Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Staircase bookshelves..

Seems pretty easy to do to any staircase... especially if you wanted to keep it on one side and simply narrowing the climb (would you have to make them detachable/fold-able for moving furniture?.. look at the below link for ideas!).

So easy to do, and best place to read and reference a book on the fly? Yes.


Also, some other thoughtfully designed staircases here!

Wow, this is just embarrassing.

Hot people for coal. This is hilarious. Via Direct link isn't working to that post, but read this instead - Why “Clean Coal” Isn’t.

Over at Grist last month, Dave Roberts boiled down the scam: “They leave the definition of ‘clean coal’ deliberately ambiguous. As ACCCE spokesman Joe Lucas said on NPR the other day, ‘clean coal’ is an evolutionary term.” By “evolutionary,” of course, he means, “whatever we need it to mean at the moment.”...

It becomes a game of rhetorical bait-and-switch. Point out that there are exactly zero commercial power plants in the U.S. that sequester any carbon emissions, and “clean coal” advocates talk about how they’ve reduced “emissions” (though not greenhouse gasses). Mention that coal-burning power plants are still the country’s largest source of acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide pollution and airborne emissions of birth-defect- and brain-damage-causing mercury pollution—or that they’re responsible for roughly 24,000 deaths every year in the United States—and ACCCE will tell you that they’re a mere ten years away from perfecting the art of carbon capture.

And that’s not to even speak of the devastation wrought from mountaintop removal mining or the toxic waste left over after coal is burned.

Ken Burns' National Parks

I've had a couple people ask for this torrent... it's not available yet, but you can watch the entire series (plus outtakes and extras!) for free until October 9th, when by then, a torrent should be available(?!)

Black bear begs for food at a Yellowstone roadside, 1937

Episode One: "The Scripture of Nature" (1851–1890)

The astonishing beauty of Yosemite Valley and the geyser wonderland of Yellowstone give birth to the radical idea of creating national parks for the enjoyment of everyone; John Muir becomes their eloquent defender.

Haven't had the chance to watch it yet... but looking forward to it.

Updated from here.

UPDATE 09.10.09: Torrents here

Do you drink from public water fountains?

"The rise of bottled water here in the States shows how a public institution can be demonized and replaced by a much more expensive privatized solution.

If you can put down the alcohol wipes to look at the numbers, though, you'll learn that tap water is safe, and that the government standards for tap water are higher than the standards required for the commercial stuff.

Charter schools are like bottled water--they're believed to be superior, and their standards are less stringent that their more public counterparts. (Yes, I know that charter schools are part of the public school systems, but they are not public in the sense that they equally accept all students. This difference matters.)"

(via Boingboing)

Reminds me of the loss of community Pier Giorogio discussed in this excellent "The Agenda" episode:

Also, on a COMPLETE side note, potential health benefits for schools... making water as available as candy and pop.. "students who attended schools that encouraged water drinking were 30 percent less likely to be overweight."

"That poor bird..."

A SUPER large egg.. with a surprise! (umm.. don't look below.)

How it's done here:

(via geekpress!)

Stressed hens.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coffee, Alzheimer's and sleeping.

Sleep and Alzheimer's:

Researchers studied levels of amyloid beta — a protein that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s — in mice genetically engineered to have a version of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid levels rose in the brain when the mice were awake, and fell when they slept. When the researchers prevented the mice from sleeping, it made matters worse [Reuters - via ]. Sleep deprivation accelerated the formation of plaques made of amyloid beta, they found.

Amyloid beta, N60.. now RanBP9 protein.. so complex.

My father goes with the theory that genes are everything. And currently they are too complex and intertwined for us to be able to deal with... With the one key exception of no smoking (no drinking is not on the list!), he tends to feel that no matter what else you do (sleep patterns, eating habits, vitamins, anti-oxidants, coffee, dark chocolate, etc.. ) you're at the mercy of your genes, within a year or two of your life, either way.

Quality of life is a bit different... a fairly recent study revealed a very strong correlation between waist size and glucose intolerance. Glucose intolerance, or insulin resistance is when your body starts to become desensitized to absorbing sugars... this directly results in increased insulin production (higher blood glucose level - body compensation), increased blood fatty acids, continual decrease in muscular sugar uptake, type 2 diabetes and eventual cardio disease. Basically, keep your waist under 1 meter (39 inches). Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent...

So, back to Alzheimer's. Today is National Coffee Day (yeah, wtf... ). Coffee has also been shown to have positive effects (5 cups! no problem!) on Alzheimer's, reducing the same amyloid beta said to be reduced during sleep. There now seem to be so many different factors being exposed with either helping or hurting your chances with Alzheimer's.. More? Sex, fruits, vegetables, calorie intake, headaches, even being read to as a child! Basically, type in Alzheimer's in google along with any random word, and you'll get some hits. There is a ton of money in Alzheimer's right now. Anyway, seems like just about everything we do has an effect, and it seems to all average out in the end... so maybe dad was right..

Also, who wants more sleep?! I wish I had this:

Gene mutation reduces required sleep

of course, if you wanted to go even further with the connections, try this:

How age changes your sleep..

"When we're little, we have a lot of very high, slow brain waves at the beginning of the night," Carskadon says. "And that seems to be the best, most restorative kind of sleep."

But as the decades go by, these peaks diminish. If adolescent brain waves are the Himalayas, then by early adulthood, they're Rocky Mountain peaks. And in the elderly: think Appalachians or just foothills.

As we age, it's easier to wake us, Carskadon explains, "because those high, slow waves are very protective for disturbances in the environment" — things such as a snoring partner, or a barking dog. "

Basically, you can't win. And yeah, I realize I'm a bit all over the map on this post... it's just too easy to continue with the Connections (torrent!).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Intuition Tokyo Line .

Investing with intuition(?)

It was Patrick Maloney of the Lemelson Foundation who suggested to me that vetting high-risk, early-stage efforts is really about pattern recognition. He explained that you get really good at recognizing one “pattern” that works—one type of team or approach that is likely to succeed. But recognizing one pattern doesn’t mean that you’re good at catching all of the good ideas. You end up missing a lot of things that might succeed, because you’re really good at seeing the single type of pattern you know. As Maloney explained to me, “You may get good at picking grants that work, but you’ll never be great at picking what won’t work, because you don’t know what other types of things, outside your pattern, will succeed.”

And this is where the power of networks comes into the picture.

This really reminds me of conversations I used to have in university with Eric Chang... so, in light of that, here is an abbreviated trip to Japan montage!

While the cats away...

This was taken not even a year ago. Krispy Kreme. The clock tower in the background shows it's after 10:30, pm obviously... Enormous line-up outside... unbelievable.

The next day...

Dad gets his pores checked out.

These may be slightly out of order...

Video from a Tokyo mall!

Does it fold? It almost folded!

Your nearest Starbucks

I still swear by Mitzi's across the street - not actually that good coffee :( - but really, coffee with milk is coffee! And it's across the street...

Your Maximum Starbucks density

JP  •  Jan 24 2005  •  3:36PM

I've got 63, but with a Caribou Coffee right across the street, I try not to notice.

Two things are pretty common in D.C.: Starbuckses and liquor stores.


My old work address in Manhattan (45th and Madison) has 169 stores within 5 miles. Put your address into the Starbucks locator and see what your Starbucks density is.- Kottke

Dublin Gets a Bike Share Program

In case you missed it last week: Dublin now has a new bike share system called dublinbikes. Dubliners can get a “subscription” to the service for a year for 10 euros. With a subscription, you can take out a bike for up to 30 minutes for free (and for longer periods by paying a graduated fee). Visitors can get a 3-day pass for two euros.

Another reminder to live everyday.

Yeah, I don't usually post stuff like this, and I know this kind of thing happens every day, every second, and, I suppose, much much worse... but, I'm posting it as another reminder for me...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life turns around!

What a great idea... application could use some work. The iphone really has nothing to do with this, but it's a nice idea...  just, don't think you wanna go around biking monocularly.

There are now bike targeted gps systems too...

I've been holding out.

Great article (from Jeremy) about endurance, psychology, biking, and the inner oyster!

Great article (from Jeremy) about endurance, psychology, biking, and the inner oyster!

In a consideration of Robic, three facts are clear: he is nearly indefatigable, he is occasionally nuts, and the first two facts are somehow connected. The question is, How? Does he lose sanity because he pushes himself too far, or does he push himself too far because he loses sanity? Robic is the latest and perhaps most intriguing embodiment of the old questions: What happens when the human body is pushed to the limits of its endurance? Where does the breaking point lie? And what happens when you cross the line?

The craziness is methodical, however, and Robic and his crew know its pattern by heart. Around Day 2 of a typical weeklong race, his speech goes staccato. By Day 3, he is belligerent and sometimes paranoid. His short-term memory vanishes, and he weeps uncontrollably. The last days are marked by hallucinations: bears, wolves and aliens prowl the roadside; asphalt cracks rearrange themselves into coded messages. Occasionally, Robic leaps from his bike to square off with shadowy figures that turn out to be mailboxes. In a 2004 race, he turned to see himself pursued by a howling band of black-bearded men on horseback.

‘‘Mujahedeen, shooting at me,’’ he explains. ‘‘So I ride faster.’’


In all decisions, Stanovnik governs according to a rule of thumb that he has developed over the years: at the dark moment when Robic feels utterly exhausted, when he is so empty and sleep-deprived that he feels as if he might literally die on the bike, he actually has 50 percent more energy to give.


In 1999, three physiologists from the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa took the next step. They worked a group of cyclists to exhaustion during a 62-mile laboratory ride and measured, via electrodes, the percentage of leg muscles they were using at the fatigue limit. If standard theories were true, they reasoned, the body should recruit more muscle fibers as it approached exhaustion — a natural compensation for tired, weakening muscles.

Instead, the researchers observed the opposite result. As the riders approached complete fatigue, the percentage of active muscle fibers decreased, until they were using only about 30 percent. Even as the athletes felt they were giving their all, the reality was that more of their muscles were at rest. Was the brain purposely holding back the body?

‘‘It was as if the brain was playing a trick on the body, to save it,’’ says Timothy Noakes, head of the Cape Town group. ‘‘Which makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. In fatigue, it only feels like we’re going to die. The actual physiological risks that fatigue represents are essentially trivial.’’


‘‘I find motivation everywhere,’’ Robic says. ‘‘If right now you look at me and wonder if I cannot go up the mountain, even if you are joking, I will do it. Then I will do it again, and maybe again.’’ He gestures to Mount Stol, a snowy Goliath crouched 7,300 feet above him, as remote as the moon. ‘‘Three years ago, I got angry at the mountain. I climbed it 38 times in two months.’’

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canada's fertility rate hit a 15-year high!

Good work, ladies over 30!

(this kids cracks me up.. I'm in the office, and can't stop smirking... needing to pretend that it's something funny someone else said!)

Women aged 30 to 34 gave birth to 115,415 of the 367,864 babies born in 2007, more than any other age group and the second consecutive year they led all age groups. And all women 30 and over accounted for 56 per cent of all births.
The trend of more women having children later in life helped Canada hit a number of fertility milestones.
  • The total number of births was the highest since 1995 and the fifth consecutive annual increase.
  • The fertility rate, or the average number of children per woman, increased from 1.59 in 2006 to 1.66 in 2007, the highest since 1992.
  • Total births from 2006 to 2007 increased by 13,247, or 3.7 per cent, the fastest annual increase since 1989.
The increase in births from 2006 is all the more surprising because 2006 was itself a banner year for births.

Baby boom happening around the world

The baby boom is not unique to Canada, Statistics Canada said in its report. Other countries with low fertility rates, such as the United States, Australia, Spain and Sweden, have also experienced an increase in their fertility rates.

Personally, I think this is pretty freaking awesome. I mean, people are making adult choices these days and are able to advancing their lives/education/careers as they choose! There seems to be a mini-baby boom as children of baby boomers have the fantastic opportunity to wait... and hence the delay in child birthing in developed countries for all women(?)... and now it seems to be time if you did want a family(?). I don't know, maybe my perspective is not full enough. I guess, a decrease in religious importance may play a factor?... I think I'm gonna stop here with the printed over-analysis on this subject!

Gravitational waves

So there have been a few of these proposed, and some have been built on earth... to my knowledge, none have been done in space yet. Ok, first things first; what are gravitational waves and why are they important?

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events in the distant universe, for example by the collision of two black holes or by the cores of supernova explosions.

Quoting from the article: "The team says the observations should help them understand how galaxies and supermassive black holes evolve together, shed light on the physics of the early universe such as inflation as well as probing the nature of space-time, perhaps revealing quantum gravity corrections to classical gravity. It may even throw up some new sources of gravitational waves."

The "this applies to everything" theory... and yeah, it kinda does. It would be great to see how one coudl unify classical gravity to quantum gravity. Moreover, Einstein predicted them in his theory of general relativity, they are potentially a source of energy (just as ocean waves are on earth), they mesh/work with multi-dimensional theories, and seem to be essential to the unification theory.

How to detect these waves: basically, shoot a light across a long distance and see if it ripples, or strains under 'gravity'..

How one of these wave detectors looks on earth - The LIGO detector can see ripples in space from neutron stars...

And future projects: have detectors calibrated in space over much larger distances for greater sensitivity.

The NANOGrav team estimates the cost of its project over ten years to be a mere $66 million.

It expects to be up and running by 2020 and at that price looks remarkably good value. Of course, this will not happen on time or budget.

2009 Polaris Music Prize winner - Fucked Up "The Chemistry Of Common Life"

Well, they certainly put on quite a performance!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cheese. The making of.

Who doesn't want to make cheese? Something I would need someone's help with, that's for damn sure. Looks pretty complicated, and temperature/time sensitive.. Apparently mozzarella is the training grounds for this stuff..

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Song of the day: Secret Heart

Originally written by Ron Sexsmith in 1995

secret heart
what are you made of
what are you, so afraid of
could it be, three simple words
or the fear of being overheard
whats wrong?
let her in on your secret heart

secret heart
why so mysterious
why so secret, why so serious
maybe your, just acting tough
maybe your just, not man enough
whats wrong?
let her in on your secret heart.

the very secret, your trying to conceal,
is the very same one, your dying, to reveal,
go tell her how you feel

secret heart,
come out and share it
this loneliness, few can bear it
could it have, something to do with
admitting that you, just cant go through it alone,
let her in on your secret heart.

Made even better (?!) by Leslie Feist. Absolutely gorgeous live version. 

Man, I love how she plays guitar.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kari's cottage

Located on Charleston Lake, we made our way out of the city during rush hour Friday.. it wasn't all that bad, and we were pretty much always moving, perhaps due to the return back to my place for meat I forgot...

Picked up Adam at his office at Queen's Park. Should have gone in and seen it.. didn't think.

Stopped in Whitby to eat and bring up some ribs and pulled pork.

Some of us were lucky enough not to be driving...



When everyone else went to sleep I had the opportunity to take a few dozen night shots... which I won't show you cuz I respect your time.

Pretty self explanitory.

Golf balls from the bottom of the lake... Apparently the hardest Jordan has worked to play a bit of golf. Final score: 13-2?

Adam learning to golf. As great as it sounds!

Massive bbq w massive amount of meat for 6 people. Claire mixed the burgers according to a family recipe... And I have to say, I think they were probably the best burgers I ever had. Yeah. That good.

Dinner, consisting of 2 racks of ribs, 18 burgers, salad, fried onions and mixed vegetables. Top 5 dinner. Everything was so good.

Later, at the fire, looking at the drinks and the sauna.

Coal Miner's Daughter; Hastings kept the fire burning large that night.

The array.

I'm unhappy to report there was some bicep kissing that night.

Not my feet...

Those golfing tips really show!


Wrist deep in the stinker.

Out on the motorboat.