August 1, 2016

Dole Whip

Dole Whip

At Aloha Isle in Adventureland is the place to get a special treat on a hot day in the Magic Kingdom:

Dole out a smile with the much sought-after soft-serve delight known as the Dole Whip(R)--a popular frozen treat blended in pineapple, vanilla or swirled flavors. Frosty floats, fresh pineapple spears, and soft drinks are also available.

Sunshine Tree Terrace is another place in Adventureland that carries the full Dole Whip line.

You can also get a Dole Whip at Captain Cook's in the Polynesian Resort and for a limited time, during Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival, you can find Dole Whips (including a spiced rum version) along the World Showcase promenade!

At Animal Kingdom you can find "Pineapple Whips" Tamu Tamu in Africa. These are very much like the Dole Whips, even the same signature swirl.

Dole Whip is a vegan treat and contains only 90 calories!

August 2, 2016

Shark BAH - Ocean Edge Resorts

Shark Bah Service

The Arbor Pool is the largest pool at Ocean Edge resorts in Brewster, Massachusetts. Ocean Edge is a popular retreat area for people visiting Cape Cod.

The Arbor pool is popular with families because the main pool has a large shallow end. There is a separate kids pool for babies and infants. The pool is located directly across the street from the Golf clubhouse.

Only guests and members are allowed in the pool area. Outside food is not allowed.

The Shark BAH offers drinks and a limited menu of sandwiches for guests.

This past weekend we spent some time at the Arbor Pool for some late morning swimming. After a couple of hours, we started getting hungry, we decided to check out the Shark BAH.

We got a menu and informed our server that our daughter has Celiac. He didn't volunteer any information on how they carefully prepare the food for those that have allergies. He did say that they had Gluten free bread for sandwiches. There was no information on the menu what items could be made gluten free.

To be safe, we ordered a Hot Dog with no bun, and everyone else placed their order.

About 10 minutes later he came back with our order, and we noticed that the Hot Dog order came with french fries. We asked the server if they had a dedicated fryer for their french fries. He seemed a bit confused and went to check.

He returned about ten minutes later and said that they didn't have a dedicated fryer. We suggested that they substitute Cape Cod potato chips since they are gluten free. (We kept the fries so other people can enjoy them as a snack.)

The hot dog was very good and my daughter ate most of it. She liked the chips too.

We were a bit disappointed with the service and that he wasn't aware of any cross contamination issues with cooking the french fries with other foods.

Grill Cheese

A couple of days later we returned to the Arbor pool for more swimming fun. Once again, our swimming fun made us hungry, we decided to order lunch from the Shark Bah.

This time, we ordered grill cheese with the gluten free bread.

My daughter liked it and said it tasted yummy. However, it looked very basic, as it was simply a small slice of cheese on a toasted bread. (We assume that it was safely toasted, but we didn't think to ask at the time.) They did include the Cape Cod potato chips.

Shark Bah Thumbs UpThumbs up for the Grill Cheese!

Would we go back?

Yes, we'll go back to the Arbor Pool and enjoy a nice lunch at Shark BAH. For lunch, I think we'll stick with the basic and order a no bun hot dog and chips.

August 3, 2016

Gorilla Leaf Rake

Gorilla Leaf Rake

A few years ago, I needed to buy a new leaf rake because the previous one had too many holes and it just wasn't getting as much leaves as it use to.

When I visited the local pool store I was surprised that they only had Gorilla Pool Leaf rakes in stock. More surprising was that they cost $35.

Ouch!

Seriously? A simple piece of plastic with a net on it is worth $35?

When I took the leaf rake off the shelf, I noticed something. This particular leaf rake netting is way stronger than the one I was using. Also, the net end points are double sowed making it

Maybe this one won't tear as easy when I try to scoop up little twigs from the bottom of the pool.

The top had a steeper slope making it much easier to scoop the leaves at the bottom of the pool. Now I can really get all the leaves when I scoop the pool.

I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that this one was worth the investment.

Three years later.

Today my Gorilla Leaf rake is still going strong. There are no holes or any signs of wear and tear. It looks brand new, and that's after three years of pulling out leaves and junk from the bottom of the pool.

I would highly recommend investing in a quality pool leaf rake. This year I pulled out a lot of very heavy wet leaves and I am ever thankful for having a good leaf rake.

Tips on using a Leaf Rake

  • When you have a full basket of wet leaves, make sure to hold the bottom of the basket with your hand as you pull it out of the pool. This will help reduce the amount of stress on the pole and the leaf rake connection point.
  • This year I went into the pool used the leaf rake attached to a small pole to clean the bottom of the pool. I found that I was able to get more leaves by sweeping the bottom of the pool. The deep basket allows me to not as stop as often to check the basket.
  • At the end of the season, I keep the leaf rake above the floor. This is to prevent any mice or other creatures to build a nest in the netting.
You can find the Gorilla Leaf Rakes at most pool places, this year I noticed that the Gorilla frame is Orange. Check it out and see how it compares to the one your using.

August 4, 2016

Sacred Cod of Massachusetts

Sacred Cod

The Sacred Cod is a four-foot, eleven-inch carved-wood effigy of an Atlantic codfish, hanging in the public viewing gallery of the House of Representatives chamber in the Boston's Massachusetts State House. It was placed in the House of Representative chamber ceiling in 1784 to commemorate the importance of the fishing industry to the Bay State.

Sacred Cod History

There have been three versions of the Sacred Cod:

  • 1700s - 1747 - Displayed in the Old State House, destroyed by fire.
  • 1747 - 1774 - Stolen by the British during the Revolutionary war.
  • 1784 - Today - Moved to the new State House in 1895.

Stealing the Sacred Cod

There have been two cases of people stealing the Sacred Cod:

  • April 16, 1933, some Harvard Lampoon students stole it, it was returned a few days later in a dramatic fashion. A phone call to the Harvard University Police to have them follow a car with no license plate. After a brief slow speed chase, the car pulled over and two men handed over the Cod and sped away. The Cod was returned about 50 hours after it was stolen.
  • November 16, 1968, some Boston UMass students stole the Sacred Cod and was returned a few days later.

President Frankin D, Roosevelt

In 1941, the Sacred Cod became a topic when President Franklin D, Roosevelt visited Boston during a time when there was a push to use aluminum as part of the World War 2 defense. President Roosevelt was invited to visit Boston to start the nation-wide aluminum drive.

According to the Boston Globe, Franklin R. Roosevelt said, "I have been informed that the Sacred Cod emblem of Massachusetts, which hangs in your august chamber, is made of aluminum, or of aluminum sections. I think it would be a generous gesture and an example to the rest of the citizenry if the members of your honorable body voted to contribute the code to the cause of the defense."

The Sacred Cod is under the Massachusetts State Art Commission control, and they did not approve of removing it from the chamber. (There's no indication that they actually took President Frankin D, Roosevelt offer seriously.)

Assorted Sacred Cod Trivia

  • John Hancock was the sitting Massachusetts Governor when the original Sacred Cod was given to the House of Representatives.
  • The Sacred Cod is made of mostly pine and there's barely any trace of aluminum. The Sacred Cod is Four feet, 11 1/2 inches long, 10 inches wide at its fin point.
  • In 1965, the Sacred Cod was cleaned, and when it was placed back it was hung backward facing the South. For 70 years, it was facing North.
  • In 1937, some representatives wanted the Cod to be replaced by a greyhound as a tribute to "the power of the dog track operators." In 2008, Massachusetts eliminated Greyhound racing via Question 3 on the November 4, 2008, ballot. The last greyhound race was on December 26, 2009, at Raynham Park.

Viewing the Sacred Cod

You can see the Sacred Cod on a tour of the Massachusetts State House. Tour of the State House is free. You are allowed to take pictures inside the State House.

August 5, 2016

Posterino

Posterino Image

Do you have a bunch of digital pictures that you would like display at your desk? Why not create a cool photo college? You can easily do this with Posterino by Zykloid Software.

There are 46 templates to choose from - including a blank canvas where you can layout your own images anyway you want. There's lots of effect options including circular, grid, grid lines, random and title. You can identify how many images that you want to display and the page layout (Landscape or Portrait)

Simply select the template, and then let your creativity go to work. Posterino syncs to your iPhoto and Photo databases, or you can drag and drop images from the desktop. There's even a feature where it will fill in the image placeholders randomly. Simply adjust the images so that it looks perfect.

Got Pictures?

One of Posterino's templates is called 365. It's your chance to create a 20 x 30 poster of 365 of your best pictures of the year. That's a lot of pictures in one poster. (They put the current year on the bottom right, but you can change that.

This is pretty easy to do, simply go through your pictures in Photos, and rate them. Then you can create a Smart Folder containing the highest rated photos. Select the Album in Posterino and have it randomly place the images in the grid. (Its a lot easier than manually doing it.)

Remember how I said you can adjust the year, well you can change it to name a recent vacation. For example, you can display 365 of the best Disney pictures on a 20 x 30 poster!

Create and Share

You can export the final results to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, iPhoto and email. You can also make the final product as a desktop image. I like to create 5x7 photos at CVS and have the pictures display on my desk.

A few years ago I created a Random Over Board layout and created a "car door" magnet at Vistaprint. Instead of placing it on the car door, I just put the magnet on my file cabinet.

Mosaic Crop

New in Posterino 3.2 - Mosaic Crop! It give you to display one big image as if they were smaller images. Check out this layout of a recent trip to Boston. This took about 20 minutes to create, with most of the time trying to figure out 16 of the best pictures taken on the trip:

Boston TripA trip to Boston, Massachusetts displayed Posterino style.

The Mosaic Crop feature appears to work better when you have a single object to focus on. To create a Mosaic-Crop, simply select all the images, and drag an image to one of the selected images.

Worth Buying?

I have been using Posterino off and on since August 10, 2011. It has come in handy during Christmas as I have created some cool posters for gifts. I have upgraded to the latest version and it's so much easier to use than when I got it.

Single-User License is $19.99, while a household license is only $29.99. Download a trial from Zykloid Software and see what creative colleges you create!

August 6, 2016

Five Years Later...

On August 3, 2011 I posted the following status on Facebook:

More of Obama’s change you can believe in… “The Dow Jones Industrial average was down 101 points in afternoon trading, putting in on track for its ninth straight day of losses, the longest losing streak since February 1978."

The market had an afternoon recovery, and the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 30 points, or 0.3%, to close at 11,896. The S&P 500 (SPX) gained 6 points, or 0.5%, to 1,260; and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) added 24 points, or 0.9%, to 2,693.

Five Years Later

Had you invested in the market that day, you should be all smiles today as the market had recovered pretty well five years later. Here’s a chart to show how much better things were on August 3, 2011, vs August 3, 2016:

Five Year Chart

Lesson Learned

The key lesson here is that if you're going to invest in the market, focus on the long term and not the short term. Don’t pay much attention to the short-term news.

Stay in the game...your sure to win in the long run.

Stayin The Game

August 7, 2016

Internet Quotes

Couple of good inspiration quotes about the Internet:

Internet Growth

Andy Grove was a well-respected CEO of Intel. He helped transform the company into the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors. He was Time Magazine "Man of the Year" in 1997 for being "the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovative potential of microchips."

"E-Commerce is happening the way all the hype said it would. Internet deployment is happening. Broadband is happening. Everything we ever said about the Internet is happening. And it is very, very early. We can't even glimpse its potential in changing the way people work and live." - Andy Grove in August 2003

Andy Grove

Never too Late

The Next Web is an online publisher of tech news. They get about 10 million monthly visitors and serve over 12 million monthly page views.

Google was late to search.
Facebook was late to social networking.
Apple as late to the MP3 Player.
Where would we be if they listened to
everyone who said they were too late?
It's never too late.
Just do it better.

The Next Web

August 8, 2016

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

God Mother Transformation

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a magical beauty salon where little girls and boys can get princess and knight makeovers. There are two locations to choose from in Disneyworld; Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.

Children, from 3 to 12, get transform to be their favorite princess and knight from Disney's own Fairy Godmothers-in-Training. It's certainly one way to make a Disney Vacation very magical.

Magic Kingdom

The salon is located inside Cinderella Castle. You enter the magical beauty salon via Fantasyland. The entrance door is located directly across Cinderella's Royal Table entrance.

The Magic Kingdom salon is very popular and reservations should be made at least 90 days before arrival.

Disney Springs

The salon at Disney Springs is located in "Once Upon a Story." This is something different to do if you're looking for something to do on an off day at the park. The "Once Upon a Story" is located in the center of Disney Springs - look for the large Mr. Potato head.

If your unable to get a reservation at the Magic Kingdom's Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique try Disney Springs.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Packages

The Crown Package (starting at $59.95 plus tax)

  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and cinch bag
  • Nail polish

The Courtyard Package (starting at $99.95 plus tax)

  • Everything in the Crown Package and...
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique T-shirt
  • Trendy tutu

The Castle Package (starting at $199.95 plus tax)

  • Everything in the Crown Package and...
  • Disney Princess gown of your choice (shoes not included)
  • Wand
  • Crown

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Things we Learned at the Magic Kingdom Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

  • Our daughter was sick during one of our trips, and they were very accommodating to change the day of our Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique.
  • Some people advised bringing our own dress before going to the park, as its cheaper. Instead, we opt to have our daughter pick the outfit she wanted to wear. We found it adds a bit of mystery to the experience.
  • The salon at the Magic Kingdom is smaller than Disney Springs.
  • When you arrive at your reservation time, there might be an additional 10 to 15-minute wait. The waiting area is very small and there is limited seating.
  • You will have plenty of opportunities to take photos and videos during the makeover.
  • Our Fairy Godmothers-in-Training engaged in conversation with our daughter to make her smile while she was getting a makeover.
  • During the transformation process, the Princess/Knight doesn't get to see their transformation until the end. This makes for a great video/photo opportunity.
  • After the makeover is completed, you go across the street to get your pictures done.
  • If you select the Imaging Package you will have to return back later in the day to pick up your photos.
  • When you return to pick up the "Imaging Package" photos you may encounter a long wait. (Ours was at least 25 mins) This is because each customer will view all the photos that were taken during the photo shoot to find the perfect one to print.
  • We planned our Magic Kingdom day around the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. After the makeover, we scheduled a Fastpass to see Anna and Elisa and other Disney princesses. This was certainly a good photo opportunity.
  • You can always go back to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to get some magical sprinkles. This is great idea when you're waiting in line for the Cinderella's Royal Table.

August 9, 2016

Sundae School

Sundae School Menu

Sundae School on Cape Cod opened its doors on Memorial Day weekend in 1976. Since then they have been serving the highest quality ice cream on Cape Cod.

Currently there are three locations in the mid-cape where you can try their ice cream. While each place has a unique charm, you'll get the same delicious ice cream no matter which place you visit:

  • Dennisport - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1978
  • East Orleans - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1984
  • Harwichport - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1988

Recently we stopped at the Orleans location and a few days later the Dennisport locations to enjoy some afternoon treats.

Orleans

The Orleans location is very small and there's usually a long line out the door. Thankfully they have come up with a process to move the line faster. The main problem with the location is that the parking lot fills up pretty quick. In the evenings, your best bet is to park at the business on Great Oak Road.

Dennisport

The Dennisport location is much larger and the are nice classic ice cream decorations inside. There's not a lot of inside seating, but there is large uncovered patio seating outside.

We stopped in shortly after a rain storm and were surprised that the seats were dry, apparently one of the workers used a towel to dry up the seats and tables. We were very impressed. I don't think Disney works that fast.

The marble soda fountain is more than 100 years old and came from the Parkway Pharmacy on Blue Hill Parkway in Milton.

The Sundae School in Dennisport has a special menu for people with food allergies. When you go up to the counter you'll see a special allergy free menu. They actually keep the allergy free ice cream in a separate refrigerator.

Gluten free friendly

If you have a food allergy, let your server know and they will fully wash out a scoop and use a new container to serve you. (Usually, they put the ice cream scoop in a water container with other scoops.) The staff seemed to be fully aware of cross contamination issues.

Sundae School makes ice cream in small batches, so you never know what allergy free flavor they have in stock.

If you're looking for great gluten free ice cream after a hot day at Nauset Beach, there's nothing like Sundae School. Try my favorite the Nauset Mud: "The Nauset mud is a coffee base, with, fudge swirls, chocolate chips, and almond bits."

Ice Cream Sundae SchoolIn the ice cream zone, after having fun at the Whydah Pirates Museum.

August 10, 2016

Hayward Automatic Pool Cleaner

Hayward Automatic Pool Cleaner

Hayward has four designs in their Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner line. You can find the following brands on Amazon.com, and local pool stores. They all have the same pool cleaning functionality.

  • Hayward Diver Dave ~ $135
  • Aqua Bug ~ $138
  • Aqua Critter ~ $134
  • Wanda the Whale ~ $136

The pool cleaner randomly crawls around the pool floor picking up all sorts of things. The pool cleaner comes in handy when opening up the pool in the spring. It's very easy to set up and connect to an above ground skimmer.

The whole unit is very easy to take apart for the winter and the box that comes in is perfect for storage.

We have used both Diver Dave and Wanda the Whale.

Standard Leaf Canister

Hayward W560 PoolVac Navigator Standard Leaf Canister is an 'ok' accessory to the Hayward Brand Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaners. I find it a bit tricky to open up the leaf canister. I find opening up the strainer cover in the pool pump is a bit easier.

Here's what you have to do when it comes time to clean out the PoolVac Navigator Standard Leaf Canister:

  1. Stop the pool pump
  2. Pull in hoses so that you can reach the leaf canister
  3. Disconnect the hose
  4. Anchor up one end of the hose so it doesn't float away while you empty the canister.
  5. Open up the canister, which can be tricky because of the tight inner seal.
  6. Dump the contents
  7. Put everything back together
  8. Disconnect the hose from the stainer
  9. Turn on the pump
  10. Put the hose by the outtake valve so the hose gets filled with water
  11. Reconnect the hose to the strainer

It's a lot of work, and in some cases, it's much better to deal with the pool pump strainer cover than the Standard Leaf Canister.

There are a couple of advantages of the leaf canister:

  • Catches the large leaves and the pool strainer deals with the smaller stuff.
  • Prevents build up in the pipes that typically happen between the pool and the Pool Pump. That is a real mess to deal with.

The leaf canister is a nice accessory to the pool cleaner, its not something that will make life that much easier.

Assorted Tips and Tricks

  • Over the years I have learned that the Hayward Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner doesn't handle large amount of leaves very well. If you have a lot of leaves or twigs in your pool, your better off manually getting rid of them. Once you have a lot of them out, send the Hayward Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner to get all the small stuff that's what it does the best.
  • Twigs and sticks can easily clog the pool cleaner. Make sure the pool is clear of those before using the Pool Cleaner. Otherwise you'll be pulling in the pool cleaner frequently to fix the clogging issue.
  • When something is clogging the pool cleaner, the hose near the filter will start to buckle up. This is because there is less water going into the pump. The pump therefore is causing additional pressure on the pipe. As a results, you'll see the tube nearest the strainer buckle up.
  • Always keep the pool cleaner hose straight when in storage. The Hayward box is one way to store Diver Dave in the Winter.
  • In the Spring, we always run the pool cleaner when someone is around to watch it. There is a constant need to just double check to make sure it isn't clogged.
  • When the pool cleaner is not in the pool, I lay out the hoses along the bottom of the yard fence.
  • Store the pool cleaner hose and accessories inside the house during the winter. We accidentally discovered that field mice use the Diver Dave box as their nest.
  • The pool cleaner plastic feet are interchangeable between the Wanda the Whale and Diver Dave (probably other units but can't confirm that). The plastic feet seem to wear down after a couple of seasons. We replaced our Diver Dave unit with Wanda the Whale because the plastic feet had a lot of wear and tear and was causing Diver Dave to only clean a small percentage of the pool.
  • We have a 25-foot round pool and find that having a couple extra hoses allows the pool cleaner to fully reach the pool. You can order extra hoses from Hayward.
  • Never run the Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner when people or pets are in the pool since the water movement can disrupt the effectiveness of the cleaner.

August 11, 2016

Boston Stone

Boston Stone

The Boston Stone is set into the wall of a building on 9 Marshall Street. It is really two stones - a rectangular base, with the carved inscription "Boston Stone, 1737," surmounted by a stone ball.

The Boston Stone has been a local landmark since it "magically" appeared in the 1700s. In 1835, it became an official Boston Landmark.

Here's some information Boston Stone trivia that I found:

There was no record of the "Boston Stone" until around 1770.

On the 'Boston Stone' is the year 1737. In my research, no one was able to identify the meaning of the date.

I came up with two possibilities:

  • Celebrate the Irish Heritage - The first formal St. Patrick's Day celebration in Boston was in 1737.
  • Commemorate John Hancock - John Hancock was born January 23, 1737.

Some people think that the stone was use as the central point of mileage measurement from the city of Boston. It's only a legend, as the new State House has always is the central point of mileage to Boston.

The stone actually had a purpose it was originally a paint mill, imported from England around 1700 by Painter Thomas Child (1655-1706), who owned the property. The long stone in which a painter would ground and mixed his paint by rolling a circular stone ball back and forth.

When Thomas Child died, John Howe purchased the property and place the long stone and stone ball to the corner of the property to protect it from passing carts.

The wooden house that Thomas Child and John Howe lived in was taken down in 1835. The stone was relocated and put into the new brick building that is standing today.

The top circular stone use to have an eagle on it. (Probably placed sometime 1875 - America Centennial Celebration)

The Boston Stone was was originally stops of the Boston Freedom Trail in the 1950s.

Real Meaning of the Boston Stone

Around the turn of the century, when people would ask about the stone they were given a pamphlet with the following description:

The old wooden house now standing, has for many generations been occupied by a Painter. When the grandfather of the present owner. Mr. John Rowe purchased the house, a large stone was found in the yard. It was hollowed out on one side, used to grind paint. Being of no use in the yard, it was removed to the corner of the house to prevent carts from injuring the building. When I was a boy, in passing the building, I saw a lad named Joe Whiting, whose father occupied the shop, writing on the stone these words - "Boston Stone, Marshall Lane." After I became a man I asked Mr. Whiting who set the boy to work on the stone. He said, "Marshal Lane" at that time no being named, it was difficult to designate his place of business. A Scotchman who opened a shop for the sale of Ale and Cheese directly opposite made a complaint of the difficulty. He said, in London there was a large stone at a certain corner, marked "London Stone," which served as a direction to all places near it, and if I would let Joe write the words "Boston Stone" on this, people would notice it, and it would set them guessing what it meant, and it would become a good landmark.

Now you know. The Boston Stone is nothing more than an 18th Century marketing tool to get people to go down Marshall Street.

August 12, 2016

Rogue Amoeba's Fission

Rogue Amoeba Fission

If your doing any basic audio editing on a Macintosh and looking for a powerful tool that won't break the budget - check out Rogue Amoeba's Fission.

I have been using Fission to modify my audio files since 2006 and find it incredibly easy-to-use to clean up my audio files.

The three things I use Fission for:

  • Trim Audio Files recorded in Audio Hijack
  • Normalize the audio - Make the audio quality the same throughout the clip
  • Convert audio clips from one format to another

Why pay $29 for an Audio Program?

Sure there's some free audio programs out there such as Audacity which is free. Why pay for application?

What makes Fission great is that you can use it to read/write to all sorts of audio formats such as MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV. Audacity doesn't support AAC and Apple Lossless formats. ACC is designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates.

The smart split feature in Fission created breaks in the audio clip based on silence. This is a great tool when you are digitalizing cassette tapes and makes it easy to split a very large audio file.

Stereo Audio Support

When I first started using I was a bit concern because I only see one track. In other applications, such as Audacity and Sound Edit Pro, there would be separate tracks for left and right audio.

However, Rogue Amoeba's Fission does fully support stereo sound. You don't see it the left/right tracks. When you save the file and play the audio clip you will still have the same stereo sound. You will not loose any stereo sound quality or functionality.

Create Custom Ringtones

Fission has the ability to convert any audio clip to your very own ringtone. How cool is that! Now you can make your favorite clip as a ringtone. Why should you pay Apple $1.29 for a thirty-second ringtone when you can make your own!

Apple requires that all ringtones must be 40 seconds or less.

In Fission, simply select the 40 seconds of audio that you want to use then click on File > Save as iPhone Ringtone. Fission will work it's magic and put the clip right into iTunes ready to merge the next time you sync your iPhone to the computer.

Cool Phone Tunes

To see your Ringtone in iTunes, make sure that the 'Tones' menu is selected.

Download and Try it Out

You can download Fission on Rogue Amoeba's website and try it out for 30 days. Find out for yourself all the cool ways that you can make your audio clips better.

August 13, 2016

Bastians

Bastians

On Lower County Road in Dennisport is Bastians, a great place to get all your beach needs. You can find all sorts of floats, beach toys, and Cape Cod souvenirs. You can't miss the store, it's on the corner of Shad Hole Road and Lower County Road, just look for all the floatation devices in front of the store.

The store is open every day from Memorial Day weekend, until Labor Day. In September, the store is open on the weekends until it closes down on Columbus Day.

Hey I Worked There!

If you stopped in the store during the summer of 1988 or 1989, you probably would have seen me working the register or inflating customer beach flotation devices.

I worked with Mr. Bastian on stocking the shelves and helping customers find things in the store.

I never really thought of it as a job as it was just a fun place to work and meet interesting people.

Some memories that come into mind from working there:

Cell phones weren't around in the late 1980's and people would stop by to use the row of payphone booths on the other side of the parking lot. (The booths are no longer there.)
The store was once broken into by someone unlocking one of the front sliding doors during business hours. The thieves came back at night to steal some things. Thankfully the cash wasn't kept in the store at night. The store lost some merchandise but nothing serious. I thought it was pretty gutsy that they would break in via the front.
There was a time were a customer stole one of the flotation rafts that was in front of the store. Mr. Bastian asked me who sold the raft since it was pretty ugly. I told him that it wasn't me as I was working the air pump machine. The girl behind the register said she didn't either. I saw the car with the raft pull out the parking lot, and told Mr. Bastian, "There it is!" I then took chase of the car. When I got caught up to the car, I told the passenger that they didn't buy the float, she said they did. I didn't get them to stop, but I looked at their license plate number and remembered it. I got back in the store to write it down. Meanwhile, Mr. Bastian took chase in his car, caught up with them down the street. He told us later that the people pull over, there was a lot of yelling, and he got $20.

Unique things about Bastians

Walking through the store, you see that it is a very typical old fashion Cape Cod souvenir store. They have a lot of strange and unique souvenirs. I am pretty sure that there is plenty of merchandise in the store today from when I worked there.

Some merchandise you'll encounter at Bastians:

  • Cape Cod souvenir wooden boxes
  • Penny Candy (near the register)
  • Used Paperback Books
  • Bamboo Beach Mats (these were very popular!)
  • Cheap kites
  • Puzzles
  • Modeling kits
  • Stationary

Did you know: You can bring your own flotation devices to Bastians to be inflated. Bastians would inflate anything that you purchase in the store and anything that you bring into the store for free!

Bastians Store is For Sale

Sadly, Mr. Bastian died in 2007. Every Summer since his family has been running the store. They have since decided that it was time to sell the business. If nobody buys the business in the next couple of week, this could very well be the final days of Bastians.

A note on Facebook:

A rare Opportunity to own your own Business!
After 50+ Bastians 5 & 10 of Dennisport (BUSINESS ONLY) is being sold. A message from the owner: "After having the pleasure of serving the public for the past 50+ years, Bastians in Dennisport will be closing. We were fortunate to meet many wonderful people over these years who became loyal customers. We have enjoyed watching generations of children grow up and bring their grandchildren and their children. Seeing your familiar faces every year has given us much satisfaction and we appreciate your kind words and sharing of memories. Should anyone wish to explore continuing the "Bastian's Tradition", Please contact Crystal @ Joly McAbee & Weinert for details Gerry Bastian

CustomerMessage.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

If you have the opportunity to continue the tradition, I would suggest looking into the opportunity!

August 14, 2016

Framingham MBTA Commuter Rail Parking

Framingham Parking Lot

It’s been a while since I updated on what’s going on for Commuter’s at the Framingham MBTA station:

Framingham commuter rail stop ranks as the 10th most-used station in the entire rail system with 1,400 riders visiting each day.

According to statistics by the MBTA, the Framingham station had the second most typical Boston bound weekday boardings on the Framingham/Worcester line (April 2013 latest data available!)

Worcester 1,475
Grafton 724
Westborough 759
Southborough 1,051
Ashland 691
Framingham 1,299
West Natick 1,121
Natick 1,077
Wellesley Square 804
Wellesley Hills 562
Wellesley Farms 558
Auburndale 325
West Newton 284
Newtonville 293

Commuter Rail Riders
Commuter Rail Riders

Waverly Street Commuter Lot - 65 Spaces

This is a very popular parking lot across the street from the MBTA station. Spaces are sold by permit only - costing $90 a month. New: All spot are full! Currently, there is a waiting list to get a parking spot.

Pearl Street Garage - 289 Spaces

Monthly permit parking, $65 for Framingham residences and $80 for non-residents. New: Monthly renewals are due no later than the Friday, a week prior to the first of each month. Example: renewal for September 2016 will need to be received no later that Friday, August 19, 2016.

Main MBTA Parking lot (Banana Lot) - 118 Spaces

MetroWest Regional Transit Authority(MWRTA) has signed a deal with the MBTA to take over the commuter rail parking lot. Terms of the deal have yet to be finalized but once completed they will take over full ownership of the parking lot. You’ll see new MWRTA bus shelters and expansion increasing the parking are to 200 spaces. Parking in this lot cost $4 a day.

August 15, 2016

The Barnstormer

One of the exciting rides of New Fantasyland is Barnstormer - located near the Fantasyland train station in Storybook circus. Barnstormer isn't new to Disneyworld as the ride been there since October 1, 1996. The ride has gone through different names over the year. The ride closed in February 2011, and then reopened in March 2012 with a new look and featuring the Great Goofini theme.

The Barnstormer is a junior roller coaster type of ride. Riders must be 2/ 11" (121 CM) tall to ride.

History of the roller coaster ride at this location:

June 18, 1988 - October 1,1996 Grandma Duck's Petting Farm as part of Mickey's Birthdayland
October 1, 1996 - February 1, 2011 Barnstormer at Wiseacre Farm
March 12, 2012 - Present Day Barnstormer featuring the Great Goofini in the Storybook Circus section of New Fantasyland

Some Interesting Trivia about the Barnstormer

  • This is one of the parks shortest height requirements any roller coaster type of ride. This means for many young kids, this is their first real roller coaster ride and they can experience this ride whenever they return to the Magic Kingdom.
  • Barnstormer is a FastPass+ ride. I highly recommend to get a fast pass in advance.
  • The ride takes approximately 1 1/2 minutes. (Space Mountain takes 3 minutes)
  • There are 16 riders for each run.
  • Ride Capacity: 450 riders per hour. (Space Mountain handles 900-1200 per hour; 2057-2500 if both sides open)
  • At it's peak speed the roller coaster will reach up to 25 mph. (Space Mountain peaks at 28.7 mph)
  • Unlike other new rides in the New Fantasyland, the Barnstormer doesn't have any interactive games in the waiting queue.
  • Like other new rides in Fantasyland - when you exit the ride, you don't end up in a gift shop.
  • A Hidden Mickey formed by a jumble of wires could be found in the attraction's queue near the "popcorn plants".

August 16, 2016

Chocolate Sparrow

Orleans Massachusetts is a quiet little village of Cape Cod, during the summer months the town increases it size as many tourist visits some of the best beaches of Cape Cod. While many tourists stop at the local Dunkin Donuts to get their coffee, the locals know that the best place to go is the Chocolate Sparrow.

Their tag line is ... It's a local coffee shop that is so much more. From their website:

With the love of chocolate and a loan, we started The Chocolate Sparrow, a simple candy shop, in 1989 in North Eastham. Gradually we learned the art of making fine chocolate and the business of selling it. In 1991 we opened a summer shop in Wellfleet. Two years later in Orleans, we opened The Hot Chocolate Sparrow, a cafe complete with coffee from around the world, desserts of every indulgence, and our own hand-dipped chocolates.
Chocolate Sparrow

Choices a Plenty

Regardless on when you visit the Chocolate Sparrow, you'll encounter a bit of a wait. This is a good thing, as you can use this time to look at the chalkboard and all figure out what you want to order. They have a lot of excellent choices. (15 different types of Syrups to spice up your coffee)

Yes, people are crazy enough to order Hot Chocolate on a hot summer July day. Everyone else will settle for the Frozen Hot Chocolate, which is much better than anything that Dunkin Donuts makes.

Directly in front of you is a great selection of pastries to enjoy with your drink. Can you find the pastry that packs the highest chocolate option? After all, this is the Chocolate Sparrow.

Gluten free Options

The Chocolate Sparrow is Celiac friendly and they have a good selection of snacks to choose from. Many of these are made elsewhere and package well to prevent any cross contamination concerns. Others pastries are displayed in a special gluten free shelf.

You can find White Lion Baking Company Cinnamon Bun Muffins, Blueberry Muffin, Chunky Monkey Muffins and Paleo Power Muffins. White Lion is a local baking company located in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

They also have gluten free cookies and brownies too.

Its a great place to take our daughter when she is looking for a treat after a fun day of swimming at Ocean Edge Resort. She can enjoy a nice Frozen Hot Chocolate. Not only are they Celiac Friendly, but they are kids friendly. When my daughter dropped her drink outside they replaced it with no cost and very nicely asked her to be very careful with the second one.

Lots of Sweets

One of the things we like about the Chocolate Sparrow is they sell dog treats dipped in safe-for-dogs chocolate. We get this for our neighbors who watch our cats while we are away.

The Chocolate Sparrow has a lot of delicious candy and fudge too.

Go for the Hot Chocolate, stay for the delicious homemade fudge!

August 17, 2016

Above Ground Pool Ladder

VinylWorks Pool Ladder

Our above ground pool has a small custom made deck to make it easy to get in and out of the water. It was built by the previous owners.

In 2009, we had to replace the metal pool ladder that they had. Some people didn't feel safe using it. After an extensive search, we selected the Model DL from VinylWorks in Canada. We needed a long ladder and had long handles, and this worked perfectly.

The Model DL is adjustable to a maximum height of 60 inches. This ladder reaches out a bit, which is perfect for our needs since the deck doesn't exactly sit right above the pool.

The ladder has two sets of deck mount flanges which makes the ladder strong and stable. When you step on the ladder, the bottom step presses to the bottom of the pool. The ladder and flanges come in white and taupe.

The Mount Flanges

When opening the pool each year, it's pretty tricky to connect the ladder to the mount flanges on the deck. We have to basically align the ladder handle and put enough pressure so it would slip into the mount flanges. Once one of the sides is in, we secure it and then deal with the other side. It's very helpful to use a power drill to secure the screws.

We have had to replace the mount flanges because the holes where the screws go intend to crack after a couple of seasons. VinylWorks does sell replacement parts on their website. Rear Flangs part number is VWC-RF and it doesn't matter which color you order, they both work the same.

Rear Flangs2

We keep the mount flanges on the deck for the winter. We simply release the ladder from the mounts.

Spring Setup

Its very easy to get the ladder in the pool in the Spring. I take the hose and put some water in the ladder. This weights the ladder down enough to try to get it mounted.

We find that you don't need to fill it up completely, there are a couple of small holes that will eventually fill the air pockets with water and keep the ladder in place. Just a small amount of water is all that is needed.

Wintering

We keep the pool ladder on the deck for the winter. This no only keeps people off the deck but keeps the ladder free from dirt. The deck has a slight slope which ensures that all the water gets out of the ladder which could cause cracks at the first frost.

Previous years we use to keep the ladder behind the shed. This becomes a problem in the spring because mud would splash on the ladder. I would have to spend time scraping the mud off.

Winter Pool Ladder

August 18, 2016

Apple Store (Boston)

Boston Apple Store

On May 15, 2008, Apple open its first store in Downtown Boston at 815 Boylston St. Apple knew that the business opportunity in Boston would be huge (Educational market) and they wanted to have a store to meet that demand.

In 2000, Apple sought out the 815 Boylston Street location, but had to wait until the lease ran out for all the tenants. They had the opportunity to build a two-floor store in 2005 but wanted to wait a year until the last tenant left so they could have the whole building and have more flexibility.

In 2007, Apple demolished the building and put in a modern three story building with a green roof and the front made largely of glass.

Previous Tenant

Copy Cop was a printing shop located at the street level at 815 Boylston St. The building was built in 1906 and had been under numerous renovations. According to Apple development team, there was no significant architectural value to keep the previous structure.

The two buildings around 815 Boylston St. had both seen demolitions in recent years. Fidelity Investments occupy one of the building and Sir Speedy occupies the other recently demolished buildings. (Oddly enough Sir Speedy was a competitor to Copy Cop before they moved out of the Apple location.)

What makes the Boston store special

The Boston Apple store is 21,350-square-foot which makes it the largest Apple store in the United States. The average Apple Store is 8,400-square-feet.

Other notable larger Apple Stores:

  • Apple Palo Alto store is 15,030-square-feet.
  • Shanghai Pudong Store is 16,000-square-feet.
  • New York’s Grand Central Terminal store in New York City is 20,000-square-feet.
  • London’s Covent Garden store is 30,000-square-feet.

Other Notable Retailers average store sizes:

  • CompUSA was 107,000-square-feet.
  • Best Buy stores are roughly 28,032-square-feet
  • Microsoft is 7,500-square-feet.

The Boston Store has a central spiral glass staircase. The Faraone Imperiale glass spiral staircase cost about $25,000.

The floor throughout the store has grey-blue Pietra Serena sandstone imported from Firenzuola, Italy. These are the flooring that Steve Jobs personally wanted to have in the stores because they were authentic Italian and had high integrity. When you walk around the store, your walking on the same type of flooring that is used around Florence, Italy.

When the store the open in 2008, the layout was: the first floor was dedicated to Macs (iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Pro); the second floor was devoted to smaller devices (anything running iOS), including iPhones and iPods (iPod touch, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod classic); and the third floor featured the famed Genius Bar, where customers could get technical help. Concierge staff will be available on each floor just to help consumers navigate the building. (Note: The iPad had not come out when the store opened!)

Today, the first floor usually showcase some of the recently announced products such as the Apple Watch and iPads. There are 165 store workers -the Geniuses, Specialists, and Creatives at the Boston Apple Store.

Product Launches

Whenever Apple does a major product release, you will see a long line at the Boston Apple Store. Usually, the line starts about 24 hours before the official sale date. Local media will have their trucks park on Boylston street to talk about the product launch on the nightly news. (If the line is long and if it's a slow news day.)

Note: When you see a line at the Apple Store it's usually just customers waiting to purchase the newest products. You can still go inside the store and try out the new products.

Brief History of the Relationship of Apple and Boston

Macintosh Computer Introduction

On January 30, 1984, Steve Jobs demonstrated the Macintosh to the Boston Computer Society at MIT. The demonstration was a week after the official announcement at the Apple Investment meeting. This was the first public viewing of the Macintosh. Steve Jobs wanted to showcase the computer to diehard computer fans.

MacWorld Boston

During the summer of the 1980s and through the mid-1990s there was an annual gathering of Apple enthusiasts at MacWorld Boston. Apple would use these conferences to announce new products. The most famous moment was in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and announced that Microsoft, a big competitor at the time, decided to invest $150 million in Apple stock.

Apple and Boston had a bit of a fallout in 1997 when Apple decided to move the conference to New York for a bigger venue and be closer to New York city graphic designers - a key demographic at the time.

MacWorld came back to Boston in 2004 and 2005 but without Apple participation - resulting into a much smaller conference.

Getting to the Store

The nearest T stop is the Green line’s stop at Copley Square, it's a nice four-minute walk to the Apple Store. When you exit the Copley T station, look for the Prudential Building and walk towards it. The Apple Store is across from the Prudential Mall. The big glass front face is hard to miss.

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October 6, 2011 - Some people left momentos at the Boston Apple Store the day after Steve Jobs die.

August 19, 2016

Capto

Capto Logos

If your job requires doing any type of screen capture using popular tools such as Skitch, MonoSnap, Snagit or Snapz Pro X - you should certainly check out the newest player to the party - Capto ($29.99) by Global Delight.

Capto was officially launched on April 26, 2016. This application is a step up from their previous screen capture tool - Voila. Voila was a basic screen capture tool that had some cool tools and effects.

Instead of adding new features and functionality to Voila, Global Delight rebuilt their screen capture tool solution and came up with Capto. They wanted a powerful screen capture application that had awesome video capabilities.

Editing Tools

Capto has 15 editing tools to touch up any screen capture: Pencil Tool, Paint Tool, Text Tool, Shape Tool, Arrow Tool, Callout Tool, Highlight Tool, Line Tool, Blur Tool, Eraser Tool, Marquee Tool, Crop Tool, Spotlight Tool, Numbering Tool.

The end results is that Capto helps present your screenshots better. Instead of a basic arrow to point at something, you can have four different ways to point to the feature. The Callout Tool comes in handy when you want to point something out.

Capto Features

Missing Annotation Tools from Voila

Several annotation features didn't make the transition from Voila to Capto:

  • Stamp tool - Ability to add 'Confidential, OK, Fail, Quality' and 14 others stamp text
  • Effects - Edges, Skew, Filter, Adjust, and Crop

I don't know if any of the above will appear into Capto in future releases. The stamp and edges features seemed pretty cool in Voila.

Video Editing Tools

I don't use many videos in my bug reports, but that might change because of Capto. The video editing clearly gives you more control and makes reporting bugs fun. (Is that really possible?)

Capto makes it easy to add text, simple arrow, callout, blur, and Marker. You can define where it appears in the video and how long it appears. It's very easy to move the objects around and position them exactly where you want. The video timeline shows you where the objects are. You can easily overlap various object within the video.

Capto allows you to import other videos so that you can combine videos captures into one complete video.

Capto Video Editing

Comparison to Other Apps

I had a chance to compare the features of Capto with other screen capture tools that I have looked at in the past:

Snagit ($49.95) by Techsmith - A strong competitor to Capto, and many ways better application. Capto is $20 cheaper with much more powerful video capabilities.

The big advantage that Capto has is video Editing. Snagit only allows you to trim videos and not add any annotation to video. In addition, Capto has a built-in web browser, allowing you to do full page screen captures.

Skitch (Free!) by Evernote - Skitch doesn't support video capture. Skitch have very simple annotations and there's not a whole lot of control or options with the text tool. Skitch does have a cool, 'Previous Snapshot Area' functionality which is nice when you are looking to capture a change of something in the same area.

MonoSnap (Free!) by Monosnap - Basic Annotation Tools. You can capture video and trim, but not add any annotation. Monosnap supports exporting video to .mp4 and .gif. Capto supports .m4v and .mov format and will compress video for mobile devices.

Snapz Pro X ($69) by Ambrosias Software - One of the oldest screen capture tools. No screenshot library, no image or video annotation tools. Much more expensive than Snagit and Capto.

Missing Tools in Capto

With all the tools that's included with Capto, you would think it would be complete. However, there are some other tools that I would like to see, in addition to the missing Voila tools:

  • Magnifying Tool - Included in the Preview App.
  • Measure Tool - Ability to show spacing issues.
  • Different Arrow heads - Would be nice to see something than a basic arrow head.

Summary

I find Capto very practical to use. You can download it and try it yourself download a trial version. If you need a add annotations to videos then Capto is the way to go.

If you don't do much video capture, you may want to see what Snagit offers for just a bit more money. I was impress with their annotation toolset.

August 20, 2016

Every Four Years

In the United States, some special happens every four years:

Every Four Years

Leap Year

Every four years, is a leap year and there are 366 days. February 29 as an intercalary day.

Leap years are needed to keep our modern day calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time that it takes the Earth to complete its orbit around the sun. This takes around 365xBC days (officially 365.242).

This means that if we didn't add an extra day every four years, we would lose around six hours from our calendar each year, and every 100 years, our calendar would be out of line by 24 days.

Leap year started with the Gregorian calendar which started on October 15, 1582.

Summer Olympics

In 1986, the International Olympic Committee changed the schedule and now an Olympic event happens every 2 years. The first Olympic to encounter the change was the 1992 Winter Olympics, which had a 2 year duration between the games. This changed allows athletes to participate in both Olympics. (Wouldn't you want to see Usain Bolt in the speed skating competition?)

Presidential Election

Since 1789 the United States has had a Presidential Election every four years

August 21, 2016

Little Red Wagon Campfire Song

Last week the campers showed visitors to the YMCA camp in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, how to properly sing the 'Little Red Wagon' song.

This is a Repeat After Me song...
You can’t ride in my little red wagon
Front seats broken
And the axle's dragging
CHUG!...CHUG!…CHUG!

SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST
A WHOLE LOT LOUDER AND A WHOLE LOT WORSE!

August 22, 2016

Park Lockers

Disney Lockers

Disney provides locker rentals at each of the major parks in Walt Disney World. These are for storing personal items for a single day trip. The lockers will get clean out every night.

At the theme parks the lockers are controlled by a key, and you can open and close it anytime you want all day. At the water parks, the lockers are controlled by a keyless entry. (This way you don't have to worry about losing the key in the pool)

To use the lockers, a $5 refundable deposit is required for the locker key. (When you return the key, you could always use the $5 to get some popcorn for the ride home.)

Credit Cards and Debit cards are accepted for these lockers.

Locker Size Details

Small11" x 9" x 16"$8/day
Large17.5" x 12" x 16"$10/day

Bonus Lockers

There is a single-use locker at Epcot, which measures 23" x 16" x 29". The locker cost $1 per use. This is perfect if you plan on staying late at Epcot and want to bring evening clothes for a nice dinner.

At the Disney Hollywood Studios location, there are 2 single-use locker sizes: 12" x 24" x 28" for $1, and 4" x 5.5" x 6" for $.50.

Cash is only accepted at the "Bonus Lockers."

Lockers Tips/Tricks

  • We bring our stroller and keep things in the bottom of the stroller, such as jackets or extra kids clothes. We haven't had the need to use any lockers
  • Lockers are good for keeping valuables, such as DSLR cameras and Tripods that you may not use all day.
  • Most Travel tripods will find in the Larger locker sizes. (AmazonBasics 50-Inch Lightweight Tripod will be collapsed to 15.5 inches)
  • Anything that you buy at the park can be sent to your hotel for later pickup.
  • Not Staying on a property? Simply ask for them to hold it. You can pick up merchandise by the exit when you leave the park.
  • You are allowed to bring in snacks into the park, and all the lockers are located in nice cool areas.
  • Lockers are good if there's rain in the forecast and you need a good place to keep things dry.

Locations

  • The lockers at the Magic Kingdom are right below the Walt Disney Railroad on Main Street USA.
  • At Epcot there are lockers at the Entrance and at the International Gateway.
  • At Disney Studios the lockers are at the Crossroads of the World, as you walk in the park.

Bringing outside Food:

Yes, you are allowed to bring snacks into the park, from the Disney website:

Guests are allowed to bring food items--such as snacks or foods that do not require heating--into Disney theme parks. Inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.

Do you use the lockers?

August 23, 2016

National Waffle Day!

Van Waffles

Did you know that National Waffle Day is August 24th? Waffles are celebrated on that day because that's when Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York was granted a patent for waffle iron.

Van's Waffles

If your looking for the best Gluten free waffles check out Vans Waffles. They are located in the Natural Foods section in Stop & Shop and in the Gluten free breakfast foods at Wegmans.

Van's Waffles taste great! You wouldn't know that they are Gluten Free. They are very delicious and certainly help make a very busy morning go much quicker.

If your stuck with some creative ideas to get the little ones to get excited about breakfast, check out three 5-minute waffle ideas by Joy Bauer. Joy is not only a registered dietitian, so you know that breakfast will be healthy, she is a Mom of three, and knows a thing or two about getting the morning off to a good start. Her tips are creative and can spur some other ideas that might help make mornings great.

Joy's Morning Hacks

Joy recently shared some morning hacks on the Today Show:

  1. Keep a stable of go-to items in your pantry and refrigerator to provide nutritious, quick options. Low-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, nut butter, berries, bananas, and grapes are all great on top of Van's 8 Whole Grains waffles--super easy, kid-friendly and filling.
  2. Think ahead. If you plan breakfast the night before, you'll eliminate 50 percent of the stress during the morning rush. No one expects moms to whip up from-scratch waffles or pancakes on a chaotic weekday--keep it simple, decide what you're serving the night before, and you can spend less than five minutes on a filling, wholesome, delicious breakfast in the a.m.
  3. Presentation is important. Anything that says "fun" is appealing for younger kids. If you take a Vans whole grain waffle and use good-for-you ingredients to create a happy face on top, you'll have happy eaters. Kids can help with assembly--let them choose their toppings or match their waffle face to their mood. You can use blueberries for eyes and raspberries, cherries or a kiwi slice for a mouth. You'll be smiling, too, as you watch how quickly they gobble it up!
  4. Make your morning meal a triple threat. Since parents tend to have full control over what their kids eat for breakfast, it's important to make it count. The winning combination includes ample fiber and protein while minimizing sugar. That helps stabilize blood sugar and provides fuel and sustenance to make it through the morning routine.
  5. Plan "me" time. Be strategic and sneak some breaks while parenting-- whether that means a walk with a sleeping child in a stroller or timing kids' screen time to coincide with your workout. Every mom knows that a little "me" time makes you a better parent!

Van's Foods & Joy Bauer Giveaway

To celebrate the modern mom and help make her life a little easier, Van's Foods and Bauer are giving away one year of free Van's waffles and signed copies of Bauer's books "Slim & Scrumptious," "From Junk Food to Joy Food" and "Food Cures." Check Van's Food Promotion site for full details, including giveaway rules, and a chance to win. All entries must be received by Aug. 24.

Best Waffles Need the Best Syrup

We recommend Vermont's Green Mountain Sugar House maple syrup with your Vans Waffles. They are a bit more expensive than your traditional syrup but once you try it, you'll find it hard to go back to the supermarket brands. Try the Vermont Golden Color with Delicate Flavor with the Van's Waffles

We visited Cold Hollow Cider Mill a couple of years ago, we got a small Maple Syrup container. This is perfect for our 5-year-old daughter so that she can pour her own syrup on her Waffles. We like it because it's small enough that she won't have too much sugar, and won't waste a lot of good syrup.

The Maple Sugar Cured Smoked Sliced Bacon is great for those special mornings breakfasts.

Sold Out Waffles

August 24, 2016

Pool Closing Tips

Pool Closing2

In New England, as Labor Day weekend approaches, it's time to start thinking of when to close the pool. The nights are getting a bit cooler and that means the pool will not be as warm as it was just a few weeks ago.


Cheaper Above Ground Covers

There are many places to get your pool cover. We have found the Ocean State Job Lot is the cheapest place to get a cover. They have a limited number of Above Ground covers at a good price. The quality is about the same as the economy ones that you get at a pool place, just a bit cheaper. They have the 24' Round for $69.99 whereas Leslie Pools has the same one for $88.99.


Above Ground Winter Pool covers just don’t last long.

In the past we have purchased many Above Ground covers that are supposed to last 10 years, but only last a couple of seasons. All it takes is a small branch-end to tear the pool cover and Bam! There goes that cover. We have found that most pool covers last only a couple of seasons.


Clamp It!

The Irwin Quick-Grip 1" Metal Spring Clamp with Soft Grip Pads work really well along the cover clips for above ground pools. (Amazon has a 5-Pack for $33, but you may find them cheaper at HomeDepot or Lowes) The Quick-Grip has a much firmer grip and will hold the cover better than standard cover clips.


Getting that Cover on the Pool

Getting the cover on the pool can be very tricky. We have found the following works well, it does take two people to successfully put the cover on the pool:

  • Open the cover and lay it on the ground.
  • Fold the first 1/3 part of the cover
  • Take the folding side and move the cover over the pool edge with each person walking along the side of the pool. Make sure that water isn't getting in the cover
  • At the halfway point, slowly lift the cover over the Pool Pillow. Usually, this involves both parties to pull on opposite ends of the cover so that it's tight. That should be enough to get it over the pillow.
  • Then continue to move the cover over about 1/2 way from the pillow to the pool edge.
  • Now start clamping the other end of the cover. (This way the end of the cover doesn't fall into the pool as you move along.)
  • Now move the front of the cover, and then walk along the edge to unfold the cover.
  • Clamp the remaining part of the cover. Make sure that the cover is very tight.

Next Week we'll talk about tips/tricks to best properly store all the Above Ground pool equipment.

August 25, 2016

Eugène Létang Bronze Tablet

Eugene Letang

On the third floor in the McKim Building of the Boston Public library is a bronze tablet memorial for Eugène Létang. You can find this tablet just before you enter the Arts section.

The tablet reads: "1892 Born at the Boulleret France In the Province of Berri. He came to Boston in 1871 For Twenty Two Years He Taught Architectural Design At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology In Grateful Memory of this Loyal and Fruitful Service The tablet is erected By his Pupils and Friends"

The Letang memorial is a bronze tablet in a white marble frame. The upper part of the marble frame consists of a carved molding in Greek design.

The tablet was placed on December 31st, 1896, about four years after his death.

Here are some things I have learned about Eugène Létang and the tablet

  • Graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris
  • Served in the Franco-Prussian War.
  • In the spring of 1872, he was recruited to MIT and be part of the newly formed Architecture school by William Robert Ware to teach design.
  • He was a very strict Professor. He was known to focused on architecture quality and simplicity.
  • He would call his students "his boys"
  • Was one of the judges for the first American Architect Small House design challenge in 1882.
  • The memorial tablet was designed by William Everett Chamberlain, who studied under Professor Létang. Mr. Chamberlain later went on to be a successful designer. Among his work was the Mount Auburn Hospital. MIT has an annual award named after him. The award is given to an architecture senior for academic excellence.
  • Professor Létang is credited for making the Institute of Technology school of Architecture be so well known and respected.
  • He was involved with the architecture design of the Boston Public Library and Century Club in New York.
  • Eugene Letang died on November 29, 1892. He was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in the family tomb.

August 26, 2016

Calendar in Swift Publisher

Swift Logo

Swift Publisher ($19.99) is a pretty cool application for anyone looking for fundamental desktop publishing tools. While Apple Pages, does have some desktop publishing functionality, Swift Publisher takes it to a whole new level. In the Apple Store Swift Publisher has 38 five-star rating, giving a total of 4.5 stars.

Making Custom Calendars

One of the features that I like about Swift Publisher is how easy it is to integrate Calendars into Designs. Swift Publisher has a Calendar functionality that let you add a month whenever you want, or you can simply use one of the six templates.

The Calendar button is very cool since you don't have to build some complex tables. Simple add the calendar and then right click on it and make the adjustments you need. Saves a ton of time.

Calendar Feature

Adding Events to Calendars

One of the downsides to using the calendar tool functionality is that you can't modify the dates. You can't highlight holidays or mark special days with a color text or change the background. Well not using Swift Publisher dialog box. However, you can add objects to the calendar, after all, this is a desktop publishing tool.

Calendar Touch Up

How I updated the Calendar

The 5-Point star is one of the included smart shapes in the library. I simply selected a red color fill, 1 point stroke and changed the Opacity to 61%. I then resize the star to fit over the date.

The 8th to 11th highlight was using the rectangle tool and change the fill to Linear Gradient Fill and set the Opacity to 62%. I then align the rectangle to fit in the range that I wanted to highlight.

The 22nd was also using the rectangle tool, changed the color to green and the Opacity to 49%. I then align the rectangle to the day I wanted. I then right clicked on Order and the 'Send to Back.' That allowed the text to appear in front of the image.

Note: When you add objects to the calendar, you should group them together if you need to move the calendar around. Otherwise, you'll loose the formatting.

Overall

It would be nice if there was a better way to manipulate the calendar. For example, it would be great if each day was its own object. Since I don't add calendars every day, a few minutes of alignments isn't going to bother me. Having the ability easily add a Calendar month is awesome.

August 27, 2016

Table Row Colors in EverNote

Evernote allows you add tables to your notes, but did you know that you can color rows in your tables? It's a bit tricky - Evernote doesn't provide any guidance on how to do this.

Evernote Table

Simple instructions on how to color a table row

  • Open a Note that has a Table
  • Select a row in the table so that the last cell is light blue
  • Right Click on the table and Select Table then Table Properties
  • Click on the "Cell Color Background"
  • Change to Whatever color you want.
  • Click Ok
  • Click Outside of the table, and notice that the entire row has the same color.

It's seems logical once you do change the table a couple of times. Hopefully this helps some users have better looking tables in their Evernote Notebook.

August 28, 2016

Stitch Effect in Pixelmator

Stitch Effect

Here's how you create dash lines in an image using Pixelmator. Using Layers and the Style, you can easily create a cool stitch effect.

Unfortunately Pixelmator doesn't have the ability to create dash strokes using the Marquee Tool, so you have to use this trick. I think once you learn how to do it, it will be useful way to use Pixelmator.

Thankfully, Pixelmator is a powerful image tool and doing some simple effects can produce the desired results. It's simply a matter of getting things to work the way you want it to.

Simple steps to add a Stitch effect to any image.

  • Open an image that you want to add the Stitch effect and select the layer.
  • Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, select the area where you want the Stitch to appear.
  • Hold down the Shift-Command-N to create a new Empty Layer
  • Hold down the Option-Command-F to open the Fill Dialog. Select any color you want, just set the Opacity to 0%. This way nothing shows!
  • Command-7 To open the Styles Pallet
  • In the Stroke section of the Styles Pallet, Select Color
  • Change the color to White
  • Make the Width to be 2 Px
  • Change the Stroke style to be Dash

That's It! Play around with styles setting until you get the desired effect that you want! Have fun designing!

Styles Pallet
This is what your Styles Setting should be.

August 29, 2016

Disney Popcorn Carts

Popcorn Cart

As your walking down Main Street USA, you can smell Cotton Candy, Cookies and Popcorn. The absolute freshest popcorn isn’t in the stores on Main Street USA, it’s from the carts that are all around the Magic Kingdom. All day they are popping delicious popcorn.

You can find the Popcorn Carts in every land in the Magic Kingdom. Typically you find them by the smell of fresh popcorn.

  • Main Street USA: One by the exit and another by Adventureland.
  • Adventureland: Near the Magic Carpet Ride
  • Frontierland: Across from the Country Bear Jamboree
  • Liberty Square: Next to the Liberty Square Tavern
  • Fantasyland: Near the Gaston’s Tavern and Dumbo Ride
  • Tomorrowland: Near the Astro Orbiter and Tomorrowland Speedway

At each of the popcorn carts they usually have some type of speciality souvenir container. In November/December you’ll find Santa Mickey souvenir container, and in the Fall you’ll find some halloween container.

Some Facts/Tips on the Popcorn Carts

  • If your looking for popular seasonally containers, the best place to find them is at the popcorn stand in Fantasyland.
  • If your getting a souvenir container, you can ask for a separate container for the popcorn. This way you don’t have to worry about cleaning it.
  • If you don't see any specialty souvenir container, ask for it. They may not have time to display it.
  • Should you or your child drop a box of popcorn soon after you walk away from the cart, go back to the cart and more often than not they will refill the popcorn container.
  • My favorite popcorn is at the cart at the end of Main Street near the castle. They tend to have the most crispy popcorn, this could be because they are the busiest popcorn cart.
  • The popcorn cart on Main Street is popular around parade and fireworks time, visit the one in Liberty Square to avoid the lines.
  • Check out the detail at the Popcorn Cart, usually they apply some local feature in the machine.
  • Regular size Popcorn counts as a snack on the Meal Plan! There is no "upgrade" pricing for the larger size.
  • I have collected plenty of Souvenir Buckets over the years and haven't done anything with them. They do make good storage for pens and pencils.
  • Disney uses Orville Redenbacher popcorn kernels
  • If your looking to build your own popcorn cart, use the Gold Medal brand Popcorn Popper.

August 30, 2016

Uhlman's Ice Cream

Uhlmans Logo

There are something about going out for ice cream on a nice summer night. In New England, there's something about driving to an old fashion ice cream stand and walking up and placing your order at the take out window. Did you know that the Northeast region buys more ice cream than any other part of the country.

In Metro West Boston, one of the place to get great ice cream is Uhlmans, in Westborough, Massachusetts. Founded initially as a Farm Stand in 1967 by George Smith and Howard Uhlmans. A few years later they converted the stand to an ice cream stand. They started out only having hard ice cream, today they have lots of choices including soft serve, yogurt, and frozen drinks.

The nice appeal that's unique to the Uhlman's Ice Cream experience is that it feels like a neighborhood ice cream stand. They store is located in a middle of a neighborhood and not in a downtown setting, or on a busy road. You do feel like your at the Farm, you can even see some of the cows in the back.

Gluten Free Friendly!

On the menu above the order window, there are indicators that show which options are Gluten Free. You'll see a GF by the Sugar-Free, Sherbert, Soft Serve Ice Cream sections. They also indicate that the Sugar-Free Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream is Gluten Free.

The regular ice cream flavors don't have any GF icons next to them. When you get to the window counter ask for the allergy sheet to see which flavors are Gluten Free. Tip: The Pumpkin and Pumpkin Oreo are not Gluten Free. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip is gluten free and very good!

Ice Cream Stand Header

Gluten Free Cones Are Plenty!

You'll be happy to know that Uhlmans has two type of Gluten Free cones - Sugar Cone and Cake! We tried both and found them to be delicious as their ice cream.

Allergy Friendly

Uhlmans has a limited selection of ice cream that is Allergy Friendly - free of gluten, lactose, dairy, nuts, and egg. You can have Orange, Pineapple, Lemon, Raspberry Twist.

Visit Uhlmans

Uhlmans Farm Ice Cream is located at 234 E Main Street in Westborough, Massachusetts. They are a cash only business and don't accept any credit cards. There is an ATM on site.

On Thursday night's in the Summer they are at the Bay State Green on Union Street in Westborough for "Screen on the Green." Enjoy an ice cream with your movie. In the summer of 2016 they had: The Wizard of Oz, Inside Out, Star Wars - The Force Awakens, Shark Tale, The Goonies. Check the Westborough Public Library for times and locations for next summer.

August 31, 2016

Winterizing Pool Equipment Tips

Winterizing Pool

Here's the run down of various equipment that we have that we need to make sure they are properly taken care of at the end of each pool season. It's critical to make sure that they are stored correctly for long term care.

We disconnect all the hoses from the pool and make sure that all exit points are closed.

Sand Filter

We take out the cap out of the sand drain and let the water flow out for a couple of days.

We take off the top of the sand filter and store that part in our basement. We keep the screws and nuts in a plastic bag and tape it to the device. The top is stored off the floor well out of the way.

The base is kept outside. It's very heavy to move. We did move it the first year we lived in our house but have found that moving it causes some risk with cracking the device. We keep it in the original location but wrap around some attic installation around it and then put a standard outside tarp then tie everything together with a stretch hook.

Three Quick Tips

  • You can not throw away the attic installation as part of household trash, at least not in Framingham. The tarp should protect the installation enough so that you can reuse the installation every year.
  • Once the water drains out of the filter, put the cap back. Don't loose the sand drain cap!
  • Replace the sand in the filter every 3-4 years.

Pump

At the same time we remove the cap from the bottom of the sand filter, we take the strainer cover off and let the water dry in our Hayward Pump. We disconnect all the pipes and make sure that the basket is nice and clean. Take out the 'O' ring that is under the strainer cover and put in a sandwich bag. This will help the longevity of the 'O' ring.

We then store the entire Pump in the basement.

Three Quick Tips

  • Use Pool Lubricant when putting back the 'O' ring in the spring. It will help with a better seal.
  • We keep the strong PVC pipe on the Pump, so we don't have to worry about having to connect it again in the Spring.
  • If you have a pool pump ground wire, don't bury it in the ground. Connect it to something so you can find it in the spring.

Chlorinator

Once the hoses are removed, the water in the chlorinator should dry up pretty quick. Remove all Chlorine tabs and throw them away. They will loose it's strength over the winter, so there's no point in keeping them.

We keep the Chlorinator in the shed for the Winter.

Three Quick Tips

  • Keep the cap on the chlorinator so that nothing big nest inside. We hang our chlorinator upside down in our shed.
  • Take the 'O' ring out and put in a sandwich bag. Label the bag - "Chlorinator Ring." Keep the bag with the pump.
  • We try to air out the chlorinator as long as possible. Usually, don't hang it until we take the snowblower out of the shed.

Hayward 900 - Wanda the Whale

The above ground vacuum should not be stored in the shed for the winter. Store all the hoses and "Wanda the Whale" parts together. As per instructions, you shouldn't bend the hoses. The best thing to do is to store the pieces in the original box. Make sure that everything is fully dry before putting in the box.

It's highly recommended to store Above-Ground Automatic Pool Cleaner inside for the winter.

Three Quick Tips

  • The box that the Wanda the Whale comes in is perfect for long term storage. Just keep the box dry. Makes it easy to setup again in the spring.
  • Make sure to completely clean out the Whale. Use a small screwdriver to get the junk inside.
  • An 18-gallon plastic bin works perfectly as a substitute for the box

Last regular Pool Post of 2016

This wraps up the weekly blog posting for this summer. We'll return to regular posting in May 2017. Have a great off season! Thank you for all the feedback this summer!