Category Archives: silliness

the frankenstein of beverage containers

When one purchases a soft drink from a convenience store, one frequently has the choice to buy one in a bottle or in a can.


An ordinary-looking drink can.


An ordinary-looking drink bottle.


What’s this?


I don’t understand this confusing world anymore!

When my cousin and I visited Beijing a couple years ago, we came across this monstrous hybrid of a beverage container while going about our business. Naturally, we were compelled to buy one, and try it out. It turns out that Glinter, the soft drink that comes in the bottle-can/can-bottle (cottle? ban? bancottle? cottleban? Dear-god-what-is-this-word-coming-to-container?) is a fairly ordinary-tasting concoction. I say “ordinary-tasting” because I don’t much remember what it tasted like, though probably something much like Sprite or 7-up, but perhaps (judging by the image on the…packaging) more orangey. (A web search tells me that this soft drink is from Malaysia. I won’t link to it, since it plays music, and I hate when websites play music. But feel free to google it. If you dare.)

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “novelty.” My kids end up getting all sorts of cheap novelties from birthday parties and things, but mostly they are pretty uninteresting. (Can novelties get old? Yup, I think so.) But rather than dig out some plastic doodads, I thought I’d share these photos I had of something I found to be pretty novel.

Speaking of novel, when I asked John what the phrase “the frankenstein of beverage containers” evoked for him, he replied, “you’re talking about the Vessyl, right?” Of course, not knowing what the hell he was talking about, I thought he said “vessel.” But it turns out that the Vessyl is a weird cyber-monstrosity of a beverage holder. It’s a cup that, using advanced technology, tells you what beverage is in it. Or, as ValleyWag puts it, it is “the $200 smart cup that helps dummies remember what they’re drinking.” That is certainly…novel. (I wonder why they didn’t call it the iCup?)

And speaking of novel gadgets that actually are a bit more appealing (at least to me, seeing as I can usually remember what drink I’ve poured), have you seen this pen that can scan objects for color and mix inks to match them? I don’t really have a use for such a thing, but it does sound like it would be fun to play with.

To see what other novelties have been shared this week, or to share photos of your own novelties, pay a visit to the fff blog.
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Welcome Back, Pants


The Pants Institute is pleased as pants to present: The Classic Pants TV Lineup!¹

From the conservative black & white pinstriped pants of the 50s to the colorful polyster prints of the 60s and 70s bellbottoms and on through the high-waisted peg-legs of the 80s, this look back at the golden era of Pants TV will bring a smile to your pants.

  • I Love Pants: This classic show from the 1950s features a young married woman’s antics, which frequently involve trying to sneak around in her husband’s pants.
  • Growing Pants: A family learn that as the kids get older, they must wear larger sizes of pants, or be increasingly uncomfortable.
  • All in the Pants: A 70s show about the life and family of a middle-aged middle-class white man who struggles to adjust to changing societal norms for who wears the pants in the family.
  • I Dream of Pants: An astronaut happens across a pair of magic harem pants that can fulfill his wishes, but only if he wears them in secret.
  • Three’s Pants: In this madcap 70s comedy, 3 single young adults sharing an apartment are always getting their pants mixed up in the laundry.
  • The Pants Boat: Each weak, different styles of pants are paraded on the decks of the Pantsific Princess, a cruise ship that promises to pair up pairs of pants.
  • Pantasy Island: Each week visitors arrive on a tropical island to act out their wildest fantasies of wearing different pants.
  • Diff’rent Pants: 2 young boys from Harlem must trade in their worn-out jeans for new fancy pants when adopted by a man with millions of pants.
  • The Facts of Pants: A group of teenage girls in a boarding school learn about love, life and pants.
  • The Golden Pants: 4 older women live together in the 80s and wear 4 distinct styles of pants.
  • The Pants Bunch: When 2 families merge their wardrobes, how will they ever fit all their 70s polyester pants into one dresser?
  • Welcome Back, Pants: A high school teacher and his students teach each other lessons about changing pants fashions and returning classic pants styles.

This post is for Mary, who requested a pants post when I asked for suggestions on things to post about. This post is also dedicated to my dear friend Elizabeth, who first introduced me to the comedic power of pants, and who should have been wearing her birthday pants today. I still miss her every day.

Can’t get enough pants? Try these on for size:


¹ I had just about finished this post when I had a nagging memory that my blogging buddy Painted Maypole had years ago done a pants-TV-themed post, as part of a challenge to write a post in the style of another blogger. (She chose me!) Happily, there is only a wee bit of overlapping in the pants shows. And these are rerun pants, anyhow…

old thyme photos (friday foto finder: herbs)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that I am not capable of talking about thyme without making puns.

This week’s friday foto finder challenge is “herbs.” Well, actually, it’s “HERBS.” So maybe I should have tried to finds some Herbs, not herbs. I don’t actually know any Herbs. I did learn that there is a slang meaning of herb (with the h pronounced) that means, more-or-less, “dork.” I don’t know if admitting that I learned that on Urban Dictionary makes me a herb. Let’s pretend not.

Anyhow, I seem to have gotten sidetracked by herbs (h pronounced) while looking for herbs (silent h). I did find some herbs, but not much in the way of an interesting photo. I did remember that I’d gotten some thyme as part of my experience belonging to a CSA in 2007, and tracked down this old photo, which features some thyme hanging out with some veggies. So, we have an old photo of thyme.

Then I vaguely remembered having bought some fresh herbs to use in preparing my Thanksgiving feast. Remarkably, the package of thyme has held up quite well in my refrigerator. I was amused to see that the label says “Infinite.” No wonder it has lasted so well, being infinite thyme. (I never realized I was someone with infinite thyme on my hands. Or in my vegetable drawer.)

But wait! It gets older! When I was checking to see if there was anything interesting of the herbal variety in my spice cabinet, I found this bottle of “Organic Lemon Thyme,” which someone long ago had lovingly labeled with masking tape and bubble letters. This is not actually thyme that I have used, and I didn’t really mean to save it. I liked the bottle, which had been in an apartment I lived in when I was an undergraduate. That was over 20 years ago.

This, my friends, is some old thyme.

To see what other herbs have been dug up, pay a visit to the fff blog. Have some herbs you want to share? There’s still time to play along!

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Bidding Winter goodbye

Tomorrow is the official first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, in the particular part of the Northern Hemisphere where I live, Winter seems not to have gotten that message.

I’ve gone into Boston for meetings the last couple of days, and the snow is all but gone there. Roofs, roads, and ground are free of snow and ice, save for the occasional fist-sized stubborn lump of ice remaining from what once have been a mighty mound.

Not so in my neck of the woods. Here is my front yard:

This is the mound of snow and ice resulting from shoveling out the top of the driveway. This was this morning. It was 20 degrees out.

It’s true that I have really enjoyed looking at and taking pictures of many of the ice and snow formations.

I have many, many photos of ice and snow. Icicles, frost, falling snow. Snow flakes, snow men, snow caves. Sparkling ice in the morning sun. Smooth frozen puddles with embedded bubbles and cracks. Fluffy untrampled snow, and interesting patterns of tracks in the snow. Quite honestly, I am about ready to move on to another subject matter.

Soon, I hope to fill up my phone with images of green shoots and early blooms. Unfortunately , this is where our first crocuses tend to emerge:

There are many things that I like about Winter. One of them is that it eventually ends and gives way to Spring. So, here’s wishing a fond farewell to Winter. (And here’s hoping that Winter gets the message and departs. Before I have to file a restraining order against it.)

Hong Kong trip recap, Day 5 (part 2): The Harbour Cruise of Torment

In August 2011, I was lucky enough to travel to Hong Kong for a conference. I started to post recaps of my adventures there long ago, but got sidetracked by life. Sparked on by a request from YTSL, I will now begin to dive back in.

Where last I left off, I was part way through day 5 of my adventures. The first days of my trip were jam-packed with rather manic attempts to see as many sights as possible (day 1 and day 2) followed by much mellower days of conference attending (days 3 & 4). I had eaten lots of good and interesting fresh food, met with friends, and was thoroughly enjoying being in Hong Kong.

The early part of day 5 was marked by a conference-arranged bus tour, which was somewhat painfully entertaining in ways that were probably not intended. In spite of my suffering, I did see interesting places and took many photos. Now we return to the end of that day, when the bus delivered me, my advisor and a bus load of other phoneticians to the Harbour for our much anticipated dinner cruise.

In addition to dinner, for which I had high expectations given the wonderful food I’d eaten in Hong Kong so far, we were going to have prime views of the much vaunted Harbour light show, the Symphony of Lights:

Named as the ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ by Guinness World Records, coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights perform in an unforgettable all-round spectacle synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.

As we walked up the gangway, I commented on the tackiness of the pink ferry we passed. This, naturally, turned out to be our boat.

Having envisioned that a harbour cruise would prominently feature looking at the harbour, I was rather dismayed to find ourselves funneled into the interior of the boat, which was set up with round tables, and not with seats designed for looking out at the views.

Happily, there was a top deck that we could access. I rushed up to get some photos before the light faded. I was surprised by how few of the other people were up there. After the long confinement of the bus ride, I was happy to get some fresh (albeit hot & humid) air, but others seemed lulled by the air conditioning.

The boat had so, so much pink.

The rosy sunset briefly tried to compete with the aggressively rosy pink of the ferry boat before retreating behind the hills.

When I headed back down to main deck, the “fun” had really started. The dinner buffet was open, and there was live entertainment. I don’t have any photos of the food, but just try to imagine yesterday’s cafeteria food presented as ostentatiously as possible. The copious offerings included bad day-old overchilled sushi, bad reheated Indian food, as well as a host of other mediocre-looking probably-leftover international delights. For those wanting lighter fare, there was a variety of salads featuring freshly-opened canned vegetables.

For entertainment, we were treated to earnestly sung lounge music versions of pop tunes, from Wham to Lady Gaga. (The singers were so very earnest.) The spacious dance floor offered plenty of room for people to awkwardly skirt around while trying to reach the exit stairs.

At some point in the evening, there was a buzz of excitement, apparently in reaction to an announcement (unheard by me over the noise) that it was time for the “unforgettable spectacle” of the light show to begin.

Everybody rushed up the stairs, crowding onto the deck. The night skyline looked colorful and spectacular, but not actually particularly more colorful and spectacular that it had before the start of the show. Ah, yes, there were some search lights here, a flashing building there. There was this odd sense that nobody really knew when the show had actually started, or what we were really all up there to see.

We couldn’t hear any of the music to which the spectacle was allegedly synchronized. In general, there were lots of colorful and some flashing lights on the buildings along the waterfront. For a short time, there was a marginal increase in the flashing and the colorfulness. It was as hard to tell when the show had stopped as it had been to tell when it had begun. Gradually, the crowd thinned.

This colorful scene was not part of the light show:

It was fun to see the other boats and ships in the harbour, including one of Hong Kong’s iconic red-sailed junks (though I learned that it is merely a replica.)

I’m not sure why only a small portion of the top deck was open for passengers. When everyone was up to see the light show, it was quite crowded, and this space shown here was inaccessible. You may notice that there was a total lack of visible lifeboats. I can only assume that this was to prevent guests from attempting to escape from the bad food and music.

After staying around up on deck to take more photos of the colorful skyline and reflections, I eventually wandered back down and made some attempts to mingle and network. (Since that was, in part, what prompted me to sign up for the conference-arranged outing.)

Sitting around the tables was just as enjoyable as sitting with people you don’t know at the wedding dinner of some cousin you’ve barely met. But without the champagne and wedding cake. I made attempts to chat with the person sitting next to me. First, we established that there was no overlap in our research interests. Next we established that there was no overlap in our philosophy about travel. She was happy to relax by a hotel poolside when not shopping for bargains on counterfeit designer fashions, whereas I like to wander the streets and absorb as much local culture as possible. Our awkward conversation floundered.

As soon as I could come up with an excuse to the leave the table, I headed back to the upper deck, where I waited out the rest of the cruise. I’d had enough mingling, bad food and earnest lounge music. The cruise couldn’t have been more than 3 hours long, but it felt an eternity. The streets of Hong Kong, with their interesting things to do and delicious foods to eat, remained tantalizingly out of reach. I was trapped in a pink, flashy, noisy wedding cake of a prison.

I am told that my face lit up with a giant smile when the ferry boat finally docked.

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silver fish, gold fish (a pair of almost completely unrelated photos)

I present to you one giant silver fish, and one smaller gold fish.¹

At the Boston Common on New Year’s Eve, while wandering around looking at ice sculptures, we came across this big silver-colored fish car. It was possibly related to the First Night events going on there, but in a way that was not clear to me. What was clear to me was that I needed to take a picture of it.

When I went to China in 2012, my hotel in Shanghai had rather unusual furniture. Most of the larger pieces (the armoire, dressers, settee, and even the beds) were adorned with fairly large and extremely shiny gold fish. I only wish I had better photos to show off their extreme shininess.

For another still grainy view of one of the gold fish (possibly even the same one, you can click here. I have even been inspired to upload a short video taken while walking through this very…special…room³. Sadly, the movie is also quite grainy, but you can still make out the shiny fishy shapes on the beds and other places.

So, tell me about you: If you were going to build a giant fish onto a car, what color fish would it be? And what sort of car? (A Toyota with a trout? A Mini with minnow?) And if you were going to design furniture featuring large shiny gold animals, which animals would you choose? These are the important questions that I pose to you.


¹ This post is in response to Ally Bean‘s prompt to of “gold or silver [photos of?]“. Naturally, I could not choose either just silver or just gold. Much like I couldn’t settle on either just a haiku or an acrostic
² If you, regular reader or hapless passerby, would like to also suggest a prompt or ask a question to elicit a post from me, feel free to do so in my post of last week. I would be tickled if you did.
³ If you feel the need to stay in such a room, it was a suite in the Salvo Hotel in Shanghai. I cannot guarantee that all of their suites are equally well-appointed with fish.

haiku acrostic, acrostic haiku

Here are two short poems:
1.

Hallmarks of these lines comprise
Allusion, evocation and expression
Impressions of nature and sensation
Kept short in sound, long in symbol
Using a constrained scheme

2.

planted rows of words
reveal another pattern
sprouting in the fore

A couple of days ago, I solicited suggestions and requests for things to post to help blow me out of my blogging doldrums, and said that I would respond to them in the order received. Sally was first in line and gave a lovely list of suggestions.¹ First on her list was a request for either a haiku or an acrostic. As you may well be aware, it is often hard for me to choose one or the other when “both” seems an equally valid choice. So I decided to do one of each form, but made each one be about the other type.

Craving more? I seem to have a shocking shortage of haiku in my archives, but I was terribly tickled that Ally Bean recently composed a haiku for/about me². You should go read it.

I did once make another acrostic, which was also rather meta. I’ve played around with other poetry forms, too, usually in response to a Monday Mission³. You can find a tanka, and another tanka in the form of a tanga, as
well as a villanelle (about pants). To see other less structured instantiations of my bad poetry, check out my tag “bad poetry.” I find such exercises fun, given my general love of playing with words.

¹ Up next, I will probably hit the first item off the next commenter’s list, and then run through the commenters a second time for their next items on their lists. If you have not already done so, I’d love a comment from you on my last post to suggest another post theme. The more the merrier!
² It was as a prize for getting an answer right in one of her posts.
³ Monday Missions are a now-dormant group blogging activity that I enjoyed.

interpreting Jack Frost’s cryptic scrawls on my car

When the weather turns cold, but the snow isn’t falling, any remaining drops of humidity in the air get applied to whatever surfaces are left exposed outside. While it sometimes looks like my car has been draped a sheer but sparkly fabric in the morning, other times the frost appears in lines and shapes that resemble hieroglyphics. I don’t always know what to make of these weird drawings and cryptic messages.

Yesterday when I got in the car, there was a thin, long white zig-zagging line across my windshield, and I thought for sure that the windshield had cracked, but it turned out to be another one of the frost’s practical jokes: the apparent crack wiped away with a finger tip.

Here is a collection of some of the insane ramblings that Jack Frost has inscribed on the surfaces of my car.

This bit looked like the start of a spiderweb, or maybe the beginnings of some sort of dastardly plot.

These bits look like someone was at work with an Etch-a-Sketch.

Who can say what was meant by this:

I wished I could have gotten the phone’s camera to focus better, but I was cold. But I thought the message looked important.

Dire warnings written on the tail light?

A treasure map drawn on my rear window?

I’ll let you know if I am ever able to decode this.

Has Jack Frost been leaving you cryptic messages as well?

joking by number

Today was 11/12/13, a fun date for those people who like to enjoy fun dates.¹ The date has compelled me to post something with a numerical theme, though not about those particular numbers.

A few months ago, we were telling jokes in the car on our way somewhere or other. I don’t recall who started telling jokes, but at one point the conversation went something like this:

John: Why 7 is afraid of 8?
Phoebe:
Because 7 8 9!
Theo: Why is 3 afraid of 4?
Everyone else: Um, we don’t know. Why?
Theo: Because 4 is REALLY REALLY MEAN!

Can’t top that.

And just because, here are a few photos of numbers.


Some numbers written by Theo at age 3. Perhaps they are all facing the wrong way out of fear of the number 4.


Who knows what sinister plans the 4 has for the 5 here?


Two 4s, looking as menacing as you might expect.

¹Yes, I am one of those people: Cf. my many Pi Day posts, as well as posts for 12/12/12, 11/11/11, 10/10/10 etc. Hell, I even posted something on 7/8/9 that I’d completely forgotten about.