Category Archives: things

Who’s who?


With the excitement building for the new episodes of Dr. Who to start¹, there has been a lot of who-buzz. But Dr. Who is not the only Who who is out there. I offer you this list of whos: a sort of Who’s Who of Whos.

  • who: an English interrogative word a relative pronoun used to stand in for a person².
  • WHO: The World Health Organization
  • who: the sound made by a hooting owl
  • Dr. Who: A British sci-fi/fantasy TV show that has been on for decades, about The Doctor, a time-travelling alien who gets to have a new body every so often.
  • Whovians: Fans of Dr. Who (you know who you are)
  • The Who: A British rock band, originally formed in the 1960s
  • Who Are You? A hit song by The Who. (And the title track of the album “Who Are you?”)
  • Who am I? A 1998 Jackie Chan movie where he plays an amnesiac spy. (It features this very memorable fight scene with a man with very long legs and very good balance. [youtube])

  • Who dat? A phrase used to show support for the New Orleans Saints (a football team)
  • Who’s Who: a type of publication listing biographical information
  • Whoville: a fictional town (or possibly two towns of the same name) in two Dr. Seuss stories: Horton Hears a Who and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Whos: Inhabitants of Whoville. Cindy Lou Who is one such Who.
  • Who’s on first? Abbott and Costello’s famous comedy routine of name/pronoun ambiguity. (If you don’t know it, you can read the full transcript. Better yet, watch this clip from the 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties on [youtube])
  • whodunnit: a nickname for a type of story where the reader (or viewer) tries to solve a mystery along with the protagonists
  • Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

  • “Guess who?” Something sometimes said by a person sneaking up behind another person, often while preventing that person from seeing by covering the eyes.³
  • The Guess Who: a Canadian rock band best known in the 60s and 70s
  • Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?: A 1967 drama/comedy movie starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. (It’s not actually about dinner with a Canadian rock band, but about a family coming to terms with an interracial relationship.)
  • Who can it be now?: A song by Men at Work
  • Who’s that girl?: A song by the Eurythmics
  • “Who’s a good boy?” Something often said to dogs.Cf this Onion article:
    Nation’s Dog Owners Demand to Know Who’s a Good Boy

    With canine-cuddliness levels at an all-time high and adorability-boosting ribbons and chew toys plentiful at pet stores across the nation, no resolution to the good-boy-identity issue appears to be on the horizon.

  • “Who cares?” A question sometimes asked by someone who doesn’t⁴

Who’s got more whos?

¹Season 7, part 2 starts this Sunday, March 30th
² Prescriptive grammarians will say that who is only to be used in cases where the pronoun/interrogative is in the subject, or nominal, position, and that whom is what you must use in object positions. However, contemporary usage allows for use of who in object positions.
³ I’ve never enjoyed this game.
⁴ I care.

Whose whos are whose? (image credits):Horton Hears a Who!, Whoville from the 1966 animated movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (based on the book), Who Dat, The Guess Who Greatest Hits album cover, The Who logo, Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Who’s On First? screenshot from youtube clip from The Naughty Nineties,Tardis, World Health Organization logo, and Introspective Pug.

Easy as pie

pi pie
My 2010 Pi Pie

Happy Pi Day! In celebration of Pi Day¹, and its auspicious landing on a Thursday, I offer to you this very large helping of pie-themed things. Mmmm, pie.

  • Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie: a line from the nursery rhyme Sing of song of sixpence²:

    Sing a song of sixpence
    a pocket full of rye
    four and twenty blackbirds
    baked in a pie

  • Little Jack Horner: Another nursery rhyme with pie.

    Little Jack Horner
    Sat in the corner,
    Eating a Christmas pie;
    He put in his thumb,
    And pulled out a plum,
    And said ‘What a good boy am I!

  • little jack horner  wsatterlee 1882 king with pie 012

  • Can she make a cherry pie?: A line from the folk song Billy Boy.
  • pie in the sky: used to describe plans or hopes considered unrealistic and overly optimistic
  • “high apple pie in the sky hopes”: a line from the song High Hopes, a song sung by Frank Sinatra
  • as easy as pie: an expression meaning “very easy.” In my experience, pie is not the easiest thing in the world to make. It involves crust, an oven, preparation of ingredients.³
  • “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe,” a quote by Carl Sagan
  • As American as apple pie: an expression meant to describe something quintessentially American. Of course, many cultures have versions of apple pies.⁴ Apple pie has nevertheless achieved a place in American culture:

    Although apple pies have been eaten since long before the European colonisation of the Americas, “as American as apple pie” is a saying in the United States, meaning “typically American”.[14] In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. A newspaper article published in 1902 declared that “No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”[15] The dish was also commemorated in the phrase “for Mom and apple pie” – supposedly the stock answer of American soldiers in World War II, whenever journalists asked why they were going to war.[16]

    (From the Apple Pie Wiki Page⁵.)

  • American Pie: Don McLean’s signature song, first released in 1971. Bye-bye Miss American Pie… (I’m quite fond of this large-scale lip dub video version of the song produced by the city of Grand Rapids Michigan.)
  • American Pie (1999): a movie that includes various analogies of sex and pie.
  • pie-eyed: drunk
  • piebald: having patches of black and white (or other colors), especially describing the coat of an animal.
  • pie chart: a type of graph in which proportions of a whole (such as a whole data set) are depicted as wedges of a circle
    pie-pie-chart
  • piece of the pie: an expression meaning a share in something, such as a reward or credit.
  • mud pie: a pattie-shaped blob of mud, commonly made when playing in the mud
  • sweetie pie: a common term of endearment
  • cow pie: Not actually a pie made of cow (that would would be a beef pot pie), but a lump of cow manure. (Definitely not a term of endearment)
  • pie in the face: a bit of slapstick comedy, usually involving a whipped cream pie. Just like it sounds, it involves someone getting a pie in the face.
  • 10 banana cream pies: Sesame Street once featured a rather clumsy baker who would stand at the top of a flight of stairs, and announce the number of some sort of dessert he was holding, before falling and spilling all of them. He may not actually have used banana cream pies for 10, but the phrase seems to have stuck. (cf. the use on the show The Family Guy.)

Have more pies to bring to the table? Throw ‘em in the comments.

¹ So-called, as the date (at least as it is written here in the US) is 3-14, is reminiscent of the number Pi’s initial 3 digits: 3.14. My past celebrations of Pi Day have included easy as pi, my personal gallery of Pi Pies, and a Pi-themed list.
²I was surprised to learn that this nursery rhyme was actual used by pirates to convey messages. This is the sort of thing that would usually send me to Snopes to check, but in this case Snopes is where I found it.
³ Toast is much easier to make.
⁴ I love tarte aux pommes as made in France. You know what was hard to get in France when I lived there, though? Doritos.
⁵Really. Apple pie has a Wiki page. So do pumpkin pie, pecan pie and cherry pie.

Images: Little Jack Horner and the king with the pie are both from Project Gutenberg.

a post in a thousand

Here is a list of a thousand things:

I know, I know. This list is not 1000 things long. But they are thousand things. Because this is my one thousandth post on this blog. (Also, the word “thousandth” is really hard to say.)




image credits: millefiori bead from Fire Mountain Gems, mille-feuille by okki, paper cranes by James..g, the M in stone photo is my own, taken in Barcelona. The thousand dollar bill is not mine, nor did I take it.

12 twelve things for 12/12/12

Today is December 12th, 2012: The 12th day of the 12th month of the year 2012. Or 12/12/12. How could I resist making a list for such an auspicious day?¹ Here are 12 things featuring 12:⁴

  1. A dozen eggs: the standard number of eggs as they are sold, at least in the US and Great Britain. A standard egg cartons fit 12 eggs. (But they also come in other sizes.)
  2. A dozen roses: probably since they hatch out of eggs, roses are often also sold by the dozen. Rather than being sold in the egg carton packaging, which doesn’t hold up well to the egg sprouting, they are instead sold in bunches, and placed in vases.
  3. Cheaper by the Dozen: A biographical book by Frank Gilbreth about a family with 12 children, and subsequent adaptation to a 1950 movie of the same name. (The 2003 movie of the same name with Steve Martin is not based on that book, but also features a family with 12 children.)
  4. a dime a dozen: an idiom meaning “very commonplace.” As in: Those are nothing special. You can get them a dime a dozen. (Note that eggs, roses, and children all cost much more than a dime.)
  5. 12: the number of jurors on a US trial jury. 12 Angry Men (1957) is a movie about the jury on a murder trial. (Also remade in 1997.)
  6. Twelve Monkeys (1997): A movie directed by Terry Gilliam, and one of my personal favorites. It is not about 12 monkeys serving as jurors on a murder trial. That movie is called Twelve Angry Monkeys, and hasn’t been made. Yet.
  7. 12 days of Christmas: a period of festivities celebrated in many European Christian traditions that begins on December 25th. They are sometimes wrapped up by festivities on the 12th night, also known as Epiphany Eve.
  8. Twelfth Night: a comedy play by William Shakespeare.
  9. 12 step program: a program for addiction recovery.
  10. monklogo

  11. 12-hour clock: the convention of dividing the day into 2 12-hour chunks, a.m. and p.m. As such, 12 is the number of hours on a standard analog clock, and 12-hour digital clocks (as opposed to clocks set for 24 hours). 12:00 (12 o-clock) is noon or midnight.
  12. 12th grade: The final year of the American secondary school system, also called senior year. There are 12 numbered grades in the American school system, plus kindergarten, which isn’t numbered. (There are also 12 grades in many other countries’ school systems.)
  13. Little Twelvetoes: a song from Schoolhouse Rock about aliens with 6 fingers on their hands and 6 toes on their feet, and discussing the implications for counting (namely the use of base 12). The original song/cartooon was from 1973, but I quite like the cover version by Chavez from the 1996 tribute album Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks:

¹ In the past, I made list for 7/7/7, 8/8/8, 9/9/9, and 10/10/10. I celebrated 11/11 on multiple occasions, including 11/11/11

² I didn’t celebrate 6/6/6 with a list, as I didn’t yet have this blog. Like wise for 5/5/5, 4/4/4, 3/3/3/, 2/2/2/, and 1/1/1.³

³ I have to say that this post is the last post that I am likely to post according to this pattern. While I may well choose to make a list of thirteen things, it will almost certainly not be on 13/13/13. Unless, of course, the calendar gets radically restructured next year such that we have a 13th month.

⁴ Really, more than 12, if you want to get picky. But 12 items on my list.⁵

⁵If I have 12 12 things, does that make this list a gross one?⁶

⁶ This footnote is here because I didn’t have room in my list for a foot, which has 12 inches.¹²

¹² And this one is here just to have a footnote 12.

image credits: eggs, roses, clock, 12 Monkeys

Pulling the plug.

No, I’m not pulling the plug on the blog. It’s this little guy whose days are over:

Yes, my sad, tired little Motorola flip phone is finally getting retired.

I remember well the day I got this phone. Not so much because it was an exciting phone, but because I got it at the same time as John got his first iPhone. As in the day the *first* iPhones came out. I wasn’t ready yet to commit to such an expensive phone, but since we were getting a new plan, I got my new phone.

That was a little more than 5 years ago. I know this because I posted this on that day:

original iPhone

So, 5 years old. The phone is a good year older than my second born, who is just starting pre-K. If my phone were a human, it would be getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. It might be learning to read and write its name.

As a gadget, though, it is ancient. Its memory is failing. (It can’t always find its sim card.) It tires easily. (It won’t hold a charge.) It’s looking dated and is showing its years. (The case is frayed and they don’t even make accessories for it anymore.) And I’m pretty sure the thing is on a daily regimen of metamucil. (Really, I have no phone-related analogy for that one.)

Yesterday, John brought me home a shiny new iPhone. I used it to take the photo above of my old phone. Of course, then I thought I should have a photo of the new phone, so I used my old phone to take a photo of the new phone.

Naturally, I thought I should get another shot with my new phone of the old phone with the photo of the new phone with the photo of the old phone.

How could I then resist taking a photo with the new phone of the old phone showing a photo of the new phone with a photo of the old phone?

And yet another photo with the new phone, showing the old phone with a photo of the new phone with the photo of the old phone with the photo of the new phone showing that first photo of the old phone.

It’s really not clear to me how long I would have continued in this vein if Phoebe had not pointed out to me that it was well past lunch time, and that she was hungry.

So now it’s time to let the phone run out of battery one last time, and pack up the old phone and its less-than-fully-functional accessories.


Rest in peace, once trusty flip phone. May you forever hold your charge in the afterworld. (Send me a text when you get there.)

late-night line-up

Yesterday I crossed the finish line for my commitment to daily blogging, and even met a deadline for a conference submission. (Remarkably, I submitted the paper even though the deadline was extended, in part to accommodate confusion over date lines and timezones, since the conference organizers are in Shanghai, and probably most of those submitting papers are from timezones that are lagging behind. But they added several days, which may be overkill…) And now I’m trying to get things in line for another submission. The timeline is quite tight, since the deadline is Monday. As it is, I’m pretty wiped out from pushing myself for that last submission. I think I’ve been running on adrenaline the last few weeks, which is actually not a kind of line. And while I should be working on an outline for the next deadline, or some other more productive line of activities, I find myself goofing of online. And thinking up line things.

This list is but a scratch on the surface of all the things with line. (There sure are a lot of meanings of the word line, for a start.) If you have more line items to include in the line-up, drop me a line in the comments.

last night I dreamt of Hogwarts

I can’t remember exactly what I dreamt last night, but it had something to do with Harry Potter. As the alarm went off, beep-beeping along with the radio, my confused brain was convinced that the annoying DJs were talking about Hermione. It must have been a portent of the arrival of this:

I am now the proud owner of this very cool shirt designed by artist Karen Hallion. I won a drawing on Emily’s blog a couple of weeks ago, and had my choice of two Harry Potter-related designs. I chose “I open at the close,” which boasts a cool stylized image of a snitch in black. And what’s also cool is that through the site that distributes the shirts, I was able to choose what color shirt I wanted. And they had a dark gray. I think the black design looks quite striking on the dark gray. (And you know I love me some charcoal gray and black together..)

I think this will be one of my favorite t-shirts, and there’s a good chance I will have to order some more Karen Hallion creations. Phoebe may just have to have the Streetfighter Hello Kitty, and Theo may well need the Droid Army Where’s Waldo one. Perhaps John will need one of the various Firefly ones (especially one that features Calvin & Hobbes. Shiny.) If you appreciate some geekery on your t-shirtage, you should totally check out her work.