Satisfries.

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Last night I was watching the evening news when Brian Williams announced a “major fast-food industry break through, after the break.” I was intrigued enough to sit through commercials and see what was involved with this major breakthrough.

Yesterday, Burger King restaurants across the United States began selling “Satisfries”. As a new addition to their menu, Satisfries are touted as a healthier alternative to the traditional french fries that remain on Burger King’s menu.

Burger King won’t divulge what changes they made to the recipe that makes these fries, but the did tell that they use the same potatoes, cut to the same size as the traditional offerings and that they use the same oil to fry the Satisfries. There’s something different about the batter, apparently they’ve shifted ratio of ingredients around a bit, and the result is the batter is thinner and it doesn’t hold as much oil.

The result? 30% less fat and 20% less calories than BK’s regular fries.

While I am trying really hard to avoid fast food and, for that matter, fried food, I must admit that I am probably intrigued enough to give these Satisfries a try this weekend. At first I was going to avoid these things at all cost, as I was certain that there were secret ingredients like O-Lean (Olestra) involved and I certainly don’t want to relive the experimental no-fat Lays incident of 1995.

Burger King has been at this new recipe for a decade. I figure if I don’t feel satisfied with Satisfries, I can feed them to the seagulls that seem to be always hanging around at BK.

Source information from USA Today.

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Ride.

So on Saturday I went for my third “long” bike ride of the season. Having already ridden west and southwest on my previous rides this season, I decided to head to the southeast towards the relatively famous village of Cooperstown and then onto the nearby city of Oneonta. I knew the ride was going to be a challenge because that’s hilly country down there. While I know that hills are a part of the whole cycling experience, if I were to be completely honest I’d have to admit that I’d rather ride on the Great Plains or the Salt Flats.

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The weather forecast mentioned thunderstorms and showers on Saturday and I was lucky to remain dry for the entire duration of the ride. What I didn’t factor in, however, was that the approaching front was kicking up some winds. After getting to the top of a particular challenging climb (where a bunch of Amish kids stopped their chores and smiled and waved at me, helping me feel better), I found myself pedaling as hard as I could and barely moving forward. I was struggling to keep the bike upright. It turns out I was riding in 30 MPH gusts.

Good times.

I burned through my snack packs and found myself craving calories as I continued to defy the wind and ended up stopping at a quaint little place called the Fly Creek General Store. As I slurped down a Muscle Milk and chowed down on a Clif Bar, I noticed that I had an unread text message on my iPhone.

Due to the iOS 7 upgrades to our phones, Earl could no longer find me on “Find My Friends”. Yay for progress!

I sent him a text message telling him to start driving on Route 28 south of Cooperstown and he’d find me down there. I told him that I was ready to call it a day whenever he found me.

A while later, my Knight in Shining Armor (well, a black Jeep) arrived.

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When all was said and done, I rode 52.26 miles in 4 hours and 50 minutes. My average speed was 10.8 MPH, well below the 13-14 MPH average I usually clock in at.

While I enjoyed my ride (I always enjoy time on my bike), I told Earl that Saturday’s ride was the least favorite of my long distance rides this season. He understood that but reminded me that I still rode a pretty good distance in the wind. Apparently while trying to find me he had ridden through some windy weather in the Jeep.

I’m looking forward to one more long ride before the snow flies.

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Lightbulb.

So a few months ago I thought I would take the extra step to reduce our carbon footprint here at The Manor. We have recessed lighting throughout most of the house and our old incandescent indoor flood lights were starting to burn out in a curiously methodical fashion. When it came to return the bulbs, I “thought green”, did the research online and went with natural daylight CFL bulbs from Lowe’s. The bulbs in question are made by Utilitech.

I talked about this project right here on this blog back in June.

One of the reasons I went with the Utilitech brand was because they were touted to be at nearly full brightness when powered on. Many CFL bulbs require a warm up period and I have to tell you, this drives me insane. Since CFL bulbs are allegedly a forward step in technology AND in saving the environment, I believe that the forward step should include being able to do what their predecessors did, namely, provide light to a room when switched on.

After a few months these Utilitech bulbs are no longer living up to the “instant on” hype. It seems that as each day passes the bulbs give off less and less light when first turned on. They take longer to warm up to their proper temperature.

It’s a small wonder that these guys are projected to last twice as long as their predecessors. They’re not doing anything!

Now, I’m all for saving the environment. I believe that we should leave the world in better shape than when we found it, but the poor performance of these Utilitech bulbs, coupled with the fact that they have to be handled like a hazardous material when disposing them due to the amount of mercury they contain, makes me wonder why we have this insane push to get everyone to buy these bulbs.

I don’t think our relatively new bulbs are going to make it through the end of the year. And I’m definitely not going to replace them with CFLs again. I think we are going to end up switching over to LED lightbulbs. This is not the optimal solution, after all, LED bulbs are fairly expensive, but they light up instantly when required to do so and then even work on dimmer switches.

On the other hand, I could go crazy and just stock up on incandescents while I still have the chance.

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Missed.

So I’ve been reading and hearing about Pet Shop Boys’ latest concert tour and from what I can ascertain, it is amazing as always. I have never seen Pet Shops Boys in concert before and perhaps if they ever tour again I’ll take the opportunity to see what they’re all about.

The reason that I haven’t gone out and seen them on tour is because, well, I’m not really that big of a fan of Pet Shop Boys. I like some of their songs, but I guess my favorite Pet Shop Boys-esque songs would have to be when Neil Tennant sang with the group Electronic. “Disappointed” is one of my favorite dance tracks from the 90s.

I’m also a fan of Electronic’s “Getting Away With It”. Neil sings backups on that one.

I think one of the reasons I wasn’t a Pet Shop Boys fan back in the day was because I didn’t “get” them. Musically I have always found them to be quite good but they never really looked particularly happy on their album covers. This was always disconcerting to me. If you’re going to sing somewhat happy sounding pop music, you should look mildly happy or at least somewhat engaged on your album cover. At least, that was the logic I was processing in my at the time 16-year-old mind.

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Like I said, I didn’t “get” them.

As I DJ I didn’t really spin their music that much. They were never really in my “OMG I have to play this record!” category when I had the ability to pack the dance floor by playing the proper music on Technics SL-1200 turntables, but I would play one of their tracks once in a while. Anyone that worked at Wow-FM back when I was program director can probably attest that there wasn’t a lot of Pet Shop Boys in rotation on the dance-oriented station. I guess that wasn’t a fair decision for me to make but we didn’t get a lot of requests to support otherwise, I guess.

There is one track of there’s that I have always enjoyed. It came out in 1987 and peaked at on the Billboard Top 40. Now this track I like, musically, lyrically and throughout its video presentation.

Here’s “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” by Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield.

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Glorious.

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I should never weigh myself in the morning. But if you don’t weigh yourself in the morning, after your shower but before breakfast, how are you going to score the lowest number possible in the day? That’s my philosophy.

I have been trying to lose just a few more pounds to hit the goal I set for myself a year ago. Just a few more pounds. But I’ve been at the same weight now for a couple of weeks. I eat a little. I exercise a lot. I eat a lot. I exercise a little. It doesn’t make a difference. My body is apparently comfortable at this weight and I should just be happy with the number I spin up on the scale. It’s better than spitting up on the scale, I suppose.

But then again, it’s just a number, right? Why do I let these things affect my life? I’m not dropping dead. I can ride my bike 100 miles if I want to. There’s not a lot of people my age in the United States that can ride their bike 100 miles in a day. Most probably don’t want to. Why do I worry about these things?

So a few moments ago I decided that I was going to stop worrying about my weight. I will continue to remain vigilant and I will certainly hope to reach that goal I set for myself a year ago (I guess 30 out of 35 pounds isn’t really that bad) but I’m going to stop stressing about it. Why stress?

To celebrate, I went out on our front porch and decided to just enjoy the moment. I embraced the sunshine on my face and then whisper of the gentle breeze and the warmth of the day. Life is way too short to stress about stuff. And I need to remember that more often.

I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. Heck, I’m not even going to sweat the big stuff. I just going to enjoy the moment.

And this moment is glorious.

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Wawa.

So last night I updated my Facebook status with a blurb about Earl and I yelling and screaming and Earl telling me to go get something at Wawa, which is 275 miles away from our house.

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The Facebook status was meant to be humorous, but judging by the number of folks that have reached out to me today to see if I was alright, I thought I should probably set the record straight:

1. Wawa is a convenience store chain in eastern Pennsylvania. Apparently, kind of like the great “soda” vs “pop” debate in Upstate New York, Pennsylvania folks are split between Wawa in eastern Pa and Sheetz in western Pa. The reason Earl told me to go to Wawa is because as a lower Bucks County, Pa. native, when we are arguing he can slip into his near-Philly accent, and Wawa is part of that vernacular. In reality, he meant he wanted me to go the Fastrac that’s a mile from the house (for some sort of treat like a KitKat or something) but Wawa just came out of his mouth. It’s like the occasional glass of wooder we enjoy from the tap.

2. Earl and I have been together for over 17 years and while we have had our share of disagreements, it is rare that we fight. Now, Cub has probably seen most of our fights as we have tended to get more set in our ways as we get older (I’ve threatened him with shoving his wheelchair somewhere when he’s that old), but like any married couple we can get cantankerous as we are having a discussion. It probably doesn’t help when I tell him not to be “so AARP about it” or “stop acting like you’re 50s old”, but that’s what he gets for marrying a youthful lad such as myself. Cub just shakes his head at the whole thing. Anyways, any real fight we have had has been executed in silence, I yell and he tells me not to when we’re having a disagreement.

3. Last night I went to upgrade Earl’s iPhone 4S to iOS 7 (like the dutiful Apple soldier that I am) and partway through the process, the ghost of Mr. Jobs informed me that Earl didn’t have enough space on his phone. It turns out he had NO space on his phone. In the process of deleting photos and music that had been backed up this iCloud, while foolishly making sure nothing was lost by plugging his iPhone in so it could sync with iTunes, I confused the ghost of Mr. Jobs and his iPhone 4S didn’t know what to do. So it had some sort of hissy fit and decided to show its Apple logo and nothing else. I ended up having to wipe out his phone completely and reloading it, but only after following some poorly produced video on YouTube that was suppose to help me do everything aside from wipe my butt properly. The video told me to hold in the volume up button until the logo went away. 10 minutes later and after sizable dent was permanently installed in my finger, no dice. This created panic mode. Sometimes I think it’d be easier to defuse a bomb in Afghanistan instead of working on someone’s iPhone when they think they’re losing something, because folks just lose it. I’ll jump on the bomb in the future.

4. Lastly, while waiting for Earl’s refreshed phone to return to normalcy, I suggested that he might want to clean up some of the photos and music on his phone. He pointed out that his iCloud account had plenty of space and why didn’t I just use some of that. Technobabble flew out of my mouth in typical geek fashion for a few seconds but then I stopped, counted to 10 and started talking about apples and oranges. That’s when the pitch of my voice went up a bit and the volume went up a little bit and then I reminded him that he exceeds me in IQ, SAT scores, age and weight and that he should know this. (I beat him on the ACT, apparently). That’s when the Wawa comment came out and we both laughed when I said, “Wawa? I hate Wawa and the closest one is in the Poconos!”

We had a nice laugh together and decided that we’ll drive to the Poconos so we can go to Wawa this weekend.

After I update his phone.

Geek Time.

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For the past 24 hours or so my iPhone and iPad have been going crazy with app updates. I probably have around 50 apps on my iPhone and 100 apps on my iPad and I would say that half of them have been updated in preparation for the big release of iOS 7. For those not familiar with iJargon, iOS 7 is the latest iteration of the operating system used on the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple TV. iOS 7 brings a paradigm shift in look and feel of the OS and also brings along a whole bunch of new, nifty features.

Android fanboys will tell you that Apple is catching up with Android. Apple fanboys will tell you that Android is just a copy of iOS. People will snarl, people will yell and I will close the window that contains the conversation because as the outdated saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

One of the features of iOS 7 is AirDrop, which allows you to select something on your iPhone or iPad and magically, breathlessly beam it to another person with an iDevice. You can confine AirDrop to folks on your contact list or you can make AirDrop be wide open so anyone can beam a file (a picture or a document or whatever) over to your phone.

The possibilities are endless!

I kind of like the idea of AirDrop, in fact, I used it to beam the photo of my iPad that you see above. Long, long ago I used a similar feature on one of my Palm devices to send my phone number over to another passenger on the T in Boston. I was single at the time but he never called. At least I hope I was single at the time. Hmm.

Oh the way I kid. Earl and I shall laugh about this little bit of kidding this evening over supper. We’ll have a nice laugh together.

I mentioned on my Facebook stream yesterday that folks should go ahead and update to iOS 7 when given the opportunity. Though I have an iPhone 5 and an iPad 4, I’ve heard good things about the new operating system on older devices, though if you have an iPhone 3GS or an original iPad, you’re out of luck.

Now, I’m going to confess right here and now that I have been toying with the idea of switching to an Android device, more specifically, a Moto X. I’ve read great things about it. I’ve heard great things about it. But I’ve touched it and while it is quite nice, it’s still not as solid feeling as the iPhone 5 that I currently have. I’ve become accustomed to technological perfection through Apple’s attention to detail and while Apple does stumble from time to time, you can’t deny the polish that their iDevices have. I like solid. I must have solid. I hear the new iPhone 5c, in its polycarbonate shell, has a metal frame which will help maintain that solid feeling that so many of us Macboys enjoy.

So I’m still on the fence about moving to the Moto X and if I continue to feel the way I feel today, I probably won’t do anything of the sort because my iPhone and iPad are behaving wonderfully with the new iOS that comes out shortly for the masses.

Awwwwwwww geek out! Le geek, c’est chic!

AM.

So I just got back from a ride in the Jeep. When I was a baby, my Mom and Dad would drive me around in their Volkswagen Beetle in an effort to make me fall asleep. I guess I wasn’t the best of sleepers when I was a wee lad. I wonder if I crawled in my sleep. Hmmm.

It’s a beautifully clear night here in Central New York. Like earlier today, the air is crisp. As I turned on the radio and realized that Sirius/XM is playing the exact same songs in the order that they played them in six hours ago, I started punching buttons on my stereo and landed on the AM band.

Remember the AM band?

As I slowly spun the dial, carefully landing on each available frequency to see if there was anything other than static available to the listener, I instantly noticed that there’s not a lot of music available on the AM dial. This is OK, because music on the radio these days is mostly crap, in my opinion, unless it’s something nostalgic.

Making my way down the dial brought back memories of sitting in my bedroom at age 14 looking for Dr. Ruth on a Sunday night. Even back then I was a huge geek and I would opt to listen to Dr. Ruth on Rock 102 out of Buffalo instead of listening to her on the much closer Y94. I have always found it so cool that at night (and during thunderstorms) you can tune in some distant stations on a good radio. This works on both the FM and the AM band.

During my ride a few moments ago I listened to WBAL out of Baltimore. I also tuned in a station that never mentioned its call letters but it talked about Sudbury and North Bay. Since I know a radio engineer in that part of the woods, I’m not surprised that his transmitters might be cranking out the amount of power required to reach my ears. It’s a cool way to connect.

The AM radio band is pretty much forgotten in today’s digital age. Spinning the dial around the three and four digit frequencies relaxed me enough to know that I’m going to get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes it’s good to be nostalgic.

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Heat.

There has been a decree from our budgeting department that the 16th of September is entirely too early in the season to turn on the heat.

Someone needs to tell Miss Mother Nature because it’s damn chilly today. We had a freeze warning last night and while it didn’t freeze, it did get down to 34ºF in our neck of the woods.

Someone needs to take a gander at the calendar and remember that it is still summer for a couple of days.

Lack of heat in the house aside, I’m starting to feel good about autumn, which is my favorite season of the year. The crispness of the air, the lack of oppressive heat and humidity, the crunchiness and colors of the leaves and the mystical vibe the world seems to have at this time of year are all wonderful things.

Plus, the budgeting department came home and doubled up as the nutrition department and started a soup for supper. Said soup involves red wine and it’s cooking in the dutch oven. Whenever the dutch oven is involved you know it’s going to be good.

Plus, I can use the simmering pot as a heat source.

Taking a look at the forecast it looks like it’s going to warm back up into the mid 70s starting tomorrow, so maybe the budgeting department is correct in having us skip the whole “Wheel of Fortune” spin of the thermostats.

Yay for saving money!

Block.

So I’ve had a case of writer’s block for the past couple of days and I really don’t know why I’ve been feeling this way. Life is good. The weekend was enjoyable. I guess I haven’t felt fired up or over elated or anything; we’ve just been enjoying life.

I’m sure this will pass within the next couple of days and then I’ll write a bunch of stuff.

I did have a little bit of a rant on Twitter this morning. I fail to understand why people see the letters A-S-K and pronounce that word as “AXE”. I don’t get it. I interpret the use of “AXE” in lieu of “ASK” as a sign of laziness. The speaker isn’t even motivated enough to say a three letter word correctly. It grates on my nerves more than “I could care less” and the wearing of hats whilst eating a meal.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned.