Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The New To Us Excalibur

We have a new toy in the T kitchen.    We have dabbled for some years with raw foodism.  We did a challenge about five or so years ago and ate all raw for a few months. While we did resume eating cooked food, there have been elements of raw foods that we've kept.  Salad dressings, salad "recipes" (basically, good ways to put together a salad), green smoothies, and kale chips.

 Ooooh, the kale chips!    I have tried them in the oven, but nothing beats the perfection of the kale chip out of the dehydrator. It takes a while, yes, but it is crisp level ideal.

 We've been using a basic round dehydrator all this time, one of the ones from a major store.  It's been ok-ish.  All our food had to be parceled into small portions, and everything had a hole in the middle.  

When M started dehydrating meat to make himself protein snacks, it was clear that something had to change. The small dehydrator was simply maxed out.    The king of the dehydrator world is the Exaclibur. It's basically a big, frankly ugly box, but it's got square trays. That means more space for food and no weird holes.

So we decided to use the Wishlist feature at our bank to start saving up.   A chance check of Craigslist showed me someone nearby who was selling her 9 tray with a timer... Basically, exactly what I was saving up for, and about half the price I'd pay for new, plus it had the accessory of the nonstick liner sheets.

We grabbed our saved cash, chortled with glee, and booked to the back parking lot of a rural Denny's where two nice church ladies did a cash deal out of our back seats like really crunchy granola drug dealers.  On the bright side, the sort of person who is selling a fancy dehydrator is probably a lot safer than the sort of person selling, say, puppies on Craigslist. Still, we both brought our husbands, I guess in case the deal went south and we needed to fight our way out using stocks made of flax seeds and shivs from celery sticks.

 So far, we has discovered the Dehydrator is worth the money we paid.  It's drying things more consistently and better and faster than our round one.  We have made a lot of fruit snacks and he's made more meat snacks.  I'm excited because tonight, I'm trying dehydrator bread.  That's basically raw 'bread' made from flaxseed meal, veggies, and spices.  I've had it before and it comes out pretty neat, similar to a flat bread.  It's really filling, and it was a nice alternative to bread bread if you are watching your carb load.  I just liked the taste.  What I didn't like was the labor.

The recipe I did tonight used to fill up my entire round dehydrator, but it was only two trays of the Excalibur. It was a LOT easier to spread and now I know why raw foodists took the time to make the recipes. They all used Excaliburs.  It's much easier to load than a smaller machine. If it tastes yummy like I remember, this recipe will likely make it into my regular rotations.    Here's the big downside.  This thing IS massive. 
I would not recommend this for a small space unless you use a dehydrator a LOT, like at least once a week.   I also strongly recommend paying cash for this puppy.  When you first start down the road of dehydrators, it's natural to get excited and to want the best.  I encourage you to think about getting the cheap, small, big box store round style one, and trying that for a few months first  once the glow wears off, you'll know more about whether you want to keep dehydrating things and you can start thinking bigger.

That's where the pay cash part comes in.  If you think you might want a big one like this, save up your cold, hard cash.  It's going to be inconvenient and if you save up all that cash and you still want it, you will know it is right for you.  In this case, delayed gratification will really benefit your decision making.   Even so, if I had a pantry with the space or a spare room, this would go out there and off my counter in a jiffy.  We use our dehydrator often enough to make it worth it... Barely. Our kitchen is SUPER DUPER TINY!!    So that's our new kitchen toy  I'll report back on 'bread' when it's done!

The bread: Do not make the mistake I did and make yourself a sandwich to take to work.  It had gone major soggy by the time lunch rolled around.  Bleh!  I think it would be better to take ingredients, and assemble the sandwich on site.  I might also dehydrate the bread a little more.  I left it pliable.  But I haven't really had the chance to eat much of it!

On the bright side, the Excalibur makes the once-arduous process super simple.  I just spread the batter on a sheet and smoothed it out.  A few hours later, I flipped it onto a plain tray and peeled off the nonstick sheet.  Couldn't be easier.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Layering for a Cold Weather Bike Commute

I am playing a game called Freezing Saddles, where teams compete to see who bike commutes more throughout the winter.  It's definitely been helping me get out on the bike a lot more this winter.  Just today, I rode home via a new route- more hills, more miles.  It was pretty cold to start, so I was grateful for my layers.  I rode with all my layers to start, and shucked the top one off about halfway through.

When I checked Strava later, I learned that the first half of the ride is pretty much all downhill, and all the climbing was in the second half!  So I really did work harder.

As I've mentioned before, this is the Year Of Everything I Own Wearing Out.  My old layers are disintegrating (after anywhere from 5 to 14 years).  I mean, I have jackets and shoes that I've had since junior year of college.  I am not kidding when I say I hate to shop.

I started replacing layers in October.  One of my biggest needs, period, was a really warm coat for the winter.  All last year, I typically wore two coats.  I wanted one, warm, commute friendly coat.  I'm still not sure I found the perfect one yet.  I wanted something that worked for biking and for standing around at a bus stop so I could keep my commuting options wide open.

I wanted a 3-in-1 type coat, and I wanted it to cover my butt.  That shouldn't have been so hard, right?

I learned a very important lesson over three damp, drafty months.  When you buy a 3-in-1jacket, you are typically buying a ski jacket and the salespeople are thinking "SKIING".  They are going to fit you with room to layer up for downhill skiing.  They aren't thinking of bike commutes in DC, where I found that even in the coldest weather, I needed to layer far less than I thought.

I ended up buying an Alpine Alliance, size large...  and changing it for a medium last week.  This jacket really breaks in a lot, and once the newness and stiffness wears off, it feels a lot more roomy.  What was snug-almost-tight a week ago is now perfectly snug-and-cozy.  (The large had become loose and drafty and I was not happy.)  Ultimately, I'd prefer if it were about 4 inches longer (cover-the-bum territory, to make standing around a little warmer), but I can live with this for now.  I mean, it DOES have pit zips and built-in thumbholes, and I'll be able to use this for snowshoeing, so there's that.

I still need to replace my rain pants, which blew out earlier this season.

Every bike commuter is different and it WILL take you trial-and-error to figure out what works for you.  For my 4 miles-ish commute, I prefer to wear my regular clothes. I roll my sweater and sometimes my nice shirt up and slide it into my bag.  I usually commute in a plain tee.  I've found this works even on the coldest days.  Your mileage may vary; many ladies prefer to change once they arrive.  You do you!

I recently added a tube scarf- keeping my nose warm turned out to be a big deal.  I snagged one from Lululemon.  I was very hesitant to shop at that company, but they did have a good scarf with an elastic top.  It felt more snug than other options.  I also got a TurtleFur brand scarf/balaclava, but loaned it to M and he promptly adopted it.  So I'm going to have to go get another one!

Lobster gloves help keep my fingers warm.  Mine are at least 10 years old and I will cry so hard when they die.  (Probably next week, at the rate I'm going!)  Pro tip- a male commuter says he uses "shooting mitts" for his commutes.  He brakes with one finger.  If this is you, then check for "shooting mitts" to get that split finger thing.  I have reflective straps to go around my jeans cuffs.  I just wear regular shoes, mostly, but sometimes boots in icky weather.

I have a nice skullcap (Pearl Izumi), though my new windproof ear warmer from Outdoor Research has become my new favorite- I don't like a lot of bulk under my helmet and I have a TON of hair to keep me warm, so really, it's just about keeping the ears toasty.  The windproof thing is a miracle.

Finally, I found that plain safety goggles from Ames Hardware (about $10) do the trick nicely.  I have already lost one pair (I think they bounced out of my pannier as I was packing things up to jump on the train) and losing those hurts a lot less than losing my fancy glasses.  I'll keep my fancy ones for road riding.

So that's how I'm layering up for outdoor commutes.  I've got the routine down so getting dressed doesn't take me anymore time than grabbing keys and getting the car.  If I ride hard, it's about 25 minutes door to door, but I like to take my time and noodle through the nice neighborhoods and obey traffic laws, so it's usually more like 30-35.  This actually isn't that much more time than driving, and a little less than the train/bus combos, and I never get stuck in traffic.  So overall, I'm avoiding my major pet peeve.

Finally, the big caveat: I won't ride in pouring rain, driving snow, or icy conditions.  I've had a few bad falls and I'm not eager for a repeat trip to the ER.  And while I now have gear for those conditions, I am just not into suffering for suffering's sake.  If it's pouring rain, I'm using my bus app to tell me when the bus is coming, and I'm jumping on the bus where it's warm and I can chill and read the paper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bike Commuting Through the Winter

Since I mostly use this just as a training journal and haven't been trying to reach out to lots of (or any) folks, I've been ignoring this blog off and on.  This post has been sitting in drafts for a month!

But I've still been on the bike.

Namely, I've been on my folder bike, Zelda, the Tern Link.  (Get it?)  Zelda is a fabulous little commuter.  I've thrown it on the metro more times than I can count- if the weather has turned nasty or if it's gotten darker than I'd intended to bike home in or if I'm just tired.  I've discovered some extra routes.  In good weather, it takes me about 25 minutes door to door.

I'm even learning the tricks of the keeping-warm trade, and my apartment just gave me a special key fob so I could get in through the upper garage door (and not carry my bike across the lobby all the time anymore).  I'm still working out the kinks- my three-layered ski jacket is definitely not the ideal bike jacket*.

Anyway, I've been riding in SNOW and ICE and SLUSH these past few days.  DC got socked with Snowzilla, a megastorm that raged for about 36 hours and dropped a lot of the white stuff upon us.  Minnesotans are making fun of us, but I support our weather wimpiness.  I moved here for a reason.  One of those reasons being I'm a weather wimp and I don't like snow.  The less of it the better.

Riding in snow and ice has been new to me.  Several Facebook friends have been calling me brave, intrepid, or stalwart.

All lies.  I am none of those.  What I am is stubborn and slightly competitive.  I signed up to play a game called Freezing Saddles.  My team is Team 11, and for every day I ride at least 1 mile, my team gets 10 points.  All that adds up.  I freely admit that I would probably not be riding in this weather if it were not for the fact that last week I was 12th out of 12 people on my team for consistency (I'd had a lot of night meetings and wimp days, ok? Don't judge.) and I felt bad.

When I am riding in the snow, I suppose I should feel free like a little birdie.

I do not.

I may feel a little smug, like last night when I jumped off the road and onto the sidewalk, and beat the bus home.  Or like when I rode past all the traffic backed up from Tenleytown past Chevy Chase because people in Maryland live under a government that doesn't know how to plow roads and everyone there has lost their mind and become infected by rage monsters who dwell in their car horns.  (Seriously, folks, stop with the honking.)

But I certainly do not feel brave.  In fact, what I've felt has been a mixture of anxiety, sheer terror, and occasional moments of irritation.  The irritation and flashes of rage are mostly reserved for taxi drivers.  They are the WORST for bullying cyclists for space.

I've had a number of interesting conversations with my Inner Anxiety Voice.  My inner Anxiety is totally the BFF of the Fear Emotion, and if she were an inside character, she'd be tall, cute, and curvy with a loudmouth- basically, imagine that Fear and Disgust had a little Anxiety baby.

Our conversations go like this:

"Oh, look at that ice. You are going to die. See that ice? You'll die there too. Oh, yes, and that ice there? The second you put down your foot, you are going to DIE HORRIBLY RIGHT THERE!! I bet you think you remember how to ride a bike"

"Oh, no," says Anxiety Voice, "You cannot ride a bike. Don't you think you'll tip over on this narrow snowblowed sidewalk section with fluffy snow on both sides? You will so tip over. And then die." I desperately seek out reasonably dry sections of pavement on which I brake slowly, slowly as if I were carrying a cargo of crystal goblets and babies, and put my foot down, praying that said foot will be firmly planted below me, instead of sliding out and away from me.  
"Ah," says Anxiety Voice, "Open road!  What a great place to die.  That area has to be covered with black ice.  And of course that's not just slush.  That's a solid SHEET OF ICE upon which you can die.  Yay, crashing!"  

It's been fun.  

I did pretty good through some of the worst snow, although sometimes I still "wimp out" and opt for other forms of transit.  

Every day, I conquer a little bit more of the anxiety birdie.  

*the ski jacket dilemma may have been resolved.  In frustration, I took it back to REI and had a conversation with a salesperson who, out of all the salespeople, concurred that maybe I was in the wrong size.  So I sized down to a medium, and lo-and-behold, a lot of the problems disappeared.  I'm not getting rainy or drafty spots in my shoulders (because water and wind can't go down my neck) and I'm not getting drafts from below (because it's snug enough).  So let that be a lesson to you.  Wear the right size of coat, y'all!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Update to Lent

This year, I thought I'd give up Facebook for Lent, like I did last year.  That was actually helpful as it showed me how much Facebook had consumed my life, and how much I was curating my life to be palatable to a plethora of work friends... many of whom I had not met in person, but who were just associated through work fields.

I realized how much I didn't like that.  And I decided to eliminate work use from Facebook and to use it only for fun, so I could be myself with friends and family.  I kept only those friends I wanted to actually know in real life.  Every now and then, I go through my lists to be sure I am only Facebook friends with people I'd actually go out to coffee with.

This year, I decided to take a short sabbath from Facebook.  I took 10 days, though I realized from the start I wouldn't take the whole Lent period off.

I did need some time to think about what I'd DO for Lent.

I finally decided that a discipline that would be a little more painful this year would be no-Buzzfeed reading.  That's my biggest time waster now.

I think a discipline should take us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we related to other people and the Great Above.  Buzzfeed is, perhaps, the ultimate form of naval-gazing.  It rarely teaches me anything new and usually wastes way too much time.

So no Buzzfeed.  That's my giving-up.

And my taking-on?  I'm going to try and get an article published in a forum that is not a clergy one.  It'll require me to network and branch out from my comfort zone, and to discipline myself to work when I would otherwise be scrolling bug-eyed through the entire Internet.

I'll write more later about how that will help me understand more about myself and others.  But right now I have to go change for work.  I was going to hit the gym before work, but I realized I have time later to get to a class I've been wanting to try, so I'm going to go later instead!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Ouch! Impatient Sewer Suffers for Art

After the dramatic, midday purchase of my new jeans (maybe I should go back for another pair of the skinny flares? Those things are amazing.), I was left with one chore: hemming. Women's jeans don't come in lengths so most women have to hem jeans. Luckily, I only have to hem an inch or two.    I've learned the hard way that this is best accomplished by cutting off the original hem right at the top of the original hemline, and rolling a new hem from that cut. I will confess that I did get lazy on the second pair and just fold up the original hem and sew.    That's my problem with sewing. I don't have a lot of patience for the finicky stuff.    I did decide, though, that I'd like to try my hand at one of those skirts made from jeans. I took the old worn out jeans and started in on the project     Lessons learned: 1) seam ripping jeans is a PITA.  It took forever. I had good jeans so there were about eleventy billion stitches to rip.  It's why the seat blew out before the seams did. 2) I should have ripped further. The skirt came out tidy when flat, but on me, there's a weird bell of extra fabric in the front. I considered making a box pleat but it would be too bulky. So I'll have to rip it out, rip further, and re-sew it. Not today though, because I got frustrated.  3) denim fabric is thick. Even with the special needle and adjusted tension, I had to go really slow or my threads would loop weirdly on the backside.  Going slow always fixed that problem.    But here's the best part. (The squeamish should just stop.). I sustained an impressive sewing machine injury. Don't worry, no wound pictures here, but I do have a shot of my bandaged finger.  Somehow as I was guiding the damn skirt through the damn machine, I must have gotten distracted for two split seconds. The machine, sensing that moment of weakness, took the opportunity to grab my finger and run over, nay, impale my finger with its large speciality denim needle. Running thick speciality denim thread.   For the record, when that happens, apparently the fail safe is that the thread breaks, and so does the needle.  The needle, specifically, breaks in half.   In your finger. Specifically, impaled through the edge of your finger right next to the nail, coming out the other side.  That's right folks.  We had actuall entry AND exit wound. Ouch.  You remember that scene in the Walking Dead, where Darren is alone and hallucinating about his brother and he accidentally gets an arrow through his side, and he pulls it through his body?  It was like that, dozens of times smaller and with a needle.   There was blood spurtage.  But on the bright side, it didn't hurt too much. Much less than the time I fell On a fence and split my nail, and much less than a burn. And with my husband's recent surgery, we had plenty of steri-strips still in the house.  So I staunched the wound, applied the ointment, steri-stripped that sucker, poured me a glass of wine because that's what BAMFs so when impaled...  
  Re-threaded that machine and replaced the needle.... And finished my little job.   Still don't like sewing.   

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Year of Everything Wearing Out: Pants Episode

The Year of Everything I Own Wearing Out: The Struggle is Real: The Episode of the Pants.    I really hate shopping for any kind of pants.

I have typical athlete quads, meaning that my thighs are disproportionately large compared to my waist and hips.  Once, at a fancy jeans store where the cheapest pair rang up at $200, I kept going up in size until I found something that fit my quads.  Somewhere in the high 40s, I finally got the pants over my legs... Leaving the top flapping around my body in a puddle of fabric.

"We have a tailor on site", the skinny toothpick of a salesperson said.    


 That's pretty much my life in pants.  So I hate shopping for them.

It took me over three years to find a pair of skinny jeans that looks OK on me.  My thighs are the one body part I've never felt ashamed or apologetic about.  They are pretty much solid muscle. And I've used them to ride bikes up and down mountains, and to hike rock scrambles, and to run half marathons.    

 What have you done with yours, lately?  So I'm not upset about my power legs at all.    

 THis year, I thought it would be my older jeans that went first.  I only buy very dark washes, and after a few years, as they fade, they become Saturday jeans, and I buy a new pair of super dark washes to be my "nice jeans".  I still had a pair of dark wash jeans that were still dark enough to do duty for a casual office day.    

 I got into work and was simultaneously cooling down and warming up from my ride into work.  It was REALLLLLLY COLD today, in the 20's, so I wore my 3-in-1 ski jacket, with just a regular shirt underneath.  I find this is enough to keep me warm without overheating.  I also wore my Jockey Skimmies- a sort of no-padding, thigh-length, leotard-material short intended to be worn under skirts to give a little more coverage.  I discovered that they make a fantastic, not too hot second layer under jeans as well.

This is important, because they came in SUPER useful today!    

 At work, I have a plant.  It's a big green plant with a thick woody trunk and bright green leaves.  It doesn't need much watering and kind of thrives on neglect, which is great, because I"m a plant killer.  It's a little brittle, though.  I came in to work the other week and it had fallen over and part of it had snapped off.   I finally got around to getting a new pot and some dirt for it.  

 I went over to pick up the plant to take it downstairs to the Flower Guild room for repotting.  As I lifted it, the branch that had previously been snapped off (and was basically just sitting in dirt) tilted wildly in a different direction than the rest of the plant and me.

I stepped back for a lunge to counterbalance.... And the healthy part of the plant snapped and came crashing down on my head and spilling dirt over my couch!  

 Desperate to not fall squealing to the floor, I twisted and heard this "swichchchchch" sort of sound.     The sound of tearing.     The sound... Of this.      
Awkward, no?  
 That is, in fact, my jeans.  They just tore.  Tore open.  Right in that very awkward spot.  I mean, how the heck do jeans even TEAR there?  Did they snag on something?  What the heck, pants?  

 Remember those Skimmies?  Oh, yes.  Dark blue Skimmies really helps camouflage the fact that you have a gaping hole in your seat bottoms!    

 So instead of my to-do list, I had to hustle off to the store for Emergency Pants.  I dreaded that immensely.  I hoped this local thrift shop might have been open, but it wasn't yet open for the day, so I had to keep going all the way to Friendship Heights, a mixed open- and closed-air mall halfway between home and work.   

 There, I walked into a Gap.  I'm currently refusing to have anything to do with Levi's, which was once a stalwart of mine.  They are going through this stupid phase where they are making "skinny" commuter jeans for women, and a "wedgie" cut.  Men's commuters have a straight leg and fuller thigh.  But apparently we bike-commuting women should be toothpicks.  And someone thinks wedgies are a good look.    

 So Gap it was!  I can't remember when I last was in a Gap.  As it so happens, they were having a GIANT sale of many things, including jeans, in many washes, cuts, and fits.   To make it better, as I was trying on, a sales lady came over and said, "You know, I usually don't say anything unless asked, but you really should go down a size."  

 That's basically like asking me for my ID at a bar.  Take my money, you sweet, sweet, angel person.  

So I snagged two pairs, in slightly different cuts, but the same general idea.  I gravitate towards flares and boot cuts because they fit better over my muscular calves and they balance my muscular thighs.   At the register, it turned out they were on an even BIGGER sale.  So my new pants were on the sale-of-a-sale-of-a-sale.     I very nearly went back for a third pair.    

 For $30, I walked out with some pretty sturdy pants.     IT's not at all how I would have replaced my jeans if I'd had my druthers.  I would have gone online, hemmed, hawed, and read a million online reviews, and then gone to a store and tried on seventy dozen pairs, and then gone to the grocery where they have nice wine.   But for emergency pants, where I NEEDED PANTS NOW, it was a win!     And the nice sales lady even let me change into my new pants in the fitting room, after I let her in on what had happened to my current pair.      

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday has arrived, and with it, Lent. I said in my homily today that Lent has the potential to be more than just 46 days of New Years resolutions. Sometimes, people use Lent to make a new habit stick. One year, I gave up meat and that stuck for over 14 years. To this day, I tend to pick vegetarian options. Friends joke I do "Meaty Monday" instead of Meatless Monday.  Last year, I gave up Facebook, and it was an excellent choice.  FB had started to consume my life.  I spent hours trying to stay on top of my feed.  Giving it up for 46 days (remember, 40 days of Lent plus six Sunday feast days. I just find it easier to keep the fast without breaks.) was so good.  I got outside more.  I felt happier. I got done with stuff on time.  When I turned it back on, I took the drastic step of no longer using it for work.  I dropped all my work "friends", keeping only real friends who met the criteria of "would sit down and have coffee with them".  Some of them, I met through work.  But overall Facebook became much more manageable.   This year, I opted to take at least a few weeks off, since I notice how absently I've been reaching for my phone. In the dark cold days, or on days when I commute via transit, I've been goofing off in Facebook to the exclusion of noticing what's going on around me.  I don't enjoy that feeling so I decided to take a few weeks off.    But really, this year, my jagged edge is around my work-life balance. I spent so many years working so many extra hours that I'm a little at a loss for a part time schedule.  I tried a retail job. It was relaxing, but its demanding times coincided with my actual job's demanding times.  I don't mind work, but I didn't want to work evening shifts.   I want to find something to do that is fun, reasonably social, and fairly creative. I have some extra time to burn.  Maybe I should try launching as a freelance writer.  Maybe I should volunteer to walk puppies for a rescue society. So I think a good Lenten discipline will be to spend some time on my days off thinking very deeply and taking some steps to actively fill that time.    I'll likely use this blog as a journal to help me figure that out. Which is a fair warning, in case you were already bored.  But I do intend to start working on photos again, so I will likely have more visualize interest coming up!   
See? Visual interest from Sweet Cheeks in Oregon. I'm definitely planning to challenge myself on photos!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Year of Everything Wearing Out

It's no secret that I hate shopping.  Typically, I will just keep wearing or using what I have until I have holes in the seat and I can see fine details while looking through the fabric, at which point someone takes away my pink corduroy pants that I loved, and makes them into rags.  

I like using things until they are worn out. 

This year, for some reason, everything I own seems to be wearing out at the same time.  My jeans.  My shoes.  My coats.  My technology.  

No joke: the summer ended with me grudgingly admitting that I would have to replace my raincoat because I had come home multiple times with wet marks from the coat soaking through.  It was followed in short order by three pairs of shoes, two white button down shirts, jeans, the afore-mentioned cords, and so many other items I've started to lose count.  

It gets me mad because I want to save money, not spend money.  But on the other hand, I'm not buying yachts.  I'm buying white button downs and a dress for work, replace things that I don't have anymore.  (Oh, God, the shoe shopping that awaits me.  Nononononono.). 

Most recently, work decided to replace my iPad.  I do about 85-90% of my work on an iPad, and then just log into a computer to clean it up and make it look pretty.  The writing and content creation, the research, the meetings, the times when all I need is a bunch of paper in hand, all that I have migrated to an iPad over the last four years.  

It had gotten to the point where people laughed when they saw how old my other iPad was.  It wasn't first generation... But it was old enough that it was noticeable.  It had gotten to the point where I couldn't update all the software I needed to update anymore. 

So they bought me a new one.  

But I have thrwarted at least one part of the technology gods!  I have a Microsoft keyboard that I use.  It's not an apple keyboard.  It's not one of the "approved" brands that looks sharp and cool with the iPad.  But it fits my hands, and the cover of the keyboard both keeps it clean in my bag and serves as a stand for the iPad, which makes me happy.  So I did not want to upgrade it.  

And it took some button pressing, but I do not have to upgrade it.  It's fine to use my old keyboard with the new iPad.  So until this goes kaput (at the current rate, probably next week!), I get to reuse something old.  Which suits me just fine.