Hello everyone! It's been a long time since my last post, but I've still been active in my pursuit of "cool stuff."
But, I don't really think that many of these things have enough about them to create a whole post about, so I'll round some of them up here in short snippets, some of which may end up as their own posts some time in the future, or as part of others.
Item 1: Coleman 5227 from 1992
First up: This Coleman 5227 cooler from 1992! During the July 4th weekend, I got an (eerily accurate) Instagram ad for an Igloo Picnic Basket 25-qt cooler, a revival of the one that they made back in the '90s, complete with R A D color scheme...however, I just couldn't justify the (discounted) price of $64 for an average cooler (including shipping).
Reading a couple of reviews revealed that yes, it really is just an average cooler, and apart from the color scheme was no better than an average $20 Playmate.
The lid can be removed via a few screws on the back, and reversed to provide a nice cup/meal holder. I tried sitting on it, but didn't want to deform the lid - though it is a solid cooler, I don't think it's quite that solid.
My favorite part has to be that logo:
A couple pictures of the bottom:
|August 1992 date wheel!|
Item 2: Bialetti Moka Express
I've recently also become interested in the many different methods of making coffee. For the longest time, all I knew about was the drip coffee maker, and it continues to serve me well when I want a lot of "normal" coffee, with its simple "set-and-forget" operation and easy cleanup making for a stress-free experience.
While I was in Kansas City, a few people at work liked preparing cold brew coffee, and for this they used a French press. I like the robust, strong taste of coffee out of mine, but don't like the somewhat fiddly cleaning procedure which almost always ends up with coffee grounds clogging my sink disposal.
Upon researching more portable ways of making coffee, I found a camping pour-over device, which clamps onto the top of a mug and holds a basket with coffee grounds over it.
However, I could never get it to work, ending up with either coffee-flavored water or acidic sludge.
Then, one fine day, I stumbled across this in a thrift store:
I figured that it makes coffee like a percolator, so I went ahead and looked up some instructions and made myself a cup (ended up being 6 oz) of the thickest coffee I had ever seen.
After drinking the whole thing and wondering why I felt like I could hear colors and see frequencies, I did some more digging and realized my mistake: what I had found was a 6-cup maker, with each ~1oz cup being considered a single serving of coffee.
But the hassle-free cleaning process and stovetop design of the Moka Express appealed to me, as well as the fact that the same company has been making them since their inception in 1933. Unfortunately, this one has a caveat as well - you can only make the exact amount of semi-espresso (pressure is 1-2 bar, not the 9-15 bar that it takes to make "real" espresso) that the device is designed for. No putting less water and grounds in for less output.
So, I went on Amazon and found myself a nice little 1-cup version (shown on left against the original one I got), which brews about 1-2 oz of coffee.
My favorite drink is prepared with either Lavazza or Bustelo (both mix well) and an ounce or two of vanilla almond milk. Tastes great and makes me feel fancy, which is a lot of the fun!
Small aside: I also found this official Lavazza cup/saucer set to go with the Bialetti!
|1-cup (2016, must have been sitting in a warehouse for a while!)|
Item 3: Tang!
I know...anyone who grew up during the Space Race remembers Tang, and my parents are no exception. However, I had never tried it, until recently. This time, the cup came first:
(It was a nice surprise to find that it changes color when it's cold!)
So I figured, if I have the cup, might as well get some official Tang to drink from it! To my surprise, it was only about $6 on Amazon.
My review: even though I realize that it's probably not the healthiest thing in the world, the convenience of not having to put it in the fridge and/or thaw it out, and the adjustable proportion afforded by mixing it yourself, not to mention the taste (YMMV, I like it), make it a win in my book. Perfect for this month, with July 20, 2019 being the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!
Item 4: AlphaSmart 3000
A few years ago, I learned about the AlphaSmart through the posts of various Typospherians praising its virtues as the closest digital alternative to a typewriter, and I was intrigued.
I'd searched online for one from time to time, but always wished I could try it out before buying. Yesterday, I finally found one, and it works fine!
For those unfamiliar, the AlphaSmart is a series of portable word processors released in the early '00s that has found favor in recent years as a "distraction free" writing device. Unlike traditional computers, the AlphaSmart series has a 4-line dot-matrix display somewhat similar to that found on graphing calculators, and a battery life measured in the hundreds of hours (off of 3xAA batteries). This, combined with its lack of Internet access (or graphical ability at all, save for the very late ones that could run a variant of PalmOS), make it a device ideal for those seeking to avoid distraction and get some words down.
In the time I've been using this one, which is only about 30 minutes so far, I like the pleasantly limited experience, without a bright backlit screen shining into my eyes. However, the mushy keyboard takes a bit of getting used to. (However, compared to some of the Smith-Corona and Atari home computer keyboards I've seen, it's excellent.) This has the side effect of making each keystroke very quiet compared to the likes of a typewriter or even some laptops, which I do like.
The color scheme of my 3000 is pure early 2000s, with its semi-transparent teal calling to mind the blue iMac G3 that I remember from elementary school.
The AlphaSmart 3000 can connect to any computer with USB (I've tested it in Linux, and it works fine) and appears to the OS as a keyboard. Hitting "send" on the 3000 sends the file it's currently on as a series of keystrokes, so the import process is quite simple! Just open up your favorite text editor/word processor, hit send, and you'll see your words appear letter-by-letter. It's quite satisfying.
It also functions as a keyboard when connected to the PC, so you don't even need to have two keyboards on your desk! Just grab a few (I use Eneloop) rechargeable batteries and a USB cable, and you're good to go! This device comes highly recommended by me.
|DC IN (7.5-9V @ >=200 mA)|
Item 5: Field Notes 56-week planner
I like to keep a somewhat-consistent daily journal, and over the last couple of years have found that the best way to do this is to get these dated planners, with one day/page or one week/2 page spread; this forces me to write something each day, however little (and even then it sometimes doesn't work).
|2017 and 2018 journals|
However, this year I waffled on getting one since I couldn't decide which one to get, and before I knew it, six months were up with very little to go back to! So I figured I'd get one of the undated ones, which led me to this excellent Field Notes weekly planner.
Even though it's a little small and a bit pricey, the paper quality and overall rigidity make up for it! One thing that I wish someone would make (if it exists, please let me know) is a planner that has an equal amount of space for the weekends as well as the weekdays. Saturday and Sunday always get crammed into small spots, and honestly I feel like I do more worth remembering on the weekends than on the weekdays, so I end up cramming small letters into the tiny allotted spaces each week.
|Sat/Sun are those little boxes on the bottom.|
Hope you enjoyed this quick look at a few things that I've been using lately, and that I've found "cool." Thanks for reading!