Saturday, December 30, 2017

My three words for 2018: Engage, Share, Hold

Just found my three words for 2018: Engage, Share, Hold

Make 2018 the year you engage, share facts, and hold elected officials accountable for their statements, decisions and actions. #FactsMatter #My3Words

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Looking Back on the Results from a Year of Personal Training at Equinox

My personal trainer, Zack Gray at Equinox Chestnut Hill, helped me "Take it to the next level," this year.

Without it, I wouldn’t be the better person that I am today.

His training for balance came in handy when I was cleaning out my garage of piles of wood and garden hoses. I turned to walk, and tripped on the hose, then stumbled onto the pile of wood, landing on my feet in the middle of the driveway. Unscathed. It was like ballet!

On our trip to Iceland, we had a roundtrip 50 minute walk through a dormant lava field, to a dormant volcano, which we entered and descended down to walk on the volcano floor. Again, his balance training came in handy on the uneven and loose rocky volcano floor. Once down there I demonstrated some balancing exercises for the family.

Traveling was made easier too. When I first came to Equinox, I had sciatica, a sore shoulder, and back pain. Now I don’t have any of those ailments. Lifting carry-on luggage was easier.

Before starting my exercise program, my wife had to tell the grand nephews that Uncle Steve couldn’t pick them up. Now, they fling themselves at me from the stairs and can I catch them and carry them around when needed with no problems.

Last year I could barely get up off the ground after weeding the garden. Now, no more problems.

Finally, before starting, I had poor posture from sitting at a computer for years. Now I stand taller and am aware of my posture. A longtime friend asked, “Have you gotten taller?”

Thanks to Zack for all his guidance, including eating advice. I enjoy our sessions. Zack is a great representative for Equinox.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

How to Connect brother HL-L2380DW printer to an Orbi Network

To connect a brother HL-L2380DW printer to your home network, where a Netgear Orbi is present, enable Wired LAN on the printer, then ensure that both your computer and printer are connected to the Orbi. They need to be on the same network to see each other.

If you have your computer connected to your modem, it won't see the printer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

ICELAND: My Travel Agent, I Heart Reykjavik

My family was very happy with all the trips we have taken on this vacation in Iceland.

I want to give most of the credit to Auður and my travel company, I Heart Reykjavik, who listened to what we wanted and helped us pick out the perfect tour operators to plan every day.

We paid her, and then she handled paying all the tour companies and getting us all the vouchers for our tours.

She used a very cool online system to compile all our tours.

Also, definitely do one of their walking tours of the city with them. We learned so much from Hrannar, in a casual non-scripted way. It was a great introduction to Iceland on our first day.

Because some people have asked, the tour companies pay her a commission, and we don't have to pay her anything.

So please go through her to book your trips. It will make all of your Iceland trip planning so much easier. And she responds quickly to emails.

Here are some of the tours we chose:

Private Super Jeep Tour of Northern Lights

Inside the Volcano

Golden Circle and Magical Nights

Blue Lagoon and Airport Transfer

Image: Courtesy Blue Lagoon

ICELAND: The Best Places to Eat in Reykjavik

We had an amazing trip to Iceland and were not disappointed in the food. We had great meals everywhere, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Here's a list of places we ate and enjoyed. All good!

The Laundromat Cafe
Great for breakfast! It was so good, we went here twice. In addition to the breakfast, the coffee was delicious.

My cousin said that these were the best pancakes she's ever had in her life!

From their website:
We opened in 2004 in Elmegade 15 in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.

The idea was to combine laundry and socializing in nice, comfortable surroundings where you could eat, drink, read, do your laundry and browse the Internet.

Then we opened some more ;)!

2006 Århusgade 38 Østerbro Copenhagen.

2011 Austurstræti 9 in Reykjavik Iceland.

2011 Gammel Kongevej 96 Frb Copenhagen.

We offer a varied menu off homemade food, cakes, juices, milkshakes, coffee, tea, wine and around 40 kinds of beer, all served with a smile.


Everything fresh baked and amazing!

Hverfisgata 12

Image: Courtesy hverfisgata12

Casual pizza place. Famouse for their locationa dn not having a sign. We heard that they secretly opened up, and people started coming to them, and they became popular. We were lucky to get a provate room for our table of eight.

I went upstairs to the MIKKELLER & FRIENDS bar, to chat with the bartender and grab a beer from their amazing selection, and bring it back to the restaurant.

From their website:
Located in one of the most iconic buildings of downtown Reykjavik, Hverfisgata 12 restaurant & bar is an eclectic mix of American rustic, old carnival and part museum, designed by renowned set designer Hálfdán Pedersen.


Great beer bar! Really fun, Came here twice and would have made it three days, but they weren't open in the afternoon on our last day.

The English Pub

My friend who has been to Iceland every year for hte past 15 years told me, “You MUST go and spin the BEER Wheel.” Well, according to my calculation, it wasn’t worth it for us to try. ;-)

My friends and I gave the Guinness a thumbs up, then we switched to Gull. I din't have a bad beer in Iceland.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur - Best Hot Dog in Iceland
Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Next door to Raddison Blu 1919. The way to order here is to get a one with everything, which means a pork, bef and lamb hot dog with onions, sauted onions, ketchup, sweet mustard and mayo relish. You can give your index finger a twirl when ordering. There's also a special that includes soda, but I don't drink soda. There is always a line here and people are eating hot dogs morning, noon and night.


Jamie’s Italian

New restaurant by Jamie Oliver. Tourists love it which requires you to make a reservation in advance.

Good Italian.

I had Icelandic Cod, which was served in a spicy red sauce. Everyone in my group loved what they had. We again got a private room.

Tryggvagata 4-6 101 Reykjavík
Tel: +354 561 1111

Opening hours:
Sunday - Thursday 17 to 22
Friday - Saturday 17 to 23

We ate here. Excellent steak. Seriously. So good. The unique thing for us to see on the menu was a steak choice of LAMB, BEEF, or HORSE.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ICELAND: Golden Circle Tour and Magical Nights Tour

I Heart Reykjavik booked us for the Golden Circle Tour and Magical Nights Tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides.

This was a FULL day. It went from noon to midnight.

I was really interested in seeing more than just natural sights on the Golden Circle route, so the addition of visits to farms, the spa, and a restaurant broke up the tour nicely.

Here's the tour map:

Let's take a look at the stops:

Þingvellir, Iceland

At the local greenhouse, Friðheimar, we learned about the farm and their massive tomato growing facility. We sat at community tables and had home made tomato soup, served with freshly baked bread for lunch. Note: The butter was amazing!

We took a short walk to the Gullfoss waterfall. Unlike Niagara Falls, you can get really close to this waterfall and there was almost a constant rainbow when we were there.

The Strokkur geyser spouts hot water every 6 - 10 minutes. People gather around to see it and grab a photo. I found some interesting images after the geyser went off too.

Farm Efstidalur
At the farm we met one of the owners and sampled farm-produced Skyr, delicious ice cream, whey and feta cheese. We learned about the history of the family owned farm and their expansion into a Bed and Breakfast. It was also fun to see the cows!

Fontana Spa
Geothermal spa Fontana was nice to visit later on in the day. As you do at all spas in Iceland, you shower first, there were private showers, and then enter the geothermal spas in your bathing suit. Each pool was a different temperature so you get get into as hot water as you liked. I enjoyed it and took a shower outside in 54 degree weather, before heading in to shower inside.

Image: Fontana Spa courtesy Icelandic Mountain Guides

Lindin Restaurant
We all enjoyed a two course dinner at the local restaurant Lindin, just across the street from the spa. The night we were there our choices for dinner were Lamb, Artic Char, or Bean Steak (vegetarian). They also had a nice selection of local Icelandic beer.

Northern Light Search
Search for the magical Northern Lights

ICELAND: Inside the Volcano

Inside the Volcano is an experience of a lifetime!

"Thrihnukagigur volcano is dormant – it last erupted over 4,000 years ago. There are no indications of it erupting again in the near future. The volcano’s name, mostly unpronounceable for anyone other than locals, would be directly translated as ‘Three Peaks Crater’. The name comes from Árni B. Stefánsson, who was the first to explore the vault and who has pleaded the case for making it accessible for years."


Operation dates: From 15 May – 15 October
Tour departures: Several departures every day. The first tour at 8:00 and the last tour in the afternoon.
Duration: 5–6 hours (about 35-40 minutes inside the volcano).
Fitness level needed: Moderate (the difficulty is 2 out of a possible 5). No knowledge of hiking or climbing is required. It’s not an uphill walk, but the surface is partly uneven. This is NOT a tour for those in no or limited physical shape.
Distance walked: Approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk.
Minimum age limit: 12 years (we can and have made exceptions on the age. Contact us if you want to convince us that your kid is up for adventure).
Price: ISK 42.000, approx $400 US.

We booked our tour through I Heart Reykjavik, who was indispensable in helping coordinate all our Iceland tours.

The Inside the Volcano Mercedes picked us up and drove us outside the city to the Inside the Volcano Welcome Center Base Camp.

Image: Van

From there, were hiked, 45 minutes through a lava field, to the Base Camp at the foot of the volcano.

Image: Hiking

Image: Hiking

The scenery on our moderate hike was amazing. You had to keep telling yourself to stop for a moment and look around.

We had two guides, one was at he front, and the other brought up the rear.

Here you can see the volcano and it's sister mountains ahead. This gives you an indication of the walk.

Here we arrive at the second base camp at the foot of the mountain.

There are three WC (bathrooms) here.

We all got a safety tour explaining what was to come.

Here's the gear everyone gets before descending into the volcano.

Here we are hiking up the mountain to get to the opening of the volcano.

We look like professional hikers in a mountaineering magazine!

View from the top!

Next up, our German-engineered elevator is ready for our decent.

Here we are heading down 700 feet.

There is lighting inside the volcano that allows for taking some amazing photos of the rock formations.

The tours are kept small so it doesn't get crowded. Once at the bottom, you are free to wanter around. There are ropes to hold on to as you make your way along the rocky bottom of the volcano.

Monday, October 23, 2017

ICELAND: Private Super Jeep Tour of Northern Lights

We did the northern lights tour, on the Saturday we arrived in Iceland, with a company called Mountain Taxi. They picked us up in a modified Mercedes Sprinter. They take a standard Sprinter van and replace the standard suspension and tires.

Image: Courtesy Mountain Taxi

For northern lights, our Icelandic travel agent Auður Ösp of I Heart Reykjavik told us that it's always better to go with a smaller group and vehicle. The bus tours are the cheapest but you might end up with 400 people and it's just not as nice. She also likes the super jeep tours since they can take you to areas the buses can't (and therefore you won't be surrounded with the aforementioned 400 of your fellow travelers).

Auður was right, we had a private tour for eight, and that made it really special.

We drove outside the city and made a few stops, looking for the northern lights.

We caught a glimpse a few times, then stopped at a secluded lake, and started to see bands of green coming us from the horizon. We sampled some local schnapps called Brennevin, and they was a treat.

After the stop at the lake, as we were driving through the darkness, our driver, Gisli Pall, thought he saw something in the sky, safely pulled off the road, and told us to all get out quickly!

We did, and then the real show started.

The Northern Lights in all their glory. Dancing green and purple lights, going in and out, moving across the sky, and painting a ribbon above us.

Our group was exclaiming with joy about what we were seeing. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Image: iPhone attempt at capturing a bit of the northern lights.

Image: Our driver, Gisli Pall

This video shows what it looked like:

ICELAND: Blue Lagoon

We visited the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. The transfer from Reykjavik was provided by Icelandic Taxi Tours.

The taxi was a nice big Mercedes van, and easily fit our party of eight, and all of our luggage. It was not a problem.

Taxis are able to pick up at hotels. We were picked up at 11:00 AM and arrived at Blue Lagoon at 11:45. Our reserved time was for 12:00 to 2:00 PM. The standard time for Blue Lagoon stops is 90 minutes but you can add extra time in the lagoon if you feel that’s not enough. The price for extra time in the lagoon is 5400 ISK, ($51.21) as of today, for 30 minutes (2 hours total). That turned out to be a perfect amount of time.

On arrival at the Blue Lagoon, the driver parks in a waiting area and stays with your luggage for the duration of your visit.

The walk to the Blue Lagoon from the parking lot was windy on the day we arrived because of the remnants of a recent hurricane.

We sprung for Premium admission which included:
Entrance to Blue Lagoon
Silica Mud Mask
Use of Towel
1st Drink of your choice
Algae Mask
Use of Bathrobe
Reservation at LAVA (optional)
Sparkling wine if dining at LAVA
Pre-booking is required and you can't just show up there an buy tickets. When we arrived, we heard that they were sold out. Make sure you book this in advance.

Here is some background on the Blue Lagoon:
Situated in a vast lava plain on the south coast of Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon holds nine million liters of geothermal seawater, covers an area of 8700 square meters, and has an average depth of 1.2 meters and a maximum depth of 1.6 meters. The lagoon’s water is sourced directly from the Svartsengí geothermal field and its recirculation interval is 40 hours.

The wellspring of the Blue Lagoon’s beneficial powers lies 2000 meters within the earth, at the boundary of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. In this subterranean frontier of porous lava and searing heat, seawater and groundwater converge, giving rise to a hybrid fluid known as g eothermal seawater. Under immense pressure, this fluid surges to the earth’s surface, integrating the elements through which it passes and emerging enriched with unique concentrations of silica, algae, and minerals – the primary, rejuvenating components of geothermal seawater.

Image courtesy of Blue Lagoon

I wasn't able to take a photo like this because I don't own a drone.

Here are some details on what it's like when you arrive and the showering situation.

When you arrive you will be given a wristband, which acts as a key for your electronic changing room locker. You can also use your wristband to buy drinks and refreshments while you are in the spa. It works like an in-water credit card – you just pay for anything you charge to the wristband when you leave.

We recommend that you store all your valuables inside your locker, including jewellery, shoes, cameras, etc. Be sure to check that your locker is properly locked before you walk away. Blue Lagoon is not responsible for any lost valuables.

Cleanliness is a fundamental aspect of a geothermal spa experience. Prior to entering Blue Lagoon, a full body shower - without a bathing suit - is absolutely essential. Everyone benefits when everyone is clean. This same aspect of spa culture is found at every pool in Iceland. Private shower cubicles are available in both man and women changing rooms.

Click here to see all photos

We had a fun experience. Floating around the lagoon, putting on silica mud and algae masks, showering in the amazing Icelandic water, and stopping for a nice cold beer before going back to our taxi for the short ride to the airport.

This is the way to end your Icelandic vacation.

Everything was booked through Auður Ösp, owner, blogger, and photographer at iheartreykjavik.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Buying Decision Process for an Inkjet vs. a Laser Printer

My existing EPSON WF-3520 stopped working when I installed 3rd party EZ Ink. It was a lot less expensive than the ESPSON ink, but I should have believed one of the commenters who said that it made his printer useless.

Next up was the decision on what to get. This lead me on a journey from COLOR INKJET to a Black and White Laser Printer.

I asked my friends on Facebook what they liked, and they were helpful in guiding me to my final decision.

I kept notes!

I ruled out HP based on a poor experience with the life of a previous printer. I also ruled out Canon after deciding that I wanted to go with a FASTER BLACK AND WHITE LASER PRINTER.

I decided to get my photos printed out at CVS for now.

My neighbor has the Brother HL 2280 DW and likes it, so I narrowed in on that, and then saw the Brother HL-L2340DW reviewed on The Wirecutter.

My neighbor's HL 2280 DW supports a hard wired Ethernet connection and the new above model is wireless only. I don't think that it will be a problem.

I bought this one, Brother HLL2380DW Wireless Laser Printer (affiliate link) and Brother TN660 High Yield Toner. I liked the upgraded LCD display on it. The High Yield Toner is rated for 2,600 pages, so that should last a while.

I also noted thatt there is a way to allow the printer to continue past the page counter life of the ink cartridge, until it is actually empty by setting this up.

"For the HLL2380DW there is a continue mode in settings. Press X then Settings then All Settings then General Setup. Then scroll down to Replace Toner and change it to Continue."

Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SD card reader for iPhone

Just imported a photo from an SD card, into my iPhone, via an SD card reader for iPhone. Sweet!

GoldFox SD Card Camera Reader for iPhone iPad [Upgraded] Trail Game Camera Card Viewer Reader for iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus/5/5s/7/7 Plus/iPad Mini/Air, No App Needed

(affiliate link)

Image: Import screen

This is the screen you see on your iPhone when you insert the SD card into the reader.

Select the phones that you want to import, keep them on the card or delete them.

Then they are copied into your iPhone Camera Roll.

Image: Imported Photo

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The original Toll House cookie recipe

The original Toll House cookie recipe
via Maria Stephanos

3 1/8 cups of King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of hot water to dissolve baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cups of Crisco shortening
1 1/8 cups of sugar
1 1/8 cups of brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

3 eggs

Chocolate chips
Walnuts optional

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat Crisco shortening, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Extending Xfinity Gigabit Internet Wi-Fi with Netgear Orbi

I just installed Xfinity Gigabit Internet at home. Disclosure: Upgrade cost for me is $17/month, difference between Blast! and Gigabit Internet today, covered by Xfinity for one year trial.

Initial wired speed tests show a big difference. 700 Mbps DOWN, 41 Mbps Up.

Image: Speed Test Results

Results vary depending on your hardware configuration. I have a MacBook Air circa 2011, which I am told cannot support 1 Gig speeds, with a Thunderbolt monitor that has a gigabit ethernet port.

The new modem comes with WiFi built in. I compared it's 5G network to extending the Wi-Fi with the Netgear Orbi System. (Orbi - Two free review units, one purchased)

Here's my earlier review of the Orbi system, Review: Installing Orbi Home WiFi System by NETGEAR, and one of it's competitors eero, eero 2nd Generation installation at Loring Greenough House.


OFFICE - 3rd Floor
ORBI (Wired Base orbi) 420 Mbps
Xfinity 5G (Modem sits here) 420 Mbps

LIVING ROOM - 2nd Floor
ORBI 210 Mbps
Xfinity 5G 170 Mbps

KITCHEN - 2nd Floor
ORBI (Wi-Fi Satellite Orbi) 310 Mbps
Xfinity 5G 86 Mbps

DEN - 2nd Floor
ORBI (WiFi Satellite Orbi) 330 Mbps
Xfinity 5G 120 Mbps

FRONT DOOR - 1st Floor
ORBI 250 Mbps
Xfinity 5G 26 Mbps

The new Xfinity Gigabit Internet modem/router coverage is impressive.

In Boston, a current 3 or 2 product customer could get it added to their current suite of services for an additional $15-30/month depending on their package or if they were Internet only it’s $79.99/month for 24 months.

Read more here: Comcast Introduces Gigabit Internet Service in Boston.

New and current customers can visit to learn about the new service and request additional information.

Later this year Xfinity will be coming out with their own mesh network, Comcast is trying to get in on the mesh router hype
Later this year, Comcast will put out mesh-creating “Wi-Fi pods” that were designed in collaboration with Plume. These pods will plug into customers’ home power sockets and auto-configure to the network, similar to how Plume’s own product works.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Use this trick to watch Google Play movies on your Amazon Fire TV Stick

Google Play just gave me a 99 cent promo to buy a movie. I clicked through and bought Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and then went to watch it on my Amazon Fire TV Stick.


There's no Google Play app on the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

I found this post explaining, Use this trick to watch Google Play movies on your Apple TV.

The tips work for the Amazon Fire TV Stick too.

1. Download the app.

2. Open the Amazon Fire TV Stick app.

3. Authorize via web.

4. Then go to the app menu and choose Library.

YouTube on Amazon Fire TV Stick
Image: menu - Library

5. Then scroll down to Purchases.

YouTube on Amazon Fire TV Stick
Image: menu - Purchases

There's your purchased Google Play movie!


It won't play!

Wait! What?

Is it just this movie?

Let me know your experience.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

eero 2nd Generation installation at Loring Greenough House

eero 2nd Generation Install.

eero 2nd Generation installation at Loring Greenough House.

The Loring-Greenough House was constructed in 1760 by Commodore Loring, and today is a center for social, cultural, historical, and educational activities in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. It was time for the WiFi to be upgraded.
  1. The Loring Greenough House sits in the center of Jamaica Plain.

  2. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  3. The Comcast/Xfinity modem and WiFi was in serious need of an upgrade. In fact, if you have a modem like this at your home or business, call Xfinity, they want to upgrade them for free.

  4. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  5. A survey of WiFi coverage, before the upgrade, showed extreme variations in speed, with a large dead zone. Note: The Comcast Business Service subscription speed is currently at 16 Mbps.

  6. Loring Greenough House Speeds BEFORE
  7. The higher WiFi speeds were just below the modem/router. The front of the house WiFi was clocking in at a sad 120 Kbps, and at the left hand side of the house, and outside function area, the WiFi was non-existent. 

  8. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  9. After the new modem was installed, the internal WiFi was disabled and the eero base station was activated via the eero iOS iPhone app. 
  10. Thanks to eero for the Home WiFi System which comes with an eero and two eero Beacons, plus the two additional eero Beacons. 
  11. From the eero website:

    eero is the only WiFi access point of its size that’s tri-band, meaning it can broadcast on three wireless radio bands simultaneously. With two Ethernet ports, eero is perfect for media rooms or anywhere you have Ethernet wiring.

    Beacon plugs directly into any outlet and easily expands your system to cover every corner of your home. It also includes a handy and intelligent LED nightlight that adjusts brightness depending on the time of day.

    eero TrueMesh™ software is built from the ground up to work perfectly with eero hardware. Developed using machine learning and data collected from hundreds of thousands of real homes, TrueMesh’s dynamic routing algorithms ensure there isn’t a home layout or connected device eero hasn’t encountered before.

  12. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  13. The user experience was exceptional. After setting up a Network Name and optional password, we proceeded to install the eero Beacons. 

  14. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  15. Sarah uses the eero app to activate and name each eero Beacon.

  16. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  17. The eero app checks the placement of the eero Beacon and notifies you if if needs to be moved or if it's in a prime location.

  18. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  19. Maria Foster Doane Greenough Summer oversees the eero installation.

  20. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.

  21. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.

  22. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  23. Average speed around the house is now 19 Mbps.

  24. Eero 2nd Generation install at Loring Greenough House. All the dead zones inside and out are now covered.
  25. Thanks to Comcast/Xfinity for coming out to upgrade the modem, and eero for the Home WiFi System and Beacons.

Buy at (affiliate)