Friday, December 22, 2006

Time Flies

I confess, I rarely have any troubles getting up in the morning and, in fact, usually beat the alarm clock. On those rare occasions when I do "sleep in," the clock-radio is usually set to NPR, and newscaster Carl Kasell always sounds like he's eating something, which makes me hungry enough to get up.

For those who do struggle with consciousness in the morning (and really want to beat an alarm clock), we have two entries in what could very well be the most irritating alarm clocks in the world.

First, Clocky:
If you hit the snooze button, Clocky will roll off of the nightstand, fall to the floor, and run around the room, searching for a place to hide. Making you get your butt out of bed to find it and turn it off.
Second, the Flying Alarm Clock:
This nifty alarm clock literally flies around making an annoying mosquito-like noise until you catch it and return it to its base. So, you are forced to catch the darn thing if not whack it with a bat, and in doing so, forced to wake up. And should you press snooze, the device will just start flying all over again when the alarm goes off.
Regardless of one's attitude toward waking, I can't help but think that these timepieces would last about 30 seconds before being smashed into little time pieces.

Wall of Voodoo

OK then. Via Version 1.0:
[E]lectronics-tinkerer Mike Larsson['s] USB Voodoo Word doll plugs into your computer and, when you stab it with a pin, prompts a great gushing of vicious prose onto the screen.

Oh, I don't know. The same thing happens whenever I use Microsoft Word, which is itself based on voodoo.

Pod Save the Queen

Dig the new breed:
Queen Elizabeth to podcast annual Christmas message

In addition to more traditional terrestrial broadcasting, Her Majesty will be making her annual Christmas message to the Commonwealth at 3:00 pm GMT (that's 10:00 am US Eastern time) on Monday, December 25 available as a podcast to all those who really want to hear her opine away.

Miracle on 34th Street

Well, around the corner on Broadway, actually... I was in NYC a couple weeks ago and heading to midtown from Penn Station. I was surprised, but happy, to see that Macy's was celebrating Cephalopodmas. (Full disclosure: I did not take this photo.)

Kraken Baby

Just in time for Cephalopodmas:
Japanese researchers, the same group that caught the photographs in 2004, have filmed a live giant squid. The research team, led by Tsunemi Kubodera, videotaped the giant squid at the surface as they captured it, on a squid bait, off the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo, earlier this month. The squid was a female juvenile of about 24ft this falls shy of the 60ft record.
Watch cool video from Reuters here (short commercial first, alas).

It should be noted though that the mother of all giant squid--the still-elusive Architeuthis dux--is an Atlantic species.

Hall of Shame

Fresh from Japan, a way for you to confess all your shameful deeds (and you know you have some), just in time for New Year's resolution time: the Shameful Confessions Microphone:
a digital voice changing mic with a clear panel attached to censor out your eyes--and tell the world what a scumbag you are while preserving anonymity.

Perfect for karaoke (the very epitome of a shameful deed). It kind of reminds me of Mr. Microphone (remember that?) from the 1970s. In fact, all the people who appeared in that old Mr. Microphone commercial ("Hey, good-lookin', we'll be back to pick you up later!") should definitely switch to the Shameful Confessions microphone.

And that I remember the old Mr. Microphone commercial itself warrants a shameful confession...

I, Toons

A round-up, for all you animation fans, of the 50 Greatest Cartoons ever (as voted by the animation industry itself), complete with YouTube links. I agree with number one heartily.

It was said, back in the [first] Golden Age of Wireless (i.e., radio), that a true intellectual was someone who could listen to "The William Tell Overture" without thinking of The Lone Ranger. Having grown up in the 1970s, I would emend that to state that a true intellectual is someone who could listen to "The Barber of Seville" without thinking of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Alas, by my own logic, I am no intellectual....

The Epic Battle Continues

Via Pharyngula, a timeless Cephalopdmas carol!

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

While I am hardly to the manner (or even manor) born, and the closest I've ever come to the aristocacy was seeing Disney's The Aristo-Cats when I was a kid, that still doesn't mean I can't have a peculiar aristocratic title. As it turns out, mine would be:
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Duke Richard the Dejected of Piddletrenthide on the Carpet
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Six Squids a-Flailing

Merry Cephalopodmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

These Shoes Suck

Oh, come now:
[H]ome appliance manufacturer Electrolux has revealed a "vacuum shoe" concept model. In order to accommodate the electric motor -- and store all the crap that you've left on your floor -- the concept design features a rather thick and ugly sole reminiscent of Cosmo Kramer's basketball sneakers, so you probably wouldn't want to do much walking outdoors in them. Seeing as this is just a concept model that's at least a couple of testing stages away from a real product, we wouldn't be surprised if the real model was even more "visually challenged."

Nature Green in Tooth and Claw

Not sure what to get that special someone for Christmas? Why, how about the Carnivorous Plant of the Month Club?

Some people have to fight with their cats and/or dogs while trying to eat dinner. And then, there are those who have to fight with their plants, as viny tendrils slither up the table leg and make off with large pieces of meat. Then again, it could be useful to have plants that can be trained to catch household pests, if only for the entertainment value.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Send Lawyers, Gums, and Money

What is the must-have gift this Christmas season?

Of course.


Oh, let's not start that silliness again...

Anyhoo, next week will be Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory around here at the Blogito Ergo Sum International Headquarters, Cafeteria, and World Domination Showroom, as the impending holidays can only mean getting a million things done before the holidays. Thus, blogging will be fairly light, if existing at all. And, of course, after this week is over, it will be Lucille Ball pitching Vitameatavegamin around here...

So whatever holiday it is you celebrate--Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Tet, Boxing Day, Kickboxing Day, Wrestling Day, Cephalopodmas, Festivus, Robot Overlord Appreciation/Supplication Day, Antarctican Penguin Licking Day, the Xorlon Hrunkon Festival of Omicron Persei VIII, etc.--have a happy and healthy one.

Red Christmas

When you think about the toys today that are pulled from shelves because they are safety hazards, you can't help but think what wusses kids are these days. Back in the good old days, there were some seriously dangerous toys, and here is a list of the 10 most egregious offenders. Perfect Christmas gifts for those kids you don't like all that much.

I seem to recall having something like the Thing Maker--superheated plastic glop on a hotplate on which it was remarkably easy to burn yourself.

My favorite from this list (which I did not have, I hasten to add) is:

Snack-Time Cabbage Patch Doll
[T]he adorable lineup of Cabbage Patch snack-dolls appeared at first to be harmless. They merely wanted a nibble—a carrot perhaps, or maybe some yummy pudding. They would stop chewing when snack time was done—they promised.

Then they chomped your child's finger off.

In creating this innovative new toy, the great minds at Mattel devised a motorized mouth that sensed neither pleasure nor pain. It chewed for chewing's sake. With no mechanism to turn off the munching should trouble arise, it was only a matter of time before some cherub's long blonde hair got caught in the doll's rabid jaws. After 35 fingers and ponytails fell victim, the Snacktime Kids were removed from retail shelves forever, and 500,000 customers were offered a full $40 refund.

Dead Trees Rule!

A reminder, via Boing Boing, of why I like printed books (click image for larger view):


I am ashamed to admit that I have only ever read two Thomas Pynchon novels--and the two "easy" ones at that (The Crying of Lot 49 and Vineland). So I decided to take the plunge and picked up his mammoth new book Against the Day (and am 400 pages into it--out of a total of 1,100+) and am enjoying it immensely. Granted, Pynchon is not an easy read, or at least not to get started reading, but once you get into the universe, it's a actually a lot of fun. Helping matters is an online Pynchon wiki of annotations I found, plus a discussion blog. (I seem to be progressing through the book faster than either of these two online sources!)

I would describe what the book is about, but that's not an easy thing to do. It is set between the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the onset of World War I and concerns two families--the plutocratic Vibes and the Colorado mining Traverses. The patriarch of the former arranges the murder of the patriarch of the latter (because he is believed to have been dynamiting the mines owned by Vibe), and a son's quest for revenge. There are also subplots involving Nikola Tesla, various quests for something called Iceland spar, or a kind of double-refracting crystal that creates ghost doubles and multidimensional maps for finding lost cities. There is a sublot involving a British group of pre-New Age-y spiritualists called the True Worshippers of the Ineffable Tetractys (or T.W.I.T.--Pynchon is nothing if not a satirist) and everything is connected via the Chums of Chance, a group of teen adventurers out of (a parody of) early-20th-century boys' adventure stories (like Tom Swift) who travel around the world in a high-tech airship called the Inconvenience. Doubles and "evil twins" abound; a couple of competing physicists are named Renfrew and Werfner (check the backward spellings) and there are of course parallels to the present day. I have no idea where all of this is going yet, but it's a fun journey. So far.

Buoyed, I picked up Pynchon's V. and Gravity's Rainbow and added them to my book pile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm Henry VIII I Am

Well, maybe not.

I've never been a big fan of personality profile quizzes, but here's one I can get on board with: which historical lunatic are you?

This would be good for me to put on my resume:

I was hoping for Caligula or perhaps a mad Pope or something, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back in Blacker

How evil are you? Take the test and find out.

Yep, as I always figured:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Back in Black

I have only two things to say about so-called Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The first is, there is no way on Earth I would venture anywhere near a mall (or any store) on Black Friday, as while I am sure I could probably save a few bucks, the resulting psychiatric treatment I would need would handily offset any savings. (I hate shopping to begin with, for any reason.) The second is, can we all agree that "Cyber Monday" is an utterly inane name (almost as bad as "viral markeing," now that I think about it)?
Online merchants may want to rethink their advertising strategies next year for the weekend following Thanksgiving in light of a report released this week by BlueLithium Labs.

The San Jose, Calif. maker of online advertising solutions reported that "click-through" rates -- the rate at which consumers click on Net advertising -- on the Friday and Monday following Turkey Day were below average compared to the rest of the month.

On Black Friday -- so named because the volume of shopping that day can boost a retailer's bottom line for the year from red to black -- click-through rates were 32.3 percent lower than the monthly average, BlueLithium reported, and for Cyber Monday -- a peak day during the year for online shopping -- click-through rates were 12.6 percent lower.

The report also found that conversion rates -- the rate at which a click-through is converted into a sale -- slumped by eight percent on Friday; however, conversions soared by 29.6 percent on Monday.

And, It's Moist

Perhaps the face on Mars has been crying (distraught, perhaps, by the high-res images that showed that, alas, there is no actual face on Mars), but, according to a paper published in the recent issue of Science (via, there may actually be water on Mars:
Michael Malin (Malin Space Science Systems) and four colleagues present compelling evidence that liquid water flowed across the surface of Mars in the past seven years.

The evidence comes from the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, which fell silent in early November. This high-resolution imager spotted fresh deposits in images of two crater slopes taken in 2004 and 2005 that did not appear in earlier pictures. "The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water," says Malin, who is MOC's lead scientist. He argues that liquid water exists underground and collects behind icy dams along crater walls. When those barriers fail, water episodically rushes out, perhaps mixed with salts or other materials, and then flows downhill before evaporating into the thin Martian atmosphere.
If it turns out that there is indeed flowing water on the surface of Mars, it raises the possibility of there being (or having been) life on Mars. That being the case, we may not want to be so gung ho about curing the common cold.

Tongue Lashing

As if bats couldn't become even less appealing. Scientists have found the Gene Simmons of the animal kingdom:
One nectar bat can launch its tongue one and a half times its body length, longer than any other mammal and second only to chameleons among vertebrates, scientists recently discovered.
Even more surprising, Muchhala pointed out, the tube-lipped nectar bat came up with an ingenious way of evolving a longer tongue without the usual drawbacks. Just like humans, in bats the tongue begins at the base of the mouth, so the only way to stretch tongue length would be to grow an equally long snout. Tongue length correlated with snout length for 10 other nectar species, the researchers found.

That’s not the case for the tube-lipped bat. “Instead of evolving a longer jaw, it pushed the base of the tongue back and into the rib cage,” Muchhala told LiveScience. Its tongue gets stowed between the heart and sternum.
Let's hope this thing isn't what I heard in the wall a couple weeks ago. However, since I don't live in Ecuador, that does seem unlikely.
Still, it would be less freakish than to have Gene Simmons scrabbling in the walls.


In the spirit of the USB slippers (that keep your feet warm), comes...wait for it...the USB eye-warmer.
It plugs into the USB port of your PC or Mac and helps relieve stress and tension associated with staring at computer monitors all day. There's a temperature control so you don't end up scorching your eyes when all you wanted to so was feel some warm sensations.


While we can speculate (but not for too long) about the psychological health of anyone who would buy a Hummer--if only because it has all the aesthetic appeal of a Brinks' truck--or, indeed, raise the sociopathic implications of driving around in what is basically the automotive equivalent of a giant middle finger, we can all generally agree that it takes a special kind of lunacy to trick one out with a fireplace.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cruel Shoes

Via Pharyngula, a terribly amusing new pseudoscience that I have no doubt will sweep Saratoga Springs by storm before very long:
The heretofore unknown science of “earthing”, patented by Clint Ober, is that your body needs to be earthed so that you can have the earth’s antioxidizing flow of free electrons to go through your body and extinguish free radicals.

Earthing Axiom:

The earth’s infinite supply of free electrons will neutralize free radicals in your body and will thus help to stave off disease and aging. YOUR BODY WAS DESIGNED TO BE IN CONTACT WITH THE EARTH FOR MANY HOURS PER DAY.

Being connected via our barefeet to the earth appears destined to provide us with many far-reaching health benefits, which when coupled with modern medical prowess and optimum nutrition will offer mankind the best opportunity for health and longevity possible.
Wait..."patented"? How do you patent not wearing shoes? (Ah; see below.) As for this whole "earthing" thing, well, despite the thick chowder of non-sequiturs and gobbledygook, on a more pragmatic level, it's 20 degree outside right now and snowed this morning. I can't think of any health benefits in going out barefoot, unless frostbite is actually healthy (or is that theory coming next week?).

The flow of electrons will neutralize free radicals? (Sounds kind of like using a taser on protesters.) So I could stick my toes in a wall socket and achieve even more health benefits. Cool.

As I scroll down this site (which should be issued a citation for font abuse) I see that in those cases where walking barefoot is not possible, you can sleep on a "barefoot pad" (this sounds upsetting):
The patented Barefoot Earthing Bed Pad fits any size bed, occupying the lower 1/3 of the bed where your feet will naturally rest. The soft, comfortable fibers of the pad are specially created to conduct electron flow through your feet. An earthing wire connects the fibers of the pad to the earth outside your home, so that your body’s cells are literally bathed all night with trillions of electrons from mother earth.
Pity; I prefer to sleep hovering five feet above the bed.

This goofy site will provide hours of entertainment.

Monday, December 04, 2006


[Read in another stentorian movie trailer narrator guy's voice]

Thirty-one years ago, Jaws left you hungry for more.

Last October, "shrimp on a treadmill" left you breathless.

Two posts down, "octopus escaping through a one-inch hole" changed you in ways you still don't understand.

Now, prepare, nothing you've seen so far could ever prepare you for...octopus eating a shark.

The horror...the horror...

Having a Lovely Time...Wish You Were Squid

In other hot cephalopod action, via Version 1.0, if you're ever vacationing in Japan, be sure to send your friends and relatives...
Edible squid-flavored postcards
Residents of the coastal town of Susami in Wakayama prefecture love the sea and the post office so much that the town once installed a mailbox on the ocean floor for scuba divers. Now, further evidence of this powerful sea/mail love comes in the form of “Surumail” — edible postcards made from squid.

Produced by the Susami fishing cooperative, Surumail postcards consist of dried surume squid (Todarodes pacificus), the local seafood specialty. The squid jerky is flattened and vacuum-packed into the shape of a postcard, and an adhesive label is included for the postage, delivery address and a short message.
Do you have to write on them using squid ink?

No Bones About It

[Read in stentorian movie trailer narrator guy's voice]

Last October, "shrimp on a treadmill" left you breathless.

Now, prepare yourself, you will never be the same after seeing..."octopus escaping through a one-inch hole."

Octopus macropus. Call him an invertebrate...just don't call him spineless.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Moving Pictures

Today's Times-Union has a nice interview with our boy Derek, managing director of the Saratoga Film Forum. Given his newfound fame, we hope he will remember the little people (Billy Barty, Michael Dunn, Herve Villechaize, etc.).