June 6th, 2006

krazy koati

What kind of candy do you want

I got an unexpected gift from the County Board of Elections. They sent absentee ballots several times for some reason without my applying for one. I'm flattered they're so enthusiastic for my vote. But I have to let it go to waste, since I don't feel like I can vote. It's a primary election, and I haven't registered with any party, and the only candidate I know anything about is the Congressman I've been voting against each time I could for sixteen years now without any sign of dislodging the twit, and he's unopposed in the primary. There aren't even any ballot initiatives to read. I don't like that I can't make use of my primary election vote, particularly since they even included an International Reply Coupon -- the first time I've seen a Universal Postal Union document in the wild -- but there's just not much I can meaningfully do.

A team with the University of Manchester (UK) produced a fuel cell based on chocolate. A diluted solution of caramel and nougat was fed to Escherichia coli bacteria, which digested it and produced hydrogen, among other products. The hydrogen went to a fuel cell, producing enough electricity to drive a small fan. Microbiologist Lynne Mackaskie said, ``We wanted to see if we tipped chocolate into one end, could we get electricity out at the other?'' although it's very hard to escape the suspicion they were making the best of a neighbor's kid shoving a chocolate bar into the remote control.

Trivia: Pillsbury made for Scott Carpenter's Mercury-Atlas 8 flight snacks made of chocolate, figs, and dates, compressed into blocks about three-quarters of an inch square. Source: This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, Loyd S Swenson Jr, James M Grimwood, Charles C Alexander. NASA SP-4201.

Currently Reading: Big Cotton, Stephen Yafa. This is one of those ``single item histories'' that seems to populate my reading list recently, books like How Garden Trowels Created And Destroyed the British Empire or Latex Paint: Conquerer of Space and Time which examine history from a ruthlessly tight viewpoint. This item is, well, cotton. I bought it partly because the cover was interesting, but also because for some reason Borders took the price in US dollars and declared that the price in Singapore dollars, which makes for the best discount on a hardcover I've had since I worked at a book store. A good deal may be a very grandmom-ish reason to buy a book, but why not?