August 22, 2019

"Pontiac" — Mary Ruefle

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August 22, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple Watch Easter Egg

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Red light spares night vision.

For that reason I always choose alarm clocks with red digits.

The other day I was sitting here, doing something close to nothing (but different than the day before) when it suddenly occurred to me that if I could find a face on my Apple Watch that featured only red digits, it would be fine to wear it while I sleep so that when I wake up in the dark, I can have a look and not hinder my falling back to sleep.

Above and below,

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iPhone Watch App screenshots of my customized bedtime look.

Hey, wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

August 22, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World's largest tube bell gongs — in Aarhus Public Library — whenever a child is born at nearby hospital


Back story here.

August 22, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Introductory Field Guide to Plastic Bread Clips


From 99percentinvisible:

Glimpsed in the bread aisles of a neighborhood supermarket, it would be all too easy to assume that all members of class Occlupanida (from: occlu: to close, and pan: bread) were functionally identical.

The Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group (HORG), however, begs to differ.


HORG's growing collection of plastic clips represents an impressive span of colors, shapes and sizes.

This variety forms the basis for a meticulous and thorough occlupanid classification system.


HORG explains that occlupanids are members of the Microsynthera kingdom and Plasticae phylum.

On their website, each specimen is further sub-categorized into an order and family.

Descriptions, dimensions and photographs are provided for each genus and species.

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"Much like insect wings," the site authors elaborate, "occlupanids are grouped according to the dentition (or lack thereof) in their oral groove, which often dictates both their ecological niche and biogeographic location."

Each bagged specimen is also tagged on the site with an "ecological classification" based on the biomes in which it has been found (e.g. grocery aisle, hardware store, asphalt road, landfill, oceanic gyre, or gastrointestinal tract).


According to some sources, the bread clip was invented by Floyd G. Paxton of Yakima, Washington.

He is said to have invented his "Kwik Lock closure" on a flight in 1952 when he opened a bag of peanuts and had no way to close them. Paxton then used a pocket knife to carve out a prototype closure device from an expired plastic credit card.

His invention was later adapted for commercial use as an easy way to initially seal and then reseal bags.

HORG, however, vigorously disputes "any claims that occlupanids were somehow 'invented' by one man in the 1950's" as "a creationist myth fabricated by tax cheats" that "can be dismissed out of hand."


While this overview should be helpful to budding occlupanologists, it would be impossible to do justice to the extensive writings of HORG exclusively through secondary accounts.

Those interested in learning more should visit their explanations of occlupanid TaxonomyMorphologyGrowth, and Development as well as their historical pages concerning the Origins of the Occlupanidae and History of Occlupanology.

HORG also encourages people to contact them with new unique findings.

August 22, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Match Holder & Striker

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From the website:

There's something to be said for stylish, simple display pieces that also serve a functional purpose.

By sand casting each Strike Up Match Holder and Striker from solid aluminum, the naturally rough texture on the exterior also serves as the perfect striker surface for the strike-anywhere matches you can store within.

Whether you're using your matches to light candles, incense, sage, or even a cigar, they'll look a lot better displayed in this stylish accessory than they would anywhere else.

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Features and Details:

• 4"Ø x 1.75"H

• Made in the USA

• Includes green-tipped strike-anywhere matches

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August 22, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2019

Average TSA wait times in the 25 busiest U.S. airports in 2018

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Five best:

1) Salt Lake City (SLC)

2) Washington Dulles (IAD)

3) Boston Logan (BOS)

4) Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)

5) Charlotte Douglas (CLT)/Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) — tie

Five worst:

1) Newark Liberty (EWR)

2) George Bush [Houston] (IAH)

3) Miami (MIA)

4) Baltimore-Washington (BWI)

5) McCarran [Las Vegas] (LAS)

[via UpgradedPoints and the Washington Post]

August 21, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World's oldest webcam shutting down — after a quarter of a century

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FogCam goes dark at the end of this month.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

[via the Verge]

August 21, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Takata Airbags — Part 2


Yesterday at this time I laid out the multi-year saga of my possibly defective, potentially life-threatening Takata airbags.

The post began:

About five or so years ago Mercedes-Benz identified the Takata airbags in my 2010 vehicle as among those that needed to be replaced because there had been reports of the airbags spontaneously exploding and maiming or killing front seat occupants.

Scott, a longtime close reader, commented:

Except that they're not spontaneously being triggered at all, they're only defective in a collision, and lethally so. The defect is that they act as a shrapnel cannon rather than a cushion in a collision — firing metal bits into the driver. So, don't hit anything and they'll be fine forever (though I'd get them changed before you sell it, just as an added incentive for the next customer).

Ms. Radoo added:

As long as you don't offer anyone else a ride, cuz Scott is right.

From the U.S. Department of Transportation website:

Tens of millions of vehicles with Takata airbags are under recall. Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these air bags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths. 

Scott is correct: the airbags don't spontaneously explode.

Flautist commented, "... they might be lying in wait like a snake, just biding their time, looking for the perfect opportunity to strike, but I wouldn't be thinking about that, much."

I blame my Crack Research Team®© for the inaccurate description in yesterday's post.

But I digress.

The fact that the airbags only kill when the vehicle is involved in a collision — and not always, or even most of the time — rather than doing so out of the blue doesn't change my course of action: I will continue to drive with these TEDs (Takata Explosive Devices) poised and ready for a collision.

What say you now?



Ms. Radoo?


August 21, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

BehindTheMedspeak: Why you should insist your surgery is the first scheduled case of the day

Predicted prob AE

From the Duke University Department of Anesthesiology came a study confirming what's been been pretty obvious to me since I entered my third year of med school and my clinical rotations and really clear once I began my anesthesia residency and ever since: as the day wears on, problems multiply.


By the time the bumped cases and add-ons get going in the late afternoon, you're not getting maximum capability and attention from your doctors.

We get tired.

It's a long day when you get up at five a.m.

So try to make sure yours is the first scheduled case and things will have a better chance of going the way they should.

Start time

Wrote James Hamblin in the Atlantic, "In a study of surgeries at Duke, the likelihood of problems related to anesthesia increased from a low of 1% during surgeries starting at 9 a.m. to a high of 4.2% for those starting at 4 p.m., possibly because practitioners grew tired over the course of the day."

Here's the abstract of the 2006 paper.


Time of day effects on the incidence of anesthetic adverse events

Background: We hypothesized that time of day of surgery would influence the incidence of anesthetic adverse events (AEs).

Methods: Clinical observations reported in a quality improvement database were categorized into different AEs that reflected (1) error, (2) harm, and (3) other AEs (error or harm could not be determined) and were analyzed for effects related to start hour of care.

Results: As expected, there were differences in the rate of AEs depending on start hour of care. Compared with a reference start hour of 7 am, other AEs were more frequent for cases starting during the 3 pm and 4 pm hours (p < 0.0001). Post hoc inspection of data revealed that the predicted probability increased from a low of 1.0% at 9 am to a high of 4.2% at 4 pm. The two most common event types (pain management and postoperative nausea and vomiting) may be primary determinants of these effects.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that clinical outcomes may be different for patients anesthetized at the end of the work day compared with the beginning of the day. Although this may result from patient related factors, medical care delivery factors such as case load, fatigue, and care transitions may also be influencing the rate of anesthetic AEs for cases that start in the late afternoon.


Related: last week I explained here why surgery on weekends is not in your best interest.

August 21, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is it?

NOT Mt. Fuji

Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: no moving parts

A third: aluminum.

August 21, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 20, 2019

"A Case of You" — Joni Mitchell

In concert at Wembley Arena in London in 1983.

August 20, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

FlightAware Misery Map

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Unfolding in real time right here.

August 20, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

On not getting my potentially life-threatening defective airbags replaced*


About five or so years ago Mercedes-Benz identified the Takata airbags in my 2010 vehicle as among those that needed to be replaced because there had been reports of the airbags spontaneously exploding and maiming or killing front seat occupants.

However, Takata had gone bankrupt and then reorganized yadda yadda yadda long story short: Mercedes did not have replacements ready, as earlier recalls of millions of defective Takata airbags in other makes were in progress and took precedence over Mercedes' relatively delayed recognition that its vehicles carried these faulty devices.

The notification letter from Mercedes said that by law they were required to notify me of the status of my replacements on an annual basis, and that they would do so.

And so every year I've received a letter from Mercedes saying my airbags need to be replaced but they don't yet have the parts.

Earlier this year my local dealer, where I purchased the car used in 2013 (last payment was in February this year w00t!), called to tell me that the replacement airbags were in.

I made an appointment and got a loaner and didn't hear from them for a couple days which was fine with me 'cause the loaner was a 2018 E350 with every bell and whistle available, a $65,000 car, and I was having a fine time putting it through its paces.

When they called again, they were apologetic: it seems Mercedes sent them the wrong replacements and they couldn't locate the correct versions, so would I please come and get my car.

No problema.

Then I got this giant fire-engine red postcard from Mercedes (above and below) saying my airbags needed to be replaced and it was urgent.

I thought, "How urgent could it be?" after the events related above.

I decided not to bring the car in instanter but rather to wait until October, when I need to bring it in anyway for its annual Virginia state inspection.

You know me: do the least possible.

But as the summer has passed, and as I drive around without the airbag exploding and maiming or killing me, it has occurred to me that if it was gonna explode, it should've done so by now.


I've been tooling around in my car quite happily and uneventfully since August of 2013 and nothing's happened.

So rather than bring the car into the dealership in October for airbag replacement and an inspection, I'm gonna choose a faster, simpler option, namely, bring the car into University Tire & Auto — where I've purchased a tire to replace a flat and where I know there won't be any upsell to get my brakes and transmission flushed like the Mercedes dealer always does — for just the inspection.

I'm gonna let the sleeping, potentially defective airbags lie in situ.

What would you do?


*Free, the way we like it

August 20, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Mystical Charms and Amulets of Pompeii

Monili Regio V foto Cesare Abbate ANSA (12)

From Atlas Obscura:

When Mount Vesuvius exploded nearly 2,000 years ago, the residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum were directly in its path.

Some fled before the explosion, others tried to shelter in place, while still more attempted to flee.

All those caught in the pyroclastic flows — fast-moving surges of toxic gas and superheated ash and rock — were killed instantly. (One study found evidence that their blood boiled and their skulls exploded.) Pliny the Younger, famed recollector of the eruption, wrote of a "thick black cloud advancing over the land behind us like a flood."

The ash encased the cities in time, and every year brings new signs of Roman life.


In Pompeii's House of the Garden, archaeologists have now uncovered a large trove of amulets, gemstones, beads, and pendants, which are believed to have served mystical purposes, alongside the remains of 10 people.

"Imagine you live in Pompeii and you don't have a cell phone," says Eric Poehler, a Pompeii historian and archaeologist at the University of Massachusetts, "and all of a sudden you realize your mom's in one part of town and you're brother's in another part. What do you do? You go home."

When the volcano burst to life, Pompeians rushed to their residences to formulate a disaster plan; they were familiar with earthquakes and more.

In the House of the Garden, down the street from the home of banker Caecilius Jucundus, 10 women and children took refuge while a storm of ash accumulated at an alarming pace and the searing flows prepared to rush down the mountainside.


"You can imagine sitting inside your house and realizing this 10-, 15-foot pile [is building] in your living room," says Poehler. "And you realize you are being buried alive."

Near these individuals was a wooden box, since disintegrated, though its metal joints remain in place.

In it was a dazzling array of cut gems and figurines.

"It's really a remarkable discovery," says Drew Wilburn of Oberlin College, a specialist in the ancient Roman practice of magic. "Finding magic and evidence of the practice of rituals like this, it's pretty uncommon."


The finds vary in size and suspected purpose.

Some are seashells, which Wilburn says symbolize fertility, and small phallic charms that were typically worn by boys to ward off evil.

Others include engraved depictions of the god Dionysus and a satyr, as well as a figure of Harpocrates, the Hellenized name for Egyptian god Horus in child form — fittingly, a god of secrets and an embodiment of hope.

Wilburn says the number of Egyptian charms in the trove is striking, even for a time when Egypt was under Roman rule.


Many of the objects are associated with health, children, and fertility.

"It's a fascinating cache in terms of showing us what these individuals were doing at this time, but also the range of objects that were used in these rituals," says Wilburn.

It's thought that the objects did not belong to the Pompeiian upper crust, because they aren't necessarily tied to the traditional Roman pantheon, and aren't made of gold—a "good proxy for wealth," Poehler says.

"If you wanted to venerate Jupiter, you could walk to the largest temple in town," he adds. "These are a collection of items that people are accessing powers outside the standard set of powers."

August 20, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vanishing Point Fountain Pen

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From the website:

This Pilot fountain pen comes with a retractable black ionized 18k gold nib — just click to expose or retract.

A hidden trap door helps keep the nib from drying out when not in use.

A Pilot CON-40 converter is included as well as a Pilot ink cartridge.

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Its brilliant design and ingenious technology make it a pen for the new age.

A large durable metal body and attractive appointments make it unmistakably unique.

The pen is beautifully presented in a black gift box.

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August 20, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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