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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

#1,375 – Furternity Leave

Expecting a new addition to your family?  Then you can likely expect to get some time off from work.  Two to three months for new mothers.  A few weeks for new fathers.  But what if your new bundle of joy is a fur baby and not a baby baby?  What then?  How much time could you expect to get off?  In all likelihood, none.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  A big fat zero.  But that’s not right.  New puppies need just as much time to adjust to their new surroundings and new parents as a newborn baby would.

To some, furternity leave may sound like a ridiculous perk to offer employees but in today’s hyper-competitive landscape it makes sense.  After all, if you want to attract and keep top talent you may need to go beyond just offering competitive pay and standard benefits.  All things being equal, the company that has a foosball table in the lobby, keeps the office stocked with free snacks, and offers furternity leave may be the company that wins out.  And the trend appears to be catching on.

According to the New York Times, “[a] few companies appear to have gone far beyond Take Your Dog to Work Day. An Italian company allowed a woman last year to take paid time off when her dog became sick. And employees at mParticle, a data company in New York, are offered ‘paw-ternity leave’— two weeks of paid time off for those who adopt a rescue dog…”

Furternity leave provides other logistical benefits as well aside from merely just providing time off for people to bond with their new pets.  Such as giving people time to train their dogs, take them to the vet to get their shots, and ensure that they are getting along with any other pets that may already reside in the home.  After all, the last thing that any new pet owner wants is a Turner and Hooch like situation where you come home to a house that looks like a war zone, couches chewed up, shoes destroyed, family heirlooms strewn about the floor.  If furternity leave can prevent such scenarios from unfolding then we should be all for it.

In fact, maybe we should even take it a step further and allow pet owners more time off, period.  Early dismissals so that they can get home at a reasonable time and walk their poor dogs who have been holding it in since early in the morning.  The ability to work from home several days a week.  Extra vacation days to accommodate all of their normal vacation plans plus a few extra dog-centric staycation days.

A little bit extreme?  Maybe?  But just think about how many more orphaned dogs would get adopted if there were real tangible workplace benefits to doing so.  Just think about how much happier people would be and therefore by extension how much better of an employee they would be if they had a pet in their lives.  Viewed through that lens furternity leave wouldn’t just benefit new pet owners or their dogs.  It would benefit everyone.  And that’s a good thing.

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Is Furternity leave the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,369 – Burning Man Safari

The other night I got my first taste of Burning Man as my return flight from Reno to Phoenix was almost entirely made up of hippies, drifters, vagabonds, and other assorted party animals making their way back to civilization after a week of reveling in the Nevada desert.  So covered in dirt and filth were these free spirits that the airline made them wrap their luggage in plastic bags before being placed in the overhead bins.  If the flights attendants had bigger bags they probably would have tried to wrap up the people as well.  On the bright side, at least the plane didn’t smell all that bad, no small feat considering that most of its occupants hadn’t showered in ten days.  Or maybe it did.  It was hard to tell the difference with everything smelling like reefer.

On the one hand you could say that I’ve had my fill of Burning Man just from this Close Encounter of the Weird Kind.  Sitting next to a guy who looks like the Mad Hatter will do that to you.  But on the other hand I was left wanting more.  Perhaps some of their drugs were rubbing off on me.  Or maybe I was just flashing back to earlier in my childhood when I wanted to run away and join a traveling circus, but either way, the longer the flight went on, the more I wanted to join this rag-tag band of misfits in their annual artistic pilgrimage to the land of campfires, bonfires, and crotch fires.

Here’s the rub though: I don’t actually want to go.  I wouldn’t want to take off a week of work and spend thousands of dollars just for the right to live in a mobile meth lab in the middle of the Mojave desert while the biggest party of the year rages around me.  I’m the kind of guy who stays in on a Saturday night to watch the Matrix, not the kind of guy who attends the rave in Zion.  My ear plugs and white noise machine wouldn’t stand a chance against the Steam Punk Army that would undoubtedly assemble during this modern day homage to Woodstock.

Instead I’d like to propose that we create a Burning Man Safari.  An opportunity for regular folk, like you and me, who have always wanted to see what all the fuss is about, to pass through this make love not war zone in a safe and pleasant way.  An opportunity for people to soak up the culture, to listen to the various musical stylings, to check out all of the larger than life art installations, to take it all in, without having to subject themselves to LSD, STDs, or any other acronyms ending in d.

In order to keep up appearances the jeeps that we would use for this safari could even be decked out to make them look like post-apocalyptic vehicles from Mad Max.  The drivers/tour guides could even be Burning Man attendees, looking to make a quick buck to finance their excursions there.  Assuming, of course, that anyone is even sober enough to operate a vehicle.

On the surface cramming ten days into one, completely streamlining the process of attending Burning Man, making it so that everyone can attend, seems like a great idea.  But perhaps it wouldn’t be.  Maybe some of the attendees would be opposed to this invasion of city slickers to their sacred desert land.  Thinking that it would somehow pervert the sanctity of this beloved anything goes festival that puts the wild in the Wild West.  That it would somehow cheapen the allure of a place that is beloved for its mystique.  Charming precisely because it is anything but.  However, any doubts I have are quickly erased when I realize that any opposition would likely fade away as soon as the first batch of mushrooms kicks in.  After all, it’s kind of hard to hold a grudge when you’re trapped on an existential plane, busily unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

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Is a Burning Man Safari the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Some people claim that they can’t remember their dreams.  Or that nothing exciting ever happens.  I am not one of those people.

I often have very vivid dreams where I am being chased or racing against time to reach a forbidden area.  Last night, in the latest Hollywood blockbuster that I was starring in, I found myself as a nature photographer, flying through the air over the Himalayas to take a picture of the highest peak on Earth, a picture that no one else had ever been lucky enough to get.  As great as this dream was, it would have been even better if I could have taken control of my actions in it.  If I could have steered where I was flying so that I could have turned around and explored the rest of the planet.  A phenomenon known as lucid dreaming.

Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of controlling their dreams and those that can often spend years trying to master the techniques that will allegedly allow them to do so.  But what if there was an easier way? What if it was possible for everyone to suddenly gain the ability to lucid dream?  How great would that be?

Well, as it turns out, it may actually be possible after all, thanks to a new drug born out of Alzheimer’s research by psychiatrist Benjamin Baird at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “In past research, Baird’s team discovered that lucid dreams tend to occur during periods of increased physical activation during REM sleep, leading them to theorize that boosting REM nervous system activity could help people switch normal dreaming into lucid dreaming. And since REM sleep appears to be affected by the signaling of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, they sought to test whether drugs that ramp up acetylcholine signaling – by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks the molecule down – might do the trick.”

I feel that such a drug, if its ever commercialized, could revolutionize society.  Just think about all of the people who suffer from nightmares and night terrors.  Just think about how different their lives would be if they could take control of their dreams, instead of being a prisoner inside of them.

Or just think about how much better all our psyches would be if we could take the lead on exploring the deepest recesses of our sub-conscious instead of just being helpless bystanders while our mind tries to sort out our feelings on its own.  Perhaps instead of trying to analyze our dreams for hidden meanings we’d already know where to find the answers.  Perhaps we’d be able to unlock the secrets of the Universe or at least better understand the world and our own place in it.

Suffice it to say, a lucid dreaming drug could be one of the best things to ever happen to mankind.  Allowing us to take control of our bodies.  Allowing us to turn dreaming from a necessary part of life into the best part of life.

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Is a lucid dreaming drug the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,360 – Le Tote

Busy mom of three who doesn’t have time to shop for new clothes? Single lady looking to impress your friends with your on point fashion sense?  Cubicle dweller tired of wearing the same rotation of clothes to work every week? If you fit any of those descriptions then the subscription clothing rental service Le Tote may be for you.

For a flat rate, depending on how many outfits you want to receive per week, you can have fashionable new clothing items shipped directly to your house, allowing you to bypass the hassle of shopping at the mall.  After wearing your new outfits, you return them, and receive a new batch of items to wear the following week.  This is a great idea on many fronts as Business Insider explains:

“Clothing subscription services solve a host of common concerns, the most important of which is helping you get new, seasonally-appropriate clothes without commitment or buyer’s remorse. No threat of credit card debt, stuffed closets, or the time-consuming second job of a burgeoning eBay resale business.  They also mean you may never have to spend another Saturday taking off your shoes and skinny jeans on repeat in a changing room — a perk that shouldn’t go underestimated.”

Aside from saving money, time, and closet space, services like Le Tote also serve another key purpose: keeping you up to the date on the latest styles.  Now everyone is a fashionista, even those of us with notoriously bad taste.  And best of all, if you like anything you’ve been shipped, you have the option of keeping it at 50% off the retail price.

If you find it a little bit weird to wear clothes that someone else was just wearing, rest easy.  There’s really no difference between signing up for Le Tote and shopping at a consignment store.  Actually, there is one big difference.  With Le Tote you never have to leave your house!

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Is Le Tote the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a quick look at everything I’ve been thinking about lately:

The Oscars are getting criticized for adding a new category called “Achievement in Popular Film”, which is a way for the Academy to acknowledge the accomplishments of a movie that isn’t critically acclaimed yet still becomes a blockbuster.  Black Panther would have swept this award last year. Infinity War will likely be the favorite this year.  But there’s a different category that I wish they would add an award for: Achievement in an Opening Credit Sequence.  These montages set the mood for the movie or make me completely lose interest in it before it starts.  Some of them are really quite spectacular.  It’s time that we acknowledged their greatness.

I always try to slip on my shoes, even if the laces are already tied, and even if they aren’t slip-ons, rather than just untie them and retie them like a normal person.  I’m sure I can’t be the only one who does this.  Perhaps sneaker and shoe companies should consider this phenomenon when designing shoes and make the back heel of shoes collapsible so as to make them easier to slide on.

I wish there was an IMDB for writers so that I could know what my favorite authors were working on next.

Here’s a new dating concept: Escape room dating.  Put groups of 6-8 single people in an Escape room (3 or 4 members of each sex) and set them loose to try and problem solve their way out of the room.  It’ll be a fun ice-breaker as you’ll get to see everyone in a relaxed atmosphere.  You’ll also get to see how everyone responds to pressure and how well they can play with others.  You can rule out dating the hyper-competitive know-it-alls and give a chance to the shy, quiet type that you worked really well with, the same person who you might have otherwise never spoken to if not for the game.

Here’ a new restaurant concept: Roast master.  A restaurant specializing in Roast Beef, where the theme of the restaurant is insult comedy.  Comedy Central Roasts play in the waiting room while you wait for your table and live roast battles take place on the stage while you dine.  In between battles, the waiters and bus boys come around to serve you food, refill your drinks, and insult you to your face.  On the way out you can try to throw a tomato at a heckler just like at a Renaissance Festival or get revenge on your waiter while they sit in a dunk tank hurling even more insults in your direction.

Speaking of roasts I think it would be great if Comedy Central roasted a regular person, not just an over the hill celebrity like Bruce Willis.  The knock on this idea is that comedians wouldn’t be interested in roasting someone they didn’t know, and the audience wouldn’t watch a roast when they wouldn’t know any of the inside jokes, etc.  But as Roast Battle shows you don’t necessarily need to know the person to laugh at a good insult.  Plus you could minimize some of that by introducing the roastee via a video montage at the beginning of the show.  I would even volunteer myself to be the very first roastee!

One of my biggest pet peeves is that some of the photos that I take, which look great when viewed on my phone, don’t translate into the smaller window frame on Instagram.  Case in point: a recent full length shot of a 200 foot tall tree in Olympic National Park.  When viewed on my phone’s gallery you can see the whole tree.  When trying to post to Instagram you have to crop out half the tree if you want to post the image.  This is annoying.  I wish there was a way when lining up the shot that I can see what portion of it was going to fit on Instagram.  Perhaps I could have changed the angle of my shot accordingly.  I wonder then if there is a way to create a plug-in that you could download that would overlay an Instagram optimization frame over your phone’s view finder.

Is it just me or are electric razors really loud?  I feel like I’m disturbing my neighbors every time I shave in the morning.  If I was married I would most definitely be disturbing my spouse.  Perhaps we should invent a silencer for electric razors to muffle the sound?

Speaking of neighbors I think it would be cool if there was a way to create a CB radio network for apartment buildings, like there is for truckers, so that you could communicate with your neighbors.  This way you can send out an open-ended message to anyone in the neighborhood that you are down to hang out to watch the big-game if anyone wanted to come over, or, more importantly, so that you can yell at a noisy neighbor to keep it down, without having to confront them face to face.

Considering how much we use our hands throughout the day (and how dirty they could get) doesn’t it make more sense to greet one another, not with a handshake, but by touching our shoes together?  As popular as soccer is around the world I’m surprised there aren’t more greetings that involve foot to foot contact.

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Is a roast themed restaurant the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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It’s finally happened.  I’ve finally found the Greatest.  Idea.  Ever.  A wearable device actually worth wearing.  One designed to create an impenetrable force field around you.  That’s right.  We now have a wearable capable of ensuring that you’ll never get another mosquito bite for the rest of our life.

Mosquito bites are one of nature’s worse creations.  They itch, annoy us, prevent us from getting a good night’s rest, and may even prevent us from staying outside for as long as we’d like to or going to locations that we would have wanted to go to.  Not to mention the way they carry and transmit diseases.

They’re such a nuisance that people like Bill Gates have gone to great lengths to try and genetically engineer solutions as they aim to reduce Malaria’s impact on the developing world.  But what if there was a better way to deal with our mosquito problem?  What if, instead of playing God, we could just make it so that the mosquitos can’t even get close to us?  That’s where Bandito comes in.

Digital Trends explains how this incredible wearable works, “The first line of defense that the Bandito offers is the use of sonic waves set at a frequency that repels a variety of different types of bugs. The sound is imperceptible to the human ear, and won’t bother pets either, but will quickly drive mosquitoes away. The device  also uses non-toxic scent strips to release an odor that will smell good to humans but will repel bugs. Those scents include citronella, peppermint, and lemongrass.  Each of these methods is highly effective on its own, but when combined with one another, they should greatly reduce the number of insect bites that you’ll receive while outside.”

They add that, “An individual Bandito is built for consistent use throughout a single season. It comes with an internal battery that can function for about 500 hours, while each scent strip lasts about two weeks before it must be replaced. The device ships with 12 strips, which is enough to cover three months of consistent use outdoors.  Those numbers are based on using the Bandito for up to 5.5 hours each day.”

I don’t think I can overstate just how amazing this invention is.  Just imagine how great it would be if you could sleep with the window open on a warm summer night and not have to worry about waking up covered in bug bites.  Just think about how great it would be if you could go hiking off the beaten path near a pond or lake and not have to worry about wearing long clothing.  Armed with a single Bandito I could freely sit on my balcony and read a book or write a blog post for hours on end.  Currently, I’m afraid to even open the door to my balcony on account of all the bugs I may encounter out there.

All in all, I wonder if this technology could expand to other life forms?  Could I scrap my plans to develop mobile body armor and instead just wear a Bandito on a hike to keep all the snakes, scorpions, and spiders at bay?  Furthermore, could its size and range be expanded so that the sensors could blanket entire regions, keeping entire communities free from the risk of a mosquito born disease outbreak?

Only time will tell.  But for now if you want to learn more about what Bandito can do or if you want to support the creation of the greatest wearable of all-time be sure to check out their Indiegogo page.

Is Bandito the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a quick look at everything that tickled my fancy over the last week:

Tiny Robot Olympics

DARPA is looking to host an Olympics of sorts in order to push innovation in the field of robotics.  The goal would be to design tiny bug-sized robots capable of conducting surveillance, assisting in search and rescue missions, or being used to repair hard to reach places inside of autonomous vehicles.  In other words DARPA is trying to bring the technology behind Ant-Man to life.

According to Popular Mechanics, “Researchers will design and test new ways to power the small robots, as well as try new materials that could improve the robots’ performance without compromising on size or weight. Competitions that test robots’ untethered actuator-power systems will measure how high and far a robot can jump, how much weight it can lift, how far it can throw objects, and how it fares in a tug-of-war. Another contest will evaluate complete robot designs to see their rock piling, climbing, navigation skills, or put them through a biathlon.”

Hopefully, NBC won’t be airing these Olympics on a 12 hour tape delay.  I don’t know what I would do with myself if the tug-of-war results are spoiled ahead of time on Twitter.

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Pocket Espresso Machine

Speaking of things that are tiny….there is now an espresso machine that you can put in your pocket and travel around with!

As Mental Floss puts it:

“If you’ve been putting off buying an espresso machine until you have the counter space, check out the Nanopresso from Wacaco. The gadget is smaller than most travel mugs, and it lets you brew hot, fresh coffee in even remote, electricity-free locations.

According to Bustle, Nanopresso operates through a hand-powered system. Just load water and your favorite blend of finely ground espresso in the right compartments, screw it back together, and pump the button on the side. Soon you’ll have a shot of espresso you can squeeze directly into the detachable cup.”

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No More Liquid Travel Ban?!?!

A detailed new Computed Tomography scanner could provide security personnel with such high resolution images that airports won’t need to restrict the amount of liquids that you can carry onto planes.  That means no more taking liquids out of your luggage, moving them into plastic bags, or having to discard items that don’t met the size threshold requirement.

According to The Guardian, “The regulations on carrying liquids, which require passengers to keep liquids of up to 100ml in transparent plastic bags, came into force in 2006.

The new technology, which could lead to the removal of the 100ml limit, has been tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and John F Kennedy airport in New York City.”

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Amazon’s Part Finder

Phones are already pretty handy but now they can literally act like a handy man.

According to Digital Trends, “Your days of going to Lowe’s or Home Depot with a random screw in your hand and a look of quiet desperation on your face will soon be behind you, and it’s all thanks to Amazon. The online retail giant’s greatest gift to us this year may not have anything at all to do with Prime Day, but rather with a new mobile app feature that lets you simply point your smartphone camera at the spare part in question so that Amazon can scan it, match it with the correct item, and then send you to buy said item online.

The app is appropriately named ‘Part Finder,’ and could be a real game changer for home improvement projects everywhere.”

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Weird New Fruits

Not only can gene editing cure diseases and create designer babies but it may one day lead to the creation of exotic new fruits as well!  Or even significant improvements upon existing fruits such as creating sweeter tasting strawberries! As if that would even be needed.

According to The Guardian, “While researchers have previously produced plants with specific traits through traditional breeding techniques, experts say new technologies such as the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas-9 could be used to bring about changes far more rapidly and efficiently.

It could, they say, potentially open the door to a new range of fruits and vegetables that look, taste and feel very different to those we are used to.”

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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