Unusual

Story Sunday: HiccAway

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HiccAway Oddity Image One
Image Credit: Oddity Central

The Plastic Straw That Can Instantly Cure Hiccups…

Described as a “forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool”, HiccAway is essentially a special type of plastic straw scientifically designed to almost instantly cure hiccups. According to a new study, the L-shaped tool works in 92% of cases.

From holding your breath and drinking water, to jump scares and anti-hiccup lollypops, there is no shortage of hiccup cures in the world, which only emphasizes how pesky of a problem it can be. Unfortunately, few, if any, have a proven track record when it comes to efficiency but, luckily, we now have a scientific solution that promises to end those annoying hiccups […]. [T]here’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

When we get the hiccups, our diaphragm and intercostal muscles suddenly contract and, the abrupt intake of air causes the opening between the vocal folds to produce that “hic” sounds every one of us has experienced at least once in our lives. Luckily, simply using the HiccAway to sip a bit of water from a glass apparently cures the hiccups almost instantly.

The HiccAway straw has a mouthpiece at one end and an adjustable cap with a pressure valve, in the form of a small hole, at the other. The intense suction required to draw water up through the device requires the phrenic nerve to trigger a contraction of the diaphragm, while swallowing the water involves activation of the vagus nerve. It’s these two nerves that are responsible for the hiccups in the first place, so by keeping them busy with something else, we keep them from producing the annoying phenomenon.

Dr. Ali Seifi, a neurointensivist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, came up with the design for the HiccAway after seeing his son’s McFlurry ice cream spoon. In fact, he says people can try to make one from a McFlurry spoon by sealing up most of the small hole at the top, to increase suction pressure. Or, you can just buy the real thing, for $14.

[T]he HiccAway works by essentially making our brain forget to keep spasming that diaphragm.

Spooky
Oddity Central
June 22, 2021

Shutterbug Saturday: Land of Oz 2.0

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Land of Oz Book Image One
Image Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty

Previous Post: Land of Oz

When the Land of Oz opened, Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, were on hand for the ribbon cutting. Sadly, the owner of the park, Grover Cleveland Robbins, Jr., passed away due to cancer in March, prior to the opening in June 1970. His brother Harry carried on in their company Carolina Caribbean Corporation. Robbins created the Tweetsie Railroad Wild West Amusement Park.

Their father, Grover Cleveland Robbins, Sr., was the Mayor of Blowing Rock, NC (several terms), served as the postmaster, started the Chamber of Commerce in 1922 and helped start the first high school there. Our Blue Ridge Parkway, here in NC, is because Robbins, Sr., was sent to Washington, D.C., by our, then, Governor, to make sure it would not be built in Tennessee.

The designer of the Theme Park was Jack Pentes, a Korean War veteran and, creator of Carolina Clowns and soft-play equipment.

Carrie Fisher Jack Pentes Debbie Reynolds Image Two
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Jack Pentes Image Three
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Harry Robbins Debbie Reynolds Jack Pentes Image Four
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Harry Robbins Debbie Reynolds Image Five
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty

Land of Oz (Official Site)

Additional Reading:
Five Interesting Things (North Carolina Field & Family)
That Abandoned Wizard of Oz Theme Park? (Popsugar)
Ribbon Cutting: The Robbins Trail (Watauga Democrat)

POTD: Strange Fish

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On an evening walk, I passed by our local Board of Elections. This was sitting at the corner of the steps. I wasn’t sure if I was going to laugh or run away. ~Vic

Strange Fish Image
09-24-2020

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POTD: Glass Jar

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Out on an evening walk, passing by a house with a stone wall, I saw this. I have no idea why it was there or what kind of liquid it holds. No, I didn’t taste it. ~Vic

Glass Jar Image
08-18-2020

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Story Sunday: The War On Computers

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Weird Universe Image One
Image Credit: Weird Universe
San Francisco Examiner
10-27-1968

The International Society for the Abolition of Data-Processing Machines […] was founded by Harvey Matusow in the late 1960s. Its aim was “to conduct guerrilla warfare against the computer by such means as sending a penny too much or too little when paying a utility bill.”

Matusow also authored The Beast of Business, which was supposed to serve as a manual for the guerrilla warfare against the computer. I wonder if any of the techniques he detailed would still work today?

However, Matusow is best known for giving evidence in court against individuals during the McCarthy era. Later, he claimed that the FBI had paid him to give false testimony and he detailed these allegations in his book False Witness.

He seems to have had a rather eccentric life and career. Some other highlights of it, from the University of Sussex’s page about him:
♦ Founded a band called the Harvey Matusow’s Jew’s Harp Band
♦ Married approximately twelve times
♦ Is possibly part of the reason The Beatles broke up – he held the party where John Lennon met Yoko Ono
♦ Worked as a children’s TV clown called Cockyboo in Tucson, Arizona
Converted to Mormonism and spent his last years known as Job Matusow

Alex Boese
Weird Universe
May 29, 2021

Additional Reading:
Frustrations: Guerrilla War Against Computers (Time Magazine/09-12-1969)

POTD: Metal Weed

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I can’t for the life of me figure out what the hell this thing is supposed to be. It appears to be iron and looks like something that would exist in Alice in Wonderland. It also reminds me of the strange plants in the Stargate episode One False Step. I’m calling it a weed…Iron Weed. ~Vic

Iron Weed Art Image One
07-21-2020

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Alien Plant Pinterest Image Two
These plants grew when they were sung to in the Stargate episode.
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Hans 2021 Movie Draft: Round One-Pick Six-Hereafter 2010

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Hereafter IMDb Amazon Image
Image Credit: IMDb & Amazon

Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round One pick.

Category: Drama/Mystery
Film: Hereafter

Directed by Clint Eastwood, it was written by Peter Morgan and, produced by Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy and Robert Lorenz. It stars Matt Damon (George), Cécile de France (Marie), Jay Mohr (Billy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Melanie) and, Frankie & George McLaren (twins Jason & Marcus). The film was released September 12, 2010, at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Marie is a French TV journalist that has a near death experience after nearly drowning during a tsunami. George is a psychic medium but, works in a factory and tries to avoid talking to dead people. Twins Jason & Marcus have a drug-addicted, alcoholic mom and, when Jason is killed, accidentally, Marcus is sent to a foster home. Melanie meets George in a cooking class and a psychic reading ends badly. When George is laid off, his brother Billy tries to get him to revive his psychic practice. After an impromptu trip to London, George crosses paths with Marie and Marcus. Death surrounds the three main characters and their reactions to it unfolds, slowly.

Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter considers the idea of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised to find it enthralling. I don’t believe in woo-woo but, then, neither, I suspect, does Eastwood. This is a film about the afterlife that carefully avoids committing itself on such a possibility. The closest it comes is the idea of consciousness after apparent death. This is plausible. Many near-death survivors report the same memories, of the white light, the waiting figures and a feeling of peace.

Roger Ebert
October 19, 2010

I absolutely love this movie. It’s a thoughtful drama, without being over-the-top, with an inherent mystery built into the story line. I’m not a big Damon fan but, I am an Eastwood fan. ~Vic

Awards & Nominations

Story Sunday: Circus Train Cars For Auction In North Carolina

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Barnum & Bailey Circus Rail Car Image One
Image Credit: NC State Surplus Property

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is offering up a piece of Americana but, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed their doors, NCDOT saw an opportunity to add to its fleet. That plan was derailed before the cars could hit the rails and, now, they’re being put up for public auction.

NCDOT spent just over $380,000 on [the] Ringling Brothers rail cars.

“These cars have a great and amazing history,” said Jason Orthner, director of the NCDOT rail division.

However, plans to refurbish the cars were quickly put on hold when NCDOT calculated the costs. “This was more on the long-term play of really looking into our rail program and how we take it into the future,” said Orthner.

Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Poster Wiki Image Two
Image Credit: New York Public Library
Wikimedia & Wikipedia

Funding from two federal grants totaling $157 million rendered the rehab of the Ringling Bros. cars obsolete and will soon allow the NCDOT to replace their entire fleet.

“If we hadn’t been successful at winning those grants, we would’ve taken a really hard look at putting these in service,” said Orthner. “We really want to do the best thing for the citizens of North Carolina with the limited funding that we have available.”

That’s why they’re listing the rail-cars on the state surplus site for a minimum price that’s $32,000 more than the NCDOT paid for all of the cars but, without any bids, it’s unclear if anyone will actually buy them.

“Tourist railroad operations, car collectors and other enthusiasts would certainly be interested in these cars,” said Orthner. “There are operations around the country that run train service for excursion purpose, or other purposes, that would be interested in equipment like this.”

Currently half of the rail-cars are stored in the NCDOT rail-yard in Raleigh and the other half are stored on an abandoned line in Nash County.

Want To Own A Piece Of History?
Holden Kurwicki
WNCN/CBS17
12-21-2020

I had no idea my state’s DOT had purchased Ringling Bros. train cars. ~Vic

Weird S*** Wednesday: Cyborg Has Fins Implanted Into Skull

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Manel de Aguas Image One
Photo Credit: Oddity Central

From Oddity Central:

Spanish artist Manel de Aguas doesn’t consider himself human but, something else. A founding member of the Trans-Species Society (a now defunct website), he uses technological implants to experience the world differently than the rest of humanity. Twenty-four-year-old Manel […] first made international news headlines in August of 2017 when he built the first prototype of a device that allowed him to feel atmospheric vibrations. At the time, it was nothing more than an exposed circuit board that hung on a headband at the back of his head. The following year, he started attaching a pair of fins to the sides of his head and announced his intention to have them implanted into his skull. Earlier this year, de Aguas did just that, turning those decorative fins into functional organs that perceive the temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure and, send sounds to Manel’s brain via bone conduction.

Manel De Aguas Facebook Image Two
Photo Credit: Manel De Aguas
01-11-2020

In June of 2019, the […] artist sat down with VICE Magazine and explained his intention to have [the] artificial [organs] […] implanted:

“The atmosphere will sound inside my head, and depending on the atmospheric conditions in any given moment, I will have the experience of being submerged in one type of medium or another. As for the outer part, the organ will have an appearance inspired by the fins of flying fish and I will implant a fin on each side of my head, at the same level as the temple bone in my skull.”

“I have always felt a special connection to the rain, so when I found out that there was a way to feel this sense within me, I thought it would be good to create [an organ] that would connect me even more to rain, as well as other atmospheric phenomena. As for the shape of the organ, I have always been interested in marine species, both real and mythological, so the idea of creating a fin-shaped organ simply came from within.”

“I will be exploring the weather through this new sensory organ,” […] de Aguas posted on Instagram, where his new look has been getting a lot of attention.

Manel described himself as a propioespecie, or his own species, his response to the anthropocentrism of today’s society, which puts human beings on the highest echelon of a false hierarchy of species. In January of this year, [he] was finally able to make his dream a reality. He had the artificial fins implanted into his skull at a clinic in Japan, after being refused by several doctors in Spain. The fins weigh 500 grams, can be recharged with solar energy and can connect to various devices via WiFi.

I wonder if those wings let him Phone Home. ~Vic

Additional Reading:
Cyborg Foundation
Manel de Aguas (Facebook)
Manel de Aguas (Instagram)
Color Blind Artist Implants Antenna (Oddity Central 2014)
Moon Ribas Can Sense Every Earthquake (Oddity Central 2016)
Cyborg Artist Can Sense The Weather (Vice Magazine 2019)
Neil Harbisson (Wikipedia)
Moon Ribas (Wikipedia)

POTD: Tree Art

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This is a companion piece to my Virus Humor post back in April. It takes talent and patience to do this. And, a sharp knife. ~Vic

Tree Art Image
Just waiting for the phallic symbol and woody jokes.
04-15-2020

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