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August 6, 2011



Now there's a refreshing sign, one I'd like to see more of.

From Roderick Russell's Noumenon and The Barefoot Experiment:

No, this isn't a 2,000 word essay on listening to your body, avoiding injury and running safe. It's just a picture of a silly little sign that I saw today on the drive through the woods to the trailhead.

Normally I'd simply consider this a run-of-the-mill "children at play" sign, only, I was in the middle of the blasted woods with not a house in sight, and there's a noticeable absence of the "children at play" portion! Though a web search has revealed other signs with this specific iconography on it, I did think that the character depicted was rather silly. Upon seeing this sign while on my way for a run, my brain instantly thought "Yes. Running with bad form like that will make you slow."

As I think about it, I have seen a similar sign, on the street north of UVA's law and business schools that leads onto the 29/250 bypass.

I'll try to remember to bring my camera next time I'm in the area and get a picture to compare and contrast.

August 6, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Personalized Pencil-Shaped Pencil Sharpener


Kaleb, Ellie, Gavin and Madelyn.

Whatever happened to John, Paul, George and Peter?

From the website:


Make a point for your little learner with our fun, pencil-shaped pencil sharpener.

Specify name: limit 1 line, 10 letters/spaces.

Assorted colors — we'll choose for you.

Plastic and metal.

3"L x 1"Ø.


$4.99 (batteries not included. It doesn't need batteries. Sillybilly).

August 6, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Steer-Safe: Good idea... or terrible?


Long story short: It's a Kickstarter project I happened on a couple days ago, meant to fund a hands-free steering wheel-mounted smartphone holder.


Now before you get you baggies in a twist, like when I featured this doofus demonstrating how he'd tricked out his iPhone so he could watch movies while driving (even Boing Boing thought that was worth weighing in on), the inventors of Steer-Safe say they want to make using your phone in your car safer (no glancing to the side and taking your eyes off the road) and get closer to a true heads-up display of driving directions if you're using a navigation program, again instead of having to move your eyes to the side and down to see the screen.


And there are the predictable disclaimers that you should not do anything dumb but come on.


So you tell me: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Me, I think it's a good idea and I'm backing them.

Twenty-five years from now, when people tell their kids that people actually drove their own cars on the open road — and that the acceptable yearly death toll from same in the U.S. ranged from 35,000 to 50,000 for decades — they just won't believe it.

August 6, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Clue: not meant for installation or use by plumbers in the course of their usual and customary activities.

Another: a variation on a frequently addressed theme.

August 6, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

"Source Code" and "The Adjustment Bureau" — Got a bit?

BNA — "Bits not atoms" — is my reformulation of John Archibald Wheeler's wonderful "it from bit."

And these two movies are all about bits, bits manipulated and torqued and twisted such that time goes forward, backward, sideways, and simultaneously twists and turns every which way till you aren't sure what's real and what's not.

Ah, but therein lies the rub, doesn't it?

What makes something real?

If you think it's real, to take a page from Alan Turing, then is it?

If you can't tell the artifice from the original, is there really any difference?

Just the price tag, if you're in the market for a bargain:

Here's what I've been looking for,

A genuine copy of a fake Dior.

Using my trusty "How many times did I look at the clock while watching" gauge,  "The Adjustment Bureau" (below) rated higher than "Source Code" (top): I didn't ever glance at the clock during the former but did once toward the end of the latter.

I very much enjoyed both films, to be sure: Matt Damon ("The Adjustment Bureau") elevates everything he's in, and Emily Blunt is really good as his girlfriend, even better than in "The Devil Wears Prada," her breakthrough film.

My favorite technology in "The Adjustment Bureau" is the ordinary looking book which opens up to reveal a real-time animated image of reality past, present and future, the whole two-dimensional matrix alive and shifting as we look.

Now there's a book I'd enjoy leafing through.

I have no idea how close the movie is to Philip K. Dick's 1954 short story, "Adjustment Team," on which it's based, nor does that matter, in my opinion.

With "Source Code" we get nicely misled for the first part of the movie, until the film pulls back from what's literally onscreen to frame it in a larger, mysterious context.

Only after a few more minutes does it become clear what's happening and even then it's not really revealed until about half-way through.

No matter, it doesn't detract at all from enjoying the film.

Though Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan get top billing, the real star is Vera Farmiga, superb as an Air Force officer who interfaces by computer with Gyllenhaal's Captain Colter Stevens.

You might say at this point, "Hey, joe, what are these movies about?"

To which I'd say, I like a review that doesn't ruin the film should you decide to say it.

You can read about them here ("Source Code") and here ("The Adjustment Bureau), if that's your desire.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: you may say to yourself, "I can't trust this guy, he never disses any movie or book, he likes everything."

Au contraire.

But a long time ago I decided it wasn't woth lingering on the substandard any longer than I had to, so stuff I don't like I don't diss here — it just never makes it to the big stage.

Bonus for those who read all the way to the end: you can read "Adjustment Team" — free, the way we like it — here.

Not to worry: it's completely legal.

Long story short from Wikipedia: "'Adjustment Team' is in the public domain in the United States, because it was published in the United States between January 1, 1950 and December 31, 1963, but copyright was not renewed with the US Copyright Office within the one-year period beginning on December 31 of the twenty-seventh year of the copyright and running through December 31 of the following year. When renewal registration was not made within the statutory time limit, copyright expired at the end of its first term, and protection was lost permanently."


August 6, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Owl Light


Wax and plastic with LED light, powered by 3 button cell batteries (included).


Designed by Alise Sheehan.


Yellow or Blue: $17.

August 6, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How the differential works

If I'd seen this when I was in elementary school I might well have tossed all the Sputnik-driven advanced math and science and instead opted for auto mechanic school.


[via Milena]

August 6, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

World's best all-around protective glove


By "all-around" I mean the best combination I've yet to find of protection, comfort, precision grip, durability, and cost.

For $7.08 you're not gonna come close to these medium weight 100% Kevlar string knit cut-resistant gloves with PVC dots on both sides.

I bought mine sometime back in the 20th century and they've seen a lot of use for such things as moving, gardening, car repair, opening oysters, running on cold days, carrying glass, shop work, etc.

There's not a hole or cut anywhere on them and they go in the washer and come out free of dirt and sweat and ready for whatever's next.

Highly recommended.


August 6, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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