B’ak’tun the Drawing Board

bakun the drawing board

bakun the drawing board

Dear Mister Eccentric,

Where’s the kaboom? The Mayans promised an Earth shattering kaboom!

Marvin T. Marshall
Mars, PA.

Ah those crazy Mayans. It still astounds me how accurate their calendar was…and how inaccurate everyone’s interpretation of it is.

For those of you not in the know, or if today is your first day on the internet ever (welcome, btw), December 21st 2012 marked the end of the 13th Mayan B’ak’tun… and subsequently, the world. Or so Facebook would have you believe.

But, it was never a doomsday thing. Quite the contrary actually. Ever the optimists, the Mayans had intended this to be a period of great change and renewal!

It may surprise you to learn that the Maya were a civilization comprised to the greatest motivational speakers ever known to man. How else could you convince someone to give up their still beating heart for the greater good?

So, back in the 8th b’ak’tun or so (about 1900 years ago) a bunch of their pitchmen got together with an idea for the mother of all self help marketing ploys: Start spreading vague rumors about the end of the 13th b’ak’tun. and when it comes, hit the public with the punchline – B’ak’tun the Future, the ultimate in Mayan self help trends.

A recent dig in Belize even found one of their proposed ads: “B’ak’tun the Future – if the calendar can start over from scratch, so can you! Each month you’ll receive a new clay tablet outlying your action plan to a new you…”

Sadly, the Mayans never predicted what disasters a 2000 year buzz campaign could result in. Or the Spanish for that matter. In fact, the only thing the Mayans may have predicted was the coming of Scrabble – why else make a language with so many X’s and Qs?

So that’s it, there’s no apocalypse now. But that doesn’t mean the Mayan’s plan has to die with the myth. The calendar has reset, so should you. You survived the end of the world, you lived… now go live! It’s what the Mayans intended all along!

A Waste of Time & Money


Warning, the following piece concerns the touchy subjects of Casey Anthony and Sarah Palin. This isn’t however my views on them per se. Most of you can, by now, divine my takes on a irresponsible party-girl parent believed to have drugged and killed her kid, and an irresponsible party-line-towing girl who’s probably never heard of William Dawes and probably thinks the Townshend Acts were a side project of The Who’s guitarist. No, no opining on those subjects here. Rather, this is about the media coverage of said subjects.

If you don’t live in Central Florida, consider yourself lucky (for more than one reason), in that you haven’t been subjected to the non-stop media coverage of the Casey Anthony Trial. That is, unless you watch nothing but HLN – then you’re screwed (for more than one reason).

From 9-5 (and then some), Monday thru Saturday, network TV is held hostage by court proceedings. It’s the OJ trial all over again. Everything is preempted. No soaps, no gameshows, no talksho… hmm, what was the problem again?

Ok, so the trial is on par with anything produced in a studio geared for those home sick from work and school. But Saturday?! I thought the courts adjourned for the weekend. Do we really need this cutting into Saturday Morning TV too? Not that there is anything good on Saturday morning anymore.

Ok, look, so I blew my argument out of the water. The trial isn’t cutting into anything important. That doesn’t change the fact that all this coverage is grossly unnecessary. HLN has the same coverage, with the same inane analysis as all the rest. Isn’t that enough?

Networks, are you really trying to boost your ratings with this drivel? It’s not a ratings war if you’re all broadcasting the same program. And your ratings mean nothing if you’re not showing ads. And HLN, you’re taking commercial breaks?! Who the heck gets sponsors for a horrific murder trial?

I mean, this isn’t some world unifying moment that deserves simulcast – like a new Pope or Hands Across America. This is grizzly imagery and long boring interviews that caters to a select few morbid individuals… like pay-per-view wrestling. Which brings me to my point (finally!).

There is, alas, an audience for this. Why else would the nightly “world” news programs re-cap the day for those who didn’t DVR it. Why not make it pay-per-view? It’s already a highly billed spectacle, why not make some money off of it? You know, recoup some of the $500,000 already blown on this ordeal so far.

Don’t think it would fly? Tell that to the black-friday-style masses (link to CNN) waiting in line at the courthouse for front row seats. Everyone wins! The state makes money, all the jilted crime groupies get a good view (sans the proximity to other crime groupies), and children on summer break without the refuge of Cartoon Network won’t get scarred for life from the gritty pictures of a three-year-old’s rotting corpse.

Now on to coverage of other grizzly details… Mama Grizzly details (har har har ).

Over the past week now, “journalists” have been dispatched to Alaska where 25,000 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails were released to the public. This C.F. is result of a mess of Freedom of Information Act requests filed back when it may have been relevant in 2008, and deals with her time as governor of Alaska.

And, like most fishing expeditions, everyone came back empty handed. They come home, only to sit around the anchor table and spin self-indulgent yarns about the harrowing experience about how the big one got away. Needing validation, they turned this non-event into a self-referential meta-story (aka fish sticks), featuring video clips of dozens of paper boxes on dollies and all sorts of folks leafing through mounds of paper.

Mounds of paper? Of E-mails? Mounds of paper… 24,000 pages worth of E-mail… ELECTRONIC MAIL!

Why the dryad would you print out 24,000 pages of E-mail? And then fly TO said E-mail? This is the blankety-blank digital age folks. Come on!

Maybe I’m looking at this from a copy-jockey’s perspective. Someone comes to my counter and wants 24,000 pages printed, it’s a big deal. A champagne-corks-flying-burn-the-mortgage-the-farm-is-saved deal, especially in this economy. Assuming state and/or media outlet contract pricing, its like .04 a page (roughly average amongst the big 4)… That’s $960 bucks right there. And, since there was at least 17 separate FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests (link to ABC News), I can only assume by the sight of all those boxes more than one set was made.

Let’s assume just the major players got them: ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, the AP, Reuters, The NY Times and CNN. That’s nearly 200,000 pages – over $7000 in pulp and toner, nevermind the plane fares, lodging and pooper-scooper fees after the journalists crapped themselves over the possibilities!

And then scanning it? Some news agencies have scans of printed emails up on their website. Digitally scanned images of printed documents that were digital to begin with? Words cannot fashion a decent simile for this, it’s so stupid. Print to PDF anyone? Anyone? Adobe Acrobat X Pro’ll run you less than a set. CutePDF is flippin’ free!

Again, walk into the average copyshop, that’d run you .25 a page… 6 grand.

So, for one set printed out and scanned back in you could distribute 50 preloaded Kindles, or around 2000 custom gold-plated laser-engraved 4gb flash drives.

Maybe next we can put the scans into a text-to-speech reader, and press a 300 vinyl record collectors set. Better yet! Platinum records! Send it off into space ala Voyager. It’ll give aliens something to listen to after watching the myriad of TV transmissions from the that stirring daytime serial, The Case Against Casey Anthony.

And You Think Printer Ink is Expensive Now?


We all know that most famous of Star Trek lines… no, not “make it so.” No, not “damnit Jim I’m an -insertsomethinghere-” I mean:

Tea. Earl Grey, hot. The favorite replicated beverage of Capt. Picard.

Well, the technology to synthesize our favorite foods and drinks is on the way. According to the BBC news:

“The team at Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Lab (CCSL) are building a 3D food printer, as part of the bigger Fab@home project, which they hope one day will be as commonplace as the microwave oven or blender.”

Basically the device is an array of ingredient filled syringes that inject the “inks” (liquified food stuffs) in sequence with the help of a CAD program. Right now it’s limited to stuff like cheese and raw dough and chocolate; stuff that can be squeezed though a straw.

“However, the team are now experimenting with mixing foods with hydrocolloids – substances that form gels with water, generally used to thicken food products – to create a range of basic liquid ingredients.”

That said, if either NASA and/or the military get interested in this idea this thing would definitively become reality. They’ve been putting food in tubes for years; finally it could be edible.

One of the goals of the group is to one day be able to digitally exchange CAD recipes via email and social networking. We’d someday be able comment on, tweak and tweet the recipes across the internet.

Think about it. We’ve all seen those food-of-the-month clubs: get a variety of cheeses or a basket of fruit sent to your door. Well, forget the door, get it right in your inbox. Puts a whole new spin on the idea of SPAM.

The food printer stems from the concept of rapid prototyping machines – a device that layers polymers on top of each other to form 3D objects. You’d design a product, print out the parts and build it in the comfort of your own home.

Before now it was a expensive prospect – like 40 grand expensive. That’s a lot to blow on a model airplane press.

But a company called RepRap is making the technology available to the common man… for free! Well, the plans and software are free; you’d just have to provide the tools and about $1000 for parts. Still a lot better than a taking out a second mortgage.

From their website:

RepRap is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine – one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that – if you’ve got a RepRap – you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend… “

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

Something as neat as this doesn’t come without controversy though. Much like when the ability to burn CDs came out, there’s a fear of copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property.

In theory yes, it’s something to worry about down the line. In theory, yes, someday you could A) produce the CD blank on which your about to copy an album B) build from scratch the computer you’re going to use to burn it, then listen to it sitting on a C) Ikea POÄNG chair you downloaded from Pirate Bay while sipping a D) Wendy’s Frosty you whipped up with your food printer in the kitchen.

In practice, however, there are those out there in the year 2011 who still think their CD-Rom tray is a cup holder. There are those out there in the year 2011 who will attempt to log into their E-mail by putting their E-mail address in the URL bar. The collective manual dexterity and 3D AutoCAD skills of humanity are such that I don’t think there is a need worry about mass piracy of everyday physical objects.

What I kinda do worry about is all that plastic going to be thrown about. I mean if at first you don’t succeed – draft, draft again. Right? What will become of the prototype prototypes? Sure, we’d probably be able to melt them down and re-use the plastic. But consider this… how many of us use the other side of the paper if we print out the wrong thing? No, normal plastics won’t do.

In a previous post I mentioned some products being made with a material called Mirel. It’s a renewable biodegradable plastic made from plant sugars. Folks from Cornell were also working on plastic from citrus oil and carbon dioxide called polylimonene carbonate.

If the RepRap were able to use these you could be totally self sustaining. Grow your own corn and oranges, toss ‘em into the food printer an make some plastic ingots and build your own little world!

Well, at the very least all those the embarrassingly misfit toys produced in the experimentation stages would biodegrade and not laugh at us for all eternity.

What Stays In Vegas Has Got To Get There First


Seventeen years is an unfathomable amount of time to be fathoming, especially when there’s undies to be packed. It’s enough time to be born and go college picking. It’s enough time to age a really fancy cheese. It’s enough time to get to Mars and back and run around the talk show circuit.

And yet, it’s been that long since I’ve been to that rhinestone oasis that is Las Vegas. ‘Twas the summer of ’93, and was the launching point of an unforgettable months long road trip with my dad. A road trip that spawned my love of jackalopes and disdain for the Wisconsin Dells. They know what they did.

Being 13 at the time, I obviously didn’t have an appreciation for the neon around me. I also didn’t have a blog and smart phone to send in constant updates and posts, committing my experiences to the electronic ether. Neither did anyone else at the time, come to think of it. Something else to not fathom in this day and age.

Oddly enough, the Vegas of the present, from what I can see of the cable travel logs, would appeal more to my 13 year old self. Luckily, I never much matured past fifteen.

Accompanying me on this trip is my long time attorney-comma-spiritual-adviser-slash-good-luck-charm – Dr. Toad. Many summers ago I liberated him from a Jersey shore skill crane, and since then he’s become a mascot on such gaming junkets – helping to win skee ball points and release captive brethren from vending machines.

How much aid he brings to this venture is up in the air. Lately the good doctor’s been saying he’s not been feeling like himself. He says he feels like a little stuffed mushroom man. I tell him of course he does, he IS a little stuffed mushroom man.

For some reason he never believes me when I remind him of his metaphysical state.

C’est la vie…

But the gaming will be only a small part of this trip. The main focus will be upon Photoshop World – the three to four day pixel manipulating madness. I chickened out last year, and the fall edition was in Orlando… which meant a lot of commuting : /

I have no idea what to expect. I mean, I’ve been using Photoshop for years. That’s no big deal It has only been in recent months that I’ve actually entered the fringes of the Photoshop community… forums, blogs and the like. But now I hurl myself into the heart of it. Should be interesting.

It’s really the first vacation I’ve gone solo on, so my stomach is full of butterflies who’re celebrating new years eve a bit early. But it’s more than a vacation. It’s more than learning a crap ton of Photoshop and connecting with people (theoretically) on my wavelength.

This is practice.

Journaling from a distance. Moblogging some call it. For the whole week I’ll be attempting to get my Tweet legs blog daily about this event. Get a feel for it, ’cause in a few years I hope to cover the the 2012 London Olympics for the New World Otter here. And, if I can’t do it here in my homeland… how can I expect to do it in a place that doesn’t speak American?

More to follow, now to try to get some zzz..ZZZ…zzz And when I get back, I really need to fix this place up… its in no shape for regular postings : p

Where’s Your Poseidon Now?

Dear Mr. Eccentric

I can’t help but think there’s not enough coverage and/or outrage over the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. There seemed to be way more coverage and scandal with the Exon Valdez than with this rig. I don’t get it. I mean don’t get me wrong, the Valdez was horrendous; but that was a finite amount of oil working on one habitat… where this rig is spewing an infinite amount of oil into countless fragile wetland ecosystems and affecting all sorts of seafood related industries. We didn’t have the 24hr news cycle back then nor the greenmindedness we have now, and yet, there’s only been but a dull roar from the media and a prodded response from government. What gives?

Ralph Moore

We didn’t have a reliance on bottled water nor the affinity for gourmet cooking we do today either. Confused?

The beating around the bush reaction to this disaster is all due to a misunderstanding on the part of a low level cog in the Illuminati’s Foodie Division and his part to cover up his blunder. The IFD being the wing of the worldwide conspiracy that creates all the food trends that seem to come around for no good reason – like everyone and their mother putting out Buffalo chicken (yay) or suddenly serving everything with chipotle or arugala with a light aioli (meh).

When the news broke out that the rig had sunk, news analysts began their barely-enough-info-to-pass-2nd-grade reports on the type of toxins being leaked by the disaster. In this case the substance in question is a lightweight oil lovingly referred to as “sweet;” and, that in a matter of days, the wildlife would be marinating in this stuff.

This misguided Illuminati figured shrimp infused in sweet oil straight from the sea would be a great new foodie fad, and thus sent the signal to the governments to drag their feet. That is till he realized that oil from the ground and oil from pressed veggies were not at all equal. Something to do with a night of drinking and Biodiesel lectures got his wires crossed.

In order to save face, the lackey changed his story. He “determined” that this slick of petroleum would, yes, toxify any seafood it came in contact with, but with a beneficial effect.

As we know, bottled water is a billion dollar industry facing some scrutiny due possible chemical seepage from the bottles. Plastic bottles are made from, amongst other things, oil byproducts.

If enough petroleum based toxins are ingested at the casual dining level, humanity would have built up an immunity to these chemicals and ready to not only continue buying bottled water as a supplemental source of hydration, but as a primary source too… after the Illuminati turn of the potable water supply in ten years.

As appealing as a solution to the “Waterworks Quandry” was, after a month’s deliberation, the high level Masters decided that they would have to act beneficially in this case and finally loosened the reigns on government and business to fix the mess after all.

As for the party responsible in the first place, though we’ve never heard of him before, I’m doubly sure we never will in the future.

The Green Office


Well, we all know that C.E.O.s want more greenery in their office, whether it be the almighty dollar or just a nifty little putting space in corner. But, in honor of Earth Day, let’s talk about non-decadent green – environmentally correct office products!

Here’s just a small smattering of what’s out there [Read more...]

Those Darn Celebrities 3-10-10


“Lindsay Lohan is suing the financial company E-Trade, insisting that a boyfriend-stealing, “milkaholic” baby in its latest commercial — who happens to be named Lindsay — was modeled after her. And she wants $100 million for her pain and suffering…” (source: NY Post) [Read more...]

Resurecting a post

It appears, whilst reformatting some older posts, I came across a link to a post that didn’t exist. Well, it did exist; it just never got entered into the WordPress Engine when we converted back in 2005! That’s right, a lost post. It happens. So, newly unearthed is A Day Late and a Dollar Menu Short aka Suing the Fat, originally ranted in November of 2002. Its message still holds true.