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  • Ted Mann 12:57 pm on June 18, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Time to Build a Soda Geyser! 

    I couldn’t stand not trying the Mentos-Diet Coke reaction myself. And although my apartment and the are immediatly surrounding our building are not all that well suited to creating a soda geyser, the Middle School lawn across from my brother’s house in White Plains certainly is.

    So, this morning I headed over with a 2-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi (no Diet Coke on hand) and a package of Mentos. After unwrapping the mentos and putting them in a paper tube (for quick and easy realease into the bottle), and positioning the 2-year-olds (Winifred, Francesca, and Owen), I dropped all 13 of the Mentos inside. Whooooosh!

    Much to the befuddlement of the kids, soda shut up about six feet out of the botte. We didn’t get the full eight feet that some people had reported (maybe Diet Coke is necessary to get that kind of height), but it was still awfully impressive. Sorry I didn’t record video of it or take any pics (though this one, on the right, was pretty similar to what we saw).

    Believe me, it totally works! And given the 5-foot radius of soda spillage, all you need is an unoccupied public sidewalk to let ‘er rip.

  • Ted Mann 6:57 pm on June 17, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Mentos + Diet Coke = Fun 

    In case you haven’t seen the instructions for the Mentos+Diet Coke rocket reactions, here they are:

    1. This activity is probably best done outside in the middle of an abandoned field, or better yet, on a huge lawn.

    2. Carefully open the bottle of soda. Position the bottle on the ground so that it will not tip over.

    3. Unwrap the whole roll of Mentos. The goal is to drop all of the Mentos into the bottle of soda at the same time (which is trickier than it looks). One method for doing this is to roll a piece of paper into a tube just big enough to hold the loose Mentos. You’ll want to be able to position the tube directly over the mouth of the bottle so that all of the candies drop into the bottle at the same time.

    4. Don’t drop them into the bottle just yet! Warn the spectators to stand back. Okay, you’re going to drop all of the Mentos into the bottle at the same time and then get truckin’ (move out of the way… so long… bye- bye… hasta la vista!)

    5. It’s just like fireworks on the 4th of July. The spectators erupt, of course, in a chorus of ooohs and ahhhs. Someone yells out, “Do it again” and you do.

    (by the way, sorry about all the video posts. But, well, aren’t posts with embedded video just more interesting than regular posts?)

  • Ted Mann 4:12 pm on June 10, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    An Inconvenient [Slideshow Software] Truth 

    Walking out of the little art house theater that was showing “An Inconvenient Truth” in Scarsdale last night, I robotically made the same joke that every reviewer has used: “That was the best friggin Powerpoint presentation I’ve ever seen!” Which isn’t totally fair, of course, but far more charitable than Ana, who, for some inexplicable reason was rather grumpy and said, “That was so annoying, especially with all his whining.”

    I, for one, didn’t think Gore was bitching (although Ana certainly was). Rather, the movie made me wish I’d voted for him instead of Nader, and it struck me as the best documentary I’d seen in forever. (OK, technically, the best one I’d seen since “Street Fight” on DVD two nights before.) I ruminated on the car ride home … about how awful it is we drive a gas-guzzling Hyundai Santa Fe SUV … and how our next car should be an electric car … except that the preview for “Who Killed the Electric Car?” seemed to suggest that electric cars have gone the way of the dodo … but whatever, we can still buy a hybrid or more efficient air condtioners or something.

    Alas, being the awful, ADD-addled person that I am, most of this environmental enthusiasm had waned by the time my butt was back on the living room couch. I could barely even muster the energy to visit the website plugged at the end of the movie, climatecrisis.org, and check out the “Take Action” page. What I was really curious about, though, was whether my lame joke — the Powerpoint one — had any basis in fact. That sure didn’t look like a Microsoft application that Gore was using. And boy, some of those animated slides were sweet!

    Turns out, the slideshow program is actually Apple’s Keynote. Don’t know who actually uses it other than the former Veep and his tree-huggin posse, and the cynical side of me says he was just plugging Keynote and Powerbook laptops because he’s on Apple’s board. But I guess this article on the Apple website also covers the other reasons that Gore and the filmmakers would be drawn to the program (namely the ability to import and export in HD). Whatever their reasons, I was delighted to find out that, in fact, I already have Keynote. It came already pre-loaded onto my snazzy new BlackBook MacBook.

    Unfortuantly, it’s just an unlicensed, trial version. But I still gave it a whirl. Though the build animation effects take a little getting used to — and I could never achieve quite the level of coolness as that adorable CG scene of a polar bear searching for just one teeny, tiny piece of ice to cling to in a never-ending sea — the presentation cababilities are still awfully snazzy. Not $79 snazzy, but snazzy none the less. We’ll consider that $79 not spent as an advance on my next energy-efficient, hydrogen-fueled car.

    Unless there are no hydrogen cars by 2007, in which case I’m putting the money towards a harrier jet.

  • Ted Mann 10:38 pm on June 2, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Colbert Nation, Meet Mann Nation 

    There are plenty of ways to measure one’s journalistic career. But since the National Magazine Awards snubbed me yet again, and my ongoing competition with Elif Batuman has started feeling pathetically one-sided (her second article in The New Yorker, about the reconstruction of the historic St. Petersburg House of Ice, came out a week ago), I need some other barometer of cool. Thank God for Stephen Colbert.

     Right before he went on post-sweeps break, he had an interview with paleontologist Ted Daeschler, in which Colbert quesitoned whether Daeschler’s fossil of a lobe-finned tetrapod was the missing evolutionary link between fish and humans, or just part of an ancient freakshow.

    What exactly does this have to do with me? Well, Dr. Daeschler was one of my very last interviews while I was in Philly (for a story called “The fish that (almost) walked away”), back when I was writing for the Penn alumni mags and publishing academia’s mental masturbation. In other words, I might as well be Colbert’s booker, or for that matter, Colbert himself.

    Well, maybe that’s pushing it. But I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that this validates almost everything about my career, journalistic integrity, and life up until this point.

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