John Farrier's Blog Posts

Birth of a Shoe Company

The Twenty-Second Rule of Acquisition says that "A wise man can hear profit in the wind." He senses opportunities and maneuvers around obstacles with ingenuity. That's what fashion mogul Kenneth Cole did in 1982, when he was just getting started in the business. He needed to show his shoes at a New York City fair, but didn't have enough money to get in. He rented a large truck and hoped to park it on the street for a mobile fashion show. But Cole couldn't get the necessary permit from the Mayor's office. Only utility and motion picture companies could park trucks for extended periods of time. It was in this exemption that Cole found a way around the permitting problem:

So Mr. Cole decided to do just that -- shoot a movie. He filed for a permit to shoot "The Birth of a Shoe Company," and outfitted his trailer with a director, cameramen (although not all of them had film), and "actresses" who played the "roles" of models, displaying the shoes.

And yes, the shoes were indeed for sale. Kenneth Cole sold all 40,000 pairs of shoes over two and a half days, establishing itself as a force in the fashion of footwear, and giving the company a much needed cash infusion as it expanded toward greater heights.


Link | Photo by Flickr user Kables used under Creative Commons license

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London's BT Tower Converted into World's Largest Lightsaber



At 627 feet, the British Telecom Tower is one of the tallest buildings in London. As a promotional gimmick for the new Blu-ray version of Star Wars, LucasFilm had it rigged to project a beam of light high into the sky. When viewed from the right angle, it looked like a lightsaber.

Link (Google Translate) -via Copyranter

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Two-Stage, Clustered Water Rocket Reaches 810' into the Air


(Video Link)


This water rocket is no mere toy. George Katz has built a machine that looks like kludge, but is all genius. The first stage rises 163 feet into the air before detaching the second stage, which clears 810 feet before parachuting to the ground.

Katz's Website -via Make

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Embroidered Wine Stains



Amelia Harnas carefully and repeatedly stained fabric with wine using a wax resist dyeing technique. Then she embroidered highlights onto the fabric, creating lovely and unique portraits.

Link -via Nag on the Lake

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The Darth Knight



Hopefully he is voiced by James Earl Jones instead of Christian Bale. Or Kevin Conroy, who was the best Batman of them all.

Link -via Geekologie | Photo: Unknown

Previously: Bat Vader

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Huge Pumpkins Turned into Boats, Then Raced Against Each Other


(Video Link)


Damariscotta, Maine, hosts an annual regatta of pumpkin boats. Yes, pumpkin boats. People take huge pumpkins, hollow them out, and then use them as boats. Some even attach outboard motors. Then contestants race each other. Why? Because they are awesome.

Link -via reddit

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Guinea Pig Rental Service

Guinea pigs and other small mammals don't do well as solitary pets. They need at least one companion or they get lonely. Guinea pig owners know this, but the Swiss government takes it very seriously. In Switzerland, it's illegal to keep a single guinea pig, which causes a potentially endless problem:

[...] the owner would have to purchase a new, probably younger guinea pig as a companion to the ageing survivor, whose eventual death would force the purchase of yet another guinea pig, locking the owner into an endless cycle of guinea pig purchases in order to adhere to Swiss law -- even though he or she may only ever have wanted one guinea pig in the first place.


Animal lover and entrepreneur Priska Küng found a solution. She owns eighty guinea pigs and rents them out to owners of solitary pigs, who can return them after their own pigs has passed on:

She takes 50 Swiss francs (€41) for a castrated male and 60 francs for a female, "as a deposit," Küng explains. In effect, she sells the animals but pays back half the purchase price when they are returned. The job of the leased rodents is to cheer up companions in their twilight years.

Some return after just a few poignant weeks, others after months, but some stay away for years. "Sometimes people realize that they still get so much enjoyment from the guinea pigs that they want to go on keeping them and come back for another one once their supposed last pet has died," says Küng.


Link -via Marginal Revolution | Photo by Flickr user mksystem used under Creative Commons license

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Banana Fan


(Video Link)


The banana fan has been around since 2002. This video was uploaded in 2007. Yet somehow these things are still not in mass production. How can that be?

-via That's Nerdalicious!

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Scrap Metal Mercedes



Giganten aus Strahl is an art studio in Germany that produces fantastic sculptures out of scrap metal, including this sadly nonfunctional Mercedes 300 coupe replica. You can see more photos at the link, including ones that show the scrap metal spare tires in the trunk and the scrap metal engine under the hood.

Link -via Dude Craft

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Pin and Thread Illustrations



Mind = blown. Debbie Smythe, a textile artist from the UK, makes enormous installations composed of threads strung along pins. Although what you're seeing may look like a pen and ink drawing, it's actually hundreds of pins and narrow threads. Take a look at her website to see close-in, detailed photos of how she assembles these works.

Artist's Website -via Colossal

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Butterfinger Cheesecakes



Get in mah belleh! Naomi of Bakers Royale created these cheesecakes. The crust is made out of Butterfinger candy bars and prezels and the whole concoction is topped with chocolate sauce and peanut butter cream cheese frosting.

Link -via Tasteologie

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8 Lines That Would Have Ended Star Wars Really Quickly



A decision by a single character, often a very small change, would have completely altered the Star Wars trilogy. Brian Murphy of Dorkly offers eight examples. Sadly, no change to the original trilogy could have prevented the prequels from taking place.

Link -via Bit Rebels

Previously by Brian Murphy: Star Wars Facebook Updates

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Signs for Retirement Home Are Pretty, But Potentially Confusing



On the other hand, maybe trying to figure out where they are will help the residents of this Zürich retirement home will keep their minds active. Anyway, this design by Information Architects is certainly aesthetically appealing.

Link -via Swiss Miss

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Marge Simpson's Letter to the First Lady



Barbara Bush, the First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993, didn't think much of The Simpsons, and said so publicly. Marge Simpson took offense and wrote a polite but firm letter objecting to Bush's characterization of the show as "the stupidest thing I've ever seen." The First Lady responded to Mrs. Simpson's note and apologized for the remark.

Link -via The Mary Sue

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The Funnel Wall of Dresden



The Neustadt Kunsthofpassage, if I understand my sources correctly, is an artsy neighborhood in Dresden. One wall of a building there is covered with funnels and gutters shaped like musical instruments. It's like a Rube Goldberg machine with water.

Link -via Bit Rebels | Video of the Wall | Photo: Atlas Obscura

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Tom Selleck's Mustache Can Improve Any Movie


(Video Link)


YouTube user Buchan39 has figured it out: adding Tom Selleck's iconic mustache immediately elevates the quality of any movie. Toy Story? Check. American Beauty? Check. The Exorcist? Check. Steel Magnolias? Well, that's not in the video, but the 'stache could only help.

-via Nerd Bastards

Previously: Tom Selleck Saved My Baby

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Sound Tank for the DJ in the Most Dangerous Working Conditions



German artist Nik Nowak is prepared for the worst DJing assignments. His tank is an enormous sound system mounted on the chassis of a tracked dumper. When he's in position, he can lift the body of the tank forward to make his speakers face the audience. All the controls that he needs to drive or manipulate sound are in the cockpit. So who has a request?

Link -via DVICE

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Canada Issues Legal Tender Coins with Imaginary Monsters on Them



Canada's Royal Mint has introduced a line of quarter dollar coins with native cryptids on them. One one side, you can find Queen Elizabeth II. On the other, you'll see variously Memphré, which is a reptilian monster that inhabits a lake in Quebec, Mishepishu, which is a water panther of Lake Superior, or the more internationally famous Sasquatch.

Link -via Geekosystem

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Dominic Wilcox's Watch Sculptures


(Video Link)


Dominic Wilcox is a very imaginative artist whose work we've featured extensively at Neatorama. His latest project is a real treat: moving human figures inside watches. The results are often quite amusing. My favorites are "Oblivious iPhone User" and "The Unrequited Handshake."

Link -via Born Rich

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Tie the Knot Wedding Invitation



I like this simple but cute wedding invitation design by Cristina Moralejo. As you open it, you tie the proverbial knot.

Link -via Fubiz

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Batman Interrogates the Wrong Clown


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Well, over time, the Joker did change his appearance. I mean, Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger didn't look alike at all. So some confusion is inevitable for a busy vigilante.

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Thomas Doyle’s Post-Apocalyptic Dioramas



I'm not sure how Thomas Doyle envisions the end of the world, but his dioramas depict clear separations between that which is destroyed and that which remains intact. His whole series called "Distillation" is hauntingly engaging.

Link -via Colossal

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Jogging Suit with a Built-in MP3 Player



Rafael Rozenkranz designed a washable jogging suit that has a MP3 player built into it. A kinetic generator powers the player, which is controlled with large buttons on the chest. Best of all, the skintight suit will look so very attractive on you.

Link -via DVICE | Project Website

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Elephant Balancing on the Tip of Its Trunk



You can find this amusing sculpture by Miquel Barceló in Union Square in New York City. It stands 26 feet tall and weighs 7 tons. Why an elephant, let alone one in this position? The artist explained, "A tree looks like an upside-down elephant, and when you touch a tree, it feels like the skin of an elephant."

Link -via My Modern Met | Photo: Marlborough Gallery

Previously by Miquel Barceló: The UN's New Grotto

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Bottle Cap Self-Portrait



Chicago-based artist Mary Ellen Croteau made this self-portrait out of translucent plastic bottle caps. When carefully stacked in different combinations, they produce a wide array of colors. This entire mosaic is eight by seven feet across.

Link -via Dude Craft

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Ruth Belville, the Woman Who Sold Time

From 1836 to 1940, the Bellville family of London operated a business of letting people know the time. Ruth Bellville, the most famous member of that family, walked around London with a high grade watch that had been set to within one tenth of a second of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. For a fee, she'd tell you the current time:

Clients checked their timepieces against the Belvilles' silver "chronometer", which was called Arnold after its maker, and paid for the privilege.

Such was the reliability of Ruth Belville and Arnold as distributors of GMT that competition from the electric signals of the Standard Time Company could not put them out of business, despite a "dirty tricks" campaign, through lecture halls and newspapers, to undermine Ruth's old-fashioned practice.


Belville continued to ply her trade up to the age of 86, including making the twelve-mile journey on foot to Greenwich.

Link -via Nerdcore | Photo: Futility Closet

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Super Mario Bros. in Only 64 Pixels


(Video Link)


Brad Slattery made Super Pixel Bros., a version of Super Mario Bros. that is played with 64 alternating lights. The whole design is quite minimal. There's a 8X8 LED matrix, a digital display, and controller buttons mounted onto a circuit board. There are multiple levels in the game, each of which is 120 pixels wide. Mario is represented by a simple yellow dot.

Link -via Bit Rebels

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Interactive Map Shows Migration Throughout the World



The Migrations Map is an interactive map that lets you see which countries people are moving to and from across the world. Here, for example, are the ten largest streams of immigrants into Australia. The UK contributes the largest share with over one million current residents of Australia.

This map was made by Martin De Wulf, a computer scientist in Brussels.

Link -via MetaFilter

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The Quadratic Formula as a Tax Form



In a way, this actually makes it simpler. But I'll probably end up using tax preparation software anyway.

-via Glenn Reynolds | Image: Daniel J. Velleman

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Hammock Boat



I can't find any information about this marvelous invention other than that it was spotted at the University of California at Davis. It does not appear to be a commercially-available product, but a one-off structure. I know one thing with certainty: I want one.

Link -via reddit

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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