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Friday FYI: Hate Mornings Less

Why orchids are better than coffee.

Feel anything from grumpy to homicidal when you have to get up in the morning? Yeah, we hear ya. Luckily, a bunch of researchers at — where else — Harvard have discovered a neat trick to soften the punch of the alarm clock: stick a bouquet in your bedroom.

The behavioral study found that those of us who don’t consider ourselves “morning people” report feeling happier and more energized after looking at flowers first thing in the morning. This, in turn, makes us more positive throughout the day, which makes those around us a tad friendlier too, thanks to the whole “emotional contagion” thing. (We won’t get into the mirror neurons shenanigans, but it’s compelling and legit stuff.)

(And another study in that series found that flowers in the home make people feel less anxious and more compassionate. Which, you know, really helps in case the “emotional contagion” stuff didn’t work on that jerk at work.)

via

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Customization Gone Wild

70% fabulous, respecting your inseam, how to add a 29th bone to your foot, and why a bear is missing an “e” but has plenty of nuts.

MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY

In this I-me-mine age, customization is already the expected norm. But what happens when it all runs rampant with made-to-order stuff offering OCD-worthy precision? Freud would sure have a field day with the anal-retentive nature of today’s consumerism, and who are we to stand in Freud’s way? Welcome to the Customization Gone Wild issue.

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Since we last featured Freddy&Ma, the design-your-own-handbag getup (named after founder siblings Anthony and Amy Pigliacampo’s childhood partners-in-crime nicknames) has branched out into more cool design-your-own stuff: plates and pillows, to be exact.

The concept is still all about rebelling against the mass-marketed fashions of today and takes a simple approach: to design your own handbag, you get to pick the bag style (tote, pouch, bowler, hobo, clutch and more), the leather trimmings (black, white, tan, brown, maroon) and one of the thousands of patterns (retro, geometric abstract, minimalist, flashy, you name it).

Then they make it for you.

Prices are based on the “canvas” you pick and range from $65 for the wallet-like metro clutch to $295 for the bowler. Or, if you’re feeling lazy and generous at the same time, just pick one of their Carry for a Cause Bags — 30% of your bag money goes towards Art Start or Crate Now, and 70% goes towards making you feel like a good person who just happens to be fabulous.

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Back in the day, you went to the tailor to get your custom-fitted suit, made from a fabric of your liking and with those buttons you inherited from your grandmother. Today, you are the tailor.

At least at MakeYourOwnJeans.com, where you get to do just that: make your own jeans. You simply submit your precise measurements and pick a denim wash. Then, these guys (who we’re pretty sure are Santa’s little helpers moonlighting those other 51 weeks of the year) stitch your unique pair together and enzyme-wash it so it’s all pre-shrunken and even-colored. The rest is between you and FedEx guy.

We dig the concept not only because the big O gave it a nod-off, and not merely because non-cookie-cutter style makes us feel special, but also because we believe everyone’s inseam is a very, very special place and should only be clad in something very, very special.

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Fact: there are 28 bones in each of your feet. Another fact: feet are ugly, especially the really bony ones. But guess what: now, you can have 29 bones and killer foot style.

We’re taking about Skins Footwear, the tech- meets-design hybrid that features a two-part shoe structure consisting of an orthopedic “bone” core and an outer collapsible “skin.” The idea is you get yourself a perfectly fitting, super comfortable bone and then pick a number of skins so you can mix up the look and keep the comfort.

These guys launched less than a year ago, and they’ve already been featured in The New York Times. (Which is almost as good a nod-off by Oprah.) Not bad for a skin-and-bones concept.

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We’re not quite sure if this next über-customizer is the result of dyslexia or pure genius, but YouBar is one “e” short of the Build-a-Bear concept: it’s a fresh-baked, handmade nutrition bar that you build yourself by picking the exact ingredients and even naming your concoction.

And you do it all online.

Here’s how it works: you choose one or two nut butter “bases,” up to 3 different protein sources, some nuts and seeds to add, throw in your choice of dried fruits and berries, add the sweetener you prefer (they even have Stevia!), stir in your favorite seasonings or a bit of chocolate, and add some grains and cereals if you’re so inclined. You can even infuse it all with a shot of vitamins, greens and/or fiber.

Many of the ingredients come in organic version and you can manipulate the proportions of all your choosings within a category (say, 1/3 soy protein + 2/3 whey protein) as well as the levels (not too sweet, extra nuts, etc.) It even calculates the bar’s nutritional value for you — talk about full control.

Then you give your Frankenfood a name and get 12 of your very own lovable, edible monsters for $40 plus shipping.

We, needless to say, absolutely love the concept — it indulges both our health-nutness and our control-freakness. And to think people settle for PowerBars.

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RFID vs. Honor

What third world children have to do with NYC commuting and why RFID beats honor systems every time.

YOU BE CYCLIST

Remember when the One Laptop Per Child program first made waves and everyone thought a $100 laptop for the third world was anywhere from laughable to plain undoable? Well, two years later OLPC has had the last laugh with its world-changing success, and the design team behind it is after a brand new revolutionary initiative.

ubicycle

The guys at Continuum have just concepted Ubicycle: a high-tech yet brilliantly user-friendly public bike-share system. It’s simple: you “rent” a bike using the same funds-loaded Smart card you use on trains and buses. It’s RFID-enabled, so whenever you use it to unlock a bike from the rack, the system knows who’s taking the goodie. (Sure beats a may-or-may-not-honor honor system.)

And speaking of the rack, each nifty modular station holds 2 bikes and the racks can be stacked horizontally. Seven of them (that’s 14 bikes for the mathematically- challenged) take as much space as a single parked car. The lock mechanisms are powered by the solar panels coating the kiosks for the ultimate cherry on top.

(Meanwhile, Philly is still trying to get the very, very 1.0 Philly BikeShare program off the ground. Hey, at least we’re trying.)

via PSFK

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Friday FYI: Auditory Freedom

We’re starting a new thing: every Friday, you get a quick everyday good-to-know. So go ahead, know.

GET A SONG UNSTUCK FROM YOUR HEAD

Blame your brain for that horrid Britney track stuck in your head since Monday’s morning drive — a glitch in your auditory cortex is causing the record to spin round’n’round endlessly.

Two ways to get it out:

1. Listen to the song in its entirety

2. Do some math

No joke, folks. This stuff works like magic.

>>> via Wired

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