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March 20, 2011

"The Cloud Collector's Handbook"


From yesterday's Wall Street Journal review of Gavin Pretor-Pinney's new field guide, "The Cloud Collector's Handbook": "Gavin Pretor-Pinney is... a man who loves the open air and collects impalpable things that will never clutter shelves, gather dust or annoy spouses."

"Mr. Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, 'a global organization that fights 'blue-sky thinking,' which I had not realized could be considered bad. Clouds should not be maligned, he argues, simply because they can be gray and bring bad weather. His 'Cloud Collector's Handbook' is a portable adjunct to his society's website, addressed to anyone who spends time gazing at the sky, more or less idly, wondering about the names or nature of its vaporous denizens."

"In its sleek, small format, 'The Cloud Collector's Handbook' is meant to be a practical guide that can be tucked away in a pocket, ready for those moments when you spot a juicy cloud but don't know what to call it. The model is clearly bird-watching, whose enthusiasts have all sorts of field guides for their wanderings. Each entry in the cloud handbook includes color photographs of a particular type of cloud (all taken by members of the Cloud Appreciation Society) and a space for sky-watchers to inscribe the proud moment and place where they spotted . . . well, what was that, exactly?"

At the top, "the extremely rare Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud."


Note added March 30, 2011 at 1:56 p.m.: Cornelia Dean, in a March 29, 2011 New York Times Science section review, described the book as a "serious yet charming field guide to clouds."

Serious and charming are two words rarely used to describe the same thing.

March 20, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Limited-Edition Love Songs Playbutton


From the website:



Opening Ceremony is excited to recreate the mixtape experience with Playbutton, the innovative company that produces button-shaped MP3 players.

The first OC Playbutton, love songs, includes a suite of new, previously unreleased, and exclusive songs.

Playbutton features Pause, Skip, and Volume functions; music selection is fixed.

Edition of 500.

Track List:





March 20, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Perigee Moon" over England's St. Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor hill


"In these photos from March 19, 2011, people stand beside St. Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor hill in England, watching the so-called 'supermoon' as it progresses across the sky."

"'Because the moon's orbit is oval, there is a point where it is the closest to the Earth, known as its perigee,' said Geoff Chester, an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington. On Saturday, the moon's closest perigee of the year happened to occur within one hour of the monthly astronomical phase of the full moon, which together created the rarely seen increased illumination and size."

According to NASA, this is the closest the moon has been to Earth in nearly two decades.


Photographs by Ben Birchall.

[via ABC News and Bend Bulletin]

March 20, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bicolor Wedge


Designed by Atalanta Weller.

Apply within.


March 20, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Disproof of Bell's Theorem



From Oxford's Joy Christian and arXiv.org: "We illustrate an explicit counterexample to Bell's Theorem by constructing a pair of dichotomic variables that exactly reproduce the EPR-Bohm correlations in a manifestly local-realistic manner."

[via Richard Kashdan]

March 20, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: not edible.

Another: smaller than a breadbox.

March 20, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

"Schlepless Costco" — Groupon on Wheels?


The headline of Ann Carrns's story in yesterday's New York Times reads "A Man With a Truck Brings Costco to You."

A very interesting business model, quite clever, the brainchild of one Michael Eberstadt.

Excerpts follow.


Monster Savings deliver Costco orders to Manhattanites, even non-Costco members

It almost sounds too good to be true: Getting the savings of shopping at  Costco, without the hassle of getting to the store. Yet Michael Eberstadt says he’s for real, and that’s just what he offers to Manhattanites on his Web site, MonsterSavings.com.

Two weeks ago in his Your Money column, Ron Lieber compared Costco with Amazon.com’s “subscribe and save” discount service, which gives customers lower prices for regular deliveries of nonperishables like toilet paper and paper towels.

The upshot? He couldn’t argue with Costco’s prices, but questioned its value for New Yorkers, given the time and hazards (errant grocery carts and hapless drivers in the parking lot) of getting to and from the store.

After the column was published, we learned about Mr. Eberstadt’s “schlepless Costco” option. If you order from his Web site by 10 a.m., Mr. Eberstadt pledges that he or a colleague will get your order from Costco and deliver it that day. Delivery is currently limited to Manhattan businesses, or apartment buildings with attendants. For the past two years, Mr. Eberstadt ran the business himself under a different name (www.bigboxdeliveries.com) and delivered orders with a single 16-foot box truck. But now, he says, he is adding delivery staff, has an improved Web site and is about to buy a second truck.

Mr. Eberstadt... says he doesn’t charge delivery fees. Rather, he splits the savings with his customer. If a 30-pack of toilet paper, say, costs $20 at Costco and $30 at a competitor, he charges $25. The customer saves $5, and he pockets the difference. (One caveat: The order must generate at least $40 in savings, or the difference is made up in what is, essentially, a delivery fee. That usually isn’t a problem, he says, since most orders are large; the Web site keeps a running total of the order and lets people know their cost before checkout.)

“We’re able to crush everyone on price,” he says. And you don’t have to be a Costco member to use his service.

Mr. Eberstadt says you could order from Costco.com, but it’s slower and you’ll often pay more — shipping fees for a case of water can be hefty.

Yoram Rubanenko, Costco’s vice president for operations in the Northeast, said the company was pleased to be getting Mr. Eberstadt’s business. But he noted that his customers were paying a “lot more” than they needed to buying through Monster Savings. “The least expensive way to shop is to be a member and go to one of our warehouses,” he said in a brief phone interview.

Mr. Eberstadt said he checked with Costco’s lawyers and confirmed that the company had no objection to his making deliveries to people who were not Costco members. Essentially, he says, he is considered one big customer, and the store is eager to help him. Costco’s business coordinator at the store on East 116th Street, where he shops, receives the e-mail orders from his customers, pulls the items, charges Mr. Eberstadt’s credit card and has everything ready for him to pick up. His customers include businesses that like to stock up on water and paper goods, he says, and soccer moms ordering snacks for their children’s games.

March 20, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

R2-D2 Silicone Tray


Keep a "Stars Wars" Astromech Droid in your fridge or freezer.

Think not just ice but jello, chocolate or anything moldable.

Mmmm, aspic.


[via Las Lentejas]

March 20, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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