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Former Blues Clues Star Steve Burns Is Making Trippy, Kid-Friendly Music

Actor/musician Steve Burns has led a truly interesting life: After spending seven years solving blue puppy-related mysteries in a house filled with talking furniture on Blues Clues, he left the hit show to begin building a music career with the help of psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips. Producer Dave Fridmann and band member Steven Drozd helped Burns create his 2003 debut album, Songs for Dustmites, then re-teamed for his sophomore effort, 2009's Deep Sea Recovery Efforts. Now Burns and Drozd have formed a musical duo called STEVENSTEVEN and are gearing up to put out their debut LP.

The music clearly has heavy influences from The Flaming Lips, but it also draws from a number of other musicians and characters. Among their extensive list of influences, the duo cites: “Wondering, Burt, Black Sabbath, Cephalopods, Grover, Toy Commercials From The 1970s, Harry Nilsson, Dr. Seuss, Science, Bill Conti, Queen, Futzees, Rocky Balboa, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, True Love, Neil Diamond, The Zoo, Holly Hobbie, Fairy Tales, David Bowie, and Mister Rogers.”

The new album, called FOREVERYWHERE, will drop on February 24 and feature themes ranging from unicorn romance to pooping. The music is meant to be enjoyed by all ages; their music video for "The Unicorn And Princess Rainbow" is filled with rainbows, space, and an all-kid backing band.

The family-friendly musical duo will be trying out some of their songs live February 26 at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York. The all-ages event will kick off in the middle of the day, with doors opening at 11 a.m. and the music starting at 1 p.m.

[h/t Brooklyn Vegan]

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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How Common Is Your Birthday? An Interactive Map Can Tell You
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by James Hunt

At some point in their life, everyone counts back from their birthday and tries to figure out what anniversary, special occasion, or other excuse might have happened to their parents nine months before they were born. To make this backtracking exercise easier—and give us the chance to do it for a much larger population—data journalist Matt Stiles created an interactive "heat map" showing the most common birthdays in the United States for individuals born between 1994 and 2014.

Click on the map and you'll quickly notice that July, August, and September are by far the most common birth months. It's no surprise that nine months prior you'll find the dark and rainy period of October, November, and December when—to put it delicately—people have to make their own entertainment.

According to Stiles, "People generally seem to have time for baby-making during their time off. Several of the most common birth dates, in September, correspond with average conception periods around Christmas. September 9 is most common in this dataset, though other days in that month are close. September 19 is second. Following a customary gestation period, many of these babies would, in theory, have been conceived on December 17 and December 27, respectively."

But that's not all we can tell from the chart. When you take into account the fact that some people get to choose their child's birthday because of induced and elective births, they tend to want to stay away from the hospital during understaffed holiday periods.

"The least common birthdays in this dataset were Christmas Eve, Christmas [Day], and New Year’s Day," Stiles concluded. "Dates around Thanksgiving aren’t as common. July 4 is also at the bottom of the list. Conversely, Valentine’s Day ranks relatively high, as you can see in the graphic, as are the days just before a new tax year begins."

Amazingly, though it only comes around every four years, Leap Year babies aren't as uncommon as you might think: February 29 ranked 347th out of 366 on the list.

You can play around with the interactive graphic, and see the full ranking of birthdays, here.

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