Tuesday, December 21, 2010

one world futbol

This blog post is long overdue, but I wanted to introduce you all to the One World Futbol Project. It uses a "Give One Get One" model - you purchase a soccer ball, and second ball is donated through a partner organization to an area with children in need, including war zones, refugee camps, and impoverished communities in the US and throughout the world. According to the website (Dec 2010), "One World Futbols have been delivered to 59 countries through nearly 100 organizations."

This ball is incredible. It is made from a "unique (proprietary) closed-cell foam," a material similar to the material used in Crocs sandals*. (I am VERY curious as to how it works... but the founder is keeping this quiet for now....) The ball never needs a pump and it never goes flat. This is not an exaggeration. It is so far indestructible. Nothing I have seen or read can deflate this ball, not urban landscapes, barbed wire, lions, pickup trucks, or two enthusiastic German Shepherds.
Yes, back in July I bought one of these balls for my parents' dogs - two German Shepherds with a track record of destroying soccer balls. To put it in perspective, here is a picture of the two "current" soccer balls in their yard - a One World Futbol and a traditional soccer ball.

Take a closer look at that One World Futbol taken in December, 2010 - that is a LOT of teeth marks! It is amazing to watch this ball, in the mouth of a 120 pound dog, as it alternates between being chomped on and re-inflating in the dog's mouth.

Creative Commons License
OneWorldFutbol by C. Mytko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Inventor and music producer Tim Jahnigen, from our very own Berkeley, California, provided the initial idea. (You can check out his Huffington Post blog posts.) The musical artist Sting put up the cash for research and development. (The two men know through Jahnigen's work.) The project officially launched just a few months ago on July 8, 2010, timed with World Cup fever.

Their goal?
Give away one million balls in three years, beginning where they are most needed, such as in war-ravaged nations like Iraq and Afghanistan, refugee camps around the globe or inner-city locations right at home in the United States. (USAToday, 7.7.2010)

Watch the inspiration behind the Project in this July 2010 video:

You can read more about this amazing ball on SFGate or One World Futbol's Press Page. Better yet, go to their website and "Give One Get One"!

* Crocs are made of some petroleum-based polymer, but even their site will only divulge that the shoes are made of "the company’s proprietary closed-cell resin, Croslite™" which doesn't tell us much. And it certainly does not give any insight as to the composition of a One World Futbol.... Although the ball is manufactured by the Canada-based Foam Creations, whose founders Marie-Claude de Billy and Andrew Reddyhoff originally invented Crocs and manufactured the shoes from 2003 - 2008.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the ultimate youtube playlist

YouTube and the Guggenheim Foundation recently joined forces in order to create the "ultimate YouTube playlist." The result was YouTube Play: The Shortlist, 25 videos chosen out of over 23,000 video submissions from 91 different countries.

The top videos, which were revealed Thursday at the Guggenheim Museum in New York , can be viewed on YouTube.com/play. They also will be shown at the Guggenheim museums in New York; Bilbao, Spain; Berlin, Germany; and Venice, Italy, through Sunday. (CNN, 10.23.10)


Saturday, July 17, 2010

iron science teacher!

This week, I accomplished one of my (nerdy) life goals - I won the Iron Science Teacher at the Exploratorium's Teacher Institute! I've been obsessed with the Exploratorium for years. When I visited LA years back, I made my travel buddy rent a car and drive to SF so that I could experience the museum firsthand! Years later, in 2006, it was the 100 year anniversary earthquake exhibit that got me out to visit SF for the second time. And now I live here. Coincidence? I think not. :)

Check out the link to watch the video (my "show" is from 21:08 - 35:58).

So... maybe I stacked the deck in my favor a little... who can compete with a rubber chicken in a cape?!

Friday, July 2, 2010

amorphophallus titanum blooms in berkeley!

I already blogged about Amorphophallus titanum in 2007, but I like it so much, I'm going to do it again in honor of Berkeley's very own "corpse flower" bloom this week. At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 29, one of the 15 Sumatran Titanum plants housed at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens slowly began unfurling its enormous and potentially smelly petals. I decided to document my visit with the fleeting bloom. It felt a little like taking a photo with a celebrity!

Liver-colored, reeking of rancid animal flesh and obscenely phallic, Titan arum - affectionately called the corpse flower - is hardly the stuff of bouquets and love poems. It's more like the Godzilla of the plant kingdom: big, stinky and likely to traumatize small children. (SF Gate)
The names Amorphophallus titanum and Titan arum are used interchangeably. This particular UC bloom was even nicknamed "Maldora" in the Titan Arum Naming Contest.

According to the UC page,
The legendary Sir David Attenborough first used the name titan arum to refer to this magnificent tropical plant in the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants because he felt viewers might be offended by the plant's Latin name, Amorphophallus titanum. [Amorpho meaning shapeless, phallus meaning penis, and titanum meaning huge] Titan arum might have suited Attenborough's viewers, but the plant still seduces people with one of the world's largest and rarest flowering structures and and a reproduction method that beguiles insects with the illusion of decay in appearance, odor and even temperature; hence the name 'Corpse Flower'. Generally fewer that five titans bloom each year in the US.

The plant uses its scent to attract pollinating insects, just like most other flowers. But unlike most flowers, this one hopes to attract flies and carrion beetles - insects that like to feed on rotting meat. Even more strange - it can actually generate its own heat, with the UC-Davis plant heating up from 68 degrees to 90 degrees at its peak hours of smelliness. When the flower finally opens, it releases its powerful stench for a few middle-of-the-night hours each day for 2 - 3 days. Then the blooms fades until its next appearance. The last Titan arum bloom in Berkeley was in 2009.

The fascinating thing is that no one can predict if and when this plant will make a flower. For
many years the plant produces only a single, highly divided leaf that can be up to 12 feet high. During these years, the plant it is building up a large underground storage organ, called a corm. Once the corm reaches a certain size, it may send up a single enormous flower. 100 pound corms have been known to produce flower stalks up to 9 feet tall. (source)

Here is a photo of the other Titan arum plants. Looking at the potted plants, he far left pot shows a plant just sending up a shoot. The docent said at this point in its development, horticulturists can't tell whether it is going to be a leaf year or a bloom year. The next plant shows the corpse flower in its leaf-producing, corm-forming state. Third from the left is just a baby, and the far right pot contains the guest of honor - the Amorphophallus titanum flower, Maldora!

Check out this site for much more information, as well as a list of all the known blooms from 1889 through 2008!

Cool Hunting's 46th episode (video) has interviews with visitors to the Brooklyn's botanical gardens in 2006. And I love this guy hanging out with titanum.

UPDATE 7.24.10 - Today, Little Stinker is set to bloom at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens! Meanwhile, halfway across the country, a bride-to-be may be sharing the spotlight with Lois, a rare corpse flower, which just may open on Saturday, sending the stench of rotting meat throughout the wedding festivities in Houston's Cockrell Butterfly Center. This species of flower has only bloomed once before in Texas, and a mere 29 times in the U.S., according to the Houston Chronicle. (Uh oh... UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens has 5 weddings scheduled for this weekend!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

doodle for google - pacman!

As most of you have found out already, today brings the first-ever playable Google doodle! (Read the official Google blog post to learn all about it.)

SMarcin Wichary and Google doodler Ryan Germick "made sure to include PAC-MAN’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece. We also added a little easter egg: if you throw in another coin, Ms. PAC-MAN joins the party and you can play together with someone else (PAC-MAN is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, Ms. PAC-MAN using the W,A,S, and D keys)."

UPDATE 5.27.10: One blog calculates that Pac-Man ate up approximately 4.8 million hours of productivity on Friday. Read the math. Kind of interesting. Also, if you missed it, Pac-Man has found a permanent home on Google.

Here are 3 things I learned about PAC-MAN today:
  1. It was originally called PUCK MAN
  2. Pac-Man was released on May 22, 1980 by the Japanese video game company Namco
  3. Pac-Man is one of the three video games on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., along with Dragon's Lair and Pong.
A Mental Floss post has even more Pac-Man trivia, or you can visit the official Pac-man site.

Curious about the doodles? The first doodle was in 1998, when Google founders Larry and Sergey decided to leave a comical "out of office" message when they headed to Burning Man.

Read more about the doodle history and visit the logo page to see all the past doodles from 1998 through the present.

Speaking of Doodles.... online voting is now open for this year's Doodle for Google contest. You can vote up until May 25, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (PT). After May 25th, Google will announce the four national finalists and national winner and that national winner's doodle will appear on the Google.com page on May 27, 2010. So, go vote!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

jim's pancakes

How cool is this guy? Apparently, this guy names Jim likes making unusual pancakes for his 3-year-old daughter. You can see his creations on his blog, Jim's Pancakes. He also has recipies, more photos and instructional videos available on the site.

His creations include such 2D masterpieces as a giraffe pancake and a bumblebee pancake... but the images below are some of my absolute favorites! (Click each photo to read the corresponding blog post.)

The ultimate breakfast? ...

... clearly he is having too much fun with this ...

.. and the Golden Gate! :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

celebrating randomness is moving

Hi all -

Well, Blogger is discontinuing its FTP support. I don't like it, but I have to move by May 1.

Hopefully, I will soon be back at www.mytko.org/random. In the meantime, I will be hanging out on Google's servers at random.mytko.org.

Worse case, I will erase everything, and start a new blog. I'll see how this goes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

chicken blog!

So, the other day, I read this great post about a rescued chicken. Who knew 100 chickens a year were abandoned in San Francisco each year? Well this one, named Elvira, was one of the lucky ones to find a home with a woman in the Mission neighborhood.

What's even better? The new owner maintains a CHICKEN BLOG! Awesome. On her first post, in March 2010, she writes, "Not to be hip is embarrassing. Especially in the Mission, which is a nursery for many Silicon Valley success stories, and thus, home for hip people. To be somebody in this neighborhood, I need the chickens."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

unfortunate signage

I was in Walgreens the other day, and saw this posted. Ouch....
"H1N1 Available Today"???

If you look closely, you'll see that someone tried to make the point more clear. Perhaps a Sharpie would have come in handy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

bacon for babies?

What is with this obsession with bacon? I've seen bacon scarves, bacon band-aids, bacon tape and even bacon wrapping paper. They even have bacon salt (a "zero calorie, zero fat, vegtarian and kosher seasoning that makes everything taste like bacon) and no-longer-available bacon flash drives. The site Archie McPhee sells 20 bacon-related products!

  • UPDATE 4/23/10 On ThinkGeek today, I ran across a cute (?!) bacon shirt- "three strips of bacon coated in glitter on a black babydoll (fitted) t-shirt"
On April 1st, J&D's, the company already responsible for bacon flavored salt, envelopes and lip balm, announced that they were releasing... bacon flavored baby formula!

However, on April 5, J&D's wrote a blog post, exposing their hoax. There is no bacon flavored baby formula. However, a lot of people were fooled, including a news network and the Huffington Post!

(PS - Thank you, 6th graders, for making sure that I am not a hypocrite. This picture is Creative Commons, original image by user Porge. Modifications made by user Kelapstick.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

wanna buy a banana museum?

Well, some of you may already know that bananas amuse me. (See my posts on banananame.com, a student's banana poem, or just another random banana post.)

Well, for just $45,000 (with no reserve price) it seems I could buy the world's largest collection devoted to any one fruit, according to the Guinness Book of World Records (1995 Golden Anniversary Edition). The International Banana Club Museum, founded by Ken Bannister, is for sale on eBay until Apr 07, 2010 at 17:48:57 PDT. Nine days left! Apparently, the founder has reduced the price to $15,000 in hopes of finding a buyer.

A Wall Street Journal article dated March 23, 2010 reports the
International Banana Club Museum was established in 1972, when it started with 10,000 Chiquita banana stickers before well-meaning banana merchandise filled a museum in Altadena, CA. Later, in 2005, the collection moved to its current location in Hesperia, CA. Now the Hesperia Recreation & Parks District (north of Los Angeles) wants the banana museum to go. The Park District has not been charging Bannister rent for the past 5 years since they were not using the space, but now it wants to rotate exhibits. So, out with the bananas and in with "artifacts collected by the late John Swisher, a local historian."
The collection includes a banana golf putter, banana beverages, and a gold-sequined "Michael Jackson banana." Mr. Bannister organizes the goods into "hard" (brass, lead, wood, plastic banana wares) and "soft" (stuffed bananas, banana beach mats, banana tents). (article)
Bannister owns the world's only petrified banana and even tried renting the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile to convert it into a "banana mobile" to ride in the Rose Parade. (The company told him no.)

Ken Bannister also offers banana club membership. According to a post on Altlas Obscura,
Membership to the club is a flat rate of $15 and, just like Bananaster, members can come up with their own nickname. Additionally, members can climb up in social ranks; the more banana-phernalia one donates, the higher the "B.M." (banana merit) they are rewarded, such as PHB, Doctorate of Bananistry Degree. Banana Club members are said to get extra discounts when presenting their Banana Card Clubs in public, though a simple smile is what the club strives for. And if the smile isn't enough, members can also brag about their fellow famous Banana Club-ers: Jay Leno and former US President, Ronald Reagan.

Want to learn more? Visit the International Banana Club Museum official website.

UPDATE (April 12, 2010): The Banana Museum is saved! Read about Fred Garbutt, 46, and his mother, Virginia, who purchased the banana collection. The saved banana museum is set to open in January of 2011 in North Shore, CA. By the way, Fred has 110 of converse gym shoes... but no yellow ones!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

will you help?

The Boston Globe did a photojournal of the 2009 Sumatra earthquake. I've been holding on to this image for a while, and debating whether or not to post it. The picture below usually would make me laugh (since ducks are hilarious), if it wasn't so sad (salvaging what he can from the destruction).

Events like these in Sumatra, and most recently in Haiti, remind us of the power of nature, as well as the good fortune so many of us enjoy.

If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to the Red Cross. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 and make a $10 donation to support the American Red Cross Haiti relief efforts. The donation will be debited from your cell phone bill.

A 48-hour-old fundraising campaign to help Haiti earthquake victims, done solely through text messages, was already stunning Red Cross officials on Thursday when it hit $3 million. By Friday morning, the tally had more than doubled.

The campaign, made viral on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, had raised $8 million by Friday, according to a Twitter message from the White House that was reposted on the Red Cross account. - CNN 1.14.10

UPDATED: Harman said the campaign, which raised more than $3 million in its first 24 hours last week, had topped the $21 million mark by 11 p.m. on Sunday. - CNN 1.18.10

Update 5:20pm: I have been alerted to the fact that these mobile donations can take up to 90 days to reach the Red Cross (CNN, Gigaom). Jonathan Aiken, spokesman for the Red Cross, says "The Red Cross already has cash on hand, so it's putting that money to work now and will replenish its coffers once the mobile donations are officially processed... That's how it's always worked," Aiken said. "So in a way it doesn't matter which exact date the money officially comes in. And in any case, we're still going to be in Haiti 90 days from now -- this is not going away anytime soon."

The Better Business Bureau recommends that consumers give to charity online, by phone or mail if they want the funds deposited immediately.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

beginner's guide to appreciating snowflakes

Interesting story in the Chicago Tribune about snowflakes:

Kenneth Libbrecht, [Professor of Physics at CalTech and creator of snowcrystals.com] has now defined more than 35 different shapes, from radiating plates to capped columns, to bullet rosettes. For snowflake-watchers who don't have a microscope handy, however, here's a beginner's guide to appreciating the snow.

TEMP. (F) 32(degrees) to 25(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = The mash: As temperatures near 32 degrees Fahrenheit there is a greater mix of crystal formationss including plates, columns and dendrites. The structures are more compact, tend to stick together and are perfect for making snowballs and snowmen. "Now you?re getting into your heart attack snow," said CalTech physics professor Kenneth Libbrecht.

TEMP. (F) 25(degrees) to 15(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Columns and needles: These snowflakes tend to be relatively small and melt easily. "This is kind of forgettable snow," said Libbrecht. "These are kind of the sparrows of the snowflake world. They don't really jump out at you."

TEMP. (F) 15(degrees) to 0(degrees)

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Dendrites: The most traditional-looking snowflake -- a stellar dendrite -- forms in higher humidity. It is perfect for skiing, light and fluffy. "These are your standard shopping mall snowflakes," Libbrecht said.

TEMP. (F) Sub-zero

TYPE OF SNOW CRYSTAL = Plates and prisms: Plates and prisms tend to occur at very low temperatures and at low humidity. They make for very dry snow that scintillates in the sun due to the flakes' flat mirrorlike surfaces. Usually the snowfall is so light that no shovels are needed. "This is what I call diamond dust," Libbrecht said. "This stuff just sparkles."