all my eggs in one basket

whole_egg_simple.pngWith Easter around the corner, and with nesting on my brain, it seems like a good time to break out the eggs. While there are loads full of eggs out there, to help moderate our cholesterol intake, I’ll restrict this ThThTh list to a dozen egg things.

A Dozen Eggs

  1. Easter eggs. Eggs that have been dyed and/or decorated as part of Easter traditions. Linked by some to the concept of rebirth. Linked by others to an anthropomorphic bunny.
  2. Easter egg: a hidden message or bonus in video game, DVD, or other (ususally digital) media. (Can you find my Easter egg?) They can also be found in print or other media, scuh as maps, as a means to protect from copyright infringement.
  3. Fabergé eggs. Elaborate jewelled eggs made by Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé, many of which were commissioned by the Russian imperial family. They often had surprises hidden inside.
  4. Chocolate eggs. Not actually eggs flavored with chocolate, which probably comes as a relief to many, but egg-shaped chocolates. I’m partial to Kinder eggs. A type of chocolate egg containing a plastic yolk with a surprise inside. When I was little, the toys were much cooler than the prizes you could find in, for example, Cracker Jacks. Cadbury Creme Eggs are pretty tasty, too, but the yolk contained within is messier to play with.
  5. egg_blue2.jpgegg_yellow.jpgegg_purple.jpgegg_green.jpgegg_pink.jpgegg_orange.jpg

  6. “the egg scene” from Angel Heart (1987) (clip on YouTube) “You know, some religions think that the egg is the symbol of the soul,” says Robert Deniro during the scene where he malevolently peels and eats a hard-boiled egg.
  7. Humpty Dumpty. A nursery rhyme about an egg.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
    Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

    It has quite a bit of lore associated with it. (Did you know it was a riddle in earlier forms, with the eggness of Humpty being the answer?)

  8. Palestinian egg story: A Palistinian folktale about an egg trying to discover its identity. I was exposed to it during a field methods class, where we worked with a speaker of Palestinian Arabic. I particularly remember the line [ʔɪnti mɪʃ Хudra], or “You are not a vegetable.”
  9. Eggbert, the Slightly Cracked Egg, a picturebook by Tom Ross, illustrated by Rex Barron. A story of an egg who is an individual. And a slightly cracked one.
  10. egg_pink.jpgegg_blue2.jpgegg_orange.jpgegg_purple.jpgegg_green.jpgegg_yellow.jpg

  11. Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss. A story of an elephant who is talked into sitting on a nest.
  12. Look – (Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers (1968). An Avengers episode with an archive of clown faces painted on eggshells. (This was actually a Tara King episode, but one of the better ones.)
  13. “She was a bad egg.” An expression meaning “she was a bad person,” and a quote from the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) by Gene Wilder when Veruca Salt was dumped down the chute after being identified as faulty by the egg-dicator.
  14. “Egg Baby” Parenting an exercise or assignment sometimes used to teach teenagers about parenting and responsibility. Kids are given an egg to “care for” for a set amount of time. Featured in “First the Egg” (1985), an After School Special starring Justine Bateman. Also in the Buffy episode “Bad Eggs.” Of course, in this case, the eggs turn out to be evil demon spawn.


images (edited 2/7/2010, since people were wondering): The white egg is a public domain image from, and the single colored egg images are ones that I made based using that image. The photo at bottom is mine.

dot dot dot

exclamation_point1.jpgThere are times when the world conspires to make me ponder a topic for a list. This week the world apparently wants me to reflect on punctuation.

I’m quite fond of punctuation, really. Not so much the prescriptive uses of it. I like the informal uses of it that reflect the prosody of spoken language. You can break up a sentence or phrase with periods to show the strong emphasis of making each word its own intonational phrase. (What. The. Hell?) There’s the use of parentheses or commas for, you know, parenthenticals. (And I’m quite partial to parentheticals.) Or you can use ellipses to signal that you’re trailling off…

So I offer you a ThThTh list with an abundance of punctuation marks.

First, I offer to you the Evidence of Punctuation Conspiracy:

Further punctuation-related things include:

  • The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. This blog is a “great” place to see of all sorts of abuses of quotation marks.
  • Apostrophe Abuse. Its the cats pajama’s in terms of misused apostrophe’s.
  • The Ominous Comma. A blog. While not actually about punctuation, it gets points for having such a cool punctuation-related name.
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. A book on punctuation that is said to be entertaining. (Yes, I should have read it. I have it. But haven’t read it. It will probably tell me to stop with the sentence fragments. Or some such. Screw that.)
    • There’s a punctuation “game” based on the book. (I use “scare quotes” here to suggest that there is not a lot of “fun” or “playing” involved.)
    • More fun is the panda joke that is the inspiration for the book title (offered up by Geoffrey Pullum of The Language Log) .
  • I love you period,” a song by Dan Baird

    I love you period
    Do you love me question mark
    Please, please exclamation point
    I want to hold you in parentheses

  • Let’s not forget the colons and semi-colons of the island nation of San Serriffe:

    The native people of San Serriffe are the Flong. However, the dominant group are of European stock, the descendants of colonists, known as colons. There is also a large mixed-race group, known as semi-colons.

  • Finally, I offer a bit of cartoon swearing. As in using punctuation marks in place of swear words, usually in a cartoon. (This allows me to end the post with a bang. Or 2.)(Sorry, a little punctuation mark humor.)(No, I’m not sorry. I’m dorky like that.)


Thanksgiving food for thought

We’re about to head out the door to go down to John’s parents’ for Thanksgiving. And of course, first and foremost on my mind is: “how will I get a post up tonight?” So I’m dashing off this bit of a placeholder.

And also taking the opportunity to share something new I learned about Thanksgiving from a video I saw this morning. Apparently, Thanksgiving was created as a national holiday in 1863. Sarah Hale, publisher and editor of a magazine, Gode’s Lady’s Book, was the motivating force behind getting Abraham Lincoln to declare the holiday, and to have it be during the workweek. She motivated women around the country to harrass their congressmen and senators to bring about the holiday. According to the folks interviewed in the video, the bits and pieces of myth and knowledge about the pilgrims were collected together and made part of the holiday, along with the recipes collected in the women’s magazine.

I just thought that was interesting. And not something that gets mentioned when we learn to draw hand-trace turkeys in elementary school.


pirateparrot.jpgHere it is, the day after International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I’ve still got pirates on the brain. But rather than bringing you a list of pirates for this week’s Themed Things Thursday, I’ll bring you a list of the frequent pirate’s companion: the parrot.

A Flock of Parrots

  1. Parrots are frequently to be seen on the shoulders of pirates¹, specifically of fictional pirates. Captain Flint was a pirate’s parrot in Treasure Island, the pirate novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. More recently, we’ve seen the pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  2. Parrots, especially African Grey Parrots, are well known as birds who can imitate human speech.
  3. This is no doubt the source of the use of the word parrot as a verb (transitive), meaning repeat without really understanding. As in “They parroted my parrot jokes, but none of them laughed.”
  4. You can find a variety of parrot jokes out there. (These even a site with pirate and parrot jokes.) This is probably my favorite parrot joke.
  5. Polly want a cracker? The stereotypical parrot sentence, whether said to a parrot, or by a parrot. Possibly popularized in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
  6. Poll or Polly has been a common parrot name for centuries, with an early documented use from 1611.
  7. Also in the nursery rhyme:

    Little Poll Parrot
    Sat in his garret
    Eating toast and tea;
    A little brown mouse
    Jumped into the house,
    And stole it all away.

  8. Then there’s the song “Polly,” by Nirvana

    Polly wants a cracker
    I think I should get off her first
    I think she wants some water
    To put out the blow torch

  9. Or Paulie (1998), a movie about a parrot.
  10. Parrots have been featured in various folktales from around the world, like 2 Buddhist folktales from India “The Brave Little Parrot.” (who puts out a forest fire²) and “The Steadfast Parrot” (who is faithful to a tree) and an
    Italian folktale (involving a prince who has himself turned into a parrot).
  11. Other moderately famous parrots include Waldo the Parrot, from Twin Peaks (who seems to have been present, and biting, the night of Laura Palmer’s death) and Parrot, the parrot with biting sarcasm from the Terry Pratchett novel Faust Eric
  12. Parrot Heads are the nickname given to fans of the musician Jimmy Buffett
  13. And to round things off, I bring you Python’s parrot. The ex-parrot. He is decidedly not pining for the fjords.


¹ Or about the arms and head, especially of those posing as pirates.

² Kind of like a friend of mine did recently, except he used a plastic bag to put out the fire.

green party

I’ve been trying to live greener of late. Cutting back on waste. Reducing, reusing, recycling. And I’ve also been eating a lot of vegetables recently, greens even, which make me feel like I might turn green. However, even with all this green-ness, I’ll never ever be as green as the green dudes I’ve listed below. Because this Thursday’s theme is green people.

So here we have them. Following up on the blues and the reds, we got the greens. Green people and green people-like creatures. Sporting green fur, green skin, green what have you.

Green People


  1. The Wicked Witch of the West, from the Wizard of Oz, the 1939 movie.
  2. Elphaba from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Based on the green woman of Oz. (Also in the Broadway muscial based on the book.)
  3. The Green Goddess. The title of two movies from 1923 and 1930. (I’m not actually sure how green the goddess actually was, seeing as the movies were in black and white. But potentially green.) Also a salad dressing.
  4. The Jolly Green Giant. Big. Really big. Likes his vegetables.
  5. The Green Children of Woolpit. Two children who supposedly appeared in a village in England in the 1100s. And were green.
  6. Little Green Men. Aliens. From space. Who are green. And small.
  7. Yoda. Of the Star Wars series. Green, he is.
  8. Kif from Futurama. A little, green, long-suffering and sensitive man.
  9. kif.jpg

  10. Orions from the planet Orion, as featured on Star Trek. Remarkably human-sized, as green aliens go. The Orion women have crazy-powerful sex pheromones: “They are like animals, vicious, seductive. They say no human male can resist them.”
  11. Dipsy. A freakin’ Teletubby. A bit on the chartreuse side, as greens go, but green nonetheless, and allegedly “stylish”:

    Dipsy is the second-biggest Teletubby, and undoubtedly the most stylish, but being super cool doesn’t stop Dipsy loving big hugs.

  12. Green is generally a popular color for monsters. Like Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.
  13. Wally, the Green Monster. Apparently based on the nickname of the wall at Fenway.
  14. Shrek. Green ogre from the book by William Steig. Also from the movies (2001, 2004 and 2007). Also Fiona.
  15. Various muppets. Such as Green Anything Muppets. Also Oscar (the grouch). (And Kermit, though in his case, green is not too surprising a color. Being a frog, and all.)
  16. The Grinch. The Dr. Seuss character.
  17. The Hulk. Big. Green. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. As seen in the 2003 movie, 70s TV show, comics, and more.

wickedbookcover.jpg oscar.jpgteletubbies_dipsy.jpg


world health and cool use of animation

Do you know the answers to this set of questions?

In each of the following pairs…

Which country has the highest child mortality?

Sri Lanka or Turkey
Poland or South Korea
Malaysia or Russia
Pakistan or Vietnam
Thailand or South Africa

This is from a pre-test given to Swedish university students by Professor of International Health Hans Rosling of the Karolinska institute, and the answers are given in a lecture that he presented at the TED 2006 conference*. Jenny of Baggage Carousel 4 offers up and discusses the video of this lecture, where you can go to get the answer to the questions. The answers are about a minute and a half into the video, but don’t stop watching there. It’s an amazing lecture, and fun to watch, and, as my friend Jenny puts it:

even if you couldn’t give a fig about international health and development, rosling shows an amazing, dynamic use of data the likes i’ve never seen before.

I’ve never seen the likes of it either. And as someone who works with a lot of data, I was blown away by the power of the visual data presentation, which uses animated graphics and something called Trendalyzer produced by Gapminder. These aren’t your grandmother’s line charts.

And as someone who does give a fig about international heath and development (I’d like to think I give a whole lot of figs about it), and have read books and taken courses relating to these issues (albeit more than a decade ago), I learned a huge amount just from watching that video. Wow.

*(note: I thought it was from the 2007 TED conference, but I see now he talked about something a little different this year. And apparently swalllowed a sword.)

midterm mayhem

I have a midterm tomorrow. Which just feels so incredibly wrong.

But aside from that, it means I absolutely should be spending my day (or whatever available moments I have during the day) studying, reviewing my notes, and pondering the meanings of various tidbits of sociolinguistics terminology. And it means I absolutely should not be sitting here at my laptop goofing off. Because that would be wrong.

Here are some things I absolutely should not be writing today:

  • a school-related list of movies
  • my personal adventures yesterday, and our first post-Phoebe “party”
  • a description of the state of our home post-party (is there such a thing as post-party depression?)
  • a discussion of the unexpected spike in my blog hits during a couple of hours yesterday
  • a treatise on the comparative merits of ducks in various types of dishwashers
  • an in-depth corpus-based analyis of squid discourse
  • an advice column about the etiquette of exchanging bananas
  • anything to do with pants
  • a list of things that I should not be writing about
  • Here’s some of what I should be writing about:

  • the nitty gritty of calling a language variety a dialect or language (you say it’s a language, I say it’s a dialect, let’s call the whole thing off)
  • the distinctions among a pidgin, a creole, a koiné, and contact jargons (and not the distinctions among pigeons, crayolas, coins and contact lenses)
  • Acrolects, Mesolects and Basolects (oh, my!)
  • the monogenesis theory, the polygenesis theory and the bioprogram hypothesis (which sound straight out of scifi, but really aren’t)
  • dialect continua, diglossia, decreolization and relexification (which sound almost sexy, but probably aren’t)
  • killer languages
  • creepy new airport security technology can look under your pants

    I saw a NYT article this morning describing new airport security technology: passenger x-ray machines.

    X-ray vision has come to the airport checkpoint here, courtesy of federal aviation security officials who have installed a new device that peeks underneath passengers’ clothing to search for guns, bombs or liquid explosives.

    This creepy new technology can let TSA employees do a virtual strip-search. It actually looks very impressive, giving an outline of the passenger’s skin. And I guess I find it fascinating. But, and I repeat. I also find it creepy. And unsettling.

    Anyhow, this news story reminds me of a number of things. So here. Have a list:

    1. Superman (eg. 1978). He had x-ray vision. Could look through Lois Lane’s clothes to see her undies.
    2. Total Recall (1990). Shows security screening of the future with people walking along through full-body x-rays. We get to see skeletal structure in this movie, though. Not skin.
    3. The image the article shows looks a little like a 3D ultrasound. (Though the technology is totally different.)
    4. And I’m reminded of the airport security game (Hat-tip to Schneier, who has lots of interesting things to say about the games we play relating to “security.”) This game lets you play an airport security employee, screening passengers and their bags as they try to pass through security. Your task is to keep up with the ever-changing, and frequently random, restrictions on items that passengers may have on their person or in their carry-on bags as they pass through. For example, sometimes passengers are not allowed to wear their shoes as go through the security gate. And sometimes they are not allowed to be wearing pants.

    donuts are evil

    John just walked by, looked at the title line I just typed and said: “you are in a wacky mood today.” Yes, it’s true. Wacky. Perhaps it’s the sugar. Because I have eaten 3 donuts. We are now down at my in-laws. And whenever we visit, John’s mother lays out various breakfast “treats” for us. Every morning. A different box of Freihofer’s each morning: coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, donuts. This morning was donuts. I can largely resist the coffee cake. But I seem to have little will power to resist donuts. Even though I know how bad they are for me.

    Here are some of the donuts I have not (yet) eaten.

    There is a popular tendency to call donuts “baked goods.” But, and I realize I may be disillusioning someone out there, donuts are not baked. Unless an alternate meaning of bake is “cook by means of dropping into a big vat of boiling fat.” Yes, donuts are fried. (There may be some exceptions to this rule, but I warrant you they are not nearly as tasty.) Check out this early reference from Wikipedia’s entry on donut:

    Washington Irving’s reference to “doughnuts” in 1809 in his History of New York is an early printed use of the word. Irving described “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.”

    According to the same Wikipedia entry, modern donuts contain between 20 and 25% fat. Happily, hog’s fat is no longer the norm, though.

    In defense of donuts, though, they are tasty. Check out ytsl’s list of favorite American specialty foods: Krispy Kreme donuts top the list. (I’m not sure I’ve had many Krispy Kreme donuts. I live in New England, where Dunkin Donuts is the fried ring king. There are practically more DD shops around here than even Starbucks…Not that I frequently buy donuts. As I said, donuts are evil.)