« July 25, 2007 | Main | July 27, 2007 »

July 26, 2007

Butterfat Goocam — 'Watch the unsuspecting'


What's this mashup about?

"This is a Google map of unprotected/open camera streams obtained from Google searches. The IP address for each camera's url has been mapped to its Geo-location."

They've created another mashup called "Email graphic traceroute," which I haven't the foggiest idea about — but you might.

Wiredblogs thought it was pretty cool.

More on it here.

July 26, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alain Ducasse/Patrick Jouin Pasta Pot


New from Alessi.

From the website:

    Pasta pot by Alain Ducasse and Patrick Jouin

    Introduced in 2007 by Alessi, the pasta pot by Ducasse and Jouin is a result of a rediscovery by Alain Ducasse of an ancient cooking method used by olive pickers.

    Ducasse, one of the greatest chefs of our time, has brought to light a unique pot which produces a new and interesting flavor (i.e. the starches are not discarded with the cooking water but are totally absorbed by the pasta, and the same holds true for the ingredients of the sauce).

    First you put the dry pasta in the pasta pot, sautéing lightly if you wish; then the various ingredients of whichever sauce you wish to make; then last comes water or broth, all at once or gradually, cooking everything together with the specially-designed cover, stirring occasionally.

    In just a little more time than normally required to boil the pasta according to the classic method, your pasta with sauce is done and served directly at the table on the included trivet.

    A booklet containing a number of recipes developed by Ducasse himself is included.

    Pasta pot: 2 qt. (26-¾ oz); 17" x 9" x 5"H.

    Includes: one multi-ply casserole (AISI 430 aluminium + 18/10 stainless steel); one lid in 18/10 stainless steel; one spoon and one trivet in melamine.


July 26, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Caffeinated Soap


Anna Jane Grossman explored this relatively new addition to the beauty armamentarium in a story that appeared in the July 12, 2007 New York Times; it follows.

    Black for Me, Light for My Hips

    The line between caffeine and, well, everything else you can buy is a little blurry. At Starbucks, you can pick up CDs and a book about child soldiers with your espresso. At Kiehl’s in New York, the scent of espresso beans wafts from the cafe through the aisles of soaps and hair tonics.

    Now drugstore shelves, which once had few things caffeine-related, save perhaps the odd mug cozy or cappuccino-scented candle, are offering an array of skin care products containing the beloved stimulant.

    The 20th century was a confusing time for caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration vacillated on whether it was good or bad for you. Sanka was created, but so was the frappuccino. The new millennium, however, is shaping up to be a good one for it.

    Over the last few years, studies have suggested that caffeine is capable of staving off baldness and lowering the risks of Parkinson’s disease, among other wonders. And now, because of a boom in caffeinated topical agents, caffeine’s possible benefits are accessible even to the 10 percent of the population that abstains from drinking it.

    More than 140 cosmetic skin care products containing caffeine were released in the United States last year alone, compared with 21 in 2003, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database, a company that tracks trends in skin care products.

    As any coffee drinker can attest, caffeine has two indubitable qualities: It is a stimulant and a diuretic. And these are the two main properties that companies are trying to transfer into topical lotions and potions.

    The majority of products containing caffeine are skin-firming tonics that attempt to use its dehydrating qualities to decrease liquid in fat cells. While there are numerous facial firming products containing caffeine, such as eye creams by Kiehl’s and Anthony Logistics for Men, most of the caffeinated lotions claim to be cellulite busters, including Bliss’s Fat Girl Slim and Avon’s Super Shape Anti-Cellulite and Stretchmark Cream.

    “There’s a direct correlation between the increase in the amount of products that contain caffeine and the huge trend toward skin-firming products that work on cellulite, since so many of those products contain it,” said Rachael McFarland, Mintel’s cosmetic research analyst for the United States.

    Many of these products entered the market after a 1999 study published in the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery concluded that caffeine-based liposome-encapsulated cream temporarily reduced the thickness of fat, particularly in the hips and triceps.

    “The caffeine gets into the fat cell and this makes the fat cell get a little more energized,” said Dr. Lawrence Moy, a dermatologist in Manhattan Beach, Calif., who was one of the study’s authors and sells his own line of firming creams containing caffeine. “When fat cells get more energized, it affects the sodium-potassium balance in the cell. The sodium runs out of the cell and water leaves with it. Potassium runs into the cell and all this helps the cell to become a bit dehydrated and to shrink.”

    The layman’s translation? It might make your legs look a bit less like cottage cheese, if only for a few hours.

    Of course, all this assumes that the caffeine can penetrate the skin once its applied. According to a 2004 study conducted at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research center in the Netherlands, caffeine can indeed penetrate, at the rate of about 2 micrograms per centimeter squared per hour. That means it would take an hour for an amount the size of 1/15th of a grain of salt to penetrate a fingernail-size patch of skin.

    Some companies would like you to believe that once it gets under the skin, it can make you feel like you just took a shot of espresso. V-tonic Bath Spheres by Fresh contains a cola-nut extract that the company promises will energize the skin, and Kiss My Face’s Wake Up toothpaste has guaranine, a form of caffeine found in guarana seeds. But Mia DiFrancesco-Licata, a Kiss My Face spokeswoman, said: “It’s such a small amount. It really just works subliminally.”

    But the idea that a simple daily ablution could help speed the waking-up process is appealing, especially in an on-the-go culture that guzzles products like Red Bull and supports a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Starbucks on just about every corner.

    “People are looking for more ways to jump-start the day now more than ever before,” said Ms. McFarland of Mintel. “It’s innovative and smart for companies to capitalize on that by creating more products that you’d use every day anyway, like soap, that just happen to also contain caffeine.”

    Costic, a New Jersey-based wholesale company, sells a peppermint-scented soap that it says contains 2,400 milligrams of caffeine. (An average cup of coffee contains 200 milligrams.) The soap is available on various Web sites under different names; its biggest retailer is ThinkGeek.com, which sells it as “Shower Shock.”

    But Jeff Costic, the company’s founder, said in an interview that he did not have any scientific research to back up ThinkGeek’s claim that the soap can provide the “ultimate clean buzz.”

    “It was just an idea I came up with when I was trying to give consumers something they’re addicted to,” Mr. Costic said.

    A similar soap containing close to 4,000 milligrams of caffeine is available at Xoxide.com.

    But even if caffeine does enter the bloodstream via soap, the jury is out on whether enough of it can penetrate to make a difference in alertness.

    “There is no way that enough caffeine could be absorbed through the skin during the amount of time that the average person showers,” said Dr. David Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

    The bloggers behind TheBeautyBrains.com, a cosmetics-debunking Web site written by a group of cosmetic chemists who remain anonymous to keep from jeopardizing their day jobs, used the TNO Nutrition and Food Research study to estimate that it would take an hour of full-body scrubbing — without rinsing — for a body to absorb the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee.

    Caffeine is an antioxidant that can combat cell damage caused by free radicals, which is one reason it is an ingredient in some sunscreens, Dr. Bank said.

    It can be found in products like Rodan & Fields Essentials Protect S.P.F. 30 and Origins Have a Nice Day Super-Charged Moisture Cream and Lotion S.P.F. 15; these companies say it’s there because of its anti-oxidant, anti-irritant and anti-redness benefits.Dr. Allan Conney, a professor of chemical biology, leukemia and cancer research at Rutgers University, said users of any caffeine-rich cosmetic could also unwittingly be benefiting from a possible side effect that one study hinted at: they might be killing off existing skin cancer cells.

    In 2002, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published a study led by Dr. Conney that used caffeine to kill off skin cancer cells on radiated mice. The results were promising, especially if you’re a mouse living in a coffee urn.

    “Although caffeine has a sunscreen effect, it also has a biological effect of causing apoptosis — programmed cell death — in UVB-damaged skin cells and in tumors but not in normal skin or in areas adjacent to tumors in tumor-bearing mice,” Dr. Conney said in an e-mail message. “To the best of my knowledge, caffeine and caffeine sodium benzoate are the first examples of substances that have both a sunscreen effect and enhance cell death in a DNA-damaged tissue.”

    There is no proof that this effect can translate to human skin. Nevertheless, Dr. Conney and Dr. Bank are among the doctors open to the idea that one day a once lumpy thigh may also be one that is free of skin cancer.

    Even if it is someday proven that the benefits do translate to humans, it might be just as effective to spend a couple of dollars at the cafe inside Kiehl’s rather than loading up on the expensive lotions nearby.

    “You’d get the same effect from just drinking it,” Dr. Conney said.


Need another hit?

No problema.

Here's Ms. Grossman's accompanying product review of Shower Shock caffeinated soap.

    Ahh, Minty Clean, but Lacking a Jolt

    The thing about bathing with caffeinated soap for a week is that it is not so different from bathing with regular soap.

    The caffeinated soap Shower Shock, made by Costic and sold for $6.99 at ThinkGeek.com, claims to contain 12 servings of caffeine in each four-ounce bar. It looks like any other clear glycerin soap and acts like it, too, except that it smells very pepperminty and left my skin smelling sort of sharp. But I don’t usually go around sniffing my inner elbow, so I don’t have much way to compare.

    The Web site suggests that the soap is a good gift for “programmers who don’t regularly bathe and need some special motivation” or “smelly co-workers that sleep too much.”

    The packaging and the site never actually promise that the soap will wake you up, but the thunderbolt image on the wrapper suggests that might be the underlying goal.

    So I was hoping for a jolt, and even attempted to skip my morning cup of joe to see if the soap would satiate the craving. Alas, each day I stepped out of the shower longing for a blue and white paper cup of goodness.

    Except for the two times I showered at night. Then, I just promptly fell asleep.


Want to try a bar?

No problema.



July 26, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Illuminated Tweezers


From the website:

    Illuminated Tweezers

    These tweezers have two integrated LEDs that turn on when the slightest pressure is applied to the gripping arms, providing illumination where it is needed most during the delicate removal of splinters or whenever the tweezers are used.

    Unlike steel tweezers that can corrode, these are made of rust- and shatterproof polycarbonate, and each tip has three interlocking gripping ridges for strong traction during use.

    Includes three CR 2025 batteries.

    4-3/4"L x 1-1/2"W x 3/4"D.


July 26, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The angel of death is a cat named Oscar


Dr. David M. Dosa's remarkable report appears in the latest issue (July 26, 2007) of the New England Journal of Medicine.

You think you have better, more important things to do than to read it — but you're wrong.

You'll only realize your error when Oscar (above) or his equivalent snuggles up next to you.

Here's the piece.

    A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat

    Oscar the Cat awakens from his nap, opening a single eye to survey his kingdom. From atop the desk in the doctor's charting area, the cat peers down the two wings of the nursing home's advanced dementia unit. All quiet on the western and eastern fronts. Slowly, he rises and extravagantly stretches his 2-year-old frame, first backward and then forward. He sits up and considers his next move.

    In the distance, a resident approaches. It is Mrs. P., who has been living on the dementia unit's third floor for 3 years now. She has long forgotten her family, even though they visit her almost daily. Moderately disheveled after eating her lunch, half of which she now wears on her shirt, Mrs. P. is taking one of her many aimless strolls to nowhere. She glides toward Oscar, pushing her walker and muttering to herself with complete disregard for her surroundings. Perturbed, Oscar watches her carefully and, as she walks by, lets out a gentle hiss, a rattlesnake-like warning that says "leave me alone." She passes him without a glance and continues down the hallway. Oscar is relieved. It is not yet Mrs. P.'s time, and he wants nothing to do with her.

    Oscar jumps down off the desk, relieved to be once more alone and in control of his domain. He takes a few moments to drink from his water bowl and grab a quick bite. Satisfied, he enjoys another stretch and sets out on his rounds. Oscar decides to head down the west wing first, along the way sidestepping Mr. S., who is slumped over on a couch in the hallway. With lips slightly pursed, he snores peacefully — perhaps blissfully unaware of where he is now living. Oscar continues down the hallway until he reaches its end and Room 310. The door is closed, so Oscar sits and waits. He has important business here.

    Twenty-five minutes later, the door finally opens, and out walks a nurse's aide carrying dirty linens. "Hello, Oscar," she says. "Are you going inside?" Oscar lets her pass, then makes his way into the room, where there are two people. Lying in a corner bed and facing the wall, Mrs. T. is asleep in a fetal position. Her body is thin and wasted from the breast cancer that has been eating away at her organs. She is mildly jaundiced and has not spoken in several days. Sitting next to her is her daughter, who glances up from her novel to warmly greet the visitor. "Hello, Oscar. How are you today?"

    Oscar takes no notice of the woman and leaps up onto the bed. He surveys Mrs. T. She is clearly in the terminal phase of illness, and her breathing is labored. Oscar's examination is interrupted by a nurse, who walks in to ask the daughter whether Mrs. T. is uncomfortable and needs more morphine. The daughter shakes her head, and the nurse retreats. Oscar returns to his work. He sniffs the air, gives Mrs. T. one final look, then jumps off the bed and quickly leaves the room. Not today.

    Making his way back up the hallway, Oscar arrives at Room 313. The door is open, and he proceeds inside. Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.

    One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her patient. She pauses to note Oscar's presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.'s chart off the medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.

    Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently nuzzling Mrs. K. A young grandson asks his mother, "What is the cat doing here?" The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, "He is here to help Grandma get to heaven." Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath. With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that the grieving family barely notices.

    On his way back to the charting area, Oscar passes a plaque mounted on the wall. On it is engraved a commendation from a local hospice agency: "For his compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded to Oscar the Cat." Oscar takes a quick drink of water and returns to his desk to curl up for a long rest. His day's work is done. There will be no more deaths today, not in Room 310 or in any other room for that matter. After all, no one dies on the third floor unless Oscar pays a visit and stays awhile.

    Note: Since he was adopted by staff members as a kitten, Oscar the Cat has had an uncanny ability to predict when residents are about to die. Thus far, he has presided over the deaths of more than 25 residents on the third floor of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families. Oscar has also provided companionship to those who would otherwise have died alone. For his work, he is highly regarded by the physicians and staff at Steere House and by the families of the residents whom he serves.

July 26, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Quik Top Can Sealer — 'Convert any can into a screw-top bottle'



From the website:

    Quik Top Can Sealer

    Put a stop to those endless half-full cans of fizz left around going flat, attracting wasps or getting knocked over.

    These clever little gadgets convert any standard can of carbonated drink into a screw-top bottle.

    Leakproof and secure, they are so useful whilst travelling, at school or in the car.


"Whilst" — be still my heart.


2 for £6.99.

[via babygadget.net and cooking-gadgets.com]

July 26, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Last Supper Mashup: Lego + Leonardo = Legonardo (aka Udronotto)


Marco Pece is an Italian artist who posts his work on Flickr under the alias

Above and below,


Udronotto's take on Leonardo's iconic painting, "The Last Supper" (below),


created between 1494 and 1998 and located in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.

July 26, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

World's First Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box



From the website:

    World's Only Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

    This is the only programmable cat box that automatically removes cat waste and rinses and dries the reusable cat box granules, ensuring optimal sanitation and comfort without the toil required with typical litter boxes.

    With the touch of a button, a mechanical scoop removes waste from the cat box, sending it to a toilet bowl or utility room drainage pipe through an attached drain hose and rapidly removing it from your home.

    Once the waste is removed, the basin fills with water and cleaning solution similar to that used by veterinarians to sanitize examination tables, cleansing the basin and rinsing the cat box granules to eliminate germs and odors.

    The reusable granules will neither clump nor create dust and only require periodic replenishment.

    When rinsing is complete, an integrated hot air blower dries the granules.

    Includes cleaning solution and reusable granules.

    Unit attaches to a cold water line in a bathroom or laundry room.

    Plugs into AC.

    21"H x 19"W x 24"D.


Mos def not recommended for TechnoDolts™.

If they send me one to try out I'm gonna readdress it and mail it posthaste to Flautist, who'd be the ideal test pilot for this puppy... erm, kitty.


July 26, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« July 25, 2007 | Main | July 27, 2007 »