Bobby's Blog
15 August

Tell a Joke Day

Saturday is Tell a Joke Day. With the passing of Robin Williams this week, it might seem inappropriate to tell jokes, but I think just the opposite is true. Laughter was Williams' favorite Thing. So in celebration of Joke Day and in honor of one of America's greatest national treasures, I'm going to mark the day with jokes, lots and lots of jokes.

But how do you tell a good joke? What makes some jokes funnier than others? Here are some tips to help you keep them in stitches on Saturday:

  • Delivery is king: It's how you tell the joke. This includes many Things like tone of voice, body language, pauses and, most importantly, confidence in the material. If you don't think the joke is funny, your audience won't either.
  • Know your audience: Offensive jokes can be hilarious, but only if it's clear to you and your audience that you intended to be offensive. Accidentally offending someone is only effective at, well, offending someone.
  • The punchline: This is where everything comes together. A punchline should be an unexpected twist or observation and it shouldn't be obvious that it's coming. If your audience guesses the punchline, the joke is over before you finish. But the punchline should seem obvious once you reveal it. It's okay to make people think with a joke, but if you have to explain it, it's not funny.

So arm yourself with your best material for Saturday and get out there with confidence. Whether your jokes flop or fly, elicit laughter or groans or make people just roll their eyes, you'll be doing your part to celebrate the funniest day of the year.

Laugh it up. I'll see you next week,
Bobby

08 August

Survival Things

With hurricane season underway and multiple storms brewing in the Pacific and the tropics, it's time to turn our attention to Things we need to survive a disaster. Even if the disaster only amounts to a few days of lost electricity, there are some Things you can do to make yourself a little more comfortable while you wait out the repair teams.

You don't need a generator or even a stockpile of batteries to keep your home well-lit once the sun goes down. Our Solar Spotlight soaks up the sun's energy during the day to provide plenty of light after dark. And if flooding is a concern, not to worry. This Thing floats!

You also want to make sure you have plenty of bottled water stocked before a disaster strikes. But just in case you forgot a few other Things, this Water Bottle Survival Kit comes complete with so many Things you'll need in a disaster situation. Like a flint for starting fires, an emergency blanket, a compressed towel and some bandages, among other Things.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are great to have on hand, but they aren't the tastiest Things in the world. So if you want to cook while basic services are kaput, try out this Emergency 8 In 1 Stove. Not only does it allow you to build a fire for cooking, boiling water or heat, the front panel serves as a multi-tool complete with wrench, screwdriver, can opener and even a saw! Plus it folds flat for storage or carrying and it's small enough to be carried in a backpack.

You might never need any of these Things and let's hope you don't. But you know what they say, "Hope for the best; prepare for the worst."

Stay safe. I'll see you next week,
Bobby

01 August

Things for the Grill

Cooking outdoors is among my favorite Things to do in the summer. Or fall. Or winter and spring, for that matter. If I had my way, the whole kitchen would be outdoors and it would be centered around a gigantic grill the likes of which modern civilization has never seen. But I don't get my way very often -- kitchen design being no exception. And not everyone shares my enthusiasm for winter grilling, so if I want to have guests over to sample my favorite outdoor meals, I have to get my grill on during the summer months.

There are some Things to remember if you want to grill up unforgettable meals. Like keeping it clean. A dirty grill can leave some funky flavors on your carefully marinated meats and vegetables, not to mention old char, which isn't good for you even when the char is fresh. So a good grill grate cleaner is essential if you want to be the best grillmeister in your neighborhood.

While you might not need this Thing, the BBQ Branding Iron makes for good conversation when you're serving up the steaks. You can change out the letters and make it read anyThing you want -- from your name to the cut of meat you're grilling to funny sayings. With 60 easily changeable letters and spaces, the possibilities are endless. But just remember before you start making up your best brands: in this case, you must strike while the iron is not hot.

The last Thing you need for a perfect grilling weekend is hot sauce. Some people like BBQ sauce, but I find most of them are too sweet and they mask the flavor of the foods instead of complementing it. So while you might want to keep some on hand for the faint of heart, try cooking with hot sauces, which bring out the unique flavors in meats and vegetables like no other condiment. But don't take my word for it. Turn up the heat and taste for yourself!

Grill on, Grillmeisters. I'll see you next week,
Bobby

25 July

A Few (More) Zzzzzs

Most of us don't need a scientific study for proof of sleep's importance to our health and well-being. A single night of lost or impaired sleep will leave most of us with a feeling of general malaise and fatigue for a day or even longer. It makes us cranky, interferes with our reasoning skills and impairs our ability to deal with daily stress. But sleep doesn't always come easyily in our busy, hyper-connected world.

We all know the drill: on any given night you check your email one last time, have a browse through Facebook or Twitter and finally fall into bed completely exhausted thinking, "I'm gonna sleep good tonight!" But that's when your brain goes into overdrive. You relive the day in your mind and you worry about tomorrow. Then your mind wanders to Things left undone: how you haven't called your parents in ages, that the grass needs mowed, when you'll find time to finally clean out the science experiments growing in the refrigerator. And before you know it, you're reaching for the remote because, clearly, there's no sleep to be had so you might as well see who's on late night TV.

You might think the TV helps lull you to sleep, but it turns out that all that technology in the bedroom could be more culprit than companion when it comes to a good night's rest. Sleep experts recommend expelling cell phones, tablets, computers and even televisions from your bedroom for good. They also say you should give yourself a good one- to two-hour break from electronic devices (including the television) before hitting the sheets because those pretty HD screens actually suppress melatonin, which is the chemical that tells your brain that it's time to mellow out.

So what to do? Create an environment that is conducive to sleep - and only sleep - in the bedroom. First, invest in a good mattress and comfortable pillows and bedding. Second, develop a bedtime routine to help signal your brain that it's time to shift gears. Third, banish those dastardly glowing devices. Retain only your alarm clock and maybe a sound machine to block out distractions from busy streets or noisy neighbors. Finally, read a book - any book as long as it's the paper kind. Reading an actual book, no matter the subject, helps calm the nerves by eliminating sound and vision stimulus (as well as distractions like commercials) and doesn't expose you to melatonin killing light. Experts agree that changing a few Things in your surroundings and routine immediately and dramatically improves sleep patterns. But it doesn't take an expert to tell us what we know from experience: we're all happier and healthier when we're getting our straight eight!

Sleep well. I'll see you next week,
Bobby

18 July

Holy Free Comics, Batman!

DC Comics has declared Wednesday July 23, 2014 “Batman Day” in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight, one of the most popular comic book characters and pop culture icons ever. But that's not all. DC is giving away free comics to honor Batman's special day. “As part of the festivities, fans who visit participating retailers will receive a free, special edition of Detective Comics #27, featuring a reimagining of Batman’s 1939 comic book debut," says the comic book giant. Can't make it to the store? You can get a free download here and it's also available for all digital platforms like Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and Google Play.

In addition to the free comic book, DC is giving retailers access to other Batman collectibles, including a Batman 75th anniversary cape. Four Batman masks spotlighting iconic interpretations of the character will also be available including Batman’s first appearance, as drawn by Bob Kane, Batman ’66, Inspired by the 60s TV series starring Adam West, The Dark Knight Returns, as drawn by Frank Miller and The New 52, As drawn by Greg Capullo.

But that's not all. The festivities will stretch all the way to the weekend when DC and Random House partner up to bring Batman Day to over 1,000 libraries across the country on Saturday, July 26. For more information, you can visit Batman75.com or, better yet, just drop by your local comic book store any time to celebrate the Caped Crusader's special day with friends and fans of the 75-year-old superhero.

See you next time,
Bobby

11 July

Road Trip!

Planning a summer road trip? There's an app for that! Actually, there are several apps for that. Made for both Android and iOS systems, the apps range in price from free to four bucks and give you varying levels of details for planning your trip, your pit stops and the Things you want to see along the way. I think they're pretty useful Things, though you might not want to spend all your time with your face buried in your smartphone screen, especially if for you, like me, that screen is one of the Things you're trying to take a vacation from.

Apps aside, there are some Things you'll want and/or need to make your trip easier, safer and more fun. If you're going to be using your phone to help you plan and keep you on course, these Things might help. Our Universal Smart Phone holder fits into most cup holders on cars and other Things, it has a handy hidey-hole to stash your mad money and it's made of soft foam so as not to mar the surface of your spendy device. If you need a Thing to hold your phone and keep it powered up, try out this handy Smartphone Power Dock. It works with most phones, but if it isn't compatible with your phone, you can use your own USB cable to stay powered up and on track.

Drive more safely with this Panoramic Rear View Mirror and HD Vision Visor, which make it easier to see in all types of road and weather conditions. The rear view mirror clips right on to your existing mirror to reduce blind spots. It also has an attached smaller mirror so you can keep an eye on the kids (or the dog) in the backseat. Add the HD visor to reduce glare from the sun during the day and from oncoming lights at night for a safer and more relaxing driving experience.

And just for fun, how about taking along a Parking Space Goddess? She's supposed to help you find a space even under the roughest of conditions. You just recite a brief incantation, wind her up and wait for that perfect "rock star parking" space to magically appear. She really does work -- try it for yourself if you don't believe me.

Wherever you roam this summer, have fun, be safe and I'll see you next week!
Bobby

04 July

Turn Your Mouth into a Speaker for Your iPod. Or not.

I saw a Thing online that said you could use your head, or more precisely, your mouth as a speaker for an iPod. Of course, I was curious about how this Thing works. I mean, we have lots of ways to share our music these days, but using your noggin as a speaker? It sounded like one of those Things that go around the internet to victimize the gullible.

Call me a victim, but I couldn't help but try it for myself. And you know what? It works. But not very well. First, you have to shove those ear buds way up your nostrils to produce any sound through your mouth, which is uncomfortable, take my word. Second, you have to open your mouth really wide to get a decent volume. Third, there's no real practical application. Imagine trying to DJ your next party: there you stand with ear buds stuffed way up your nose and your mouth open so wide a terodactyl could fly in there. Seriously, do you want to be the death of your own party?

My experiment left me wondering: who was the first person to figure this out? And why? The truth, it seems, is not out there. I searched high and low for the innovator who brought us this new life hack and found a few how-to videos, but no one taking credit for the invention of the nostril speakers. So I can't tell you the who or the why of this new Thing, but you can try it yourself if you need to see (or hear) that it really works. Or you could just buy one of these Things and forget about where those iPod ear buds have been.

See you next week!
Bobby

27 June

World UFO Day

Every year on July 2nd, UFO and alien enthusiasts as well as debunkers and skeptics look to the skies in search of evidence (or absence of evidence) that UFOs 1) exist and/or 2) that UFOs are visiting planet earth. It's called World UFO day and it's one of my favorite Things to celebrate.

Because of the date's connection to the famous UFO "incident" at Roswell, New Mexico, UFO believers have been celebrating the holiday on July 2nd for over ten years. And how do they celebrate? By watching UFO documentaries and films, visiting UFO museums like the one in Roswell, having a skywatch parties and having fun with the Drake equation, which attempts to estimate the number of technological civilizations that might exist beyond our own sun.

My favorite Thing to do is grab the dog and head to a place above the light pollution of the city. I let the dog off his leash and just lay on my back and watch the stars. I've seen some pretty cool Things including meteors, satellites and even the space station, but I've yet to see any unidentified flying Things. Still, I'll keep on looking. Who knows, maybe one day while working out the Drake equation in my head, the aliens will decide to make Contact!

Don't forget to turn your eyes to the skies on July 2nd and look for me next week!
Bobby

UFOs Wicked This Way Comes BookUFO Chronicles DVD The Government UFO Files Book

20 June

Fascinating Flatulence Facts

Farts Happen T-shirtYou might not have given it much thought, and maybe you don't want to, but there are some Things you should know about farts. Really. There are Things like a fart is 80% nitrogen and hydrogen - methane only accounts for 7%. But methane isn't the Thing that makes farts smelly as many people believe. No, it's hydrogen sulfide that gives the gas its noxious quality. And that's pretty interesting.

Fart Ninja T-shirt

But then there are the Things you couldn't possibly live without knowing about your farts. Things like:

  • A fart can come flying out of you at a speed of 7 miles per hour!
  • The average person farts 14 times a day, producing half a liter of fart gas, but...
  • Vegetarians fart more than non-vegetarians.
  • Beans are indeed the fartiest of all foods because the human body can't digest them properly.
  • Farts are flammable.
  • Termites are the top farters on the planet; they produce more methane than cows.
  • A "shart" or "mudd butt" happens when the nerve endings in your rectal area get confused.
  • Loud farts come from mostly swallowed air while quieter farts are the byproduct of digestion and bacterial fermentation, which is why...
  • "Silent but deadly" is true!

Fart SignWe've always been fans of flatulence here at Things, but the more we know about farts, the better equipped we are to use them to our (and your) andvantage. Because the old saying is just as true of farts as it is of any old Thing: knowledge is power.

See you next week,
Bobby

Who Farted? ClockRemote Control Fart MachineFart Game

13 June

Enterprising Physicist

For the last four years, NASA physicist Harold White has been working on developing a warp drive so spaceships can travel faster than the universal speed limit, the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. White heads up NASA's Advanced Propulsion team and though he's been working on the project for years, interest in his ideas reached critical velocity when his team unveiled images of what the warp-capapble ship might look like.

Look vaguely familiar? It should. Named IXS Enterprise after the "Star Trek" spaceship, it looks a lot like the series of crafts piloted by Captains Kirk and Picard. With good reason. White says he drew his concept from sketches of the Enterprise, saying "parts of that ship were mathematically correct." He worked with an artist and a graphic designer, updating the math and producing "a design for a viable spacecraft."

I won’t go into all the gritty details, in this blog, of how a warp-driven starship might work. But if you want to get the "status of the warp drive", NASA has it here. And you can see all the drawings -- from the nacelles to the tertiary power source here. And if you just can't wait for them to build it, you can always get a "Star Trek" Enterprise here.

See you next week,
Bobby

Starship Enterprise Model