The Chromebook Hasn’t Fully Arrived. Not Yet

So many things are good on the Samsung Chromebook Pro. The touchscreen. (The price.) The stylus. The 360-degree hinge. (The price.) The 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. (The price.) And so many things are still missing. But before we get to those, let’s clarify how close the Chromebook is really close to being a fantastic piece of tech.

For starters, Chrome OS actually works, and it works fast. It flies through all daily tasks, from spreadsheets to Netflix, and even with the swiveling and stylus-ing, it never skips a beat. It works, and it works really, really well. That competence, along with all the handy features at your disposal — tablet-esque touchscreen, phablet-esque stylus, laptop-esque keyboard and trackpad (long live the trackpad!) — plus that teensie pricetag ($549 for the Pro I tested, $449 for the Plus) makes it good. But it’s not quite great. Not yet.

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A Fully Stocked Weekender Bag for Under $1,000

Budgeting. It’s not a word that graces the tongue of most fashionable men. But for the rest of us, it’s something we keep in mind — front of mind. So when you’re considering the perfect weekender bag, it’s wise to consider the perfect affordable weekender bag. As much as Brunello Cucinelli leather calls to our souls, a nice canvas number also does the trick. This is the practical man’s weekender, fully stocked for a quick weekend away, all for under a grand. That’s, what, just 40 martinis at the Rose Bar? You can make it.

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The 15 Best Pinot Noir Wines from California

Wine is meant to be enjoyed, and enjoyment does not mean sitting at a table stiff-backed, sniffing, sipping and slurping, then analyzing color, flavor, viscosity and mouthfeel, and then spitting the liquid into a dump bucket. Enjoyment means opening a bottle with friends, sitting comfortably, sharing stories and communing. It is the sacrament, after all.

So this beginner’s list doesn’t address taste or flavor or technical bits like ABV, clone strand or soil composition; it addresses the region the wines were grown in, and the winemakers who wrote the “recipes” for each. It also, hopefully, tells a short story about the bottle, which you can share when opening it among friends. Because identifying notes of honeycomb or stable hay doesn’t matter as much as engaging with wine’s more magical components — namely, the commitment to sit and talk awhile, at least until the end of the bottle.

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Valentine’s Day Is Coming. Spoil Yourself First

Let’s talk about you for a minute. You’re a bit stressed. You’re a bit tired. You’re a bit cold, because January and February are cold. And, as much as you’d love to look forward to Valentine’s Day as an annual celebration of love and happiness and the color red, you sometimes think it’s just a Hallmark ad campaign blown up to terrible proportions. This year, give in to the emotions a little. Do something for you. And do it now, then come out on the other side a happier, more Valentine’s Day-ier person, ready to be cheery, loving, kind and generous. You owe it to yourself and your significant other to get this out of the way. Plus, those $550 cashmere-lined gloves are 100 percent worth it.

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A German Luxo-Barge Versus a German Tank

Let’s be honest, this conversation happens in rarified air. If you’re in the mood to debate what six-figure SUV is best for your needs, or even if you’re simply in the mood to debate what beautiful, sculptural, power-harnessing, high-octane (premium only, please) piece of German machinery is the superior vehicle, there’s a good chance you’re seated on a plump leather sofa sipping away at an impress-the-emperor Japanese whiskey. Life hasn’t, it’s safe to assume, tossed you under the overpass these two machines will loudly roar over.

Now let’s imagine for a minute I’m there next to you, with Brahms adding context in the background. And I’ll happily play guide through this though exercise, as I’ve spent considerable wheel-time in the last few months in both Mercedes-Benz’s largest SUV, the GLS550, and Mercedes-Benz’s most beguiling SUV, the AMG G63.

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Want a Good Vacation? Go to a Motor Lodge in Saratoga

There’s a stretch of Seattle’s State Route 99 — Aurora Avenue — that passes by a sprinkling of seedy motels rotting on the roadside before the bridge takes flight over Lake Union, where it climbs to a height of 167 feet, an elevation which aids in its notorious accolade of being the second most popular spot for suicide jumpers in the USA (230, since construction in 1931). One motel, when I lived in Seattle, threw a party before demolition crews rolled in and knocked the place down. The raucous fiesta was a mix of grunge and garbage and art and decay, and it made, in some weird light, the motel seem glamorous while doomed. That appeal isn’t lost on my generation — the Millennials — and the motel or motor lodge holds some vestige of lure for those who were never subject to the worst of its woes.

The Brentwood Hotel represents a much brighter fate for the motel, thanks to a collection of four Brooklyn-based designers working as the design firm Studio Tack. Situated on one corner of the Saratoga Race Course, Studio Tack purchased the dilapidated Brentwood Motel over the summer, completed renovations in the fall, and opened again as the Brentwood Hotel this winter. The 12-room lodge still holds the charms of a motel — direct access from car to room, a crunchy, gravel motor courtyard, and a long, single-story L-shaped structure with an A-frame roof. But, the refresh now allows for modern amenities, like Máquina coffee in the mornings, unstained Italian cotton sheets, shiny brass bathroom components and speedy wi-fi.

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A Perfect Winter Cabin Weekender

It’s a quick escape: slip from the office on Friday and just drive. In NYC, it’s a quick trip to the Hudson Valley or the Catskills. S.F., you’re headed to Tahoe. L.A., you’re climbing to Big Bear or taking the long haul to Mammoth. Pack for the outdoor elements, but don’t forget the indoor ones. And remember, you’re not flying and there’s no TSA here. Bring a few bottles of wine, a quality Scotch, a good long read and, as soon as you get to the cabin, dive into weekend relaxation with a calm and clear mind.

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10 Things Right and 5 Things Wrong About the Apple Pencil

I hate to bash a beautiful thing, but sometimes, you know, your hopes and dreams don’t pan out exactly perfectly, and when your employer just so happens to be paying you to think critically about the products entering the marketplace, especially from notable juggernauts like those based in Silicon Valley (ahem, Apple), you start to itch to take some of those critical energies to the page. So, as much as I love — deep in my heart, truly — the Pencil experience, there are some downsides. Let’s do the good before bad.

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Is the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro Actually Worth It?

There are times you know you don’t need something but you want it anyway. Lust, we call it, and it’s our most bedeviling vice. Apple — an arbiter of plush pragmatism, in most cases — doesn’t always tap into the lusty side of our tech-souls, but more recently they’ve dabbled (hello, Hermés Watch). The Touch Bar is exactly one such offering, and it’s held at a carrot stick’s distance away from a justifiable purchase. For everything I do, I don’t need the Touch Bar. I also don’t need the extra processor horsepower on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar version or its two bonus Thunderbolt/USB-C ports. And I definitely don’t need to spend another $300 on a laptop where my most commonly used program is TextEdit. But damn do I want it.

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In 2017, It’s Time to Use a Tablet

In 2017, the personal computing device to buy isn’t a lightweight laptop, it’s a tablet. The switch happened in 2015 and 2016 — with the Microsoft Surface and Lenovo Yoga Book reaching full proficiency and the iPad Pro coming to market. But in 2017, the tech-savvy and the everyman should grab those thin slates and aspire to full tablet integration.

For the past month, I’ve played with four different computing sources: a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iPad 2. I’m entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem, and operating inside Apple was my best shot at converting to tablet in the hours outside of the office. And, eventually, I did. But it took more than a week (or two).

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This Year, Shave Better with a Safety Razor

Claim: There is a better way to shave than with a cartridge razor. After testing out a safety razor for the past two months, I can say with great confidence: there is a better way to shave. Now that that’s established, let’s get exegetical.

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A Levelheaded Look to CES 2017

A hot air front is forecast to rise from Las Vegas in the next 72 hours. It’s CES season, the biggest stink in the consumer tech industry not run by Google or Apple. For the next three days, the world will appear on the brink of Westworld-ian potential, and for all the glory of the initial hype, there’s plenty of products that won’t ever leave the prototype phase. To help you split the chaff from the real grain, here’s what’s relevant to the everyman at CES 2017.

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A Better Tortilla Soup, Perfect for Cold Days

Bin 707 Foodbar is the culinary center of Colorado’s Western Slope, with a chef from the Front Range and a reputation that lures the urbanites of Denver. Industrial-designer-turned-restaurateur Josh Niernberg, along with his wife Jodi, works with local farmers and winemakers to bring the region an unconventional — in the best possible way — restaurant.

Where the coasts and cities of the US have worn thin phrases like “farm to table” and “seasonal cuisine,” that ink is still fresh on the menu of high desert destinations. Niernberg, working with farmers like Scott and Jessica Washkowiak of Field to Fork — an organic CSA selling orchard fruits and annual fruits and vegetables — is slowly, steadily educating diners and lifting the region’s cuisine. Bin 707 Foodbar, for now, is an anomaly in the region and — if Niernberg’s aspirations pan out — a portent of what’s to come.

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The Perfect Sweaters and Shirts

Garments are triune: fabric, craftsmanship and design, together as one. Compromise an element, quality drops. Hit high notes on all three, find fashion holiness. These shirts and sweaters embody the trinity, pairing beautiful fabrics with precise craftsmanship in distinguished design. Just don’t be discouraged if it looks better on her.

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Mosaic’s Titanium RT-1d Bicycle

In the annals of sound financial advice, one key argument is to invest only in quality assets, so as to avoid replacements (a.k.a. duplicate purchases). For major goods, like cars, this mentality is easily adopted. But in the outdoors industry, the desire for “the next best thing” often trumps the longview. A bike with 15 percent less drag? A pack with more capacity and less weight? Shoes with new laces? The instinct is to always upgrade.

For those with the means, today’s road bike marketplace rewards this habit. Each year turns out lighter, stiffer bikes, more advanced electronic shifting, and improved disc brakes. It’s all great, but it also — technologically speaking — becomes redundant. If the only thing a rider needs is a competent road bicycle with good feel and a bit of snap, those minor grams, slight aerodynamic increases and shifts in components won’t translate to life-shattering improvements. You’re better off sticking with something good, and ignoring the marketing frenzy.

This is the argument for the “forever bike” — a one-time purchase that’ll outlast its rider. If purchased today, one of the best prospects comes from Aaron Barcheck’s shop in Boulder, Colorado — the Mosaic RT-1d, a titanium performance road bike equipped with disc brakes and customizable to fit any contemporary groupset. Barcheck sent an RT-1d to me a few months back, and — if it wasn’t obvious from appearances, with the raw titanium finish, Rolf Prima wheels, Enve fork, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components and Chris King Headset — the bike proved, after a good thousand miles, that it is a machine to retire with.

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In the Wake of Colombia’s Vote Against Peace, One Filmmaker’s Documentary on Displacement

Bogotá’s economic disparity spreads from the southeast side of the city like a rash, climbing up the hillside of Ciudad Bolívar. The higher you go, the more primitive — and desperate — life is. This is where the victims of Colombia’s displacement gather — the peasants, indigenous groups, Afro-Colombians. A short bus ride from the polished glass of Bogotá’s financial district and the serpentine affluent neighborhoods of the Andean foothills, it stands as a stark statement of a country entrenched in dichotomy. Juan Mejia Botero, a documentary filmmaker born in Bogotá, has spent the last decade of his life recording the stories of the marginalized and voiceless of the capital city.

Mejia is the founder and social documentary director for the production company Human Pictures. He started his work on The Battle for Land in the slums of Bogotá in 2002, partnering with AFRODES, the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians. The film, shot between 2008 and 2012 and expected to be released in 2016, follows people fleeing the lands of Colombia’s Pacific coast to slums like Bogotá’s Ciudad Bolívar and the neighboring Altos de Cazucá in Soacha. Mejia believes that before the world jumps to the conclusion that Colombia is now a glimmering, reborn nation, there needs to be a straightforward look at the reality of many of its impoverished citizens — those living on the periphery of the urban and rural areas as well as the periphery of Colombia’s conscience.

“I love Colombia, and Colombia is a very beautiful country, and I’m very happy that people are seeing that,” Mejia said. “And I’m happy that people are coming, and I’m happy that we are shedding our Pablo Escobar skin. But the fact of the matter is, there are two Colombias.”

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The Finest Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia

Colombian architect Santiago Medina Mejia built the stately Casa Medina as an apartment building, using materials salvaged from the relocation of two colonial convents in Bogotá — San Agustin and Santo Domingo. Stone columns, wood flooring and hand-carved doors arrived on the job site and were placed alongside wrought-iron railings and stained glass. Medina built the house with nooks, narrow hallways and hidden staircases that gracefully eschew the grand logic of modern buildings. The ceilings are low. The floors creak. Each of the 62 rooms — including those in the newly built wing — is unique. The Four Seasons, which took over the property in 2015, has outfitted these dwellings with the luxuries of modern life, but the character of the balconies, the small windows, the curve of the hand-carved wooden banisters, remains.

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A Luxury Sedan That Won’t Break the Bank

Inside Pocantico Hills are the lush green expanses of Rockefeller land, acres preserved and/or donated by the oil baron’s trust. At the tenderloin lies the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a bucolic organic farm practicing four-season agriculture. The foundation converted the dairy barns, which date back to the 1930s, into an education center and, notably, the three-star (New York Times) restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Dan Barber. And it’s here that I recently steered Lincoln’s reasonably priced luxury cruiser, the MKZ, over the winding roads.

Pairing restaurants with cars isn’t a conventional pastime, but I’ve done it more than once. The last time I rolled up these paths, I helmed the Bentley Flying Spur, a British cruiser that chalks up a $250,000+ price tag. That day, I stopped in for a short respite, not to dine. I did not valet the car, much to the attendant’s disappointment. This time, leaving the MKZ at the stand, ready for a meal hosted by the car’s maker, the valet had the good pleasure of driving a notable vehicle — in its respective class.

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The Best of Eurobike 2016

Last year, I spent three days carousing around Eurobike (the world’s largest bike show) like a coffee/currywurst/hefeweizen zombie. I rode a single-speed approximately 15 miles each way, through hilly hops fields and apple orchards, and I slept in a triangular-shaped room the size of my closet. And though I felt very at one with the bike world at the end of it all, I had no qualms about sitting out this year’s carnival.

Instead, I bring you the best of Eurobike, per Eurobike’s press page and all the wonderful coverage coming from the endemic bike media (thanks for enduring the Zeppelin hangars, Bike Radar, Bicycling, Pink Bike and all you other currywurst lovers). There’s tidings of great news and great gear, and here’s some of the most exciting stuff thus far.

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A Talk with the Greatest Colombian Cyclist EVER

A hundred miles northeast of Bogotá, in the high-altitude department of Boyacá, is the village of Cómbita, birthplace of the greatest Latin American cyclist ever, Nairo Quintana. This land of winding roads sits at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet, and those roads climb even higher into the Andes. It is, as Quintana says, the incubator for Colombia’s top cyclists.

Quintana started riding a mountain bike to school as an 11-year-old. Then, in his teens, he competed in local and regional road races, before rising through the amateur ranks and onto the professional stage. As a racer for Movistar Team, in 2013 and 2015 he finished second at the Tour de France, and in 2014, he became the first Latin American to win the Giro D’Italia. Today, Quintana is widely viewed as one of the top cyclists in the world. The other top riders, including Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador, are 30, 31 and 33 respectively. Quintana is 26.

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