Thursday, December 8, 2011

Still Stilt Jousting

Today marks 600 years since a law was passed in Namur, Belgium,
banning stilt jousting. In a country prone to flooding, walking
and playing on stilts was probably quite common.
At today's festival, two teams of jousters will try to trip
and knock each other down until the last jouster
standing receives the highest honor, the Golden Stilt.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good Gag Gifts
Silly beard hats, fishbowl trash bags,
and blood puddle pillows
make great xmas gag presents.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hot Pepper Pickin' Paradise

Meadowview Farm in Kutztown, PA grows over 200 kinds of hot peppers, and the fields are open now for pick your own. It's fun getting lost in the rows of colorful peppers and looking at their interesting names: peach cheiro, chocolate scotch bonnet, purira, pequin, peri-peri, bhut jalokia, and Trinidad scorpion. Their prices are great and we will freeze and pickle enough to last till next year. Nearby, they have a chile pepper festival every September that brings over 5,000 people who love a good tongue lashing. The farm also grows over 150 kinds of heirloom tomatoes and sells hot jellies, herb jellies, flavored vinegars, and more. It's in a beautiful setting with horse and buggies riding up the long driveway, sheep and baby lambs in the fields, and a miniature horse farm next door. See a video and learn more about the farm's history at the link below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Children's books 26.27.28

A Flower Pot is Not a Hat, written by Martha Moffett and illustrated by Susan Perl, is a cute look at how kids discover and define things for themselves.

Beetle Boy by Lawrence David is Kakfa's The Metamorphosis retold for children only with a much happier ending. Delphine Durand's illustrations with lots of funny details are what makes the book really delightful.

Two Admirals is a silly story about two braggarts who upset a quiet little village by trying to outdo each other in absurd competitions, like seeing who can toss a pancake higher and who can fall down stairs more often without crying. David McKee wrote and illustrated this charming story.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beastie Boys are Bitchin'

The Beasties are back with an insanely fun half hour video starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride, and Seth Rogen and tons of hilarious cameos.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cabinets of Curiosities

The Mütter Museum is not for the squeamish. Part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, this fascinating collection of medical oddities includes a 70 pound ovarian cyst, a nine foot long colon distended from 40 pounds of feces, a dried arm showing all its veins and arteries, many jars of various tumors, and drawers full of pins and hardware that people have swallowed. From the wall of skulls, the one I found most memorable was labeled "Rope walker. Broken neck." While there were many displays of conjoined twins, the most disturbing to me was a skeleton of a baby with one head and two bodies.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spider Silk Cloth

This textile made from the silk of over one million golden orb spiders of Madagascar is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in their African art galleries. It took 80 people more than five years to collect the spiders, extrude the silk, spin the thread, weave the fabric, and sew the pieces together. 96 strands of silk are plied together to make each warp thread and 960 strands for each weft!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time Warp

These two excellent movies about time travel, Primer (top) and Timecrimes (bottom), will twist your mind for hours afterwards. In both cases, the writer/director star in the movie, and both films were nominated for and won many awards. I recommend not seeing the trailers or reading anything more about them, though it might be hard to spoil these complex storylines.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mr. Rex comes to Tea

What do you do when an unwanted guest comes to tea?
Even if he can't reach the dribble on his chin,
don't give him any nappykins!

Pong Machine

Yet another gadget for my Christmas wish list...
check out this excellent ping pong robot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Poems from the General Factotum

In honor of National Poetry Month, here
are two by my favorite poet, Lenny Brodt.
See my very first blog entry to read more about Lenny.

When you are reading a book
The whole world is silent and still
Except for whispering pages

"The Glue Factory"
A spider crawled in the door
And trespassed across the floor
It stopped under my shoe
And I turned it to glue
It's not a spider anymore

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Soccket Soccer Balls Shine!

Jessica Lin, Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar met in an engineering class at Harvard in 2008 and have since been developing and improving an energy-capturing soccer ball, the sOccket. Just ten minutes of play stores energy for three hours of light (and can recharge batteries and cell phones as well). They introduced it at the men's World Cup and tested it with children in South Africa, Liberia, and Nigeria last year where it could replace unhealthy kerosene lamps in areas with no electricity. When the balls soon become available for sale as fun gadgets here, the inventors are hoping to set up a buy one, give one system to be able to distribute balls at no cost to kids in developing nations.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Local Neighborhood Pirate Supply Shop

This Ted Talks by Dave Eggers, "Once Upon a School", is inspiring on many levels. Dave Eggers and friends started a tutoring center in San Fransisco to help kids with their English homework. The building was zoned commercial and they could not be non-profit, so they added a pirate supply shop in the front, complete with eye patches and ocean maps, which was also a big success. The idea has spread to cities all over the world with a Superhero Supply Shop and tutoring center in Brooklyn, a Time Travel Mart and tutoring center in Los Angeles, and more.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Telescope to Microscope
From femtometer to light year, this fun site from Nikon shows the relative sizes of all kinds of objects such as a carbon nanotube, a mosquito, a sunflower, Mt. Fuji, and the Orion Nebula. The grid constantly grows while the sizes shrink, and you can click on any part of the "meterstick" to zoom in or out to objects of that size. Click on an object or a unit of measurement (nm, cm, etc.) and get detailed information about it.
A similar idea, Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames begins with a picnic in Chicago. Every ten seconds the view goes ten times the distance away until it is deep in outer space. Then the viewer is whisked back to Earth and plunged into the hand of the picnicker, through his cells, and into a proton of a carbon atom. The film goes through forty powers of ten from .ooooo1 ångströms to 100 million light years.