Soon, it will also be available in physical form.
I’m not very outdoors-y nor in the greatest of shape, but I had a blast going for a winter ride on an electric fatbike — that is, a fat-tire winter bicycle that has been outfitted with an electric motor for greater propulsion and an added thrill.
The electric fatbike I tested is the product of Defiant Bicycles, a St. Paul company.
I wrote about Defiant here.
I shot and edited the video above to go with my story. I recorded some of the footage with a GoPro camera on my bicycle helmet, and I shot the rest with a Sony Handycam.
I appeared on the TWiT podcasting network’s new Tech News 2night show to discuss one of the day’s most interesting tech developments: A knockoff of the famed Nest thermostat, created in less than a day with off-the-shelf materials and components.
My wife wears the toolbelt in our household, so she is the one who enjoys spending time in one of the places I most dread: the hardware store.
Her favorite? Without a doubt, it’s Seven Corners Hardware in downtown St. Paul, even though the big-box emporiums like Lowe’s, Menards and Home Depot are bigger and flashier.
Seven Corners, according to my wife, offers something the others often do not: staffers who know what the frack they’re talking about, and can expertly guide her through tool-and-supply purchases for her home-remodeling projects.
Seven Corners’ intricate, tightly packed inventory is amazing, too. Though selection at big boxes is potentially greater, I lost count of the times my wife found some weird doodad or widget at Seven Corners that no other hardware store had.
My wife became such a fixture at Seven Corners that, years ago, for her birthday, I had all the retail staffers sign a card to go with a power drill (purchased at Seven Corners, natch) she uses to this day.
Our son became a bit of a celebrity at Seven Corners as the workers saw him grow from a baby to a toddler to a schoolchild — all while we lived in a downtown high-rise condo just a few blocks away.
My wife’s visits petered out a bit when we moved out to a residential neighborhood, but the guys never forgot about my kid (now in high school), and always ask about him. Lyle Kuehn, the bearded, Santa-like dude seen in the pictures and video here, is the one I’ll remember the most.
Though I’m not crazy about Seven Corners (sorry, guys, I just don’t like hardware stores), I like those Seven Corners workers very much. I admire how they have the locations of every screw, glue and such in the jam-packed two-story facility hardwired into their cerebral cortices, and make a beeline for it upon request.
I’m enchanted by how they eschew digital-age transaction-processing tech to fill out their purchase invoices by hand and calculate the totals on a physical calculator. Though this has dismayed me a smidgen given my role as a technology writer and cheerleader, and tested my patience when I’m in a hurry, I’ve never said a word about this — and I’ve never wanted the guys to change a thing.
I’m heartbroken for them now.
Seven Corners management has announced it is shuttering the store and selling the property to a big private developer. It’s the end of a local, and national, institution. The store’s printed catalogs are legend.
So, for generations of St. Paulites, are those store guys.
They were the first thought in wife’s head when I told her Seven Corners Hardware would be no more. “What will happen to them?” she said. “And who will help me with my projects? The people at those other places are hopeless.”
This is not progress, for all the modernity of Lowe’s and its ilk. This is a tragedy.
Photos here by John Doman of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. See more of his Seven Corners photos here. Video by John Brewer of the Pioneer Press.
In the five-seconds-of-fame, blink-and-you-missed department, my homely mug recently appeared ever-so-briefly in Times Square.
That’s a PR Newswire electronic billboard in the Big Apple. Above it is another billboard explaining why New Yorkers were being subjected to my likeness.
That Twitter chat occurred shortly thereafter. You can read the recap here.
So much for my name in lights.
Here’s a larger, uncropped version of the photo: