Bobby's Blog

Merry Christmas To All!

December 19, 2014

I love the holiday season. Not only do I get some time off work, I get to play with my new toys! As my nieces and nephews get older, they get more complicated and sophisticated Things for Christmas and I like helping them put their gifts together and, of course, testing them out to make sure everyThing is working right. But what I like most is spending time with my family and reflecting on the Things that make my life rich and rewarding.

I've been working at this company since I was a little boy when my dad first brought me in to peel the dimes off of order forms. Many years later, I'm fortunate to be able to say that I really love my job.

As customers and fans of the company, we share an interest in all Things odd, funny, strange, unknown and just plain weird. All of you are a large part of the reason it's so easy to like my work. With that in mind, I just wanted to take a moment today to thank you all for being our customers and fans.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Things to Stuff Your Stockings

December 12, 2014

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas. You find everyThing in there from fruits and candies to ornaments and novelties. It's the first Thing I think about when I wake up on Christmas day. And here's someThing you might not know -- there are three kinds of stocking people: dumpers, pickers and savers.

  • Savers work their stockings from top to bottom. They'll pull out a treat here or there, but they save the rest for later or even -- gasp! -- for another day.
  • Pickers poke and pick through their goodies looking for just the right Thing for the moment. It might be a piece of candy or it might be a set of trick dice.
  • Dumpers like me pour the whole Thing out on the floor and then root around in the pile for the best goodies.

Whether you're a picker, saver or dumper, I hope your Christmas Stocking is filled with Things you love -- and not one single lump of coal!

I'll see you next week,

Five Things You Never Knew About Christmas

December 05, 2014

I love learning new Things. Especially if they're funny Things or shocking Things or unexpected Things. These fun facts about Christmas from our friends over at Random History are all of the above!

  • Mistletoe is from the word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.
  • Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are probably females.
  • The world’s largest Christmas stocking measured 106 feet and 9 inches long and 49 feet and 1 inch wide. It weighed as much as five reindeer and held almost 1,000 presents.
  • Christmas stockings evolved from three sisters who, because they were too poor to afford a marriage dowry, were doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (aka Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.
  • There are 2,106 million children under age 18 in the world. Assuming an average of 2.5 children per household, Santa would have to travel 221 million miles and make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve. To make every stop, he would need to travel between houses in 2/10,000 second, which means he would need to accelerate 12.19 million miles per second on each stop. The force of this acceleration would reduce Santa to “chunky salsa.”

So next time you get a kiss under the mistletoe, you can thank a bird. For your Christmas stockings full of goodies, thank those ladies of the evening and their laundry hung up to dry. And the next time Santa's sleigh goes whizzing by, give a nod to the Girl Power Reindeer Team for carrying him from place to place -- somehow without turning him into chunky salsa.

Merry Christmas. I'll see you next week,

Working Off Those Thanksgiving Calories

November 28, 2014

Did you overeat on Thanksgiving? I did. I always do. But we're not alone. According to the Calorie Control Council, "the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat" on Thanksgiving and other holiday feasting occasions. That's like eating seven Big Mac hamburgers in one meal!

Want to burn off those calories? Here's how much exercise you'll need to do to keep that fat from making itself at home around your midsection:

  • Bicycling: You'll need to do 15 hours of peddling to work off a 4,500 calorie feast.
  • Weight Lifting: Only about 12.3 hours of weight lifting will melt those extra calories.
  • Running: Running is the fastest way back to your fighting weight, with less than eight hours required to burn the same number of calories.

Not into cycling, lifting or running? You could always try bowling, but settle in for the long haul. You'll need almost a full day (20.6 hours) of knocking down pins to knock out all those extra calories! Of course, the experts say we should try eating less on Thanksgiving rather than trying to work it off later, but that's the silliest Thing I've ever heard.

Stay fit and I'll see you next week,

Buried in Buffalo

November 21, 2014

Did you see the massive snowstorm that hit Buffalo and the surrounding areas this week? They measured the snowfall in feet instead of inches. Houses, cars and entire stadiums were buried under three feet of snow on Tuesday and while people are still trying to dig out, the weather service says more is on the way.

There are only a few Things you can do when you get that much snow:

  • Stay in: This is at the top of the list because it's the only real way to stay warm and stay safe. So stock your cabinets with food and water and get ready to hunker down until the snow stops falling and the shovel starts calling.
  • Make a fire: No fireplace? No problem. You can get a space heater that looks like a fireplace for all the warmth and coziness of the fire without the work.
  • Read a book: TV is fine for a long winter's night, but noThing beats a good book. Especially if it's full of funny Things You Never Knew.

Whether you're up north or down south, the winter weather is expected to bring record lows again this weekend. So hunker down with some snacks in front of the fire, read a good book and remember: this, too, shall pass.

See you next week,

Rosetta Catches a Comet

November 14, 2014

The European Space Agency made history Wednesday and the whole world let out a collective "ooooo" and "aaahhh" as they did it. For the first time in human history, we caught a comet. Well, not exactly caught it, but ESA's Rosetta spacecraft caught up with comet 67P and then managed to land a probe on it.

Rosetta left Earth 10 years ago and traveled 6.4 billion miles before arriving at the comet in August. Aboard was Philae, the free-falling, tweeting probe that landed on the comet yesterday and then promptly tweeted, "Touchdown! My new address: 67P!" (If you want to follow The Little Lander That Could on Twitter, here's its earthly address: @Philae2014.)

Scientists hope Philae can help answer some burning questions about the solar system. According to Matt Taylor, ESA Rosetta project scientist, the team wants to know "What were the conditions like at its infancy and how did it evolve? What role did comets play in this evolution? How do comets work?" And even bigger questions could be answered, like "Were comets instrumental in bringing the ingredients of life to Earth?" And some people are even hoping that Philae can help answer the biggest question of human existence: "Are we alone in the universe?"

I'll be following Philae on Twitter and bringing you updates on the Rosetta mission. See you next week,

What Time Is It?

November 07, 2014

I write about this every year -- or at least I think I remember writing about this every year -- the time change. It muddles the brain, bogs the body down and makes people cranky. Or maybe that's just me.

I can't stand it. Twice a year I brace myself for the disruption in my circadian rhythms, the feeling of being disconnected from the earth and that "what time is it, anyway?" feeling. But believe it or not, this twice-yearly madness has its upside. It's a reminder for Things on our household to-do lists that we sometimes forget because we only have to do them every six months.

Here's my list of Things to check, change, replace and stock:

  • Change batteries all over the house, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and flashlights
  • Replace water and air filters
  • Make sure emergency kits for home and car are stocked up with the right Things for the season

If it weren't for the twice-yearly clock adjustment I know I'd forget these chores -- until an emergency reminded me. So, even though I don't know what time it is, I know I have fresh batteries in all my flashlights and detectors, fresh filters for my air and water and fresh supplies in my emergency kits.

See you next week,

Scratch That Itch?

October 31, 2014

Remember when you were a kid and you got bitten by insects or worse, you got the measles, mumps or chicken pox or some other childhood pox that made your skin break out and itch like crazy? Remember how your mom would always say, "Don't scratch, you'll make it worse!" But as soon as you were out of her sight, you'd scratch and scratch until you got that "ahhh" feeling of relief.

But it turns out your mom was right, even if she didn't know why. Scientists have discovered that the neurochemical serotonin is probably responsible for the itch-scratch cycle. It works like this: when you scratch an itch, it actually causes you a small amount of pain, which is a distraction that numbs your brain to the itch sensation. Meanwhile, that little bit of pain triggers the release of serotonin in your brain. Now here's the interesting Thing: serotonin dulls pain, but it also helps carry the itch signal to the brain. So when the pain of the scratch dies away, the itch comes back with a vengeance. And so on and so on.

Researchers figured out how to interrupt the itchy nerve cells that react to serotonin, so it's possible that their work could lead to some relief in the future. Meanwhile, we just have to keep scratching!

See you next week,

3 Things You Should Know About Airfares

October 24, 2014

Ready for your holiday travel season? Me either, but here it comes anyway. This year, I'm going to be a little more prepared. Instead of overpaying for my plane tickets, I did a little research and dug up some Things to help save a little of my hard-earned money. Since all of us can use a little extra cash for stocking stuffers and such, I thought I'd share what I learned with you:

  1. Plane ticket prices can change as often as three times a day. As crazy as it sounds, it's true. But you can track fares with web sites like Yapta, which will alert you when a fare you're watching drops.
  2. The best time to buy is 6-8 weeks out and discounted tickets are usually offered at the beginning of the week. So don't wait until Friday to book your flight.
  3. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to buy and the cheapest days to fly. Saturday is cheaper than Sunday, which is the most expensive day to fly.

If you shop smart for your holiday tickets, you can save some dough for more important Things. Like a book, a blanket and some earbuds to make the flight as easy on you as it is on your wallet.

See you next week,

Easy-To-Wear Halloween Things

October 17, 2014

Have you chosen your Halloween costume yet? I'm still on the fence. I'm thinking I'll ditch the elaborate costume for someThing a little easier to wear. I mean, a full-head zombie mask is great -- until you want a drink. And a gorilla suit is fine -- until you need to go to the bathroom. So, if you also want someThing a little on the less-is-more side, we here at Things can fix you up right for Halloween.

My first pick? This hat. Our sturdy plastic and felt hat goes with everyThing, it's funny and it's one of the easiest costumes to wear. You just pair it with your street clothes and go as "the one with the bright idea." You can even remove the light bulb if you find you've suddenly run out of ideas.

Another great Thing that pairs well with clothes you might have in your closet is a great big beard. Perfect with a suit or an old pair of overalls, the cascading facial hair even comes with a big bushy moustache. At about four feet long, it's a full costume unto itself.

My last pick is the simplest Thing of all: a t-shirt. If you're just not into costumes this year, pull on this tee-shirt that shows you're a good sport about it and shows off your unique sense of humor. Remember: whatever costume you choose, have fun, be safe and watch for the kiddies on Halloween.

See you next week,