Happy Coffeeday!

Let’s face it: Western culture’s names for the weekdays are getting a bit long in the tooth. Sure, it might have made sense to the Greco-Roman astrologers to honor Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon. But here in the 21st century, with our more comprehensive understanding of our solar system and the cosmos in general, the only thing keeping the old names alive is pure inertia (Sailor Moon fans excepted).

We should have modern names for modern times. Yes, it will be difficult reaching consensus, but that’s no reason not to try. And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and formally acknowledge that the day soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Monday is the true start of the week, and put it on the far left of the calendar. Done and done! As for the names, I took a first cut at what the new weekdays might look like:

For the benefit of those on mobile devices, the proposed names are Blahday, Coffeeday, Internetday, Spaceday, Pizzaday, Funday, and Slackday. No, not every name is completely universal. But it’s hard to deny coffee and pizza’s influence on our civilization, even if one does not themselves partake. That said, it’s open to debate. And handily enough, I’ve put together some polls to make it easy for YOU to have a say in what the days of the week will be called as we hurtle towards the 22nd century. And yes, once it’s settled, we’ll remodel the month names. Have at it! – “S”

Snuggies, Slim Jims, and a Siamese Slanket

By now you’ve probably heard about our friend Jonathan Coulton’s podcast interview with NPR’s Planet money, in which his career and success were more or less written off as a “fluke”, and was smugly labeled a “Snuggie” by Frannie Kelley of NPR’s music blog The Record. If you haven’t, follow the links to get up to speed and share the outrage.

I am not writing today to defend Jonathan, or to argue against Planet Money’s assessment of the internet’s effect on the music industry. Jonathan has already done both of those things earlier today in magna cum laude fashion in a blog post.

Instead I’m going to focus on Jonathan’s idea that ALL musicians are Snuggies:
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Flanging’s Greatest Hits

Still working my way up out of the grumpies, so a list it shall be…

Flanging (pronounced “flan-jing”) is an audio effect produced by mixing two identical signals together, with one signal delayed by a small and gradually changing period, usually smaller than 20 milliseconds. This produces a swept comb filter effect: peaks and notches are produced in the resultant frequency spectrum, related to each other in a linear harmonic series. Varying the time delay causes these to sweep up and down the frequency spectrum.Wikipedia

Still not sure what it is? Do you remember the first time you heard the song “Killer Queen”, and when Freddie Mercury sang “dynamite with a laser beam”, you went “YEAAAAAAAH!” because “laser beam” sounded SO FRICKIN’ COOL?!

That, my friend, was the work of flanging, the playful porpoise of the audio world. In sound production, if reverb is meat and EQ is bread, then flange is cheese sauce. Healthy? Mostly not. A responsible choice? Nope. But it can instantly make anything taste good! And when applied deftly and in moderation, you could almost call it noble.
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Why I’m Not Worried About Skynet

By now you’ve heard that according to Terminator lore (specifically, the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” TV series), on April 21, 2011, Skynet launches its attack on humanity and missiles, missiles, missiles, death, stalking robots, etc.


While there are many real reasons we might experience an apocalypse, I don’t believe the Terminator scenario is cause to stock up on canned foods, weapons and gold. Only an idiot would take that advice.

So in the interest of stemming the panic that I already see in people’s eyes, and can sense from their Twitter and Facebook posts, here are the top reasons not to fret or sweat about Skynet:
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The Camel of the Skies

I didn’t have a ton of time to write, and since I did plenty of heavy lifting yesterday, today’s post will be short and entirely devoid of actual thought. So please enjoy this probably untrue bullet-point history of and guide to coconuts…

  • Coconuts, like most fruits and vegetables, only became part of European diets with the discovery of the New World by Columbus et al. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in Florida (the only place they grew until 1587), no one had thought to eat them.

  • Coconuts are not actually nuts. They are a fungus.
    – The word “coconut” comes from the combination of the Latin “quo”, meaning “that”, and the Latin slang word “nut”, meaning “mushroom”.
    – In Italy, if you ask for “mushroom soup”, they will serve you a piña colada.

  • George Washington Carver devised his method for creating peanut butter based on the work of Gilligan Krebs, inventor of coconut paste.
    – Until Carver introduced JIF at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, coconut paste was the most popular bread topping in the United States, it in turn having displaced sorghum hulls in 1901.
    – Bob Denver was heir to the Krebs Cocopaste fortune.

  • Children in Switzerland play a game called “Coconut Charlie”, similar to American dodgeball. The objective is to be the last player to remain conscious, which earns them the moniker “Charlie”.
    – Every few years there is a push to ban the playing of Coconut Charlie, but it is too embedded in Swiss culture for it to disappear from the streets and cafés of Geneva any time soon.

  • After Lennon/McCartney’s “Yesterday”, Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit “Coconut Woman” off of his blockbuster CD “That That” is the most recorded song in the world, having been covered over 1,500 times.

  • It takes 2.2 million coconuts to form a continuous line from Earth to the Moon, as proved by NASA during the Apollo 8 mission.

  • Miami’s annual Coconut Parade, commemorating Columbus’s discovery of the fungus on his second trip to that city (called simply “Florida” at the time), attracted over 200,000 attendees last year, and has been held nearly every year since 1843. The exceptions were:

    1856: organizers forgot
    1944: due to WWII coconut rationing
    1963: Hurricane Maynard
    1986: held twice

Now you know. So the next time you and your friends are sitting around enjoying coconut stir-fry, or you’re filling your gas tank with a cocohol blend, you can take smug satisfaction that you understand our good friend coconut, the Camel of the Skies, better than most.

The Art of the Photobomb

I don’t know if it’s risen to the level of uber-pervasive meme, but photobombing is now at the very least a minor sport, no doubt encouraged by the sheer number of snapshots published every second on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else where the walls are plastered with people’s lives.

All sports need rules and a system of scoring–especially nerd sports. But given the chaotic nature of photobombing, I propose the following short and simple guidelines:
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Lucky Day

I decided to do something different for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Normally by this time (11:30 p.m.) I’d be wearing a funny green hat, brawling with a shillelagh, and/or trying to keep Mrs. Storm from downing too much Bushmill’s and Guinness and/or abusing the bartenders*.

Instead I’m happy to present some of what I learned today while researching St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, and the Irish in America. Apologies in advance if it’s a little dry, but there’s already too much frivolity associated with March 17th.
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Top 10 Things I Do Every Day (and Enjoy)

The second after we announced Longer Thoughts, and with it my commitment to write at least 250 words every day, the dread began, like someone was forcing my mouth open and pouring some kind of thick, bitter pudding down my throat. Of course that “someone” was me, and in reality I’m a fan of bitter pudding (if dark chocolate counts).

But the metaphorical pudding was not delicious, and in fact made me want to retch and hide under my desk. One week later, the dread has been replaced with a sour whipped cream-like doubt about my ability to produce something interesting every day. So to bolster my morale, I decided to compile a list of ten things I do every day and enjoy.

I only came up with seven. Still, that’s seven things I do consistently, enjoy, and do well. And so I proudly present…

Storm’s 7 Top 10 Things I Do Every Day (and Enjoy) (does not include autonomic nervous functions*)

1. Talk To Mrs. Storm and Paul – piece of cake!
2. Eat – also easy, especially if it involves pieces of cake.
3. Drink Coffee – sometimes accompanied by cake.
4. Check E-mail – not only every day, but pretty much constantly.
5. Read the News – I’m the champ! And on multiple devices!
6. Poop – yes, our bodies more or less force us to poop every day, but I’m really, really good at it.
7. Get Dressed – although there are days when I wear the clothing I woke up in for most of the day, it’s rare that I don’t at least swap out the under-gaskets at some point.

Wow; I feel better already! And for the record, I’ve also started spending more time writing short stories, so as far as I’m concerned, the pressure to write long, boring, non-controversial essays is OFF. Hooray!

*Autonomic Nervous Functions is the name of my Talking Heads cover band