Zero Style Engineering by Shinya Kimura

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Japanese born Shinya Kimura creates beautiful custom motorcycles. He’s best known for what is referred to as ‘Zero Style’, a concept that can be traced back how to save money on car repairs to the Japaneses aesthetic tradition of wabi sabi:

A Zero-style bike is typically based around a rigid gooseneck, a pre-1984 Harley Davidson engine, springer front end, spoked wheels and often includes parts of the bike remaining in bare metal. The inspiration came from wabi sabi (austere refinement) and the beauty of the raw materials and incorporating the essence of wa (harmony) into his designs. (source)

Something beautiful for your Saturday afternoon.

Imagined Itches: Post Bed Bug Stress Disorder

Bed Bugs

I recently spent six weeks in Mexico in a small village bordered on one edge by the sea and on the other by a large fresh water mangrove estuary. The natural state of things was intensified by the rainy season, this meant a lot of bugs. The beautiful sea shore was a mine field of sand flies while everywhere else was swarming with bat-size mosquitoes. After six weeks, my skin was a mess of red welts and the scabby remains of bites I’d over scratched.

En route to Canada I spent a few days in Puerto Vallarta in a relatively nice, well-sealed air conditioned hotel. On my second morning there, I woke up with about ten red itchy welts along the outside of one of my legs. Irritated, I shared this information on Facebook and my aunt, who has spent a lot of time traveling in North Africa, informed me that it might be bed bugs and that if we had them, we would surely carry them in our clothing and luggage along with us wherever we went. Immediately, I became obsessed – examining sheets, duvet covers, in between mattresses and within the smaller folds of my clothing and suitcase. Apart from being disgusting, one of the most difficult things about bedbugs is that they are nocturnal, very small and good at hiding; so it’s not easy to determine if you have them.

After that morning, apart from the odd set of bites I could trace to time outside, I didn’t seem to get any additional welts and my bed mate remained mostly bite free; in the absence of a bed bug sniffing dog, I’ve decided that we did not have bed bugs; but not before spending hours on Google reading about them and looking at horrible pictures.

The most interesting thing that I read about the pests is the phenomenon of ‘Post Bed Bug Stress Disorder’, which I can very much relate to though I don’t think mine is a serious case:

Many formerly rational people are waking up in the middle of the night inspecting themselves or their children for bed bug bites. They often feel phantom bed bugs crawling on their bodies while lying in bed. Perhaps the most worrisome are those individuals who are sleeping in ounces of DEET, spearmint oil or other less-friendly concoctions in the hope that bed bugs — real or imagined — will be thwarted from biting them …

These people are suffering from what I like to call PBBSD — Post Bed Bug Stress Disorder — an illness characterized

by irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety and bed bug hallucinations. Yes, these people also suffer from the physical effects of bed bug bites, but the bites go away. (source)

In 2008 a former Fox News employee successfully sued the maintenance company at NewsCorp headquarters for post traumatic stress syndrome brought on by a bed bug infestation in the building.

“My client is so acutely injured that she can’t take the subway and she is being seen by a doctor three times a week,” said Mr. Schnurman [the plaintiff’s lawyer], who has handled “hundreds” of bedbug cases, most of which have been settled out of court. “She would literally take off all her clothes at the door and put on house clothes before she would even touch her baby. (source)

Oh, and by the way: bed bug infestations are on the rise.

Night, night!

Image: Whose that jumping on the bed?!? by Sappymoosetree

Competitive Eating and the Fourth of July

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“We are thrilled to offer this spirited event on America’s most patriotic day,” said Wayne Norbitz, president and CEO of Nathan’s Famous [hotdogs], Coney Island competition sponsor.

Food competitions are a big deal in America. Today at the annual Coney Island hotdog eating competition, high jinx ensued as previous champion Takeru Kobayashi was arrested after taking the stage in protest after Joey “Jaws” Chestnut was awarded the top prize. Kobayashi wasn’t allowed to compete because he refused to sign an exclusivity contract with Major League Eating, the organisation responsible for the event. With all this brouhaha, we thought we’d do some hard hitting journalism and give you some facts about eating for sport:

  • In today’s competition Chestnut became ‘top dog’ after eating 54 hotdogs in just under ten minutes. According to most sources an average hotdog contains about 110 calories and a bun somewhere around 105. Assuming there are no condiments involved, that’s approximately 215 calories per dog, meaning Chestnut ingested a whopping 11,610 calories in ten minutes, 1161 calories per minute and 19.35 calories per second. It would take someone

    weighing 150 pounds over ten hours straight of running at 10 mph to burn his total calorie intake. (source)

  • According to their website, Major League Eating holds around 80 events per year and the ESPN broadcast of their fourth of July Hotdog competition has generated more viewers than any Major League Baseball telecast on the same day in the US. Their website also has a page featuring world records in eating where people have ingested mass quantities of an impressive list the includes slurpees, vienna sausages, asparagus, beef tongue, butter, cabbage, clams, cow brains, gyoza, haggis, bannock and yes, spam.
  • Competitive eating is more popular in Japan and the USA than any other countries.
  • There is apparently some bad blood between Major Eating League and the other organisation that officially represents competitive eaters, the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. According to Wikipedia, the AICE was “established by competitive eater Arnie “Chowhound” Chapman, also sanctions contests. Chapman was a former IFOCE member who defected to form an independent league after disputes over IFOCE contractual restrictions.” AICE members also refer to themselves as ‘food warriors’.
  • ‘Chipmunking’ is the practice of shoving a bunch of food in your mouth during a competition but not swallowing it. Generally this isn’t cool. People who do this are usually given a specified amount of time to swallow the food in their mouth once the competition is over and if they can’t then they’re disqualified. Vomiting is also not allowed and competitors are asked to maintain a fairly rubbish free eating area.
  • Competitive eating can actually be a dangerous sport with side effects including: a bleeding overstretched stomach, ulcers, water intoxication and stomach paralysis.

In a 2007 piece for the Huffington Post, actor Ryan Reynolds summed up competitive eating aptly: “we are ALL bound together by the vibrant spirit of competition and grotesque displays of boundless, unapologetic shitheadery.”

Happy Independence day America!

Image Credit: Hot Dog by benjibot