Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Links!

From Lide, and this is a fantastic read: A Brief History of Bog Butter.

From Mark H., and this is a fantastic, wonderful read: CHOP SUEY NATION.

From C. Lee, and this is downright terrifying: The baffling reason many millennials don’t eat cereal. Also, and this is an appalling story: Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident.

From Steve Davis, and this is just amazing: The Ad Campaign that Convinced Americans to Pay for Water. Also, and I'm not sure about this, Mongolia: Mongolia is changing all its addresses to three-word phrases.

From Brian, and this is excellent: 470 MILLION YEAR OLD METEORITE DISCOVERED IN SWEDISH QUARRY. This is fascinating: Gut bacteria found to reverse autism-related social behavior.

From David Yellope, and if you think the Cold War was precisely managed and under control, this will correct that, because this guy stopped WWIII--by himself: Vasili Arkhipov.

From Wally, and these are just amazing: The Hyperrealistic Sculptures of Ron Mueck.

From Jim, and this is a masterpiece: D and D Burger Alignment.

This is no surprise to anyone familiar with sports gambling, but it's still a great read and a nice piece of investigation: How America’s Favorite Sports Betting Expert Turned A Sucker’s Game Into An Industry.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Lasko Stack

If you go on a hockey trip, and you don't have room to bring a fan, the first thing you do when you get to your destination is buy a fan. Hockey gear gets incredibly wet, and the fan is all you have to dry it out before it's used again.

A few months ago, we bought a cheap box fan--a Lasko--and discovered that it's a powerhouse. It's incredible how much air this fan pushes. So it's always our go-to fan when it's available.

We've been in Grand Rapids for a week, and the clothes supply was exhausted, so I stumbled down to the in-hotel laundry facility to replenish our stock.

I was able to use two washers with no problem, but the dryers were still being used when the washers had finished. It was about 10 p.m. already, and I was beat. Eli was already in bed (and had been for half an hour) while staff toiled away.

Around 10:30, the woman who had clothes in the dryers came and took pity on me, combining her clothes into one dryer so that I could use the second one. She warned me, though, as a hotel laundry veteran, that the dryer I would be using didn't dry clothes very well.

She was right.

After half an hour, the clothes were still wet--not sopping wet, but not dry in any sense.

It was 11:15 now.

Come on man. Use that brain! Drying clothes is pretty basic. There has to be some kind of alternative way besides heat.

I thought for a few minutes, and then it hit me: The Lasko Stack.

Cotton wicks. I had to fold the clothes anyway. I could just fold them, layer them in one big stack, and put them right in front of that incredible Lasko fan at high speed.

Wake up in the morning, clothes dry.

Inspired by this razor-sharp insight, I folded the very wet clothes and made a stack at least a foot high, then carried it back to the room and placed it in front of the Lasko.

This morning, Eli 14.10 woke up and said "How late did you have to stay up doing the laundry last night?"

"After eleven," I said, "and the clothes were still wet in the dryer, but then I used the Lasko Stack."

I didn't say anything else. Just waited.

Seconds passed. More seconds. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore. "What's that?"

"You have to say 'What is The Lasko Stack?' " I said. "It has a name."

"All right, all right," he said. "What is the Lasko Stack?"

I explained the basic principle.

"So if I walk into the living room and check the clothes, they should be dry, right?"

"I hope," I said. "The Lasko Stack was not tested before going into production."

"Why haven't you gone in there and checked already?" he asked.

"Building up the drama," I said. "Don't you feel it building?"

Eli walked into the living room. A few seconds later, he burst out laughing.

"Still wet, huh?"

"VERY wet," he said, laughing hard.

"I'm just failing to succeed," I said. "Part of the process."

"The process has some pretty wet clothes," he said. "Why is this called The Lasko Stack," anyway?"

"Because if I didn't have some kind of name for this, it was just some old guy who was too tired to wait for the dryer to finish," I said. "Branding. T-shirts. That name had it all."

I went on a quick inspection. There was a dry stripe on almost all the shirts, but it wasn't a big stripe. The Lasko Stack might work, but if it did, it worked at glacial speed.

"I thought the wicking process would handle this," I said, "but I neglected exposed surface area. There needed to be more for this to work."

Eli went to breakfast, while I sat down and tried to figure out how to dry at least a few things to make it through the day.

When he came back, about fifteen minutes later, I had a plan.

"So if we hang all the shirts in the closet," I said, "and all the socks and underwear on the rack above, then put the Lasko INSIDE the closet and close the door..."

"What are you calling this?" he asked.

"The Lasko Vortex," I said, and he burst out laughing again. "No, wait--the Lasko Vortex Amplifier."

We'll find out tonight when we get back to the room, but I think the Lasko Vortex Amplifier is going to be big.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Great Escape

Eli 14.10 and I were having breakfast in the lobby of our little suite hotel, with the obligatory breakfast buffet.

Eli had blueberries and strawberries on his waffle.

"Oops, there goes one," he said, as a blueberry rolled off his waffle and stopped a few inches left of my plate.

"Escape," I said. "He's been planning that for weeks."

I moved my fruit bowl over to provide the blueberry some cover, peering around it to check on him occasionally.

I put my hand up to my ear. "Order received. Terminate with extreme prejudice." I picked up my fork and Eli laughed.

In one blindingly swift motion, I moved the bowl, then stabbed downward with my fork.

And missed.

I only grazed the ambitious blueberry, and it began rolling toward the edge of the table.

"We've got a runner!" I said, and we both started laughing so hard that we couldn't stop.

"Oh my god, we are such idiots," Eli finally said when he could breathe again.

Three Places We Did Not Stop and Visit in Oklahoma

"Kum & Go" convenience store
Coco Bongo Gentlemen's Club
Amish Cheese Shop

Incredibly, there are 400+ Kum & Go convenience stores in the Midwest.

Also, the phrase "gentlemen's club" has always cracked me up. It's as much an oxymoron as The Public Swearing Library (which, let me make clear, I would visit if it existed).

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Fourth day in Michigan. Little ants in the car. Never had ants in the car in my entire life.

Little Michigan ants have game, apparently.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Awkward Oklahoma Juxtaposition Theatre

The Defeated

"Oh man, that was the nerdiest kid EVER," Eli 14.10 said as we talked to the car from a convenience store. "Did you see that shirt?"

"Are you kidding me?" I asked. "Have you looked in a mirror lately?"

"Well, you know that's..." he went on for a while.

"Not even a decent comeback, huh?" I asked.

"I've got absolutely nothing," he said.

Pick the State

No answers to this quiz will be given.

These are real tweets as we passed through states on the way to Michigan.

The contenders (in order of driving): Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana,  and Illinois.

The only two viable industries in this state appear to be casinos and prisons.

Where are the teeth? Who took all the teeth?

A lot of damn corn. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Links!

From Bill and Eli Productions Lifetime Artist Fredrik Skarstedt, and this is an entirely wonderful story: The Forgotten Kaleidoscope Craze in Victorian England.

From Zack, and oh my: InfoChammel. Here's some background: The story behind InfoChammel, the worst TV channel you've never seen.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and this is terrific: Motion capture dance madness.

From Jeff Fowler, and this is outstanding: 2016 NYC Drone Film Festival.

From Steven Davis, and this is an excellent article about curling, believe it or not: Here's the Physics Behind the 'Broomgate' Controversy Rocking the Sport of Curling.

This is absolutely the greatest Twitter account in history:  This Hilarious, Imaginative Icelandic Twitter Account Is The One To Follow For The Euros.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's a Hot Mess Around Here

Eli 14.10 and I leave in the morning, and will take two days driving to reach Grand Rapids. If I manage to take a few pictures, there might be a post on Thursday, but more likely that I'll be quiet for the day.

Don't forget to use the Gmail address from now on if you'd like to email me (if you've forgotten, just click on the "email me" link on the panel to the right and it will use the correct email address.

There's an abbreviated Friday Links post already written, and things should be somewhat back to normal on Monday.

Thanks for having us, Michigan. We'll clean up after ourselves, I promise.

A Story

I was having a goodbye lunch with a friend of mine yesterday, and she told me a story about her grandfather that she'd pieced together over the last year of looking through all of his papers.

She never knew what he'd done in WWII. "What's in the past stays in the past," he would say, with more than a hint of sadness. She knew that he had been depressed for many, many years, and other relatives said that it had begun after the war.

She began doing some detective work, looking at all of his old letters and documents, and started making connections.

As it turns out, he worked on The Manhattan Project as a chemical engineer at the Los Alamos facility. He believed--as many other scientists apparently did--that making an atomic weapon would ensure that it would never need to be used, because it was such a powerful deterrent.

The first time the bomb was tested, he and some of his co-workers rented out two full blocks and had a big party. They thought it was the day that war ended.

When Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, and then Fat Man on Nagasaki, he realized that his work was partially responsible, and that a door had opened that would never be closed.

It haunted him for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Wayback Machine

I wrote a post a while back about a girl I dated in high school, and how much it affected me when I found out that she had passed away.

I'm going through everything I ever saved to make sure I want to haul it to Michigan. Every once in a while, I find something special, like this:

That's right: prom as a junior in high school, rocking the leisure suit. Rocking it hard.

Oxygen Not Included

E3 is E3 again this year, with not that much of interest (or interesting things coming way, way later), but this is noteworthy: Don't Starve developers Klei are putting out a space colony sim titled "Oxygen Not Included".

Take my money, please.

Here's more info and a trailer: Oxygen Not Included: Colony Sim From Don’t Starve Devs.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Just Didn't Have Much To Begin With

When I was in my late 20s, I ran an open 800 at an all-comers track meet.

I've told this story before (I've told them all before, I bet), but here's a quick summary: went out in 68, got out halfway through the second lap and I felt like I was carrying a bear who was carrying a refrigerator. Staggered home in 73 for a 2:21 overall.

For a regular person, that's reasonably fast--it translates to about a 5:15 mile, and I ran a 5:17 once--but for a runner, that's not a high level at all. Almost pedestrian, really.

I always thought that I lost quite a bit of my original speed because I ran long distances. I've always wondered how fast I could have been.

So I'm going through a bin of stuff from long, long ago yesterday as I sort through my study for packing. In a laundry bag was a faded purple ribbon, very faded.

I wish I'd taken a picture, but I didn't, and it's already thrown away.

What matters, though, is that it's a ribbon from an 800 I ran at an all-comers track meet in Buccaneer Stadium in Corpus Christi--in 1978, when I was 17.

The time? 2:21.


Yup. Just a normal day.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Eric, one of the craziest music stories I've ever heard: The True Story Of The Fake Zombies, The Strangest Con In Rock History.

From Brian Witte, and this is a tremendous story (although it may take quite a while to load, unfortunately): Body on the Moor: Why did this man travel 200 miles to die here?

Here a couple of excellent links on Muhammad Ali, who mattered because he was a dangerous motherfu----: The Hidden History of Muhammad Ali (thanks Evan). Also: What Happened To The Muhammad Ali I Idolized, Blackistone Asks (thanks Meg).

From C. Lee, and this is disturbing: Your mobile phone account could be hijacked by an identity thief. Also, and this is totally ingenious, it's Spring Cleaning Your PC. Next, and this is just a tiny, tiny bit of the future: I defeated a long-broken fridge and became a household hero through 3D printing.

From Craig Miller, and Soren Johnson makes this worth reading: Postmortem: Offworld Trading Company's Early Access campaign.

From Steven Davis, and this is an interesting read: Novak Djokovic’s Chase Of Tennis Records Is Speeding Up. Also, and this is utterly fantastic: Violent Rabbit Illustrations Found in the Margins of Medieval Manuscripts. This is quite a story: The Rebel Librarians Who Saved Timbuktu.

From Wally, and this is a lovely story: This couple bond over tiny furniture but relish time apart, too. Next, and this is excellent (also with amazing images): The 'normal train' that crosses the Sahara. One more, and no intro is necessary: Do Dungeon Masters Roll Magic Dice? Willful Self-Deception on the Campaign Trail.

From Geoff Engelstein, and what a badass: Jane Fawcett, British Decoder Who Helped Doom the Bismarck, Dies at 95.

From jdv, and this is quite remarkable: Dr Heimlich saves choking woman with manoeuvre he invented.

From Les Bowman, and it's a terrific read: Narco-Football Is Dead: Celebrating a Colombia Reborn.

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