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29 September, 2004

Your Claim To Shame

Rodney sent me an email:

Last night at the bar, we had a group of about 12-14 people sitting around drinking beers. The guy next to me said "I've never been out of the Eastern Time Zone". He called it his Claim to Shame.

So thus began sort of a new game: Come up with something that you've NEVER done that nearly everyone else has done.

A few examples from Rodney's drunken table:

  • Never been to a concert (37-year old male).
  • Never been inside a fraternity house or a sorority house (37-year old male).
  • Never smoked *anything*, e.g. cigs, cigars, pot, pipe (26-year old male).
  • Never drank an entire beer (30-year old female).
  • Never driven over 85mph (30-year old female).
  • Never watched HBO (30-year old female).
  • Never operated a lawn mower (24-year old female).

Here's mine: I've never watched a complete football game. I think I may have watched 10 minutes of one, but that's about it.

Keep it clean...

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Win An Excel Book

Inexplicably, UPS showed up yesterday with another box of author samples of my new Excel VBA Programming For Dummies book. It's probably a mistake, and my publisher may want them back. But I doubt it.

I have no need for these books, but I'd like for them to have a good home. So here's a new contest...

Leave a comment. In 100 words or less, tell me why you'd like a free copy of this book. I'll select the best three, and send them an autographed copy. I have no idea how I'll determine the winners, but somehow three people will get this book. Be creative. This contest will run for 24 hours.

If you'd like a special inscription, let me know (it won't count against the 100 words). Also, include a real email address so I can get in touch with you.

Sorry, but this is limited to people in the U.S. only. The cost of shipping the book to another country exceeds the value of the book.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Letters On Mountains

Here's a collection of photos of mountains that have a letter on them: Mountain Monograms.

Shown here is the M on Mount Sentinel in Missoula, Montana. It's the only mountain monogram that I've ever sat on.

The collection does not include a mountain with an X. There's one with a cross, but it's not an X.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Eccentric In New Orleans

From the streets of New Orleans: Gallery of Eccentrics.

Shown here is the legendary Banjo Annie (playing a guitar).

When a sixty-five year old street woman known throughout the French Quarter as Banjo Annie died in 1951, a newspaper headline read "Banjo Annie At Rest After Fantastic Career." Bar owners Pat O'Brien, Charlie Cantrell, and Gasper Gulotta agreed after the funeral that Banjo Annie was by all accounts the most famous drinker in modern Quarter history.

Banjo Annie was known as the "Queen of the Quarter" during the 1930s and '40s, long before Ruthie the Duck Girl's reign on the streets and bars of the Vieux Carre from the 1950s throughout the �90s. Both local legends have surprisingly much in common, and both famous among residents and tourists alike for their colorful dress and behavior.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Long Nose Illusion

How to create a fake phantom limb.

You'll need two helpers (...call them Julie and Mina). Sit in a chair, blindfolded, and ask Julie to sit on another chair in front of you, facing the same direction as you are. Have Mina stand on your right side and give her the following instructions: "Take my right hand and guide my index finger to Julia's nose. Move my hand in a rhythmic manner so that my index finger repeatedly strokes and taps her nose in a random sequence like a Morse code. At the same time, use your left hand to stroke my nose with the same rhythm and timing. The stroking and tapping of my nose and Julia's nose should be in perfect synchrony."

After thirty or forty seconds, if you're lucky, you will develop the uncanny illusion that you are touching your nose out there or that your nose has been dislocated and stretched out about three feet in front of your face.

Somebody please try this and report the results.

(via MonkeyFilter)

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Brat Variety

I had no idea that Johnsonville made so many different varieties of bratwurst.

( via Bifurcated Rivets)

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Traveling Politicians

Steve Henn's Power Trips.

Reforms in recent years have made many of the lush perks once enjoyed by Congress disappear. But not all, certainly not travel. That's the conclusion of an investigation by Marketplace, American RadioWorks, and a team of graduate students from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, who cataloged every privately sponsored trip taken by members of the House or Senate since 2000. The result: Over $14 million spent by corporations, universities, and other outside interests, sending representatives around the world, for sometimes questionable reasons.

At the top of the pack is John Breaux, Senator from Louisiana. He averages about 12 trips per year -- including one to Miami, sponsored by the Louisiana Fur and Alligator Advisory Council.

Posted on 29 September, 2004


A large list of English homonyms: Alan Cooper's Homonym List.

When I was in the second grade, my teacher introduced me to "homonyms," those words, like "caret" and "carrot" that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and that have different meanings. The concept intrigued me, and for months, I maintained a dog-eared pad of yellow paper with an ever-growing list of homonyms. I eventually lost that yellow pad, but never my interest in these odd, quirky English words.

There's also a poem that starts like this:

Prays the Lord for the spelling chequer
That came with our pea sea!
Mecca mistake and it puts you rite
Its so easy to ewes, you sea.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

The Hate Directory

To check out some of the whackos on the Web, see Raymond A. Franklin's The Hate Directory.

The September 1, 2004 release of the Hate Directory is now available in non-printable Portable Document Format. Features now include directories of racist games available on the Internet and Web Rings, as well as racialist friendly web hosting services.

Yes folks, it's 121 pages of hateful links.

The good news is that I clicked about a dozen random links, and all but one are now offline.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Women Who Hunt

A hunting site for women, about women, and by women: Women Hunters.

(via Grow A Brain)

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Baseball Postseason Tiebreakers

From MLB.com, more than you'll ever want to know about how ties are resolved in the postseason: 2003 postseason tiebreakers.

Excerpts from Major League Rule 33 and Major League Rule 34.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Best Technology Blogs

TechWeb's Mitch Wagner writes: The TechWeb Spin: The Best Technology Blogs. It starts like this:

Disclaimer #1: The headline of this article is a lie. This article will not tell you the best technology weblogs.

And that disclaimer is certainly true. Here's one of the entries:

  • The J-Walk Blog, which is mostly just breezy humor and links to weird web sites. But J-Walk has the occasional tidbit on tech subjects, such as the rumored Google browser, and tips for using the Firefox browser.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

White House ABCs

At the kid's section of whitehouse.gov: Historical White House ABC's.

Whenever I see one of the ABC things, I head straight for the toughest letter: X. In this case, X is...

...a shape made by the blades of the president's helicopter.

I was expecting something better. Like "a word used to describe Bill Clinton."

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Google News - Still In Beta

Here's something else I've been wondering about. Google News has been available for about three years now. Yet, according to its logo, it's still in beta.

Wired explains it: Google News: Beta Not Make Money.

As it turns out, however, Google has a problem that is nearly as complex as its algorithms. It can't make money from Google News.

So while other online publishers like Yahoo News and MSNBC earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year and continue to grow, Google News remains in beta mode -- three years after it launched -- long after most of the bugs have been excised.

The reason: The minute Google News runs paid advertising of any sort it could face a torrent of cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of newspapers, which would argue that "fair use" doesn't cover lifting headlines and lead paragraphs verbatim from their articles. Other publishers might simply block users originating from Google News, effectively snuffing it out.

So I guess it will be in beta mode forever.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Turd Birds

Turd Birds are birds made from...

Genuine California horse excrement (horse turds). Each turd is hand selected. They are carefully inspected at the collection site for shape, consistency, and color. If acceptable, they are then dried and sealed in liquid plastic. Rest assured, only the highest quality turds are used.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

DoD Sounds

Crank up your speakers and download some Sounds From The Department of Defense.

Some of the links are broken, but keep clicking and you'll hear some tunes and sounds. "Sea Sounds" is pretty good -- cool fog horn.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Masons And Shriners

At Ask MetaFilter, somebody asked a question that I've been wondering about for years: What, exactly, are the Masons and Shriners?

Here's one of the answers:

Along with the Kiwanis, and Elks, and FOE, and IOOF, I've always assumed all of these organizations had only one purpose: To enable old men to sit around drinking, grousing, and smoking cigars.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Underground Shelters

If you're thinking of an underground shelter, take a look at Radius Engineering.

Radius Engineering is the leading manufacturer of self-contained underground fiberglass shelters for protection against nuclear, biological and chemical warfare (NBC), tornadoes, terrorism, and natural disasters.

Shown here is the Cat 25 model ($186,400), which can house up to 25 cats people.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

Fast For George W

Heartlight (which provides positive resources for daily Christian living) wants everyone to Fast for George W. Bush.

Answer a call to personally fast once a month for President Bush.

God is raising up multitudes of Christians (regardless of political affiliation) to fast and pray for the holiness of President George W. Bush and our nation. Join us in God's grassroots movement.

Total fasters: 14,703.

Posted on 29 September, 2004

No Growth In The Coffin

Snopes shoots down another long-standing belief: Coffin Nails.

Claim: A person's fingernails and hair continue to grow after his death.

Status: False.

Posted on 29 September, 2004