Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Pedals through the metal

I once rode a Schwinn (!) bicycle down the side of a mountain in the dead of night at an indicated 60 mph. The term “scared spitless,” or something similar, applied.

Now imagine going three times that speed:

It’s a feat inconceivable to most sound-minded mortals: This past Sunday, Denise Mueller-Korenek rode a bicycle more than 180 mph — 183.93 to be exact, which is faster than the takeoff speed of an Airbus A340 — and crushed the motor-paced bicycle land speed record.

This was not just any other ride, of course. Mueller-Korenek mounted a specially equipped bike with a massive gear and tethered it to a race car, which then accelerated to 100-plus mph — the velocity necessary for the rider to turn over the cranks on her own volition. Then she unhooked from the car and stayed in the slipstream, smashing the pedals around to hit the highest speed possible under her own power.

Note that term “motor-paced.” There’s no engine on this bike. The race car drags it up to some absurd speed, and then the rider pedals like crazy.

The whole thing took about five miles, Mueller-Korenek, a 45-year-old national champion cyclist from Valley Center, California, told Bicycling. She and her driver Shea Holbrook, a seven-time Pirelli World Challenge winner, already held the Guinness World Record for the fastest female motor-paced time at 147.7 mph, a speed they hit using a specially adapted Range Rover in 2016. (They had hoped for another record-setting attempt that year, but were rained out.)

I am properly awed.

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Step up and collect your prize

But first, a few boasts:

Bow before my greatness. Genuflect to my superior intellect. Tremble in fear of my awesome mind, for I have triumphed in an Internet trivia contest. I am an HQ Trivia champion.

Yes, I beat out some 300,000 competitors to emerge victorious without even using an earned extra life. I would place a video of Queen’s We are the Champions here if I did not find the song and the band almost as odious as Steve Miller and Aerosmith.

The prize was a nice $5,000.

There is, of course, a downside:

I should point out that I was not the only winner: about four thousand shared the pot. My cut was right at $1.25.

Still, at the top marginal rate, the taxman gets only 46 cents.

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Cut ’em off at the past

If this doesn’t get your mind wandering, probably nothing will:

Hypercubes, toroidal or otherwise, exist in four dimensions, the fourth being somehow at right angles to the other three. And mathemagically, it turns out that a two-dimensional representation thereof would be similar to a one-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional cube — or, for that matter, a non-cube, since all we see is the edge.

This is simultaneously intriguing and frightening.

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By the time we got to wood shop

This table? It is stardust. It is golden:



The flag is out of the frame

But trust me, it’s there:

I blame the metric system.

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As it should be done

And I’m sitting here nodding my head. “Yes, this makes sense.”

Tuesday began a week of services honoring the late legend Aretha Franklin, who died at 76 of pancreatic cancer on August 16, leading up to her funeral on Friday at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. After being received at the Swanson Funeral Home in Flint, Franklin’s body was brought to lay in state at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where fans are invited to attend a public viewing of the Queen of Soul for two days. She arrived at the museum on Tuesday in a gold-plated Promethean casket, dressed head-to-toe in crimson and ruby red — including her nails, lipstick, and high heels, with her ankles crossed to symbolize her poise — as a nod to her being an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a historically black sorority which will also hold a service for Franklin on Tuesday night. “What we wanted to do is be reflective of the Queen,” museum board member Kelly Major Green told the Associated Press. “It’s beautiful. She’s beautiful.” The heels in particular, which are confirmed to be five-inch patent-leather Christian Louboutins (!), Green says, were deliberately chosen by her family to make the statement that “The Queen of Soul is [a] diva to the end.”

Size 9 (US), if you were curious. And given the sheer size of this spectacle, a thousand or so for a pair of shoes — a pair of shoes which will be worn until the end of time — the expense is negligible.

(Via JenLucPiquant.)


Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?

South Carolina’s Grand Strand thinks that you do:

The city is now home to a one-of-a-kind store for The Simpsons.

The Kwik-E-Mart, which is a convenience store in the TV show, opened at Broadway at the Beach on Friday. It’s located near Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf.

It’s the first full-service Kwik-E-Mart in the world and it has plenty of Simpsons memorabilia for sale. It also has famous food items from the show like Squishees and Lard Lad Donuts, along with Duff-branded, non-alcoholic energy drinks.

The store’s creators say four years of planning went into the attraction and that Myrtle Beach is a perfect fit.

You can’t get enough of that wonderful Duff.

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Makes this old collector proud

Daughter turns 40 today, and she’s had a whirlwind week, to say the least:

Long post: I woke up and checked my email this morning only to find out my Apple password had been changed and I had a new receipt for Apple music purchases that I did not make. I immediately changed my password and sent an email to Apple advising of the fraudulent charges. I told Robert about it and he laughed. Told me to open my music app and look at the new playlist that was added. While I was sleeping, he took my phone and bought all the #1 Billboard songs for the week of my birthday for the last 40 years and made it into a playlist for me. I was speechless, then emailed Apple to let them know the charges were correct. #happybirthdaytome #hesmyeverything

Dads always wonder if daughter wound up with the Right Guy.

Mine certainly did. I mean, that’s a hell of a well-chosen gift, and it was only $51.60. (This is the first song on the playlist.)

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Now this is infrastructure

And just thinking about some aspects of it makes my head hurt:

Still, this fiendishly complex road-plus-whatever is apparently going to cost about half as much as California’s Train to Nowhere.

And this seems inarguable:

I’m always impressed when I hear about a big new engineering project. I’m not sure why. They keep getting bigger and bigger. You might think I would get used to that, but I don’t. One of these days one of these mega-projects is going to fail and it will be bad when it does. But I guess that has already happened and we charged on regardless.

If it hasn’t yet, wait for Sacramento to catch up.

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On the Puget Sound shoreline

And this time, no stupidness with a flare gun, either:

I would not support a measure to have the headline writer fired in the sky.

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Staying awake

I’m one of those people who, were it possible, would want to be knocked out before getting a wisdom tooth pulled. (All mine are gone now.) I am seriously impressed, though, by this:

A stand-up comedian had her doctors in stitches as they performed life-saving brain surgery.

Sarah-May Philo told jokes and even sang the opera classic “Ave Maria” as surgeons removed a tumour during a nine-hour operation.

Wait, what?

When [she] suffered a seizure in 2016, doctors uncovered a tumour in her brain she had been living with symptom-free for more than 15 years.

The tumour — called an oligodendroglioma — had to be removed and she would need to be awake for most of the operation.

She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings with Michelle McManus: “They found a tumour which was apparently taking up half of my brain. They said it had taken a long time to grow and my brain had just adapted and survived.

“Functions on my brain were on the wrong side because of it – they called me an unusual case.

“They gave no other option than to operate. They had to get it out, or at least try to get most of it out.”

And so they got most of it out, while the patient spent the next nine hours providing operating-room entertainment.

Now that’s higher brain function.

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The acme of police work

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It’s like walking the walk

Except a pair of wheels were involved:

New Zealand’s minister for women has cycled to hospital to give birth to her first child at 42 weeks.

Julie Genter sets out for the hospital

Julie Genter, 38, also the country’s associate transport minister, is a well-known and outspoken cycling advocate.

“This is it, wish us luck!” she wrote to her followers, adding: “My partner and I cycled because there wasn’t enough room in the car for the support crew… but it also put me in the best possible mood!”

The journey using an electric bike was “mostly downhill”, the keen cyclist said, joking: “Probably should have cycled more in the last few weeks to get the labour going!”

If this electric bicycle is like any I’ve seen, she had to do a fair amount of actual pedaling now and then: the little engine can do only so much, and were it expected to do more, she’d probably have to get it licensed as a motorcycle. Not that riding a motorcycle in Week 42 is exactly the simplest task.


First you curse

Then you recurse:

Not only well played, but well indexed.


It’s just a matter of rhyme

And, of course, the need to keep pumping out product:

I might have to see something like this in an actual theater.

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Embrace the suck

I rely on Jack Baruth to come up with the response most appropriate for institutionalized horsepuckey:

Perhaps you’ve heard about California’s ban on plastic straws. Like most legislation of this type, it nontrivially damages the lives of unpersons (in this case, the disabled) in exchange for a little bit of heroin-grade virtue signaling. The “science” behind it came from a nine-year-old’s school report. Oh well. You’d better just learn to “move on” and accept it. Under no circumstances, citizen, should you allow yourself to look at other, similar laws in a critical fashion as a result. MOVE ALONG. Do you really want to go to jail for handing out straws? Of course not.

Scorn has the advantage of being low in cost, but sometimes you’ve just got to spend a bit to make a point:

Last month, Firefly Bicycles announced on Instagram and via e-mail that they would be making a limited number of titanium straws using some leftover material from their fabrication operations. Each straw was a custom order with an optional anodized tip in the color of the customer’s choice. They were $20 each including shipping.

There are, of course, downsides:

As with any other non-plastic straw, you have to be careful about not breaking your teeth or impaling your palate with these Blackbird-strong bad boys. I’d be very surprised if any TSA checkpoint let you carry them aboard, although I would also be surprised if the nudie-booth scanner could see the ones you’ve sewn into the inseams of your pants.

Bottom line:

So far, it’s been a good purchase and I would recommend them to anybody willing to wait until Firefly restarts production sometime during President-For-Life Pence’s fifth term.

After all, there are bicycles to be made.


It’s not easy staying green

Now this is a handy six-pack:

It would take me about a week to get through that package so … yes, yes.

(Via Emily Thomas.)

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A clean break with the pasta

Okay, it isn’t exactly Fermat’s Last Theorem, but it’s enough to drive you at least slightly batty:

It is a puzzle that has perplexed physicists for decades: hold a strand of dry spaghetti at both ends, bend it until it snaps, and you will always end up with three or more pieces.

In 2005, researchers in France finally discovered why: after the initial break, the brittle stick flexes back in the opposite direction, snapping itself again.

Yet a lingering question mark still hovered over the culinary conundrum. Was it possible, with the right technique, to snap a strand of spaghetti into two pieces?

After breaking apart hundreds of pieces of pasta in a specially-constructed apparatus, a team of mathematicians led by Jörn Dunkel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have concluded it is possible, provided you add a twist into the mix.

Sometimes it takes MIT to solve a problem.

Using a pair of clamps, they twisted strands of spaghetti almost 360 degrees before bringing the two clamps together until the strand broke. With this method, the found they could reliably snap the spaghetti into just two pieces.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1802831115

(Via JenLucPiquant.)

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Always worthy of respect

There are times — not often, but now and then — when I regret missing one of those damn award shows. Here’s one.

You may be sure none in the theater were sleeping.

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Rack in the sky

One of the more interesting exhibits in the Historic District of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York:

Street sign on 35th Avenue at 81st Street, Queens, New York

Alfred Mosher Butts (1899-1993) was living in Jackson Heights in 1938 when he invented a board game which he called “Lexiko.” To get it into stores, he sold the rights to entrepreneur James Brunot, who made some minor tweaks to gameplay and a major change to the name: Brunot called it “Scrabble.”

This is the intersection of 35th Avenue and 81st Street, though the latter isn’t worth nearly as much in point value.

(Via Kevin J. Walsh.)

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An H2Overlay

Cristina visited Venice this past spring, and it was even more amazing than usual:

Although it was rainy, the drastic amounts of water in the evenings, paired with the high tide made for some unforgettable experiences. Which ones, you ask? Well, at around 5pm, the water levels start to rise, and rise so much that the streets become rivers & Piazza San Marco immersed with water!

And if you’re travelling with a younger child, you (and your own inner child!) will have too much fun splashing in the water filled streets in the evenings.

I better save this before my own inner child sees it. And hey, what happens to a shoe blogger when the streets are flooded?

Of course, if you’re not wearing waterproof boots, then you’re going to have much less fun. But fret not, there are a plethora of small shops selling rubber rain boots (for a fair 6-10 Euro) as well as plastic shoe/boot covers that will literally save your soles from the water!

You have to figure that the Venetians, having put up with this for many centuries, would have to have some sort of solution at hand.

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No secrets here

“Inspect my bag? Well, I suppose so, if you insist. You won’t be surprised, though.”

This bag contains a gun, a bomb, a very large knife and loads of drugs

At least there’s nothing dangerous, like hairspray.

(Swiped from Kim du Toit.)

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Laughing to the sky

She don’t know why, she don’t know why, dog and butterfly:

Well, she had to try.

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Where it all comes together

And it’s not so far away, either:

The “Center of the Universe” is a little-known mysterious acoustic phenomenon. If you stand in the middle of the circle and make a noise, the sound is echoed back several times louder than it was made. It’s your own private amplified echo chamber.

As the legend goes, a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and those on the outside wouldn’t hear it. This may be an exaggeration, but your voice does sound extremely distorted when heard from outside the circle. It’s an incredible effect.

Explanation: There isn’t one, really:

Like the Lake George Mystery Spot — another acoustical vortex that seems to defy the laws of physics — the effect is thought to be caused by the sound reflecting off a circular wall, in this case a nearby planter. Still, though many people have studied the cause of the odd anomaly there’s no clear consensus. Whatever the causes of this natural sonic distortion may be, it is truly an amazing place.

And it’s nearby, in the unit block of Archer in downtown Tulsa:

A brick path leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks, accessible from the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave. It is located directly northwest of the old Union Train Depot (now the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame), and immediately north of the Williams Center Tower.

Not a likely place for a foghorn, but what the heck.

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Seismic matters

A new skyscraper in San Francisco has the latest in earthquake-proofing schemes:

The most remarkable thing about 181 Fremont — San Francisco’s third-tallest tower, designed by Heller Manus Architects — is not the penthouse’s asking price ($42 million). Rather, it’s an innovative yet unglamorous structural detail: a viscous damper system that far exceeds California Code earthquake-performance objectives for buildings of 181 Fremont’s class, allowing immediate reoccupation after a seismic event.

Unlike most such systems, 181’s is light and flexible:

The story-height dampers look like pistons and attach to the ends of two secondary braces that sandwich the primary diagonal steel braces in the commercial floors. As the building sways, the primary braces compress and lengthen like a spring, while the secondary braces activate the dampers, which absorb the earthquake’s energy. PTFE pads at the intersection of the braces and floor plates also help the braces glide through floors and prevent them from buckling.

The 700-foot tower cost $500 million to construct; the office section has been leased by Facebook for its SF office and for Instagram HQ. Sixty-seven residential units occupy the top half of the building.


Degree of delight

Serious coolness here:

Doug Webber is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Economics Department at Temple University.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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In praise of flexibility

I forget exactly where I found this photo, presumably in 2014, though it was almost certainly a snide reference in some sniffy slideshow like Women’s Logics You’ll Never Understand.

Acacia Brinley does not need a selfie stick

Now maybe it’s just me, but I figure that if her hands are occupied and she can somehow take a selfie with her feet, she has a small but measurable advantage over the rest of us.

So far as I can tell, the young lady in question is Acacia Brinley Clark. A fan site in the Czech Republic contains a shot of someone apparently trying to do something similar:

This fan of Acacia Brinley does not need a selfie stick

Still, I can’t really ignore the high WTF? Quotient here. The only concept I remember as being this wacky was in the 2017 Web series Kristal Clear, which deals with the plight of a fictional social-media star “selfie queen” who somehow is rendered invisible. (Here’s the trailer.)


Frank commerce

Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs pops up on the streets of northern Minneapolis, and by all accounts is doing fine business.

Mr. Jaequan Faulkner is all of thirteen years old, and thereby hangs a tale:

He operates Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving about 20 customers a day. He likes the sense of accomplishment and enjoys projecting a positive image of black youth in his community, something he’s aware isn’t always shown.

The business started in 2016 when Faulkner saw an old hot dog grill at his uncle’s house. After two years of starts and stops, Faulkner stuck with it this summer.

Then he hit a snag: The Minneapolis Health Department called. Someone had complained to the city about the hot dog stand.

But instead of shutting Faulkner down, the Health Department decided to help him meet its standards.

Health Department staff made sure he had the necessary equipment — thermometers, food containers, hand sanitizer and utensil-cleaning stations — as well as knowledge about proper food handling. Once he passed his health inspection, inspectors paid the $87 for the special event food permit, and the city-sanctioned stand opened for business.

Eventually, Mr. Faulkner would like to own his own food truck. And props to Minneapolis city government for not doing what every other city would almost certainly have done.


We’re so board

Of course they didn’t actually let her stand on the roof. But hey, it almost looks like fun:

And yes, you should always call around for estimates first.


Memories, she has

And music, you’ll remember, hath charms.

Lam Duan is the name of an old blind elephant, her name means “Tree with Yellow Flowers.” Lam Duan has been blind most of her life. She lives at Elephants World, Thailand.

She may not know exactly what’s going on, but it’s definitely speaking to her:

And now I wonder how often anyone has ever shown her a kindness.

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