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The phrase, "I've got more problems than Carter has pills" was the subject of debate at work: two had heard it before, the others had no idea what a peanut-farming president had to do with it. Turns out, a different, non-presidential Carter really did have lots of little pills -- specifically, little liver pills. A 'patent medicine' purveyor, Carter walked the snake-oil line alongside Kellogg during that poop-centered era of medical history, ending up producing a pill that actually seems to have worked. Years passed, 'liver' was dropped because, well, the pill had little to do with livers, but it continued to be used. Carter's expanded into Carter-Wallace, eventually becoming known for other products: Arrid antipersperant, Trojan condoms, and Nair. You can still get Carter's Little Pills, (a brand revival attempt?) but only in Canada it seems. Unfortunately, Carter isn't in change anymore: the company is now owned by Church & Dwight, aka Arm & Hammer. Having "more problems than Church & Dwight has pharmaceutical company acquisitions" just doesn't have the same ring. #

The number "104.7" must be the kiss of death: that station here in Fargo has made yet another change in format. Mix 104.7, formerly The Wolf 104.7, formerly KDAM 104.7, temporarily EdFM, and along with other stunting and probably other formats in between I missed, is changing format yet again -- to a quasi-oldies 70s and 80s station called Mojo 104. My guess is 104.7 is a testbed for programming on their other stations -- why else would a broadcasting company do something so stupid as to change formats every year or so? Advertisers and listeners want predictability. #

I've been to the Mall of America once, only to pick someone up; the distance I entered the mall was barely a smidgen of its actual volume. I really have no interest in going -- I've been to malls before, and I'm not much of a mall-shopper. Neither is this guy, it seems, who spent a week in the mall. All goes pretty well, before he starts to go all HST on a mall bar's ass. The article does take the "Fear and Loathing" thing a bit too far, but it remains entertaining throughout. Important note: you can sleep in the aquarium. Maybe I will have to go to the mall after all. #

Currency is a fickle thing in today's electronic age: we're all accustomed to moving cash with clicks and plastic, but if there's not an electronic version, what do you do? Return to the world of transporting suitcases of cash -- something Dartmouth Capital (parent of SafeDinar.com) does on a regular basis. Because the Iraqi Dinar isn't exchanged on the world markets, the only way to do business in dinar is to move the paper around. The premise is something right out of a spy flick, exchanges made in seedy hotel lounges with questionable contacts, covering tracks, and looking over the shoulder. As cash is untrackable, this sort of dealing does attract the wrong sort: North Korea has done their own smuggling, as well as Hamas; the exchange process is also ripe for money laundering. The process itself is somewhat illegal -- smuggling cash out of a country is frowned on by their treasury -- even though can be necessary for expanding international commerce. Without nefarious purposes, the transport of huge amounts of cash internationally can land you in jail anyway. #

Those Futurama guys pull references from all kinds of obscure corners -- I was looking for old scifi covers, and ran across this one. My first reaction was that it must be some marketing thing for Futurama, despicting a stylized Bender-like robot, but it turns out that this cover was largely the inspiration for the character of Bender. #

If you're like me and still use an SLR film camera, the textured faux-leather parts are probably getting a bit ratty. No worries -- just replace them. The company, cameraleather.com, has pre-cut leather replacement panels for a huge number of cameras, in a wide variety of styles. Since the film camera is becoming a relic of the past, why not restore yours with a little style? It's like the fresh leather upholstery in a restored classic car -- it might not be in the style of the original, but it sure looks better than what it looked like before. #

Rather than writing anything myself, I'll point y'all over to Metafilter, who has a link-filled post on one of the bigger historical events of the 20th century here in North Dakota. You know, if I knew that announcing a big 'ol party in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota and people would actually come, I might try it again. However, with the Zip to Zap as an example of how it can go horribly, horribly wrong, well, I guess I'll give it some more thought. Still, if it's still on the fuzzy edges of society's memory (as is most everything revived on Metafilter), it can't have been that big of a failure. #

If you've bought a Ford recently, you might want to look into this: All Model Ts are being recalled. It's a novel way of letting everyone know that the last remaining examples of this pioneer of the automobile industry are reaching their 100th birthday, and the Model T Ford Club of America would like to meet them. Next July, Model Ts are invited to Indiana to celebrate their birthday, at which time we'll all remember that in September 1908 the automobile finally became within the reach of the average citizen, who would spend a few years figuring out where to park the thing out of the rain. A century seems vast, but on the scale of things it's barely a blip -- to go from this ramshackle car to THIS in half that time...and what have we done with cars since then? Heated butt-warmers, that's what. If you'd rather feel more 'motor city' in your celebration, Michigan (home of the Model T Automotive Heritage Compex), has got one, too. #

Looking for a career worthy of being an eccentric but lovable character on Numb3rs? Try Accident Reconstructionist -- those guys who know automobile accidents inside and out, and can review an accident like rewinding a videotape; forensics meets the junkyard. Insurance companies and lawyers have their own, but most police departments have one or can borrow one from nearby. You can even hire one yourself, if you need one. If you think you can do it, they've got an association, cool videogames, and even templates! I loves the templates. #

The 2007 Art Burn was tonight. The Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists have an annual Art Burn to allow artists the ability to ceremonially destroy art they no longer wish to exist, rather than sending it to the dump or giving it away; it allows the art to retain its symbolic value, even though it no longer physically exists. More will appear on Collector's Quest Monday morning. #

Most of the non-relevant search-engine hits in my referrer logs are either naughty or spammy, but this one just had to make me smile: someone's trying to find clothes that fit a great dane. I hope they found what they're looking for...and share pictures. #

Mithridatization: Whether you're the Dread Pirate Roberts or Mithridates VI Eupator (who lends his name to the process), mithridatization is the process of slowly poisoning yourself to make yourself immune to a deadly substance. It takes, of course, a great amount of patience -- not something to try and speed up by doubling the dose -- and the process could go wrong in so, so many ways, thus the average person might not want to start a regimen of arsenic Eggos in the morning just yet. If you're the kind of person who risks being poisoned on a daily basis, however, it may be worth the time. #

Journalist Scott Libin pulled out some lacquer transcription archives of his father, a radioman from years ago, and found a way to turn these recordings into something he could put online. I've looked Crosley machines before, and figured they were low-end novelty equipment; Libin actually produced pretty good copies given the quality of the original -- listen to an interview by Libin's father, at a barbershop. #

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Rascals," a Starfleet-approved periodic table was shown. Of course, when Table Of Elements 99823 is magnified using our 21st century technology, it can be seen to be full of jokes. Me, I'm waiting on an order for a bicycle chain made of an alloy of Daffyduckium and Turbonium...my bike would be so cool that Darmok would "jalad the tanagra," if you know what I mean. #

Someone has taken the time and craftsmanship to turn a laptop into fine furniture. People used to mock the 32" 1970s console TV I owned -- complete with wood spindles and faux-drawers -- but now wrapping technology in wood and metal fittings is called "steampunk." *sigh* We need more electronics designed as fine furniture, instead of ungainly pseudo-futuristic shapes that don't fit anyplace. #

3D printers, a staple of scifi, have actually been around a while -- I've been picking up their samples at tradeshows for at least 5 or 6 years, and at the Mountain-Plains Museum convention I got a cool fabricated arrowhead from Prairie Fire 3D that I play with like a worry-stone at my desk. The open-source world, of course, jumps on the coolest stuff and relies on the wisdom of crowds to come up with 3D printing for the masses. Fab@Home is the place for learning how to make your own fabricator, with which you can take your favorite squirtable medium and start building. #

Scientists have used nanotechnology to produce the world's smallest radio. Little more than a resonant hair, the momofilament carbon tube turns radio energy into mechanical energy, which is then turned into an electronic signal -- acting much more like a taut string between two soupcans than a radio receiver. Well, but much cooler, and I've never actually gotten a taut string to work the way the Boy Scout Handbook says it should. These guys got their hair to play Layla, and that rocks. Bonus trivia: Largo from the opera Xerxes was the first music broadcast by radio. #

Nov
1
2007
1 comment
The sign has been on the wall at work for weeks, warning us that we would be painting bowls. Bowl-painting? Eh, could be fun, but I usually leave in the morning before anything fun happens, so I didn't count on participating.

Today, I had to stay late to make up for hours lost this evening. Then, I heard there's be pizza for the bowl-painters, and we didn't have to punch out.

That pretty much sealed it. I'd be a bowl-painter.

So, I was given a plain, bisque bowl and chose several colors of paint: brown, blue, purple, white, black. I was going to paint something scenic; I don't think I'm a great painter, but it's just a bowl. I've learned enough by studing Pletan's works, I figured I could pull it off.

Surprisingly, everyone had much the same feeling as me: their bowl was to be perfect, yet after the first few minutes of spreading paint, perfection was clearly not going to happen. I, too, despite compliments from my coworkers, felt my art sucked. The paint was drying too quickly and couldn't be worked very well. I was leaving spots where spots should not be. I didn't count on how painting on the obtuse curve of a bowl would affect my ham-handed attempt at a mountain-bordered horizon. My art was amateurish at best.

Who'd think that a bunch of people working in a detail-oriented would be picky about their art? Go figure.

Oh, well, I told myself: I can think I'm doing crap, but what of it? Artistically, some of the Fargo bison weren't all that great, but they got called 'art'. In my best managerial voice, I complimented my coworkers and employees, pointing out what I thought was cool about theirs. I allowed myself to paint a symmetric ring of pine trees, where symmetry doesn't really exist in nature. It's a freaking bowl -- what does anybody expect?

So, I finished my bowl, ate my pizza, and then checked out everybody elses work with a dash of positive reinforcement and a reminder it's all for charity. The March of Dimes in the area is hosting Bowls for Babies on December 5th. They've asked a bunch of contributors to try their hand at fine art, decorating nearly a thousand bowls. Donors will attend the soup banquet on the Dec 5th, with the first 900 being given one of these painted bowls to keep. Helping babies and free art? That's an event! Keep an eye out for my bowl:


Just as MST3K has announced an abbreviated return, Joel and a big chunk of the other MST3K alumni have announced their own movie-riffing online program called Cinematic Titanic. While I'm looking forward to both, I hope that this is friendly competition between the two camps; if either side starts getting ugly over their competition, then it stops being fun to watch. #



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