Oct 30, 2009

Talk to Your Coffeepot

Voice Interactive Coffee Maker.

This is the first voice-interactive coffee maker that asks, "Would you like to set the clock or set the coffee brewing time?" and operates in response to your verbal commands. Simply saying, "Set the coffee brewing time," or "Set the clock," will prompt the machine to reply, "Please say the time, including AM or PM."

It uses an advanced voice recognition system to identify any time of day you speak, eliminating the hassle of fussing with buttons. It brews up to 10 cups at once and allows you to remove the carafe during brewing to pour a cup. For the Luddites, it can also be operated manually. Of course, why would you buy it to operate it manually. Talk about a deal, it cost less than a hundred bucks.

Oct 29, 2009


Here is a great short video of a chameleon changing colors. A guy puts different colored sunglasses in front and each time the chameleon touches one, the color changes.

Oct 28, 2009

Stimulating Stimulus Study

As part of the stimulus this past Spring, Kaiser Permanente received 25 million dollars and is embarking on a two year genetic analysis of 100,000 older Californians. Genetic data from a diverse group of California patients will be gleaned from samples of saliva.

Doesn't look like any new jobs were created, but researchers will be able to study the data and seek insights into the interplay between genes, the environment, and disease, along with access to detailed electronic health records, patient surveys, and records of environmental conditions where the patients live and work.

The object is to produce a very large amount of genetic and phenotypic (what organisms look like) data that investigators and scientists can begin asking questions of. Researchers will look for genetic influences that determine why some people suffering from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes deteriorate more rapidly than others, and find which genetic factors reduce the effectiveness of various drugs or make them hazardous. How stimulating. I thought the stimulus money was to be spent to stimulate jobs?


The term, pork is sometimes used to describe legislative appropriations meant to favor specific projects, to gain favor, or repay political debts for legislators. Now we have something new - stimulated pork.

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service spent $24.3 million of stimulus funds for pork. It bought $16.9 million of canned pork, $2.6 million of ham, and $4.8 million of sliced ham. The Agriculture Department is sending the meat to food banks as part of a $150 million effort to feed hungry Americans.

Top 11 Bread Facts

Here are some scary facts about bread that you might not know and an interesting measuring cup.

  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
  2. Half of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; diseases such as typhoid, and yellow fever ravaged whole nations.
  4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
  5. Bread is made from a substance called 'dough'. It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average person eats more bread than that in one month.
  6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
  7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
  8. Bread is often a 'gateway' food item, leading the user to 'harder' items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts or bacon.
  9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
Most bread eaters are unable to distinguish between real scientific facts and useless statistical babbling. Maybe I should have saved this for April 1.

Jokes Pay

I love reading studies about odd things. For instance, if you are a waitperson you probably are concerned about the tips that you receive from customers. One way to increase tips might be to leave a joke on a card with the bill.

Someone conducted a study about tipping at a bar. Each person in the study was randomly assigned to one of three conditions, no card with the bill, an advertising card with the bill, and a card with a joke on it with the bill.

They found that a higher percentage of customers gave a tip in the joke card condition than in the other two conditions. In contrast, the difference between the advertisement card and the no card, the percentage of people tipping was not statistically significant.

These findings indicate that humor may increase tips. One possible explanation of the effect of humor on tipping is that it reflects the reciprocity principle, which suggests that we should help someone who helps us. Providing a joke on a card can be viewed as helping the customer and it may make the person more happy and cheerful. The customer, in turn may wish to reciprocate by providing a tip. That reminds me of a joke about the waiter and a spoon. . .

New Halloween Costume

This is featured in Target, Toys ’R’ Us, Walgreens, Amazon, and several other retailers. It comes with a relatively large green card that read “Green Card”.

 The description on the costumes packaging reads “He didn’t just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy!” “He’s got his green card, but it’s from another planet! Sure to get some laughs”.

Now the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and several other pro-illegal immigration rights groups have stepped in and cried foul. They claim that it is inappropriate. Notice it doesn't say "legal aliens." If the shoe fits. . .

Sugar and Hyperactivity

Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder or those considered "sensitive" to sugar. In fact, it was found that the difference in the children's behavior was all in the adults' minds. Isn't that sweet.

Smart Choices

Speaking of sugar, do you remember a few weeks ago I posted an article about the green checkmark 'Smart Choices' logo that was supposed to indicate that the food was healthy? In my post, I wrote, "Sounds like green checks are the new green stamps, but with no value." Seems the Food and Drug Administration agrees with me and said it "could be misleading to consumers."

The food industry group is voluntarily halting promotion of its nutrition labeling program due to the regulators comments. Of course, I am sure my blog didn't help the cause either. Ha.

They launched the "Smart Choices" program in August to identify foods that meet certain nutritional standards and then highlight them for consumers with a green label on package fronts.
Smart Choices, has been criticized for handing its green seal to processed foods that are high in sugar.