March 13, 2012
Red hot chile peppers — Episode 2: Hotter than hot
Yesterday's Episode 1 post, prepared on Sunday, was part of a magical synchronicity: in Monday's USA Today story by Monika Joshi about the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute, I learned that they've finally settled the seemingly never-ending argument about exactly which pepper is the world's hottest.
Excerpts from the USA Today piece follow.
Located in Las Cruces, the Chile Pepper Institute is dedicated to everything chile pepper. It conducts research on disease resistance, higher yield and better flavor of the crop. It also fields hundreds of questions a week from growers, producers, researchers and home gardeners.
In 2007, the institute declared the Bhut Jolokia the world's hottest pepper, and Guinness World Records certified it. Upon hearing the news, a few others claimed there was an even hotter chile, prompting many in the spice industry to ask the institute to settle the dispute.
"I received at least 500 e-mails about this alone," says institute director Paul Bosland, a renowned pepper expert and professor at New Mexico State.
In February, the institute proclaimed the Moruga Scorpion [below]
the hottest chile pepper in the world, and already, the title has proven a draw for chile enthusiasts and the spice industry. Hard has created a salsa and hot sauce using the pepper, and the institute has sold out of seeds.
For the study, Bosland and his team planted several super-hot varieties of chile peppers, including the Moruga Scorpion and Scorpion, native to Trinidad; the 7 Pot and the Chocolate 7 Pot, hailing from Tobago; and the Bhut Jolokia, found in Assam, India. Ground-up samples of each variety were run through a high-performance liquid chromatography machine that counted capsaicinoids, the heat-causing chemical compound unique to chile peppers. A mathematical formula was then used to generate a number in Scoville heat units (SHU), which translates to heat intensity.
The Moruga Scorpion rated up to 2 million SHU, unseating Bhut Jolokia, which can be as hot as 1.58 million SHU.
During handling, researchers wore gas masks, goggles, full-body Tyvek suits and two layers of latex gloves. Still, the Moruga Scorpion's heat seeped through to their hands, says graduate student Gregory Reeves, who was a part of the study.
For most chile lovers, including Bosland, a small sampling of the Moruga Scorpion was all they needed.
[John] Hard [owner of CaJohns Fiery Foods] says he has a good tolerance for spice, but even he can get through only seven or eight chips with his Moruga-based salsa before calling it quits. The heat builds after the initial bite, resulting in an all-over-the-mouth-and-throat burn that lasts at least eight minutes, he says.
"We have people saying, 'Well, I like hot,' but they're talking about Frank's RedHot hot sauce," Hard says. "This is a thousand times hotter from a Scoville rating standpoint."
When the institute declared Bhut Jolokia the hottest pepper, Hard came out with the Holy Jolokia hot sauce, which he says is the best-selling product in his line of more than 100 varieties
But there is more to the Moruga Scorpion than just its excruciating heat, according to those who have tried it. It has a fruitlike flavor, which makes it a unique sweet-hot combination.
Earrings Salander Style — Eddie Borgo
[via Ruth La Ferla and the New York Times]
It's official: Internet trumps electricity
The lines crossed (metaphorically) this morning, when I awoke to see that I am now in day 2 of my Comcast outage, which began yesterday (Monday morning) while the weather — like the werewolf of London's hair — was perfect.
All of a sudden there was no Internet and no cable TV, yet the electricity was on and DirecTV was working fine.
It took me a couple hours of idiotstick TechnoDolt®™© messing around* (I forgot how to make my Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go, pictured above, work with my Air, so I had to get out my trusty 2004 PowerBook running Tiger, plug it in (the battery was dead), and get online with it via BB2Go, then go to the Apple help page about starting up a default 64-bit machine (the Air) using a 32-bit kernel (you hold down the 2 and 3 keys while restarting the machine — D'oh!) until I was back online with the Air and good to go (constant readers may recall that I originally posted about BB2Go on March 2 of last year, with a follow-up on September 28).
I then continued with my various web-related activities the rest of the day without bothering to call Comcast until today to get my high-speed Internet restored — that's how fast the Virgin BB2Go on the Air is (more on the subject of perceived vs. actual objective Internet speeds later in this post).
And since DirecTV was working, I could watch PTI and whatever else ESPN was filling time with until the Big Dance starts and the talking heads go into red-line overdrive.
I cannot say it loudly and often enough: if you rely on the Internet, you really should get Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go (the flash drive costs $59.99 here).
1. No contract — a blessing in this day of "check in any time you like but it's really, really hard to leave" contracts. Yes, it's $50/month, but that's cheap at twice the price if, like me, you have no interest in going to public WiFi hotspots to create your eight posts a day.
2. It works just about anywhere, including moving cars. Over the long term, it will work best if you're not driving the moving car — just saying.
3. Handy: it's all in a USB flash drive.
4. It's plenty fast in terms of actual functional speed (told you I'd come back to this subject). I honestly can't tell if I'm using BB2Go or my Comcast "High-Speed" — literally "No-Speed" at the moment — Internet when posting to boj from home on the Air.
Yes — the actual speeds as reported by Speakeasy and its ilk differ tremendously between Comcast and BB2Go: With Comcast I get around 25 down/6 up, while my current measured speeds with BB2Go are:
But far more important than numbers is user experience, and mine is so good, as noted above, that I waited a day to call Comcast to get my cable fixed — I have all the speed I need for what I do most without it, so what's the rush?
Full disclosure: Virgin doesn't pay me a penny for what I have to say (but they should. Richard Branson? Bueller? Anyone?).
Full disclosure #2: Comcast — which just told me I have to wait until Friday morning (!!!), three more days @$6/day, till the cable guy comes to restore my service — doesn't pay me a penny for what I have to say. Well, I thought that was pretty funny and it's my blog.
Finally, regarding the headline of this post (Full disclosure #3: I almost forgot this part): For me "Internet trumps electricity" is now true.
By that I mean, given the choice between my power being out or my Internet being out, I'd lose the power every time.
So you can see why I think a generator-equivalent carry-it-in-my-pocket BB2Go flash drive at $50/month is cheap.
Some might even say "Yo, joe — why don't you bag Comcast completely and keep that $185/month in your pocket?"
Don't tempt me.
Wait a minute... what's music I'm hearing?
You didn't think I'd forget the coda, did you?
*Previously described in an August 18, 2011 post.
Butt Crack Piggy Bank
Sorry to be so descriptive but if I were anatomically correct it would be even worse.
Wrote Ray Earhart, who sent me the link,
"This makes you wonder what they were thinking. Maybe they had a financial meltdown like we did. I know, I know — it's missing the MF Global logo!"
$28.99 ("Instructions included").
"Anatomically correct" — could this be a meme in the making?
Stay tuned to the innertoobs.
Owl attacks security cam in super slo-mo HD — Aren't you glad you're not a mouse?
Sent to me by Joe Peach who wrote, "Eagle owl [1,000 frames/second] coming right at Raytheon security camera. A hypnotic piece of film slowed for your pleasure. The last two or three seconds are phenomenal."
Note added March 17, a comment from REJ: "This is not from a security camera. It was done by a high-speed system in the UK as a promotional video for Turbary Woods owl sanctuary. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37MNE8tOBG4."
Hotlips 2-piece set
From the website:
It is great to be able to warm up your drink over your stove, but to be able to enjoy that drink instantly is even better.
Now with these Hotlips you can do just that.
The silicone hotlips are designed to fit on our Titanium 600 mug and the Trek Series.
$6.95 (Titanium 600 mug not included).
Travel Channel Layover Guide with Anthony Bourdain — The app
New this month for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch (I don't understand why the New York Times continues to refer to it as the "iTouch" — there is no such thing) is this app, featuring Bourdain's "picks for restaurants, bars and attractions in the 10 cities he covered in the first season of his television show 'The Layover' and content from his first show, 'Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.'"
"'The app is built around destinations and eateries I actually like,' Mr. Bourdain wrote in an e-mail. 'The thing is intended to be useful and personal. If you're looking for hours of operation for the Eiffel Tower or Disney World, look elsewhere.'"
"Users can build a timeline of points of interest in each city, and travelers seeking a more immersive experience will find a bit of homework: recommended music, movies and books that Mr. Bourdain believes give insight into each city and a list of dos and don'ts."
Eyenimal CatCam looks like the real deal
How does Gray Cat see the world?
I wish I knew and would pay dearly for a chance to experience it as she does.
But in the meantime, while we wait for the mindmelding mid-21st-century app that will make a fortune for the person who creates it, there's this nifty piece of kit, brought to my attention by Jeri Dansky, my crack Half Moon Bay correspondent.
Excerpts from Olivia Snaije's Sunday post on The Guardian blog follow.
As if there aren't enough videos of cats all over the internet, Parisian Paolo Teixeira has invented a camera your cat can wear so you can see what it gets up to outdoors.
After he lost his job selling advertising space in 2008, Teixeira started to wonder about his cat, Prince: "Who does he hang out with, does he have a girlfriend?" He borrowed €100,000 from his mum and friends and began to develop Eyenimal.
In 2010, he launched his company, selling an ultra-lightweight camera (35 gram) with a 4GB memory. A year on, more than 1,000 cameras were being sold each month worldwide to cat and dog owners.
I have two cats, but since the male sleeps most of the day the obvious candidate for the Eyenimal was the intrepid Padmé (think Princess Amidala from Star Wars) who walks the roofs of Paris via our terrace.
I attached the camera to her collar and off she went. It's a slightly odd feeling to know that your cat could be filming you — or the neighbors doing things you might not want to know about. There's something voyeuristic about it all. But my qualms quickly gave way to amazement when an hour or so later I uploaded the film to my computer and we watched the film [top], en famille, huge grins on our faces. Ooh, we squealed; she's walking on the terrace railing! And what is she doing on the kitchen counter? After just an hour of film, Padmé had shown us our little world from her perspective. However, without a serious amount of editing, Padmé's world would only be interesting to her family. The promotional 2:55 video on Eyenimal's website took Teixeira about 20 hours of rushes to compile.
Last year, Num'Axes, a French manufacturer of electronic pet products, became a majority shareholder in Teixeira's company and has given him carte blanche to work on two new smaller and even lighter cameras that are animal-specific — one for cats that will have infra-red night vision, and one for dogs that is more robust and water-proof.
In the meantime, we view Padmé with newfound respect, having had a glimpse at what it's like to be a cat on a roof in Paris.
I am so getting one of these cameras.
Can't hardly wait.
I can't speak for Gray Cat.
Eyenimal costs $79.