Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

Sticky Tape

(YouTube link)

Since we didn't have cable TV when I was a kid, my father showed me how to put a small piece of cellophane tape on a cat's tail and watch the fun. Simon's Cat manages to get himself into that kind of situation, in the latest animation from Simon Tofield. -via Laughing Squid Previously: More Simon's Cat videos.

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The Solowheel

The wheel from the comic strip B.C. is now a real product! The Solowheel is sort of a minimalist Segway, consisting of only a powered, gyroscopic wheel and foot platforms. It should be available sometime this month for $1,500. See more pictures and a video at Gizmodo. Link -via the Presurfer

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Tick Tock

(YouTube link)

What would you do if you had five minutes to live? Probably things you wouldn't do otherwise, as you'll see in this short film Ien Che made for a Campus Movie Fest at Emory University. -via reddit

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Carlin Step

(YouTube link)

Thanks to auto-tune and video editing, the late George Carlin can add singing and dancing to his repertoire of stand up comedy. Remix by by DJ Steve Porter & DJ Eli Wilkie (Agent 001). -via I Am Bored

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What Is It? game 167

It's time for our collaboration with the always amusing What Is It? Blog. Can you guess what this mysterious item is?

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Post no URLs or weblinks, as doing so will forfeit your entry. Two winners: the first correct guess and the funniest (albeit ultimately wrong) guess will win T-shirt from the NeatoShop.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

For more clues, check out the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update: Several of the over 100 guesses were correct, but Twist was the first to say it is
a device used for making lots of holes before sowing seeds -it's called a "dibble board." See a couple more pictures here. The award for the funniest answer goes to artsnarf, who says this is Gojira's (Godzilla's) toothbrush! Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop.

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10 Great Examples of Eerie Taxidermy Art

Oddee has a roundup of the creepiest taxidermy creations ever. Shown here is the work of Jaun Cabana, who creates mythical aquatic creatures from parts of different animals. He's just one of ten taxidermy artists linked in the list. Not for the squeamish; some images are NSFW. Link

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The following is reprinted from the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

Dr. Eilert Sundt, Secretary General, Norwegian Cartozoologic Society

cartozoology n. The science or practice of discovering and studying  animals outlined paradigmatically by street layouts as they appear in maps, especially with reference to physical evidence of the animals’ presence in the corresponding terrain.

cartozoologist n. [From French carte ‘map, card’ + modern Latin zoologia (as ZOO-, -LOGY)]1

As the dictionary definition indicates, cartozoology is a study of maps: a search for animal outlines hidden in the street layouts primarily of cities. But equally, if not more importantly, it is a field study, a study of the terrain: the animal outline is meticulously explored on foot. In cartozoological terms, this exploration is referred to as a “con-tour”.

Cartozoology in Norway, as in the world at large, is a young science. Tor Åge Bringsværd’s seminal article “Den store fisken i Reykjavik” (“The big fish in Reykjavik”)2 is generally accepted as the first properly cartozoological work. The term “cartozoology” is more recent still. The first recorded instance in print is from Bringsværd’s book London3 from 2003. The archives of the Norwegian Cartozoologic Society show the term in use in private correspondence in February 2003. In other words, we are dealing not with a young, but virtually an infant science. Nevertheless, we find that not only has a cartozoologic method been developed, but also elements of self-reflection and a critical methodology can be found in the cartozoological texts. As yet no fully-fledged meta- cartozoology can be said to have emerged; this article is intended as a first seed.

The Origins of Cartozoology
Even though cartozoology is a neophyte in the academic arena, it has of course not sprung full-born out of nothing.  As Aphrodite rose from the ocean foam, cartozoology has been shaped by ideas and thought currents that have undulated through human consciousness since the beginning of history.

A fundamental trait of the human psyche is our search for meaning and understanding in addition to mere knowledge. This wish is naturally accompanied by a deep assumption that the meaning of existence is inscribed in the world, in the shape of more or less hidden messages that may be read and understood by she who acquires the requisite knowledge and skill. These are important ingredients in the ideas whence cartozoology sprang forth.

An early example of cartozoology: the constellation Cygnus the swan, and for comparison, a swan.

In cultural history, we find several cases of discovery and examination of emerging animal shapes that have so much in common with modern cartozoology that they rightly may be described as examples of proto-cartozoology. A clear example is the surveying of celestial constellations. However, a critical examination of a fairly typical example, the constellation Cygnus (the Swan), juxtaposed with an image of an actual swan should illustrate that this is not particularly fruitful from a cartozoological point of view.

The format of this article prohibits a detailed treatment of all proto-cartozoological precursors of the modern science; such a project should be reserved for a future monograph. In this short article we jump instead to contemporary literature.
Continue reading

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A Meet and Greet with Helen Keller

Minnesotastan read the entire first volume of The Autobiography of Mark Twain and posted a review. The short version is that he's not putting it on his recommended book list. However, he reprinted a story from the book in which Twain meets the then 14-year-old Helen Keller. He labeled the story with the tag "impressive." Link

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Best Picture Title Screens

(YouTube link)

This video contains the title cards from every movie that has ever won the top Academy Award, now known as the award for Best Picture. {wiki} The only exception is The King's Speech, which won the 83rd such Oscar just last night. I've seen 55 of these movies; I'm not going to admit to how many of them I saw in first run theatrical release. How many have you seen? -via Nag on the Lake

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Lost Diamond Ring Found Inside Dog

Karen Woolley of Thrumpton, Nottinghamshire, England, couldn't find her diamond ring she had taken off while she bathed the night before. Their four-month-old puppy Barney was a suspect. So Woolley turned to modern technology to find it.
"My husband Jonathan and I were searching everywhere, and then he had the idea of using the metal detector.

"We put Barney on the floor and ran the metal detector over him and he started to bleep."

The ring that Barney had swallowed had been given to Mrs Woolley by her grandmother.

"It was her engagement ring," said Mrs Woolley, who is setting up a bed-and-breakfast at her home in Thrumpton. "She's 104 in two weeks' time. It's gold and has three big diamonds, so it is probably worth a lot, but it's also very precious sentimentally."

Barney is such a small dog that the ring wouldn't pass naturally, and he underwent surgery to remove it. Woolley now stores her ring in a drawer when she isn't wearing it. Link -via Arbroath

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Where to Nap in Europe

You can plan a vacation in Europe, or you can dream about one. Either way, you'll enjoy reading about some lovely relaxing places to have a siesta in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Pictured is the town of Manarola, Italy, "not recommended for those who tend to roll around a lot in their sleep". Link -Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!

(Image credit: Paul Hogie/My Shot)

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The Word

In case you didn't know, Neatorama's social media guru David Israel is also a music composer. One of his works is a commissioned score for the Paul Taylor Ballet production of The Word, which is running at City Center in New York City until March 6th. After that, the show will go on the road.
The score is based on the Greek Liturgy and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Mass ever written without words. You can find ticket info right here and tour info right over here. And you can listen to some of the music right here.

Link -via mental_floss

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RoboCop Speaks to Detroit

(Funny or Die link)

Peter Weller, who played Robocop in the movie Robocop, lends his support to a statue of Robocop in Detroit. -via The Daily What

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The Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder

It looks like a crystal ball, which it is, but this is a 19th century invention to record the amount of sunshine, called the Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder.
It was invented in 1853 by the Scottish Gaelic scholar Iain Òg Ìle, known in English as John Francis Campell.  Perhaps unsurprisingly he was also the Secretary to the Lighthouse Commission at the time.  It was adapted and improved in 1879 by Sir George Gabriel Stokes (pictured left) a Cambridge University based physicist and mathematician known for his work in fluid dynamics, mathematical physics and, importantly, optics.  As president of the Royal Society and Commission he also investigated the causes of railway disasters during that period.

Campbell’s idea was straightforward but brilliant.  A glass sphere would be placed in to a wooden bowl.  The sun would burn a trace on the bowl as it the earth circled it - the above is a picture of the original now housed at the Science Museum in London.  It worked and would measure the amount of sunshine in a single day with some accuracy.  The downside, obviously, was the number of bowls which would have to be used to collect a significant amount of data – a year’s worth for example.

There are other versions of this simple device in use around the world. See pictures of them at Kuriositas. Link -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: Flickr user Science Museum London)

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RIP Frank Buckles

Frank W. Buckles celebrated his 110th birthday on February first. He died peacefully at his home on Sunday morning. Buckles was one of 4,734,992 Americans who served in World War I. With his death, there are no more surviving US veterans of that war.
Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what became known as the "Great War," rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended. He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the "last man standing" among U.S. troops who were called "The Doughboys."

In recent years, Buckles became an advocate for a memorial in Washington to honor those who served in the "Great War". Link -via Fark

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The Physics of Breakfast Cereal

The following is an article from Uncle John's Heavy Duty Bathroom Reader.

Americans eat nearly three billion boxes of cereal every year. And yet few of us know how Rice Krispies, Corn Pops, or any other cereal is made. Here's a look at the science behind some of our favorite breakfast foods.

(Image credit: Flickr user Snugg LePup)


Popcorn for breakfast? It's not the first thing most people think of eating in the morning, and it's not marketed as a breakfast food. But popcorn does have many of the qualities that cereal manufacturers look for in a breakfast food; It's light and airy, it's crispy, and it crunches when you eat it. If you put some popcorn in a bowl and poured milk over it, it would probably stay crunchy at least as long as your favorite breakfast cereal does.

But what about foods that don't pop naturally the way that popcorn does? Quite a bit of the technology used in the manufacture of breakfast cereals is employed specifically to make those foods "poppable" -to produce desirable, popcorn-like qualities in foods that don't normally have them. Foods like whole-grain rice and wheat, for example. Or grains that have been milled into flour, then mixed with other ingredients to make dough that is then baked into individual pieces of cereal.


To understand how whole grains and dough end up as Puffed Wheat, Cheerios, and Kix, it helps to understand what makes popcorn pop in the first place.

(Image credit: Flickr user Jaymi Heimbuch)

* A kernel of popcorn consists of a hard shell that surrounds a dense, starchy center, and there's a lot of moisture in the starch. When you place a bag of unpopped popcorn in the microwave oven, the microwave "cooks" the popcorn by heating the moisture in the starch. The starch softens and develops a consistency similar to gelatin as it cooks.

* When the moisture is heated to the boiling point, it converts into steam and begins to expand. Or at least it wants to: What makes popcorn different from most other grains is that its hard outer shell does not allow the steam to escape. Instead, the kernel of corn becomes like a tiny pressure cooker: The steam pressure builds up until the outer shell can no longer contain it, and it ruptures.

* If you've ever opened a bottle of champagne or shaken a bottle of soda, or squirted a dollop of shaving cream into your hand, it's easy to understand what happens next: When the shell cracks, the pressure drops and the moisture in the starch instantly converts from a liquid state to a gaseous state, creating air bubbles in the cooked, gelatinous starch that causes it to froth up in a foamy mass, expanding it to 30 or 40 times its original size. The steam escapes, leaving behind the dried, crunchy, styrofoamy starch that we know as popcorn.


Wheat and rice don't have external shells that trap steam the way corn does, so if you want to obtain popcornlike results with these grains, you have to provide the pressure cooker. When cereal companies want to make puffed wheat, puffed rice, or puffed dough, they do just that, using a process known as "gun puffing" developed by Quaker Oats researchers at the turn of the 20th century. Why is it called gun puffing? Because the process was perfected using an actual Army cannon -one that saw action in the Spanish American War- that was converted into a pressure cooker. (Corn kernels can also be gun puffed. That's how Kellogg's Corn Pops are made.)

(YouTube link)

Corn Pops, Puffed Wheat, and Puffed Rice

* Whole grains are steam cooked in a pressure cooker (or cannon) until the pressure builds to about 200 pounds per square inch (psi), or about 13.6 times the actual atmospheric pressure (at sea level).

* When the grains have been properly cooked, the pressure inside the pressure cooker is released all at once, just like when popcorn pops. There's even a loud POP! when the pressure is released.

* The sudden drop in pressure causes the moisture in the grains to flash into steam, puffing up the grains just like popcorn.

* The puffed grains are baked dry, and in the case of puffed-wheat cereals like Kellogg's Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp, lots of sweeteners are added to make them more appealing to kids.

"Extruded" Gun-Puffed Cereals Made From Dough

How do they make Kix, Trix, Cheerios, Alpha Bits, Cocoa Puffs, and other "extruded gun-puffed" cereals?

* Various combinations of corn, oat, wheat, and rice flours are mixed with sugar, water, coloring, flavoring, and other ingredients to make a sweet dough, which is fed into a machine called a foaming extruder.

* The extruder forms the dough into the desired shape just like you might have done if you played with Play-Doh when you were a kid: To create a star shape, you squeeze, or extrude, the dough through a star-shaped hole. If you want a round shape, you squeeze the dough through a round hole. If you're making Cheerios, you punch a hole in the middle to get a donut shape, and if you're making Alpha-Bits, you use letter-shaped holes.

* As the extruded dough emerges from the hole in the proper shape,  rotating blades cut it into individual cereal pieces.

* The freshly extruded dough pieces have too high a moisture content to be suitable for gun-puffing, so they are dried until their moisture content drops from as high as 24% down to a more desirable 9% to 12%. (Unpopped popcorn kernels, by comparison, have a moisture content of 13.5% to 14%.)

* The dried pieces are fed into a gun puffer. The puffed cereal is then toasted dry.


If you've ever watched cookies bake in an oven, you know that the dough puffs as it cooks. Rice Krispies are made the same way, in a process that's known as "oven-puffing."

* First, the rice is pressure cooked at a low 15-18 psi (vs. the 200 psi used in the gun-puffing process) with water, sugar, salt, flavoring, and other ingredients.

* The cooked rice is then dried to reduce the moisture content from 28% to 17%; then it is "bumped," or fed through rollers to flatten the grains slightly and create small cracks in the rice, which will aid puffing.

* The cooked, bumped rice is dried a second time to bring the moisture content from 17% down to around 10%, which is ideal for oven-puffing. The grains are then fed into a rotating oven and baked at 550°-650°F for about 90 seconds to give them their distinctive puffy appearance and crunchy texture.

* So what causes the famous Snap! Crackle! Pop! sound? The walls of the puffed Rice Krispies kernels are so thin and brittle that many of them collapse when they come into contact with milk.

(YouTube link)


Looking into a bowl of Corn Flakes or Raisin Bran, it's easy to imagine all those flakes started out as one single sheet of cereal that was crumbled into a thousand individual flakes. But that's not how they're made.

* It turns out that it's much easier to make each flake separately. In the case of corn flakes, kernels of corn are processed to remove the hard outer shell and the germ, the part of the kernel that would have grown into a corn stalk if the kernel had been planted as a seed. What's left after the shell and the germ are removed? Chunks of starch, each of which will become an individual corn flake.

* The chunks are cooked in a solution of water, sugar, salt, flavoring, and other ingredients until the hard, white starch has become soft, translucent, and a light golden brown in color.

* The cooked corn is fed into "de-lumping" equipment to break up any clumps; then it's dried in a hot-air dryer and fed through giant rollers to flatten the chunks of corn into flakes.

* The flakes are toasted until they reach the proper golden color and have a moisture content of 1.5 to 3 percent.

* Bran flakes are made pretty much the same way, except that whole grains, not chunks, are used to make the flakes. Flaked cereals can also be made from rice or from dough.


The article above was reprinted with permission from the Bathroom Institute's newest book, Uncle John's Heavy Duty Bathroom Reader.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.

If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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(vimeo link)

A curious little fish encounters a baited hook in his explorations. Animation by Character Matters Animation Studios. -via the Presurfer

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The Tree of Life

This chart makes me hungry. From Abstruse Goose. Link -Thanks, Oscar!

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When You Write Your Essays in Programming Languages

Those who spend most of their time programming in a certain language may find that it's hard to shift gears to write a paper in English (or some other language non-geeks understand) for a class. "When you write your essays in programming languages, you really can't have any typos." See the rest of eight programming languages at Something of That Ilk.  Link -via Geeks Are Sexy

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This Week at Neatorama

As we welcome March this week, aren't you glad spring is in sight? This is the first time the Neatobot has not been dressed up for a holiday in over two months! Of course, we have Mardi Gras, St. Patricks Day, and Easter to look forward to. And while you're enjoying one of the last winter weekends, catch up on what you might have missed at Neatorama.

John Farrier looked up 18 Facts You Might Not Know about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Phil Haney took a look at the Wildest Secession Movements in The United States.

For Presidents Day, we brought you A Sitting President's Memorial, courtesy of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

The folks at the Annals of Improbable Research wondered why everything Tastes Like Chicken?

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five came to us from mental_floss magazine.

Over at NeatoBambino, you can see all kinds of cute and amazing kids on video, such as the very talented Maria Aragon doing her lovely version of Lady Gaga's new song.

In the What Is It? game this week, grape_ape knew the right answer: the object in question is a brass paper folder, used by pharmacists to wrap powdered medicines before tablets became common. You'll find a more detailed explanation and more examples of such devices at the What Is It? blog answer page. The funniest answer came from Swami, who said, "It's a "First Step" made by Duzee,Inc. Plainfield, MA, circa 1892. Yep, that first step is a Duzee." Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop!

You got a chance to Name That Weird Invention! on Monday. There were a lot of very clever names submitted this week. First prize goes to pismonque for Geri-Go-Round. Second prize goes to Haring Wati, who was the first to submit the name Car-ousel. Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop! Other names that deserve a second look include: Geriatric lazy susan, Senior roulette seat, Mobile oldies dispenser, Spinster, Seat-or-rama, Roadtisserie, Geriatric Gyro, Geri-sel, and THE OLDS-MOBILE!

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.

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Zach Anner Gets His TV Show

(video link)

We were first introduced to 26-year old Zach Anner last summer, when he was in competition to be selected for a reality game show called Your Own Show, in which the ultimate winner would have their own TV series on Oprah Winfrey's network. Zach made it to the show and avoided elimination. Last night on the game show's finale, only two contestants remained, and both Zach and Christina Kuzmic were awarded their own series! It appears that Zach's dream of a travel show for those who thought they couldn't travel is coming true. Link -via reddit

More Links
The pilot episode of Rolling Around the World with Zach Anner.
To catch up on the story so far.
More Zach Anner videos.

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Name That Weird Invention!

It's time for the Name That Weird Invention! contest. Steven M. Johnson comes up with all sorts of crazy ideas in his Museum of Possibilities posts. What should we call these? The commenters suggesting the funniest and wittiest names will win a free T-shirt from the NeatoShop. Start your brainstorming and leave an entry in the comments.

Contest rules: one entry per comment, though you can enter as many as you like. Please make a selection of the T-shirt you want (may we suggest the Science T-shirt, Funny T-shirt, and Artist-designed T-shirt categories?) alongside your entry. If you don't select a shirt, then you forfeit the prize. Have fun and good luck!

Update: First prize goes to Deo for Espadrills. The second place winner is amanderpanderer, who called them SKIL-lettos (the newest SKIL multi-tool). Both win t-shirts from the NeatoShop!

Honorable mentions:
AWB, Drillettos
Patrick Girouard, Swiss Army Shoes
SnarKatestic, Handy Heels
Spiffyspork, Mrs. Fixits

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Need a Laugh?

You can play all the laughs at this soundboard with your mouse, but it's much faster to use the keyboard. Link -Thanks, Hanan!

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A Fox in a Skyscraper

The Shard building is an 80-story tower in London that is still under construction. Workers on the Shard building project found a fox on the 72nd floor! The animal, named Romeo, survived on food scraps left by construction workers. He was captured and taken to Riverside Animal Centre in Wallington.
Ted Burden, the centre's founder, said: "We explained to him that if foxes were meant to be 72 storeys off the ground, they would have evolved wings.

"We think he got the message and, as we released him back on to the streets of Bermondsey shortly after midnight on Sunday, he glanced at the Shard and then trotted off in the other direction."

Romeo likely won't get another chance to live in a penthouse. Link -via The Daily What

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The $200 Microhouse

Photo by Boston Photographer Erik Jacobs

The 24-square-foot house pictured is named the Gypsy Junkard. It's the largest of Derek Diedricksen's tiny house designs. Diedricksen has always been fascinated with tiny architecture, and once challenging himself to build a homeless shelter for less than $100. He accomplished that by using scavenged and recycled materials -and imagination. The four tiny structures he built in his backyard cost an average of $200 each in materials. Outside of his building hobby, Diedricksen is a building inspector who lives with his family of four in a 950-foot house. A fixer-upper, of course. Read more, and see his other constructions, at the New York Times. Link

(Image credit: Erik Jacobs/The New York Times)

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Your Guide to Girl Scout Cookies

This original infographic at Buzzfeed explains why my kids sold Girl Scout cookies for years and never encountered a Tagalong or Samoa, yet people on the internet still claim those are their favorites. You'll also get a good look at what cookies you can no longer buy from the Girl Scouts. Link

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Cardboard Coyotes Fight Poop Problem

School officials in Raytown, Missouri have battled flocks of geese for years. The problem is the bird droppings in the playgrounds and ballparks. Young children were even forced to stay inside during recess. The school grounds crew was prohibited from poisoning or shooting the geese, but last month, they came up with a new idea.
They’re using plywood cut outs of coyotes, which is the natural enemy of geese. In the cutouts they placed plastic bags to make them look like they were carring a goose in their mouths.

Dr. Travis Hux, the assistant superintendent of support services for the district, said they brainstormed the idea after many golf courses use cutouts of foxes and other predators to keep animals away.

“For the geese from above it appears that they’re holding a goose in their mouth and that creates a threat to the geese, so they don't land on the playground. We have giggled about it and people laugh when I tell them, but I say go check it out, you’ll notice no geese running around on the playground,” explained Hux.

For Principal Dickerson she said she’s excited that they students get to enjoy the playground once again

Link -via Shoebox

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The Robot Toy Race

The Gadget Show staged a foot race among various toy robots from all over the world in Manchester, England. The robots were controlled by audience members, which led to utter chaos. Some robots eventually made it to the finish line. See the whole thing at Technabob. Link

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The Social Networking Marathon Runner

Joseph Tame will run the Tokyo Marathon while wearing an extensive set of gear that will enable him to publish constant updates on the web. He calls this getup the iRun.
The iRun features four iPhones on rotatable mounts, an iPad, and Android handset, three mobile Wi Fi routers, a four-in-one atmospheric monitor and a heart monitor – all to record his route round the 26-mile circuit.

A post on Tame’s website states: ‘This technology will allow me to broadcast live video on two cameras (using either skype or FaceTime to a local studio for re-broadcast), send live location/pace/heart rate data via Runkeeperon the iPhone, transmit temperature, COx/humidity/noise levels via a custom-made Android app – and do all of this while looking incredibly cool.’

Watch Tame looking incredibly cool in action at Japan Probe. Link

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An Alligator Behind the Sofa

A woman in Parauapebas, Brazil, was shocked to find her three-year-old behind the sofa, petting an alligator!
The woman snatched the child away and called the fire brigade, who trapped the 1.5m-long (5ft) alligator.

The firefighters said the family was lucky the reptile was not hungry.

Firefighter Captain Luiz Claudio Farias said it could have seriously hurt or even killed the boy.

The alligator was taken from the house and released in another area. Link -via Arbroath

(Image credit: Flickr user Mohammed Al-Naser)

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Profile for Miss Cellania

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