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November 18, 2007

'All your base are belong to us' — The movie

"All fields of the standard model and gravity are unified as an E8 principal bundle connection. A non-compact real form of the E8 Lie algebra has G2 and F4 subalgebras which break down to strong su(3), electroweak su(2) x u(1), gravitational so(3,1), the frame-Higgs, and three generations of fermions related by triality. The interactions and dynamics of these 1-form and Grassmann valued parts of an E8 superconnection are described by the curvature and action over a four dimensional base manifold."

[via A. Garrett Lisi, akiranikkatsu and Stephen Bové]

November 18, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Loose Leaf Tea Thermos


From the website:

    Tea Thermos

    The best tea thermos you will ever have, with a Duluth Pack logo.

    It comes ready with a filter to brew your favorite loose leaf tea and hop on the road.


Clear, Blue or Red.


November 18, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Dinner is served — 165 feet up'

Jayne Clark's November 9, 2007 USA Today story about the new new thing in dining — dangling 165 feet above the ground off a platform suspended from a crane, in a chair that swivels 180°, got me to thinking — what if one of the diners starts to feel sick?

Better have the area below cordoned off with a generous wind allowance.

Here's the article.

    Dinner is served — 165 feet up

    Here's a dining concept that'll make your head — if not your stomach — spin: It's dinner at a table suspended 165 feet in the air with chairs that swivel 180 degrees.

    Dubbed Dinner in the Sky, the attraction is making its U.S. debut Monday in Orlando at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions convention. About 25,000 attendees are expected at the one-stop-shopping event, where the amusement industry rolls out new thrill rides and related products.

    The high-flying dining venue was introduced in Europe last year and consists of a platform suspended from a crane. Guests are harnessed into 22 seats, with space in the center for a chef and two helpers. With local officials' blessings, the platform can be transported to just about anywhere the crane can maneuver. One recent spot: in front of the Amiens Cathedral in France, with dinner prepared by a three-star Michelin chef.

    "It was like eating with the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ," quips David Ghysels, co-founder of the Belgium-based company.

    Ghysels sees all sorts of U.S. possibilities for the dangling restaurant, including air space over the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and golf courses.

    "I think human beings always like to see what's happening from the air," he says. "And there are so many wonderful natural spots in the U.S. Dinner in the Sky could go anywhere."

    The restaurant (dinnerinthesky.com) belongs firmly in the special-occasion category, however. The cost for eight hours is about $11,444 — not including catering.



I'll pass.

November 18, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Giant Talking Calculator


We've seen giant calculators here before but never with a "Repeat" button — until now.

From websites:

    Jumbo Talking Calculator

    A calculator that is easy to use, and hard to lose!

    Big enough to see and loud enough to hear!

    This calculator is the largest calculator on the market and it's easy to use, even for people whose fingers are all thumbs.

    It has easy-to-see and easy-to-find soft rubber buttons that measure 1-1/8" by 7/8".

    To do standard calculations, just press the number pads which have large white numbers. The numerals appear on the large easy-to-read LCD screen that measures 1-5/6" high by 5-3/4" wide for easy viewing.

    In addition to the large size and buttons, the calculator has a pleasant voice that will inform you of the digit/unit you have just pressed and the total.

    Other features include three levels of volume control (off/soft/loud) that allows you to lower — or turn off — the voice function by pressing the volume button.

    Also, if you wish to hear the voice, but do not want to disturb those around you, there is a headphone jack on the side so you can plug in headphones, and there is a repeat button to replay the total amount.

    As large as this calculator is, it is very lightweight, and when you are done using it, it will turn itself off.

    Best of all, given its large size, the odds of losing it in a desk drawer are pretty slim!

    Buy yours today, and be able to see and hear what you are calculating!

    Requires 2 AAA batteries (not included).



Amazingly, it's even cheaper than the mute iteration of 2005 noted above.


November 18, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just so stories: Tofurky


Yesterday's Washington Post Business section front page story by Ylan Q. Mui explored the origin of this artfully named product (above), a soy-based version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

FunFact: The product's inventor, Seth Tibbott, was so poor he was living in a treehouse in rural Washington state back in 1986 when he had his epiphany.

FunFact #2: He expects to sell 270,000 Tofurkeys by the end of this holiday season.

Here's the article.

    Vegetarians, Meat-Eaters Dig In To Send Sales of Tofurky Soaring

    Seth Tibbott was just an ordinary hippie living in a treehouse when inspiration struck.

    The year was 1986, and Tibbott had hoped for six years that his small business selling vegetarian meat alternatives in rural Washington state would catch on. Success proved elusive — the treehouse was the only place he could afford to live — until he developed a soy-based version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. He called it Tofurky.

    "It's a name that resonates with consumers," said Tibbott, who grew up in Chevy Chase. "We're fine with the fact they think it's funny or they get a smile out of it. You remember jokes."

    Tofurky hit store shelves in 1995, and the meatless dish has become a cultural phenomenon, even showing up on the TV shows " Jeopardy" and "The O.C." Tibbott's company, Turtle Island Foods of Hood, Ore., has annual revenue of $11 million. Tofurky sales have grown 37 percent this year from 2006. He expects to sell 270,000 Tofurkys by the end of the holiday season, which translates to 438,000 pounds of tofu, wheat protein, canola oil and spices.

    The concept was born of Tibbott's vegetarian frustrations. After attending Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, he left for college in Ohio in 1969 and returned home having sworn off meat. Thanksgiving was particularly tough, he said, recalling a nasty bout with a stuffed pumpkin and a rock-hard gluten roast.

    "We were looking for something for an answer and we figured there's probably other people out there," he said.

    A 2006 poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group found that about 2 percent of adults are vegetarian, meaning they do not eat meat, poultry or seafood. The total was up from about 1 percent from a similar study the group conducted in 1994. The percentage of adults who do not eat poultry in particular grew to 6 percent from 3 percent.

    The market, meanwhile, has been helped by omnivores who seek alternatives to meat for health reasons. They helped turn vegetarian foods into a $1.2 billion industry last year, up 44 percent from 2001, the consumer research firm Mintel said. The report found that 23 percent of non-vegetarians eat meat alternatives, though consumers still say the products cannot match the real thing.

    John Cunningham, consumer research manager at the Vegetarian Resource Group, which has received donations from Tibbott's company, acknowledged that Tofurky does not taste like turkey. That doesn't mean it doesn't taste good, with a firm texture and a salty, savory flavor. It just tastes different.

    "It can take the place of a big piece of meat," he said. "People are feeling a little bit neglected because all they get to eat are side dishes" during the holidays.

    Tibbott started Turtle Island Foods in 1980 with $2,500 in savings and later with investments of $5,000 from his mother and $17,000 from his older brother, Bob, who lives in Chevy Chase. Originally, Tibbott peddled a product called tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans. He started making 100 pounds of tempeh after hours in the cafe of a cooperative in Oregon, then delivering it to clients in Portland overnight.

    Two years later, he moved the shoestring operation to an abandoned elementary school in a small logging town in the Cascade Mountains. The building had no heat, but it was near a scenic river and about a mile from Tibbott's treehouse. It was cheaper than renting an apartment, and he could not afford much else. The treehouse was not quite as primitive as it sounds — there was electricity and phone service. At night, flying squirrels passed by his window.

    Tibbott lived there for seven years before marrying and moving in with his wife, Suzanne, who lived in a more traditional apartment. When Tofurky hit, the treehouse days were gone for good.

    Tibbott had seen a similar name used informally on other products, but he shortened it to have the same number of letters as a telephone number and had it trademarked. The first version of Tofurky, made from soy milk, was a mammoth affair with eight tempeh drumsticks. Tibbott said he had visions of families giving thanks over a large Tofurky, only to realize that just a few people at any gathering were likely to eat it. The latest version serves three or four people, and the drumsticks were replaced by cranberry apple potato dumplings.

    The quirky product slowly gained notice. In 2000, it was mentioned in an episode of the TV show "The "X-Files." A year later, Tofurky was a question on the game show "Jeopardy." (No one got the correct answer.) The comedian Ellen DeGeneres brought up Tofurky on her show in 2003 and drew laughs from the audience.

    "People don't believe me," she said. "There is a Tofurky."

    Though Tofurky has attracted the most attention, Tibbott's company makes a range of faux meats. In fact, its best-selling products are vegetarian sausage and hickory-smoked deli slices. The Thanksgiving Tofurky roasts rank fifth in popularity and make up about 17 percent of the company's revenue.

    Despite the industry's rapid growth, mainstream appeal may be limited. Harry Balzer, vice president at consumer behavior research firm NPD Group, said that less than 1 percent of households will be putting a meat alternative on their table this Thanksgiving. The National Turkey Federation estimates that 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey Thursday, adding up to 46 million gobblers, the most of any holiday.

    "Clearly," Balzer said, "it's a strong tradition."


Can he make one for you?

November 18, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Snack Helmet — Feed your game face


From the website:

    Deluxe NFL Snack Helmet

    Serve all-star snacks — NFL helmets can even add team spirit to your chips and dip.

    Full-size plastic helmets are equipped with a lift-out, dishwasher- and microwave-safe snack bowl plus a removable dip tray (with divider) behind the face guard.

    A real head-turner on your tailgate buffet!



College versions here.

November 18, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Should a pre-nup include a cheek swab?


Perhaps yes, now that the era of personal genomics is upon us.

Yesterday's Financial Times (FT) story by Clive Cookson described how the new "DeCodeMe" service from DeCode Genetics will provide an extensive look at a person's DNA for under $1,000.

Dr. Kari Stefansson, DeCode's CEO, "... conceded the system could be abused: for example, by a subscriber who obtained someone else's DNA by deception and then sent it in as his or her own. 'If you want to commit a crime, there is nothing we can do to stop you,' he said."


Here's the FT article.

    DNA test brings personal genome closer

    The era of personal genomics came a step closer on Friday with the launch of the first commercial service to give people an extensive look at their own DNA for less than $1,000.

    DeCode Genetics, based in Iceland, said its “DeCodeMe” service would tell subscribers whether they had genetic variants associated with many common diseases, as well as their ancestry and non-medical traits such as susceptibility to baldness.

    Although personal DNA testing has been available for several years, it has focused on a few genes. DeCode, in contrast, tests more than 1m genetic variants. But the Icelandic company, which has a strong record of discovering disease-causing genes, will not have the field of large-scale genetic testing to itself.

    Several competitors, including Californian start-ups 23andMe and Navigenics, are about to provide similar services.

    For a $985 (€672, £480) subscription, customers will send in a cheek swab to DeCode. A few weeks later they will be able to navigate around a password-controlled website to find out as much personal information as they want. The service will be available in Europe and North America.

    “We will include all the common diseases, including Alzheimer’s,” said Kari Stefansson, DeCode chief executive. “If, as a competent adult, you choose to look at your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, that is your prerogative. But no one will force you to look at your Alzheimer’s risk if you do not want to.”

    Dr Stefansson conceded the system could be abused: for example, by a subscriber who obtained someone else’s DNA by deception and then sent it in as his or her own. “If you want to commit a crime, there is nothing we can do to stop you,” he said.

    Apart from concerns over privacy and the potential abuse of genetic data, some critics of genomic testing say there is not yet enough scientific knowledge linking genetic variations to disease. Craig Venter, the DNA sequencing pioneer who has analysed his whole genome in great detail, said he had found little useful information about his own health.

    Dr Stefansson maintains there is a strong scientific foundation, which people can use to alter their own lifestyle in response to genetic risks. But subscribers might use the service for enjoyment as much as for health planning, he said. “You have the opportunity to engage in a fun and interesting exchange when you compare your results to those of your friends.”

November 18, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Portable Driving Range


From the website:

    Extreme Challenge Cage Net

    Lets you work on nearly every aspect of your golf game in your own back yard.

    Rugged enough for kids to practice soccer and T-ball, too.


    • Ground stakes

    • Nylon carry bag

    • Expandable poles

    • Two background tarps

    • Full 13-foot driving net

    • Removable 18-hole chipping tarp

    • Two chipping baskets at different heights for variable skill levels


"Your own back yard?"

Don't limit yourself.

Set this puppy up at a friend's house, a park or a hotel parking lot and whale away.


November 18, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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