Thursday, February 02, 2012

I'm Amazed: 3D Printer

I am SO behind with technology.

Yesterday I saw what the new 3D printers do.
(I thought it was for making a 3D picture like you see in the movies. I. Was. Wrong. Oh so wrong...)

We are way past that kind of small potatoes.

We ARE living in the future!

This video shows how a wrench, a REAL workable tool, can be "printed".
Imagine no more "borrowing" tools, instead one would just download the specs or make a copy from a tool you already own.

Another video showed how a home 3D printer would be used: They used it to "print" a new stove handle. Imagine just making a brand new stove burner handle when needed..or printing up another button when needed that would match the rest of the buttons on the shirt. Or creating a new part for a kid's toy?

The cost of such a home printer?

About the same price as a really good sewing machine.

Right now at least. They will probably get cheaper over time.

Oh, and you can print clothing too. Cups and plates and vases for a dinner party.
And musical instruments like flutes.
A working motorcycle has been printed.


Won't be long before we will be printing out a new dishwasher or crib or....well, anything that is three dimensions. Like you could print a perfect sculpture of your toddler maybe? How cute would that be?

Oh, and of course you know about how they are printing out skin now?
And also making a spray on skin that makes it possible for a charred human to have fresh healthy new skin in about three days time?

If you are interested, you can see different kinds of 3D printers making stuff like flutes by clicking HERE. OR just go to Youtube and search 3D printing to see more.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hey Everybody!!!

Hey Everyone...What's on the menu?
That's the question to you from the New York Public Library.

Only they aren't asking about what food is on YOUR menu tonight...they are asking you to tell THEM what is on THEIR menu.

Or more accurately...what the words are on their menus.

All 40,000 of their menus.
Menus that were created between 1840 to the present.
Mostly hand written, or printed in very unusual fonts that just can't be scanned in and translated by a computer program.

With approximately 40,000 menus dating from the 1840s to the present, The New York Public Library’s restaurant menu collection is one of the largest in the world, used by historians, chefs, novelists and everyday food enthusiasts.

Trouble is, the menus are very difficult to search for the greatest treasures they contain: specific information about dishes, prices, the organization of meals, and all the stories these things tell us about the history of food and culture.

To solve this, the library is working to improve the collection by transcribing the menus, dish by dish. Doing this will  dramatically expand the ways in which the collection can be researched and accessed, opening the door to new kinds of discoveries.

The library has built a simple tool that makes the transcribing pretty easy to do, but it’s a big job, so they need your help.

It really is simple and easy to do:  You click on a menu that catches your eye from a page full of menus.

Then you click on the first word in a sentence and a box opens up beside the menu.  You type in what you think the sentence says.

Like with the last sentence of the menu above:  I read it as:

Crackers + Cheese. Tea + Coffee.

That was easy to do, right?

But you have to of the lines looks like Boiled Beef Spanish.

That couldn't be right...but Boiled  Beef Spareribs?  That sounds more like it.
Once a sentence has been transcribed by someone, a green check mark shows up next to the sentence.

A second read over is possible so other people could offer what they think the sentence said. Maybe someone regularly has Boiled Beef Spanish as part of their own culture's family recipe?

Want to try doing a little Menu transcribing yourself?

 Click HERE and get started.  You just need to click on one of menus pictured, then click on the first letter of a sentence on a menu page that will be shown and a box will open where you will type in what you see. 

A green arrow will point at the sentence you  have selected to transcribe.

Take a  peek at several to find a menu that interests you.

Do one sentence, or two or the whole menu.  The library doesn't even ask for your one will ever know what you have been up to!

As I am posting this the library already has over 400 pages of transcribed menus to look at.

And if you are curious about what a certain food might have been served with on a fancy-schmancy menu, you can search by menu items.
Strawberry Inn


The New York Public Library’s menu collection, housed in the Rare Book Division, originated through the energetic efforts of Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924), who, in 1900, began to collect menus on the Library's behalf. Miss Buttolph added more than 25,000 menus to the collection, before leaving the Library in 1924.

The collection has continued to grow through additional gifts of graphic, gastronomic, topical, or sociological interest, especially but not exclusively New York-related.

The collection now contains approximately 40,000 items, about 10,000 of which have been digitized and made available in the NYPL Digital Gallery. More information can be found here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finding Farmington Bay

This time of year lots of articles are in the paper about Farmington Bay.
Or what is more properly called "Farmington Bay Wildfowl Preserve".
I've been wanted to go see Farmington Bay ever since we moved here, but the time has never quite worked out.

I checked the address...and had Bernie drive some thirty miles north above the Bay.  Turns out I had looked up the address for the Farmington Bay Wild Fowl Preserve's business office.

Oh well.  It was a pretty drive.

Using a trusty GPS link, we wound back down the highway and onto a dirt road and on to the shores of Farmington Bay.

There was even a sign saying this was Farmington Bay in the small parking lot that was filled with duck hunter's trucks.

We booted up into our hiking boots and started to hike in. 

It just didn't look right though.

The articles always showed lots of dead trees with huge eagle's nests.  And the articles always made it sound like you just pulled up and there they were.

We hiked a few hundred yards down this icy-snow covered path before we decided something just wasn't quite right.

After we got back into the parking lot, I spotted a truck with a duck hunter chatting away on his phone inside.  I went up to him and asked him if this was were the eagle nests were supposed to be.

He had news for us: This was the SOUTH entrance to Farmington Bay.

We needed to go to the NORTH entrance.

Directions followed that included such landmarks as a Burger King restaurant, a paved over rail road track and a yard filled with school buses.


With my GPS still instructing us to make a U turn, Bernie drove us back up north.

He drove through housing developments and farmland before finally finding an address that was close to what another website had said was Farmington Bay Wild Fowl Preserve.

There was a parking lot there too, and a sign saying Farmington Bay. 

Maybe this was it?

Well, it sure was pretty.  But dead trees with eagle's nests?
I didn't see any.

There was these structures with nests...but clearly these are not dead trees like I had seen in the Farmington Bay Wildfowl Preserve articles.

The sun was setting and the temperature was plunging down below freezing.

We both were enthralled with the area's beauty...even if my jeans were not suitable attire for the temperature at this point in the day.

Bernie pointed out how the bay's water had frozen in bubble forms around the aquatic plants.

The setting sun set the world around us ablaze with golden light.

Animals had tracked through the water while it was semi frozen; now the tracks were frozen hard.

Overhead wild fowl honked as they few away from us.

It was so cold...yet so beautiful...

Every moment the play of light on the frozen landscape intensified.

In the distance we could hear shot guns being fired. Bernie thought it was the last day of duck hunting season and perhaps that was why the eagles were not yet settled in on their strange nesting structure.

So...apparently we were at the Great Salt Lake Nature Center of Farmington Bay.

Which apparently is NOT the Farmington Bay Wildfowl Preservation Center.


(We agreed that this would be a really amazing place to visit in the spring or fall though).

We finished the short hike back to the parking lot, and started to drive back to the highway.

And wouldn't you know last!  A sign, not even a mile up the road, saying Farmington Bay Wildfowl Preservation.

We drove in...and saw the only bird that we saw all day.

Some kind of hawk.  And in the distance we could see dead trees too.

It was almost dark; we decided that exploring FBWP could wait for another day.

And just like that...the bird in the photo above took flight against the fading sky.
We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending our day!