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14 Fun Pinterest Easter Alternatives

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Tired of giving your kids the same green plastic shreds and dead-eyed chocolate bunnies every Easter? Pinterest has some creative alternatives for you. As always, don’t forget to check out mental_floss's own Pinterest for all that is odd, useful or awesome. And think beyond the basket!

Alternative Hunts

1. Rainbow Hunt

Your basket is waiting for you after you complete an obstacle course crossed with a game of twister. Each participant follows their own yarn color around every tree, doghouse, and other kid in the yard to get to their reward. Pinned by Deon Durham.

2. Puzzle Eggs

This clever idea is designed to make your child think for his reward. Each hidden egg contains a piece of the puzzle that will eventually tell them where the chocolate is hidden. Pinned by Georgia Smith.

3. Panning for Easter

A great idea for tiny hands, small spaces, or parents with grass allergies. Panning for chocolate gold (or toys, pretty rocks, whatever). All it takes is sand, a sifter and a shovel. Pinned by Amy Echevarria.

Alternative Baskets

4. Origami Bunny Baskets

Looking to add some complicated elegance to your Easter? Follow the link to learn how to make these beautiful origami bunny baskets. Pinned by BonBon Break.

5. Beach Towel Basket

No need to litter your carpet with plastic grass and stuff your garbage full of bent and twisted … whatever Easter baskets are woven from now. Take a pretty towel, fold, tie and stuff, and you have an Easter basket that will be useful for years. Pinned by Susie Chadwick.

6. Theme Baskets

Eschew the whole Easter is Edible idea all together, and go for a unifying theme basket. Sports, Barbie, Lego, Books, whatever your kid is into. Pinned by Courtney Hohimer.

Alternatives to Baskets

7. Tackle Box

Does your little wild child of undesignated gender have no interest in pink ribbons and cutesy bunnies? Then how about equipping them with their very own Easter tackle-box! Pinned by Lura McCoy.

8. Easter Candy-Cake

Some of the prettiest shades of your favorite candies come out at Easter, so what better time to put together a plastic pastel pastry as an alternative to a basket. Pinned by brittney resor.

9. Bunny Bags

The good chocolate is expensive, so if you want to fill an Easter “basket” with the good stuff, consider the small volume of these little bunny bags, template available at MerMag. Pinned by Cynthia Chu.

Egg Alternatives

10. Paint-It-Yourself Wooden Eggs

These elegant wood eggs are sold by snugglymonkey.  They can be painted by the kids, and even work their way into the family keepsake box to be reused every year. Pinned by Erica Harris.

11. Felt Pocket Eggs

If your Easter will be spent with especially tiny people—the kind who crawl and are likely to end an Easter egg hunt with a diaper full of grass clippings—you’re probably considering an indoor hunt. simply sewn little charmers will hide the perfect amount of teddy grahams for your little scavenger. Pinned by Hannah Hilliard-Bouvier.

12. Healthy Food Eggs

Try filling plastic eggs with healthy, natural snacks. Which will make you that mom, but it’s probably worth it. Pinned by Lori T.

13. Coupon Eggs

If you really want to avoid the candy but still give your little ones a treat, try filling plastic eggs with Kid Coupons. Coupons to get out of a chore, watch TV, and stay up late may just make the kids forget about all the jelly beans that could have fit into a single plastic egg. Pinned by Julie Metcalf.

14. Confetti Eggs

Confetti eggs can be fun for older kids. Drain and dry the eggs, fill with confetti, and maybe a touch of potpourri for good measure. Paste over with tissue paper. You break them over the heads of your loved ones while they make a wish. And if you’re extra awesome, and very good at folding, one of the eggs can have money hiding inside. Pinned by The Flair Exchange.

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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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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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