everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

The veritas about Harvard

I am a bit of a dork, so I was very excited to visit Harvard when I was staying in Boston. On another beautiful day in that great city, I walked across the Charles Bridge and over into Cambridge, arriving first in MIT territory. I stopped for breakfast and there were two chaps at the next table discussing something suitably smart – they were speaking English, but I still couldn’t really understand what they were talking about – one guy had written an algorithm or something something and the other guy was talking about trade secrets law across the USA something something. Being a gold star eavesdropper, I felt more clever just for listening in on their conversation.

One of the first-year student dorms. I think I would work harder just by living and studying in this beautiful environment.

 

It sounds hard to believe, but you can just feel the smarts in the air in Cambridge – lots of bright young things from around the world and all over the country fulfilling their dreams of studying with the best at MIT and Harvard. It’s a fantastic place to visit – am sure it would be great to study here, but perhaps that’s another story for another day.

I went on a walking tour led by a current undergrad student and he was full of interesting facts about the place. I was intrigued by the payment system they have: the cost they quote is around $54,000 per year (including tuition, books, accommodation, food etc). That sounds pretty horrific, but the guide assured us that relatively few people ever pay that much to attend Harvard – if your family’s combined income is less than $75k, you can attend FOR FREE. And if your family’s combined income is less than $180k, you’ll pay no more than 10% of that (ie, $18,000 PER YEAR). He didn’t go beyond that, but presumably they’re the people that pay a little closer to the quoted figure. What a great system, I reckon – if you’re smart enough to be accepted to Harvard, then your family’s financial status shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. Right on.

The guide showed us the gigantic and very impressive library – from the outside only, as you need a Harvard ID to actually enter the library. Apparently, they have an incredible collection of books stored in their underground stacks and there were certainly a lot of students heading to and from the building. I think the beauty of the buildings and surrounds must really help with study programs – especially when you’re studying alongside some of the brightest minds in the world. I can’t remember spending too much time in the library or hanging out in the grounds of Sydney Uni, but I’m not sure whether that says more about the Uni or more about me…

Had to snap this student leaving the library with a big bag of books. He looked like he might just be the next Bill Gates.

Apparently, it’s good luck to rub the foot of this statue of John Harvard (the 3rd most photographed statue in the USA). This tiger mother was pushing her two daughters to do so, even though the little one had to keep jumping and stretching to try and reach it. Awkward. Especially since there is a rumour that students often try to wee on that part of the statue as a college prank.

And, last but not least, is it just me…or was DONALD SUTHERLAND on my tour of Harvard?

Dear Harvard, in one form or another, I really do hope I’ll be back. (If only I could have ended with a Donald Sutherland line rather than an Arnie line, but I’m not really that familiar with his work – I really should have asked him while I had the chance.)

 

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That’s miPhone

With the number of people sporting iPhones these days, it can be tough to know which is yours. If, say, you are in the habit of turning your phone upside down and putting it right next to someone else’s. And the standard black or white colour scheme can feel somewhat limiting to people like you and me, who kinda like to stand out of the crowd, march to the beat of a different drum, or fly in the face of convention. Or maybe it’s not even that deep, maybe it’s just nice to personalise your phone as you would any other accessory that you’ve chosen to fit your style/mood/look. I’m not an iPsych, so I’m not digging any deeper – but here are some of the more intriguing iPhone covers that I have discovered…

For fans of Tiffany & Co, Audrey Hepburn, New York City, presents, or ribbons – this would surely be the cover for you. Although you would probably have to watch out for people who like to steal expensive trinkets. And people who like to untie ribbons. And those girls who have always wanted something from Tiffany & Co – you don’t want your phone to be their something. That would be disappointing for both parties, really.

Or for geeks with a slightly evil sense of humour, who want to giggle every time that a non-geek panics that they’ve splashed water and ruined the geek’s exposed iPhone circuitry. LOL.

The warning in the product blurb makes me think that someone has bought this next cover to recreate their childhood farming memories of ol’ Bessy, and been sadly crushed by reality. Peeps, “this is a photo of a cow hide – not a real hide.” Although I’m sure if it’s real cow hide that you’re after, there’s a phone cover shop somewhere that caters for your taste.

And in case your thing is vases shaped like vintage shoes and stockings, filled with roses and strapped in to old-fashioned roller skates. Here you go, champ.

If you’re a romantic, you might like this cover. But I think it’s worth remembering that this message goes out to everyone who sees your phone. So, you might want to think about that. Not just to your beloved, or family and friends, but to the smelly guy on the bus, the annoying lady at work, and the cranky neighbour. Tho’ it is nice to spread a message of love – like a random act of kindness that you’re throwing out to the world. And, if your phone gets stolen, who knows but the thief may turn it over, see this cover and think about giving it back to its lovely owner. Or at least think about getting a new cover for their hot phone.

And last, but by no means least (unless you’re a vegetarian), here is the “Juicy Steak Design”. Unlike that cowhide cover, there is no warning here saying, this is a photo of a steak – not a real steak. So I do hope there are not people trying to order the cover ‘medium rare’ or ‘well done’. For me, this cover goes with many others into the BUT, WHY? file – though perhaps it makes more sense if you’re a steak lover. In which case, you can snap it up for less than $20!

So many covers to choose from to pick just the right hat for your phone. If none of these have spoken to you, there are plenty more to check out at the Wallsparks shop. Like, brain scan images (uh huh), old school typewriters, flags, donuts, robots, light switches, animals and pretty much anything you can imagine. The etsy shop is here if you’d like to have a look.

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Geek up your jewellery collection

A short while ago, I posted on the phenomenon of ear cuffs, which were fashion news to me. Then as I was browsing through the Think Geek online store (uh huh), I saw it: the Dragon Ear Wrap. Let’s be clear, the Dragon is to the standard ear cuffs what the Kardashians are to the Brady Bunch – bigger, more outrageous and a whole lot crazier. And don’t worry, the Dragon just looks as though it is permanently attached – it really clips to the top of your ear and then you wear the tail like a normal earring. Yes, just like a normal earring.

Or perhaps a scrolling LED belt buckle is more your style. It can store up to five messages, so you might want to pre-program it for a night out on the town and then you won’t have to worry about shouting over that pesky loud music – just point down to your buckle and let your belt do the talking.

For the old school geek, there’s a sundial ring. Apparently it works – although why you wouldn’t wear a watch or check your phone is beyond me. It seems very complicated and presumably much time passes you by as you fiddle with the dial to calculate the time of day. And what if it’s a cloudy day? Or you want to know how long to wait ’til the last bus home in the evening? You’ve been warned, my friends.

Or for less than $20, you could go back to a time when the concept of a wearable device that told the time and could add up the cost of your comics and lollies was MINDBLOWING. Yes, the Casio calculator watch is back and is sure to wow the kids of today. Or at least confuse them even more about that mythical time before iphones and Wiis.

If you would like to check out more geeky gear, then Think Geek is the place for you. There’s a lot there that goes way over my head, but if you’re down with maths and computers, or even if you just like weird stuff, it’s worth a look!

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A bit of geekery

A confession – I’m not really all that cool. I like gadgets, good spelling and other things that I guess could be described as ‘geeky’. So it should make me happy to know that I’m not alone – and my measure for that is of course the most popular craft marketplace in the world, etsy. There is a whole category of ‘Geekery’, featuring nearly 118,000 items, catering to crafty geeks (or crafty people who know and love geeks) across the globe. But I found a lot of the geekery to be kinda scary. Here are some highlights…Cool kids, consider yourselves warned.

For the geeky home accessory, or if you’re after a romantic trip down memory lane, here’s an Etch-a-Sketch cushion for your beloved. Sure, the white knobs don’t actually work and you can’t shake it to erase and start again, but the writing is still as wonky as the real thing. Part of a collection of geekery made by Cindy and Randy Green, this is one of the few things in their Yellow Bug Boutique that I actually ‘get’. They have a lot of chemical and periodic table type gags (!), but I’m afraid the memory of struggling through high school Chem classes means that I’ll never find that stuff funny. (I do also like this black & white cushion in their shop, but I think it would bug me too much to have it lying around. Which, come to think of it, is maybe why I need it.)

If you’re a Dr Who fan, you might appreciate this Tardis beanie (more than I do). The Gromidez shop also has other beanies that might appeal to geeks – including these cute and colourful numbers modelled on those ghosts in PacMan. And some other Pokemon things, which I am far too old to understand. The shop also sells a cool SpiderMan web blanket, just in case you’ve been looking for one to complement your new lounge.

Or maybe you’re looking for some geeky jewellery that also serves a practical purpose. If so, apparently you will really like the BitofSugar shop. Who knew that beautiful Hawaii could be a hotbed for so much geekery? They sell this ‘Zombie Antidote’ necklace, by asking: Are you preparing for the eminent zombie invasion/apocalypse? If you answered “yes,” this zombie antidote necklace is the most important component of your stockpile. Ah, the old marketing technique of scare tactics, gets ’em every time. But in a somewhat evil twist, they also sell a ‘Zombie Virus’ necklace, thereby cleverly creating the zombie virus market of supply and demand. Genius.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Geekery, but if you’d like to see more, you should check out etsy. If the cushions are to your liking, the Yellow Bug Boutique is here, and the beanies can be found at the Gromidez shop here, while the zombie antidote (and virus, if you’re so inclined) are for sale at BitofSugar here.

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Geek Chic

I first saw a version of these amazing Keyboard Slippers on the Inventor Spot site and thought they were pretty cool. Well, cool mightn’t be quite the right word. The original slippers are made by Kito in Thailand and you can get lots of different coloured foot straps: black, yellow, red, orange, brown or dark blue (depending on which of your geek chic outfits you want to match). Launched early last year, the Kito originals cost about $30 and are shipped worldwide from Thailand.

But, as with most good ideas, there is another version of keyboard sandals that are, no surprise, made in China (by a company with a very cool name: A-Yaya). They are priced at under $2 per pair. Which I guess might mean that the Enter key will stick and Ctrl-Alt-Delete won’t actually work. But I’m sure that you can still lose crumbs and eyelashes and cups of coffee between the keys, just like the real thing.

I don’t know your politics on global markets, so whether you want to check out the pricier (but original and brighter coloured) Kito shoes or the Chinese knock-offs, I’m sure that both types will massage your feet as you walk around. Which is more than you can say for your keyboard at work. If you are after the perfect gift for the nerd in your life (especially if that nerd is you), the Kito retailer is here.


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