John Farrier's Blog Posts

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Coke, Mentos, Then a Surprise

The rough texture of Mentos candies allows the carbon dioxide within Coke and other carbonated beverages to separate, leading to a violently expansive chemical reaction.

This person adds Coke and Mentos to what appears to be a hole in the ground. You won't believe what happened next.

It's a clever solution to a simple problem, and one apparently widely used by the good people of YouTube.

-via Nag on the Lake


The Gift of a Power Washer Inspired This Woman to Become an Artist

For years, Dianna Wood of Burlington, North Carolina has wanted a power washer. This year, her husband gave her one as a birthday present. She felt inspired to clean her driveway--and more.

Continue reading


Meet Narwhal, The Puppy with a Tail Growing out of His Head

Narwhal is a 10-week old puppy who lives at Mac's Mission, an animal rescue center in Cape Giradeau, Missouri. In addition to his regular, aft-mounted tail, he has a little one sticking out of his forehead. X-rays confirm that it's not connected to anything and offers only decorative function. BBC News quotes Rochelle Steffen, the operator of Mac's Mission:

Narwhal is not yet available for adoption as the staff want him to "grow a bit more and truly make sure the tail doesn't become a bother or a problem".
Ms Steffen said Narwhal was one of hundreds of dogs dumped in rural Missouri.
Those taken in by Mac's Mission, who mostly had special needs - deformities, clefts, trauma, "anything major", would otherwise be more likely to be put down, she said, so "there is a great need to give them a chance".
"We give them that chance."

-via Nag on the Lake


Scientists May Have Figured out Why We Hiccup

Scientists at University College London studied thirteen newborn babies. The researchers found that when the babies hiccuped, there was a surge of neural activity. They speculate that hiccuping teaches babies how to regulate their own breathing. CNN reports:

Scientists found that contractions in the babies' diaphragms produced three brainwaves, and believe that through the third brainwave babies may be able to link the 'hic' sound of the hiccup to the physical contraction they feel.
Kimberley Whitehead, the study's lead author, told CNN: "The muscle contraction of a hiccup is quite big -- it's good for the developing brain because it suddenly gives a big boost of input, which helps the brain cells to all link together for representing that particular body part."

Whitehead thinks that hiccuping adults are just engaging in an old reflex that is no longer useful. It's a holdover from infancy.

-Thanks, Virginia! | Photo: Rachel Wilder


When a Waffle House Employee Was Working Alone, Customers Jumped in to Help

Due to a scheduling mix up, Ben, an employee of a Waffle House in Birmingham, Alabama was working the overnight shift alone. Almost 30 people had crowded into the restaurant and Ben was trying to manage cooking, serving, and cleaning all by himself. He was overwhelmed.

So one customer put on an apron and got to work. Then another did, too. Ethan Crispo, a hungry customer and witness of the incident, talked to the Today Show:

"The look on his face was just bewilderment,'' Crispo told Sanders.
An unidentified male customer then decided to help him out, grabbing an apron and going behind the counter to wash dishes.
Another customer, Alison Stanley, went behind the counter to brew some coffee — in her stiletto heels and sequined dress.
"I don't think it's anything special,'' Stanley told Sanders. "He needed help, so I got up and helped out." [...]
Crispo had his usual order, double plain waffle, as he took in the scene of strangers helping out Ben on his shift.
"Humanity truly isn't good, it's great!" he said.

-via Dave Reaboi | Photo: Ethan Crispo


Minibikes Made from a Vintage Volkswagen Beetle

Brent Walter has invented what he calls the Volksprod. It's a minibike with a custom frame wrapped with a vintage fender from a Volkswagen Beetle. It's a precision-crafted work of art; he even casted the aluminum badges and the footrests himself.

Don't worry about the rest of the Beetle. It's a sharp-looking hot rod now.

-via Design Boom


Gin Infused with Elephant Poop

The premise is simple, yet brilliant: elephants eat a vast variety of plants, but digest only about a third of them. So why not pass on those flavors to drinkers by mixing the essence of that poop into alcohol?

Put your hand down. That's a rhetorical question.

Les and Paula Ansley of Mossel Bay, South Africa believe that the value of Indlovu Gin lies in its close ties to nature. That's surely the reason why, when they collect elephant poop for their distillery, they use bare hands. The Associated Press tells their story:

They described the gin’s flavor as “lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy” and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
The gin bottles are marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. “So, you’re able to compare almost different vintages of the gin,” Ansley said.
After about five sizeable bags of dung are collected for a batch of 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin, the droppings are dried and crumbled, then washed to remove dirt and sand. Eventually only the remains of the fruits, flowers, leaves and bark eaten by the elephants are left behind.

Nature is amazing.

-via Dave Barry | Photo: Ibhu


How to Make Leaf Origami

Sora News 24 introduces us to Twitter user @kusabanaasobi, an origami master who specializes in leaves, acorns, and other fallen products of autumn. She can make fairies, butterflies, Santa Claus, crayons, and more appear from these natural materials. Best of all, her Twitter feed is filled with videos that show you how you can do it, too.


Beluga Plays Fetch with Visiting Humans

South African visitors brought a 2019 Rugby World Cup ball to Antarctic waters and tossed it back and forth with a beluga. Perhaps they are recruiting for some rival of the Springboks, who won the championship this year.

-via Twisted Sifter


Man Fights Off Home Invasion with Battle Axe

When I saw our hero's Jayne Cobb hat and the Star Wars shirt, I had to start watching the video. It just kept getting better, especially the bit about what the would-be victim happened to be doing while alone in his apartment when the attack took place.

Ben Ball of Oshtemo Township, Michigan is a medieval combat reenactor. He knows how to swing a sword and an axe around and make it land where he wants it to. So the home invader stood no chance and fled. Police followed his trail of blood to his location and arrested him.

I keep arguing with my wife that we need swords at home for just this very reason. If a home invasion takes place, I won't have time to retrieve a gun. And in Texas, the open carry of swords is now legal. So are Jayne Cobb hats.

-via Dave Barry


Eating Pine Cones: A Russian Delicacy

Rod Dreher, an American writer, has recently been traveling in Russia. He brought home this unusual dessert: pine cones preserved in syrup. Dreher describes them:

Just tasted them. Not great. Tastes like ... eating a pine cone. . . . If you cook the little bitty ones down in syrup, they become soft. It's kind of like eating a caramel. A caramel made out of sugar and pine tar.

The blog Russia Beyond says that you can eat pine cones in other ways, too. These include pine cone tea, pine cone "honey", and pine cone booze. In the last case, the pine cone should be consumed as a digestif and not consumed in great quantities.


"New England": A Forgotten Medieval Colony in Crimea

In 1066, William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England and defeated the Anglo-Saxon king. As William gradually asserted authority over England, some Anglo-Saxon nobles, unwilling to tolerate the new situation, decided to leave the country.

They packed their goods and most loyal men into ships and sailed for the Mediterranean. There, after some piratical adventures, they entered the service of the Byzantine emperor, as Constantinople was then under siege. As a reward for their service, the emperor gave them the right to settle in (and enforce his authority over) the Crimean peninsula.

The location of the Anglo-Saxon settlement is uncertain. One possibility is Arkhipo-Osipovka, east of Crimea. It is photographed above.

Dr. Caitlin Green, a medieval historian and archaeologist, details their adventures and the evidence for them here.

-via Aelfred the Great

Images: C. Green and Yuriy75, respectively.


Dr. Seuss Prepares us for Adulthood

Today is your day.
You're off to great places!
But your fears will betray!

Please excuse my dear Aunt Sarah, for she has cast adulthood into a realistic light. It's 2 AM, and you're thinking about what you should have said to that guy or something that will almost certainly happen tomorrow if everything goes wrong. Which it will. Oh, the places you'll go inside your own skull! Cartoonist Aunt Sarah gets us started.

-via Pleated Jeans


Mom Draws Comics about the Joys and Tribulations of Parenting

Paula Kuka, a professional artist, is also a mom. That's two full-time jobs right there, but Kuka takes it in stride as she wrestles her two krakens into their car seats. She's felt inspired to turn her Instagram feed into a webcomic about the everyday struggles of parenting her two kids. Parenting, she groks, is stressful, exhausting, and joyful.

Continue reading


What to Wear to Your Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Caitlin Kirby strode into this great battle of her academic career wearing a skirt made of rejection letters for scholarships, publications, and academic conferences. To earn her doctorate in earth and environmental sciences at Michigan State University, Kirby had to press on through these defeats. To symbolize her determination, she sewed the rejections into a skirt. The Lansing State Journal reports:

“The whole process of revisiting those old letters and making that skirt sort of reminded me that you have to apply to a lot of things to succeed,” she said. “A natural part of the process is to get rejected along the way.” 
Those rejections and what she learned from them weighed heavy on her mind when the day of her dissertation defense came. Kirby wore the skirt to continue the work that she, her adviser and colleagues did to normalize rejection.

This very mature and striving attitude reminds me of a speech by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Press on past defeat and onto victory.

-via Nag on the Lake | Photo: Caitlin Kirby

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