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It's been a pretty good week for trumped-up holidays - Leave the Office Early Day, Neil Diamond Day, National Running Day, etc. - but it was all just sturm and drang leading up to the real deal today.

donut.jpgNational Doughnut Day (or Donut, if you prefer), my friends.

Right up there with Christmas and your birthday as one of the real worthwhile dates to remember on the calendar. And it's not just because doughnuts (great history here) are delicious and fatty and filled with goodness.

No, just like Christmas, there are gifts involved in the form of free doughnuts from Krispy Kreme - no purchase necessary - and Dunkin' Donuts - with a drink order.

And if that's all there was to it, life would be golden brown and glazed. But it gets better! Turns out actual good deeds could be involved as you stuff your face. A good cause is at the heart (hole?) of the day. Or one was originally, anyway.

DoughnutGirl.jpgDoughnut Day got its start right here in Chicago thanks to the Salvation Army:

National Doughnut Day was established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to raise much-needed funds during the Great Depression, and to honor the work of World War I Salvation Army volunteers - specifically Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance - who prepared doughnuts and other foods for thousands of soldiers.

Why is this important? Because in theory it's still a fund-raising day for the Salvation Army, or any other charity you feel attached to, which is worth remembering while you dunk and salivate.

So by all means, do enjoy free doughnuts, but maybe try to buy a few from an organization that can use the help. Sure, you may still feel guilty for gorging, but you can wash it down with the milk of human kindness, safe in the knowledge that your sacrifice will help somebody in the long run.

Yet more indication that the Internet is proof of the duality of man - our ability to be brilliant and moronic at the same time.

Case in point: The Shoot Paul Cam. It's a site that allows you, via live, streaming video, to blast away with paintballs at this guy, Paul Jackson, as he lives a "normal" life, 24/7 in front of a camera.

In a room filled with exploded paintballs.

And strangers trying to shoot him.

Right.

Sounds a bit loopy on both the shooter and target's part, right? But like the site advertises, "you have nothing better to do..."

The creator says he's offering a way for you to get some stress out at work to keep you from taking aim at your fellow cube dwellers. It's just meant as a bit of fun to break up the day that also serves as an essential tool for ensuring workplace safety.

Like a crack dealer, he doles out a couple free shots to start, but then have to pay for more trigger time and options like rapid fire once you're sucked in. And that's the brilliant part. He's turned being essentially a live video game character into gainful employment.

So who is this Paul guy and why is he choosing to have complete strangers blast away at him several hundred times a day? Let's find out, in a lightly edited interview, after the jump ...

The pure Disney character also known as one-third of the Jonas Brothers - I think this one is Joe, but they're kinda hard to tell apart - takes a crack at the most over-parodied music video ever.

What do you think, how does he compare to the original:

Or even to Justin Timberlake's inspired version on SNL:

Or, perhaps my favorite, The Dan Band's version, complete with auto shop background. And the Prius is a nice touch:

"The Tonight Show" guru had a run at the banality of Twitter when it meets the mundane life of the stars on the microblogging service. Pretty great stuff - especially the SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY excitement level.

'Han Solo, P.I.'

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Apropos of absolutely nothing ...

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sonicx.jpgHey, more free food! This time it's Sonic passing out the grub in the form of a free root beer float til midnight tonight.

Add this to the growing list of companies trying to find their way to your heart - or wallet, anyway - through the stomach.

Yes, the ice cream weather still eludes us in Chicago, but a free float is a free float.

And yes, there are a few locations around the city, but you better be ready to travel for that free goodness.

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2008 Chicago Marathoner pound down LaSalle. (John j> Kim~Sun-Times)

Did you drag yourself out of bed at 6 this morning, strap on the running shoes and push off into the cold wind blowing down Chicago's streets? Or did you just hit the snooze bar and settling for walking briskly to Starbuck for a latte and a muffin.

On of these was a poor choice today. Here's a clue:

It's National Running Day.

RD_Logo_NoDate.jpgFrankly, I prefer National Leave Work Early Day, but you take what you can get.

And if your were in the muffin and coffee camp this morning, there's always time after work for a brisk jog. Hell, they don't really specify what kind of running, actually. You could always commit a crime and run from the cops or maybe just run off at the mouth. Maybe those count, too.

But if you do choose the Prefontaine route and pound some pavement, these Running Superfan guys might get you fired up. Sure, they're shilling for Brooks running shoes, but they're still pretty funny. And everybody ... EVERYBODY ... can use some sound advice on nipple care.

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If you're reading this right now ... stop. Especially if you're at work.

Close up the laptop. Turn off the Blackberry or iPhone. Spin around in your chair and creep quietly to the exit.

It's officially National Leave the Office Early Day, but why confine a good hooky excuse to the cube farm dwellers. And if you've gotten this far, you're missing it.

What, don't think you can get by Lumberg on the way to the door? Gotcha covered. Just use this handy excuse generator, no, Epstein's Mom is not involved, and find an excuse that works for you.

Not get gone, people. Just don't tell the boss it was our idea. Or do tell, we may not be here in a few minutes, anyway.

It's apparently National Neil Diamond Day in the U.S. today. Not sure why or what that means as there's lots of googling going on to find info about the even, but precious few answers.

No matter, any excuse to play Neil is a good excuse.

Well, there is this bit of news, from the Boston Herald. Apparently Neil will belt out "Sweet Caroline" as part of the annual "Pops Goes the 4th" celebration from the banks of the Charles River in Boston on July 4. He'll play along with host Craig Ferguson for the nationally televised show. Both wearing blue jeans, you would think.

BioWare's massively multiplayer online role-playing game "Star Wars: The Old Republic" isn't close to release, but with this trailer released at the Electronic Entertainment Expo today, we can wait.

Sure, it's light on actual gameplay scenarios - OK, there are no gameplay scenarios - but that's OK because it's hot like a cauterized lightsaber wound. Nearly 4 minutes of slick animation and non-stop violence from blaster and blade alike.

This is the much-anticipated sequel to "Knights of the Old Republic" and takes place about 300 years after that story - and about 3,500 years before Luke, Leia and Han were stomping around a galaxy far, far away.

"The Old Republic" is set against the backdrop of a massive galactic war between the Galactic Republic (allies of the Jedi) and the Sith Empire. Players will be able to select from a number of character classes from either faction, including Bounty Hunter, Trooper, Smuggler and others still to be announced.

And lest you think the Jedi and Sith are the only ones have violent fun in this release, check out this developer update on the making of a Republic Trooper:

OK, who am I kidding? This is great, but I can't wait. Hurry up with that release date, BioWare!

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

If you thought Illinois was up the creek with a massive budgetary shortfall, it's nothing compared to our former first lady and her efforts to ford a stream in Costa Rica. She's a celebrity (sort of) who can't get out of there.

But for all the glory - err, infamy, whatever - clan Blago has brought the Land of Lincoln, they still look like class on a cracker compared to celebrity/Christian/annoyance couple Spencer and Heidi Pratt. In fact, this hip hop effort the "Hills" "star" put out might be the best thing about this show and his contribution to it:

UPDATE: While the Pratts went wandering in the jungle and spent some quality time throwing a terrible two fit on their fellow contestants, Patti came of looking, well, classy might not be the word. But certainly sympathetic.

Lady McBlagojevich spent some heart-to-heart moments professing her husband's, disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, innocence. She also got to chow down on a smashed tarantula as part of a challenge with actor Lou Diamond Phillips. True, she finished last and ate the whole arachnid, but at least she maintained her dignity. Or something.

You can relive the gory details here.

No kittens were harmed in the making of this

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This week's viral video is the Whack-a-Kitty, a variation on the arcade game featuring a more whackable creature, the mole. A box of kittens, a large mallet, some catchy music. What could go wrong?

Your opinion: Is this adorable, or borderline animal abuse?

Whatever, it's no Keyboard Cat ...

It's always nice when corporate America comes down from on high and shows the country they care about more than just our money.

They love us for our pubes, too.

Like this instructional video from Procter & Gamble that shows you how you can trim your junk with Gillette razors without performing a home vasectomy. What could be more consumer - and family - friendly than that?

So grab a razor and start some scrotal hacking. Like the video says:

"When there's no underbrush, the tree looks taller."

Check out the link for many more useful tips on how to manscape your non-dangling areas. Apparently, it's all about pleasing the ladies. Thanks, P&G!

And they have many more useful shaving tips on other areas, as well. Like this trucker hat-wearing gent who needs his back mowed. Good stuff.

Here's 17,000 words worth of event from around the globe for Wednesday, May 27, 2009 ...

APTOPIX Pirates Cubs.jpg

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano, right, argues with home plate umpire Mark Carlson after being ejected by Carlson during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Wednesday, May 27, 2009. Zambrano argued that he tagged Pirates' Nyjer Morgan out at the plate after throwing a wild pitch - you can see the blowup on video here. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

More of the day in pictures after the jump ...

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It was only a matter of time before two of the pop culture phenomenon of this young century smashed into eachother - bacon, meet iPhone; iPhone, meet bacon.

Neither of these trendy products seems like a flash in the pan - sorry - so is it any wonder they finally found a comfy niche together?

Enter a German company making felt phone cases in the form of bacon - many sizes available, including for the popular Apple Jesus phone.

Seems like one of those "act now" opportunities, though. Demand is high for this sizzling product. Sorry. Anyway, here's the really SUPER EXCITED sales pitch ...

"The Zeitgeist Case"

The Bacon Case

Dear Customers! Pls allow 20 days for delivery due to the high number of orders already placed. Sorry for any inconvenience.

The case look really lika a piece of bacon. You can feel the irregular and the illusion is perfect. Each case is different.

There ist no seam, the whole case is seamless and felted in one piece.

Shipment not EU 6€

Shipment EU 3€

I can felt the case in each size, please tell me your type of phone or anything else.

It´s absolutely trendy!!!!!

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