Archive for December, 2019

Ends in 0: geeky anniversaries in 2020

December 31, 2019

Ends in 0: geeky anniversaries in 2020

Hey, little Ten Toes! Humans (at least those using the decimal system) like to observe anniversaries by the decade. This is a brief list of some of the geeky anniversaries happening this year. It is in no way comprehensive, and we certainly may add to it (and invite you to make suggestions by commenting on the post).

We arrange them by the day of the year, rather by the length of the anniversary. While I like pointing out the number of geek-friendly movie favorites released in 1960, for example, I think it will be easier for people to be aware of an anniversary based on the day of the year. I’ll try to highlight the big ones. Let me know if you like it this way better…

Oh, and after internal debate in 2018, I decided not to list the birthdates of living celebrities. Some of them may not like having their ages highlighted in this way.

I’ll call out a few I think could get media coverage, then give you a fuller list:

  • The word “robot” in the play R.U.R.: 100 years
  • Star Trek: Voyager TV series debut: 25 years
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari opens: 100 years
  • Sliders TV series debut: 25 years
  • Adventure Time TV series debut: 10 years
  • Daredevil TV series debut: 5 years
  • Dune published: 55 years
  • Inception: 10 years
  • X-Men opens: 20 years
  • Comic-Con 1st held 50 years
  • Ray Bradbury born: 100 years
  • Supergirl TV series debut: 5 years
  • Toy Story opens: 25 years
  • The Walking Dead TV series debut: 10 years

Day of the year not known:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published (1900: 120 years)

R.U.R. published by Karel Capek (introducing the word “robot”) (1920: 100 years)

Bill, the Galactic Hero published (1965: 55 years)

Ender’s Game published (1985: 35 years)

January: Astounding Stories of Super-Science #1 published (1930: 90 years)

6 January: Agent Carter TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

11 January: Rod Taylor (The Time Machine) born (1930: 90 years)

15 January: The Man in the High Castle TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

16 January: Star Trek: Voyager TV series debut (1995: 25 years)

1 February: Samurai Pizza Cats series debut (1990: 30 years)

4 February: George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) born (1940: 80 years)

12 February: Lorne Greene (Battestar Galactica) born (1915: 105 years)

19 February: Fred Freiberger (Star Trek) born (1915: 105 years)

20 February: Robot Chicken TV series debut (2005: 15 years)

27 February: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari opens (1920: 100 years)

3 March: Mutiny in Outer Space opens (1965: 55 years)

15 March: 2000 Plus radio show debuts (1950: 70 years)

16 March: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John Barrymore) opens (1920: 100 years)

22 March: Sliders TV series debut (1995: 25 years)

26 March: Hot Tub Time Machine opens (2010: 10 years)

30 March: John Astin (The Addams Family) born (1930: 90 years)

31 March: Tank Girl opens (1995: 25 years)

5 April: Adventure Time TV series debut (2010: 10 years)

8 April: Colossus: The Forbin Project premieres in New York (1970: 50 years)

10 April: Daredevil TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

15 April: Buck Rogers TV series debuts (1950: 70 years)

16 April: Charlie Jade series debut in Canada (2005: 15 years)

27 April: Flash Gordon radio series debuts (1935: 85 years)

1 May: Avengers: Age of Ultron opens (2015: 5 years)

6 May: Freaky Friday (Shelley Long) debuts (1995: 25 years)

9 May: Friday the 13th opens (1975: 45 years)

13 May: Werewolf of London opens (1935: 85 years)

15 May: Mad Max: Fury Road opens (2015: 5 years)

26 May: Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens (1970: 50 years)

June: Dune published (1965: 55 years)

1 June: Blue Bolt 1st comic appearance (1940: 80 years)

1 June: Total Recall opens (1990: 30 years)

7 June: The Adventures of Topper radio series debut (1945: 75 years)

12 June: Jurassic World opens (2015: 5 years)

15 June: The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes opens (1955: 65 years)

15 June: Batman Begins opens (2005: 15 years)

22 June: The Lost World opens (1925: 95 years)

22 June: Paul Frees (Boris Badenov) born (1920: 100 years)

July: The Circus of Dr. Lao published (1935: 85 years)

July: Out of this World Adventures comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

3 July: Back to the Future (1985: 35 years) (2005: 15 years)

6 July: How It Should Have Ended debuts (2005: 15 years)

8 July: Fantastic Four opens (2005: 15 years)

14 July: X-Men opens (2000: 20 years)

15 July: Gremlins 2 opens (1990: 30 years)

16 July: Inception opens (2010: 10 years)

28 July: Waterworld opens (1995: 25 years)

1 August: San Diego’s Golden State Comic-con (later San Diego Comic-Con) first held (1970: 50 years)

2 August: Weird Science opens (1985: 35 years)

4 August: Virtuosity opens (1995: 25 years)

5 August: Last Women on Earth opens (1960: 60 years)

14 August: The Rocky Horror Picture Show opens in the UK (1975: 45 years)

16 August: Robert Culp (The Greatest American Hero) born (1930: 90 years)

17 August: Animal Farm by George Orwell published (1945: 75 years)

17 August: The Time Machine opens (1960: 60 years)

20 August: H.P. Lovecraft born (1890: 130 years)

22 August: Black Scorpion opens (1995: 25 years)

22 August: Ray Bradbury born (1920: 100 years)

23 August: Fear the Walking Dead TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

24 August: James Tiptree Jr. born (1915: 105 years)

24 August: Darkman opens (1990: 30 years)

27 August: The Last Exorcism opens (2010: 10 years)

September: Challenge of the Unknown comic debut (1950: 70 years)

1 September: Edgar Rice Burroughs born (1875: 145 years)

5 September: Batman radio show is broadcast (1950: 70 years)

7 September: Dario Argento (Suspiria) born (1940: 80 years)

13 September: Supernatural TV series debuts (2005: 15 years)

23 September: Ghost Whisperer opens (2005: 15 years)

1 October: The Five Children and It published (1905: 115 years)

2 October: Tom Corbett Space Cadet debuts (1950: 70 years)

3 October: Dark Angel series debut (2000: 20 years)

4 October: Thundarr the Barbarian debuts (1980: 40 years)

4 October: One Punch Man TV series debut in Japan (2015: 5 years)

11 October: The Bugs Bunny Show debuts (1960: 60 years)

14 October: The Fog (remake) opens (2005: 15 years)

24 October: Trog opens (1970: 50 years)

26 October: Supergirl TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

27 October: Planet of the Vampires opens in the USA (1965: 55 years)

29 October: The Golem premieres (1920: 100 years)

30 October: A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens (1935: 85 years)

31 October: The Walking Dead TV series debut (2010: 10 years)

November: The Beyond comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

November: Strange Worlds comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

1 November: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600: 420 years)

4 November: The Wizard of the Nile Operetta opens on Broadway (1895: 125 years)

4 November: Chicken Little opens (2005: 15 years)

9 November: Child’s Play 2 opens (1990: 30 years)

14 November: Shadowchasers series debut (1985: 35 years)

15 November: Once Bitten opens (1985: 35 years)

22 November: Toy Story opens (1995: 25 years)

22 November: Unbreakable opens (2000: 20 years)

23 November: The Expanse series debut (2015: 5 years)

26 November: Young Justice series debut (2010: 10 years)

5 December: Flash Gordon remake opens (1980: 40 years)

13 December: Mysterious Doctor Satan serial 1st chapter opens (1940: 80 years)

15 December: Dude, Where’s My Car? opens (2000: 20 years)

17 December: TRON: Legacy opens (2010: 10 years)

18 December: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015: 5 years)

22 December: Dracula 2000 opens (2000: 20 years)

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: (

AFD News: Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani join The Rock in live-action Disney Toy Story

December 27, 2019

AFD News: Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani join The Rock in live-action Disney Toy Story

December 27, 2019 (AFD News)

by Oihc Conip

Blake Shelton will play Woody and Gwen Stefani will be Bo Peep in the DisneyPlus live action re-imagining of Toy Story (being simultaneously released in movie theatres), Disney announced today.

They will be joining Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Buzz Lightyear. Announced earlier: The Walking Dead’s Cailey “Judith Grimes” Fleming as Andi, Akwafina as Slinky Dog, Ken Jeong as Mr. Potato Head, and, reprising his role from the Pixar movies, John Ratzenberger as Hamm.

Jon Favreau is directing with a script by Kumail Nanjani, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.

No release date was announced, but it is assumed that they will wait until Johnson is available, which should put it some time in the early 2030s.

Note: this is a joke. I use the tag “AFD News” on this and my I Love My Kindle blog, short for “April Fools’ Day News”. It just struck me as a funny idea that they would do a live action Toy Story. The byline this time is Pinocchio backwards, with the theme of turning something “pretend” into something “real”. 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: (


2019 In Memoriam

December 26, 2019

2019 In Memoriam

We regularly report the passing of people who have contributed to geek pop culture. In this year’s

2019 Geeky Good-Byes

we have recognized the work of well over 150 people at time of writing.

Those listings are necessarily short, basically just a listing of what brings them into the family of geek-friendly creators.

In this post, I want to do more of a narrative, to tell the stories of some. This isn’t to judge them as more important than the others: a hallmark of geeky fandom is that we recognize everyone. In this, it may simply be people for whom I can best tell the tale.

For the others, and for more detail on these, see that 2019 Geeky Good-Byes page.

These are presented in their reported chronological order.

William Morgan Sheppard had a rich and diverse career, with nearly 200 screen credits. He appeared both onscreen and as a voice. Not many actors appeared in the Star Trek universe, Star Wars, the Transformers, DC (in Young Justice), Marvel (as Dum Dum Dugan in the 1994 Iron Man series), Doctor Who, Max Headroom (Blank Reg), Babylon 5, Disney (Gargoyles), Biker Mice from Mars (Lawrence Limburger), and menacing Elvira. He was the epitome of a character actor, reliably enhancing every scene he was in.

Carol Channing was certainly better known for muggle roles, especially in Hello, Dolly! (Tony Award) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, her unique voice, both raspy and welcoming, led to geeky voicework. She voiced Grandmama Addams on the 1992 The Addams Family Cartoon and Fanny in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.

While James Frawley had been an actor in The Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and My Favorite Martian, it was as a director that he had his biggest impact. When I watched The Monkees, which did have geeky episodes, I’d perk up when I saw his name. I could count on the episode being a bit more out there. For example, he directed Monstrous Monkee Mash, where in a certain Transylvanian count, the Frankenstein monster, and a wolfman all make appearances. Other GF shows he directed include Ghost Whisperer, Smallville, and Earth 2. On the muggle side, he directed Scarecrow and Mrs. King episodes, Cagney & Lacey, Columbo, and many more. Peter Tork of The Monkees also died this year.

Directors clearly liked working with Dick Miller and audience liked him seeing him! Roger Corman directed him more than 15 times (including the role that probably comes first to my mind, Walter Paisley in A Bucket of Blood), as did Joe Dante. He never played the “big man” in the movies, but was never small in his parts. A documentary about him, That Guy Dick Miller, was released in 2014.

While Julie Adams did appear in other geek-friendly roles, it’s her iconic performance as scientist Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon for which she will be forever remembered.

Albert Finney‘s five Oscar nominations in four decades were all for muggle roles, but he played Scrooge (one of the fantasies that is considered classic literature), appeared in Wolfen & Looker, played Kilgore Trout, and Daddy Warbucks (there is minor magic in the version in which he appeared).

The average person probably can’t name Carmen Argenziano, but might recognize the character actor from decades of appearances. Gaters definitely can put a name to the face, even if that name might be Selmak rather than Carmen.

Jan-Michael Vincent had success early on as “Link” Simmons on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. He starred in The World’s Greatest Athlete & parried with George Peppard in Damnation Alley (based on a Roger Zelazny book). He was best known to geeks as Stringfellow Hawke in over 50 episodes of the supertech series, Airwolf.

Beverley Owen was the original Marilyn Munster, the “normal” appearing niece of Lily Munster.

Hollywood musicals can certainly feel like fantasies, and director Stanley Donen made some of the best…On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and more. One of them, Damn Yankees, clearly fits our criteria, featuring the inimitable Ray Walston as the devil (Mr. Applegate). Speaking of the Devil, Donen directed my favorite portrayal, 1967’s original Bedazzled. He also did The Little Prince, and stepped in to direct Saturn 3.

One of the most intense guest stars on Star Trek: The Original Series was Morgan Woodward…and not just once, but twice: Dr. Sam van Gelder in the Dagger of the Mind, and Captain Tracey in The Omega Glory. He appeared in 3 episodes of the Logan’s Run TV series, and made many guest appearances (including The X-Files and The Incredible Hulk).

Soap’s Katherine Helmond might be best-known for comedy TV, but had an unforgettable role in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. She also appeared on both The Six Million Dollar Man & The Bionic Woman, worked with Elvira, got into the DC universe as Aunt Minerva on Batman: TAS…and voiced Lizzie in the Cars movies for Disney.

Lisa Sheridan was a 21st Century geek-friendly TV star. From Chloe Tanner on FreakyLinks to Larkin on Invasion and Dr. Sanchez on Journeyman, she was a familiar sight.

No question, Luke Perry will be best remembered for playing Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. He will also be associated with Riverdale, having played Archie’s dad, Fred. Additionally, he starred in the post-Apocalyptic Jeremiah series, and did a fair amount of voicework: Napoleon Brie on Biker Mice from Mars; Sub-Zero on Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm; and Marvel’s Rick Jones on The Incredible Hulk.

Larry Cohen had a truly unique artistic vision. He was a writer, director, and producer on cult favorites, suffused with humor and twisted body images. The killer baby trilogy that began with It’s Alive might be the most memorable, but for me, I think of God Told Me To, Q, and the consumerist satire The Stuff. He directed the Stephen King inspired A Return to Salem’s Lot.

Thunderbirds are go! Shane Rimmer voiced Scott Tracy on the Andersons’ Supermarionation show, and worked with on other shows as well. He appeared, often in small roles, in many geek-friendly productions: Live and Let Die, Rollerball, The People That Time Forgot, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Batman Begins, and Louis on The Amazing World of Gumball.

I shook hands with Peter Mayhew at an event. His smile was charming, although he must have done the same thing thousands of times before with other Star Wars fans. He clearly risked a lot to come back as the best co-pilot ever, and did it partly for us.

I think of Billy Drago first for Nitti the Enforcer in the Kevin Costner version of The Untouchables, but he was one of those actors who was always recognizable, even in more than 100 roles. He appeared in seven episodes of the original Charmed series as Barbas, and was John Bly on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..

Sure, Arte Johnson was great on Laugh-In, but he also played Renfield in the George Hamilton Dracula spoof, Love at First Bite. He guested on Bewitched and Lost in Space. While his physicality was often part of his roles, by the 1970s he was doing regular voicework (Tyrone on Baggy Pants & the Nitwits, Weerd on The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Devil Smurf, Top Cat on Yo Yogi, and he got into the DC Universe as Virman Vundabar on Justice League Unlimited).

Cameron Boyce was a current and rising star, in part because of plaing Cruella de Vil’s son, Carlos, in The Descendants. He voiced Jake in Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and voiced Shocker on Spider-Man.

In nearly 60 years on screen, Freddie Francis was a looming presence in Hammer movies (Professor Richter in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Professor Keeley in The Satanic Rites of Dracula…) and in the 1980s, was in Krull, Firestarter, and played Thufir Hawat in Dune.

30 years after playing Nathan Bryce in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Rip Torn played Agent Zed in Men in Black (he’d repeat the role). It seemed particularly appropriate when he voiced Zeus in Disney’s Hercules: he often played the authority figure who could be exasperated with his underlings.

As a child, Denise Nickerson had done more than 70 episodes of Dark Shadows, but she’ll be remembered forever as Violet Beuregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

David Hedison always had a special earnestness on screen, whether it was in the original version of The Fly, as Ed Malone in The Lost World, or in over 100 episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Captain Lee Crane. He played James Bond’s CIA contact, Felix Leiter in a couple of movies, including one of the geekiest, Live and Let Die.

If you think about moving scenes from geeky movies, Rutger Hauer‘s rain speech from Blade Runner has to be up there. He followed that up with Ladyhawke, and then simmered for more than thirty years. Smallville, Salem’s Lot, Batman Begins, Dracula 3D: he became part of so many of our universes.

Yes, Peter Fonda was best known for Easy Rider, but he played Chuck Browning in the Westworld sequel, Futureworld, Mephistopheles in Ghost Rider, and others.

Many people have contributed to Doctor Who’s success and longevity, but Terrance Dicks would make anyone’s short list. As screenwriter, Script Editor, and author of books, he was involved with fleshing out the Time Lords, what the TARDIS can do, the term regeneration (and more than 1 doctor appearing at the same time), and Sarah Jane Smith.

Aron Eisenberg appeared in several Star Trek works, but his most memorable role is probably Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Ah, Sid Haig!  He often played menacing parts, and his work stretched from Batman ’66 and the original Star Trek to repeated appearances as “Captain Spaulding” and beyond.

Rip Taylor will always be thought of as the confetti throwing comedian, yet he had extensive geek-friendly performances. He was Sheldon the Sea Genie on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (and actually played genies multiple times), the voice of Uncle Fester on the 1992 animated The Addams Family, The Royal Recordkeeper/The Royal Judge on Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove series, and others in more than 40 years of work.

You could count on Robert Forster to bring the gravitas. I probably first think of him as Arthur Petrelli on Heroes, but for many, his Sheriff Truman on Twin Peaks is likely to be their first association.

Virginia Leith had more than 25 screen credits, but she’s best known as lead character Jan Crampton (“Jan in the Pan”) in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.

Probably more famous outside of the USA, Maria Perego created Topo Gigio, who mischievously caused trouble for Ed Sullivan in his appearances on that show.

A staple in UK telly (Father MacAnally on Ballykissangel for one), Niall Toibin had some geek-friendly roles, including Reverend Coot in Rawhead Rex.

He was British Eddy on James Cameron’s Dark Angel, appeared in The Dead Zone, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, and was John Mann did six episodes of Haunted as Simon.

Michael J. Pollard often played characters with a mischievous half-smile, which served him well as Superboy’s impish enemy, Mr. Mxyzptlk. That’s not to suggest that he wasn’t an actor capable of range: he got an Supporting Oscar nomination for Bonnie and Clyde. He appeared on Lost in Space, and on Star Trek: The Original Series as Jahn in Miri. In the 90’s, he voiced Psycho on Troma’s Toxic Crusaders.

Nobody drew bizarre comics like Gahan Wilson. He often needed just one panel to show off his macabre humor…Playboy was one of the magazines that featured his work.

Joan Staley played Okie Annie in an Adam West Batman two-parter.

Japanese live-action sci-fi is really unique, and Nobuo Yajima brought his special effects flair to several series, including johnny Sokko, Spectreman, and Kamen Rider Black.

It was a difficult year for Star Trek fans, especially in December. D.C. Fontana was absolutely crucial to the development of the Star Trek universe as we know it. She wrote 11 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, including introducing Spock’s family. She wrote for other Star Trek series, but wasn’t limited to just the Trekverse. She wrote for The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers, and He-Man, among others.

Robert Walker Jr. won praise for the title role in the muggle Ensign Pulver, but was unforgettable as Charlie X on Star Trek: The Original Series.

It’s especially hard to write about Rene Auberjonois‘ passing. He just always seemed like someone you would want to know, and that’s how castmates have responded. He could go easily from muggle to geek-friendly: for us, he did 173 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Odo.

Big Bird never lost his naivete on Sesame Street, that charming innocence. Muppeteer Carrol Spinney brought him into our lives for decades. Spinney wasn’t all sweetness and light, though: he also played a lot of kids’ favorite grouch, Oscar.

We celebrate each and every one of them and thank them for their contributions to our entertainment. That also goes for those not listed here, but at 2019 Geeky Good-Byes and the ones we will unfortunately inevitably miss. Thank you also to all those who knew them and enabled them to share their creativity with us.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: (


2019 Cyber Monday! Great deals & gift recommendations

December 2, 2019

2019 Cyber Monday! Great deals & gift recommendations

I’m not arguing, of course, but it amuses me that Cyber Monday is still such a thing.

Its origins come from when people didn’t have powerful computers at home, but did at work. So, they would shop at work on the Monday following Black Friday. Now, of course, we have super powerful computers in our pockets via SmartPhones, so we don’t need those work resources. Still, websites make a big deal about it, and speaking of deals, genuine ones are available.

That doesn’t mean that additional deals won’t come between now and the end of the year, they clearly will. However, today is very competitive…and my guess is that many people have completed the majority of their holiday shopping after Cyber Monday, which changes the dynamics (worth noting at this point that I’m a former brick-and-mortar store manager…primarily bookstores and a gamestore).

Let’s check on that:

First, here’s my previous post in my ILMK blog for Black Friday this year…many things go on sale on Black Friday and then back on Cyber Monday:

2019 ILMK Amazon Black Friday & Gift Guide

and this one from my The Measured Circle blog:

5 practical (but cool) gifts for under $30 each

I debated, but decided to post this here in The Measured Circle, since I may range far away from the typical ILMK topics…and this blog can cover anything. 🙂


Lemostaar Dust Mop Shoes Slippers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $11.45 at time of writing

While we haven’t had these long, so I can’t say how durable they are, my Significant Other says they worked well in the kitchen. Yes, this one is goofy, but it’s not a gag gift.

Unisex LED Beanie Hat with Light (at AmazonSmile*) $7.89 at time of writing

These are great! We had a different, but similar, brand get broken and wanted to replace it right away. It’s got a USB chargeable light on a knit cap. If you go out in the dark and cold (we do that at the dog park), these are perfect…hands free light, warm ears. We get asked about it by other people.

Luci Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light (at AmazonSmile*) $15.75 at time of writing

This is the best solution if your lights go out. Many “emergency” lights are just blindingly bright for me (I have good night vision). Also, we’re not fond of having to use batteries, although we will with some things. We literally just keep these sitting on a windowsill that gets outside sunlight (it doesn’t have to be direct). If the power goes out, you can inflate them (you can do it with your mouth…it’s not hard), and one of these can light a room with a diffuse light for hours…just from solar power. I would keep one in your “go bag”, and they are good for people who camp (or maybe something like a treehouse or playhouse).

Kangaroo Home Security Motion Sensor (at AmazonSmile*) $9.90 at time of writing

We were going away for a week (we’re back now), and while our front door is nicely protected with a doorcam, we have a sliding glass door I wanted to cover. This was a very simple set-up: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee (you can for more options) or have a security system (but it can work with them). What it will do is alert you on the phone when it detects motion (you can set it in such a way it’s not likely to trigger on your pets). It doesn’t shine a light or set off a siren, but if you have, say, an Echo Show in your home (we do), you could then check on the room. Unless someone is already all set up with security, they can use it…and I’m thinking of getting one for my office at work.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller (at AmazonSmile*) $27.95 for a two pack at time of writing

Your mileage may vary (YMMV) but this works very well for us (and we’ve tried different things). It’s just plugged into a power outlet in the kitchen, and we see no bugs or evidence of rodents. We have dogs who are clearly completely unaware of the ultrasonic sounds it puts out. You want one where the sound fluctuates (so they can’t get used to it), and this one does. The message isn’t that you think they have bugs, it’s that you don’t want them to get them. It’s good for people who want to avoid chemicals or who don’t want to kill animals (even bugs).

UPDATE: I’m going beyond five, because I did really want to include this one:

Asgens “power tower” (at AmazonSmile*) $24.99 at time of writing

I have one of these for work and one of these next to the couch at home. At work, I do plug several things into power when I go to a meeting…but I always say, I bring more outlets than I use. 😉 Others plug into my tower on the table, rather than perhaps crawling around to get to one. These have both USB and “wall” outlets and are surprisingly light. I used to carry a traditional powerstrip, but this also fits into my laptop case and has a smaller footprint on the table. I took one with us when we recently went on a trip (again, I used to take a traditional powerstrip to a hotel, but this was better). People often comment on it. One drawback: I bought my first one partially for the retractable cord, and that eventually just stopped working. I think it’s like a garden hose getting twisted if you have a’s possible I could have done something different in my winding technique, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

iTD Gear Wall Outlet Coverplate w/ LED Night Lights (Auto on/off) at iTECH DEALS $2.99…I haven’t tried this one, but the reviews are good and it looks cool. I have bought from this site


Baxter Boo dog clothes: 25% off & free shipping with coupon code CYBERSALE

Gifts For You Now customized products: 30% off with coupon code BEST30BPM

BOOKS-A-MILLION: 20% off online purchase of $50+ with coupon code 20CYBER; more codes with bigger purchases

PAGE * A * DAY: 25% off with coupon code CYBER19

HearthSong: 30% off + free shipping on $49+ with coupon code CYBER19


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: (

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get.


Shop ’til you help! :)

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