Tuesday, February 9, 2010
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The Volcano Vaporizer has become a coveted status symbol for posh pot smokers, who say it draws out the drug's aroma like "the bouquet of a wine," and their personal trainers insist on it.
As the executive director of NORML, the leading lobbying organization for pot smokers’ rights, Allen St. Pierre gets asked a lot of strange questions. But the one he’s been getting lately is, “What is that metal thing they use on Weeds?”
The answer is the Volcano Vaporizer, a smokeless inhalation device that has recently shown up on both the Showtime series and HBO’s Bored to Death, in which a sexy stoner played by Jenny Slate lures Jason Schwartzman into her bedroom to test one out. (“Just squeeze down on that nipple and suck in the vapors,” she coaches him.) It’s even used at the renowned Chicago restaurant Alinea, albeit unconventionally, to pipe aromas of nutmeg and coffee to diners as they eat dessert.
Indeed, the Vaporizer wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. With its sleek, brushed-aluminum chassis and digital temperature gauge, it could be mistaken for a device that steams milk. And, perhaps not incidentally, the $700 Volcano is growing in popularity with the cappuccino crowd—highly educated strivers who demand nothing but the best. “If you’re buying this, you are either an aficionado, or you are well-read in the best ways to deliver cannabis to your body as science currently tells us,” says Pierre. “Otherwise you’d have to have a lot of vanity to drop this much money.”
“After I understood what it was, I immediately ordered one,” says a criminal lawyer in his 60s who heard about the Volcano from a colleague. “I have friends who are musicians. They get together at each other’s houses. These are businesspeople and professionals. They don’t smoke cigarettes. We filled up the bag with their pot and passed it around. None of them had seen it before. They were amazed.” He believes the Volcano—affectionately known as the “Mercedes Benz” of toking up—should be a standard offering for high-end travelers. “Someone should start a hotel chain with a Volcano in every room. I think there are a lot of people who would pick a hotel just for this.”
What might be most remarkable about the Volcano is its engineering. It works by pushing hot air through the cannabis, delivering all the chemicals that get you high without combustion or carcinogens. Using it is about as easy as operating a rice cooker. After waiting for the vaporizer to heat up, you place about half a gram of ground pot in a small chamber and press a button that releases the “vapor” (a misnomer since there’s no actual water) into a large bag with a mouthpiece on it. The vapor dissipates quickly, making the pot smell disappear. The user then smokes from the bag. “For me, it was the satisfaction that there was no smoke,” the lawyer says. “I wasn’t getting any carbon monoxide into my blood. I wasn’t doing anything that might hurt me. It made the experience better.”
Vaporizers are nothing new. The devices have been sold in magazines like High Times and Cannabis Culture since the early ‘90s, but the original versions were clunky and not very user-friendly. They didn’t take off until 2000, when NORML co-sponsored a study looking for pot alternatives after the FDA asserted there is no such thing as a “smoke medicine.” An MIT student approached the organization saying he had invented “the safest way to inhale marijuana.” Storz & Bickel, a German design company that manufactures the Volcano, refined the findings into what they considered the best vaporizer on the market. Early units sold for thousands of dollars at drug-conference auctions. “They were just so notable,” says Pierre. “It was clear they were going to become the standard.”
When it first came out in 2001, Jeff Jones had trouble selling the Volcano at his Los Angeles marijuana club, Patient ID Center. No one knew what to make of it. Now entertainers and singers come in asking for the product by name. “They get paid to speak,” he says, “and they’re worried about what smoking is going to do to their lungs.” Bill Maher, one of the most public marijuana advocates in the country, told Rolling Stone in 2006, “I once gave a Volcano to a high-powered studio executive who shall remain nameless. He was having respiratory problems.”
The Volcano has succeeded in spite of a complete lack of marketing. Storz & Bickel are shy about being associated with drug culture (their Web site avoids references to marijuana), possibly in part because the federal government seized over 1,600 Volcanoes during Bush’s last term. (The company declined to comment for this story.) But word-of-mouth recommendations have anointed the Volcano a certain mystique, especially in states where medical dispensaries have opened up a whole new target demographic. “The Volcano is perfect for the coming medical marijuana age,” says a high-level entertainment executive who uses it, “even if there never was anything particularly ‘medical’ about smoking, if you think about it.”
Devout vaporizers say it’s not just a healthier high, either—it’s also a purer high. They liken the experience to eating pot brownies, which, unlike smoking, results in more lasting, full-bodied effects. “For people who are experienced smokers, the Volcano is just different. It’s like describing the bouquet of a wine,” says a 35-year-old lawyer from Oakland, California who uses his Volcano to savor the complex aromas of high-end pot. “It tastes better—you can actually taste the flavors, as opposed to just tasting smoke. You can taste the herbal essences.”
That’s also one of the potential drawbacks. For the uninitiated, vaporization can be a little jarring. One Internet entrepreneur who owns a Volcano competitor called the Vapir One breaks it out when he throws parties for his friends at his house in California. Someone almost always needs to go upstairs and lie down, he says. “Some people tend to get way too stoned. Then they’ll never touch it again.” The Volcano is also heavy and, for those making less than six figures, dauntingly expensive. As it is, it usually takes a certain kind of person to fully appreciate the device—someone who takes both their drugs and their health equally seriously. “I know a personal trainer, and it’s the only thing he’ll use,” says the Oakland lawyer.
Not to mention cramping your style. In many ways, the Volcano fits perfectly into a society embracing the concept of enlightened pot smoking: in an era where everyone gets high, the most well-informed, health-conscious smokers use a vaporizer. It's become a gently subversive status symbol, like a tasteful tattoo. "Bill Maher has probably pushed the idea of vaporization on the unsuspecting American public more than anyone,” says Pierre. “When Maher says, 'I don’t smoke, I vaporize,' you get a whiff of elitism. In some quarters of this country, elitism sells."
Then again, maybe it’s just a generational thing. About a year ago, after giving a speech, Pierre jumped down from the stage and spotted a kid wearing a t-shirt that said, “Got Vape?” And technology is catching up with the times. “These products are getting so sophisticated that they can be used anywhere, at any time. They don’t need to be in a controlled setting like a Volcano. They can be used on airplanes, and almost no one would know you’re using it, other than by the smell of your breath,” he says. “In 15 or 20 years, kids aren’t going to be smoking, per se.”
Paul Schrodt is a writer living in New York City. He has contributed to New York magazine, Radar, and Esquire.com.
I have previously stated that there is no better GIF than the failed gymnast, and while I still believe this to be true, I think it may be fair to say that the failed treadmill GIF is a close second. Here is our proof.
I don't know what these two females were trying to do, but unless their intentions were to make complete asses of themselves, I think we can safely assume that they failed miserably.
Lesson number one: A treadmill is made to be used by only one person at a time.
Lesson number two: It is probably not a good idea to put a treadmill so close to a wall, unless of course you prefer getting thrown that wall as you roll over repeatedly.
Live and learn, I guess
Playing around with an ipod, a tv, 2 computers and a ping pong ball. No special effects were used.
Master blender expects the hundred-year-old Scotch to be heavier and smokier than today's whisky.
Sir Ernest Shackleton left behind two cases of Scotch whisky after a failed attempt at the South Pole. (Emily Stone/GlobalPost)
After getting the two crates out, Fastier and the archeologist working with him peered through the wall of ice that remained and saw another box. They kept chipping away with drills and hand tools, and soon two more crates appeared. In all, they recovered three cases of Charles Mackinlay & Co. whisky and one of brandy, as well as one crate of brandy labeled Hunter Valley Distillery Limited Allandale. He could hear liquid sloshing in the crates and peeked into one box with a missing board and saw a bottle with an intact cork inside.
“It was a fantastic outcome,” Fastier said Saturday from Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic station. He’s program manager with Antarctic Heritage Trust, the New Zealand nonprofit charged with conserving the building.
The first two crates were discovered four years ago when Fastier and his team cleared out a century’s worth of ice under the hut because it was damaging the fragile structure. The boxes were frozen to the porous rock in the foot and a half of space beneath the hut and couldn’t be safely removed without the specialized drills the group brought this time.
Perhaps no one was more excited to learn of the bottles’ safe retrieval than Richard Paterson, master blender at Whyte & Mackay, the Glasgow company that now owns Mackinlay.
“Absolutely fantastic, unbelievable,” Paterson said of the news. He’s been lobbying since the crates’ original discovery to get several bottles of the whisky — or at the very least some samples — so he can learn what a Mackinlay from that era tasted like. Company records show it was a 10-year-old blend. He expects it to be heavier and smokier than today’s Scotch.
If he gets a sample, Paterson is considering issuing a recreation of the Shackleton whisky. The company recipes have long since disappeared, he said, so these bottles may be the only way to discover what that vintage Mackinlay tasted like. If the corks have remained intact, whisky experts agree that the spirit should taste much as it did when bottled.
Obviously, the fact that the whisky has been entombed in Antarctic ice and belonged to Shackleton make this a more exciting discovery than just any old 19th century booze.
“It’s not just that a case of whisky has been found, that’s so bloody boring,” Paterson said.
Scottish whisky author Charles MacLean agrees. Hundred-year-old bottles of whisky aren’t terribly rare. Three or four go to auction each year, he said. He couldn’t speculate what a bottle of this whisky would be worth and said the price will be set by how much someone is willing to pay.
“The Shackleton provenance is, of course, priceless,” he wrote from his home in Edinburgh.
MacLean explained that Charles Mackinlay was one of the earliest and most prominent Scotch blenders, and Paterson is one of today’s most respected blenders, having earned himself the nickname “the Nose.” So a recreation by Paterson of Mackinlay’s whisky would attract interest.
It seems possible Paterson will get his chance, despite an international treaty that governs all historic artifacts found in Antarctica stipulating that they remain in place unless they need to be removed from the continent for conservation reasons. Indeed, Shackleton’s hut is maintained as a museum, with its 5,000 artifacts on display for the roughly 900 tourists who come through annually and interested history buffs who tour it online.
Nigel Watson, executive director of Antarctic Heritage Trust, said, “it’s not beyond the realms of possibility” that Paterson would get some of the whisky, but the organization is not rushing toward a decision. Its first priority is to safely conserve the crates, bottles and liquid. The boxes are in varied conditions, some of them cracked in spots with ice built up inside. The group expects it will take a couple months or so to come up with a conservation plan.
“They’ve been under the hut for 100 years,” Fastier said. “I think another couple months won’t make a difference.”
latimesblogs.latimes.com — Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Disney are adding a strange new chapter to the Lewis Carroll classic with "Alice in Wonderland." Screenwriter Linda Woolverton, whose previous credits include the Disney hits "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," says at one point she thought "Really, what have you got yourself into?" [Warning: Spoilers]
Click here for the full article...spoilers ahead.. 'Alice in Wonderland' screenwriter is ready for haters
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I’m not even a Saints fan and I’m still beaming from last night’s game. I can’t even totally put my finger on why.
The team I picked in my family Super Bowl betting challenge lost, the team I picked publicly lost, and the team with the QB from Purdue won. Plus, the difference in the game was two touchdowns and it did not have the last second drama of last year’s Super Bowl.
But…something about seeing a good guy like Drew Brees win, seeing a star-crossed city like New Orleans get to enjoy a Super Bowl, seeing the Big Ten earn some respect on football’s biggest stage, and seeing “the football gods favor the bold” (as Robert Littal would say), made Super Bowl XLIV forever special.
And here is something else that made Super Bowl XLIV special: perhaps the greatest, most poignant post-Super Bowl victory celebration picture ever, courtesy of the AP (via Deadspin).
It’s easy to be cynical about so many things that have to do with the NFL, but is there anything – anything at all – to be cynical about when it comes to Drew Brees?
I realize I run the risk of going way overboard in my public fawning of Brees today (although I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one), but during a week that featured talked of a 2011 lockout and the legal woes of NFL legends like Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp, it’s nice to be able to focus on something that appears to be 100%, genuinely good.
And, wow, did Drew Brees give us something as football fans to feel genuinely good about this week.
For whatever reason – and 1,000 words might not encapsulate it – the picture above and video below sum that up for me.
Video: Drew Brees with son after Super Bowl
Boomer Esiason is right: “Don’t you live for that moment right there?”
Yes, yes you do. And it couldn’t have happened to a better or more deserving guy.
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Real time voice translation is on the way and Google aims to pioneer it.
The Internet giant wants to develop its smartphone technology to translate speech in real time.
The company would combine its advanced voice recognition know-how with its text translation service to create a mobile phone that acts as an instant interpreter.
Head of translation services Franz Och said: “We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time.“Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.”
‘Everyone has a different voice, accent and pitch,’ said Mr Och. ‘But recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you.’
Google has already created an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being honed by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents.
However Google admits speech will be an even tougher challenge than text but says a customer’s phone would adapt to its user by ‘learning’ their style of talking.
Source: The Times
Nik snowboarding behind a Subaru Forester in the streets of South East DC, followed by a cop car. The cops are taking a video of it and are taking it easy. I love those cops!