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

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30 June 2008

Oh, Brother…

Posted in oddities at 10:20 pm by Tricia

After more than 20 years with my basic Singer model (a college graduation present, IIRC), I recently bought a new sewing machine. I have a project in mind (heck, it’s in process even, all pinned up and waiting to be sewn) so I decided to browse through the manual.

I was stopped in my tracks by this item on page 1:

16. This sewing machine is not intended for use by young children or infirm persons without supervision. (For Australia and New Zealand only)

What does that mean, really? Does that mean that in Australia and New Zealand, children and infirm persons can use it WITH supervision, but in the rest of the world, they must be UNsupervised? Does supervision just apply to the infirm people, or to children as well? And does infirm have a specific legal definition in A & NZ? Because in the dictionary I just checked, it means

1. feeble or weak in body or health, esp. because of age; ailing.
2. unsteadfast, faltering, or irresolute, as persons or the mind; vacillating: infirm of purpose.

What do they expect weak and feeble people to do down under, stitch everything by hand? Wouldn’t a sewing machine be HELPFUL to someone weak? I mean, it’s not like they have to hold the machine up themselves! Or are they just worried about those irresolute people: can’t have indecisive folks sitting in front of a sewing machine, they might end up with crooked hems, or change threads in the middle of a seam…

And item 17 just adds to the confusion:

17. Young children should be supervised to ensure that they do not play with this machine.

But what about young children in Australia and New Zealand?

Oh Brother, where art thou? (At my side, if their logo can be believed!) Maybe I should just go back to my Singer.

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!

29 April 2008

Strangely appropriate…

Posted in oddities tagged at 12:54 pm by Tricia

I’m pretty sure this is an example of situational irony – and even if it isn’t, it’s certainly perversely appropriate!

ironic free tibet flags

(Click through to read the entire story at the BBC web site.)

19 March 2008

Then who…

Posted in oddities tagged at 11:31 pm by Tricia

BBC Headline:

BBC Headline

So if the maternity units are closed to mothers, who are they open to? Can’t see that there would be much demand from any other audience!

17 March 2008

Exploiting St Pat’s

Posted in food, fun, oddities at 2:45 pm by Tricia

Exploiting St Patrick’s Day for nefarious nutritional purposes:

frazz comic snippet ◊ ◊ ◊ Agnes comic snippet

(click on images to see complete comics)

Just watch out for green skittles – buying or selling them could get you kicked out of school in New Haven, Connecticut! (and subsequently reinstated, but that probably won’t make quite as many newspapers…)

4 December 2007

Responsible? Irresponsible?

Posted in food, fun, oddities tagged at 12:23 am by Tricia

Chocolate lorry headline

What do you think, is this a responsible use of chocolate, or irresponsible? They extracted cocoa butter from “waste” chocolate, specifically “4,000 kg (8,818 lb) of chocolate misshapes, the equivalent of 80,000 chocolate bars.” I guess I’m surprised the company doesn’t just melt it down and try again, but then again, I don’t know how industrial chocolate is made! (Apparently it’s nothing like cider syrup…)

And hmm, if it’s misshapes, then I guess it’s not great chocolate, so perhaps Larry Boy’s rejoinder to great responsibility is null and void in such a context!

14 November 2007

Well, THAT’S a relief!

Posted in fun, oddities at 3:46 pm by Tricia

Crash called off

I had no idea we were due to crash into an asteroid next week! Luckily, it was all a big mistake – someone lost track of a spacecraft… The rest of the story is at the BBC web site. Is anybody else channeling Larry Boy videos at this point? Jimmy and Jerry Gourd, UFO tracking center? Anyone??

11 October 2007

official cookie of Michigan State University?

Posted in food, oddities at 2:15 pm by Tricia

The state of New Mexico was the first to adopt an official state cookie (the bizcochito – come to my house around Christmas and you can try some!) Now it looks like Michigan State University (aka the “Spartans”) is trying to get in on the action. Behold, I present you the recipe for their official cookie:

Spartan cookies

spartan helmet Okay, not really. Spartan is the store brand at my primary grocery store, and this is from the back of a bag of Spartan brand chocolate chips. But you have to admit, it’s pretty darn goofy!

11 September 2007

so THAT’s where it went!

Posted in fun, oddities, Z-boy at 10:06 pm by Tricia

Remember all that “Millenium” 2000 merchandise that sat, unsold, on store shelves, even once it went on deep discount? Turns out it found a new life. Ethiopia never adopted the Gregorian calendar, so they celebrated the “new millenium” today. Look at this picture (picture 4 in this gallery) if you don’t believe me.

But come on people, you’d think you could have learned from our mistakes and endless nattering on the topic: the new millenium doesn’t start until 2001! Sure, “2000” makes for better goofy sunglasses than “2001,” so celebrate all you want, but don’t call it the new millenium for another year.

(okay, I admit it: I bought some of that merchandise on deep discount, seeing as how I was pregnant at the time and thought it would make a good souvenir for baby-to-be…)

One more thing: did they just recently have Y2K computer problems to deal with?? That just brings up too many mind-twisting questions when I start to think about data management issues (maybe all computer programs have a “map date to the rest of the world” field??)

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