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10 March, 2004

Yummy Fun

If you like food, you'll like Yummy Fun. I'm pretty sure this is the only place on the Web where you can learn how to make a Pants and Shirt Cake.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Messy Desks

Take a look at the entries for the Messy Desk Contest.

Random entry:

I must admit that my desk is pretty orderly. I just can't work amid squalor.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

The Hospital

Here's an intriguing Flash app: The Hospital.

If anybody can figure out what it's all about, let me know. Oh yeah, make sure you visit the Hygene Service and clean things up.

(via Penny Dreadful)

Posted on 10 March, 2004

A 26-Foot Digital Photo

Here's an interesting case study from a company that sells interpolation software for digital images.

In February 2003, someone phoned, asking if we could take a digital photo of a large truck. The client, North American Van Lines, said they needed the picture right away.

"Sure," I said. No problem. Then came the kicker: "We want to enlarge the picture to life-size, and put it on the side of a trailer. That won't be a problem, will it?"

The original file was 18 Mb (6 megapixels). After interpolation, the file was 154 Mb.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Create A Bush-Cheney Poster

What were they thinking? Why would a political organization make it easy for their detractors to make fun of them? Courtesy of the Bush-Cheney site: Create Custom Posters. Enter your text, and get a poster.

The only problem is, it doesn't work. I tried Firebird and Internet Express. No luck.

(via Metafilter)

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Ken Rosenthal Photos

Photography by Ken Rosenthal.

Why are they blurry? From a review, by Jody Zellen.

The images Rosenthal presents are reworkings of the original family photographs. Rather than working them digitally, Rosenthal does his manipulation the old fashioned way, in the darkroom. He uses a number of different diffusion techniques while printing, or uses bleach and selective toning after the work is printed.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

A New Career For Tonya Harding

From the Associated Press: Tonya Harding to Play Ice Hockey.

Disgraced former U.S. figure skating champion and aspiring boxer Tonya Harding has a new goal: minor league ice hockey.

The Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League announced Monday that it has signed the 33-year-old Harding to join the team for its game Friday against the Colorado Eagles.

Tonya fans will enjoy her Web site.

(via Anything But Ordinary)

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Gordy's Dinner Last Night

A pictorial recipe: Gordy's Dinner March 9, 2004.

I was cutting up vegetables for dinner when I thought they might look pretty cool scanned at a high resolution.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

A Wheat-Head For A Year

Exactly one year ago today, I had a life-changing experience. On that day, for the first time, I tuned into a webcast called Whole Wheat Radio. I wrote about my first impressions here.

So how can WWR, clearly an insignificant corner of the Web, cause me to have a life-changing experience? Well, I figure that I've spent at least 2,000 hours listening to WWR, and I've probably wasted a few hundred hours at the WWR web site/chat room, interacting with Jim, Esther, and other listeners. During that time:

  • I heard hundreds of new artists that I probably never would have heard otherwise.
  • I've gotten acquainted with dozens of other wheat-heads around the world.
  • I've learned a bit about how webcasting works
  • I've listened to scores of Jim's "rants" about a variety of topics
  • I've learned that the RIAA-affiliated record labels are truly irrelevant.
  • I've been exposed to lots of new ideas
  • I've had lots of fun

WWR, by the way, really does originate from a 12 x 12 shack in Alaska. Jim and Esther have an outhouse, and no running water. And they also have two DSL lines.

What is it about WWR that I like so much? That's easy: the humans behind it, and the humans who listen to it. If WWR simply pumped out an endless stream of indie music, I'd probably lose interest after a few days. Unlike every other webcast in the world, WWR is truly interactive. It has live people behind the mics, and it has live people in the chat room. Often, these people are the artists whose music is being played.

But the key human is Jim Kloss. I've never met him, but I feel like I have. I'd have to say that he's one of the most interesting human beings that I've ever been in contact with. He's been running WWR for about a year and a half, yet he's never earned a penny from his efforts. He does it out of pure passion. Or maybe he's just really stupid. No, he's actually extremely intelligent, sharp-witted, and very, very funny.

Some of us listeners enjoy photoshopping Jim's mug. Sol has collected some of them in a gallery. And here's a link to a fake WWR news article I did.

When you get right down to it, WWR is really nothing more than a whole lot of MP3 files, a bunch of PHP scripts and some MySQL database tables, all programmed by Jim. The scripts run 24/7, and control the playlists, handle the listener requests, manage the chat room, and even add virtual life to the electronic EJs who occasionally speak on air via a synthesized voice. In other words, the webcast can pretty much run itself. But it usually doesn't. Jim (and sometimes Esther) are usually around, and they get on the air and provide the stuff that makes WWR what it is -- comments, rants, jokes, and even live music and interviews.

Sure, it's an ugly, poorly-designed Web site, and the programs have lots of bugs. There's really nothing about WWR that can be called "professional." In fact, it's the complete antithesis of what most people have come to expect in a radio station. But those are exactly the characteristics that make it appealing to me. In other words, it's real and it's unpredictable. Although the 11:00 am hour is almost always live, you just never know when Jim and/or Esther will feel like talking. And those unscheduled chats are usually the best.

Looking back over the past 12 months, I've seen WWR grow quite a bit. Back when I first came onboard, the 11:00 am live "rant hour" (the most popular time of day) usually had no more than a dozen listeners. Now, it's rare to see fewer than 30 during that hour. The PHP programming has improved considerably. It's still a complete mess, but it seems to run a bit better than it did a year ago. Best of all, Jim talks on the air much more frequently than he did in the past. And now Jim even has a blog.

I have some fond WWR memories from the past 12 months. Just a few of them´┐Ż

  • On the first day I tuned in, I heard Jim reading items from my blog. I thought that was really cool. Whenever a newcomer shows up, Jim has a way of making them feel noticed.
  • Jim's beer runs to Nagley's. In a few cases, the truck wouldn't start, and he had to pedal his bike through the snow. Some of the best entertainment happens after Jim has downed a few beers.
  • Thanksgiving day, when Jim and Esther were cooking a chicken live on the air, and the listeners were posting photos of their dinner. And everyone was drinking heavily.
  • Live concerts. I've heard 3-4 of them, and they were all excellent.
  • Chats. Sometimes the WWR chat room is a total bore. Other times, it's seriously rockin'. It all depends on who is on. When Toad's there, it's always fun. Or Sol and Weberly. Or about a dozen other friendly and funny folks.
  • Impromptu music. Every once in a while, Jim and Esther will do some jamming. It's either very good, or completely outrageous.
  • Esther at the microphone. At one point, Jim took off to spend about a week at a remote cabin. Esther took over. One night, we convinced her to play some songs, live. It was great. My stream recorder was running.
  • Reality radio. Sometimes, Jim and Esther just leave the mics on and go on with their lives. Unlike reality TV, this is really real.

What about the music? Except for an occasional lapse, it's all indie music by people you've probably never heard of. But after a year, I've now heard of them. And we've purchased about 15 of their CDs. The music covers a broad range, but mainly includes folk, blues, jazz, and classical. Tastes vary, of course. But I'd say that about 95% of the music is tolerable, 75% is really good, and about 25% is incredible. In 12 months, I've learned that indie artists can be every bit as good as the more well-known RIAA-affiliated artists. It's all a matter of familiarity. When I listen to WWR now, many of the songs are familiar to me. When I listen to commercial radio, I don't recognize any of the songs except the oldies.

WWR supports a maximum of 40 listeners. Typically, there will be between 15 and 30 listeners at any given time. I've seen all 40 slots filled up only 4-5 times. Granted, WWR doesn't have mass appeal. In fact, WWR will appeal only to a small proportion of the population. But there must be at least a million Web surfers in the world who could appreciate it, and fall in love immediately. I can't understand why this webcast doesn't have hundreds or even thousands of listeners. It's probably because those potential listeners just haven't heard of it. Or maybe some of them tuned in, happened to hear a bad polka song, and never came back.

I have a feeling that, at some point, WWR is really going to take off. It could happen as a result of coverage in a big-time publication. Or maybe the steady stream of word-of-mouth recommendations will pick up momentum. But if WWR has a thousand listeners, will it still be the same? I doubt it. And I would not be surprised if Jim decided to pull the plug and do something else at the peak of WWR's popularity. Like I said, WWR is unpredictable.

Bottom line? There is absolutely nothing in the world like WWR. It's unique, and it's very special. I'm going to continue to enjoy it while I can. I'll gladly settle for another 12 months, but I hope Jim and Esther stay excited about it for much longer than that.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Light-Up Clothes

Enlightened: A gallery of illuminated clothing.

Janet Cooke Hansen is President and Chief Fashion Engineer of Enlighted Designs, Inc. She founded the business to create her own "dream job" as a light-up clothing designer.

Janet's eclectic designs combine her lifelong interests of fashion, art, and technology. She learned to sew at age 7, and installed miniature lights in her own dollhouse. Over the years, her costume-making hobby began to incorporate electronics, with illuminating results.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Cheap Food Reviews

From The Onion A.V. Club: Dining for a dollar.

The shelves of America's dollar stores are packed with off-brand foodstuffs from netherworlds where Nabisco and Frito-Lay exist only as rumor. These weird little consumables sport odd names, curious mascots, unusual cooking suggestions, and flavor combinations that no sane laboratory chef could concoct. But how do they taste? The writers at The Onion A.V. Club recently emptied their coin purses and embarked on a quest for budget-friendly snacks.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Monocles

You don't really see too many people wearing a monocle these days.

A monocle is a type of corrective lens used to correct the vision in only one eye. It consists of a circular lens, generally with a wire ring around the circumference that can be attached to a string. The other end of the string is then connected to the wearer's clothing to avoid losing the monocle.

The monocle itself is not so much worn as it is held in place by the wearer's facial muscles. The monocle is sized such that it can be held in place between the wearer's eyebrow and upper cheek by a slight squint. Because of this, the monocle could easily fall off with the wrong facial expression.

Usage of a monocle is generally associated with rich upper-class men, as well as uptight individuals. Combined with a tuxedo and top-hat, it completes the costume of a stereotypical gentleman.

Cats, however, do seem to wear monocles (proof). And so does Ken Coar, who is shown here.

You can get a monocle for as little as $1.35 -- but it probably isn't very good in terms of optics. If you're serious about a monocle, you'll want to spend a bit more.

And, from Half Bakery, an idea for a Non-Squint Monocle.

I believe the best method, what with today's predilection for piercing, is to drill a small hole into the side of the nose and simply screw in the monocle. Easy, secure, and removes the side-effect of a Popeye-magnitude squint.

Maybe I should get a monocle. Would it fit in a wallet? I never carry reading glasses around with me, so that would certainly solve the problem of reading restaurant menus.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

A Letter To Dr. Laura Schlessinger

From Snopes: Letter to Dr. Laura highlights fallacy in a particular anti-homosexual argument.

Apparently, this letter has been floating around for quite a while. It's not clear if it was actually sent to Dr. Laura. In any case, the article is interesting.

Every once in a while, I happen to catch Dr. Laura's radio show. It usually takes about 60 seconds before I turn it off in disgust. I can't think of a more obnoxious radio host. I'd even listen to Rush Limbaugh over her.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Celebrity Booze Ads

From Modern Drunkard Magazine: Celebrity Booze Ads.

(via The G Spot)

Posted on 10 March, 2004

BBC Bloopers

Audio bloopers from BBC Radio. The one called Pass the Bucket is pretty good. You can hear a woman vomit while reading the news.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

The Boyfriend Marker

Attention ladies... The Boyfriend-Marker is YOUR way to a stable relationship!!

Ear tags work for farm animals. Why not humans?

(via The Presurfer)

Posted on 10 March, 2004

Ian's Shoelace Site

I think Nicholson Baker might like this: Ian's Shoelace Site.

It was just over 21 years ago that I invented a super-fast way of tying my shoelaces. I named this technique the Ian Knot, the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot, and have been sharing it with the world in a variety of ways ever since.

Since starting this web site back in May 2000, I've gradually expanded it to include some of the fascinating shoelace related knowledge that I've collected over the years.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

The Passion Of The Heist

The Passion of the Heist...

PASSION OF THE HEIST took 1 hour to shoot and put on the web.

I think I could have done it in 45 minutes.

Posted on 10 March, 2004

A Piip Show

What's a PiiP Show? I'm not quite sure. But it involves birds in a nest decorated to look like a house. The live shows don't seem to work, but you can view the images in the piip show gallery.

Posted on 10 March, 2004