Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why McDonalds doesn't serve breakfast all day

I am subscribed to an amazing daily newsletter called "Now I Know" which is emailed to me every weekday morning. It's written by a guy named Dan Lewis (you can subscribe to it here if you want; you won't regret it.)

Anyway, the bonus fact in today's newsletter was really interesting. (The article was about Waffle Houses.) This is what it said:

Bonus fact: Waffle Houses serve breakfast all day.  McDonalds does not -- they stop serving breakfast foods at about 11 A.M., depending on individual franchises.  Why? Because the breakfast foods cook at a lower grill temperature than the regular burgers-and-sandwiches (but not hot dogs) menu; once the grill is turned up, breakfast can no longer be prepared.

I've always wondered this, because I always want an Egg McMuffin whenever I go to McDonalds. Granted, I only go to McDonalds maybe once a year, but whatever.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A drawing made of 3.2 million dots

This is a really cool process of a kid drawing a picture by using dots. It's pretty neat.

Hero from Miguel Endara on Vimeo.

I think I would be worried about hand cramps.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Push on your eyeballs to lower heart rate

My professor told me that if you push on your eyeballs, your heart rate drops.

I just tried it and it works.

I'm glad I was sitting down though, because I got dizzy and light headed. My professor said that sometimes when he used a certain instrument that pushes up against someone's eye, that person might faint if they have low blood pressure.

Why does your body do this?

He explained that your body is designed to lower the heart rate when there is pressure on the eyes because there are pressure sensors there. If there is pressure on the eyes, the theory is that your body assumes that you are under water and slows down your heart rate to conserve oxygen. However, this causes a lack of oxygen in your brain, which may cause you to faint.

So if a bad guy is chasing you and you know that bad guy has low blood pressure, you can try two things:

  1. Reach behind and try to press his eyes so that he might faint.
  2. Tell him that he "might be able to run faster if he presses his eyes," so that he'll try to press his own eyes himself.
This plan is flawless!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Personality Test

We took a personality test in my business class last week. It was pretty interesting to see how true that test was. Basically, our professor said that there are four basic personalities:
  1. Playful/Popular
  2. Powerful
  3. Perfectionist
  4. Peaceful
These four personality types have been called a bunch of different things throughout history, such as the four temperments: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.

My professor put up a slide with four columns of adjectives, and we had to choose one adjective in each row that described us. Then we added them up to see which personality we were.

I showed it to Katie and she said it's like those quizzes in Teen Beat magazine that shows was color lip gloss to wear to match your personality. I think this test is pretty much just as accurate as the lip gloss test.

If you want to try it, this test is pretty similar to the one my professor gave us.

I was a Peaceful/Perfect. Katie was a Powerful/Perfect.

I think you could also apply this to the Houses in Hogwarts, where Gryffindor = Playful/Popular, Slytherin = Powerful, Ravenclaw = Perfectionist, and Hufflepuff = Peaceful.

But that would mean I would be in Hufflepuff. Dang it. No one wants to be in Hufflepuff. At least I'm not a Slytherin, like someone else I know (**cough** Katie **cough**).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Art and Medicine with Frank Netter

I learned about Frank Netter today, but I was aware of his work before today. Frank Netter was born in the early 1900's and grew up wanting to be an artist. During high school he went to a design school, but his family didn't want him to be an artist. He decided to go on the medical school and he became a surgeon. He opened up a practice, but it was not profitable at all. This was in the middle of the Great Depression.

He did some freelance art work for pharmaceutical companies, most notably CIBA, and it tuned out to pay a lot more than his own private practice. He then gave up the practice of medicine and started to make medical illustrations full-time.

Doctors still use and love his illustrations. I have seen them in my current Histology and Physiology classes. There were posters of Netter's illustrations hanging up in the cadaver lab at BYU.

Here's an example of his art:

From University of Waterloo
I guess I think he is really cool because I like drawing and I like the human body. It reminds me of when I drew a bunch of pictures to study for my anatomy class. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Your liver can REGROW!

I remember hearing from someone in Middle School that if you cut off a piece of your liver then it will grow back. I thought he made it up. I told him that was just a myth perpetrated by the story of Prometheus getting his liver eaten out each day and then it growing back. 

You can donate up to 60% of your liver and it will regrow. It may not grow to it's original shape, but it will regain it's function--which is AMAZING!

Also, in other news, I opened up my portrait shop again (but I increased the price and added a few weeks to the delivery time to account for the fact that I'm in school now.)

That is all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cuttlefish eyes

Cuttlefish are related to squids and octopuses and they are really neat creature. But studying eyes has made me really appreciate how cool their eyes are.

From Wikipedia
Here are some amazing things about cuttlefish eyes:

  • They can't see any color, but they have two focus-point areas (fovea) on their retina: one to look forward and one to look behind.
  • The "w" shape of their pupil allowed them to see the polarization of light, which enables them to see with greater contrast. 
  • They focus their eyes by reshaping the entire eye, not just the lens.
  • They have no blind spot because their optic nerve is behind the retina
  • Scientists have speculated that their eyes are fully developed while they're still in their eggs, and they prefer to eat things they have seen swim by whilst in their eggs.
I have no idea what it would look like to be able to focus on two objects at once, or be able to perceive the polarity of light--all I know is that it would be AWESOME.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tracy Chapman

Every time I hear Tracy Chapman sing, I have one thought go through my head:

"Is Tracy Chapman a man or a woman?"

And I have to Google it every time, because I can never remember.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bonus Post

Because I forgot to post yesterday, here's a neat secret I learned about Google.

If you Google "do a barrel roll," then Google will do a barrel role.

Try it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Treating disease is easier than treating patients

Patients don't always do what you want or expect them to do. My professors have often said that it's easy to know what needs to be done to fight a disease, but it's hard to make sure the patients actually do it.

Here's an example to illustrate the point. This is true story. No joke.

A women brought her teenage son in my professor's office one day because he had a red eye. He looked at it and saw that it was a bacterial infection and wrote him a prescription for some antibiotics. He gave them the paper with the prescription and told the mom to make sure her son took it every day, and then to come in again for a follow-up exam in a week.

A week later, the mom brought her son in again and the infection had gotten worse. He couldn't understand what was wrong, so he asked her if he's been taking the prescription.

"Yes, every day!" she replied.

"Okay, show me how he does it."

The women pulled out the piece of paper with the prescription on it and she proceeded to rip a small piece of it off, rolled it into a ball, and popped it into the boy's mouth. She had been giving her son pieces of the paper instead of filling the prescription.

Moral of the story: don't assume anything. If you are going to expect the patient to do something, make them show you that they know how to do it before you let them out of the office.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Watery eyes

I hardly get watery eyes anymore. This is a good thing, because I used to get them whenever I thought about something painful or someone with inflammation in the eye. And I don't think anybody would want to visit an optometrist who couldn't look at your eye infection without crying.

This has come gradually over the past seven weeks of school. I think looking at pictures of bloody, pus-filled eyeballs every day has dulled my senses. Also, learning about what is happening to the eye (what is being inflammed, which cells are causing it, what treatments would be necessary, etc.) helps me analyze the eye instead of saying, "Oh man, oh man, there's an actual hole in that eye and something gooey is coming out."

Are you brave? Don't look if you're squeamish! Click here to see some nasty eyes!

Anyway, school is going great. My classes are very hard, but they're super interesting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh, those crazy Japanese

I just read one of the best blog posts ever. It's about a robot that washes people's hair. When I first read that title, I thought that it was a frivolous expense and worthless invention.


But after reading it I realized how blind that point of view is.

From Boing Boing:

"This hair-washing robot, introduced by Panasonic at a public demonstration in Tokyo last week, is actually a pretty practical idea. Washing your hair involves a decent amount of small motor coordination and finger dexterity, things that people often lose when they have a spinal injury or other kinds of nerve damage. A hair-washing robot could offer those people a bit more independence when it comes to their daily routines. That's a good thing.

But the real reason I'm posting this here is to show you how easy it is to take research that is objectively beneficial, and make it sound deeply silly and frivolous. All you have to do is show that picture (which is a little funny looking already, right?) and frame the story from the perspective of privilege—the perspective of people who have no problems controlling the nerves in their hands and forget that not everybody shares that skill."
It's pretty easy to frame any scientific experiment or research in a way that sounds ridiculous and a waste of money. But instead of trying to see how dumb any idea is, I think I'm going to try to see any possible uses from that experiment.

For example: scientists are wasting money trying to make kitties glow in the dark! Except the florescence gene (which isn't glow-in-the-dark, it just shows up under a UV light) is just a biomarker to help identify an immunity in cats against HIV.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Betting on Power Rangers

I can remember watching two TV shows religiously as a kid: Reading Rainbow and Power Rangers. I remember when I was in the first grade I used to ask my mom if I could watch Reading Rainbow once Chris and Lisa left for school in the morning. It was the highlight of my morning. Levar Burton was awesome.

And in third grade I would watch Power Rangers every Saturday morning. It was fun to watch Power Rangers in third grade because every one else watched them too. I would talk about them with my friends during recess. I once made a bet with a girl on who the Green Ranger would turn out to be. I bet her 50 cents that it wouldn't be Tommy.

It turned out it was Tommy. During the commercial break, she called me to tell me that I lost the bet and I owed her 50 cents.

I didn't have 50 cents, so I decided to earn some money. I grabbed a handful of pretzel sticks and set up a card table on our front lawn. I sold the pretzel sticks for one penny each.

Luckily, I had a customer. Just one. It was a woman who pulled up in her minivan and and handed me a dollar and asked for just a handful of my pretzels. It was pretty sweet.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dynamic views and school

I really love the dynamic views that Blogger put up. This is the kind of thing that I was hoping for while I was posting so much last year. Maybe this exciting new format will encourage me to write more often again.

Speaking of which, I am planning on writing again everyday in November. I hope everyone else does to, OK? OK, sounds good.

Optometry school is pretty hard. I'm taking Physiology, Histology, Optics, Genetics, and a Business class. We sit in the same class room the whole day (room 22) and the professors come in a lecture for 2 to 3 hours and then a new professor replaces them when their time is up. Once they come in they start lecturing non-stop and you do everything within your power to keep up with them and write down what they're saying. After about four hours my hand starts cramping up. Luckily we have a ten minute break each hour.

But school is really really interesting. Way more interesting than my construction management classes at BYU. I haven't even been tempted to fall asleep in my classes yet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The couch

Our couch is pretty magical. As you can barely see in this picture, it is green. We bought it second hand at the local Goodwill on Katie's birthday when we first moved here. It was the only present she got that day. Poor Katie. Don't worry -- we celebrated her birthday a few weeks later.

The reason I say our couch is magical is because I found a lot of magical things in it. These things belonged to the couch's previous owner, and I think they are pretty telling of that owner's personality. Here is an incomplete list of the things I pulled out of the couch:

  • A drum stick. Not like a chicken leg, but the wooden stick you hit a drum with.
  • An English 202 midterm exam. He got a 57%. Sad day for him. I know it's a "him" and not a "her" because his name was on the exam. But I won't tell you his name -- that would be a FERPA violation...I think. I felt kind of bad for him because his answers really were pretty terrible.
  • 3 saltine crackers. Intact. I think the fact that they were intact is what amazed me the most.
  • 14 cents (dime, penny, penny, penny, penny).
  • 3 ballpoint pens. All of them were out of ink.
I know there were some more random things we found in there, but they aren't coming to mind. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baking powder vs. baking soda

Katie put up a magazine holder in our bathroom a few weeks ago. We have issues of National Geographic, Popular Science, and Martha Stewart Living sitting in there right now. After reading every article in National Geographic and Popular Science twice, I decided to pick up Martha. I was bored, OK?

Anyway, I found a really interesting article! A reader asked if baking soda and baking powder are interchangeable.

Answer: no!I kind of had a hunch that this is true, but I didn't know why. Both baking soda and powder are leavening agents (meaning they make bubbles to make bread rise), but they use different methods.

Baking soda is used when you are making something that has an acidic ingredient, such as molasses or vinegar or chocolate. The soda (which is a base) reacts with the acid and makes carbon dioxide bubbles.

Baking powder is used for situations in which there are no acidic ingredients. The powder has an acid built right it: cream of tartar. So once baking powder gets wet, it starts making bubbles, as you can see from this, um, really cool video.

Most annoying song on most annoying instrument

[Video link]

Sunday, September 25, 2011


According to this study by Gallup, only 4 in 10 Americans say they believe in evolution, which is, in my opinion, a staggeringly low amount. I think this is because there is a common misconception that a belief in evolution means that you can't believe God.

I personally believe in evolution. And I strongly believe in God. And what's more, I don't think those two ideas contradict one another. You don't have to be an atheist to believe that evolution is real. In fact, I think looking at the intricities and beauties of science has strengthened by faith.

When I was at BYU, I came across many people who didn't believe in evolution. In each biology, chemistry and psychology class I took we discussed evolution and how it the basis for modern science and doesn't contradict true religion. These are the two main points that fellow class members brought up, arguing that evolution isn't necessarily true:

  1. Evolution is just a theory. While this is true, I think it is misunderstood. Theories are the strongest piece of evidence that science has to offer. Relativity is a theory. Plate tectonics is a theory. Germs are a theory. And all of these theories are used as if they are fact because they are the best models we have at the moment to define the world around us. 
  2. Evolution proves that God doesn't exist. This is not true. All evolution shows us is that species adapt to their surroundings. This happens because DNA mutates when species have offspring. Sometimes the change in genes makes them better adapted to their surroundings, and sometimes it makes them worse. The mutations that make the species better adapted gets passed on because they live long enough to have more kids. Their offspring carry the adapted gene and the species has evolved to a stronger species. That is all evolution is. 
I believe that there isn't a scientific truth and a religious truth. There is only truth. And we will one day everything will be understood completely. In the mean time, I applaud the scientific community for advancing the limit of what we know, while at the same time I cherish the simple truths the come directly from God.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Folding a fitted street

A few months ago, I was listening to a podcast by the guys at How To Do Everything (I think it was this one) and they had a part of the show that was called "Ask A Rocket Scientist." This is when they would ask a rocket scientists all the questions they didn't have time to answer themselves to get some quick answers.

One of the questions was this: How are you actually supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Magic squares

Have you ever heard of magic squares? These are squares with numbers in them, and if you add up the numbers in the columns or rows, they all add up to the same number.

In this example, all of the rows and columns add up to the number 15. There is a pretty simple pattern to use if you want to make one, although this pattern only works for boxes with an odd number of boxes in a row (3x3, 5x5, etc)

Read on to figure out how to make one after the jump. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Smart kid builds efficient solar panals

I read this article at about a 13-year-old boy who designed new, super-efficient way to organize solar panels.

Aiden Dwyer was walking in the forest in the winter time and noticed a pattern in the tree branches. After studying them for a while, he realized that they grew in a spirals. He found that they were organized in the Fibonacci sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,etc.).

This is the picture he drew.
He realized this has probably something to do with photosynthesis and how efficient the tree was, and so he built a model tree and placed little solar panels on the branches in accordance to the pattern he saw in nature. He then compared the output of his tree model to the traditional set up of the solar panels.

Here is his model next to the traditional version
It turns out that his tree model outperformed the traditional model by 50% in the winter solstice days. This design won Aiden the 2011 Young Naturalist Award. He has applied for a patent and is continuing on perfecting his model by studying other tree species.

You can read his essay that he wrote here. Pretty cool for a 13-year-old to figure out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing picture

Untitled by joeribosma
Untitled, a photo by joeribosma on Flickr.
I'm not sure why I like this picture so much. At first I thought it was Photoshopped in some way, but I don't think it is. I love how his wet shirt lines up with the horizon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Which color is different?

Can you tell?

There actually is a different one, and most Westerners can't tell which green is slightly off. Even though I know which one is different, I'm having a hard time noticing it. You can click here if you want to see the RBG values to see which one it is.

There is a tribe of of people in northern Namibia that can easily point out which green is different. That is because they have different words for those shades of green. They do have a hard time telling blue and a certain type of green apart because those are the same words. Some researchers believe this is because learning the names of colors and the perceptions of colors are linked.

This is the video that is associated with this image. It's kind of long, but really interesting. I would watch at 2:10 to get the explanation of the Himba color words.

Oh yeah, the green square they point out in the video as the different one is wrong. Or maybe it is a different chart. But just to make sure that the chart above is correct, I uploaded the image in Photoshop and double-checked the RGB values with the eyedropper tool and the linked image is right. 

Updated: Sorry, I thought I included a link to the original post that I saw on Boing Boing. Here it is! It's really interesting. Man, I love that blog so much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

World's Largest Gummy Bear

I found this a while ago and have thought about it every time I see gummy bears.

And it's only $29.95!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The emotional stages of drawing

I've been drawing a lot more lately. It's a lot of fun but also makes me sweat some bullets too. It started a few weeks ago when I decided that I wanted to try to sell some portraits of people in an Etsy shop. I needed some more pictures to build some sort of portfolio, so I did a few pictures for free. This is basically how my emotional levels progressed throughout the drawing process:

1. Super happy! Someone wants me to draw a picture for them!

2. A little anxious. The shadows and facial expression look kind of hard.

3. UTTERLY DEVASTATED! The picture looks horrible! It looks like a monstrous hybrid between Chucky and an evil clown. 

4. Slightly sedated. OK, this might be salvageable. It still looks weird, though.

5. Super happy! Yay, it's not ruined! (Yes, I do grow freckles in step 5.)
The exhausting thing is that I go through those five steps every single time. This last picture I did I almost erased the whole thing once I hit stage three. But I pulled through. I think the trick is to keep sitting at the desk and drawing and drawing until you get it right.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pica Pic

You know those old handheld games that we used to play when we were little?

I found a website that has a collection of 26 or 27 different games you can play right on your computer. It's pretty sweet; you should try it!

The website is

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I like teaching primary

Katie and I were given the calling of teaching the 5 and 6 year olds in primary, and we absolutely love this calling. Primary is way more fun than Sunday School and Priesthood and Relief Society. Here are reasons why I love primary so much:
  • We sing at least 5 songs within a 30 minute period
  • The kids are really excited to tell you things that have happened to them, like that they played a board game with their brother, or that their school teacher had a sunburn.
  • They have crazy imaginations. For instance, we were teaching a lesson on faith last week, and for an object lesson we hid something under a cloth and asked them how they knew something was underneath it. After that, we had them guess what the object was. One kid thought it was an ostrich with a suitcase--I have no idea why.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Brain freeze

I was bad today. I sneaked some ice cream while Katie was at work and Olivia was in the living room reading her favorite Busy Town book. It was really yummy. I was eating it really fast because I didn't want Olivia to see me eating it and want some herself. The problem with scarfing it down is that it dramatically increases the likelihood of a brain freeze.

This one was absolutely devastating. It hit really hard and made the whole right side of my face seize up in pain. My eyes were watering and I fell to the ground and crawled over to the rug and laid there for a little bit. Olivia kind of laughed and walked over to me and said "Daddy fall down!" Then she proceeded to use me as a jungle gym.

Once my headache went away (two whole minutes later) I thought I would look up how they work. The ice cream cools and constricts the blood vessels on the roof of the mouth. This change in blood vessel size stimulates the trigeminal nerve that goes over the mouth (you know what I'm talking about, Alison...right?) The nerve sends the signal to the brain, and the brain misinterprets the signal for a pain signal from the forehead, face, etc.

I just found a cure for a brain freeze! The trick is to warm that area of your mouth as fast as you can to make the blood capilaries expand again. You can do this by pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth or drinking some warm water.

I can tell you that I'm definitely planning on trying that the next time I get another headache.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Slap hat

I saw this lovely item and thought it was one of the dumbest weapons ever.

It took me a while to figure out how it worked. I thought it was just a normal baseball hat that you can slap people with. It turns out that there is a heavy 2 pound beanbag on the back of the head that is full of "impact material that is 100% the density of lead."

I'm not really sure what it means when it says it is 100% the density of lead. Is it lead then? Or just some cornstarch or something? Maybe it's full of plastic toys. I know it hurt really bad when I was hit on the head by Cookie Monster's plastic eyeballs. 

I think everyone has been hit on the head by those eyeballs.  He may look cute and innocent, but I'm pretty sure he hides blades in those eyes. [Link]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Understanding big numbers

This last week there was a lot of news coverage about the budget and government shutdown. Once you get into numbers like million/billion/trillion, it is hard to actually understand what those numbers mean.

I found a blog that uses a simple way to understand these huge numbers: divide everything by 100,000,000.

If you divide everything by 100,000,000 then you get the following:
We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.
 Here's the whole post.

Keynes vs. Hayek

I just finished my last economics class yesterday, and my professor showed us this video as a sort of treat. It's pretty funny.  I can't remember ever listening to a rap that was so informative. And the amazing thing is that I could kind of follow what they were saying.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The happiest man in the world a man named Alvin Wong.


According to this article in the New York Times, Gallup compiled some statistical data to determine what attributes contribute most to happiness. They found that people are happier when they are:
  • male
  • tall
  • Asian-American
  • at least 65 years old
  • married
  • has children
  • is a practicing Jew
  • lives in Hawaii
  • runs his own business
  • makes at least $120,000 per year
After a few phone calls to synagogues in Hawaii, Gallup found a tall, Asian-American Jew who fit all the descriptions.

Too bad I only have three of the nine qualities...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Laws of Attraction

What's a Bobalagooch Handle?

The bobalagooch handle (pronounced BOB-ah-lah-GOOCH) is something that my brother David made up. We used to play the game as kids where you had to say "safety" if you ... passed gas. If you didn't, someone else could yell "doorknob" and then they could punch you until you touched a doorknob. If there wasn't a doorknob nearby, you could get punched for hours until you found one. We naturally added some more things you could get punched for, such as burping (you had to say "protection" or else someone could say "door handle") and picking your nose (you had to say "shield" or else someone could say "cupboard knob").

Because of this triple threat, David made up the bobalagooch handle, which is a doorknob, door handle, and cupboard knob all rolled into one. If someone yelled something and started punching you, you had to sing the bobalagooch song, which means the tooter/burper/picker had to sing "Bobalagooch! Bobalagooch!" over and over again to the tune of Winnie the Pooh. Once you finished the song, you had to go through the motion of rotating the the imaginary doorknob, turning the imaginary door handle, and pulling the imaginary cupboard knob.

Then you're safe.

So why did I name my blog this? Because I write about a variety of different things, all of which arm you against the pounding blows of ignorance and boredom.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Noteslate = want

I found this the other day and I really, really want one. I'm not sure if it is real or not...

It's called a Noteslate, and it's a $99 eInk writing tablet. You just take your notes on it and then it will save it to a SD Card of USB drive for you. This would be perfect for school. I would just take the Powerpoint slides made by the teachers, convert them to PDFs, upload them onto this, and then I could just take notes right on this without having to carry a bajillion papers around.

I could also scan in images of my text books and then carry around digital copies of those, too. I actually tried this out the other day. I took an old copy of National Geographic (thanks again, Kathy!) and had the binding cut off. Then I took it to the Genealogy and Family History Library in the BYU Library, where they have a book scanner. The machine scanned the whole magazine in a few minutes, and then I had that whole issue on my flash drive. A bonus feature was that the book scanner was able to read words, making the whole issue word-searchable. Imagine how cool it would be to be able to have your handwritten notes word-searchable!

Anyway, the site says that the Noteslate should be available in June. A lot of websites are doubtful, though. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Google searches

I was looking at the "Stats" icon on my Dashboard just now, wondering how many people look at my blog when I don't write. I still get a lot of people looking at it, but it is all from random Google searches.

I guess that comes from writing about tons of random things for a year. Here are some searches that brought of links to my blog.

"oat sample questions"
"jack nelson logan utah"
"play hnefatafl"
"baby names 2015"

That baby names search has been extremely popular. I'm not sure why.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All my ideas are against the law

I really like being on the Student Advisement Committee for the BYU Library. Basically, we get paid to come up with ideas for ways to improve the library. Unfortunately, none of my ideas this semester are legal. Idea number one: purchase e-book readers for students to check out and read the library's existing e-books. We have literally tens of thousands of academic e-books. Unfortunately, every e-book reader that I researched is only licensed for individual use (this includes the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader). Also, the e-books we own all have specific DRM from the publishers so that the files can't be converted to ePub files that can be read on a reader.

Bummer. Maybe copyright laws will change in 5 or 10 years.

Idea number two: make digital copies of our audio books (which are on CD right now) and let students check out MP3 players with the digital recording of the book on that device. I went to the copyright office here on campus and talked to the director about this one. He wasn't sure if it was legal or not, so he emailed me a copy of the copyright law and we both looked at it. After reader through pages of legalese referring to reproduction rights of academic institutions, I found that it is currently legal to make a digital copy of an audio recording, but only if the medium which the book is currently on is obsolete. So we can only do this once manufacturers stop making CDs and CD players, which isn't likely in the next decade or so.

Dang. The frustrating this is that doing these things shouldn't be against the law. We're not trying to sell them to make a profit. We're not letting students copy the material for themselves. It makes me want to figure out who is in charge of writing the copyright law and lobby them for change.

So if anyone else knows any great ideas to implement in the library, let me know! I'm desperate for good ideas.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Guess he didn't see this one coming. Here's the link. Ha!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Norville Rogers

Do you know who Norville Rogers is? I bet you would recognize him if you saw him...

Dang, the picture I was going to use is copyrighted. Guess I'll have to resort to Paint...

Oh man, never man. That drawing looked too bad.

Well, here's a hint: he has the same popular nickname as Orville Richard Burrell, who wrote "Boomtastic."

Norville Rogers is the name of Shaggy, that really cool guy from Scooby Doo!

...No wonder he goes by Shaggy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Death and Taxes

I think you all know that I love infographics. I found one of the most detailed, comprehensive, and amazing infographics out there.

It's created by Jess Bachman and it's called Death and Taxes. It a visual representation of how our tax money is spent each year. She spends a few months each year creating a new poster, so you can track the trends of government spending and, in turn, public opinion. Her site is here.

Be sure to click the "full screen" icon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scorpion Venom

A while ago I wrote a post about expensive liquids. At that time I had found a site that said that scorpion venom was the most expensive liquid, and I wondered what it was used for.

Now I know why it's so expensive.

I was listening to a podcast (which I can't seem to find right now) that explained that scorpion venom is actually used in cancer research. It is very, very, very difficult to find something that will only kill cancer cells and not healthy cells, but apparently scorpion venom tends to attack certain cancer cells first. They made a synthetic, radioactive version of this venom and inject it into people with brain tumors called gliomas, and the hope is that the radioactive venom will target just the gliomas and not the other cells. The radioactivity will kill just those cells.

This is still in the early testing period, but I think it's an awesome idea. I figure that cancer research is a pretty good reason to buy scorpion venom. Maybe I could get a scorpion farm and collect venom and sell it to research institutions...

I wonder how you even collect venom from a scorpion?
 ... Now I know

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drunk octopus

I found this image here. I think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sperm whale oil

I few weeks ago I learned about waxes and oils in my biochemistry class. My professor told us about sperm whale oil, and it's pretty amazing stuff.

Apparently, there's a huge cavity in the skull of the sperm whale that's full this oil, called spermaceti. It's oderless and tasteless, and is used for making candles and oils for lamps and cosmetics. There's a lot of oil in the skull. When the whalers caught the whale, they would cut a hole in the head and take out the oil in buckets, or they would have a guy jump in the hole and take it out manually.

They oil has special properties that might have helped the buoyancy of the whale. The oil has a melting and hardening point of about 6 degrees Celsius, and the temperature of the oil can be controlled by the opening and constricting of blood vessels in the nasal passages of the whale. If they want to dive, they just constrict the vessels, making the oil colder and harder, which causes the whale to sink. They can actually dive about 2 miles below sea level. And when they want to come up, they open up the blood vessels (I imagine this as flaring your nostrils), which melts the oil, which helps them float.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Year Goal

I finally thought of a new year goal for myself. It wasn't an easy process. It had to be something that I normally wouldn't do, that isn't actually required of me, but would make my life better, but it can't take over my entire life.  After a few weeks of thinking, I've decided that I would draw something everyday.

Starting today, Feb. 1, 2011 and ending Feb. 1, 2012, I will draw something daily.

I pulled out my old sketchbook and drew some doodles while I waited for my Economics class to start. That's the beauty of this goal: it can be a simple as a doodle and as complex as a painting. I'm pretty excited. A sub-goal of mine is to sell something that I made. That's what would make this official. But it doesn't have to happen.

Speaking of drawing, I saw this video today and it blew my mind. It totally puts my Paint drawings to shame. It's a video of Bob Staake and how he draws. He actually uses a mouse and draws in a primitive version of Adobe Illustrator. It's crazy how good he is.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Split brain

I saw this YouTube video in my Psychology class a few days ago. We are talking about brain function and the importance of the corpus callosum, which is the bridge between the left and right brain. It's what makes communication between the two halves possible.

This guy in the video, Joe, had severe seizures and to help get rid of them he has the corpus callosum snipped. Now his brain is basically two parts that are independent of each other. His left side and his right side can't communicate. This neuroscientist in the video does some interesting experiments to show how this affects Joe. Check it out:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to draw the "cool S"

You all know what I'm talking about. These cool S's were all the craze in the 90's. People called them "Stussies" but I don't think the brand "Stussy" ever used them. You could see them drawn all over a kid's binder, Trapperkeeper, or backpack. In case you missed that awesome phase of your life, I will now share my secret knowledge of how to draw the awesome "s" with 14 straight lines. Follow these simple steps and you will become the King of 3rd Grade.

Step one: draw three lines.
Step two: draw three more lines right below the first.

Step three: this is the hardest part. If you mess this up, your "S" will be backwards. Connect the top left line to the middle bottom line, and then the middle top line to the bottom right line. Got it? Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.

Step four: draw a little short line from the top right to the middle, and then again from the bottom left to the middle.

Step five: connect the top and bottom sides.

Step six: repeat until your entire binder is full of them.

Pretty awesome! Here's what has to say about the "Super S Stussy":

The “Super S” or “Stussy” symbol was drawn by kids worldwide in the 1990’s. Origins of the symbol are generally unknown but some have suggested it is related to the “Stussy” clothing line (although some say they never used this font style). It was a worldwide meme reaching countries all over the world, primarily drawn at school on binders or notebooks. There is a technique in drawing the symbol (which consists of 14 lines) which was regarded as a kind of special knowledge. In some schools it was later banned because it was thought of as being a gang symbol. Multiple S symbols are referred to as “stussies”.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toilet bowl wind speed

You learn some funny things by taking a plumbing class at BYU. Did you know that you can estimate the wind speed outside by looking at your toilet? It's true. This is how:

This is what your toilet bowl looks like with no wind outside:

And this is what it looks like when it's really windy outside:

Did you notice the lower water level? When it's really windy outside the water level is lower in your toilet. This is because of Bernoulli's Principle. Fast wind speed lowers the outside pressure, thereby sucking the water out of the bowl. You can visualize it this way:

Pretty neat, huh? You could calibrate it if you found the actual wind speed during a windy day, then mark that point on your toilet. The you could fill in the blanks by dividing out the remaining spots.

...Well, that's assuming that the relationship between wind speed and water level is linear, which is probably isn't given the fact that the toilet is curved. So you would have to know how the bowl curved to actually do it. But still, it's a neat concept.

Jenga gun

It's been weird and nice not having to write everyday. The problem is that I keep thinking about great ideas to write about, so my topic list keeps getting longer and longer and the only outlet is for me to write more.

We were playing Jenga the other day and I really wished I had one of these guns for the impossible shots. It looks pretty sweet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Common Misconceptions

I found this page on Wikipedia today and it's mind-bending. The page in Wikipedia is called "List of Common Misconceptions" and it ranges in topics from history to transportation. Here are some great passages:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte was not especially short, and did not have a Napoleon complex. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 metres. There are competing explanations for why he was nicknamed le Petit Caporal (The Little Corporal), but few modern scholars believe it referred to his physical stature. Another explanation is that Napoleon was often seen with his Imperial Guard, which contributed to the perception of him being short because the Imperial Guards were above average height.
  • Elephants are not afraid of mice.
  • Humans have more than five senses. Although definitions vary, the actual number ranges from 9 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception).Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide levels.
  • Eating less than an hour before swimming doesn't increase the risk of experiencing muscle cramps or drowning. One study shows that a correlation between alcohol consumption and drowning, but there is no evidence cited regarding stomach cramps or the consumption of food.
 There are many, many more.

And now I bring you this comic from xkcd:

Monday, January 17, 2011


I used the rest of my Christmas book money today! I got a book called Sum by David Eagleman. I've wanted to read this book for months now. I've checked the Provo City Library and the BYU library, but neither had it. I first heard about this book from Radio Lab. They have David Eagleman on their show every once in a while. He's a neuroscientist, I think ... but his book Sum is a work of fiction. It's actually 40 short stories about the afterlife.

Here's one of the short stories. It's called Sum, just like the title of the book. Radio Lab had an actor read it. It's really interesting.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Real Life Super Hero

A Real Life Super Hero (RLSH) is someone who dresses us in a costume and goes around trying to do good things in their neighborhood. These people really exist. It just reminds me of the beginning of Spiderman where Peter Parker dresses up in a costume ad gets the living tar beat out of him.

Here's one RLSH that calls himself Phoenix Jones:

And here is a RLSH online manual.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After working in the library for almost 2 years, I have written down literally thousands upon thousands of ISBNs for books. After a while I noticed that books from the same country or from the same publisher had similar ISBNs. This made me curious, so I did a little research last year and found out how books are assigned their respective ISBN. It's kind of neat.

Here is how the number is broken out:

It's always 13 numbers long. The first three digits are always 978. I'm not sure why. Sometimes people leave off this prefix to have a 10 digit ISBN, but that practice is being phased out. The next section codes for the language the book is written in. The third section is the publisher, the fourth is the title (assigned by the publisher), and, finally, the last digit is the check digit.

The language number is kind of neat:

Here are the numbers that are assigned in the language section. The only things I've personally ordered with a language code of 4 are some comics for the Sampler section of the library. I guess there's not a lot of demand for other Japanese stuff...

Now let's look at the check digit.

The check digit is just a complicated math formula to make sure you didn't mix up your numbers when you wrote them down. You multiply the numbers by either a 1 or 3, add them all up, divide by 10, subtract the remainder from 10, and there's your digit. If the number is 10, then just write a 0.

If you don't want to do all the math, you can just use this website, which does it all for you. I use this quite often because people don't realize that the check digit changes when you add then "978" prefix to the ISBN.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I have Usher stuck in my head

Ever since Saturday I've been humming Usher's song "OMG" to myself at random times. The weird thing is that I have only heard about a 5 second clip from the song. And I blame public radio. I heard about this on Wait Wait, and then I found a You Tube video.

Basically, Usher ripped off Homer Simpson.

See for yourself:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cool Tools

I know, I know. I don't have to write today, but I thought I would to share this cool blog. If you ever read Boing Boing regularly, you know about Cool Tools. Basically, they recommend cheap and awesome tools. They aren't in it for the money or advertising. They are honest and only write about neat things that they like personally. Some tools that stick out to me are:
Here's the link.


Here's a little flowchart that I made on Paint for you to enjoy. Thanks for reading!

Click to enlarge!
Also, don't worry about me not writing ever again. I'll still write regularly, but I might not write EVERY day. So we'll keep in touch.

Thanks again, my loyal fans.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boardgame Remix

I found this the other day and thought it was pretty sweet. Basically, it's a guide for how to make AWESOME games from old games buy mashing them up. All you need is a copy of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, and Cluedo (or Clue, if you're American) to make some great games like a zombie invasion in a haunted mansion, word battles with Scrabble tiles, and lots of other insanely fun (I presume) games. Here's a link to the sample PDF.