crazy contraptions for social distancing

Have you ever heard of a Rube Goldberg machine? It’s a contraption (usually homemade) where the whole point is to make a machine that’s way more complex than necessary to do a simple task. These types of machines were seen often in Looney Tunes cartoons, and they often used the music of Raymond Scott, specifically a song called “Powerhouse“.*

I happened across some YouTube videos of people making their own, which is interesting. They make it look easy, but it takes a lot of practice to make these work reliably. Building one uses spatialization and geometry and physics, which can be a learning experience. It also requires patience and carefulness, plus trial and error, which are good to learn, too. But enough talk — here are a couple of videos that show an impressive one built to help with eating while we’re supposed to be social distancing.

How to pass the salt while social distancing:

And even better, how to pass the pepper while social distancing:

*This is bonus, if you want to know more about that song. It’s often used with either an assembly line or a Rube Goldberg machine (which is also known as a “Heath Robinson contraption” in some parts of the world). This song was used in over 40 Warner Bros. cartoons, also in The Ren and Stimpy Show, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, The Drew Carey Show, The Bernie Mac Show, Spongebob SquarePants, and even a Visa commercial. So you’ve probably heard it.

If you’re still reading and want to hear the song in context with some clips from Looney Tunes, check this out:

One last bit of randomness — Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons and Futurama) once ranked “Powerhouse” #14 on a list of his “100 Favorite Things”. I’ve never made such a list. Have you? It sounds like a fun thinking exercise.

Caption Contest, boy dumping water from roof

Welcome to another caption contest! It’s been a while, so let’s go over the “rules”. (Don’t worry, there’s no legalese / fine print here.)

1) Say something funny and/or random about the picture.
2) Keep it clean and family-friendly.

That’s it!

Here are some tips: What are the people thinking (before or after)? What might they say? Why did this happen? What might happen after this? Also remember that you can create circumstances however you want. You could also speak from the point-of-view of a narrator or anyone else you think up. It doesn’t have to be realistic, either — you could imagine it as part of a movie. Basically, anything goes as long as it’s funny and clean. Have fun!

Let me also add that comments continue to get added, so check back occasionally. There’s a Recent Comments section in the sidebar, or you can also subscribe to the comments for a post to receive them by e-mail if you prefer.

(To see our other caption contests, click on the “Say What?” category in the sidebar.)

soap, the bubbly barbarian

You’ve probably heard much talk this year about washing your hands with soap. Perhaps you’ve heard that soap is better at removing the COVID-19 coronavirus than hand sanitizer. (There is a myth out there that hand sanitizer is better, perhaps because it’s not “old-school” like soap.) But do you know why soap is better?

If you haven’t thought much about it, you might assume that soap helps wash away the germs on your hands. It probably does help with it. However, its effectiveness against COVID-19 (and other sickness-causing germs) is much darker than you would imagine: Soap is not just washing it away — it’s ripping it apart, destroying it violently. If you want to read how and why it does that, read this: How soap absolutely annihilates the coronavirus. If you don’t have time to read/watch it, here’s important info you should know: Just washing your hands with water does not wash away the coronavirus or other similar germs. Also, you need to have soap on your hands for 20 seconds for it to do its thing. That’s not just a made-up number (like the suggestion to brush your teeth for two minutes) — it actually takes 20 seconds.

The next time you’re washing your hands with soap and have them lathered up really good and are waiting 20 seconds before rinsing, take a look at the soap bubbles on your hands and think of how they are single-handedly destroying COVID-19 germs. (Oops, that was almost a pun… there’s probably one you could make by changing a word or two, but I’m not going there.)

Don’t call it a comeback…

I’ve been here for years. 🙂 And the blog has been here. There just hasn’t been much interaction in a while. But that’s changing. I’ve missed writing, and I often have ideas that I jot down to write on sometime in the future. Well, the future is here! 🙂

If you’re curious what happened, I had children and free time approached zero, so quite a few optional activities were cut back. Life is still busy, but I’m going to allocate some time for sharing randomness and humor. The world certainly needs to laugh more these days!

So what have you missed? Well, not much in terms of new content being posted, which is unfortunate. However, the blog surpassed ONE MILLION page views, which is quite the accomplishment considering there has never been any paid advertising for it. (I suppose this is my 15 megabytes of fame.) 🙂

There’s something else that was missed around here, and that’s the community. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without the witty comments (and I’ll acknowledge the bad puns, too). There were a lot of “inside jokes” that were funny on their own but even better for the regulars here. And the cast of recurring characters who appeared in the comment section were definitely unique. (I wonder if that “Important Evil Genius” is still around… obviously he hasn’t taken over the world yet.)

I also recently remembered the free-for-all stories and re-read them, and there is nothing else like that. Most other stories are somewhat predictable, but these are not in any way predictable! Even the people writing on it had no idea what was going to happen in the next paragraph beyond theirs. 🙂 If you haven’t read them, it’s a good time.

Memes have become quite popular, which are somewhat like the caption contests we used to have here (filed under “Say What?”), except memes have the joke/humor printed on the picture instead of in the comments. I always enjoyed the caption contests because someone else seeing the exact same picture would think of something hilarious that I never would’ve thought of, and sometimes one funny comment would lead to another. Plus there were sometimes references to the “inside jokes” I mentioned earlier with recurring characters and stories.

Hopefully all of you subscribers will stay for the show and participate in the comments. The upcoming posts will be along the lines of what was here before — although, the theme is “randomness”, so it could be anything, but that’s the fun of it, right?