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.

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?

car commercial with Bo & Luke Duke

I realize many people don’t watch TV commercials anymore, or at least try to avoid them.  Many commercials are dumb and annoying.  However, every once in a while someone creates an awesome commercial, and the one below may be the best commercial of all-time.  The premise is AutoTrader helping Bo and Luke Duke find a new car.

If you aren’t familiar with the characters, they’re from The Dukes of Hazzard, which was an awesome TV show of the ’80s that you should check out.  It was much better than the movies.

And there’s no way they’d replace the General Lee, even with a Viper.  Imagine how the Viper would fare after one of those jumps… Admittedly, the original cars didn’t always survive, but they actually did the jumps and landed them.

[Update: Apparently AutoTrader pulled the video because of the confederate flag conspiracy.  What predictable knee-jerk overreaction.  Anyway, the video is updated to another source now.  It’s still a cool commercial.  And I don’t think you can even see a confederate flag in the whole video.  So why was it censored?  Think about it…]

Einstein, ACME, and science

A while back I read an article about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and it had a few statistics that seem somewhat embellished to me.  Now, I’m no scientist, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.  And because of the anonymity of the Internet, I could be the smartest person in the room (as far you know).  Whether any of that is factual or not is largely irrelevant to this discussion, because we’re going to have fun with it.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Winding the solenoid coil of the CMS [Compact Muon Solenoid] took five years to complete. When it is fully operational, it will generate a magnetic field 100,000 times stronger than the one produced by the Earth.

What could possibly go wrong?  I first think of a super magnet that Wile E. Coyote bought to catch Bugs Bunny.  It was a 10,000,000,000 volt electric magnet, in a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit sold by ACME (of course).

Actually, there’s a structure made with 12,000 tons of iron to bridle the lines of the magnetic field in the LHC so normal stuff won’t get disturbed.  So they say…  Next!

Components are assembled for A Large Ion Collider Experiment, a.k.a. ALICE, an experiment to measure the matter created in the extraordinarily high temperatures — estimated at 100,000 times hotter than the sun — that existed after the Big Bang and that will be created by the particle collider.

The Earth picks up only 0.45 billionth of the sun’s daily energy output, yet that is more than 239 trillion horsepower each day.  I realize there’s more to energy than heat, but I still question their estimate.  And even more so, I wonder what their electrical bill is…  And upon further thought, would a device creating heat that’s 100,000 times hotter than the sun contribute to global warming any?  Something has to happen to the heat — you can’t just flush it down the toilet — there are those pesky laws of thermodynamics…  🙂

Speaking of ACME, they had everything, didn’t they?  Did you know that the Animaniacs helped Einstein figure out the theory of relativity by singing the ACME song to make him feel better about himself?  I never learned that in school…

But wait, there’s more!  While watching the Wile E. Coyote video with the super magnet, I noticed it said “Zajaxi Dynamos” on one of the boxes instead of ACME.  Maybe it was a subsidiary?  I have no idea.  I’ve never noticed that before and never heard of that, so I googled it, and would you believe my search returned ZERO (0) results?  There is something that’s been around for decades for which Google had no answer whatsoever!  I’ve always figured you could find anything on the Internet, but I just proved otherwise.

So now let Buffet o’ Blog be the FIRST WEBSITE EVER to mention “Zajaxi Dynamos”!  How many times can you say your website is the first to ever do something in the history of the Internet?  We should win an award…  🙂

And since there’s no reference to what that phrase stands for, I suppose we can make it up.  Any ideas?