Starbucks VIA review

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Starbucks has a new instant coffee called “Via”. (I mentioned that back on February 19.) So it took a while for the free samples to come. It took a while longer for me to try them. The perfect opportunity came when I spent a weekend with two buddies who aren’t coffee addicts like me.

Verdict? Amazing. It certainly has to be the best instant in the world. It comes in two flavors: Colombia and Italian Roast. I like Colombia best. (I prefer strong flavors, so I was surprised at my verdict.) It has none of that gritty instant-coffee-taste. There’s not quite the depth of flavor a fresh-brewed cup has, but considering that Starbucks squeezed that much taste in a tiny packet, I am fully impressed.

Each little single-serving packet costs about 83c. That’s a little bit much for my budget, so this will not be a regular part of my coffee-drinking experience.

In the package, there was a coupon for free shipping with any order from starbucks.com. I thought that was pretty minor bonus, but then I stopped to consider that the samples were free… I was just being ungrateful.

If you can afford it and need that convenience during travel, get some! My only tip is to pour boiling water after you have put the powder in the cup. That will allow your coffee to all be used and will not allow steam to cake it at the lip of the package.

Disclaimer: via the Starbucks Twitter feed, “Starbucks VIA is available in Seattle, Chicago, London, and online (US only).” So your supermarket may not carry it yet!

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You can’t judge a book

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Cherry Hills Village is one of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in Denver. You wouldn’t know it by their sign. Stonegate is also a Denver neighborhood (near Parker). It’s normal upper-middle-class new houses. They spent a bit more on their signage.

I guess those responsible for the Cherry Hills Village signage feel like their residents don’t need to tell everyone how fancy they are. Or maybe they forgot they had signs outside and thus haven’t updated them for 30 years.

Takeaway: This is one of those things you already know. But I’m just reminding you (and me) to remember this basic truth… What is on the outside may have no relation to the reality of what is on the inside.

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Flashback: England

birdcage

We lived in England from 1995–1998. I regret that a digital cameras was not yet part of my life then. However, when we flew to live in Africa on 2005, we stopped in England, so I had the chance to capture a few old memories in a new way.

We visited the town we lived in for most of our time in England — Thame. (Curiously, that is pronounced “tame” and not “tem” like the Thames River.)

The most storybook pub in Thame is The Bird Cage. And there are bird cages over the bar area.

Thame was a great place to live. We enjoyed being able to walk to the doctor, grocery store, school — and just about everywhere but our church and work. It was wonderful to be surrounded by buildings that were much older than America. And best of all were our friends. We still keep up with some of them. (One of the dearest families from that time are visiting us in Colorado this summer!)

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Flashback: Africa

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It was nearly four years ago when we started living in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.

This treehouse was in our backyard. Our neighbor, Roger Van Otterloo, built this with and for his son. He was a real missionary, in the traditional sense. He and his family built a life for themselves in the heart of the jungle, so to speak — in the heart of Africa — Zaire (now Congo again). They left for the big city of Nairobi when civil war broke out — when they had to leave.

You would never know from the photo that we were about two miles from the city center. The tree, by the way, is an acacia — the quintessential African tree.

If you want to read more about our life in Africa, kindly visit My Part of Nairobi.

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Why no solar

no-solar

As you know, I’m into saving energy and recycling. Heather is too.

We explored the possibility of getting solar panels for our home. Denver gets a massive amount of sun — it’s an ideal place for solar power.

There are incredible rebates and tax credits available now — knocking off nearly 2/3 of the costs! But it still would take more than ten years to pay for the investment. We just can’t guarantee that we’ll be in this house for that long.

Sigh.

(Image credit)

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Dell Adamo vs. MacBook Air

adamo

From the Latin, meaning ‘to fall in love’” vs. from the English, meaning very lightweight.

So, Dell came out with a new laptop.

The designer discusses his inspirations in a YouTube video “…the use of kindling material…” And the background music on the video is so ten years ago.

Adamo was created to elicit desire…” I wouldn’t call that a worthy goal in producing a product. (Hello? Function?)

1.2 ghz for $2000?! Compare that to the 1.6 ghz Air for $1800. Well, there is no comparison. (Admittedly, the Dell has a flash hard drive, which would bring the Air up to $2300.)

And yes, Dell followed Apple a mere 14 months later. (Remember, in computer time, that’s 27 years.)

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Toyota iQ

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Toyota has a great car that you can buy in Europe right now (if you can afford a new car). It’s the iQ.

It’s just 10 inches longer than the Smart Car*, but it has a rear seat! (Admittedly, anyone over 5 years old would only be able to survive a 2-mile journey back there. But it’s probably bigger than the back seat of my buddy’s Porsche 928.) *In the picture, the iQ is on the left, and Smart is on the right.

I know you are thinking, “What a quick way to die!” Not true. It earned a 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests.

Toyota could have been more original with the name — “iQ” and “Smart” — notice any similarity?

So yes, since I’m a lover of small cars, I want one.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photos; I shot these from a magazine sitting in my lap, as part of the bookstore findings series.)

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What was once valuable…

junkyard-caddy

A few Saturdays ago, I enjoyed some time at a car junkyard. (The visor on our old Mitsubishi died. It would no longer stay up. So $2.50 later and the time spent finding the right donor car meant a working visor.)

On my way to find the donor Mitsubishi, I saw this Cadillac hubcap center laying forlornly in the dirt. I remembered how much the car it came from was worth at the height of its glory — a lot more than it is worth now!

Takeaway: as you think about buying that shiny new whatever, just remember that it won’t be shiny forever.

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Death of the Rocky

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February 27th was the day Denver’s second newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, was put to rest. In my book, it was not a big deal, as the Denver Post was owned by the same company — so they were essentially the same voice. I am sad, though, for those who lost jobs in the shuffle.

We bought the final newspaper. Above is a spread featuring every masthead design from Day One until Day Final. I thought that was cool. It’s a nice tracking of how visual design reflects changes in culture. Naturally, I didn’t save the newspaper, but I do have a full-size image of the mastheads spread available. If you want to see it, leave a comment, and I’ll email it to you.

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