October 27, 2009

Amazon Kindle vs Other e-Book Readers: Help Wanted!

So my first long trip out of the country is coming up. This time around my search for the perfect packing list is already wearing me out. One of the biggest problems for traveling light, on my trips anyway, comes down to my listening and reading material (Surprise! You probably thought it would be my number of shoes). For this trip my listening will be relegated to my Apple iPhone and all the music stored on it.

However my reading material will be a combination of Stanza and other apps that I have downloaded already. The sticky wicket here is that I also need another resource so that when one battery is being recharged, I can still keep myself entertained. We have some long flights and layovers to manage.

Now comes the expensive and confusing part, what e-book reader do I commit to? The number of choices out there are overwhelming for this e-book newbie:

  • Kindle DX (it just came out in May)
  • Barnes & Noble nook
  • Sony Reader
  • iRex iLiad
  • Jinke Hanlin e-Reader
  • CyBook by Bookeen
The Kindle is marketed as more suitable for displaying newspaper and textbook content. Does anyone out there have any of these readers that want to leave me words of wisdom in the comments?

Should I scrap the whole idea and just bring along some magazines like the Economist and the Atlantic? I will be in Spain mostly and will have access to decent power outlets, if that matters. What do I do? If there is anyone out there with an opinion or better yet, experience with one of these readers while traveling, and has the time to leave me their two-cents I would be grateful.

October 25, 2009

Climate Change and Enormous Spiders

One doesn't have to travel far to experience drama and excitement. This spider is alive and "kicking", and living in a web in my town. shudder

Sometimes mother nature in your own backyard or porch, produces the best "costume" for Halloween.

October 18, 2009

Pumpkins and a Prius in Petaluma

Fall is such a beautiful time of year to visit Northern California. Half Moon Bay has fields of golden and orange pumpkins, rows and rows of Brussel sprout stalks. The coast offers horseback rides along the beach and restaurants serving bowls of clam chowder and lobster rolls.

If you drive toward the Central Valley along Highway 580 and 205, you will see road side stands and corn mazes to watch the kids race through.

Make your way north to towns like Petaluma, Sebastopol or Olema and all around you will be the sights and smells of fall. Gorgeous green thick grasses with sleepy cattle. Buy seasonal Gravenstein apple juice, a thick hand knit sweater, local clover honey, or creamy goat cheese wrapped in a fig leaf at any of the quaint shops populating the main streets.

So much color. Glorious sights and smells. Wonderful small towns that hark back to dreamier times. A great way to celebrate the season for sure.

October 7, 2009

California Farmers Markets - A New Export?

It is amazing how there are so many farmers markets in Northern California now. We seem to have them popping up in city neighborhoods, in empty parking lots and in larger more beautifully organized places like the San Francisco Ferry Building. They make great weekend destinations that's for sure.

Besides buying local foods, supporting local businesses, a great benefit of going to a farmers market is the people interaction. You will encounter street performers with an open guitar case play music for children.

The people running their own stalls seem so much more engaged than at a supermarket. Some try to entertain you while selling their wares. Some open markets will have food stands. There you can often meet start up restaurants that will try hook in new customers by giving away free samples.

Above is a photo taken at a stand selling Afghan foods. The saleswoman was incredibly polished and smooth with her style. She entertained us with her quips then hooked us quickly when she whipped out a sample that combined several spreads mixed together on a thin bread called Bolani - she called her snack "Afghan lasagna". It was really delicious!

Farmers markets also allow people to test out new and different produce like unusual variations of beans, squash and flowers. Walking through the stalls, I was amazed to see the various types of vegetables and fruits. Some I had never seen before.

There were Asian favorites like bok choy and lots and lots of tomatoes. I think this is a type of squash but I don't know. It was being sold at a couple of stalls.

California is unusual and I wondered how many farmers markets are currently in other states. Thanks to the internet, I found a great way to learn about local markets in the rest of the country. Local Harvest is a website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

I will definitely use this resource when I visit other parts of the county. Farmers Markets are certainly going to be a destination for my domestic travels from now on.

October 2, 2009

America's Best Idea - Yellowstone

National Park in Wyoming is a favorite place of mine. It is unforgettable. Everything is enormous, the sky and diversity of animals all living within the park borders. Here is a photo taken several years ago on our drive to the Lake Hotel in the center of the park. It was an incredible experience seeing nature find its way through that burned landscape.

Watching the Ken Burn's series this week has been wonderful. It certainly reminded me of why we should all support public television. It also reminded me that we have had leadership in the past that valued places like Yellowstone, and set aside thousands of precious acres for future generations.
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