Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Page 1345

Carriers Rethought

Groupie paradise, FedEx vs. Donald Trump, why Earth is getting shrink-wrapped by strangers, and what TV show has an official couch.

What do vehicles, plastic bags, shipping containers and coffins have in common? They all carry their contents from one place to another. And they can all be rethought in ways that may well outsmart, outcool and outweird the original purpose.

BETTER THAN THE VAN

Couchsurfing has been around for quite some time now. And just like anything that’s become really, really big really, really fast, it was only a matter of time until it niched out. Enter Better Than The Van — a niche stay-for-free community designed specifically for bands and artists on tour. Even the search function is niche-level particular: you can narrow down your results by age range, weekday/weekend preference, and host’s relationship to music — consumer (a.k.a. fan) vs. producer (a.k.a. in a band).

We suspect the majority of couch-offerers would end up being in a band themselves — simply because nothing breeds empathy like having had the same miserable, sleep-folded-in-half-on-the-back-seat-with-drummer’s-protein-bar-wrappers experience.

Plus, we think it’s a great way for up-and-coming bands to make new friends, for up-and-coming music fans to discover new bands they dig, and for artists to meat each other and possibly sprout some killer collaborations.

QUIK HOUSE

No matter how many CFL’s we swap for incandescents, our homes remain environmental Big-Foots. Luckily, going residentially green doesn’t have to mean settling for a hippie shack in the Ohio outback.

It may, however, mean inheriting the living space of a FedEx box.

Enter Quik House. You know those “bed in a bag” things at department stores? We’d call Quik House a “house in a box”… except it is the box. It’s a prefabricated “house kit” made from recycled shipping containers. But don’t be fooled — the 2,000-square-foot dwelling includes 3 bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. It assembles in less than a day, so it should be less than 3 months between the time you order it online and your housewarming party.

You can further greenify the already super tiny-carbon-footed house with the optional solar and wind energy sourcing available. And speaking of customizing, you even have the option of getting your Quik House tagged by local graffiti artists.

At $125-$165 per square foot, including everything except the land, this isn’t just a smart investment in the planet’s future, it’s also a pretty good real estate deal.

MUSEO AERO SOLAR

If this kind of static environmental statement isn’t your thing, how about one in flux? Museo Aero Solar makes you reconsider what you choose to carry your groceries in. Thousands of plastic bags compose the “flying museum,” a hot air balloon propelled solely by solar energy. It travels from country to country and whenever it makes a landing, more bags are added, increasing both its size and the next flight distance.

Since its inception several months ago, Museo Aero Solar has toured three continents. Upon each landing, the local community gets to add to the quilt and shape this ever-growing flying canvas.

We like the idea of calling it a museum: it’s a visceral exhibition of our excess, constantly growing to reflect our never-ending consume-produce-waste cycle. The irony, of course, is that with an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags consumed annually worldwide, most of which end up in landfills, it’s virtually impossible for the museum to run out of resources. If the project carries on and continues to increase in size, it could eventually cover earth’s entire atmosphere.

How’s that for a global warming wake-up call? We hear shrink-wrap makes things even hotter.

COFFIN COUCHES

On a brighter note, Coffin Couches: corpse carriers repurposed into living room furniture.

Apparently, there’s some sort of government regulation (gotta love those) that prevents funeral homes from reselling unused coffins to the general public. So the guys behind the unorthodox venture approach said funeral homes with a recycling attitude and snag 18-gauge steel coffins with minor flaws, sculpting them into an impressive array of leather and vinyl couches.

We’re pretty sure those new media and interactive technology gurus couldn’t possibly outdo the “immersive TV experience” of watching Six Feet Under on one of these babies.

BP

Friday FYI: The Legal Performance-Enhancer

How you can get a job promotion, finish the Tour de France, become an art icon and discover electricity in just 20 minutes between 2 and 3pm.

SHEEP AT WORK

Da Vinci took it. Edison took it. Lance Armstrong takes it any chance he gets. We’re talking about the power nap. Research in recent years has confirmed the tremendous recuperative value of power naps in improving our everyday quality of life. Here’s the low-down on how to go down.

WHY

  • Less stress
  • Higher productivity
  • Better memory and learning capacity
  • Improved creativity and motivation
  • Heart and brain health
  • Stable energy levels
  • Improved alertness and focus

WHEN

  • Between 2 and 3pm is ideal
  • Napping later makes you more likely to fall into deep sleep and wake up groggy

HOW LONG

  • Ideally, 20-30 minutes — the perfect duration to recharge both muscles and memory capacity, purging your brain of useless information build-up and opening up more space in your long-term memory tank
  • You can also try a nano-nap (10-20 seconds, just putting your head down) or a micro-nap (2-5 minutes) for a quick kick at sleepiness

BONUS TIPS

  • Avoid high amounts of caffeine, fat or sugar 60-90 minutes before your nap time (and at all times, really, but we won’t judge)
  • Try to darken your nap area or put on one of those dorky eyeshades — helps your body produce melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone
  • Don’t forget to set an alarm — if you oversleep on a nap, you may end up less Energizer Bunny and more Easter Bunny from The Shining

And don’t forget to pass this on to your boss — that way, you can point the finger our way when she raises a could-be-disapproving-could-be-inquisitive eyebrow at your eyeshade. Now, go. It’s almost nap time.

>>> via Ririan Project

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
BP

The Reel Stuff: Top 3 Sites for Harcore Film Buffs

Hitchcock vs. Jason Reitman, the laserdisc’s most valuable heritage, and why David Caruso is now more quotable than ever.

You were that kid in film class. Or you never even took film class and still wish you had. Just so you could be that kid. You can quote any Sundance film on cue and name-drop obscure directors like a top-40 rapper does bling brands. Your knowledge of German Expressionism and Soviet Montage is directly proportionate to your contempt for IMDB, so it’s only fitting that we bring you the top 3 gems by film geeks, for film geeks.

ART OF THE TITLE

In our line of work, we know every touchpoint with a brand is important, every detail of the package matters and needs to work with the contents. And because every film is its own mini-brand, the best of them pay special attention to one very special element of the package: the opening credits.

Which is why we’re head over reels with Art of the Title — a project dedicated entirely to the coolest, the smartest, the most visually engaging of movie title sequences.

You’ll find anything from the colossally classic like Vertigo, to the excruciating bio-realism of Fight Club, to the uncomplicated playfulness of Napoleon Dynamite.

We’d love to see them add some more of our favorites: like the opening credits of Mad Men and Weeds, and the end credits of Superbad. Now here’s a final project for your next film class.

MOVIE TITLE SCREENS

Wanna get even more specific and anal about opening sequences? Zoom in solely on the movie’s title. For 11 years now, mega film buff Steven Hill has been doing just that. His Movie Title Screens Page is as far from a mere page as it gets: it’s a fascinating library of 5,301 movie title slides encompassing more than 7 decades of film.

You can see the evolution of title design over the years, compare title screens of alternate releases of the same film, or just gawk at the amount of work that went into this. And to think it all started almost by fluke, thanks to a crappy laserdisc.

WAXY

A true film buff is nothing if not obsessive. And when they’re compulsive about being obsessive, well, it could either result in institutionalization, or yield a brilliant project. Luckily, Andy Baio over at WAXY has decided to skew brilliant with his Fanboy Supercuts collection of “obsessive video montages” stringing together every utterance of a specific word or phrase in a specific film, TV show or video game.

The collection ranges from the expected yet delightful (like every uttrance of “dude” in Big Lebowski), to the inside-jokish (like every “lupus” reference in House), to the unhelpably smile-inducing (like every sound of a door, button or explosion in The Incredibles), to the indulgently absurd (like David Caruso’s each-more-laughable-than-the-next one-liners on CSI: Miami.)


If you’ve got some of your own, go ahead and post them in the comments to be added to the collection. We’re waiting for someone with more free time than us to finally splice together every “mothafucka” in every Samuel L. Jackson movie.

BP

Friday FYI: Toothache Be Gone

How a Segway can make your toothache go away.

Reason #138 to stop hating on Canadians: in a 1980 study, they found a neat trick to make toothache go away without even parting your lips. All you need is an ice cube and a loser to sign-diss.

Fine, you don’t really need the loser — you just need to rub the ice cube on the V-shaped area that forms between your thumb and your index finger when you show that dude on the Segway just what you think of him: 5-7 minutes should do.

That V-shaped area contains the nerve endings of neurological pathways connected to brain centers that control the sensation of pain in the hands and face. Rubbing the ice cube on it helps block those centers — 90% of the study participants reported this technique helped nix the toothache. (The other 10% probably owned Segways.)

Nifty, eh?

BP

View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price. Privacy policy.