Dear Friends,

We are well into one of Vermont’s “shoulder” seasons, mud season. While the ski areas are still open, the snow is melting with the warmer weather and sunshine and so is the mud and ice on the dirt roads. With ruts and washboards, the back roads are getting pretty bad. The road crew up by my place even put a muddy roads sign up at the start of my dirt roads.

I go through the worst muddy road as soon as I leave pavement. The official name of this road is Fuller Hill Road, but those of us that live here simply call it the “Cold Road” because it is shaded by trees on both sides and is usually the last road to thaw. After that it is the trek up Prickly Mountain road which can get very gooey. When Small Dog Electronics was still headquartered at my house we had one of the worst mud seasons ever and the only rig that would make it up the hill was the Chevy Blazer that we used to ferry Macs from the warehouse to my house for configuration and shipping.

With the sunny days and the cold nights, the sap is running in the maple trees and sugaring is well under way. If you have only had Aunt Jemima syrup, you owe it to yourself to splurge and get some genuine pure Vermont maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup. When I lived up in northern Vermont, I would do some sugaring.

I had a big Belgian workhorse and we would hook her to a sled with a big gathering tank on the back and then slog through the knee deep snow to gather the sap from the buckets hung on the trees. My horse would drag the sled to the make-shift sugar house where we would spend all night boiling the sap down. While Grade “Fancy” syrup may look the best with its golden color and clear texture, we go out of our way to find Grade “B” because of the stronger maple taste.

Apple surprised everyone with the introduction of the new 4GB iPod shuffle this week. This is the smallest music player ever and with the 1000 song capacity it is a real breakthrough product. The new iPod also features VoiceOver that will speak the names of songs and artists and even playlists. They moved the iPod controls to the headphone cord and if you are using Apple’s earbuds, this is a very convenient way to control your iPod shuffle.

While the iPod will work with third party earphones, you will lose control of most of the features including VoiceOver and volume controls. It is inevitable that Apple and third-party sources will introduce alternative earbuds that incorporate the shuffle controls and/or adapters to allow the use of other earphones. This shuffle is going to be a big hit for Apple, but I am keeping my 2GB shuffle until the headphone situation is resolved!

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