Category Archives: Humor

Amusing Monday: Entertaining videos don’t show real holograms

An amusing video that shows a young family experiencing close-up encounters with killer whales, a polar bear and several penguins has been making the rounds on social media. The technology has been described as a hologram by many people posting and reposting the video, the first on this page.

Frankly, I was amazed at first, believing that people were really up close and personal with a 3D image in a shopping mall. The animals, which I assumed were projected for all to see, appeared so real that it was no wonder that people in the video were reaching out to touch them. Unfortunately, that’s not what we are seeing, according to observers.

I am not the only one to be fooled by what is actually a recorded video overlaid onto the live actions of people caught on a TV monitor. Although it is fun to watch, this is just one video combined with another, basically a double exposure. For a different perspective, take a look at the still photo that someone found on a Russian website.

I haven’t been paying attention to holigraphic technology lately. I thought maybe I was 20 years behind, although I have begun to learn about virtual reality and augmented reality, which generally require some kind of viewer.

Another video making the rounds is labeled “Virtual whale 7d” (second on this page), but Snopes, the hoax-busting website, says this is no hologram either.

“As the children in the video are not wearing any sort of special headgear, we can assume that they did not actually witness a hologram whale splashing through their gym floor,” Snopes says on its website.

With words like “we can assume,” I’m not sure that the usually reliable Snopes has this one correct. Mainly, I would like to know what this video actually shows — not what it does not show. If anyone can explain these videos better, I would like to know.

Snopes seems to think that the second video is a product of Magic Leap, a mysterious company that is working on a system that merges virtual reality with the real world. Wired Magazine goes deep to explain what might be coming, and this video from Wired gives a quick overview of Magic Leap’s technology.

In a search of the Internet, I found lots of amusing 3D applications, including various forms of entertainment. Some purport to be holograms. Check out the video of the Dragon’s Treasure show at the City of Dreams casino in Macau.

As for true holograms, researchers in South Korea say they have developed the first 360-degree full-color hologram. It is a moving image of a Rubik’s Cube, just 3 inches tall but viewable from any angle. See the last video on this page.

“The floating image relies on diffraction generated by the interference between the many lasers in the complex system, states an article in Digital Trends. “A previous holographic invention out of MIT had a visible radian of 20 degrees, which isn’t exactly a proper hologram but was as close as most technologists could get.”

Amusing Monday: Ray Troll visits Puget Sound with Ratfish Wranglers

Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers, one of the most amusing bands in the Pacific Northwest, is touring Western Washington this month, with stops in Port Townsend, Gig Harbor and Seattle.

Two years ago, when writing about how fishermen can save rockfish from barotrauma, I featured a video by Ray and the band in Water Ways (June 22, 2015). This video includes a rockfish puppet and an original rap song by Ray Troll and Russell Wodehouse telling all about the problem.

Besides music, Ray is well known for his “fin art,” which is mostly about fish of all kinds, especially salmon. Ray prides himself on the realistic images of fish, produced with scientific precision, which he combines with humor to create some edgy posters.

Ray is based in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he owns and operates the Soho Coho Art Gallery, filled with all kinds of amusing artwork, as shown in the second video on this page. If you can’t make it to the gallery, you could spend several amusing hours looking at his online gallery of art and events, including all kinds of visual puns. The entire website is a kick. Check out a sampling of his style in the third video on this page.

The tour, called the “Great Northwest Whorl,” begins Saturday at the Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop, followed by a Tuesday performance at Gig Harbor BoatShop in Gig Harbor. The band will perform at Seattle Aquarium on Thursday before moving down to Astoria, Ore., for a Saturday show at the Columbia Theater as part of the FisherPoets Gathering. For details and ticket information, click on the link to the venue. Tickets are limited in some locations.

For the Seattle event, Ray is quoted in a news release:

“We’ll be playing in front of the big Window on Washington Waters exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium, one of my favorite places on the planet. This promises to be a truly magical evening, not only because we’ll have salmon and rockfish looking over our shoulders but also because my son’s band ‘The Amish Robots’ will be opening for us! And it’s right in the middle of Octopus Week!”

Ray Troll met Russell Wodehouse in 1985 in Alaska, where Ray moved after playing in a band during graduate school at Washington State University followed by a few gigs with a different band in Seattle. In Ketchikan, Russ was performing with The Squawking Fish, a band with Shauna Lee and Brandon Loomis when they invited Ray to join. After adding Craig Koch and Carolyn Minor, the group performed for a few years before disbanding. Ray continued to write with Russ and did a few gigs as The Ratfish Brothers until Ray was inspired to bring together some of his old musical partners to form The Ratfish Wranglers.

Through the years, Ray has blended science and art to produce a series of traveling exhibits, including “Dancing to the Fossil Record,” which opened at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in 1995. In addition to Ray’s drawings, the project included giant fossils, fish tanks, an original soundtrack, a dance floor and an interactive computer display. In 2009, he teamed up with Russell Wodehouse again to produce music for a traveling exhibit for the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. The paleo-themed exhibit and later CD were called “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway.”

In 2007, Ray was awarded a gold medal from the Academy of Natural Sciences for distinction in the natural history arts. In 2011, Ray and Kirk Johnson were jointly awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship to develop a book project, “The Eternal Coastline: the Best of the Fossil West from Baja to Barrow.”

Ray has appeared on the Discovery Channel and has lectured at Cornell, Harvard, and Yale universities. His work has been on display in the Smithsonian, and a species of ratfish, Hydrolagus trolli, was named after him. To read more about Ray’s eclectic life, along with those of his fellow band members, check out the bios on the Ratfish Wranglers and Trollart websites.

Amusing Monday: Did any of the commercials bowl you over?

It’s becoming an annual tradition for me to feature some of the amusing Super Bowl commercials on the day after the big game, especially focusing on those with water-related themes. I also try to share a little of the backstory about the commercials on my list.

Kia ad with Melissa McCarthy

A day after actress Melissa McCarthy appeared on “Saturday Night Live” as President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, Melissa was back on television in a Super Bowl commercial, doing her best to save whales, trees and rhinos.

McCarthy, who has won at least 20 awards for comedic roles in films and television, plays a tragic eco-hero in the Super Bowl commercial. In real life, she has accepted a position as Kia spokeswoman to promote the brand-new Niro, a car that captured a Guinness World Record for the lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid vehicle, tested during a coast-to-cost trip. For details, check out Carscoops online magazine.

Lifewtr “Inspiration Drops”

In the second video on this page, we hear John Legend’s rich voice singing in a vibrant commercial called “Inspiration Drops” for Lifewtr, a purified water product created by PepsiCo.

To promote a stylistic image, Lifewtr has teamed up with several artists to bring unique artistic talents to the product labels. As stated on Lifewtr’s Facebook page, “We believe inspiration is as essential to life as water, and exist to satisfy your thirst for both. That’s why every drop of LIFEWTR is pure and crisp, and every bottle is a showcase of vibrant art from artists around the world.”

The strategy to capture a specific segment of the premium bottled-water market is described in Fortune magazine.

Mr. Clean

Proctor & Gamble is testing the waters to see if the act of cleaning can be packaged as a sexual turn-on. This is the first time Mr. Clean has appeared in any Super Bowl ad, despite his presence on the product label for about 60 years, according to Advertising Age magazine.

“There’s no better way to reach a co-ed audience than the Super Bowl,” said Martin Hettich of P&G, quoted in the magazine. “And the subject we’re broaching with Mr. Clean really is for a co-ed audience, because it’s talking about cleaning and how men and women divide up the chores. And there’s still a way to go.”

Honda’s “Chasing Dreams”

I could never have guessed that this was a commercial for an automobile — the Honda CR-V to be exact. In the commercial, we see school yearbook pictures of celebrities coming to life and speaking out from their yearbook pages. Participants include Jimmy Kimmel, shown playing the clarinet.

“Honda celebrates the people who chase their dreams with reckless abandon, and the amazing things that happen when their dreams come true,” states the description on YouTube. “For us, they lead to vehicles like the all-new Honda CR-V, a 20-year dream come true.”

Wendy’s non-frozen beef

The idea for this commercial, which shows a guy thawing out hamburger with a hair dryer, grew out of a Twitter battle between someone at Wendy’s and a person dubbed an “Internet troll” by folks recounting the story, including Aimee Picchi of CBS Moneywatch. Aimee provides the full Twitter exchange.

The so-called troll, whose handle is “Thuggy D,” could not believe that Wendy’s hamburger meat was never frozen along the way from cow to table. Describing meat wasting away in a warm truck, the writer must have forgotten about a technology called refrigeration — which the Wendy’s rep soon pointed out.

Another Twitter user complimented Wendy’s for taking up the Twitter battle and tweeted: “Whoever your social media expert was, they need a raise. They burned that guy so hard.”

NFL babies

How many of the baby look-a-likes were you able to identify? Of course, I’m talking about the NFL commercial in which babies are playing the roles of identifiable football greats — but at one-tenth the size. Take a look at the video on this page if you’d like another chance at guessing who the tiny tots will become when they grow up.

If you’re still not sure, the babies are meant to show a resemblance to Mike Ditka (sweater vest), Michael Irvin (diamond stud earrings), Joe Namath (long fur coat), Bill Belichick (scowling), Marshawn Lynch (dreadlocks) and Von Miller (cowboy hat), according to USA Today.

Next, we see a tiny Vince Lombardi strolling away (fedora and overcoat), following by the question, “Who’s next?” as babies Belichick and Davonta Freeman appear with the Super Bowl trophy.

“If you are an avid fan, you crack up right away and get each one,” Dawn Hudson, the NFL’s chief marketing officer, tells USA Today. “If you are a casual fan, you’ll know a couple, and we think it will intrigue you enough to go online and see who the others are.”

Amusing Monday: Playing with water in the weightlessness of space

Since the beginning of the manned space program, astronauts have been playing with water in microgravity conditions. The result has been a large assortment of videos demonstrating the unique and amusing properties of water.

In the first video on this page, Chris Hadfield, an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency demonstrates what happens aboard the International Space Station when you ring out a soaked wash cloth in the weightlessness of space.

The experiment was suggested by students Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner of Lockview High School in Fall River, Nova Scotia. It was posted on YouTube in 2013.

The video shows that the surface tension of water is great enough that the water keeps clinging when Hadfield rings out the cloth. If you watch closely, however, you can see a few droplets fly off when he starts to ring out the cloth.

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Amusing Monday: Snowflakes frozen in a world of their own

They say every snowflake is different. That may be hard to believe until you realize that snowflakes are really quite large on the molecular scale and that snowflakes come in various shapes and sizes, created under an enormous number of varying conditions.

In fact, most snowflakes are so different from one another that the effort to categorize their shapes has never been completely successful. In 2013, one research group came out with a new classification of 121 different types of snow crystals, ice crystals and solid precipitation. Check out the paper in Atmospheric Research.

But what really got me started on this topic was the beauty of snowflakes and wondering how they form. I offered a view of some stunning still photos in Water Ways in 2014. This time, I thought we could take a look at snowflake formation.

I really like the first video on this page, complete with music. I didn’t realize until later that the video does not show snowflake formation at all. Rather it shows the sublimation of snowflakes (their disappearance) played in reverse.

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Amusing Monday: Science is music when data becomes sound

Nearly everyone who deals in scientific information learns to read simple charts and graphs to help visualize the data. As a reporter, I’m often looking for the right graph to bring greater meaning to a story. In a similar way, some people have been experimenting with rendering data into sound, and some of the more musically inclined folks have been creating songs with notes and musical scales.

As with graphs, one must understand the conceptual framework before the meaning becomes clear. On the other hand, anyone can simply enjoy the music — or at least be amused that the notes themselves are somehow transformed from observations of the real world.

The first video on this page, titled “Bloom,” contains a “song” derived from microorganisms found in the English Channel. The melody depicts the relative abundance of eight different types of organisms found in the water as conditions change over time. Peter Larsen, a biologist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, explains how he created the composition to Steve Curwood, host of the radio program “Living on Earth.”

      1. Living on Earth

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Amusing Monday: New steelhead license plate enhanced by inspiration

plate

Washington Department of Licensing has embraced a stylistic work of art in its new steelhead license plate, which became available for purchase last week.

The new license plate, which focuses on the eye and head of a steelhead trout, is an obvious departure from previous wildlife license plates that feature realistic images of animals. Derek DeYoung, the artist who created the new plate, specializes in what he calls abstract paintings of fish faces and flanks, as well as whole fish. The original steelhead painting is called “Abstract Steelhead — Horizon Eye.”

Derek, based in Livingston, Mont., is a rare combination of expressive artist and skilled angler.

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Amusing Monday: Baring for the cold in annual New Year celebration

The Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla is an age-old tradition of jumping into the cold waters of Puget Sound on New Year’s Day. Olalla in South Kitsap is just one of many places throughout the region and across the globe where swimmers dare to reinvigorate themselves by washing away the year 2016 and welcoming a new year.

Colin Eisenhut wears a polar bear mask while taking the Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla. Photo: Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun
Colin Eisenhut wears a polar bear mask while taking the Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla yesterday.
Photo: Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

Swimmers — including Colin Eisenhut, who jumped from the Olalla bridge wearing a polar bear mask — were cold enough and quite amusing yesterday, but I was able to locate some videos that might just make you shiver to watch them. For the Olalla event, photographer Meegan Reid posted 35 very nice photos on the Kitsap Sun website.

I wasn’t aware that snow swimming was such a sport until my wife Sue pointed me toward an amusing video that showed up on her Facebook page. After searching the term “snow swimming,” I sorted through dozens of videos to come up with a few I hope you enjoy.

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Amusing Monday: Looking forward to some new conservation films

“Dream” is a clever animated video promoting the annual Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City. The festival is more than films, with workshops on wildlife topics and a goal to connect average people with filmmakers, conservationists, researchers and media outlets.

One of my personal goals for the coming year is to see more of the wonderful films being produced about conservation concerns, environmental issues and wildlife preservation.

Among the films being released next year are “A Plastic Ocean,” a feature-length documentary that explores the problem of plastic pollution in 20 locations around the world, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Gyre, 1,500 miles off the West Coast. The film also discusses practical and technological approaches to solving the plastic problem.

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Amusing Monday: Snowmen could become victims of climate change

In the video “Save Our Snowmen,” frozen creatures are migrating to cooler regions of the Earth on a mission that could affect their very survival. This amusing video instills an unusual sympathy for snowmen while raising a legitimate concern about climate change in a humorous way.

Various locations, such as Puget Sound, are likely to see some species displaced while others find a new niche as the climate undergoes a continuing change. Mass migration is less likely than population shifts due to predator-prey and disease pressures. I’ve covered some outstanding reports on this topic from the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group. See Water Ways, Dec. 1, 2015.

The video also draws attention to the producer of this video, Cool Effect, which was founded by Dee and Richard Lawrence on the idea that small actions can mushroom and result in significant declines in greenhouse gases. The group’s motto: “Changing the world, one small step at a time.”

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