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INTERESTING STUFF: 4 August 2012

Posted Aug 04 2012 8:30am

SPECTACULAR GYMNAST WINNER
It's never interested me, the Olympics. When I've tuned in over the years by accident, all I've ever seen are a bunch of obscure “sports” like ping-pong, trampoline, archery, tug-of-war. And come on - we all know what women's beach volleyball is really about.

Then yesterday, I opened The New York Times to this spectacular photograph by Gregory Bull of the AP:

Gabbie Douglas

Now that got my interest. She's Gabbie Douglas, a member of the U.S. gymnast team who won the gold medal in the individual all-around event.

Also, she's got one of those great human interest stories sports writers love. You can read that here and see a slide show of her London performances here.

SOUNDHOUND
This falls into the category of what will they think of next except that it's been around for more a couple of years and undoubtedly the reason I didn't know about it until now is that I'm old. It is probably a must-have app for anyone under age 30.

Soundhound is a music recognition app that works with iPhone, iPad and any Android-based device. It can instantly tell you more than you ever wanted to know about any song after hearing only a few seconds of it playing on the radio, live or pretty much from any source. But that's not what I think it the most cool thing.

The most wonderful thing it does is find a song just from you singing or humming a few bars. So there is now a solution when there's a song running around in your head that you can't identify.

Amazingly, all the professional videos and reviews I found of this app only mention this feature without showing it at work. It took this kid to do a demonstration:

You can find out more at the Soundhound website . If you want the app, there is a free version and a full version for $6.99.

VINYL ALBUM COVER LOCATIONS
Everyone needs a hobby and Bob Egan's is tracking down the real-life locations of photos on the covers of old, vinyl record albums. This is the cover of the original cast album of the Broadway version of West Side Story superimposed on a present-day shot of the street.

West Side Story

Pretty neat, huh. It's an ongoing project called PopSpots and you can see more with explanations of how Egan tracked down the locations at his website . (Hat tip to Nikki of From Where I Sit )

DANCE WALKING FITNESS
We have Nikki to thank for this one too. As NBC's Ben Aaron explains in the video, he was looking for just the right personal fitness routine. Here's what he found. (Of course, my favorite part is that I get to see Fifth Avenue in midtown on a nice, sunny day).

EMAIL MESSAGING FAIL
I subscribe to a lot of political email newsletters and among the most prolific are the Obama re-election campaign and the Democratic Party, often “signed” by the president, the first lady and the vice president.

These arrive daily and mostly they're asking me for donations. That's fine in an election year but in the past few days, the subject line has read, “Hey” or “So” or some other meaningless one word that looks like a particularly irritating teenage girl wrote it.

All of us, everyone gets too much email and subject headers are one way to decide whether to open, delete or read later. I'd be unlikely to open a So or Hey email from any of you and far less so from a political campaign. I'm just sayin'.

CITIES AT NIGHT FROM THE SPACE STATION
The nighttime view of our planet from space is amazing with all the cities brightly lit. And yes, it's a form of pollution but it is also gorgeous.

Astronaut Don Pettit, who has logged more than 176 days at the International Space Station put together this video that he also narrates. You can read more about how it was done (difficult) at this NASA website .

POMPEII GRAFFITI

Pompeii Street

Even if you've never visited Pompeii, you've probably heard about the pornographic images and graffiti on the walls of surviving buildings. Cord Jefferson at The Nation mined a scholarly website, Pompeiiana, for some of the actual graffiti in translation. One of the tamest: “I screwed the barmaid.”

John Starbuck who blogs at For a Dancer sent the link to The Nation story with the bon mot, “What it shows mostly is that men's minds have not evolved – NOT.” Heh, heh.

You can read a long list of translated Pompeiian graffiti here .

GOOGLE SELF DRIVING CAR
I've been following the development of self-driving cars for a couple of years and in June 2011, got to test one little segment of that technology that is already becoming common – self parking:

Google's self driving car is making remarkable progress and my only complaint is that in discussions about it, no one involved in development seems yet to understand how much this will mean to elders who must turn in their keys.

Here's a new(ish) video of a carefully programmed self-driving car taking a spin with a visually-impaired driver. (The audio voice-over is intended for the visually impaired.)

STUNNING PHOTOGRAPHS OF GORE VIDAL
TGB reader, Midori Barstow, left a link to a set of black-and-white photographs of Gore Vidal shot in his home by Hedi Slimane in February 2011, about 17 months before he died this week. Here is one:

Vidal 2011 home

The reduction in size for this blog pretty much ruins the shot and you should visit Ms. Slimane's website for a proper viewing of it and all her other stunning photos of Vidal and what is, apparently, his library.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.

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