Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Math is Useful (Finally!)

Ever heard of a spirolateral? All you need is graph paper, the handy chart shown above, and a variety of markers. First write your word (or message) and translate it into numbers. Put the numbers (in the right order, of course) into the above chart. Now pick a spot in the middle of your graph paper and move in whatever direction the number tells you, counting the spaces for however long. You might want to switch colors between words, or, if you're doing one word, repeat it a couple times (four works best). Remember to make the place where you started out inked heavier than the rest of the code.
How do you decode it? It's up to you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coolest Words Ever

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." -Rudyard Kipling

If you ever find yourself bored enough, you might end up reading the dictionary. I *cough* wasn't bored, I just happenede to be looking for the right word... okay, I was bored. But I found some very interesting words on my endless surfing of .

1. Squirrelicide- when a squirrel bites a telephone wire and kills itself, resulting in electrical appliances not recieving information. I'm a victim of squirrelicide.
2. Bract- the tine leaves that surround the bottom of a flower, or on the stem of a flower. I never knew they had a name for that.
3. Ohrwurm- this is a word from Germany, meaning the annoying little song that got stuck in your head. This is another thing I didn't know there was a word for.
4. Zenith- the highest point.
5. Xenophobia- It means 'a strong fear or dislike of foreign people or things.' It starts with an X and is neither xylophone or x-ray, so it's automatically on the top of my list.
6. Triskadiskadecaphobia- the fear of the number thirteen.
7. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- fear of long words.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I first realized I had a gift when I was in second grade. I liked to read books during class, and when the teacher tried to catch me by asking a question I could answer it! I have absolutely no idea where I got this gift, because some people I'm related to can sit in the same room of a conversation doing nothing and still not hear it. So here are some tips to get your eavesdropping up to date.

1.Dress for the occasion. Blend. Or, if the person you're trying to get info from is moving, you could always dress up like a jogger for an excuse to run around (so if they try the old walk-in-a-circle thing you'll have an excuse to do the same)

2. Don't be afraid of the dark. Or small spaces. If you're in a house with children, you'll even have an excuse if you're found. Say you're playing hide-and-seek and then go do it (in case the children are asked conversationally). Even better, play hide-and-seek, then hide wherever an interesting conversation is being held.

3. mp3s are your friends! All you need is an iPod in your ears to make the world think you aren't part of it. For a bonus, you can bob your head and pretend to mouth out the song.

You can find step-by-step instructions here, and here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'High' Fashion

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” This quote struck me as funny, so I decided to look up some of the worst (and most painful) fashions of all time, which, unfortunately, weren’t done away with after only six months.

The corset. Back when women didn’t have the right to vote, corsets were all the rage. They promoted good posture and made the wearer appear slimmer. These contraptions kept the back erect (now found to cause stress on the lower back) and made it hard to breathe. This caused women to faint at the slightest shock, which was considered ‘charming.’ Girls have died from too-tight corsets causing their ribs to bend inward and puncture their lungs.

Foot-binding. In the time between the tenth and twentieth centuries, Chinese women would begin tying their daughter’s feet so they would get smaller and smaller. The binds cut off circulation and left the feet horribly deformed. The pain lasted the duration of the procedure and would come again if you were to untie the feet. Girls were reduced to tottering about slowly, but they usually just sat still.

No doubt that today you’ll be able to find even more with all the recalls going on.

Further Encoding Codes

There are plenty of other ridiculously easy ciphers to use. Unfortunately, they are also easy to crack, so here are some ways to make sure your message can only be understood by you and the person it is being sent to:

If you are using a cipher in which you replace letters with other letters or symbols, don’t use spaces or &T**U OECI&PTU can be translated into HAPPY BIRTHDAY with a bit of time and thought. You know that one is a five-letter word that way, and the other is a eight-letter word. You can also tell that the last letter is the same for both. So use a symbol or letter (and not a dash or underscore) for a space instead. If you like you could even add extra spaces to throw someone off the trail.

An easy trick is to use a different word for some words and agree on them with whoever will be using your code. For instance, to say MEET ME ON FRIDAY you could say MEET ME AT A RESTAURANT and your friend would know to meet you on Friday (if you were meeting at a restaurant, you’d most likely tell which one, right?)
You can also use floriography. If you wanted to reply to an invitation discreetly, you might write STRIPED CARNATION, which means ‘no’.
While you’re looking, you might want to see what a green rose means.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Ivy Cipher

The ivy cipher goes as follows. First, you write down your message (as per obvious) like so:


(I write really random messages when I want to). Now you write all of the words so they are backwards, getting rid of pesky punctuation as you go.


Now put them into two rows with every other letter:


Now you have the ivy cipher. You may want to put the word ‘ivy’ inside the code somewhere, or some other codeword signifying that that’s how you make sense of it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Strange Proposals

After reading an article about a guy who sent his girlfriend a hacked game of "Bejeweled" that would ask her to marry him when she got to a certain score (she said yes) I decided to do a little internet research on other strange ways people have proposed marriage. Here is one of my favorites:

A guy who had met his girlfriend through photography hid a picture of himself kneeling with a ring in a bouquet.

This one speaks for itself. I couldn't cut it down:

He is in the Navy Reserve and asked me to come to the reserve center to help out with a "change of command" rehearsal in the morning. I went and it seemed like I really served no purpose!

After it was over, his chief came over to me and asked if I new a certain young man by the name of Jerry. I said of course. He said, "Well he is kind of a chicken and needs our help."

Then he called him over. Jerry got down on his knee and pulled out a little black box from his uniform pocket. Then the entire unit said out loud, "Will you marry him?!"

It was so cute! Oh, and I said yes of course!! They got it all on video, too.

I just thought some of them were kind of clever.

#2 'A Bold Code'

Please excuse the lame pun, but this code involves using a bold font (or retracing the letters so they are bolder if you are writing). First you need to come up with a code. Below I have one. The stars are for none-bold print, the B's are for bold letters.

A=***** G=**BB* M=*BB** S=B**B* Y=BB***
B=****B H=**BBB N=*BB*B T=B**BB Z=BB**B
C=***B* I=*B*** O=*BBB* U=B*B**
D=***BB J=*B**B P=*BBBB V=B*B*B
E=**B** K=*B*B* Q=B**** W=B*BB*
F=**B*B L=*B*BB R=B***B X=B*BBB

Now let's say I wanted to tell my friend 'I have your book.' First I need to write a long and pointless message I can fit my code into. Since I have thirteen letters in my message, I need to multiply that by five to get a code that needs sixty-five letters or more.

The math homework is pages sixteen to twenty-seven, but only the even problems. I suggest you do the odd ones because you can check your work in the back.

Punctuation can count, but you can't tell if a space is bold, so just get rid of those in your head.

The math homework is pages sixteen to twenty-... and so on. Be warned this code takes a while or I would have done the whole message. It's also hard (for me) to keep track of which letter you're on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


There comes a time when anyone (well, anyone with an interesting life) would benefit from the use of codes. There are some codes like pig latin that are easy to decipher, and others that are really hard.
For the next couple weeks (or just one, depending on how many codes I find) I'm going to be talking about the second of the two types of codes.

#1 The Box Code.

This is a code in which you'll write your message in a box. For example, I'll encode 'Meet me after school in the gym.' You now have to count the letters to find what size square you'll be using. In this case there are twenty-five. In the case that your message doesn't have a perfect square for the number of letters, use a 'dummy' letter to fill in the extra space. Now I know to do a five-by-five box.


It doesn't have to look like a square. Now you go down the rows and write what it says.


You can add spaces randomly throughout the message if you want to. Now you give it to your friend. They'll count the number of letters and can put it in the same square, this time writing the letters down in columns.

*WARNING* Make sure your friend KNOWS about the code or they'll have just as much trouble deciphering it as They Who May Not Read The Message.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Could you imagine getting an F in flirting?

Singapore, anxious of the city's declining birth rate, is now giving students formal lessons on how to flirt. If that sounds weird the first time, read it again. The course includes love song analysis and how to chat online. On one hand, the students can talk about their boyfriends/girlfriends to a teacher that (hopefully) knows what they're talking about. On the other hand, who would WANT to talk to their teacher?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

People have too much time on their hands...

By chance, I found this article online. Admittedly, it made me laugh out loud, but I can't imagine someone being bored enough to analyze cartoons like that and LIST all that.

And if you ever have too much time on your hands, try googlewhacking. That's when you type random words into a search engine and try to come up with one result. It's harder than it looks. I typed in 'random invisible turtle' and actually got at least a pageful of links! If you find one, please tell me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Baby Born with Two Faces

A baby named Lali was born in India with a very strange face--she has two of them. It's called craniofacial duplication. Though it is commonly (not too commonly, however) linked to health issues, the baby is doing fine. She drinks from both mouths and opens all four eyes. In fact, she lives a perfectly normal life as "up to 100 people have been visiting Lali at her home every day to touch her feet in respect, offer money, and receive blessings."

Perfectly normal. You can see a picture of her here if you'd like.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Breathtaking! (But not really...)

This frog has no lungs. So is it an amphibian or a fish? Or a missing link? These questions and more will (not) be answered by clicking this

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Science knows everything.

And because I can't help but take a whack at animal testing: Guess what? Scientiest have found that putting animals in uncomfortable situations tends to make them aggressive. Because I couldn't have figured that out when I accidentally stepped on my dog and he bit me.

Poor little Alex (yes I named him/her!)

This is probably the worst thing I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve heard they’re trying to make chickens without feathers and cows without legs, but this is ridiculous. They’re making cow-people. Sure, they just have an embryo, but sooner or later they’ll want to figure out what it looks like.
Can you imagine being some little kid that goes to school with floppy ears and an udder? But he/she probably won’t go to school and he/she will spend his/her whole life in a cage. He/she probably won’t be able to talk or read or write because he/she has no education. And that’s only if the thing makes it past its first few days without self-destructing.
We need to write angry letters, people!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Look at da puppy!

Aaw... I got this in an e-mail about window cleaner. Enjoythis video.