Soapbox: On being a Locavore…

Raleigh Farmer's Market
One of the things I have tried my best to sustain in my day to day life, is the act of buying things that are created as locally as possible. This practice makes sense more than ever now. With the economy being what it is and everyone striking out on their own to making a living, it is pretty much our civic duty to support each other and our communities. Purchasing locally made products keeps the money and, by proxy, the livelihood, around you. This eventually provides a better society and a neighborhood that is closer, more tight-knit. When you care for your community, they end up caring for you right back. Even if that equals just a smile walking by on the street.

 

In the case of food, it also benefits you greatly. Not only do you get something that is fresher and (often) healthier than anything you could get at a big box store, you also meet the cultivator of that food. When you shake your local farmer’s hand, you are making a distinct emotional connection. One, I have noticed, that they often do not forget. In this deep electronically connected age, it is amazing how disconnected we have become to the immediate space around us. Everyone looking at screens on the street corner, on the bus, in the elevator, at the dinner in the restaurant… I’m guilty of it too! But the cool part is that it honestly doesn’t need to be this way. At least not all of the time. There are a lot of ways we all can make a difference with minimal effort. Be it through our local farmer’s market or food coop, a local music store, breweries, general stores, restaurants, clothing stores… there are a lot of options for us all to pitch in for very little to no additional cost.

I could go on about the ethics of this situation, but I think we can all agree: helping the people around you is a good thing.

One great use case scenario of this came from the last long weekend I took with Melinda in state. We were in a beer and wine shop and, being a local beer enthusiast (something North Carolina is quickly becoming renowned for), I was looking for a few bottles of something new to kick back and enjoy during the hot afternoon. There were dozens of domestics and imports but my eyes fell on on a new local beer I had not tried yet. In fact I had never even seen it before. I picked up a bottle and before I could even read where it was from, the person running the shop piped up and said that her husband brewed that beer right here in town and that it is bottled and distributed just south of where we were.

Sold! It was pretty much the freshest beer I would ever find outside of going to a brewery and drinking right from the tap (which is also immensely enjoyable!). I grabbed a six pack and thanked the kind lady for keying me into buying her husband’s beer. It was the perfect situation! It was a product I knew I would enjoy, supporting a local craftsmen, putting money into a shop that only they owned, in their own home town.

Of course this is not possible for a lot of people. Depending on where you live, it may not be an option to get to a farmer’s market (though they are popping up everywhere nowadays), or even into a town center that can provide any local options. If that is the case, buy regional, or even national. I guarantee you will not be able to do it every time you are out shopping. But if you can do it when you are able too, it always makes a difference.

This shouldn’t be about national pride (though it certainly can be), or some latest fad (which would be something I could actually get behind). It should be about lending each other a hand and not ignoring the world around us. It could also be about living healthier as well.

All good things.

Not too long ago, in the grand scheme of things, this is how the human race took care of themselves and each other. We were all only as strong our communities. While I do not think we have forgotten that completely, I do think we have pulled way back from what we once were. Progress is always good, but not at the expense of complete isolation. The cost of constant convenience is common place now, especially with the current generation. Kids and young adults know so many things that I didn’t even conceptualize when I was their age. I actually am in the camp that thinks this is a good thing. It is how we evolve as a society and it’s amazing to see us all foster a global community through our technology.

But again, it is incredibly important that we keep that sense of local community as well. And we do this by supporting each other. Because while ones and zeroes can enhance our lives to unthinkable levels, they can not replace the reality that is “you” and “I” breathing in the same immediate space. They can not replace the reality of “us”.

At least not yet anyway. ;)

 

Hardware: Review of Logitech’s K750 and K760 Wireless Solar Keyboards

Apple Bluetooth Keyboard

For the last few years, I have been using my ever-faithful Apple bluetooth keyboard for my wireless keyboard needs (Laptop, iPad, iPhone, Mac Mini, you name it…). I chose it for the following reasons:

  1. It’s got a good form factor
  2. It is ruggedly built (I have dropped it several times and it has kept ticking without a hitch).
  3. Despite it’s form factor it has got a full size layout for its keys (sans number pad). Which is always important. I hate feeling cramped while typing.
  4. It pairs relatively easily with devices and the Mac-specific hotkeys at the top are quite quite handy (particularly when used with the iPad)
  5. It’s easy to grab and slide into my bag when I need to just go.

But, that all said, there are a few drawbacks. Small stuff mostly, but chief amongst them is the Apple keyboard’s need of batteries to function and it’s ability to have it’s bluetooth connection turned on by accident (draining the batteries of both your device and the keyboard) if the large button on its side gets touched by a feather.

Both of these issues caused me to reevaluate my selection of a keyboard and at least start to research what is out there nowadays for alternative options. Suffice it to say, I found a lot!

 

The best options built specifically for the Mac, that weren’t built by Apple, seemed to be offered by Logitech. They have a great selection with a lot of options, but in the end I settled on their series of solar powered keyboards. They support all of the current Apple command key shortcuts, have zero need for batteries (fully charged, it can be used for three continuous months in complete darkness) and, in the case of the travel version, they have the ability to hot swap between multiple bluetooth devices. Which is handy if you need to quickly disconnect from one device and quickly pair with another (from an iPad to a desktop, for instance).

Here are the two I went with:Logitech K760 Wireless Solar KeyboardFor the iPad I went with the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760

Logitech K750 Wireless Solar KeyboardAnd for the Mac Mini I splurged and snagged the full sized Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac®

They both perform easily as well as their Apple manufactured counterparts and while they don’t feel as well built as Apple’s aluminum keyboards, they by no means feel cheap in any way.

Function-wise, they both have worked flawlessly. I love that the hotkeys (the “F” keys) that are in the top row of the Apple keyboard, can all be found on the Logitechs (the media-based buttons work even on the iPad!). Also, eco-stance aside, I really love that I don’t have to worry about having my rechargeable batteries around and charged up when my keyboard dies. The solar cell at the top, does change the footprint (and the aesthetic if that’s important to you) obviously, making the keyboard, in both cases, taller. But the exchange for battery life and the simple convenience of putting it in any kind of light to recharge it, definitely trumps these quibbles for me.

The bluetooth hot swapping on the K760? It works as advertised and is pretty damn amazing! Once paired up (easy to do as well) I was swapping between my iPad, iPhone and Macbook with a simple keystroke. It’s fast and way more convenient than I originally anticipated. Definitely not a gimmicky feature! It is the real deal and quite helpful.

One odd difference between the two? The K760 keys are WAY more “clicky” than the K750. So if you are into that, or are obsessive about stealth typing, than you may want to take a note of this. I noticed it right away.

Lastly, the K750 comes with a free app you can snag from the Mac App Store that gives you real time info on your charge and the amount of light/solar energy your keyboard is currently receiving. Pretty neat to bring up and watch, not to mention handy if you need to know how much juice your keyboard currently has left. Again, it’s only for K750, but it is well implemented on the Mac.

So if it wasn’t clear enough yet, I will come out and say it: I am pretty smitten with these keyboards! I’ve used the K750 for a month now and the K760 for a little over week. They have not given me one bit of buyer’s remorse. Quite the opposite actually. I wish more peripherals were made with this kind of utility and function.

Two thumbs up! Way up! Highly recommended!

Film: Rian Johnson’s “Looper”

I am a HUGE fan of Rian Johnson. From his films, “Brick”, “The Brothers Bloom”, to even his episodes of “Breaking Bad”… for folks like me, he is a really inspiring talent, writing and directing all of his films. His recent film “Looper” teams him up again with the always wonderful Joseph Gordon-Levitt in what looks like a high octane, brain melt of a scifi flick.

I liked the first trailer that came out a while ago, but you gotta check out this new international one that dropped today. If that doesn’t get you stoked to see what Johnson has put together for us all, I honestly don’t know what to do with you. :)

At very least consider giving it a chance. If anything to support new and original film-making/story-telling.

 

Design: WTHR – A Simpler, More Beautiful Weather App

Hey guys,

This popped up on the ole radar this week and I thought I would share. If you know the intricate inner workings of my mind (poor, poor you…), you will know that I have an amazing soft spot for weather and, by proxy, weather apps.

WTHR iPhone APP

Well, a new one dropped this week called WTHR and it’s design is just too good not to share with you all. What I love the best? The screenshot above pretty much tells you everything that the app does! It gives you the weather of where you are at in a simple, clean and beautiful way. No radars, not barometers, no ten day forecasts… just the vitals.

Love the style. Love the delivery. Love the app.

One important note: It does have some issues with its first release. It leaves the GPS search running even AFTER you’ve closed the app. Pretty big bug, as that can lay waste to your battery life, but I am more than confident that they will fix that in the next release (a lot of weather apps have delivered with this bug). So, wait for the next release or snag it now for 99 cents (?! – link above).

If you love good app design and aesthetic, this a bit of a no brainer.

UPDATE 07/11/12

The developer for WTHR released an update to iOS app store, just yesterday (tookWAY longer that I would’ve thought) that fixes the issue above. You do have to reset your locations services though which can be found in:

Settings>General>Reset (bottom of the list) >Reset Location Warnings.

If you are just buying it now, you don’t have to reset a thing. Just use it an enjoy!

It’s a shame this bug slipped through the testing process. Oh well, it works great now!

Film: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master”

One of my all time top five favorite films is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood”. There isn’t one single frame that I can find fault with in that film. The acting, the stunning wide shots, the cinematography, Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack… from the opening shot, to the closing seconds, it is simply perfect! I’ve loved his other films too (Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia all come imediately to mind), but TWBB takes first place in my head. No contest.

So after that movie came out in 2007 I naturally clamored for his next and finally,finally, there are some signs of life that it even exists in 2012 beyond set reports and rumors. At this year’s Cannes film festival the Weinsteins unveiled some sneak peaks of films they were unloading on all of us this year. Anderson’s next, “The Master”, was one of them (along with a first look at Tarantino’s much anticipated “Django Unchained”). Here’s that teaser:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WTM8eO1Oec]

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is how a trailer should be made. Simple, perfectly paced, beautiful photography, no distracting music, simple on screen fonts… giving you just a nibble, but not the entire entree. You are simply intrigued after you watch it.

This week they released another teaser and I just figured I’d post them both here since, after a couple viewings, they continue to amaze, and I wanted to share. Pheonix looks absolutely amazing, along with Hoffman, who I think has been in every single one of Anderson’s films. And for good reason too, he’s one of the best actors alive today in my humble opinion.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U8eyMFCpJw]

So there you go, in a world of explosions and nudity in cinema, we finally have a large studio-backed, slow burn of a film that isn’t another god damn remake of a movie from my childhood.

Honestly? I can’t wait for what’s coming out in the theaters this year! It’s a good feeling to have for a change wouldn’t you agree?