6 September 2010

and now for a quick diversion…

Posted in fun, travel at 2:25 pm by Tricia

If you need a quick diversion to scratch your web-browsing itches, maybe I suggest the following:

The Orphaned Postcard Project. Postmuse features a relatively short entry each day, highlighting a postcard that has been returned to her. You can join in the fun by visiting her spreadsheet (see the link in the sidebar) and requesting an ‘orphaned’ postcard from a place you have visited, then returning it to her. If you are in the US, she’ll even include the return postage!

Forgotten Bookmarks. Written by the owner of a used bookstore, he blogs about things left in books, together with the book they were found in. He doesn’t post every day and the posts are never long, but I frequently get lost in the “You might also like” links at the bottom.


16 December 2009

Removing Staples from Feet

Posted in fun at 11:33 am by Tricia

If you ever need to remove a staple from your foot – say, maybe you got up to answer the phone and your sock-clad foot found one on the floor – don’t turn to google to find answers. You can find out how to remove carpet tackstrips and staples (a flat screwdriver or pair of pliers are handy – and don’t forget the thick leather gloves!) and how frozen staples can heal sore feet (highly advanced titanium alloy, bunions, radical new treatment!) and even how surgical staples are removed from feet (with a surgical staple remover, of course!) But if the staple is non-surgical, and it’s in your foot, and you just lent out your surgical staple remover, you’re on your own. (Should I soak my foot? But I’m wearing a sock. Maybe I should just yank on the sock? Maybe it started folding up, maybe that’s why it hurts so much to tug…)

So I’m here to remedy that shocking absence. Tip #1: have someone else do it. For some reason, they can just pull it straight out and it doesn’t hurt – when you try to do it yourself, it hurts like the dickens and you’ll probably end up sitting in the chair wondering why you (a) can’t get the stupid thing out, and (b) can’t find any tips online.

Do your part to help remedy this knowledge deficiency! If you link to me from your blog, that will increase the google ranking of this post, and the next person to suffer this fate might find speedy relief.

P.S. Dad, even though you don’t even know my blog exists, I wanted to say that you’re right, I should have been wearing slippers…

2 April 2009

Faux Food

Posted in food, fun at 9:29 pm by Tricia

For this year’s April Fool’s Faux Food, we had fish sticks. I riffed on this recipe, using crusty homemade sourdough bread instead of cookies (because (a) I didn’t have any wafer cookies, and (b) so it would be more like a main dish) and Special K instead of cornflakes. I think cornflakes might have been more true to fish stick color, but Special K was the only flake we had on hand.

Faux Fish Fingers Fundamentals

Faux Fish Fingers Fundamentals

You would have thought I was trying to poison my kids when I said I expected them to take a bit of a fish stick with not one word of complaint! You should have seen the looks on their faces, especially the eldest. But he finally realized that they smelled like peanut butter instead of fish, so he took a bite, followed by the middle boy, then only very reluctantly by the youngest. The youngest – who eats the most peanut butter sandwiches by far – liked them the least. Oh well!

Faux Fish Fingers

Faux Fish Fingers

On to dessert: chicken drumsticks, spaghetti and meatballs, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and gravy. Yum! Almost like the plot of Little Pea. My favorite was the meatballs. My friend Kim alerted me to these seasonal confections – thanks, Kim! (She also has better photos, so you might want to visit her blog just for that.)

Dessert? Surely you're foolin' me...

Dessert? Surely you're foolin' me...

5 March 2009

Magi(c) Carol

Posted in creative outlets, fun at 11:51 am by Tricia

The random poetry challenge: pick 10 words at random from a dictionary (Close your eyes, open a page at random, and place your index finger on the page. Open your eyes and write down the word closest to your fingertip. Repeat this until you have 10 random words written on your list. No cheating!). Using those words and up to 5 more, write a poem. Then create a postcard to illustrate your poem.

I chose my words from my beloved old (© 1968) honkin’ big (weight 5.7 lbs) Reader’s Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary: magic, receiving line, carol, Syria, insanely, corneous, rent, Cyprus, mouchard, unregenerate. (For rent, I chose the separate into parts with force or violence meaning. Mouchard came from the French-English section near the back. It means stool pigeon.) I wrote the poem first, but here’s the postcard:

Magi(c) Carol postcard

Magi(c) Carol postcard

Here’s my poem:

Magi(c) Carol

Magi carol, carol magically!
From Syria to Cyprus
the corneous mouchard
insanely rent
the receiving line.
Corneous mouchard?
Unregenerate mouchard!
Cyprus to Syria.
Receiving lines.
All rent.

which shows, if nothing else, that I’m not very good at writing poetry! But it was interesting how all the words managed to come together thematically. Corneous means made of horn or a hornlike substance, but as my luck would have it (when I went googling for corneous pigeons, hoping to find a bird carved from a horn), it also refers to parts of feathers! Also, my unregenerate spy carrier pigeon (standing in for the mouchard) is holding a magic wand with a handle carved from horn (corneous).

I have a book of World War II maps that I got at a thrift store, and this map showing action in Syria also included Cyprus. One of my favorite Christmas carols is We Three Kings, titled Kings of the Orient in the version I printed. Of course they’re also referred to as magi, thus the title. And wasn’t one of them supposed to come from the Middle East, or Turkey maybe? So that fits with the map.

Changes I would have made in retrospect: print the music so it stretched the entire width of the card, put the (classic American wedding) receiving line closer to Cyprus so the pigeon is reaching from Syria to Cyprus, maybe have the music (adhered via packing tape transfer) along the bottom instead of the top. I do love that hand-colored spy pigeon, though. I hope he doesn’t suffer much for his unregenerate ways!

11 January 2009

Readers on Parade

Posted in fun tagged , at 2:01 pm by Tricia

One of the current favorite comics in our house is Sheldon. It’s 62% More Awesome, after all! So I ordered the 5-pack for Christmas and wrapped them separately, to share the Pure Gifty Goodness all around.

The artist asked for pictures of people opening their Christmas gifts, but I didn’t capture that. However, I did capture family members enjoying the books – and now that has been posted on the site. Readers on Parade! (And below is another picture, later in the day, narrower age range represented.)

More Readers on Parade

More Readers on Parade

17 October 2008

Trick or Treat for Professionals

Posted in fun, oddities, travel at 9:48 pm by Tricia

Professional Schwag

Tiny fraction of my Professional Schwag

So I’m at a professional conference this week – National Association of Biology Teachers. I’m not a biology teacher, but I work with them, and I got invited to be part of a panel session. It’s been more than a decade since I attended a big conference like this, one with an Exhibit Hall. If I ever went in that Exhibit Hall, all I can remember was piles of books and journals, and I don’t remember a single give-away (except catalog listings of books you could order). This one was ripe with textbook publishers (this is a teacher conference, after all!), but also lab equipment companies, some government agencies, and even some eco-learning-travel agencies (can schools really fund class trips to Costa Rica? Wow. I went to the wrong high school!).

Anyway, I realized it was kind of like Treat or Treat for grown-ups. At least half the booths had bowls of candy: fun size snickers, cello-wrapped candy corn (I can never find this at home!), and stuff like that. One classy operation had Reeds Ginger Chews! Maybe a quarter were giving away bags, including some very nice canvas bags. (Best bag: Encyclopedia of Life. And I’m not just saying this because they paid for my trip! Theirs is dark green tyvek, has a stiff bottom that folds out of the way, and is large enough to hold two gallons of milk side-by-side. Any guesses what I plan to do with most of my canvas bags?). But my favorite tchotcke was this squeezy zebra stress relief guy. Second favorite: little packet of sun butter, compliments of the US Department of Agriculture.

Good planning on someone’s part: the people with the fetal pigs and other dissection stuff were not next to the “free dissection alternatives” OR the Animal Welfare Institute. (To be honest, I didn’t look closely at what I assumed were fetal pigs, maybe they were just rubber models. I doubt it, though.) Anyway, I had this surreal moment when the woman at the Animal Welfare Institute booth – after I took one of their gorgeous “Animal Friendly Biology Education: Study Them in their Natural Habitats” posters – looked at my name tag and said “Oh, Museum of Zoology, what is that?” Uhhhhhhh….lots of bones and skins and pickled organisms. You know, dead animals. Things far removed from their natural habitats. But hey, I’m not a biologist, I didn’t capture any of them! So I said something along the lines of “oh, you know, zoology. Natural history and stuff like that.” and walked to the next booth – which, come to think of it, was Skulls Unlimited, “the world’s leading supplier of osteological specimens.” They make reproductions – but must get the original skulls somehow. I wonder if those two booth neighbors glared at each other?

A limited number of skulls

A limited number of skulls

2 October 2008

Political Cartoons

Posted in C-boy, fun at 12:42 pm by Tricia

Last week, 5th graders class re-assembled to listen to the presidential debates. Even though they started at 9 PM (unlike the 8 PM initially publicized to the parents), this was possible since it was a Friday night. C-boy and Jonski Papa went, while I stayed home with the sleeping siblings. Neither one was particularly impressed by the debates themselves (“they didn’t really say anything”), but one comment by Obama had C-boy cheering: “so parents will have more money to buy computers for their kids.” Appeal to their hearts and purse strings, that’s the ticket.

Anyway, apparently C-boy drew cartoon while listening to the debates. He left them in his notebook at school, so I haven’t seen them yet, but here is the dialog as it was described to me.

First cartoon:

Moderator: …”the order of which will be determined by the flip of a coin.”
McCain: “I like to save money, can we flip a penny?”

Second cartoon:

Obama: …”so that the parents will have a few extra million dollars to buy their kids computers.”
Audience kid: “Computers – yay!”
Moderator: “The audience has promised to remain silent”
Audience kid: “Sorry.”

They aren’t scheduled to listen to tonight’s vice-presidential debates (presumably since it’s a school night – plus a parent-teacher conference night!), but I would just love to see what cartoons he would come up with, given the cast of characters!

10 September 2008

The World Did Not End Today

Posted in fun at 8:42 pm by Tricia

Nearly everybody (including those, like me, who can be accused of living under a rock with respect to pop culture) has heard of the lawsuit contending that the earth would be destroyed when the Large Hadron Collider was switched on today. It didn’t – at least not yet! Maybe once they get those beams actually colliding.

So anyway, what do these three pictures have to do with one another, and why am I posting them with this entry?

Large Hadron Collider

Large Hadron Collider, by Image Editor, on Flickr

The first is a picture of the Large Hadron Collider. (Duh!) (More pictures available at boston.com.)

Delivering the News

Delivering The News, by CaZaTo Ma, on Flickr

One of our neighbors is an experimental physicist, and he works on some component of the ATLAS part of the LHC project. His family is in Switzerland right now. Because he’s there, my son and another neighbor kid are doing the paper route once assigned to their son.

Storm Damage

Storm Damage, by CaZaTo Ma, on Flickr

As my neighbors were en route to Switzerland, a tree split and (gently!) fell onto their house in a big storm. No major damage, but luckily it wasn’t an omen for the LHC! Because otherwise, I couldn’t have written this entry, right? Maybe I should go bake some cookies, to celebrate, like this person. Although with the state of my kitchen, I’m not sure I could guarantee they’d be free of strange matter!

26 June 2008

Roswell in Indy?

Posted in fun, oddities tagged , at 12:43 pm by Tricia

Roswell, New Mexico 1947

I was watching movie trailers with T-boy this morning, including trailer #1 for the latest Indiana Jones. A flash of “Roswell, New Mexico 1947” caught my eye, so I rewound the movie and grabbed this screen shot. What is the evil (?) Russian (??) woman doing looking at this box with Roswell on it? Are they in Hangar 18 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, Ohio), where all the UFOs are allegedly stored? I haven’t seen the movie (and probably won’t) so I have no idea how this fits into the plot, or if it’s just a fleeting reference that doesn’t fit in at all. Help me out here – anybody?

And just to show how out of touch I am, I heard this story (‘The Mystery behind the Crystal Skulls’) from NPR back in May. It was a “story of the day” podcast. Interesting that archaeology would be story of the day, I thought at the time. It was days later before I made the connection that the “crystal skulls” were a plot element in a summer blockbuster movie! (Even though it’s mentioned at the beginning of the story, duh. Maybe a bus was driving by when they said that. Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!). I think I was reading a Lego comic to T-boy when I had my aha moment!

28 April 2008

Corn Starter Ghosts and Sidewalk Paint

Posted in creative outlets, fun, T-boy at 8:49 am by Tricia

Add cornstarch to Easter egg dye, and you get a pretty good sidewalk paint.

Sidewalk painting

Add cornstarch to kids and you get ghosts!
Corn Starter Ghosts
My back was turned – all right, I was inside, getting more supplies! – when they decided that since cornstarch felt so good on their hands (this I encouraged before going in), they should rub it all over their arms, and maybe a little on their faces wouldn’t hurt either (these two were not my ideas!). T-boy kept saying “corn starter” instead of cornstarch, and his friend is the one who decided they were ghosts. What you can’t see here is that the “cornstarter” bag had a hole in the corner, so much of it ended up on the porch.

(They’re wearing matching shirts because we went on a field trip in the morning.)

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