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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mmmm….Fresh Bread at San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery


There’s something about the smell of freshly made bread. Before you even get there, you can smell it….the freshly made sourdough French bread. The smells flood your senses and you are drawn in as if you were being pulled along. Keep walking, it’s not far…San Francisco’s renowned Boudin Bakery is just ahead.
Boudin Bakery and Cafe SanFrancisco 1 Mmmm....Fresh Bread at San Franciscos Boudin Bakery
Image by wallyg
It started way back in 1849, when the Boudin family opened the original Boudin French Bakery. Just a tiny little bakery, amongst many others in San Francisco, the Boudin Bakery brought something new to the table….a little bit of old world taste. As the story goes, it was the wild yeast that make their bread a little tart. It was that same tartness that brought into existence what is affectionately known today as “San Francisco sourdough French bread”.
Keeping true to the Boudin family heritage, that sourdough recipe is still used to this day. And unbeknown to many, a small portion of the original “mother dough” is used to start each and every day’s batch of sourdough bread.
Something else that makes the Boudin Bakery a place to go…besides the fresh sourdough bread, wonderful clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, etc….is the fact that they make their bread in all shapes and sizes, right before your very eyes.
There are sourdough turtles, lobsters, crabs, teddy bears, alligators and more. There is even a 5-foot sourdough alligator…try taking that guy for a walk.
So, follow your senses (or your GPS) the next time you are in San Francisco and you’ll be sure to come across the wonder that is the Boudin Bakery.
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Images by Loren Javier and Nemo’s great uncle
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Post office marks new first-class stamps 'forever'

This handout image provided by the US Postal Service shows a postage stamp honoring jazz appreciation forever, a design which is included in the 2011  
AP – This handout image provided by the US Postal Service shows a postage stamp honoring jazz appreciation …

WASHINGTON – Postal patron Sean Swilling is tired of the inconvenience that comes with every change in the price of mailing a letter. That makes him just the type of customer the U.S. Postal Service wants to please with a policy designating all new first-class stamps as "forever."
Beginning in January, all new stamps good for 1 ounce of domestic first-class mail will forgo a printed denomination and be acceptable for the typical letter regardless of the current postal rate.

"I think that's a great idea," Swilling, a research analyst for commercial property, said Tuesday during a mail run at a downtown Washington post office. "For me, a guy who uses snail mail regularly, it's a hassle to get 1- or 2-cent stamps. Streamline things — that would be perfect."

The move is designed to help customers cope with postage increases, a Postal Service official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The official requested anonymity to discuss a policy that hasn't been announced formally.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe plans to announce the new policy Jan. 14, the official said.
Jim Plante, a federal employee mailing a letter in downtown Washington, doesn't see the policy as a major change in doing business.

"They get my money in advance, but I'll use them eventually. It will save me a penny or two," Plante said. "It won't cure their deficit, but if it helps them out a bit, why not?"

The Postal Service unveiled its first-class commemorative stamps for 2011 on Tuesday. All were marked with the word "forever" instead of the current rate of 44 cents.

The initial first-class stamp under the new policy will be the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit stamp, to be issued Jan. 22. It will be followed by stamps commemorating Kansas statehood on Jan. 29 and, in February, the centennial of President Ronald Reagan's birth.

The Forever Stamp, first issued in April 2007 and featuring the Liberty Bell, was designed for use regardless of changes in postal rates. They are sold at the prevailing price of domestic first-class postage.
The Postal Service says that 28 billion Forever Stamps have been sold since, generating $12.1 billion in total revenue. The stamps without denominations already account for 85 percent of its stamp program, the service says.

The Postal Service sought a 2-cent increase in postage rates for 2011, but the independent Postal Rate Commission rejected the request. The post office is appealing the decision in federal court.
The Internet and the economic downturn have been cited for a 3.5 percent decline in mail volume from 2009 to 2010.

The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion in the year ending Sept. 30, even after trimming more than 100,000 jobs in recent years, and estimates it will lose $6 billion to $7 billion in the next year. One of its proposals for dealing with its financial troubles calls for cutting delivery to five days a week instead of six, a change Congress must approve.
U.S. Postal Service:

South Jersey couple says 'I do' inside local Dunkin Donuts

The Associated Press 

A South Jersey couple tied the note inside their local Dunkin Donuts
GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP — There are caffeine-crazed coffee fanatics, and then there are Cliff Ranson and Elizabeth Fischer, the Williamstown couple who were married here Tuesday.
At the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 42 South.

The pair tied the knot in the Sicklerville coffee shop surrounded by machines brewing their favorite beverage, trays of glazed doughnuts and mounds of Munchkins.

And they couldn't be happier.

Getting married at the store "was kind of like our inside joke," Fischer said Tuesday as she and Ranson awaited the arrival of a minister. The two were, of course, drinking coffee.

"We constantly come here. We hit the drive-thru sometimes twice a night."

The java junkies don't measure their daily consumption in cups, said Fischer. "It's more like pots, really."

Fischer said Ranson proposed on Black Friday. The couple had been dating since April.

"(The wedding) is our Christmas present to us," said Ranson, 32, who noted one of the first things he did for Fischer after they met was to buy her a cup of coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.

Fischer, 27, said her mother suggested a Munchkin bouquet for the in-store nuptials.

"We're not doing that," said Fischer on Tuesday, "but we are going to have a big ceremony (in September), and instead of a wedding cake, we're going to have a doughnut tower."

The Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, Paresh Patel, said he got a call from Ranson last week asking if the couple could be married in his store.

"It's the first wedding ever in a Dunkin' Donuts, I believe," said Patel. "We're very happy for them."

He and his cousin Sam Patel, who is co-owner, presented the newlyweds with a gift basket of coffee and his-and-her mugs, boxes of doughnuts and a Mega Millions lottery ticket (Tuesday's jackpot was nearly $200 million). Patel also promised to make the doughnut cake for the September celebration.

As employees and a couple of customers looked on, the couple stood under a white crepe paper arch, faced each other and held hands.

The Rev. Deborah Kalinowski of Collingswood performed the brief ceremony and, at 4:22 p.m., pronounced the two married.

Now the couple can wake up and smell the coffee together as husband and wife.

It was the second marriage for each. The couple has four young children, ages 3 to 8, between them.
"With four kids," said Fischer with a laugh, "we need to run on Dunkin'."

For Ranson, a vice president of operations for a Philadelphia construction company, it's always black except for the four Equals added in the morning.

"I like a little sweetness when I wake up," he said.

For Fischer, now a stay-at-home mom, it's just black.
"We don't want anything to interfere with our caffeine intake," said the new bride.

British triplet born more than a decade after twin sisters -- any more coming?


An embryologist works in a petri dish during the in vitro fertilization process. British media report that a triplet was born from a frozen embryo more than a decade after her twin sisters.
An embryologist works in a petri dish during the in vitro fertilization process. British media report that a triplet was born from a frozen embryo more than a decade after her twin sisters. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

The British media is abuzz with news that a triplet was born 11 years after her twin sisters. It seems that, in the age of frozen embryos, all is possible.

The Daily Mail newspaper says experts proclaim the delayed birth to be a "record gap" for babies conceived at the same time via in vitro-fertilization. Twins Bethany and Megan Shepherd were born in Britain in 1998 and their remaining sister, Ryleigh, was born last month.

Apparently the Shepherds have more embryos from the same batch on ice, the story says. And now they  face the same dilemma other IVF parents face: What to do with leftover embryos?

The American Fertility Assn. offers this advice: "It’s a private issue gone very public. It's a complex web of personal philosophy, religious orientation and social conscience about which everybody, and we mean everybody, has a strong opinion. But the fact is, and should be, what you do with the frozen embryos you don’t use is your decision and yours alone." The options are limited to discarding the embryos, donating the embryos for research or donating to an infertile couple.

MRI: My Brain on Video Games

Matt Richtel playing a video game while having his brain scanned. 
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Matt Richtel playing a video game while having his brain scanned. Watch an audio slide show in which he describes the experience.
I’m lying in a $3 million M.R.I. scanning tube, a noise-canceling headset on my ears and a mirror contraption on my head that lets me see a television hung on the nearby wall.

This has got to be among the weirdest ways anyone has ever played a video game.

That’s what was going through my mind last month as I participated in an unusual experiment. While I was inside the machine at the University of California at San Francisco, researchers were sitting in a room nearby watching real-time images of the inside of my brain. (See an audio slide show about the experience and the science.)

The red areas show the parts of the brain that were active during multitasking.  
The red areas show the parts of the brain that were active during multitasking.
On two monitors, they saw changes in blood flow to various regions of my brain as I used a controller to maneuver a racing car along a winding track. And as I drove, I tried to ignore, or at other times react to, different shapes popping onto the screen.

“So,” I asked after the test finished, hoping my brain looked at least healthy and maybe somehow impressive to a neuroscientist, “what happened to my brain? What did it look like?”

“It’s not that simple,” responded the research leader, Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neurologist at the university.
Indeed not. It turns out that the test results, while they did show changes in activity in key brain regions (read on to the bottom and, no, my brain isn’t somehow impressive), were not particularly revelatory. But what is fascinating are the new ways scientists are using this type of technology to measure and map the ethereal concept of attention.

For several decades, neuroscientists have used imaging machines to explore the brain. Early work in the 1990s involved such simple tests as discovering or verifying what parts of the brain get involved in particular tasks. (Hand squeeze = motor cortex! Uncork champagne = also, probably, motor cortex.)

More recently, the researchers have been trying to map neural networks so that they can understand, for example, what parts of the brain get involved — and how they cooperate — when someone experiences pain, or makes a decision. Doing so, it turns out, is as hard as trying to guess all the ingredients in an Iron Chef’s stew, and their proportions, by peeking into the pot.

But scientists argue that this work is important given the role attention appears to play not just in daily life but in a host of maladies — like attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia — in which someone appears to become overly focused on trivialities or, by contrast, unable to focus at all. I’ve written about some of this research in a series of articles this year.

It’s sort of cosmic to contemplate the idea of breaking down attention into its anatomical components. “Look, honey, my auditory cortex is absolutely paying attention to you. It’s only my visual cortex that is focused on Angry Birds!”

Other researchers are doing related work. At the University of Utah, neuroscientists have been imaging the brains of Air Force fighter pilots and others identified as “supertaskers,” meaning that they seem better able to switch quickly among tasks. The images show differences between these subjects and less able multitaskers in three areas of the brain that are involved with setting priorities.

The Utah researchers say more effective task switchers appear to have a neurochemical advantage that makes them less likely to overreact or become overwhelmed by task switching.

Dr. Gazzaley said such imaging research could have implications for everyday life.

“Distraction and interruption or multitasking are contributors to deficits in memory,” he said. “One of our main questions is whether we can train these abilities.”

The imaging experiment was step two in their process of discovery. Step one was an experiment his lab recently finished that tested people’s abilities to both multitask and to focus amid distraction.

The preliminary results, reported last month at a neuroscience conference in San Diego, surprised them. They found that, in general, people’s ability to juggle two tasks drops off in their 30s and then sharply in their 40s. The researchers had expected to find that multitasking — or, more precisely, the ability to switch comfortably between tasks — drops off only when people are much older.

Hal Pashler, a cognitive scientist at the University of California at San Diego who is well known for his studies of attention and focus, told me to view those preliminary results with some caution. He said that researchers have routinely found that people in their 20s also suffer “huge” performance costs when they try to multitask. In other words, 20-somethings, you can’t actually study while texting and watching odd animal videos.

Regardless, Mr. Pashler said the next step in Dr. Gazzaley’s experiment was worth taking but highly challenging: he wants to marry the results of the behavioral study on multitasking abilities with the data his lab is just beginning to collect using the M.R.I. machine. I was among the first subjects of that project, which the lab expects to delve further into next year as it seeks to detail what is happening inside the brain at the moment subjects are interrupted and lose focus.

A few days after my scan, Dr. Gazzaley got a chance to look more closely at what happened inside my head when I was trying to multitask, switching between “driving” and reacting to other objects on the screen, as opposed to when I was doing those tasks individually, without interruption. Simply put, when my attention was divided, it taxed certain areas of my brain used in setting priorities and trying to determine or assert control.

“The results are neither surprising nor novel and consistent with existing literature,” Dr. Gazzaley explained, which I suppose is comforting, though I maintain that while I may not be a supertasker I can get a heck of a lot done after I’ve had a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.

Dr. Gazzaley said he hoped new findings might emerge next year when the lab gathers data on more people, refines the tests and adds a new component. In addition to imaging the brains of multitaskers, they plan to simultaneously monitor them using electroencephalography (EEG), which will enable them to measure more precisely the communication patterns among regions of the brain during the instant of interruption.

“This is a jumping-off point,” he said. “This is the start of the experiment.”

Man playing real-life 'Frogger' hit by SUV

CLEMSON, S.C. – A man has been hospitalized after police in South Carolina say he was hit by an SUV while playing a real-life version of the video game "Frogger."
Authorities said the 23-year-old man was taken to a hospital in Anderson after he was struck at around 9 p.m. Monday.
In the "Frogger" arcade game, players move frogs through traffic on a busy road and through a hazard-filled river. Before he was hit, police say the man had been discussing the game with his friends.
Chief Jimmy Dixon says the man yelled "go" and darted into oncoming traffic in the four-lane highway.
No charges are expected against the driver. The name of the man who was struck has not been released. He was in stable condition Monday night.

No Doubt Pay Tribute to Paul McCartney at Kennedy Center Honors

Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, Jerry Herman also honored at gala event

By Matthew Perpetua

No Doubt performed a ska-flavored medley of some of Paul McCartney’s best-known hits at the Kennedy Center Honors, which took place on December 5 but was televised on CBS last night. The medley, which included perky renditions of “Hello, Goodbye” and “Penny Lane,” was charming enough to inspire some good-natured lip-syncing from the former Beatle as he watched from the audience.

Merle Haggard on His Kennedy Center Honor, Obama, Oprah and More
The ceremony honored McCartney along with Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones and Jerry Herman for their respective contributions to the arts. Yesterday, before the event was televised, the White House released behind-the-scenes footage from the reception prior to the ceremony (watch below).

In the clip, McCartney and choreographer Bill T. Jones muse on what it means that their art has gained this high level of acceptance, and country legend Haggard speaks humbly about being recognized as a cultural force, much as he did in our exclusive interview with him after the event.

 Gwen Stefani leads Kennedy Center tribute to Paul McCartney [USA Today]
 Behind the Scenes with the Kennedy Center Honorees: Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey and More []

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

iPhone-controlled beer cannon is the robot friend of our dreams

If your morning's been running low on a little thing called awesomeness, hurry past the break and gorge yourself on the stuff in the embedded videos. For the more patient among you, we'll set the scene. A young chap by the name of Ryan has repurposed an old mini-fridge from his college days into a beer-firing drone, which can accept instructions on beer brand, temperature, and destination, before launching it at the target with a force of 50psi. An embedded webcam assists the iPhone user in aiming the throws, while it's also said to record every toss and tweet it out for posterity as well. If this thing could slice bread, we'd probably offer to marry it.

World's oldest human remains claimed in Israel


December 28, 2010 The Qesem CaveEnlarge

A handout photo made available by Tel Aviv University spokesperson office shows the Qesem Cave near Rosh Haayin, in central Israel, where human teeth were found. According to Researchers from Tel Aviv University they have uncovered finds that indicate the existence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in Israel as early as about 400,000 years ago.

Israeli archaeologists have discovered human remains dating from 400,000 years ago, challenging conventional wisdom that Homo sapiens originated in Africa, the leader of excavations in Israel said on Tuesday.
Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, said testing of stalagmites, stalactites and other material found in a cave east of Tel Aviv indicates that eight teeth uncovered there could be the earliest traces so far of our species.

"Our cave was used for a period of about 250,000 years -- from about 400,000 years ago to about 200,000 years ago," he told AFP.

"The teeth are scattered through the layers of the cave, some in the deeper part, that is to say from 400,000 years and through all kinds of other layers that can be up to 200,000 years. The oldest are 400,000 years old", he added."

Human teeth found in the Qesem Cave

A handout photo made available by the Tel Aviv University shows human teeth found in the Qesem Cave near Rosh Haayin, in central Israel. According to researchers from Tel Aviv University they have uncovered finds that indicate the existence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in Israel as early as about 400,000 years ago.
That calls into question the widely held view that Africa was the birthplace of , said Gopher, who headed the dig at Qesem Cave. 
"It is accepted at the moment that the earliest Homo sapiens that we know is in east Africa and is 200,000 years old, or a little less. We don't know of anywhere else where anyone claims to have an earlier sapiens," he said.

Gopher said the first teeth were discovered in 2006 but he and his team waited until they had several samples, then conducted years of testing, using a variety of dating methods, before publishing their findings.
Digging continues at the cave, the university said, with researchers hoping to "uncover additional finds that will enable them to confirm the findings published up to now and to enhance our understanding of the evolution of mankind, and especially the appearance of modern man."

(c) 2010 AFP


12 Totally Awesome (Yet Free) Photography Apps For Your iPhone

By AN Ja

Smashing Apps has been featured at Wordpress Showcase. If you like Smashing Apps and would like to share your love with us so you can click here to rate us.

No matter how many applications you have installed on your iOS device, you are always on the lookout for the next free and fun iOS app and specially for photography apps that may help you capture and edit your photos taken from your iPhone. Thanks to countless iOS developers you have a plethora of such apps to choose from. To save your time that would otherwise be spent on searching for these apps, we present a wonderful list of  free and useful iOS applications for photography fans.
You are welcome if you want to share more photography apps for iPhone that our readers/viewers may like. Do you want to be the first one to know the latest happenings at just subscribe to our rss feed and you can follow us on twitter as well.

LEGO Photo

Here’s an app to immortalize your favorite things and those special moments in LEGO form. Just point the camera, snap a pic, press the button, and watch the masterpiece build.

Panorama Free

Now you can take spectacular panoramic photos with your iPhone camera. This simple, easy to use camera app will allow you to take professional panoramic photos of anything you want.

Camera Fun

If you want to have fun with your iPhone camera, you can put Photoshop lens onto your iPhone camera and have a blast watching the world differently using Camera Fun.

Crop for Free

Crop for Free is a simple yet useful app for your iPhone because most of the time you would need to use any complex app for simple task like cropping the images.


You can make hilarious pics of your friends in unbelievable places like put them next to a charging bear, friendly sumo etc.


This app will help you recolor your photos by brushing with your finger to create amazing new artwork and effects. Create things like multicolored apples, blue lions, green polka dot strawberries, and so on. Your imagination is the
only limit.

HDR for Free

HDR (High Dynamic Range) images use a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of luminances between light and dark areas of a scene than normal digital imaging techniques. Basically, for us non-technical folk, it makes images look sweet! Those lame and vanilla looking outdoor photos will look awesome.

Color Splash Free

Color Splash Free lets you quickly and easily give photos a dramatic look by converting them to black and white, while keeping your chosen details in color.

MyEyes Free

My Eyes allows you to easily switch the eyes in your image and create new looks by choosing from different color, silly, and unique eyes. Have fun creating new images of yourself, your friends, or even your pets.

FilterFX for Free

Filter FX is an application that allows the user to enhance their photos using different filter effects. You will love this app if you like using the filters on photoshop, lightroom, camerabag, etc

Live Effects Cam

Live Effects is an advanced real-time camera application that lets you view fun, crazy and sometimes artistic effects live through your iPhone or camera equipped iTouch.

Most Popular…

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express software lets you use simple gestures to quickly edit and share photos from your mobile device. Enjoy having your photo and video library right in your hand, without wasting your device’s valuable storage space. But the dropbacks of Adobe Photoshop Express are that most of the above effects can not be acheived with it.

Mortal Kombat Returns


I don’t know about you, but during the 90s I played a lot of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, and Mortal Kombat 3; even more than the Street Fighter games. Ever the last decade, however, the series has seriously lost its way and become a real joke. In fact, aside from Mortal Kombat vs. DC (which is considered MK8) not many people can name off Mortal Kombats 5-7. Well, now with Warner Brothers Games owning the franchise, and the Chicago-based development team re-branded Netherrealm Studios; things may be looking up for the fighting series.

This April a rebooted Mortal Kombat is due out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (with a PC version a remote possibility). The game is going to focus on the classic characters from MK, MK2, and MK3 and is promised to be a return to traditional 2D gameplay, although with current three-dimensional graphics. The HP, LP, HK, LK controls are being replaced with a Tekken-style system where each button corresponds to an arm or leg. And the online system is planned to be extremely robust with a lot of attention paid to recreating the competitive nature of the old arcades.

The game is coming out in a standard edition, and there will be two different special editions. There’s a Kollector’s Edition that includes a Scorpion statue and art book, and a Tournament Edition that comes with a pretty nice arcade stick that almost looks like it was ripped out of an old Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet. The Kollector’s will go for $100 while the Tournament will set you back a whopping $150, but some people feel that’s worth it for an arcade stick.

Restaurant With Robot Waiters Opens In China!

At Dalu Robot Restaurant, a hot pot joint in China, you'll never have to tip the server or worry that he sneezed into your soup. The new eatery, which is coincidentally owned by a man who also heads up a robotics firm, is using C3PO-like bicycling robots to serve its customers. A few others look like R2D2, running along tracks.

But if you're expecting 4-star restaurant treatment, these aren't the droids you're looking for. They don't serve you so much as just stop long enough so that you can pluck off what you ordered from a tray.

Another video after the jump!

The restaurant also has creepy-looking humanoid robots that are made to dance and entertain. Since these haven't yet traipsed pass the "uncanny valley", they aren't exactly as charming as Summer Glau.
Still, the whole thing sounds a lot more sanitary than these monkey waiters (see below).


20 psychedelic strains of Star Wars-themed marijuana


20 psychedelic strains of Star Wars-themed marijuana

(image via lookingthemoon)