Thursday, April 29, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Saturday, April 24, 2010

celebrating randomness is moving

Hi all -

Well, Blogger is discontinuing its FTP support. I don't like it, but I have to move by May 1.

Hopefully, I will soon be back at In the meantime, I will be hanging out on Google's servers at

Worse case, I will erase everything, and start a new blog. I'll see how this goes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

chicken blog!

So, the other day, I read this great post about a rescued chicken. Who knew 100 chickens a year were abandoned in San Francisco each year? Well this one, named Elvira, was one of the lucky ones to find a home with a woman in the Mission neighborhood.

What's even better? The new owner maintains a CHICKEN BLOG! Awesome. On her first post, in March 2010, she writes, "Not to be hip is embarrassing. Especially in the Mission, which is a nursery for many Silicon Valley success stories, and thus, home for hip people. To be somebody in this neighborhood, I need the chickens."


Saturday, April 17, 2010

unfortunate signage

I was in Walgreens the other day, and saw this posted. Ouch....
"H1N1 Available Today"???

If you look closely, you'll see that someone tried to make the point more clear. Perhaps a Sharpie would have come in handy.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

bacon for babies?

What is with this obsession with bacon? I've seen bacon scarves, bacon band-aids, bacon tape and even bacon wrapping paper. They even have bacon salt (a "zero calorie, zero fat, vegtarian and kosher seasoning that makes everything taste like bacon) and no-longer-available bacon flash drives. The site Archie McPhee sells 20 bacon-related products! (UPDATE 4/23/10: On ThinkGeek today, I ran across a cute (?!) bacon shirt - "three strips of bacon coated in glitter on a black babydoll (fitted) t-shirt")

On April 1st, J&D's, the company already responsible for bacon flavored salt, envelopes and lip balm, announced that they were releasing... bacon flavored baby formula!

However, on April 5, J&D's wrote a blog post, exposing their hoax. There is no bacon flavored baby formula. However, a lot of people were fooled, including a news network and the Huffington Post!

(PS - Thank you, 6th graders, for making sure that I am not a hypocrite. This picture is Creative Commons, original image by user Porge. Modifications made by user Kelapstick.)


Monday, March 29, 2010

wanna buy a banana museum?

Well, some of you may already know that bananas amuse me. (See my posts on, a student's banana poem, or just another random banana post.)

Well, for just $45,000 (with no reserve price) it seems I could buy the world's largest collection devoted to any one fruit, according to the Guinness Book of World Records (1995 Golden Anniversary Edition). The International Banana Club Museum, founded by Ken Bannister, is for sale on eBay until Apr 07, 2010 at 17:48:57 PDT. Nine days left! Apparently, the founder has reduced the price to $15,000 in hopes of finding a buyer.

A Wall Street Journal article dated March 23, 2010 reports the
International Banana Club Museum was established in 1972, when it started with 10,000 Chiquita banana stickers before well-meaning banana merchandise filled a museum in Altadena, CA. Later, in 2005, the collection moved to its current location in Hesperia, CA. Now the Hesperia Recreation & Parks District (north of Los Angeles) wants the banana museum to go. The Park District has not been charging Bannister rent for the past 5 years since they were not using the space, but now it wants to rotate exhibits. So, out with the bananas and in with "artifacts collected by the late John Swisher, a local historian."
The collection includes a banana golf putter, banana beverages, and a gold-sequined "Michael Jackson banana." Mr. Bannister organizes the goods into "hard" (brass, lead, wood, plastic banana wares) and "soft" (stuffed bananas, banana beach mats, banana tents). (article)
Bannister owns the world's only petrified banana and even tried renting the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile to convert it into a "banana mobile" to ride in the Rose Parade. (The company told him no.)

Ken Bannister also offers banana club membership. According to a post on Altlas Obscura,
Membership to the club is a flat rate of $15 and, just like Bananaster, members can come up with their own nickname. Additionally, members can climb up in social ranks; the more banana-phernalia one donates, the higher the "B.M." (banana merit) they are rewarded, such as PHB, Doctorate of Bananistry Degree. Banana Club members are said to get extra discounts when presenting their Banana Card Clubs in public, though a simple smile is what the club strives for. And if the smile isn't enough, members can also brag about their fellow famous Banana Club-ers: Jay Leno and former US President, Ronald Reagan.

Want to learn more? Visit the International Banana Club Museum official website.

UPDATE (April 12, 2010): The Banana Museum is saved! Read about Fred Garbutt, 46, and his mother, Virginia, who purchased the banana collection. The saved banana museum is set to open in January of 2011 in North Shore, CA. By the way, Fred has 110 of converse gym shoes... but no yellow ones!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2 day old mandarin ducks leaping from their nest

Words do not do justice...

Read more about Mandarin Ducks on the Honolulu Zoo site.


Monday, January 18, 2010

will you help?

The Boston Globe did a photojournal of the 2009 Sumatra earthquake. I've been holding on to this image for a while, and debating whether or not to post it. The picture below usually would make me laugh (since ducks are hilarious), if it wasn't so sad (salvaging what he can from the destruction).

Events like these in Sumatra, and most recently in Haiti, remind us of the power of nature, as well as the good fortune so many of us enjoy.

If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to the Red Cross. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 and make a $10 donation to support the American Red Cross Haiti relief efforts. The donation will be debited from your cell phone bill.

A 48-hour-old fundraising campaign to help Haiti earthquake victims, done solely through text messages, was already stunning Red Cross officials on Thursday when it hit $3 million. By Friday morning, the tally had more than doubled.

The campaign, made viral on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, had raised $8 million by Friday, according to a Twitter message from the White House that was reposted on the Red Cross account. - CNN 1.14.10

UPDATED: Harman said the campaign, which raised more than $3 million in its first 24 hours last week, had topped the $21 million mark by 11 p.m. on Sunday. - CNN 1.18.10

Update 5:20pm: I have been alerted to the fact that these mobile donations can take up to 90 days to reach the Red Cross (CNN, Gigaom). Jonathan Aiken, spokesman for the Red Cross, says "The Red Cross already has cash on hand, so it's putting that money to work now and will replenish its coffers once the mobile donations are officially processed... That's how it's always worked," Aiken said. "So in a way it doesn't matter which exact date the money officially comes in. And in any case, we're still going to be in Haiti 90 days from now -- this is not going away anytime soon."

The Better Business Bureau recommends that consumers give to charity online, by phone or mail if they want the funds deposited immediately.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

beginner's guide to appreciating snowflakes

Interesting story in the Chicago Tribune about snowflakes:

Kenneth Libbrecht, [Professor of Physics at CalTech and creator of] has now defined more than 35 different shapes, from radiating plates to capped columns, to bullet rosettes. For snowflake-watchers who don't have a microscope handy, however, here's a beginner's guide to appreciating the snow.

TEMP. (F) 32(degrees) to 25(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = The mash: As temperatures near 32 degrees Fahrenheit there is a greater mix of crystal formationss including plates, columns and dendrites. The structures are more compact, tend to stick together and are perfect for making snowballs and snowmen. "Now you?re getting into your heart attack snow," said CalTech physics professor Kenneth Libbrecht.

TEMP. (F) 25(degrees) to 15(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Columns and needles: These snowflakes tend to be relatively small and melt easily. "This is kind of forgettable snow," said Libbrecht. "These are kind of the sparrows of the snowflake world. They don't really jump out at you."

TEMP. (F) 15(degrees) to 0(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Dendrites: The most traditional-looking snowflake -- a stellar dendrite -- forms in higher humidity. It is perfect for skiing, light and fluffy. "These are your standard shopping mall snowflakes," Libbrecht said.

TEMP. (F) Sub-zero

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Plates and prisms: Plates and prisms tend to occur at very low temperatures and at low humidity. They make for very dry snow that scintillates in the sun due to the flakes' flat mirrorlike surfaces. Usually the snowfall is so light that no shovels are needed. "This is what I call diamond dust," Libbrecht said. "This stuff just sparkles."


Saturday, December 26, 2009

profitable reindeer poop

So, don't ever let someone tell you your ideas are silly. This holiday season, Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo has raised $20,884 by selling necklaces and ornaments made from reindeer droppings.

Last year, the zoo made about $5,000 selling reindeer-dropping ornaments. This year, they moved into necklaces after some people asked if jewelery would become available.

To make them, dime-sized pieces of reindeer poop are dehydrated, sterilized and spray-painted with glitter. They're called "Magical Reindeer Gems." (The image above is courtesy of a November post in this cool blog called L.A. Unleashed.)

The ornaments cost $7.50 at the zoo's gift shop or $10 by mail. The necklaces sold for $15 at the gift shop, or $20 by mail. The Miller Park Zoological Society says this year they made about 300 necklaces and more than 2,000 ornaments.

The zoological society says the ornaments and necklaces were sold nationwide. And I LOVE this news bit: "Requests also came in from other countries, but federal regulations don't allow reindeer droppings to be exported." (!)

Unfortunately, these items are limited-edition... so maybe next year?

This story reminds me of another poop fundraiser. I taught high school back in 1999 in central Illinois. It was a learning experience... from kids bringing in their prize-wining goats for their science project to a kid who invited me to ride in his new air-conditioned combine. But, I thought the kids were pulling my leg when they told me about the "Cow Patty Derby."

For this fundraiser, the football field was divided into numbered 1 ft x 1 ft squares. Then people bought corresponding numbered raffle tickets. The night of the event, townsfolk gathered in the bleachers and they let a cow loose on the field. Now, this sounds more dramatic than it is, since the cow mostly just stood there and occasionally walked around. But, eventually, as all cows do, it needed to.. ahem ... relieve itself. So, it drops a cow patty in some random square, and the owner of that numbered ticket is the big winner!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

turkey pardon

So, I've been meaning to blog this for over a year, ever since I read about George Bush pardoning a turkey. Apparently, Obama will continue the tradition today as he pardons a 45 pound turkey and sends it off to be the Grand Marshall of the Thanksgiving Day parade in Disneyland. According to Snopes, this tradition started with George Bush Sr. in 1989. (President Harry Truman is often cited, incorrectly, as the first president to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey.)

One of my favorite quotes of the event is: "You know there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this - when I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland."

Watch turkeys Courage and Carolina get their pardons:

Funny... this year, The president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk has written in a blog for Huffingon Post:

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 2 million members and supporters, I am writing to ask three things: 1) that you please send this year's pardoned turkeys to a credible sanctuary; 2) that in your speech at the pardoning ceremony, you acknowledge the millions of compassionate Americans who personally pardon turkeys every year by choosing a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal; and 3) that you invite PETA's chef to present a delicious cruelty-free Thanksgiving meal for you and your family, including Tofurky with all the trimmings, from corn bread to cranberries, and an all-American vegan apple pie with vanilla soy ice cream on top. The vegan meal would provide some balance to all the free publicity given to the turkey industry on this occasion.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

advice on the wall of a bus bathroom

Though the advice itself is up for interpretation...

(found in bus bathroom, driving back from Yosemite)