Travel Tech

Last month, my wife, stepdaughter and I went on our honeymoon. We spent it in Hawaii staying at the Disney resort, Aulani. On any trip, I’m always prepared with gadgets, cables and power adapters. This one was no different. I’ll talk about a few things I brought that made this trip more enjoyable.

Amazon Fire Stick
Amazon Fire Stick

I recently posted my thoughts on the Amazon Fire Stick. In my review, I said that it’d be a great option for keeping up on your shows while you’re away since it’s very small and takes up little space in your bag. This turned out to be an excellent idea. Not only did they have free wifi at the resort, it was exceptionally fast and you didn’t need a log in/password, as some other hotels require. This is important if you’re using a streaming media device. It would be extremely tedious if you had to type in log in information every time you wanted to watch something.

Since we were spending our vacation in Hawaii, I wanted to get a waterproof case so I could use my iPhone to take pictures and video. The Wirecutter is the site I turn to when I’m trying to find “the best” anything. They recommended the Nuud series from Lifeproof. It’s a little pricey at $70 for a phone case (currently $60 at the time of this post), but the ability to take pictures or video in the pool or at the beach is well worth it. I was a little leery about trusting this case to protect my phone. The case exposes the front screen which seems scary at first but there is a gasket which seals the phone and keeps water out. It did a great job, I even dropped my phone in the pool and it sank to the bottom and it was fine when I retrieved it. My only gripe is that once water got on to the screen, it would be difficult to tap and swipe the screen. This is not a fault of the case itself since a smartphone touch screen senses conductive object (ie your finger) to register touches. When water is on the touchscreen, which is also conductive,  it can confuse the touch screen’s sensor with multiple screen registers. Regardless, the video and photos I was able to take were definitely worth it.

Lifeproof Nuud
Lifeproof Nuud

I was also gifted a Mpow iSnap selfie stick right before we left for our honeymoon. These gadgets are the new taking pictures with your iPad. It seems socially awkward at first, but since everyone is now doing it, you can’t make fun of anyone for using one. The one I received had a built in button for taking pictures. You simply pair your smartphone with the stick via Bluetooth and whenever you use it to take a picture, you simply press a button and it activates the shutter on the camera app. It’s a clever way of solving the problem of, “How do I take a picture with the phone so far away?” I didn’t get to use this as much as I wanted as it was another “thing” I had to remember to bring whenever we went out.

Mpow iSnap Selfie Stick
Mpow iSnap Selfie Stick

Our honeymoon was unforgettable and thanks to these gadgets, we were able to enjoy our downtime and capture moments we wouldn’t have been able to before.

Why Did The Chicken Make You Sick

Late one night in September of 2013, Rick Schiller awoke in bed with his right leg throbbing. Schiller, who is in his fifties, lives in San Jose, California. He had been feeling ill all week, and, as he reached under the covers, he found his leg hot to the touch. He struggled to sit upright, then turned on a light and pulled back the sheet. “My leg was about twice the normal size, maybe even three times,” he told me. “And it was hard as a rock, and bright purple.”

Schiller roused his fiancée, who helped him hobble to their car. He dropped into the passenger seat, but he couldn’t bend his leg to fit it through the door. “So I tell her, ‘Just grab it and shove it in,’ ” he recalled. “I almost passed out in pain.”

At the hospital, five employees helped move Schiller from the car to a consulting room. When a doctor examined his leg, she warned him that it was so swollen there was a chance it might burst. She tried to remove fluid with a needle, but nothing came out. “So she goes in with a bigger needle—nothing comes out,” Schiller said. “Then she goes in with a huge needle, like the size of a pencil lead—nothing comes out.” When the doctor tugged on the plunger, the syringe filled with a chunky, meatlike substance. “And then she gasped,” Schiller said.

I used to balk at people who insisted on buying organic food or only shopping at Whole Foods. I thought those people were snobby or cared too much about their health. Turns out there is a good reason for this. It is extremely important to know where your food came from and if the facilities that raised these animals are clean and humane. A few extra dollars is more than worth it.

blink-182 Breaks Up. For Good.

Mark Hoppus on Tom DeLonge leaving blink-182:

We booked January 5th to go into the studio. On December 30th, we get an e-mail from Tom’s manager saying that he has no interest in recording and that he wants to do his other, non-musical stuff and that he’s out indefinitely. There’s a flurry of e-mails going back and forth for clarification about the recording and the show and his manager sends [an e-mail] back saying, “Tom. Is. Out.” Direct quote. 

I’m sad to see one of my favorite bands end up like this.

The U.S. And Maternity Leave

The U.S. is far behind when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. Currently, unless you work in one of three states or your company provides it, paid maternity leave does not exist. There is the Family and Medical Leave Act which grants up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave but this only applies to full time workers at companies with more than 50 employees.

In 2013, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would make employers offer new parents three months of paid leave at 66 percent of their salary, but the bill, the Family Act, has been stalled in Congress for more than a year. Even if it passes, it won’t fix a system that paints a huge segment of the workforce into a corner. 

So why is the Family Act at a standstill? Gillibrand says Congress doesn’t think it’s important enough. “The issue isn’t being raised because too many of the members of Congress were never affected by it,” she says, pointing out that 80 percent of Congress is older and male. “They’re not primary caregivers. Most members of Congress are affluent and are able to afford help or able to support their [wives]. It’s not a problem for most of them.” Hillary Clinton has also admitted that while she supports paid leave, it’s a political battle the U.S. isn’t ready to fight. “I don’t think, politically, we could get it [passed] now,” she said in a CNN town hall meeting last June.

As a future parent, this is utterly depressing.

The Shake Shack Economy

The New Yorker and the rise of fast-casual dining:

“Unlike traditional fast-food restaurants, fast-casuals emphasize fresh, natural, and often locally sourced ingredients. (Chipotle, for instance, tries to use only antibiotic-free meat.) Perhaps as a result, their food tends to taste better. It’s also more expensive. The average McDonald’s customer spends around five dollars a visit; the average Chipotle check is more than twice that. Fast-casual restaurants first emerged in serious numbers in the nineteen-nineties, and though the industry is just a fraction of the size of the traditional fast-food business, it has grown remarkably quickly. Today, according to the food-service consulting firm Technomic, it accounts for thirty-four billion dollars in sales. Since Chipotle went public, in 2006, its stock price has risen more than fifteen hundred per cent.”

Asia McClain

Asia McClain, a witness in the case of Adnan Syed, reverses her story,

I never told Urick that I recanted my story or affidavit about January 13, 1999. In addition, I did not write the March 1999 letters or the affidavit because of pressure from Syed’s family. I did not write them to please Syed’s family or to get them off my back. What actually happened is that I wrote the affidavit because I wanted to provide the truth about what I remembered. My only goal has always been to provide the truth about what I remembered.

Ramen Redux

The Lucky Peach, the online magazine of David Chang’s Momofuku group, has been on a roll lately. Jonathan Gold on what makes ramen so accessible to anyone:

Ramen offers the pleasures of communality and it offers the pleasures of extreme connoisseurship. It has those things over other foods. It’s not expensive. A college student can become an extreme ramen snob—your intern might know more about ramen than you. I think that ramen and tacos are the entry point for connoisseurship for a lot of young people.

Tom Hanks On His Two Years At Community College

Barack Obama recently proposed making the first two years of community college free to “everybody willing to work for it”. While there is predictable backlash, Tom Hanks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times defending it. He talks about his time at Chabot College:

Chabot College is still in Hayward, though Mr. Coovelis, Ms. Fitzgerald and Mr. Kennedy are no longer there. I drove past the campus a few years ago with one of my kids and summed up my two years there this way: “That place made me what I am today.”

Pretty great endorsement of community college.

Broth Redux

Seriously, broth is the new thing. Right after I posted the two broth links yesterday, Mark Bittman  lists recipes for various stocks in the New York Times.

Miso Stock: So simple it almost feels like cheating. Bring 6 cups water almost to a boil. In a separate bowl, combine ⅓ to ½ cup miso with a splash of the simmering water; whisk until smooth, then, with the heat at a minimum, whisk the miso mixture into the pot. Do not boil this mixture, but heat added ingredients gently.


Apparently broth is the new health craze. 

Fast Company

“It’s flying off the shelves,” said Heather Mondello, the CSA’s vice president of distribution.

Mondello credits bone broth’s resurgence to the current vogue for nose-to-tail eating, using every part of the animal. It’s also received a boost from the popular paleo diet and its close relative, the primal diet, which reach different conclusions about what cavemen ate (primal, for example, allows some dairy, which is verboten on paleo), but can agree it included bones.

New York Times

“Recently, this prehistoric food has improbably become a trend beverage, ranking with green juice and coconut water as the next magic potion in the eternal quest for perfect health. Like other health foods that have taken off in recent years — yogurt, quinoa — broth combines mystical connections to the ancient world and demonstrable nutrition benefits in the modern one.”