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Archive for the ‘Funny’ Category

One Bern

Mondays and Tuesdays are my busiest work days, so I asked Bernie to stop by and keep you all company.

Yes, #Berniesmittens is a thing right now and why not, I think we could all use some fun. (I believe I’ll call it a Bern, or one unit of unself-conscious fun.) Want to make your own fun with Bernie? The image is here.

If you want your very own version of the mittens, I have semi-sad news. The teacher who made those mittens can’t keep up with the thousands of requests that came her way after the inauguration. Interested in making your own? Check out this guide from The Guardian:

How to make Bernie Sanders’ inauguration mittens

Or do what most of us are doing when we can, and stay inside:)

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Cuddly Cozy Pew Pew!

Today seems like a cat sort of a day. We finally got a quality snowfall this weekend and have spent a decent amount of time inside by the fire. The cat approves. I’d include a picture if I could find her, but here’s a comic from xkcd for you instead.

Better hide the laser pointer;)

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I woke this morning with a story start in my head, and it’s using up most of my mental bandwidth at the moment. So instead of something new, here’s something old, from a trip journal I took to Latin America in 2000. I’m laughing at the memory now.

April 26
Wednesday
San Jose

I’m late writing again today because we got up at 6:30 a.m. for a rainforest canopy tour and just got back. It was a lot of fun. I was a little worried that I’d need strength, you know like hand-over-hand on a wire, but then the guides started talking about how they’d had an 80-year-old man on tour a while back who was fine. It was a lot of fun (again!).

We drove north 45 minutes or so into the woods, a bit of protected land that’s part of a larger park containing 6% of Costa Rica’s land. We were the only ones on the tour and had a total of four guides. We parked at the “Canopy Adventures” headquarters and were outfitted with harnesses, caribiners (climbing rings), and gloves. We got back in the car with our gear and drove another kilometer or two up a very rocky and steep road. It wound up into the mountains, through a farm and past pastures. After parking at a little turnabout in the trees we proceeded on foot.

The hike was only 20 minutes or so but through the forest and steep. In some parts we walked along a road paved 60 years ago by farmers who needed to get their milk to market despite heavy winter rains. The rocks they used were hauled from a far-off river bed, then set carefully enough that the road is still useable today. The rest of the walk was over a path paved by tree rings, given added traction with metal mesh embedded into their tops. Along the way our guide pointed out different flowers and plants native to the rainforest. I remember the bromeliads (a relative of the pineapple that grows on trees and air), plants to eat if you get lost in the mountains, and plants used to weave coffee-gathering baskets.

Suddenly we were at the base of Platform 1 and the real start of our adventure. Our first task was to climb a wooden ladder up into a tropical oak tree, then out onto the first platform high up in the tree. Each of us carried our gloves and pulley attached to the climbing harness we’d been wearing since HQ. At this point, we were hooked onto a cable with one caribiner, then told what how to move along the wire and land safely. I felt a little like a side of beef, hanging from the wire by my belt and hoping my tippie-toes were enough to keep me on the platform.

We were to travel from one platform to the next along these wires through the trees. At each platform a guide would stand facing us as we held the cable running between platforms. Pulling the cable down in a modified pull-up, the guide held the pulley on top of the cable while connecting our second caribiner to it, just below the cable. Once this clamp was secure the guide unhooked the first caribiner from the cable and clamped it to the pulley, in the opposite direction as the first. Now there was nothing keeping me on the platform but the guide’s hand in front of the pulley. Upon hearing an answering cry of “¡Listo!” from the team at the receiving platform, that hand too was removed. Feet up, head back, one hand on the caribiners and one on the cable behind to brake, and I was off.

There were nine platforms, all fun, with the longest and steepest drop being the best as far as I was concerned. At each I was unhooked from the pulleys, then secured to the tree, which I climbed up or around or through to reach the next jumping-off point. The trees were huge, and seemed to carry the weight of the wooden platforms with ease.

After one or two jumps I noticed that a light touch on the caribiners attached to the pulley would keep me facing forward as I shot through the overgrowth. I also got quite good at braking and had lots of fun zooming at full speed just to the platform’s edge, then stopping right in front of the startled guide. Very fun. They got me back at Platform 9 though. Rather than climbing down from our final jump we rappelled, although the guides controlled the descent. No problema, I thought, I’ve done this before, and I’d be happy to go first. Rope between my legs, hands gripping the locked caribiners, I sat into the harness and eased slowly past the platform’s edge. Humph, I thought, this isn’t too baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!! And almost swallowed my tongue as I was playfully dropped half the distance to the forest floor. The guides thought it was funny as hell, especially when all I could say after that heart-thumping, stomach-inspiring drop was “Jesus Christ!” Total free fall, unexpected, scary, and yes, funny as hell. I was still laughing five minutes later.

* * *

Not me but it gives you the idea; I was too busy to take photos for most of this trip.
Photo by Mam NC on Pexels.com

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Space & Sound

Dear Fellow Science / Sci-Fi / Creative / Authorial / Curious Types,

Yesterday’s Vivaldi link got me thinking about music and sound. Have you ever wondered what you’d sound like on other planets? I know I have, and apparently Popular Science has too. Here’s your answer:

What your voice would sound like on other planets and moons

Barry White’s got nothing on a Martian’s croon.

Here’s a more detailed take on the question from Harvard:

You Asked: If you were able to talk on another planet, how would you sound?

In space, no one would hear you scream.
But make a quick detour down to the surface of Venus, and all bets are off. 

And this piece is more involved, but includes links to more work and audio clips with examples like this one from Discovery:

The sounds of voices and waterfalls on other planets | Engineering | University of Southampton

Sure, there’s that whole no breathable atmosphere issue but! I like the way this helps me think about science in an up-close-and-personal kind of way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Funny because it’s true! 🙂

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What I’m reading today:

Pretend It’s Aliens
A neat mental trick to understand the climate battle ahead.
By Farhad Manjoo

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and I love this essay! (Also Mr. Man and my family and unicorns, but this I can share:) It’s a genius way of identifying one of humanity’s main flaws when it comes to making change, and then (here’s the good bit) finding a way around it.

…climate change is not war. There is no enemy, other than ourselves. And we are very bad, as individuals or collectively, at fighting ourselves over anything.

This thought chilled me.

Then, one late night after taking a dose of a kind of sleep medicine that is now widely available in California, I had an epiphany:

Pretend it’s aliens.

For years I’ve been saying that if aliens invaded, we’d get over our internecine squabbles pretty damn quick. Sadly, it would also require an actual alien invasion. And while movies of same tend to end with triumphant human victories, they generally don’t show the part where we have to bury all the bodies.

Unless it’s not pretend at all?

Just, you know, saying!

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Ever have one of those days where it seems like everything goes a little wonky? I think of it as The Balance.

***

Many item drops in video games are randomized but still seem to follow a pattern. It’s as if “randomness” is spread over a thousand rolls of the dice, and has to balance out in the end. So if you’ve gone days without getting a decent drop, suddenly you get three great items. Or if things have been going your way, you get a sudden run of bad luck.*

I find this happens in real life too. Some days everything goes perfectly, but other days?

Not so much.

Some days, if there’s a cord to trip over, I trip. If there’s a remote to drop, it’s dropped. And if the cat decides to get into the closet and eat dry cleaning bags, you can be sure that any effort to stop said behavior will result in a catastrophe of much greater proportions.

Like what, you might ask? Like thwacking one’s head against the treadmill desk holding your breakfast smoothie and having it all come tumbling down.

Everywhere. On everything. And then spending the next two hours cleaning it up.**

That was no fun but it’s actually kind of nice to have such things concentrated into one day. At least you know it’s coming and can prepare accordingly.

  • Will that knife balanced at the edge of the counter fall? Yep.
  • Wonder if you can carry that mug of tea and three books on your laptop and make it downstairs without incident? Nope.
  • Think you might have forgotten to close the garage door? Definitely!

The Balance. It’s not real, but it might be true;)

(As an added bonus, now I know how to disassemble my treadmill:)

***

* I know this isn’t how randomness and statistics work, I’m just saying that some days, that’s how it feels.

** Someone needs to investigate the usefulness of chia seeds’ gel coating for adhesive. So sticky!

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It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I’m in the mood for a little fun. If you are too, check out this trick over at NPR. Mr. Man and I just tried it and it is exactly as cool as it looks.

Mwahahahaha! Oh, and the idea to use this technique to ease childbirth is fascinating too.

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I am still on a bit of a posting holiday, apparently. A lot is happening here at Chez J, but it’s all ruminative on the writing front, nothing to see here… yet. Before you head off to what I hope is a terrific summer day, though, have a slice of on-point social commentary from a master of speculative fiction, in conversation with DEATH (who, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a lot to say about this business of life).

[tl;dr: be excellent to each other, or what’s the point?]

“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”
― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

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Here’s hoping you have a good day, even if it is a Monday:)

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