Fork, spoon, or other?

As so often happens after I post a list, I was struck by an omission. I left a spoon off yesterday’s utensil list. A big spoon:

Claes Oldenburg‘s Spoonbridge with Cherry sculpture, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It occured to me that where there is a spoon, there is likely also a fork. And sure enough, there exists at least one giant fork:
A giant fork sculpture by Jean-Pierre Zaugg and Georges Favre, stuck into Lake Leman in front of the Alimentarium (the Food Museum) in Vevey, Switzerland.

In case you would like a few more utensil-related tidbits to stick your fork into, I offer up a quiz. (First seen at raincoaster.)

You Are Chopsticks

People see you as exotic, unusual, and even a bit intimidating.
You are a difficult person to figure out.

In truth, you try to live a very simple life.
But most people are too frenzied to recognize the beauty of your simplicity.

(It would appear that I am actually two utensils, as chopsticks are generally not a single item. I suppose if I came up as a single chopstick it would mean that I am a rather dull instrument, largely useless except for clumsy poking and stabbing.)

photo credits: fork by µµ, and spoon by Mulad.

Well, golly!

I’m seriously amused. There is a quiz out there called “The Blog Cuss-O-Meter,” which I saw at casa az last night (and at raincoaster a few days ago when I was too busy to give it a spin). I thought to myself “screw it, I hardly ever swear on my blog,” but I took the quiz anyhow. Here is the result I got:

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

(The site further gives this bit of info: “This is 791% MORE than other websites who took this test.”)

This surprised me more than a little, especially given that others who took this were surprised at how low a score they got. In spite of having decided, and stated, that I reserve the right to swear on my blog, I tend to shy away from using certain words in my writing that more easily leave my lips when I am, for example, driving. Hell, I wrote a whole post last week where I played with “crap” as a theme, but I somehow avoided using the word shit.

For example, I’d just like to point out that the word fuck appears to appear in only 4 posts in the history of this blog, which means just over 1% of the posts. (And one of those uses is on an image of a little candy heart. Doesn’t that make it sugar-coated?)

But I do use a lot of mild taboo words. My guess is that somehow, the ass in kick-ass, as in my tag “kick-ass women” is responsible. (Yes, I’m saying my ass is responsible.) It’s in my sidebar, so may count as being in basically all of my pages somehow. Otherwise, what do they consider?

Seriously, this makes me want to do an experiment. Anyone want to try adding some shit or something to their sidebar to see if they can inflate their score?

(Oh, and by the way, I’m back home. The conference and trip were really great. The presentations went well. I saw lots of people I wanted to see. And now I’m really fucking freakin’ damn quite palpably tired and need to get ready for the next conference, now less than 3 weeks away.)

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.)


What’s your point?

I found this punctuation mark quiz at raincoaster‘s earlier this week. I was going to post this as part of a bigger list today, but my list was getting out of hand. So decided to pop it up now. (From the train. Hah! My commuter train now has free wireless.)

I am a question mark.

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.
And while you know a lot, you don’t act like a know it all. You’re open to learning you’re wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.
You’re naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.
(But they’re not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

I’m quite amused to see that I excel in higher education. I wonder if such excellence is measured in terms of years spent pursuing degrees. ‘Cause I’m getting quite a few years under my belt. The bit about collecting lots o’ data is…um…right on the mark.

So, do you dare to try the quiz? Who will get the dreaded colon?

family outing

As those of you who have not recently been in a coma, had memories erased during an alien abduction, or who have other reasons for not being aware of it know, the political primaries are in full swing here in the US. (I realize that quite a few of you who tend to read this are not from the US, but I’m assuming that you have not managed to escape some of the US-centered news.) Today is Super Tuesday, a day when 24 states are holding primary elections. My state is one of them. And I’m happy to say that I voted.

John and I went together, and we brought Phoebe along. (She didn’t get to vote.) I’m not sure I’ve ever voted in a primary before. It seems not in this town, at least. I was a bit startled that they shout out your party affiliation as they cross off your name and give you your ballot. It was a bit disconcerting to hear the shouts of “name name, number blah street, Republican” for the 3 people in line ahead of us. I was afraid they were going to turn on us when they heard that we were (gasp) Democrats. I was heartened by hearing a couple of other shouts of “Democrat” while we were there, though. I suspect that we are not in the majority in this town.

It’s been a difficult process for me to choose a candidate. There were a number of candidates I could get behind. Just over a year ago, I mentioned that I was excited that Hillary Clinton had announced her candidacy. I was practically giddy from the thought that there were people who truly believed that she had a chance at the presidency, that people believed a woman could be US president not only in my lifetime, but now. But even though I wanted to support her for a number of reasons, I’ve continued to be unhappy with her position on the war in Iraq.

We can’t really know how Obama would have voted on the war had he been in the Senate in 2003. But we do know that at that time, he spoke out against what he considered to be an unneccessary war. (Thanks to TIV for posting his speech from that time.)

So I’ve been leaning more and more towards Obama. I was considering Edwards. Various quizzes I took told me that my views most closely matched Kucinich. (But of course those quizzes didn’t take into account views on UFOs. I think mine differ somewhat.) A couple of quizzes showed my views as overlapping roughly the same amount for Obama and Clinton. A quiz I found more recently, via pgoodness (and possibly some other places that I’m not recalling now) was the electoral compass. I like this one in that it showed how it placed the candidates on a map of social and economic issues, and gave links about how it calculated those positions. I was able to see how my views overlapped and diverged from theirs on particular issues. Looking at these questions really helped me to consider the candidates more objectively. (And holy crap, I’m frightened by what I saw in the Republican camp.)

If you haven’t voted already, vote when your time comes. (BipolarLawyerCook wrote a great call-to-polls post you should check out, too.)

Now with more Polysyllabic Nonsense

I think most of you have seen this item making its way around the bloggy world: the blog reading level score. I’ve seen it a bunch of places:

You wanna know what I got?


(Note that my blog shares this honor with Sassy of eye heart internet, who can even blog at the elementary school level bilingually.)

Actually, the first time I tried this, a few weeks ago maybe, I got junior high level. But apparently my writing skills are deteriorating.

What I find funniest, though, is that I also tried my other blog: The Minsitry of Silly Blogs. This is a blog I threw together on a whim to go along with a NaBloPoMo group I started. See what it scored?

genius.jpg The Ministry of Silly Blogs

It would seem that when I am making efforts to sound Officious and Pretentious, as well as Silly and Pompous, my writing appears more erudite. Even if what I am writing is Utter Nonsense. (Which is not to say that I believe that all those whose blogs scored higher than elementary school write Officiously and Pompously. But perhaps you all write Utter Nonsense?)

All in all, I find myself terribly curious about the means by which a reading level score is achieved. Is it sentence length? Average word length? Does anyone know?

throwing together a themed list (even though it’s not Thursday)

125_125_banner_a.jpgI came across¹, a site that I think is pretty fun. It’s got a bit of a running vocabulary quiz. At the same time, the site is set up such that for each word you get right, 10 grains of rice get donated through the United Nations. (The rice is paid for by advertisers.)

It’s kinda cool to see the running totals they have posted, too. The site only started on October 7th of this year. Yesterday, 198,342,51 grains of rice were donated, whereas 6,645,520 were donated 1 month ago.

Anyhow, that’s getting to be a decent amount of rice. And it’s inspired me to throw together a bit of a list of rice things. Even though it’s not Thursday. It’s a short list, anyhow.

A Few Grains of Rice

  1. One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale A picture book by Demi.

    It’s the story of Rani, a clever girl who outsmarts a very selfish raja and saves her village. When offered a reward for a good deed, she asks only for one grain of rice, doubled each day for 30 days. Remember your math? That’s lots of rice: enough to feed a village for a good long time–and to teach a greedy raja a lesson.

  2. On a Bed of Rice: An Asian American Erotic Feast, edited by Geraldine Kudaka. An erotic anthology. I like the name, what with the mixed meanings of food and sex. And if there are two things I like (aside from pants), they’re food and sex. (I also just found myself thinking that a somewhat similar phrase would make for an interesting book title, too. “On a Bed of Noodles.” Perhaps it could be an erotic humor anthology.)
  3. “Rice, rice baby,” by Weird Al. I think you can guess which song it parodies.
  4. 米国 beikoku, a Japanese term for the US, which means “rice country”


Aside from the bit about donating rice, I find it fun to test my word knowledge and learn new words. So far, my favorite new word that I’ve learned is, without doubt, omphaloskepsis. It means navel-gazing. And then I thought to myself, “now that would be a fine blog name.” Indeed, it is.

Other words I have encountered which make me happy include the following:

    bumbershoot = umbrella
    demulcent = soothing

Anyone want to go play for a bit and bring me back some tasty word morsels?


¹ I came across links to this site at least 3 times, though I can only track down one, which wasn’t even the first place I saw it. Anyone else reading this post about it?


Tonight, my brain is tired. Very tired. Sleep deprived. Stressed.

We’ve come down to New York to visit John’s parents, since we haven’t been down here since before our big trip to Europe. It’s been about 2 months. We drove down last night. Left later than we meant. Hit more traffic than we anticipated. Arrived after midnight.

Phoebe slept in the car on the way down. And I largely did, too. (You’ll be happy to know that I wasn’t the one driving.) So the car sleep was dandy. But then, we were up. And visiting with Phoebe’s Grammy. And there were new toys. (Actually, some old toys that were John’s when he was little. But exciting and new to Phoebe.) There were delays of getting our stuff together, and putting together the travel crib.

Before we knew it, it was 2:00 a.m. While this may still be before last call at some bars, it’s a time of day that some might consider to be late for a toddler to be up. So we worked on winding back down. Pajamas. Reading books. A sippy cup of milk.

But Phoebe would not wind down. NOT. Nope. Nuh-uh. She was Awake. Wired. And when she realized that we were conspiring towards getting her into bed, she was also Not Happy. We had screaming and sobs the likes of which we had not seen or heard in many a month. The long and short of it was that it was 4:00 before she (and we) got to sleep.

She did sleep as late as 8:00 this morning, but all in all, it wasn’t enough sleep for her. So it was a bit of a rough day. And then tonight, we got home late too. (From visiting John’s dad and then picking up dinner from my favorite restaurant in the universe.) Not as late, but Phoebe had fallen asleep in the car and was Unhappy to be Awake, but Unwilling to be Asleep.

So the upshot is that now I am tired. And feel that I barely have half a brain left with which to function. But I did come across this test at Azahar’s place that lets me know a bit more about the halves of my brain. (Apparently, I’m supposed to have two halves.) It looks like I’m more right-brained. I thought I was more half-and-half brained. Or perhaps sometimes just half-brained.

You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

How do you feel about squid?


“So…what is it with you and squid?”

This was the burning question that one curious soul asked Raincoaster, the celebrated cephalopodophile.¹

This question got me to thinking. Doesn’t everybody feel a fondness for squid? I then recalled a test I’d taken a while back, which measures one’s Squid Quotient.² I dug up the link, and found that my own affinity for squid is far above average³:

Your Squid Quotient = 154.75
Interpreting your results: An average Squid Quotient is around 100. A SQ of 100 means you have a normal affinity for squid. A SQ above 100 means you have an attraction or fondness for squid. Below 100 means that you should probably stay away from the deep ocean.

In case that you, too, feel you might have an interest in squid that extends beyond the occasional craving for calamari, the Squidsquid website also has a whole bunch of other fun squid activities to wrap your tentacles around. Including a squidtastic squid translator, squid games, squid insults, and a squid name generator. Behold! I am greedy alejna the behemoth!


¹ A commenter on the post where the asking was described suggested that a sign with that text might have helped the asker locate the askee among the crowds at the train station where they had their rendez-vous. This seemed an excellent suggestion. I am fully in favor of more squid signs, and I felt moved to create one of my own. And now I am flattered to see that my own tentacular design is now swimming in the murky depths of Raincoaster.

² While I don’t remember the specifics of how I came across this, it was likely via this Pharyngula post.

³ Admittedly, when I took the test back in February, my score was lower. Either my squid appreciation and/or knowledge has increased, or (more likely, as it’s a timed test) I was just faster with my answers the second time around⁴.

⁴ Yes, I must confess I did save my answer from the first time around. It was 131.75. It’s not like I had it tattooed on my forehead or anything. But I do tend to save things.⁵

⁵ Do you want to see my collection of…No, I’m pretty sure you don’t.