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March 2011 Archives

Actual dumpster divers caught in the act at our old office. We don't process returns at our new place, so we miss you, dumpster divers!

We have a problem. And it's growing at a rate proportional to our return pile.

We can't, in good conscience, resell damaged electronics. And we can't donate them to charity--the saddest kid in the world is one with a handheld video game that won't turn on. Garbage, then? Not good for the environment.

Luckily for us, there's an entire class of scavengers out there ready to pick the bones of our helicopters, keyboards, and interactive t-shirts: hackers, makers, and crafty techy types.

Whether it's in a school's technology lab, or a FIRST Robotics team, or your neighborhood hackerspace, we're betting somebody out there would enjoy getting a box of broken stuff from us every couple of months--and then use the parts and pieces for good, not evil.

While we can't promise anything right now, we're very seriously considering setting up such a subscription and we're ready to gather contact information from those who are interested. Sign up below and we'll see where this goes!

A few notes and caveats:

  1. By filling out the form, you vow to make something awesome and you won't be a jerk and sell our borked things on eBay. (We'll be watching.)
  2. We hope you'll send us photos and updates on projects--we want to see our liddle things all growed up!
  3. Our warehouse is in Columbus, Ohio, and groups in that area that can pick up boxes are ideal, but we'll work out some shipping options for others. (It would help enormously if you can pick up the tab.) International hackers, we'll see, but it could be very expensive to ship to you.

UPDATE 4/22 1:25pm ET
So. You guys are kinda into broken things, apparently. The little form below has logged 1,930 requests to date, so we know the interest is there and we're giving this program a shot. In fact, we've sent out some already but it will take time to work through the list. We're giving priority to groups--especially those that work with children or for educational, community reasons--so personal hobbyists, please be aware you may be in for a long wait. We are, however, doing our best to get to everyone, so we appreciate your patience!

Harrison's winning Mascarpone Pie obliterated the competition.

On Monday we celebrated March 14th in the traditional manner: with pi(e).

There were 18 entrants in our Iron Chef Pi Day battle, and after much joyful eating--and then napping--the votes were counted. The winner wasn't the Elvis pie (bacon, peanut butter, and chocolate graham), the Irish Explosion pie (chocolate jello, green jello, and Lucky Charms pictured to the right), or the French Toast pie (you can guess the ingredients).

No, fruit beat out bacon! The winner was Harrison's Mascarpone Peach, which, he notes, can include laxatives if it's "that kind" of office party. (He spared us.)

Mascarpone Peach Tart

25 gingersnap cookies, coarsely broken (about 6 ounces; about 2 1/4 cups pieces)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

4 to 5 small nectarines, halved, pitted, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup peach jam, warmed
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350F. Finely grind gingersnaps in processor. Add butter and blend until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake crust until color darkens, pressing sides with back of spoon if beginning to slide, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.

Make the filling:
Beat first 6 ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in crystallized ginger. Spread filling in prepared crust. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Overlap nectarine slices atop filling in concentric circles. Brush with jam. Sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger. Serve, or refrigerate up to 6 hours.

Enjoy, pie-nauts! We may also celebrate Tau Day--an alternate, "one turn" approach to our favorite circular constant--on June 28th with tortes but we won't forget Pi Day. 'Cause if loving math and pastry is wrong, we don't want to be right.

You're welcome!

A little note for our Geek<3 voters from Mrs. H's class. Their next project: create a website!

Last month we asked you guys to share your favorite orgs via our Charity Suggesterator and we promised to use the results for our March donation.

Red Cross

That was before Japan suffered an 8.9-magnitude earthquake last night 81 miles off the coast of Sendai, triggering a tsunami with 12-foot waves, destroying communities and killing hundreds. So we hope you'll understand why we'll revisit the Charity Suggesterator in April and instead donate $1,000 to the Red Cross today.

The Red Cross hardly needs an introduction. An international emergency response organization, the Red Cross uses an average of 91 cents of every dollar spent towards humanitarian services and programs. In 2004, the Red Cross created the Tsunami Recovery Program to support 10 countries and millions of people hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Our donation today will go towards disaster relief wherever it is needed most.

On a more cheerful note, remember those DonorsChoose classrooms we helped back in February? We've already heard back--adorably, as you might imagine--from three teachers and their geeklings:

Drawings from Mrs. C's ActivSlate class (we heard they got a lesson on what a "geek" was, which explains the glasses):


Letters from Ms. H's LCD projector class:

You're welcome, Gaby!

The work of a budding Op artist in Mrs. B's class (following up on our Geek<3 donation in 2010 for a classroom printer):

IT BURNS (but you're welcome)

And if that weren't awesome enough for the last few weeks, our eBay auctions to kick off the first pack of Geek A Week cards raised $3,828.45 for EFF and Child's Play. A kajillion thanks to artist and geek herder extraordinaire Len Peralta for making the auctions--much less the cards!--possible.

Being so close to items like a signed Chief Tyrol figurine, honey from Neil Gaiman's bees, and a signed "The Guild" issue #1 was pretty magical and we hope the winners take good care of 'em. Or else we might have to go steal it all back.

Think we're kidding? We have night vision goggles for a reason.