Rdio vs. Spotify (vs. MOG, Rhapsody)

June 17th, 2013

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I’ve spent the last month or so reviewing the premium subscription services from several music streaming services.  I tried MOG, Rhapsody, Rdio, and Spotify in that order.  I ruled out online radio only services (Pandora, Last.fm, and the upcoming iTunes Radio) as I wanted to listen to specific playlists and specific albums in their entirety.  I did skip Google All Access as one of my requirements something that runs native on iOS (not some cheesy HTML5 Web App).

Over the course of the trials, I discovered a TON of new music.  I found artists that I may have heard once or twice in the past that are now some of my favorite artists.  I tried to challenge the libraries with college tunes from 20 years ago.  I put them through the paces on iPhone, iPad, Android, Web interfaces, and downloadable PC and Mac apps. Read more…

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GSMNP 5 mile trail ride (there and back)

August 22nd, 2011

This is a short description of a 5 mile trail ride in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I’m skipping the map I put in previous posts as this one is simple and it’s not a loop, but rather a ride up a trail and back down the same trail so unless you suffer from amnesia then you should be able to find your way back to your truck and trailer.

For this ride I suggest the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #316 Cades Cove – Elkmont Map which in addition to the GSMNP map has contour lines and it’s much easier to distinguish between hiker only and horse and hiker trails. Read more…

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Cherry Melomel … sort of

August 22nd, 2011

I had some old left over honey from a group brew of medium sweet mead several years ago.  It had crystallized and darkened somewhat, but still had a very pleasant smell and flavor.

I was bored and wondering what I could do to use the honey so I can give the giant honey containers that I have to my father to fill with fresh honey from his hives.

I kicked around some ideas and just decided to wing it with a kitchen sink of stuff and hope for the best.

I went to the grocery store and shopped around for some concentrate or juice that had no preservatives, was not too expensive, and sounded good in a mead/wine as I had some wine yeast left over from my Perry. Read more…

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Big Benny’s DryPA – single hop (Centennial) IPA

August 22nd, 2011

I brewed again this weekend trying to build up my stock after the three year hiatus. I started with the Dead Ringer IPA recipe from Northern Brewer, but went a bit higher on malt color and extract amount. The name is from the single hop that I used with a bit of a stretch (Centennial = 100, Benjamin Franklin on $100) and I’m dry hopping as well as using a well attenuating yeast (Safale US-05), of which I pitched two packets.

I’m fermenting in a 7.5gal carboy and will rack after a week into a 5gal carboy for a two or three week secondary before bottling. Read more…

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Rebrewing … getting back into the hobby

August 11th, 2011

You may have read my post regarding a Perry and read that I’m going to start brewing again. Here’s the long story and my next steps.

Due to my wife’s job(s), we have had to relocate three times in three years.  We were living in Blacksburg, VA for 4 years.  I had an awesome brewing setup.  I had an entire basic kitchen in my basement along with a double miller sink (stove, fridge, kitchen sink, cabinets, drawers, and the double miller sink) as well as a great cellar for fermenting and even lagering in the winter months. When we had to pack up and move to Raleigh, NC all the brewing gear got shoved in a shed or closet where we lived.

Since I know that was a short term arrangement, I never got around to brewing. Likewise a year later when we moved to Ithaca, NY; where we only lived for 10 months. Read more…

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GSMNP 9 mile trail ride (loop)

August 9th, 2011

This is a description for a 9 mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This ride does have a few tricky spots, but I would rate this much easier than the 8.6 mile ride I described yesterday.  The elevation gain on this ride is also not as severe even though it makes a loop and has two climbs and two descents.

This ride starts at the first truck and trailer accessible parking spot when you enter the park from Townsend and are heading towards Cades Cove.  The parking spot is about a mile past the tunnel and is indicated as a black half circle on the Trails Illustrated Map.

I’ve included a map below with some arrows and numbers (you can click the map to expand it to full size).  I used black arrows and red numbers (there are already black arrows, but with a little bit of studying you’ll see the trails I’m recommending in this ride). Read more…

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What to do with all these pears … Make a Perry (and some preserves)!

August 9th, 2011

We have a pear tree. No idea what variety, but they are hard pears and were turning yellow and rotting in the center so we decided they were ripe enough to harvest. We ended up with about 35 lbs. of pears. I did some searching online and I think we have Green Anjou, but we can’t really be certain.

My wife, Stacie, picked the really nice looking ones and is packing them in saw dust to soften so she can eat them (pears are her favorite fruit). I took the middle of the crop and made pear preserves with a very light syrup. This was challenging as there were lots of bad spots that were found once I pealed the pears so some of the medium sized pears were the size of walnut halves once peeled, cored, and the bad spots cut off.

I took the remainder of the pears and made a pear wine, which even though it’s technically not a Perry, (which is either a pear mead or a sparkling pear fermented pear juice and mine (recipe below) has a lot of added water and table sugar), I’m going to call it that as it has a nice ring to it. Read more…

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GSMNP 8.6 mile trail ride (loop)

August 8th, 2011

This is a description of an 8.6 mile loop for horses (or people) in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  I will be posting trail rides and horse information for the National Park occasionally so please check back. Also, please leave a comment if you know of other online resources for trail riding in and around the GSMNP.

This ride starts at the Cades Cove Riding Stable parking lot.  We parked our truck and trailer just outside their gates on a large gravel turn-around area.  I asked at the stable offices if it was OK, and was also given plenty of information for future trail rides as the receptionist seemed to be a horse person herself and gave us some great pointers for the near future.

For this ride I suggest the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #316 Cades Cove – Elkmont Map which in addition to the GSMNP map has contour lines and it’s much easier to distinguish between hiker only and horse and hiker trails. Read more…

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Trail riding in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

August 8th, 2011

I’m going to document our trail rides in and around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park because I’ve found very little useful or helpful information online.  Hopefully, someone who is interested may search for information like this and come across my descriptions and find them helpful for their own planning or to get ideas.  If you come across this and know of other sites, please let me know and I will link to them so as a group we can improve the knowledge of horse access in and around the GSMNP. Likewise, if you would like to post your own trail rides, I can take your information and write it up or I can allow you to create your own.  If there is enough interest, I can even get a new domain and create a trail riding forum/blog with additional features. I’ve added a category and a some tags for Trail Riding (and GSMNP), which you can see at the bottom of this post.  I’ll try to post our trail rides at least monthly as we tend to go once or twice per month.

We recently moved to Tennessee and now live within 20 minutes of the Tremont area of the GSMNP.  We have our own horses and trailer and these ride descriptions will be geared towards similar people.   Read more…

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It’s not the GPS that is the problem, it’s the stoopid.

July 26th, 2011

There was yet another story about some people who died a horrible tragic death because they used a GPS.  I know it’s a tragedy and shouldn’t happen, but it’s not the GPS, it’s the (stupid) people.

I’ve heard of a couple who were lost 7 weeks after taking a logging road in the Pacific Northwest on their way to Vegas (one of whom died), this family in Death Valley, a group of SUVs getting lost in Utah, I remember a bus that tried to go through a tunnel that it didn’t fit through, a man who drove a bus into a lake, and another lake story, I’ve heard Park Rangers tell of getting calls from cell phones where someone asks how to hike out of where they are lost using a GPS, and many many others.  All usually blamed on the GPS.

Every one of these stories seems to “blame” the GPS, in fact this story calls it “Death by GPS.” As harsh as this seems it’s actually the “STUPID” that is the issue (so the story should be re-titled “Death by STOOPID”).

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a gadget guy and I love my gadgets. I had an early version of the hand held Garmin GPS which was marketed to hikers, campers, and the like. I have an in-dash GPS in my car, my wife has the ubiquitous GPS suction cupped to her windshield, both our phones have Google Maps with turn-by-turn instructions (walking, public transportation, and of course driving). Read more…

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