Archive for the ‘General Coolness’ Category
Banzai’s promise and fail (from failblog.org)
Their latest deceptive photography is on the packaging and publicity for the Banzai Slide N’ Splash Whale Pool.
Their packaging shows four children in the pool with tons of space between them (two in the pool, one on the slide and one at the top ready to slide down). But the reality makes that impossible.
As you can see from the photo there’s barely enough room for one child.
And over at Amazon, there are many more complaints about the product including leaks right out of the box, tangled hoses, and the slide being so unstable that children can’t actually slide down it or climb the stairs. In addition there are many complaints about the actual size of the pool compared to the photo.
User photos at Amazon also show just how small the pool actually is compared to their blatantly deceptive image.
The box says it is for ages up to 12. Clearly that is ludicrous. A 12 year old wouldn’t even fit in the pool let alone slide down the whale.
As I mentioned, Banzai has been using deceptive photography on their products for years. I believe it’s time for this to end. But consumers need to do more about it than post complaints on Amazon. They need to head to the Better Business Bureau and report the company. Next, head over to the Federal Trade Commission and report it there as well.
“Escaped” tiger lounging in a field
Police in Hampshire, England were mobilized when a member of the public spotted a tiger in a field through a his camera’s telephoto lens. The tiger didn’t seem too upset. He was just lying in a field.
Police investigated and contacted a local zoo for advice on how to handle the situation. After advising the officers, the zoo prepared a team of staff members trained for just such a situation, armed them with tranquilizer darts, and got ready to travel to the scene.
The nearby Country Golf Club was cleared of golfers and a local cricket game was suspended while police boarded a helicopter and flew to the scene to assess the situation.
But when they flew over the area, the tiger was blown over by the helicopter downdraft.
Hanging with police after the incident
It turns out it was just a plush toy. Police are now treating the incident as missing property and are investigating whether it was a hoax or just a lost toy.
The tiger looks to me to be the Melissa & Doug White Tiger Plush, which lists for $79.99. In fact, it’s almost a perfect match, down to the stripes on his tail. Not the kind of thing most people would accidentally leave lying around, which would lead me to believe it was probably a hoax.
I suppose it’s a testament to the realism of the plush tiger. It fooled police for about 1/2 hour.
It’s worrisome when toys are recalled due to safety issues. And in the past few years there have been more recalls than there should be.
Did you ever wonder what happens to all the batteries that were on those toys when they are pulled off the shelves and out of warehouses? They can’t be sold as new because they were in the toys.
The good news is that all those battereis are are pulled out of the toys and sold as surplus at a somewhat reduced rate.
American Science & Surplus is offering AA Duracell batteries for $3.25 for a package of 8.
Google is celebrating Roger Hargreaves and Mr Men and Little Misses books
with an assortment of Google logos today to celebrate his birthday.
I’m sorry to say I’m not familiar with Roger Hargreaves, so I’ll have to check out his books the next time I’m at the Library. They seem to have been very popular in Britain, so I’m not certain how widespread they are in the U.S. There have been four animated TV series of his stories in Britain in 2008 and 2009.
He first drew the characters when his Son, Adam asked him what a tickle looked like. After Mr. Hargreaves death in 1988, his son continued writing and drawing the books until his wife sold the rights to Chorion entertainment group.
An animated move is in the works for release in 2014.
To see all the versions of the logo, go to Google and hit refresh to get a new version.
Check out this amazing video of a xylophone constructed in the woods to promote the Touch Wood cell phone.
It’s supposedly entirely real with no tricks. I would think the timing would be better if it was done with any kind of CGI. But there may be a few camera cuts.
Anyway, it’s amazing to watch. Enjoy!
The only known suviving original Monopoly board
Earlier this year (or possibly late December, 2010, I’m not really sure) the oldest known Monopoly board sold at a Sotheby’s auction for £90,000, which converts to about $146,000. The Strong National Museum of Play was the high bidder for the board and it will go on display at the museum in Rochester, New York.
This board is the only known surviving example of around 5,000 that were hand-crafted by the games "inventor", Charles Darrow. It is circular rather than the familiar square board and it’s hand-drawn on oilcloth. Darrow drew the properties and his wife and son colored in the spaces.
There is some controversy over the origins of the game. It is certainly known that the game is based on a game created by Elizabeth Magie in 1903 called The Landlord’s Game which was more of a political statement rather than a game. She wanted to draw attention to the way in which rents enriched property owners and impoverished tenants. At least one version of The Landlord’s game is known to exist, which would pre-date the Monopoly board that just sold.
After Lizzie Magie invented the game it was used by various professors for instructional purposes and became popular with Quakers (who eliminated the auction rule because they didn’t believe in it). The streets were mostly around the city of Chicago at that time.
A closeup view of the original board
In the 1920′s the game was apparently popular in Reading Pennsylvania, mostly through fraternities at Williams College.
Ruth Hoskins became aware of the game in Indianapolis and took it back to Atlantic city, where it took on the Atlantic City street names. This version was taught to Charles Todd, who taught Esther Darrow, the wife of Charles Darrow who then began to distribute the game as "Monopoly" with the hand-drawn boards which were reportedly the exact size of his dining room table. (Whew!)
Sign at the real Marven Gardens
You may know that the streets on the Monopoly Board are all in Atlantic City, but did you know that one of them, Marvin Gardens, is both not actually in Atlantic City and is misspelled? The actual location, Marven Gardens, is a housing area in Margate City New Jersey and is said to be a combination of Margate City and Ventnor City due to it’s location between them. Charles Darrow made the original mistake of misspelling it on his circular boards and it has never been corrected.
The history of Monopoly is as complicated as the game itself. The issues surrounding the origination of the game led to various law suits which were not finally settled until 1985 a change in the trademark laws, lobbied by Parker Brothers, allowed them to again claim ownership of the trademark name "Monopoly".
Banana Twinkies from WalMart
I bought a box of Twinkies yesterday.
I know, "big deal". But I never buy or eat Twinkies. And these weren’t just any Twinkies. When I saw them I had to buy them.
They were Banana Twinkies.
A bit of Twinkie history for those who don’t know why Banana Twinkies are special: Twinkies were first created when a baker noticed that their baking pans for strawberry shortcake were going unused when strawberries were out of season (back when you couldn’t get fruit all year long). So he came up with a banana-filled shortcake to make in the off-season, and Twinkies were born. But during World War II bananas were rationed. So they had to switch to vanilla flavored filling. In the end, the vanilla Twinkies sold far better than the banana ones. So they never went back.
Unlike the original Twinkies, these are artificially flavored, which is a shame. So they aren’t true throwback Twinkies. But they are pretty good.
It looks like they’ve done the banana version at least once before, for a promotion with the movie King Kong. And it seems like these have been around for a bit, although they aren’t mentioned on the Hostess website.
Banana isn’t your favorite flavor? You’re in luck. Hostess will let you vote for the next Twinkie flavor. So put in your vote now! If you can’t wait for Hostess to create your flavor, you can always make your own with the Hostess Twinkies Bake Set. It’s a bit expensive at $99.00, but there’s also a generic version from Norpro that I’m sure will work just as well for around $20.00.
Twinkie Sushi. Yum.
For the true Twinkie fan, Hostess has a Twinkie cookbook. Some recipes include: Twinkie Sushi, Twinkie Burrito, Pigs in a Twinkie, and Pumpkin Twinkie Bread Pudding. I may need to try that last one.
I’ve got to squash some Twinkie urban legends:
Legend 1…Twinkies will last forever. They have a shelf life of 26 days. Twinkies only last that long because their recipe does not include milk or eggs.
Legend 2…Twinkies aren’t baked, they are "created" through chemical reactions that cause them to foam up and harden. Twinkies are baked like any other cake from standard ingredients, not a batch of chemicals. They are then injected with their filling through three holes. They do contain the usual chemicals that you’d find in most processed foods. To learn more about what’s in a Twinkie checkout Twinkie, Deconstructed, by Steve Etlinger. It will tell everything you ever wanted to know about how Twinkies are made.
Legend 3… Twinkies will survive Global Thermonuclear War. If Nuclear war occurs, don’t go searching for the Twinkie factory. Check out The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project and click on the Radiation Test to see how Twinkies fared when exposed to microwave radiation. We don’t suggest you try this at home. It didn’t go well.
Thomas Casey, an inventor has created an interesting amusement park ride which he calls the Rings of Saturn. It’s something of a mashup of a merry-go-round and Ferris wheel. He claims to have patented the ride, but I was unable to locate a patent in his name or one for anything similar and the document he displays in his video does not show any specifics.
His ride is insane. The mechanism would be huge and massive. It would have to be suspended very high in the air to clear the ground. I’m not sure how you would load the inner circle of riders. And the ride doesn’t seem all that much more exciting than simpler, current rides that are in actual operation. In addition, when you watch the ride run, some seats don’t really move much at all, while other are whipping around at ridiculous speeds. The folks at the axis of the outer ring barely move at all, just flipping over every half-turn. Hopefully the full-size version will run more smoothly than the model, which seems to get a little crazy every half-turn.
But, it certainly seems like he spent quite a bit of time and money on his model and idea. I think he has more of a future as a model builder than a ride inventor.
I’m a little surprised that he doesn’t seem to have a website and his listed email is fairly generic (I sent him an email, but received no reply).
It would certainly be fun to watch it run. I’m just not sure I’d ride it.
Would you ride this thing? Do you think we’ll see it an amusement park anytime soon?
Some guys at Panasonic who call themselves SPARKS got a message on their facebook page from a girl in Bahrain named Amna who’s brother, Saleh had never seen snow. They happened to have new super-insulating panels at their disposal called U-VACUA. So what did they do?
They started in Japan, made a snowman cast out of Styrofoam, filled the Styrofoam mold with snow, covered all 6 sides with U-VACUA, placed the box in a wooden crate and sent it from Japan to Bahrain.
But before the actual trip, they did a test of their idea in the closest thing they could find to the desert… A sauna. They used shaved ice, made a little snowman, packed it in the U-VACUA, and left him in the sauna for 24 hours. When they took him out, he was still frozen. Success! Now they’re ready for the real trip.
So they went out to the real snow, loaded up their form with about 67 L of snow, sealed up the snowman in the U-VACUA and sent him on his 40 hour journey to Bahrain.
What is U-VACUA?
U-VACUA is a glass fibrous core sealed inside a plastic-Metal foil which has then had all the air sucked out of it. This creates insulation that is 20 times more than polyurethane foam. They use it for refrigerators, thermal pots, cooler boxes and attic insulation.
Did the snowman survive his 5,314 mile journey? Did Saleh get to experience snow?
Yes, of course he survived. If not, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post about the adventure.
Check out the video below of the adventure and the excited Bahrainian kids when they arrived with their snowman.
Santa won’t get past this Chimney undetected
It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve decided to catch Santa once-and-for-all. So you camp out on the sofa and wait for the jolly man. But, you doze off and when you wake up it’s Christmas morning and there are presents under the tree and your milk and cookies are nibbled and sipped. Now you have to wait another year to try again.
Well, Thomas Cane, of San Rafael California had enough of the routine and decided to do something about it.
So he invented "A children’s Christmas Stocking device useful for visually signaling the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating an externally visible light source having a power source located within said device.
He was serious about it too. On August 19, 1994 he filed a Patent with the US Patent Office for the device. It’s patent number 5,523,741.
Here are a few tidbits from the patent:
"Modern folklore includes many mystical entities such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Etc. The most widely recognized and embraced by young children is Santa Claus—a plump, white-bearded and red-suited gentleman who delivers presents to "good" children at Christmas time."
"…there are no such prior art arrangements known to applicant which includes a light transmissive three dimensional hollow recognizable character rendition which is capable of being illuminated to signal the arrival of Santa Claus."
"This is particularly important to young children, providing reassurance that the child’s good behavior has in fact been rewarded by Santa Claus."
This is a good one…
"…the presently preferred embodiment of the children’s device… comprises a Christmas stocking having an enclosure therein to accommodate small Christmas presents/treats. The stocking includes a top portion, a heel portion and a toe portion. The stocking is preferably constructed out of a conventional cloth or synthetic material. As will be recognized by one skilled in the art, the stocking may comprise various conventional pliable materials."
Bascially, the way it works is you string ribbon across the fireplace and attach it to the stocking. When Santa arrives, he inadvertently pulls on the ribbon as he attempts to gain access to your home through the fireplace opening, which pulls on a switch, activating lights on the stockings and electronic music, if you’ve turned on that feature. An alternate version would use Santa cutouts rather than stockings which would move his arms, legs and head, doing a little dance. He has covered other holidays as well in the patent such as a version for the Easter Bunny.
Is Thomas Cane trying to catch Santa Clause? Maybe. But his invention is really meant as a product that "Santa" would purposely activate once the kids have gone to bed and the presents have "arrived", so they can check it when they get up in the morning to be sure Santa was there.
I checked online and found other similar items that are available now such as the Santa Evidence Kit. This kit has items that Santa has "left behind" as evidence to children that he was there such as a torn piece of his suit, a sleigh bell, a stencil and magic snow to create a snowy boot print, and more.