John Farrier's Blog Posts

The Dutch Get Ready for a Rare Ice Skating Race

Europe has had a hard winter, but the upside may be that the Netherlands gets to hold a rare ice skating race. The Elfstedentocht is conducted in the province of Friesland whenever the 125-mile course of canals and lakes has frozen to a thickness of six inches:

Called the Elfstedentocht (or in English, the Eleven Cities Tour), the race is a roughly 200 kilometer trek across the frozen landscape and takes, at its fastest, over six hours. For the race to occur, the ice must be at least 15 centimeters thick throughout the course — which is rare. While the tradition of skating from city to city dates back to 1760, the race was not formalized until 1909. In the century-plus since, the Elfstedentocht has only taken place 15 times and not since 1997. [...]

If the race occurs in 2012, area officials expect as many as 15,000 skaters — and more than ten million viewers watching on television. Nearly 2 million fans will travel to the region as spectators — an absolutely enormous number given that the total population of the Netherlands is only about 17 million, and doubly so given that the race only occurs at sub-zero temperatures.

Link | News Story | Photo: Flickr user nikontino

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

How to Make Geeky Valentines in Photoshop

Okay, I've got one of Shakespeare's love sonnets in the original Klingon. Now I need a good valentine before Tuesday. Thankfully, Eric Goodnight of How-To Geek has a step-by-step tutorial with screenshots that shows how to make a geeky valentine with Photoshop. He also has eleven ready to use, including the two you see above.

Link -via Geek Crafts

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Garden Fork Folding Table

Natalie Sampson's table isn't just pretty; it's practical too. It folds into a small space and can be stuck wherever there's loose soil.

Link -via Dude Craft | Sampson's Website

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Cupcake with a Heart Baked into It

If you didn't have any instructions, how would you duplicate this cupcake? Suggest a method and then click on the link to see Kurryleaves's clever approach. Did you guess correctly?

Link -via Tasteologie

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Jabba the Hutt Birthday Cake

Unless it's properly prepared, I find that Hutt is tough with a gamey taste. Generally it's not the most appetizing option on the menu. But deviantART member KatesKakes's version promises to be sweet and moist.


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Coming Soon: A Doctor Who/Star Trek Crossover

Get the replicators programmed to serve fish fingers and custard because the Doctor is going to visit the Enterprise-D. Bleeding Cool reports that comic book publisher IDW will release a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series in May. Pictured above is the cover of the first issue.

Link -via blastr

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Ralph Waldo Emerson Rendered in Electrical Sockets

What's the connection between electricity and the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson? It's a play entitled Call Me Waldo in which an electrician is consumed by the spirit or at least the ideas of Emerson. The promoters of a new off-Broadway production commissioned Noah Scalin, the artist behind the Skull-a-Day project, to make this image.

Link -via Boing Boing | Scalin's Website

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Man Installs Wood-Burning Stove in His Car

Pascal Prokop of Switzerland didn't want to wait for the European cold snap to end. So he yanked the front passenger seat out of his Volvo and put in a wood-burning stove:

Pascal Prokop, who lives in Switzerland, caused a minor internet stir when photos of his stove-car near Mettmenstetten, a town 25 kilometres south of Zurich, began to circulate on Friday. [...]

Mr. Prokop obtained an operating permit for his stove-car from the Swiss Technical Inspection Authority, making it perfectly legal to operate.

You can view larger photos at the link.

Link -via DVICE | Photo: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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Savage Dogs Underwater

Even the sweetest pooch can get serious when it comes to competitive ball. Pet photographer Seth Casteel captured funny underwater images of friendly dogs looking ferocious while diving for balls.

Link | Photographer's Website

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The Gown Made from a Thousand Roses

To promote its floral products, the Walmart-owned supermarket chain Asda commissioned this amazing dress made from flower petals. Joe Massie, an award-winning florist, and his team assembled it using roses, chrysanthemums and gerberas:

The gown, designed for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, involves more than 170 hours of labor and reportedly weighs just under two stone.

The gown features petals from 1,000 Naomi red roses all over the dress, fifteen Carmen roses and 200 chrysanthemums, decorated with gold-leaf, around the hip and skirt of the dress, and petals from 150 Purple Power roses, 75 gerberas and 300 carnations, all picked from Walmart’s Valentine's bouquet collection, to flush this creation.

You can view more and larger pictures at the link.

Link | Video | Photo: Press Association/Yahoo

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Composite Sketches of Literary Characters

Brian Joseph Davis uses a law enforcement composite sketch program to create pictures of literary characters. This is how the program saw Humbert Humbert from the physical description of him in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I'd love to see a rendering Bel-ka-Trazet from Shardik using this method. Which literary figures would you like to see as a composite sketch?

Link -via Kottke

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Donut Day Spa

Donuts -- is there anything they can't do? Say goodbye to worry lines, wrinkles and stretchmarks. Artist Josh Atlas has the right idea. Pile the donuts on. And, of course, you can always eat them afterward.

Link -via That's Nerdalicious! | Photo: Jeff Barnett-Winsby

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Tazer Ball Is Like Soccer, Except That the Players Are Armed with Tasers

Will Tazer Ball ever win the recognition that it deserves and become an Olympic sport? We don't know. But even in the absence of that respect, members of the Toronto Terror and other teams will continue to bravely shock each other with underpowered tasers. So far, there are only four teams in the Ultimate Tazer Ball league. But the potential appeal of this sport is obvious.

Link -via The Agitator | Image: Ultimate Tazer Ball

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The Death Star's Trash Compactor Was Hopelessly Impractical

The exposed thermal exhaust port wasn't the only design problem that the Death Star had. It was plagued by low flow toilets that didn't work, stereo circuits that melted because they weren't insulated from engine heat and, as Joshua Tyree explains, a worthless trash compactor. Here are just two of the reasons why the compactor was an utter failure:

2. Why do both walls of the trash compactor move towards each other, rather than employing a one-movable-wall system that would thus rely on the anchored stability, to say nothing of the strength, of the other, non-moving wall, to crush trash more effectively?

3. Why does the trash compactor compact trash so slowly, and with such difficulty, once the resistance of a thin metal rod is introduced? Surely metal Death Star pieces are one of the main items of trash in need of compacting. It thus stands to reason that the trash compactor should have been better designed to handle the problem of a skinny piece of metal. (And while I hate to be the sort of person who says I told you so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that a one-movable-wall system would have improved performance.)

Link -via Jonah Goldberg | Image: Lucasfilm

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Cat Breading

This is why the Internet exists. The long march of human progress has finally ended; we have reached our destination. Rest and rejoice in our accomplishments. Then:

1) Take a piece of bread
2) Cut a hole approximately 1 inch larger than your cat's head. This trips some people up. Remember: the bread has to fit around not just the cat's head, but it's ears, too.
3) Gently place the bread around your cat's head.
4) Take a picture & post it! We love Cat Breading!

Link -via Nerdcore

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The Sea Is Screaming

(Video Link)

Ice floes on the Black Sea are scraping past each other, creating weird noises. If you couldn't see the video, what would you guess is making the sound?

-via The Presurfer

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The Simpsons Song Medley

(Video Link)

FreddeGredde's medley of songs from The Simpsons gives me an idea: turn the show into a musical. You know, like Cop Rock or Rags to Riches. It's guaranteed to breathe new life into the series.

-via The Uniblog | FreddeGredde's Website

Previously by FreddeGredde: Classic Cartoon Theme Song Medley

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Frank Lloyd Wright's Dog House

In 1956, 12-year old Jim Berger wanted to build a house for his dog. So he asked the Frank Lloyd Wright to design one.

In Berger's favor, Wright had designed his family's house. So he knew Berger and was on good terms with the kids' family. The famous architect composed a complete set of plans for a dog house that would fit the same style. Berger never built it, but his family did in 1963. The family dogs, however, disapproved of its organic style and refused to live in it.

Link -via Flavorwire | Photo: Architects + Artisans

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A Lady Knows How to Properly Insult Another

I am at a loss to explain why I love Downton Abbey, but I do. This is not an unusual sentiment. And the Dowager Countess has become my favorite character. She's unflappable, faithful to her sense of honor, and knows how to lay down a few words. Sunday Avery summarized her neatly in this cross stitch.

Link -via Craft

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I Prefer Pizza Sauce with Extra Thyme Lord

Vinnie's Pizza in Brooklyn gets creative with its menu board, showing themed meals for fans of A Clockwork Orange, Lost, Sons of Anarchy, and more. Stop by and exterminate a pizza during lunchtime.

Link -via reddit | Official Website

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Critical Thinking Skills Presented in a Classic Animation Style

(Video Link)

These videos by James Hutson are designed to introduce high school students to rational thinking. The style is reminiscent of the animated title sequences of Saul Bass. Therefore Saul Bass wanted people to think rationally. So watch the other five videos in the program at the link.

Link | Hutson's Website

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The 1910 Version of The Wizard of Oz

(Video Link)

For many of us, the 1939 film is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But it wasn't the first movie version of Baum's book. This version, based on a 1902 stage musical, was produced by the Selig Polyscope Company just ten years after the publication of the novel. If the 1939 film is your standard, then this version is surreal to watch. You can find part two at the link.


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The Horizontal Shower

The main disadvantage to getting up in the morning is compelling your body to move from a horizontal position to a vertical position. This experience has been vastly overrated and is avoided by all right-thinking people. Here's a breakthrough design by the home design firm Dornbracht that reduces, but not eliminates, this problem. The next necessary development is a machine that moves you from the bed to the shower (and then back to bed) without any personal effort. What do you think? Would you like to use a horizontal shower?

Content warning: nudity at both links.

Link -via Gizmodo | Photo: Dornbracht

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Man in Bender Helmet Proposes to Girlfriend in Binary

(Video Link)

You don't speak binary? That's okay. The bride-to-be explains what happened:

My boyfriend told me I had to close my laptop for a couple minutes, then when I logged back on this was posted to my facebook wall. He sat across the room as I transcribed and then decoded it. After about a half hour I found out it says, "Rachel, you are awesome. Will you marry me?" I said yes, of course :B

Marriages that are founded on ones and zeroes are the only ones that are stable and healthy because there's no such thing as two.

-via Geekologie

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This Is Smoke in a Bottle

I'm amazed that this is possible. Jim Dingilian adds a layer of soot inside bottles and then etches at the surface until he makes sharp looking landscapes. If you're in New York City, you can visit an exhibit of his work that opened yesterday.

Link and Exhibit Website -via Craft | Photo: MacKenzie Fine Art

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My Little Dalek: Extermination is Magic

Why don't Daleks on Doctor Who get cutie marks? There have to be different ways of exterminating life, and therefore different ways to earn them. This should be explored in a crossover episode.

Link -via The Mary Sue | Image: deviantART user XFizzle

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Famous Photos of Explosions Recreated in Cauliflower

Here at Neatorama, we often feature the work of artist Brock Davis. His genius lies in seeing hidden forms in ordinary objects, like a treehouse in a sprig of broccoli or a bearskin rug in a gummi bear. One of Davis's latest projects depicts famous explosions using cauliflower and skewers. Pictured above is the tragic destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. His other pieces in the set show the wreck of the Hindenburg and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Link -via @JosephHolmes

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What Would Happen if All of the Cats in the World Suddenly Died?

The short answer, according to speculation by veterinary medicine professor Alan Beck, is that it would be a disaster. Cats play a critical role in keeping the rodent population down. If there were no cats, we'd be overrun with rats:

By killing mice and rats in barns and grain storage areas, cats are vital for keeping those pests in check. In India, Beck said, cats are believed to play a significant role in lessening the amount of grain loss caused by consumption or contamination by rodents. In other words, it may be true that humans feed cats, but without cats, humans would have less food in the first place. [...]

And if the rodent population shot up, this would of course trigger a cascade of other ecological effects. On that same island in New Zealand, for instance, ecologists observed that, as rat numbers increased in the absence of cats, the population of seabirds whose eggs rats preyed upon declined. If the approximately 220 million domestic cats in the world all bit the dust, seabird populations would likely fall worldwide, while the populations of non-cat predators that prey on rats would be expected to increase.

Link -via @AlexisMadrigal | Photo: Flickr user wapico

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Donate to a College, Get a Bathroom Named in Your Honor

It's common for colleges to name buildings after wealthy donors. But what does that leave for smaller donors who would like to be recognized? Some colleges are tapping into that market by naming bathrooms, or even individual stalls, after donors:

For $2,000, a Dixie State College of Utah donor could have been the namesake of a porcelain castle complete with a locking door, a generous supply of off-brand toilet paper and an occasional copy of yesterday’s sports section.

In a brazen effort to raise funds, Dixie State offered naming rights to individual bathroom stalls in a musical theater company’s planned building. The college wanted to help the troupe, which had moved on campus after being evicted from its previous stage, raise money for a new home somewhere else.

Dixie State's fundraising plan didn't work and the theater company shut down. But other colleges, including Harvard University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Pennsylvania have named bathrooms for donors. It's a mark of pride:

A University of Pennsylvania donor funded a bathroom renovation (subscription required) in the campus library. His philanthropy had one catch -- that the walls be lined with plaques reading, “The relief you are now experiencing is made possible by a gift from Michael Zinman.”

If you're a college student right now, look around a bathroom on your campus and dream of your future. Someday, this is what you could be known for.

Link -via @BrainPicker | Photo: Inside Higher Ed

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Water Drops Orbiting a Needle in Space

(Video Link)

Don Pettit, an astronaut and science educator whose work we've featured extensively on Neatorama, is now on the International Space Station. For his most recent demonstration, Pettit charged knitting needles with static electricity and then shot water drops at them. The drops, attracted by the charge, orbited the needles.

-via Geekologie | Pettit's Twitter Feed

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Profile for John Farrier

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