Showing posts with label Random. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Random. Show all posts

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Sprinkling Of Seasonal Seasonings

Trees are beginning to shift color in the woods here at The Country Bunker™. I live for this time of year.

The bro and his friends have been enjoying a fabulous mourning dove season at the farm, probably the best in years. I am not a big fan of eating dove but will give it another try when he cooks some up as appetizers for the Bears v. Packers tailgate next Sunday.

For two months I have been actively scouting the woods at the farm for whitetail. The trail cams have captured many images but nothing spectacular. It is the usual does, fawns, raccoons and squirrels.

Coyotes have passed through too.

Lots of tracks at the farm. Activity is increasing and movement is at all hours so this is good news for now. Doe track on the right, buck track on the left.

When the corn and beans come down then the leaves fall all bets are off. I now have two treestands. Still figuring out exactly where to position them for optimum shooting opportunities. Maybe next week. All said I have been scouting and feeding since early August, far earlier than ever.

The Indiana DNR offers a whitetail bundle license which allows me to take three whitetails, two antlerless and one antlered deer total beginning with archery on October first. I will be pleased to take one. On November fifteenth firearms season begins for two weeks of long range firepower opportunities. Then a special muzzleloader season takes over and finally a late season archery final try. By having a crossbow for the first time my entire season now runs for a full three months. At $65 the bundle license is a bargain compared to neighboring states. My whitetail season will be interrupted by a four day waterfowl experience down at Nestor's southwestern Illinois duck and goose paradise so this hunting season is all planned out.

Yesterday I split wood. Lotsa wood. Renting a log splitter made fast work out of up to 30" wide wild cherry logs from a tree cut down across the road. Wild cherry wood is the very best fireplace wood there is. Had over 24 to split. It took four hours and even with the power splitter my old body needs a Sunday rest. Monday it's time to stack and cover that wood when I rebuild the old woodpile that was damaged by a falling limb in a severe thunderstorm last November.

Today I have a rare Sunday off. Since I worked my ass off Saturday splitting a crapload of wood my treat today is to sit back and watch some NFL Football. Looks like Green Bay v. Detroit on FOX to start out.

The Bears are on tomorrow night but it doesn't matter. I will watch today's pre game show on Fox and whatever games they broadcast out my way because I love the game for what it once was and glimpses of it are still there if one looks closely.

Go Bears.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two For One

Two separate emails came to me over the weekend from two different sources that tie together in a way. I thought both are worth sharing.

The first is one of those emails that get passed on and forwarded a lot. The claim is it was written by  Clint Eastwood. Generally these types of emails leave me skeptical of the authenticity. Using a celebrity name gets attention. There is no way to confirm if the claim is true without a lot of search engine work and I have no time for that. I report - you decide.

Here's the content.

My Twilight Years ~ Clint Eastwood

As I enjoy my twilight years, I am often struck by the inevitability that the party must end. There will be a clear, cold morning when there isn't any "more." No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat. 

It seems to me that one of the important things to do before that morning comes, is to let every one of your family and friends know that you care for them by finding simple ways to let them know your heartfelt beliefs and the guiding principles of your life so they can always say, "He was my friend, and I know where he stood."

So, just in case I'm gone tomorrow, please know this.

I voted against that incompetent, lying, flip-flopping, insincere, double-talking, radical socialist, terrorist excusing, bleeding heart, narcissistic, scientific and economic moron currently in the White House!

Participating in a gun buy back program because you think that criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids.



I have doubts this originated with Mr. Eastwood. It appears to be a late night rant by a person who had one too many. Then again Mr. Eastwood's speech at the RNC convention in 2012 tailed off into a series of addled or boozy connections so who knows. The content of the letter did reflect my sentiments so it resonated with me no matter who it originated with.

Another email on the same subject brought my attention to an online blog dedicated to reporting on random violent crime in the City of Chicago.

One claim made on this site is the local Chicago news media and Chicago Police Department are burying more than future dead democrat voters. They are burying number of documented violent crimes by having them reclassified. Doing so keeps the true numbers of random violent acts lower. Politicians prefer that facts not get in the way of their precious tourism business.

Most surprising is the reference link to a very revealing investigative article printed in Chicago Magazine, a publication that began decades ago as a tony north shore lifestyle magazine usually loaded with restaurant reviews, social event calendars and advertisements for fashions, furs and jewelry along with BMW and Bentley dealerships. The surprise to me is they were gutsy enough to publish something the mainstream Chicago news media would prefer to ignore. 

The site keeps a count of weekly, monthly including a special category of weekend homicides. You can track where and when these homicides occur, male and female criminal statistics and at-a-glance geographic stats revealing what most of us have already figured out.

I had a good chuckle at one statistic listed under the category of "shot placement". This is a monthly count of people "shot in the ass" complete with a graphic titled the "Shot-In-The-Ass-O-Meter". Are the gang bangers such poor shots they miss the vital area of the middle back when a victim is fleeing or are the shooters are making some sort of gang punishment statement to their peers?

Yes, it's true, my Chicago neighbors are having too many kids. But don't expect me to schedule a doctor appointment for my outpatient castration procedure anytime soon.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where Do You Belong?

Like it where you live? Hate it? Wanna move? Where? This may be of assistance if you are considering relocating.

We like it where we live. We like it a lot. Are there better places to relocate? Sure. The single reason that keeps us where we are is our family. They all live nearby. But what if they didn't? We've considered many places over the years. We like the Rocky Mountain states a lot. Been there, been back over and over again. But lately Colorado has gone goofy.

According to this link, my place to belong is the state of Wyoming. I like what I know about Wyoming. If Unkie Dick Cheney likes the life there that's good enough for me. Maybe a trip out there in the late summer is in order. Just in case.

The description next to the graphic tips it in for me. I hear the town of Cody is rather scenic.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hello From Here

I remember an episode from a decade or so ago, when my wife and I were making some plans for our estate and we were sitting down with the attorney and discussing our wills and trust situations.

We were going to put it in our documents that we wanted certain procedures followed for disposal of our remains.  The attorney looked at us and said quite matter of factly "it doesn't matter what you put in here, everyone will just do whatever they want with your body anyways".

That short sentence snapped me into reality a bit.  You can wish and hope for things to happen when you die, but if you don't have someone on your side to effectively run your estate upon your death such as a wife or husband, your wishes pretty much don't mean squat.  And you won't be around to complain.

An acquaintance of mine lost his father a while ago.  His father did not want my friend's sister to have a certain set of flatware that she always coveted.  I don't know what the falling out was about.  To make a long story short, she got the flatware since the other brothers knew that she wanted it since she was a little girl.  The dad wasn't around to complain.

I was reminded of all of this when I saw this story.

A man killed himself, and had put a LOT of thought into it.  He left a BIG website up explaining his motives and thinking and prepaid the server costs for five years to hopefully keep it up.

Always being curious about this sort of thing, I read a lot of the site, and there is some interesting info up there.  He wasn't sick, or hurting for money (so he says), but just wanted to end it.  I still don't get why he wanted to shoot himself if he was doing alright, but the website dives into that pretty deeply.

These letters from beyond the grave are always interesting to me.  I have often thought about writing a letter to my wife and kids to be found in my safe deposit box someday if I should die suddenly.  I have not done that.  I think it would just cause more misery.

In the end, the guy who shot himself has lost the narrative, and so does anyone that dies.  For the first few days after his death some folks with a morbid curiosity about this sort of thing (like me) will look at the site and read a few things, and shrug their shoulders and move on with life.  His name will be forgotten quickly and it will be hard to remember what to google to find the site again if you want to read it.

I imagine that before long, his surviving relatives will contact the service provider and the site will be taken down for whatever reason, and he will fade away into oblivion.

But it is an interesting (if not rambling, at times) look into this guys life, and his postcard from beyond.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Waiting Until It is 95% On Discount

I pined for an Eames chair in this post and am always excited at the prospect of these Herman Miller chairs going on sale. Alas - it isn't 75% or so off which would cause me to swap out my fine functioning chair for this piece of art.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wild Summer

We recently visited a fantastic tavern / restaurant called Flannery's in Pennsylvania. Look at the great beer selection on tap.

Unfortunately it is the opposite of a "wild summer" for Carl so this was my beverage of choice. Actually I am getting quite attached to this diet Ginger beer, although you can't find anything like this at a typical bar or restaurant so I'll need to settle for a non-diet ginger beer if available.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22 2012 - Earth Day

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Let's all do our part.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Albino Spiny Hedgehog

My sister is taking care of an albino spiny hedgehog. She made him a little sleeve that he likes to hide out in. He also likes sunflower seeds, they can make him come out of his little hideaway a bit.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Intelligence of the Crow

A while back I read a book called "Ravens In Winter" and found the lives of crows and ravens to be very interesting. The book describes how they communicate food sources to one another through some type of unknown mechanism and their general high intelligence level.

When I was in Norway I came across a Carrion Crow (or at least I think it is; I looked it up on wikipedia) that found a clam-shell container that usually contains take out food. The crow obviously knew that it was correlated with food and poked it with its beak and shook it about deliberately before throwing it to the ground in disgust. I took a video and uploaded it and you can see it in HD here which I find very humorous.

Before 9/11 I traveled to Tasmania and had an encounter with what I believe was a Forest Raven, although once again I am not an ornithologist. The bird was AMAZINGLY persistent - when our car pulled up to a clearing it jumped on the side mirror (the window was open) and looked me right in the face (with big yellow eyes) and started cawing for food. I rolled up the window and it sat right on the hood of the car staring at me through the dashboard. I have never seen an (ostensibly wild) bird so unafraid of humans.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Friday, December 16, 2011

I Been Fez'd

It came in yesterday.

My very good friend from high school, Chris From Colorado sent it to me.

When Chris was staying here at the country bunker last October for GunstockIV the subject of Shriners came up after too many drinks one night. We had some laffs.

Shriners are an odd lot and those among us who don’t belong aren’t sure just what they’re up to when they are not riding magic carpet go carts, Harleys and riding seated on flat bed semi trucks playing musical instruments in local festival parades.

Usually adorned in tight white polyester knit polo shirts tucked into polyester knit black trousers to show off their ample beer guts they make it known that Shriners are a powerful force to be reckoned with. But their look is incomplete without...the Fez.

Anyone ever see a Shriner under 60 years old? They don’t take just anybody, no.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the wonderful Fez is here.

Since I have declared myself The Potentate of Pork, overseeing the cavernous Temple of The Mystic Knights of All Things Swine, this is an appropriate addition to my Fez collection. After all, I am 58 and my middle section is getting out of control. Can’t be the pork. Must be the canarbles.

The Fez is a very powerful icon, making virtually anyone a member of a mystic, double-secret cult.


The feeling one gets when wearing a Fez is indescribable to anyone who has never worn one in public. People stare in amazement. Young kids stop and point. Dogs bolt toward me and piss on my shoe. Now that sure gives me a thrill up my leg.

Thank you Chris. I like it. A lot.

Think I’ll look to see if they come in Realtree® camo.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Like Fallin’ In Love Again

It’s no secret here on the blog that I have been an Apple Computer evangelist for twenty-five years. Since 1988 their products have amazed me, occasionally frustrated me and downright enraptured me as they brought me great fortune.

The Mac and Adobe software is my industry standard. Nothing compares, especially the price. But it is worth every penny.

The desktop model here in the home office is just over six years old. It’s running OSX 10.4 and Adobe CS 2. It just works, like everything Apple. But, there comes a time when biting the bullet is necessary. By that I mean upgrading everything.

You see, the old desktop Mac was powered by the old PowerPC chip from Motorola operating Mac OSX 4.11. Three years ago or so Apple bought into the Intel produced processor chipset and told Motorola to take a hike. What this means is I could not upgrade my Adobe imaging software due to the old Motorola PowerPC processor. Adobe software is now up to Creative Suite v5.5 so I got by skipping over three upgrades (saving a lot of $$). It didn’t matter. The work got done. That’s how all tech companies milk us for upgrade purchases.

Generating professional imaging and layout files in Adobe CS2 posed no problems to me at all except that my clients are all using CS4 and CS5. This makes their files hard to work with when I need to work with them here in the home office. Not long ago, clients needed to save their files to be backward compatible for me to work with them. This is considered somewhat unprofessional.

It’s similar to having a home remodeling contractor asking to borrow your circular saw and hammer to do the job. Not good, not good.

So I bit the bullet last week and bought the mother of all laptops, the Macbook Pro. And what a fine tool it is, costing up to three times what most users pay for a cheaper Dell, Lenovo or similar PC laptop. The comparison ends there.

What Apple includes in proprietary software along with the OS more than makes up for the price. It’s so elegant I can’t think of words to describe it.

It took me all of two days to configure it, install upgrades and copy over all my business files. The only task left is to install font management software for my collection of 16,000 fonts and it’s good to go. My needs surpass the needs of most users who rely on databases and number crunching, etc. Apples. Oranges.

With a cheap cable I can connect the laptop to my Apple 23” cinema display so my menu palettes can reside on the laptop screen while the main image isn’t violated by them on the big display. Clean and crisp.

Another advantage with the laptop is being able to take it anywhere. Some of my clients want contractors to work onsite with their own laptops. The recession has kept some from having workstations available for contractors. They are counting paperclips, so why waste capital on expensive workstations? I understand. Now I can work in those places again, if I choose to.

This is the last professional computer I will ever need to buy. Since I am semi-retired and intend on (Carl, please pay close attention here) fully retiring in 3.5 years.

This laptop should last far longer but when it craps out I will just migrate over to the iPads, which should be awesome by then. And I can say g’bye to Adobe.

After spending two days with the new laptop all I can say is…the best is yet to come. And Apple, as always, leads the way.

Say what you will. Others only wait, follow and copy. Apple is at $393 per share today. Just think if you bought some five years ago when it was at $80. Just sayin'.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sight Seen

While waiting in line for a parking spot to tailgate at last Sunday's Chicago Bears loss to a piss-poor KC team, this SUV was ahead of us waiting in line.

Best. Bumper sticker. Of. The. Decade.

Low light made me crank up the ASO but due to very low light and no tripod, I could not snap a crisp in-focus shot.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bullying The Bully

When finally cornering a bully it must be brutal. A bloody nose, a black eye, and a Louisville Slugger to the kneecaps would work. It is so delicious to see this assclown get beaten up and, as expected, the bully doesn't take it too well. Unfortunately it will not be heard by many who should hear it. So I am simply doing my part to spread the word.

Click on the image and listen. It is so good I had to listen to it twice. Enjoy!



Saturday, October 29, 2011


I was saddened when the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last night. I was sadder when they knocked my beloved Milwaukee Brewers out of the playoffs.

As was proven in Moneyball, the playoffs are quite the crap shoot. Much different than a 162 game season.

And that brings me to the point of this post. Do championships really tell what team is the "best" for any particular year? And does it really matter?

I used to get a lot more broken up about my teams losses in the past, but now take them as they come. I look at things from a much more, how should I say - pragmatic - point of view now.

Even though Ohio State only (only!) won one National Championship under Jim Tressel, they were called chokers and all sorts of other crap by media and fans of other teams. The Buckeyes were a force almost every single year. BUT they lost a couple of title games and all of a sudden they are chumps? I think not. Of course that all unwound with the corruption and other scandals, but you get my drift.

It seems that all anyone cares about is the title, and putting together a string of victories in football, or a killer season in baseball (such as Texas did this year) is, to me, a much greater accomplishment than winning one series or game. The Patriots a couple of years ago ran the table until the Super Bowl, when they lost. I still say they were the best team that year - but they failed to win the big one so they are marked as losers? Huh.

The Packers to me were the best team at the time of last years playoffs. They were only 10-6 during the regular season, but won their last five games, and are now elevated into football valhalla. If they run the table this year, and then, say, Rogers gets hurt and they stumble during the playoffs, will they be labeled chumps? Yes! It ain't fair, I tells ya.

But like the song says, that's just the way it is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Whose That Girl?

Trooper York is fond of playing the Whose That Girl game so in true internet fashion I am stealing the idea from him. I don't plan on doing it often. If you think about this one, you can guess it correctly. So, Whose That Girl?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Manliness is a most debatable topic. Every man who is not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) bones up (so to speak) on his own method of projecting his chosen brand of manliness. I would say there are categories of manliness. There's worldly manliness, cosmopolitan manliness, fake urban manliness, ghetto manliness, barrio manliness, suburban manliness, country gentleman manliness and backwoods redneck manliness just to name a few. The lowest form of fake urban manliness is the Metrosexual. That's a guy who uses epidermal skin scrub, wears slight makeup and mascara, dye their gray hair dark, go to spas, gets their forearms and legs tattooed and has their spikey tips bleached ala Guy Fierri.

Manliness is generally the domain of younger men trying to establish virility and older guys who missed the opportunity because they were immature dorks who trembled when looking for their zipper when they were of age, and that is true across all the aforementioned categories. For some of us older guys, we been there and done that. We’re comfortable in our own skin and fart in the general direction of those young turks and dorks, especially the ones wearing those awful "hipster hats".

Maybe that’s why I enjoy the Dos Equis (which is one damn good beer BTW) ads featuring The Most Interesting Man In The World.

Working in the ad business in Chicago for well over three decades I have met a few of the classic worldly manly man types. They were men of wealth, age and financial success. They were men full of past adventure and current myth. They were usually found in top shelf watering holes on Rush St. and were usually good pals with my boss. It was a pleasure to be in their presence and hear their stories, and just like that Dos Equis guy, had some fine young arm candy nearby. Humbling, really, but most of all they very impressive when they spoke. They never bragged, they just spoke and when they did, I listened. I hung on each and every word. It was once called having respect (today's snarky, immature young men have no idea what respect and honor for older gentlemen means).

But I never desired to be one of those worldly Most Interesting Men. I was a family man, dedicated to raising a traditional family just as I was raised. It was never about me, it was about my family, it was always about them. I made sacrifices for them because I loved them. No regrets. Those worldly doods had no family to love. All they did was travel and spend and play and screw.

But I sure did have a ball being a part of the latter day Madmen era in downtown Chicago enjoying three martini lunches when they were fashionable, listening to The Most Interesting Men In The world.

If you want to see these types of very classy manly men the place to go in Chicago is Gene & Georgetti’s for a prime steak lunch. This is where the real life Most Interesting Men In The World still enjoy a prime steak lunch. Before you enter you’ll see their Bentley’s, Jaguars and Masaratti’s parked out front in reserved parking spots secured by the valets. They have reserved tables on the main floor near the bar. You will usually find Illinois democrat politicians mingling amongst them looking to cut a deal. It’s a true throwback to the classic Chicago-style chop house. Go, experience and absorb what true manly class looks and sounds like.

What inspired me to write this was stumbling upon this blog.

It jarred my brain and I remembered manly men as portrayed in advertising during the 50’s and 60’. I saw most of these ads as a kid waiting for my turn in a six-chair barbershop. Don’s Barber Shop was where we got our hair trimmed every other week on a Saturday morning. There were “those” magazines stacked on the end tables of the waiting area.

No Playboys. No screw books. But there were tattered copies and back issues of Esquire, Argosy, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life just begging to be read. As a ten-year old kid who just learned how to read it was definitely the photos and ads that drew my attention.

How could I miss the fact that The Most Interesting Man In The World campaign is nothing but a very clever and entertaining spoof on the old manly man ads of that era. And does it ever work for a generation of young men that have no idea of who these famous bygone ad characters were. It’s the sharp humor, casting, situations and announcer’s quips that make the contemporary Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World ad spots work regardless of the true inspiration most time poor young moderns are completely unaware of.

My favorites manly man ad campaigns of old were:

The Hathaway Shirt Man.

The Marlboro Man.

The Schwepps Man.

I was never sold on The Arrow Shirt Dood. He looked a bit too urban gay for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

That Arrow Shirt thingie probably worked best in certain Manhattan enclaves.

And that's about all I have to say about that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bye bye Combat Mission

Recently I was going through old stuff and threw out my Combat Mission CD's. Combat Mission is a military simulation that Dan and I used to play online several years ago. This wasn't a real time game; both players "plotted" their turns and then the computer calculated the turns and we could send the results back and forth (Play by Email) or could play head to head. We were pretty dedicated to playing this; we'd have a couple of games going back and forth and we rarely "missed a turn" which means returning an email back to the other guy. But times move on, and everyone gets new and more healthy hobbies, like Dan racing up a mountain in France. Even I am far less sedentary than I once was (but a stone slacker compared to Dan).

So goodbye to all that, and here's an inside joke to Dan of a license plate that I saw recently.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bar Night or (Not The) J*onas Brother

I was out for a few drinks after dinner on Friday night and if I am somewhere that looks interesting I take out my cheap little blog camera, set it on something (hopefully) flat, turn on the 10 second timer, and see what comes up.


Here is a view of Pippins, a small wood paneled place on Rush Street. The place was packed with drunks but everyone seemed happy.


Later we went over to Streeters a couple of blocks away, billed as "The Best Bar Underground". I did my old point the camera and see what happens towards some guys playing beer pong.


Then something hilarious happened. The guy in the tie and his friend came over to us (they were friendly)and asked if we took their picture because we thought he was a J*nas Brother (don't want a billion hits) because he said that happens "all the time". I laughed and said I was just taking a picture of some people playing beer pong but that was completely unexpected. I guess he does look a bit like one of them - note how he is staying still for the shot. And if you wear a tie like that out on a Friday night it probably helps complete the look. Very funny.

And finally if you do go to Streeters and you hear a huge crash it is the giant Jenga game they have with huge graffiti encrusted wooden blocks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guard Down, Lesson Learned

Carl and I just returned from a great weekend in San Francisco. After Carl left on Sunday, I had an afternoon to stroll the 'hood, take in some tourist sights, get some gifts for the family and basically just walk around and take in the city.

I didn't know it at the time, but I had stumbled into an area that was full of art galleries. I like art. And these galleries were top notch. Some of them had originals from masters like Picasso, Rembrandt, and other names that anyone would recognize. I went into a few of these galleries and window shopped many more. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

That is, except for one brief experience that got my adrenalin pumping.

The tourist area of San Francisco is a wonderful place but there is one major downside. Tons and tons of bums. I don't know if the ordinances don't allow the cops to clear them out, of if they are just persistent or what. It was strange to walk by an art gallery that is holding literally millions of dollars worth of paintings and have to shuffle by some dude passed out in front.

While I was staring into one of the art galleries, a bum walked right next to me and said "do you like that?" and touched my arm. Instantly I said pretty loudly "Don't touch me!" (for safety and sanitary reasons). The bum rattled off a stream of racist and other curses and acted as if he was looking for a fight. At this time my back was facing the plate glass window of the gallery. I dropped the gifts that I had purchased for my family, felt my adrenal gland do its thing, turned around, naturally assumed my Muay Thai fighting stance and notified the bum that if he didn't back down that he was going to the hospital whether he liked it or not. The bum muttered some more curses and slinked away.

Looking back on this I made one real big mistake and perhaps one or two minor ones. First and foremost, I should have not been in the position of letting that guy get so close to me. I was mesmorized by the paintings and was just standing there enjoying them, and all the while the bum was probably sizing me up for the tourist that I was and started coming at me and I didn't even know it. I should have been much more aware of my surroundings. Having my back against a window when I wheeled around was not a good deal. This, of course, is a result of getting into that particular situation in the first place.

I did stand my ground rather than fleeing and it worked. The bum looked rather scared when he saw my fists ready to go and the tap tap tap of my front leg that felt so natural and familiar to me from all of my days sparring in the gym. This was probably not the best thing to do as fleeing is the best if you can get away, but the guy was close. You never know if the guy will pull a knife or gun.

In all, I handled the situation fairly well and in the end all that was done was a bum was swearing at me. But I learned a lot and will never let my guard down like that again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Squeezebox Update (Internet Radio) Part III

A while back I bought a Logitech "Squeezebox" which is an internet radio. The squeezebox used to retail for over $200 but now you can buy it through Amazon for $144.

This time I bought the radio for my parents because my father said that he was interested in an internet radio. It is funny because I was literally thinking about buying one for a gift for him that day and then when I saw him he had a WSJ article out on internet radio and asked for one. Sometimes I buy people digital gifts that they don't think that they want and it is hit-or-miss but this one was a big hit.

I did not set it up for them to run their own music wirelessly because they keep their music on a common drive (not a PC) and from reading the support materials I realized that the squeezebox can't read these files (unless they are on a live PC). In addition this keeps setup much simpler because I can take out the options for your own music and just concentrate on using it as an internet radio.

I used more of the search features and you can find any radio station by call letters. They are interested in Jazz so I found a couple of the most famous Jazz stations on the Internet and programmed them in. They also have "most popular" radio stations from around the world including Europe which were fun as well. I programmed in some stations including the weather station on the 6 buttons so that they could get right to them but they did figure out how to work the menu to find and save stations as favorites on their own (this allows you to save more than the 6 presets).

I haven't ever read the whole manual and there is lots that I find out by luck on the radio. I didn't realize that if you push the big dial on the front it brings up cool information on the station and many of the more organized stations have calendars of upcoming shows and the like. I need to read the manual except that when I tried previously it was from a few generations of "firmware" ago so the menus had changed significantly and it seemed pointless.

The sound from the radio is excellent for such a small package. The sound quality of the stations is pretty good but varies depending on connectivity and the bit rate.

All in all an excellent gift for someone and if you use it just as a radio it is easy to set up and use. Just put it somewhere where you have at least OK wifi coverage, get on your network, set up a squeezebox account (you don't even need to log in to your computer to do this), and go. You also can check for firmware updates even if you don't install the squeezebox control panel on your desktop.