Dear Friends,

We had the first hard frost last night but I was in Chicago at the time. Grace had the day off so she was able to harvest the rest of the garden. I was at the Shelburne Orchards earlier in the week to launch our annual Apples to iPods event in cooperation with the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism and the Apple Growers Association. This is a fun promotion where we put a wooden apple in each of the 24 Vermont Apple orchards and apple-pickers that find them win iPods. We had a press conference scheduled, though it also happened to be the same morning of the Lehman bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch sale, so we didn’t get the governor nor the press.

I am in Chicago for an Apple roundtable put on by peripheral manufacturer Targus. There’s some exciting stuff coming from Targus and it was good to meet their executives and marketing team. They also took us to a Cubs game—a losing effort from the Cubs, but an awesome Wrigley Field rooftop experience.

It’s pretty funny that Microsoft’s new Vista commercials are so bad. Bill Gates out-acted Jerry Seinfeld and Jerry got the boot this week. Just another example of how Microsoft doesn’t get it. It’s not only Microsoft that has attempted to replicate what Apple does so well; while other consumer electronics manufacturers are facing layoffs and declining sales, Apple is continuing to post record sales, market growth and innovative industry leading products.

I find it counterintuitive that Apple common stock has taken such a beating in this down market. They are chugging ahead on all cylinders, mitigating the impact of the credit crunch with a strong balance sheet and record sales. Strong balance sheets, cash in the bank and leading with design and function sure seem to be the right way to counter out-of-control financial groups.

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