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How much ice does it take to fill a bath tub?

Filed Under Art, Lifehacks, Personal, Pranks | 2013-06-02, 21:23

We’re moving in a few weeks to a new house in San Francisco. Of course this means we had to throw a housecooling party at our current place before we could have a housewarming at the new place. I know, I know Party Laws are strict but you have to follow the rules. Over dinner with friends @aerialdomo put forth the idea of filling a bathtub with pudding came up. Unfortunately that idea was rejected immediately. After Jell-O and H2Goo were both shot down as well, we decided to compromise on ice. Fun and functional!

The day of the party, I realized I had no idea how much ice we would actually need. I jumped online of course, consulting the internet brain and couldn’t find a definitive answer.

Our tub is 24″ wide, 60″ long, and 16″ deep, or about 13 cubic feet. Back of the envelope calculations by multiple people resulted in estimates ranging from 40lbs to 500lbs as we couldn’t get a definitive answer on the volume of a bag of ice cubes. What were we to do? The answer was of course, just keep adding ice until it’s full. The result:

a bathtub full of ice

In the end, 185lbs of bagged ice cubes filled most of the tub. This was of course with some of the space taken up by bottles of beer, soda, and champagne. I estimate 200lbs would have given us a nice full tub. So there you go, to fill a basically standard tub, you probably need about 200lbs of ice. Or if you have a different sized tub, each pound of ice cubes will take up 0.065 cubic feet. I couldn’t find this info on the internet before, but now you can. And no, we didn’t steal anyone’s kidneys.

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Lost Horizon Night Market: the Mission Impossible Truck

Filed Under Art, Events, Pranks, SF Bay Area | 2011-05-03, 10:58

Diffusing the bomb
Photo by Shalaco

This past weekend the Lost Horizon Night Market came to West Oakland. Tucked away in an alleyway next to a concrete mill, trucks opened up to the in-the-know public and created new and different experiences for everyone that attended. For those that aren’t familiar, the idea of the Lost Horizon Night Market originated in New York, but a San Francisco version has since been opened. In short, a number of customized box trucks (usually around 20) all gather in a predetermined location on a chosen evening. Some trucks serve food, others put on a show, but they all provide experiences of some sort to the patrons of the night. For both of the San Francisco Lost Horizon Night Markets I have been a proprietor rather than a participant, teaming up with Nelz, Matt, and others to run the Mission Impossible truck.

When we first started throwing around ideas for a truck for the Market, it was agreed that we wanted something low-effort but high-impact: something that wouldn’t take us hours and hours of work, but would still provide for a unique and fun experience for people. Inspired by the spy caper movies, we decided we would create a “laser field” that would protect “confectionery devices”, aka cupcakes. People would have to manuever their way through the lasers in order to rescue a cupcake. If they tripped a laser, they would be eliminated by the robot sentries. The lasers were actually orange strings with bells on them and the robot sentries were people hidden in the darkness with fully automatic Nerf rifles. Throw in a smoke machine and a black light to make the “lasers” glow and we were basically done.

The first time we ran the truck we quickly gained a line and spent most of the night trying to get people through the line and the experience. Additionally we didn’t really perfect our “pitch” since we had spent most of the time putting the truck together: painting wood, building guard booths, stringing bells, etc.

We decided that our goal this time was to not have a line. How to accomplish this? We would provide people with a task, some sort of small hurdle that they would have to complete before they even got a chance to get in the truck. Several ideas were tossed around about what sort of tasks we could ask people to do. I was very interested in making people interact with other people at the Market. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but somehow a friend who was helping with another truck became our point person for these tasks. Since we had experience with Santa’s Little Secret Service, we were easily able to get into Secret Service mode, donning suits, earpieces, dark sunglasses, and a serious attitude. When people asked what our truck was about, my pitch went something like this (with a serious and straight face mind you):

“We’re guarding some highly unstable confectionery devices and we’re looking for people with the experience and dedication to help defuse these devices. However due to the inherent danger in this mission we need to make sure you’re up to the task. You will need to seek out the Man in the Mask. He will provide you with additional information.”

The Man in the Mask
Photo by Audrey Penven

Most people would instantly understand and go off hunting for the Man in the Mask, who we had given a handful of silver marbles and carte blanche to give people whatever missions he wanted. To be honest, I don’t even know half of the stories Evan, our man in the mask, told people. All I know is that if someone showed up with a “high density spherical memory storage device” (aka a silver marble) and a good story about what they had to do to get here, we’d let them into the truck to try to get their cupcake.

Over the course of the night things got more and more complex as more people got pulled into the shadowy ruse. Evan would tell people to go find another person and ask them for a task. At first these other people didn’t even realize they were part of the Mission Impossible truck, but were quick to send the person on some sort of mission. People would return to our truck anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two later after running around the Night Market, following detours left and right.

One group of 6 people returned with a dream stolen from the Dream Library truck. I quickly called all the other agents for our truck and escorted the group to the semi next to us, which just happened to be “The Jail”. We announced to the warden that they were charged with stealing dreams and needed to be locked up for their crimes. The group was put behind bars, and I ran off to the Dream Library to return the stolen dream. Upon my return to our truck I discovered that the group had broken out of jail and rushed our truck all at once! So many rules, shattered.

Another group, actually friends of a friend, were told at the very beginning of the night that they would want to experience our truck and they should get started on the mission early. At the end of the night they finally returned, with stories of being sent around to a number of different people, continuously wondering when it would all end and they would get into this mystery truck. I fessed up to them and told them that in all honesty none of the people involved with the Mission Impossible truck had a full picture of what was going on. In turn they told me stories of people stealing their marble, sending them to other truck to steal other objects, and getting pointed to one person after another for their next mission, and just a general state of confusion over the course of the night. As the market was coming to a close, we finally let them into the truck to run the laser course and get their cupcakes as they had surely earned them even if they had lost their marble.

Despite our efforts, at one point in the night we ended up with a line of about 4 groups deep. I had to make up something quick to stall. I explained to one group that there had been a serious laser malfunction and that they would need to find a red lighter, as red is the only wavelength of color that could successfully be used to repair the lasers. They rushed off into the darkness on the hunt. I turned to another couple, also ready to get in the truck. I told them that we needed a clean handkerchief. I don’t remember the reasoning behind the need for this object, but after a bit of arguing they too ran off into the night in pursuit. They returned with one of them wearing the bandana over her face. She told me that on their way back, she had started giving people tasks to do in order to get into the truck too! So much chaos, so much confusion, so much fun.

For the next Night Market, we won’t be doing the Mission Impossible truck again. It’s been done, perfected, and it’s time to move onto something new. However it was a great experience in just how much fun it can be to spark people’s excitement and provide a sense of adventure. A huge thanks to Nelz, Matt, Rochelle, Evan, and everyone else that helped make things interesting.


Protesting the Westboro Baptist Church in San Francisco

Filed Under Pranks | 2010-01-29, 12:27

I couldn’t resist joining in the fun of an absurdist “counter protest” of the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest in front of Twitter’s office building. My sign:

Photo by LiveSoMa

After the WBC packed up and left, one of the officers stopped me and asked if they could have my sign to give to their sergeant. How could you say no to that? In seconds it was stashed in his car for him to find later.

Photo by Rubin Starset

I also stashed my Flip camera in my front pocket to record the event. I got a lot of shots of people’s waists, but pasted together a bit of video to show what the scene was like.

Sam? also got a shot with my “backup sign”: God Hates Retweets.

There were quite a few people with cameras there. Here are the ones I’ve found so far:
Photos from LiveSoMa
Photos from asylum.com
Photos from sam?
Photos from chada
Photos from EDW Lynch
Photos from Zack L


Santa’s Defense Forces Engage in Operation Yule Storm

Filed Under Events, Pranks, SF Bay Area | 2009-12-24, 12:11

Standing guard

December 12th, 2009 – Santa’s Defense Forces (consisting of the 12th Nutcracker Regiment, the 103rd Sleighborne Division, and the Sugar Plum Service) converged on San Francisco, CA. The primary purpose of the mission: to protect Santa during the annual Santacon (aka Santarchy) gathering in SF. Additional orders included protecting other high value individuals such as Jesus and Frank Chu as well as spreading holiday cheer to civilians.

I was part of the embedded press corp and took photos and video of this highly successful mission. You can check out all my photos in the Operation Yule Storm set. I also highly recommend checking out the full mission report for Operation Yule Storm as well as the back-stories for both the 12th Nutcracker Regiment and the Sugar Plum Service.

Some live reporting on the scene during the Castro Dance Party:

And some of my favorite photos:

Calling the Sleighborne division

Here to protect the Castro

Guarding the Castro

Full coverage

Operation Yule Storm


San Francisco Pillow Fight 2009 Photos

Filed Under Pranks, SF Bay Area | 2009-02-17, 02:21

Frank Chu passes inspection

I’ve finished going through the photos from the San Francisco Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight. There are some of the UNCCH before the pillow violence erupted as well as some photos deep within the carnage. The full set can be found on my Flickr.

UN Inspector is skeptical
Audrey in feathers

Previously posted: San Francisco Pillow Fight 2009 and the UN

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San Francisco Pillow Fight 2009 and the UN

Filed Under Pranks, SF Bay Area, Video | 2009-02-16, 03:16

Every year in San Francisco on Valentine’s Day, thousands of people gather to confront each other with the softest weapons known to man. Many of my friends have joined in this battle, wielding pillows of all shapes and sizes. This year I decided that I would lay down my pillow and take a neutral stance as an embedded journalist. I went into Justin Herman Plaza alongside the The United Nations Commission on Costumes & Holidays (UNCCH), who were there to try to defuse the tense situation that seems to happen every year. The UNCCH inspected pillows to make sure they all conformed to international standards, while continuing to insist that they should seek other forms of conflict resolution.

UN Pillow Inspections from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.

The pillow militants surrounded us on all sides, and we all knew what was coming. There was no stopping a movement as strong as this one.

The Threat of Pillow Violence is Imminent from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.

The clock struck 6:00 and the feathers flew. The carnage was far and wide as an estimated 2,500 people swung pillows, battering others left and right. We stayed around the outskirts at first, but then decided that the story had to be told from the front lines. Along with my trusty cameraman, Steen, we braved feathery weapons to make our way through the battlefield. It wasn’t pretty, but then again Valentine’s Day isn’t always pretty either.

Embedded in the Pillow Carnage from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.


An unoccupied derelict’s attempt to communicate

Filed Under Pranks, Scam | 2009-01-05, 14:56

Heather received the perplexing email at the end of this post in her inbox a few days ago. I’m not sure what it all means, and I could only find this post on Yahoo! Answers with other people questioning it as well. The email posted there was slightly different in some sentences.

Intelliant (the username in the email address) is a company that provides OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. Alternatively “IntelliAnt” is another company that provides “end-to-end corporate services focused upon addressing both Business and IT needs of the corporate world”. I doubt either is behind this email though, unless they’re testing OCR software on someone’s scribbled rantings.

Another clue is that all the emails in the To: field were *.edu. The other copy of the email posted on Yahoo! Answers was from “i.love.school@gmail.com” but was addressed to *.edu email addresses as well.

Is it some strange spambot looking for valid emails? Or maybe a spammer trying to craft emails that get past filters? Is it viral marketing? Is it just somebody bored? Anyone have any ideas?

UPDATE: Looks like some people are already on the case and have uncovered a plethora of information related to this interesting email. Head over to tomecatti’s livejournal for more info and enough links to keep you busy until 2010! I haven’t read it all, but there’s a good summary posted in an lj community:

So, about two and a half weeks ago, I got this weird email at my university email account. My first reaction? Post it in my LJ and laugh. Over the next two weeks, that LJ post was flooded with other people who got the email, with interpretations, theories, and sudden paranoia about terrorism. We’ve come to a few conclusions: It’s not Jim Strope, author of the hilarious manifesto Weeping for Narcissus, but it also could be, because Jim is practically giving the culprit head in his denial. It also seems to only be going to people with some association with Colleges; students and faculty members have shown up. We’re also pretty sure that it’s this guy who registers his sites as “Tom Jones”, but is more likely named “Michael” or “The Man Smarter Than Everyone For Seriously You Guys” and wants to make the Borg real.

(warning: All links here may give you a combination headache and lulz, and be packed full of stupid “puzzles”)

Original email that H recieved:

—–Original Message—–
From: intelliant@gmail.com [mailto:intelliant@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 12:16 PM
Subject: An unoccupied derelict’s attempt to communicate

Is it accurate to say that you’re trying to find another human who thinks as you do? If not, there is no need to read further as it means that those who think just like you are already around you.

You must wish to force all people to adopt your views. Or does it appeal to you more to promote imbecility?

I was planning to get married this year since it would have increased the tax refund. They told me a marital union should be about love. They had no interest in acting as allies.

They think the most wonderful thing is to find what you enjoy doing. This is self-deception. Perhaps one twentieth of today’s GDP would suffice to live luxuriously by historical standards.

People ask how I make ends meet as I rarely work. I question why they compensate skillful liars by donating to the movie industry. Why do they crave after cars and private property? Is it not apparent that they admire traveling only as long as it’s highly regarded by the general populace?

They’re confident that society can’t change. But as children, they dreamt about omniscience, perfect relationships, and utopias. We are still that impressionable. We’ll build a society based on rational thinking.

Don’t reply to this message as we will not read it. Use the best internet search engine to search these words.

arrogant teenage expectation intelligence students
light philosophy strategy ideology logic
distilled pure general design insecure
terrestrial personality intolerant delectable defiance
conspiracy social spiritual art traits
indoctrination innovative Borg monomania clandestine

Search for three words at a time for best results. Hence, there are a very large number of possible searches, so only the fanatical will succeed.


Blogging Merit Badge

Filed Under Funny, Geek, Pranks | 2008-08-12, 19:19

Blogging Merit Badge

I got my Blogging Merit Badge in the mail today! Being an Eagle Scout (explains the attraction to fire art, eh?) and a longtime blogger from before the ugly word was even coined, I knew I needed this merit badge as soon as I saw it on Boy Scout Store. They’ve got a whole section dedicated to “spoof” merit badges with some real good ones in there. I grabbed the only one they had left of the blogger badges, and a couple others to hand out to friends at appropriate times in the future. It’s a good joke patch, but how long before it becomes an actual Boy Scout merit badge? Right there alongside “Citizenship in the Internet”! Now where’s my sash? It’s time to bust out those Sewing merit badge skills.


Violet Blue and Boing Boing Debacle

Filed Under Geek, News, Pranks, SF Bay Area, Websites | 2008-07-02, 17:03

For those that don’t know, Violet Blue is a well-known sex educator and Boing Boing is one of the most(?) popular blogs on the internet. If you haven’t heard about Violet Blue’s posts getting pulled from BoingBoing, there’s more than enough press out there about it. Even the LA Times picked up the story. I don’t want to get into a long post about my thoughts on the matter, but I did want to share something I thought worth sharing.

I setup VioletBlueVioletBlue.net to house all of the Boing Boing posts that had been “unpublished”. These posts are all taken directly from archive.org where the old versions of the posts are kept. Boing Boing publishes their stuff under Creative Commons, so I am redistributing their work with attribution. I wanted this content to remain around and in a form that is easily locatable, i.e. not buried in archive.org’s wayback machine. If you have a blog post that previously linked to the post on Boing Boing, then feel free to link to its equivalent on VB2. These posts aren’t getting unpublished any time soon.

If I missed anything or made any mistakes on the site, please let me know. I make no claims to being perfect by any means.


Filling an office with packing peanuts, how to fake it

Filed Under Funny, Geek, Pranks | 2008-04-01, 16:05

Office filled with packing peanuts

I’ve always wanted to do the packing peanuts prank at work, but it’s usually prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Then I came across this page. A quick trip to the UPS store to purchase 28 cu ft of biodegradable packing peanuts (cost: $65), office supply store for paper and tape ($12), and a few beers later we were quite successful. The difficult part was that the offices here have a glass corner, so we had to setup some boxes inside to hold the paper in place, but in the end I think it really adds to the effect. Our coworker explained his thoughts when he came in the next morning as: “Oh my… they didn’t? no, they couldn’t, it’d take to much.. no, no way…”. For added effect we locked his door so that he couldn’t immediately confirm that it was a fake front. All of the reaction, a fraction of the time and cost. I love a good April Fool’s prank. There are a whole series of pictures of the whole process here (my photos) and here (photos by Mike Morris). Credit must also be given to Cristian Mueller and Mike Morris for being a part of this. Seems like three people are perfect to pull this off.

An Instructables on the simple procedure
More geeky pranks