Thursday, January 31, 2008

3D Monster in Japan

In order to promote a monster movie, Sony used a spray of water to serve as a backdrop for a 3D monster rising out of Tokyo bay. Even though it's monotone, it still looks really good. Well, for a monster, that is. Holograms are an interesting bit of science especially in the recording/playback and yet they are used in many practical ways, from the shiny dove on your credit card sticker (ok, Mom and Dad's credit card) to the security label in some currencies including the Canadian $5 and larger bills.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Elderly Road Trip

My Mom sent me this. Now she and Dad drive back and forth from Mexico frequently and I don't think she indicated that this ever happened. I'm absolutely sure this never happened. No, really.

While on a road trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch.

After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant and resumed their trip.

When leaving, the elderly woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table and she didn't miss them until they had been driving about twenty minutes.

By then, to add to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around -- in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses.

All the way back, the elderly husband became the classic grouchy old man.

He fussed and complained and scolded his wife relentlessly during the entire return drive.

The more he chided her -- the more agitated he became.

He just wouldn't let up one minute.

To her relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. As the woman got out of the car and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses; the old geezer yelled to her, "while you're in there, you might as well get my hat and the credit card."

Monday, January 28, 2008


I've had questions from my faithful readers about what the heck an RSS reader is as I mention about adding PhunKidz to your RSS reader and stopping the torrent of email that I keep sending you. It's probably best to answer in the context of something that you already know. It's like someone dropping off a newspaper article on your doorstop every morning (or even every minute for some prolific blogs) and then ringing the doorbell. There are many different RSS readers (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication) but I use Google Reader. Now, that's probably a stretch for most of you as you may not be reading a lot of feeds so I offer you this simple recipe for getting Phunkidz on your Facebook profile (with a nod to Marny and Mel as this is the only interface they seem to have anymore to the Internet):
  1. Go to your Facebook profile and in the sidebar click on the edit link next to the word "Applications".
  2. Click on the Browse More Applications button.
  3. In the search box type "simply rss" and click search.
  4. Click on the orange button that looks like it's got white ripples in an orange pond inscribed on it.
  5. Click on the Add Application button
  6. Click on the Add Simply RSS button
  7. Click on the Skip button. In general, it's a bad idea to spam all of your friends when you add a new application.
  8. Click on the Add a Feed link
  9. Configure the dialog to look like the picture that I've enclosed here. You can see the picture better if you click on it in this email.
  10. Click Add and you are done!
Yow! Your profile will now have the PhunKidz blog in all of its glory.

Read the PhunKidz blog! Point your RSS reader at: Let me know and I'll remove you from this mailing list so you don't get duplicates!

Lego of my anniversary

Kidz, it's the 50th anniversary of filing of the first patent for a Lego plastic brick today. This toy is so old that *I* remember playing with these bricks as a child. I think the compelling factors behind them are that the sets can be snapped together into infinite combinations only limited by your imagination, once built they provide playability, and it's hard to poke your eye out with them. The last factor is for parents as I know that poking someone's eye out is probably an attraction for many kids. I did want to raise a toast to Ole Kirk Christiansen, inventor of Lego, for many hours of fun and fascination. A timeline of the Lego company can be found on Gizmodo.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Quick Change

My new boss sent this to me with the message: "If only we could change our product planning this quickly". I'd love to know how they do this!

Toilet to Tap

Did you know that most of the waste water (i.e. toilet and sink water) gets treated and then pumped out into the ocean? Once it's out there you can't reclaim it unless you have a desalinization plant (expensive) or wait for it to become rain. In Southern California you don't get a lot of rain, so Orange County has looked to short circuit Mother Nature. They take the treated sewage, run it through a system that uses a particle filter, reverse osmosis, and UV treatment and then pump it back underground into the aquifer, where 3-6 months later, you're drinking it! Apparently, the water is crystal clear and pure. Cool!

With low reservoirs and dry forecasts ahead, many California cities are being forced to consider new options for providing drinking water — options that may not be appetizing. Orange County has spent almost $500 million dollars on a new water-purification plant to turn wastewater into drinking water. The plant is scheduled to come online this week.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Macbook Air

I hate to admit it but it's true that I'm fickle. I want the Macbook Air more than the airplane/carmobile that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It's three pounds, 0.16 to 0.76 inch thick, with a big 13.3" screen and has a 5 hr battery life. The ultimate in road warrior accessories. Did I mention that the cool factor is very high? Fathers Day only comes once a year, kids, so buy one for Daddy.

MacBook Air is ultrathin, ultraportable, and ultra unlike anything else. But you don’t lose inches and pounds overnight. It’s the result of rethinking conventions. Of multiple wireless innovations. And of breakthrough design. With MacBook Air, mobile computing suddenly has a new standard.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Crab Kung Fu

This little guy is performing kung fu, crab style, but you have to be careful when you are wielding dangerous weapons...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Self Destructing Palm Tree

Reminds me of science fiction story I once read by Larry Niven where aliens genetically engineered palm trees that grew into solid booster rockets (they called them "stage" trees). You can find the story in some of his collective works.

Botanists have discovered a new species of giant self-destructing palm on the island of Madagascar. The tree, described as the nation's largest palm species, is unlike anything else ever found on the island before, say scientists. Although villagers knew of its existence, none had witnessed the tree in flower. When this finally happened last year, botanists found that the tree spent so much energy flowering that it died...


Monday, January 7, 2008

Dangerous things for kids to do

Play with fire, own a pocket knife, throw things... Gever Tulley talks about how we protect our children too much and as such they miss out on valuable learning experiences. Reminds me of the Dangerous Book for Boys and the Daring Book for Girls.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Using Molten Salt in Your Power Plant

This solar array uses molten salt to store energy for later use. It can supply enough energy for 15,000 homes. Check out the slide show.

An aerial view of Nevada Solar One. The site takes up about 300 acres and contains 760 mirror arrays measuring about 100 meters each. Getting energy from this plant, rather than coal plants, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million tons a year.

The amazing thing is that it has only taken 1 year to build this array. That's actually pretty fast!