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Instant holiday diet plan

Reduce your consumption of turkey this Thanksgiving by simply reading Maryn McKenna's report on drug-resistant staph bacteria infecting the U.S. meat supply.

The 2011 DIY Halloween costume open thread

One artfully torn dress from Goodwill, white face paint, and some of that hairspray-style hair dye to color my hands and feet = A weekend of explaining what a "wight" is to people who have never read Game of Thrones. (Sadly, the cheap blue contact lenses I picked up at a gas station wouldn't go into my eyes successfully.)

What did you dress up as this year?

Happy Halloween

Via Incidental Comics

Thanks to Kristina Killgrove for the link.

Happy WiFi Day!

You may not realize it, but these are the waning hours of WiFi Day -- 8.02.11

Happy Sysadmin Day!

Hey, it's July 29, and that means that it's Sysadmin Appreciation Day, and once again, it's time to all the systems administrators who toil through the nights, the holidays and the weekends to keep all our machines and networks running. I've been a sysadmin, but I was never fit to power-cycle the router of the administrators whom I am privileged to work with today, including the incomparable Ken Snider, who has kept Boing Boing running for years and years, through thick and thin, but not forgetting the likes of Boing Boing's Dean Putney, our spamfighting sumbission-ninja Chris Smith, Mark Perkel, the folks at Canonical, and all the other skilled technicians, gurus, troubleshooters, firefighters, and technological saviours I've had cause to rouse at odd hours to fix things that they didn't break.

Thank you, sysadmins: you keep the universe running!

System Administrator Appreciation Day

(Image: Today, we are appreciated, thanks Karen!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from insomnike's photostream)

Happy 4th of July!

I love these mini hot air balloons my family launched off this year. Basically, they're just like the Kongming lanterns used by the ancient Chinese military. (Note: This was NOT a part of the country affected by drought.)

Later, my husband came very close to successfully shooting one of these down with a barrage of surface-to-air Roman candles.

Video Link

Early 20th century solar panel

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This GE demonstration project powered a small motor and was built before 1939.

Via GE's Tumblr

Celebrate Star Wars and/or hemp history!

It's both Hemp History Week and "May the 4th Be With You" Day (a celebration of all things Star Wars and pun-related). Perhaps this relationship is causal? I'm not sure. But I do know that you can download and print a celebratory mask that is probably appropriate for either holiday. (Via Bonnie Burton and Ivan Oransky.)

Videos of kids who are terrified by the Easter Bunny

Tara McGinley at Dangerous Minds presents us all with "an early Easter gift of some YouTube videos of children who are absolutely terrified of the Easter Bunny."

"You know what?," she adds, "He scared the crap out of me, too."

Link to videos. Not suitable for children or adults who are scared by the Easter Bunny.

2011 (Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

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Happy New Week. Photograph contributed to the BB Flickr Pool by Boing Boing reader Mike Levad.

Christmas Lights (Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

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Boing Boing reader Camera John shared this photograph in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, and explains:

I started zoomed in and out of focus. During the exposure I zoomed out and focused it. The best way to get it in focus during the exposure requires a little prep work. First zoom all the way out or to your stopping point and focus on the tree/subject. This is where everything should be lined up at, at the end of the exposure. Next take a small piece of masking tape an put it on the focusing ring. Put another piece, aligned with the focusing ring tape, on the zoom/focal length ring. Now you can see where to stop. Zoom in, unfocus the camera and take your shot. You might be out of luck if you don't have a dslr/slr.

It may be Christmas, but it's still Caturday

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Above and below, two lovely photographs shared with the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by Katia, a Boing Boing reader in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Read the rest

Vince Guaraldi Trio: My Little Drum (from "A Charlie Brown Christmas")

Video Link.

Happy Holidays and New Year's wishes, from David Silverman (The Simpsons)

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Each year, Simpsons director David Silverman draws a cool holiday card, and this year, Boing Boing gets first dibs at sharing it with the world. I love it! (The image at top would be the outside of the printed card design, and at bottom, the inside). Thanks, David, and enjoy, everyone! He's on Twitter, by the way.

Happy Hindi Christmas

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A Hindu man has his forehead painted with a message in Hindi "Happy Christmas" on the river banks of the Ganges river on the eve of Christmas, in the northern Indian city of Allahabad, on December 24, 2010. [REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash]

Merry Gothsmas

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With a sigh, I push these long black bangs out of my heavily lined eyes for a moment to wish you a merry gothsmas, and a dark wave new year. May the inescapable blackness of soul-destroying necropocalyptic doom bathe your heart in nihilism and agony, for the brief time that remains before we accept the sweet embrace of the cosmic gallows and exit this mortal coil. I shed an involuntary tear of holiday boredom in your general direction. Also: try the figgy pudding.

YouTube embed: "Christmas Mourning," by Type O Negative (thanks Melvillian!) (phone snap: Xeni.)

How To: Make a Figgy Pudding

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When the carolers come to your door, will you be ready? A strategic stockpile of figgy puddings may well be the only thing standing between you, and certain doom. Protect your family from the singing hordes. Make a figgy pudding today!

There are a couple of directions you can take this:
NPR's figgy pudding (Similar in style to a bundt or rum cake)

More traditional British-style figgy pudding (With suet! Expect something more dense and fruitcake-esque.)

In memory of Tim Lloyd and Emily Gunther, who had no figgy puddings and have surely been eaten by ravenous carolers by now.

Santa will take you to hell

Pagan idol Santa Claus is responsible for the economic meltdown, amid sundry other offenses. [Westboro Baptist Church via Dangerous Minds]

Yes, we Coelacanth!

As of today, it's been 72 years* since humans figured out that some Coelacanths—an order previously known only in the fossil record—were still alive and swimming around in our modern oceans. The story of the discovery is a great one, full of serendipity and giant dead fish riding around in the back of taxis. Museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who found the Coelacanth in a pile of "trash" fish hauled in by a trawler, had to fight to get anyone to take her discovery seriously. Once the big shots started paying attention, though, they quickly recognized the Coelacanth as a new and fascinating species.

You've probably noticed, however, that I haven't called the Coelacanth a "living fossil". That's because it's not.

Read the rest

Santa's Naughty List Hits WikiLeaks

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Illustration contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by our pal Ape Lad.

Grace Jones singing "Little Drummer Boy" to Pee Wee Herman

Video Link [via Submitterator, thanks porkchop].

Sant-a-Matic (Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

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Sant-a-Matic, an image contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr pool by BB reader Blazel (who's on Twitter here).

Happy Holidays From Redandjonny

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Redandjonny are just a couple of stormtroopers with a camera and a blog. They are currently celebrating the holidays, just like us.

Jingle Bells was the first song played in space

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This harmonica, and these bells, are sitting in the Smithsonian Museum today. In 1965, however, they were in space, with astronauts Walter M. "Wally" Schirra Jr. and Thomas P. Stafford, who were doing a pre-Christmas mission aboard Gemini 6.

Just before Stafford and Schirra were scheduled to reenter Earth's atmosphere December 16, the pair reported they had sighted some sort of UFO. Schirra recounted the moment when Stafford contacted Mission Control in Schirra's Space, a memoir he wrote with Richard Billings:

"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon.... You just might let me pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit."

Then ground controllers heard the strains, both familiar and otherworldly, of "Jingle Bells." The Santa Claus plot had been hatched weeks before the Gemini 6 mission. "Wally came up with the idea," recalls Stafford, now a retired Air Force general, who chairs an International Space Station advisory group. "He could play the harmonica, and we practiced two or three times before we took off, but of course we didn't tell the guys on the ground."

"I could hear the voices at Mission Control getting tense," Stafford adds, "when I talked about sighting something else up there with us. Then, after we finished the song, [Mission Control's] Elliot See relaxed and just said, 'You're too much.'"

Thanks to leharrist for Submitterating!

Santa Claus is coming to your sky

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(image via Wikimedia Commons: Space Station over Sedona.)

For the first couple of Christmas eve's of my daughter's life, I would take her over to the computer and show her Santa's current position on the sweet and dopey Santa NORAD tracking site. Even by the time she turned four years old, though, she was beginning to get suspicious that this cartoon Santa had little to do with the real one.

I needed a better shtick. And last year I found the best one ever. I will definitely be pulling this one again this year.

Just around her bed time I warned her that Santa was coming soon and she definitely needed to be asleep if he was going to stop. We put out milk and cookies and carrots as I kept checking the time on my watch.

At precisely 7:34 I said "I think he's about to fly overhead right about now."

"REALLY????"

"Yeah, let's go outside and look," I whispered.

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Bowie + Crosby (Will Ferrell + John C. Reilly) sing Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Video Link. It's pretty awesome. For Your Holidays.

SantaCon 2010: Santas Gone Wild

Video Link. By Mark Day.

Top 10 kits, components, and tools from the Maker Shed

If you haven't finished your holiday shopping yet this year, take a look at some of the cool projects and kits available in the Maker Shed (the retail operation of Maker Media, which also publishes MAKE, the magazine I edit). I asked Dan Woods, the associate publisher of MAKE and the general manager of e-commerce, to write about the top 10 gift items in the Maker Shed had been this holiday season. Here's what he had to say:
I've been sharing some awesome holiday news with my MAKE comrades. November sales in the Maker Shed were up a whopping 81% over last year (which was up 72% over the prior year).  Now, to be sure, we have a dedicated team working insane hours and doing a lot of smart things well (for which, I'm eternally grateful), but that's the e-commerce story. The more interesting story for me is that the gift of making and hands-on learning is making a really strong comeback.

Selling kits, components and tools to experienced makers isn't new for us.  But this year we've been seeing a sharp upswing in people looking for kits and tools designed to help a loved get started in something new; like electronics, Arduino projects, robotics, even lock-picking.  Not only are people giving gifts they've made themselves in greater numbers than ever before.  But they're also touching loved ones with the gift of making by giving a project kit that enables the friend or family member make something of their own. A passing of the DIY torch if you will.

The question I get asked the most is "What's the hottest gift for makers this year"?  Hands-down, it's The Make: Electronics Component Pack 1 -- all the components required to take you through the first 1/3 of the projects in Charles Platt's sensational book Make: Electronics packed brilliantly into a really cool fishing tackle box. Not surprisingly, the second hottest product is the Make: Electronics Deluxe Toolkit, which includes all the basic electronic tools that Charles outlines in the same book, followed closely by the Getting Started With Arduino kit, which bundles  an Arduino Uno microcontroller with all the components needed to tackle the projects in Massimo Banzi's book Getting Started With Arduino.

I invite you to visit the Maker Shed store and check these and hundreds of other cool DIY products out for yourself.  But whether you choose to buy something from MAKE or another DIY retailer, consider giving the gift of making to a loved one this year.  Even better, crack open that kit, roll up your sleeves and do some hands-on kitchen table projects with a good friend this holiday season.

Maker Shed's Top 10 Maker gifts so far this holiday season:

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Make: Electronics Components Pack 1

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Mystery chocolate piece in advent calendar

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My wife bought advent calendars for my two daughters from Trader Joe's. The calendars cost ninety-nine cents apiece. Behind each of the 24 little doors is a piece of chocolate with a symbol representing the holidays on it. One piece of chocolate had a sleigh with presents in it, for instance. All of the symbols have been easily recognizable, if somewhat crude. But the pieces of chocolate my daughters got today is a mystery.

None of us can tell what it is. It's not a squirrel; we already got a piece of chocolate that looked like a squirrel and this looks like nothing like that one.

This looks vaguely skull-like, or an H.P. Lovecraft monster, maybe. I don't know if the picture above is upside down, sideways or right side up. I have a feeling the readers of Boing Boing will be able to figure out what it is pretty quickly, though. And then it will snap into clarity. Or maybe not.

Chrismakah

hanuchristmastree.jpg I suspect this photo will not appear odd to any of us celebrating mixed families, traditions, religions, cults, vanilla extracts, syncretic faiths, unionism, or pure unadultered atheism with presents this year. My wife erected the Christmas tree last night with my full approval (I'm recovering from hernia surgery, and thus was unavailable to help, ahem ahem), and I lit the Hanukah candles this evening. A happy juxtaposition in our home. A friend in college, on discovering I was Jewish, asked, "So you don't celebrate Christmas?" No, I said. "Not even commercially?" Photo by yours truly.