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A Gourmet Weed Dinner At Hunter S. Thompson's House

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To celebrate marijuana legalization in Colorado, Munchies columnist David Bienenstock recently traveled to Aspen, to attend a legal seminar hosted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws—America's oldest and largest group dedicated to legalizing cannabis. And since the late Hunter S. Thompson was one of NORML's earliest and most consistent supporters, we figured what better way to embrace the sweet smell of herbal liberation in the Rocky Mountain State than by throwing a small victory party at Owl Farm—the author and advocate's home and “fortified compound” in Woody Creek—featuring an appropriately over-the-top pairing of fully legal cannabis and high-end cuisine?
Pulling this off required first and foremost the permission and kind hospitality of Anita Thompson, Hunter Thompson's widow, who resides at Owl Farm and keeps a close eye on her dearly departed husband's literary legacy. Then, to handle the culinary and scientific feat of preparing a multi-course marijuana-infused meal of the highest order, we partnered Chef Chris Lanter of Aspen hotspot Cache Cache with cannabis-infusion expert Tamar Wise, former head of science at the world's largest marijuana edibles company.
In all, we infused four different oils, using four different ganja strains, for use in four different preparations (three savory and one dessert), with a joint of each strain set aside for smoking. All served to a highly select group of heads at Owl Farm, including NORML's founder, and Hunter S. Thompson's close friend, Keith Stroup—our guest of honor. And now, it's time to: Buy the ticket, take the ride...
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Letter to Mom

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What’s the fastest way to get a hand-written letter from my place in Chicago to my mother in New Jersey?


First, let's carefully consider the "walking" option. Who knows—maybe it's faster than it seems!

Since you didn't specify where in New Jersey your mother lives, I'm going to assume she's in Hackensack, because that's where Miss Teschmacher's mother lived.[1]You know, Superman falls into the pool almost headfirst. Why would Lex Luthor assume the necklace would stay on him in the water? This always bothered me. The rest of the movie is totally legit; this is the only thing that seems unrealistic.

Google Maps says that it would take 260 hours, or just under 11 days, to walk from Chicago to Hackensack.

Google takes you on an interesting route. For example, it cuts diagonally across farmer's fields, which seems strange, until you realize it's taking you along the Wabash Cannonball Trail, a 63-mile walking path that follows an old rail line. Clever!

On the other hand, Google makes some questionable decisions. When you get to Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, Google has you walk down Old Turnpike Road to reach Lewisburg. This is strange, because[2]... as any schoolchild knows ... the Buffalo Valley trail runs right alongside the highway for this entire stretch, just a few hundred yards to the north of the road. But who knows—maybe Google has some secret reason for steering you away from what would otherwise be a perfect walking path.

Your trip would also take you past that really weird bend in the Appalachians. Many years ago, I took my first flight across Pennsylvania, and I was totally baffled when I looked out the window and saw strange curving troughs running across the landscape. They were so smooth and regular that at first I thought they must be manmade, but they were too big and endless for that. What I was seeing was the curved troughs of the Ridge and Valley Appalachians, which curve dramatically across Pennsylvania.[3]Just a few weeks ago, researchers finally explained how that weird bend formed.

While the 10-day walk would be scenic, it's not looking like the fastest method. We'll need to try something else.

If it were 1861, you could use the Pony Express, which could move a letter over that distance in as little as 3 days.

Since it's no longer 1861,[citation needed] we have better options available. FedEx offers overnight delivery, and a courier service could make the drive in a little over 12 hours.

Last year, Ed Boilan absolutely shattered the "cannonball run" record for driving from New York to Los Angeles—and broke laws in hundreds of jurisdictions in the process. His average speed was 98 mph, and while it's safe to assume he probably averaged less than this across the eastern half of his journey, if you managed to keep up his 98 mph average across your trip, you could make it from Chicago to Hackensack in 8 hours.

Airplanes are a lot faster. An airliner can cover the distance in an hour and a half, and the Concorde—back when it was still flying—could do it in 30 minutes (plus some time to take off and land).

There are other techniques, like using a rail gun to fire a message capsule down a vacuum tube, which could conceivably get your time down to 10 or 20 minutes.

But none of these beat missiles.

Over a short flight distance, an ICBM[4]In this case, an intracontinental ballistic missile. on a typical arc would take about 12 to 15 minutes to cover the distance to your mom.[5]This is probably the first time I've ever ended a sentence with those words when I wasn't making a "your mom" joke. But using depressed trajectories, a technique which should make sense to the Kerbal Space Program players out there, the time to cross the distance between you and your mother could be reduced to as little as six minutes. Of course, the letter might not be readable once the maneuver is completed, but that's ok—your mother will probably no longer be capable of reading it.

In the end, when it comes to getting a physical object to Hackensack, New Jersey as fast as possible, Lex Luthor had the right idea.

Even if not everything he said made sense.

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15 hours ago
Sharing 100% of the Elon Musk Reinvents Pony Express graphic
Louisville, KY

Capital One Sends Customer A New Orange-Juiceless Keyboard So He Can Pay His Bill

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We are living in a digital world, which means many things we used to do offline, like paying bills, are now handled online. But what’s a good customer to do when he can’t pay his credit card bill due to a keyboard infiltrated with orange juice? Speak up — and maybe get a free keyboard out of it.

One Capital One customer wrote on Reddit that after complaining to Capital One about not being able to pay a bill online, due to extenuating circumstances involving an unfortunate orange juice incident, a surprise came in the mail.

“I complained to Capital One that I couldn’t pay my bill because I couldn’t copy and paste a 2 into the account number, and my 2 key didn’t work because of an orange juice incident,” he wrote, “So they sent me a keyboard.”

Wait, what? Yes, a new keyboard, and a very nice card signed by two Capital One employees who seem to enjoy playing Santa.

And because we here at Consumerist always have our skepticism hats on when it comes to big companies doing anything nice, we reached out to Capital One to make sure this really happened.

“It’s legit,” a Capital One spokeswoman tells Consumerist.

“We encourage our agents to look for and act on opportunities to practice random acts of kindness for our customers,” she writes. “The program enables our agents to follow up on customer conversations in unexpected, personalized and creative ways.”

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1 day ago
Shockingly so. And here I was happy with cap one so far managing to not annoy me.
Los Angeles, California, USA
1 day ago
A refreshing story!
Vancouver Island, Canada

The Other Infinity

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The challenges of the nanoscale world, and how they're dealt with. Reddit Post: Brought to you by the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. Find out more at...
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The Other Infinity - YouTube

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Sign in with your Google Account (YouTube, Google+, Gmail, Orkut, Picasa, or Chrome) to add Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research's video to your playlist.

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Study: One Third Of Americans Have Debt In Collections

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Sometimes debt isn’t so bad, and sometimes it is, but one thing is clear: 80% of Americans owe someone, somewhere, some money. It might be a mortgage or student loan, or a five-year-old fee that got forgotten about, but the vast majority of us have some outstanding debt. And worse: a third of the country may have debt collectors chasing after them for that cash.

The Urban Institute today released two studies, Debt In America and Delinquent Debt In America, looking at who owes what and where.

Consumer debt, the researchers found, is everywhere — but the distribution is far from even. The average amount of owed debt ranges from $30,000 or lower in some census tracts to $140,000 or higher in others. The two most indebted regions of the country, in general, are the Pacific coast (at $69,831) and the Northeast corridor, from D.C. to Boston (at $68,401).

The researchers note that it’s not surprising that residents of these areas have the highest total debt. Housing costs are highest in cities like San Francisco, New York, and D.C. and mortgages are — predictably — a big component of debt.

70% of the average total debt in the country comes from mortgages, the studies found. Among people with mortgages the average debt is $209,768, but for those without mortgages it’s $11,592. Non-mortgage debt is more evenly spread around the country, with a smaller regional variation.

In general, the study finds, high-debt areas are also high-income areas. If you make more money, you borrow more for your house or your car or your education, and your credit and income together will get you those loans. The correlation makes intuitive sense.

Likewise, there is a far more harmful correlation with the geography of delinquent debt. Debts that have gone to collections are concentrated in lower-income areas of the country, particularly the south and southeast.

However, although the south has the highest rates of accounts in collections, it is far from alone. Even in the area of the country with the lowest number of debts in arrears — New England — just over 25% of the population has at least one debt that has gone to collections. The highest is the West South Central area (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas), with nearly 44% of consumers having a debt in collections.

In the hardest-hit state, Nevada, 47% have a debt in collections. Nevada was also one of the states that faced the worst fallout from the collapse of the housing market and economic crisis that began in 2008. When housing and employment fall apart, it’s going to be a lot harder to pay back your bills.

Nevadans aren’t alone, though. Overall, the studies found, just over 35% of Americans — a third of the country — have a debt that has gone to collections. That’s about 77 million people.

Not all these debts are particularly large. The studies found that the amount varies widely by person, “from less than $25 to more than $125,000.” The average is $5178, and covers everything from old gym memberships to medical debts. Past-due mortgages aren’t included.

Many consumers are not even aware they owe a debt that has gone to collections. Some only find out that they owe anything when they review their credit reports (which can have errors).

Negative debt reports don’t just affect consumers’ ability to borrow more in the future. A bad credit score can also make someone unable to get a job and have other long-lasting effects.

Both studies specifically looked at Americans with credit reports, and so those who are unbanked or otherwise do not participate in the traditional banking and lending system aren’t included. That’s about 9% of the country, or 22 million people, the Urban Institute estimates.

Of course, not all debts are inherently bad. Many of us will want to own a car or a home at some point and a reasonable loan with good terms, repaid on time, isn’t necessarily an evil. Though about 20% of Americans avoid even this, the studies found, and have no outstanding debts at all.

Debt In America (PDF) [Urban Institute]
Delinquent Debt In America (PDF) [Urban Institute]

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