Category Archives: nifty stuff

Losing sleep over the Chilean earthquake

I’m sure everyone, at one point in their lives, has felt that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I know it sure feels that way to me. If you’re anything like me, your day probably goes something like this: get up, shower, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, clean up and go to bed to begin all over again the next day. There’s barely any time left to do the things you want to do, like read a book, play with the chinchilla or watch that one TV show that you just can’t miss because you’ll know everyone will be talking about it the next day and you don’t want to be spoiled.

Coming soon: "As the World Turns Faster"

And studies have shown that we don’t get nearly as much sleep at night as we need. I know I don’t. But lately it seems like the night just flies by, and I wake up grumpy because I haven’t gotten the 5-6 hours of sleep that I usually get. My days seem even more crammed full of things that need to get done before I can hit the hay. I thought perhaps I just needed to improve my time management skills. Then I saw a news piece on CNN.com that explains why my days seem to be getting shorter.

Because they are.

The massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday caused the earth to shift about three inches on its axis, creating a shorter day. According to scientists who know about such things, our days are now 1.26 microseconds shorter.

No wonder I’ve felt so tired this week.

A microsecond is one-millionth of a second. That may not sound like much, but we already lost 6.8 microseconds in the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit Sumatra in 2004. That’s over eight-millionths of a second lost in the last decade. Just think of all the sleep we’ve lost due to earthquakes over the years.

Of course, this all pales in comparison to what the people of Chile are facing, and what the people of Haiti still face eight weeks after another devastating earthquake left so many people homeless. The earthquake in Chile created a tsunami that put many Pacific nations on alert. CNN and other news organizations spent the better part of Saturday in Hawaii, where the tsunami was due to hit around 3 p.m. CST. That was quite possibly one of the most surreal moments of journalism I’ve ever witnessed — a scheduled disaster. While watching the water around Hilo, Hawaii rush in and out of the bay was fascinating, thankfully no one was hurt. I do, however, wish the news anchors covering the tsunami hadn’t sounded quite so excited about the prospect of imminent destruction.

Our planet is amazing. To think that a shift in land mass can cause the day to shorten sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood disaster movie. But it’s not science fiction, it’s science fact. And a little bit scary. But I’m going to try not to lose sleep over it… well, anymore than I already have.

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Headline win!

One of the trending posts on the Huffington Post Web site at the moment is titled “The Funniest Headline Fails of All Time.”

I take exception to one of Huff Post’s headline fails:

Headline awesome sauce!

This is not a fail. This is a WIN. It’s always awesome to see a little bit of pop culture sneak into everyday life. This headline was obviously written on purpose, and not just a funny accident like “Colleagues Finger Billionaire.” Someone at that news organization is a Star Wars fan. And that’s absolutely made of win.

Working at a newspaper, headline fails can be hilariously funny, but also a worst nightmare. I live in fear of the day I don’t catch a misspelling, or let a funky headline get by me. It would have been really embarrassing to let the sports brief about the “Red Sex” baseball team or the “Police apprehend rolling math lab” headline get to print.

But sometimes it’s hard stay professional, especially when presented with the opportunity to write a headline for the Stout-Johnson nuptials. (Don’t worry. We didn’t go there. But it was so tempting.)

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Barbie brings chic to geek

Barbie and I go back. Way back. We’ve been in a relationship for nearly 30 years. But like all relationships, sometimes we don’t always see eye to eye. She can be shallow. She’s way too into designer clothing. And her panties are painted on.

Barbie has also had well over 100 different careers in her 50+ years of existence, from stewardess to President of the United States. Some may think that’s quite an accomplishment, but to me, that just means she can’t hold a job. In 2009 alone, she pursued a myriad of careers that included being a gymnastics coach, vet, NASCAR driver, Sea World trainer, wedding stylist and rock star.

Math isn't so tough when you have a fancy, high-speed laptop to do the calculations for you.

Though I suppose it might not be entirely her fault. People are losing their jobs left and right in this economy and some have had to reinvent themselves, pursuing entirely new careers. After her singing career tanked faster than Brittney Spears’ comeback, she did a brief stint as a cat burglar. But, as a role model for young girls who strive to emulate her large chest and freakishly narrow waist, Barbie has decided to clean up her act and get a new job. And as ParentDish.com is reporting, Barbie’s 125th career will now be as a computer engineer. Complete with pink laptop and sparkly tights.

Well. I guess she finally got over that whole “Math class is tough!” thing.

Still, it’s nice to see Barbie in a more technical and, OK, geeky career. Though she looks more geek chic than geek. I mean, all the computer engineers and technicians I know prefer loose-fitting jeans and T-shirts with various sci-fi references on them to sparkly spandex and pastel colored baby-doll tees. But she’s still Barbie, and Barbie is nothing if not a fashionista.

Geek is in. No longer are we geeks confined to our parents’ basements (some of us live upstairs!), speaking in our own secret and L337 language, giggling over in-jokes only other geeks would get. Thanks to shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” comic book heroes coming to life on the big screen and James Cameron, geek is the new cool. And Mattel and Barbie are hoping to cash in by embracing this growing subculture.

And I guess I can’t blame her. At least she’s trying to make something of herself with a real job. Unlike her ex, Ken, who has totally flipped his wig (literally) and is now a Palm Beach Sugar Daddy.

(Though ten bucks says Barbie is actually using her shiny pink laptop to create LOLcats.)

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Someone get Bruce Willis on the line

The Internets have been abuzz today about a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of P/2010-A2. NASA thinks it may be remnants of a collision of two asteroids impacting at speeds of up to 11,000mph. Twitter seems to think it’s a Klingon Bird of Prey. Either way, it’s impressive.

Asteroid fragments? White Ranger Falcon Ninjazord? You decide.

The complex structure of the debris is what makes astronomers think they may be seeing something new around the sun. The main nucleus of the object, P/2010 A2, is actually located outside its dust halo, something that’s never been seen in a comet-like object before.

Folks, this could be it. The Mayans predicted the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012 (the same day my friend’s student loans expire… sucks to be her). Maybe this is what they foresaw.

The science geeks at NASA really don’t have any clue as to what this thing is. Could be a comet. Could be the result of intergalactic billiards gone horribly wrong. Could be an alien invasion which will attack our most populated cities, leaving us crippled and helpless until the president makes a stirring speech and Jeff Goldblum figures out he can give it a virus with an ancient Mac that just happens to be compatible with alien technology. On the plus side, Obama does know how to give a stirring speech.

Personally, I think it looks like Toy Story was right. The earth is one big claw machine game. The Claw is our master. Nirvana is coming, the mystic portal awaits. Ooooooh.

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