I have been tortoise-sitting for my friend Andrew’s pet tortoise Woodward. Through a series of discussions it was decided that we needed to make a music video starring the beast, wherein a hacked Playstation webcam would be used to videograph the world through Woodward’s eyes. Jesse and Olivia and I spent Christmas day on the project. Olivia whipped up an awesome application to capture hi-res video from a USB webcam. Here is a rough cut using the footage that resulted.
Back in 1886 some relatives of mine (I assume) founded the Stiles Brick Company in Bridgewater, MA. The industrial revolution demanded mountain piles of high-quality bricks, and the SBC cranked them out with maniacal fervor. Take a walk through Lowell, Waltham, etc… these towns are 99 and 44/100% pure Stiles brick. I have often dreamed of having a house built entirely out of Stiles bricks, obviously with the “STILES” side facing out, so as to passionately declare that it is MY HOUSE.
At some point, the SBC underwent a merger of some sort and became the Stiles and Hart Brick Company. This business move created an unstoppable juggernaut of brick production that is in full force to this day. However, it entailed a redesign of the logo on the bricks, and they now feature a more modest “S+H” insignia. These bricks are everywhere, but you might never know it since the plain side is usually facing out.
Well yesterday I was wandering around Central Square in Cambridge, MA, where most of the sidewalks are brick-lined. I happened upon a few bricks that were overturned, and was pleased as punch to see that familiar S+H shining up at me. Yes, this entire sidewalk is constructed out of Stiles + Hart Bricks, so as far as I’m concerned it belongs to me. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that much of the metro/Boston area is similarly paved with my bricks, and I would be entitled to claim ownership of all the sidewalks if it ever came down to that.
Some time ago I bought these silicone ice cube trays from Ikea. Ice cube tray a very serious misnomer, because the ice that comes out of these things is anything but cubes. But the ice is in fun shapes (I got the arrows and crosses), so it’s a little sad to see that the Ikea PLASTIS line of ice-making molds is no longer in stock (nb: you can still purchase a very similar item from Amazon).
So I’ve been making humorously-shaped ice for quite a while now, and the other day I was torn between using ice arrows or ice crosses to cool my tasty beverage. At this very moment I questioned which shape would cool my drink more quickly. That is, does the ice arrow or the ice cross have more surface area?
It’s a pretty simple problem to solve, and anyone who graduated from Jr. High geometry should be able to figure it out in less than 5 minutes. I present here the precise measurements that are necessary to get the answer. My solution is here (spoiler alert!). I hope you agree.
This train of thought led me to conclude that an ice shape that would cool your drink most quickly would be one with the maximal possible surface area in a given volume. If only someone could engineer a tray that makes ice in the shape of a high-order icosahedron. That would get your drink cold in no time flat. Or better yet, something approaching a fractional dimension, where you’d probably need advanced degrees in math to even predict the cooling effects of such a hypothetical ice shape on a beverage.
Normally you might consider an ambulance in the rear view mirror as something that will slow down your transit from A to B. Yesterday I found myself in an unusual driving situation where the presence of an ambulance actually saved me about 30 seconds of driving time.
It was a rare conjunction at a T intersection, where I wanted to make a right on red, but there was a constant stream of cars turning from the opposite direction blocking me. Suddenly I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw an ambulance coming from behind. The ambulance cut off the stream of cars that were preventing me from turning, effectively setting a pick.
This allowed me to execute my right-hand turn before the stream of cars would have otherwise allowed me to do so, saving ~30 seconds. Exploiting the path cleared by an ambulance is normally illegal (ie: stay 500 feet behind), but in this odd set of circumstances, I was actually distancing myself from the emergency vehicle more by turning as I did.
I found a factual inaccuracy in this wikipedia entry for “pants” (or “trousers” if you prefer). It has since been corrected. Looking at the history of this page reveals an extensive amount of pants-related vandalism.
The desecration is extended to other articles of clothing as well. A quick check at the edit history of “shirt” shows similar activity, although I do have to say that this revision is particularly concise and accurate.
On today’s trip to the cheese section at Andronico’s, I stumbled upon this outlandishly huge block of cheddar. I measured it as 11″x14″x6″. There was no tag on the monster to indicate its exact weight, but I took the measurements of one of its smaller neighbors. The littler block of cheese was 3.5″x3.5″x 1.5″ and weighed in at 0.73 pounds -> density(cheese) = 0.04 pounds/in^3. Extrapolating, the monster block should weigh 37 pounds (which felt about right). And at $11.99/pound, that makes it a $443.63 piece of cheese. Yikes.
This was not the only gargantuan piece of cheese sitting out on the showroom floor. Over next to the beemster there was a huge slab of Parrano, there for the taking at the low low price of $194.27. Andronico’s is kind of like the Maserati dealership for fine cheeses. And for that, I love it.