$63,000 Worth Of Whale Vomit

Eight year old Charlie Naysmith was walking down Hengistbury Head, on the southern coast of England when he found a rock-like, football sized chunk that in actuality is piece of “whale vomit” potentially worth as much as $63,000

What Charlie found is not a rock, but actually ambergris which is a bile-like material that is created in the innards of sperm whales.  It’s purpose is to assist in the digestion of difficult foods (think, squids and bigger fish) and is expelled by the whales.  While it is commonly referred to as vomit, it actually is dumped out the back end of the whale, so it’s really more like whale poop.

Ambergris, though, starts out smelling like what you’d think whale crap would smell like, but after a very long period of floating around, marinating in the ocean, hardening the odor changes into something more difficult to explain.  But its an odor that so desired that ambergris is commonly referred to as “floating gold”.  It is this scent that is used in all sorts of perfumes, incense, and in many cultures as an aphrodisiac.

The stuff sells for $10-$50 a gram, the chunk Charlie found weighs approximently 300 grams, putting its potential value at that $63,000 mark mentioned earlier.

It should be noted that because of the sperm whale’s protected status in the US, the use of ambergris in perfumes is illegal.

Why You Do Not Mail Yourself

A Chinese man probably now thinks the idea of mailing himself to his girlfriend wasn’t the best idea after all.

Hu Seng, from southern China, placed himself in a large sized box, had it sealed shut and placed in the mail system to be delivered to his girlfriend where family and friends would be awaiting its arrival.  The problem is that the box got lost in the mail for about three hours longer than expected.

When the box finally arrived, the girlfriend opened the box only to find Seng passed out inside.  Paramedics were called and had to revive Seng who really didn’t understand exactly what he’d gotten himself into.  “I didn’t realise it would take so long,” said Seng. “I tried to make a hole in the cardboard but it was too thick and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise by shouting.”


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Upgrade Your Earphones

I’ve mentioned here before I suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ear, and part of what caused it is listening to head/ear phones for so long at really high volumes.  Part of trying to cut back on the volume has been trying to find an earphone that successfully reduces/blocks surrounding noise so that I can listen at a lower volume.

Now, I love my Grado Labs SR60’s (made in the USA!) headphones… I’ve owned them for almost 20 years, but they are not anything I would wear out on the street and most headphones are too big and obnoxious to wear on my already gigantic noggin’.  So I’ve turned to earphones.

Part of that search has been using various different brands and models of IEM (in ear monitors) with various success.  I had settled on a pair of NOX Scouts because they were durable, inexpensive and their silicon tips did a decent job of sound isolation, but never to the amount that I really needed.  If I was listening to music with standard buds at 75-80% volume, the Scouts only allowed me to reduce that to maybe 65-70%.  Maybe.

There are all kinds of IEMs, but the idea is that you insert the end of it into your ear canal.  The important part here is that you create a seal that allows the drivers of the monitor to really produce the audio with as little outside sound and interference as possible.  So, while every brand and their product all perform in different ways and abilities, the key factor for any of them to do so at their peak is the seal you create in your ear canal.   Note, the version of IEM I’m referring to is not the custom molded versions that you see musicians wear.  Those are the pinnacle in performance because they completely seal out the outside noise due to the fact that the body of the piece is custom fitted to that user’s ear.  They are also way expensive, starting at $700 and going up, and that doesn’t include the cost of the custom mold.   The version I am referring to are the more common version that rely on the tips to create the sound isolation.

After reading and researching for a long time, I ended up buying the generally highly regarded Shure 215’s.  These are at the bottom of the Shure model line, cost about $100, but for the money are outstanding little hi-fi performers.  But what I found from buying these, and is the point to this blog entry, is that you can actually buy 3rd party foam tips to replace the ones that came with your IEMs and really improve the audio quality.

Comply Foam Tips is a brand of aftermarket tips made from a memory foam that reacts to your body’s heat to expand once in the ear canal and create an outstanding seal that allows your earphones to get the best out of your IEMs.  Inner Fidelity has written up a great piece researching the effects of Comply Foam Tips, and also has a great guide to different IEMs.

Comply makes tips that work with a lengthy list of brands and they even make a slip over design that takes your cheap Apple, came-with-the-iPhone, earbuds and turns them into quasi IEMS and actually helps them sound better too.  You can go to the Comply site, find your brand and model of earphones and then purchase the tips in pairs of three or five for less than $20.  The tips will wear out over time, the length depending on how you treat them, but the improvement it will make in the audio quality of your earphones is worth the money.  The improvement in low end performance is maybe the greatest benefactor as the seal allows the driver to fully produce bass to its best ability (your milage will vary depending on IEM)

The other benefit, especially for myself, is that the greatly improved sound isolation has allowed me to dramatically reduce the volume of my device.  I am now able to leave the volume at 35-45% for most everything I listen to, and that has helped my condition considerably.  In fact, remember those NOX Scouts I mentioned earlier?  With the Comply tips on them they are so much better at sound isolation that had I known about them before I bought the Shures I would have likely just stuck with the $50 NOX Scouts with the Comply tips on them.

Comply is not the only company that makes aftermarket tips.  There are less expensive ones but I have not tried any of the other brands.  Its a lot of trial and error as everyone’s ear canals are different.  Hell, there’s a difference between my left and right canal.

If you’ve been unhappy with your earphone’s performance consider upgrading the simplest part, the tip, and I bet you’ll like them a whole lot more.

Fake Bigfoot Killed By Cars

Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, MT was attempting to create a Bigfoot sighting when he was struck and killed by two cars on a northwest Montana highway.

Tenley was wearing a military style “ghillie” suit (right) and was standing in the right lane of the highway when he was hit by one car, and then as he lay injured in the road, run over by a second.  Because the ghillie suit is designed to camouflage its easy to understand that the drivers of the two cars probably were unable to see him easily in the night.  The two cars were both driven by teen aged girls, one 15 and the other 17.

Friends are not sure what Tenley was attempting to do other than provoke sighting of “”sasquatch” or Bigfoot , but admit that alcohol may have been involved.  Tenley will probably be disappointed to find out that the only call police received that night was the one reporting he’d been hit by a car – no Bigfoot sightings.

(peet: and because this happened in nowhere USA, the TV report is handled by the newest of the new young girl from a small town TV station)

Two Words: Javelin Accident

A 74 year old, much loved judge at youth athletics has died while officiating the javelin event.

Dieter Strack died after being rushed to the hospital from his injuries he suffered after running out to measure a javelin throw by a 15 year old competitor.  Unfortunately Strack mis-timed his approach to the javelin as it had not yet landed and ended up piercing him through the throat.

Strack was a well known face at such events and organizers are devastated, “The popular and experienced sports judge was the victim of a tragic accident while carrying out his duties on Aug. 26.  All of us who were there are horrified and in shock”, the association said on its website.

The teen who threw the javelin is receiving psychological counseling

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The Latest in Justice League Movie Rumors

All last week the hot movie rumor mill was a-churrin’ with the idea that Ben Affleck would be tapped to direct a Justice League movie, but now it seems that isn’t the case and the new hot name is all about Wachowski.

Affleck, who has Argo coming out soon, let the rumor of his name float for a few days before stamping them down, “I’m not working on the Justice League. One of the problems with entertainment web sites is that they need to fill pages, and that’s how rumours get started…Justice League sounds really exciting, but it’s not something I’m working on.”

So then the movie site, Moviehole, drummed up the highly controversial idea that Andy and Lana Wachowski would get the nod to do the long anticipated movie concept.  Now, if those names seem a bit odd, it is because you probably remember them as Andy and Larry, but Larry is now Lana.  Yes, all those stories from long ago concerning Larry’s odd “cross dressing” and thoughts that he really wanted to be a she have been realized.  Larry came out as Lana in late July as promotion for their new movie Cloud Atlas began.

But back to Justice League.  The idea that the Wachowski’s would direct the movie would be highly controversial as the pair seem to excel at techno-punk, highly futuristic style and maybe less at the gritty, epic, ensemble drama that a JL script would demand.  That said, if you watch the six minute teaser for Cloud Atlas, it looks rather epic on its own.  So maybe there is some redemption after Speed Racer after all.

Of course then you wonder if Aquaman or Wonder Woman would get stand alone movies first, or hopefully a better Green Lantern.  Maybe though DC would take a different route and roll out the JL movie before they decide to dedicate a movie to any more individual story lines.

Whatever it turns out to be the success of the Avengers certainly makes the likelihood of a Justice League movie all the more likely…


Concussion? There’s An App For That

I was walking by a sporting goods store that specializes in youth sports equipment yesterday when I noticed a booth out front promoting something called “Shock Box – Impact Alert Sensors“.  Not wanting to have to hear the pitch from either of the young marketing kids in their matching, logo’d golf shirts I looked up the product via the miracle of the internet.  And look what I found.

It’s pretty much what the name implies.  A sensor designed to fit helmets (currently football and hockey), measure the amount of force in from a hit or impact, calculate it and if it’s bad enough, send the coach or parent a notification via an app on their smartphone.


I realize that the science around concussions has grown leaps and bounds in the the last few years, especially as studies have shown the effects of repeated concussions on the underdeveloped grey mush in the brain bowl of a teenager or younger.

You can find out about it more here, and watch the video below – but oh my, do I have a life sized pic of parents freaking out in the 3rd quarter when Johnny takes a knock, their cell phone starts to screaming with that “RED ALERT” ring tone.  How is that going to work?

While I am all for minimizing the problems of concussions and I think the tech behind this idea is really slick, do we really need to add this variable into the already overbearing mix of sports parenting?

Literally, Watch the Mars Landing. Really.

CURIOSITY ROVER - Now on planet Mars.

Seriously, I don’t care if you think space is gay.

This video should make your head hurt and whip your mind into a frenzy of “how in the hell do we pull this stuff off?”

This is the video of the Mars Curiosity Rover landing on the surface of Mars.  Yes.  Read that sentence again people.  This is a high-definition of the damn thing landing.  on the.  surface.  of … MARS!!!  This is actual images.. This is not a computer graphic simulation.

Plus you get to hear the excitement and relief in the voices and background noise of the NASA engineers and smarty-pants that pulled this off.

Millions of miles, crazy speeds, unknown potential mission ending obstacles, a decimal improperly placed in the code, a bolt that shakes loose in travel just enough that it doesn’t meet the needed spec to perform properly… take all of that and multiply it by 10 million – and you might begin to approach the difficulty level of what is achieved here.

Watch the video.  Be proud.  Be amazed.  We did this.

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Stripper Turns Mugger

Kelly Renee Hutchins, 23, of Pasadena, TX is Harris County jail after allegedly following home a strip club patron – who refused her lap dancing services – and later mugging him.

On July 31st, Hutchins was working as a stripper at a Houston area club and the victim was offered, and declined, a lap dance from her.  That night as the victim was leaving the club a man approached him and asked if he was interested in Hutchins’ “company” outside of the club after he left.  The victim again declined and drove away in his car.

As he got home he noticed that another car was following him, pulled up near his car with its lights off and a woman exited the car – approaching him.  As the victim recognized the woman as the stripper he’d rejected, but this time she had a gun.  She demanded his wallet, searched his pockets and tried to gain entry into the victim’s car.  While trying to get into the car, the victim told her that she was on video surveillance via his home security system and Hutchins then got back into the car she arrived in and the victim identified the driver as the man who’d approached him earlier.

Hutchins was arrested after the security footage was used to identify Hutchins and she was charged with aggravated robbery.

via Houston Chroncile

Mom Killed During Teen’s Driving Lesson

A Kentucky mom, Kimberly Riggs, 40, was killed over the weekend when she was attempting to start a lesson for her daughter to learn to drive.

After Sunday church, Riggs instructed the 15 year old to take the wheel and the girl sat in the driver’s seat of the car.  Witness report the car suddenly leaped backwards, knocking Riggs to the ground with the car door.  The car then began a series of out of control maneuvers, veering into a nearby street backwards, then forwards back into the church parking lot, the turning and hitting a fence, crashing through it, through a backyard and then striking a house.  Witness claim the car then came back out of the yard, thru the parking lot, turned 180 degrees and hit Riggs again – pinning her against a fence.

Riggs was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.  The daughter was treated and released with minor facial injuries.

Now, the video report below does not include the details about the car’s uncontrolled actions, just the car pinning the mother to the fence.  So there seems to be a little mystery here as to what happened, but by all accounts it was a freak accident.

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