Friday, January 23, 2009

Kinder Surprise - Disturbing 80s advert

I love these little chocolate eggs with surprisingly clever toys inside. My family was addicted to them for a while, too, when they were available at a local import shop near my parent's house. I'm not sure, but I think I first encountered them while living in Budapest, where we all started calling them Kinder Eggs and the name stuck, instead of their actual name "Kinder Surprise".

But now I'll never look at them the same way again after seeing this creepy commercial.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I only recently learned the correct pronunciation of this word. It's one of those words that you run across in writing enough that you can figure out what it means from context, and you kind of come up with your own way to say it in your head, and maybe you heard it spoken before, too, but the spoken pronunciation was so different than the one you made up in your head that you didn't file it under the same word in that vocabulary file in your head. Other words in this category for me would be things like "hegemony" and "basalt". Is it buh-SALT? BAY-salt? Hmm, Merriam Webster says either is valid, but they both sound wrong. And dammit, I still think "incongruous" should be pronounced with the accent on the third syllable, not the second.

What words do you have in your vocabulary but not necessarily with the correct pronunciation?

Obama Yo-yos

Obama Yo-yos
Originally uploaded by thewbert.
I want one. If anyone can get me one they'd have my eternal gratitude. I bet they're already showing up on ebay...

UPDATE: Nope. No returns on ebay searching for "Obama yo-yo". And searching The Google for those terms is not very helpful, as Yo-Yo Ma is playing at one of Obama's inauguration events. Getting slightly more clever yields this yo-yo,but is sadly out of stock. I want a commemorative yo-yo from the district, anyway. I want a piece of kitsch with a story, not some stupid barely usable yo-yo ordered from the interwebs.

Good news, though. My agent in DC is keeping a sharp lookout for one for me. Said agent once borrowed one of my yo-yos and showed me a trick where the yo-yo ends up in the mint julep I'm holding. It's a good trick for whenever I happen to be holding a mint julep, which is not nearly often enough.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Perfect Thew Device

Such was the subject line on a missive that arrived in my inbox today from my long-time friend and illustrious creator of Big Trendy. Contained therein was a link:, with accompanying text "this is my submission for the perfect piece of Thew technology."

Ok. You win. This is almost enough to make me want to buy an apple product. I'm not a big fan of apple. Their closed DRM is worse than all the evils of Sony and Microsoft combined. But being able to charge my iphone with a yo-yo!? That would be the ultimate in geek awesomeness. Now if only someone would invent a yo-yo powered bicycle...

Friday, January 02, 2009


Many, many years ago I visited my cousin Sea_Pea_Tea when he was still a student at Central Michigan University. I remember fondly him taking me on a tour of the greenhouse on campus where he was employed, I believe in an arrangement with the program in which he was studying, but I could be misremembering. I'm not sure if I had ever seen a banana tree before, but I was certainly wowed by the size of the leaves on the banana tree in that greenhouse. I also remember, in the style of two college students who were both into music, sharing a few cd's with each other at his place. One of the bands he introduced to me then was a group called Poi Dog Pondering, and their album "Wishing like a mountain and thinking like the sea". A collection of wistfully upbeat chamber rock songs, the album didn't immediately grab my attention. But through a few repeated listenings, the poetry of one particular song started to speak to me. The track is called "Thanksgiving", and while the words really deserve the music, and vice versa, I'd like to share the lyrics with you here. They exhibit a certain turn of phrase that I came to find quite beautful, and poignant.

Somehow I find myself far out of line
from the ones I had drawn
Wasn't the best of paths, you could attest to that,
but I'm keeping on.
Would our paths cross if every great loss
had turned out our gain?
Would our paths cross if the pain it had cost us
was paid in vain?

There was no pot of gold, hardly a rainbow
lighting my way
But I will be true to the red, black and blues
that colored those days.

I owe my soul to each fork in the road,
each misleading sign.
'Cause even in solitude, no bitter attitude
can dissolve my sweetest find

Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right

As an aside, I later found out that the father of the lead singer worked as a solar physicist at the solar observatory in Hawaii. Thus the bands name involving Poi, the sometimes Hawaiian themed instrumentation, and a particular song on one album called "Circle round the sun". I found this out because my supervisor at the Naval Research Lab, when I worked there during an internship during college, worked with this particular solar physicist at one point previously. Would our paths cross, indeed.