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 banananame.com, 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!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

science + dancing = one cool video!

Well, it's been a while since my last post. However, a Steve Spangler newsletter I received in my inbox today inspired me with a link to what might be the most amazing video EVER! (OK, so maybe I am a little biased as a science teacher....)

In fact, with this Steve Spangler has certainly passed Bill Nye as my favorite science guy. Not only does Spangler do cool stuff, and have great products, but he also provides Teacher Training. (I will be attending his "Science Boot Camp" in Chicago September 25!)

And, you may not recognize Judson Laipply's name, but you will recognize his famous YouTube video, "The Evolution of Dance." I love it because it is entertaining, witty and the guy has talent.

Imagine my glee when I learned that Spangler & Laipply spent some time together at the Spangler Lab (read the story). This video is the result.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

snuggies for dogs?!

I tried to resist blogging about this, but it is just too funny. I read a Chicago Tribune article informing us that Snuggies are FINALLY available for dogs. (Did I miss something here? Does any dog need a blanket with sleeves?!)

The Snuggie for Dogs is $14.95 plus $7.95 shipping and handling. A second one is free if you pay for shipping.

Then I watched the promotional VIDEO on the website.

I am still laughing....

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the germiest tourist attractions

I just read a hilarious article on the 5 germiest tourist attractions - a list compiled by editors at TripAdvisor.com.

1. Blarney Stone in Blarney, Ireland

So, let me get this straight. This rock is kissed by up to 400,000 people a year (source). Gross. And it doesn't appear to be an easy task. According to the main site, "Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. Today, we are rather more cautious of the safety of our visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence." Eloquence? Fortunately, you are unlikely to catch anything from kissing this rock, unless you follow an exceptionally sloppy, saliva-dripping kisser.

2. Market Theater Gum Wall in Seattle, Washington

This one is the worst of the five, in my opinion. I've been to Pike Place Market - it's a cool place. However, I must have missed the Market Theater. Apparently, starting in the 1990s, people found it amusing or otherwise necessary to stick their gum to the wall while waiting for the tickets. The management tried scraping the wall clean a couple of times, but it didn't work. So now, the happy ending is that this disgusting tribute to inappropriate gum disposal has now become a tourist attraction?! Do I really need a picture of this?

3. St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy

I like birds. But 130,000+ is a lot at one time. No one would let pigeons land all over them in say, Chicago, but for some reason, it seems that everyone that goes to Venice takes a picture covered in birds. In early 2008, Venice began banning the feeding of the birds: "Venice has long been concerned with the potential hazards the birds pose to human health, not to mention the damage caused by their guano and taste for marble." (The birds like to peck at the exposed marble of the buildings in order to consume calcium carbonate for their egg production.) Apparently, there are 40 TIMES the number of birds per square foot that " international studies propose as the optimal concentration per square kilometer." This can't be healthy.

4. Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California

As an elementary school teacher, this one bothers me the least. We touch dirty things all the time. According to the article, "the sidewalk is littered with 246 celebrity hand and footprints that draw in 4.5 million visitors a year, many of whom put their own hands and feet on them. The site began as an accident in 1927 when Norma Talmadge, a famous actress 1920s, stepped into wet cement. Creator and owner of the theater, Sid Grauman, decided to make the hand and footprints a tradition."

5. Oscar Wilde's Tomb in Paris, France

What is the obsession with kissing rock?


Sunday, May 31, 2009

extreme post-it notes

I had the pleasure of watching the Eepybird guys today at Maker's Faire, doing their Diet Coke & Mentos thing. I headed to their site and was thrilled to see their newest adventure...

...using Post-It Notes!!

Pure genius.


Friday, May 15, 2009

barack equals cool

Baby names are always interesting. Parents "gravitate toward the popular, wanting their child to fit in. But many also want their child's name to be unique, so they don't have to share it with four other kids in class at school." (SF Gate) Normally, the same names appear on the list each year, with a few moving up, a few dropping down, and some dropping off. However, last year, "Barack" (meaning "blessed" in Arabic) moved up a record 10,126 places IN ONE YEAR to become the 2,409th most popular baby name.

Obama's popularity doesn't stop with his name, as most of us realize. According to a 4.24.09 Politico article,

It’s so hip that school kids in Albany, N.Y., coined a term for it: “Baracking.” And it doesn’t stop there. Those in the know at Albany High greet each other by saying: “What’s up, my Obama?” and they respond to a sneeze with “Barack you.” Misbehavior is peer-corrected with the admonition, “Barack’s in the White House,” which translates, “Show some respect.”

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Friday, March 27, 2009

how peeps are made!

As I scour the Chicago Tribune in eager anticipation of its annual Peeps on Parade Diorama Contest, I found photo slideshow about how these marshmallow treats are produced! The Pennsylvania factory is called Just Born, and offers a virtal tour online.

Apparently, Peeps have an official site with "fan club information, fun facts, history, recipes and crafts" and more.... Seriously... You can find facts like:

  • In the early 1950s, it took 27 HOURS to make one finished Peep. Today it takes 6 minutes.
  • Each Peep has only 32 calories and 0 grams of fat.
Wow, until I started procrastinating by putting "Peeps" in Google, I had no idea how much randomness these candies have inspired. Some of the craziest?

A site dedicated to the Peeps research ...
A Washington D.C. Peep Artist ...
Obama in Peeps? (gross) ...
A marshmallow recipe from HowStuffWorks
A video of three Peeps in a microwave ... (want to learn why they do this?)

... Argh! I gotta go do something productive....


Sunday, March 15, 2009

rapping flight attendant

Dave Holmes, a flight attendant on Southwest Airlines, has a unique way to get people to pay attention to the safety rules. I applaud his creativity!

Some people argue that he is making light of a very important topic (safety), but it seems that people are listening more carefully than usual.

Want to see more? User cnh210 posted Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of his rap on YouTube.

UPDATE: This site appears to have the rap in its entirety.


Monday, March 2, 2009

online Mii creator

Need to procrastinate? This online Mii creator is hours of pointless fun....

Here's mine....


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

44 presidents - happy president's day!

In the 1885, this country decided to create the first federal holiday to celebrate George Washington. This holiday fell on his birthday (Feburary 22). Many years later, in 1968, members of Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, putting all federal holidays on a Monday, as to not break up the the work week. In 1971, President's Day was officially shifted to the third Monday in February.

At this time, some people wanted to include Lincoln in the celebration (birthday = February 12), since many states were already celebrating his birthday on a separate day, although it was never a federal holiday. Some people think Nixon changed the day to "President's Day," but even today, the holiday technically only celebrates Washington's birthday.

President's Day also brings yearly rankings of our past leaders. Here's C-SPAN's take on the whole thing:
Want to learn more about the presidents? The Official White House website has a nice slideshow of the Presidents, or you can learn this rap:

I like how they sampled "Hail to the Chief." I like this verse the best!
No presidents are from Wisconsin
Not Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, or Johnson
We’re getting near the end, but it’s not getting harder
It’s Nixon, Ford, then Jimmy Carter

And of course, no celebration would be complete without a video of morphing presidents. Kinda creepy, kinda cool....


Sunday, December 28, 2008

obama magazines

I was walking in Jewel / Safeway the other day, and this sight was enough to stop me in my tracks. the entire first row of magazines were filled with Obama covers. It's like he is one part hope, one part president, and one part celebrity. I look forward to seeing what the country can accomplish under his leadership.


Monday, September 22, 2008

josh groban singing a tv theme medley?

Now, if you live under a TV-free rock like I do, it is possible that you didn't know (or didn't care) that the 60th Annual Emmy Awards were on TV last night. However, when I read in the online news that Josh Groban sang a TV theme medley, I had to check it out.

If you aren't familiar with Josh Groban, he's a singer-songwriter who focuses on classics and generally can be found on the adult contemporary charts. He has an amazing tenor voice. Here's an example of his music.

A fan site is quick to point out, however, that although Josh seems serious, he really is a typical 20-something.
Because of the classical influences in his music (which in the beginning appealed mostly to an older audience), some people have the mistaken impression that Josh is a suit-and-tie, pristine guy who acts more like a 50 year old than a 27 year old. Wrong! While Josh definitely has a maturity beyond his years and a load of discipline for someone his age, he enjoys the same things most 20-somethings do; He listens to Radiohead, Bjork, Depeche Mode, and the Afro-Celts, he likes Monty Python and South Park. He likes to hang out with his friends, surf the Internet, and play video games.
I was VERY entertained to see his Emmy performance!

This is the epitome of randomness. I'm used to seeing him sing soulfully into sunsets, and now he's rapping to the Fresh Prince? I wonder if this was fun for him, or if it made him roll his eyes.


Friday, September 5, 2008

deluxe treehouse in wisconsin

Wow. Check out THIS treehouse. It's nicer than most of the apartment's I've lived in! It has doors, windows, electricity and a spiral staircase! Wisconsin father John Peterson drew the line at running water, however, even though "he thought about it."

Not everyone is celebrating. The TreeHugger blog writes, "That icon of American childhood, the treehouse, has succumbed to the McMansion phenomenon."

I think it's kinda cool. And impressive that the guy built it himself!


Monday, May 26, 2008

pleo - part pet, part robot

There is a new toy in town, Pleo brought to you by Ugobe. This company's inventor and co-founder is Caleb Chung, the same guy who co-invented the Furby 1n 1998. Pleo has 14 motors and six processors (Furby had one of each), a nose-mounted camera and 30 sensors. It's sensitive to touch, noise, movement, and even other Pleos.

Pleo is a lovable one week old baby Camarasaurus, a gentle and loving plant eating dinosaur from the late Jurassic Period of our planet’s history. Ugobe used and researched actual Camarasaurus fossil records to help them model Pleo’s appearance and behavior. (source)

The news releases started in 2005, with its much-delayed release happening on December 18, 2007. This robotic pet costs $349, but current owners seem to think its worth it. People are obsessed with these! There are Pleo videos, songs, skits.... owners can even keep a Plog about their robotic pet.

In this March 13th, 2008 Nightline episode, newscasters describe Pleo as "straddl[ing] the line between pet and product."

You can get a tour of the Ugobe labs, in this first webisode in the Ugobe series of videos titled "Behind The Scenes: The Making of Pleo."

You can see the rest of the videos in this 6 video series by visiting the website.

Pleo is based on the three laws of Ugobe life forms.

The life form should...
1. ... feel and convey emotions
2. ... become aware of itself and its environment
3. ... learn and develop over time

Isaac Asimov, who is credited for coining the term robotics in his short story Runaround published in 1942, also had his famous 3 laws of robotics (which Pleo appears to follow):

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

(He later added a Law Zero: A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.)

Besides the amazing advances in robotics that Pleo displays, it is just plain cute. In fact, you could waste hours surfing YouTube for Pleo videos. Here are a few to get you started:

Pleo (without skin) at the Maker's Faire
Pleo making other animal noises
Synchronized Pleos?
Pleo riding on a Roomba

You'll notice that the people obsessed with these toys are adults. In fact, techies everywhere can rejoice in knowing that you can program Pleo using the Pleo PDK as well as a variety of 3rd party tools. "Complex Pleo programming will require a knowledge of the C programming language and a comprehensive understanding of Pawn scripting and the UGOBE Life OS." (source) Umm... that doesn't sound like the skills of your average 4 year old.

Where else would you expect this toy to be developed but California? In Emeryville, CA to be more exact. I drive through the town every morning on my way to work!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Talk about losing your cookies...

No, I refuse to title my blog post "Got Milk?" Although it is tempting. This morning, a tractor trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos slammed into the median and overturned. The driver was driving down Interstate 80 around 4 am from Chicago to Morris and may have fallen asleep at the wheel. I can relate. That is one long, boring drive.

Though I'd like to image otherwise, the video shows a rather tame scene. Apparently, all of the cookies stayed inside their plastic wrappers.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

hippopotamus art car

I read a funny article in the SF Chronicle the other day. Apparently, this clown in Houston is obsessed with hippopotami and wanted to turn her Toyota Rav4 into something more hippopotam-ish. Eight years after she first got his name, Tom Kennedy finished her SECOND hippo-mobile!

You can check out Tom Kennedy's website for more pictures, plus the story of the upside-down school bus built for Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

bring your own big wheel race in sf

Wow! I haven't laughed this hard in a while. For the last 7 years on Easter Sunday, people have gathered along Lombard St (said to be the "most crookedest street in the world" in San Francisco - pictured to the left). They come wearing a wide variety of gear and carrying a equally bizarre collection of plastic children's bicycles, most of which are destined to break when supporting more than 80 pounds.

This year, the event was held down Vermont St., which could be considered even more crooked, with much sharper and steeper switchbacks, though not quite as many (or as well landscaped) as Lombard St.

Anyway, it inspired my second YouTube video. (Shhh... I didn't get the musician's permission for the soundtrack...)

And, here's a great video from the 2007 race:


Friday, March 21, 2008

google logos for the holidays

Ever see one of those great Google doodles on a holiday or special occasion (like the first day of Spring?) If so, thank Dennis Hwang, who has been designing these logos since 2000. (Although this is not his only job at Google.)

I really wanted to post a few here, but the site does ask nicely - "We have a variety of logos commemorating holidays and events. We've put them in this online museum for your amusement. Please do not use them elsewhere. And please, don't feed the kangaroo." (Ummm... the kangaroo?!) On another page, it asks again,"Please don't use them elsewhere as each has a special history at Google and we'd like them to enjoy their well-deserved retirement."

OK, OK. I won't use them on my blog. But I encourage you all to check them out on the Google site. You can search back to 1999.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

marshmallow peeps contest?!

Now, I believe there are degrees of randomness.... and this contest is pure random. Apparently, the Chicago Tribune Q section held an International Peeps Diorama contest! (You may need to log in to view. I am not sure how long the contest link will be active.) As I write this, there are 224 entries so far - raging from whimsical to political to downright scary. (Peep guts?)

Here are some highlights:

I love the caption on this next one: "Harry Peeper and Sorcerer's Stone. After getting past Fluffy the three headed Peepdog, Harry is looking in the mirror sees the stone in his pocket."

Why didn't I think of that? :)

UPDATE 3.22.08: Here are the Top 10 Finalists and the 6 Grand Prize winners! Here's the first place winner:

"The Pampered Peep Spa"
Submitted by Noreen Czosnyka
Chicago, IL


Sunday, March 16, 2008

julian beever's amazing chalk drawings

Now, hopefully you all have heard of this guy, but if not, check out Julian Beever's work.
My favorite drawings of his are anamorphic art, or art that seems very distorted until you see it from a very particular spot. (The first anamorphic art can be traced back to a drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1485!) For example, when viewed from the proper vantage point, Beevers art looks like this:
But, viewed from a different point of view, the drawing doesn't make much sense at all! (Do you see the camera from across the drawing?)

Here are just a few of the most amazing Julian Beever drawings, including his self-portrait. Check out the sites above for more!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

harbin international ice and snow festival

In honor of all the snow in the Midwest lately, I thought I would pass on some information about an even colder place. Harbin, in China's Heilongjiang province, has temperatures that average 21.2 degrees Celcius (about 70 degrees F) in the summer and -16.8 degrees C (about 2 degrees F) in the winter. The temperatures can get as low as -38.1 degrees C (about -37 degrees F).

Harbin is also famous for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival. (Check out these pictures! You can also visit the official website, but it is written in Chinese.) The festival has been celebrated since 1985. It begins on January 5 and is scheduled at the same time as the nearby Harbin Ice and Snow World Exhibition of Ice Sculptures (whose 2008 theme is the Olympics), the Snow Sculptures Fair and the Ice Lanterns Fair.

Now, these folks know how to enjoy the cold weather!


Monday, January 14, 2008

how fast is your internet?

There is a cool site that measures your uploading and downloading speed on any computer that you are using.

Speedtest.net is a free broadband speed test with servers located all over the world.

All you have to do is click on the "pyramid" nearest you!

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Friday, January 4, 2008

dna music

Back in October, I had an opportunity to go to Wonderfest held at Stanford University. There I heard David Deamer, Professor of Chemistry at UC Santa Cruz, talk about and play his DNA music.

Remember that DNA stores the instructions for making you! DNA forms a "double helix" - a kind of twisted ladder in which the "rungs" are made up of nitrogenous bases (A, T, G, or C). A group of 3 of these base pairs is called a codon. Codons tell a cell what amino acid to build. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are what make the body grow and do a lot of things.

We have a huge amount of DNA in each of our cells. If the DNA from just one of your cells was typed in books, a list of the 3 billion base pairs would fill 200 telephone books. That is from just one cell - and we have trillions of cells in our bodies, and most cells have a complete set of DNA! (kids genetics)
(Want to review more about DNA? Check out this really great animation watch this VERY weird DNA music video.)

Anyway, in his presentation, Deamer says, "If melodies are a sequence of notes, and DNA is a sequence of bases, maybe we can turn DNA into music." He went on to compose pieces with the following translation.

  • C (cytosine) = C on the musical scale
  • A (adenine) = A on the musical scale
  • G (guanine) = G on the musical scale
  • T (thymine) = E on the musical scale

For example, the insulin gene is coded "TTT GTG AAC CAA..." and so on. The DNA code dictates the notes played, but he does have some freedom with the timing.

You can hear the music if you watch the Wonderfest presentations online. Not surprisingly, it is also posted on YouTube. Fast forward to 16:00 if you would like to hear the part about insulin.

David Deamer also partnered with
Susan Alexjander, to create a far-out sounding CD called Sequencia.
In SEQUENCIA, raw data derived from the light absorption spectra of the four bases (adenine, cytosine, thymine, guanine) that make up the DNA molecule is converted into sonic frequencies. These are programmed to a Macintosh computer and sent to a synthesizer, and then arranged into four pitch collections (or four 'scales' based on the individual base molecules). These synthesized notes mixed with vocals, cello, tabla, and violin become the palettes for Alexjander's compositions, which range from somber and zen-like to fanciful and improvisational.
Another link gives specifics on the physics involved in this process.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

vegetable orchestra

Wow! The Vegetable Orchestra performs on instruments made of fresh vegetables. It was founded in 1998 and is based out of Vienna.

According to the website, at the conclusion of each performance, the audience is offered bowl of vegetable soup.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

global warming halloween costume

So, this was my first Halloween at an elementary school, and it was a day of wacky celebration. My favorite costume was that of a fellow science teacher.

FRONT: You can see the drips on her skirt, the clue that this wasn't your everyday glacier costume. Even though scientists predict that melting ice will not threaten coastal communities for some time, there is incontrovertible evidence that ice is melting at a rapid rate. "Last year Eric Rignot ... calculated that Greenland lost a total of 54 cubic miles (225 cubic kilometers) of ice in 2005, more than twice as much as ten years ago—and more than some scientists were prepared to believe."

BACK: On her back, she displayed the June 2007 issue of National Geographic entitled The Big Thaw (The magazine also has a pretty cool interactive site where you can learn more about global warming.)

It's very interesting teaching in a Berkeley, CA school. The other day, I showed the 3rd grade class part of a YouTube video to introduce them to Rube Goldberg. I explained that I was only showing part of the video, since it was actually a 1940s advertisement for gasoline. ("Fortunately for us, man has discovered a virtually unlimited source of power... gasoline") I mentioned that I thought is was amazing that just 50-some years ago, there was such positive excitement around using oil.

One third grader raised his hand and said, "That's funny because in 2007 we know that burning gas causes pollution and that pollution affects the atmosphere, which causes global warming. So, the ice is melting in places around the world, and some polar animals are losing their habitats." Many kids nodded along. He continued, "But, my family has a hybrid car, so we are trying to make the problem a little bit better." After a bit of discussion, I learned that over HALF of the students had at least one car in the family that was a hybrid, electric, or ran on natural gas. Which reminds me of a sign I saw this weekend at a Berkeley street fair.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

addicted to carving pumpkins

I never imagined e-carving a pumpkin could be so fun!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

sashimi tabernacle choir OR singing fish car

My roommate casually mentioned an Art Car Fest over dinner a few days ago. Conveniently, my morning science classes were canceled today, so I went. I was floored by a car full of singing fish. There are few things more random that that. Of course, my first question was, how did they make that?

In fact, the experience inspired my first YouTube video upload. :)


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

toliet paper wedding gown

Well, I thought the duct tape prom dresses were cool, but today I found out there is also a contest sponsored by Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com that challenges contestants to create a "a wedding gown and headpiece that you have constructed out of toilet paper, tape and/or glue ONLY."

Check out these winners from 2007, 2006, and 2005. Impressive.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

underwater restaurant in the maldives

Did you know there is a restaurant completely underwater? (This is the strangest thing I have heard about since the first ice hotel!)

The Ithaa Restaurant (Ithaa means “pearl” in the Maldives) is located 15 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean, and is surrounded by a coral reef (article). It is part of the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa Rangali Island and was built in April 2005. It must be a rare treat, since it can only fit 14 people at a time and costs $170 - $250 per person.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

sony bravia 's exploding colors

Sitting around talking in San Francisco one evening, this guy brought up a Sony ad involving and a hilly San Francisco street and superballs. (I don't know if the ad runs in the U.S. ... As you know, I can't remember the last time I turned on a TV.) Intrigued, I wanted to learn more. These ads ended up being even more awesome than I imagined! (And done without computer graphics.) Sony's BRAVIA brand uses the slogan "Color like.no.other."
To announce the arrival of the BRAVIA LCD and 3LCD range, we wanted to get across a simple message - that the colour you'll see on these screens will be 'like no other'. - Bravia site


So, the first commercial (filmed in 2005) features 250,000 superballs, a kid, and one frog. It took 23 people to film and "only one chance to get [the main sequence] right". With a combination of trucks and air cannons, the balls were released. Although pretty to look at, "these balls can do some damage, so all the cars were props and crew members went so far as to having protective shields and crash helmets."

Watch the BALLS commercial.
See behind-the-scenes.
Read more about it.

Read about the British soft drink's spoof of the ad.


This one (July 2006) was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland and took 10 days, 250 people (to film), and 70,000 liters of paint. (The cleaning took 5 days and 60 people!) And of course, as in all experiments, "safety first."
Keeping everyone safe was also an important factor. A special kind of non-toxic paint was used that is safe enough to drink (it contains the same thickeners that are sometimes used in soups). It was also completely harmless to the skin.

Watch the "PAINT" commercial.
See behind-the-scenes.
Read more about it.

If I watched TV, these ads might make me go buy one. :)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

science across the usa

I haven't travelled much in my life, so it was a great "hands-on" opportunity to drive across the country this summer and experience earth science! I learned so much, and I would like to share one thing I learned from each of the amazing science sites I visited on my drive from Chicago to California. (All images are my own photos - feel free to click on any of them for a larger version.)

The Badlands (South Dakota) - This national park consists of nearly 244,000 acres of some of the most bizarre landforms I have ever seen. Here, rivers and rainstorms have been eroding away the soft sediments and volcanic ash, revealing colorful bands that correspond with specific time periods in the history of the rock formation.

Wind Cave (South Dakota) - First explored by a 16 year old boy with a candle and a string, Wind Cave now has over 100 miles of known passageways, although studies indicate only about 5% of the cave has been discovered.

The most fascinating part of the cave is its entrance. The Lakota Indians have been long aware of this opening, and regard it as a sacred place. In the picture to the left, you can see a guy attempting to enter the natural entrance of the cave. (I guess he didn't care about the gate park rangers have installed to stop people from doing just that....) It is this opening (and not the cave's interior) that gives Wind Cave its name.

The wind moves depending on atmospheric pressure on the surface and inside the cave. When the pressure is higher outside than inside the cave, wind rushes into the entrances; when pressure is higher inside the cave, the wind blows out of the entrances.

The wind is driven by changes in barometric pressure. The air pressure within the cave and outside attempt to reach equilibrium. The wind blows into the cave when the barometer rises, and out when the barometer falls. This airflow may forecast how the weather is going to change. - nps.gov
This was confirmed on our visit by the presence of ominous clouds in the distance (storm approaching) and the strong winds blowing out of the natural entrance.

Mammoth Site (South Dakota) - More than 26,000 years ago, many large Colombian and woolly mammoths spent their time tediously scraping away the snow with their tusks to find food. However, scientists believe some mammoths were "lazy" and were instead lured by the more easily-accessible vegetation at the sinkhole's edge. Once these mammoths risked coming near the sinkhole's edge, it is believed they fell in, became trapped and died.

Scientists have found remains of 52 mammoths in the pit (which was discovered by chance in 1974 when they bulldozed to make a housing development). Of those 52 animals, ALL of them are male. And all, except one, are young ADOLESCENT males. Raleigh Philip, author of an educational neuroscience text, says, "It's interesting to speculate how the young Colombian Mammoths' adolescent brain may have led to their demise in the same way that teenagers take risks today."

Devil's Tower (Wyoming) - Geologists agree that Devils Tower is the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion. However, there is still debate about the exact details of its formation. This bizarre land form has been somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps that is why Stephen Spielberg used Devil's Tower as an alien communication point in his movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Also known as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site for many American Indians. I personally like their legend the best.
In one story, two girls playing in the woods are chased by an enormous bear. The girls jump on top of a rock, but it is too small to give them safety. The Great Spirit sees the girls' predicament and causes the rock to grown to an immense size. The giant bear jumps at the girls, but cannot reach the top. His claws leave the gouges in the side of the rock that can still be seen today. - the Unmuseum

Beehive Geyser (Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Wyoming) - While Old Faithful is certainly the most famous geyser at Yellowstone, it is just one of the 10,000 geothermal features found in the park. The geyser in the picture is Beehive Geyser, an unpredictable cone geyser with water reaching 93 °C (199 °F) and eruptions up to 200 feet! A cool thing about this geyser is that there is a small vent located a few feet east of Beehive, called Beehive's Indicator, which erupts about 6 feet, 10-20 minutes before an eruption. When we walked by the sputtering indicator, we decided to stick around for the show!

Yellowstone Nat'l Park, (Wyoming) - Thermophiles, or microbes that live in extremely hot conditions, make up these colorful bacterial mats. Pigments (like chlorophyll and carotenoids) within the microbes are responsible for their colors. The run-off channel from a hot spring, for example, is white or clear near its source. This water is heated by the magma just under the earth's crust! Only a few single-cell bacteria live in this boiling water, which is 93 °C (199°F). (Pure water boils at 212°F at sea level.) As the water slightly cools to 167°F farther downstream, the first colorful forms of bacteria show up. Shades of green to pink to orange to yellow-brown to gray indicate bacteria growing in slightly different temperature regions on the mat.

(Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Wyoming) - At the Mammoth Hot Springs, I learned that these white tiered formations were travertine. This mineral is formed when hot water dissolves the limestone beneath Mammoth and brings it to the surface where it cools, and and forms this delicate mineral. These terraces (in the picture) are like "living sculptures," since they can change with changes in temperature, water flow, and bacterial concentrations. (Notice the colorful thermophile bacteria mat in the background.)

Mud Pots! (Yellowstone Nat'l Park, Wyoming) - I was somewhat familiar with hot springs before my Yellowstone trip, but I was was never introduced to their close cousins, the fumarole and the mudpot. The mudpots quickly became my favorite geothermal feature, mostly due to their "bloop bloop" sounds. A mudpot or paint pot is a sort of hot spring or fumarole consisting of a pool of usually bubbling mud. Watch my Quicktime video to see a mudpot hurling mud into the air.

Craters of the Moon (Idaho) - I saw fields of lava, both áa ("ay-ay") and pahoehoe ("pa-hoy-hoy") lava. (I liked the sound of those names!) The highlight of this visit had to be exploring the caves formed by the collapse of giant lava tubes. The tubes were originally formed as hot lava melted and rock in its path, while the surface of the lava in contact with the air hardened (forming the "roof" of the cave). When these tubes collapsed, they made great caves to explore!

Finally, I couldn't resist... this picture is one of my favorites from the trip. You don't see this in Chicago!

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