GirlHacker's Random Log

almost daily since 1999

National Postal Museum


The Church Street Post Office in Manhattan processed the mail for the World Trade Center. After the September 11 destruction, curators at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum debated whether to collect any objects related to the tragedy. Immediately following the horrible events, historian Nancy Pope was determined that they not preserve any artifacts. It was a graveyard to her, not a place to gather museum objects. She and others eventually decided it was a historical event that needed to be documented and the museum obtained several items and also the recollections of one of the postal carriers on site. The zip codes used for the World Trade Center were withdrawn from use. The museum has a postal handstamp bearing the September 11 date and zip code 10007.

Living Stamp Subjects


The U.S. Postal Service isn’t doing well financially and as the government moves to help with proposals such as removing Saturday delivery, the Director of Stamp Services has announced that living persons can now be featured on stamps. Previously only people dead for five years could be considered and until 2007 it was ten years. The exception to the rule was U.S. Presidents. They hope to have their first living person stamp in 2012 and are taking suggestions. They’ll also now look at those who died within the last five years. I’m thinking not of what I’d like to see on a stamp but what might bring in the most money from collectors around the world. Over 124 million Elvis stamps were collected. Perhaps what we really need is something equivalent to Pokemon cards.

Posted in money,thenews

Huge Onion and a Potato Too


Peter Glazebrook outdid himself this year at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show. Not only did he grow the biggest onion, weighing in at 17 pounds, 15.5 ounces, likely a world record, but he also brought in the heaviest cabbage (64lb 2oz), potato (6lb 10.75oz), and tomato (2lb 11.25oz). He had the longest runner bean at 31 inches and cucumber at 32.5 inches. He’s been bringing in his giant veggies and tubers for several years and holds the world’s record for heaviest parsnip, and longest beetroot.

Posted in plants

Z is for Zillow


Companies preparing to go public don’t always get the stock ticker symbol they’d like to. Zillow really wanted the letter Z and the Seattle Times found out how they got it. Single letter symbols aren’t easy to come by, not only because there are only 26 of them, but the New York Stock Exchange controls doling them out. Zillow had to employ clever tactics when they discovered the NYSE was reserving Z for another IPO (likely the games company Zynga). The NYSE, planning a merger with Deutsche Borse, would like to avoid any controversy with the SEC. Zillow used that to their advantage, arguing that holding the Z for a company that hadn’t even filed to go public yet was anti-competitive behavior. They got their Z without a big fight. The single letters left are: I, J, Q, U, and W.

Posted in money

Chipotle Goes Asian


The success of Chipotle is remarkable, especially in the recent economy. Fortune calls out a few of their key statistics: Their stock was in the $50 range three years ago and is now sitting in the $300s. Revenue nearly tripled since 2006 with the number of Chipotle locations doubling. Their margins are 25% to 26%. That’s great success for a “fast casual” restaurant with a seemingly small and basic menu. Those few main ingredients and garnishes can be combined into a large number of choices but I think most people stick to their favorite combos. So it’s not the variety that brings them back. The company is testing out a Asian restaurant called ShopHouse with a similar formula: chicken satay, meatballs, steak and tofu with Asian flavors over brown rice with a selection of accompaniments. DCIst has a snapshot of the menu. Alas for our food allergen avoiding family, ShopHouse serves peanuts. The reason we started patronizing Chipotle was their commendably clear allergen statement and a complete lack of nuts in the place.

Posted in food

Reef Net Fishing


In the San Juan Islands near Seattle the unique and old method of reef net fishing is still being practiced by the local Native Americans in the area and commercial fisherman. A net is suspended between two boats or barges, originally two canoes. Salmon are lured into the net by an artificial reef (a diagram is on this page). When the lookout spots a school of salmon coming in, the net is brought up and the fish are pulled into one of the boats. This method leaves the fish in excellent condition and is touted as being highly eco-friendly. Unwanted species are thrown back immediately and the wanted salmon are put in a live pen. Local destination restaurants, the Herbfarm and Willows Inn, have featured reef net caught salmon on their menus. One fisherman has posted video of a catch in action.

Posted in animals,food

Toy Hall of Fame


The National Toy Hall of Fame, one of the collections of The Strong educational institution in Rochester, NY, has announced 12 finalists for this year’s two spots. The contenders are: dollhouse, Dungeons & Dragons, Hot Wheels, Jenga, Pogo Stick, puppets, R/C vehicles, Rubik’s Cube, Simon, Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and Twister. The finalists will be announced in November. You can submit a story about your favorite of the 12 on their site. Perhaps the oldest toy, the stick, was inducted in 2008. The Nintendo Game Boy was inducted a year later, the Atari 2600 a year earlier.

DIY Rings


Bride and groom Sara Faith Alterman and Sam Hawes’ wedding rings may look traditional but they took a very personal route for their jewelry. With the help of Adam Clark at Scintillant Studio the couple started with a metal ingot and made wedding bands for each other. Alterman is a writer (among other things) and she’s written about shopping for her wedding dress for the Boston Globe and “localizing” her wedding in San Francisco.

Posted in craft

Food Trucks of the 1890s


As the food truck trend spreads across America, the L.A. Times takes us back to the late 1800s when tamale wagons served customers on the streets of Los Angeles. They’re the forerunners of today’s taco trucks (loncheras), powered by horses instead of gasoline. There were over 100 of them by 1901 and some deemed them unsafe as they supposedly gathered a bad crowd, especially after the saloons closed. But they perservered as fans of Mexican food grew and now their descendants are everywhere, even, some might say, in the spirit, though not the flavor, of the Taco Bell on the corner.

Posted in food,nostalgia

Quick Mac Nostalgia Break


After reading Caroline McCarthy’s tweet about the Oscar the Grouch Mac extension I wanted to see it again too. YouTube to the rescue:

The authors: Eric Shapiro and Ken Hornak (graphics). I don’t think I used this for long since it got old quick, but thinking about it now, as Caroline said, does make me smile.

Posted in nostalgia