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April 5, 2011

Marker balls on a wire*


Interesting column by C. Claiborne Ray in today's New York Times Science section about marker balls, what look like yellow, orange or white basketballs on overhead electrical wires.


She wrote, "They are mostly used to warn aircraft so they do not hit the wires.


"The marker balls are usually a high-visibility orange, but they can be other colors, depending on surroundings. Some power-line markers glow because of the electrical fields [corona effect];


other balls have patterns or flashing lights."

An in-depth discussion of marker balls may be found here.



Information on how to calculate how much a power line will sag under its own weight and the weight of marker balls is available here.


You can purchase your very own marker balls here.


According to Tana, a marker ball manufacturer, "Our standard color is International Danger Orange, however, Yellow and White are available as an option. In some cases, these colors prove to be more visible, depending on the surrounding terrain.  In some circumstances, such as river and canyon crossings, the FAA recommends an alternating pattern of Orange, Yellow, and White."

I'm thinking that installing these from a helicopter probably pays very well.


*Apologies to Leonard Cohen.

April 5, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Splinter Tweezers


These were reviewed by Anton Benson in the latest edition of Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, edited by Oliver Hulland, as follows:


I received these lighted magnified tweezers as a stocking stuffer a few years back, and although I am fortunate enough to have great eyesight, these tweezers are absolutely amazing for inspecting and removing any splinters that might find their way under your skin.

They use a single LED light that is perfectly pointed at the tips of the tweezers and a large 4x magnifying lens that helps to see those skin-colored cactus spines or tiny pieces of glass. The tweezers themselves are extremely sharp and are made for getting in there, more so than any other purpose.

The only drawback is that the tweezer tip protector is easily misplaced and without it, the tweezer tips can pierce toiletry bags and get bent.

Overall, these are fantastic tweezers for finding your way around minuscule splinters or other small jobs in need of magnification and illumination.

Note: Carson also makes a model without an LED, and another with increased magnification (5.5) but apparently without a light, though the photograph on Amazon depicts the presence of a light.



April 5, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MondoWindow: Why I'll be asking for a window seat next time I fly


Wrote Natasha Singer in an April 2, 2011 New York Times story, "[Stamen Design] has just designed a site, mondowindow.com, that shows airline passengers a detailed satellite map of the landscape they are flying over [top] — and lets them direct the view."

"For passengers with Wi-Fi access who enter their airline and flight number on the site, MondoWindow displays more than just the terrain below. It also offers information bubbles highlighting different place names, local landmarks and tourist attractions like schools and botanical gardens, and photos of native fauna, like a blue jay."


April 5, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Limited-Edition White Leica — the snow leopard of cameras


Unlike the white iPhone, this actually exists.

From Pursuitist: "The white leather finish of this new Leica special is a clean, bright alternative to the classic black and silver models typical of the M8 series. Technically, the specifications and features of the M8 White Edition are identical to those of the standard models. It is available in a set which includes the popular silver anodized Leica Elmarit-M 1:2.8/28mm ASPH lens. Just 275 numbered examples will be made, at a price of 7000 euros."

April 5, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

36 Events That Forever Changed History


They're the subject of an online course taught by J. Rufus Fears, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.

Its full title is "The World Was Never the Same: Events that Changed History."

I can't speak for you (on the record, that is) but I can assure you that I find lists irresistible, far more so than accident scenes: the latter I no longer bother turning my head to look at but the former, well, I can always make time for a list.

Anyhoo, up top are the 36 defining events as selected by Fears.


April 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cohiba Cigar Pen


From the website:


Solid brass medium ballpoint (standard refill) black ink pen with a hand wrapped enamel finish and authentic Cohiba cigar banding.

Stores in hand made custom rosewood box featuring an engraved Cohiba logo.

Deep and rich with a generous draw, the Cohiba Cigar Pen does a fine interpretation of its venerated Cuban inspiration — minus the smuggling charges.

6 inches long.


April 5, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



What does grey taste like?

In a story in Sunday's New York Times Business section, Gardiner Harris wrote, "Without the artificial coloring FD&C Yellow No. 6, Cheetos Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks would look like the shriveled larvae of a large insect. Not surprisingly, in taste tests, people derived little pleasure from eating them.

"Their fingers did not turn orange. And their brains did not register much cheese flavor, even though the Cheetos tasted just as they did with food coloring.

"'People ranked the taste as bland and said that they weren't much fun to eat,' said Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University and director of the university's Food and Brand Lab.

"Naked Cheetos would not seem to have much commercial future. Nor might some brands of pickles. The pickling process turns them an unappetizing grey. Dye is responsible for their robust green.

"'Color is such a crucial part of the eating experience that banning dyes would take much of the pleasure out of life,' said Kantha Shelke, a food chemist and spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists. Indeed, color often defines flavor in taste tests. Color creates a psychological expectation for a certain flavor that is often impossible to dislodge, Dr. Shelke said.

"'Color can actually override the other parts of the eating experience,' she said in an interview."

April 5, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

World's best flour duster*


Robert Narracci, writing in the latest edition of Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, edited by Oliver Hulland, reviewed it as follows: "I've used this flour duster for about five years and have found nothing else that can compete.


"It allows for remarkably light and even dusting of dough or a work surface. You simply squeeze the wire handle which expands the spring bulb so that the bulb wires have space between them. Then you stick it in a bag of flour, stop squeezing and the spring bulb closes around a golf ball-sized wad of flour.


"Then you shake it over a work surface squeezing gently (I tap it over my free hand à la David Byrne's 'Once In A Lifetime') and voilà; a very even dusting is achieved."



*Note that "flour wand" is synonymous with flour duster.

April 5, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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