American Made

RowFree is Helping Me Row Away My Evenings

I have used a Concept 2 rower for physical exercise for longer than I can remember. It is such a great workout and the C2 is built like a tank. If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking one up.

Like all rowers except for the Hydrow the workout can be a bit boring. You are going back and forth for 45 minutes to an hour with an occasional break for stretching or interval weight training. To combat the boredom I use a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that I have paired with my phone so I can listen to music or books on tape. I also have them paired with my Apple TV so if I feel inclined I can pull the rower into the downstairs media room/office and watch something on the TV while rowing.

The thing is, moving the rower is kind of a pain, and I never do it. Because of this, I started looking for a stand of some kind to hold my iPad and position it close enough to see the screen without hitting it as I rowed. I found nothing that I liked or that I thought would work. Then I found RowFree, and I’m in love.

The RowFree Mount is a quickly installed bracket that can be used with Concept2 rowers, BikeERG, and SkiERG to hold electronic devices like tablets, smartphones, and laptops.  The RowFree Mount is highly adjustable and can be used to quickly position your device exactly where you need it. 

Constructed from aluminum alloy, the bracket is light and durable. The bracket simply slips over the PM5 on my Concept 2 and then adjusts to hold my device directly in my line of sight for the entire workout routine. I love this thing. It is simple, functional design at its finest. It’s not over-thought or overly complicated. It has a simple function and it works. It doesn’t block the readout on my PM5 and it makes rowing a whole lot more enjoyable.

RowFree is a small business located in Bend, Oregon.  Their mission is to provide the best way to interact with tablets, smartphones, and laptops while rowing. I think they nailed it.

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Living Large in America.

mcmansionI have never lived in a large house. Not even when I was growing up. My parents had a modest house of about 1400 square feet that worked just fine for 5 humans, two dogs, and a cat. Out of the three houses I have owned in my life, the largest was just under 1400  square feet of living space. My current dwelling is just at 1000.

Over the last 30 years, the average size of a single family house in America has ballooned to a whopping 2300+ square feet on average. America, and Americans have been sold on the idea that bigger is better, that more space equals happiness. On the opposite end of the scale, in Hong Kong there are groups of people living in apartments the size of walk-in closets. No I’m not advocating doing that.

Recently there has been a growing interest in the United States in smaller more efficient homes. Living in 1000 square feet or less is something that is actually fairly common in the rest of the world, where land is tight and properties are expensive. The images below show the vast disparity between property sizes through out the world, with the United States and Australia rounding out the top two, when it comes to McMansion sized homes.

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Shinola, Designed and Made in America.

With the Fourth of July just a little over two weeks away, I’ve been looking into products that are designed and built here in America. One item that has been on my radar for a while now is Shinola watches. I first discovered them about 9 months ago, but haven’t written anything up. Today I am, with Shinola being the first Designed in America – Made in America post. The two videos included in this post show the pride, craftsmanship, quality, and design thinking that went into Shinola watches.

Shinola is more than a watch maker. This Detroit based company also produces bikes, leather goods, and journals. All of these items are designed and manufactured here in the United States. Shinola believes that American design and manufacturing is world class, and capable of leading the world in craftsmanship, innovation, and quality. Shinola has partnered with a group of extraordinary American manufacturers whose obsession with craftsmanship and quality matches their own, and it shows in the products they produce.

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When I first read about Shinola watches I was intrigued. There hasn’t been a watch maker in the United States for almost 40 years. Shinola is starting a new chapter in American watch making with production of timepieces crafted from “Steel, Leather and Labor”. As a testament to the quality of the watches they make, everyone is sold out on their website.

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The watches themselves are hand made with an obsessive focus on crafting a watch of the highest possible quality. Yes they use Swiss parts, but the design and manufacture takes place in Detroit Michigan. The timepieces are limited edition, numbered units that feature serious attention to detail. All watches feature sapphire crystals. The watch faces are over printed up to 14 times using sophisticated luminous paint. The leather straps are produced by Horween of Chicago. The cases, screws, dials, bolts, buckles, and assemblies have all been well thought out and designed to produce a watch that is a hybrid between a fashion watch and a high quality daily driver. The result, a beautiful timepiece designed and hand built with high quality materials in the American Midwest.

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