28 May 2010

Father's day gift ideas

Not sure what to get your dad for dad's day? This would make an excellent gift.

Go somewhere, do something (or nothing)

Been feeling like I need to take a break from myself. As shocking as it might sound from someone that has spent years building a monument to himself (some might say a lifetime, to which I say, 'whatever'), I get tired of the usual. Even if the usual is totally bitchin'. So I've been feeling like I need a change of scenery, and I'll take action on that in the coming weeks. In the interim, here's a neat print advertisement that explains the sentiment visually.

Advert was a winner at the ad industry's big self-congratulating do they have every year (Clio's). Sometimes the winners are really good. Sometimes the best ads hardly win anything. This year, the famous Old Spice ad ("I'm on a horse!") won only a bronze for direction, and this won the whole thing. hrmph.

And here's some fun music that I've been using to load-test my speakers: http://www.myspace.com/plushgun

The neighbors seem to really like it.

25 May 2010

Let's hug it out

Sometimes you just need some sensitive vocals with acoustic guitar parts played on an electric guitar (like a Gibson Les Paul), preferably with some distortion (as played through a Fender Deville 4x10 amp). But not too much distortion, mind you. Because you're sensitive.

Hmm... I wonder where I can find a Les Paul and a Deville 4x10 amp? Besides my bedroom, I mean.

[searches for tabs of Recyled Air...]

IIIIIII seeeeeeeee youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I heart animals. Who doesn't?
This guy gets in the water and takes pictures of whales. Then he puts them together into life-size pictures. Of whales. How cool is that? Really cool.

The skinny:

Austin's inspiration for this project began five years ago when he was six feet in front of a humpback whale calf when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder - it was the mother's 15-foot, one-ton pectoral fin, extended out to gently let him know that she was watching him. It was at this moment Austin realized what had been missing in the field of whale photography and conservation. And it's this intimate interaction he hopes to achieve through his work.

24 May 2010

I would buy this if I were confident that the dog wouldn't eat it

I like to have a world cup match ball in the house when the world cup is on. It gives me something to kick/throw/fondle before, during and after the games. Most games see me doing some combination of those three things from minute to minute.

This year's ball is pretty bitchin, and I think it's a bit cheaper than the one from 2006, coming it at about $135. That's a lot for a ball, but look at it. It's effing amazing.

I'm living in reduced circumstances right now so I probably won't buy one this year. Instead I'll just check the pressure in my match ball from 2006 and use that. I'll have to remind the dog that it isn't a wildly expensive chew toy.

23 May 2010

In which economics is mixed with science

A succinct summary of why your dollar isn't worth what it once was, and how science will (probably) change the world.

21 May 2010

Write the future

This is going to 'debut' on television during the Champions League final on Saturday (thanks to Sonz for the tip) but they had it on Hot Clicks today. It's okay. Not my all-time favorite commercial but not too bad. Special bonus: Ronaldinho is in the commercial but he's not in Brazil's 23 man squad for the world cup. ewps.

Know the why

Was discussing this concept with someone and they forwarded me the video, which articulates it a bit better than I was doing.
Just a wee bit better, mind you.

20 May 2010

Serious dog has serious toadface

Obey Hypnotoad

In wildlife news I almost had a really bad day on Monday when I startled a skunk on the front lawn. He gave me a hard look and waved his tail to let me know I was invading his space. I gave him a wide berth and let him go about his dirt-digging business. No photos because the last thing I wanted to do was startle him.

19 May 2010

A (profane) answer to one of life's great questions

This is my new favorite thing on the internet (today, so far):


Or, as I like to call it 'wtfsimfd'.

What, indeed?

Hat tip to Scott (again). He sent me several links of noteworthy genius today.

Dachsunds represent the UN (circa 1947)

Something something something cute long breed dogs something something United Nations Convention in Geneva 1947 something artistic something CUTE DOGS FTW!!11!!ONE!!

Moar photos.

source link

Unrelated slice of awesome.

And again.

Have a shout

Why not?

18 May 2010

Poverty sucks

Friend Jeff was kind enough to take a break from his busy schedule to forward me this link:


It reminds me of a story about Bill Gates visiting a slum in India. He went there with his wife and team and support staff as part of his war on poverty and malaria and misery and whatever else.

Anyway, he was visiting some huts in a slum and talking to a woman about her life experiences. She didn't seem too impressed that one of the richest men in the world was trying to use her as a primary source. After Gates left a reporter came in to ask her what it was like to have Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, in her tiny hovel. She looked at him and said, "The same as when you sit here; to me, you're all rich."

17 May 2010

Smart for smart's sake

Intelligence takes a lot of different shapes. There's myth in our culture that if you're technical you're also smart. (The IT geek at your work wants you to keep believing this because it makes him feel good about himself and his crappy job.) The truth is that there is no direct correlation between being 'smart' and being 'technical'. Much that is technical is really, really dumb (trust me on this), and much that is non-technical is really quite clever.

For example, consider these hyper-realistic paintings from the artist Alexa Meade. You have to first imagine what such a thing thing will look like in your mind, then paint it in the world. I cannot even conceive of such a thing, never mind execute it. So now who's the smart one?

Special bonus: moar jaw-droppingly hyper-realistic paintings, especially this one from Jason de Graaf.

Image copyright Alexa Meade.

Hat tip to Scott for the link. He's got more pictures in his post.

16 May 2010

It's like riding a bicycle

It only works if everyone knows what they're doing. And isn't in such a hurry that they can't avoid a crash if someone (inevitably) screws the pooch.

Insane Rush Hour In Netherlands

14 May 2010

Unable to do my job the first time, but I might get to it if you pay up front

A man in the UK had his motorcycle stolen in broad daylight. When the cops found it (with a tracking device) they told him they couldn't pick it up unless he paid 150 pounds. Or he could go get it himself for free. Does that sound right to you? No? Welcome to the modern age of police 'work'.

Reminds me of when my peep got his computer stolen in broad daylight at a busy market and when the cops came they told him they couldn't chase the thieves, even though they knew where they were. Chasing? Are you kidding? Too dangerous. So if you want to get away with petty crime in San Francisco just, you know, drive away.


Full Article, in case link breaks someday:
A motorcyclist whose stolen bike was located thanks to a tracking device was told to go and get it himself or pay £150 by police.

Chris Lowrie’s 2006 Yamaha R1 was stolen in a manner typical of criminal gangs, using an angle grinder to cut a chain in the middle of the day and in front of witnesses in central London before loading it into a van.

Yet when it was located hours later in an underground car park in south east London, police suggested Lowrie recover it himself.

Worried about the prospect of running into the thieves, and of his bike being moved again before he arrived, Lowrie instead chose to foot the £150 bill for the police to retrieve it.

The 45-year-old IT manager from London said: “I got a phone call from the police within four hours of the bike being taken to say it had been located.

"Everything seemed to be turning out fine until they said ‘You’ve got to pay £150 for us to take it to a police pound or we’ll leave it here.’

“As soon as the officer said it was in an underground car park in south east London, I said ‘Forget it. I’m not going down there.’ It could have been inviting assault.

"The officer said there was evidence to suggest a gang was responsible. I asked if they would wait with the bike until I got there but they said they didn’t have the resources to do that.

“I just think it’s wrong to charge the victim of a crime. The police were apologetic about the fee, but I feel they put me in an untenable situation,” added Lowrie.

A Met spokesman said: “The recovery of stolen vehicles requires police contractors to attend the scene, recover the vehicle and take it to a pound where it is stored and forensically examined before being collected by the owner or his insurance company.

"If the owner does not wish to avail himself of this option, he has the choice to collect the vehicle from the scene himself or arrange for collection through his insurance company."

13 May 2010

Dessert is good for you

I love dessert. Cookies, cakes, pies, milkshakes, custards, brownies, cakebreads (think banana bread), whatever: I will eat almost anything if it's good, at any time of day. But theres an issue: most desserts really aren't all that good, and thus not worth eating. If you're going to eat something that satisfies none of your nutritional requirements but ALL of your fat requirements then it should be worth it. Which is why I often end up making my own treats.

Sometimes I come across something so good, so exceptional, that it becomes a new benchmark for delicious. For example, I had some Benchmark Pumpkin Pie that my friend Johnny's then-girlfriend crafted a couple years ago. It was the new standard by which all pumpkin pies are judged. I should know, because I've eaten a hell of a lot of pumpkin pie over the years (also cookies, custards, cakes, etc., etc.); I don't arrive at these decisions haphazardly.

All of which brings me to my latest discovery: Benchmark Carrot Cake. The cake recipe comes from my great-grandmother, courtesy my mom. It's over 100 years old (the recipe, not my mom) and it is the best carrot cake I've ever had. Even my roommate was pillaging it, and he doesn't much care for sweet treats. The frosting recipe was too heavy so my mom got all Cooks Illustrated and tested a bunch of cream cheese frosting recipes before she found an updated one that fit. Credit to her because the frosting is fantastic. I would reproduce the recipe here but it's a secret.

Ahh, no it isn't. Secret recipes are for insecure morons. I can't reproduce it here because it's at home. But I'll get it for you. It's too good not to share.

Imitation is the sincerest form of laziness

Cribbing another post direct from HFL today.
First this superb Vespa advertisement. It reminds me of how I felt on the way to work this morning on my motorcyle: so much wide open space in front of me (after I got to the toll road - the 5 sucked as usual). They call them cages for a reason. You don't even realize how much you can't see in a car until you sit on a bike. On my motorcycle you can barely see the handlebars if you've got your eyes up so you have an unobstructed, panoramic view of the road, horizon, and sky. It's both amazing and awe-inspiring and it never gets old.

Here Guy Martin, a professional motorcycle racer with a personality. I want to hate this guy because he's cooler than me, faster than me, and has seriously awesome facial hair. But I can't. I even tried to dredge up some internet rumors of him being an arrogant dickface but couldn't find any. Winston Churchill and Ghengis Khan? You win this round, Guy.

11 May 2010

Making good choices

What to highlight here? Is it the guy handing his cigarette to one of the bystanders? Is it the sweet music and slo-mo? Or is it the dumb luck that saves any of these boobs from serious injury? Probably the dumb luck. Has to be.

10 May 2010

What are you lookin' at?

Special bonus optical illusions in Scientific American this month. Some examples here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow.cfm?id=169-best-illusions&photo_id=82E73156-A38B-D3F4-7AC207B8E10F4EDD

My favorite is cribbed and pictured. I didn't believe that A and B are the same shade of gray so I had to print it out and double check. They really are the same. Stupid brain - always lying to me.

Image Copyright: Edward H. Adelson.

07 May 2010

Got a half hour?

I read a lot. That doesn't have a whole lot to do with this video except that this video is about books, it's about google, it's about copyright law, and it's also an outstanding example of how to make something boring and complicated both interesting and uncomplicated. In summary, I want to give Lawrence Lessig a big hug.

If you don't have time to let the video run just play it in the background, but the point of the presentation is such that you will get more from it if you watch.

06 May 2010

Lost in translation

This is special delivery for my friend Scott (courtesy my friend Brian).


I'd like to get an order of that "Fragrant and Hot Marxism", to go.

05 May 2010

Taking the good with the bad

Engagement pictures are occasionally good. More often they are cheesy and lame. Sometimes they're awkward to the point of amazing. As here: http://www.photographyschoolsonline.net/blog/2010/20-awkward-engagement-photos/

From same website, how about some good black & white photos? On the whole not all are excellent, but that one of the girl floating in the water is cool. I included it here, but it's still being hosted by the schoolsonline website, so if it doesn't show up just click through.


I'm sick today (you care). Instead of writing something pithy I'll let someone else do the heavy lifting.



03 May 2010

Developing "skillz"

Spent Sunday at a rider training class with Jeff Hawkinz (hence "Skillzdays"). I'm pretty sure it was the best $50 riding course you could take. It would have been a great bargain even if the class were full, but the other students flaked so it was just me and two other instructors. If you do a track day or riding school at a major track you can usually get a student instructor ratio of somewhere between 3-1 and 6-1, depending on where you go and how much you want to pay. Wherever you go it's going to be more than $50. My student/instructor ratio was 1/2, so the lead instructor watched me bumble in circles and the assistant took pictures if me trying not to bumble. Lots and lots of pictures.

We weren't on a track, but the nice thing about bikes is that you can build good skills and habits at low speeds and then implement them at any speeds. In other words, proper braking, throttle control and body position can be taught in a (large) parking lot. So that's fun.