thinglets: Venus Flytrap Explains the Atom

WKRP was one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time. One of the best scenes in the series is Venus Flytrap (the overnight soul DJ) dropping some science on this gangbanger. Venus had befriended his mother, who was a cleaner at the radio station, and she was worried her son was dropping out of school.

The scene you don't see, after the end of the clip, is Venus breathing a huge sigh of relief after the kid leaves that he's still in one piece. Even better, Johnny Fever (the morning rock DJ) wakes up from a pile of boxes across the room complimenting Venus' teaching abilities.

Who says you needed Schoolhouse Rock to learn in the 70s? Venus was da man!

thinglets: The Procrastination Formulation

Leave it to a Canadian to figure out a mathematical formula for why we leave 'til tomorrow what we could do today.

The equation is U=EV/ID. The 'U' stands for utility, or the desire to complete a given task. It is equal to the product of E, the expectation of success, and V the value of completion, divided by the product of I, the immediacy of the task, and D, the personal sensitivity to delay.

Given the fact that the esteemed Prof. Piers Steel (sounds like a soap opera name) has written an entire book on the formula called The Procrastination Equation: Today's Trouble with Tomorrow, I remain a bit skeptical for a couple of reasons.

While the article says he has spent ten years studying procrastination, I would have much rather heard that he spent nine years thinking about it and then one year actually doing it. That said, his writing of a book on the subject totally invalidates his expertise as an expert in procrastination. In fact, by not writing a book on procrastination, I would say I'm actually a more valid source of procrastinary insight than Steel.

I further intend to prove my procrastination skills by announcing my first novel called Ulysses 2: My Trip to the Jameson Distillery in 1000 pages or More. I expect to be done eventually and dedicate my efforts, or lack thereof, to my good friend, the Chief Eventualist Officer, Mike Vardy at


thinglets: 3,106,000,000,000,000 miles

distant planet

Researchers at the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii have discovered a planet 3.106 trillion miles from Earth.

Just to put that number in perspective... wait a second... how does one put 3106 trillion (or indeed 3 quadrillion, 106 trillion) into perspective?

One would have to take a hundred and twenty yard tape measure (because football fields are the standard references for large areas or distances) and load it into their Rolls Royce Phantom (because you might as well travel in style) and, at $3.68/gallon, pay $635,004,444,444,444.44 for a one way trip at 18mpg. Of course that person would have to work 96,947,243,426,632.67 hours at the US federal minimum wage of $6.55/hr to afford that much gas (and at least a few shifts of overtime for the Rolls Royce). Insurance would really be necessary as there is relatively a lot less to hit in space and, if you do get into an accident, I doubt there would be cell coverage.

All this to find out you were 211,869,031,377,899 football fields away so that those who measure distance and area by football fields would be satisfied.

Until then you can rework the old Proclaimers song to go:

I would drive three quadrillion, one hundred and six trillion miles
and I would drive three quadrillion, one hundred and six trillion miles more,
just to be the one that drove three quadrillion, one hundred and six trillion miles
to tell you how many football fields it was.

distant planet