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Monday, October 02, 2006 


Okay, so it has been a really long time since I last updated this thing. Almost a whole week, in fact. A ton has gone on, but on the eve of my departure for London, I don't really have time to go into too much detail on everything. So, for now, I'll just go over the big activity of the weekend. Hopefully once I get to London and (keeping fingers crossed) get an internet connection that isn't as pathetically slow, I'll be able to update this thing with pictures and such much more easily. Although I have a feeling that London will be even busier than NYC, which will be... well... insane. But I'm ready!

Saturday was spent at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the beautiful site of the Wired NextFest. It was a showcase of some of the coolest new tech gadgets, big and small, that people have been working on recently, kind of like a peek at what the future may be like. It seriously looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, with big lit orbs and crazy robots and more technology than I could ever try to understand. Overall, it was very cool to see what people have been coming up with. However, I have two complaints: First, it felt a lot like a marketing ploy, with GM showcasing their new cleaner energy cars and the new BlackBerry Pearl available to test at about 5 kiosks scattered throughout the center. Then, kind of along the same lines, I felt like so much of it was just pushing the infusion of technology into so many areas that it's really not needed in. I mean, seriously, who needs a pair of shirts that can "send" hugs to each other via vibrations and heat? Or bright metallic female robots that can be lead in a waltz? I can do that, and I'm a real girl.

There was one thing I saw that stood out to me as being particularly useful and practical: the VeinViewer by Luminetx. This awesome piece of equipment instantly displays the veins in the area in an image projected directly onto the skin. As somebody with impossibly small veins, getting blood drawn is always a tricky procedure, often with a few unsuccessful attempts carried out before actually getting something. The VeinViewer uses some pretty awesome technology, taking advantage of the fact that hemoglobin (the protein contained in red blood cells that binds oxygen) absorbs near-infrared light. So, when this near-IR light is directed at the area, a camera picks up the image of the light reflected back from areas not containing hemoglobin within the first 8mm or so of the tissue (and you wouldn't want them digging for blood much further in than that). It then processes this image and projects it back onto the skin in visible light, with the areas containing hemoglobin (and blood!) darkened. Way cool. Seriously. So, after watching a few people check out their veins under this machine, I decided to give it a try, and quickly discovered why getting blood drawn is such a big ordeal for me. Most people had these big black webs of veins running all down their forearms, but I just had this one darker area on the inside of my elbow with not much on the rest of my arm. I didn't have a chance to snap a picture of it, but believe me, it was pretty pathetic. So, at just $25,000 each (okay, so that's quite a bit, but not in comparison to most hospital equipment), they seem to be a very practical addition to doctors offices. I'd be so excited if one of these things was used on me next time I have my blood drawn.

I feel like this is getting a bit long, but there is just one more thing I must share. At NextFest, I picked up a free sample of the new Coca-Cola BlaK in a little glass bottle (a very important detail, as you will see in about 20 seconds, depending on how fast you read). It is basically a super caffeinated beverage for those addicted to both Coke and coffee who are too lazy to drink them separately. The stuff was horrible, but I might not be the person to ask, considering I don't like Coke and am not a huge coffee fan either. So, anyway, as Joe and I were eating lunch, he was tapping his half full bottle on the cement block we were sitting on. We were surprised to notice some fizz seeping out from under the label near the bottom of the bottle, but didn't really think much of it. A few taps later, and **BAM**, disgusting coffee/coke mixture everywhere. What happened, you might ask? Well, the entire bottom of the bottle flew off. In the photo, you see the remainder of it and a small piece of glass hanging out in the caffeinated mess. The bottom, as it ended up a solid 10 feet away, wouldn't fit into the photo very easily. We were joking that it's too bad it didn't take out one of my eyes or something, or I could have sued. But I'd much rather have my eyes. End of story. End of post.

My next update will come from London. My first overseas trip! Unless you count walking over the Mexican border into Tijuana for an afternoon...