Time Travel - Wonderful Objects

by Wendy Purdy

What if you could join Doctor Who, Marty McFly and almost every Star Trek character and travel through time? Stephen's new Wonderful Objects box attempts to answer that question. This quarterly subscription box offers a new "imaginative" experience each time it arrives. We were all amazed at the level of detail included in this box. Check it out....

Asian New Year - Boxed Wingman Jan. 2017

by Wendy Purdy

Stephen found a really fun box subscription: Boxed Wingman. This box markets itself as a "date night" type box, but he just wanted to try the fun activities. I doubt we will ever use it as an actual "date night" activity. His first box featured items to help celebrate the Asian New Year. As soon as the weather clears a little....I really want to launch the sky lanterns out there on the parade field. Maybe I'll even bust into a little tune from "Tangled"....

Mythical Loot Gaming - November 2016

by Wendy Purdy

Once again, Stephen delegated his box opening duties to another member of the family. This time, Taylor opens the November Loot Gaming box. The Mythical theme revealed an assortment of items from such properties as Dragon Age, Castlevania and Assassins Creed. I'm not much of a computer gamer (The Sims and Tropico are about it for me), but Stephen and Taylor seemed to enjoy the box.

Magical Loot Crate - November 2016

by Wendy Purdy

Stephen decided to hand over his Loot Crate box opening duties to Holly for the November installment. Since the box theme was "magical," she decided to use her newly acquired wand to summon the items from a mystery figure behind the couch. Enjoy watching items from the Marvel Universe, the Wizarding World and others appear before your very eyes.

Wizarding World Loot Crate

by Wendy Purdy

My goodness, my husband just can't resist these special edition-type Loot Crates. Of course, this one will arrive once every two months. We might collect enough stuff to open our own school! We already loaded up on a bunch of Hogwarts paraphernalia at Universal Studios Hollywood last month.

Speed Loot Crate - Sept. 2016

by Wendy Purdy

The September Loot Crate featured items designed to fulfill your "need for speed." We were familiar with all the properties this month, which included IronMan, Battlestar Galactica, Flash and Batman. As an added bonus, Stephen and I actually appear in an unboxing video together, a first-time PurdyCool event!

Futuristic - July 2016 Loot Crate DX

by Wendy Purdy

"The future is now...." Or, at least, the July 2016 Loot Crate DX made us think about all the wonderful (or maybe not so wonderful) possibilities that face us as we march through the upcoming years. Poor Stephen...he quickly lost claim to one of the items. Sorry, but anything Star Trek belongs to me!!

Savage Jerky - July 2016 Carnivore Club

by Wendy Purdy

Each year when Stephen's birthday rolls around, I'm faced with a dilemma. He has a "wish list," but right now it is full of items that are not reasonable purchases due to his current work schedule or our current domicile situation. So....what to do, what do do? I know!! Sign him up to receive a box of meat each month. Yes, a subscription to the Carnivore Club box was the right choice. Of course, when Stephen and Taylor discovered "ghost pepper" in the first box, a challenge was sure to follow....

Loot Crate DX for June 2016: Dystopia

by Wendy Purdy

Once again, Stephen elected to receive the upscale Loot Crate DX box for the month of June. This box features the same theme as the regular monthly Loot Crate, but includes different items. For the Dystopia theme, this box included items from such franchises as Fallout, Bladerunner and Bioshock.

Dystopia - June 2016 Loot Crate

by Wendy Purdy

The June Loot Crate featured items from imaginary futures that have somehow gone very, very wrong. Prepare to welcome your machine overlords and nuclear shelters:

Of course, we missed the best part of the crate in the video. Stephen discovered Wendy's Trektastic outfit photo in the informational magazine included in the crate.

May Loot Crate - Power !!

by Wendy Purdy

Stephen and the girls open the May Loot Crate and find it full of powerful items!! Although we are not really familiar with a couple of the franchises, they items were fun. In fact, we now have something to hold when we yell, "Hulk Smash!!!"

April Loot Crate - Quest!!

by Wendy Purdy

From the Knights of the Round Table searching for the Holy Grail to Indiana Jones seeking the Lost Ark (and, well, the Holy Grail), quests are a reliable staple of the storytelling repertoire. This month's Loot Crate celebrated this genre with a box featuring items from movies, games and history. Sadly, we realized after we perused the Loot Crate magazine that we were missing one of the box items. Hopefully, we will find a way to obtain said item...because who doesn't want to drink a refreshing beverage from a Viking drinking horn?

March Loot Crate - Versus!!

The PurdyCool gang loved the March 2016 Loot Crate....the "Versus" theme allowed a wide variety of properties to appear in the box. Poor Stephen...I'm not sure how many of the items he managed to retain by the end.

Our latest monthly subscription - Blue Bottle Coffee

So with the acquisition of some Christmas money, the search began for another monthly subscription box.  They are good options because instead of buying just one thing, you buy a monthly subscription and then Christmas comes each month!  I thought in this case I would try something a bit different, so I went for a coffee monthly subscription.  To look at the options, I used the blog Ramblings of a Suburban Mom List, as well as some suggestions from a tech news podcast I listen to (Daily Tech News Show by Tom Merritt).  His picks for coffee are the MistoBox and BlueBottle.  After looking at everything, I chose Blue Bottle.

Blue Bottle allows you to pick half a bag, full bag, two bags and three bags as subscriptions (or you can order single items of course).  The price is not bad ($14 per 12oz bag for the one bag option).  At the grocery store I'll spot good quality 12oz bags of coffee beans at around $9 to $12.  So $14 is not bad for fresh beans (mine were roasted on January 11, 2016 and received a few days later).  I also opted for the two bag option which resulted in slightly cheaper $13 per bag price.

The coffee delivered this month is Bella Donovan.  I found it to be a light smooth coffee with a good smell and taste to it.  The bags actually have internal zips so they are incredibly easy to close and seal.  They also included a nice card with picture and description of the month's coffee.  Overall I think a good deal for both money and quality.  Good job Blue Bottle!

Fallout 4 Loot Crate Limited Edition Unboxing!

Excitement!  The Fallout 4 LootCrate Limited Edition arrived, and we think it's one of the best.  If you're a fan of the Fallout game universe, you would like these items and the unboxing.  Take a look as Stephen unboxes his Christmas presents!


A special Christmas Edition of PurdyCool.com. We received the Fallout4 Loot Crate Limited Edition a few days ago at the PurdyCool grandparents house. So we had fun and opened it as part of Christmas. Stephen indicates this is an outstanding box and probably ties for his favorite with the Doctor Who Limited Edition Box (mostly because he gets to keep more of this one!).

Another AP Study on the Electric Grid - Weather Effects

The AP seems to have great interest in the electric grid lately.  There have been various stories recently and some investigations done by their teams.  I highlighted one here earlier on purdycool.com.  Another is located here (reported by WTOP).  The AP analysis unsurprisingly showed weather as the leading cause of electrical outages.  That's not too surprising when you think of weather effects - snow, ice, fires, heavy winds/rains, tornados, hurricanes, etc.  It does indicate that the number of incidents has increased over the past decade with spikes in 2008 and 2011.  The spikes are likely outliers due to heavy weather events, but the trend is certainly interesting.  Without treading into the global warming/climate change debate, it is interesting to note the data increase.  They don't go into a discussion of why the recent increase, so the cause could be related to various things (like increased surface area of electric grid locations as suburban sprawl increases in various areas).  What's also interesting is that companies are spending billions to upgrade the systems to better weather-proof.  That's real money.

A recent roundup of electric grid/cyber stories

Since doing a study of the security of the U.S. electric grid, (and developing a strategy toward managing the same) at National War College, I continue to take a passing interest in electric grid and infrastructure security issues.  It's not an area I have actual expertise in, but after about a year of studying the topic, I have enough knowledge to understand some of the basic issues.  Many people are still in a vigorous debate about the subject - some thinking the grid is close to collapse/infiltration/destruction, and some thinking the entire topic is overblown and not a real issue.  Part of the issue centers around the impact - e.g. if cascading effects of a shut down in one location can quickly take down (long term) significant parts of the U.S. grid.  If you believe that, then several studies show how much modern society depends on the gird, and how bad it could get.  But that cascade part is a key pivot point.

Having said that, here's some of the recent articles.  One directly related to electric grid, and one of interest tangentially related:

- An AP investigation revealing the electric grid is vulnerable to "hacks".  Here's the KFI 640AM story here.  It's a nice long in-depth look at the subject.  The BLUF or tl;dr version: quite a bit of cyber attacks going on, nobody really wants to talk about it due to the sensitive nature, and it's all hard to trace and even harder to stop due to old electrical grid equipment that was never designed in the Internet age.

- A WIRED article about how the CIA does it's cyber data protection.  Located here.  The BLUF or tl;dr version: the CIA treats data using a "triad" of three components: confidentiality, integrity and availability.  Confidentiality - keeping the secrets (countered by espionage). Integrity - analyzing if you're software/critical data is infected with virus/trojans/bugs.  Availability - keeping services running (countered by denial of service/data deletion).