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15 Damn Fine Twin Peaks Products

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Feliz Navidad

With the revival of Twin Peaks, we can all go back to the small town where a yellow light still means slow down, not speed up. Here are some products to enjoy alongside the premiere of the new season of everyone's favorite cult drama.

1. THE SECRET HISTORY OF TWIN PEAKS: A NOVEL; $20

As a companion to the third season, co-creator Mark Frost wrote a multimedia novel that covers the larger history and culture of Twin Peaks. The story is told through an FBI dossier, with a timeline that starts with journals of Lewis and Clark and ends with the beginning of season three. The book has illustrations, maps, and newspaper clippings to make it feel more convincing.

Find it: Amazon

2. CHERRY PIE FILLING; $16

We'll never get to try the damn good coffee and pie served at the Double R diner, but we can still imagine it. This jar of cherry pie filling from the Salish Lodge & Spa, which was used to film the exteriors of the Great Northern Hotel, will get you one step closer to the real deal.

Find it: Salish Lodge

3. ACTION FIGURES; $27

Create your own mystery with these Funko action figures of Agent Dale Cooper, Laura Palmer, Bob, and the Log Lady. The 3-3/4-inch-tall figures are great for displaying in your rustic, wood-paneled home.

Find it: Amazon

4. PIN-UPS

Emma Munger reimagines the characters of Twin Peaks as sexy pin-up models. You can check out her whole series, which includes Dale Cooper, Audrey Horne, Annie Blackburn, and plenty of characters from other non-Twin Peaks '90s classics.

Find it: Society6

5. OWL CAVE MAP SHIRT; $18

Get the intriguing Native American petroglyph on a shirt and always know the right way to Glastonbury Grove.

Find it: Amazon

6. FISH IN THE PERCOLATOR PIN; $8

Don't drink that coffee! This enamel pin features a minor but memorable joke in the first episode of Twin Peaks .

Find it: Etsy

7. LOG PILLOW; $15

Cuddle up with your log without getting any splinters. This log pillow from Kikkerland is perfect for Log Lady costumes or just snuggling up on your couch.

Find it: Amazon

8. PERFUME; $88

You can't smell a television show, but it's easy to imagine what the world of Twin Peaks might smell like. This trio of scents, created by a perfumer who lives in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, uses scents of evergreen, cedar, and more mysterious ingredients in a line aptly called the “Wonderful & Strange Liquid Music Trio.”

Find it: Matriarch

9. THE SOUNDTRACK ON VINYL; $36

The amazing soundtrack of Twin Peaks has been reissued for your enjoyment. It's pressed on 180-gram brown vinyl that's meant to look like coffee. The record comes with a lyric sheet and liner notes, all housed in a sleeve with artwork by Sam Smith.

Find it: Amazon

10. FIRE WALK WITH ME NECKLACE; $20

Get a necklace dedicated to the prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The piece of jewelry is shaped like one of the Best Friends necklaces in the movie (which also play a role in the show).

Find it: Etsy

11. TWIN PEAKS TAPESTRY; $37

Get the natural beauty of Washington State right on your wall with this tapestry. It comes in three sizes: 60, 80, or 104 inches long.

Find it: Society6

12. SADDLE SHOES; $40

Do your best Audrey Horne impression with these saddle shoes. Now all you need is a retro sweater and fierce eyebrows.

Find it: ModCloth

13. SWEATER; $90

Speaking of sweaters, this jumper from Feliz Navidad is just begging to enter your wardrobe. The sweater is knitted and sewn in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although pricey, the company offers a payment plan without interest.

Find it: Feliz Navidad

14. RECIPE BOOK; $18

The best way to enjoy the premiere of the third season is with the right food. This unofficial cookbook will help you make pie and other meals based off the show.

Find it: Amazon

15. KEY CHAIN; $9

Get a retro hotel keychain for the Great Northern Hotel, where Agent Cooper stayed and many of the show's pivotal scenes took place.

Find it: Amazon

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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May 23, 2017
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