Friday, January 30

10E2425: Vermont Originals

My older Vermont Originals hat, sewn in East Hardwick, VT. 
"Vermont Originals was founded in 1971 by a business professor from Cornell and one of his students as a case study on cottage industry for the Cornell Business School.
 The main products are 100% wool hats knit in the traditional handcrafted manner by knitters in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Today Vermont Originals, as part of Turtle Fur, continues this fine tradition of made in Vermont, USA."
There is a lot of aesthetic crossover between the Moriarty Hats story, Stowe Woolens, Bar-W, CB Sports employing home knitters in Vermont and the Vermont Originals brand. Long/short they are stone cold classics and you know them when you see them - college or ski mountain name repeated round the sides... those. Or the ones with the braided earflaps. Big too.

Sidenote, the brand and name Turtle Fur (perhaps best known for their fleece neck'ups or neck-warmers) was synonymous with the word 'fleece' for a time in 70s Vermont - perhaps even New England.

VO hats are still made in VT, with cozy fleece added round the inside too - design your own custom version at Vermont Originals or get patriotic... via the revamped Turtle Fur (or cheeky sale here).

Tuesday, January 27

10E2424: That Snow Day 2015 Look

Not quuuite #snowmageddon in Boston, though getting there - a foot at this point I bet. It is not the foot of snow in your way - it is 'where do you put it' that causes the problems. Hat tip to all the DPW and crews out there.

It is blowing hard. But you have to dig out at some point before it gets heavy...

Longjohns: Poler ninjasuit.
Gloves: find of the year - Astis gloves. Treated leather, beadwork and leather handsewn in the USA. Lined with Polartec® Thermal Pro® High Loft insulation.
Wool shirt: Edgevale fleece lined wool shirt.
Jacket: Topo Designs
Thermal socks: Darn Tuff
Boots: Schnee Extreme. Made in Montana.
Lined pants.
Hope you have a good shovel.

Friday, January 23

10E2423: Burns Night - Which Whisky?

“Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn! 
Wi’ tipenny [beer], we fear nae evil; 
Wi’ usquebae [water of life - whisky], we’ll face the devil!”
“O Whisky! soul o’ plays an’ pranks! 
Accept a Bardie’s gratefu’ thanks!”

-Robert Burns

January 25th is Burns Night (the annual celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns who gave us My love is like a red red rose and many more...) and it offers the chance to splash some whisky on your haggis dinner. David Broom created this whisky "map" - you can find it in your better establishments. He talks about it, and whisky generally below.

How does a beginner find their way around? The whisky industry does not help itself with its regional classifications, Speyside, for example, stretches from Glasgow [in the south of Scotland] to Wick [northernmost tip - been there - couldn't understand a word -ed.] with numerous whisky styles.

Broom has plotted single malts in Scotland on a grid with four co-ordinates: delicate, light, smoky, rich. The horizontal axis plots the lightness or richness and the vertical axis plots the smokiness. "There isn't a 'best malt' position on the map either – it's an unbiased plotting device," he says.

-via The Scotsman

Thursday, January 22

10E2422: January 25th - Burns Night

Coming up soon, January 25th is earmarked in Scotland as Burns Night, an evening to celebrate the writing and life of poet/bon vivant (and other not as complimentary words depending how you read history) Robert Burns. You may know him from such works as Auld Lang Syne or  My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose? Many of his works are impenetrable to non-Scots speakers (or even scotch-speakers as the evening wears on...)  

Burns Supper is the name of the specific celebratory dinner held on Burns Night - with readings and a convoluted order of ceremony, but luckily there is now an app for that...

The Scottish Government has made the complete works of Robert Burns available, free of charge, on the iPhone. They are on v3.0 I believe. The app features a searchable database of Burns' poems and love songs, with a glossary of terms that floats over the poem to help you with the Scots' dialect. There is also a Burns Supper guide to help you plan the dinner tonight... Download the app here.

Haggis from McSween's in Edinburgh; gold standard.

‘The Selkirk Grace’

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

The poetry of Burns is all well and good (though Burns only adapted, didn't write the traditional The Selkirk Grace that we love), but any excuse to eat haggis is the real draw here. Contrary to the usual BS, haggis is no more formidable that game sausage, or black pudding, i.e. all good stuff.

OK, run that sheep's stomach bit past me again? There cannot be a dish so famously (and completely unfairly IMHO) reviled as haggis... Actual ingredients are sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and lots of pepper -wrapped in a sheep's stomach as casing, that part is not eaten. Our family trick is to bake it, don’t boil it... Also, a good gravy is a must as it is very oaty/crumbly and needs something to stick with the mashed potatoes.

The other great thing is the day after, you ball-up the leftover haggis and potato and whatever else is left and fry it in a pan. Add a fried egg and it is (whisky) breakfast of champions. The snag is that is near impossible to get real haggis in the States. Lung is not allowed in foodstuffs here... and that is a component of the ‘great chieftain’.

Want a guide on how to wear the kilt? Further reading.

Bostonians looking for an easy way to sample the evening could do worse than The Burren this Monday. Register here. No cover.

Tuesday, January 20

10E2421: Underwater Audio - Giveaway

Update - we have 2 winners. Ross with "Underwater fishing, treasure hunting, diving for lost golf balls" and out of the hat pull Mike. Thanks all.

Giveaway: Underwater Audio have provided 2 sets of headphones and ear 'fits' as above to give away through 10E. Just email me (james at 10engines dot com) and tell me what activity you will use them for and I'll pick 2 winners at 4pm. Bingo. $70 value. If you need a waterproof iPod you can buy one from them too.

Underwater Audio has spent the last two years developing Swimbuds Sport waterproof headphones (patents pending). Swimbuds Sport headphones create a perfect waterproof seal designed for flip turns. The durability of Swimbuds Sport headphones makes them tougher than any other waterproof headphone on the market (1-year warranty).

All kinds of sports. We designed Swimbuds Sport for the true athlete. These headphones come with four different styles of earbuds so that you can find the right fit for any sport.  If you want to run or bike, you might find the right fit with our Ergo buds. If you want to swim, put the Tree eartips on for the best watertight seal.  If you plan on surfing, wakeboarding, or enjoying other water activities, try out our Fin tips. All of our earbuds work for swimming laps – find the fit that works for you. Use the short cord headphones while swimming to keep the tangle out of your flip turn. Use the extension cord for extra length when you need it.

Frustration-free packaging. We removed all that annoying cardboard that gets between you and your product. Open your Swimbuds Sport hassle free and reduce your carbon footprint.

What you get:
  • 1 pair of Waterproof Short Cord Swimbuds Sport Headphones*
  • 1 39-inch (1m) Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Audio Extension Cord (white)
  • 4 types of eartips: 1 pair or round eartips for comfort. 1 pair or tree eartips for swimming, 1 pair of fin eartips for water activities, and 4 different sizes of the ergo eartips for running and biking.
  • 1 mesh bag for storing and carrying the lot.

Wednesday, January 14

10E2420: G&T On A Plane

Who makes the perfect gin and tonic? British Airways?

Bit early on a Wednesday for this but have been rolling it around for years. Why does a G&T taste better on the plane than any other time? Bothered a few contacts and came up with 3 points;

A) tonic must be ice cold - like from the hold at 30,000 feet
B) must be a can - for maximum fizz
C) gin must be Gordons*

Sis is a London resto GM, and a former sommelier with encyclopedic knowledge of the London drinks scene. Her take...
"I never drink Gordons any other time but it is such a classic pairing. I think the whole being on a plane thing is redolent of holiday so that first drink is like a release. Even if the flight is not for vacation. It is suspended time. No matter the time of day! The cold tonic is key. Seems fizzier too.
Even the lemon vs lime is a unique thing as I would never drink one normally with lemon.  Think Pan Am or old school BA where a G&T would be so common as an aperitif.
The serving is also key. Small can of tonic. Perfect measure of gin."
The 'scene' - that internal vacation of liquid while about to embark on a journey - may just simply elevate the whole thing. Makes it more than the sum of its parts. As another commenter notes, "hunger makes the best sauce..." 

*Gordon's as sold in the UK is distilled in Scotland. Distinctly used as part of Ian Fleming's Vesper martini in the book Casino Royale

Thursday, January 8

10E2419: Somerville Lumber

"In 1956 Harold and Melvin Cohen opened the doors to their new business. Over the next four decades, Somerville Lumber would expand to ten locations, be valued at millions of dollars, receive numerous honors. and promote a positive image for the city of Somerville (MA) across the country."

There are 2 parts to this - but at least watch this part 1. Story of 2 brothers and their various marketing machinations (watch and learn kids) that resulted in a well respected and profitable business built here in Somerville (MA). They also face down corruption over the infamous Winter Hill Gang. Goes without saying, great accents too. Fantastic.

Tuesday, January 6

10E2418: Cozmic Zoom

For many, the new year is a time for introspection. How can we change for the better etc. What about 'extrospection'?

Came across this app inspired by the Eames Powers of Ten film that humbles and thrills in equal measure. It gives one pause for thought as it reaches from the infinitesimally small quarks (sized in fentometers) then up and out 28 billion light years - through Central Park this time not Soldiers Field in Chicago...

Plenty of information, overlays, and videos that you can activate, or leave dormant and just scroll throughout the cosmos - and yes some great trippy music... $1.99 for iPhone or Android available at Cozmic Zoom.

On the subject of priced apps (as regards to free) - I think we should get onboard with this... you'll buy a coffee or gum or X, Y, Z that costs more before you have finished reading this article and yet wont spend pocket change on an educational tool that can be used across all (iOS) devices you own?? To engage and entrance... Does not seem a big ask. Don't have to buy this one but dig past the free apps next time.

Sidenote: just read this great nugget from astrophysicist Robert Simpson via kottke; "If the Sun was a blood cell then the Milky Way is the size of Europe." #mindblown

Monday, January 5

10E2417: Auld Claes and Porridge

Colloquial expression used by Scottish grandmothers... when the party is over, or you are out of WAM (walking around money), notably after Christmas, it's back to "old clothes and porridge".