Aug 30, 2007

The Toothpaste Ruse

See the flat toothpaste tube in the foreground? That's MY toothpaste. I say it like that because, unbeknownst to me, my wife broke into the new tube already and has been using it in secret!

Apparently, she's been using the nice, full tube (probably squeezing it lazily from the middle) while I've been cramping my hands up trying to coax the last few drops of watery goo from the old tube. Each morning, when I see that flattened tube still sitting beside the sink, I think, "Well, she brushed her teeth already, so there must still be some toothpaste left in it." Then I start squeezing and twisting like a madman to get it out.

Today, she walked into the bathroom and said, "Really? You're still using this old thing?" And I'm like, "Yeah...aren't you?" And she's like, "No. I haven't been using it since Monday. I just wanted to see how long you would keep using it!"

She then confessed that on Monday she broke into the new tube, and each morning when she's done she puts it back in the box and sets it against her electric toothbrush so you can't tell the box is open (see photo above). Talk about evil. Talk about diabolical. Talk about...clever!

I have to admit, it's pretty funny, and it was a great experiment. I don't know how long I would have continued to use that thing! I'm just glad I got to use the new tube this morning. I got a nice, full dollop, and it tasted much better!

In the end, I'm glad I have a scheming wife. Wait...that didn't sound quite right. What I'm happy about is having a wife who's interesting and unpredictable. She definitely keeps life interesting!

Aug 27, 2007

Grand Theft Auto and 'The Price Is Right' Have Something in Common...

I knew I recognized that typeface! Sure, it's been updated and modernized, but one look at the letter 'R' and there's no argument.

Aug 23, 2007

Dumb Steve Joke V

I urgently needed a few days off work, but I knew the boss would'nt allow me to take leave. I thought that maybe if I acted crazy, then he would tell me to take a few days off. So, I hung upside-down on the ceiling and made funny noises.

Dumb Steve asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was pretending to be a light bulb so that the boss might think I was crazy and give me a few days off.

A few minutes later the boss came into the office and asked, "What in the world are you doing?" I told him I was a light bulb. He said, "You're clearly stressed out." Go home and rest for a couple of days."

I jumped down and walked out of the office.

When Dumb Steve tried to follow me out, the boss asked him, "Where do you think you're going?"

Steve said, "I'm going home, too. I can't work in the dark".

Aug 22, 2007

Visiting the Titanic Exhibit

On Saturday, Angela and I went to see the Titanic exhibit at the Visual Arts Center. It was pretty neat. The exhibit was put on by the company RMS Titanic, Inc. and they had artifacts on display that have been brought up from the actual wreck site.

When you first enter the exhibit, each person is given a "boarding pass" that corresponds to an actual person that was aboard the ship. The card tells about the person, who they were travelling with, and the reason for their voyage. My person was Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff-Gordon. He was travelling with his wife, Lady Lucy Christiana Duff-Gordon, the fashion designer, and Laura M. Francatelli, his wife's secretary. They were all first-class passengers. Cosmo was a proficient fencer, and represented Great Britain at the 1908 Olympics. Lady Duff-Gordon had urgent business in New York, and Cosmo chose to accompany her on this trip.

Angela's person was Mrs. Benjamin Peacock (Edith Nile). She was travelling with her daughter, Treasteall, and her son, Alfred. They were third-class passengers. Her husband was already in New Jersey, working as a mechanical engineer. Edith had been ill at the time of his voyage, so she and the family stayed behind until she felt better - booking passage aboard the Titanic.

The whole exhibit told the story of Titanic, and after you learn about the conception and building of the ship and the first few days of the voyage, you walk down a flight of stairs to the underwater portion of the exhibit. Here they discuss the recovery of the artifacts from beneath 2 miles of water.

For us, though, the most interesting thing about the exhibit were the individual stories that were told. Each artifact belonged to a certain person, and they had gave a description of how and why that particular person happened to be aboard ship. They also had several plaques on the walls that described different people and their individual stories.

Towards the end of the exhibit, they give a list of every passenger, by class, and every crew member and whether or not that person made it through the voyage. Sadly, Angela's person and her two children were lost. My person, Sir Cosmo (and his party), did make it through the voyage...though there was some scandal surrounding the event. He was in Lifeboat #1, which was later referred to as "the money boat". The lifeboat was only about half full, and Sir Cosmo gave the crew members £5 notes to cover their lost gear. Some people later said it was to keep the crew from returning to the ship and attempting to rescue more passengers, who might have swamped the boat. Laura Francatelli (secretary to Lady Duff-Gordon) denies this, stating in her own account that "going back was never discussed." Either way, Sir Cosmo never escaped the shame that followed him everywhere he went.

Incidentally, Laura Francatelli's life jacket (autographed by her and other survivors) sold at an auction in London in May 2007 for £60,000 ($119,000).

Aug 17, 2007

The Solidus vs. The Virgule

The solidus character, ⁄, also known as a shilling mark, is a punctuation mark; it is not found on standard keyboards. The virgule, /, also known as slash or stroke, is also a punctuation mark and is found on standard keyboards. It may also be called an oblique, diagonal, separatrix, scratch comma, slant, or forward slash.

So what’s the difference between the two? Good question. Most people do not distinguish between the two characters, and when there is no alternative it is acceptable to use the virgule in place of the solidus. But we’re not most people, are we?

Visually, the slope of the virgule is more steep than the slope of the solidus. The virgule is the more common of the two marks, appearing in applications from bowling scores to URLs (contrary to popular belief, there are no “backslashes” in a URL). The solidus is used in monetary notation and to display fractions.

It is interesting to note that the ISO and Unicode both designate the solidus character as the “FRACTION SLASH”, while designating the slash character “SOLIDUS”; this contradicts long-established English typesetting terminology.

**HISTORY ALERT** (Those of you who bore easily may want to stop reading now.)

The virgule symbol itself goes back to the days of ancient Rome. In the early modern period, in the Fraktur script, which was widespread through Europe in the Middle Ages, one virgule (/) represented a comma, while two virgules (//) represented a dash.

In the British Commonwealth, currency amounts in pounds, shillings, and pence were abbreviated using '£', 's.', and 'd.', collectively £sd, referring to the libra, solidus, and denarius. The 's.' was written using a long s, ∫, which was further abbreviated to the '⁄', along with suppressing the 'd.'. Thus '2 pounds, 10 shillings, and 6 pence' would be written as '£2,10⁄6', instead of '£2, 10s. 6d.'. It is this usage which caused the names solidus, due to the historical root of the abbreviation, and also shilling mark to be used to refer to this character.

BTW, if you haven't already figured it out, the character pictured above is a virgule.


Hey, you. Yeah, I'm talking to you! The one with a coffee cup on your desk. No, not you with the mug. You can go back to work. The other guy...did I just hear you call it a Styrofoam cup?

FYI, Styrofoam is made by the Dow Chemical Company, and is used in the construction industry, the floral industry, and in the production of nautical billtes. It is not used to make cups, plates, or other foam containers.

The below is from a page on Dow's corporate website, entitled "What is Styrofoam?" You can access the page by clicking here.
"These common disposable items are typically white in color and are made of expanded polystyrene beads. They do not provide the insulating value, compressive strength or moisture resistance properties of STYROFOAM products. In order to protect the Dow trademarked name 'STYROFOAM', such other material should be referred to by the generic term 'foam.' "
Now, all of you get back to work - and let's be a little more careful about how we refer to our disposable food containers!

Aug 15, 2007

Dumb Steve Joke IV

An Irishman, a German and Dumb Steve were entering a 50-mile cross-country foot race. At the sign-in table, the judge told each of the entrants that the race would begin in an hour, and advised them that they could each bring along one item to use as refreshment during the race.

Forty-five minutes later, the entrants showed up at the starting line. The judge asked the Irishman, “Sir, what have you brought as your item of refreshment?” The Irishman took a large bottle of water out of his pack, and told the judge that he could drink the water when he got thirsty.

The judge asked the German, “Sir, what have you brought as your item of refreshment?” The German took a large, wrapped sandwich out of his pack, and told the judge that he could eat the sandwich when he got hungry.

Finally, the judge turned to Dumb Steve and asked him, “And you sir, what have you brought as your item of refreshment?” Dumb Steve said, “This!” and held up a car door. When the judge asked him to explain, Dumb Steve scoffed and said, “Duh! When I get hot I can roll down the window.”

Bobby Cox Ejected For 132nd Time, Sets Record

Last night, Bobby Cox set a new record with the most ejections over a career - 132. He was thrown out of the game against the Giants after arguing a called strike on Chipper Jones in the bottom of the fifth inning. Last night's ejection marks the 53rd time that home plate umpire Ted Barret has thrown Cox out of a game.

Aug 14, 2007

Late for Work

This morning, I pulled up to the gas pump at Wal-Mart, got out, filled up the tank and then got back in the car. I turned the key and heard that sickening sound that every driver hates to hear – absolutely nothing. I tried the key a couple of times, but it was no use. I wasn’t even hearing a click. I tried to put the car into neutral so I could push it out of the way, but it wouldn’t allow me to press the button in to move the gear shift. I tried the key in every position, and no luck. I was pushing the brake in and everything! I think that's the thing that frustrated me the most - not being able to move the car. As long as you have the key, you should always be able to put the car into neutral. I got out, raised the hood, and hoofed it over to the main store where I got some change and started making calls.

Angela’s dad suggested I make sure the steering wheel wasn’t locked, and then try the gear shift. I called Angela, left a message, called work, told them I wouldn’t be in until at least noon, and then walked back out to the car. The wheel was already unlocked. I disconnected the battery and rubbed the terminals with sandpaper, but that didn’t do any good either. I walked back to the main store, and went to the auto center. I asked the clerk if they check batteries for free, and she told me that they do. I walked back to the car (again) disconnected the battery (again) and started working on getting it out. This was a real pain in the neck because the battery has this annoying nylon strap that holds it in place. The strap is fastened in with a bolt, and all I had was a crescent wrench. I had to reach down in there, get on the bolt, and turn the crescent wrench like a screwdriver until I got the bolt out. That sucked. The bolt was WAY longer than it needed to be!

Once I had the battery free, I took it back to the auto center. (I failed to mention that I brought a cart with me to the car, and that was a real lifesaver – the battery didn’t have a handle!) I took it around to the bay, and one of the mechanics tested it for me. The conversation went like this: “You got 17 cold cranking amps.” I’m thinking, what does that mean? Is that good? Bad? He said it in a way that didn’t give any indication. So I said, “Okay…is that bad?” He replied, “That’s out of 590.” I tried to clarify. “So it’s a dead battery and I need a new one?” He said, “Yep.” Not wanting him to think I’m a complete moron, I threw in the following nugget: “Okay. I can just take this old one in for the core charge?” He said, “Yeah.” (Note: If you’re ever dealing with a mechanic and you don’t want to sound like you have zero mechanical skills, always mention the core charge. That lets them know that you’ve got at least a smidge of experience working with car parts.)

I bought a new battery (the new one also had no handle) and took it out to the car. I put it in, and said a prayer. It worked! The car cranked up and I was elated. I DROVE back to the phone, called everyone back, and went home.

I stayed home for the rest of the morning, ate lunch with Angela and then went to work. I got here at about 12:45.

Oh yeah, and after standing by the gas pumps for over an hour I learned something important - now is the best time to start saving money with Additech!

Aug 13, 2007

Geocaching Flash Mob Event

On Saturday, my wife and I met up with some fellow Geocachers at a Flash Mob event right here in Panama City Beach. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to put a lot of familiar "handles" with faces. Plus, we won a coffee can in the drawing that we can use for a future cache. Yeah! Free coffee can! (Guess you had to be there.)

Anyway, we all introduced ourselves, traded a few stories, exchanged some travel bugs and took the picture. It was a quick, fun event. We had some participants from Ft. Walton and Tallahassee, so that was pretty neat. Now we can't wait for the weather to cool down so we can get back out there!

Aug 10, 2007

Ten Bell Pizza

Over at they have a cool application that takes any combination of letters (your name, for instance) and provides you with a list of anagrams. I entered in my full name (I won't tell you what it is, maybe you can figure it out) and it came back with the following (these are the best): Jenkin's Mermaid Bitch, Jim's Birthed Nickname, Embraced Mint Hijinks.

I tried a shorter version of my name and it came back with "Ed Smith, NBC" among the possibilities. FunkyBizzle returned Inky Elf Buzz, and Planet Bizzle came out as Ten Bell Pizza. You can also set parameters on the number of words that make up the anagram.

To go to the anagram finder page, click here.

I love DialABC! They've got great content, powerful tools and clean, ad-free layouts.

Aug 9, 2007

Free Business Advice: Consider Your Product Names Carefully

So Popeye's Chicken has these things called Buffalo Nuggets. My limited internet research has uncovered that a lot of people swear by them, but it would take a lot to get me to try something called a “buffalo nugget”. They sound like they belong in the same category as cow pies and owl pellets. Hmmm...I’ll bet if Popeye’s sold burgers they would call them “cow pies”.

What’s wrong with “buffalo chicken nuggets” or “buffalo bites”? I mean seriously, “buffalo nuggets”? That just grosses me out and makes me want to keep on driving. Popeye’s is just begging their competition to put them out of business. Again. (They went bankrupt in 1991.)

What’s next, “chicken balls”?

Aug 8, 2007

The Interrobang

Okay, so you’re familiar with the umlaut, the ellipsis, the ampersand and the tilda, but you’re still craving more knowledge about strange, rarely used typographical marks. Well my friend, you’ve come to the right place.

The interrobang is a rarely used punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of a question mark and an exclamation mark. The name interrobang comes from interro - from interrogative - and bang - printers’ slang for “exclamation point”. The result is an economical way to say “He did what?!?!?!” without all of those extra punctuation marks.

**HISTORY ALERT** (Those of you who bore easily may want to stop reading now.)

American Martin K. Speckter concocted the interrobang in 1962. As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter believed that advertisements would look better if advertising copywriters conveyed surprised queries using a single mark. He proposed the concept of a single punctuation mark in an article in the magazine TYPEtalks. Speckter solicited possible names for the new character from readers. Contenders included rhet, exclarotive, and exclamaquest, but he settled on interrobang.

In the 60s and 70s, the mark appeard in new typefaces, and was available on some typewrites. The word itself appeared in dictionaries and was featured in magazine and newspaper articles. However, the interrobang failed to amount to much more than a fad. It is still available in Microsoft’s Wingdings 2 character set, and was accepted into Unicode. You can find it in Lucida Sans Unicode and Arial Unicode MS, among others.

It can be used in HTML documents with , and some word processors (including MS Word) will display the symbol under ALT+8253 when working with a font that supports the interrobang.
More blogs on strange typographical marks/names coming soon! Stay tuned for the solidus, the virgule, the interpunct, the pillcrow, the asterism and guillemets. I know you can hardly contain your excitement!

Aug 7, 2007

Dumb Steve Joke III

An American, an Englishman, and Dumb Steve all decided to go hunting in the woods. They loaded up their gear and drove into the forest. Before splitting up, they all agreed to meet back at the truck at 3:00. They also decided that if one of them got lost, he should shoot three times into the air, and the other two would come to his rescue. They all agreed, and set out.

At 3:00, the Englishman came out of the woods to find the American waiting by the truck. They swapped stories and ate some snacks, waiting for Dumb Steve to come out of the woods.

Soon, it was 3:30, and Dumb Steve had still not shown up.

At 4:00, they decided to go looking for him. They searched for the rest of the afternoon, and finally found Dumb Steve sitting under a tree. When the other two asked him why he didn’t shoot three times into the air as they had agreed, Dumb Steve replied, “I did! Repeatedly! But I eventually ran out of arrows.”

Forklifts Are Dangerous...

...I mean, look! There's no seatbelts on this thing!

Aug 6, 2007

Dumb Steve Joke II

A Frenchman, A Scot, and Dumb Steve were exploring the Amazon Jungle. As they passed through a small clearing, several bloodthirsty cannibals leaped out of the brush and surrounded them. All three were taken prisoner and transported back to the tribal village, where they were thrown into a large pit.

The chief came to the pit and told the men, “You will all be executed and eaten. We will use your bones for weapons, and your skin for canoes. But first, I will grant you all one dying request.”

The Frenchman thought hard, and then asked for a bottle of French wine. “If I must die, then I want the taste of a fine French wine to be on my lips.”

The Scot thought it over, and then asked for a bottle of Scottish whiskey. “If I must die, I want the taste of a fine Scottish whiskey to be on my lips.”

Dumb Steve considered for a moment, and then asked for a fork.

“A fork?” asked the chief.

“I have my reasons!” said Dumb Steve.

The next day, the chief came to the pit and tossed in a bottle of French wine, a bottle of Scottish whiskey and a fork. The Frenchman lifted the bottle of wine to his lips and said, “To France!”

The Scot lifted the bottle of whiskey to his lips and said, “To Scotland!”

Dumb Steve picked up the fork and started stabbing himself repeatedly, and shouted, “You’re not gonna make a canoe out of me!”

Julian Beever, The Pavement Picasso

Julian Beever (a.k.a. "The Pavement Picasso") is an amazing chalk artist that specializes in "pavement drawings". He has worked in the U.K., Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia and the USA.

It takes a few glances to really appreciate his work - I keep finding new things in the pictures that I didn't notice before. And you've got to admire the attention to detail!

My favorites are the ones where he poses with the work to complete the illusion. In the interest of space, I've only included a few here on Planet Bizzle, but you can check out Julian's website and much larger gallery by clicking here.


Aug 2, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

For our 4-year anniversary, Angela and I went out to eat at the Mori Japanese Steakhouse. Our hibachi chef was very entertaining, though the vegetables left a little to be desired. It seems that this is a common trend...the worse the show, the better the food (and vice versa). I don't know, it probably has something to do with concentration.

Anyway, the most surprising event of the night wasn't the chef catching eggs in his hat, it was the fact that the other party at the hibachi picked up our check for us! They were a couple from Americus, Georgia, and were visiting Panama City on their vacation. They said they usually come down once a year, and asked us where we were from. We told them we were locals, and that it was our 4-year anniversary, and they congratulated us.

After dinner, the lady picked up our receipt book and handed us our card back, and told us they would pick up the check. We were shocked! We told them that wasn't necessary, but they insisted. Wow. I was floored!

Of course, the trainee waiter was taking forever to pick up the checks, and we thought it would be rude to leave, so we hung out and talked to them for about 20 nerve-racking minutes. Never did find out their names or what they did for a living, but we thanked them and wished them well. There are still some amazingly nice people in this world, and two of them live in Americus.

Aug 1, 2007

Our 4-Year Anniversary

Yeah! Today, 08-01-07, My wife and I celebrate our 4-year anniversary. That may not sound like a long period of time, but it seems like it's really only been a couple of years.

We have now been married for as long as we were dating before we got married...we dated for exactly 4 years before we got hitched.

Man, time flies...

Angela, if you're reading this, I LOVE YOU!!

My Essay for the Samsung 2007 Hope For Education Contest

Recently, my wife asked me to draft an essay for the "Samsung 2007 Hope For Education Contest" that answers the following question:
"What is the single most significant benefit that technology can provide in the classroom?" Essays should focus on: 1) a single benefit or improvement to the educational process, 2) the specific types of technologies that will create this benefit and 3) the features of these technologies that create value in the educational process.
Here's the tricky part...the finished piece can be no more than 100 words! I used 97.
Here's what I came up with:
"The most significant benefit that technology can provide in the classroom is global connectivity. Students can be anywhere, at any time. Whether they are absorbing knowledge from today’s cutting edge research or interviewing societies for tomorrow’s geography project, the latitude of Internet connectivity is unlimited. Our world is moving, changing. Students can travel with a rainforest biologist as she blogs about her daily discoveries. They can gain insight through an Egyptologist’s webinar concerning a recently-discovered tomb. Through technology, students gain access to a global community of experts and resources that could never be offered in yesterday’s classroom."
FYI: this entry was submitted 05-13-07, and the contest closed don't get any ideas!