The Most Expensive Cup of Coffee I’ve Ever Had

I like coffee. I like to brew coffee. But I don’t like spilling coffee. So when I spilled some coffee on my relatively new Macbook Air recently, I was a little upset. Coffee, it seems, even in small quantities, is very good at shorting out electronic circuits.

Coffee beans spilling out of an orange Fiestaware cup.

It cost me $742 to repair, making that particular cup of coffee the most expensive cup of coffee I’ve ever paid for. Clearly, I needed a better solution for keeping the coffee on my desk away from my electronics.

Enter The Incredible Spill Not

This amazing device from Edmund Scientifics uses the power of centrifugal force, lateral force, center of gravity, and a Möbius strip to keep your coffee in the mug and not on your computer. Check out this demonstration:

So there you have it. Protect your computer and have some fun with science at the same time with the The Incredible Spill Not, just $12.95 (a significant savings over $742).

 

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Ghost Bikes

The phenomena of Ghost Bikes is both haunting and touching. When a cyclist is struck down by a vehicle, it’s not unusual for a securely locked bike, painted entirely in white, to appear at the site of the accident within a few days to a few hours.

This site becomes a memorial for the lost cyclist and a reminder that when bikes and cars crash, it’s the cyclist who loses (while auto drivers can go uncharged).

People who aren’t cyclists don’t seem to like this practice very much, so the life of a Ghost Bike can vary wildly.

Ghost Bike in Pasadena

Ghost Bike in honor of Alan Deane, who was struck by a car and killed on this spot on September 22, 2011. It was his 61st birthday. This bike was removed by the city of Pasadena just before the 2011 Rose Parade.

Ghost Bike, Avenue 64

Ghost Bike in honor of José Cuellar, who died under mysterious circumstances after a crash on this spot on June 24, 2013. Thanks to the property owners, this bike remained in place to serve as a reminder of this dangerous and confusing corner — at least until March 22, 2014, when it was ripped off the fence and thrown across the street. The bike was recovered and secured to a nearby pole.

ZKO Films

In an effort to bring awareness to urban cycling, ZKO Films, an independent film company out of Long Beach, California, has produced a 60-minute documentary about the cultural significance and importance of Ghost Bikes.

You learn learn more about the Ghost Bike film project at GhostBikeFim.com and see more Ghost Bikes at the ZKO Films Tumblr.

And as a motorist, please take it easy on the cyclists — they’re a lot more fragile than you are. I recommend reading Bicycling Street Smarts to help both cyclists and motorists understand how to safely share the road.

 

 

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Hot Pigs: The Bacon Jalapeño Savory Breakfast Donut

The Perfect Donut for People Who Don’t Like Donuts

There are many great donuts on the menu at Donut Friend in Highland Park. Most (if not all) of these have great music-themed names like G.G. Almond, Nutellavision, and Coconut of Conformity. But what’s really cool about this place is you can build your own donut from their massive selection of available toppings.

I’m not really a sweets type of guy, so I built a savory breakfast donut, something I’ve taken to calling Hot Pigs, named in honor of the seminal Frank Zappa album Hot Rats.

a custom=created donut from Donut Friend.
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Stuff You Don’t Need: ToneFone

ToneFone iPhone Case

We all know you don’t really need a case for your phone, but let’s pretend, for a moment, that you do. If you really feel you need a case for your iPhone, you certainly don’t need the ToneFone .

Um. No.

Despite being constructed of 100% British Steel, and boasting that it is  ” … a revolutionary new case for iPhone 5 and 5s that turns your phone in to a weight loss device by increasing its weight to up to 1 or 1.5kg – allowing you to work out wherever you are,” it’s just not something you need to own.

I mean, just look at it …

Um, what?

Actual sales copy, presented without further comment: “You get a text you get fitter, your mum calls you, you get fitter, you check Facebook and you get fitter, even when you order a takeaway you get fitter. You can take it with you anywhere and every time you pick your phone up you’ll be working out.”

Yet even though it’s a completely ludicrous product, it seems to be sold out. Go figure. I’m not fully convinced that it’s not a prank.

But let’s continue with the idea that you want to drop upwards of $40 to wrap your sleekly designed chunk of technology in a clunky protective sleeve. If you really want to do this, you could do worse than the OtterBox Commuter Series Case.

And by worse, I mean the ToneFone — you just don’t need it.

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On Corkscrews: The Best Corkscrew to Open a Bottle of Wine

In general, corkscrews aren’t the greatest of tools. Yes, they are the best way to open a bottle of wine, but they’re often either challenging to use, over-engineered, or prohibitively expensive.

On one hand, there’s the classic Waiter’s Corkscrew (also known as the Waiter’s Friend), which is a pretty good tool. But it usually requires a certain amount of skill and application of a fair bit of pressure while balancing part of the corkscrew on the thin glass lip of the bottle.

If you’re going to use a Waiter’s Corkscrew, I recommend a really cool one, like the Legless Pirate Corkscrew.

Legless Pirate Corkscrew

Most Waiter’s Friends come with a churchkey, so it easily opens beer (and soda) bottles, too. Bonus!

And then there’s the Wingman — at least that’s what I called it when I was a kid, but it’s also known as the Butterfly. This thing works okay, but it’s pretty clunky, perches precariously on the top of the bottle while you turn the screw in, and is overall just cumbersome.

Butterfly Wine Opener

Serious wine aficionados seem to like the Twin Prong Puller, which consists of two pieces of flexible metal attached to a wide handle and it doesn’t look like it can open anything.

It’s also commonly called the Ah-So Wine Opener because (according to Wikipedia) when you find out how it works, you say, “Ah, so that’s how it works.” I can confirm that’s pretty much what I said when I was shown how to operate one. It’s good in a pinch — if you know how to use it. Even then, getting the cork out without chunks falling into the wine isn’t always a sure thing.

Twin Prong Wine Puller

A great solution for when you want to show off that you actually know how to use this thing.

Of course we can’t forget the Rabbit Ears Wine Opener, the Table-Top Wine Opener, and the ultimate in wine-opening laziness, the Electric Wine Opener — all of which are super-slick but expensive and even bulkier than the Wingman.

Rabbit Ears Opener

Just look at this thing … what are you doing? Surgery?

And let’s not talk about the standard twist-and-pull corkscrew. No one likes using that thing, not really.

Twist-and-Pull

This is never a good idea.

However, by complete contrast to all of those options is the Quirky Verseur, by far the easiest, fastest, and best corkscrew I’ve ever used.

Quirky Verseur Wine Opener

Simply slide the flared plastic tube of this odd-looking device over the top of the bottle, squeeze gently to hold it in place, insert the corkscrew until the tip pierces the cork, and and start turning clockwise. The cork comes out without much effort. No pulling, no prying, nothing but a clean, extracted cork 100% of the time.

But it’s not just one tool — it’s four tools rolled into one. In addition to being the best corkscrew, there’s a recessed foil cutter in the handle to help you swiftly get to the cork (it takes a few times to get the hang of using this), a pouring spout for drip-less wine delivery, and a minimalist stopper to keep the wine you don’t drink fresh. Everything fits together in one piece for easy storing. It’s a wine-opening multi-tool.

 

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Gear Check: Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp

When I hiked the John Muir Trail in 2012, my plan was to wake up with the sun, start walking, and keep going until the sun started to set. And that’s pretty much what happened for the 13 days I was on the trail.

Now I didn’t plan on doing any hiking at night, but I do know that sometimes the trail and the plan don’t agree. So I decided to bring to a headlamp along— just in case. But I was also counting my ounces to keep my pack weight under 30 pounds.

Enter the Princeton Tec Byte, which was one of the smallest and lightest headlamps available at the time I was gearing up.

Pricenton Tec Byte Headlamp

At only 64 grams (2.25 ounces), it didn’t add a lot of weight to the pack. And while it’s not the brightest light in my gear collection, with its ability to pump out  50 lumens at a range of 15 meters and a boasted 96-hour battery life (on the low setting; battery life drops to 2 hours with a range of 30 meters on the high setting), it seemed like the perfect tool for the job. It even has a red light mode to (allegedly) preserve night vision. It runs on two AAA batteries, which I kept charged up with the Goal Zero Nomad 3.5, and accessing the battery compartment to swap them out was a lot easier than with any other headlamp I’ve ever owned.

Princeton Tec Red Light

I never had to use it, but I was sure glad to have it.

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That Time Jonny Quest Met Hellboy …

Remember that Jonny Quest-Hellboy team-up?

Of course that never happened. But we can see how awesome it would have been, thanks to the nostalgic retrofitting of artist Derek Langille.

Jonny Quest Meets Hellboy

Hellboy enjoys a good laugh with Race Bannon, Dr. Benton Quest, Jonny Quest, and Hadji.
No word on what Bandit was up to.

That picture is from the end of the story, when everyone was all friendly. But before that, things were a little more tense …

Jonny and Hadji with a mysterious lurker.

Jonny and Hadji with a mysterious lurker (available as a spooky animated GIF on Derek Langille’s site.

[via Superpunch2]

 

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True Detective True Fan

I Can’t Stop Thinking About True Detective.

But as much as I like it, other people like it even more …

Over at We Keep the Other Bad Men from the Door, designer and a True Detective true fan, Nigel Dennis has created a comprehensive, interactive infographic of nearly every character who has appeared on the popular HBO show.

The site is really well done, and Dennis’s fondness of the show is evident in every way. Even the title of the site is a tribute to one of Rust Cohle’s ruminations on life from the third episode, “The Locked Room.”

“The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”

Rust and Marty by Nigel Evan Dennis

1995 Rust & Marty

Dennis also details some of the show’s supporting ideas, like the Yellow King (with excerpts from the book by Robert Chambers), Cohle’s M-Brane Theory, a map of the show’s events for the geographically challenged, and one of the many hypotheses (spoilers, naturally) that have propagated across the Internet since the show’s debut.

My favorite segment of the site (which is saying a lot) is the infographic-style rendition of the much-talked about long-take tracking shot in episode four, “Who Goes There.”

Entrance and escape from the Hoston Projects by Nigel Evan Dennis

Escape from the Hoston Projects

And just to round things out, Dennis has thoughtfully included a countdown timer (Eastern Standard Time) so you know exactly how long you have until your next True Detective fix.

Big Hug Mug and Lone Star Beer

I’ll take a sixer of Old Milwaukee or Lone Star, nothing snooty.

Dennis is selling very limited posters ($100 each, limited to eight) and postcard sets ($50 for a set of 5, limited to 20) of the artwork he’s created for the site at his store — and don’t pass up the chance to pick up your own Big Hug Mug on eBay ($50-$80).

Now if you’re like me and you can’t stop thinking about True Detective, be sure to check out Kevin McFarland‘s excellent weekly episode recaps over on BoingBoing. (he does the same for Justified, too, another show I enjoy watching).

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Stuff You Don’t Need: Eggminder Internet Connected Egg Tray

Bad Eggs No More

We’ve all been there. You’re out somewhere, like maybe the big game, enjoying yourself without a single worry when suddenly — the fear takes hold. A deep, primal, all-consuming fear. You can’t shake it off, you can’t escape it.

No, you do not need the Eggminder.

You know the fear of which I speak … the fear that the eggs you have stored in your refrigerator are no longer good.

Wonder no more!

For a mere $100, you can instantly know the status of the eggs in your refrigerator from anywhere in the world thanks to the Eggminder Internet Connected Egg Tray.

No, you don’t need this.

That said, an egg tray is a pretty nice addition to any refrigerator. If you do need something to hold your eggs, I suggest one of these fine items:

Angry Egg does not appreciate being monitored.

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North/South on the John Muir Trail

John Muir Trail Highlights: Muir Trail Ranch

Rest, Relaxation, and Resupply

When I hiked the John Muir Trail, I opted to re-supply at Muir Trail Ranch (better known on the trail as MTR), largely because it’s the last easily accessible outpost of civilization available to southbound hikers until Whitney Portal.

However, when I arrived at MTR, they’d been open to hikers for a day or two, and they weren’t yet offering their full list of backpacker services. In fact, My short visit was a little, well, strange.

Muir Trail Ranch hiker's entrance.

Muir Trail Ranch: outside looking in.

So I didn’t get to experience the log cabins (or the tent cabins), the hot spring baths, or the legendary hot meals. Even the Shakehouse Store wasn’t really open yet.

But over at PCT Trailside Reader, JMT Hiker Corrina Peipon writes about her visit to Muir Trail Ranch. She enjoyed the full luxury treatment and includes plenty of photos of the place.

It looks like a great place to hang out for a day. I look forward to visiting again.

 

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