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May 31, 2012

Spring — by Jack Gilbert

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Gilbert's "Collected Poems" was recently published by Knopf.

[via The New Republic ]

May 31, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Panic Button Light Switch

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That's different.

From the website:

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Standard U.S. light switch replacement with red Panic Button.

Acts as a dimmer switch, or smack it on or off.

Turn your room into a sci-fi thriller!

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Ed72_panic_button_light_switch_replacement

$24.99.

[via CSYCB]

May 31, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The helium bubble

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Long May 12, 2012 Washington Post story by Brad Plumer short: "The U.S. is running out of helium."

Caption for the graphic up top: "While government prices for crude helium have not quite doubled over the last 10 years, the price for privately-held, grade-A helium has nearly tripled in the same time period."

Excerpts from the Post article follow.

Thanks to a 1996 law that has forced the government to sell off its helium reserves at bargain-bin prices, the country's stockpile of the relatively rare and nonrenewable gas could soon vanish.

Party supply stores are already feeling the pinch, as helium shortfalls are driving up the price of balloons. But it's not birthday parties we should worry about. A severe helium shortage, experts say, would cause problems for large swaths of the economy, from medical scanners to welding to the manufacturing of optical fibers and LCD screens.

So how did we get to this point? Back in the 1920s, when blimps and other airships seemed like a useful military technology, the United States set up a national helium program. In the 1960s, it opened the Federal Helium Reserve, an 11,000-acre site in the Hugoton-Panhandle Gas Field that spans Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The porous brown rock is one of the only geological formations on Earth that can hold huge quantities of helium. And the natural gas from the field itself was particularly rich in helium — a relative rarity in the world.

By 1996, however, the Helium Reserve looked like a waste. Blimps no longer seemed quite so vital to the nation's defense and, more important, the reserve was $1.4 billion in debt after paying drillers to extract helium from natural gas. The Republican-led Congress, looking to save money, passed the Helium Privatization Act, ordering a sell-off by the end of 2014.

There was just one small hitch. According to a 2010 report by the National Research Council, the formula that Congress used to set the price for the helium was flawed. Bingaman has dubbed it a "fire sale." The federally owned helium now sells for about half of what it would on the open market.

And, since the Federal Helium Reserve provides about one-third of the world's helium each year, this has upended the entire market. There's little incentive to conserve, recycle or find new sources of helium. And once helium escapes into the air, it can't be recovered.

Worse, under existing law, the Federal Helium Reserve could run out of money to operate as early as mid-2013. When that happens, it will still have a large chunk of the world's helium supply locked in the reservoir — but no one will be able to access it.

About 40 million MRI exams are conducted each year to help doctors diagnose everything from strokes and cancer to torn ligaments. Yet a helium shortage could ruin them. Tom Rauch, a health-care supply-chain manager for General Electric, explained that the powerful magnet in an MRI machine must be constantly cooled by liquid helium. Without timely refills, the magnets run the risk of permanent damage.

May 31, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

PlugBook Powerstrip

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Netherlands-based Dave Hakkens is back (his creations appeared here previously).

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with a Kickstarter project called the PlugBook.

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He wrote, "My goal was to create a little extension cord/multiple socket for small in-house jobs. Like charging your laptop, drilling a hole, connecting a lamp etc."

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"I wanted it to be just there in the middle of your living room without being obstructive and with a good working cable. If you need it you know where it is and you can just grab it."

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"The plugbook is made in the shape of a book which hides itself between your other books. When you need it, just take it out and pull the cord. Simple as that! Inside the book is 10 feet/3 meter of cable. When you don’t need it anymore you press the button and the cord automatically rewinds. Just put it back on the bookshelf ready to go for next time."

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As of last night he'd raised $19,369 of the $45,000 necessary to proceed with production, with 24 days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign. 

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$25.

May 31, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THIS TREE IS UNDER VIDEO SURVEILLANCE. WE PROSECUTE POOPERS.

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Photo by the inimitable Wendy MacNaughton who added, "SF dog people: we are no longer F***ing around."

Fair warning.

May 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SmartScissors 4-in-1 Multi-Purpose Cutting Tool

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From the website:

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Replace four different cutting implements with the SmartScissors multipurpose cutting tool.

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It includes a flat blade for clean cuts, a serrated blade for sawing tough materials, a wire cutter, and a box opener.

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Handles allow for efficient gripping action, while the guards on both sides of the handles protect your fingers from pinching.

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Details:

• Saws through cables, rope, wood, leather, and plastic; cuts wire up to one inch thick

• Includes blade cap for safe storage

• Made in Japan

P62838a-3

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P62838a-1

$39.95.

May 31, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: How to make pea pods edible

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I'm talking about regular pea pods, not the slender ones often found in Chinese dishes.

This marks the third and final installment of a three-part series focusing on peas (Part 1 appeared May 18 and Part 2 on May 24.

Wrote Elaine Sciolino in an April 25, 2012 New York Times Dining section story, "He [Laurent Soliveres, executive chef at Guy Savoy, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe] taught me how to make pea pods edible by painstakingly peeling away the tough, translucent inner-membrane with a sharp knife. 'I learned this from my grandmother,' Mr. Soliveres said. 'It's a work of patience.'"

Can't wait to try this.

May 31, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Fadeout Chair

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Designed by nendo.

From their website: "The Fadeout chair's legs seem to gently disappear, as though the chair stands in a pool of mist or fog. The chair's back and seat are wooden, and the clear acrylic legs are specially painted by craftsmen so that the wood grain appears to gradually fade away. Usually, our perception of furniture is strongly affected by the space around it. The Fadeout chair turns this relationship on its head: we can change the look and feel of a space simply by placing the chair in it. This was our attempt to design space itself through furniture."

Apply within.

May 31, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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