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There’s nothing like life-changing technology. And while that might be overstating my relationship with two new Apple products I bought last weekend, it isn’t by much.

Purchase number one was the new Apple TV system, which essentially is a giant iPod (not that big, actually…just seven inches square). It allows me to shift movies, music and television programs that I’ve downloaded onto my laptop via iTunes wirelessly onto the Apple TV box, which has 40 GB of memory able to hold 50 hours of video. And then, via lone little cable, I get incredible sound and pictures on the 42” flat screen television.

In addition, up to five computers can wirelessly stream movies, music and television shows from their computers onto the television via the Apple TV box.

All for $299, and it took about 30 seconds to set up.

This is simply incredible. And I suspect it is just the beginning of what Apple TV eventually will be able to do, as we move closer to the day where the television and the computer are all synched up together in terms of both technology and content.

The other purchase was a new iPod Shuffle – which is this tiny, featherweight little box barely bigger than an inch in length that has 1 GB of memory, can hold about 240 songs, and has a clip that allows me to just attach it to my sweatshirt or jacket when I’m jogging or working out. I’ve never been much for listening to music while exercising because I hated carrying players around with me…but the Shuffle is so light I hardly know it is there.

And it cost just $79.

I am blown away by these gadgets that are impossibly cool.

The funniest man on the planet may be Tony Kornheiser, the Washington Post columnist who now has a 90-minute daily show on the paper’s radio station and that I download every day via iTunes. Whether talking about sports or “American Idol” or Bruce Springsteen or his kids, Kornheiser is a piece of work – sharp, informed, observant, and yes, very, very funny. It’s become a daily habit with me…check him out.

Apple did a very smart thing with its iTunes service yesterday, by the way, announcing that customers who have bought individual songs for 99 cents can now purchase the complete album from which those songs came at a discounted price.

Customers will have about six months from the date of the song purchase to upgrade to the album.

Which will only sell Apple about a gazillion more songs.

And it seems to me that what Apple has effectively done is turn all those original song purchases into samples.

Yippee! Baseball begins Sunday night. And almost every day or night, between now and late October, the greatest game in the world will be played.

Which prompts us to recall what the great Robert B. Parker once said about baseball:

"It's the most important thing that doesn't matter."

Considering that cancer has been so much in the news the last two weeks, it was ironic that I got a chance to taste the new Reunion Imperial Brown Ale, described as a “beer for hope.”

Reunion is an organic beer that has been crafted by Pete Slosberg, Alan Shapiro and Virginia MacLean, who worked together two decades ago in the early days of Pete’s Wicked Ale, and is being brewed by the Bison Brewing Company and distributed by SBS-Imports. And here’s the interesting part of the story – all of the profits generated by Reunion are being donated to The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research in Los Angeles. There’s a good reason for the donation: Virginia MacLean has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and the beer has been crafted to, in the words of Slosberg, “to celebrate our friendship and bring hope to Virginia and others battling this disease.”

And here’s something else you need to know: Reunion is utterly delicious – thick and hearty and robust. Yummm…

Reunion is available only in 22 ounce bottles, and is being sold at present in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Illinois.

I, like most Americans, have lost a family member to cancer. My mom died in 1998 at age 67 after a long battle with the disease.

Which is why I, like most Americans, have been personally affected by the news that both White House spokesman Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, have had cancer recurrences and now quite literally are in the fights of their lives.

Most of us don’t know either of them personally. But Snow always has seemed like such a happy warrior, the kind of person who had no problem having a drink with the opposition when the day’s battles have been concluded.

And I find myself agreeing with what Don Imus has said about Elizabeth Edwards: ‘I know why John Edwards loves her, because I love her.” She just seems like such a luminous, life-affirming personality.

If good thoughts mean anything, then Snow and Edwards should be in good shape. Because we’re all thinking and praying for them.

That’s it for this week.


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