Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

The Source of All Knowledge

Bruno Miguel snapped this photograph of Yoda, just moments before he became a Jedi Master. Now you know where he got his infinite wisdom. The best part is that the Yoda in the picture came from the NeatoShop! Link -Thanks, Bruno!

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The Final Journey Home

Larry Marten wanted to build a coffin for his father as one last gift. Making the finely-crafted coffin, complete with parts saved from his father's life, was easy compared to negotiating the bureaucracy involved in burying the dead.
He was required to get a permit from the county to transport his father. The woman at the county office said that they don’t issue permits to individuals but to businesses licensed to do this work. She refused to issue the permit but Larry refused to leave without one. He thinks that he just finally wore her down and he got the permit.

At every point, he met resistance as though it was the craziest thing they’d ever heard of. Only professionals are allowed to do it, he was told, and there are all kinds of regulations. He was determined, however, and in the end, everyone at the hospital and county turned around and became helpful and came to respect his decision.

But that was not the end of the red tape Larry had to cut through. Read the rest of the story at Make magazine. Link -via Boing Boing

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Shakespeare Finds Inspiration

William Shakespeare has writer's block! In this story, his little stick figure friends, Romeo and Juliet, try to help out, but inspiration only comes when they give up. Shakesperean Tragedy (a comedy) was the final student project by Anna Cohen at Emuna College in Jerusalem. Link

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Grocery Store Opens By Itself

A grocery store in Hamilton, New Zealand opened its doors automatically without any store employees present on Friday morning. The store's computer system opened the doors at 8AM, and shoppers came in as normal. Some bought groceries and used the self-checkout, while others just left without paying.
Supermarket owner Glenn Miller was initially furious over the incident, fearing that thousands of dollars of groceries might have walked out the door. But after reviewing the shop's security footage during the weekend his mood had mellowed.

"I can certainly see the funny side of it ... but I'd rather not have the publicity, to be honest. It makes me look a bit of a dickhead."

The security footage showed shoppers were not aware that there were no staff in the supermarket, Mr Miller said.

"They weren't in for a free-for-all. They were doing their normal shopping and then got to the checkout. Half of them paid and the other half thought, `this is a good deal' and walked out."

Customers' choices were recorded on closed-circuit TV, but Miller says he will not prosecute those who left without paying. Link to story. Link to video. -via Arbroath

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Storm Trooper's Desktop

Graphic designer Matt Chase got a peek into the life of a Storm Trooper by taking screenshots of his desktop. This one is just email. See the other windows at the post. Link -Thanks, Nicholas!

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Stuff We Don't Need

An article at the Wall Street Journal says Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually for things we don't need.
As it turns out, quite a lot. A non-scientific study of Commerce Department data suggests that in February, U.S. consumers spent an annualized $1.2 trillion on non-essential stuff including pleasure boats, jewelry, booze, gambling and candy. That’s 11.2% of total consumer spending, up from 9.3% a decade earlier and only 4% in 1959, adjusted for inflation. In February, spending on non-essential stuff was up an inflation-adjusted 3.3% from a year earlier, compared to 2.4% for essential stuff such as food, housing and medicine.

Minnesotastan wonders how we define essentials and non-essentials. There are a lot of items that can be defined either way. Braces for teeth? Books? College tuition? Lawnmowers? Where do you draw the line? Link

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The Great Moon Hoax

The following is an article from Uncle John's Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader.

No, not the one about the Hollywood studio and all that -the other one.


On August 25, 1835, the first of a series of front-page article was published in the Sun, a two-year-old newspaper in New York City. The subject was Sir John Frederick William Herschel, one of the most respected scientists of his day, especially in the field of astronomy. He'd already identified and named seven moons of Saturn and four of Uranus, and had received numerous awards for his work, including a British knighthood. The information for the article came from the Edinburgh Journal of Science and a Dr. Andrew Grant, who had recently accompanied Dr. Herschel to South Africa, where they were mapping the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. To do the job properly, Herschel had built a massive telescope -the lens was 24 feet in diameter- that operated "on an entirely new principle." It was all very scientific and complicated.

The first article didn't reveal much, but over the next six days readers received some amazing news. In the course of his investigations with the new device, Hershel had aimed his new telescope at the moon. The scope was so powerful that looking through it was almost like standing on the lunar surface, enabling Herschel to make an astonishing discovery: The moon was teeming with life. And not just plants -there were animals running all over the place.


Extraterrestrial life was a hot topics in the early 1800s. Telescopes were getting larger, and astronomers were discovering more and more stars, moons, planets, comets, nebulae, etc. Along with these discoveries some claims -sometimes from respected astronomers- that it was only a matter of time before life was discovered on other planets. One especially popular book at the time was Christian Philosopher, or the Connexion of Science and Philosophy with Religion, by Scottish scientist and minister Thomas Dick, first published in 1823. In it, Dock estimated (somehow) that there were roughly 21 trillion inhabitants in our solar system -4 million of whom lived on the moon!


Over the six days, the Sun's readers learned even more new information about the moon. A few examples: The lunar surface is covered in forests, lakes, rivers, and seas, inhabited by spherical creatures that rolled across the beautiful beaches, blue unicorns that wander the mountains, and two-legged beavers that live in huts and use fire. But there was one even more outlandish claim: There are intelligent humanoids on the moon -about four feet tall, largely covered in hair, with faces that are "a slight improvement upon that of a large orangutan." And they have wings. They spend their time flying around, eating fruit, bathing, and talking with each other. Herschel gave them the scientific name Vespertilio-homo, or "man-bat," and said they were actually civilized.
Continue reading

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The Bunny Hop

What could be more pleasant than a bevy of bouncing bunnies? This collection of pictures at The Ark in Space is just the thing to put a smile on your face! Link

(Image credit: Flickr user Jannes Pockele)

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for Sale

The car that was built for the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is up for auction at eBay.
Built on a custom ladder frame chassis, many old world forms of car building were employed, and modern technology stepped in to create a vehicle which was both accurate enough to fool veteran and classic car experts, when held under the scrutiny of 70mm cinema cameras, and durable enough to withstand everything from driving in sand, cobbled streets and down staircases. The bonnet is crafted of polished aluminum; the boat deck is hand-crafted of red and white cedar built by boat builders in Buckinghamshire, and the array of brass fittings were obtained from Edwardian cars. Even the alloy dashboard plate is from a British World War I fighter plane! The car weighs approximately 2 tons and measures 17 1/2 feet in length and is powered by a Ford 3 litre V-6 engine mated to an automatic transmission.

Other vehicles were built for the film to be used for special effects, but this particular car was the only one that actually worked. And it only has 44 miles on it. However, bidding has started at a million dollars. Link -via the Presurfer

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International Easter Traditions

There are as many Easter traditions as there are cultures that celebrate it, whether as a religious observance or a welcome to spring. Buzzfeed gathered several international customs together in a post, like Easter Simnel, which is a fruitcake topped with marzipan balls signifying the twelve apostles, served in the UK. Link

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This Week at Neatorama

The servers at Amazon had some technical problems this week that affected a lot of sites, most notably reddit. Neatorama always welcomes poor lost internet surfers in when their favorite networking site is down. It's the least we can do! If you weren't with us all this week, here are our exclusive articles you might want to catch up on.

Jill Harness brought us The History of The High Five in honor of National High Five Day on Thursday.

And she also found us 10 Things You Didn't Know About IKEA.

From Uncle John's Bathroom reader, we learned about the movie Robot Monster: The Ultimate Golden Turkey. The full movie is also embedded in the article.

How to Cater a Roman Orgy is a classic article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

Mental_floss magazine gave us How an Island Full of Landmines Led to a Thriving Penguin Population.

Mal and Chad's Fill in the Bubble Frenzy came around on Wednesday. The winning entry is from Alan: “Be careful; someone started a flame war between mac and pc users and it’s a long way down.” However, Alan did not select a t-shirt.

In the What Is It? game this week, ladybuggs was the first of many with the correct answer. This is a National Cash Register Stamping Phone, used in bigger department stores. It was for clerks to get approval from “credit specialists” in the back room for customers to charge their purchases. Read more about them here. Ladybuggs wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! The funniest answer came from next2exits, who declared that this is a Wisconsin voter polling station. The handset allows the governor to call you and tell you who to vote for. But next2exits didn't select a shirt.

There are more ways to get your Neatorama fix: If you aren't checking our Facebook page every day, you're missing out on extra content, contests, discussions, and links you won't find here. Also, our Twitter feed will keep you updated on what's going around the web in real time. Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

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A $23 Million Book About Flies

The Making of a Fly by Peter Lawrence is a well-regarded reference book on fruit flies used by those who study genetics. You can get a used copy for about $35. But recently a new copy was spotted on Amazon for the price of $1,730,045.91! Michael Eisen was intrigued, and looked into why it was so expensive. He found there were two vendors selling the book new, bordeebook  and profnath, and they seemed to be in a price war of sorts, with the prices rising daily by a steady algorithm. Profnath's price was always lower, but both sellers raised their price automatically in response to the other's price change.
The behavior of profnath is easy to deconstruct. They presumably have a new copy of the book, and want to make sure theirs is the lowest priced – but only by a tiny bit ($9.98 compared to $10.00). Why though would bordeebook want to make sure theirs is always more expensive? Since the prices of all the sellers are posted, this would seem to guarantee they would get no sales. But maybe this isn’t right – they have a huge volume of positive feedback – far more than most others. And some buyers might choose to pay a few extra dollars for the level of confidence in the transaction this might impart. Nonetheless this seems like a fairly risky thing to rely on – most people probably don’t behave that way – and meanwhile you’ve got a book sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Unless, of course, you don’t actually have the book….

My preferred explanation for bordeebook’s pricing is that they do not actually possess the book. Rather, they noticed that someone else listed a copy for sale, and so they put it up as well – relying on their better feedback record to attract buyers. But, of course, if someone actually orders the book, they have to get it – so they have to set their price significantly higher – say 1.27059 times higher – than the price they’d have to pay to get the book elsewhere.

The price went as high as $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping) on April 18th when someone apparently noticed, and manually adjusted the price. Read the whole story at Eisen's blog. Link -via reddit

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A Toy Builder in Afghanistan

Private First Class Rupert Valero took his toy-making hobby with him -all the way to Afghanistan! Valero is near the end of his year-long deployment, and took time for an interview with blogger Newton Gimmick, in which he talked about making toys out of recycled materials for the local kids, among other things.
I love to create and inspire. Plus, I love kids. So the hobbyist in me started making highly durable and colorful toys for local kids whenever we roll out the FOB. Toys are universal. They bring out happiness and joy on so many levels. Kids here have nothing but rocks and bad habits. I paint on hearts the toys I make for them to associate that with the heart patches sewn on 101st airborne units’ helmets. So when kids who get these toys see the same hearts on US Soldiers, it will click in him ‘these are friends.’

Read the rest at Infinite Hollywood. Link -via Metafilter

See more of Valero's works in his Flickr stream. Link

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Painted Eggs

Painted Eggs is a memory game appropriate for the Easter season. You'll be shown a colored egg. All you have to do is remember what color(s) it was painted and then reproduce them. But it gets harder as you go along! Link -via Look At This

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Draining the Mediterranean to Build a Nation

In the 1920s, architect Hermann Soergel had a wild idea to build a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, drain water into the Sahara Desert, and form lots of new land in the Mediterranean basin to colonize.
The master plan at work was that the world would be divided into three economic spheres in the future, all beginning with the letter “A”:  American, Asia, and the new land to be created by Soergel, “Atlantropa”, which was the former Europe expanded into the new dry beds of the Mediterranean and North Africa.  And also of course Egypt, which would be covered with "thousands" of canals and become semi-submerged by the new borders of the meandering sea.  This would be the way for Europa to compete with the rest of the world in the future.

Soergel's purpose in this plan was political: to unite Europe and Africa (and the Americas) against Asia. Of course, this plan was never more than an idea, which Soergel published in 1929. Link -via io9

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Tetris Heaven

Inspired by the xkcd comic "Heaven," GUD magazine made a playable version of Tetris that occasionally sends a piece "from heaven" that's exactly what you need to fit in with the rest of your blocks. Link -via Blame It On The Voices

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Famous Movie Scenes Recreated With Easter Eggs

Kelly Lee Barrett, Kaycee Krieg, Jeff Wysaski, and Car Nazzal collaborated to recreate famous movie scenes using Easter eggs! This one is, of course, from the movie Say Anything. Check out Jaws, Kill Bill, and others at Pleated Jeans. Link

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How 8 Dictators Spent Their Exile Years

What do you do with your life after you've ruled a nation with an iron fist? There are plenty of examples from history of dictators who were offered a chance to live out their lives, just as long as they did it somewhere else. But where? The Shah of Iran had a hard time finding a country to take him in after he was overthrown in 1979. Initially refused by the US, he lived in Egypt, Morocco, the Bahamas, and Mexico.
Finally, in October 1979 he was allowed into the U.S., where he was treated (unsuccessfully) for advanced lymphatic cancer at Cornell Medical Hospital in New York City. His friendly reception in the U.S. sparked outrage in Iran, where radical students retaliated by taking over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and holding embassy workers hostage for 444 days. Hoping to take political pressure off the U.S., the dying ex-monarch next traveled to Panama, a U.S. ally with modern medical facilities. But the Panamanian government was ambivalent, and even considered extraditing the Shah to Iran to face charges of murder and torture during his reign. Hoping to avoid this final indignity, the Shah returned to Egypt, where he died in Cairo on July 28, 1980.

Read more about the Shah and seven other dictators in exile at mental_floss. Link

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Is Shortness a Disability?

Kyle Munkittrick encountered a story of a family who was encouraged to give their son growth hormones so that he would grow taller than the predicted 5' 5", which is just slightly taller than his parents. One parent thinks that may be a good idea; the other is appalled at the idea of treating a child for a normal condition.
Crack open any text on bioethics and I can almost guarantee that the “is shortness a disability” example will be somewhere among the pages. Shortness (and deafness, which The Dish is also exploring at the moment) sits right in the blurry space among disability, disease, and normal. How short is “too short?” Why is 5’2? too short for a man, but not a woman? The answer is pretty much: because we think it is. Human height does fall along a bell curve, but it varies around the world and throughout history. Yet, at some point, being short goes from a relative and descriptive term (e.g. I am shorter than Yao Ming) to a normative one implying a disability.

Growing taller than you would normally can have its advantages, but its all relative to the height of others around you. What would you do in this situation? Munkittrick looks at how we define "disability" at Science Not Fiction. Link

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Teenager Fakes Pregnancy for School Project

Gaby Rodriguez of Toppenish High School in Washington state spent most of her senior year pregnant. Except she wasn't. The 17-year-old wore a bulge of wire mesh and fabric as an experiment to see how other students reacted for her senior project. Read more about this story at NeatoBambino. Link

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(YouTube link)

University of Dundee student Tim Pryde built a robot for his fourth year Product Design project. He named it DON-8r because its purpose is to ask for contributions to the Dundee Science Centre. This video shows a test run.

Forgot to mention, there’s no hard feelings towards the girl who breaks DON-8r at the end of the video. It was user testing after all and clearly the head was not secure enough! DON-8r has since been repaired and recapitated

Read all about the project at his blog. Link -via b3ta

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Hop It

(YouTube link)

Simon's Cat encounters a bunny in this new animation from Simon Tofield. Could it be the Easter Bunny? -via The Daily What

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A Dog's Joy Ride

In her latest post, Allie Brosh goes into the mind of her simple dog, which appeared to be wiped clean by a small adventure.  The emptiness she sees may be terrifying to contemplate, but more likely will provoke a laugh. Link

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Back of Cat vs. Front of Cat

(YouTube link)

A cat momentarily gets into a fight with himself. It may be a case of temporary loss of body awareness, or what some of us call a brain fart. -via Cynical-C

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Math vs. Speed Cameras

Will Foreman used the power of math to beat speeding tickets before three different judges. The tickets were automatically issued by traffic cameras. Foreman used the photographs themselves to raise a reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the speed sensors.
The camera company, Optotraffic, uses a sensor that detects any vehicle exceeding the speed limit by 12 or more mph, then takes two photos of it for identification purposes. The photos are mailed to violators, along with a $40 ticket.

For each ticket, Mr. Foreman digitally superimposed the two photos - taken 0.363 seconds apart from a stationary point, according to an Optotraffic time stamp - creating a single photo with two images of the vehicle.

Using the vehicle’s length as a frame of reference, Mr. Foreman then measured its distance traveled in the elapsed time, allowing him to calculate the vehicle’s speed. In every case, he said, the vehicle was not traveling fast enough to get a ticket.

So far the judges have agreed.

A representative for the company that installed the cameras (and which receives a portion the fines they generate) said that the vehicles' speeds are measure before the pictures are taken. Foreman said he doubted the cars slowed that much afterward, since the pictures do not show brakes lights on. Link -via Fark

(Image credit: Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

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Magic Garage Door

(YouTube link)

San Francisco's planning commission is strict about changing the look of historic buildings. But a parking garage adds a LOT of value to a home in a city where there are very few places to park. Beausoleil Architects figured out a way to make everyone happy. Link -via The Daily What

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Good Samaritan Stuck in Sunroof

Danielle Michoud and her husband encountered a woman who was locked out of her car in Manchester, New Hampshire. Michoud was the smallest of the three, so volunteered to try getting in through the partially-open sunroof. But she became stuck.
“I actually thought I almost had it and then I hit my ribs and I couldn’t go any further. I could not go up. I could not go down,” said Michoud.

She says out of the 50 or so people passing by where she was wedged to the waist in the sunroof, many stopped, but it wasn’t to help her.

“They were taking pictures, they were filming, they were laughing,” said Michoud.

It took firefighters using a portable airbag to finally get her out.

Michoud was checked out at an emergency room and went home with bruises to her ribs and back. Link -via Arbroath

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Ugliest Couch Contest

That's one ugly couch! It was the winner in the 2010 Worldwide Ugly Couch Contest. But you may know of a couch even uglier. Poor you. The search is on for the 2011 winner, so submit a picture of your ugly couch now. Link -via J-Walk Blog

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Danger Zone

(YouTube link)

The US has Isaiah Mustafa; the rest of the world has this. It's an ad for Old Spice Danger Zone that airs various other nations. Funny, yes, but I think America got the better end of the deal. -via The Daily What

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The Cave Church in Budapest

There is a cave on the side of the side Gellert Hill near Budapest, Hungary, in which it is said that a monk, possibly St. Istvan, lived his life. It later became a place of worship run by the Pauline monks. In 1951, the communist government arrested the monks and sealed the cave with a wall of concrete. The wall was torn down in 1989, and once more the cave is used as a church. Read more about it at Atlas Obscura. Link

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Profile for Miss Cellania

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