via Improvement Pill
BY STACY JACOBSON, WREG
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When someone in the crowd criticized the city council chairman using profanity, he snapped back with an insult Tuesday night.
Now, Berlin Boyd says he has regrets about how he handled it.
Local activist Hunter Demster says he supports Rhonda Logan for the appointment, and made it clear by cursing at Boyd.
I really love well made Rube Goldberg machines! This one uploaded by the Guiness World Record channel on YouTube is the world’s largest one and needs about four minutes and 412 individual steps to turn on the christmas lights. Well done!
BY Lucas Reilly – Mental Floss
Let’s face it: The holiday season can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Here are some phobias you can expect to encounter and how to avoid them.
The fear of snow. May be experienced while driving through a blizzard, after an icy snowball hits you in the eye, or upon realizing that you consumed flakes of a yellow variety. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of receiving—and opening—presents. (It should not be confused with dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets.) May be experienced when you get a gift from a sworn enemy or when opening a present from an in-law who still thinks your favorite color, for some inexplicable reason, is “neon.” Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of being unable to use your cell phone. May be experienced during nasty winter storms, on remote ski slopes, and during political dinner conversations with your extended family from which there is no escape. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of trees. May be experienced when your spouse or parent insists that he or she knows how to assemble the Christmas tree stand, despite not knowing how to even work a screwdriver. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of the cold. May be experienced if you spend most of your time in New England, the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Rockies, the Sierras, Alaska, Canada, an igloo, a high-end mall, or a Siberian gulag. Best relieved by: Staying in.
Fear of the Northern Lights. May be experienced if you’re a member of the Scandinavian Sámi people—who reportedly consider it a bad omen—or if grand and awe-inspiring celestial events such as solar eclipses, meteor showers, and comets overwhelm you to the point that you feel small and insignificant, thusly causing you to spiral into an existential funk that eventually compels you to accept that existence may be a mere distraction-filled parade-march toward a deep and endless oblivion. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of children. May be experienced on the plane bound for a family gathering, at the family gathering itself, and as you wait in a mile-long line leading to the mall Santa. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of making decisions. May be experienced while attempting to buy gifts for picky people, whenever you encounter a sloppy winter road that diverges in a yellow wood, and while mulling the decision to eat a tweflth gingerbread cookie. Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of having your picture taken. May be experienced if your entire family hasn’t been together in years, if you thought today was a good day to wear that unflattering sweater, or if the nosiest member of your family just received a selfie-stick for the holidays and keeps insisting that you “come over here and check this out.” Best relieved by: Staying in.
The fear of being trapped. May be experienced if you live in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Erie, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and anywhere else regularly visited by debilitating piles of lake effect snow. Best relieved by: Getting out.
What a kid says to Santa is a sacred thing, not to be seen by others. Luckily, these letters made their way to the internet somehow. [via 22words]
You may have to turn your volume up to hear this video properly. Researchers at the University of Toronto are using a project called neural karaoke to teach computer programs to write songs. PhD candidate Hang Chu fed the program tons of existing tunes to study, then dance, then lyrics.
For the final step of the latest work, the program trained on a collection of pictures and their captions to learn how specific words can be linked to visual patterns and objects. When fed a fresh image, the program can compile some relevant lyrics and sing them using phonemes, or units of sound, linked to the words in its vocabulary. The system builds on previous work that could take a picture and generate lyrics in the style of Taylor Swift. Should the program choose words that it cannot say, it replaces them with an “oooh” sound.
The result might be called impressive for a machine, but if a human wrote this, you would suspect possible drug abuse or maybe brain damage.
Once upon a time, you could hang up a string of lights and call your house decorated for the merriest season. But these days, LEDs, computerized Christmas lights, and projection lights have added new dimensions to decorating—and people are creating bigger and better light shows with each passing holiday season.
1. SARAJEVO 12/24
Robert Pechous of Wheaton, Illinois, synchronized more than 35,000 Christmas lights by computer to create this lovely display in 2013. (The video features just one song—Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24″—but the show had three songs total.) Pechous expands the light show every year, raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in honor of his young cousin, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
2. DUELING JINGLE BELLS
The Brown family of Stafford, Virginia, staged a Christmas light show from 2008 to 2013 to benefit the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank. In 2012, they got a little silly and slipped a novelty song in among the Christmas Carols. You can see their other selections on YouTube.
3. TECHNO MIX
It’s a Christmas rave! This home went techno for Christmas in 2011. We don’t know where the home is located, or the identity of the people who so joyfully decked it out, but they’ve been at it for a while: You can see their other displays here.
4. MUSIC BOX DANCER
Victor Johnson of Paxton, Illinois, used 140,000 lights on his home to create this display in 2013. The music was broadcast on an FM channel so that those driving by could hear it without disturbing the neighbors. You can see more of his Christmas displays over the years at Lighting Up Paxton.
5. CHRISTMAS CAN-CAN
Tom BetGeorge of Tracy, California, is a legend among Christmas light fans. Every year, his meticulous light display helps to raise funds for local charities, and in 2013, the display included the hilarious “Christmas Can-Can” by Straight No Chaser. The 2016 show will still feature his popular Star Wars sequence, in addition to Harry Potter music and, according to BetGeorge’s Facebook page, a “to-scale computer-lighted model of Hogwart’s [sic] castle.” The show kicks off December 16.
6. LET IT GO
A family in Texas, which goes by ListenToOurLights, syncs many songs to their lights every year, and in 2014, the blue lights lent themselves well to the songs of the Disney movie Frozen. You can see the lights dance to other songs in this playlist. The cactus is a family tradition that acts as their signature.
7. AMAZING GRACE
Richard Holdman of Pleasant Grove, Utah, began programming his Christmas lights in 2006. They grew every year, and in 2009, the town was treated to the sequence you see here. A donation box raised $40,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that year. Holdman no longer puts on a show at his home, but he started a company, Holdman Lighting, and now decorates homes all over the country.
8. PURPLE RAIN
Mike Staudt of Chaska, Minnesota, puts on an annual lights show called Lights on Pascolo. That’s not far from Prince’s home, Paisley Park, so this year’s show includes a tribute to the artist, complete with purple lights. You can see the full 2016 show here. Donations from those who enjoy the show this year will go to Ronald McDonald house charities.
9. STAR WARS/UPTOWN FUNK
In Auckland, New Zealand, where Christmas falls in the middle of summer, Logan Carpenter mixed his own music and programmed lights to match. Take a tour of Carpenter’s yard to see the variety of Christmas decorations and lights.
10. EL PASO CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Fred and Maria Loya of El Paso, Texas, won the The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2014. Their home display has only grown from there. This is their light show for 2016, featuring 450,000 lights
11. JOLLY’S DEPARTMENT STORE
The new trend in Christmas lights is projection. You can project lights on your house for very little cost, but the most amazing displays use computerized projection mapping. This display on the front of Jolly’s Department Store in Bath, UK, in 2014 shows the possibilities of this technology.
12. WESTERN MALL
In 2006, Joe Noe of Crooks, South Dakota, staged a computerized light show at his home, and the show grew so much every year that it had to eventually be moved to the Western Mall in Sioux Falls. The video above shows the 2011 display. In those years, the light display raised over $225,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There isn’t a display this year, but organizers hope it will return in 2017.
13. DUBSTEP AT THE ZOO
Matt and Melissa Johnson of San Antonio, Texas, started doing computerized Christmas lights in 2013 at their home, and within a couple of years they were featured on The Great Christmas Light Fight. The display went over so well that Matt started his own lighting business, which was brought aboard to put on a light show at the San Antonio Zoo. See more of the Johnson Family Light Show at their website.
14. WALT DISNEY WORLD
Two years ago, Walt Disney World in Orlando unveiled a show called “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” centered around the movie Frozen. The show leads up to the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle with projected Christmas lights every evening during the season. The actual lighting begins six minutes into the video.