Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

Pi Day 2018

March 14, 2018

March 14 — 3.14 — is Pi Day, a day to celebrate the irrational number ūĚúč. The usual pun for Pi Day is as Pie Day — restaurants have specials on pies — or some play on the adjective irrational — but the Mental Floss site has gone further afield:



Mistakes in avian medicine

March 13, 2018

Brought to my attention on Facebook by Chris Hansen, this grotesque Bizarro from 2013:


A real test in cartoon understanding, this one. Some readers on Facebook never got it, many (including me) took a few moments to figure it out.


On the Slugwatch

March 9, 2018

That’s Sammy the Slug, the UC Santa Cruz mascot, as appreciated by anthropologist Jerry Zee, who writes on Facebook (text lightly edited):

I made a website and love letter to my first two quarters at this magical place, Santa Cruz. For Santa Cruz folks, if you see more Sammys – and they are hidden in plain sight all through Santa Cruz and beyond – please send to them to me so I can feature them on the SlugWatch!

SlugWatch: A multispecies anthropological archive of Santa Cruz’s favorite anthropomorphic slug

At the top, the university’s official version:


(Note the snarky nod to the canon of dead white guys (Plato) and the mocking Latin motto Fiat Slug ‘Let there be a slug’.)


Puns and portmanteaus, polar bears and hippos

November 1, 2017

Or: zoology, geometry, geography, and medicine. In three visual + verbal jokes that have been floating around the internet. Starting, A, with a punning coordinate bears composition — playing geometrically with polar bear — that came to me from Mike Reaser (who got it from an aggregation source), and a buildup to a portmantriple, C, that came to me from Kim Darnell (who got it from the Exploding Fish Shitposting and Senseless Drivel, Inc. Facebook page) — a combo of geometry, medicine, and animals (hippos rather than polar bears). The first led to more geometric play, B, on polar bear, taking us into medical (specifically psychiatric) territory. And then, bonus, there’s some simple geographic play, D, with polar bear.


Black bread and pickled herring

September 26, 2017

Kim Darnell, on a grocery shopping run for me, came across a line of very thinly sliced, dark, dense, intensely-flavored rye breads from the German company Mestemacher — one variety marketed as “Natural Fitness Bread”:


She was tickled by the name, and also remembered bread like this with pleasure. As did I: the black bread¬†(Schwarzbrot, sometimes called¬†Bauernbrot ‘peasant bread’) of my childhood. A platform for cheese, sliced smoked meat, and (especially) pickled herring (herring in sour cream was a great favorite of mine).


A sapsucking planthopper

September 24, 2017

… and more; eventually there will be draft horses, covered bridges, and distelfinks. But first, a bulletin from my cousin Eleanor Severin Houck about the advance of the spotted lanternfly in southeastern Pennsylvania (Eleanor is in Berks County, county seat Reading, in the Pa. Dutch country, where we both grew up).

From the annals of noxious pests, double-team division, a pairing of the disgusting and destructive insect pest Lycorma deliculata with the rampant invasive plant pest Ailanthus altissima.


A marmot sang in Graub√ľnden meadows

September 15, 2017

That’s no beaver, that’s my marmot!

In a posting about, among other things, the advertising posters of Donald Brun, I appreciated this charming poster for the Alpine resort Davos, in the Swiss canton of Graub√ľnden / Grisons:


But in my naive North American way, I took the creature in the poster to be a beaver, while it turns out to be a cousin of the beavers (genus Castor), the Alpine marmot (Marmota marmota), which is something of an icon for the canton. Also much more closely related to the North America groundhog (Marmota monax) than to beavers.


Runner ducks, runner beans, rubber ducks

September 9, 2017

Back on the 6th, in “Birthday notes”:

From Benita Bendon Campbell (and Ed Campbell) a Jacquie Lawson animated card of Indian runner ducks in the rain, ending with a duck and a rainbow. In medias res: [image #1]
To come, in a separate posting, on Indian runner ducks and Indian (or scarlet) runner beans, which are not at all the same thing.

And then to add to those, India(n) rubber ducks, which aren’t ducks, though they are duck-simulacra (runner ducks are ducks, and runner beans are beans — that is, bean plants).


Birthday notes

September 6, 2017

As previously announced, today is my 77th birthday — my iridium, or rainbow, birthday (the element iridium, named after Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, has atomic number 77), better, as Ken Rudolph noted to me, than our 76th birthday, the trombone birthday (after the musical number “76 Trombones”, from the musical The Music Man). A hundred or so people from all parts of my life have wished me well in various ways — the electronic equivalent of companionable pats, and much appreciated. Also, some of them were funny.


On the food watch: iguanas

September 1, 2017

It starts in Miami, with this photo that Kyle Wohlmut took there last weekend and posted on Facebook:

(#1) Floridian street iguana on the prowl

Green iguanas are an invasive pest in Puerto Rico and south Florida; the obvious solution is that they be cooked and eaten, the way they are in Mexico (and elsewhere in Central America). So it was natural for a Facebook reader to ask what sauce you use on an iguana.

Well, clearly, Lizard Lick barbecue sauce.