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April 2, 2006



Most members live in Pennsylvania, where founder Ben Phillips launched it.

According to Akeya Dickson's story in today's Washington Post there are over 400 members in the Washington, D.C. area.

Here's the article.

    Baby You Can Drive My Car

    Flirtingintraffic.com, an Internet dating site of a different sort, aims to unite you with the cutie in the car next to you.

    How does it work?

    Compared to other dating sites, getting started can be a bit of a process.

    You create a profile, and then receive a sticker for your car with a member ID on it.


    The next time someone catches your eye while you're in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Beltway, you look for their sticker (assuming they have one), then scribble down their ID number and send them a note on the site.

    Founder Ben Philips, a 35-year-old Web developer, came up with the idea after chatting up an attractive girl in the lane next to him.

    "We made small talk at the light. The light turned green, and I never saw her again," he says.

    "I drove around for about a week trying to think of how I can make it so I can meet girls in traffic."

    Philips soon realized that the concept of organized flirting could work for just about anyone, from the shy guy to the girl who doesn't like to give out her number, and the site launched this winter.


    "The whole point is to reduce the fear of rejection," he says.

    "Help shy people meet other people. And make flirting in general a little more fun."

    So far, there are more than 3,000 registered members nationwide, with many of the flirts in Pennsylvania, where the site first launched.

    But there are more than 400 members in the Washington area, too.

    "Right now, I think the concept works more around cities like D.C., since there's a lot of traffic and congestion," Philips says.


    Don't fret; Flirtingatthebar.com


    is up and running, and Philips has planned the launch of Flirting on Campus, Flirting at the Beach and simply Flirting Around in the next year.


Be the first in your city to sport a Flirtingintraffic.com sticker on your car.

Maybe I'll email Phillips and suggest he start Flirtingonthetreadmill for gyms and sports clubs.


[via Akeya Dickson and the Washington Post]

April 2, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hello Kitty Ear Pick


Your new mimikaki is in.

    From the website:

    The Japanese love cleaning their ears and it is often a sign of love if your partner will clean your ears for you.

    It is not an uncommon sight in Japan to see a man with his head on his partner's lap while she scrapes out his ear wax with the precision of a surgeon.

    This Hello Kitty mimikaki (ear pick) will help you recreate the uniquely Japanese experience of having your ear wax cleaned out.

    Made of wood with a tiny ladle–like scraper at the end, it is made to be inserted into the ear (but not too far!) and scoop out the ear wax.

    On top of course is a incredibly cute figurine of Hello Kitty, usefully weighted for balancing the delicate instrument.

    There is a whole subculture in Japan dedicated to ear picking; find out why with this high-quality Hello Kitty Ear Pick.

    Weight: 50 grams (1.8 oz.)

    Length: 5" (12cm).


[via Shawn Lea and everythingandnothing]

April 2, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Here 'lie' dragons — Economist April Fool's joke could drive animal rights groups mad


Last evening I was reading the latest (dated April 1) issue of the Economist when on page 66, in the Biotechnology section, I happened on a story headlined "Here Be Dragons."

I read on and learned of a company called GeneDupe out in San Melito, California, that is in the business of creating biotech pets.

Hey, that sounded interesting, so I read on.

By the end of the very convincing story I was hooked on this cool concept, of having your very own pet dragon (above) or gryphon.

I decided to feature the company today but had the crack research team first do a little investigation so as to bring you the very latest and greatest, as is always my intention (though I often fall far short, as you never hesitate to mention and as you know I enjoy hearing over and over again: a little flick of the lash does wonders in the wake–up call department around here).

Anyway, a Google search on the word "GeneDupe" brought up only 118 results, each and every one of which referred back to the Economist story.

Most took it seriously, a couple were skeptical but I would bet you anything that the various animal rights and anti–cloning groups went for the story hook, line and sinker.


Here, in its complete, unexpurgated form, is the Economist article.

Not one word has been omitted.

    Here be dragons

    With luck, you may soon be able to buy a mythological pet

    Paolo Fril, chairman and chief scientific officer of GeneDupe, based in San Melito, California, is a man with a dream.

    That dream is a dragon in every home.

    GeneDupe's business is biotech pets.

    Not for Dr Fril, though, the mundane cloning of dead moggies and pooches.

    He plans a range of entirely new animals—or, rather, of really quite old animals, with the twist that even when they did exist, it was only in the imagination.

    Making a mythical creature real is not easy.

    But GeneDupe's team of biologists and computer scientists reckon they are equal to the task.

    Their secret is a new field, which they call "virtual cell biology".

    Biology and computing have a lot in common, since both are about processing information—in one case electronic; in the other, biochemical.

    Virtual cell biology aspires to make a software model of a cell that is accurate in every biochemical detail.

    That is possible because all animal cells use the same parts list—mitochondria for energy processing, the endoplasmic reticulum for making proteins, Golgi body for protein assembly, and so on.

    Armed with their virtual cell, GeneDupe's scientists can customise the result so that it belongs to a particular species, by loading it with a virtual copy of that animal's genome.

    Then, if the cell is also loaded with the right virtual molecules, it will behave like a fertilised egg, and start dividing and developing—first into an embryo, and ultimately into an adult.

    Because this "growth" is going on in a computer, it happens fast.

    Passing from egg to adult in one of GeneDupe's enormous Mythmaker computers takes less than a minute.

    And it is here that Charles Darwin gets a look in.

    With such a short generation time, GeneDupe's scientists can add a little evolution to their products.

    Each computer starts with a search image (dragon, unicorn, gryphon, etc), and the genome of the real animal most closely resembling it (a lizard for the dragon, a horse for the unicorn and, most taxingly, the spliced genomes of a lion and an eagle for the gryphon).

    The virtual genomes of these real animals are then tweaked by random electronic mutations.

    When they have matured, the virtual adults most closely resembling the targets are picked and cross-bred, while the others are culled.

    Using this rapid evolutionary process, GeneDupe's scientists have arrived at genomes for a range of mythological creatures—in a computer, at least. The next stage, on which they are just embarking, is to do it for real.

    This involves synthesising, with actual DNA, the genetic material that the computer models predict will produce the mythical creatures.

    The synthetic DNA is then inserted into a cell that has had its natural nucleus removed.

    The result, Dr Fril and his commercial backers hope, will be a real live dragon, unicorn or what have you.

    Readers with long memories may recall GeneDupe's previous attempt to break into the pet market, the Real Goldfish.

    This animal was genetically engineered to deposit gold in its skin cells, for that truly million-dollar look.

    Unfortunately Dr Fril, a biologist, neglected to think about the physics involved.

    The fish, weighed down by one of the heaviest metals in existence, sank like a stone, as did the project. He is more confident about his new idea, though.

    Indeed, if he can get the dragons' respiration correct, he thinks they will set the world on fire.


Note: if you look closely at the URL for the Economist story — note especially the word following "com" — all will become clear.

April 2, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

TacoProper™ Taco Propper


From the website:


    TacoProper taco holders keep individual shells upright for easy preparation, microwave heating and serving.

    They also keep contents contained and allow room for more on your plate!

    Great for hard or soft shells.

    Plastic; microwave– and dishwasher-safe.

    2-7/8"L x 1"W x 1-1/2"H each.

A matched set of 4 costs $3.49.

Oh, go ahead, Sara Kate: everyone needs an occasional chuckle.

April 2, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Do–It–Yourself 10–Minute Office Darts Game


Just in last evening from Nir Ben–Dor of CoMagz.

From the website:


    • 1 Rubber Band

    • 4 Matches

    • 1 Pin

    • 1 Post–it note


    • Printer (Optional)


Don't hurt yourself.

[via Nir Ben–Dor and CoMagz.com]

April 2, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vibra–Fit: Power Plate Vibration Technology — At 1/10th the price


Last year there was quite of lot of interest in the post here about the Power Plate and its "Advanced Vibration Technology."

Most of those who wanted to know more were curious about whether or not it really worked.

Do I know?

What, you think I'm a doctor or something?


Anyway, the Power Plate's price — $4,840 — was somewhat off–putting as well.

Well, some folks out back in the skunk works somewhere appear to have reverse–engineered the Power Plate and then shrunk its price by nearly 90%.

    From the Vibra–Fit website:

    Get Those Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations Used By Professional Athletes to Stimulate, Stretch, Strengthen and Massage Muscles — Add Variety To Your Workouts; Add Muscle to Your Frame!

    I work out every day (because the alternatives are not good!) and I’ve learned that variety is the key to battling boredom.

    A broad menu of fitness activities also works different parts of the body, avoids repetitive stress injuries and produces better overall conditioning.

    Lately, I’ve learned about a new scientific approach used heavily by pro sports teams, trainers, and physical therapists that makes workouts more fun, and more effective.

    Here’s how.

    Good Vibrations — Researchers have discovered that rapid, whole-body vibration builds bone density and muscle mass; loosens and massages sore muscles; improves circulation; and can even decrease chronic joint pain! That’s why we’ve added Vibra–Fit to our home gym. Vibra–Fit consists of a vibrating platform that you can stand, sit, or lean on, handles to grasp while standing, and a control panel that lets you select intensity and duration. Professional athletes usually lift weights or hold various stretch positions while on the vibrating platform. But depending on your fitness level, you may simply stand or do stretching exercises on Vibra–Fit to achieve worthwhile benefit in just 15-20 minutes a day!

    Sensations — Vibra–Fit oscillates at 40-60 hertz and these vibrations are felt throughout your body’s hard and soft tissues (i.e. bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments). Even with shoes on you'll still feel the vibrations right up to your shoulders. Your body's involuntary response to this stimulation is rapid muscle contraction and relaxation. But even as your muscles flex, all you feel is a distinctly pleasurable sensation.


    Excitation! — This is the same technology used by the Chicago White Sox throughout their World Series winning season to add strength and avoid injury throughout a grueling season. And it's the same therapy used by cosmonauts to rebuild bone and muscle mass following space flight. Used in your home with dumbbells, you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of each exercise.

    You'll gain strength and flexibility far faster than during any conventional workout as Vibra–Fit accelerates and magnifies the muscular contraction and relaxation reflexes that occur during weight training.

    Used without weights, Vibra–Fit can contribute to your overall conditioning level, while at the same time building bone mass, increasing circulation and stimulating injured tissue to more rapid recovery.

    Includes workout guide.

    Weight: 33 lbs.


Does it work?

Who knows?

But at least you can find out on the [relatively] cheap now.

$499 (nice bright yellow towel in the picture up top not included).


I wonder what it would be like if I substituted a Vibra–Fit for my treadmill as a working platform?


April 2, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (54) | TrackBack

The long, strange trip of Jim Buckmaster — President and CEO of Craigslist


Buckmaster (above) told Amy Zipkin, in a March 26, 2006 New York Times story, just how the many seeming dead ends and almost haphazard career choices he made over several decades led to his current job.

Most fascinating.

Here's the article.

    Not Easily Classified

    I was at Virginia Tech and was thinking about being an engineer, but then I decided I didn't like engineering and switched to pre-med.

    I applied to the University of Michigan for sentimental reasons.

    I was born in Ann Arbor, still had a lot of relatives there, and the program had a good reputation.

    I was accepted.

    I remember liking gross anatomy and embryology my first year, but in the second year pharmacology was like memorizing the white pages of the phone book.

    About a year and a half into medical school I started having doubts.

    Medical school didn't seem particularly stimulating, but since my student loans, between undergraduate school and medical school, were between $50,000 and $100,000, it wasn't clear if I left medical school how I was going to pay that back.

    I took a leave of absence and began auditing classes in the classics at the University of Michigan.

    I was leery of taking on additional loans.

    And when the deadline rolled around to return to medical school, I took another leave of absence and continued to audit classes.

    The medical school wouldn't allow a leave for a third year, so I left.

    I worked in survey research at the university and often took at least one class for credit so I would have gym access and infirmary access and could live in student co-op housing.

    One winter I lived in an informal housing arrangement.

    We decided we would spend the winter with no heat. Winter starts in Ann Arbor in November and runs until April.

    At night the indoor temperatures would dip into the 30's.

    Daytime, the temperatures would climb to the 50's.

    We didn't use heating per se, but we did use electricity, using a stove and oven for cooking and turning on lights.

    I wore a hat and light gloves around the house.

    I made my own mittens out of old purses from a thrift store.

    I was also making my own bread and grinding my own soybeans to make tofu.

    I kept my costs low because I was paying off student loans.

    I backed into computers as a way to make a living.

    Originally I was computer-phobic.

    By the early 90's I had worked my way up the computing chain from data entry to programming.

    I was working on a data archive called the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, which had 450 members.

    A colleague showed me the World Wide Web on an early Mosaic browser.

    It was a religious experience being shown the Web for the first time.

    I was so absorbed that I didn't get out of my chair from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day.

    I thought this was something special.

    Not only could I be a user of this but I could create it myself.

    Over the next year and a half I created a Web interface for the consortium's archives so researchers at member institutions could access the data themselves.

    I was 33 and had never made more than $15,000 a year.

    That winter in Ann Arbor had been particularly bleak.

    There were eight days when the temperature never rose above zero.

    I sent out my résumé on the Internet, and all the responses I got were from Silicon Valley.

    Some were offering air fare.

    I had been to San Francisco once, when I was 15.

    I took a job just north of San Jose and moved out there not knowing a soul.

    I had never owned a car.

    In Ann Arbor I took my bike everyplace.

    In California I took the bus, but there was very little provision for mass transit.

    After two or three years I moved to San Francisco and still commuted two and a half hours each way.

    The train let me off 12 miles from the office, and then I'd take two buses.

    Finally, during the dot-com boom, I got a job in San Francisco.

    That company didn't have a very long life.

    In late 1999, I posted my résumé on Craigslist.org.

    Craig Newmark, the founder, saw my résumé.

    He was looking for a programmer at the time.

    I took the job over a better-paying one, and became president and chief executive a year later.

    Craigslist was different in my eyes from other companies.

April 2, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Candle light


April 2, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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