Americans Living In Latvia

Posted by ted @ 12:57 pm, March 21st, 2014

In mid January 2014 my wife, son and I moved to Latvia for a 6-month stay. My wife is teaching at Vidzeme University here on a Fulbright Fellowship. A number of friends and family have asked me about Latvia and our stay here, so I am writing this short article to share some things I have learned and experienced in our first two months  here.

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How Oreos Are Unmade

Posted by ted @ 1:35 am, March 14th, 2014

An interesting and informative video showing how Oreo cookies are processed to recover their component parts. Did you know, “half the flour consumed in the United States is extracted from Oreos”? I did not know that. They also get cocaine, gunpowder, cocoa and sugar! So interesting. Watch and learn! It gets particularly good after the 3 minute mark when the wizards show up.

Awesome Banana Sculptures

Posted by ted @ 11:00 am, April 19th, 2011

Check out these awesome banana sculptures from Japanese artist y_yamaden. You can find the whole set of pictures here. (Japanese language)

[Geekologie] via [Laughing Squid]

It’s Not That Funny, So Why Are We Laughing?

Posted by ted @ 8:53 am, March 22nd, 2011

wierd food names


I keep struggling to figure out what is going on here, it doesn’t make sense. I keep think it is starting to make sense, but then no, it still doesn’t make sense. Then why is it so funny? (B has sneaking suspicion it is the word “mork”)

Click through for much more…

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Decaf Coffee Explained

Posted by ted @ 8:48 am, March 10th, 2011


I always wondered about that, nice to get it cleared up finally.


[Fake Science] via [Endlesssimmer]

Is There Any Problem a Banana Can’t Solve?

Posted by ted @ 12:42 pm, September 12th, 2009


Well, okay, maybe there are some problems a Banana can’t solve, but over at re-nest they mark a few off the list with their post on “7 Ways To Re-Use a Banana Peel“.  They claim that Banana peels are not only good for shining shoes and plant leaves (wouldn’t that attract fruit flies?) but can also be used for relieving discomfort from itches and burns (although one commenter strongly disagrees with using them on burns). One can also tape a banana peel (now that sounds convenient!) over splinters and warts and the enzymes will help remove and heal them. They leave out the obvious old standbys like tripping up people chasing you. I honestly don’t know what to make of the supposed curative powers of the enzymes in banana peels, but what the heck, I am willing to give it a try the next time I get a mosquito bite or splinter.

Re-Nest [via LifeHacker]
(Image: Flickr user butler.corey licensed for use under Creative Commons)

Three things that make me laugh, every time

Posted by ted @ 5:00 pm, July 9th, 2009

Number one: a doormat, named Mat

Number two, a wonderful visual pun that speaks for itself (original source unknown):


Number three: a hilarious 20 second video pun, Obama’s Elf:

Just makes me laugh, every time I see them.

Breakfast Cereal – Fortified With Iron (Filings)

Posted by ted @ 10:20 am, June 4th, 2009

We read that iron added to fortified cereal is usually in the form of actual iron filings, which your body may not even be able to use. A box of Mini Wheats I recently purchased had an unusually large amount of crumbled cereal in it (over 4 cups!).

mini wheats

After calling for a coupon for a replacement box, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do some kitchen science and try to find these iron filings.
First we tried grind up the crumbs in a mortar and pestle.


We then  tried putting strong magnets in the powder. While some stuck, it was not clear if it was just stickiness and not magnetism, and it sure didn’t look like iron.



We then added water to make a slurry.

Needs more water.

Tried a stack of little rare earth magnets, but still nothing conclusive. We did see some movement in the liquid  when we passed the magnet over the liquid (but could not capture it with the camera), so we were on the right track, but still not satisfied.

mag slurry
Time for the big guns. Out with the blender and more crumbs.
Reduced crumbs to finer powder and added a generous helping of RO water.

iron0007 blend2

Poured into a little plastic container and applied magnet to the outside of the container. After sloshing and stirring around a bit we began to see a dark blob form on the inside of the container against the magnet.

iron blob 1

The blob is made up of small particles and moves with the magnet. Iron!

A little careful arrangement of magnet, camera and window light and (despite imperfect macro focus) we are finally able to clearly see the spiky little iron filings standing up on the side of the container.

iron filings 2


Yummmm . . . enjoy your breakfast.

Japan Goes Crazy For Bananas with Bananaman!

Posted by ted @ 9:22 am, April 9th, 2009


Here is a wonderful banana sighting from Japan. Dole has started an ad campaign there featuring a Bananaman who sprouts CGI bananas from his head and hands and even shoots bananas from his nose to cheer up sad women in the park.  Bananas consumption has apparently surged in Japan with the popularity of “The Morning Banana Diet” and Dole has decided to capitalize on the trend with these bizarre commercials. Hey maybe this guy should try to get a job at Dole? Enjoy the Banana filled goodness below.


Ice Cream Serving Robots

Posted by ted @ 9:02 am, March 5th, 2009


The students at Ohio Northern University put together an ice cream serving system with two Kuka robots and an Allen Bradley Micrologic 1500 PLC. While this kind of educational automation project may be common in university robot labs across the country, being a big fan of both ice cream and robots I thought I would give a nod to these students’ excellent work. They report that it took 26 students and 5 weeks to fabricate the system including writing all of the code and machining custom effectors. It takes 2 minutes to serve a cup of ice cream complete with spoon and toppings of choice. The students did not want to speed up this cycle time so the user could enjoy “an experience watching the system” and not just get fast ice cream. A nice touch is the way the robot arm moves a little, then lowers the cup under the soft serve machine to produce a nicely shaped point on the top of the ice cream serving. Watch it in action below.

[Dvice via TechEBlog]

Banana ’08

Posted by ted @ 7:40 am, July 19th, 2008

Apparently my message has reached the American public. It’s a movement people!

Ice Cream is not a food, it is a drug

Posted by ted @ 7:30 pm, September 11th, 2007

In his book, Fit Or Fat, Covert Bailey suggests a diet low in fat for overall health, but excludes ice cream from his lists of foods to avoid because he considers it a drug instead of a food. As someone with a rather high daily intake of ice cream, I could not agree more. He offered the example of how ice cream could be used to “cure” a child after a bump or bruise, and indeed I do seem to remember my parents administering an ice cream cone to me when, as a small child, my fingers were accidentally shut in a car door (causing more shock and fear than actual injury).

Apparently Demitrios Kargotis has taken this theory one step further with his Mr Whippy machine which doles out servings of frozen custard in serving sizes controlled by the amount of misery it detects in a voice stress analysis.


I wonder if it would give me a nice big serving because I am so unhappy about not having had any ice cream for the last 2 hours?

As I always say, “Every meal deserves a dessert doesn’t it? Well, breakfast is a meal!
and, “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!”

whew, I better go for a bike ride and burn some calories….

From [We make money not art] via [Boing Boing]

Clever folding spoon

Posted by ted @ 5:28 pm, June 5th, 2007

folding spoon

I was struck by the nice design of this clever little folding spoon found in the lid of single serving Skyr (a wonderful Icelandic dairy product similar to yogurt). It clicks into a locked open position to make a very functional spoon, and can be re-folded.

Meats of the World

Posted by ted @ 5:55 am, January 18th, 2007

Living in Reykjavik, Iceland I was not surprised to find whale meat at the meat market. I raised an eyebrow at the salted horse meat and reindeer meat, but I was aware that people ate those too. I was however slightly surprised to see kangaroo meat at the local grocery store, I guess I am just an over sheltered American.