October 16, 2018

Life-Size LEGO Bugatti


It's a Chiron, the LEGO version pictured below


next to the real thing.

It's drivable,


generating 5 hp from its LEGO motors.


Top speed is 12.5 mph.

Wheels and tires (below)

Wheels:tires among few non-Lego components

are among the few non-LEGO components.

Working rear lights and spoiler:

Working rear lights and spoiler

Removable steering wheel:

Removable steering wheel

It was made from more than a million LEGO Technics pieces.

[via autoblog, Ars Technica, LEGO, and my Crack©® Pittsburgh Correspondent]

October 16, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kettle Fiery Thai Potato Chips


Kettle giveth, and Kettle taketh away.

For many years my one of my favorite potato chips was Kettle's Spicy Thai. 

They disappeared from store shelves about a year ago.

Then, about a month ago, I espied Kettle's Korean BBQ potato chips, which proved a winner.

That was the good news.

The bad: I can't find them anywhere now.

But then, at Whole Foods the other day, carefully scanning the Kettle chip section, I saw these new Fiery Thai chips.


Two bags into the cart.

Verdict: excellent.

Gray Cat©® recommended. 

October 16, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 15, 2018

The Perfect Geometric Pies of Lauren Ko


From the Washington Post:


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Lauren Ko comes from a family of "phenomenal eaters." She grew up watching her mother and grandmother make cakes and cookies but to her recollection, nobody in her family ever made a pie.


She had seen beautiful pies on Pinterest and wondered whether she could make pies, but the floral, rustic designs that were popular just weren't her style. It was two years ago that she decided to make her first pie. Instead of sticking with current trends, she wanted to create pies with geometric patterns, straight lines, and contrasting colors.


She started baking more and posted photos of her creations to her personal Instagram account. In fear of becoming "that friend," Ko started a public Instagram account, @lokokitchen, in August 2017. She had no idea that her work would soon go viral. At the time of this writing, Ko has 214,000 followers of her 108 posts.


With a background in social work and nonprofit administration, Ko had been working as an executive assistant before she quit her job to focus full time on creating pies and tarts. She now teaches workshops and classes throughout Seattle, flies to food events in other cities, and even got the opportunity to bake with Martha Stewart on her show "Martha Bakes."


The precise cuts and color combinations of fruit on her tarts, as well as the intricate patterns woven into her pie crusts, often lead people to believe that Ko has professional training in art, design and cooking or even a background in math. She says she has always loved art but has no professional training.

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She finds inspiration everywhere, from bathroom tile and textiles to lawn chairs and bamboo purses, and saves images to give her ideas for future pies. Ko has no plans to sell her pies because her designs are so labor-intensive that they would be impossible to mass produce.


But, more important, she enjoys the freedom of being able to create something new every time she steps into the kitchen to bake and wants to hold on to that freedom while she continues her art.


"I'm going to ride the wave as far as it takes me. You know, the nature of social media is that it changes so quickly, and you never know what’s going to happen with it," Ko said. "I mean, all of this could go away tomorrow, but as long as I'm able and have more ideas for designs and flavor combinations, I'm going to continue baking and posting."

October 15, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

A new spin on vertigo


A couple months ago I had a short spell — perhaps 15 seconds long — of vertigo, my first ever.

I was lying down reading at the time, so it was easy to distinguish from the lightheadedness and dizziness that happens when I stand up after sitting or lying down for a while.


I've been thinking about that episode of vertigo ever since.

It was remarkable to me, so out of my control and persisting even after I closed my eyes.

Could vertigo be a door to the multiverse?


Who's to say all the apparent dizziness in this world isn't instead bewilderment at rapidly entering and leaving a series of parallel worlds?

And who's to say that when the vertigo stopped I was still in the same world as when it began?


Because everyone in every world believes theirs is the only real world.

For further exploration of this idea, I recommend "The Man in the High Castle" Season 3,

which centers on the existence of parallel worlds and what it might be like to move between them.

Wait a sec... what's that music I'm hearing?

October 15, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Experts: How to break down a door without hurting yourself

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From Lifehacker:


Perhaps you're saving a child from a burning building, or perhaps you're breaking into the stronghold of an enemy spy — but one way or another, you have to break down a door.

Here's how to do it effectively and safely.

You've probably seen people do it in the movies, but there are a few things you'll want to make sure of before you go kicking down every door in your path:

Check to see which way the door opens by checking the hinges. If the door opens towards you, kicking it down is going to be next to impossible.Kicking a door down is best done on a door that swings away from you.

Kick to the side where the lock is mounted (near the keyhole). This is typically the weakest part of the door.

October 15, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shinkansen Dish Cloth

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From the website:


Hashiru Nippon-ichi — Original Product

Hashiru Nippon-ichi is a collaboration project by West Japan Railway and local producers.

The products are sold on Sanyo Shinkansen trains (Shin Osaka Sta. — Hakata Sta.).

Dish cloth with designs of bullet trains, vehicle parts, timetables, etc.

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Kaya (mosquito net fabric) is excellent in water absorbency, and is easy to wash and dry.

Features and Details:

16" x 12"

■ Weight: 25g

■ Cotton 100%

■ Made in Japan



October 15, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2018

Painting Cars for Mars: Prepping NASA's Mars 2020 Rover

[via Popular MechanicsArs TechnicaR&D Magazine, and NASA]

October 14, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Experts: What's the best laundry detergent?

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From the Washington Post:


"Take good care of your clothes, and they'll keep you looking good," says Christina Elsberry, co-founder of men's styling company Todd Alan. When laundering, she explains, most of your clothes would do well in cold water on the delicate cycle with the right detergent. But isn't that last part the rub? Which bottle or box do you choose from the three long shelves in the laundry aisle?

Elsberry has high standards: The detergent should clean the clothes, yet not destroy fabrics, and the bottle should be easy to use and not take up too much space on the counter. She and other experts have a few good candidates when it comes to detergents — and some laundry tips, too.

Once you've chosen a detergent, use less than you think you need, says Alexa Hotz, senior editor for Remodelista in Brooklyn: Too much detergent "will leave a film on your clothes and on the inside of your washing machine." Separate your laundry into different loads: dark, light and workout, and towels and bedding. "Get extra credit by turning your jeans inside out to preserve the color," Elsberry says.

In general, one all-purpose detergent will work for all fabrics, except of course, silk, wool, down, and cashmere, which would benefit from delicate detergents or professional treatment. (Hotz likes Tangent Garment Care's Denim Wash for her jeans). Last, use caution with the dryer, which can wear down fabrics. "Invest in a foldable drying rack or two," Elsberry says.

This past summer, Erin Barbot , an organizer in Silver Spring, Maryland, did her own test of laundry detergents, looking for products that were low in chemicals but still effective, without spending too much. Barbot says most big brands have free-and-clear options. Her winner was Tide Purclean Unscented Laundry Detergent. It's plant-based, works in all machines, and cleans well in cold water. When towels get dingy, she also likes Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Oxygen Whitening Powder. Decant products into containers or store them in baskets to make laundry day even better, Barbot says.

If you are washing sheets, wash them alone, says Missy Tannen, co-founder of bedding company Boll & Branch in New Jersey. To prevent wrinkling, shake them out after machine-washing and pull them out as soon as the dryer cycle is done. Tannen uses Grab Green's 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods for her bedding. She prefers the fragrance-free version, but does dry her laundry with wool dryer balls that have a drop of lavender essential oil on them.

Hotz, of Remodelista, starts with what she does not want in her laundry detergent: sulfates, synthetic fragrance or fragrance of any kind. "I just don't like the idea of fragranced clothing competing with things like perfume and deodorant," she explains. The Honest Company's Multi-Enzyme Stain Fighting Laundry Detergent, the free-and-clear unscented version, meets her high standards, as it's made with natural acids and enzymes. Bonus: Designed for sensitive skin, it's hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested.

Mrs. Meyer's Basil Scented Laundry Detergent is the go-to detergent for Elsberry of Todd Alan. "It's all the things I look for in a detergent. It gets clothes clean, yet it's gentle on fabric. It's concentrated, so a little goes a long way," she says. "The bottle doesn’t take up too much space, it has a pretty label design, and there is no gooey mess." For workout clothes, Elsberry adds Mrs. Meyers Scent Booster in basil "to get things extra-fresh."

When washing more delicate yarns such as wool, merino, alpaca and cashmere, be careful. Alberto Bravo, co-founder and creative director of We Are Knitters, a company based in Spain, uses The Laundress's Wool & Cashmere Shampoo. "It really preserves the yarn's softness, which is crucial for us," Bravo says. "Once you're done rinsing your woolly piece, lay it flat gently to dry. This way, you will preserve its shape and form."

October 14, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Love is Blind — William Boyd


This new novel from one of my top three living novelists (John le Carré and Lorraine Adams being the other two, in case you were wondering) has put me into SlowRead©® mode.

In practice, that means that I try to move through its wonderful sentences and story as slowly as possible without (literally) losing the plot. 

I figure at 30 or so pages a day and being right now at page 86 (the book has 384 pages) I've got another week and a half of anticipation and delight.

Don't take my word for it: read the opening pages here.

October 14, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Super Normal" Object: Sori Yanagi Ice Cream Spoon


So termed by Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa.

I've featured these wonderful spoons three times previously: February 10, 2011September 8, 2012July 1, 2016.

Worth another encore.

Think outside the ice cream space: also ideal for soft cheese, custard, pudding, yogurt, and foods of that ilk.

The small size makes whatever deliciousness you're having last that much longer, because you have to create many more portions. 

Stainless steel.




October 14, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 13, 2018

1890 Mechanical Singing Bird

From Atlas Obscura:


The video above shows a mechanical singing bird from Paris circa 1890.

It's not much larger than the size of a fist but reproduces the sound of birdsong almost exactly.

Even though your new iPhone may be capable of the same feat, you can bet it doesn't look nearly as steampunk while doing so.

The whirs and ticks of the mechanism somehow add to the soothing element of the song and video.

Be careful about playing it out loud at your desk, though — your coworkers may think that a bird has made its way into the office.

October 13, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park


Who knew?

Not me, until I read this in the Economist: "The London obelisk is one of a pair. The other was given to America — and has also been largely forgotten. It sits in a lonely corner of Central Park in New York [above]."

Made of red granite and standing 69 feet high, it weighs about 200 tons and is inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs.

From Wikipedia


It was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III in 1475 BCE.

The granite was brought from the quarries of Aswan, near the first cataract of the Nile.

The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories.

The obelisk were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum — a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony or Julius Caesar — by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but was toppled some time later.

This had the fortuitous effect of burying the faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.

October 13, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

New typeface said to improve recall of what's read

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Can you remember what you read above?

From The Guardian:


Font of all knowledge? Researchers develop typeface they say can boost memory

Researchers say font, which slants to the left and has gaps in each letter, can aid recall

Australian researchers say they have developed a new tool that could help students cramming for exams — a font that helps the reader remember information.

Melbourne-based RMIT University’s behavioral business lab and design school teamed up to create "Sans Forgetica," which they say uses psychological and design theories to aid memory retention.

About 400 university students have been involved in a study that found a small increase in the amount participants remembered — 57% of text written in Sans Forgetica compared with 50% in a plain Arial.

Typography lecturer Stephen Banham said the font had an unusual seven-degree back slant to the left and gaps in each letter.

"The mind will naturally seek to complete those shapes and so by doing that it slows the reading and triggers memory," Banham told the Guardian.

Senior marketing lecturer Janneke Blijlevens said the concept of "desirable difficulty" underpinned the font's design.

"When we want to learn something and remember it, it's good to have a little bit of an obstruction added to that learning process because if something is too easy it doesn’t create a memory trace," she told the Guardian. "If it's too difficult, it doesn't leave a memory trace either. So you need to look for that sweet spot."

The font was designed with year 12 students cramming for exams in mind but could also be used to help people studying foreign languages and elderly people grappling with memory loss.

Blijlevens is keen to test the font in other contexts such as proofreading.

Banham, who has created about 20 fonts, said the typeface would be best used for short texts.

"God no, you wouldn't want novels printed in it, it would probably induce a headache*," he said.

The font took about six months to develop and there were three different versions tested.

 Sans Forgetica is available free to download as a font and Chrome browser extension at sansforgetica.rmit.


Click here to read this article in Sans Forgetica.

FWIW (apologies to Susan Ishida), I got a headache from reading the first couple sentences of the sample up top.

October 13, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Desk Pen


This should put paid to peeps stealing your pen.

It's unlikely the perp will place it on their desk in the intended rest position.*

From the website:



This pen fits seamlessly in its curved base, creating a shape that looks like a line drawn in air.
The base can be placed on any flat surface, and the aluminum and brass pen is a bit heavier to the feel, ideal for writing.
Features and Details:
• White, Silver, Black, Orange
• Designed by Chiaki Murata
• 4.8"H x 2.6" W x 2.4"D
• Aluminum, Brass
• Made in Japan




*Unless you work at a very strange company

October 13, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 12, 2018

Five years on, my Google Glass is alive and well

Res ipsa loquitur.

October 12, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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