Sizing protons and other Web time-killers

Honolulu Star Bulletin, Curt Brandao, July 28, 2008

Of all the many Digital Slob creative gifts, few shine as bright during these late-summer doldrums as our ability to combat boredom -- without stooping so low as to engage in physical activity.

Just as the Dark Knight has a utility belt and Napoleon Dynamite had his dance moves, we Slobs have our own tools that we can engage when the time is right: bookmarked "junk drawer" Web sites.

So here are a few to share, in case you need them to limp across the Labor Day finish line. But please, time-kill responsibly:

Universcale ( Feeling a bit insignificant ever since your supervisor decided to use your cubicle to store all the used printer cartridges? This interactive flash application will help you put him, along with everything else, in perspective -- literally, by a factor of 10 every 30 seconds or so.

The site measures everything from the entire universe (13.7 billion light-years long) to an ostrich (2.5 meters long) to a proton (terribly, terribly tiny, trust me). Still, the scale goes up to 100 billion light-years, making you wish you could sketch out whatever we'll eventually map that will be bigger than everything else. Three quick guesses: 1) God. 2) A giant elephant as in "Horton Hears a Who." 3) Donald Trump's ego. Ever look back on your checkered romantic past and think about how many times you "dodged a bullet"? Ever wonder to what extent that might have been literally true? This brand-new Web site offers a quick, free search of state criminal records to help you see how well your intuition lines up with the police blotter. I learned one ex-girlfriend was arrested on aggravated assault charges in the summer of 2004. Maybe in 2001 that ill-timed "love tap" I got into oncoming traffic while Rollerblading wasn't an "accident" after all. Nothing kills time more than "following" other people as they kill time by expressing their whims, musings, rumors and links via miniblogs composed of 140 characters or less. Try it, it's easy. If you don't believe me, check out to see countless examples of just how low the bar has been set. Example: "OK, how hard is it to get the buns to line up on a Filet O' Fish? It rips if you try to move 'em. Do you need a doctorate from Hamburger U?" From "The Daily Show" to "The Simpsons," this site has gotten raves for the "premium content" it uploads to the Web. But it also features an even wider selection of "premium also-rans," a AAA farm club of network TV shows that serves to enlighten us all on the current rate of the decline of Western civilization.

For example, "Battle of the Bods" is a reality show that unleashes a quintet of bikini-clad hotties who then rate their relative "hotness" (first through fifth) in the hopes their opinions will line up with three random dudes oohing and aahing from some secure, undisclosed location. Finally, a reality show that answers the age-old question, Where do club girls go for performance evaluations?

Next week: More late summer time-killers.

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