Monday, November 12, 2007

Peeps outsourced to China

If you are a devout peeps fan you might like to know where the latest Halloween Peeps were made. In the wake of the many recalls of toys and other products made in China the thought of Peeps being manufactured in the same setting might be enough to cause consumers to have second thoughts about buying the marshmallow treats.

Just Born Inc. had its Spooky Friends treats for Halloween made in in China to try outsourcing. The company claims it could not find anyone else that would wrap the Spooky Friends individually so it went to China to have them manufactured and wrapped.

As noted in a recent Houston Chronicle article "That could be a scary thought for American consumers concerned about products made in China, which has been hit by a series of recalls of substandard goods and lead-tainted toys. An August poll by The Associated Press found that most Americans believe the U.S. government is not doing enough to ensure that Chinese imports are safe."

The decision was made before recent recalls and the company has published a statement that Peeps will now continue to be made in its Pennsylvania location.

Read the entire story...
Houston Chronicle
October 31, 2007
Deborah Yao - Associated Press

Peeps goes to China for Spooky Friends Halloween candies

PHILADELPHIA — The maker of Peeps — the fluffy, yellow, marshmallow chicks that have spawned a fanatical following — has tapped an overseas manufacturer to make candies for the first time in the company's history.

Just Born Inc. is making its Spooky Friends treats for Halloween in China.

That could be a scary thought for American consumers concerned about products made in China, which has been hit by a series of recalls of substandard goods and lead-tainted toys. An August poll by The Associated Press found that most Americans believe the U.S. government is not doing enough to ensure that Chinese imports are safe.

Bethlehem-based Just Born said it was making the foray into outsourcing for the first time in its 84-year history because its plant in Bethlehem cannot individually wrap the Spooky Friends candies. The company found a factory in China that can do the job and meets its quality standards.

Privately owned Just Born said it wanted to make sure there's demand for the product before investing in equipment to make the treats in the United States.

"It's expensive and we wanted to make sure we have a viable product before we'll source it here," said Kathy Bassininski, vice president of brand development and corporate services.

Just Born has sold out this Halloween's entire inventory of Spooky Friends to retailers. The company will find out later whether shoppers went for the marshmallow candies, which come shaped like pumpkins, bats, ghosts, and spiders.

Just Born made the decision to test outsourcing last year, before the Chinese products scandals hit.

The candy maker said its popular Peeps and most of its other confectionery will continue to be manufactured in Pennsylvania.

National Confectioners Association spokeswoman Susan Fussell said it's not uncommon for candy makers to manufacture abroad, often in Canada and Mexico. Original article...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Future sea level rise will flood many cities

New concerns about rising oceans from global warming present an ominous picture of the future. In about 100 years a substantial amount of land will be lost due to oceans rising about 39 inches. This is expected to happen even if steps are taken to reduce the increase of greenhouse gases.

Some 25,000 square miles of land will be underwater in southern and coastal regions. The effect will be seen from New York to Florida. More subway flooding is expected, along with some major airports being underwater and considerable loss of beach front properties.

Facts on rising sea levels:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

U.S. Geological Survey:

University of Arizona's interactive maps:

Architecture 2030 study on sea level:

Read more about this alarming and growing concern...
AT&T News Service
September 22, 2007
Seth Borenstein

Sea level rise could flood many cities

(AP) - Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting. In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.

Global warming _ through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding _ is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.

Rising waters will lap at the foundations of old money Wall Street and the new money towers of Silicon Valley. They will swamp the locations of big city airports and major interstate highways.

Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways of rich politicians _ the Bushes' Kennebunkport and John Edwards' place on the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break.

That's the troubling outlook projected by coastal maps reviewed by The Associated Press. The maps, created by scientists at the University of Arizona, are based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is "the thing that I'm most concerned about as a scientist," says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

"We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it," said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. "It's going to happen no matter what _ the question is when."

Sea level rise "has consequences about where people live and what they care about," said Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland scientist who has studied the issue. "We're going to be into this big national debate about what we protect and at what cost."

This week, beginning with a meeting at the United Nations on Monday, world leaders will convene to talk about fighting global warming. At week's end, leaders will gather in Washington with President Bush.

Experts say that protecting America's coastlines would run well into the billions and not all spots could be saved.

And it's not just a rising ocean that is the problem. With it comes an even greater danger of storm surge, from hurricanes, winter storms and regular coastal storms, Boesch said. Sea level rise means higher and more frequent flooding from these extreme events, he said.

All told, one meter of sea level rise in just the lower 48 states would put about 25,000 square miles under water, according to Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona. That's an area the size of West Virginia.

The amount of lost land is even greater when Hawaii and Alaska are included, Overpeck said.

The Environmental Protection Agency's calculation projects a land loss of about 22,000 square miles. The EPA, which studied only the Eastern and Gulf coasts, found that Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina would lose the most land. But even inland areas like Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia also have slivers of at-risk land, according to the EPA.

This past summer's flooding of subways in New York could become far more regular, even an everyday occurrence, with the projected sea rise, other scientists said. And New Orleans' Katrina experience and the daily loss of Louisiana wetlands _ which serve as a barrier that weakens hurricanes _ are previews of what's to come there.

Florida faces a serious public health risk from rising salt water tainting drinking water wells, said Joel Scheraga, the EPA's director of global change research. And the farm-rich San Joaquin Delta in California faces serious salt water flooding problems, other experts said.

"Sea level rise is going to have more general impact to the population and the infrastructure than almost anything else that I can think of," said S. Jeffress Williams, a U.S. Geological Survey coastal geologist in Woods Hole, Mass.

Even John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a scientist often quoted by global warming skeptics, said he figures the seas will rise at least 16 inches by the end of the century. But he tells people to prepare for a rise of about three feet just in case.

Williams says it's "not unreasonable at all" to expect that much in 100 years. "We've had a third of a meter in the last century."

The change will be a gradual process, one that is so slow it will be easy to ignore for a while.

"It's like sticking your finger in a pot of water on a burner and you turn the heat on, Williams said. "You kind of get used to it." Original article...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Build a tower of cards

Ever wanted to relax a little and build one of those towers of playing cards?

Here's how to do it. Follow these easy instructions from the wikiHow "manual you can edit" website...

wikiHow "The how-to manual you can edit"
July 15, 2007
Author unknown

How to build a tower of cards

With the right technique and enough patience, you can build a 3, 4, or even a 5 story card tower with just one deck of cards. Here's how to explore your inner architect in the comfort of your own living room. Read more...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Paris Hilton out of jail early

Paris Hilton let out of jail after only three days? Give us all a break!

Any ordinary citizen convicted of a Driving Under the Influence charge would have to stay in jail and lose the priveledge to drive. Is this any way to set an example for everyone to follow?

Now perhaps many DUI charges can be knocked down to house arrest by citing this as a precedence...

The mug shot.

(Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office)

After spending five nights in jail, Paris Hilton was released early this morning and put under house arrest, The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced today.

“She has fulfilled her obligation,” said Steve Whitmore, the department’s spokesman. “She has paid her debt to society.”

The decision was made after “extensive consultations with medical personnel,” Mr. Whitmore said. “This is certainly not unprecedented.”

Confidentiality laws prevented him from offering any further details on “the medical situation,” he said.

According to the plans, she will finish the original sentence of 45 days in her own house with a tracker attached to an ankle. Her reduced jail term for violating probation on an alcohol-related driving charge was 23 days.

The deal was struck after several meetings with her lawyer and another on Wednesday that included the medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, The New York Post reported.

On Monday, a lawyer for the hotel heiress said that she “was doing well under the circumstances,” but her condition apparently crumbled after that.

The Post said she was seen crying as she cracked “under the pressure of prison,” according to unidentified people. A blogger at The Los Angeles Times saw a lesson for everyone: “Crying works! Who knew?”

TMZ, the gossip blog that follows Ms. Hilton with unmatched zeal, was first to report the news, citing “unimpeachable sources.”

According to earlier TMZ reports, Ms. Hilton was unable to sleep until last night, which makes a prediction by Heidi Fleiss, the former Hollywood madam, extraordinarily prescient.

“When she wakes up it will be over,” she said. Read the original news report...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The latest project of U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick was to photograph thousands of nudes in Amsterdam.

The image at left has some 2,000 participants lining the outer edges of a public parking building on the edge of the city.

This was not as large as the recent project in Mexico City involving some 18,000 people but continues his tradition of finding interesting ways to place his subjects in notable scenes in the cities he visits.

Washington Post
Toby Sterling - The Associated Press
June 3, 2007; 10:00 AM

2,000 Gather for Amsterdam Nude Photo

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Dozens of women posed naked on their bicycles on a bridge over one of Amsterdam's historic canals Sunday - a unique sight even in a city famed for its relaxed attitude toward nudity and sex.

They were among 2,000 men and women who participated in a series of four nude group photos in the city in the early hours of the morning as part of the latest project of U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick.

The first and largest composition was in a decidedly prosaic location: a parking garage on the outer ring of the city.

But what the location lacked in romance, it made up for in style. Participants lined the railings of the garage's twin circular towers, creating a pattern of multicolor stripes against the white building and an overcast sky.

The women on bikes were selected from the larger group and posed with their chins pointed triumphantly upward toward the sky.

Other compositions included a group of men posing together near the parking garage and a mixed group of men and women on another bridge.

Tunick, from Brooklyn, N.Y., has become famous for photographing thousands of naked people in public settings worldwide, from London and Vienna to Buenos Aires and Buffalo. He set a record for naked photography with a photo of 18,000 people in the buff in Mexico City last month. Read original press release...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Naked in Mexico

Spencer Tunick, provocative photographer of the bare-bunned masses, once again creates a large-scale photograph with nudes in a public place. His work includes getting volunteers to appear in photos in unlikely places around the world.

The latest is in Mexico City...

News and Observer
May 7, 2007
Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post

Photog's naked ambition draws thousands
Mexicans revel in raw freedom

MEXICO CITY - Carmen Gonzalez stood prim and proper Sunday in the predawn darkness of this city's grand central square.

Her dark brown dress was neatly pressed, and she held her daughter's hand tightly in the crowd. This isn't Gonzalez's thing, hanging around at a crazy hour, preparing to get a little wild. But at age 50, she figured, "Why not get naked?"

"I'm nervous," Gonzalez told her 20-year-old daughter, Maria Oliva Gonzalez, as a voice crackled over the loudspeaker.

But when Spencer Tunick, provocative photographer of the bare-bunned masses, gave the word, Carmen Gonzalez did not hesitate. She shimmied out of that brown dress while her daughter fiddled with buttons.

And there it was. Carmen Gonzalez was naked for all to see. And she was smiling. Read more...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are you a real peeps person?

If you are a real peeps person you will appreciate the article recently published in the News and Observer in North Carolina.

Spring has sprung and peeps are peeping out all over. Real peepsfolk carry their peeps in their pants pocket for all the world to see...

News and Observer
March 25, 2007
Thomasi McDonald, Staff Writer

Poetry and Peeps in Southern Village

CHAPEL HILL - Audrey Gillen, 10, hadn't eaten a Peep since kindergarten because, she said, her parents are "all healthy, healthy."

Small wonder, the normally poised Audrey, who lives in Durham, got a rush while staring at the trays and bowls of Peeps on display Saturday at Market Street Books & Maps in Chapel Hill's Southern Village.

"I'm going to get over-sugared today," she said.

Audrey and her mother were among about 50 children and adults who showed up at the bookstore for PeepFest 2007. With enough Peeps to feed a small village, festival organizers held poetry and cooking contests and a concert inspired by the marshmallow candy shaped like baby chickens and rabbits. Read more...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Interesting finding about water on Mars. Polar layered deposits hold most of the known water on Mars, though other areas of the planet appear to have been very wet at times in the past. The south polar layered deposits alone are the size of the US state of Texas.

BBC News
March 16, 2007
Paul Rincon, Science reporter, BBC News, Houston

Polar water 'would blanket Mars'
Enough water is locked up at Mars' south pole to cover the planet in a liquid layer 11m (36ft) deep.

The Mars Express probe used its radar instrument to map the thickness of Mars' south polar layered deposits.

Analysis of the Marsis radar data shows that the polar deposits consist of almost pure water-ice. Read more...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lunar transit of the sun

Solar Eclipse, STEREO Style — On Feb. 25, 2007 there was a transit of the Moon across the face of the Sun - but it could not be seen from Earth. This sight was visible only from the STEREO-B spacecraft in its orbit about the sun, trailing behind the Earth.

Not your ordinary view of an eclipse. In a report on the Science@NASA
website Lika Guhathakurta, STEREO Program Scientist at NASA headquarters says "What an extraordinary view. The fantastically-colored star is our own sun as STEREO sees it in four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. The black disk is the Moon. We caught a lunar transit of the sun." she explains.

See the spectacular images and read the story on the NASA website...

March 12, 2007

Stereo Eclipse

When scientists announce they're about to calibrate their instruments, science writers normally put away their pens. It's hard to write a good story about calibration. This may be the exception:

On Feb. 25, 2007, NASA scientists were calibrating some cameras aboard the STEREO-B spacecraft and they pointed the instruments at the sun. Here is what they saw:

Read the report and watch the video of the eclipse! Read more...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Crossing the road at a Marathon

Here's a twist on the old question "Why did the chicken cross the road". This time it's "How to cross a busy road without stopping the traffic, building a bridge or digging a tunnel". It's a "neat, and simple, trick" to cross the road during a marathon.

Check out this solution from Richard G. Brown in London from his blog "Design Patterns for Life". Read the solution...

Make paper clip starship with office supplies

Looking for more things to do for fun? Check out these instructions on making your own Starship Enterprise...

"How to Make a Starship Enterprise with Removable Saucer Section Out of Office Supplies" from David M Chasse...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Bring out the "space tractor"

Only in the movies do we hear about saving the earth from an asteroid crashing into our planet and destroying it. A news report published in the News and Observer in March, 2007, describes a study by NASA and the Air Force to ways to prevent such a crash by by destroying or change the course of an asteroid named "Apophis". Named for "an ancient Egyptian god of evil, Apophis is about 900 feet long -- three times the length of a football field -- and is traveling at 12,000 mph."

It further states "In the past eight years, 754 asteroids bigger than 1 kilometer (six-tenths of a mile) across have been detected orbiting near Earth. But none is expected to come as close as a smaller one called Apophis, which was discovered just before Christmas in 2004."

An exerpt from the article follows...

News and Observer
March 6, 2007

Experts ponder moving asteroid
Robert S. Boyd -
WASHINGTON - NASA and the Air Force are studying ways to ward off a medium-sized asteroid that will streak within 18,000 miles of Earth in 2029 and that has an extremely slight chance of crashing into our planet in 2036.

Ideas discussed at a Planetary Defense Conference this week include a "gravity tug" or "space tractor" that would hover near the space rock and tow it into a safe orbit. Other possibilities include a head-on collision with an unmanned spaceship or a nuclear explosion. Read more...

Friday, March 2, 2007

Paris Hilton news ban experiment

Did you miss her this week? For a short time the Associated Press decided to try an experiment and banned news about Paris Hilton for a week just to see what reaction it might bring. Well, for a week we got to hear news about events all over the world without injection of news about Paris constantly. It would seem that trivia took a holiday and we all were better off for it.

Perhaps the ban could continue and important news could be published - at least for a while...

CNN News
March 2, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- So you may have heard: Paris Hilton was ticketed the other day for driving with a suspended license.

Not huge news, even by celebrity-gossip standards. Here at The Associated Press, we put out an initial item of some 300 words. But it actually meant more to us than that.

It meant the end of our experimental blackout on news about Paris Hilton.

It was only meant to be a weeklong ban -- not the boldest of journalistic initiatives, and one, we realized, that might seem hypocritical once it ended. And it wasn't based on a view of what the public should be focusing on -- the war in Iraq, for example, or the upcoming election of the next leader of the free world, as opposed to the doings of a partygoing celebrity heiress/reality TV star most famous for a grainy sex video. Read more...