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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?


Animal Farm

Fido for prez, Mother’s Day for the rest of us, the world’s hairiest artist, and how grapes can be bigger than grapefruits.

We love animals. Still, it’s been said before that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. So today, we take an admiring look at some particularly equal ones out there.


If you know, or are, a dedicated pet owner — you know, the types who refer to themselves and their pet in the first person plural and address said pet in babyspeak — then you understand the near-worship situation we’re talking about here.

ObeyThePureBreed is meant for just that type of pet owner. The pet-elitist site is a tongue-in-cheek hub of “propaganda for dog & cat world rule,” underwritten by one Chairman Meow, chock-full of hilarious pet-centric political rallying, and complete with its very own “In Dog We Trust” constitutional slogan.

The whole movement is, of course, just a clever front for a good ol’ merch e-store for pet-inclined hipsters who can buy poster art, t-shirts and gifts in the likeness of their favorite breed. And, curiously, Obama shirts as well, complete with a matching “Bark for Obama ’08” doggie shirts.

Big brother is raising an eyebrow.


Here, we’ll say it: some people love their dog more than their mother. Which they must find quite unsettling given the huge national greeting card and flowers bonanza that is Mother’s Day without even a remote dog equivalent.

Ha — fools! For 9 years now, June 20 has been Take Your Dog To Work Day. The organization, backed by Pet Sitters International, is on a mission to get businesses everywhere to open their doors to canines this Friday and thus help “promote pet adoptions in a positive and proactive way.”

You can get involved by vowing to participate, entering the photo contest, or just spreading the word. (While you’re at it, you may actually win some cool schwag.) And if you’re a Type A overachiever, you can go the extra mile with 10 pro-doggie, proactive initiatives.

They’ve even got your back with a handy list of boss-convincing stats and some… less rational… arguments in case the geek talk doesn’t do the trick.

Word up.


And while we’re in the spirit of spreading the pro-animal message, why not turn our attention to our closest non-human kindred? The Gorilla Foundation has dedicated a special site to a special gorilla: Koko. Not only does she know the signs for an impressive vocabulary of words, but she also possesses a more uncommon talent: artistic expression.

At KokoMart, you’ll find Koko’s original artwork. And before you go ahead and dismiss it as paint thoughtlessly splattered on canvas, you may wanna consider all her paintings are based on Koko’s cognitive interpretation of certain words and signs. Like the unattributable-to-mere-chance pink, heart-shaped drawing of “love.”

Then there’s Koko’s (arguably even more talented) co-creator, Michael. Sadly, Michael transitioned from the contemporary to the classic section of the art world, after suffering unexpected heart failure in 2000.

The art prints may be on the pricey side, but it’s all for a good cause: all proceeds go towards conservation efforts fighting Africa’s “bushmeat” trade, which kills thousands of gorillas every year. And we, after seeing the rich cognitive and emotional world of Koko’s kind, have a hard time considering this that much different from human homicide.


Having been hit in the face by a pigeon, we can tell you these are some dumb birds. In fact, after the incident, we proceeded to deduce birds in general were pretty dimwitted beings. Boy, were we wrong — a TED talk, always the mind-opener, set us straight thanks to speaker Joshua Klein’s mind-blowing revelation of crows’ intelligence.

Klein, a hacker and writer, reveals a real-life experiment resulting in crow-operated vending machines. We kid you not — the birds use nothing but their (grape-sized) brains to figure out how to insert a coin into a peanut-dispensing machine in the middle of a cornfield. Without training.

And if that doesn’t blow your own (grapefruit-sized) mind, wait until you see a crow teach itself to bend a wire and proceed to use it to take a padlock out of a glass beaker. We know humans who can’t do that. Then there’s the one that navigates traffic lights better than most pedestrians we know.

Watch it, you’ll be amazed. And maybe get a craving for peanuts.


Mobile Madness

iPhone insurance, s’mores, and why the numbers 1 and 2 are more important than anything else in your address book.

Call it the iPhone syndrome, call it life, but we’ve all grown increasingly dependent on our mobile devices. Heck, we even have a hard time calling them “phones” — it seems to belittle their pivotal role as irreplaceable lifestyle hubs. And if a fresh mobile service comes along to make keeping it all together even a little bit easier, well, we’re all over.


If you’ve ever lost a cell phone, you know the connectedness nightmare that ensues — contacts lost, calls missed, photos gone. If only you had backed it all up. Enter Mobyko — a UK-based service that lets you back it all up on your computer and on the web, making all your precious mobile info not only safe but also accessible from anywhere.

The service is completely free, does everything wirelessly with no software to install, works with non-UK cellular providers as well, and even lets you send text messages from your computer. You can view, manage, and save all your texts, photos and videos — and if you get the premium version, you get an extra 250MB of storage.

Smart, simple, shit-happens-resistant.


Remember Jott?

We slapped our claim of approval on the nifty voice transcription service very early on, and they have more than lived up to it. After their BlackBerry platform a couple of months ago, which was received to great critical acclaim and has probably saved many a relationship by swapping normal sentences for curt one-liners, Jott has just released Jott Feeds: a simple way to stay on top of your web dwellings (Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds)…by listening to them.

Yep, Jott Feeds is part personal assistant, part private broadcast station, and wholly awesome. You simply add your favorite RSS feeds to your Jott account and you’re good to go: Jott converts the feeds into audio using text-to-voice technology and sends them to your phone.

And we think anything that lets us find out about the latest Campfire event while having s’mores around an actual campfire is a winner.


Listen ye of small bladders: rescue cometh.

We’re serious: we’re huge proponents of hydration, but that goes hand in hand with…um…an exit strategy. Luckily, your trusty cell phone can now help you with two very important numbers not found in your address book: number one and number two.

MizPee is a mobile social network for the small-bladdered city dweller. It finds the coolest, cleanest public restrooms in any area you specify — you can look ’em up online, or hook up your cell phone for easy access when you need it the most: when you’re on the go and really gotta go.

Not only that, but these guys have also started hooking up with local establishments that offer special deals for MizPee members: like, say, a free truffle at Michael Mischer Chocolates in Oakland when you go in to drop your own…truffle…in their loo.

And if you were to calculate just how much time you spend in the loo over your lifetime, cross-tabulate it with the time you spend roaming the city, and divide that by… You know what? Let’s just say this rocks and leave it at that.


Friday FYI: Stop the Hiccups

Why anticipation makes things not happen but helps your friends’ love lives.

Your buddy’s got the hiccups right before a big date and just can’t make it stop? Be a hero: ask him to pay attention and give you a sign as he feels the next hiccup coming on, right before it happens.

It’ll never come.

Before you scream “Witch!,” here’s how it happens: pure brain geekery. You see, the hiccups are essentially a series of involuntary, spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm. Unlike voluntary contractions like breathing and blinking, involuntary ones like the hiccups and your heartbeat are orchestrated by parts of your brain you can’t directly command.

But when you ask your buddy to predict the next hiccup, you’re essentially messing with his brain: because one can’t predict what one can’t control, it essentially forces the brain’s inner control freak to turn its attention to the pesky spasms and switch the involuntary contractions off.

Think of it as reverse psychology on a neurological level.


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