Old but still active

expat-wives

My very first blog, My Part of Nairobi, was my chronicle of life in that great city. We lived there from 2005–2007.

It still gets almost as many hits as my current blog, even though I haven’t updated it since we left. I guess people find that life more interesting than this.

Anyhow, one of my favorite blogs is Africa Expat Wives Club. The author has an irreverant yet respectful look at life there. She and her family have chosen to stay, unlike us. So her blog chronicles life there — many of the struggles and joys of an expat living in Kenya.

So I was checking my Google Analytics stats for that blog and noticed that I had received about 140 hits from her link to me, just in the last month. Pretty fun!

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I love Honda

honda-seatbelt

Our Honda minivan is about six years old. We are embarrassed at all the “suburbia” connotations that go with owning a minivan. But it is incredibly convenient. Our 1993 small 2-seater coupe gets about 10 miles better per gallon. (We actually travel as a family very often in it to enjoy the savings — but we dislike almost everything else about the coupe, in comparison.)

Anyhow, I was noticing that the seatbelts were awfully slow to retract. I asked our independent mechanic how much it would cost to replace them. He informed me that Honda has a lifetime warranty on seatbelts. That is how much they care for your safety!

So the local dealership replaced three and fixed one. The new belts work so much nicer. The dealership even gave me a ride to and from their shop! No charge at all.

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Mac Mini 2009 Review

macmini

Today Apple quietly changed their Mac Pro, iMac and Mac Mini lines. No visual changes for any of them — the guts are faster and storage is bigger.

Significant for greenies is that the new Mac Mini uses less energy than before: 45 percent less than the previous model — less than 13W while it’s idle. The graphics processing is much faster. The CPU gets a small bump upward.

My advice? Buy a refurbished Macbook for about $350 more. You’ll get a much faster CPU, a built-in webcam and a monitor, along with portability.

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More lessons from hot sauce

franks-everything

I was amazed when I read the new slogan for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce: “I put that on everything.” And to emphasize their point, they have put a giant splash in the middle of the slogan — underlining a lack of finesse in applying their hot sauce.

Lesson? A reminder to me about not applying one criteria to everything. It’s so easy to stereotype — when we see someone who is different than us, we like to put them in a box. That slogan also goes against American culture’s trend to niche everything. I’m surprised it successfully ran through Frank’s approval committee.

By the way, I love hot sauce. I don’t apply one kind to everything — or hot sauce to everything. Thus, I have about five bottles in my arsenal, ready for use on various dishes.

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Lessons from a hot sauce packet

cholula-1cholula-2

Cholula had a great idea — make their hot sauce available in little packets so that restaurants could provide that bit of spicy yumminess in small easy-to-carry-away containers.

I have seen small Tabasco packets before (at a Chic-Fil-A), but this was the first time I had seen Cholula. Maybe Cholula will slowly carve some of the market that Tabasco has created.

I love how they put a photo of their bottle on the back of the packet. In essence this says, “If you like this, pick up a bottle to enjoy at home!”

What are some ways you can offer what you do in smaller “packets” that are cheaper or easier to grab? What are some ways you can expand where your services are offered?

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Target = good

target-flyer

One day last week Heather got the local newspaper for free, so we enjoyed cruising through that view of life in Denver and beyond.

The thing that caught my interest was the Target sale flyer. It featured nothing more than $80! There were no big flat screen TVs, no fancy digital cameras and no lawnmowers for the coming spring. Most items were about $20 or less. I mean, look at the cover — one item for $2 and one item for $5! Finally, each spread featured one healthy sort of theme — like family game night.

Target gets my vote.

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Another very cool shop

mont-bell

Mont Bell. It’s a very expensive backpacking gear shop in Boulder, Colorado. It’s the Japanese company’s flagship store in the USA.

I have been into backpacking gear since about 1974. I love the state-of-the-art stuff, and it doesn’t get any more on the edge than Mont Bell. Any backpacker can tell you that lightness is king. As you can tell from the photo, this parka in the window weighs just 13.8 oz!

Sadly, my budget didn’t stretch for the parka I was lusting after (a different one), even though it was discounted about a third. Sigh. But that didn’t stop me from appreciating the beauty of their design and functionality.

p.s. A footnote, if you are a Boulder-lover… Andrew has a great post on the best places to eat breafast in Boulder. Again, sadly, Heather and I are very rarely in Boulder at breakfast-time.

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Best of everything

kibera

Last night, Heather and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire. Our kids are old enough that we can leave them for a spur-of-the-moment date. So we went down to our local supermarket, bought the discount tickets, and away we went.

And yes, if you heard about the Oscars results, it won just about every award there was to win.

We were glad. It was a triumph of the little guy (in more ways than one).

Anyhow, back to the movie — it is very graphic and disturbing. (Disclaimer: it is rated “R” for a reason — It shook up our reality and made us remember why we went back to Africa to live.) This glimpse into poverty and the harsh reality of life for so many millions is now in the faces of many different millions who may never see that otherwise.

This photo depicts Kibera — the largest slum in Africa. Heather and I have some friends who live there and have visited several times. It is depressing to see sewage running along the walkways. But it is also an exciting vibrant community of people who are making the best life they can out of the least available resources. (Ironically, I took this photo from the water tower at a neighboring tennis club.)

Go see it while it’s still in the theaters. The large screen and sound system will impact you a lot more than if you wait till the video comes out.

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