The USB Hamster, and other late-night library diversions

    A recent late-night, pre-German-presentation library marathon made me acutely aware of how much noise human beings are capable of making, even when given very limited materials. As I sat hunched over Wikipedia page after Wikipedia page on the Weimar Republic, I realized the loud, asshole kids in the library were having all the fun. Being a dick in the library, surrounded by people with a ton of very serious, life-threatening work to do, must be a total riot, right? So, since, when not pretending to care about George Grosz, I spend a large portion of my time trying to have fun at the expense of others, I’ve dreamed up some creative ways to piss people off in the library, thereby maximizing your personal fun.

    1. File this first suggestion under “things whose existence is completely unjustified” and use it to hinder the learning of others, thereby giving its illogical life some purpose. The USB Hamster Wheel plugs into your computer’s USB port, making it ideal for remote laptop use in a quiet study area or even in a classroom setting. Once it’s synced up, the little robot hamster runs in a plastic wheel as you type, picking up speed relative to your words-per-minute. Multitask your total lack of productivity and use him in spurts to test how fast you can Facebook.
    2. Sharp darts. Photo by rustybrick on Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    3. Library-friendly and high-end, Hammacher Schlemmer continues to one-up SkyMall with the USB Missile Launcher, which, much like the hamster, exists primarily for the detriment of others. It trumps the furry bastard in high-tech features, though, allowing you to sync up directional commands to your keyboard and launch the pressurized foam darts at specific targets. Like the next desk-pod over. Think about the possibilities.
    4. If you want to be mean without going to much effort (don’t we all?), download a screensaver that can piss people off while you’re on autopilot. My personal recommendation is “Who Let the Frogs Out?,” which combines obnoxious re-writes of songs that hurt the first time around and the shoddiest animation this side of Pong. For your own sake, don’t preview it. Download, retreat and wait for the surrender stomps of the sleep-deprived slinking away.
    5. This next one assaults your senses on two fronts, annoying you visually and amplifying sound. Sold through a teaching website, Loud & Clear combines the cringe-worthy glory of fanny packs with the unwelcome power of a bullhorn. Literally. With a hands-free microphone and an EIGHT HOUR battery pack, you can have earsplitting irreverence shooting out of your crotch-region all day.
    6. Imagine doing this in Core. Photo by KevinOQ on Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    7. The final, no-frills annoyance is not an innovative gadget but a relic from my childhood that would be totally worth revisiting following an exam-induced regression. Elefun, the quiet game which can therefore be played without incident in Core, affords you the opportunity to run around like a maniac, clearly having more fun than those around you. Looking back, I have no idea how these components came together into what was marketed as a logical game, but it’s basically a fan shaped like an elephant that blows little cloth butterflies all over the place. Everywhere. Trying to catch them with tiny nets while running around like a maniac somehow distracts you from the fact that you dropped $22 on a glorified leaf blower, but you know what? It’s better than anything anyone around you is doing, and for that, you get the victory of resentment, no matter how many butterflies you caught.


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