☐ Why Do Squirrels Prefer Nuts in the Shell?

Why is it that squirrels prefer nuts with the shell on instead of off?

That makes no sense because shelled nuts provide more energy for less work. With the shell, they have to work to get it out and even then, they only get one or two nuts (depending on the type of nut). With shelled nuts (that humans provide), the squirrel doesn’t have to work to get at the nut meat, and they can fit a lot more of them in their mouths/nests/etc. since no space is wasted on the shell.

In a Nature of Things documentary on squirrels, David Suzuki likened in-shell peanuts to $5 bills; that is, an extra special treat.

My best theory as to why they prefer nuts with the shell is that the shell helps to keep their teeth from overgrowing (they have to continuously gnaw on things to file them down). Of course I can’t imagine that a peanut shell provides much sanding value, so I’m not convinced that is the reason.

☐ How do VCRs Remove Static?

I’ve always wondered about a curious behavior I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions.

If you have a poor television signal with interference, a television will often display a fuzzy image, but if you then put the TV on the appropriate channel (usually 3), and turn the VCR’s VTR function on to see its output, you can usually see the aforementioned channel but it will be clear or at least significantly less fuzzy.

Why is that?

Is the VCR removing interference like a UPS cleans up a power line? Does it amplify a low signal? Do VCRs have some sort of anti-static function?

I have seen this happen with different TVs and VCRs and in different houses with different cable lines.


A couple of years ago, while I was going to the bathroom, I had an idea about a name for something and wanted to see if it could make a decent acronym. I scrawled the acronym in very small letters on the wall, mused that it could sort of work, then washed my hands and left the bathroom.

It is still there on the wall, though fairly faded from a couple of years of shower humidity. If you look really close, you can still make out the letters NUMSVCO (it may actually be NUMSUCO, but the second ‘U’ seems to have a pointy bottom).

The acronym isn’t too bad, but the problem is that I have long since forgotten what it stands for. If I think hard about it, I vaguely recall that it may have been in the context of a company or product name. It may have been something novel (something I was doing myself), but it could have been related to something that I was reading about in a tech magazine or some such.

In addition, it may be either a one-to-one acronym where each letter stands for a word, or more of an abbreviation where for example the NUM stands for number and perhaps co stands for corporation.

I know it’s the longest of long shots for anyone to try to read my mind from years ago when even I can’t, but I don’t suppose anybody can think of something that I may have been seeing, doing, or working on that could lead to this acronym can they? I do recall being quite pleased with it as though it was quite fitting for whatever it was supposed to be for.

☐ Windows 3 Animated Background/Desktop/Wallpaper

In the summer of 1995, I visited some family in Los Angeles. My uncle had a computer with Windows 3 (or some version thereof since Windows 95 had not been released yet).

In Windows 3, there was no desktop or wallpaper like in later versions; instead you could set it to a simple pattern (still possible in later versions before XP) like hounds-tooth or bricks (interestingly, there seems to be next to nothing available on the Internet about this anymore; no screenshots and almost no pages).

I recall being amused when I found a program (on the still young “world-wide web”) that would actually let you set an animated background. It was smooth and fluid and was quite an amazing thing at the time. The program was a background program and did not run in a window.

If I recall correctly, it had several built-in animations including one of a light-orange-pink background over which storks flew towards the top-left, possibly with some light stuff floating in the “background” (they were actually animated and flapped their wings, not simply translated coordinates). The storks were somewhat simplified, black-line drawings.

Over the years, I’ve tried finding it again a few times but never could. Worse, it’s become harder and harder over time as new programs came out and polluted the search results.

I’m hoping that someone remembers this software and knows some useful information like the author or where to download it.

(It’s not ScreenPaper. That was created in 1997 to let you set a screensaver as the Windows 95/NT4 background. This was *at least* two years earlier for Windows 3 and I’m almost certain it had these animations built-in—I don’t recall any stork screensavers for Windows 3. It’s also not After Dark which was a screensaver while this was a program.)

Normal Windows 3 desktop
Normal Windows 3 desktop
Mock-up of “Flying Stork” animation
Mock-up of “Flying Stork” animation
Mystery program running (imagine the—approximately accurately sized—storks flapping their wings and flying towards the top-left)
Mystery program running (imagine the—approximately accurately sized—storks flapping their wings and flying towards the top-left)

☐ Emily Osment’s Lovesick

The middle part (ie the “breakdown”) of Emily Osment’s song “Lovesick” from her album Fight or Flight sounds very familiar both in music and lyrics, but I can’t figure out what other song it reminds me of. The verse in question is this one:

Radioactive; now you can’t stop it; we’re gonna party all night
Radioactive; you know we got it; we’re gonna party all night
Radioactive; super hypnotic; we’re gonna party all night
Radioactive; now you can’t stop it

Does anyone know what other song sounds just like that part?

☐ Unbreakable Yellow Block in Bowser Level of Paper Mario 2

I liked the game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. However I cannot figure out how to break the yellow block in the last Bowser level. It is surrounded by unbreakable blocks.

Huge bowser standing near unbreakable yellow block in “Paper Mario 2”

Small bowser standing next to unbreakable yellow block in “Paper Mario 2”

I’ve tried all the different sizes that Bowser can be in that level, and none seem to work. If he’s huge, he still cannot break the grey blocks and his breath doesn’t reach the yellow block, and if he is small enough to fit under there, his fire is insufficient to break it and there is not enough room for him to pound-jump on it.

How do you break the yellow block? What is in there?