Archive for Entirely Too Cool

He can dig it

I have always suspected that some of the best archaeological finds were purely accidental:

A Bronze Age cremation burial has been discovered near Stonehenge after being accidentally dug up by a badger.

Objects found in a burial mound at Netheravon, Wiltshire, include a bronze saw, an archer’s wrist guard, a copper chisel and cremated human remains.

Experts believe the burial may have been that of an archer or a person who made archery equipment.

The artefacts date back to 2,200-2,000BC, senior archaeologist Richard Osgood, of the MOD, said.

In other news, the Ministry of Defence has a senior archaeologist.

Mr Osgood said the badger had dug out the cremation urn and sherds of pottery were lying on the surface when they were spotted.

A full archaeological dig was then carried out on the site.

Mr Osgood said: “There are badger setts in quite a few scheduled monuments — the actions of burrowing animals is one of the biggest risks to archaeology in Britain — but to bring out items of this quality from one hole is unusual.”

(Via Fark, and if you get a chance, look at that URL.)

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Teetering on the brink of reality

Last fall, you possibly might recall, I ponied up for a Kickstarter to build an all-romance-novel bookstore in Los Angeles, because guilty pleasures are as least as worthy of support as any other kind.

And voilà:

Grand opening of the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, California

Well, they could have done it without me — there were 598 other backers — but I wanted to be a part of it, so to speak.


A place one could live

It sounds rather appealing to me, but then I’m already where I need to be:

[I]t’s a quiet, and affordable neighborhood, close to schools, markets, gainful employment and military bases. Again, the affordable part; someone working a moderately well-paid job in this part of San Antonio would be able to purchase a house here without going broke on it or having to live on Top Ramen for thirty years. I managed the mortgage easily on an E-6 salary, and subsequently on the pension for same, although sometimes there were some dicey months. Some residents have amazing small gardens, kids play in front and back yards, people walk their dogs or run at all hours, decorate for holidays, know each other by sight well enough to wave. Nothing that will ever be on the Parade of Homes, in Architectural Digest or Country Living, or even, God help us, run the risk of becoming a historical district, unless in a hundred years, “late 20th century residential developer” becomes a significant aesthetic marker. (Although, seeing as the great and the good seem to prefer us all living in bare concrete stack-a-prole high-rises, perhaps a neighborhood like ours might very well become a suburban treasure. After all, Levittown has, in some appreciative circles.)

Having been to one of the Levittowns to see for myself — the one in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, northeast of Philadelphia — I’m happy to count myself among the appreciative. And my own neighborhood, a transitional zone between Foursquare and Mid-Century Modern, is one step short of being zoned as historic.


A hunny of a job

This has to be somebody’s dream job:

Exhibitions Research Assistant — Winnie-the-Pooh, Victoria & Albert Museum

Fixed term position (4 days per week) position until July 2017

The Victoria & Albert Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design. We enrich people’s lives by promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.

The V&A is seeking an Exhibition Research Assistant for a fixed term contract to July 2017 to be based within the Word & Image department.

A practically-minded person is required to assist in the development and delivery of the exhibition, in particular to assist with research on subject areas and object cataloguing, object moves and curatorial administration. The Research Assistant will also assist the Exhibition Curators to deliver the accompanying publication and events.

“What do you do?”

“Oh, I’m the Winnie-the-Pooh specialist at the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

The sheer delight of saying that might make up for the relative emptiness of one’s pay packet: museum positions are seldom well-paid.

(Via Fern Riddell.)

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Nor can you spray it away

About 1974, Frank Zappa put out a minor masterwork called “Stink-Foot,” which is the only song I know that contains the word “bromhidrosis.” From the lyrics:

My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off
And my girlfriend cried
You got the Stink-Foot!

Cristina of Shoe-Tease has happened upon a treatment for your python boots or other shoes, from Calgary-based startup Ever Bamboo:

  • Sachets contain 100% natural bamboo charcoal & are rounded at the tip to easily place into shoes, even those hard to reach pointy pumps! They work really well in children’s shoes too :)
  • Easy to use: simply place inside of shoe. No need to wet or modify them
  • Unscented to absorb odours rather than mask them
  • Starts working just after a few hours in the shoes
  • Reactivates under sunlight every 1-2 months
  • Lasts up to 1 year
  • Renewable: when 1 year is up, empty the pouches into soil to regular moisture. How eco-friendly is that?!

If people fear being downwind from your shoe rack — but never mind, let’s not even contemplate that possibility.


An item for your bucket list

Current ice buckets, says Suzette, are pretty good:

And why wouldn’t they be? They’re made by local ice bucket artisans. In New Brunswick NJ. Right off of Rt 1. But I see that they change their line frequently to keep up with design trends and probably to create desire in ice bucket consumers for continuing ice bucket acquisition. In fact, the one I just bought as a Christmas gift doesn’t seem to be in production any longer.

So that got me to thinking that since this company has been making trendy ice buckets since 1965, there must be some vintage psychedelic or pop-art ones still floating around.

And you want to act now to get your hands on your favorite bucket, before summer and the return of the Ice Bucket Challenge.


Detangle in the night

If turning a skein of yarn into something wearable is a relaxing endeavor, wouldn’t turning a big ball of tangles into a proper skein be the antithesis of relaxing? The answer is apparently no:

Many knitters find their craft a tranquil and even meditative pastime — until knots and tangles in their yarn send them into a fury. But for one group of fanatics, there is nothing more satisfying than a hopelessly tangled web.

Daphne Basnet of Melbourne, Australia, once paid about $50 on eBay for a 25-pound box of snarled yarn, simply for the pleasure of untangling it. “I was so happy, I can’t tell you,” recalls the 58-year-old of her purchase, a mess of about 120 knotted balls. Finding such tangled treats got easier when Ms. Basnet joined Knot a Problem, a seven-year-old group of more than 2,100 “detanglers” on the online community for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry. Frustrated yarn-lovers from around the world post pleas for help undoing their knottiest knots, often created by children, pets or yarn-winding mishaps. Devoted detanglers typically offer to take on the projects for the cost of shipping.

Alexander the Great, who according to legend sliced through the Gordian Knot rather than try to detangle it, would presumably not have approved.

(Via American Digest.)

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Rather than detail

I admit, I would not have thought of this:

[Y]ou can shine your hubcaps in the dishwasher. Simply load the hubcaps into your dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar (if you’re also cleaning the lug nuts, place them in a mesh bag before loading them into the dishwasher) and they’ll come out squeaky clean.

Reasons I would not have thought of this:

  • I have actual aluminum wheels;
  • I don’t have an actual dishwasher.

These conditions have prevailed for nine and twelve years, respectively.

(Via Fark.)

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Bulbs for the future

And they’re incandescent, as God and Tom Edison intended:

Scientists in the US believe they have come up with a solution which could see a reprieve for incandescent bulbs.

Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through.

They refer to the technique as “recycling light” because the energy which would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light.

“It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted,” said Professor Marin Soljacic.

You’d get your colors back, too:

Traditional incandescent bulbs have a “colour rendering index” rating of 100, because they match the hue of objects seen in natural daylight. However even “warm” finish LED or florescent bulbs can only manage an index rating of 80 and most are far less.

And you might even get the goddamn Gaians off your case, too:

Usually traditional light bulbs are only about five per cent efficient, with 95 percent of the energy being lost to the atmosphere. In comparison LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. But the scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent.

No estimated price was given, but my immediate reaction was “Twenty bucks each? Gimme a dozen.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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The cervid economy

The upcoming Volvo S90 has a feature I wish had existed, oh, several years ago:

Important for some parts of the country is “Large Animal Detection,” which, unsurprisingly, detects and warns of roadside deer, moose, and other large animals to minimize collisions.

Let’s hope this catches on and is replicated through less expensive makes, so that either I or Robert Stacy McCain will have a chance of getting it.

Note: Title changed since original publication.

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No boys allowed

No, they really do mean it:

To help women find somewhere to indulge their geeky hobbies in a welcoming environment without feeling self-conscious, a cafe which caters to only female Otaku has opened recently in Osaka. It’s called Ataraxia Cafe, and although there’s no membership fee required to enter, you do have to take a test to prove that you’re Otaku enough to be there and be over the age of 18. If you pass the test, you’ll be allowed entry into what sounds like a total haven.

There’s free WiFi, bookshelves filled with manga and magazines, work stations with sewing machines and mannequins where cosplayers can work on their costumes, a cosplay wig trimming service, and plenty of power outlets for keeping laptops and portable gaming devices fully charged. Plus, you can order food and drink to keep you going through whatever geeky activity you decide to take up that day. Why would you ever leave?

From what I know about my half (more or less) of the species, I have to figure that this place is going to do land-office business or better.


If you’re able to read Japanese and you’d love to know if you’d pass the Otaku test, you can find it here and visit the website here.

Something like this might even work in the States for women hobbyists, Otaku or otherwise.



These have been around a while, but this is the first time I’ve seen them pitched specifically to this market:

Support toward the outside, not so much pressure in the center. What’s not to love?

Well, maybe this:

We all tend to underestimate the danger from old-fashioned, familiar technologies, particularly when the effects aren’t immediately obvious. Young athletes focus on victory today, not the future damage to their bodies. And if the winner of the Tour de France doesn’t ride a no-nose saddle, then neither will riders who want to look like him.

Perhaps it will meet greater acceptance in non-competitive activities, such as the World Naked Bike Ride (hence the #wnbr hashtag). Lady G’s own bicycle, last I looked, still had a traditional saddle.

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Still almost none more black

I said something about this last year:

[A] material called Vantablack, being refined in labs now, traps light so completely that practically none escapes. The substance captures a full 99.96 percent of the light that hits it, which the human visual system perceives as deep, textureless blackness. Even when it’s applied to aluminum foil and then wrinkled, the part covered with Vantablack looks just as flat as can be, with no discernible silvery creases. It’s eerie, to have the physical world line up so poorly with expectations. It’s also potentially very valuable — making it look like there’s nothing where there’s really something is a long-time goal for defense departments.

And now it’s here, or at least a package of it is here:

Package of Vantablack

Even with the limitations of JPEG, and squoze-down JPEG at that, it still looks like — well, take it away, Professor:

The visual void Vantablack produces reminds me of the Portable Holes from Wile E. Coyote cartoons. Indeed, Stephen Westland, professor of color science and technology at Leeds University, told The Independent that the material is “almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.”

Wait a minute. Those were Wile E. Coyote cartoons? No credit for that rapidly-moving bird? Our memories have fallen into a black hole.

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Viral music

In perhaps the most literal sense. Genetic Jen explains:

I took the entire HIV-1 genome and transformed it into music. This is something I had wanted to do for quite a while. The four nucleotide base pairs are cytosine (C), thymine (T), adenine (A), and guanine (G). Every C in the sequence has become a C note. The A bases are A notes and G bases are G notes. A friend suggested making the thymine (T) a pause in the music, but I preferred the idea that every base has a note so T has become a D note.

Is it great music? No. This is just yet another way to observe the genome. This is the smallest genome I’ve worked with and the track is one hour long. Obviously it could be shortened by altering the tempo but I liked it like this. Amazingly, a number of people have actually downloaded the music.

“Clearly I do strange things when I’m bored,” she says. I don’t think it’s all that strange: it’s still the same information, information of genuine value, simply converted into a different medium. And I am admittedly somewhat drawn to the idea that every single genome has a song of its own, even if the same four notes keep coming up.


What goes around, and around

I’m betting you remember something like this:

Columbia House ad

It probably won’t be exactly like this, but it’s (almost) back:

Cue up the sound of a record rewinding: Columbia House, the once-famous mail-order business that sold CDs for a penny, is looking to relaunch by selling vinyl records.

John Lippman, who bought the brand out of bankruptcy this month, revealed the plan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Citing millennials’ enthusiasm for vinyl, he said, “You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format.”

Columbia House dates back to 1955, when Columbia Records, then a CBS subsidiary, saw an opportunity to market to customers who didn’t live near full-line record stores. The Columbia Record Club — RCA Victor and Capitol followed them quickly into the market — became the Columbia Record & Tape Club, and finally Columbia House. It somehow survived all manner of changes in the music industry, including the bloody dismemberment of both Columbia and RCA Records, but finally collapsed earlier this year.

(Via Fark, which notes: “This is not a repeat from 1979.”)

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Happy something or other

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New New Hope

Sign at a church in Ottawa:

A long time ago in a Gaililee far far away

Score one for the Light Side.

(On several Facebook pages, most recently — from my vantage point, anyway — through Roger Green’s.)


We got your tintinnabulation right here

Does this name ring a bell?

Edgar Allan Poe, wide receiver for Army

And yes, his middle name is Allan. A snippet from the Army-Navy game this past weekend:

At one point during the game, announcer Verne Lundquist said that once this kid finishes his military commitment, he really needs to be signed by the Baltimore Ravens immediately.

This isn’t even the first Edgar Allan Poe to play college football; the first, a second cousin (twice removed) to the fellow with the dream within a dream, was the quarterback for the undefeated Princeton Tigers of 1889, and was named to the first-ever All-America team.

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No straps, Sherlock

The following two paragraphs have more in common than you might think. First, from Wikipedia:

The ability of geckos — which can hang on a glass surface using only one toe — to climb on sheer surfaces has been attributed to the van der Waals forces between these surfaces and the spatulae, or microscopic projections, which cover the hair-like setae found on their footpads.

And now, from HelloGiggles:

We have a love/hate relationship with strapless bras, for sure, and by love/hate, we mostly mean hate; strapless bras pinch, push, and fall down. Oh do they fall down. Especially if you’re, uh, more gifted in that department, you’ll find yourself pulling up your bra all night when no one is looking (curse you, perfect dress!). Not fun.

This is where they met:

Kellie K Apparel 2015 Kickstarter Campaign Video from Anthony Roy on Vimeo.

They raised $26,921 in that Kickstarter, and they’ll be offering two versions of this garment, with or without underwire.

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Seriously. Albatross:

The world’s oldest living tracked bird has been spotted back on American soil where she is expected to lay an egg at the ripe old age of 64.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross [Phoebastria immutabilis], was seen at the Midway Atoll national wildlife refuge with a mate at the weekend following a year’s absence.

She was first tagged in 1956 and has raised at least 36 chicks since then.

If your next question is “How do they know how old she is?” this is your answer:

Wisdom was banded by a US Geological Survey researcher in 1956, and in February 2014 she was seen rearing a new chick on Midway Atoll. Because Laysan albatrosses can’t breed until they are five years old, as of 2014 Wisdom was estimated to be at least 63 years old.

As noted previously, you don’t get wafers with it.

(Via American Digest.)

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Wiivv never been here before

Strange emotional satisfaction sometimes comes from startups with funny names trying to do something pertinent to one’s own existence. So it is with Wiivv:

As we approach the inevitable melding of man and machine, we’re going to need a lot more consonants and vowels. That’s why Wiivv is on the case. Wiivv, a company so disruptive that you can’t type its name without autocorrect kicking in, makes 3D printed insoles using scans made in your home and they’ve raised $3 million in seed to make your feet feel better.

How it works is downright spiffy: you use their smartphone app to scan your feet, upload the results, and two weeks later you get a custom-made arch support that’s intended to last two years. Given my, um, nonstandard arches, I find this prospect seriously appealing.

There’s cash in hand, a few dollars of which came from the Canadian government; they will go live with a Kickstarter after the first of the year.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)


If I only had a piano

I have managed to get about 200 actual posts, and God knows how many tweets, out of Yahoo! Answers. But I never got anything like this:

Well played (and sung), guys.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Actual perceived paper savings

I ran a few errands yesterday, culminating in a trip to Sprouts Farmers Market, which carries a supplement I like at a price that doesn’t make my nose bleed. They checked out my four items, and handed me the shortest piece of register tape I’d seen since I’d worked at Mickey D’s forty-five years ago.

I didn’t notice until I unbagged my stuff — five cents discount for bringing my own bag — but they’d actually used both sides of the tape. No random advertising, no enormous length of paper to stuff in my desk until the statement shows up. About the only downside, and it may be specific to purchases of this size, is that the two sales-tax statements (“Tax 1” is state tax, “Tax 2” is local) ended up on opposite sides of the tape. I have no idea what it cost them to buy printers that would do this, but I’m grateful for having that much less junk to send to the shredder.

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Oh, the tryptophanity

“As God is my witness,” said Mr Carlson as the credits started rolling, “I thought turkeys could fly.” It didn’t work any better on the fictional WKRP in Cincinnati than it did on the real WQXI in Atlanta:

The turkey drop was actually a real incident. It was at a shopping center in Atlanta; I think it was Broadview Plaza, which no longer exists. It was a Thanksgiving promotion. We thought that we could throw these live turkeys out into the crowd for their Thanksgiving dinners. All of us, naïve and uneducated, thought that turkeys could fly. Of course, they went just fuckin’ splat.

People were laughing at us, not with us. But it became a legend. There were other stories of this nature that were embellished [on WKRP]; that one was really not embellished that much. Although the turkeys were thrown off the back of a truck, as opposed to how it was depicted on the [show].

Memory jog:

“Like sacks of wet cement” seems accurate. Notice that no actual turkeys were harmed in the production of this show.

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What is this bouncy thing?

Few things online go viral faster than Formerly Tortured Animals; one I remember from not too long ago involved an elephant released from the concrete bunker where he’d spent most of his life, and then discovering the wonderfulness of grass. You never saw a critter so blissfully happy.

Although this bull terrier comes close:

“Sleep? On something like this? Are you kidding me?”

And that look at the end: “This is okay, isn’t it?”

(Via HelloGiggles.)


Oldest known d14

Something else we didn’t invent in the last half-century or so:

Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn’t been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China.

There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was “decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns,” wrote the archaeologists in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

The skeleton of possibly one of the grave robbers was also discovered in a shaft made within the tomb by looters.

A hint at the actual gameplay:

[A] poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:

“Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of ‘five white!’ arise” (translation by David Hawkes).

Pictures for your examination, should you so desire.

(Via @BrowncoatPony.)

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In which the right thing is done

LEGO blocks are truly wondrous things, until a bare foot finds one in the dead of night. What to do? LEGO to the rescue:

LEGO didn’t actually build these — they farmed the job out to a French advertising agency — and they’re not part of the permanent product catalog. Yet. I figure the demand will start picking up around the 26th of December.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle

Possibly the greatest, and almost certainly the most eccentric, Guns N’ Roses cover ever:

For the record, this is the next most serious contender, for some values of “serious.”

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No weirder than Steven Magnet

And Hasbro has put their imprimatur on it, so it must be so:

MLP game card featuring the changeling from Slice of Life

EqD suggests M. A. Larson had something to do with this. I’d believe that, maybe, if the little buglet had extra wings.

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Local pony fan supported

From way back in the day:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

And we have, for the first time, a winner:

As folks may recall, the Brony Thank You Fund endowed a permanent scholarship at the California Institute of the Arts a year ago, the Derpy Hooves Scholarship in Character Animation. We have just been informed by CalArts that the first recipient is Thirla Alagala, a third-year student. She took the time to give a shout out in her Tumblr, complete with her own version of Derpy. She says that she’d love to hear from the brony community, and we look forward to seeing her in the credits of some great animation once she graduates!

Smiles? We got some. Pass the muffins.