere, and someone–usually a fellow book lover–always approaches me to ask about how it functions and whether I like it. This is always a fun exchange of words.
5. When I travel, I get to take my historical novel along with my current nonfiction read. Without my carry-on bag bursting at the seams.
6. I’m never puzzled by any author’s lingo because my Kindle has a user-friendly dictionary built in.
7. It weighs nothing! And it fits in my purse.
8. I get to highlight stuff in it, and type in little notes wherever I want and dog-ear pages that I like.
9. I get to read samples of books for free before deciding whether I want to shell out the bucks to buy them.
And lastly, and perhaps most importantly:
10. The Kindle was made with hardcore book lovers in mind. I meet people all the time who have zero interest in reading books. Not zero time; zero interest. I always think two things to myself when I meet such people: first, I think ‘how is that possible?’ and then I think ‘how sad.’ I am blessed to have had parents and older siblings who helped instill a great love of books in me at a very young age. It’s a quintessential old-fashioned way to stimulate your mind without being wired into something. I don’t want to read a book, and close it up so I can check email. I don’t want to read a book, and then close it up so I can check facebook every ten minutes. I don’t need to surf the web or download music or stream movies while I read–if I want to read, chances are I’m looking to shut out all of that. For me, a book is sacred quality quiet time. That’s what I think is so brilliant about the Kindle–it found a way to modernize the collecting and reading of books without adding a thousand modern distractions to the medium. That is, in a nutshell, why I love it so much.
One evening last week, my husband phoned me from the store and asked me if I needed anything. I said ‘ice cream.’ He decided to surprise me.
After dinner, he brought me some frozen goodness, remaining secretive about the brand. I could tell that it was an extra dark chocolate, because it had a very dark color. I tried a spoonful and tasted an intense chocolate flavor. My first taste of it didn’t exactly lead me to ice cream–it reminded me of chocolate mousse. It had the flavor of an intense creamy homemade chocolate dessert that managed to have the consistency of ice cream. Very strong on the cocoa, slightly nutty. Completely different from any other chocolate ice cream I had ever had, but in a good way.
My husband grabbed the pint so I could see what it was, and it threw me for a loop. Goat’s milk ice cream, Deep Chocolate flavor. Not that it should seem so farfetched–we eat goat’s milk cheese, and it’s pretty delicious. It’s only logical that we should do other useful things with this milk.
Pros of goat’s milk? It does a body quite good. It’s a complete protein. It’s much easier to digest than cow’s milk; it’s not lactose-free, but it has a lot less lactose than its moo counterpart. It’s also lower in fat. I was quite pleased to find out that the serving of ice cream I was having had 160 calories and 6 grams of fat. The same amount of chocolate ice cream from Haagen-Dazs would have run me 270 calories and 18 grams of fat. The biggest pro in my book: it boasts a super short ingredient list. This is a biggie for me–I hate seeing loads of chemicals in my food (which is just one of the reasons I mainly cook at home). I look at these pints and their ingredient lists read something like: goat milk, evaporated cane juice, egg yolks, pure vanilla locust bean gum, guar gum, carrageenan.
Cons? This particular brand of goat’s milk ice cream, Laloo’s, was pricey: $6.99, a hefty price tag for just a pint. Although if I was unable to consume cow’s milk and I discovered something like this, I’m sure I would easily cough up the seven bucks to get my ice cream fix. Another con, it’s a bit hard to find. A 100-mile radius search on Laloo’s website let me know that I’d only be able to find this ice cream at Whole Foods. I also conducted a 100-mile radius search for other cities, and similarly the brand is almost exclusively available at organic specialty stores and markets.
Considering that Laloo’s is currently the only commercial goat’s milk ice cream out there, I give them kudos for featuring a wide array of flavors. Their line-up includes fun flavors like Vanilla Snowflake, Deep Chocolate, Strawberry Darling, Rumplemint, Capraccino (a coffee flavor that plays on the root word for goat “capra”) and Black Mission Fig. They also have a couple of different frozen yogurts as well as an ice cream sandwich. Unfortunately, my neighborhood Whole Foods only carried two flavors–another disappointment. I’d love to try the strawberry, but I only have the chocolate and vanilla available at my store.
I marched (as in got in my car and drove) to Whole Foods a week later and got the Vanilla Snowflake. While I do generally prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate, I assumed this would have a more pungent flavor than the chocolate because it wouldn’t have the benefit of a strong outside flavor to stand up to the goat milk flavor. I was quite wrong. I actually fell pretty hard for the vanilla. It had a very strong vanilla bean flavor–a big plus for me. It was intensely creamy and it smelled amazing–like sweetness, vanilla and cream.
Verdict: There’s no other like Chunky Monkey, but goat’s milk ice cream has earned a favorable spot in my freezer.
Ryanair, a low-cost British airline, announced yesterday that passengers who wish to use the restroom onboard will have to pay for the privilege. That is, if they get a chance to even use the thing–the airline will remove most of the onboard bathrooms on the planes in their fleet and leave just one toilet on each. The 189 passengers onboard the plane will have to duke it out for a turn, I guess. Ryanair’s spokesperson Stephen McNamara had this to say about it:
By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight. That will enable us to remove two out of three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats on board.”
Mr. McNamara should have been more bluntly honest in his statement and explained that the airline is actually trying to force humans to act like lap dogs. Bathroom breaks OUTSIDE the plane? Puh-leeze. I don’t usually use airplane lavatories, but this is just demeaning. Airplane travel is uncomfortable enough–they ought to be offering you a free drink just for fitting inside that Smurf-sized bathroom. So a pregnant woman who needs to urinate more often than usual (as is common during pregnancy) is gonna shell out dough because of her condition? A guy who needs to whiz several times during his flight because he’s dealing with an enlarged prostate is gonna pay every time he has to relieve himself? At least the spokesperson stated the ugly truth that the airline will remove three-quarters of the bathrooms and stuff more passengers into that space. An extra six or seven people you’ll have to fight for the porcelain throne.
But while that’s bad, I don’t think it’s as insulting as Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza telling the public that there is a “beauty” to the airline’s new policy of charging money for carry-on bags. Apparently I’m supposed to believe there is something beautiful about paying $30 for a carry-on item placed in an overhead bin. Spirit passengers who are enrolled in the Fare Club (a $40-a-year club) will pay $20 for their carry-ons. The surcharge is just for stuff you want to put overhead though; you won’t have to pay for something that fits under the seat in front of you (you can kiss whatever little leg circulation you had goobye now that you have to keep your stuff at your feet). Baldanza’s colleague, Spirit Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie also talked up the new policy in a statement, explaining that the new rule will make flights more efficient and safe because reducing the number of carry-on bags will speed up the boarding process and the deplaning process. ”Bring less; pay less. It’s simple.” Simple for you Mr. McKenzie; I doubt you even fly Spirit.
CEO Baldanza, however, issued the statement that broke the camel’s back for me:
The beauty of it is they will do what they think is best for them and will now have the choice.”
Paying for the damn carry-on is bad enough. Telling me that paying for the carry-on is the best thing ever since sliced bread is insulting to my intelligence. So these airlines not only want to screw you, they want you to love every second of it too.
Airlines are looking for a way to speed up the boarding and deplaning process? Here’s an idea–load the plane back rows to front during boarding, and actually stick to that rule; don’t allow front-of-the-plane passengers to wedge their way in. Makes boarding much easier. And by the way, deplaning doesn’t take that long–it’s waiting for the airplane doors to open that adds time to the process, essentially an airport/airplane issue that has little to do with the passengers. I’m not bothered by the wait anyhow; if you can’t cool your jets for five or ten minutes to make your way off the plane, go see a head doctor. Once passengers start exiting, it only takes a couple of minutes to leave anyway.
Airlines are out of control with their fees and surcharges. And it’s not like you can complain at the airport–they’ll treat you like an enemy of the state. I remember a time a few years ago when oil prices were high and cruise passengers were sometimes forced to pay a fuel surcharge on top of their fare. But when oil prices dropped, cruiseline fuel surcharges went away. For whatever reason, they never left the airlines.
I’ve never had a fear of flying. I don’t hate aiports. I always loved traveling. But it’s harder for me to love traveling when I have only one way of getting from point A to point B, and that one means is nickeling and diming the hell out of me just because it can. And don’t tell me to pack lighter. First of all, the industry standard was two suitcases for decades–they’re just taking advantage of passengers now because our options are limited: it’s not like we always have time to take a roadtrip from Miami to San Francisco. Secondly, how does packing light help my situation? I’m supposed to pack light for my three week trip and buy a whole new wardrobe when I get to Point B?
At risk of sounding like a grounded teenager on a Friday night, it’s just not fair. We need a viable alternative to air travel in this country. We need a good-quality high-speed train system here. I told my husband over breakfast this morning that I’m considering doing most of my US travel by car now, even if it means tacking on a few extra days to allow for driving. I know this won’t always be possible, but this South Florida gal has grown tired of giving the bully her lunch money.
Looking for something totally different and off the wall to do in the upcoming weeks and months? Ever heard of Muddy Buddy? Sponsored by the Columbia Sportswear company, it’s a multi-sport event that involves running, off-road biking, obstacles and mud. This event’s making people dirty one city at a time, traveling around big cities in the US during spring, summer and fall. You participate in a two-person team. When the race starts, one of you runs while the other bikes. You both get to an obstacle, go through the obstacle (successfully then switch off with each other (the biker now runs, the runner now bikes). You get to the next obstacle, then switch off again. You do this for five obstacles and eventually make it to a good old mud pit at the end of the event–the one through which you will both crawl and emerge “muddy buddies.” The whole event covers a ground distance of six or seven miles; by the end each of you will have run about three miles and cycled three miles. Apparently I shouldn’t be worried that I’m not an Olympic athlete–it’s designed with all sorts of competitors in mind. Nice. Adding to my bucket list.
If you’ve got little ones who’d like to try their hand at an obstacle and a mud crawl, sign them up for Mini Muddy-Buddy. This event is geared towards kids age 4 to 13 (the 4-, 5-, and 6-year olds must be accompanied by an adult for the crawl), and involves a short obstacle course followed by a mud bath. Fun stuff.
The entry fee for the event will run you and your partner $150 total (it’s $15 more for the Orlando event). Mini Muddy Buddy costs $15. Click here to see scheduled dates and locations. It’s mostly in bigger cities for now, but it’s in enough states that you should be able to drive to one nearby if it’s not taking place right in your town. There’s one coming up on May 8th in Orlando. I won’t be able to make it that week, but there is a South Florida Muddy Buddy coming my way in late November, so we’ll see if I muster up the courage for that one. By the way, if any of you sign up I’d be more than happy to bring my camera to document the historic occasion. You know, for posterity. And for Facebook.
This thing sounds like a blast, and it beats dinner and a movie hands down, doesn’t it?
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. – Aristophanes
Wining and dining’s always on my mind, and while I was reading this month’s issue of Food and Wine magazine, I came across an interesting article about a Zodiac party. The hosts who prepared this party went out of their way to create a well-thought-out Spring menu to celebrate the energy of the Aries sign. Astrologer Shelley von Strunckel and wine connoisseur Tom Harrow, both of whom were featured guests at the dinner, created this fun astrological dining guide.
Von Strunckel maintains that one’s astrological sign “can influence…tastes in wine and food.”
I’m a Leo. According to this chart, I’m “proud [and love] opulence,” I love “strong-flavored dishes like rich curries,” and I love “classic well-aged Bordeaux.” Well, 2 outta 3 should count for something. I am proud and opulent, and I do love curry. Although this chart managed to pick a wine region I’ve actually been to (three cheers for beautiful Bordeaux and its lovely people!), I can’t say I seek out well aged Bordeaux. But I’ll take that as a cue to do some “homework” at the wine shop; maybe the stars know my palate better than I do, and maybe Bordeaux is a long-lost lover…
How spot-on in this chart for you?