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13 Geeky Bachelor and Bachelorette Party Ideas

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We’ve covered a variety of aspects of geeky wedding planning, from cake toppers to dresses to rings, so now it’s time to look at some geek bachelor and bachelorette party ideas. This time we won’t be focusing on what other brides- and grooms-to-be have actually done because let’s face it: what happens at a bachelor party stays at a bachelor party—even if it's a nerdy one.

While most of these ideas are Safe For Work, there is a sexy Pinocchio further down, so if you don't want to be caught reading that at the office, you might want to save this article for when you're at home.

Unisex Ideas

Some party plans work for both sexes, even if you want to keep the bride's and groom's parties separate.

1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt


Image courtesy of @heylovedc's Flickr stream.

Who doesn't love a scavenger hunt? The great thing about this game is that it can be as raunchy or as modest as suits the bride or groom—so your list of tasks can include anything from kissing a stranger and getting someone to give you their underwear to getting a stranger to buy you a drink and rubbing the name off of a tombstone. You also have the opportunity to document everything with pictures, both for task verification and for the memories.

2. Roast 'Em

Be warned: This option is only good for those with thick skin. But if the soon-to-be bride or groom has a good sense of humor and doesn’t mind being the butt of everyone’s jokes, roasting them can lead to some unforgettable and touching memories. Make sure everyone writes their jokes far ahead of time, as the guests aren’t comedians and you want to ensure everything is funny—not pointlessly mean or plain old boring. And of course, make sure everyone has plenty of booze in hand, just like they would at a real Friars Club roast.

3. Enjoy Naughty Reading Time

Image courtesy of Tiffy-doodle's Flickr stream.

If the party vibe you're going for is just slightly scandalous, have a bad erotica reading night. While you can always read your friends selected sections from some of the Worst Sex Writing of the Year champions, if you really want to geek things up, have everyone find some bad erotic fan fiction online instead. You’ll certainly get a great laugh out of it together.

Male-centric

Here are a few ideas best suited to satisfy male urges.

4. Ogle at Geeky Burlesque Shows

Image courtesy of The OC Weekly

Instead of a strip club, take the bachelor to a nerdy burlesque act. These shows take on fun subjects such as great sci-fi classics like Star Trek, childhood favorites like The Muppets and cult classics like Quentin Tarantino films. For those that have always wanted to see the sexy side of Harvey Dent, Jabba the Hutt, or Pikachu, there’s no better option than one of these specialty shows.

5. Challenge the Groom’s Honor


Image courtesy of KingArthur10's Flickr Stream.

Enroll in a medieval swordplay class or other form of Western martial arts education. Learn to joust, fence and otherwise battle in the classic medieval fashion. Then just imagine the bride’s surprise when the groom sweeps her off her feet with all of his new historical battle skills. There’s no more chivalrous bachelor party option than this!

Just For the Ladies

These ideas are mostly for groups of gal pals, but some dudes still might enjoy tagging along.

6. Go on the Flying Trapeze


Image courtesy of asterix611's Flickr stream.

Has the gal getting married always wanted to run away and join the circus? Give her a taste of flying with a trapeze class. Many major cities have at least one acrobat school; the classes are performed with all kinds of safety equipment, so even those who aren’t very coordinated or who have too little upper arm strength to stay on the bars will still have fun falling into a cushy net. Classes run around $60 per person, which is cheaper than many bachelorette parties that take place at a club.

It should be noted that most schools have a weight limit, so keep that in mind when planning.

7. Host a Shoe Decorating Party


The great thing about geek fashion is that DIY is considered infinitely cooler than designer labels. To that end, get a group of your gal pals together and design your own shoes with geeky decorations of your choice—like the Rebel insignia from Star Wars, pages from your favorite comic books, or the emblem of your favorite house in Game of Thrones. The possibilities are endless—and if you need a little idea of how much fun this can be and how great the shoes can turn out, then don’t miss this post on Geek Femme, which is where I got the image above.

8. Throw A Slumber Party

If the bride isn’t the type who enjoys excessive alcohol consumption and strippers, then kick it old school—like, fifth grade old school. Grab some sleeping bags and a few air mattresses and enjoy a classic sleepover complete with pillow fights, pizza, popcorn, truth or dare, cheesy movies and, if you can find them, lame board games like Mystery Date and Mall Madness.

Of course, you can always add in a few adult touches like booze and classic bachelorette party games.

Co-Ed Fun:

These days it’s becoming more and more common for couples to throw their stag and hen parties together. This decision really makes sense when you’re both doing something super geeky instead of something sexy.

9. Dress Up for a Vintage Movie Party

Image courtesy of BADam's Flickr stream.

Find out if your local theaters have any good classic movies playing as part of their midnight movies selection, and then dress to impress for that era. Eat a themed dinner at home, talk in time-appropriate lingo, and then go out to the movies. For example, if they’re playing Back to the Future, wear terrible 80s clothes, enjoy Pepsi and Pizza Hut, and be sure to say “heavy” a lot. On the other hand, if they’re playing the 1959 classic House on Haunted Hill, don your best late-50s ensemble, enjoy a potluck filled with casseroles, and call each other “baby” and “daddy-o.” And if none of your local theaters play classics like these, you can always enjoy a big viewing party at home as well.

10. Treat Yourselves to Foodie Fun


Image courtesy of gak's Flickr stream.

Have a fondue party or go to a cooking class. While this can be a lot of fun for a party consisting of only one gender, it can be a great romantic treat for the bride and groom, who can learn about great dishes they can cook together. If you want to help the bride and groom save some money, you can even take a baking class scheduled the night before the wedding and make cupcakes for the reception.

11. Survive a Zombie Apocalypse


Image courtesy of Adobe of Chaos' Flickr stream.

Simulated zombie attack experiences are becoming more and more common these days, and what better way to test the bride and groom’s dedication to one another than have them compete in a zombie survival situation? If you really want to give them a challenge and some harassment, make them each compete with a ball and chain.

12. Get Gaming


Image courtesy of heath bar's Flickr stream.

If your group of friends is into video games, then borrow as many consoles, PCs, TVs, and power splitters as you can and have an epic gaming night. If your buddies are into competition, then make it a championship event complete with prizes.

Alternatively, if you’re into old school RPGs, get everyone together for a major gaming session build around the bride and groom’s favorite game. Even those that think things like Dungeons and Dragons are lame will still go along with it for the sake of the wedding celebration and who knows, they might even enjoy it and join your regular gaming night.

13. Play a Custom Made Game Show

Set up a trivia show based around the bride and groom and have their friends guess the answers. You can help everyone learn more about the couple by sharing some of their odd quirks, strange fears, and hilarious stories about their past. Of course, this only works if the people planning the party actually know the bride and the groom really well, but since this role is historically filled by the maid of honor and the best man, hopefully this shouldn’t be a problem.

Got any other ideas for geeky bachelor/bachelorette parties or tips on what not to do? Or have you attended a nerdtastic hen or stag party? Tell us about it!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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