Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Turning aukward

This has its disquieting aspects, but it still sounds like a neat idea:

It was last seen on British shores 200 years ago — but the great auk could soon return.

An international team of scientists has met to discuss reintroducing the flightless marine birds onto the Farne islands off the north-east coast of England.

Of course, they’re extinct, so this will take some serious DNA work. Fortunately, there is auk material to work with:

There are a number of Great Auk museum specimens to work with — 71 skins, 24 skeletons, 75 eggs, and even some preserved internal organs and ancient fossil remains.

And there’s some enthusiasm for the project:

Matt Ridley, a science writer who chaired a recent meeting where the plans were discussed, told the Telegraph: “Effectively the great auk is the only European breading bird to go extinct in the last 500 years.

“It’s one of the very few flightless birds of the northern hemisphere and it obviously played a very important part in the ecosystem of the North Atlantic. It would be rather wonderful to feel that we could bring it back.”

Just … be careful.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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The final frontier

Who knew there was so much space in one of those wheeled carry-on bags?

Me either. But watch:

Just the same, I don’t think I want to be there when she opens it back up.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Groceries 2.0

For the first time in two months, I had to restock groceries today, a task I was not at all feeling up to, what with this whole not-walking scheme. A friend suggested yesterday that I should try the Walmart Online Grocery system, and while I am not overly fond of Walmart, I am less fond of traipsing through a store when my traipsing equipment is below par.

So last night I went to the Web site they’d set up just for this function: grocery.walmart.com. Apparently it gives you the option to order online if it detects your IP address as being near one of their participating stores. (I am not quite two miles from the Belle Isle Supercenter.) The user interface was fairly intuitive, bumping up quantities was simple, and I rang up 18 items in short order. What’s more, since I’m a new customer and all, they knocked $10 off my initial over-$50 order.

I set pickup for today at 1 pm. At precisely a quarter to one, they called me to remind me. The instructions: call when you’re within 10 minutes of arrival. There are dedicated parking spaces on the side of the store. I called in, described my car (nothing you don’t already know), and took a space in the middle. Within about a minute they’d brought out a cart with all my goodies and loaded up the trunk. (Well, almost all my goodies; they’d substituted A&W root beer for Mug. I was fine with that.) Standard rule: “chemicals” (dish soap, for instance) are stashed on the right side. I was home before 1:30, though it took me three trips across the garage to move a dozen plastic bags of stuff out of the trunk. And apparently I got a price break on one item between last night and today.

Would I recommend this? If you have no emotional objections to all things Walmart, then certainly. The selections are somewhat limited compared to what’s in the store, but I noticed no items that were conspicuous by their utter absence. They did give me a small bag of samples I might want to try. And yes, there’s the inevitable survey: but it has only one line.

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Please don’t tab away

I was looking up Nissan OEM automatic transmission fluids here, and then tabbed away for a moment. The tab changed, and this was the text under it:

Z1 Motorsports Rickroll via Javascript

Yeah, I laughed. I admit it.

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A somewhat hairier version

It is common knowledge that I hang with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom under the name of Dusty Sage, and about four years ago I used one of those cute online generators to produce a ponysona. That was good enough for a while; but I wearied of it, and when the noted artist LeekFish announced she was taking commissions, I asked her to knock out a sketch based on my original design but looking less artificial.

Which she did:

Dusty Sage as envisioned by LeekFish

I am quite pleased.

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It’s not very mobile, but so what?

Actually, it’s about the size of a portable TV, and with good reason. Still, it’s a swell idea:

Namibian Grade 12 learner Simon Petrus is making waves after he invented a mobile phone, which uses radio signals and doesn’t require airtime to make calls.

According to New Era, Petrus, who is a learner at Abraham Iyambo Senior Secondary School, made the phone using parts from a telephone and television set, and his invention doesn’t even need a sim-card to make calls.

The mobile device took the whiz kid two years to complete, and it has not been plain sailing for the young inventor, who faced financial difficulties. The project was funded by Petrus’ unemployed parents, who had to sacrifice over N$2000 (US$146) to ensure that his project would be completed successfully.

This is not Petrus’ first bright idea, either:

Last year he won a gold medal at the NamPower schools’ competition, held at the national level, for inventing a two-in-one machine that works as a seed drier and cooler.

That, I’d like to see.

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Sometimes you choose a pet

And sometimes a pet chooses you:

Thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign, Dion Leonard, an extreme marathon runner, is adopting a stray pup he met while running a 155-mile race in the Gobi desert in China. The funds that were raised will help cover medical and quarantine expenses so that the dog can be transported from China to Leonard’s home of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The female dog, who Leonard appropriately named Gobi, joined Leonard on day two of the annual 4 Deserts Race Series and ran side-by-side with him for 77 miles, according to The Independent.

It didn’t seem to be a random choice, either:

[H]e had noticed Gobi running with 101 runners during the first day, but on the second day, Gobi was on the start line, looking up at him.

A friend in China is currently caring for Gobi; he hopes to bring the dog to Scotland before the end of the year.

(Via Keaton Fox.)

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Not sure where this is going

But you’re sure to be singing when you get there:

Welcome to Twangville

(This is all over Pinterest, but never with any explanation or source.)

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Space program

It’s cumbersome, but it creates a parking space that did not exist before:

(Seen on reddit.)

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Hominy and understanding

A wonderfully Hair-y sign:

This is the awning of the cage of asparagus

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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What’s that noise?

I think I might be slightly creeped out if I were told I would be working in this building:

I did have to check its papers, of course:

The Gate Tower Building (reportedly known locally as “The Beehive”) is a 16-floor office building located in Fukushima-ku, Osaka, Japan. Construction was completed in 1992. As the photo shows, the Umeda Exit of the Hanshin Expressway passes through the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. Elevators reach the upper floors by moving along the sides of the building. Besides the elevators and stairways, there do not appear to be any office spaces on floors 5 through 7.

The highway never actually touches the building, thus they are two completely separate structures. A structure covers the highway which supposedly blocks out noises and vibrations from effecting the rest of the tower.

What you want to know, though, is why?

This unusual construction is the result of a compromise which was reached during the 1980s, when redevelopment of the area hit an impasse. A freeway was in the planning stages, but difficulties arose when negotiating with property rights’ holders. Finally in 1989, building codes were revised to include a “Multi-Level Road System” which allowed for this unusual structure to be built.

I can imagine something like this in Austin, Texas, where roads become congested within ten minutes of being built.

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This is acting

I wasn’t even close to imagining this:

I admit it, when I first heard about this casting, I imagined that the pony might look more like Maddie Ziegler. Apparently not.

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It’s weaponized!

With bacon, the question always is “What can’t it do?” See, for instance, this oh-so-British incident:

On her way to the market, an 86-year-old woman stopped by an ATM, according to the Greater Manchester Police’s Facebook page via Time, and when she started off home, she wasn’t alone. As she pushed her cart full of groceries out of the store, she was “challenged by an unknown female who grabbed her trolley and demanded the money she had withdrawn.” Instead of handing over the pounds, the elderly woman beat the thief with meat until her attacker ran away. Who knew bacon was so lethal?

[insert “meat beating” joke here]

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Compatibility ho!

Yes, of course, let’s do this:

And why not make 802.11 work with something that existed two decades before 802.11 itself?

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The Fortress is still Super

Between 1943 and 1946, 3,888 B-29 Superfortress aircraft were built. Two are now considered airworthy, including this big fellow:

B29 in 2016

At approximately 8:30 AM CDT on Sunday morning, the worldwide fleet of flyable B-29s doubled when Doc lifted off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas culminating a restoration project that began sixteen years ago at the factory where the airplane was built initially in 1944. Piloted by the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Charlie Tillman and co-pilot David Oliver, Doc joined the CAF’s Fifi as the only two Superfortresses of the 3,888 produced between 1943 and 1946 which are airworthy. Doc returned to the air 60 years after its last flight in 1956 when it was ferried to China Lake in California, decommissioned and hauled into the desert where it was used as a target for Naval bomber training until 1987 when Cleveland, Ohio printing executive Tony Mazzolini discovered it, largely intact, acquired it and moved it to Wichita.

It was a short flight — about 15 minutes before the first warning light — but it’s nice to know that the old stuff still has the right stuff.

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Eventually you’ll see the light

From the “How is this possible?” files:

Researchers recently made the surprising discovery that a special class of materials called “hyperuniform materials” can be both dense and transparent. This work demonstrates a new way to control light and could lead to novel materials for many light-based applications including solar photovoltaics. These so-called “hyperuniform materials” can be made of plastic or glass that contains light-scattering particles spaced in a disordered, but not completely random, pattern.

In The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, Optica, researchers led by Rémi Carminati, Institut Langevin, ESPCI Paris and CNRS, France, detail the transparency properties they discovered using computer simulations and outline a theory to explain the wavelengths of light for which hyperuniform materials appear transparent.

Glenn Reynolds caught on to this quickly:

I read a story when I was a kid about glass where the speed of light was measured in years per inch. Looking out a window, you saw what was on the other side of the glass years before.

Yep. Bob Shaw’s “Light of Other Days” (1966), eventually expanded into the novel Other Days, Other Eyes.

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Eye of beef

And the back eye at that. It’s just crazy enough to work:

Scientists have come up with a solution that will reduce the number of lions being shot by farmers in Africa – painting eyes on the butts of cows.

It sounds a little crazy, but early trials suggest that lions are less likely to attack livestock when they think they’re being watched — and less livestock attacks could help farmers and lions co-exist more peacefully.

The new technique is being tested by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, after they noticed that lions tended to back off when their prey, such as impala, looked at them.

An early trial:

[I]n a small trial in Botswana last year…when the researchers stamped painted eyes onto a third of a herd of 62 cattle, and counted the returning cows over a 10-week period, no painted cows were killed by lions, while three unpainted cows were.

Should this show up in a Chick-fil-A ad — on second thought, never mind.

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Beat ya, kid

The following story has not yet made it to the pages of the Orange Street News:

Scholastic has acquired the worldwide rights to four books by 9-year-old Hilde Lysiak — to be co-written with her father, reporter Matthew Lysiak — and now the film/TV rights are being sold off. Lysiak, who rides around on her pink bike in search of stories, recently rose to fame for being the first reporter to break a story on a murder in her hometown in Pennsylvania. She scooped the local paper on it and, as a result, was awarded the Tribeca Disrupter Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Maybe she’ll have something to say about it later.

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Make yourself a meal

An idea by Roberta X takes root, and a tasty root it is:

There would probably be limits on second helpings, purely for logistical reasons.

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Sporting of them

From the days when people’s eyes didn’t bug out at the sight of an ordinary rifle:

Vintage ad for Colt AR-15 Sporter

Aimed at the “hunter, camper or collector.” Solid citizens, the lot of them.

(Via Jessica Alent.)

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Mine eyes grow moist

So what happens when you base a Japanese commercial on a song by a Canadian singer, a song which incidentally was my favorite song of 2015?

You get this spot for Moist Diane (!) shampoo:

They’ll never know unless you say so.

(Via Paper Magazine.)

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Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?

This European ad for the Dacia Duster is, um, killer:

Although there’s always the question of whether Freddie would have approved. But then, Mercury’s dead, and so is Freddie.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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And all that it entails

As the phrase goes, first you have to get their attention:

Project Mermaids was started in 2012 by celebrity fashion photographer Angelina Venturella and acclaimed underwater photographer Chiara Salomoni who share the same passion for photography and preserving the ocean. The goal of Project Mermaids is to bring awareness as to how precious the ocean and beaches are and to keep this beautiful environment healthy and clean. 50% of the proceeds are going to be addressed to the save our beach foundation.

To help raise awareness, Project Mermaids is capturing celebrities in mermaid form working with The Mertailor Eric from Florida, which is making and donating the tails for our models. The Foundation has gone viral with over 221,000 followers on Instagram and has continuous growing awareness of their efforts.

My attention was gotten Friday night, with the appearance on Instagram of actress Paris Berelc, top and tail intact:

Paris Berelc as a mermaid

Suddenly I feel I ought to reach out to Tom Hanks.

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Say yes to address

Spring 2015, on a practice at meh.com:

One’s order “number” is not a number at all, but three random words. Harder to fake, I’m guessing.

Last week, on trying to make addresses in Florence make sense:

“It has a unique address system with two number systems running side by side. Generally speaking, residences have a number in black or blue, while businesses have numbers in red (rosso in Italian), which is usually written with a little ‘r’ following the number.”

Amazingly, there is a point of convergence for these two situations, and it’s in Mongolia, where something remarkable is happening:

Mongolia will become a global pioneer next month, when its national post office starts referring to locations by a series of three-word phrases instead of house numbers and street names.

The new system is devised by a British startup called What3Words, which has assigned a three-word phrase to every point on the globe. The system is designed to solve the an often-ignored problem of 75% of the earth’s population, an estimated 4 billion people, who have no address for mailing purposes, making it difficult to open a bank account, get a delivery, or be reached in an emergency. In What3Words’ system, the idea is that a series of words is easier to remember than the strings of number that make up GPS coordinates. Each unique phrase corresponds to a specific 9-square-meter spot on the map.

For example, the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, becomes sulk.held.raves; the Tokyo Tower is located at fans.helpless.collects; and the Stade de France is at reporter.smoked.received.

And nine square meters is pretty efficient at defining a point. Consider the palatial estate at Surlywood, which all by itself sprawls over a thousand square meters; I could theoretically have several different phrases for different parts of the house or the yard.

Some places around Oklahoma City on the What3Words system:

Kyle Singler used to play the modest onion flute in his spare time.

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Buying American

A legendary “assault weapon,” often imported into the States, might some day be manufactured here:

AK-47s may soon be made in the United States, as the U.S. government is looking for sources of the ubiquitous assault rifle within the American manufacturing base.

The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) announced in May it was conducting market research into making the Kalashnikov rifle on U.S. soil. In a notice placed on a federal opportunities website, SOCOM said it is soliciting manufacturers for the weapons or requesting proposals — which means it’s just looking, but not ready to buy.

The U.S. military does not regularly use AK-47s, but many of its allies and foreign partners rely on the weapon, along with similar arms developed by the Soviet-bloc.

“A U.S.-based source would be a good use of taxpayer funds, while also delivering the weapons our partners not only need to fight extremists, but also the ones they know how to use, know how to fix and have the supplies in their regions to maintain,” Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday.

The AK-47 is something less than a precision instrument: its 1940s Soviet design is the epitome of cheap and disposable. Probably explains why it’s still around after all these years.

(Via @Lee Harvey Griswold.)

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Future pejorative

“You … you frozen Elsa head!”

What? You say I should let it go?

(Via James Del Rey.)

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And oh, what heights we’ll hit

What we have here is “a story about a pair of flats that wanted to be a heel”:

Kind of heartwarming, or at least footwarming. There’s even a video on how it was done.

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And yet it stays

Quoted without comment, because it really doesn’t need one:

Didn’t say a word.

(Via Ute Gerhardt, who did say a few.)

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Next time don’t be so silly

And now, a can of silly string subjected to a hydraulic press:

Don’t try this at home, especially if you live in Southington, Connecticut.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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No choke

If you’re choking on a chunk of food, this is where you want to be sitting:

The 96-year-old retired chest surgeon credited with developing the namesake Heimlich maneuver has used it to save a woman choking on food at his senior living center.

Dr. Henry Heimlich was in the dining room at the Deupree House in Cincinnati, where he lives, when an 87-year-old woman sitting next to him began choking Monday night.

The dining room maitre d’, Perry Gaines, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Heimlich dislodged a piece of hamburger from the woman’s airway and she quickly recovered.

Heimlich said he was having dinner when he looked over at the woman sitting next to him and could see that her face was growing pink and she was obviously choking. He said he got up behind her and began the technique.

“As soon as I did the Heimlich maneuver, a piece of meat with a bone in it immediately popped out,” he said.

Rare company she’s in; very few people — two at the outside — can say that they’ve had the Heimlich manuever done on them by Heimlich himself. It’s probably even better than having Woz come by to clean up your MacBook.

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