Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Out to launch

Would you like to swing on a star?

And yes, those are real NASA interns.

Meghan Trainor can probably retire next spring.

(Via Miss Cellania. See also this earlier example of Johnson [Space Center] Style.)

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As he nibbled at her ear

And can you blame him, really?

Sushi earrings by Hatanaka

The backstory:

My husband asked me a few days ago what I wanted for the holidays and I told him I didn’t know. But after seeing these fake food jewelry designs by Japan-based company Hatanaka, I think I just may want a Beef Bowl necklace, dammit!

I hate these and I kind of love them at the same time. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with wearing a bowl of fake beef around your neck, okay? I mean it’s not like they’re selling something weird, like salami necklaces or bacon earrings…

(From Caitlin D.’s contribution to the Saturday Links yesterday at Rookie.)

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Upward mobility

So, Lisa Quam, you’ve won $90 million playing Powerball. Do you quit your job?

She said she would quit her job at plane maker Boeing Co.

Do you buy new wheels?

Quam said she expected to travel more and had already identified her next new car: a Subaru Forester.

Which, for Washington state, will fit right in.

Although this is the part that gets me:

Quam and her husband bought two Powerball tickets on a Thanksgiving Day run to buy a newspaper and pumpkin spice.

For those of you who thought pumpkin spice, barely spice and not even close to being pumpkin, was the creation of Beelzebub — well, even the devil has an off-day now and then.

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Try it, you’ll like it

You can lead a horse to water, but — well, you know the rest of it. Especially if the horse is deeply suspicious of this whole “river” business.

How to overcome those fears? Just like this:

All sorts of lessons come to mind, but the one that matters is the one that came to you first.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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And appropriately so

The Internet Movie Database has millions of viewer ratings for hundreds of thousands of motion pictures, all on the standard 1 to 10 scale — with one exception:

Screenshot of IMDb entry for This Is Spinal Tap

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out any way to rate the film 11, even using my ten-year-old long-forgotten login. (The average is 8.0, though there are more 10s than 8s.) Apparently the 11 is for decoration only. Still: well played, IMDb.

(From BuzzFeed via Virginia Postrel.)

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Kind of a floaty ride

I’ve seen exactly one of these in my life. The Tupelo Automobile Museum has another one, in decidedly better shape:

Amphicar at Tupelo Automobile Museum

About 3500 Amphicars were produced between 1960 and 1968, priced starting at $3395. One of those coffee-table collector’s books describes it thusly:

Superb neither on water or land, but nonetheless the world’s only amphibious passenger car. Designed by Hans Trippel and powered by a Triumph Herald four-cylinder engine, it did what its maker claimed: run on the road (68 mph tops), sail on water (7 knots maximum) without sinking (rubber gaskets seal the doors; a bilge pump is available if the scupper-level rises). A transfer case handles the drive to twin props, and water navigation is via the steering wheel (the front wheels act as rudders). The sure cure for marina fees, yacht club sharks, and people who want to borrow your boat.

The Museum itself contains about 150 cars from the collection of the late Frank K. Spain, founder of WTWV (now WTVA) in Tupelo, a character in his own right:

Spain hoped to parlay his good relations with NBC officials into getting his new station an affiliation with the network. However, several NBC executives believed Tupelo was not a desirable place for a local station because of its rural location, even though most viewers in northern Mississippi could only get NBC via grade B coverage from WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee and WAPI-TV (now WVTM-TV) in Birmingham, Alabama). Nonetheless, they told Spain that if he could figure out a way to obtain a network signal, he could carry it.

Spain allegedly negotiated under-the-table deals with WMC-TV and set up a network of microwave relays and repeater systems to carry the WMC-TV signal to Tupelo. Station engineers then switched to and from the signal when network programming aired. This setup, necessary in the days before satellites, enabled WTWV to bring NBC programming to northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama.

You got to figure a guy like that would appreciate a car that floats.

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pH 7+

And once again, I drift back to high-school chemistry — with a contemporary bounce:

Meghan Trainor, what hath thou wrought?

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Beyond gossamer

An (almost) actual necklace made out of nothing:

NECLUMI is the first projection-based interactive necklace. We’re posing a question if we’re willing to abandon atoms of gold for the waves of light? At the current stage the whole setup is based on iPhone running custom app and a picoprojector connected via hdmi cable and attached to the wearers chest. Given the rate of miniaturisation of the picoprojector technology and observing the trend of wearables treated more as jewellery and fashion accessories rather than just gadgets, we predict that wearable projection and projection-based jewellery become a reality in a few years. We’re currently committed to create a standalone version of the project and we’re opened for funding and collaboration.

Watch the video at the link. It’s spellbinding, and maybe more than a little scary.

(From Wearable Technologies via Dan Gordon.)

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What, this Sith again?

You can’t tell me this wasn’t inevitable.

(Via Bonnie Burton at CNET.)

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Outdoor batroom

Bat house from old Volt partsOn the off-chance that your first question is “Why is that Chevrolet Volt battery housing sitting on top of a pole?” the answer is that it’s scrap from the General Motors battery plant in Brownstown Township, in the southern end of Wayne County, Michigan, which has no landfill, and the stuff is difficult to recycle for some obscure chemical reason, so the General came up with something else to do with the little plastic boxes: provide homes for bats. Yes, really:

The company … creates bat houses out of scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers that can hold up to 150 little brown bats each. John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction, came up with the reuse idea, transforming the difficult-to-recycle material into nesting structures. So far, 232 of these bat houses have been installed on its properties and in other private and public lands in the United States. A tweak of the design has led to 368 specially designed structures to serve wood ducks, owls, bluebirds and scaly-sided mergansers — an endangered species.

Which means shipping the stuff off to China, since Mergus squamatus is native to east Asia and is presumably never seen around Detroit.

This isn’t the only bat-related Chevy recycling program, either:

Artificial stalactites give hibernating bats more surface area from which to hang, thus spreading them out around the cave. Creation of the stalactite is simple; robots that apply a structural adhesive that helps join Corvette body parts are purged regularly to keep the adhesive applicator clean and free of dried material. This dried gunk is the perfect shape for a stalactite, and its use in artificial bat caves avoids sending it to landfills.

Seems like a swell idea to me.

(Nicole originally posted the stalactite story; I just padded it out a bit.)

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A beep to the system

The staff at Minneapolis’ Acme Foundry, home of quality gray and ductile iron castings, were surprised to see what had been done to the building over the weekend:

Acme Foundry with additional Warner Bros. cartoon characters

Although the business manager is almost certainly telling it straight: “We’ve been in business for over 100 years. I’m surprised it took this long.”

The Super Genius (Carnivorous vulgaris) and his intended prey (Accelleratii incredibus) actually first appeared in 1949, so Acme had at least a 35-year head start, or as much as Wile E. probably needs.

The figures are made of cardboard, and won’t last through a Minnesota winter, but what the heck.

(Via Fark.)

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It’s not really a typewriter

It’s billed simply as a “typing device,” and there’s one particular typist at whom it’s aimed: the person writing for eventual publication, or just for the cedar chest, who wants to go somewhere and observe and/or soak up atmosphere but who doesn’t want to lug along a laptop or squint at a phone, which carry distractions of their own. Perhaps this person is you:

The Hemingwrite is designed like an old-fashioned typewriter but does also manage to keep some modern technology. It has a 6-week battery life so it’s perfect if you write better away from civilization, ample memory, instant on so no time is wasted on booting up, and a high contrast screen so it’s easy to read in daylight or at nighttime. It also has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, allowing it to connect to Google Docs, Evernote, and the Cloud. The best part of all is that stylish old-school look and feel of a typewriter that completes the writing experience.

The four-pound keyboard-plus-screenlet holds about a million words, or roughly twenty standard-sized NaNoWriMo projects, and, I am told, has that nice mechanical feel.

(First seen here.)

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Whoops, nothing there

I have bloodwork on a regular basis, and since it’s at the same place each time, they manage to find a vein more often than not. This was not, alas, always the case.

But some of you younger folk may never, ever have to experience a failure of this kind again:

Frequent donors will love it.

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Beside some unnamed road

Finally, someone I can endorse:

And assuming that’s his real name.

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Meanwhile, a couple of miles away

Of late, Western Avenue has been known for medium to upper-crust eateries and cute little shops and brick walls.

The walls have been addressed here:

The final touches were applied late Sunday, in preparation for Taste of Western Thursday evening.

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LaserJetsam

This is the next step beyond the infamous PC LOAD LETTER:

I think I’m in love.

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They did the Mash

And boy, did they:

The formal release of this track (and fourteen others) is still a couple of weeks away, but hey, that’s why there’s a video out now.

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Evolution in action

Species survive because they adapt. The Gulf Coast is not likely to run out of birds any time soon:

On our first evening here, we dropped into a local supermarket to pick up a few essentials. When we came out, we noticed a flock of small birds hopping from car to car. They were carefully inspecting headlights, radiator grilles, etc. for dead insects and eating all they found. It was very businesslike behavior. Thinking about it, it was entirely logical, of course. Many people drive hundreds of miles to get here, and accumulate lots of dead insects on the front of their vehicles in the process. What better source of food for a hungry bird? I wonder how long it took them to learn to look there?

We’re not exactly a tourist destination here in the Big Breezy, so our major example of bird adaptation can be seen most easily in big box store parking lots: roughly four-and-twenty black birds for every dropped bag of popcorn. Ground Zero might be the Crest Foods store at 23rd and Meridian: not only does it sell a lot of to-go stuff to people who will actually eat it walking back to their cars, but in front of it are a Burger King and an A&W/Long John Silver’s combo.

Then again, we’re not talking picky diners here:

Crows have been reported to eat over 1000 food items, including insects, worms, berries, birds eggs and nestlings, small mammals, bats, fish, snakes, frogs, salamanders, animal dung, grain, nuts, carrion, fried chicken, hamburgers, Chinese food, french fries, and human vomit.

Then again:

They can be weirdly picky though — an experiment showed crows prefer French fries in a McDonald’s bag over those in a brown paper bag. To top it off, a nestling can eat 100 grasshoppers in 3 hours.

You can’t tell me that a crow can’t recognize the Golden Arches.

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The cubist at your door

I’m guessing that she walked down Picasso’s street, and she could not resist his stare:

Picasso-esque Halloween costume

Nor did she call him names, either.

(From the Facebook page of KS107.5 in Denver.)

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Or you can wait and pay less

Sprig is a San Francisco eatery that isn’t really an eatery: everything is cooked at HQ and then delivered to your door in (usually) five to ten minutes.

Except, of course, when it can’t be. Their solution to this is elegantly simple:

Previously where you may have seen “out for now,” we will now be testing dynamic delivery fees. Dynamic delivery fees will adjust up or down throughout Sprig’s service based on how busy things get and how far away a delivery is. While delivery fees will go up during the rushes — like at 8pm in the Marina — they will also decrease when things are slower, meaning you may even see free delivery!

Why are we testing dynamic delivery pricing? Because it will enable us to continue to provide fair compensation for our hard-working Sprig Servers as we continue to expand. Furthermore, it makes Sprig more reliable for you — so you can get a Sprig meal right when you want it, straight to your desk or door.

Laura Northrup at Consumerist sees the sense in this:

I know that I tend to tip delivery drivers more when it’s, say, Super Bowl Sunday, or the busiest pizza times on Friday nights. Sprig’s plan is to take that system and make it mandatory. If customers don’t want to pay the higher fees, they can just wait until the sustainable and organic feeding frenzy is over: one option within the mobile ordering app is to receive a notification when delivery fees fall again.

Me, I’m very much the Apple Bloom type: “But I want it NAO!” And I’ll pay to get it.

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Obviously five believers

If I’m known for anything in blogdom — and who says I am? — it’s got to be my post-titling prowess, which is either a major accomplishment or a major embarrassment, depending on who’s doing the critique. I find it delightful that even real scientists doing serious research aren’t above this same sort of shenanigans:

Five Swedish scientists have confessed that they have been quoting Bob Dylan lyrics in research articles and are running a wager on who can squeeze the most in before retirement.

The game started seventeen years ago when two Professors from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, John Jundberg and Eddie Weitzberg, wrote a piece about gas passing through intestines, with the title “Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind”.

I don’t think I could have resisted that one myself.

Another competitor:

Kenneth Chien, Professor of Cardiovascular Research has also been quoting his idol for years and his fellow scientists recently got wind of his articles which include: “Tangled up in blue: Molecular cardiology in the postmolecular era”.

I have no idea how old these guys are, but surely there’s enough Dylan material to last them until that hard rain starts to fall.

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A different swing altogether

The explanation isn’t any more complicated than this:

When Han Solo was about to be placed in carbonite, he told Chewie to take care of Princess Leia. What happened after that was almost a love story for the ages. Almost.

Um, yeah. Almost:

If there’s anything I love as much as my favorite songs, it’s my favorite songs as filtered through Star Wars. And these are the same folks who did this one:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mean Equestria girls

When the first Equestria Girls feature arrived last year, I noted that “I’ve already seen Mean Girls.” Nothing in that frothy little film, however, prepares you for the blackened hearts and overwrought costumes of the Dazzlings, whose origin is not from around Canterlot High, but from an Equestrian adaptation of Greek mythology, and whose song can turn anyone’s soul to the Dark Side.

Inasmuch as they didn’t have to spend half the running time explaining things, Rainbow Rocks is a far better film than its predecessor, and while there is the usual wagonload of sight gags and unexpected cameos and fanservice, there’s a nicely unfolded plot (so to speak) paced with precision, and packed with more (and better!) songs. But the best thing here, I think, is the redemption of Sunset Shimmer, once a villain, still working on being accepted as a friend; Sunset is the one character in the humanized-pony universe that is proving to have staying power. (Flash Sentry, maybe not so much.) If they’re going to keep turning out EqG stories at this level and on this budget — apparently Rainbow Rocks was distributed on Blu-ray disk — Hasbro and DHX will have pulled off a remarkable double play with a single set of characters.

We got only the one showing in town; it sold out some time before last night. (I’d ordered an online ticket on Wednesday.) About 10 percent of the crowd was doing some level of cosplay. And everyone duly hung around through all the credits, as they should have. There is, of course, a hashtag: #Ready2RainbowRock.

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Let’s beat those Romulans

I may actually see this come to pass in my lifetime.

Or, more precisely, not see this:

Invisibility cloaks have been getting a lot of press over the years. That’s not only because Harry Potter put his fictional cloak to such good use, but also because researchers have been using high-tech metamaterials to create structures capable of bending light around an object to keep it hidden.

The invisibility device developed by researchers at the University of Rochester bends light as well, but not in the ways that magical cloaks or metamaterials do.

“We just figured a very simple way of doing that can just be using standard lenses, and things that we normally find in the lab,” physics professor John Howell said in a video explaining the setup.

Which you can see, so to speak, at that first link. The gobsmacking aspect of it is that I can almost comprehend it with my limited knowledge of optics — which suggests that it’s not too far away from some sort of real-life (so to speak) implementation.

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This is Spinal Tape

Says so right on the package, in fact:

Spinal Tape by Copernicus

Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard two-inch-wide packing tape, on a 25-meter roll (kinda Smalls), but it’s suitable for packing jobs of typical Tufnelity.

Copernicus, the manufacturer thereof, also offers DNA and Botany versions of the same tape, all at around $13 list.

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Doing it from Pole to Pole

When’s the last time that happened?

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An Arr-free zone

“There is no point,” says Roger, “to Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

This, of course, is true. However, it does give me the opportunity to trot out a favorite comedy bit: “The Pirate Alphabet,” from Michael Nesmith’s 1981 comedy video Elephant Parts, which I still have on LaserDisc.

You’d be surprised how many of these letters aren’t R.

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First cud is the deepest

Looks like Ronald Reagan called this one right on the nose:

Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) has invented a way to convert cow flatulence into usable energy, and it involves putting a plastic backpack on a cow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cow flatulence and burping, accounts for 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year in the United States, that’s 20% of total US methane emissions.

Yeah, but how much is that per cow?

According to the INTA experimentation, tubes run from the backpack into the cows’ rumen (or biggest digestive tract). They extract about 300 liters of methane a day, which is enough to run a car or a fridge for about 24 hours.

I’m guessing really large fridge or really small car.

I’m still not buying ketchup as a vegetable, though.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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A two-octave range

I have always wondered — since the early 1970s or thereabouts, anyway — just how it was that Bernie Taupin could churn out the words first, and only then would Elton John come up with a melody to fit them.

I need no longer wonder:

(Via Maureen Johnson.)

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A ray of light in Sacramento

There exists an asinine little bit of legal smugfuckery known as the Non- Disparagement Clause, usually sneaked into the smallest available type way down the page(s) in the contract you don’t have time to read in the first place. Examples thereof:

First there was the lawsuit of KlearGear.com’s non-disparagement clause, which tried to slap customers with $3,500 penalties if they complain about a purchase in a public forum. The clause was buried two pages deep on the site’s Terms of Sale, where no reasonable person would be expected to find it. A customer sued the site after being hit with the fee and the retailer was ordered to pay $306,000 in damages.

More recently, a customer of a very sketchy site called Accessory Outlet sued because its Terms of Sale … include a non-disparagement clause that charges customers $250 for even threatening to complain online or to issue a credit card chargeback.

This sort of crap is now illegal in the Golden State:

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed off on a piece of legislation that will make it illegal to try to enforce one of these silly clauses against a California consumer starting in 2015.

Violating the California law will result in penalties of up to $2,500 for the first instance, and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation. If a customer can prove that it is [a] “willful, intentional, or reckless violation” they can be awarded a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.

The other 56 states should do likewise at their earliest convenience.

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