Category Archives: Humor

The Gods Must Be Angry

I live in San Diego, and our region, along with the rest of California, has had a drought for the past 3 years.  We have had so little rain, that when it actually does rain we get all excited.  As you can see from the photo below that I posted on Facebook, which documents the extraordinary occurrence of ACTUAL RAIN in my yard.

It's rainingYou will notice my enthusiastic use of the type tool in Photoshop, along with exclamation points!  And…I also made a sort of snide comment about how the rain only lasted for 20 minutes.  Well, who would have thought that that innocent little comment would result in another bout of rain, this one a veritable deluge, just a few short hours later?  Obviously, the rain gods monitor social media, and I clearly yanked their chain.

After I put this post up on FB, I picked up the kids from school and then took Sam to the orthodontist.  After his appointment is when all hell broke loose.  We looked out the window and saw rain falling by the bucketful.  Actually it wasn’t so much falling as hurtling towards the ground at a 45 degree angle.  Trees were flailing, people on bikes were cowering under walkways, and the streets and sidewalks were streaming with water.

When we arrived home it was to a full on, rip-roaring thunder and lightning storm.  Some of the lighting came really close to the house, and I made the kids stay in for a bit, as I felt like I had already incurred the wrath of the rain gods, and they are probably good friends with the lightning gods.  After the fireworks calmed down Emma and I puttered around the yard, just enjoying the feeling of being rained on, and filling up lots of containers with water to use on our plants in the coming week.

Emma in the driving rain. You can see the angle it is coming down at in the upper corners of the photo.

Emma in the driving rain. You can see the angle it is coming down at in the upper left corner.

Emma helping to fill water containers.

Emma helping to fill water containers.

Eventually the rain slowed, after a good 45 minutes to an hour.  Blue sky peeked through illuminated clouds.  The woody scent rising up from the canyon was amazing, as the dried earth and plants opened up to drink in all the water.

Raindrops plopping into the birdbath.

Raindrops plopping into the birdbath.

Clouds and happy canyon plants after a long-awaited watering.

Clouds and happy canyon plants after a long-awaited watering.

After the rains cleared, the birds came out in force, chirping and swooping about.  I noticed several birds streaking out of the big eucalyptus to snatch insects out of the air.  This is a very blurry photo of what was a very graceful and lively scene.

Bird and bug

After the storm was done we had lots of water stored that will keep us going for a bit.  The plants in the yard and canyon were scrubbed clean, and though it was still very hot and humid, everything was refreshed.  We were lucky not to have any trees or branches fall, we were also glad we were not struck by lighting!

Lots of water to keep us going for a bit.

The tree faces in the yard always look great after a rain, as the palm trunks get dark and shiny.

The tree faces in the yard always look great after a rain, as the palm trunks get dark and shiny.

I, along with the rest of San Diego (except the people stuck on the highways which were full of crashes), were thrilled with our rainstorm.  And now that I know that I have the ability to summon wet and wild weather through injudicious comments on social media, I will endeavor to do my best to end the terrible drought afflicting our great state.  Do you hear that, rain gods?  Your mother was a hamster and your father reeked of elderberries!  I blow my nose at you, so called meteorological deities!!!

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The Babysitter’s Party – A Star Wars Action Figure Play

 

Title picture

My daughter Emma has created “Action Figure Plays” for years.  She uses dolls, Lego mini figures, or her Star War action figures to create plays that are based on movies, books, comic books, TV shows, and her own ideas.  She purees them all in the blender of her mind into a magnificent mash up.  Below is one of her favorite plays, ‘The Babysitter’s Party.”  She uses Star Wars characters to act out a drama that has elements from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Calvin and Hobbes.  Even though you would think otherwise, Obi Wan Kenobi is not a very responsible babysitter for young Luke and Leia…

(Double click on the images to get a better look, there are lots of fun details)

Annakin and Padme have hired Obi Wan Kenobi to babysit while they go out for the night.

Obi Wan Kenobi comes over to babysit Luke and Leia while their parents go out for a date night.

Padme and Annikin head off to dinner, secure in the knowledge that their good friend Obi Wan will take good care of the kids.

Padme and Anakin head off to dinner, secure in the knowledge that their good friend Obi Wan will watch over the kids.

Instead of taking care of Luke and Leia, he calls all of his friends to come over for a party.

Obi Wan has plans for this evening, and they don’t include hanging out with a couple of kids.  He sets up a table full of party food and drinks and gets out the radio.  Then he calls all of his friends on his giant green phone to come over for a party.

He puts Luke and Leia to bed at 6:00 to get them out of the way.  NO FAIR!

He puts Luke and Leia to bed at 6:00 to get them out of the way. NO FAIR!

He calls all his Jedi friends of course.

He calls all his Jedi friends of course.  General Grievous gives them a ride over in his lemon yellow Playmobil sedan.  Ashoka looks a little squished!

Grandma Shmee and Tim the Sandperson are also invited.

Grandma Shmi and Tim the Sandperson are also invited.

Mace Windu is giving Jango Fett a ride, which is kind of ironic since Jango hates Mace and wants to kill him.

Mace Windu is giving Jango Fett a ride, which is kind of ironic since in the movies Mace beheaded Jango.  But Mace has one rockin’ purple Polly Pocket convertible.  Maybe he will let Jango drive it on the way home?!?

While we are the subject of awkward pairings, what about these two?  Are they going to make small talk, or sit in silence?  These two teams just don't like each other...

While we are the subject of awkward pairings, what about Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul sharing a ride? Are they going to make small talk, or sit in silence? These two teams just don’t like each other…

Finally, here come the bad guys, complete with flowers for the host.

Finally, here come the bad guys, complete with flowers for the host.  The emperor has a purple zebra stripped car…who would have thought?

They form a convoy, heading to Annakin and Padme's house for a PARTY!

They form a convoy, heading to Annakin and Padme’s house for a PARTY!

What a crowd!  When they get there they have to line up to get in the door.

What a crowd! When they get there they have to line up outside to wait their turn to get in the door.

Here they all are, hanging out at the party.  Boy, I hope Obi Wan doesn't get caught...

Finally everyone arrives and gets inside.  But they are all just sitting around, and Obi Wan is getting nervous that his party won’t be AWESOME.  What to do?

Meanwhile, Padme and Annakin are having a lovely dinner in the courtyard of their favorite fancy restaurant.

Meanwhile, Padme and Anakin are having a lovely dinner in the courtyard of their favorite fancy restaurant.

And Luke and Leia sneak out of their room and head down to the basement playroom.  They call up Han and he comes over for a night of binging on TV watching and sugar eating.  They let all of their pets out of their cages for good measure.

And Luke and Leia have snuck out of their bedroom and gone down to the basement playroom. They call up Han and he comes over for a night of TV watching and sugar eating. They let all of their pets out of their cages for good measure.

Obi Wan figures out the best way to break the ice is a game of Twister. It certainly gets the crowd going! This is shaping up to be an EPIC evening...

Obi Wan figures out the best way to break the ice is a game of Twister. It certainly gets the crowd going! This is shaping up to be an EPIC evening…

After Twister they all head out into the yard to TP the tree.

After Twister they all head out into the yard to TP the tree.

Next they head down the street to paint graffiti.

Next they paint graffiti on the side of the house.

Next they see how many people they can fit in General Grievous' car.  Don't scratch the paint!

Then they see how many people they can fit in General Grievous’ car. Don’t scratch the paint!

What a relaxing and special evening.  But after dessert the parents decide to call Obi Wan to let him know they will be home in a half an hour or so.

What a relaxing and special evening. After dessert they call Obi Wan to let him know they will be home in a half an hour or so.

Oh #$%^&**&@!!!

Oh #$%^&**&@!!!

Everybody, CLEAN UP!  Count Dooku, get that ice cream tub off of your head.  Stop spoon fighting Qui gon!  They're coming back!!!

Everybody, CLEAN UP! NOOWWWWW!!! Count Dooku, get that ice cream tub off of your head. Stop spoon fighting Kit! They’re coming back!!!  We have to get this place cleaned up and you all have to go home.

The force must have been with them, because by the time Annikin and Padme arrive Obi Wan is sitting quietly in the living room, reading a magazine.

The force must have been with them, because by the time Anakin and Padme arrive Obi Wan is sitting quietly in the living room, reading a magazine.

They check on Luke and Leia, and they are tucked in bed, fast asleep.

They check on Luke and Leia, and they are tucked in bed, fast asleep.

The only one not safely home yet is Han Solo.  He got trampled by everyone as they rushed from the house, trying to get away before the parents got home.  Hopefully he wakes up soon and gets home to bed.  It was a WILD night!

The only one not safely home yet is Han Solo. He got trampled by everyone as they rushed from the house, trying to get away before the parents got home. Hopefully he wakes up soon and makes his way home.  What a WILD night!

Postscript

Emma at Legoland with giant Darth made out of legos.  And she is holding two of her current favorite books, which create silly scenarios with Darth and Luke and Leia as they grow up.  They reminded me so much of the type of things Emma has done for years with her action figures I had to buy them for her.

Emma at Legoland with a giant Darth Vader made out of legos.  She is holding two of her current favorite books, that create silly scenarios with Darth and his kids Luke and Leia as they grow up. They reminded me so much of the type of things Emma has done for years with her action figures I had to buy them for her.  Adult or kid, if you are a Star Wars fan these books are a giggle fest.

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My Friends Visited the Set of Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand, and All I Got to Do Was Write About it in My Blog

My friends Matt and Vanessa went on vacation to New Zealand recently.  I didn’t get to go.  I’ve got 2 kids, and I think it is like a 4 day flight.  At least it would feel like 4 days if I tried to do it with my 2 kids.  Vanessa and Matt don’t have any children yet, so I am living vicariously through them.

I like to live vicariously through Vanessa, because she doesn’t have any gray hair or wrinkles yet.  Except those cute little wrinkles around her eyes when she laughs.  My wrinkles aren’t cute.  You can see what I mean below.

Vanessa

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Me

Me and my daily stogie

Havin’ my daily stogie

Anyway, back to the New Zealand trip that I didn’t get to go on.  I am a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien geek.  I own all the movies and books, read The Hobbit to my kids and am currently reading them The Fellowship OTR.  I own one or two action figures (Treebeard! Bilbo! Gandalf!), Lego sets (really, the Bag End set was for the kids), and I have the key to the back door of the Lonely Mountain that leads to Smaug’s lair hanging from my rear view mirror.  So when Vanessa posted on FB that she was off to New Zealand with Matt, I asked about their plans to visit Hobbiton, which I was sure they must be doing, since who in their right mind would fly all the way to New Zealand and not visit Hobbiton?

BTW, I know that it’s not really Hobbiton, but until I see it for my own eyes that it’s not real I’m going to pretend that it is.  Same goes for Hogwarts.

When Vanessa and Matt got back I asked to see their pictures from Matamata, which is what non believers call Hobbiton.  The scenery was gorgeous, which makes me regret AGAIN how far way New Zealand has the temerity to be from me.  I also noticed that there were some odd people hanging out there, besides Vanessa and Matt.  Look at some of their photos below to see what I mean.

On their drive out to Matamata it got a bit foggy on the road.  It was all well and good, sort of atmospheric really, until this weird guy, dressed all in black, sitting on horse, kept popping up.  Asking for Baggins.  Matt told them they hadn’t done their shopping yet, they didn’t have any bags (he thought that baggins was plural for bags Down Under), and that they couldn’t help.  Even the black rider’s horse looked confused.  So Matt and Vanessa kept going.

Foggy road.rider

Then this kind of crazy, old, homeless guy with a giant Q-tip thought they looked a little lost, and was helpfully pointing the way to Matamata.  It was kind of annoying the way he kept screaming, “This way, YOU FOOLS!”  Whatevs.  Some people just like getting worked up.  But his directions were spot on!

Gandalf

Soon Vanessa and Matt emerged from the fog into a beautiful glorious day!  The sun was shining, the sheep were grazing, and WHAT THE HELL?!?  What are they doing here?  No, no thank, no Tubby Toast for us.  Hobbiton is waiting.  No, we don’t want to rub your tummies.

Sheep+TT

Well, that was unexpected.  Anyway, back to Matamata.  After arriving Matt and Vanessa headed off on the two hour guided studio tour (insert Gilligan’s Island theme song joke here).  The original Hobbiton set used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was not preserved, and had to be completely rebuilt for The Hobbit.  It will remain as it is now, so hopefully, eventually, sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll get to visit too!  A peek at the tour brochure.

Hobbiton.tour.brochure.2

Matt and Vanessa got on the bus to take them to the set.  They were really happy, so excited to be off on this great adventure together.  It would have been a totally perfect moment, except for Mr. Bad Naked, who you can see over Matt’s shoulder.  A few ideas for you dude.  One, take a shower, a long one.  Two, cover up!  Three, muttering about lovely fishes and preciouses being stolen and how you hates Bagginses forever makes other people who are stuck on a bus with you really, really nervous.  Just saying man, just saying.

V+M.bus

Actually stepping out of the bus, onto hallowed ground, made all the uncomfortableness disappear.  HOBBITON!  HOBBIT HOLES!!  ROUND DOORS!!!  CABBAGES!!!!

Hobbit holes and gardens

Here is Vanessa by the Party Tree  And views in the village of Hobbiton.  It’s all so green and lovely.

Hobbiton village

After the tour it was time for a drink.  Vanessa made the acquaintance of two shortish guys who kept calling themselves “The Sexy Dwarves.”  They were handsome, if hairy, but Vanessa already had a guy of her own, so they left for greener pastures.  Even if she wasn’t with Matt it’s not like she’s that kind of girl anyway.  Two dwarves are not always better than one, no matter what Fili and Kili were telling her.

Shire's rest

Well, Matt and Vanessa had a tremendous time visiting New Zealand, and made tons of new friends while they were down there.  They were married just a few months later in San Diego.  Some of their new friends became so close to Vanessa and Matt that they flew in for their wedding!  Fili and Kili were not invited.

Wedding with hobbits

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You Had Me At Free Cake

My son Sam and our friend Trevor had a day off from school last Monday.  It was a “staff development day”, or something like that.  They go to a charter school, which can do what it wants.  Their school didn’t want to have school that day, so they didn’t.

Anyway, when the boys have random days off, we try to find something to do.  Besides them sitting on their backsides all day in front of a computer.  I happened across an article in the paper (yes, I am one of 10 people in the United States who still get a paper) on USCD’s annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) lived in San Diego, and his widow Audrey has donated thousands of his materials as well as money to the UCSD Library, which bears their name.  She recently donated 1,500 new materials, which are display at the library through the end of March (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/donated_dr._seuss_works_may_lead_to_new_books).

That all sounds lovely, but what really made me decide to go was the part about free cake.  Also, the fact that in the 6 years I worked on my PhD and the two years I was a postdoc at UCSD, I never managed to go to this celebration.  This was my chance to make up for a lifetime of regret.  And a chance to get some free cake.

So off we went to UCSD to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday.  We headed to the library, and something told us we were probably in the right place.  The giant blow up Cat in the Hat maybe?

One Big Cat

There was a rocking band…and lots and lots of CAKE!

Cake + band

Besides eating the delicious cake and cupcakes and drinking lemonade (one of Dr. Seuss’ favorite drinks), Sam and Trevor got to hobnob with important people, like Pradeep K. Khosla, the Chancellor of UCSD, and Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD.  Heady times boys!

Chancellor+Librarian

Though you might not think it, there was a point in the celebration when a drone would have come in handy.  The Chancellor stepped in make the first cut in the cake, and all we got was a nice view of the photographers.  The camera guys got out of the way soon enough, as the crowd rushed the table, desperate for cake.  Frosting flew everywhere, small children were crushed underfoot!  Just kidding, this is UCSD.  People politely waited their turn for some cake.  Just trying to spice up the old blog a bit, New York Post style.

Need a drone

After we had some refreshments, we headed into the library to check out the special collections.  They had the new Dr. Seuss materials on display, including line drawings, paintings, and color illustrations.

Line Drawings

Paintings+Illustrations

There was also a case displaying ideas that Dr. Seuss described as failures, including a card game he designed.  It was a nice teaching moment, as I told the boys sometimes failing can be as important as succeeding, if you use it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself.  I wish I could say they lap up this and the other pearls of wisdom that continuously drop from my venerable lips, but they just shrugged and wandered away.  Tweens, sigh.

Card game

Also in the special collections section was this fantastic wall covered with “The Alphabet of Bones,” a font of 26 characters inspired by the hollow bones of birds by San Diego artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.  Trevor is doing the Chicken Dance in front of it.  Glad to see all those acting and dancing lessons are paying off.  In my opinion, the library totally missed the boat on the signage for the campus phone.  How hard would it be to add the spelling of “campus phone” in the bone alphabet?  Brian E. C. Schottlaender, Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD, is this something you could make happen???

Chicken dance

Next we decided to head up to the top floors of the library, to get a look at the view.  The person at the information desk reminded us that the top floor was a SUPREME QUIET ZONE!   This made my worry wart son Sam not even want to go up.  Trevor helpfully points out the “BE QUIET ON THE TOP FLOOR” notice in the elevator.

Inside UCSD library

On the top floor I found this incredible book, which I spent a few minutes looking at while the boys quietly ran amok.  They came back in time to help me get some pics from the book, as there were some large fold out pages.  Trevor is pointing out the rat’s teats, in case you missed them.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

A few more fun pics from around the library.  Trevor is confusing Dr. Seuss with Santa Claus, and is asking for presents.  The library has some pretty cool architecture, you can get an idea of this from the bottom picture.  The building looks like a space ship that has landed.  On the lower right you can see our reflections in the mirrored walls of the walkway leading to the front doors.  Sam is making bunny ears on his mommy.

Library shots

Finally, the art piece below (Fallen Star) isn’t at the library, it is on one of the engineering buildings, but we saw it as we walked down the hill and decided to try to get a closer look from the top floor of the building.  We did get to see the garden and the front of the house that is perched on the edge of the roof, but only through the locked doors.  It is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I guess we will have to try to come back over spring break.

Fallen Star

Fallen Star is part the Stuart Collection at UCSD, a collection of site-specific public art pieces around the campus.  If you haven’t ever wandered the campus visiting the art pieces, I would recommend it.  Parking is free on campus on the weekends, just like the cake on Dr. Seuss’ birthday!

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Sochi Closing Ceremonies Mo-ments

RingsNow That Was Funny Moment

Classic.  The Russians made fun of the 5th snowflake that got stuck during the opening ceremonies, by having the last ring of dancers hesitate before opening during the closing ceremonies.  A case of vodka to the person who came up with that one!

Upside downGetting a Headache Moment

All the kids and I could do during that whole “upside down village” thing was focus on the upside down villagers.  Were they real people?  Robots?  If they were real, then nothing argues more for the idea of a Putin-ocracy.  If Vladimir Putin tells you that you are going to hang upside down for 15 or 20 minutes while the village slowly, oh so slowly, makes its way across the arena, then you are damn well going to do it, comrade.

MascotsCreepy Moment

Thank you, NBC, for editing out the giant, super creepy mascots from the opening ceremonies.  This must have made Putin unhappy, hence their appearance in the coverage of the closing ceremonies.  They were kind of like a car accident on the side of the highway, you wanted to look away, but you just couldn’t.

HibachiPeckish Moment

And how weird was it that the creepy bear brought a hibachi?  Tri-tip anyone???

FlagAwkward Moment

I get the whole passing off the Olympics to the next nation thing, but could they come up with something besides three dudes each taking their turn waggling around a giant Olympic flag?  It made me squirm.

PaperMessy Moment

When the show commemorated Russian writers, a giant plume of paper kept spewing up onto middle of the arena floor.  My son Sam’s comment was, “I wonder who is going to pick up all that paper?”  This from the person whose pajamas I pick up from the floor everyday.  The floor of his bedroom, the floor of his closet, the floor of his bathroom.  At least he varies the location to keep it interesting for me.  Who will clean up the paper?  Send in the clowns…

FloorFloored Moment

I LOVED that damn floor!  Seriously, it made up for any and all weird awkwardness.  I just stared and stared every time they projected one of those incredible scenes of waves, or landscapes, or cityscapes on it.  Though now that the Olympics are over, I am worried about all those Russian programmers who have nothing to do, since the floor show is over.  Keep track of your personal information everyone.

PutinMy Son Giggling Moment

Apparently my 11 year old son was unaware that the last name of the leader of Russia is Putin.  Or as he put it, Poo-tin.

Post Script

I received this comment from Vladimir Putin, President and Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian Federation:

Very, very nice post Mo.  I was very amused.  My facial expression even changed for a moment while I was reading it.  I was so amused that I would like to invite you, and your son, to Russia, so I can express my amusement and gratitude for your post in person.  Please tell your son that I have never heard that poo joke before.  Sigh.  Americans…

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Almost Famous – Or How I Went from the Pampered Pet of a Pop Star to an Inmate in a German Zoo

My name is Mally, and this is my story.

My name is Mally, and this is my story.

One day I’m speeding through the gated streets of Calabasas, California in a white Ferrari, wind racing through my fur, my miniature monkey-size Rolex keeping perfect time on my delicate wrist, the love of my life, Justin Bieber, behind the wheel.  I was living the kind of life that 99.9% of old world and new world monkeys can only dream of.  And the next day, the NEXT day my friends, I am being torn from his loving arms by the German authorities.  I was kidnapped by Klaus, waylaid by Wolfgang, held up by Helmut, and quarantined by Conrad (I couldn’t find a German name that started with Q).

So now, instead of traveling the world aboard a private jet, or munching on mangoes and meal worms in a penthouse hotel suite, I have been imprisoned in the Serengeti Park/Monkey Hoosegow, in some godforsaken town in northern Germany called Hodenhagen.  Hodenhagen…REALLY!?!

Needless to say, it has not been a smooth adjustment for me.  The guards noticed how depressed I was becoming.  All I wanted to do was to lie in bed, snuggling Stuffy Bear (the only gift from Justin that my jailers would let me keep), and dream of happier days.

Monkey.pic.sad

All I want is you…all I want is you.  Sitting here, all alone, watching the snow fall.  Looking back at the days, we threw them snow balls.
I can’t believe, I’m putting the tree up by myself.
I need you, and nobody else…

So one of my gefyngniswyrters, Heinz, came up with the idea of offering me enrichment opportunities, to take my mind off of my troubles.  Apparently other depressed zoo inmates take up hobbies, like crochet, woodworking, and painting.

Painting zoo animals

Deluded captives, clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, engage in enrichment activities.  These are obviously misguided attempts to either bring meaning into the Justin-less void that is their existence, or to cull favor in the hope that someday this will lead to their escape/freedom.  Freedom to return to their stolen former lives.

But in the end it didn’t help to take my mind off of my Justin.  All I painted was endless portraits of Him.

My guards, or as they like to call themselves, "keepers", try to get me to paint other subjects, but I just make painting after painting of my Baby, Baby, Baby.

My guards, or as they like to call themselves, “keepers”, tried to get me interested in other subjects, but I just made painting after painting of my baby, baby, baby.

So here I am, and it appears that here I shall remain.  Instead of a 7 million dollar mansion in Hollywood, I get to live on an island in a zoo with horror of horrors, OTHER MONKEYS!  Don’t they know I am practically a person?  Don’t they know WHO I AM?  Or, I guess I should say, who I was…

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Naked People on Coins, and Other Fascinating Numismatic Discoveries

The kids have a pretty terrific foreign coin collection.  It has been accumulated through donations from me and their dad, our globe-trotting neighbor Bob (who gave us a whole bag a few years ago), and anyone who knows me who has ever mentioned that they are going overseas.  We got it out the other day and were poking through it.  I would love to say that we were doing something highly educational, like quizzing ourselves on world geography, or comparing fonts on the coins of communist vs. socialist vs. capitalist governments.  We were actually looking at them to find coins to spin on the table top.

Anyway…it did get me looking through the coins again, which is always good for killing a few hours.  As I pawed through them I was amazed at the variety of sizes, shapes, weights, and colors.  I also noticed some surprising images and trends.  Though I am not a professional numismatist (yes, I had to Google that to figure out what you call people who collect coins), I have cataloged my observations below.  So forge ahead…if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the money.

1.  Other countries put naked and semi-naked people on their coins.

I know that Europeans think we Americans are prudes.  Just because we arrest women who go topless on beaches, just because we not only wear clothes ourselves all the time (even in bed and in the shower), but we also put clothes on our dogs, just because in 2002 our then Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the semi-nude statue of the Spirit of Justice covered with drapes because he didn’t like her marble mammary glands in the background of his press conferences, distracting everyone when they should have been listening to him.  But even a fairly liberal thinker like myself feels like the coins below have gone just a bit too far.  Naked moose and kangaroos on coins are one thing (see discoveries #5 and #6 below), naked people are something else entirely.

Naked

2.  Soviet coins were not full of whimsy.

Here is Lenin on a two ruble commemorative coin celebrating his 1ooth birthday, and two other Soviet coins.  The images and fonts on the coins we have are not particularly homey; no flowers, animals, pretty sailboats, or lovely ladies with windblown hair (the French REALLY like to put that on their coins).  Though I must say I love the font that was used for “1961”.  Very strident.  It’s like the coin is telling you, “It is 1961 comrade, and you’d better not forget it.”

Lenin

3.  The aging of Queen Elizabeth is recorded on the coins of like, a million different countries.

I’m not sure I would be up for my aging process to be recorded on coins from all over the world the way that her’s has.  So many of our coins have her image on them; coins from England, Canada, Australia, Falkland Islands, East Caribbean States, Hong Kong.  And these are just the ones we happen to have.  I couldn’t help but wonder, why is she wearing a crown in some but not in others?  Did she decide to do a “Casual Decade”, kind of like casual Fridays?

coins.elizabeth

4.  Just like there’s good naked and bad naked, there’s good coin profiles and bad coin profiles.

So many decisions to make when you are having your visage stamped onto currency.  Crown or no crown?  For women, what is my hairdo going to be?  Should I wear a head dress, pearls?  And for men, facial hair is a consideration.  Beard, moustache, mutton chops?  Do these leaders get any editorial say on the final image, because some of these are a bit unflattering.  Maybe it’s just my shallow nature, but if I had the jowls of some of these folks I would have demanded a bit of nipping and tucking, if only on my coin.

Leader coins

5.  Canadians really like animals.

Seriously guys, do you need an animal on almost every coin?  Is this like some sort of contest, except that no one but the Canadians knows we are playing?

Canadian coins

5.  Sheep, owls, kangaroos, it’s like a damn zoo!

Besides our neighbor to the north, many other countries put animals on their coins.  The Falkland Islands’ coin has a sheep on one side and Queen Elizabeth on the other (take that Argentina), the 1943 Aussie penny has a kangaroo, and a Greek coin (at least I think it’s Greek) has a super cool owl.

animal coins

6.  Lions and eagles are very popular.

I’m just guessing here, but the reason that so many countries put fierce predators on their coins instead of snails or litters of kittens may be that they think those other weak countries with the flowers and stuff on their coins are going to be too afraid to mess with them.  Sort of like sending a subliminal message.  Why not go all the way with that one, and put on a rabid dog, or a nuclear bomb, or bird flu virus.  Or all three.  That would say, “Really, really, really don’t mess with us!”

Lions

Eagles

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Don’t Post Pictures of Me on Facebook!

A friend stopped by to visit today who is from out of town.  He grew up here in San Diego, but now lives in Philly.  Our families see each other a few times a year.  I thought it was fun that we had dressed alike; jeans, white shirt, sandals, and got my husband to take a picture of us.  Innocent enough.  Or so I thought!

I made an offhand comment about putting it on my Facebook page, and my friend, whose real name is Michael but who I will refer to by the code name “Mike” in this post to protect his identity, said,

“I don’t let people post pictures of me on Facebook.”

I’m pretty sure he isn’t in the witness protection program, so that got me to thinking.  Maybe he is right, maybe we shouldn’t be posting pictures of ourselves all over Facebook, because there is some pretty damning stuff out there.  I went back and looked through some old photos (“Mike” and I met in 1989), and sure enough, there was plenty there that no one in their right mind would want plastered all over the internet for eternity, or at least until The Rapture (when you are either in heaven enjoying your 72 virgins or are still back on Earth desperately trying to find a Starbucks that is still serving).

So take a stroll down memory lane with my friend “Mike” and me, as I turn over all the rocks, open all the closets, and lance all the boils from our sordid past!

The fateful picture that started it all.  Mike's face has been obscured to protect his identity (hint, he's not a redhead).

The fateful picture that started it all. Mike’s face has been obscured to protect his identity (hint, he’s not really a redhead).

This was such a crazy night!  Mike and I were hanging out in my bar in Nepal, actually he was mostly just watching while I drank a table full of goat herders UNDER THE TABLE!  We were all totally having fun, and then this jerky German dude shows up and gets all aggro about some  medallion.  Ruined our night.

This was such a crazy night!  Mike and I were hanging out in my bar in Nepal, actually he was mostly just watching while I drank a table full of goat herders UNDER THE TABLE!  We were all totally having fun, and then this jerky German guy shows up and gets all aggro about some medallion. Ruined our night.  Whatever dude.

Can you say KARYOKE!  Well Mike and I can.  Mike is a HUGE Justin Timberlake fan,

Can you say KARYOKE! Well Mike and I can. Mike is a HUGE Justin Timberlake fan, and when he heard that Justin and Janet Jackson were doing the half time show at the Superbowl in 2004 he insisted that we get dressed up just like them and sing along during their performance.  This picture is soooo embarrassing, because black leather jumpsuits are, like, totally out of fashion!  If you think THIS picture is bad, you should see the ones after it that even I refuse to put on the web.  Wardrobe malfunction indeed!

Mike and I can tell you from experience that you have never truly partied until you've done it with a Russian.  Something about centuries of suffering under feudalism, only to have it replaced by a totalitarian communist government, and then only to have that replaced by nepotistic oligarchs and former KGB goons, they party to the extreme.  Too many years of killing for the last bottle of vodka off of the state run shelves means NOTHING is off limits.

Mike and I can tell you from experience that you have never truly partied until you’ve done it with a Russian. Maybe it has something to do with centuries of suffering under feudalism, only to have that replaced by a totalitarian communist government, and then only to have that replaced by nepotistic oligarchs and former KGB goons.  Or with having to kill for the last bottle of vodka off of the nearly empty state run store shelves.  Mike and I ran into Boris Yeltsin one night and there was no stopping him, he kept us out until 6:00, A.M.!!!  I thought the dress was cute at the time, but now I think I look like Marcia Brady.

One word.  Vegas.

One word. Vegas.

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The Secret Lives of Teachers

Many children think that their teachers live at school, and it comes as a shock to them that they go home at night, and that they have a life outside of school.  Most teachers have just one life outside of school, but some of our teachers also have a second, secret life.  Read on to find out all about…THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS…

Mrs. S.

Secret Life: Wild Snail Refuge Owner

Getting ready to feed the snails.

Getting ready to feed the snails.

You know how Hagrid, the ground’s keeper at Hogwarts, loves dangerous animals?  He calls dragons “vastly misunderstood”, and wants one as a pet?  Mrs. S. feels the same way, except instead of dragons being vastly misunderstood, she thinks that snails are.  Every time she hears about yet another gastropod being destroyed, rather than relocated, when it has invaded a suburban backyard, her blood boils.  “It’s always the big, furry mammals everyone worries about, never the slimy invertebrates.”  That’s why she set up a wild snail refuge in her yard.  She tries to keep things as natural as possible for her charges, and tries to avoid too much human contact with them, in the hopes that one day they can be returned to the wild.  “If I must enter their enclosure, I try to camouflage myself as much as possible, so they don’t lose their natural fear of humans.”  Keep on fighting the good fight Mrs. S.!

Mr R.

Secret Life: Backwards Walker

Mr.R

Keep an eye where you are going Mr. R.

Though not yet sanctioned as an official Olympic sport, dedicated backwards walkers such as Mr. R. have nothing but praise for their chosen sport.  Habit. Compulsion.  Or whatever it is.  “I find that walking backwards when I am not at school kind of resets my odometer, refreshes my screen, I don’t know…it just makes me feel younger,” he said as he simultaneously peeled hyperactive Bobby off the ceiling while he explained the different vowels sounds made by a double “O” to little bespectacled Priscilla, who was in the reading corner doing an in depth study of Good Night Moon.  There are worse things one could do to maintain ones sanity, when confronted with 25 squirming, squiggling, squinting, squirrely 5 year olds 5 days a week.  Klaw no .rM R!

Mrs. K.

Secret Life: Wonder Twin

Wonder Twins

Mrs. K in her Wonder Twin days, and later, as a Super Friend.

Years ago, Mrs. K was known by another name, Jayna.  After a falling out with Zan over custody of their pet space monkey Gleek (Zan was awarded full custody and now lives with him on house boat in the south of France), Mrs. K. left the super hero life behind to focus on her teaching career and starting a family.  But occasionally the urge to return to the old ways resurfaces, and she can be heard muttering as she walks around campus, “Shape of…a polygon”.  Or she dresses identically to other teachers, who find her insistence on getting all matchy matchy adorably quirky.

Mrs. Y.

Secret Life: Mini Me Aficionado

Mrs. Y. and her mini me.  Adorable might be the word I'm searching for...

Mrs. Y. and her mini me. Adorable might be the word I’m searching for…

We really have the best science teacher at our school, but what many at our campus don’t know is that our science teacher has the best mini me ever.  How do I know this?  “I have the best mini me ever”, said Mrs. Y., our science teacher.  On the weekends she goes with me and my family everywhere, and does everything with us.  She has a very full life.”  Mrs. Y.’s husband and children were approached for comment, but they just ran away.  Later the doll was seen glaring out through the closed curtains of their living room.  Didn’t Chuckie have red hair too?  Hmmm, maybe Mrs. Y. has been doing a little experimenting after hours in the lab.  Nah, couldn’t be.

Mrs B.

Secret Life: Oil Rig Worker

She sure cleans up pretty!

She sure cleans up pretty!

Yes, I know, it is hard to believe that the teacher with the cutest nails, hair, sunglasses, and peek-a-boo toe sandals on campus spends her Saturdays as a roughneck on a rig in the Gulf, but it’s true.  “I like the contrast between school and the rig, I like pushing myself physically, and I am really proud that I started as a roustabout, but have now worked my way up to derrickhand.  Of course, it’s murder on my nails.  I have a standing appointment at the nail salon immediately after my plane touches down at Lindbergh Field.”  Though the kids have no suspicions about their teacher’s talents with a spanner, the custodians know who to fetch when a stuck nut needs coaxing or the plumbing goes out in one of the bathrooms.  “A plugged up toilet’s nothing after working the drilling mud in the mud pits, let me tell you!”  We’ll just have to take your word for it Mrs. B.

Mrs C.

Secret Life: Celebrity Stalker

Smile, cuz here comes Mrs. C.'s camera...

Smile, cuz here comes Mrs. C.’s camera…

Stalkarrazzi or shutterbug, whatever word you chose to use, it’s all the same to Mrs. C.  She thinks of her camera as her third eye, and it doesn’t matter if you look her in it or not, she’s taking your picture!  Though at school she is just known as “That teacher who never stops taking pictures”, in Hollywood she is known as “The Bulldog”, since she never lets go until she gets her picture.  Currently Bragelina, Justin Bieber, Brittany Spears, Demi Moore, and Mr. T. have restraining orders against her.  Do you think David Beckham is moving to France from L.A. because he wants to play one last season of soccer?  No, it is to get away from Mrs. C.  Ditto for Jennifer Aniston and the move to New York.  It wasn’t to snuggle in a Manhattan love nest with Justin Theroux, it was to have a moment’s peace.  But hey, it’s a free world, and she’s got college tuition to think about in a few years.  Smile!  Hey!!  LOOK HERE!!!  Gotcha…

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