There was a time, not all that long ago, when packing for a trip I had to make sure I had a camera, a GPS device, a phone, an MP3 player, a laptop and all sorts of other things like a flashlight, calendar, address book or voice recorder. I used to think how nice it would be to combine all of these things into one device. Well, along came Apple and the iPhone and my life, and millions of others, have been all the better for it.

Now, in his new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, journalist/author Brian Merchant provides us with the definitive history of the development of the iPhone, from vision to earthshattering disruption device, and it is as compelling as you would want it to be.

About The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant: “Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to ‘the one device,’ as he called it, a cell phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go. How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever? Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won’t hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone’s creation. This deep dive takes you from inside One Infinite Loop to 19th century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen’s notorious ‘suicide factories.’ It’s a firsthand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work-touch screens, motion trackers, and even AI-made their way into our pockets. The One Device is a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.”

As awesome as the iPhone is it is not all rainbows and lollipops, there is a dark side, from the sourcing of materials to its dubious manufacturing, let alone the down side of the cultural effects of device-addicted zombies walking around with their eyes fixed on a small screen – and worse, driving. Mr. Merchant does not shy away from these things and provides a well-balanced, extremely well-researched, history of one of the greatest consumer product every produced.

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.


Despite still having to deal with little pests dining on my plants – I had a pretty good week in the container garden. The hardest hit plant – my Japanese eggplant bush, which has had a large yield mostly consumed by an albino possum – has recovered nicely with some new growth (right). Meanwhile, the various varieties of tomatoes are ripening on the vine and they are delicious. I also have plenty of peppers and even a few chubby little cucumbers.

This is my favorite time of the season – when all the hard work of starting the seeds in the spring, protecting and caring for the plants as they grow, is really paying off with nice yields and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables for the table.

“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects: love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son and father.”

  • William Shakespeare, King Lear

FF: The Runwell Chrono Watch from Shinola

I found the perfect gift for that special someone in your life who may or may not have a milestone birthday coming up very soon – the Runwell Chrono Watch from the fine folks at Shinola.

About the Runwell Chrono Watch from Shinola:

“Rubber meets wrist with The Runwell Chrono 48mm. Features include solid titanium case, an increased 20 ATM depth rating, sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova printed dial details, 3 eye chrono, blue rubber strap, turning top ring bezel and screw down crown. The Runwell has been engineered with an obsessive focus to ensure the highest possible quality. Sold excusively on and in our retail stores.”

…or just about anything from Shinola makes a most excellent gift.

FF: The U.S.A. Blocks from Uncle Goose

Another great gift idea are the awesome United States Blocks from the cool folks at Uncle Goose. Part puzzle, part toy, part learning tool, and 100% fun!

About the U.S.A. Blocks from Uncle Goose:

“Fifty unique blocks with State image and name, capital, motto, bird, flower, and tree.  Everything a child needs to ace their first civics test.  Handmade in the USA as it should be, and designed by the world renowned team at House Industries.”

Find the U.S.A. Blocks and all the great stuff from Uncle Goose here.


There is no shortage of vintage and antique stores in the Kansas City metro area, but none as great as the fine folks at Retro Inferno. Retro Inferno specializes in mid-century modern pieces and only the best.

They have a ton of really great furnishings and accessories, like this very cool 1965 Vintage Brionverga RR126 Stereo (right): “Original, Iconic Brionvega RR126 portable stereo. Fully serviced and working beautifully. The turntable, with original dust cover, is mounted to the top and the speakers lift off and on with an inset handle on top. Aluminum base with casters makes the unit extremely versatile and easy to move. Comes with the original brochures.”

Or how about an original 1972 Frank Gehry Cardboard Wiggle Chair and Ottoman: “Rare wiggle chair by Frank Gehry with the even rarer wiggle ottoman/stool. Signed with paper label. Sold with the original receipt.”

Perfect style for any century’s beginning, middle, or end.

Visit Retro Inferno online here.

Retro Inferno is located at 1500 Grand Boulevard in the great American city that is Kansas City, MO.

There is something special about the iconic imagery of the American west that touches at the very soul of who we are as a nation. Of course this imagery has been buoyed by our popular culture and mythic portrayals of the romance of the range – but it still captures our spirit. Well, to prove this point, we have the wonderful collection of photographs in Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser. Mr. Crouser trains his eyes on a way of life many of us thought was lost long ago and only seen in movies. This collection of modern day cowboys and their families is as timeless as our western iconography, and it is compelling.

About Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser: “The mountain ranches of western Colorado preserve a way of life that has nearly vanished from the American scene. Families who have lived on the same land for five or six generations raise cattle much as their ancestors did, following an annual cycle of breeding, birthing, branding, grazing, and selling livestock. Michael Crouser spent more than a decade (2006–2016) photographing family cattle ranches in Colorado, intrigued ‘not by the ways their lives are changing but by the way they have stayed the same.’ He was, he says, ‘most interested in the traditional elements of these traditional lives, . . . what they call cowboying.’ Intimate without being sentimental about the realities of ranch work, Mountain Ranch’s duotone images capture the raw and basic elements of a hard and basic life. In the afterword, Crouser pays verbal tribute to ranch people who are ‘the real deal,’ whose seasonal round of work forms the subject of the acclaimed nature writer Gretel Ehrlich’s foreword. Portraits of eight men and women who eloquently describe their long lives on Colorado mountain ranches complete the volume.”

Cowboy up!

Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.


There is a song from the classic Broadway musical South Pacific that starts “I’m as corny as Kansas in August…” which is a thing, Kansas is pretty corny right now – but the real fun is the Kansas is now very sunflowery as well.

One of the great joys of living in Kansas – which is the Sunflower State by the way – is the annual crop of glorious sunflowers growing as far as the eye can see over the gently rolling countryside. There are tons of sunflower farms across the great rural plains of Kansas, but lucky for me, there is a great one much closer to the Kansas City metro area – the fine folks at Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS.

About Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS: “Ted and Kris Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Leavenworth County has become a phenomenon. Although Kansas has a great many sunflower fields, those fields are primarily in central and western Kansas. These fields are in the far eastern part of the state (near the population centers) and the Grinters let the public come into the fields, take photos and take home flowers for a dollar a bloom. A great many people want to have their photos taken with the sunflowers. Professional photographers even schedule sessions here.”

Standing amongst the rows and rows of these towering flowers is really a thrill.

Learn more about Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS here.

Grinter’s Sunflower Farm is located at 24154 Stillwell Road in Lawrence, KS.

Today I finish up my dining tour of my long weekend in Chicago last week – where I dined almost exclusively on charcuterie boards and salads – and it was awesome.

FF: Bar Pastoral

About Bar Pastoral:

“Bar Pastoral is an authentic, intimate and relaxed neighborhood bistro which celebrates the finest producers from around the block and around the world along with their amazing culinary creations. From food loving libations to creative, beautifully presented and perfectly paired fare, we aim to make these gems from near and far delicious, memorable and approachable.”

The Bar Pastoral I visited is located at 2947 N. Broadway – but find all of their Chicagoland locations here.

Learn more and see Pastoral’s online shop here.

FF: Publican Quality Meats

About Publican Quality Meats:

“Evoking old-world charm, Publican Quality Meats is a butcher shop, neighborhood café, bakery and gourmet market, aptly located in Chicago’s meatpacking district. A multi-faceted property, Publican Quality Meats acts as The Publican’s private dining room by night, as well as a fully functioning catering operation. Publican Quality Meats is the collective vision of Executive Chef Paul Kahan and restaurateurs Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander and Eduard Seitan. The highly seasonal menu and chef-curated retail offerings include house-made charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads, specialty coffee drinks and rustic soups and sandwiches developed under the care of Chef Joseph Frietze. In line with the butcher shop’s thoughtful fare is an eclectic and focused selection of beer and wine.”

Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 W. Fulton Market Street northwest of the Loop in the great city of Chicago, USA.

FF: Fulton Market Kitchen

Last but not least wrapping up the culinary tour of my most recent trip to Chicago is the wonderful Fulton Market Kitchen – a little more upscale than some of my other eats this trip, but totally worth a visit – great food and a stunning interior that is as tasty as the small plates.

About Fulton Market Kitchen:

“Inspired by the fresh flavors of ingredients sourced locally in the Midwest, FMK’s menu is the culmination of Executive Chef Chris Curren’s focus on the craft of cooking and use of hyper-seasonal produce. The result is an interesting yet approachable variety of refined rustic dishes that are ideal for tasting and sharing.”

Fulton Market Kitchen is located at 311 N. Sangamon St., in Chicago’s West Loop district.

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