The Random Yak

A Moose Once Bit My Sister…*

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 8:44 am on June 25, 2010

but I saved her using my L33T World of Warcraft skillz.

There might be a bigger Gamer-Geek Tale of Awesome in the world today, but I don’t think so.

The link in a nutshell:  12 year-old Norwegian boy, out for walk in woods with sister, encounters angry moose.  (Note: moose are dangerous. They will actually try to kill you.) When the moose attacks, the boy remembers from Warcraft that a tank “taunts” to get the monster off weaker party members.  He does so (though I’m not exactly sure how he pulled it off) and when his sister runs away, Norwegian Tank Boy does what any good hunter does when danger rears its massive, shaggy head…

…he feigns death.

At which point the moose loses interest and leaves.  Making Hans Jørgen Olsen one of the few hunters I know who can also tank properly.  Nicely done, Hans.

*We apologize for the continuing movie references in the titles.  Those responsible have been sacked(queue the llamas).

Unicorn 1, Pork 0 (or “Why the Geek Always Wins”)

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 3:46 pm on June 21, 2010

I had four entries lined up this morning, ready to run for today’s posting slot, but (as occasionally happens) a late entry beats them all hands down.


Because any time you get to poke BigLaw in the eye, you take the shot, and when someone else does it for you (complete with rainbows and sparkles) you better get in line to take the laugh.  In this case, it’s a long, long line.

On April Fool’s Day, ThinkGeek (one of the best websites in the known universe) posted an ad for the following “new product” offer:

The ad bore the slogan, “Unicorn: the New White Meat.”

In itself, awesome and worthy of note.

Then, on May 5, ThinkGeek received a cease and desist letter from none other than….the U.S. National Pork Board, claiming that “Unicorn: the new white meat” infringed its trademarked slogan, “The Other White Meat.” (ThinkGeek posted the first page of the letter here.)

Now, even ignoring the fact that the Pork Board recently stated its intention to stop using the Other White Meat slogan in favor of an updated and more interesting alternative (as reported by Slashfood, and also on the ThinkGeek blog) and assuming that the Pork Board’s legal counsel had honorable intentions to protect its client’s intellectual property, the noble, high-minded village idiots attorneys at [firm-name-deleted-to-protect-the-bottom-dwelling-though-you-can-find-it-at-the-link-above] might have wanted to take a couple of things into account before popping off with an angry growler of a cease and desist letter.  Things like:

1.  This might be an April Fool’s Day prank.

2.  This might be an April Fool’s Day prank.


3.  Unicorn isn’t really a sustainable meat, so the slogan won’t be around all that long anyway.

In the attorneys’ defense, I can certainly understand their concern.  Lots of people have a hard time distinguishing unicorns from pigs, particularly in a legal environment, where those who oink the loudest often seem to believe they poop rainbows.

Tuesday Frivol: In Yer Pantry, Eaten Yer Chee-Tos.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 10:47 am on June 1, 2010

In a story which reached publication only because it enabled the author to use the phrase “Sony Makes Cats Tweet(and yes, I’m admittedly green with envy that someone else got there first), Asia’s TechOn news reports that Sony  – whose new slogan really should be “Making the Unnecessary Ubiquitous and Almost Affordable Since 2001″ – has developed a wearable lifeblogging device for cats.

Let’s repeat that, in case you weren’t listening:

Sony has produced a device that lets cats blog.

Well, almost.  It literally makes them Tweet.  The device contains sensors which “deduce” the cat’s behavior based on movement and timing, translates those deductions into one of 11 fixed phrases … and automatically posts them to Twitter.  To the cat’s twitter feed.

This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.  For a change, let’s go with the easy one:  I don’t want my cat to Twitter because I don’t want something without opposable thumbs having more followers than me. And since I don’t use Twitter…that would be easily done.  From there, it’s a fast and slippery slope to places we absolutely, positively, don’t want to get to.  Even if the device is correct that “meals taste better after a walk” – and that the cat is, in fact, enjoying a meal after taking a bit of an afternoon stroll, I don’t want to know.

Unfortunately, I’m guessing most Twits (which, as David of TWC tells me, is the correct nomenclature for “persons who use twitter”) do.

The device does have serious limitations, however.  Any cat owner can tell you that cats have far more than 11 thoughts romping through their monstrously devious heads.  Clearly, “TwitterCat 2.0″ will need a few more phrasing possibilities.  Permit me to suggest a few popular ones, based on my own cats’ behavior:

1.  “The human won’t give me a Frito.  Come quickly and help me shred his ankles until compliance is achieved.”

2. “Don’t bother me, I’m sleeping.”

3.  “Open the fridge, mortal.  Open it now.”

4. “Don’t bother me, I’m sleeping.”

5.  “If he doesn’t come home with cat treats, I’m eating his socks again.”

6.  “What part of ‘nap time’ do you not understand?”

7.  “Squirrel!”

8.  “I find your lack of treats disturbing.”

9.  “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

10.  “Toilet water tastes much better than water from the little bowl on the floor.  Want some?”

On the other hand, none of these may be necessary.  The minute you tell a cat he’s “tweeting,” he’s likely to do what any self-respecting being would do if forced to twitter against its will.

He’ll give you back the bird.

Wednesday Frivol: Haunted Household

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:04 am on May 26, 2010

See below for a new one from me, click through here (to the Gray Lady, of all places…yeah, I need a chemical shower just for posting the link) to one of the best, and funniest, photo essays I’ve seen in a long time.

Need an example?

Yarr! There be gremlins under the bed!

Yarr! There be gremlins under the bed!

Christoph Niemann’s piece, “Haunted Household,” not only discussed the various grues and gremlins that wander through my days, he manages to get them on film.  A little bit of awesome in your Wednesday, I promise.

In Honor of Children’s Book Week

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:44 am on May 10, 2010

(May 10-17, 2010)

A few long-forgotten favorites that came to mind this week (for unusual reasons I’ll disclose in the parentheticals):

1.  Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing – Judi and Ron Barrett.  If you haven’t read this one, and you have small kids, it’s a must.  The porcupine in the flowered dress on the cover pretty much says it all.  I read this until it literally fell apart…and then some.  (Came back to mind when Fat Lily the Cat tried to hide under a blanket.  Unfortunately for her, she also thinks “if my head is hidden no one can see the outrageously large other end – which probably needs backup beepers or a flag to comply with local ordinances regarding the movement of large objects.”)

2.  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble – William Steig.  Taught me Important Life Lesson #32: “When in the presence of magic objects, it is inadvisable to wish you were a rock.” and its corollary, 32(a): “Probably best just not to wish you were a rock at all.”  (Blame the pastor for this one coming to mind.  He had the ushers pass out rocks at the start of service on Sunday, without explaining their intended purpose.  After I recovered from the initial disappointment of learning we weren’t actually bringing back stoning (probably due to a lack of volunteers)…my next thought was in the “magic pebble” vein).)

There are many, MANY others I’d recommend, but those are the ones floating around in my mind lately.

One Good Thing: Not Attacking Myself in Public.

Filed under: Frivol,Just Yaks,One Good Thing — Random Yak @ 11:25 am on April 23, 2010

(Another good thing: not losing to myself in public…)

Today’s Random Thought/One Good Thing brought to you by: the two-headed bobtail lizard of Australia.

Once again, BBC News has published the glorious truth that nothing of note goes on in the UK of a Friday.  Or anywhere else in the world, apparently.  “The Big Picture” of The World as We Know it boils down to this: sometimes the bobtail lizard has babies with two heads.  And sometimes those heads don’t like one another very much.

The twoheaded bobtail (a variety of skink – which might explain the negative attitude, since skinks are notoriously bad-tempered) was “rescued” by a reptile park (U.S. English, read “zoo-like place where animals live in captivity”) in Perth, Australia.  The heads share control of the creature’s back legs, but seem to have completely separate brains.  The larger head also seems less than fond of its conjoined twin, and has attacked it from time to time.  Probably for waking it up for bathroom visits in the middle of the night.  (I told you…no coffee after nine!) Or something.

So if today’s not going well for you, and you’re looking forward to 5:00 because nothing else seems to be going your way, take a moment and ponder the fact that you’re not a short-lived, two-headed skink attached for life to half a creature that wants to kill you just because it finds your potty habits inconvenient.  Makes the rest of it seem a little brighter, no?

Time-Waster Thursday: Hatetris

Filed under: Frivol,Time Waster Wednesday — Random Yak @ 12:21 pm on April 22, 2010

To everyone who’s ever caused me lost sleep, lost peace or lost time:

Here’s your payback.


Like tetris, but now it’s personal.  Instead of handing you pieces at random, the Hatetris AI evaluates all your options, and gives you the statistical worst-case-scenario…EVERY TIME.  (Remember how you always thought the tetris AI withheld blocks just when you needed them most?  Now it really does.) In other words…if you try to stack up the left side while you wait for that stick to drop and fill the hole on the right…it literally never will.  Why? Because unlike Tetris, which you only thought wanted you to fail, Hatetris does want you to fail.  In fact, it’s designed to ensure that eventually (and usually sooner rather than later) you will.

Ask not for whom the failboat sails.  It sails for thee.

Green Thoughts and Spam*

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 10:10 am on April 21, 2010

*(On the theory that anything recycled is “green,” and I’m riffing on the contents of the spam folder.)

It’s sometimes interesting to see what the most recent crop of web-crawling spiders tries to do with my topics.  (Note: particularly when we haven’t had any recent bits about naked luge or underpants.  When that’s the case, even I know better than to look at what gets caught in the filter before I empty it.)

The latest news:

1.  The words “golden calf” apparently contain a hidden subtext reading “spam money-and-finance-related comments here.”  For the record, everything that glitters is not an opportunity to advertise your super awesome, better-than-ever, “we know the economy stinks but please please give us the chance to rip you off too” get-rich-quick scheme.  In fact, the golden calf allusion had nothing to do with money (not directly anyway), either in its original source or as posted here.

In short: Webcrawler 1: Mission Fail.  Grade: D- (with partial points for at least seeking out the word ‘gold’).

2.  “Kids love being scared senseless” earned me … an ad for helicopter flying lessons.  Take a minute and think that one through.  Who programs a webcrawler about flight lessons to look for posts about fear?  In some ways, it’s actually kind of clever, though I’m not sure the whole “crazy clown + flight school” thing really inspires me to take a leap of faith.  (Here’s hoping no leaping is actually required.)

Webcrawler 2: Partial Fail (you’re still spam, after all).  Grade: C- for creativity.

The others, sadly, are less-than-printable, but those at least amused me enough to mention.

That said…I’m off to the weeds.


Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 1:42 pm on April 20, 2010

Sometimes, you don’t even know when you need a good laugh.

Sometimes, you do know, but you don’t know where it’s coming from.

As usual, the Universe is only too happy to provide, courtesy of a mischanneled instant message from a friend…talking to another friend…about something really odd.  Like the disproportionately ungrateful and rebellious offspring of a misguided and somewhat geographically challenged potato fly.  Or something.

Which might, or might not actually exist outside the personal reality of the individual in question.

Or something.

At any rate…it just reminded me that random acts of oddness really do make the world go ’round sometimes.  Especially on not-quite-rainy afternoons when I’m trying to figure out the approximate distance between my current location and something approximating normalcy.

The answer, in case you were wondering, is “you can’t get there from here.”

In Better Company Than I Thought

Filed under: Frivol,History Yaks — Random Yak @ 10:35 am on April 19, 2010

I don’t visit libraries much.

It has nothing to do with the books.  As a confessed bibliophile, I love them.  I read often, and I read a lot, and any place I can find interesting books is – almost by definition – a good place.

The problem with libraries isn’t that they have books, or even that they’ll let me take them.  It’s more that they expect me to return them.  And that isn’t exactly my strong suit.

It’s not that I don’t want to give the books back when I’ve finished them.  I don’t mind borrowing and returning (though I do have to remind myself not to read them in my usual fashion – pen in hand and notes in margin).  I don’t even mind buying the ones I want to keep.  It’s more that I’m forgetful by nature, and the idea of “read this now and return it in two weeks, on a date certain for our purposes but not necessarily fitting easily into your schedule (yeah, I wander)” – well, nice in theory, but years of practice prove otherwise.

I’m not normally an irresponsible yak, but among My Great Failings is this: I cannot get a library book back on time.  Strange as that seems, it’s true.  Between circumstances conspiring against me, a mind that leaks like a sieve on the best of days and …. (SQUIRREL)

What was I saying?  Oh, right.  I’m also prone to distraction.

At the end of the day, I’m just not good about returning library books.  In fact, “not good about it” seriously understates the problem.  I crouch and run past libraries – even ones I’ve never visited before – because I’m sure when they institute the Library Sniper Program to Eliminate Unexcused Tardiness in Returns, I’ll be the first one between the crosshairs.  Public (Library) Enemy #1.

All of which is a very long setup to a relatively short payoff for you, but a lifetime’s worth of consolation for me.

I’m in better company than I thought.

In October 1789, George Washington borrowed two books from the New York library (one on International law and the other containing debate transcripts from the British House of Commons). Although the books were due back in November (1789…), the library recently reported them … still missing.

Making Washington’s books approximately 220 years overdue.

Suddenly, that 4-month late fee I ran up the last time I thought I’d prove I could actually borrow a book and return it on time doesn’t look so bad.  In fact, nothing I could possibly do would equal Washington’s colossal late fees (estimated at somewhere between $90,000 and $300,000, depending on how you adjust for inflation and whether or not there’s compounded interest involved).  Of course, he could decide to just pay for the books, but antique manuscripts like those sell for a pretty penny these days.  Either way, he’s in more trouble than I am.

Even putting to rest the jokes about the deceased I find it strangely comforting to learn that I’m not alone in this difficulty.  Ironically, Washington may have failed to return them for exactly the same reason I do … he got started on something else, and the books got forgotten in the process.  It probably wasn’t intentional, and almost certainly would have embarrassed him if he knew.  Which, being George Washington, he probably did.

In fact, I bet he ducked when he went by the library too.  In his day, they did still use snipers.

(Tip of the horns, Lowering the Bar)

“Kids Absolutely Love Being Scared Senseless”

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 1:34 pm on April 15, 2010

Yeah, right.  And Yaks love solicitors.

Reality aside, a man in Lucerne, Switzerland recently set up a business that provides “evil clown” services for children’s birthdays.

Not familiar with the evil clown?  It works something like this:

Step 1: Deranged Loving parents contact Evil Clown company to arrange a surprise for the birthday boy or girl.

Step 2: Throughout the week leading up to the victim torturee child’s birthday, said child receives threatening text messages, telephone calls and “traps in letterboxes” (no idea what that last bit entails, not sure I want to) from an unnamed …adult … individual.

Step 3: At some point during the seven-day period, an evil clown jumps out from behind an otherwise innocent object and smashes a birthday cake into the child’s face.

Step 4: Therapy ensues.

(OK…I admit, I made the last one upBut the rest of it is real.)

Any child who manages to avoid being smacked with a cake “gets the cake as a birthday present.”

Ooo. Cake from a stalker.  Just what I always wanted.

I do have to ask, though: when did stalking become a party game?  Last I checked, children grow up fast enough in this less-than-perfect world.  Do we really have to hasten the process?  On the one hand, it’s probably good news that there are so few pedophilic stalkers in Switzerland that parents have to go out and pay for the privilege, just to ensure their little ones won’t miss out on this vital childhood experience.  On the other…this is one sort of surprise I think we can do without.

For the record, when my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday, “the feeling that I’m being pursued by a projectile-wielding  maniac” really wasn’t all that high on my list.  In fact, it didn’t make THAT list at all.  Threats, stalking, and unexpected attacks in public generally get filed under “things I’d rather save for never, but thanks for asking.”

According to the company founder, “Kids absolutely love being scared senseless,” and, “It’s all in fun and if, at any point, the kids get scared or their parents are concerned, we stop right there.”  Sorry, I’m calling shenanigans on this one.  Viewed side by side, the problem should be clear.  “We’re here to scare you…until you get scared.”

Of course, that’s probably exactly the message we should expect from Crazy Stalker Clown.

Who, incidentally, is standing right behind you.

The Real Reason for the iPad

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 10:19 am on April 14, 2010

Suddenly, it all becomes so clear.

It’s a cat toy.

Link is safe for work (and kids).  I rarely suggest videos, but this one is pretty entertaining, at least if you’re interested in seeing what the iPad was really designed for.

Tip of the horns, Boingboing.

Want. Or at least, Would Like.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 9:58 am on April 9, 2010

Windy City Glass takes empty beverage bottles and turns them into glasses.  Like this:

Windy City Glass

Windy City Glass


My admitted and well known appreciation for (useful forms of) blown glass aside…this is just cool. I particularly like the green ones without logos (like the Heineken ones shown here in a stolen allegedly fair use image I’m posting for purposes of advertising on the glassmaker’s behalf…) but the root beer and Stewart’s soda glasses are pretty awesome too, and the ones with logos intact would probably be a pretty cool gift for a fan.

For those of you considering fasting for Easter:

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 9:41 am on April 1, 2010

Nothing says “thanks, I’m really not hungry” like tiny legs protruding from your snack cake:

Courtesy of mdids flickr photosteam (pursuant to Creative Commons 2.0 license)

Courtesy of mdid's flickr photosteam (pursuant to Creative Commons 2.0 license) / CC BY 2.0
(Tip of the horns, BoingBoing)

A Little Bit of Awesome

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 10:55 am on March 25, 2010

Thanks to boingboing for sending me to this one, and since I’m WAY in the weeds on a couple of major projects (hence the radio silence on this channel the past few days) I’m sending you over too:

Tiny Art Director(As always, link is SFW-AK) A hilarious blog that every person who’s ever known a toddler will totally understand.  (With an added note to those who “didn’t get” the bears and pigeons thing: no, this isn’t more of the same.)

Expect blogging to resume at a more normal pace by next week. In the interim…yeah.  This one’s worth it.

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