The Random Yak

Friday Frivol: This Place Has Gone to Pot

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:02 am on February 26, 2010


A woman in North Carolina recently waited with anticipation for the UPS driver to deliver her new computer.  (We’ve all been there…watching for that brown truck that’s bringing us a fabulous new toy.) When he arrived, she signed for her package, took it inside, and opened …

a 45-lb bag of marijuana.

(Yes, you read that right.)

The box, which had approximately the same size and weight as a computer, was inadvertently delivered to the woman’s house by mistake.  Police had staked out the address where the pot should have been delivered – identified in the story as “another address in [the woman's] mobile home park” – but when no one showed up to claim the “package” they suspected the real criminals had decided to … leave.

The story doesn’t actually say whether the surprised computer buyer turned the drugs over to police, but I strongly suspect she did so.  It probably wasn’t too hard to figure out that the twenty police crouched behind the neighbor’s trailer might have an interest in the package.  (At least, not if you received the weed by accident.  If you actually own 45 pounds of marijuana, evidence suggests you might find logic a bit more challenging.)

Note to the wise, however.  If you’re going to do something as cosmically stupid as shipping a bale of marijuana by UPS, at least get the address right.  If you’re smoking it yourself, I recommend letting someone else do the writing.  From the looks of things the police will get you either way, but at least you won’t have the entire Internet laughing at you for it.

Put Down the Chili and Back Away Slowly

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:54 am on February 24, 2010

India is preparing to to weaponize its hottest chili peppers.  Specifically, bhut jolokia peppers, tiny marvels that top the Scoville Heat Unit scale  at a staggering 1,000,000 + SHUs.  (Yes, I know “pepper spray” is used by law enforcement everywhere, but that’s nothing compared with the peppers we’re talking about here…)

By comparison: a green bell pepper (which has no capsaicin) has 0 SHUs, jalapenos rank somewhere around 5,000 SHUs, and the hottest habaneros run around 550,000 SHUs.  Those without math skills take note: the bhut jolokia rates approximately two times as high as the habanero – and this isn’t the kind of sliding scale that means it’s “just” twice as hot.

The Indian government’s Defense and Development Organization has begun research into “pepper grenades” – esssentially a variation on the tear gas grenade currently used by many law enforcement agencies for riot control and other purposes.  Only the Indian grenades won’t be filled with tear gas.  They’ll be filled with an extract from the bhut jolokia.  Malfeasors, take note: that burning sensation isn’t going to go away when you toss water on it.  It will spread, as peppers do.

The tiny peppers may also enter military service to discourage a secondary type of intruder: the massive elephants that often wander into Indian military installations and wreak havoc on equipment and supplies.  Poles and fences have proven ineffective (the elephants just play with them or knock them down) but scientists have noted that the elephants give bhut jolokia a wide berth in the wild, and are planning to use the elephants’ distaste for the peppers to keep them away from military camps.  Proposals include a paste of bhut jolokia smeared on ropes around the perimeter of impacted camps.

But perhaps the best item on the Indian government’s “coming soon” list of objectives for the world’s hottest pepper is the last one: the government intends to add it to the soldiers’ diet to help them “combat extreme cold in high altitude terrain.”

It’s strong enough for grenades, scares away elephants, and makes the mighty habanero look like Gerber strained peas…but take two, they’re small!

Hot…it’s what’s for dinner!

Tip of the horns to BoingBoing’s story on “Weaponized Chili Peppers”

Monday Frivol: It’s not “dog bites man” but it’ll do.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:30 pm on February 22, 2010

German silver medalist David Moeller has become famous for something other than his medal-winning second-best slide down the Whistler luge track earlier in the week.

He also has the most famous dental work at the Vancouver Games – or at least the most widely publicized.   While following a reporter’s suggestion that the men’s luge medalists “bite” their medals after the presentation ceremony, Moeller apparently chipped his tooth on the second-place prize (thereby placing first in the lesser-known “find the marble in the oatmeal” event, which has apparently reached at least exhibition[ist] status).  A trip to the dentist fixed the tooth.

The medal apparently escaped unharmed.

One task, three guesses

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:24 pm on

Today is official “Single Tasking Day.”

I have a task to do.

Three guesses what it isn’t….

(Here’s hoping you see more blogging tomorrow.)

Men’s Curling: Bringin’ Funky (Pants) Back.

Filed under: Olympic Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:24 pm on February 17, 2010

No Winter Olympics coverage would be complete without at least one story on curling.

I admit my Olympics coverage to date has been somewhat lacking, though not without reason.  The tragic death of the Georgian luger on the day of the Opening Ceremonies pretty much put the finish on the four entries I had planned about the Antarctic Federation protests of the luge event – somehow, they didn’t seem appropriate.  Some things deserve respect, and a series of borderline-inappropriate (but admittedly rather amusing) posts about naked luge just didn’t work for me any more.  My plans to liveblog the opening ceremonies ran into a scheduling conflict, and although I’ve watched my share of the competition – and enjoyed most of it – there really hasn’t been much to snark about.  (Men’s figure skating aside, and quite frankly those jokes write themselves.)

Besides, I thought…I still have curling.  And if I can’t find something entertaining to say about the winter version of Olympic lawn bowling, I might as well hang up my keyboard.

So I watched, and I waited.

I thought I had the story last night, when Bob Costas actually managed to describe curling as “One of the most popular Olympic sports” without even cracking a smile.  To the extent he ever sounds sincere, he even seemed to mean it.  (As an aside, this comment met with literal howls of laughter in my living room.  Who says Bob Costas isn’t funny?)

But this morning I learned about something even better.  Or worse.

It appears one of the Olympic curling teams is engaging in some very unsportsmanlike conduct.  Unsportsmanlike even for curling, which everyone knows is a bastion of ill-concealed rivalry filled with showboating prima-donnas who will do just about anything to get the attention of the media.  It’s true.  Beneath that silent, broom-wielding facade, curlers crave the spotlight.  I’ve said for years that they’re a dangerous bunch.  And now I have proof.

Not content with defeating their opponents by traditional means, the Norwegian men’s curling team has resorted to dastardly gamesmanship.  Specifically, they’re trying to blind their opponents with their pants.  Now I admit, I could have misunderstood the purpose of the colorful couture.  The idea might have been to cripple opposing teams with laughter, rendering them incapable of brushing the ice or aiming the stone.  Or they might be going for the pity vote.  (Hey guys, let’s let them win.  After all, they’ve already lost their self-respect.)

Then again, the whole thing might just be a tragic mistake.  Perhaps someone accidentally swapped the curling team uniforms with a box intended for Ringling Brothers.  (Which also means that somewhere there’s a group of clowns without any pants on.)

Either way, the Norwegian men are appearing in public wearing checkered pants.  Red, White, Blue and Grey checkered pants. I’ve always said Norse people are brave, but this takes it to astonishing heights.  They still better win a medal, though.  Because if they don’t, I suspect the other teams will catch them in the locker room and steal their lunch money.  That’s what happens to the funny-looking kids.

On the positive side, I doubt anyone will steal their pants.

Tip of the horns, John Scalzi (at Whatever) for searing my eyeballs enough to get me to post.

Peaceful, Yes. Study Hall, No.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:04 pm on February 16, 2010

An Arizona school district recently created wi-fi enabled school buses.  Mounting a digital router to the metal frame of the bus enables students to access the Internet while riding the bus, a situation bus drivers claim has significantly reduced the amount of horsing around and other chaotic activity on bus rides.

The router, which apparently cost $200 and has a $60/month service fee, was the brilliant idea of the school district’s information officer (read: Geek High Chieftain) who saw an advertisement for a wireless router that could be used to turn a private car into a “mobile wireless hot spot.”  The district tested the device during a four-hour trip to an away football game, and hasn’t looked back.  Student behavior on the bus has improved markedly, and the bus drivers are apparently heralding the router as one of the best ideas ever for maintaining discipline.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  if you have a problem, any problem, ask the nearest geek.  You might not actually understand the solution (at first) but trust me…we can solve it.

I don’t particularly like the idea of school buses in the first place – and I’ll be honest from the start and admit I never had to ride one (though I know plenty of people who have, and for the most part they share my opinion).  But if you have to waste an hour or two every day riding in one, having Internet access sounds like a fairly decent compromise.

The best part, however, is the part where district officials explain that the students are using the Internet for “study hall” purposes.  The article gives several glowing descriptions of students putting the web to academic use – and by implication, suggests that’s the only-and-primary use to which they’re putting this new bus-board freedom.

Upon which glowing report, I am calling shenanigans of the highest order.

You don’t turn hundreds of otherwise-rowdy students (note: they comment in particular upon the improved conduct of the boys) into quiet model citizens by enabling them to do their homework on the Internet.  First, most of them don’t even know you can do homework on the Internet (with the exception of those brilliant few who need to purchase and download that term paper they had all semester to buy write and haven’t done yet), and the ones who do already finished their homework the night before.  They might be using the bus to email friends – as the story also suggests – or communicate by instant message with friends across the country (or across the aisle…the text generation has less interest in face-to-face than the generations which went before).  They might even be surfing the ‘web looking for interesting facts or information – though most of it isn’t on subjects I’d write about here.

But the reality is, those students aren’t silent and well-behaved because they’re busy finding out what the world-wide-web has to say about the American Revolution or the chemical properties of lead.

Their Warcraft achievements and LOLcat viewing, however, are through the roof.

Some Days, Irony Finds You

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:19 pm on February 11, 2010

A few days off from blogging (due to work and the imminent decease of a long-time pet ) and I’m sensing a theme.  It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Irony’s in the air.

Case in point:  today is “National Shut-In Visitation Day.”

As if their lives weren’t hard enough without making them go out and visit people.  Though I guess others do care for them during the remaining 364 days of the year.  It must just be their turn to get out and make an effort.  Still, if a shut-in shows up on your doorstep this afternoon, at least be courteous enough and invite him-or-her in for tea and biscuits.  It’s the neighborly thing to do.

An Object Lesson in Irony

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:15 pm on

While the northeastern United States and Canada shiver beneath a blizzard that promises to drop far more snow than reasonable human beings should ever have to shovel, Western Canada (read: vancouver) has far less than usual.  So much less, in fact, that Vancouver’s snow machines are working overtime to prepare for the games, lest they have too little snow at Whistler to host the skiing and snowboarding events.

I guess that’s just how it snows.

What Does Obedience Cost?

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 3:04 pm on February 8, 2010

A new law in South Carolina requires all subversive organizations (defined as those who “advocate, teach, advise or practice the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing, or overthrowing the government of the United States”) must now register with the South Carolina secretary of state and pay a $5 “Subversive Registration Fee.”

By way of comparison, it costs $20.00 to register your dog (though admittedly only $4.00 if he’s neutered … and that one we’ll just allow to fisk itself).  In other words: you can own four subversives for the cost of just one pit bull.  If that ain’t a deal, I don’t know what is.

Failure to register your subversive organization can result in fines of $25,000 or ten years in prison – a fairly steep sentence, but hey…that’s what happens when you refuse to fill in the necessary forms.

(Word to the wise: the state doesn’t explain the consequences if you DO fill out the necessary forms.  I suspect, however, that the uniformed men knocking on your door aren’t from the tourism board.)

The Fits News blog comments:

“In the long and storied history of utterly retarded legislation in South Carolina, we may have finally found the legal statute that takes the cake for sheer stupidity”

Despite my general dislike of the adjective “retarded” to describe such actions (frankly, I find it insulting to the truly mentally deficient, most of whom would have recognized that this plan is too simpleminded even for someone who struggles not to drool on himself) I think Fits News probably hit this nail squarely on the head.  In fact, this probably rivals the IRS’ relatively well-known mandate on the declaration of illegally-obtained income for all-out Fail.  (And yes, I know the real reason for the statutes is often to provide a secondary cause of action to authorize the arrest of people we don’t have enough evidence to arrest on “real” charges.  That still won’t make me stop laughing at the theoretical entries on a mob hit man’s Schedule C Declaration of Self-Employment income.  Or his conversations with his accountant.  Which employment code DO you use for “contract murder”?)

In semi-related news, the Democratic and Republican parties have not issued a statement regarding their intent to cooperate with the new law.  I guess that kind of takeover and control doesn’t count…

Still, if you live in South Carolina, please register your politicians now.  After all, we don’t want them to accidentally end up in jail before their time.

I Gotta Get Me One of These

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 1:58 pm on February 4, 2010
Who wouldnt want Sir Garage of Door guarding the portal?

Who wouldn't want Sir Garage of Door guarding the portal?


Style Your Garage” offers a variety of photo tarpaulins for covering garage doors, most of which transform the door into a nonexistent portal to some other space.  They all seem to contain some vestige of the “garage interior” image (check out the antifreeze in the lower left above) which just makes the illusion more entertaining.

I’m not sure The Random Spouse would ever actually go for this – or that it would even work on our door (we have a sectional) but I have to admit that browsing the company gallery gave me more than a couple of chuckles.  The Nativity Scene, in particular, would be entertaining at Christmas (if it were only removable…which they don’t appear to be, at least for now).

If you have a few extra minutes, head over and browse.  The time is well spent, and at £ 150 or so apiece, the price isn’t even prohibitive, if you can find one your spouse won’t send you away for putting on the garage.  As for the rest of us, we can still dream:

We only have a single-car model, so we needed the one with the folding wings...

We only have a single-car model, so we needed the one with the folding wings...

What’s not to love?

Wednesday Olympic Fail: In the Mountains

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:37 pm on February 3, 2010

Obvious Warcraft-related jokes aside…I expected more from this one.

This morning Olympic organizers unveiled the official medal ceremony platforms for the Vancouver Games.  The official Vancouver Olympics website carried a long piece about the platforms, lionizing both the elaborate, decorative design and the committee which approved it.  Calling the platforms “a testimony to the mountains,” the article went on to describe the platforms in detail, along with the design and construction process that made them a reality.  In fact, it described the platforms so thoroughly that a reader could almost see them.


But not quite.

Because, you see, the beauty, design and flow of the platforms rated a fifteen-paragraph story – without a single picture.

Note to reporters covering the Vancouver Games (and the editors and webmasters who love to make fools of them):  if you take the time to write an article about the beauty and unique design of a structure, particularly one which you think will become “a centerpiece” of the Olympic Games, you might want to include a photograph so people can actually see what you’re talking about.  If there isn’t a photographer free, borrow a camera.  Or a cell phone.  From the guy walking next to you on the sidewalk, if need be.  Because otherwise, people might just click through to your story  – with its tagline about “dynamic sculptural podiums” inspired by the gorgeous mountain backdrop against which they will play their part in the Olympic Games – hoping to actually see a photograph of said platforms.  Or mountains.  Or even a graphic representation of the Olympic rings with a mountain sketched in behind it.  Something.  And when they see fifteen paragraphs of text without an image, some of those readers might just head over to their blogs and mention it in a negative light.

They might even call it a Wednesday Fail.


Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 1:43 pm on February 2, 2010

February 2, 2010: Punxsutawney Phil, the official prognosticator of the groundhog set, sees his shadow and proclaims six more weeks of winter.

For those who didn’t know, Phil has stepped into the digital age, with his own official website run by the Punxsutawney groundhog club.  (Apparently, there’s good work in managing public relations for rodents.  Who knew.) Only slightly more disturbing than the knowledge that Phil now knows how to twitter and text is the fact that 26,000 of you cared enough to receive his prognostication by text message.

Which, incidentally, means you paid for the privilege.

And here I thought a weather-predicting groundhog was strange.

If you missed the events live, there’s a video posted online, and photos of the gala events at Phil’s official website.  (Aside from Phil, the big attraction in Punxsutawney appears to be making s’mores.  There also seems to be ice carving, though I saw no sign of Bill Murray.)

In fact, Pennsylvania’s tourism website seems to contain an alarming (and slightly disturbing) number of groundhog-related facts, information and press releases.  (Just a hint, folks…but if your state’s primary claim to tourism – at any time of year – revolves around the psychic powers of an overgrown rat, you might need to find somewhere else to live.  Evidence suggests you need to get out more.)

Curiously, the weather in Pennsylvania must be brighter than California.  If Phil had emerged from a left-coast hole, he’d not only have missed his shadow, he’d have needed an umbrella too.

So I guess when it comes right down to it, Pennsylvania isn’t that bad after all.  At least if you ask the groundhog.

Monday Frivol: …and now we know what happened to Ferris Bueller.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:07 pm on February 1, 2010

He’s working as a mechanic under an assumed name.  Or so it appears.

When a customer dropped a 2008 Porsche Boxster off at Sanibel Shell for servicing last week, the shop owner took the car out for “diagnostics” – which apparently included a little jaunt down the nearby toll road at 160mph.  In the interest of thoroughly testing the vehicle’s safety, the mechanic also performed a “roll test” to ensure the Boxster would perform perfectly, and properly protect the driver, in the event of a major accident.

That, or he drove too fast and crashed the customer’s vehicle in a ditch.

After successfully escaping the vehicle and leaving the crash scene, the mechanic was arrested and charged with multiple offenses.

Perhaps the best part of this story, however, lies not in the tale itself, but in the reporting.  Because according to Naples News (see link) the man was charged with “willful and wreckless driving.”

Somehow, I think not.

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