Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Wouldn't you be a cheerleader for competition?

BMW Designer working on new 7-series clay model
You know how the new BMW 7-series was designed? Teams WITHIN the company competed on individual design elements. Makes sense... (via BMWBlog.com)

Monday, 11 August 2008

Rebiana from Stevia is Coke's New Sweetener

Stevia plant by Flickr use Hebam3000 under GPL
Something big is going on if Coke replaces a key ingredient, huh? Diet Coke is now going to be sweetened with an extract from the Stevia plant.

I read up a little on the Diet Coke sweetener history (courtesy of Wikipedia) and learned that Coke had started using Nutrasweet in 1983 but used to blend it with saccharin to reduce cost. Apparently, saccharin is still used in Diet Coke in drink fountains to make it last longer.

Coca-Cola Light outside of the US may contain different sweeteners (and hence does indeed taste different, as Americans living abroad like to complain) such as cyclamates, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. I'd rather not know what those things are.

In my Brandeis years I went through a Diet Coke binge period - used to buy 1.5l bottles on sale for $0.79 (and sometimes even cheaper) at the Waltham Shaw's. I am glad to say I have gotten over this but nonetheless, I look forward to taste-testing the new Stevia-sweetened Coke.

By the way, there is a political angle to the story: stevia supporters say there is an Aspartame lobby, which had worked hard to delay FDA approval of stevia's safety.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Towel battle looms

I've only ever read about the battles for sun beds taking place at holiday resorts around Europe. Apparently older German holiday makers are willing to get up way early to stake out their bed by placing a towel, even if they never use it later in the day. The English are usually their arch enemies in this arena.

No idea where Slovaks stand in these but should get a chance to try in Mallorca later this month, according to the hotel reviews. We are by no means early risers so our only chance may be to use our cute baby to befriend an older German couple who would then claim sun beds for us when they get up at 6:30.

UPDATE: A middle-aged Swedish couple (the woman was topless the the hotel pool) helped us. She commandeered her husband to move the sun umbrellas around for the baby. Bliss.