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October 29, 2009

'Could a kid float away on a balloon?' People have short memories...

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It was just 27 years ago, on July 2, 1982, that one Larry Walters (above and below) astounded the world when he "... took flight in... Inspiration 1, a 'flying machine' [which] consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. Walters rose to an altitude of 16,000 feet and floated from his point of origin in San Pedro, California into controlled airspace near Los Angeles International Airport."

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True.

According to an FAA regional safety inspector, "... the flying lawn chair was spotted by TWA and Delta jet pilots at 16,000 feet."

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Wrote Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio, "Lawn Chair Larry — Larry Walters — tied helium balloons to this lawn chair in 1982...

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... with the idea that he'd go for a short flight, just to see what it was like. He miscalculated things, though, and ended up soaring to 16,000 feet, where the pilot of an airliner uttered -- for the first time in history -- the words, 'I've just passed a guy flying in a lawn chair.'

"Lawn Chair Larry's plan was to shoot out the balloons with a pellet gun when it was time to descend, but he dropped the gun. He eventually landed in Long Beach."

But I guess because it happened before the Internets, it never really happened at all.

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How else to explain Margaret Shapiro's October 20, 2009 Washington Post Science section story whose headline is in quotes (in mine) up top, which doesn't even mention Walters?

October 29, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bathsheba Grossman — Episode 2: 3-D Models from astronomy, biology and physics

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Back in 2005's Episode 1 she was just getting going, focusing on metal sculptures.

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Four years later she's expanded her offerings to include laser crystal renderings of things astronomical and microscopically biological,

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among other varied and sundry explorations subsumed under "the art of geometry."

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Also on offer are less expensive plastic versions (above and below) of her metal pieces.

[via Joan Palma]

October 29, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steampunk Facebook Group

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Charles Babbage, call your office.

October 29, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jammin' Johns — 'Music to your rear'

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Their phrase, not mine.

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Dolly Parton and Steven Spielberg

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are among those

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who own one.

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$169–$179.

[via Milena]

October 29, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Police Alert for 'Peephole' Drivers

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No — it's not what you think.

Peephole drivers are people in cold climates who chip just enough ice off their windshields to see out, then get in their cars and drive away.

Most everybody who lives in a cold place knows one....

Here's Larry Copeland's October 26, 2009 USA Today story about the phenomenon.

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Police alert for 'peephole' drivers as winter nears

As snow and temperatures start to fall, it's "peephole driving" season in the USA.

Many Americans have done it: gone outside to an ice-covered vehicle on a cold winter's morning, chipped just enough ice off the windshield to see through and driven away.

Peephole driving dramatically reduces a driver's field of vision, and it increases the likelihood that snow or ice can become dislodged and hit another vehicle or a pedestrian, according to police and safety advocates.

"Everybody is in such a hurry to get where they've got to go, they don't want to take the time to completely defrost their windows," says Sgt. Scott Kristiansen of the Buffalo Grove Police Department in suburban Chicago. "That puts everybody at risk.

"Reasonable people who would never think of leaving their driveway with worn tires or bad brakes will routinely drive their children to school after scraping just a small peephole with which to see out of the vehicle," says Kristiansen, a 26-year veteran in the village of about 42,000 northwest of Chicago.

In Illinois and some other states, police can cite drivers for obstruction of a window or obstructed vision. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drivers can be cited if their failure to remove snow or ice causes injury or property damage.

New Jersey strengthened its law last week. Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, signed legislation requiring drivers to "make all reasonable efforts" to remove snow or ice from the roof, hood, trunk and windshield. For truckers, the law applies to the cab, the top of a trailer or semitrailer and the top of a freight container. Drivers who fail to comply face a $25-$75 fine.

"There are many stories of innocent drivers who have died or been seriously injured because of ice or snow dislodged from a truck or car," says Republican state Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, a sponsor of the law. "Finally, common-sense legislation that protects drivers by requiring the removal of potential flying debris is now law."

There are no reliable statistics on the number of people hurt or killed because of peephole driving, says David Weinstein, spokesman for AAA clubs of New Jersey. "Often, the driver doesn't know what happened and drives away," he says. "Or they do know what happened and know they're culpable and drive away."

Technical Trooper Tim McCool of the Kansas Highway Patrol says he has seen peephole driving increase in his 27-year career as people grow more impatient. He estimates that peephole drivers have 2%-3% of the normal field of vision. As winter looms, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles advises, "Peephole driving is an invitation to disaster."

October 29, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

For Sale by the New York Times: Game-Used Dirt from Old Yankee Stadium

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Who would've thought the mighty Grey Lady would've been reduced to peddling dirt?

Times are tough in the newspaper business but this is ridiculous.

Get yours while it lasts.

$79.

October 29, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Muck Rack: Journalists on Twitter — 'Established in 2009'

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There, I've gone and outed them.

That's OK, they're clever people, they'll manage.

October 29, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Moonage Daydream Collar

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By Amanda Assad Mounser for Assad Mounser, based on David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

Agate slices, amethyst chunks, polished stones, metal and crystal.

$395.

October 29, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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