Happy International Pants Day!

Today is the day when millions of people around the world come together in the spirit of pants. In thousands of cities around the world, people celebrated by wearing pants big and small. Whether lounging at home in pajama pants, stretching their legs in yoga pants, or striding out into the world of work wearing more professional pants, pants-wearers world wide wore their pants proudly. “It really warms my heart to see so many people wearing pants,” a woman said tearfully on a New York street corner. Indeed, wearing pants has been warming the hearts (not to mention the legs) of millions of people every day. “My grandpa always said he was proud to wear the pants in our family. I know he’d be just as proud to see all his great grandchildren wearing pants as well,” said a father of several rambunctious pants-clad girls at a pants rally in Kansas City. As Mark Twain once said, or maybe it was the Dalai Lama, “Wearing clothes with legs divided, will ever keep our hearts united!”

It may not surprise you that none of the above paragraph was true. At least to the best of my knowledge. What I know to be true is that today is a special day for me and my pants. Today marks the 9th anniversary of this blog. I hope that you, too, wore pants today to celebrate with me.

photos of exclamation points

I happened to look at the search terms people used to find my blog today, and saw that someone had come seeking “exclamation point photos.” I found this rather surprising. Perplexing, even. For one thing, I haven’t posted (or hadn’t yet posted), to my knowledge, any actual photographs of exclamation points. (I did once compose and post a rather nice graphic of an exclamation point made of punctuation marks, but it’s not a photo.)

For another thing, I was surprised that someone out there would actually be looking for “exclamation point photos.” That is, someone out there who is not me. As it happens, I have found myself noticing exclamation points in the wild for the past several years. They are elusive and rare creatures, but happily, once spotted, they tend not to run away. Many of them will even consent to having their photos taken.

First, my earliest wild exclamation point sighting. This little guy was seen at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in March of 2009.

It seemed to be made out of green tea, which is common for wild punctuation marks in the area. Sadly, shortly after this photo was taken, the little exclamation point was squished and smeared across the table by the fingers of a curious nearby preschooler.

This rather startled looking specimen was seen on the ceiling tiles in a lab at MIT. I think it was trying to run away. (Spotted March, 2011.)

This cute little guy was on some steps of the Great Wall of China, near Mutianyu. It posed for me in May, 2012.

And most recently, this timid creature was seen at a zoo in Massachusetts in August, 2012. It was trying to hide under a few leaves, possibly out of concern that it would be stomped on. (And it may have had some reason for concern, as I believe that the feet in the photo belong to the same individual who smushed the green tea exclamation point of the first 2 photos back in 2009.)

As you can see, my blog will now be THE go-to place for photos of exclamation points. Perhaps one day I will write a guide book on the subject.

keep on path

This sign seems to offer helpful advice, but sometimes I’ve found myself with doubts I’m on the right path.

There is also something to be said for being a trailblazer, and heading off the path. You do need to watch out for hazards like poison ivy, though. Or other pitfalls. There might even be actual pitfalls! I’ve never seen a pitfall, other than in movies or TV shows I saw as a kid. It might actually be cool to build a pitfall, but if you did so, you should probably not do it on the path. For one thing, you’d probably get noticed by others who are out on walks on the path, and they might get suspicious of you out there with your shovel. You did bring a shovel, right? Because you’re not going to make a very effective pitfall if you just try digging a hole with your hands or a stick. Or even a spoon. It would take you a really long time with a spoon. Unless it’s a really big spoon, and unless the ground is really loose. So that’s another reason to go off the path. The ground’s going to be really packed hard on the path, and even if you had half a dozen friends there to help you with their grapefruit spoons, it would take a long time to build a pitfall big enough to catch something. No, I don’t know what you’re likely to catch. If this were a bikepath, you could catch a biker, but we already decided you should go off the path for this. So maybe a raccoon? Because, let’s face it, you’re going to get pretty tired of digging that pitfall, and I doubt you’ll keep at it long enough to make a hole big enough to catch something big like a bear. What were you planning to do with a bear anyhow? So just plan to keep things small and simple. A little hole, covered up with some sticks and camouflaged with some leaves. But not those leaves! I’m pretty sure those are poison ivy.

Come to think of it, it’s safer to keep on the path.

Better yet, keep on the couch and put on an episode of Gilligan’s Island. I’m pretty sure there was an episode where someone tried to make a pitfall.

This photo was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the world. I was remembering this photo with Friday’s theme of “path,” and thought I’d post something about the Japanese Tea Garden, or possibly something more meaningful about my path in life. I may have…strayed.

The Spud Who Loved Me

James Bond: Do you expect me to chop?
Auric Goldfingerlings: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to dice. And then panfry with some onions.

The Bond Franchise meets the fast food franchise in these lesser-known action movies. Hold on to your seats and grab your ketchup.

  • Licence to Peel
  • From Russia with Latkes
  • Octopierogi
  • Quantum of Solanaceae
  • On Her Masher’s Secret Service
  • Dumplings Are Forever
  • The Living Homefries
  • Dr. Gnocchi
  • Live and Let Fry
  • Thunderbulbes
  • The Hashbrowns Are Not Enough
  • A View Tuber Kill
  • The Man with the Golden Spud Gun
  • Moontater
  • Goldfingerlings
  • You Only Bake Twice
  • Tuber Never Dies
  • Kartoffel Royale
  • Yukon Goldeneye
  • The Spud Who Loved Me
  • Fry Another Tater
  • For Your Eyes Only

No time to include synopses this time, as I’m beat and need to get my synapses some rest. Please feel free to contribute any plot summaries in the comments.

mug shots

This shifty-looking character was discovered at a Massachusetts farm stand this September, trying to pass itself off as an ordinary eggplant. It was taken in for questioning regarding the brutal dicing of a carrot, the decapitation of several fiddleheads, and the deflowering of a cauliflower. It was eventually implicated in the death of sweet potato, and was convicted of yamslaughter. While the tubers all demanded that the eggplant should fry, it was instead given a life sentence in the cooler.

It’s after 11:00 p.m., and I needed something to post for my daily posting commitment. I’m trying to focus on work and I need to get to bed so that I can be productive tomorrow. Naturally I did what most people would do: found photos of ridiculous vegetables in my photo library.

Seriously, though, who does this guy remind you of? I do see a bit of Nixon in the top photo, but the profile reminds me of a cartoon character that I can’t quite place.

oil and water

They say that oil and water don’t mix. If two people just don’t get along, someone might just say “they are just like oil and water.” Which would you rather be? Probably water, right? Water gives life. Water is clean. I mean, who really wants to be oil? It’s all greasy and oily. On the other hand, when you pour oil and water together, which one ends up on top? Yeah, you think about that.

But here’s something else to ponder: if you pour oil and water into a glass, they separate. But who would want to pour oil and water into a glass? Really, what kind of recipe is that? Who comes up with these things? You’d be far more likely to try to mix oil and vinegar. Why isn’t the expression about that? Because of salad dressing, I’m telling you. People really want that oil and vinegar to mix, so they shake it up. They make them mix. If you said “those guys are just like oil and vinegar,” people would be all like “Huh? They taste good on mixed greens? That doesn’t make any sense.” That’s what I’m saying.

You know what else? If you put oil and water into a bowl with a package of brownie mix and 2 eggs, they do mix. Then you bake them together in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. So if you ever meet a couple of people who just can’t get along, that’s what you need to do. Bake some brownies with them. Or stick a toothpick into them.

If you put oil and water into a rice cooker with some rice, then they do end up kinda mixing. But only after the rice is cooked.

This post was brought to you by Tiredness™ and a 2-year-old photo chosen arbitrarily from my photo library. For the record, I have not been eating any brownies. I did, however, bake some cookies. And some squash. But not together. Because you know what else doesn’t mix? Cookies and squash.

teachable moments

Parenting small children can be tough. But what’s important is work with the challenges, and turn them into teachable moments.

Yesterday morning, Phoebe came to me and said: “Theo just called me ‘stupid bad Phoebe.'”

“Theo!” I scolded. “Is this true?” Theo instantly dropped to the floor and hid his face from me, an apparent admission of guilt.

“Theo, that’s a hurtful thing to say. Those things are just not true.” Theo continued to avoid looking at me.

“What’s more,” I continued, “your choice of words is both unoriginal and uninspired.” I whipped out the thesaurus. “Look here, Theo. Instead of ‘stupid,’ there are plenty of other words you could have chosen: brainless, doltish, simpleminded, half-witted, thick-headed..obtuse! Now there’s a good one.”

“Obsoot?” Theo tried, tentatively, still face down on the floor.

“And instead of ‘bad,’ you could have used…let’s see…beastly, deficientinferior, atrocious, substandardPutrid! There’s a nice colorful word. How about putting beastly and doltish together?”

“Beasty goldfish?” Theo turned to look at me.

“Or maybe we can learn from some famous insults…” I quickly googled famous insults. “Ah yes, here we go: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!” Nice! But, no, no. That won’t do. Let’s not insult me! I’m your mother, too. Ooh, how about this? “You warthog-faced buffoon.” Yes, that’s the way. But better yet would be to make up your own. Think of an animal…or maybe a vegetable. Monkey…turnip…You can combine them with adjectives, like “doltish monkey” or “simpleminded turnip.” Or make compound nouns. How about calling her a substandard, simpleminded turnip-nosed monkey face? Brainless waterbuffalo? Putrid potato head? The combinations are endless! You just need to use your imagination.”

“Now, I want you to give Phoebe a hug and say you’re sorry,” I said sternly. “And next time you insult your sister, I expect to hear something more creative.”

Theo, thoroughly ashamed of his banal insult.

I’m going to borrow from Neil, here, and give a truth quotient. Let’s say 50%. I’ll let you guess which parts really happened.

off the top of my head

Hi! Remember me? Wow, it’s been ages since we last talked. It seems like years. Has it really been only a couple weeks? What have you been up to? Yeah? Man, I had no idea they could do that. With gouda even? Seriously, I’m constantly amazed by the power of cheese. I was thinking about you earlier today when I was going about my business. No, not that business. Sheesh. No, I think I was driving or ironing toilet paper or staring at my toes, or whatever it is that I do most of the time. It was getting close to lunch time, and I had this intense craving for ramen noodles. Which naturally led to me thinking about brains. And then zombies. Then mummies. And then dust bunnies. And then Welsh rabbit. So naturally I couldn’t help but remember that time when you got caught with the…ha ha ha, yeah. We totally don’t need to go there. Oh, you already went there. Again? Did they recognize you without your…Oh. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to bring up such a sore subject. Right, right. I understand. Beach balls and ninjas. Say no more. Well, I’d better go. I have a lot of stuff I need to do. There’s a whole pile of lentils that I need to alphabetize. Good talkin’ with ya.

So, um, yeah. It’s been a while. Things have been crazy. Here’s a few things that I could write lots more about, except I should probably sleep instead:

    • We finally moved Theo into Phoebe’s room a couple of weeks ago. It’s been going really well.

    • I’m heading to Chicago next week for a conference. Solo.

    • I have a lot of stuff to do before I leave.

    • My poison ivy is still healing, over 4 full weeks after initial exposure.

    • Phoebe started preschool this week, and Theo started going to daycare 5 days a week. (Phoebe will be at the preschool 3 days, and at the old daycare with Theo two days.) This new schedule will give me 2 more days a week to do my work. Or alphabetize lentils.

    • I’m not really getting into Twitter. My romance with Facebook is flagging. I’m considering breaking up with both and taking up smoke signals.

    • I’d really hoped to resume last year’s “merry merry month of metablogging” this May. But seeing as I have so much going on, I probably won’t manage.

    • There are other weightier things on my brain that I can’t get into here. Imagine, if you will, my cartoon brain with a large cartoon anvil on top. Now put a cartoon elephant on top.

    • Finally, here’s a picture of Theo as a little baby with an octopus on his head. Actually, I don’t really have a lot to say about this.

Oh, and one more final last thing. Can you identify this movie quote?

When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack.

setting the machinery in motion

So, yeah. About that “deadline” we set for March 1st…didn’t quite make it.

Holly and I are still working out the kinks in the machinery of readying our 2009 Just Posts finalists for voting. The process is fairly laborious and complex. We’re sorting posts into categories, and fine-tuning our rankings based on reviewer scores and comments, plus our own scores and comments. We are then passing this data through a bayesian algorithm to map the data onto a multidimensional target, which we are modelling out of styrofoam, aluminum foil and chewing gum. Our elaborate system of gears, levers, pulleys and springs will then lob sporks and chopsticks at the target. We will analyze the configuration of utensils to determine the optimal set of posts. Unfortunately, we’ve run into a bit of a roadblock due to some disagreement over how best to use the trained gerbils.¹

So, it will be…a few more days.

While you wait, please study the following instructional video:

(It’s OKGO and their new video for This Too Shall Pass.)

¹ I’ll also be pretty busy with a few other things. My mother is arriving tonight for a week-long visit, for one thing.²

² I’m hoping that she can help carve some of the styrofoam and chew some of the gum. Or at least help us tally the sporks. (I’m afraid she won’t be much help as a gerbil handler.)