TomTom, 5 Little Pins, A Confusing Comic, and the Best Ice Cubes Ever

“I got this powdered water – now I don’t know what to add.”  Steven Wright.  

When Mike and I were driving home from Ottawa yesterday, we wound up smack-dab in the middle of two New Hampshire-plated TomTom mapping vehicles.  They had massive metal contraptions on their roofs that looked like 360 degree (I can’t find the “degree” symbol on my keyboard) cameras.  I, of course, had to wave frantically.  How often do you get to be a TomTom sandwich?

The vehicles looked just like this one that was spotted in Colchester, Vermont, which also has New Hampshire plates.  So, somewhere out there, in TomTom’s head office, someone is busily editing out the footage of the stupid red-headed girl frantically flapping her appendages at the green Toyota.  Isn’t that why they have big orange hands painted on them in the first place?  Aren’t they encouraging us to wave?

The great thing about waiting in the doctor’s office for an extended period of time is that I had a huge selection of magazines (albeit ones from several decades ago that sickly hospital hands have touched.  I hope you appreciate the perils I face in the name of knowledge).  Magazines are a great source of useless information.  And I thrive on useless information.  So, here’s what I found out:


1)  The first magazine I encountered was a ratty and aged edition of Canadian Living.  I’m almost certain that many Bubonic humans have coughed and sputtered all over this one.  This isn’t usually my type of fare, but I did manage to find a good pasta recipe (which I surreptitiously ripped out, folded into neat squares, and slipped into my purse).  Oops.  Did I do that?

With my trusty recipe in hand (or in purse), I soldiered on and learned something very interesting…Canadians have invented some pretty cool stuff.

Loyal readers were presented with a poll which contained a list of “5 Cool Canadian Inventions” and asked to vote on what their favourite was.  Here are the results:

1.  Zipper  (Without Canadians, the world would probably have Velcro flies and that would just be weird).

2.  Blackberry  (Sorry, but I’m not a fan of the whole “cell-phone-permanently-attached-to-the-face” craze, so this would be at the bottom of my list.  But it is nice that iPhones have some competition).

3.  Ski-Doo  (No surprise here).

4.  Walkie-Talkie  (The precursor to the cellphone.  Damn, we are to blame.)

5.  5-Pin Bowling  (I voted for this, but apparently, I am alone in my appreciation for this Canadian invention.  But, seriously, it’s way cool!  Smaller balls that fit nicely in little hands.  And, if you grew up on the Flintstones like I did, you will know that the 10-pin bowling ball can inflict all sorts of damage to your foot or to your best friend’s head.  Plus, it is way easier to keep score in the Canuck version.  Even I can manage adding up to 15).

2)  The next little gem comes to you care of Chatelaine magazine.  Again, this isn’t my favourite, but it also added some great recipes to my handbag.  Seriously, who could resist Chicken, Mango, & Brie Quesadillas?  Not this girl.

I have never been a fan of ice cubes.  If a beverage has been in the fridge, I will forego the ice cube every time.  It just makes your drink watery.  If I want a watery drink, I’ll drink water.

Turns out that everyone I know and every restaurant I have ever been to has been making ice all wrong.  To avoid flavour loss, you should make your ice out of the beverage that you will be putting it in.  Having a pitcher of ice tea?  Make ice cube with ice tea.  Who knew?  Like I said–no one.  Such an obvious solution too.

3)  One would think that a highbrow magazine like The New Yorker would be teeming with wonderful gems of knowledge.  Think again.  This magazine, for the most part, gave me a headache.  Seriously.

I remember an episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine struggled to understand a New Yorker cartoon and even after a lengthy discussion with the other characters, she was unable to decipher it.  Well, I now completely empathize with her conundrum.  For the life of me, I don’t get the humour in the comic pictured here.  Okay, so a guy is walking a bowling ball and a woman is walking her pins…10 of them, I might add.  Is this “love is just around the corner?”  Maybe.  Is it funny?  No.  It feels like a feeble and unfunny attempt to enter the bizarre (but humorous) world of Larson’s The Far Side and makes me beg the question–what does it mean?  Will they fall in love?  Or will his bowling ball pound the crap out of her pins?  Please…can someone explain this to me?  Seriously, I didn’t understand a single cartoon in the entire magazine and I really want to comprehend just one.

P.S.  Does anyone know how to do a degree sign in Word?

Evil Fungi, Lucky Leaves, Dumb Dogs, and Strange Envelopes

I discovered I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.” – Axel Rose

I am always amazed at how quickly mushrooms grow.  We have had weeks of dry weather and after only two days of rain, a plethora of strange looking fungi have sprouted up amidst my Evening Primrose and Columbine.  I’m sorry, but toadstools are sort of creepy.  I’m not sure why.  It could be some latent memory associated with Alice in Wonderland.  Or maybe it is due to a traumatic experience after a grade-three school trip that I had involving toadstools, my peanut butter sandwich, and a Destroyer Angel look-alike.  All I know is that I can’t wait for the hot weather to return and shrivel those freaky fungi up, which raises another question.  Where do they go?  Mushrooms disappear as quickly as they appear.  I told you–they are FREAKY.

1)  It’s funny what we humans consider to be  lucky…a horseshoe, blue herons, the number 7, getting the big end of a wish bone,  finding a penny, and throwing said penny in water.  When you think about it, we are a very strange species, indeed.

Another supposedly “lucky” charm is the four-leaf clover.  Yes, when we spot one of these genetic mutant weeds, we let out a squeal of delight, run to show it to our friends (who will also squeal in admiration of your find), and Google ways to preserve our treasure in a feeble attempt to prolong the length of our good fortunes.  Never mind that you have just ended the life of the poor clover.  Having an extra leaf didn’t prove “lucky” for it, did it?

Anyway, the sermon in church today was about the Trinity, which led to the mentioning of the regular three-leaf variety of clover, which made me want to look up some four-leaf clover facts…my mind works in mysterious ways.  And, no, my mind does not often wander in church.  I am usually a very attentive parishioner.

The four-leaf clover is really a light-weight when it comes to limb-growth.  In fact, Shigeo Obara of Japan holds the Guinness World Record for having the clover with the most leaves.  This sucker is a 56-leaf clover!  He should be the luckiest man on earth.

Plus, finding one or two four-leaf clovers is really no big deal (no matter how loudly you squeal or how many friends you get to squeal with you).  According to the Guinness World Record’s site, Alaska native, Edward Martin Sr., has the largest collection of four-leaf clovers with 111,060 of the little green finds.  I wonder where he keeps them.  He must spend a lot of time crawling around on the ground.  Seriously, the acquisition and storing of over a hundred thousand weeds is a full-time job.  I am very worried about this man.  Doesn’t he run an unusually high risk of succumbing to lime disease?

2)  Everyone thinks their own dog is smart…well, almost everyone.  My neighbour who discovered her Boxer choking on her bra doesn’t exactly brag about her pooch’s I.Q.  But most of us think our Rover or Fido is special.

If you own a Border Collie, your dog probably is special.  It is, after all, the dog with the highest I.Q.

Here are the TOP 10 Smartest Canines:

1.  Border Collie

2.  Poodle

3. German Shepherd

4.  Golden Retriever

5. Doberman Pinscher

6. Shetland Sheepdog

7.  Labrador Retriever

8.  Papillon

9.  Rottweiler

10.  Australian Cattle Dog

Sorry to say, but if you are the proud owner of an Afghan Hound, I hope your dog has loads of personality.  Apparently, he/she is not the brightest biscuit in the box as this breed came in dead last.

3)  I’ve got to admit that licking envelopes seems to get more and more disgusting with every passing year.  What the heck are they putting in the envelope glue, anyway?  I seriously fear ending up like George Costanza’s fiancee, Susan–for those who don’t watch Seinfeld (what is wrong with you?  This is the best show ever), Susan died from licking their wedding invitation envelopes.  As George later explains, they were a really good deal (cheap) and they were expecting a lot of guests.

Well, no need to dread this tongue-straining chore any longer.  In fact, it may become something you look forward to.  J&D’s, the purveyors of everything “bacon,” have introduced bacon-flavoured envelopes.  They even look like bacon–long globs of fat and all.  Only $6.99 for a pack of 25.  http://weirdnews.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=weirdnews&cdn=newsissues&tm=36&f=20&tt=33&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.jdfoods.net/

Craving for a late-nite snack?  No worries.  Just get some mail ready and your nocturnal yens will be satisfied.  I wonder if they are cholesterol free.

Teeny Tires, A New Ghost Town, and A Coveted Pez

“Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.”  Kurt Vonnegut.

I think I had too much caffeine yesterday.  As you know, I am usually hyper–a “can’t sit still,” twitching & yapping, multi-tasker–but, yesterday, I was all this times ten with a touch of nausea thrown in.  This is why I don’t drink coffee.  And from now on, I will give Tim Horton’s Iced Capps a wide berth too–no matter how yummy and Coffee Crisp-like they are.

Today, I am suffering from post-caffeine exhaustion.  Hopefully, my mind-numbing stupor will not show through in my writing.  If it does, I apologize and promise to limit my beverage consumption to water and herbal tea K-cups.  Do we have a deal?

1)  Here’s a question for all you car people…who is the world’s largest tire manufacturer?  I’ll just sit here for a minute, while you run out into the nearest parking lot and examine people’s tires.  (In an attempt to pass the time, I decided to create my own muzak…but now I am plagued by the crooning of Tom Jones echoing in my head).

Are you finished yet?  The answer is LEGO.  Yes, they produce more tires, albeit smaller ones, than any other tire manufacturer.  381 million in 2011 alone.  That’s a lot of teeny tiny tires.

2) What images spring to mind when you hear the words, “Ghost Town?” For some reason, I imagined a town populated by Casper and friends, but that’s probably just me.  Most of you probably thought of abandoned Old West-style buildings like the ones pictured here.

Turns out that the modern-day Ghost Town (isn’t that an oxymoron?) is nothing like any of us conjured up at all–at least not in New Mexico.

Plans for an ultra-modern community boasting homes, office buildings, warehouses, retail outlets, sewers, and pretty much everything else one would expect to find in a bustling city of 35,000 inhabitants have been unveiled.  The only thing that will be missing is the inhabitants.  CITE, otherwise known as Centre for Innovation, Testing, and Evaluation will be just east of Hobbs, New Mexico.  And why the heck are they doing this?  In the name of research.  The goal is that CITE will become the testing grounds for smart and green technologies from around the world.  Already, companies are eager to road-test unmanned vehicles and geothermal power sources here.

In an age of homelessness and unemployment, does it seem strange that we are building houses for no one to live in and industries that won’t employ a soul?

3)  I admit it.  I’m a giant PEZ head.  I can’t get enough of these brightly coloured dispensers with eyes.  Funny, I don’t like the candy.  Just the containers they come in.  I think my fascination started thanks to an episode of Seinfeld, which leads to another passion of mine–anything Seinfeld–but we’ll save that for another day.

So, today I decided to entertain myself (and hopefully some of you) with one of many fascinating PEZ facts.

I have always coveted the Mr. Bean Pez collection.  Who wouldn’t?  There’s a miniature yellow Leyland Mini and a plastic rendition of Teddy.  Too cute.  Well, turns out that I should have had my heart set on another, albeit ugly, PEZ–a 1982 World’s Fair Astronaut–the most expensive PEZ ever.

This antithesis of cute fetched a hefty $ 32,205.00 US on e-bay, without a doubt causing some eyebrows to raise.  Some people just have way too much money.

AND you may have noticed that I changed the name of my blog.  Or maybe you didn’t.  Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.  Apparently, “Abbraccio Conoscenza” aka “Embrace Knowledge” in Italian was too hard to remember.  I picked my brain for one of my favourite pop culture references and voila–Lisa Simpson’s “embiggens” popped into my mind.  So, here’s to embiggening your dendrites and increasing your hat size.