1998 William J. Beaty

ATTENTION ALL GROWNUPS. Your "inner child" has long been waiting for a chance to usurp control of your body and force it to perform certain actions. The time is now at hand. Read and follow the instructions below. Do this now.

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"The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity."  - T. H. Huxley
Pulsing Bloodbags
Shake your hand really hard, for a fairly long time, until your fingertips feel like they're turning into rubber. Stop for a moment. Now do it again. It takes less time the second time for "rubberization" to commence, eh?
While yawning, notice that rumbling sound right near the end of the yawn. You can control it consciously, and make a "boom" sound which only you can hear. Walk down the street while accompanying yourself on the Invisible Bass Drum. Launch thought-balls at irritating drivers and hear them explode. Burst out giggling while walking along at work, and nobody knows why!
Garden of delights
Keep a pocketful of dimes and quarters with you at all times, and constantly leave them in knee-level weird places where only a child would ever look. Inside the hollow shafts of toilet-paper holders. Balanced along the ridges of decorative molding. Inside pencil sharpeners at the local elementary school. In the coin slots of gumball-dispensers (give 'em a half-turn.) Imagine the eventual entertainment that will result.
Yawn. (no, REALLY yawn), then immediately curl your tongue backwards and force it against the roof of your mouth. The saliva glands under your tongue will squirt like a squirtgun! You can only squirt once or twice before another yawn is required. Also works while eating (or sucking on hard candy.) Practice this in front of a mirror until you can slightly part your lips and silently hit a target with deadly accuracy. Hey! Is it raining in here?
Waskilly Wabbit
Say "aah-eeee-ahh-eee" with a deep voice, but relax your face and shake your head back and forth hard and fast so that your cheeks flap. Sounds like Elmer Fudd when he's trying to shake off the dizzyness that comes from being hit on the head. Try this next time you get flattened by a falling anvil, see if it helps.
A Feynman trick
Before you eat that apple, sniff it well. Smelling can be better than eating. Smell the table. Smell the floor. Smell the computer screen. Why should dogs have all the fun?
Greenblatt's Legacy
Rub your palms together hard, so you make those little black rolls of dead skin. Those are called "Blatties." They're named after an early computer hacker at MIT.
Zen Fluid Dynamics
Sit in a sunbeam in a dimly-lit room. Light a stick of incense, hold it vertically, then move it upwards and stop suddenly, with a jerk. A perfect smoke-ring will be launched from the burning tip. Move the incense upwards, then suddenly jerk downwards, then repeat. You can launch fast smoke-rings through the center of slow ones, create side-by side rows, etc. In a draft-free room they persist for ages, and soon the air will be full of huge grey thin circles. Contemplate the silent Chaos.
Where'd I leave it?
Teach yourself to talk understandably while your mouth is wide open. If you ever accidentally cut your lips off or misplace your lower jaw, this will come in quite handy. "Tleese take ne tll a hos-thitle innnediatly!"
Use both hands to stretch your lips wide, then talk to friends with your jaw clamped shut. They will become VERY aware of your skull, and it won't wear off very quickly either. Maybe never.

Gravity warped
Another childhood trick: when riding in the car, and approaching some railroad tracks (or other large hump), hold your arms upwards! The sudden drop in g-forces makes your stomach feel VERY weird, and holding your arms over your head seems to amplify the effect. Like lifting your arms while going downhill on the roller-coaster at the amusement park



[Big ugly closeup of my teeth w/lips stretched] Enhanced Awareness
Look in the mirror, use both hands to pull your lips wide, then snap your teeth open and closed as shown in the photo. This makes you "AWARE OF YOUR SKULL." Why, your face is just a thin layer of meat! Now be honest, can't you feel your Death sitting up there in the future, patiently waiting? You Americans, you talk and you talk, but you don't consider The Salmon Mousse! All too soon that skull in the mirror won't be moving any more. Might there be something important you should be doing right now? (Once the full-blown skull awareness wears off, find another mirror and restore it to full strength.)

Two-inch sparks
Create REALLY BIG "static" sparks: on a winter's day, scuff your feet on the rug so that your body becomes electrified. Now stand near a victim. Wiggle your shoes while pressing on the rug, so that you build up some charged footprints. Now suddenly LEAP INTO THE AIR and touch your victim with your finger at the same time, while you're still in flight. The spark will be much stronger than normal. (It's called "capacitve voltage multiplication." and VandeGraaff generators employ this effect.)

[animation, one eye crossed, then the other.] Cross one eye
This is a very simple trick. Just cross your eyes at somebody so everything becomes doubled, then stare at just one of the pair of people you see. If you look at the left-hand twin, that person will see your right eye cross, but your left eye will not. Crossing one eye is supposed to be a come-on in the South Pacific and Indonesia. In Kabuki theater it's called 'mie.'

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Plasma jellybeans
While waiting in the dark outside a movie theater or pub, violently shake your head back and forth while observing nearby neon signs. (this only works with clear-tube orange signs.) See those frilly filgerees in the bands of light? All neon signs have them, but normally they wiggle back and forth so fast that humans can't see them. Physicists call them "positive column striations," while neon signmakers call them "jellybeans". Tell bystanders what you are doing, and soon you'll have a crowd of people shaking their heads in the dark like fools.

Sticky eyeballs
Learn to cross just one eye (see above.) Walk near a victim, cross one eye, then say "Hey something's wrong!" Shake your head as if to fix the stuck eye. No good. Blink repeatedly. Finally strike yourself on the side of the head repeatedly, then straighten your eyes. Whew! Don'cha hate it when that happens?

Backwards Student
Teach yourself to read upside-down. Comes in handy: you can read the books of people sitting across the table from you. Teach yourself to write backwards in cursive. Da Vinci did this, it was years before people realized that his notebooks weren't written in unbreakable cypher.

"There is another world, but it is inside this one."      - Paul E'luard

Do the Celestial Crawl
On a cloudless warm night, walk around until you can put a nearby building or tree very close to a bright star in the eastern sky. Now lay on the ground and move yourself until the corner of the building or the top of the tree just BARELY covers that star. Wait a moment. The star will reappear. Wiggle along to cover up the star again. It reappears. Keep wiggling along. (Um... notice that the entire Earth is rotating beneath you?)

Burst of flavor
While reading, eat something. Notice that the flavor vanishes as soon as you get involved with the story you're reading? Now concentrate on your mouth, and the flavor explodes into reality. By concentrating on the text or on your mouth, you can make the flavor flash on and off. WEIRD!

Finger of PAIN
After getting out of the car, quickly touch one of your passengers. Snap! Why waste a good "zap" on the car door? (If you don't enjoy sparks, then use the car keys to touch your passenger. The shock still occurs, but YOU won't feel it!)

Visible Touch
Look to the left, close your eyes, then touch the rightmost edge of your right eyeball with a fingertip. (Push gently on your eyelid, don't touch the eye itself!) Wiggle your finger up and down. See anything off to the left? That's the "image" of your fingertip, but the retina of your eye is feeling it, not seeing it. Move your finger UP, and the black/silver splotch moves DOWN. Use two fingertips, and you see two splotches. This is the realm where touching meets seeing.

Some more cool things involving eyelashes, light waves, etc.

Twang Optic Nerve
Here's the other way to "touch your retina." Much funnier. First teach yourself to cross just one eye (see above.) Now jam one finger up your nose, tap your friend on the shoulder, and say "I can touch my optic nerve!" Simultaneously tense your hand and swerve one eye back and forth, as if your finger is pushing upon it from within.
NOTE: don't really insert a finger in your nostril. Instead create the illusion: extend all fingers but fold your pinky finger under, then push your pinky finger knuckle against your nostril. Practice in the mirror to perfect this "skill."

Restaurant Super-candle
...with a foot-high flame. While in a restaurant, tear off a bit of a napkin or other paper, and twiddle it into a little rod the thickness of a pencil lead. Dip both ends into the liquid candle wax so the whole thing is wetted, then wait for it to harden (or chill it in your drink.) Carefully jab this hard wax rod into the top of the candle so it becomes a second wick. Tilt the candle to expose this extra wick to flame. Now REPEAT THE PROCESS! Five wicks create a tall flame like a blow torch which makes a soft roaring noise.

Tube of Boob
Tune your (oldschool analog) TV set to a blank station and adjust it for good "snow". Stare into the flickering noise. Imagine the number "3", and it will appear as a 3-shaped flickering. But then it will start to slowly rotate. Mentally erase the 3, then imagine a horizontal line. It appears, but it won't stay still, it wants to drift and rotate. Make it shrink and vanish. Keep staring, and soon the snow will smoothly ripple, as if you were looking through the distorting water of complicated waves in a swimming pool. Think of more stuff to create mentally. View the "snow" with one eye covered with dark sunglasses? Who says that watching TV for hours isn't worthwhile?!

Music of Infinity
While painting murals in the "graffiti tunnel" under the U. of Rochester quad, I was humming and hit a resonance which got very loud. Over weeks I made it my habit to hum at the fundamental acoustic resonance of the width of the long concrete corridor. The slight humming would slowly grow until I could almost feel the hair on my arms buzzing. It didn't work as well with crowds of people in the tunnel (acoustic damping of sentient protein-blobs), but I doubtlessly weirded-out the lone student late at night.

Carl Jung, upon being asked by James Joyce to explain the difference between Joyce's mind versus that of his schizophrenic daughter, replied:

"She falls. You jump."

Un SELF -ishness
This person (I?) has just remembered an idea from last year. Write a long email or a story, but do not say "I" or "me", instead say "this one" or "the body." After a couple of hours of this, THIS ONE encounters a slightly drunken state, and THE BODY becomes prone to fits of giggling, and certain childish verbal gyrations begin to arise spontaneously in the writing. Beware, for if the body should accidentally send the resulting email message to a similar body at another location, that distant body will aquire the conviction that the originating body has gone entirely whack-o.
Expose numberous extraneous bodies to the same message and they will forever gaze on the initiating body with perhapsvalid suspicions regarding sanity its. THIS ONE also suggests employting mental self-cancellation technique when dressed as Halloween alien life. A genuine hivemind organisms would refer to the hive members as "this one", and if all selfreferential internal selftalk terminology is altered until a certain temporal threshold is exceeded, the body will not only THINK borg, but will become in danger of BECOMING borg!

Now go forth and also eliminate the verbs "is, was, were..." Aha! The experts already know about this "self-cancellation" stuff.      Also check this out: On Shyness

Balloon gyroscope.
Put a coin inside a balloon, then blow it up and tie it off. Shake it and then swirl the balloon around, and the penny will start rolling around in a circle! It makes a whirring noise and smoothly circulates. Get it going fast, then let it go, and the balloon whirrs and wobbles maniacally.

Once you get good at spinning the coin, get it going in a vertical circle, and place the balloon gently against one ear. Loud mechanical roaring noise! Do this with TWO balloons at the same time, and put one balloon against each of your ears. It's LOUD, and has stereo effects. Better yet, sneak up behind your victims and put them on THEIR ears. Sounds like UFOs touching down right outside your building.

The noise from the Monolith
Get a "bloogle" (one of those corrugated plastic hose noisemakers.) Spin it around while holding the end over your mouth, then say "eeeeeeeeee" with a deep voice. The sound comes from all directions and inside your head. WEEEEEEIRD. Now go "ooooo" like a police siren, and it sounds like a UFO full of elephants.

Make 'smoke' with your mouth
Compress the air in your mouth, then let off the pressure, then let the air out slowly. You'll see fog!
Detailed version: Face a light source such as a bare light bulb. Tightly close you lips. Fill your cheeks with air partially, breathe normally through your nose, then fiercely tense your cheeks and lips while blowing to compress the air inside. (It helps if you push fingers on your lips to keep air from spurting out.) Now relax your cheeks, part your lips, and spit the air out very slowly. (Don't breathe out, instead spit the air out with cheeks and tongue.) Smoke! Fog comes out of your mouth. It's just like the fog in the neck of a freshly opened bottle of cola. This works great in the dark with a flashlight.

Psych. Experiment
Get some epoxy or crazy-glue and attach a quarter to the floor. Who can resist stopping to grab it? Arrrg! Put it in a spot that you pass by every day and see how long it survives. Eventually somebody will come along with a pocketknife and pry it loose. Once I did this in the entrance of the Psychology department at the U. of Rochester. The quarter lasted for weeks. After awhile a black blossom of markings appeared around it. People were scuffing the floor while trying to kick it loose. Years later at a party somebody mentioned seeing the quarter there, but they were afraid to mess with it because they assumed that some psychology student was watching it with a hidden video camera as part of some experiment.

Make your 'self' vanish
As a child, while all alone, pretend that you are not who you think you are, but that you have suddenly woken up in this human body, and your memories of your whole entire life have just been placed in your head. Your real memories of your "real" life are gone. Your mom and dad are not your real parents, they are the parents of the child you've just been forced to occupy. You know you were just somewhere else a moment ago, but now you are here on this "Earth" thing, and you don't know how to escape and go back to your real home!

When done right, the shivers and black sparklies encroach, and you feel like you are nearing a precipice in the darkness. EEWWWWWW!

The Hot Chocolate Effect
Get a mug, a METAL spoon, and some hot water. Mix in the chocolate powder, then while the spoon is still immersed in the liquid, tap it against the bottom or sides of the mug. It goes "thunk" instead of "clink." Keep tapping, and you'll hear the pitch rise higher and higher. Now stir the liquid. Resume tapping, and hear that the pitch is low again (but then it rises.) If you keep tapping for long enough time, the tone will eventually become a high-pitched "clink" sound. Acoustics researchers give this phenomenon the exotic name... hot chocolate effect! (The underwater foam-cloud is the cause. The speed of sound is slower in foam. Beaten egg-whites or ice cream in root beer create similar effects.)

Swimming pool "hot chocolate effect"
Take two rocks into a swimming pool. Splash around in order to create a huge cloud of underwater bubbles. Quickly knock the rocks together underwater inside the bubble-cloud. You'll hear a loud low musical tone, like a gong. As you hit the rocks together repeatedly, the pitch rises. (No rocks? Sometimes you can whack your knuckles together hard enough to make the "dong" sound. Hurts though.)

Foam blast
Mix a bit of whipped cream with a little water, stir well, then pour in a large amount of warm cola. FOOSH! Giant explosion of foam all over. If you do the same with milk and cola, very little happens. The microscopic bubbles in the whipped cream are the cause. The same thing happens when melted ice cream hits carbonated beverage, thus explaining why "rootbeer floats" make foam, yet pouring milk into rootbeer creates only boredom. Ice cream is actually a "miniaturized foam," and it only needs some carbonated water to let it expand back its true size. Prepare a trap: put a small dab of the dilute whipcream or melted ice cream in a cup, then ask someone to pour in your chosen carbonated beverage. Make a cola-rocket by injecting a turkey-baster-full of diluted whipcream deep into a full bottle of warm carbonated liquid. And finally, if you ever see people eating ice cream, offer them a big gulp from your cup of cola. It will tend to spray out of their nostrils. [RATS RATS RATS! Years afterwards, someone re-invented this, but in portable form: Mentos candy. Dunked in cola. Mentos-ees are each coated with sugar-foam, that's why it's white rather than clear. They release billions of microbubbles as the sugar dissolves.]

Longer Seeing
Modify your perceptions with physics rather than psychopharmacology: put an infrared filter in some welding goggles, then wear them outdoors on a bright, sunny day. (Choose a filter that is in the near-IR, so a bit of light is visible still. Or try theatrical gels, congo blue combined with primary red, several of each.) The world will become EXTREMELY BIZARRE. Wait a couple of minutes until your eyes grow accustomed to the darkness. Then the bright pink clouds drift in the dark sky above the frosty white trees. The world is dusk, yet the sun still shines. Car tail-lights blaze brightly. The houses and roads are dark. But the grass! The trees! They are frosty blazing red, like snow which has been sprayed with cherry Kool-aid powder. Everyone's clothes are altered. Blue-jeans are almost white. Some black clothing turns light grey. The artwork of T-shirts is almost invisible, and everyone's hair is grey. (New: see the article.)

I've heard that some types of clothing are transparent to the infrared, so stagger on down to the beach and verify if this is so. "Mister, why are you wearing those goggles?"

Caught in a Facewarp
Find a piece of mirror material about 30cm across (or just take a small mirror out of its frame.) If your mirror has sharp glass edges, grind them off with emery paper or put scotch tape on the edges. Next, stand in front of a larger mirror so you can see your reflection. Place your smaller mirror against your face so that its edge runs vertically down the middle and is slightly crushing your nose. Tilt your mirror sideways until you see your reflection in the bigger mirror. Your face will look perfectly symmetrical because your small mirror is reflecting the other half: you'll have a face that's composed of two left halves or two right halves.
Look to the side and YOUR EYES MOVE IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS! Gah! Tilt your head one way and your cranium expands hugely, tilt it the other way and you become a pinhead with a gigantic neck. Move the edge of the mirror so your nose has one nostril and you develop a single large eye. Hide one hand behind the non-reflective side of the mirror and extend one finger under the mirror's edge against your face. A worm appears on your face (a worm with fingernails.) Wiggle your finger. Open your mouth and and grasp your finger between your teeth, and the fatnecked-pinhead has bitten the worm! Swallow it (and perhaps use your hidden hand to push your neck flesh sideways, to form a lump that moves down your throat.)
By this point I will have become "overly amused" and in danger of damaging myself.

See your Blood
Get one of those red LED keychain flashlights. Close your eyes, then glance rapidly back and forth while placing the bright red LED against your eyelid. You see sharply-focused "trees"! If it doesn't work, move the LED to different spots while continuing to wiggle your eyes by glancing back and forth. The "trees" are the blood capillaries that cover your whole retina. The spot where they all converge is your blind spot, and in the exact center of your viewpoint is a small dark blotch that has no capillaries. Very strange that your eye is constructed with the blood vessles ON TOP of the retina, where they can cast shadows! Remeber those "retina pattern ID" readers from SF stories, that read your eyes like fingerprints? These blood vessles are what they detect. Now try the same thing with your other eye.

The Vanishing Rod
If you're in a place where cotton candy is available, you can make a large "rod" vanish. Get a small cup of warm water (or use your cup of stale diet cola so you don't draw attention to your preparations.) Then stretch and wad one whole batch of cotton candy into a solid rod-shaped mass. Then take your rod and shove it into your cup. The entire thing vanishes! The water soaks the tight-packed fibers, which dissolve almost instantly, so the wave of "sludge-ification" is very fast.

Vanishing Mass
This one's dangerous, so take your life in your hands. (Better do it outside.) Connect up an aquarium air-stone to your gas kitchen stove, dunk it in a bucket of sudsy water, and let it create a gigantic mass of bubbles. Carefully light the mass with a match. It doesn't flame. It doesn't go bang. Instead it WINKS OUT OF EXISTENCE! Every tiniest bubble vanishes in an instant. This big white "object" is suddenly not there anymore. (After getting overconfident, I held these white bubble-masses in my hand and lit them. No burns, just slightly warm water.) Probably the water in the bubbles boils, which slows down the flame-front. [DANGER! DON'T USE PROPANE! I used city gas in Rochester NY. I tried the same trick using propane. YAAARRG, it creates a huge fireball which will leave soot on your ceiling and perhaps ignite your curtains!]

Stare straight ahead, then concentrate on things in your peripheral vision. Try wiggling your fingers while moving your hand out "beyond the edge." Is the edge fuzzy? What color is it out there? It's not black. It's too weird, since there's a boundary, but there's NOTHING on the other side of it. It's not really an edge at all, since an edge divides two regions. This "edge" has NO REGION on the other side!

Obtain some V8 juice or orange juice in a small glass bottle. (Any vacuum-packed non-carbonated liquid should work.) Hold it in one hand and strike the top with the heel of your other hand. If you strike it hard, the glass bottom will fly off and the liquid will blast downwards. If you strike it more softly, you'll hear a loud "snap" sound. Practice striking it sofly enough to obtain the interesting noise. Now break the seal and let in the air, and you'll find that you can't create the snapping sound anymore. The sound is caused by cavitation, by a "water hammer" effect. Liquids are held together by atomic bonding, and if you create negative pressure, you can tear open some bubbles made of vacuum. When the bubbles slam shut again, the water pressure becomes momentarily immense. But if the liquid is at atmospheric pressure to begin, you can't create enough negative pressure to get to the cavitation realm. (This works with canned vegetables too, and with glass jars of pasta sauce.)

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Taverns with black light tubes are rare now, but if you should find one, make sure to have a couple fluorescent green "highliter" markers in your posession. Under black light the skin on human arms looks purple-brown. Draw a marker line on your knuckle. Blazing yellow-green! Sketch in some crude finger bones and your hand looks like a moving skeleton. Do up both of your hands. Add arm bones, Ulna and Radius. Metacarples even! On a busy night the onlookers may demand that you to set up a phosphorescent tatoo parlor. (This all seems to wash away in the shower, but try viewing it again under black light the following evening. It's still there!)

Never drive with a Jerk
As you slow your car at a traffic light, the deceleration is relatively constant, but when your car actually halts, the deceleration vanishes. Your passengers feel the sudden change as they fall back into their seats. This effect is so common and expected that we can play with everyone's heads: remove the jerk! As you brake to a halt, simultaneously ease off the pedal so your car decelerates less and less. Time it right and you will stop braking entirely just as the car halts entirely. Unless your riders are looking out the window, they won't realize that the car has actually stopped. (This works particularly well with a van full of kids who are waiting to leap out as soon as you come to a complete stop.) [I'm told by a commercial pilot that this is a common practice on airlines. At the end of the flight when passengers are waiting to leap up and rush to the overhead bins, they'd better look out the airplane windows. The passengers who run by inertial guidance (waiting for the final jerk) will be intentionally misled!]

Wearing the Invisible Mask
During primitive festivals (Mardi Gras, halloween) we hide our identities, and if we take the right mental turning, we discard our everday personalities. "The stranger" takes charge. But why wait for Fat Tuesday? No masks needed! Take a lesson from the little kid in "The Shining" and simply begin talking funny. Continuously. For hours. Try Alfred Jarry's staccato monotone. Donald Duck Voice works, but I prefer a mutant version of Grover from Sesame Street. Open your eyes wide and stare into the distance ("shifted" metnal states are attracted with the eyes.) Eliminate the word "I," if you really must. Scare loved ones. "THIS ONE IS SORRY, MRS. BEATY, BUT THE WILLIAM FRAGMENT IS NOT CURRENTLY PRESENT. FULL CONTROL OF VOCAL CHORDS IS ATTAINED, BUT OTHER MAJOR MUSCLES ARE NOT ON LINE." (jerk arms spastically for effect.) When they stop smiling and loudly insist that we cut it out, we're approaching the proper "Mask Wearer" state.

Dry your tongue!
Get a clean cloth or paper towel. Stick out your tongue, then dry it thoroughly with the cloth. Keep sticking it out so it will air-dry a bit more. Now challenge your friends to feel your dry tongue surface. Weird and creepy. Grab the hands of an unsuspecting passersby, and force them up against your warm dry tongue.

Halloween costume optics: your head in a jar.

  1. Find a flexible 9" fresnel lens. Often they're sold in bookstores as reading aids.

  2. Smash it onto your face, bend the edges to touch your ears. Tape it there.

  3. The bent lens makes it look as if your face is under water.
Unfortunately you can't see a damn thing while wearing this. It's giving you "Head-in-jar Vision!" Cut some small eyeholes. Now go out and play in traffic
at night.

Suck a paperclip up your nose!
This one's from Jim Burrows Get a medium-small rubberband and a paperclip. Put the rubberband around your palm and the back of your hand. Thread the paperclip onto the band, then hold the paperclip between thumb and forefinger. If you let it go, the paperclip should instantly snap back, vanishing from sight. OK, now hold the paperclip again, draw attention to yourself. When everyone's watching, stick the paperclip partly up your nose, then snort violently while letting it go. The rubberband will make it vanish. [Alternately, put a second paperclip in your mouth beforehand. After you've vanished the first one, "cough up" and spit out the second one. Perhaps put paperclips in mouth, both ears, bellybutton...]

On NPR "Livng on Earth", an entemologist mentioned that swarms of gnats will move towards anything that emits the low humming sound of female gnat wings. Apparently you can "suck" an entire cloud of (male?) gnats towards you by humming with low pitch... and they'll stop drifting the instant you stop the sound. Two people can "pull" the insect cloud back and forth between them. But... does this mean that gnat-clouds are always male? Really? Maybe instead your humming is screwing up the gnat navigation. If the gnat-cloud can remain on station while ignoring small breezes, they're doing something exotic, and perhaps the incoming sound waves at nearly their wing-beat frequency causes them to misjudge their horizontal speed, so the whole cloud moves towards the sound source. I wonder what various frequencies will do to the cloud. Maybe you could play a very special tune to them, and cause the gnat-cloud to sculpt itself into shapes. Letters. Ads for Pepsi, etc.

A stream of ants invaded my workbench. I found I could get rid of them; "reflect" them all back to their nest by placing several pieces of wet cookie along their trail where it came out of the wall. They all end up grabbing some food and returning to the hole, so the long trail dries up. Earlier I tried erasing a segment with alcohol scrub, but they found a new path within minutes. But wait a sec. If I place lots of food at the *far* end of their long trail, then their trail becomes "ant suction," since any wandering ants will soon cross it and get harnessed as food transport. It hoovers up every ant in the whole downstairs. Hours later I can dry up that whole trail by putting food near its beginning (placed on a piece of paper.) When the trail is gone, I throw the few ants+paper outdoors, then put a blob of caulk over the crack in the wall. Ants gone, but NONE KILLED.

Diet drinks will float on full-sugar drinks, but only if you add a layer of crushed ice to disrupt the flow from the spigot. Do this: first add about an inch ice, then fill it half way with normal NON-diet cola, then top it off with a different color of diet drink (such as Lite lemonade, or diet orange, or lemon-lime, etc.) It's like a "Black & Tan" beer! Then you can either drink the first layer and leave the second one, or dip your straw to different levels to drink one layer at a time (and people will see the two colors of beverage going up your clear straw. Strange!) If you use a clear plastic cup, then you can also make subsurface waves that slosh back and forth in slow motion like those blue "ocean wave" paperweight thingies.

I had a big potato-chip bowl. I had a penny. After some practice I could fling the penny along the inside surface so it would run around about seven times before hitting bottom. (If this is too difficult, then first practice with a marble or ball-bearing) Then I realized, OF COURSE! AH HAAAAAAA, YES!      WE CAN CREATE *INFINITE COIN VELOCITY* by swirling the bowl along the table as the penny rolls. Pump the penny each time it passes. Yep, it works, and the sound-effects are notable, but the penny climbs to the top edge of the bowl then flys outwards in a random direction. Observe, Eegore, for if we wish to attain a coin velocity which approaches the Relativistic, we cannot use a snack bowl which is at all cone-shaped.

Dare to be Different
Besides daring to sing loudly where others can hear, have you ever dared to "think out loud" in public? Perhaps even start a long conversation with yourself? Now finally it's possible without embarrassment: just get an old defunct cellphone and an earphone/mike. Sit in the park with the cellphone in your lap and say anything you want, right out loud. Nobody will care. (Just don't dare to try this WITHOUT an obvious cellphone and microphone-headset!) Hmmm. Even better. Just wear a mike-headset alone, but with the plug dangling loose in your lap. Passersby will assume that you have a cellphone. But perhaps one or two people will look more closely, realize that no cellphone is involved, then suddenly stop smiling. And back away from you carefully.

Kids tie their old sneakers together and then pitch them over a phone line. Harness their raw power, little one! Print out a sign you've designed, seal it with clear spray paint, glue it onto cardboard, and then find a rock or a large iron bolt and a length of twine. Tie the rock to the sign, and hurl them over a phone line above a street. How many years will it remain there, twirling in the breeze? (Um... be sure to make the sign large enough to read from a distance! Testing is required...) Print two different words, one on each side, so it flashes them alternately while it spins.

At a restaurant with friends, give everyone the jitters by playing with a fork very close to your eyeball. Use the tines to pull your eyelid down, etc. Everyone is creeped out. Now take one of those tiny plastic cups of ultrapasturized creamer, cup it in your hand and hold it up to your eye without anyone noticing, use the fork to poke holes in the paper lid (looks like you're stabbing your eye,) then squeeze the cup and scream while dropping the fork! White gunk will squirt all over the table. This one comes from Penn & Teller's PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, a book that readers of this website just GOTTA have! Twisted insightful tricks by vengeful nerd social outcasts.

Get two identical cola cans or yogurt cups or bottles of white-out. Place them in front of you on the desk, a couple of inches apart horizontally, then rotate them so they look identical. Then cross your eyes so you see three of them. Concentrate on the middle one, and tilt your head a bit so it isn't doubled (maybe rotate one object until the middle one looks perfect.) The middle object looks perfectly 3D... but it's tiny! Actually, the angles of your eyes make them act farther apart than usual, as if your head was huge. OK, now carefully grasp the two objects and very slowly draw them apart while concentrating on the middle one. It will get smaller and smaller while staying exactly the same size. (Or your head will grow larger and larger.)

Cross your fingers, and curl your middle finger around your index finger. Now grab your ring finger and curl it over the back of your curled middle finger. Do the same with your pinky. Your hand looks damaged. LOBSTER BOY!! Now do the same with the other hand too. LOBSTER BOY IS HERE TO TAKE AWAY THE BAD CHILDREN.

In front of a mirror, stick out your lower lip. Curl it way down using fingers. Now stick out your tongue at the same time and use it to push your lower lip down. Presto, GIANT CLOWN LIPS! Now make lobster-boy hands and cross one eye as well. Too bad the giant clown lips make gleeking impossible.

Stolen from Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. Stand facing away from friends. Bend your head down, chin resting on chest, and hunch your shoulders up a bit. Your friends will see your head TOTALLY DISAPPEAR. Stagger around while feeling the empty spot with hands. Make noises like a wet esophagus.

Another good one: buy some "snap-n-pops"; the little paper-wrapped sand balls that go "bang" when stepped on. Find a colleague who is working on live electronic equipment. Hold up a snapper and twiddle it in your fingers HARD. The little explosion sounds EXACTLY like an accidental short to 120V, or maybe like a capacitor discharge.
Now scuff on the rug, then twiddle a snapper while touching somebody on the elbow. The "bang" sounds like the worlds most painful electric spark. (Obviously this is for the benefit of onlookers, since your victim felt nothing.)

Crush two sides of a coke can inwards, but only near the top, then rotate it 90deg and crush two sides inwards near the bottom. Now push the top and bottom together (or stomp on it) and it very easily collapses into a small round puck. Now pull it partway apart again and you'll hear all sorts of snaps and poings. Push it in and out and the sequence of poings will play forwards and back like a recording. It's a mechanical beatbox sequencer, a toy marimba, a percussion accordian. Make mouthsounds to accompany the noises (such as whistling while humming, or sucking lips to make swarms of mosquitoes.)

Living with an echo
Try speaking a simple sentence, but repeat each word twice. "Testing-testing one-one two-two three-three." It sounds a bit like a genuine echo. OK, now speak each individual syllable twice: "Tes-Tes Ting-Ting One-One Two-Two Three-Three." Say it a few times fast. That sounds very much like an echo. Finally, say it with the accent on the first of each syllables, with no pause between pairs but a slight pause between the different syllables. Speak with constant tone, not like conversation but like making a PA announcement at a ball game. Keep the timing between syllable-pairs always exaclty the same. "TES(tes,) TING(ting,) ONE(one,) TWO(two,) THREE(three). It echos! Sounds disturbingly real!







Now practice until you can do it fast. Go find unattended microphones, and screw with the sound engineer's head. How to get rid of that echo? Try different hookups. Is it still there? YEP-yep. DAMN! UH-uh. TIC-tic. TUH-tuh. TES-tes.

Head without a body
Walk smoothly. Walk REALLY smoothly. Try to walk so your body and head do not move up and down at all. Especially keep your head from bouncing slightly as you walk. Try to drift along like the princess descending the stairs; like the vampire's wives approaching the sleeping victim's bed. You'll start to feel like a floating TV camera, a disembodied viewpoint. Not really there. Or move fast along the hall, and you become a jet plane flying down the shafts of the gigantic Alien Construction. Put your face next to the side of the hall and race along, and the wall becomes the floor, racing below you at supersonic speed. Soar upwards to avoid the thermostat and the drinking fountain, and don't fall into the chasm or you'll end up in somebody's math class.

Nipple Cola
I accidentally pulled the ring off a can of soft drink. Yet there was a tiny hole in the center. I started drinking. I could shake and invert the can, producing an intense squirtgun effect. Like drinking from a cow?! It's hard to make a small enough hole with the pull-tab, so instead use a needle, or use the awl on your swiss army knife. If the hole is tiny, the can will squirt like a squirtgun for a good long time after each shake. If the hole is too large, it drains quickly. In that case just turn it sideways and suck powerfully on the tiny hole, draining the can and causing it to collapse. When colleagues ask you what the hell you think you're doing, be sure and tell them what the technique is called.

The journey starts with a step
Smoothly and rapidly walk down stairs while skipping alternate steps. (It requires some practice alone, but it's not that hard.) I started doing this in grade school where the "hall monitors" would call the teacher if they caught any kids skipping steps while going upstairs. So I started skipping steps going down. This confused them, and they had no rule to cover it.

Triggered Creepout
Are human bodies born with programmed instincts to avoid damage? Try this on yourself: take a sharp pointed object and make sudden stabbing motions toward your forearm. Not very creepy? Now stab towards your throat, or towards your fingertips (under nails.) Ewwww, a definite 'avoidance response.' Now, knowing what to look for, stab towards various body parts. (Or trigger your 'mirror neurons' by watching others perform stabbing on themselves.) Hmmm, my body objects to wrist or knee damage, but doesn't mind stabs to thighs, biceps, etc. I guess that makes sense: body somehow knows to use its arms to keep sharp broken branches away from its throat. It wants to avoid gut wounds, and is very protective about ear holes and eyes. OK, now get a big dirty rock and jerk it suddenly towards your groin, or towards your brittle delicate teeth!

At a large company party there are helium balloons as decorations. There are also vegetable horsdoeuvres. Tie a carrot or celery stick to a balloon. It must sink rapidly. Eat down the carrot slowly, while testing the buoyancy. When the balloon hovers or sink/rises very very slowly, you're done. Repeat with more balloons. Soon the room is filled with annoying density-neutral objects drifting around. They lose some helium and sink after many minutes, so bite each carrot to restore full nuisance value.

Another Feynman trick
Hold out your arms and point your index fingers at each other with fingertips touching. Now move your arms in a circle with fingertips together. Easy. Do the same but with fingertips at opposite points of the circle, as if you're rolling an invisible cylinder. Easier! OK, now keep circling one arm, but suddenly stop the other one. Harder, eh? And it makes you feel like a machine. Now start circling both again, then suddenly stop the other one this time. Now for the hard part. Keep one arm circling, but CIRCLE THE OTHER ONE BACKWARDS. Your fingertips should pass each other twice per revolution. Hard? No, that's trivial. Trivial! The REALLY hard trick is to circle both arms in the same direction, but circle one of them SLIGHTLY FASTER than the other. Say for every seven turns of one arm, your other arm should turn around eight times so the phasing fingertips approach and pass each other every eight turns. Soon you'll be ready to play bongos two different speeds with your two different hands. Feynman bongo master

In third grade I remember this kid on the playground who could only close both eyes. She hadn't yet learned to close just one. That's no big flaw, since most of us never learned how to raise and lower just one eyebrow. The Unibrow is a state of mind, not something on your face. Much sporadic practice in front of convenient mirrors can cure our sad ignornant state.

Correct restaurant request
When ordering food, make it your habit to always be specific: ask for roasted BIRD meat. And don't forget the COW'S milk icecream. Order some scrambled BIRDS eggs. DEAD cow hamburgers and burritos. Pig bacon, etc. Be the outsider who knows that a trout egg omlet with raccoon sausages might appear if their order at Denny's wasn't clear enough. Or dogs eggs. Mmmmmmm, dog's eggs.

Clap normally. Smap smap smap. Keep clapping, and now rotate your hands so one faces up, one down, and turn one hand so they collide at 90deg. Cup them both, and try to seal them together as they strike. Now it goes PONK! PONK! PONK! instead of smapping. Sounds like small paper bags popping.

Reddit: chirp like a cricket
Can you purr like a cat, deep in your throat? Or snore, or do a pigeon coo, like "KKKKooo," the loogie-hocking sound. Just whistle at the same time. Apparently very useful when nobody laughs at a joke.

Doing a BONNG.
Get an unopened plastic bottle of cola. Hold it by its cap so it dangles down, then whip it hard in the side with your knuckles: sweep your arm violently past and give it a glancing blow. It goes DOOOOOONG!!! The gas pressure determines the pitch! Thwack it many times to memorize the sound. Then partially unscrew the cap to give a very brief hiss of escaping CO2, then tighten again. Thwack it, and the pitch will be lower. Vent it, whack, vent it, whack, and the note goes down and down. But now try whacking it much harder to splash the contents. It fizzes, and the note climbs upwards with each hard strike. Now go test bottles in the supermarket: all give the same pitch, right? Shake one up, let the bubbles settle, then thwack. PITCH DOESN'T CHANGE? Shaking a sealed bottle of cola does not alter the pressure. Huh. Pee-Wee Herman sez: Counterintuitive-y!

Twinkle twinkle LITTLE EYE
When out at night watching the twinkling stars (which Astronomers call "Bad Seeing,") you can do a simple physics trick. Look at flickering stars down towards the horizon. Cross your eyes and carefully observe the double-image stars. You'll notice that their twinkle pattern is out of sync! Each doubled star image is TWINKLING SEPARATELY. It's no illusion, and it occurs because starlight is spatially coherent. Starlight far more coherent than the best laser, and because of this, starlight has severe laser-speckle. If you could see the starlight shining on a white surface, you'd see multicolor laser-speckle confetti-patterns which are sliding along at the speed of the wind. Turbulent warm/cool air behaves like warped lenses (just like image distortions over a fire.) It distorts the starlight wavefronts to produce strong interference patterns. Usually these patterns are smaller than the distance between your eyes, hence each of your eyes sees a separate "twinkle pattern."

Run a fan in your room, or in the next room over. Or turn on a radio or TV, crank the sound up, and tune to a blank channel that provides rushing white noise. Now go about your business. Soon you'll hear whispering voices in the fan. They sound like English (or like your own language.) But you can't quite hear what they're trying to tell you. You're very lucky. Don't listen any closer. You might understand.

Songs from the Other When
Go listen to this bit from a famous movie. It's well-known music, but from an adjacent timestream. For some reason it makes all my arm-hair stand on end. That other life I could have had? It's just beyond the thinnest membrane, waiting outside and peeking in through the blinds. (In our own reality, the makers of Blade Runner instead chose "Memories of Green." The above Vangelis music was never used.)

Scalosian water. Gibberene's New Accelerator. The Night of Burning Diamonds.
I notice that our personal time-sense is "socialized" into us, where NYC-speed is the opposite of "island time." When I'm alone, I can push myself to perform all everyday tasks much faster until until "faster" becomes habitual and unnoticed, but then I get huge amounts of work done, and it takes forever for the clock to get to lunchtime. It feels like really waking up, at least until it starts being normal. My usual body movements become tiring, and I find it's much easier to move in curves rather than starting/stopping the considerable mass of limbs. (Switching to 'racewalk' rather than just speeding up my normal walk.) And when I do this for dz on nd, I strt losgng weigt nd I need to eat xtr dnnrs. If I asked someone a question or tried conversing, their sloooow responssses annd sloowww thinking was inncrediblyyy annnnnoying. Why is it societal? F y trd doing this in public, you'll encounter enormous social pressure to stop. The same happens if you vacation in a country where things go at a different speed. Every native constantly will attempt slowing down (or speeding up,) the "crazy tourist" who's behaving "abnormally." How far can this be pushed? If we "live 3x faster," will we soon age and die, by exhaustion of Manic energy? So go the other way, living at 33RPM instead of 78, and die at age three hundred, yet baarrrellyyyy gettinnnggg annnythiinnnng donnnne.

The Mosquito Aria
As a kid I would annoy people by humming quietly, with as high a pitch as I possibly could, but with mouth closed. The sound comes out of my nose. (Try it, you can get fairly high. First cough a few times to clear the pipes.) Vary the pitch a bit, and it sounds just like a mosquito. But nobody can identify its location! I was doing this trick recently, when I accidentally opened my mouth ...and a peircing note came out, like an opera singer. WTF. But the pitch immediately crashed back down. I found could make loud beeps, like a schoolbus backing up! And higher and higher, with practice. Almost a couple kilohertz. Therefore, I started practicing. Apparently there's an entire vocal range up there, higher than a certain "yodel-zone" that keeps most males from smoothly raising our pitch. (So, just make some mosquito-squeaks.) Eventually I got so I could keep the note going. Make it fairly loud! Today I can ...SING THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT ARIA FROM MAGIC FLUTE!! Well, not quite. Discovery: while wandering at the grocery, and quietly humming mosquito-pitch of Madama Butterfly's Un Bel Di, I suddenly noticed the cashier's interaction, her entire behavior was subtly bizarre. It was because I "was now female." Aha, I was masked up (can't see my beard,) and wearing a snorkel-coat with hood still up, I wasn't obviously some bald ponytail dude. Apparently I came off as an elderly lady. (The poor old dear, just look at those the long scraggly eyebrows!) An impenetrable disguise?! Performed effortlessly, during Covid shutdown. It works because we oldschool males will never be caught doing any high-octave humming in public. It was all socialized right out of us during high-school.

Accidentally forgot to gravity
Stand out in the middle of the yard, and stare up into the blue sky. Keep staring up, and carefully get to your knees and lie down. Realize that if you make a mistake, you might fall upwards instead of falling down. It might be wise to clench the grass in fists, just to be sure. Be very careful.

The Ultimate Challenge
Say you've learned to cross your eyes. And maybe you've learned the above simple trick for crossing just one eye. And maybe you can quiver your eyes at high speed or change your pupil diameter. That's nothing. NOTHING! Your eye muscles are perfectly capable of moving your eyes to a huge variety of positions, and there is no physical connection between your two eyes. So go to a mirror and learn to move one eye up... and the other eye down! Or cross your eyes, then bring them out to converge on the distant horizon, then keep going and really uncross your eyes. Read a book with one eye while surfing the web with the other. (Is any of this even possible? It might require brain damage. Perhaps trod the path of free-eye viewing of stereopticon cards... then slowly move the two stereo photos to some very un-Viewmasterly positions..)




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