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September 28,2008(WeekendEdition)

Folks here have been keeping an eye out for a better stove for the RainyDayKitchen for a while now.  There are plenty of good ones in the $2500 range, but our budget could not justify such an upgrade.  Last week our patience paid off.  We found a Jenn-Air dual fuel gas range at about 80% off. 

The owner was selling it because they had moved and the new place had no venting option compatible with this stove.  It was slightly used, but otherwise exactly what we had been looking for!  We rounded up some "muscle," rented a pickup truck from U-Haul, and snapped up the stove before anyone could change their minds.

This Jenn-Air stove is designed such that the burners are removable.  The one we purchased had the indoor grilling option installed on the left and high capacity sealed burners on the right.  The benefit of sealed burners is they are so much easier to clean, since any drippings will be contained in the unit and can be wiped up in a jiff (which make the RainyDayKitchen folks very, very happy).

This range has a built-in downdraft vent for removing fumes and smoke from the grills and burners.  On the grilling side, grease and oil are collected in a removable plastic trap below.  The blower for the vent may be mounted under the range or to the side. 

The advantage of an electric oven is the even heating.  The convection option makes cooking faster by circulating the heat.  This electric convection oven was spotless.  In fact, we don't think it has ever been used.  If it was, they cleaned it REALLY well. 

This Jenn-Air uses both gas (burners) and electric (convection oven).  There is already a gas line in place, but we'll have to install a 240V 50A line to the kitchen.  We'll also have to install the vent so it can vent to the outside.  Readers can look forward to the write-ups of these RainyDayKitchen projects over the course of the next couple of weeks.  [Permalink] - Jenn-Air Dual Fuel Stove First Look


September 27,2008(WeekendEdition)

We had plans to go to Long Island this weekend, but the approach of Hurricane Kyle toward New England changed our minds.  So instead of dining at our favorite Chinese restaurant this weekend, we are in the office catching up on some reviews :-)  Since we had already started looking at the Handpresso Wild on Friday, it seemed logical to just continue with that. 

When we first heard about Handpresso, we thought... "hmm, it will be great to have one when we go backpacking, but how often do we do that?"  It then occurred to us having the Handpresso really meant we can have espresso anytime we have access to hot water!  OK, now we are talking.

The Handpresso Wild is quite small and totally self-contained.   To make the unit easier to take on the road, there are various accessories (case, cups, etc...).  We got these items from Importika in New York.

The Handpresso unit contains a water reservoir, a filter, and a hand pump.  Pressure is created by working the pump similiar to the way one would inflate a bicycle tire.  The gauge in the front shows the psi.  There is a switch to open and close the valve.

The way the Handpresso works is: hot water is poured into the reservoir, a pod is placed in the appropriate location, the filter cap is tightened to hold things in place, and a button is pressed that releases the pressure that forces the hot water through the pod into a cup.

The concept is sound and the unit looks and feels well constructed.  The proof, of course, is in the making. We are eager to see if this hand-pumped device can really create a tasty cup of espresso.  The FirstUse write-up will be coming soon enough.  [Permalink] - Handpresso First Look


September 26,2008(FreshCoffeeFriday)

Want great espresso while you are out in the wild? Handpresso may be exactly what you need.  A complete kit (espresso making unit, cups, case, pods) came yesterday. 

The timing was perfect as we have a trip coming up in October.  We'll have a FirstLook of the Handpresso before the end of the month.  [Permalink] - Handpresso

A few years ago, we did a series on bean-roasting.  Since then we have received quite a bit of mail from readers on where they go to get the best "green" or unroasted beans.  The two favorites were U-Roast-Em and Sweet Maria's.  We decided to give them a try.

Yesterday, green coffee beans from the two different internet coffee vendors (U-Roast-Em, Sweet Maria's) showed up at the office. 

All six of us from the office will be heading to Maine for the annual Columbus Day weekend retreat.  We'll be taking these new coffee items (Handpresso, green beans) with us, roasting them, and "testing" them out during our mini-vacation.  A full report on everything when we get back, as long as we aren't so spiked from the caffeine that we drive to Delaware.  [Permalink] - Green Coffee


September 25,2008(LackOfTrustThursday)

Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose, so the saying goes.  Those who have been in charge for the past eight years have been saying that global warming is not real, Iraq has WMDs, and the economy is just fine.  The reality is that we are pounded every year with more powerful hurricanes, no WMDs have been found in Iraq, and our financial system is on the edge.  This same "leader" who has brought us to this brink is now asking for all Americans to unite to bail out Wall Street. 

Why should we listen to what he has to say?  Why should we believe that he is looking out for our best interests?  Why should we give him $700 billion dollars with no strings attached?  After making a gigantic mess of things, why should we still trust him?

We should continue to ask the hard questions, demand sensible answers, and not let "fear" push us into accepting the words of those who no longer deserve our trust.  Have an opinion.  Speak up.  Stand and be counted.  Now is the time.   [Permalink] - Lack of Trust


September 24,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

The Xena XV cable is specifically designed to work with the DiscLock.  The lock and cable combine to form a portable, alarmed security system which looks pretty tough to defeat.

We took a FirstLook of the DiscLock earlier in the month.  Its unique design and integrated alarm is a simple method for protecting a motorcycle or scooter.  The XV cable extends that capability to anything which can be tied to a post.

The stainless steel ends of the cable are "matched" to form a slab which fits into the slot of the DiscLock.  The pin of the lock fits into the hole, securing the two ends.  It also creates an alarmed circuit exactly as if it the lock was attached to the disc of the brakes on the motorcycle.

The cable comes in a few different lengths, but are all made from the same thick high-tensile steel.  The XV cable comes with its own carrying case, perfect for corralling it when not in use. 

We have the Krytonite chain for securing the Vespa out in front, but the Xena XV cable will be perfect for locking the scooter when we are out around town.  [Permalink] - Xena cable FirstLook


September 23,2008 (ScooterTechTuesday)

After we did the FirstLook of the Xena DiscLock, we gave it to some local readers with scooters to test.  When we acquired our very own Vespa, we asked for the DiscLock back as we can now to do a first hand review of the unit. 

Unfortunately, the spacing of the disc and the wheel on the Vespa ET2 is too narrow to accommodate the Xena DiscLock!  We were bummed as this lock was such an elegant solution for securing the scooter. A quick check on the Xena site indicated that the ET2 and the ET4 were the only two Vespa models which this lock would not fit.

After a little surfing around, we noticed Xena makes accessories for locking the vehicle to a post or an anchor.  It was not as "clean" as just using the DiscLock, but both the cable and the anchor were so cool looking that we thought you would definitely want to know about them. 

The Xena components make for a complete scooter or motorcycle security system, whether at home or on the road.  The anchor is heavily plated to be weather resistant.  It also swivels a full 360º so it is easy to attach to from any direction. 

The unit comes with an anchor bolt and all the tools (masonry bit, hex key) to install the unit.  When properly installed, it can withstand quite a bit of force.  This unit will not come out of the ground easily.

Next we'll see about doing the installation of both the Xena and the Kryptonite anchors outside the RainyDayMagazine office.   [Permalink] - Xena anchor and cable


September 22,2008 (MoneyMonday)

It was just a week ago when the President was "confident" about the soundness of the economy.  It was just a few months ago when the President was touting that the economy actually "grew."  It was not so long ago that the President said the economy was not in a recession.  We'd always thought that if there was ONE thing the Republicans knew how to manage, it was was MONEY.  But apparently, not so much.

Money is a "promise."  A promise that it can be exchanged for whatever the person owning it needs.  Thus, its "value" is inescapably entwined with the confidence that when one needs to exchange it for something, it is actually WORTH something.  As the current President has already admitted, he does not have a "magic wand."  Which, btw, we are glad that he does not.  This now begs the question... where will all this extra "money" will come from?  Voters SHOULD want to know.  Intelligent voters would demand to know.  If you don't, then just put your head back in the sand or go back to watching "Reality TV."

Now that we all have suffered through eight years of nonsense, isn't it time to restore confidence and put someone in charge who has a clue?  By "someone," we mean someone who actually KNOWS how many homes they own, someone who plans to bring with him a group of folks whose best interests are not tied to those currently in charge, someone who can actually bring change when they take office next January.  By the way, we hope this time it is someone SMART! [Permalink] - Level of Confidence


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