Benevolent brownies

So there's this guy, Chris Knight, a journalist originally from Iowa and now Paris, who is roaming about California this summer setting up a card table in various places and handing out free homemade brownies.

Just to hand out brownies. Really. No catch. They're not poisoned. They're not a lure to get you to buy anything other than the message of his Darn Brownies "movement," which is to get more people to hand out free brownies or do other nice things, but nothing too hard, and make the world a more pleasant place.

He was in San Francisco last week, stationed in front of Brenda's French Soul Food on Polk Street, distributing the tasty snacks. "I made about 40 brownies and handed out about 35," he writes on his blog. "I ate five brownies myself. I signed up 30 new members who promised to do something equally nice and peculiar in their community."

Other suggestions are to do some fun card tricks at a senior center, hand out happy-face stickers on a train, distribute cups of lemonade for free at a farmers market. The only guidelines are that, whatever you do, it should be "for almost no good reason and it can't be mean." Find out where the altruistic treat traveler will be next at www.darnbrownies.com.


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Back to school

Got pencils, paper ... bulletproof shield? I just got a news release about a creative new customizable school backpack designed by a mom, Christina Thomas, who is a former San Jose police officer and also worked school security in the South Bay. The packs, at www.attachapack.com, are indeed pretty cute with zip-on pockets and panels so kids can change up the colors and patterns, plus accessories like fun clip-on key chains and "added safety options."

When I first read "safety options," I figured it meant maybe a first-aid kit or even a pocket for pepper spray in case your child is approached by a weirdo while walking home from school, which is a sad enough comment on the state of society today. But a bulletproof shield? I guess the idea is to hold the pack up over your head or vital organs if someone starts shooting. Is this alarmist? Or has it really come to this? Email me and tell me what you think.

Adding dimension

The amazing, sci-fi, Star-Trek-replicator-style, hard-to-wrap-your-mind-around-it tech of 3-D printing keeps getting mainer and mainer stream. They're selling them at Home Depot now! At a dozen stores nationwide, including Emeryville, East Palo Alto and San Carlos, clerks are doing demos and making nuts and bolts and such on $1,375 MakerBot Replicator Minis and $2,899 MakerBot Replicators. Put that on your list when you go in for a caulking gun and duct tape. Or maybe just print out a caulking gun and duct tape.

Might still be a while before you can print out delicious brownies, however, to go with your tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com, or follow her on Twitter @giveemhill.