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September 3, 2005

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream


Blue Sky Creamery makes it and sells it in five Midwestern states.

It's the first liquid nitrogen ice cream to appear in grocery stores.

No, you don't eat the nitrogen, booboo.

The company was founded in 2002 by Will Schroeder and T.J. Paskach, a pair of Ph.D.s in chemical engineering.

That's them above (Schroeder on the left) with a scoop of their signature product, in front of their patented liquid nitrogen flash freezer.

They were grad students at Iowa State University when they first built a flash–freeze ice–cream–making machine for a campus festival in 1999.

They simply wanted to see if they could improve on the college trick of dumping liquid nitrogen into an ice cream base and stirring it for 10 minutes.

Flash–freezing with liquid nitrogen at minus 320°F eliminates the need for eggs and extra butterfat, which add smoothness to ice cream made in conventional freezers.

Their ice cream contains one–third less fat than other premium brands.

Paskach told Christopher Hall in a story published last month in the New York Times, "The faster you freeze ice cream, the smaller the ice crystals and smoother the texture."

Everything snowballed from their initial 1999 effort.

They took an upgraded machine to the 2000 Iowa State Fair and sold 32,000 scoops.

They opened an ice cream shop in Ankeny, Iowa in 2002 and a franchise store in Lakeville, Minnesota last year.

They recently opened another shop in Des Moines.

Their flavors currently include black raspberry, cappucino, caramel, chocolate, lemon, vanilla and some seasonal favorites such as pumpkin pie.


Alas, you can't yet order the scrumptious–sounding product online: the website, when you click "Order Ice Cream," produces those much–dreaded words: "Coming soon...."

September 3, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Duck Mirror


Egg–shaped mirror on duck feet.

"If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck... — all well and good but what if it reflects like a duck?

8.5"H x 5.5"W.

$64.95 here.

September 3, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Visiting — by Franz Wright

I suffer from insomnia, from loneliness I sleep;
in the midst of the talk and the laughter
all at once you are there—

Hour of waking up and writhing
with humiliation, or
of wishes answered before

one was aware of what they were.
And let me ask you this: the dead,
where aren't they?

Hour when the ones who can't rest
go to bed, and the ones
who can't wake go to work—

Dark blue morning glory
I reach to touch, there is another world
and it is this world.

Then the light streamed in yellow
and blue through long windows, and blood
turned to wine in my veins.

Tears of wine
rode down my cheek.
It's happening, I thought,

though it had never happened
before. I squeezed
my eyes closed, gazing into

a darkness all of light. The more
you tried to hold it back, the more
sweetly and irresistibly it arrived.

September 3, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No Smoking Ash Tray


In the spirit of Magritte.

How do you spell "cognitive dissonance?"

$9.95 here.

September 3, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Anesthesiologist Assistants — The New 'Hamburger Helper?'


For decades anesthesiologists have been fighting a rear–guard action against certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs).

Before I continue, let me explain the difference between the two in terms of training and experience; otherwise, the rest of this post won't make a whole lot of sense to most readers.

An anesthesiologist is a college graduate who then went to medical school for four years, followed by a year of internship and then three more years of residency: the total post–college training period is 8 years.

A CRNA is a college graduate with a bachelor's degree and a nursing license; this is followed by a year of nursing experience in a critical care setting such as an ICU, then two years of CRNA school: the total post–college training period is 3 years if you include the year of working as a nurse.

And let me introduce a third type of anesthesia provider who might well be putting you to sleep: the anesthesiologist assistant (AA).

An AA has a college degree followed by 24–28 months of specialized training in one of three anesthesia assistant training programs: total post–college training and experience is therefore 2–2.5 years.

Once upon a time, when medicine was a money machine, anesthesiologists used CRNAs as physician extenders — 'Hamburger Helper' — for the bottom line.

Long story short: back in the day an anesthesiologist could hire a stable of CRNAs, pay them each a decent salary, then run up to four ORs simultaneously, each covered by a CRNA, and then bill the patient in full for each of the four concurrent cases.

You can see how the money could pile up in a hurry that way.

But then the government and the insurance companies started to get wise to the scam and gradually tightened the screws to where an anesthesiologist is now tightly regulated as to how many concurrent rooms he can bill for, at most two and often just one, depending on whether or not the patient is on Medicare, etc.

Meanwhile CRNAs, whose numbers multiplied in a hurry during the time of no regulation, decided that they'd try to get the law changed to allow themselves to practice without physician supervision.

State–by–state they've been winning such that as of this post they now have privileges in 29 states.

They almost were granted a nationwide franchise but in the final days of his presidency Bill Clinton was furiously lobbied by the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the AMA and didn't sign a bill authorizing CRNAs to practice independently throughout the U.S.

Meanwhile, anesthesiologists have created and are now pushing the newest physician extender: the AA.

Now active in 17 states and the District of Columbia, AAs weren't even on the map ten years ago.

Nationally they now account for 1%–3% of all anesthesia providers in the U.S., numbering around 900 individuals.

Compare this to the 30,000 CRNAs and 36,000 anesthesiologists in the U.S.

The CRNAs are very unhappy about the emergence of the AAs and quite understandably so: AAs work for less money and always under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

Anesthesiologists have poured gasoline on the flames by not only endorsing AAs but suggesting that AAs may provide better care than CRNAs because CRNAs spend too much time lobbying for independent practice priviliges instead of providing patient care.

What a joke: who created the enormous number of CRNAs now wanting to go out and practice on their own?

It was anesthesiologists, that's who.

September 3, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Morphing Cookie Sheet


One minute it's a black silicone cookie sheet; the next you're sliding the frame apart, then rolling it up and putting it in a drawer.

Hey — you don't believe me, just look at the pictures.

Stainless steel frame stretches the silicone into a flat, rigid sheet that measures 14" x 12.5".


$29.50 here.

September 3, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Special Searches


I stumbled on this page yesterday: it lets you narrow your search to a specific topic.


In additional to Public Service Search (free SiteSearch for educational institutions and non–profit organizations worldwide) and University Search on any of hundreds of college and university websites, Google offers these special searches:


• U.S. Government

• Apple/Macintosh


• Linux

• BSD (whatever that is)


• Microsoft

September 3, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Is it that time of year already?

I guess so.

"What are Wristies®?"

I was wondering the same thing until I saw the picture; then I figured it out in about thirty seconds.

So now don't you feel smart?

    From the website:

    They're fingerless gloves, glove liners, cuffs... all of the above!

    They keep your wrists and hands warm and your fingers free.

    Worn by outdoor sports enthusiasts, mail carriers, motorcyclists, drivers, computer users and typists.

    Made of Polartec® fleece, they're incredibly warm, soft and water repellent.

I guess I really need to get out more because I don't think I've ever seen a member of any of the groups cited above wearing them.

100% polyester.


$10.95–$12.95 here.

September 3, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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