Buy your kid a used wetsuit, save some money

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I'm thrilled my kid loves the water, but she grows so fast that I'm afraid a wetsuit that fits in May will be outgrown by August. I've learned, however, that my child is not unique in this, and most surf shops have a rack of used, recently outgrown wetsuits.

Sure, neoprene breaks down over time. Repeatedly wearing the same suit in the sun every day, without washing it or giving it any care, can kill a suit in one season. Most kids won't even come close and there are lots of suits that no longer fit available. If you wait until right after the weather changes and people start heading to the beach, you'll generally find plenty of used, kid-sized wetsuits at your local surf shop.

Follow these quick tips, and you'll do fine:

How soft and flexible is the neoprene? Just giving the suit a small tug, or stretch, will tell you a lot. Neoprene gets stiff as it gets old, and it loses its warming properties as that happens. It'll also start to crack and tear, as it gets to the end of its service able life. If its soft and flexible, you're good. Stiff means stiff like cardboard and you think you can crack the neoprene when you fold it!

Check the seams! If the seams are looking fresh, and not pulling apart or separating, you are likely in good shape!

Are there any holes or patches? Holes typically aren't a big deal, unless the patches are all that is holding the suit together. Read the rest

Mega, Jake Bible's take on a deep sea thriller

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Giant sharks? Pirates? A family of former Navy SEALS turned mercenary monster hunters? In Mega, Jake Bible, author of the well loved Zburbia series, takes to the high seas!

Bible packs action, and comedy, into yet another genre taken to the extreme. A whole family of monster fighting, former Navy SEALS take on Somali Pirates, super whales, the CIA and a giant shark. Twists and turns will fly at you, training your mind to predict the craziest outcomes and still be wrong! I like Bible's brand of craziness.

If you loved Bible's out of control Zburbia series, where a gated community survives the zombie apocalypse, you'll want to read Mega. I read these via Kindle Unlimited.

Mega: A Deep Sea Thriller (Mega Series Book 1) via Amazon Read the rest

Echosim.io: try Amazon Echo in a browser

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Amazon has released Echosim.io, a browser based emulator of its Alexa Voice Service flagship unit, Echo.

I've been playing with various voice service apps, trying to decide if they are at all approaching usefulness, and Amazon's seems the most able to do things. I am entertained by the idea of having something around the kitchen to reorder frequently re-ordered things, and play some music or podcasts. While this simulator isn't an always on option, and requires you press and hold a 'button' to make it work, it does show you good, or bad, Alexa is at answering your requests!

It'll be nice when these voice assistants are more integrated.

Echosim.io Read the rest

Recursive video gaming: Destiny in Minecraft

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A minecrafter, infered5, has decided to recreate all of Bungie's Destiny, inside of Minecraft. It is pretty amazing!

Kotaku shares the story:

Some Minecraft players like to build houses, or castles, or mazes full of monsters. Others prefer to recreate the entirety of Destiny.

Player infered5's pet project is to remake all of Bungie’s space dress-up sim in the blocky world of Minecraft, and he’s done a pretty good job so far. Check out this footage for a quick tour through Minecraft’s version of the Tower and even some of the Cosmodrome:

“We have the Cosmodrome built from the Steppes to the Divide, through the breach and through the Devils Lair, nothing Mothyards and beyond is made,” infered5 told me. “The Moon was made with worldpainter as a proof of concept, but has no underground areas. Very bland. The Cosmodrome was built by hand and has much more detail. The Tower and Reef are built in their entireties.”

Read the rest

7 pack of cheap micro-usb cables, because I keep losing them

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So many of my devices want micro-USB to charge, and somehow the cables keep disappearing. This pack of 7, at $1.85 per cable, should keep me going for a while.

I am not sure if the dogs are chewing them, the housekeepers are stealing them, or my daughter and her friends are weaving a complex web of micro-USB cables in the basement, but earlier this week I found, once again, that I was completely unable to charge my motorcycle helmet's headset, any of my portable batteries, or my kindle. MY KINDLE!!!!!!

This pack of 7 cables comes in assorted sizes, from 1 foot to 6 feet reach, and should last me a few months, at the very least.

Micro USB Cable, COCOCAT [7-Pack]Premium Micro Charging Cable High Speed USB 2.0 A Male to Micro B 2.0 A Male to Micro B Sync and Charging Cables via Amazon Read the rest

Texas man so stoned he mistakes dog bite for gun shot, calls the cops

via Facebook

So this happened: a Texas man, relaxing in a trailer park with his marijuana, was bit by a dog. Shocked, and believing the bite was a gun shot wound, he called the cops. Raucous hilarity ensued.

The Houston Chronicle shares the few details available.

Small town police departments have it easy most of the time. There's almost never a high-speed chase, a deadly triple shooting, or a huge drug bust. Speeding tickets and the random drunk driving arrest bring the most excitement.

But the beauty of small town police departments like the one in Groesbeck -- just east of Waco -- is the level of homegrown weird that they get to encounter on a daily basis.

Take for instance this week a stoner whose dog got spooked by thunder and bit him in the buttocks, leading to the man thinking he had been shot by a firearm.

The event shook him so much that he called the Groesbeck Police Department.

Read the rest

Brett Loudermilk teaches sword swallowing

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Last weekend, at Beyond Brookledge, I had a chance to hang out with actor, comedian, and proud sword swallower Brett Loudermilk! Brett is a high energy, fantastic performer with a pretty intense sense of irony. He keeps me laughing.

I'll keep my magic to card tricks, but if you want to learn to swallow a sword... Read the rest

Glow-in-the-Dark Lo-Pan and other Big Trouble in Little China action figures

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"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: 'Have ya paid your dues, Jack?' 'Yessir, the check is in the mail.'"

These Funko Pop action figures are great! You can even buy a glow in the dark Lo-Pan.

I like the Gracie Law figure, but I'm sure some of you will want the three storms, and of course the lovable Jack Burton.

May the wings of liberty never lose a feather!

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China-Jack Burton Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China-Gracie Law Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China - Lo Pan Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China - Glow-in-the-Dark Lo Pan Action Figure via Amazon Read the rest

Some favorite TV theme songs

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I love TV theme songs. I play old science fictions standards in the car or fast roads, funky 70s cop and public service show themes when I drive around big cities, and children's television workshop themes touch my heart. Walks down Memory Lane can be fun, when they aren't terrifying acid flashbacks.

Here is a list I kept as I lost 30 minutes this afternoon, feel free to add more to the comments below.

3-2-1 Contact (top) was the best kids science show of my youth. The theme song continues to inspire and I admit to singing along, very loudly. You can watch them recording it, it was the intro of their first episode.

The Bob Newhart Show's big band jazz theme contrasted with the mundane, but brilliant, Bob Newhart walking around opening.

Gimme a Break's Nell Carter sure could sing.

The Patty Duke Show's theme always struck me as just ridiculous, but I can remember ALL THE WORDS. I mean how much convincing does it take? Those cousins are awfully similar.

Charles Gounod's The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d'une marionnette) very distinctly means Alfred Hitchcock Presents is on.

The Electric Company sure had a trippy intro.

If you made it this far, this video of Sammy Davis Jr. singing the theme song to Baretta, "Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow" is amazing. The several minutes of Sammy, on stage and being his incredible, generous, loving, and just genuine self brings tears to my eyes as I type this. Read the rest

California lake trashed, University of Oregon students suspected

photo via Jennifer Cox/Facebook

Over 90 tents, sleeping bags, coolers full of food, and of course trash were left strewn about California's Lake Shasta. Some of the detritus was proudly emblazoned with University of Oregon logos, and those of the fraternal organization Lambda Chi Alpha. Unsurprisingly, the images have made their way to social media.

Via Oregon Live:

While the university can't confirm that UO students were at the site, Holmes acknowledged that Duck gear was strewn across the landscape. She added the school could discipline students who are involved in the situation, adding those students would have violated the school's code of conduct.

In a statement, Holmes said national fraternity Zeta Omicron Zeta was suspending all of its chapters' activities until the "situation is addressed."

One photo showed a cooler emblazoned with one of that fraternity's chapters, Lambda Chi Alpha's Greek lettering and the phrase, "Do you wanna do some blow man?"

Read the rest

The workhorse of bubble machines

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Bubble machines tend to be flakey, touchy things that break a lot. Dan Das Mann, creator of the Funn Machine, the Funn Beast, and now the Funn Pack swears by the Bubbletron.

Designed to be an entire festival-in-a-backpack, the Funn Pack comes complete with lasers, smoke machines, disco balls, and a huge sound system! Nothing impressed me more, however, than the sheer volume of bubbles the thing throws out. Perched a-top Dan's amazing contraption, the American DJ Bubbletron put out hours of uninterrupted bubbles, filling a several thousand square foot roof-top deck with joy!

If you're throwing a party, or a festival, and want to add instant energy, Dan can bring you the Funn. If you just need a bubble machine to fill the air with glistening, soapy fun, go with the Bubbletron!

American DJ Supply Bubble Tron Compact High Output Plastic Bubble Machine via Amazon

The Funn Machine: bring a Funn Pack, the Funn Beast or Funn Machine for your party! Read the rest

Towel Day, remembering Douglas Adams

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May 25th is celebrated as Towel Day! a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams, 1952-2001.

From Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc.

Read the rest

Sammy Davis Jr. covers the 'Chico and the Man' theme

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I'd never heard this Sammy Davis Jr. cover of José Feliciano's charming Chico and the Man theme!

Chico and the Man told the story of Ed, an alcoholic garage owner in 1970s East L.A., and Chico, a struggling young man looking for work. The two form an incredible relationship, and the chemistry between actors Jack Albertson, who plays Ed, and Freddie Prinze's Chico was amazing.

The show has a sad history, during its run Freddie Prinze lost a battle with depression, and drugs, wherein he took his own life. The theme song, however, is seriously uplifting. It encourages tolerance and understanding.

If you want to try the show, this DVD via Amazon has 6 handpicked episodes for $4, including "Ed Talks to God" the final episode with Prinze. I didn't have any luck finding full episodes on YouTube. Read the rest

Check out the Perpetual Motion Steampunk Ball, Riverside, CA this June 11th

Photo by Star Foreman

The folks behind Riverside's Dickens Festival are putting on a steampunk ball!

If you are in the area, and so inclined, tickets are $33. The Paper Moon portrait you can take home, by one of my favorite photographers, Star Foreman, is worth the price alone!

Dancing is on a WOODEN DANCE FLOOR!

Every ticket holder get's a commemorative Paper Moon photo by Star Foreman in the photo lounge (7pm-9pm)

Strap on your cephalopod, fire up your dirigible, and steam your way to the Riverside Dickens Festival's first annual Steampunk Ball.

With free soda, crunchy snacks, and table games galore, you can while away the evening on our Airship Patio or just kick back with your pipe, your cigar, your favorite vape, or your papelate in our Steam-and-Smoke Engine Room.

The uniquely steampunk musical program will intoxicate you, as will our cohost bar featuring three wines, six beers, mixed drinks. (No outside alcohol is allowed.)

This is NOT your standard Victorian ball. This is a specially designed event featuring unusual period dances and actual steampunk-themed music. Our specially constructed, nine-piece steampunk orchestra will serenade you with forgotten 19th Century masterspieces. Gallop to Gottschalk, whirl to Strauss's Perpetual Motion, and step lively to the march that Wagner wrote for the 1876 American Centennial. Your heart will race to Acceleration Waltz and the Pirate Waltz will shiver your timbers.

Come early for instruction and rediscover the lost world of extinct dance forms like the minuet, the fandango, the cakewalk, and the tarantella.

Dance, dream, play, chat, or just sit and listen until the Time Portal closes at 11:11:11 POST MERIDIAN.

Read the rest

This second 'Ghostbusters' trailer looks fantastic

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Not sure about the StayPuft Marshmallow Man at the end, but the rest looks great to me. I love that theme song! Read the rest

Oklahoma public school allows Navajo student to wear moccasins at graduation

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After initially denying Liseanna Yazzie's request to wear ceremonial Navajo moccasins during her commencement, the Salpulpa Public Schools have changed their mind.

Via KJRH.com:

After initially being denied the chance to wear her ceremonial Native America moccasins, one senior is now being allowed to attend her graduation ceremony with the Navajo moccasins.

Last week, Liseanna Yazzie spoke with 2 Works for You a bout how she was denied her request to wear the ceremonial Navajo moccasins during her commencement ceremony. Yazzie was told that the ceremonial shoes “did not meet the dress code” because they hit at the calf of her leg.

Originally Sapulpa Public Schools stood by its decision, but now, the school is prepared to bend the rules for Yazzie.

In a statement sent out Sapulpa Public Schools says, “After careful consideration and reflection Sapulpa Public Schools has decided to make an exception to previous restrictions regarding footwear. Native American clothing, especially ceremonial attire (as in this case), can and should be considered appropriate for inclusion in our graduation exercises.”

Read the rest

Martin Gardner's 'Science Magic,' fun tricks you can try at home

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Martin Gardner's 'Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles' teaches fun and easy experiments to demonstrate physics. I'm thrilled with the new tricks I'm learning!

Gardner shares exciting, and generally simple, science experiments with engaging, sometimes astounding results. Play with the adhesion and cohesion of water, magnetism, volume and mass, friction, stiction, pressure, and tons of other fascinating scientific properties, to both learn and amaze.

Some simple effects, like 'three jets' are pretty simple, where you drill holes in a milk carton at different levels to show changes in water pressure, however some are not for younger kids to try on their own. 'The electric pickle' is one that requires adult supervision. A glowing pickle is certainly cool, but spiking a cucumber, and plugging it into a wall socket via a cut extension cord, is something I'd prefer an adult be present for.

My kid and I are having fun playing with 1-2 of these experiments each week. A few of the presentations may become magic tricks I use with friends.

Martin Gardner's Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles via Amazon Read the rest

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