March 02, 2007
KittyGoesPotty.com — 'Watch these cats poop'
And that people are so desperate for entertainment they would stoop this low.
The bookofjoe Ferrous-Covered Guarantee: If Humphrey — or his much shyer brother Bogart, who prefers, at least for the time being, to keep his kitty litter dry — ever, for any reason, decide to open the door to their sanctum sanctorum, you will see it here first.
And you can take that to the scratching post.
Random House — Gettin' jiggy wit technology
No lie: they've just souped up their website such that you can now read the first chapters of 5,000 of their titles — free.
WaveBox Car Microwave Oven — Because who wants to drive while watching a movie without microwave popcorn?
Am I right or am I right?
There you are, barreling down the highway and enjoying your favorite TV show or a movie on your car's sun visor screen, but what about munchies?
The clever folk at WaveBox have solved the problem for you.
From their website:
The world’s smallest microwave has portability and AC/DC power — lets you heat it up almost anywhere
The world’s first truly portable microwave makes it easy to have hot food and drink at work, at play and on the go.
Compact, rugged and easy to tote, the WaveBox brings cooking power where you want it most.
An advanced electronic design allows it to be powered in AC, DC directly to any vehicle battery, or DC thru a cigarette lighter outlet — all without the use of a separate inverter.
"Due to overwhelming demand" the $199 device is back-ordered, but you can get on the waitlist here.
How come my blog can't do this?
Look at the picture above.
What do you see?
I see a screenshot of my computer taken at 12:31 p.m. today (you could look it up).
It's from a blog called Later On, the creation of LeisureGuy, at leisureguy.wordpress.com.
When you roll your cursor over a link, a window opens showing you the link — without your having to actually click on it and go there.
Very, very cool.
How come bookofjoe doesn't have that?
IKEA to charge 5 cents for a plastic bag to put your purchases in
Starting March 15, that's the new policy.
So either bring your own or buy one of their Big Blue Bags (above), which in conjunction with the company's drive to decrease the amount of plastic waste in everyday life, is now available for 59 cents, down from its previous 99 cents.
Jura Koncius wrote about this new environmental initiative in a story which appeared in yesterday's Washington Post, and follows.
- Blue Turns Green
The latest environmental message from Ikea: BYOB.
Starting March 15, the home furnishings chain will charge an additional five cents to shoppers who want a bag with their purchase.
"The average family of four uses 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year," said Mona Astra Liss, spokeswoman for the 29 American Ikea stores. "We are trying to reach out to our customers and the public at large to make them aware of the amount of plastic waste going on." According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use more than 380 billion plastic bags a year.
Kathy Grannis, manager of media relations for the National Retail Federation, said Ikea is the first major retailer in this country to charge for bags. Some grocery stores offer incentives for shoppers who use their own bags but haven't yet started charging for new bags.
The Sweden-based chain has a record of being eco-conscious, buying wood for its products from well-managed forests and setting up programs to recycle Christmas trees. The new effort is designed to encourage shoppers to use no bags or bring their own totes from home. Stores now will sell a reusable Big Blue Bag of durable plastic, previously priced at 99 cents, for 59 cents.
The program, originated in Ikea's British stores last year, reduced consumption of bags at those locations by 95 percent, Liss said. Ikea will donate the first year's proceeds from U.S. sales of the five-cent bags to American Forests, a Washington-based conservation nonprofit.
2GB Home Theater Watch
Can your watch do that?
Didn't think so.
From the website:
- Home Theater Watch
Imagine what it would be like if you could view your favorite full-length film while in the comfort of your office chair, riding on the train, waiting at the doctor's office, or even while waiting in line at the coffee shop!
Your colleagues will want to share the headphones with you on your next plane ride.
Your friends and family will be eager to spend time with you so they can catch a glimpse of the coolest watch on the market: the Home Theater Watch.
Just like the name suggests, the Home Theater Watch is designed to give you the experience of a home theater with the functionality of a watch.
This means that you can tell time and watch your favorite movie right from your very own wrist.
Complete strangers will be in awe as they stand in line with complete boredom at the Department of Motor Vehicles and you are watching the latest releases on your wrist.
Now, as every word travels from this article into your mind, you can experience a universe of your favorite entertainment at the ready in any circumstance.
With 2GB of built-in storage, you will be able to store a full-length feature film on your watch.
In addition to being a video viewer, the Home Theater Watch plays MP1, MP2, or MP3 and WMA audio files, and allows you to view JPEG images.
The screen is a stunningly LARGE 1.5 inches and features a brilliant 260K color display capability. Your videos and images will look just like they do on your PC.
Connecting the Home Theater Watch to your PC is as simple as connecting any USB device.
That's right — this is a USB device!
Simply connect the Home Theater Watch to your PC with a USB cable and load the included software on to your computer.
Included is a software package that will convert your ASF, AVI, MPEG, WMV, DAT/VCD, and ASX files to the format required for the Home Theater Watch.
You can even rotate the orientation of the video as well as any images you'd like to store on the device.
Enjoy your music, enjoy your movies, and now enjoy the daily grind!
Order today to put yourself in a whole new world of entertainment.
You will have a home theater experience available everywhere you go.
You can even use it to show people your favorite television shows or prime time specials.
Simply convert your video from any of the digital formats listed above, and you will have your favorite television episodes whenever and wherever you want.
Imagine watching your favorite sitcom while stuck on the train commute to work in the morning or while sitting in a traffic jam.
"Your friends and family will be eager to spend time with you...." — promise?
The gym is the new electric company
Long story short: California Fitness is working with inventor Lucien Gambarota on a system which will convert currently wasted and lost (as heat) energy generated by exercisers into electricity.
Here a link to Jane Spencer's March 1, 2007 Wall Street Journal story about the new new thing in fitness and power; the article follows.
- While You're at It, Why Not Generate A Little Electricity
Harvesting the Energy Of Hong Kong Gym Rats; Lighting Up Dance Floors
A health club here is hoping that a car battery, some StairMasters and dozens of gym rats can help ease the world's energy problems.
Rita Wong is doing her part. One evening recently, the fit 27-year-old, dressed in black spandex, pedaled furiously on an elliptical machine at the California Fitness health club. As she worked up a sweat to a Madonna song blasting on the gym's sound system, the energy she created was transformed into electricity and stored in a battery that powers some of the gym's lights.
"It's very good motivation," Ms. Wong said, pointing at the fluorescent bulb above her head. "You can watch yourself burning fat to turn on that light."
This virtuous cycle is just one of a wave of projects on the fringes of the renewable-energy movement that are trying, in small ways, to tap the power of the human body.
Experiments range from a dance floor that generates electricity from the vibrations of the dancers to energy-harvesting shoes that convert motion from walking into electricity. One shoe prototype can generate about six watts, more than enough to power a cellphone.
Like many of these projects, the California Fitness setup isn't going to light up the Hong Kong skyline or even power the club's own air conditioning. The gym chain has rigged up 13 machines at one of its clubs here. When all of them are in use, the power generated amounts to about 300 watts, roughly enough to run three 27-inch television sets, five 60-watt light bulbs or several hundred video iPods. If all the exercise machines were in use 10 hours a day for a year, the gym could generate roughly $183 worth of electricity. At that rate, it would take about 82 years to pay off the initial $15,000 investment.
Converting elbow grease into electricity has a long, odd history. The first telephones, in the 1800s, had hand cranks that generated an electrical signal to alert the operator when one wanted to make a call. Hand-crank flashlights have long been available. So have hand-crank portable radios.
But unlike these predecessors, many of the new projects focus on capturing energy that is a byproduct of casual human activities, such as walking or exercising. Scientists call such devices "parasitic" generators. Many of the most futuristic projects focus on harvesting the energy of crowds.
Enviu, a Dutch environmental group, is building a nightclub in Rotterdam that will have a dance floor that converts vibrations from all those feet into electricity. One potential design for the floor involves piezoelectric crystals, which generate a small electric current when compressed. But Enviu's 20-by-20-foot floor cost $260,000 and will generate only enough power to run some lights embedded in it.
A London design firm called Facility:Innovate has been developing flooring materials that could ultimately be used to collect energy from throngs of people walking into busy subway tunnels. In one design, each step on the floor would push fluid through a microturbine, generating electricity.
Human power may have more practical uses as an energy source in developing countries or in remote environments where electricity isn't available. The U.S. military has spent millions of dollars in recent years on research into so-called "heel strike generators" that can be placed in soldiers' boots and might help reduce the battery load they have to carry.
Larry Rome, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently launched a company called Lightning Packs that aims to sell backpacks that generate electricity from the jiggling motion of walking. In a recent test, his prototype was able to produce about 15 watts of power from the up-and-down motion of the pack.
His research on the backpacks was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health, which was interested in seeing whether the power-generating backpacks could be used to refrigerate vaccine supplies in outlying areas.
The human power project at California Fitness was set in motion by Doug Woodring, a 41-year-old extreme-sports fanatic and renewable-energy entrepreneur, who pitched the experiment to the gym's management last May. "I've trained my whole life, and many megawatts have been wasted," says Mr. Woodring, who has worked out at the Hong Kong gym for years. "I wanted to do something with all that sweat."
Mr. Woodring, a Wharton School graduate who is originally from San Francisco, introduced the management team to his business partner, Lucien Gambarota, a 49-year-old Italian inventor whose inventions include a light-up lollipop that makes your cheeks glow red. Mr. Woodring and Mr. Gambarota are partners in a Hong Kong alternative-energy start-up called Motorwave Ltd., which aims to generate power from the motion of ocean waves.
California Fitness, an Asian chain owned by San Ramon, Calif.,-based 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, agreed to cover the cost of materials, which ultimately came to about $15,000, and added one condition. "We said, 'Please don't cause our exercise machines to catch fire,'" says president Steve Clinefelter.
In November, Mr. Gambarota set to work jury-rigging the gym's equipment with devices that included a broken washing machine. Mr. Gambarota concluded the elliptical machines and StairMaster exercisers were best equipped for power generation.
Those machines already contained small motion-powered generators used to light up their display screens. But the generators were producing significantly more electricity than was needed to power the screen, and the excess energy was being thrown off as heat.
Mr. Gambarota rewired the generators in 13 machines on the gym's main floor to capture the excess energy, running wires underneath the carpets to a car battery that could store the power. The battery was hooked up to an inverter taken from a mobile home. It converted the voltage from DC to AC and was connected to 13 fluorescent lights hanging above the exercise machines.
The company's U.S. parent is watching the Hong Kong experiment closely and says it would consider a global rollout if the Hong Kong project is successful. The company has three million members and close to 400 gyms in the U.S.
Some people have been capturing their own sweat for years, including children on bicycles whose pedaling generates electricity to operate their headlights. David Butcher, a 52-year-old manager at a Web company in Los Gatos, Calif., works out daily on a homemade exercise bike he has hitched up to a generator. So far, he has used the bike to power his TV and operate his Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. He once jump-started his car after 30 minutes of pedaling.
"I have an excess of physical energy," Mr. Butcher says. "I needed an outlet for it."
Wasabi and Ginger Grater
- Wasabi and Ginger Grater
Grating fibrous root vegetables such as horseradish and ginger with conventional graters is not an easy chore, because the fibrous root tends to become lodged in their teeth.
This clever triangular tool has alternating sharp teeth that grip the vegetable without clogging by isolating the grated root.
Before grating, lower the perforated stainless-steel plate over the grater surface and then rub the vegetable back and forth.
When done, lift the perforated stainless steel plate using the convenient lever and remove the flavorful fibers.
The Triangle grater is perfect for horseradish, ginger or any citrus fruit.
3"W x 10"L.
Florence Fabricant reviewed this tool in the the February 28, 2007 New York Times Dining section as follows:
- Ginger Meets Its Match in a Grater
The many plane-style graters sold in cookware stores have made grating cheeses, citrus zest, chocolate and other ingredients simpler and more efficient. Where they tend to fall short is with fresh ginger, because its fibers get stuck. And traditional porcelain ginger graters make it hard to remove the ginger and are difficult to clean.
This new gadget, made by Triangle in Germany, has a hinged plate that fits over the grater, and it works like a charm, both for the grating and the cleanup. It's also excellent for a little fresh horseradish to add to a sauce.