Pumpkin carving gods

reminding us we should just stick to knitting

If there was ever a time to feel insecure about your ability to carve a pumpkin, then seeing some of the amazing things that end up on the webbernet or the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island. That event alone is more than enough to utterly put us in our place and pretty much make me unsure of my ability to even look at a pumpkin without feeling a deep, deep shame.


The event boasts some 5,000 pumpkins, and if there is anything worse than one pumpkin letting me know that I'm a weak carver- it's 5,000 of them. Granted it's easier now to pull this off. Back in the day you had knives, spoons or whatever small tools you had laying around. Nails were actually pretty good for scraping in little details. These days though- it's all about using Dremel tools. It's not exactly fair that dremel, as well as several other third party parts manufacturers has gone and developed a whole slew of bits specifically for pumpkin carving. Yes that makes me feel slightly better- though truth be told the tool is only a small part of it. It takes much more to be able to actually use the tools right and create the art in the first place. Pumpkins are deceptive too. Find one that looks like it's a perfect shape for your work, then BOOM, the “meat” of it is nearly two inches thick and liquifies the second you put pressure to it. I guess thats just another thing telling me to just give up and focus more on coming up with other ways to decorate.

Pet Beds How To Choose The Right One

Three Tips For Selecting The Perfect Pet Bed

Often finding a pet bed is more of a challenge then what you think. Here are some tips which will help you in locating the perfect pet bed and know your pets will be comfortable when they are sleeping in these beds you lovingly picked out for them.


The first thing you need to look for in the pet bed is the size of the bed in relation to your pet. By taking this into account, you are able to find the bed which will suit your pet properly and not have to be concerned about it being to large or to small for your pet to lay in.


Another thing you need to consider in your pet beds is the different materials these will be made from. When you take this into account, it is easy for you to see your pet in the bed or not in the bed based on how soft the material is. So you need to seriously think about this aspect as well.


The last thing you should consider is how long the bed will last your pet. This aspect really depends on your pet and the way they like their bed. However, you should be able to estimate how long the pet bed will last your dog or cat before they need a new one.


Getting to enjoy your pets and know they are comfortable is a great thing to do. However, you need to make sure you know some tips to guarantee you find the perfect pet bed for them to sleep in at any period of time.

HotTug: A cross between a hot tub and a tugboat

This needs its own theme song.

Because people need more useless crap in their lives, some brilliant mechanic has come up with a brand new toy for all of us. Introducing the HotTug, it's a hot tub, tugboat hybrid, complete with a comfort zone wood burning stove to keep the water inside warm. The hot tub will run you about $20,000 dollars, but if you're cheapskate like me, there is a version available for much less, but it does not have the heater or an engine, which sort of defeats the point of having a boat that is a hot tub. I mean, it's really just a floating pool at that point ,right? So then if it's floating, it means you're already on water so why do you need a pool? This sort of logic makes my brain parts hurt. I should have mentioned the invention is also Dutch, so leave it at that.

I guess it could be worse. They could have tried making a hot tub biplane. Oh no! I just gave them a new idea, didn't I? I will say it is slightly better than the redneck hot tubs you keep seeing floating around the Internet . At least this one doesn't seem like it's an instant death trap.

Those redneck ones...I really don't think a oil drum above an open flame supported by wooden saw horses are nearly as good of an idea as they make them out to be. Call it a hunch. And with a HotTug, I could at the very least wear a captain's hat and whistle the Gilligan's Island theme to my heart's content. Oh, come on now, you can't say you were not thinking the exact same thing.   

It's official: Mars "had" running water

You can keep the floaties at home.

Curiosity has been doing its thing and impressing the masses with more Mars gossip (and hopefully keeping the public's attention long enough to actually get back some form of space program). Its latest news comes as something not many find shocking at this point, but finally put a few “theories” to bed. Mars did in fact have running water at some point in its life - the same as we have on Earth.

This all came about when Curiosity beamed back images from a dried up river bed, the stones affixed together into a layer of conglomerate rock telling as much. Shames and sizes of stones about it gave clues as to how fast the water was flowing, which was about three feet per second and was roughly ankle to hip deep in some spots.

Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California at Berkeley also pointed out that there have been a ton of papers created about the canals on the Martian surface, signs of run-offs here and there, but this was the first direct evidence with measurable elements to start to uncover Mars' more liquid-rich past.

The funny thing about how exact science demands things to be: speculation with circumstantial evidence is enough to get people talking, but unless there is something more observable and measurable, it remains just that - talk. While the common person may shrug and say “yeah we've known about that, that it had oceans, has ice caps and even seen snow falling on Mars so what” it really is, for the record, a very important find and goes a long long way into better understanding the Red Planet.

Playable chocolate record?

That won't keep well, I'm sure.

It's something we are not sure if we ever actually needed or wanted, yet it's out there anyway. What we have here is a slap of chocolate shaped into a record and actually pressed with a copy of Breakbot's album 'By Your Side,' and we have the Colette store in Paris to thank.

The record is completely chocolate, and yes, it will play. It's advertised however that you can only play it three to five times before the needle on the record player manages to actually destroy the record. I'm pretty sure it's not too good for your record player's health either, to be perfectly honest.

Part of me goes “NEAT!” Another part of me just groans, more because I've not used a record player in a good long while. To be honest, I don't even think my kids know what a record is! No, it's all video games and such now (for me, kids have other toys), but back then we loved our records! HAZZAH! for the massive collection of He-Man read-along adventures and countless chipmunk albums.

My biggest question in this situation is this: Do you buy it for the chocolate? Or for the album? How about for the novelty of it all? Granted the chocolate made in America is crap, to be completely honest. It's nothing like chocolate you get elsewhere in the world. That said, the taste of the treat is great, but is it worth whatever hiked up price is being asked?

If you buy it for the album, isn't it a waste if you can only play it three times? If it's because it's “unique” then what's the point? You have to play it and eat it. Real chocolate won't last so you can't go having it mounted on your wall. See! All this has done is create more problems so that make my brain bits hurt.

What to look for in a pet sitter

Ask the right questions to find the perfect pet sitter

Pet sitting is something many people will not think about until they find out a hotel may not accept their pets. This is when the person should know more about what they should be seeking in sitters to guarantee their pets are safe and their home will be secure. Without this information, people can have trouble trusting the caretaker of their pets and homes.

The first thing a person needs to be looking for is the type of pets the person can take care of. Typically people who are in this business are used to taking care of all regular house pets. However, some people need to know more about the exotic pets these people can take care of to guarantee the pets will be properly looked after. 

Another thing people need to figure out is what kind of care the individuals will give to the animals for their payment. For example, some of the people who are taking care of the animals may only walk them around the yard once or twice. However, with this information, the person can ask for them to do extra stuff with the animal or find out more of what they can do for them. 
Taking a trip can be a great thing to do, but for some people it is more of a challenge because they cannot take their pets with them. This is when they should know more information on what to find in the pet sitters to provide the proper care for the animals. With this information, it is easy to figure out if  the proper pet sitter was hired or not. 

Pollia condensata: A dazzling, edible berry

African berry is the world's shiniest natural object

When it comes to shiny things, people always tend to think of things like gemstones, metals or pearls. Sometimes even certain stones. Can't blame them too much, it is after all what we see most often. Heck, I even remember the episode of mythbusters where they polished balls of poo in honor of the turn of phrase stating such a thing. The thing here however, is that most of these things require the tools of humans to bring out that natural shine.

Nature provides some pretty epic examples of natural shine. The scales of a fish, the exoskeleton of many insects, even the metallic refraction on the feathers of many birds. The true winner though is actually a berry. The Pollia condensata berry from Africa if the single shiniest natural object on Earth, reflecting upwards of 30 percent of all light that touches it. Kew Gardens, the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum quickly moved in and tried to figure out exactly what it was the berry was using to produce its beautiful shine. 

They hoped to find the pigment behind it all. After all, color as we see it is in reality an illusion, created when light enters, bounces around and exits a pigment, allowing us to see it.  However in this case, there was no pigment involved. Nanoscale structure was the answer. 

This structure causes reflected light to basically crash into itself, which in turn causes layers of cells to scatter and reflect incoming light. At that point, light bouncing around inside different layers become more intense. Once it finally escapes, it appears blue, with bits of red or purple for the light particles that managed to escape between layers. Not too different than butterfly wings and bird feathers. Apparently the berries taste great too.

Wine in a purse

Apparently it's a good idea.

I find it funny the way people try to hide their booze sometimes. I find it funny how many of the producers of the funny juice will package or bottle their nectar. Yet it's when a producer goes out of their way to allow you to both have and hide your favorite drinks in plain sight that one needs to stand and take notice.

Yes, stand and give a round of applause. What are we applauding? No idea could be the creativeness of the packaging, but most likely because the consumer wet themselves then passed out on the floor of the bus while singing-something-I couldn't make it out.Bringing some class (I suppose, I'm an Absinthe person myself) comes Vernissage, the Swedish company who decided it was time to stand out and make the world notice “or not notice,” disguising their boxed wine as designer purses. Given the awkward shape of the box, ugly pattern and overly bold use of a name on it, I'd say they actually hit all the qualities of a designer “anything designer made” quite well.

While the boxes are available in a red (Syrah/cab blend), white (chardonnay/viognier), or rosé, I can't help but roll my eyes at the mental picture of people actually trying to lug these around and acting shocked when it won't work. It's not like the oh so epic “barnoculars,” the flask that looks like binoculars, or the caddy keg, which is a small keg stashed inside a golf bag with a pump that looks like a golf club. THOSE are things that help you smuggle drinks in. Granted you're- you know- golfing or going to an event that may call for binoculars.

Kid finds $60K worth of whale puke

I still can't find so much as a penny.

Charlie Naysmith , only eight-years-old, was combing about the beaches of Britain when he stumbled on a block of an odd, yellow, wax-like object that really didn't smell all that good, at least in the physical sense, but in the great scheme of things was a beautiful sight to behold.What it was that the boy was holding was a pound and a half of ambergris. Basically hardened whale puke, usually from sperm whales. The nasty, icky block has a strong odor and is highly, highly flammable. As it is however, this substance fetches a mighty price in the perfume industry, as it serves as a base for many fragrances, and offers a scent that lasts longer than perfumes using a newer and cheaper synthetic substitute. The estimated value of Charlie's find? Around $60,000, give or take.

I always hear about people making these dumb luck finds and it's just heart breaking. A $200,000 etching from a insanely popular Victorian era artist, blocks of whale vomit, lost gold stashes from the days of the civil war. I am seriously lucky if I find a penny, and it's usually face down.

I never find anything on the beach one way or the other. When I was a kid I found what I thought was a jelly fish and ran about with it on a stick only to be told it was the casing for a implant. I really, really wish I was kidding on that one, and still have so many questions as to how that ended up on the beach. Some things are best left unsaid I suppose, but it goes to show just how freakishly lucky some people can be at any given moment.

Have an extra $6K? Get an earthquake-proof bed.

I would, but I don't like the color options.

Now this is something most people who live outside of quake-prone places may laugh at and mock, but for anyone living in volatile geologically active areas, it's something to consider. A bed being sold in Japan for the low asking price of  $5,600 could be a life saver.

Granted, I've seen more than a few sites that mock the bed for its asking price, however the “wood luck bed” is said to be able to support upwards of 65 tons. No, it's not crafted of fancy metals, just a specially aged cedar and good engineering know-how, which is a wonderful thing. One of the biggest killers when it comes to collapsing structures is weight, obviously. Most people know to get into a door frame or drag themselves out of a building, or get under a desk. 

Oh but that's in a perfect setting where a good quake hits mid-day. The ones that come at night may not even wake a person. It's also worth noting that there are many Japanese houses that still have the traditional clay roof tiles and they are very, very heavy. It's called “pancaking." 

A structure sways to the point that the support for a heavy roof is no longer centered and the roof literally drops straight down, as the rest of the structure sways too far to the side. The bed could be a wonderful lifesaver in those situations. Japan is not the only one plagued with severe quakes. It's just something to consider should you live in one of those areas.