Beautiful Prague

Prague in April was beautiful. It was my third visit so it was much easier getting around. The weather was fantastic about 65 degrees or (18 Celsius).  It was perfect walking weather and Prague is definitely a walking city.  

One of the great things about Prague is that’s it’s still cheap compared to the rest of Europe. A delicious three course lunch with a glass of wine at the Four Seasons was only $18.  And beer is cheaper than water.  

Some photos from my walks

                               

March Visit to Cologne, Germany

In March we had the opportunity to drive to Cologne from Dusseldorf.  It’s about 45 minutes south and a very nice drive on the autobahn.   The Cathedral can be seen from nearly every point in the city center and from many places elsewhere: The magnificent Cologne Cathedral hovers above the roofs and chimneys of the city. Once we reached Cologne it is very easy to find parking by the Cathedral (Kölner Dom). 

Construction started in 1248 but was not finished until 1880.  In 1996 it became a UNESCO Heritage Site.  The stained glass windows have more than 11,500 panes of glass.

The Cologne CathedralThe Cologne Cathedral

The interior is stunning

The interior is stunning

4711 is a traditional German Eau de Cologne that has been produced since 1799.  The flagship store is next to the Cathedral.

The Original Cologne from 4711

The Original Cologne from 4711

No visit to a city in Germany is complete without a coffee and Baumkuchen.  Cafe Reichard is one of the cities oldest and is located right next to the Cathedral.

A wonderful Coffee

A wonderful Coffee

Cafe Reichard

Cafe Reichard

Slow Dance

I came across this poem by David Weatherford that shares a powerful life lesson on what’s important in life.  In 2005 Steve Jobs gave a speech at Stanford where he said “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower, hear the music before your song is over.

Keukenhof in Holland the Flower Basket of Europe

In early May with the luck of the Irish on our side we found ourselves in Amsterdam for a few days.  As we arrived in Holland we quickly learned that the prime season to visit Keukenhof ends in late May.  So we took a 45 min taxi ride to the gardens.  There are many ways to get there but we found that taking a taxi was by the simplest method.   We were also able to purchase entrance tickets directly through our hotel concierge.

Keukenhof means the “kitchen garden” in Dutch and was started in the 15th Century.  Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria gathered fruit and vegtables from the woods and dunes for her kitchen of Teylingen Castle. Subsequently, Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641, and the estate grew to an area of over 200 hectares.

Keukenhof is used as a showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, with 7 million spring-flowering bulbs displayed. It only lasts about 8 weeks in April/May of each year.

It is just a lovely place to walk, breathe, admire beauty and forget the headaches of life.  Here are a small number of the pictures I took.

Entrance to KeukenhofThe Gardens The Gardens The Gardens   The Gardens The Gardens The Gardens The Gardens

My Review of the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam

“Wonderful Luxury One of a Kind Property!!!!”

We absolutely loved the Waldorf!!! We stayed there for 3 nights in May 2015.   It is a wonderfully renovated property that is very well located right on the canals. You can walk anywhere within in 15 minutes.

Our room was so beautiful—the property has only been open for a year and its so elegantly done. It has nothing to do with the older conservative original Waldorf in New York. Its more of a boutique hotel with about 60 rooms. The bathrooms are huge with marble floors and separate shower and tub.

The service was through and through very very warm and friendly.

And the restaurant was simply delicious!!!

Our only mistake was staying only 3 nights—we should have stayed 7 at least.

I would absolutely love to go back.

Here is the entrance of the property.  You can see the original features

Here is the entrance of the property. You can see the original features

The Beautiful Lobby

The Beautiful Lobby

Located on the ground floor you can have drinks or an afternoon tea

Located on the ground floor you can have drinks or an afternoon tea

My Favorite Quote from Marcus Aurelius

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”

How to Make Groups on a Mac

How to email groups with Mail

Frequently asked questions about addressing email messages more quickly

by Christopher BreenMacworld.com   Feb 29, 2012 5:00 pm

 

 

The world can be a tedious place. Some of that tedium, such as long lines at the market and unyielding traffic jams, is unavoidable. But there are waits that you needn’t suffer, particularly when working with your Mac. Take adding multiple recipients to a single email message, for example. Of course you can add each recipient, one address at a time. But doing so is about as interesting (and necessary) as watching paint dry. With the power of address groups at your disposal you can quickly add many recipients to your message in one go. Here are answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: I don’t see a groups feature in Mail. Where can I find it?

A: Unlike other email programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple’s Mail doesn’t contain its own contact manager. Rather, it gets its contact information from Apple’s Address Book application. Because it does, when working with groups, you start with Address Book. To do that, launch Address Book and, by default in Lion’s version of Address Book, you see an All Contacts page on the left side of the window and all your contacts listed to the right.

To create a group using the latest version of Address Book, click on the red Group bookmark at the top of Address Book’s left page. This flips a page back so that you can view the Groups page. (With Snow Leopard’s version of Address Book this isn’t necessary as it carries a Groups pane on the left side of the Address Book window. Mountain Lion will also offer an optional three-pane view.)

To create a new group simply click the Plus (+) button at the bottom left corner of the Address Book window. Address Book will create a new group called Untitled Group. Just enter a new group name such as Softball Team and press the Return key.

Now select the All Contacts entry at the top of the group list to expose all your contacts. Drag any contacts that belong to your softball team into your new group. When you do, you’ll see an icon that looks like a small note card with a red icon containing the number of contacts you’ve selected. These contacts are now part of your group. They remain part of your All Contacts group as well.

 

Groups in Address Book and Mail
Create a group in Address Book so you can use it when you’re composing messages in Mail. Here I’ve created one for the members of the softball group.

 

Alternatively, you can select contacts from your All Contacts list (hold down the Command key to select non-contiguous entries) and choose File -> New Group From Selection. A new untitled group will be created that contains these contacts. Rename this group as you like.

Q: Are there any easier ways to make a group?

A: Before leaving Address Book, explore one other option—Smart Groups. If you routinely send messages to all the people you work with, for example, there’s a good chance that a smart group can help you. Choose File -> New Smart Group and in the sheet that appears, enter a name for the group—Co-workers, for instance—and then in the field below, configure the entry to read Email Containsdomainname where domainname is the name of your company email address. In my case, for example, I’d enter macworld.com. That group will now contain all contacts that have a macworld.com address. You can use smart groups for a variety of things—contacts that live in a particular zip code or use a specific area code, contacts that you’ve tagged with a note of one kind or another, or people who share a birthday.

Q: Most of my contacts have more than one email address. Can I choose the one I want the group to use?

A: Regardless of how you create your group, make sure that you send your messages to the correct email address for each recipient. So, for example, if a couple of co-workers are also members of your softball team, you can use their work email addresses as part of your Co-worker group and their personal email addresses for the Softball Team group.

You do this through Address Book’s Distribution List feature. In Address Book choose Edit -> Edit Distribution List. In the window that appears, select your group and check the names that appear to the right. You may find some that have more than one email address. Highlighted addresses are the ones that will be used by that group. To switch to another address for an individual, simply click on an alternate address.

Note that if you manage your contacts only with iCloud, the Edit Distribution List option may be grayed out. To make it work, open Address Book -> Preferences and in the General tab choose On My Mac from the Default Account pop-up menu. (You will not see these options if you don’t manage your contacts with iCloud.)

An On My Mac entry will appear in the Groups page. Select the All On My Mac group and click the plus-sign (+) button at the bottom of the page to add a group. (You needn’t put anything in this group if you don’t want to.) The Edit Distribution List option will now be active. When you select it you’ll have the option to work with groups on your Mac as well as those stored in iCloud.

Once you’ve done this, you can return to Address Book’s preferences and, in the General tab, choose iCloud as the default account, thus ensuring that any new contacts you add will be synced with iCloud and the devices you sync with it.

 

Distribution Lists
Do some of your contacts have more than one address? You can choose which address to send messages to by using Mail’s Distribution List feature.

 

Q: Once I make a group in Address Book, how do I use it in Mail?

A: Now that you’ve created the groups you need, launch Mail and create a new message. In the To field, start typing the name of one of your groups. As you do, Mail will present a list of contacts and groups that match your query. Select the group name you want and press the Return key. By default, Mail will add all the recipients that belong to that group. If you’d like to see just the group name, choose Mail -> Preferences, select the Composing tab, and in the Addressing area disable the When Sending to a Group, Show All Member Addresses option. Close the preferences window and you’ll now see only group names when you add them.

 

Address a message to a group in Mail
Start typing the group name in Mail’s To field to see it as one of the choices.

 

Another way to accomplish this is to choose Window -> Address Panel and in the Addresses window that appears, double-click on the group you wish to send the message to. It will be added to the To field.

Q: Can I use a group to address a message but leave out a member or two?

A: Suppose you want to send your message to only certain individuals within the group. (For instance, if you’re planning a surprise party and don’t want the birthday boy or girl to find out.) You can easily do this as well. If the group name appears in the To field, hover your cursor over it and click on the downward-pointing triangle that appears. In the resulting menu select Expand Group. Now, all the contacts within that group appear in the To field rather than the group name. Select a contact that you don’t want the message to go to and press the Mac’s Delete key. Regrettably you can’t use the Command key to select multiple contacts in the To field.

 

Groups in Mail
In the To field, click on the arrow next to your group’s name. You’ll see a number of options, including the choice to expand the group, in other words, show all the email addresses of its members.

 

Another option is to winnow down the group before adding its members to the To field. To do that, once again expose the Address Panel, select a group, and Command-click on those contacts you want to send the message to. Double-click one of the highlighted entries and any contacts you selected will be added to the To field.

If you find that you wish to address a message to just a couple of individuals in a much larger group, you’ll find it easier to simply enter their names separately. So, rather than entering the Softball Team group, enter the short-stop and pitcher’s names as individual contacts.

Q: Are there any other ways to address a message to a bunch of people?

With both Address Book and Mail open, you can select multiple contacts in Address Book and simply drag them into a mail message’s To field. Or you could select contacts in Address Book and drag them to the desktop, where those contacts will be encased in a single vCard file, which you can drag into a To field whenever the mood strikes.

 

Text shortcuts and groups
Another option is to create a text shortcut that contains the email addresses of all the members of your group.

 

Q: Do I really have to use Address Book to do this?

A: If you don’t want to use Address Book, you can instead tap into OS X’s text substitution powers to create a group. Launch System Preferences, choose the Language & Text preference, and click the Text tab. It’s within this tab that you create text shortcuts. Just click on the Plus button at the bottom of the window to create a new shortcut. In the Replace field enter something like sftbll. In the With field, enter the email addresses for those you want to associate with your sftbll shortcut. When you want to add those addresses to a message, just typesftbll into the To field, followed by the Return key, and OS X will autofill the To field with the email addresses you associated with that shortcut. Commercial utilities such as Smile’s $35 TextExpander, Ettore Software’s $20 Typeit4Me, and Ergonis’ €30 Typinator can do the same kind of thing (and a lot more).

Regardless of which solutions you choose, taking the time to clump together those contacts that you routinely send messages to will make managing your email far less tiresome.

A Simple Investment Portfolio

When it comes to investing you want to be diversified, consistent, and be in it for the long run.  There are so many opinions of the best way to invest.  It really comes down to your interest level and level of knowledge in investing.  I think the key is simplicity.

For most people they do not have the time or knowledge to invest properly.  One of the best investment companies is Vanguard.  Vanguard provides very low cost Mutual Funds and ETFs.  They never got into the Mortgage mess and are consistently rated very highly by clients.   The key though is the low cost which allows you to keep more of your  own money.

Here is my Simple Portfolio of only 4 Mutual Funds–I would invest 25% in each.  However, what is generally recommended is to invest your age in bonds.  So if you are 40 years old you would invest 40% in bonds and then 20% in the remaining 3 funds.

1) Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund: this fund invests in Large Cap companies that pay a Dividend.

2) Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund:  this fund invests in Small Cap stocks that tend to have more risk but better growth.

3) Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund: this fund gives you International Stock exposure.

4) Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund: this fund gives you exposure to the stability of bonds.  It is a mix of all types of bonds and pays a monthly dividend.

Disclaimer: Material presented on Bacigirl.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author and should NOT be relied on or taken as investing advice. The information and content should not be construed as a recommendation to invest or trade in any type of security. Neither the information, nor any opinion expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Before acting on anything you read on this site, you must do your own research and you must come to your own conclusion which you will ultimately be responsible for, including any loss you may incur.

Zite iPad App Part 2

I wanted to give an update on Zite the iPad App I mentioned a few days ago.  Zite has a feature that allows you to customize the news you receive.  For example, if you live in New York City and want Zite to find articles on New York City it will do this.  If you want articles on Antiques, London, Watches, Skiing or Chinese Food etc it will do this.  Therefore you can really customize the News so that you get only the things that interest you.