To prevent burning, submerge the plank in water for at least 2 hours. It will float to the top so weigh it down with a heavy object.
Add your favorite marinade to the salmon 30 minutes before grilling.
To prevent burning, submerge the plank in water for at least 2 hours. It will float to the top so weigh it down with a heavy object.
Depending on how you play it, sometimes life feels like a game. This colorful work of fireplace Art, for use in your decorative/non-working fireplace will add to the effect. Designed with a classic 8-bit zelda vibe, it’ll brighten up your living room without burning a thing.
Did you know that 50% of your energy bill is derived from heating and cooling your home? Did you also know that you can cut that number by as much as 20% if you program your thermostat? But let’s be real, who does that?! More often than not we just walk up to the thermostat and adjust the temperature when our feet are cold or our pits are sweaty. As a result, many folks set it and forget it, leaving AC cranked or the heat burning when they’re no longer home or in that room. So what’s the solution? The Nest Learning Thermostat.
It’s a $250 device that is supposedly as easy to install as putting in a new light fixture. If we’re to trust Nest’s stats you can make your money back in as little as 16 months, or perhaps less if you’re incredibly remiss when it comes to cooling or heating your home. It’s able to achieve this feat by learning about your habits. Just install the Nest, answer 3 basic questions and then use the thermostat as normal. A simple ring rotates from left to right allowing you to easily modify the temperature as you see fit. In a few days time the Nest will begin to build a database that reflects your desired temperatures. But that’s not all.
The Nest includes an activity sensor, which boasts a 150 degree field of view and can detect when no one is home and set itself to auto Away. Built-in WiFi not only allows you to control the Nest from your smartphone or any computer from anywhere, but keeps tabs on the weather conditions and forecast, and factors this into its algorithm. Lastly, an array of sensors (humidity, proximity, ambient light) are baked into the equation. Once enough data has been collected the Nest will begin to automatically adjust the temperature according to your weekly schedule and habits. However, that’s not all that the Nest Learning Thermostat has to offer.
A light sensor detects the ambient light in the room and adjusts the display’s brightness so you won’t be blinded in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the screen will glow red for heating or blue for cooling, and will display a green leaf when you’re saving money.
You can add a number of these throughout your home and they’ll all work together to increase your energy efficiency. We’re not sure if that happens over WiFi or the Ziggbee standard, but in any event it includes both wireless protocols, which means it should be compatible with whatever home automation gear you throw in its direction. Lastly, you can log into the Nest website, review your stats, adjust your schedule accordingly and best of all see how much cash you’ve managed to save.
You can preorder your Nest today for $250. It should ship 11/14/2011.
© Bob Hurwitz/Hurwitz James Co.
© Bob Hurwitz/Hurwitz James Co.
La Jolla, Calif.
A unique feature
The infinity pool certainly sets the 11,000-square-foot Home apart.
© Hilton & Hyland
Infinity pools are all the rage for the optical-illusion-loving set that enjoys a nice view. This pool offers a more urban view of L.A. Just minutes up Doheny Drive from downtown, this 5,000-square-foot home designed for indoor/outdoor living is for sale for $6.29 million.
Plenty of windows
Next to the pool are a spa and outdoor shower. Inside the home are three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and more than enough windows to enjoy the views.
© Maggie Kent/CORE Group
A rare new York treat
On the garden level, the 8-foot deep, 26-foot long pool is perfect for laps. The pool is a rarity in New York, where the Department of Buildings no longer permits them. The pool opens into a 16-foot high solarium sanctuary that connects to a private garden. The five-floor home also has a sauna, five wood-burning fireplaces and a rooftop deck. An indoor pool in the heart of New York city is the ultimate luxury statement. In this 22.5-foot-wide Chelsea town house, you can haveyour own indoor oasis for $11 million.
© Joseph Barbieri/Sotheby’s International Realty
More than a mosaic?
Inside, a dramatic natatorium/ballroom features an elaborate mosaic floor that lowers at the touch of a button …
© Joseph Barbieri/Sotheby’s International Realty
A hidden swim
… and transforms into the indoor pool.
Four Seasons Resort Bali
More of a pond than a pool, this photo shows it side on. As a piece of architectural narrative, the Bali Four Seasons pool entry is exceptional. A wooden bridge takes you over a chasm to an infinity pool with the jungle wrapping around the background, the pool floating 50 feet above it.
Why It’s Cool: Its underwater music is novel, but it’s the entire roof terrace complex that makes this pool unique. Not only does it have sexy sunbeds, beautiful teak decks, and a pool concierge, but there are three infinity spa pools (cool, medium, hot) with views of bustling Victoria Harbour.
Interesting Fact: Legendary tai chi master William Ng offers complimentary lessons poolside on the roof terrace for guests.
Why It’s Cool: Designed by Philippe Starck, the three pools at the swanky new Viceroy hotel are connected, making it the longest pool complex in the country. At 205 feet, the main pool is the longest in Florida, while the 80-person hot tub is the world’s largest. Quirky details include a reflection pool with submerged tables and chairs.
Interesting Fact: Designed to mirror the Miami River running through downtown Miami, the pool literally runs through the condo “metropolis” of Icon Brickell.
Why It’s Cool: Home to some of the hottest parties and events in NYC’s Times Square, this indoor pool is conveniently connected to a 40-foot bar (the only swim-up bar in the city) and comes equipped with mood lighting, stadium seating, and a projector to show movies. There’s a large coed steam and sauna near the DJ booth.
Interesting Fact: Celebrity pool sightings include Nelly Furtado, Michael Stipe, and Tyson Beckford.
Why It’s Cool: This 25,700-square-foot wet playground is a destination in itself (guests receive a map upon entry). Nine free-form pools at six levels (from 40 feet to sea level) are connected by a “river” that carries swimmers along at varying speeds, from lazy river currents to whitewater rapids. Highlights include seven slides, grottoes, scuba certification pool, and a “Tarzan pool” with rope swing.
Interesting Fact: Going up? The pool is home to the world’s only water elevator—swimmers are lifted to the surface in a sealed chamber.
Why It’s Cool: Conceived by über-hip Clodagh, the pool features a stunning glass-encased centerpiece staircase. It stretches 28 feet into the middle, so swimmers can easily gawk at guests-and vice versa.
In Bali, Indonesia.
Now that’s a view.
Crown Towers Hotel in Taipa Island Macau
This is a cool infinity pool that looks out over a breathtaking skyline from several stories up. This is definitely a great place to enjoy the sunset in Taipa Island.
Burj Al Arab in Dubai
Leave it to the hotel designer in Dubai to create a pool of this magnitude. It’s just too bad you probably have to own a helicopter to be able to comfortably afford to swim here.
Golden Nugget Las Vegas
While the pool might not seem too cool at first glance, notice the salt-water aquarium complete with sharks that is flush with the pool. There is also a clear tube slide that goes through the aquarium and into the pool.
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Resort in Grindavík, Iceland
Ok, technically this isn’t a pool in the typical sense of a hotel pool. But, it is a warm body of water that you have to pay a pretty penny to get into. Therefore it falls into the category of a luxury hotel pool.
Begawan Giri Hotel in Ubud, Bali
This small villa style hotels pool might not be big, but it has a million-dollar view. Combine that with the fact that at any given time you will probably be the only person in the pool and you get one luxurious little swim.
Mandarin Oriental in New York
At the Mandarin Oriental hotel, you can enjoy the famous New York skyline while lounging in the pool any time of the year.
San Alfonso del Mar in Chile
The pool at the San Alfonso del Mar is a mini ocean in and of its self. This pool is easily large enough to enjoy water sport activities like paddling and sailing, and it’s by far the largest freshwater pool in the world.
Four Seasons in Costa Rica
There is no better way to appreciate the coast of Costa Rica than from this infinity pool at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Six Senses Hideaway in Zighy Bay, Oman
This small infinity pool might not look like much at first, but when you take into account that the pool comes with your own private section of beach, cabana, pool, and more; it gets pretty luxurious.
Perivolas Luxury Hotel in Santorini
The infinity pool at the Perivolas Luxury Hotel may be one of the most famous hotel pools. It has one of the best views from any hotel pool and has been featured on a large number of travel magazine covers.
Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas
The sheer size of the pool at the Atlantis Resort is enough to get it on the list. But the pool features a number a slides, waterfalls, grottoes, and more.
Hotel Villa Mahal in Turkey
The infinity pool at the Villa Mahal made our list because it is a simple infinity style pool that does what infinity pools were made to do; give you the illusion of a pool that drops into the sky.
Jason Fitzpatrick —Public declarations and diatribes have their place, but sometimes you need a private space for your thoughts, dreams, and ramblings. Whether you crave a digital or analog tool, you’ll find it in this Hive Five.
Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite journaling tool. We’ve tallied the nominations and now we’re back to share the top five journaling tools. This week’s Hive Five is a mix of online and off, digital and analog, and a rather interesting sample of how Lifehacker readers like to record their thoughts for future reflection and posterity.
Microsoft Word (Windows/Mac, $99)
Many a person has started journaling by simply opening up the default word processor on their computer and setting to work. Microsoft Word is a fixture on hundreds of thousands of personal computers, and many Lifehacker readers found it more than adequate for their journaling endeavors. On top of creating documents in a commonly used format, most of us use Word at work and at home and are already quite familiar with the interface, formatting, and shortcuts. Being comfortable with your journaling tool of choice goes a long way towards encouraging you keep at it.
Long before people were pecking out their missives on typewriters, let alone keyboards, they were quietly scribbling them onto paper. In an age of instant sharing and easy digitization, many of you showed a strong affinity for recording your most private moments with the solidly analog and difficult to share medium: pen and paper. For many Lifehacker readers there is no substitute for the privacy and ease of use that comes with keeping an old fashioned paper-based journal. Among the variations of the pen and paper motif you submitted, readers showed a distinct passion for high-quality pens and Moleskine notebooks. Rich paper and smooth flowing ink is apparently the icing on the cake of analog journaling. Photo by MShades.
Microsoft OneNote (Windows, $99)
Designed as a sophisticated note taking tool, Microsoft OneNote can easily do double duty as a journaling tool. If you like to drop photos, music, and other media into your journal entries, the file integration of OneNote makes such journal keeping tricks a cinch. The app can also easily link together your journal entries by text links and tags. OneNote’s Windows mobile client and hand-writing recognition make it easy to record your thoughts during the day and dump them into your journal when you return home. If you’re unfamiliar with OneNote, our review of OneNote 2007 is worth a peek.
Evernote is a wildly popular application for capturing and organizing all manner of information thanks to its trifecta of desktop application, web-based interface, and mobile client. For many readers, it makes sense to simply work their daily reflections into the tool they already have at their fingertips. If you’re using Evernote as your personal journal, you can leverage the text recognition and tagging to make your journal entries available and easily search friendly. If you’ve avoided journaling because you consider it antiquated and hardly something a busy modern person takes the time for, Evernote makes it easy to write when you have the time, since it’s almost always with you thanks to a web and mobile phone presence. The free account can easily handle basic journaling, but if you find yourself needing more storage or use of the multimedia functions, there is a $5 a month premium account.
WordPress (Web Based, Free)
While blogging is usually intended for a larger audience, many of you used blogging software to maintain a personal journal. Among the blogging tools used, WordPress was a clear favorite thanks to its ease of use, ability to keep entires completely private, and a free-as-in-beer price tag. Using blog software as your journal tool has several benefits: You can log into your journal from anywhere, tag your entries, use text and calendar-based search, and take advantage of WordPress’s vast extensibility to customize and tweak your journal to include all the tools and information you desire. WordPress will run on your own web server (including your personal home web server), or you can sign up at WordPress.com for a basic account.
Now that you’ve had a chance to check out how your fellow readers journal, it’s time to cast your vote to determine who will be quill-wielding king of the self reflection castle.
If you’re aghast that your favorite method of journaling—cuneiform tablets anyone?—didn’t make the Hive Five, or you’ve just got a great journaling tip burning a hole in your pocket, share your thoughts in the comments below.
Kevin Purdy —There’s something about grilling food outdoors that’s both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s great to commune with your food in such a straight-up way, but what if it goes wrong? We’re here to help overcome your fear of the flame, or step up your grilling game, with these 10 techniques.
Photo by adactio.
10. DIY marinades
Not every cut can be filet mignon, and some meats, like pork, almost always deserve a lengthy dip in some flavor-infusing sweet and salty stuff. Your grocery store wants to sell you a 12 oz. bottle of sickly-sweet stuff for a hefty markup. But you’ve got oil, acids, and flavoring agents at home, so learn to make a basic marinade, and open up your grill to a whole cabinet of ideas. You won’t turn super-tough meat into tender tournadoes, but you’ll learn a lot about how to impart flavor to big, seemingly impenetrable cuts of the good stuff.
9. steak improvement through salt
It makes your grandmother cry, but totally covering cheap, firm meat with salt, especially cheaper cuts of steak, just an hour before grilling or otherwise cooking is like giving it a really, really deep Shiatsu rubdown. The salt you cover the surface with—and then wipe off, rinse, and pat dry—denaturizes the long protein strands and mixes up the moisture spread in your steak. That turns them, in the Steamy Kitchen blog’s words, from cheap “choice” steak into Gucci “Prime” steak.
Waiting for meat to cook leaves you with a good amount of time to stand around and, well, drink something. But what if you forgot to drop your Coke/Sam Adams/Pinot grigio in the cooler or fridge before you cranked up the coals? Mythbuster Adam Savage, one of our favorite interviewees, explains a last-minute chilling technique at Metafilter: Spin it around in some heavily salted ice water. Savage claims it’s based in science instead of backyard lore, and I believe him—it’s amazed many a dinner party host with a “I forgot to” dilemma.
7. Easy grill cleaning
Maybe you’re pulling out the grilling can for the first time this weekend, and … eee-yuck. Here’s what you do. Swipe off whatever big, grungy stuff you can with a stiff (preferably wire) brush and then toss it in your oven on self-clean. Now that a majority of the tough stuff is off, or at least loosened, you probably won’t have to swing for any specialty tools—a wad of aluminum foil can suffice. For light, between-meal cleaning, rubbing a face-down half onion on a heated grill is an eco-friendly way to get in and around the bars without burning your hands or leaving non-compatible scents for your food.
6. Use your broiler as a backup
Unless you live in Hawaii, you really can’t count on the weather to hold for your grilling just because you bought buns and paper plates. If it’s just a drizzle and you can make do with the garage door open, go to it. If the weather or temperature really put a crimp in your style, or you just lack for grill space, consider braising and browning with your broiler. Slow-cooking the food in liquid, then crisping the exterior with a quick broil, gives you surprisingly grill-like results. For big groups or days when it just doesn’t seem like standing outside is feasible, consider the tiny grill your already own in your kitchen.
5. Get started with smoking
There exists a comfortable middle ground between having spent a summer working for the barbecue kings of Kansas City and just wanting a little hickory flavor in your food. Hank Shaw, who’s one serious meat fan, knows exactly where that sweet spot. Using just two grocery-store-standard aluminum pans and some wood chips, he turns a kettle grill into a smoker, one that turns out certifiably tasty ribs with real smoke flavor. Like any barbecue exercise, the real secret ingredients are time, patience, and a tasty rub or sauce.
4. Make your own BBQ sauce
You’ve already put the time and care into tending to your flame, your meat, and your sides, so why settle for a bottle of stuff found next to the ketchup, laced with corn syrup? The BBQ Recipe Secrets blog runs down three basic sauces, covering the traditional tomato sauce, a Carolina-esque vinegar version, and a basic mustard variant. We’ve made this tomato sauce template and been happy to tweak it in different ways, which you can, too. Photo by INeedCoffee / CoffeeHero.
3. Use a cheat sheet
We like Real Simple’s grid-style grilling cheat sheet, as it provides both basic, reassuring timings for a standard grill that won’t leave anyone with undercooked food, and won’t turn out dried-out cinders or hockey pucks, either. It also helps you arrange items across your cooking surface, as you move items from direct flame heat to indirect, ambient cooking. Got another favorite, printable guide? Link it for everyone in the comments.
2. know when meat is done
Unless you’ve got a serious instant-read thermometer, it’s a pain to keep stabbing your meal-to-be, or, even worse, cut it open, to determine just when it’s just at the edge of safe to eat. Skip the torture and use your hands. By touching your thumb to each of your fingers, and then pressing on your thumb muscle as it changes firmness, you’ll get an idea of how your steak should feel, moving from rare to well done as your thumb muscle moves from your index to your pinky finger. Whole chickens are a similar matter of intuitive touch, or, actually, a twist of the chicken leg. If the leg won’t move, it’s not quite ready—you want there to be a slight amount of tension, and then feel the joints release as you apply soft pressure.
1. perfect burgers
We asked and our commenters responded about what makes the perfect grilled burger: Good meat, preferably ground while you watch, kept at room temperature right before grilling, and not pressed and overly handled. We’d just add that you shouldn’t try to compress your homemade patties into chain-restaurant-style discs, and that seasoning your patties with salt and pepper right before they hit the heat makes a big difference.
Our list covers a lot of what the average griller would cook up for their friends or family, but we’re certainly open to suggestions—especially vegetarian ideas and technique suggestions. And be sure to check out last year’s guide to becoming the memorial day grill master for more techniques and basic starter tips.
by Lee Mathews
Our regular readers can probably rattle off a list of their 20 favorite Apps without breaking a sweat — as the comments on this post will no doubt prove. But for our less in-the-know friends, family, and co-workers, it can be challenging to figure out where to download high quality programs that actually do what they need them to do.
Now let’s take the jump and check out the apps!
Antivirus and antimalware
It’s always best to get your protection in place before you do anything else. Microsoft’s security Essentials is an exceptionally good program and provides excellent, always-on defense against all kinds of malicious software. Version 2.0 is even better than the original, and it’s ready for download onto your shiny new system.
For added protection, we also like to keep Malwarebytes on hand. It’s a dependable program for times when we want to perform a more intensive checkup on our system and has proven itself to be a malware-removing powerhouse.
backup and sync
With security out of the way, it’s time to look at protecting your future data. By setting up a good quality backup or sync app (or both), you can ensure that you’re never going to lose those precious photos or important scholarly articles you saved in your Documents folder. SugarSync gets the nod for sync services, thanks to its 5GB of free space (more than double what most providers give for free) — and mobile apps for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry.
For straight-up backup duties, Mozy is tough to beat. A free account gets you 2GB of backup space, and a paid account will only run you $4.95 per month for unlimited storage. Mozy can also simultaneously backup to an external hard drive, giving you a second layer of disaster preparedness.
We certainly recommend installing an alternative Web browser, but because Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all have unique features, it’s very hard to pick a ‘best’ browser. All three browsers are fast, secure, customizable, and offer synchronization — which is very useful if you browse on more than one computer. Spend some time seeing what makes each one special, or download ‘em all and go for a few test drives. You can always uninstall them later!
If you’re the adventurous type and you like Internet Explorer just fine, you may even want to download the Internet Explorer 9 beta version. It’s not fully complete, but it’s a big improvement over its predecessors.
Watching, converting, and burning videos
For viewing just about any kind of video file, VLC is ready to rock. From MP4 to AVI to VOB, it plays them all — and without making you hunt for codecs (which is especially handy if you’re not sure what a codec is in the first place). When it comes time to burn those videos to a disc or make them play nice with your new smartphone, Freemake Video Converter is up to the task. It’ll even burn your videos to a DVD or Blu-ray disc.
Listening to, transferring, and buying music
Just about everyone who’s touched a keyboard knows about iTunes. It’s a good enough program, but you have other options available. DoubleTwist is a very good alternative, and it can even synchronize songs to your iPhone, iPod, or iPad — something most other apps can’t do. It’s also got built-in access to the Amazon MP3 store, which offers very good pricing on music downloads — as long as you’re in the U.S. and U.K.
If you don’t own an Apple device, Songbird is another nice choice. One big reason to consider Songbird is that it integrates 7digital for music purchases — and 7digital is available darn near everywhere.
Communication and instant messaging/chat
Skype now handles a mind-boggling number of voice and video calls every single day, and it’s one of the best programs around at adapting to your Internet connection’s speed. That’s important when you’re trying to make sure the person on the other end isn’t seeing a pixelated version of you which stutters and freezes constantly.
As for instant messaging, we’ve got two picks. Windows Live Messenger is a good way to go if you’re primarily going to chat with Windows Live contacts (obviously) and Facebook friends. For those of you who really need to chat with friends on ICQ, Yahoo, Google, Live, and ICQ all at once, do yourself a favor and check out Pidgin. It’s a much better idea than installing three or four different chat apps.
photo management, editing, and sharing
Both Microsoft and Google make terrific photo apps for home users. Picasa and Live Photo Gallery offer plenty of quick-fix tools for adjusting colors, removing redeye, cropping, and otherwise tweaking your pics. Both programs make it easy to generate slideshows for sharing online or on disc. Photo Gallery also works well with Facebook and Flickr — so it’s a better choice if you plan on posting a lot of photos to either site. It also comes bundled with Movie Maker, which is a nice way to bundle your pictures and videos.
At this stage in the game, Steam is a must-have application (or at least very, very nearly one). There are so many good games available in their extensive catalog that everyone can find something enjoyable to purchase and play. From first person shooters to racing sims to addictive (and typically cheap!) casual games, Steam has become a bit like the iTunes for games.
Office and student work
If you plan on getting productive with your new computer — and you probably will at some point in the new year — you may as well install the apps you’ll need now. For general note-taking and research, Evernote is a champion and it’s made even better by the availability of mobile apps for virtually all smartphones.
For straight-up word processing and spreadsheet chores, both OpenOffice and Lotus Symphony offer Microsoft Office-like functionality for free. They’re not 100% Office compatible, though, so if you’re worried about documents formatting properly you may want to check into Microsoft’s free Office Web Apps. They run in your browser, so you won’t even need to install anything extra — all you need is a Facebook account!
The more Web sites you sign up for, the more important a good password manager becomes. KeePass is easy to learn, can store everything you throw at it, and it will even generate hard-to-crack passwords which you can use to replace your current ones. All you’ve got to do is remember the master password to open your KeePass vault, and you’re good to go!
Unzipping, extracting and managing file archives
7-Zip is the name to know. Unlike the more well-known WinZip and WinRAR, 7-Zip is completely free and will never nag you about how many files you’ve opened with it or why you should buy a copy. Using 7-Zip is dead simple: just click any compressed file you download and choose the 7-Zip menu from the pop-up, and then extract your files.
Tune-ups and Maintenance
Windows 7 doesn’t really need to be defragmented, and any new system you buy at this point will be running the OS. A ‘tidy up’ tool like CCleaner is a better choice. It provides an easy way to remove temporary files that are eating up valuable drive space, and cleans your registry. Run it regularly to keep your system spic-and-span, and don’t forget to add CCleaner Enhancer to clean out files from more than 200 additional programs.
Present photo by flickr user paulidin
Coffee Joulies work with your coffee to achieve two goals. first, they absorb extra thermal energy in your coffee when it’s served too hot, cooling it down to a drinkable temperature three times faster than normal. Next, they release that stored energy back into your coffee keeping it in the right temperature range twice as long.
This amazing feat of thermodynamics happens thanks to a special non-toxic material sealed within the polished stainless steel shell. This material is designed to melt at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and absorbs a lot of energy as it melts. This is how Joulies cool your coffee down three times faster than normal. Once it reaches this temperature, the special material begins to solidify again, releasing the energy it stored when it melted. This is how Joulies keep your coffee warm twice as long.
The better insulated your cup, the better Coffee Joulies work. Simply using a lid goes a long way. This is because less heat is lost to the environment, and more is stored within the Joulies themselves. In a ceramic mug Joulies will keep your coffee in the right temperature range for only a few minutes longer than usual (because mugs are such poor insulators – designed to keep your hand from being burned, not to keep coffee warm). Of course this isn’t a problem when you’re rushing to get to work in the morning and Joulies help you drink your coffee three times sooner.
In a well-made vacuum thermos, on the other hand, Joulies will keep your coffee in the right temperature range for over five hours. More importantly, they cool coffee down much faster, helping you avoid burning your tongue as you taste coffee in the thermos while checking to see if it’s the right temperature yet.
Remember, coffee is more than just a hot, caffeinated beverage. It is a ritual that gets us up in the morning and keeps us going all day. Get creative with how you incorporate Joulies into your ritual. Find out exactly how many you need for your perfect cup of coffee, when to put them in, whether you want to preheat them first, whether you still need cream and sugar once you have the temperature perfected with Joulies, etc. etc. These are your magic beans now. Get to know them. You’ll have them forever.
In the hot, expansive Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, near the 350 person village of Derweze, is a hole 328 feet wide that has been on fire, continuously, for 38 years. Known as the Darvaza Gas Crater or the “Gates of Hells” by locals, the crater can be seen glowing for miles around.
The hole is the outcome not of nature but of an industrial accident. In 1971 a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. Having punctured a pocket of gas, poisonous fumes began leaking from the hole at an alarming rate. To head off a potential environmental catastrophe, the Soviets set the hole alight. The crater hasn’t stopped burning since.
All the Cool blogs are doing it so why can’t we do it too. I’m talking about a year in review wrap-up of the most popular and heavily viewed postings from the previous year. People are still saying “Happy new Year” to me so I guess I am not too late to the game. We did one of these last year, The Most Popular Tailgating Ideas Posts From 2008, so why not again th
<strong>25. NFL beer Pong table Is Pure Hypocrisy — Prior to the start of the 2009 NFL season I spotted that the NFL and Other retailers were selling officially licenced beer pong tables complete with NFL team logos. This blatant hypocrisy by the NFL encouraging “responsible tailgating and respectful behavior from its fans” yet they are willing to sell something that encourages binge drinking needed to be called out. A number of follow up posts came out after this one but the original post took in the most visitors and was linked to by other websites the most.
24. The Bucket list For Tailgaters — An oldie but a goodie, this was posted back in 2008. It sparked huge controversy in regards to which locations were included and which ones were left off. Until we ran a comments contest to win a Home Depot Gift Card, this post was the reigning comment king with over 20 comments on this post.
23. The 14 Tailgaters Who Annoy the Crap Out of You — Last year’s undisputed champion of traffic generators, this year it slips all the way back to No. 13. That’s to be expected seeing how the post was published over 18 months ago. It still reeled in over 6,000 visitors over the course of 2009 and continues to get links in forums and message boards as new visitors discover this site. As far as one of our humor pieces goes, this has to be our best effort.
22. Super Bowl Watch party Essential: The Stadium Pal — This was the first posting of 2009 to gain a link out from the coveted Sports Illustrated hot Clicks section. The post basically describes a contraption that allows men to strap it to themselves and relieve themselves into a collection bag without ever leaving the couch. perfect for a Super Bowl party when you don’t want to get up and miss the game by hitting the bathroom or worse, coming back to find someone has claimed your favorite comfy chair.
21. Play Beer Pong Anywhere with Port-O-Pong Inflatable Beer Pong Table — The oldest post that still makes the list year in and year out is the product review of the Port-o-Pong inflatable Beer Pong Table. This post was published back in October 2007 and still took in over 8,600 views two years later. I still contend that a hot girl with a big rack holding up a beer pong table will bring in the eyeballs any day.
20. Summer Tailgating: How To Spike a Watermelon — Another post from 2008 that still pulls in visitors like the undertow of a tidal wave. Interestingly, while most posts see a traffic spike around the start of football season, this post saw strong response from May through August. I guess the fact that this post ranks No.1 on Google for “How to Spike a Watermelon” doesn’t hurt when people are looking to do a little backyard boozing.
19. Boycott Concessions at ACC Championship Game — One of the readers of this site had emailed us and it was the inspiration for this post. Apparently those in charge of running Raymond James Stadium in Tampa have a disregard for tailgaters. The ACC Championship Game was being played there and despite pleas from both Georgia Tech and Clemson fans, the stadium management refused to open the parking lots early to accommodate them. A group of fans called for a boycott of all stadium food and concessions sold inside in order get the attention of those in power. We just used the power of the internet to help spread the word in support of this action. Many read this post via incoming links from supporting fan forums and message boards.
18. video: Nike Commercial Parody – Beer Pong — This was a YouTube video that was a parody of those overly dramatic Nike commercials. Instead of being a finely tuned athlete running stadium stairs in the dead of winter, this parody showcased a beer pong player’s training regime and his determination to be the best. This particular post hit the front page of Digg and blew up from there. Here is the video if you missed the original posting.
17. buy Tailgating games — When we find new tailgating games that you just can’t find anywhere else, we test them out and if they meet our high standards, we offer them for sale directly from TailgatingIdeas.com. This page organizes those games you won’t find in stores in one easy to find location. I guess you people when browsing the web are looking for new and unique tailgating games which can all be found in here.
16. Bud light Rolls Out “Tailgate Approved” Marketing Campaign — By now I am sure you have seen all of the commercials Bud Light bombarded us with during the college and NFL football season. The premise of the ad campaign was the over-the-top character “Jimmy Football” doing these infomercials for tailgating products. Think more like Billy Mayes if he were trying to get you to buy a cooler that turns into a grill. When it was all said and done, this article ranked in the major search engines No. 2 for the term “Tailgate Approved”. So while Bud Light was paying millions of dollars to advertise on TV, we were raking in those people searching Google and Yahoo for “tailgate approved” items to buy.
15. Tailgaters, This Is Why The NFL Hates You — This post consisted of a YouTube video of some drunken Cleveland Browns fan tailgating in the Muni Lot. The thing that made this video extraordinary was the fact that he climbed on top of a port-a-potty, poured a full beer over his head and started stripping off his clothes and throwing them into the gathering crowd. At one point he dances a drunken jig that almost has him falling off the port-a-potty onto his head. It was like watching a train wreck but you couldn’ help yourself from looking. I originally posted it as graphic example as to why the NFL wants to limit tailgating times because people abuse alcohol and act stupidly. Instead it was picked up by Digg (submitted and made popular by Steven of the popular humor blog, stevenhumour.com) and in poured over 14,000 visitors in the course of three hours. It’s a good thing we switched host servers by that time because that kind of traffic in a short amount of time would have definitely killed our old servers. Here is the video for those to lazy to click on the link above.
14. Off Topic: Top 15 Most Quotable Movies — Inspired by Kareem Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s epic fail on Celebrity Jeopardy where he missed on a movie quote he himself uttered in the movie Airplane!, we compiled this list of the 15 most quotable movies. Obviously it created some controversy and discussion as to why a particular movie was left off the list but maybe in 2010 we’ll put together a second list. This post was also linked to by Sports Illustrated pumping its traffic numbers to over 15,000 page views.
13. The 10 Most Annoying People You Meet At A Super Bowl Party — This one ranks No. 2 mainly in part because it was prominently featured in the Super Bowl edition of Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks. A number of other prominent blogs linked to it as well but the lion’s share of the visitors came screaming in from Sports Illustrated. No matter how you slice it, this post reeled in 19,370 visitors over the course of the year.
12. Buy Tailgating gear — You people sure like your tailgating gadgets and supplies. This page was the most popular article visited in 2009 and wraps up all the tailgating gear and items you can buy directly from TailgatingIdeas.com. As we discover new and unique tailgating gear, we test them out personally and if they are quality and help tailgaters tailgate better, we offer them for sale. This particular article just groups all those items into one easy to browse page showcasing the items with a brief description and image. So chalk it up to the power of the internet search engines doing their jobs because this article reeled in the most eyeballs, 21,661 when it was all said and done, all year.
When it comes to new tailgating gear coming onto the market, the month of September is the time to do it. Common sense would draw the conclusion that companies use the start of football season and the enthusiasm that comes with it to carry over to the launch of their products. That said, we had quite a few tailgating products and games to check out in September and here they are:
11.The GrillGrate — The GrillGrate is a series of 13.75″ x 5.25″ interlocking anodized aluminum panels that create a new cooking surface for your grill. The interlocking Design allows you to connect as many of the panels as you would like. The panels are designed in such a way to allow perfect searing but avoid burning of many foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, and even pasta. This is accomplished by using a raised rail design that focuses most of the grill’s heat through those rails. In addition to this, the rails are spaced in such a way that by using The GrateTool, you can go underneath your food and pick straight up rather than try and jam a spatula underneath. The bottom of the GrillGrate has spaced elliptical holes for excess liquid to fall through, but also reduces flareups. The areas between those holes allows the fats and juices to sizzle and steam. The steam naturally moves upward and contacts the food, restoring some of the flavor that has leaked out.
should you decide they aren’t for you, they offer a 30 day, no questions asked warranty. You can’t argue with that. For all the advantages with no obvious disadvantages, the GrillGrate gets the TailgatingIdeas.com stamp of approval.
10.Clear view Propane Tanks — Since starting TailgatingIdeas.com over three years ago, I have come across a number of products that have made me say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!?”. I’ve also discovered tailgating gear that has made me say, “Why didn’t they think of this sooner?”. Clear View Propane Tanks By Ragasco fall into both the “Why didn’t I think of that?!?” and the “Why didn’t they think of this sooner?” categories. Truly a remarkable product with 100% upside and zero downside for tailgaters who choose to grill with propane.
Simply stated, Clear View Propane Tanks by Ragasco are translucent composite fiberglass propane tanks with a protective outer plastic casing. Safer than steel propane tanks, the Clear View Propane Tank will not rust, has a wider base than steel cylinders and when empty, is 50% lighter than old fashioned propane cylinders. The best part is that the composite fiberglass allows you to see the fuel level inside, ensuring you will never run out of gas. By actually seeing how much propane is left in your cylinder you’ll never have to guess how much is left in the tank by picking it up and feeling how much is in there.
Clear View Propane Tanks are:
• Lightweight in design and is 50% lighter than steel
• Translucent cylinder provides visible fuel level so you won’t run out unexpectedly
• Easy to transport design has ergonomic handle and tip-proof, flat base
• Corrosion-free, non-marring material keeps your vehicle and tailgating space clean
• Proven safety — fire-tested cylinder will never burst
• UL approved OPD valve
• d.O.T. approved for safety
In all honesty, I am failing to see how a steel propane tank would ever be better than one of these. The price of a Clear View Propane Tank might scare you off at $99 plus shipping. Then again, consider these tanks will never rust or corrode over time. You could buy a Clear View Propane Tank today and still be using it tailgating 15 years from now. I doubt anyone would want to take a 15 year old steel propane tank tailgating with them no matter how well they took care of it.
Because this product is brand new to the American market, the 20 lb. standard sized cylinders are currently on sale. The smaller, 10 lb. tanks will be coming soon. To get your Clear View LPG Tank, visit shop.tailgatingideas.com. The price of each tank is $99 plus $10 shipping. Buy two or more and we’ll waive the shipping fee on all tanks. To get your own Clear View Propane Tank, click HERE.
7. Willy Washers — Tailgating games are as much of a part of tailgating as are grills and the food you serve. Washers is an extremely popular tailgating game but there are some hazards to playing washers while tailgating. Retrieving errantly thrown washers or just the constant bending over and picking up the washers that did land in game box can be back breaking. I know a lot of tailgaters that choose not to play washers strictly because they have back problems. I recently discovered a new product that will have those that have sworn off washers in the past, playing washers again. It’s called Willy Washers Pick-Em-Up stick and Caddy.
Willy Washers is a retractable, magnetic stick that retrieves washers without having to bend over or get on your knees. The stick extends to about 30″ and easily picks up washers with its magnetic tip. The caddy portion of the Willy Washers will hold your washers tightly when not in play. It also retracts up small enough to fit in your game box when not in use. Another cool feature is the hook on the back of Willy Washers allows you to hang it from your back pocket, off your belt loop, a nearby fence, car door handle, etc. and stays easily within arm’s reach. The magnet on the end of Willy Washers is plenty strong too. Take a look at their video of Willy Washers in action.
I would highly recommend Willy Washers to any tailgater that likes to play washers and wants an easier way to pick up thrown washers. Now you don’t have to dread if a washer rolls under a car. Get a Willy Washers and you can grab the washer without having to crawl on your hands and knees on a dirty parking lot.
Willy Washers is normally priced at $19.95 plus shipping. In honor of football season and of course tailgating season, Willy Washers is being offered at a special price of 20% off plus free shipping when you select the free shipping option in checkout. To buy one or two, make sure to visit their home page, playwasherswithwilly.com, and select which Willy Washers you prefer. From each individual Willy page, you can then add it to your cart. If you do end up buying a Willy Washers, make sure to let them know you heard about their product from TailgatingIdeas.com.
The Freedom Flask — First on the scene was the Floppy Flask then The Beer Belly and Booze Belly and even the Wine Rack. Other stealth and concealable drinking devices include Disposable Flask, the The Body Bottle and most recently we reviewed The Bootlegger. So when I was approached by the folks at Freedom Flask to review their product, I was a bit skeptical. After all, we’ve seen this type of thing before ad nauseum. The only way to be considered the best brand in the space is to either be the first on the market or to improve on previous versions so much that all the predecessors then become obsolete. Although the Freedom Flask may not be the first on the scene I believe they have built a better mouse trap than those who have tried previously.
In looking at the photo, you’ll probably say, “Big deal. It looks like a Floppy Flask or a Booze Belly”. That’s true but the design of the Freedom Flask has take that concept and improved upon their shortcomings. There are two major flaws with both the Floppy Flask and the Booze Belly.
1) The rectangular shape and wearing it around your stomach/mid-section area
2) The drain valve is located at the corner of the flask.
First, let’s hit on the drain valve flaw. Once you’ve had a few tall ones and start to run empty, you have to lean your whole body over to the side and jump up and down slightly in order to pour out the last drops into your cup. The Booze Belly added the hose extension, but it doesn’t solve the issue of having to lean over to get the last bit out.
The rectangular shape does not have a natural body shape to it. Most guys I know that have a little beer gut do not have a layer of fat in the shape of a rectangle. This shape and the location of wearing it around your stomach enables easier detection.
6. The Freedom Flask has taken the overall concept of these previous designs and made simple but far reaching improvements. Improvement No. 1: Offering a curved bottom edge to allow all of the liquid to drain directly into the drain valve until completely empty. Improvement No. 2: Placing the drain valve in the middle of the flask so it lines up perfectly with your zipper. Instead of wearing the Freedom Flask around your stomach, it tucks into the top of your pants or shorts. I have been through my share of security pat downs and never has anyone patted me there. Check out this two minute demo video of how to use the Freedom Flask properly.
The Freedom Flask is manufactured right here in the USA which is not the case with some of the other game day flasks on the market. I am sure they would probably be able to manufacture them more cheaply in China or Mexico but the makers of Freedom Flask feel very strongly about manufacturing them here in the USA.
A single Freedom Flask will run you $24.99 plus shipping. Orders of multiple units range from buy 2 for $23.75 each, buy 3 for $22.49 each, buy 6 for $21.25 each or buy 12 for $19.99 each and get free shipping.
In all honesty, with the prices of food and drinks in the stadium, buying one Freedom Flask could pay for itself on your first time using it. Wash and rinse it out after use and the next time the money you’ll have saved can go towards other tailgating gear.
To learn more about the Freedom Flask or to buy one, visit their website: FreedomFlask.com
Keg-A-Que Football Grill — The latest product that Chris had a chance to sample (and now review and introduce to you) was the Keg-a-Que Propane Football Grill. In the end the product performed very similar to the play of the Philadelphia Eagles QBs. The start wasn’t too great, but the end was certainly a lot better.
5. During football tailgates we usually pack up the “full-size” grill from the back yard. The larger grill allows for more food to be cooked in a shorter amount of time. But given the opportunity to sample and review the Keg-a-Que Propane Football Grill we decided to go portable for Sunday’s tailgate.
Prior to jumping ahead to the actual tailgate and use of the grill I wanted to first provide some feedback on the assembly of the Football Grill.
Yes, I realize that putting together a grill isn’t rocket science and should be pretty self explanatory and easy to assemble. Despite this fact I was disappointed with the lack of assembly instructions provided with the grill. The written instructions were sparse and the various parts and screws were not numbered or labeled (I was even missing two washers for connection of the handles). Even more frustrating was the fact that the “straight” grill handles were being screwed into the curved areas of the grill. The end result was handles that did not have fully inserted screws. Regardless, everything was securely put together within 30 minutes.
The next step in the process was attaching the portable propane tank. Not wanting to screw myself the day of the game (while in the parking lot) I did some testing from the house. What I found out was that despite securely attaching the propane tank to the grill it didn’t always ignite. To get the grill lite it required a “perfect” attachment of the propane tank to the grill. After two consecutive, successful starts of the grill I was confident that there would be no issues come Sunday (I had mastered the required “perfect attachment).
Well so much for being a master of the attaching!
When we went to go start the grill on Sunday, in the parking lot, we couldn’t get the grill to start. Thankfully Pops and I are persistent (plus we had shrimp and steak that needed to be cooked) and after about 5 minutes and several attempts at attaching the propane tank we were finally able to get the grill going and the food cooking.
On to the good news… once the grill was started, I was very impressed. In a few minutes the grill was hot and the food was cooking. Adjusting the level of the flames was easy and worked without issue. The grill grate was large enough to cook both the steak and shrimp together. The flame and heat were evenly distributed over the grate, resulting in perfectly cooked / grilled food.
After enjoying the grub, the grill continued with positive marks for clean-up. The various pieces of the grill were easy to remove, clean, and then reassemble for packing back into the car. If only the end result of that day’s Eagles’ game had a similar, positive ending!
4. As you can see the Keg-a-Que Propane Football Grill had some ups and some downs. But with the low cost of the product (regularly $69.99 but on sale right now for $59.49) that is to be expected. And maybe there was some human error in the attachment of the propane tank or maybe this particular grill was a one-off. Regardless, if you are looking for an inexpensive, portable grill for the occasional tailgate I would still recommend going with the Football Grill.
3. Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler — As even an amateur tailgater will tell you, keeping your food and beverages cold on your way to and during your tailgate party is of the utmost importance. The most common form of transporting and keeping tailgating food and drink cold has been the old fashioned ice chest. The trusty old cooler that you fill with ice and you’ll eventually end up tossing out at the end of the day because it is either melted or no longer needed. What if there was a tailgating cooler out there that kept your food and beverages refrigerator cold and dry and you no longer had to buy ice? There is and it called the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler
I was sent a sample of the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler and I was impressed right from the start. The instructions manual was a single sheet of paper. I like things that are simple to understand. And honestly, the only reason it was that big was because it had instructions in both English and French. The Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler is very simple. You plug the cooler connection into the connection that plugs into your cigarette lighter. Because it works just like a refrigerator blowing cold air, you’ll want to have it plugged in for a few minutes to get it cold first. Much like placing items in a brand new fridge that has not been running, for maximum benefit, you want the cooler to be cold first. Then all you do is transfer those items you want to keep cold into the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler and you are good to go tailgating. If the cooler is loaded with warm items, it will take quite a while for the cooler to do all the work to cool them down. So it is suggested that you placed already chilled items in the Koolatron cooler.
The Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler also has the capacity to get hot as well. Just reverse the polarity of the connection to the red dot, and you are keeping items hot on your way to the tailgate party. Again, all you need is to make sure you have it plugged into your car’s power outlet and you are good to go. The things I liked best about the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler is that it worked well, kept items cool on the way to and during the tailgate, there was no clean up or getting rid of unmelted ice and the best part, I saved money but not having to buy any ice. By using the power that my car battery was already producing, I not only saved money but this could be considered a “green” product. By using the power of my car battery I was saving water by not purchasing a 10 lb. bag of ice.
The price on the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler is normally $199 but right now they are running a sale. You can get the Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler for $169.15 plus free UPS or FedEx shipping. To get your own Koolatron 52 Quart 12V Cooler visit CompactAppliance.com or just simply click HERE.
2. Monster Pong — Although I, nor any of the writers and contributors to tailgatingideas.com have not personally tested this game out it does look to be challenging and quite fun. We can not personally vouch for the craftsmanship or durability or portability of the game. With that said, it does warrant a look as a possible new tailgating game.
The game is called Monster Pong. From what I can gather from the website, Moster Pong can be played with up to six players or just two. The individual Monster Pong board has an angled playing surface, guitar pick shape and a goal recessed cup. Rather than trying to win points, players face off directly and fight to retain their starting 12 point score. I came across a video on YouTube showing how the game is played.
The cost of a Monster Pong game set which includes two (2) boards, two (2) paddles and two (2) balls for $129.95. It doesn’t say if that price includes shipping or not.
To learn more about Monster Pong go to monsterpong.com
1.Tailgater Strap — Many tailgaters choose propane to power their grills. For those that choose to use 20 or even 30 lb. propane tanks, transporting them can be a real hassle. Whether they are full or empty, propane tanks sliding around in the back of your truck or SUV can be really dangerous. Most people will use bungee cords, milk crates, ropes or wires to keep their tanks from moving around but none of those options are really effective.
I recently discovered a piece of tailgating gear that will secure your propane tank to the back of your truck’s tailgate and provides stability, security and will prevent the tank from flying through your back window, or worse, exploding. It’s a simple strap system built and designed to hold your propane tanks built with 1200 lb. breaking strain webbing. It’s called the Tailgater Strap. To see a demo video of exactly how to use the Tailgater Strap, you’ll need to visit their website: tailgaterstrap.com
In all honesty, I was very pleased with the Tailgater Strap. It was made with heavy duty materials and in testing I was confident that it would secure my propane tanks not only when I was to get them refilled but on the way to the tailgate party.
You can get your own Tailgate Strap for $14.95 plus $4.95 shipping. Not too bad for an item that can keep you and others safe from a sliding and even worse, exploding propane tank.