Friday, April 3, 2015

Cute Degus Bathe in Their Sand Box

What's a degu? It's a cute, furry rodent, native to Chile, that is becoming more popular as a pet. Degus are about the size of a medium guinea pig. To me, they kind of look like miniature capybaras. And apparently, they really enjoy bathing in sand. Degu owners always provide a little sandbox for them to frolic in and roll around in.

And that's what these two cute degus are doing:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Timelapse of Nighttime Lightning Storm

Just a cool video to pass along showing a timelapse of lightning over the mountains near Embudo, New Mexico:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Is This the Best Steve Martin Talk Show Appearance Ever?

Steve Martin has been on the American (and world) entertainment scene for a long time now - nearly 50 (!) years. His on-screen career dates to the late 1960s, but he became very famous in the early to mid-1970s. And he's done a lot of talk shows over the years. And Martin typically kills in the talk show setting.

I can recall several iconic Martin appearances on talk shows. There was his Johnny Carson-requested performance of The Great Flydini (his only performance of that act on camera) for one of Carson's final Tonight Shows. There was the Late Night with David Letterman appearance in which Martin showed up with a doctor and begged out of talking to Letterman, feeling sick. Dave offers Steve the chance to lay down and rest in Dave's office, but during periodic check-ins throughout the show we see Martin first planning and then hosting a giant, raucous part in Dave's office.

There are dozens more than come to mind. Of course, humor is a very personal thing, and your mileage may vary. But for my money, Steve Martin's funniest-ever talk show appearance happened in 1980 on Letterman's short-lived morning show. Having worked very hard the night before (so the bit went), Martin is wheeled out in bed. He's asleep, yet clutching a six pack of beer. There is a small, portable TV at the foot of the bed.

Here is Part 1 of the appearance (forgive the very low quality, but clips of Letterman's morning show are difficult to come by):

The phony commercial, from a TV special Martin is plugging, is hilarious: It's for "Honeymoon Butter," which is, literally, made with love.

If anything, the laughs get bigger (for me, anyway) in Part 2, once Martin, still clad in pajamas, leaves the bed for the chair next to Letterman:

It's easy to see why Letterman became such a late-night legend, why Steve Martin was always one of his favorite guests - but also why Letterman's morning show was canceled after just a few months. Imagine the people watching daytime TV in 1980 - accustomed to only seeing game shows, soap operas and talk shows like Phil Donahue and Gary Collins - stumbling on this.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Today in Cute: Hand-Feeding Grapes to a Baby Beaver

Have some grapes around and want to get rid of them quick? Leave it to beaver.

Or, rather, feed them to this baby beaver. Her name is Hazel, and she lives at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington (

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Helicone: Science or Art? Plenty of Both

What is the Helicone? You wouldn't be wrong if you called it an art piece, although a mobile one, one meant to be handled. And you wouldn't be wrong if you called the Helicone a toy, although a science toy, one meant to be pondered, one meant to excite wonder.

Whatever you call it, the Helicone is cool and beautiful. The Helicone, which you can buy on,comes looking like this:

But when you take it out of the box, set it on its base and spin it, the Helicone takes one of two forms:

On the left is a helix, on the right is a cone. The "helicone." Spin it and it transforms from one shape into the other.

The Helicone is made by a company called playableART - which calls it an "interactive kinetic sculpture" - and was designed by John Edmark. How does it work? Here's the best explanation I could find: "Through the use of internal stops, each arm is constrained to rotate a maximum of 68.75° (1/2 the Golden Angle) relative to its neighboring layer." Here's some more company text:

Inspired by nature, based on the Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Angle, helicone not only represents beautiful botanical structures but also provides stunning transformations before your very eyes. Watch it magically transform between a helix and a pine cone with a simple, quick twist.

To really appreciate the beauty of the Helicone, you have to see it in action:

And here's one more video:

You want one now, don't you? I sure do.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

World's Most Generic News Report: What Every TV News Report Looks Like

Have you ever noticed that many television news reports share the same basic structure - right down to the same visuals? Charlie Brooker noticed. Brooker says nearly every television news report is built the same way. And he shows us right here (parental alert - contains profanity):

Who is Charlie Brooker? He's an English broadcaster and satirist, and the above clip is taken from his shortlived BBC program Newswipe with Charlie Brooker. Newswipe aired on BBC Four for a total of 12 episodes during 2009-10. It featured Brooker reviewing the way news is covered by news channels.

According to Wikipedia's summary of the show:

The aim of Newswipe was to expose the inner workings of news media ... The series was a comic, thoughtful and acerbic analysis of recent news coverage. Newswipe also looked at the way the news is presented to the public. Experts were on hand to pick apart certain stories and analysed the news media's obsessions.

Charlie Brooker commented: "This is new territory for me: I'm no current affairs expert. Just like, I suspect, many people, when I tune into the news I often feel like I've wandered into episode 389 of the world's most complex soap opera. So it's also about me trying to make sense of a bewildering and often bloody stupid world."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cat Performs Hypnotherapy on Dog

Beware, dogs of the world: Not all cats offering massages are to be trusted! Some are just after your biscuits ... and the cat in this video is using kitty hypnotherapy to pull a fast one on his too-trusting doggie friend.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This Puppy Wants Its Doggie Bed Back From that Damn Cat!

Don't you just hate it when all you want to do is curl up in your bed but something's standing in your way? In the case of this adorable French bulldog puppy, it's a cat that's standing in the way! Kitty has claimed the doggie bed, and doesn't want to give it up. Will our intrepid puppy manage to get that damn cat out of its bed? Let's find out:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Astonishingly Beautiful Chand Baori Stepwell In Rajasthan, India

(Photo by selmerv/Flickr)

The photos on this page are of the Chand Baori, an architectural marvel of ancient and astonishing beauty located in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

(Photo by lumiere/Flickr)

Just what is Chand Baori, and where do all those steps lead? Chand Baori is a stepwell, and all those steps lead to water. A stepwell is, really, exactly what the word says: a well reached by a series of steps. Rather than dropping a bucket via pulleys down into a narrow, vertical shaft, and pulling it back up to get water, stepwells allow many people access at the same time to the water at the bottom of the steps. Lots of people can climb down those steps, fill a bucket or other receptacle with water, and climb back up. Hey, we never said it would be easy!

Chand Baori is one of the deepest - and certainly most elaborate and beautiful - stepwells in the world. It is located, more specifically, in the village of Abhaneri, near Jaipur, India. It was completed circa 800 AD - making it around 1,200 years old - and the stairs descend the equivalent of 13 stories. There are 3,500 steps.

And at the bottom of all those steps there is still water today:

(Photo by doron/Wikimedia Commons)

However, the Chand Baori stepwell is no longer used as a source of drinking water today. It's a fantastic tourist attraction, though.

One of the four walls of the stepwell is given to pavilions and a temple:

(Photo by selmerv/Flickr)

Many of the photos of Chand Baori make it appear as though the staircases are very narrow and the sides of the stepwell are quite steep. But in reality the steps aren't nearly as scary as they appear depending on the angle of the photo. For example:

(Photo by stuartjaksharp/Flickr)

No matter how you look at it, the Chand Baori stepwell is an architectural wonder, and a destination of great beauty and awe.

(Photo by Vetra/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by arpitaroy8/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo by Joel Leimer/Flickr)