Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Go ahead and drop your smartphone in the toilet

According to Google, 39% of smartphones are used in the bathroom. Given all that's available on these phones, I'm surprised that percentage isn't higher.

What isn't surprising is that more phones are being dropped into the toilet. It turns out that 19% of smartphone users have done just that. That's where the makers of Liquipel come in:
Water damage has threatened our devices for far too long. Liquipel protects every feature of your device with a revolutionary waterproof shield.

Liquipel permanently bonds on the molecular level to your device, inside and out. You'll enjoy the waterproof defense beyond the life of your electronic device.

Hey, I'm sold, and I don't even own a smartphone.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ball boy's amazing catch at the Australian Open

The Telegraph has the story:
When Dylan Colaci was handed the chance of an official role at the Australian Open he wasn't expecting to be centre stage for his cricket skills during the biggest tennis match of the year so far.

But the 14 year-old's eagle eyed catch during the semi-final showdown between Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer momentarily overshadowed the star attractions on the Rod Laver Arena.

His speedy reaction to snaffle a stray ball with an outstretched hand drew rapturous applause from the crowd. It even prompted the commentator to compare him to Australia's prolific slip fielder Ricky Ponting.

Now the video footage of his superior skills have caught the eye of online admirers with nearly 800,000 views on YouTube.

Speaking after the match, the teenager said he reacted instinctively when Federer casually disposed of a ball after a fault on his first serve.

"I didn't have much time to think about it. I just stuck my hand out and the ball just stayed there. I couldn't believe it myself but then I just had to get straight on with the match.

"As soon as I got off court everybody was talking about it. My parents texted me and it was on Facebook."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Valentine's Day gift idea: Name a roach after that special (or not-so-special) someone

Courtesy of the Bronx Zoo:
Can't decide on what to get that special someone for Valentine's Day? Sometimes the answer is all around us, and right where it's been for millions of years—like cockroaches! How better to express your appreciation for that special someone than to name one of the Bronx Zoo's 58,000 Madagascar hissing cockroach after them? Best of all, when you purchase this unique gift, you'll help support the Wildlife Conservation Society and its five parks in New York City.
Something tells me I wouldn't be able to get away with a gift like this.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Star Wars eggs

Perfect for Easter.

(via Steven Humour)

The literary significance of dead mules

Dead mules. Who knew they played such a significant role in southern American literature?

Jerry Leath Mills established his reputation as an expert on the subject with his 1996 essay "Equine Gothic: The Dead Mule as Generic Signifier in Southern Literature of the Twentieth Century." He later published a revised edition entitled "The Dead Mule Rides Again":
My survey of around thirty prominent twentieth-century southern authors has led me to conclude, without fear of refutation, that there is indeed a single, simple, litmus-like test for the quality of southernness in literature, one easily formulated into a question to be asked of any literary text and whose answer may be taken as definitive, delimiting, and final. The test is: Is there a dead mule in it? As we shall see, the presence of one or more specimens of Equus caballus x asinus (defunctus) constitutes the truly catalytic element, the straw that stirs the strong and heady julep of literary tradition in the American South.
Southern authors dispatched mules in a variety of creative ways. Among those noted by Professor Mills:

Collision with vehicles. In William Faulkner's The Town, numerous mules were herded in front of a speeding train in an insurance fraud scheme.

Decapitation by irate opera singer. Mills notes that "Cormac McCarthy, who far surpasses even Faulkner in the mayhem he visits upon literary mules," used this one in his novel The Crossing.

Drowning. This was Faulkner's favorite.

Falls from cliffs. Mills writes, "The novel Blood Meridian (1985) establishes Cormac McCarthy as unchallenged king of literary mule carnage. No fewer than fifty-nine specific mules die in the book, plus dozens more that are alluded to in groups and bunches."

The list goes on: freezing, gunshot wounds, hanging, rabies, thirst, and many more. Sure, Mills's essay is rather morbid, but it's still very interesting.

Today's popular literature seems to be dominated by things undead. But I'll take dead mules over vampires any day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seen in my local UPS store

No wonder some of those UPS drivers seem a little tired.

African-style cover of Coldplay's "Paradise"

Stormtrooper and child spending quality time together


(via Now That's Nifty)

Animated GIFs created from old stereographic photos

New York Public Library Labs presents the Stereogranimator, "a tool for transforming historical stereographs from The New York Public Library's vast collections into shareable 3D web formats."

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at

It can also be used to create anaglyphs, the more familiar 3D images viewable with red and blue glasses.

ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at

(via Improbable Research)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My weapon of choice for the zombie apocalypse

This souped-up AK-47 comes complete with a chainsaw bayonet. Perfect for those times when you have to get up close and personal.

(via 22 Words)

Using cured pork to cure nosebleeds

Glanzmann thrombasthenia is a rare genetic platelet disorder that impairs the clotting of blood. Uncontrollable nosebleeds are common for people suffering from this disorder and can be deadly if left untreated. Fortunately, a rather unorthodox treatment may offer some relief.

According to a recent medical study, stuffing strips of cured pork into the nasal cavities may stop incessant nosebleeds. The study focused on a four-year-old child diagnosed with Glanzmann thrombasthenia who received the cured pork treatment for two life-threatening nosebleeds. The result:
Cured salted pork crafted as a nasal tampon and packed within the nasal vaults successfully stopped nasal hemorrhage promptly, effectively, and without sequelae. In both applications, the patient had complete cessation of nasal bleeding within 24 hours, and was discharged within 72 hours after treatment.
The authors of the study acknowledge there is a long tradition of using pork to treat nosebleeds. Just be sure to always check with your doctor before shoving raw bacon up your nose.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cats on a plane

OK, so it was just one cat. This time:
An Air Canada flight was grounded for several hours Wednesday morning after a cat got loose in the airplane and hid in the cockpit.

"We now have a 'lost cat in airplane' file that's got one piece of paper in it after this morning," said Peter Spurway, spokesman for the Halifax International Airport Authority.

Flight 603 from Halifax to Toronto had been scheduled to leave at 5:40 a.m. before Ripples the cat escaped from its carrier and ran into the cockpit.

The crew scoured the plane as the cat's owner called out to her pet.

Eventually they determined that the cat had "weaseled its way down into the wiring of the cockpit," Spurway said.

The cat was found and returned safely, but the flight remained grounded until the cockpit wiring could be checked for damage.
The plane finally took off at 10:00 am local time, more than six hours late.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bed, Bath & Beyond selling radioactive tissue box holders

Yes, you read that correctly. But don't worry:
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency says there is "no immediate threat" posed by decorative tissue box holders sold by Bed, Bath and Beyond that are contaminated with low-levels of radioactive material.

IEMA said Friday it is coordinating with federal officials and Bed, Bath and Beyond to identify and secure the tissue box holders contaminated with cobalt-60. While they present no immediate health risk, according to a release from IEMA, the agency is working with federal officials to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure by anyone who comes in contact with them.

Yeah, I think I'll keep shopping at Target.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rat population explodes around Occupy D.C. camps

The Washington Post reports:
The rat population around the two Occupy D.C. camps at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza has "exploded" since protesters began their vigil in October, according to Mohammad N. Akhter, the director of the District's Department of Health.

Akhter said in an interview Monday that city health inspectors have seen rats running openly through both camps and spotted numerous new burrows and nests underneath hay-stuffed pallets occupiers are using for beds. Both campsites had working kitchens for weeks until last week, but protesters at McPherson Square voluntarily closed down theirs after health inspectors pointed out unsanitary conditions during an informal monitoring visit.
The question now is whether or not to evict the protesters because of poor sanitation conditions. That's a legitimate concern, but I think a more pressing issue is deciding what to do about the rat problem on Capitol Hill.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today, January 21, is Squirrel Appreciation Day. I think a good way to mark the occasion would be to price and compare various pellet guns, but Mother Nature Network decided to present 21 noteworthy facts about squirrels instead:
1. There are more than 200 squirrel species worldwide, from tree squirrels and flying squirrels to chipmunks and marmots. They're all in the Sciuridae family, which is native to every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

2. Squirrels range in size from the five-inch African pygmy squirrel to the three-foot Indian giant squirrel.

3. Squirrels have four front teeth that grow continuously, at a rate of about six inches per year. This helps their incisors endure the constant gnawing.

4. The NASDAQ stock market was briefly shut down in 1987 and 1994 due to squirrels chewing through power lines.

5. In 2005, a pack of squirrels in Russia reportedly killed a stray dog that was barking at them. They may have been starving due to a pine cone shortage.

6. Adult squirrels normally live alone, but they sometimes nest in groups during severe cold spells. A group of squirrels is called a "scurry" or "dray."

7. When squirrels hide food for winter, they often dig fake holes to fool would-be thieves. To make sure they don't fool themselves, they lick their food before burying it, leaving a scent they can later detect even under snow.

8. All tree squirrels belong to the genus Sciurus, which comes from the Greek words "skia" (shadow) and "oura" (tail). The name reportedly reflects tree squirrels' habit of hiding in the shadow of their long, bushy tails.

9. The eastern gray squirrel is the most common tree squirrel species in the U.S., and humans have helped introduce it not only to western North America, but also to Europe and South Africa.

10. The eastern gray has become a pest in the U.K., where it threatens the survival of smaller, native red squirrels. This has made it popular for Britons to eat gray squirrels, part of a global trend toward eating invasive species.

11. There's also a rich history of eating native squirrels in the U.S., where they've long been used in dishes like Kentucky burgoo and Brunswick stew. Squirrel meat has fallen out of favor lately — especially that of flying squirrels, which are relatively rare — but many Americans still hunt and eat eastern grays.

12. Tree squirrels mostly eat nuts, seeds and fruit, but they are omnivores. Gray squirrels, for example, have been known to eat insects, snails, bird eggs and animal carcasses when other food is scarce.

13. Better hope those carcasses aren't too rancid, though — squirrels, like many rodents, can't vomit. (They also can't burp or experience heartburn.)

14. The average adult squirrel needs about a pound of food per week.

15. A 2010 study found that some squirrels collect old rattlesnake skin, chew it up and then lick their fur, creating a kind of "rattlesnake perfume" that helps them hide from the smell-dependent predators.

16. All-black or white tree squirrels may look like distinct species, but in most cases they're actually just color variations of gray squirrels.

17. An eastern gray "rally squirrel" became an impromptu mascot for Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals when it ran onto the field during the 2011 playoffs. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series.

18. Flying squirrels can't really fly — they just use flaps of skin between their limbs to glide through the air — but it often seems like they can. Their acrobatic leaps between trees often span up to 150 feet.

19. Red squirrels are solitary and highly territorial, but in some rare cases they've been known to adopt orphaned pups of their relatives.

20. Marmots are celebrated as weather forecasters in the U.S. and Canada, but their skills are a bit overhyped. Punxsutawney Phil's predictions were mostly wrong between 1988 and 2010, for example, while a study of Canadian groundhogs found their success rate was only 37 percent over 30 to 40 years.

21. Squirrels communicate using complex systems of high-frequency chirps and tail movements. Studies have also found they're capable of watching and learning from each other — especially if it relates to stealing food.

Squirrels! from Devin Briggs on Vimeo.

Painting with shadows and light

Artist Rashad Alakbarov from Azerbaijan creates works of art using shadows and light. It's really quite amazing.

(via Colossal)

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Bark Side of the Force: Dogs barking Darth Vader's theme

This is the official 2012 Volkswagen Game Day commercial teaser:

Squirrel Roundup (January 20, 2012)

A look at some recent news stories involving those bothersome, bushy-tailed tree rats.

Squirrels love gun control
Members of the City Council of Chesterfield, Missouri, are obviously pro-squirrel:
The measure would still make it illegal to fire a projectile weapon within 150 yards of a residence in the city. The revised proposal deletes wording that said "to protect crops or other property."
What peace of mind for homeowners in Chesterfield, knowing they cannot even use pellet guns to protect their property from vandalizing vermin.

Tomorrow is National Squirrel Appreciation Day
January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day, and the folks at the Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Department want you to join them for a joyous celebration in the park:
There will be crafts for adults and children as well as useful tips and tricks for dealing with wildlife. The event is free.
My idea of Squirrel Appreciation Day would include activities such as a pellet gun safety training course and a squirrel cook-off, in which local chefs showcase their favorite recipes utilizing the "chicken of the trees."

Talking squirrel puppet reporter
How do you cover a camara-less corruption court case in Cleveland?:
It's courtroom drama crossed with "Sesame Street," as a television station barred from using cameras during a high-profile corruption trial covers the highlights with a nightly puppet show. It stars a talking squirrel "reporter" who provides the play-by-play in an exaggerated, "you won't believe this" tone.
Of course!

Squirrels waging biological warfare
Squirrel-on-squirrel violence in Ireland:
A second case of squirrel pox virus have been founded in Co Wicklow. It is also the second case discovered in the State. The latest red squirrel with the squirrel pox virus was found in Kilmacanogue, on the lower slopes of the Sugar Loaf.

The virus is similar to myxomatosis and is carried by grey squirrels, who appear to be immune to its affects. However, it now appears they are passing it on to the native Irish red squirrel, pictured right, whose numbers are already considered dangerously low.
Long-time readers of this blog know that squirrels dabbling in bio-terrorism is nothing new.

A squirrel that paints?
No, really. This squirrel paints pictures:

Not to brag, but I think my three-year-old has more talent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An observation regarding the side effects of prescription drugs

Coffee: The fuel of dissent

Most people today consider coffee a harmless beverage, but centuries ago it was the bane of political rulers. Adam Cole, author of NPR's The Salt, writes:
Wherever it spread, coffee was popular with the masses but challenged by the powerful.

"If you look at the rhetoric about drugs that we're dealing with now — like, say, crack — it's very similar to what was said about coffee," Stewart Allen, author of The Devil's Cup: Coffee, the Driving Force in History, tells The Salt. ...

... Monarchs and tyrants publicly argued that coffee was poison for the bodies and souls of their subjects, but Mark Pendergrast — author of Uncommon Grounds: The History Of Coffee And How It Transformed Our World — says their real concern was political.

"Coffee has a tendency to loosen people's imaginations ... and mouths," he tells The Salt.

And inventive, chatty citizens scare dictators.

According to one story, an Ottoman Grand Vizier secretly visited a coffeehouse in Istanbul.

"He observed that the people drinking alcohol would just get drunk and sing and be jolly, whereas the people drinking coffee remained sober and plotted against the government," says Allen.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with coffee." Or something like that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weird gadgets at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show

You can always count on seeing new and interesting gadgets each year at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Here's a look at some of the featured items this year:

Solowheel - The product's web site describes it as "the smallest, greenest, most convenient 'People Mover' ever invented. This gyro stabilized, electric unicycle is compact and fun to ride and is intended to be used as you would use an electric bicycle." It's basically a one-wheeled Segway.

Foam Fighters - These are tiny replicas of fighter planes that are made out of -- you guessed it -- foam. They attach to your iPad or iPhone for interactive flying fun!

Haier Brain Wave - Finally! A wireless, mind-reading headset to replace that clumsy TV remote! Well, you might want to hold onto that remote for awhile. This technology isn't quite yet ready for prime time.

Eye Asteroids - OK, mind-controlled video games are a bit far-fetched. Let's settle for something a little more realistic, like, say, "the first and only purely eye-controlled arcade game in the world."

Friday, January 13, 2012

TSA collects over $400,000 in loose change from travelers

From NBC San Diego:
Turns out those airport security checkpoints aren't just for your safety, they are also a source of funds for the Transportation Security Administration.

Travelers left behind $409,085.56 in loose change in 2010. Not only did they ditch their pennies, dimes and quarters at the checkpoints, but they also left behind foreign currency.

Nico Melendez, spokesperson for TSA, said when people go through security checkpoints they typically leave behind the change from their pockets in the plastic bins.

"TSA puts (the leftover money) in a jar at security checkpoint, at the end of each shift they take it, count it, put it in an envelope and send it to the finance office," he said.
The lesson for all you kiddies out there: crime does pay.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Canadian advocacy group wants free booze for alcoholics

Vancouver's Eastside Illicit Drinkers Group for Education wants the Canadian government to fund a program that would provide alcoholics with free booze. The goal is to prevent drunks from turning to less palatable sources of alcohol like mouthwash or hand sanitizer when their money runs out.

This makes as much sense to me as providing poor obese people with cheesecakes. Still, it's actually less diabolical than the U.S. government's policy in the 1920s of deliberately poisoning industrial alcohols, a practice that, by some estimates, killed at least 10,000 people by the time Prohibition ended.

Most depressing book ever

Microwave Cooking for One

(via Now That's Nifty)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Irony of his own complaint about Tim Tebow lost on American Atheists president

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, complaining about Tim Tebow: "Why in the world are we talking about religion when we are talking about football?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dog involved in deadly accident swims half-mile out to sea

A man was fishing from his kayak a half-mile from shore near Sarasota, Florida. Suddenly, a dog swam up, tired, bleeding, and scared. The man pulled the dog on board and paddled back to find the owner. Once ashore, the man contacted his sister who took the injured dog to a vet. An ID chip revealed the dog's name to be Barney.

But the video only shows the aftermath of the real story.

Moments earlier, Barney's owner, Donna Chen, was tragically struck and killed by a drunk driver while out for a walk. Barney was hit as well, and the terrified dog took off swimming toward the kayak.

The 22-year-old drunk driving suspect was treated for serious injuries at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. He is currently in jail with bail set at $100,000.

Image of Mary appears on restaurant wall (sort of)

There's been another Virgin Mary sighting, this time on a sheet of stainless steel on the wall of a restaurant in Tampa, Florida. The acting manager at Hamburger Mary's admits that it does look like the Blessed Virgin from certain angles.

More of a mystery to me is how something like this would even get noticed in a restaurant known for its gay karaoke and drag queen bingo nights. Besides, I think the image bears more of a resemblance to another iconic figure.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Heinous crime committed in Waterloo, Iowa

Just when you think the streets are safe, you run across a story like this:
A life-size cardboard cut-out of pop sensation Justin Bieber is missing from a Shoppers Drug Mart on Ira Needles Boulevard.

Store personnel told Waterloo Regional Police that someone came into the store on Thursday and went behind the fragrance counter and ran off with the cut-out.
The horror.

If household budgeting was like government budgeting

This pretty much sums it up.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Around the world in 6,237 photographs

My three-year-old daughter caught a glimpse of this video while I was watching it, and she asked me to start it again. She sat entranced through the whole thing, humming along with its ethereal score. It certainly is a fascinating feat of photography.

(via Colossal)

Your favorite a cone

Think of your favorite food. Now think of your favorite food in a cone. That's the concept behind Crispycones, the original brainchild of New York-based chef and food designer Nir Adar. From the Crispycones web site:
Our motto is "The food you love in a cone" because our savory cones taste great when filled with any type of food, hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch or dinner and anytime in between. They're incredibly versatile, delicious with fillings from eggs to salads, pizza to deli, stir fry to carnitas, BBQ, stews and even dessert. Any food that's ever been eaten between two slices of bread, in a wrap or on top of pizza can now be enjoyed drip free, anywhere, anytime and on the go with Crispycones.
Just look at the possibilities...
The best thing about this cutting-edge culinary creation is that it will make driving safer. Now I'll be able to eat chili in the car without having to steer with my knees.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A cat who really has 9 lives

A cat in Utah survived being euthanized...twice:
Officials at West Valley City's animal shelter in Utah say the cat named Andrea hadn't been adopted for 30 days when shelter officials tried to put her to death in October. She survived, so they gassed her again.

Shelter officials detected no vital signs and presumed she was dead after the second try, so they put her in a plastic bag in a cooler. But when they checked the bag, they saw she had vomited on herself and had hypothermia but was alive.

The shelter then decided to stop trying to kill her.
Needless to say, Andrea the cat has since been adopted.

Five-year-old girl has some overdue books, library sends cops

In a country where police routinely shut down lemonade stands run by kids, is it really all that surprising when libraries starts sending cops to collect overdue library books from five-year-old girls?

Frankly, the only thing I find surprising about this story is that it didn't involve a SWAT team and Tasers.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sky cam falls during Oklahoma-Iowa game

A few months ago, I posted a link to a 2005 New York Times technology article on the sky cams used in football games. On December 30, there was a mishap involving ESPN's aerial camera in the final minutes of the Insight Bowl, briefly entangling Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt Jr., scratching his arm:

With those things zipping overhead in every televised game, I'm surprised this hasn't happened more often.

40,000 laws passed in the U.S. in 2011

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, these United States of America saw 40,000 laws passed last year, many of which go into effect in 2012. Among them: a ban on tanning beds for minors in California, a nationwide cell phone ban for truckers, and new reporting requirements for Florida doctors and dentists who dispense drugs for pain -- you know, the kinds of essential laws that keep the gears of liberty from grinding to a halt.

I guess the terrorists really do hate us for our freedom. Oh, and I will definitely be stocking up on 100-watt incandescent bulbs while supplies last.

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