Many of us have a hard time valuing digital content the same way we did physical content. We might have spent hundreds of dollars on an Encyclopedia Britannica back in the days before the internet, but have a hard time paying for things that come so easily over the net without a price tag. But digital products aren't free to produce, and organizations like Wikipedia have enormous expenses, even though their content is essentially provided by volunteers. Wikipedia could be a for-profit company, like Google, and pay for its services through advertising and commerce. But it's not. Its founder, Jimmy Wales likens it to a library or a public park, a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others. If Wikipedia were a fee-based service, what do you think would be a fair annual subscription rate? Got a number in your head? Well, pull out your credit card and donate it. Wikipedia depends on donations from people like you and me to keep the lights on, and the information flowing.
Marcio and I recently spent a weekend in Edinburgh. The weather forecast called for rain the whole visit, prompting the bellman at the Sheraton to dryly comment "Sunglasses. You're optimistic." Very amusing, but I had the last laugh, as the weekend was mostly dry and quite sunny. The visit afforded me the opportunity to tour a number of hotels in town, and I have three properties to recommend:
The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa I typically shy away from the big mainstream hotel brands, but the newly-renovated Edinburgh Sheraton offers a really compelling combination of stylish, spacious, technologically-advanced rooms, great value and an superbly friendly and efficient staff. Hotel guests enjoy complimentary use of the well-equipped gym, cleopatra baths (aromatherapy hydrojet tubs) and 19-meter infinity edge indoor pool. A preferential day rate (£30) is offered for use of the extensive spa - easily the best in town. Many rooms have a view of the castle, but it's really the backside you're looking at. The central location is actually at the edge of the tourist district -- adjacent to the convention center, and a short 5-10 minute walk from most tourist attractions, but not quite as central as my other two recommendations.
Tigerlily Although Edinburgh is home to one of only two Missoni hotels in the world, the trendy chic address in town is the Tigerlily. The Missoni earns its design stripes, but Tigerlily steals the scene, with a chic bar and restaurant that are busy with a changing crowd of beautiful people day and night, minus the self-aggrandizing attitude that too often permeates such establishments. The 33 rooms are individually designed, with a swirl of stylish decor and modern electronics. WiFi, fruit and mineral water are all complimentary. Tigerlily's cool glamour is hidden behind a traditional Georgian town house façade, on historic George street, with the city's best shopping just steps away.
The Balmoral The Balmoral Hotel sits on Prince Street in the very heart of Edinburgh, with postcard-perfect views from many of the rooms. Many Grand Dame hotels are weighed down by their attempt to retain the grandeur of a past era, and others strip their historic legacy in an attempt to keep up with the times. The Balmoral manages a perfect balance of contemporary style with just enough original details to still feel like a landmark of the golden age (which, it is - originally built in 1902). It is comfortable elegance at its finest. While J.K. Rowling wrote much of the early Harry Potter at the Elephant House Restaurant, it's no surprise she took a suite here at the Balmoral to finish the series. The hotel boasts one of Edinburgh's few Michelin starred restaurants, and a pool and spa that are luxurious, though not as impressive as those at the Sheraton.
Register at facebook.com/fedex today (11/1) starting at 1pm for one of 30,000 $25 American Express Shop Small Gift Cards to be used at small businesses on 11/26 (black Sunday) all around the country. It's a joint venture promotion from FedEx and AmEx OPEN's to support small business. There are no fees associated with this card, and FedEx will deliver it to you in time to shop, but be prepared for server issues trying to log on at 1. Good luck!! (You might want to "like" FedEx before 1 so that you won't get bogged down at that step.)
My stepfather introduced me to orzo -- a tiny rice-sized pasta shape. But unlike rice, which absorbs all of the water it cooks in, orzo needs to be drained like pasta. A challenge for most colanders, but not for this one. The entire surface of the RSVP Stainless-Steel Colander is pierced with very small holes, making it extremely fast draining, yet still suitable for really small pasta like orzo. It may be hard to get excited about something as prosaic as a kitchen colander, but there's a certain satisfaction in using a tool that performs mundane tasks perfectly. The sturdy, 18/8 stainless construction means a lifetime of flawless draining. Top-rated by Cooks Illustrated, buy it for $32.95 with free shipping from Amazon.com.
The Museum of Arts and Design (“MAD”), in its cool new building at 2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. MAD focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to the digital. Join today, and you can catch 3 really interesting shows: Flora and Fauna, Picasso To Koons (jewelry designs by some of the 20th century's greatest artists) and Crafting Modernism, an exhibit of mid-century American art and design. Annual memberships are currently onsale through the online Best of Finnish Design pop-up shop on Fab.com (the design-inspired flash sale site). $45 gets you a single membership, $60 buys a dual and $75 a family membership (regularly $75, $100 and $125 respectively). If you're not already a member of Fab.com, this link will get you a $10 credit when you sign up before 4pm on October 24th.
If you like the retro-cool of Wranglers, you'll love their cool European Blue Bell line of tshirts and hoodies, blending heritage fabrics and details with a modern eye towards fit and finish. On sale for three days at MYHABIT, $32-79, including free shipping and free returns!
Few things are a bigger turn-off for me than a guy who smells like the fragrance counter at Macy's Kind of ironic, since I spent most of my 20s wearing so much Cacharel Pour Homme that you could smell me before and after I left the room. Live and learn. I still wear cologne occasionally, though I spray it above me, and let it settle down in a fine mist on my head and shoulders. That way no one smells it coming and going. And I pretty much stick to the subtle masculine scent of the woodsy Encre Noir (Black Ink) by Lalique and the citrusy Eau d'Hadrien by Anick Goutal - both rare enough you won't smell them on someone else. Check them out -- and check out the prices on your favorite colognes at fragrancenet.com.
*Only from Washington DC, only through October 28th. Fly OpenSkies to Paris before they discontinue their service from DC to Orly. If you can pick up and go... go! Hurry, seats are selling out as you read this!