phlegm ringing dyspraxia stars

With a title like that, you know it’s gotta be another edition of “Weird Search Terms”! These are just some of the phrases that landed people to my blog recently.

There’s the usual run of unintelligible combinations:

  • phlegm ringing
  • migraines tapioca pudding
  • gluton in humans
  • epidemiology of sowbug
  • chit tea and water
  • punishment in inflation
  • old teacher big bread sucking student
  • drawing cat 45 tool holder
  • winded bugs
  • epidemiologist investigate humor
  • beautiful crush bug media
  • back titties
  • prosopagnosia number pi
  • “baking soda” “insomnia”
  • euphoniuc dissonance

(A euphonium is like a baritone tuba; does your brass need tuning up?)

  • cat hitting forehead

(Is that cat hitting its forehead or yours?)

  • dyspraxia stars

(Media stars that are dyspraxic?)

  • the venus of

(… of what?)

I suppose that with millions of humans on this planet, there are bound to be some odd word or concept combinations in search-engine queries. But why do so many of them land at my blog?

Then we have the Complete Nonsense queries (quack, quack, quack): Read the rest of this entry »

Got a Booking

David tagged me with the latest meme, and like him I’ve taken a while to get around to posting on it (maybe this virus has a latency period).

Here’s the formula:

  • Go to page 123 of the nearest book.
  • Find the 5th sentence.
  • Write down the next 3 sentences.

And like David, I didn’t think a textbook would be very interesting (zoology is closest at hand) so I’m grabbing another nearby book, Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice, edited by Lynn Meltzer (2007, The Guilford Press, New York). This chunk of text quite nicely stands by itself, which I find somewhat amusing, as many people’s quotes don’t make sense out of context.

Schema theory states that all knowledge is organized into units, or schemata, and that information is stored within these units. Thus, a schema is a generalized description or a conceptual system for understanding information — it is how knowledge is represented, stored, retrieved, and used. Though the system is called by different names (frames, schemata, and scripts), the common assumption is that new, incoming information activates, or stimulates, these higher-order structures of relevant prior knowledge.

The book just arrived in the post the other day, so I’ve not yet read it, but it looks promising.

Let’s see, I’m curious what sorts of things other people are reading, so I’m going to query a range of intelligent and opinionated bloggers out there. I’ll tag (in no particular order): Shark-Fu, Elizabeth, lilwaterchergirl, PalMD, and Ms Cornelius.

burning questions about phonics versus … pig ovaries

Yes indeed, it’s another exciting episode of your favourite irregularly-scheduled posting, Weird Search Terms. “Teh interwebs” is a strange and wondrous place, and some of it lands here! So without further ado (cue drummer):

More queries for the Interwebs Oracle:

  • i have to tell you something important
  • sleep recording surgery in rat brain
  • burning questions about phonics versus
  • pig ovaries
  • do i have fluid in my ear
  • can’t hear the fairy music
  • oxymoron – i need the number with no dig
  • how many bottons do air-planes have

bottoms? buttons?

In answer to your question: No. No. No. No. (Wash, rinse, repeat.)

  • chronic sleep deprivation causes autism
  • challenge test for heavy metals?
  • testimonials as evidence in science
  • egg white cures mercury poisoning
  • tinnitus green tea
  • sympathy and pity help the person to adj
  • vaccinations causing learning disabiliti
  • does finger flicking pages mean autism
  • asperger self hatred
  • auditory processing disorder stupid

Things get even weirder, leaving me blinking and repeating, “G’blrrg?” (the non-word I say when I am utterly baffled): Read the rest of this entry »

Love Bug

I love a good debunking!  Bug Girl has an appropriately geeky and humorous  Skeptic’s Circle #80, “The Valentine Edition” going on over at her blog.  Go check it out!

The Blue People are gaining!

Here is another edition of the Weird Search Terms, because I know you folks just live for these.

Trend alert! Blue people is gaining on Cat drawing for frequency. I have no idea why folks are looking for blue people, unless they’re looking for the band Blue Man Group?* Then again, a lot of these queries don’t make sense:

Ooh shiny cat disabled autism dust

A fresh batch of Weird Search Terms, and boy, are there some whoppers in here!

With an increase in traffic comes an increase in the number of search terms that lead people to my blog — and an increase in the number of peculiar search terms. Since I started my work day at 7:30 am and finished my last class at 9:20 pm, I have not had any time for writing today. So this seems like a good day to post the latest entertaining slushpile. My favourites are at the end, of course.

The most common are still in the “how to draw a cat” category, go figure:

  • cat drawing
  • drawing cat
  • draw cats
  • how to draw cat
  • cat+draw
  • Cats drawing
  • line drawing cat

Hmn, that last one sounds like it ought to be a children’s story. “Macvicar was a line-drawing cat; he drew lines on everything: the walls, the furniture, the stairs, the rugs, even pieces of mail …”

Er, what’s this about?

Stories of Yesteryear

Today I finally got around to decorating the tree, which shows you just how behind I am with things. (But the bedroom painting and sofa-futon assembly is done!) The Kid chose to go shopping instead of decorating, and I requested some wax worms from the pet store (for my Fiery Searcher beetle), and some groceries. There was about a two second pause, and then the kid asked me cautiously, “Those wax worms aren’t related to the groceries, are they?”

After reassurances to the negative, I handed off the extended grocery list, and started opening the crates with the holiday stuff. While decorating the tree, I remembered some stories of past years. These are from the:

“Some Days I Just Don’t Understand People” File

Some years ago, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. “We really need new towels for our green-and-white bathroom,” I volunteered. Our current towels were over a decade old, and getting raggedy with holes and rips and threadbare spots.

Christmas came, and I unwrapped a large box of towels. It was one of those coördinated sets, two bath towels with two matching hand towels and two matching washcloths. And they were all pink. I don’t like pink; I haven’t liked pink since I was a small child. Nothing in my house was pink, especially not my bathroom. Each towel had a big embroidered appliqué on it, with the bath towels having dinner-plate size areas that were too stiff and rough to make them usable for drying off. I was unfolding a towel and asked her, “Do you think they will soften up after they’ve been washed a few times?”

“Oh you’re not supposed to use them — they’re just to hang up for show,” explained my mother. She was pouting because I wasn’t ecstatic to have a functionless gift. This was not unlike my birthday, when she had given me a heavily-ruffled blouse full of scratchy lace, that was four sizes too large.


A few years later, I worked temporarily at a local garden center on weekends and evenings. They had extended their evening hours until 9:00, but few folks had caught on yet. Maybe it was the freezing rain on that Friday night, and the snow on the Saturday afternoon. But by Sunday the roads had been cleared, and the customers were finally trooping through the store more-or-less steadily.

I was shelving, and overheard a customer ask the store manager, “Do you know anything?” (Now what would Miss Manners reply to that?)

Some wit at the corporate head office decided to put the dog chews and bird seed on sale for 1/3 of their regular prices; I think that’s what they mean by a “loss leader”. So customers would trot in with their coupons to buy just 99 cents of seed and leave again, after much wandering around and asking questions about the other merchandise.

“Can I buy just nine feet of this eleven foot tree? The top’s not really pretty.” No, they didn’t want the tree merely trimmed down (as people sometimes do), they wanted to pay for just part of the tree. But because we bought an eleven-foot tree from the grower, that was the price we had to sell it for. Unlike a side of beef that gets pieced down to primal cuts and then steaks, Christmas trees are a whole-unit item.

“Where are the extension cords?”
“They’re all over here,” I answer, pointing to a small end-aisle display of brown lightweight extension cords and orange heavy-duty extension cords.
Customer, disdainfully: “I don’t like this brown; do you have any blue ones?”
“No. All of the extension cords we have are over here,” I answer, smiling despite chapped lips. This was a small garden center folks, not a gianormous hardware store that stocks extension cords in “designer” colors.

The phone rang.  I picked up the receiver with one hand, and use the other to cover my free ear and block out the background noise of the endless tinny Christmas carols that were giving me a headache. “Garden center and pet store, this is Andrea,”
“Do you have any ponderosa pines?”
“No, but we do have white pines, with or without flocking.” (“Flocking” is the white artificial snow stuff they spray on trees.) I was thinking, ponderosa pine Christmas trees?
“I want a ponderosa pine to plant outside.”
“We don’t have any balled-and-burlap live Christmas trees to plant outside, ma’am.”
“I don’t want a Christmas tree, I want a landscape tree.”
In December? The ground had been frozen for weeks; everything was covered in snow and ice! “No, I’m sorry ma’am, we’re not selling landscaping materials at this late date.”

I was standing with a customer in front of the ornament rack, pointing to hooks and replacement parts for Christmas tree lights (fairy lights). “Do you need any ornament hooks or or replacement bulbs?” I asked, always ready to save customers an unnecessary trip back to the store.
“No, just these balls,” she replied, holding a box of glass ornaments.
“Then I can ring that right up for you … That’ll be $13.92. Do you want a sack for those?”
Customer, staring at her box of purple glass balls, “Oh, do you have any of that wire stuff you use to put these on the tree?”
“Yes,” I responded, unplugging my key from the register and walking back to the aisle where we just were. I held up two different packages of hooks, “We have long ornament hooks, and short ornament hooks.”
“Oh. What’s the difference?”

And this, O Best Beloved, is why I don’t work in retail any more.

“Searching, please hold …”

NOTE: BEVERAGE-SPEW WARNING — funny stuff ahead

  • request the pleasure of your company

Why, thank you!

Every day I like to look at the search terms that brought people to my blog. And every day there are several requests for “cat drawing” or some variation thereof, which lands people on my page about prosopagnosia, as does “faceblindness”. Of course, every Web site gets its share of weird search hits. Here are some of mine, including my all-time favourites, which are at the end of the list. (As you might guess from some of these truncated references, the WordPress search-term lister has a character limit.)

Meanwhile, I have:

  • prove you are not a robot

That would be related to the devilish annoyance of CAPTCHA. I hope! Sometimes I think people view search engines as modern versions of crystal balls — a lot of queries are scripted in ways that suggest someone is asking questions of an oracle: Read the rest of this entry »


(Thank you)

Things I’m thankful for: our eldest’s honey was able to get out of the hospital to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. Not only does this provide us with a new resource for stories (the joy and annoyance of families is the oft-repeated stories), but also someone else to talk with about science and science fiction and gaming and politics, or watch episodes of CSI.

Having a guest means that the all my cooking seems even more worthwhile, and the food gets eaten up more effectively. Having someone extra also provides the necessary impetus to motivate the others in the household to pick up and clean, which I appreciate, even if no one else does. And of course, having a guest means that the four cats have no lack of people to bug for attention, including door-opening service.

With as many computers as people and wireless access, there’s nearly always someone online at some point or another. This is normal for us. Of course, with this holiday-sanctioned break from schoolwork, the kid has been online reading boards or gaming a lot of the time. This morning I was serving up breakfast casserole, and suggested, “Come eat at the table with us; be social.”

Aspie kid’s reply came from the other side of the big computer desk chair, “I was social yesterday.”

This is true; last night the normally-reticent kid’s verbal output nearly matched that for the entire week. So breakfast chatter isn’t on the kid’s menu. That’s okay; there’s still fun social activities like going to the bookstore or a movie. Dunno if that’s what other people do for Thanksgiving, but we’re having fun in our own geeky way. Happy holiday to the other Americans out there!

A Week Too Long

It’s been a very, very l-o-n-g week. The kid was off school for two days with a migraine that required IV meds to break. I got rear-ended in a three-car pile-up while waiting at a red light (I’m okay, and so is the car, structurally). The kids at school have been super-squirrelly, as only 30 students (all of whom have major emotional & behavioural problems) can be, so the staff are stressed. It’s also been cold in the mornings, and not surprisingly, NO one wants to crawl out of bed and go anywhere.

But, we’ve still one more day of the work week (two for me, as I’m tutoring on Saturday). So for everyone out there struggling to get going in the morning, here’s a sympathy picture. This is one of our cats, Spot, (named after Data’s cat, from Star Trek Next Generation, of course):



(For the less geeky, the post title is “Models” — a play on Numb3rs)

For someone who deals with statistics only when I absolutely have to (the formulae make my head swimmy), I still have a fondness for doing comparative measurements. Most of the online personality-type tests are an absolute waste of time (I’d much rather work out a Sudoku), but once in a great while one will catch my attention long enough for me to actually complete it, such as the nerd test. Okay, so at a 93% I’m not as nerdy as Bug Girl, who earned a “Nerd God” score of 99!

On the other hand, last time I took the AQ Test Read the rest of this entry »

Prove You’re Not A Robot

Several weeks ago hubby emailed me inquiring if I was familiar with accessibility issues related to a Web technology function, “[The bank’s] Internet Banking site prompts users to enter a security code using — I forget what it’s called. It changes every time you sign in. You have to type in what you see. Don’t some people have trouble reading these codes? Do you know what I’m talking about? If so, do you have any links or information about people who have trouble with these verification codes?”

I was rather tickled that he’d asked me, and replied, “Yeah, I know them bastards. Read the rest of this entry »

The Making of a Geek

Well, I’ve spent the past couple days crashed abed. After dragging myself to work today, I’m still not in top form. Basically, my brain-pan is full of snot, so I’m certainly not up to a great deal of psychoeducational analysis about much of anything. But until the green elixir kicks in (so I can get some sleep), I’ll natter away about how I got to be such a geek.

The original outlook wasn’t promising. In fact, I was quite the disappointment to my father for not being a chess whiz, and to my mother for getting poor marks in nearly all my subjects. The maths particularly eluded me — I was 13 before I had a firm grip on my multiplication tables — which for reasons that still escape me, led people to decide that in secondary school I should take a year of Bookkeeping as preparation for future employment.

However, I did better with a variety of hands-on pursuits, Read the rest of this entry »

Recess: “We’re here to shred Time for you…”

Recess means we take a break and play; it’s important to do that once in a while.

“Ooh, won’t the Temporal Investigations Department have a fit about this!”  (… I bet that’s where part of last Thursday went …)


Booster Pack

Sometimes you just get so run down that you can’t even remember what-for you were trying to find your get-up-and-go. You’ve been so engulfed in the Papierkrieg, so overwhelmed by the endless supplies of idiots that fill the world, and so repeatedly halted by your own internal difficulties that trying to find yet another work-around is too much to ask. On days like that, there isn’t enough chocolate, caffeine or ale to recharge the spirit.

So I like to collect quotes. Although I’ve looked through a few quote books, I’ve found them generally uninspiring. I believe that quotes should have a gritty, piercing quality to them, rather than being merely clever turns of phrase, or blandly “morally uplifting”. I have quite the motley collection on a number of topics, and not surprisingly, they’re not the kinds of categories or quotes that Mr Famous’ Big Book of Quotations is likely to contain.

In the US, Chinese restaurants often bring with your dinner bill some fortune cookies (instead of mints). These are twice-folded crispy cookies with a small paper “fortune” (trite bits of wisdom or predictions) inside. Here’s to hoping that a few of the goodies from my quote box serve you better than those insipid cookies!

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
~Audre Lorde

“You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they’ll never forget. Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don’t do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it.”
~Bruce Sterling Read the rest of this entry »

Slices (Episode 2)

The best definition of “poetry” I’ve ever encountered is, “Poetry is life condensed”. In a similar way, cartoons condense a slice of life into just a few panels. All of these cartoons are about navigating our way through the day.

I meant to do another episode much sooner (back in June) but then Stuff Happened. The summer was full of tutoring chemistry, and microbiology. We squeezed in some vacation, and then just hours after our return, wham! school started up again.  Here are  four fun cartoons: Read the rest of this entry »

Good design for the 21st century

Wow, talk about more functional design! A spacesuit that doesn’t look like you’re wearing horribly cumbersome elephant’s pyjamas or a really cheesy robot costume. The new BioSuit, designed by MIT astronautics professor Dava Newman, gives the wearer greater flexibility, mobility, and comfort, all very important factors when spending hours doing EVA (ExtraVehicular Activity = spacewalk) work building the International Space Station and other tasks. Less cumbersome also means that a person can move more naturally, which is simply good ergonomics; wearing the suit will be less fatiguing and straining to the body. (More information about the suit design at her lab’s Web site.) Personally, I would think all that snug pressure would be comforting as well. That it looks spiffy too is just the icing on the cake.

(Is it just me, or does that also look like a great design for fencing gear? And is that a Henry Moore sculpture she’s perched on?)

Can you sue your fairy godmother for malpractice?

I always thought it would be cool to have a superpower. You know, be able to fly, be invisible, walk through walls, be utterly graceful … impossible things like those.

Turns out I have a bit of a superpower after all. Took me long enough to figure that out, though. As a child, I figured it would be pretty damn obvious to me that I could do something that other people couldn’t, right? Well, it would be if I could fly or turn invisible. Those things are apparent, so to speak.

Instead, I find that I can hear all kinds of obnoxious noises that most people cannot hear. The hell of it is, it’s a lousy superpower. Read the rest of this entry »


Okay, having created a mutant meme … I finally think of 8 things for the original one. And so it goes. See previous post for meme rules. I’m not going to do any extra tagging, tho’.

Odd things I like:

1. Spiders; I have a pet tarantula. Watch this space for Garden Buzzing about spiders (I’ll put a link here for the pictures that will be on another page, so arachnophobes won’t have to see them.)

2. Bees. (duh) Bees are fabulous, little golden-fuzzy honey machines, or metallic green wonders, or fat teddybear-ish bumbles, and essential to our food web.

3. Snakes. Alas, the cute one I was ogling at the pet shop got sold.

4. Heights. My son and I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and Read the rest of this entry »

Meme Mut8nt-R4

(Andrea pulls on her lab coat and disinfects the benchtop.)

Steve D at One Dad’s Opinion meme-tagged me. I don’t know what the official name for this is, so I’ll refer to it as the Random-8 meme. Random-8 has the following genes:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

While entertaining some insomnia during the wee hours of the morning, I realised that this list was going to be difficult, having already done the Five Weird Things meme. But then I had an idea — a wild idea — a wild, wee-hours idea that unlike most such, still sounded cool the next day. Read the rest of this entry »

Quelle horreur!

“Teh internets” at home finally got fixed late yesterday afternoon, after being out for two days. Woke up this morning with what feels like one of those “not-deadly-just-entrenched-for-two-or-three-days” migraines coming on. Will see if the meds help, soon as I feel like keeping something down so I can take the meds to make the migraine go away, so I don’t feel so nauseous and unsteady and unable to access so many of the “higher cognitive skills” widgets in my brain. Yeh, viscious circle, is it not?

First line of attack on the migraine is drinking some strong coffee (yay caffeine), and putting on my iTunes to drown out the louder-than-usual tinnitus that tops hearing aid feedback for dB and Hz obnoxiousness. (Okay okay, for you audiophiles I’m listening to “The tortoise and the hare” from Flook’s album Haven; it’s Celtic music. Now anyway), and began catching up on two days’ worth of blog reading.

At Planet of the Blind, Connie had posted a blog rating, which I find to be one of those humorous little asides. So I went and had mine done up: Read the rest of this entry »

WAN-Foraging Behaviour of Migrant Geek Populations

You may have seen people wandering around railstations or airports or other public areas with open laptops in hand, searching for wireless signal to access the internet. I always thought that would be a neat demographic study to do.

Right now I’m one of them; “teh internets is broke” at home, and yesterday the cable service company told us they wouldn’t be out to fix it for another 48 hours or so.  No small surprise, considering that the US ranks 11th for internet penetration — it’s hardly an efficient or consistent utility, being composed of numerous companies, all with their own combinations of grids, pricing schemes and services.  So why do we have no access at home?  I’ve no idea; we’re not suffering from any severe geo-meteorlogical events, and I’m not way out in the boonies (the hinterland, the bush, the back country).

So here I am using free time on a college terminal, because despite their LAN sending out good signal, I cannot rouse their router’s attention anywhere on campus.  No, it’s not my laptop, which has worked with the college’s systems before, and worked just fine at the public library last night — however, I’m not fond of the public library because their wireless is glacially slow.  The result of all this is not having my laptop files for making blog posts.

Except of course, whatever just spontaneously comes to mind from a public-access keyboard, as I sit here kvetching.  Gah.

“Cyborg Cool” Versus “Crip Pity”

Observing human society is a never-ending fascination, because people are always doing the weirdest stuff. Social memes are maintained because people accept, use, pass along, and perpetuate attitudes and the behavioural responses that go with those attitudes. Sometimes those behaviourally-expressed attitudes are maintained simply by the very powerful force of social inertia – they exist because no one pauses to say they shouldn’t exist.

Sometimes no one pauses because the collective cognitive dissonance isn’t being noticed.

Here’s one that has been entertaining my whimsy / befuddlement / concern for a while now:

Bluetooth Earphone = Cool VS Hearing Aid = Pitiable Old Fogey

If you’re not familiar with the item by name, Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Holidays

from our geeky house to yours,


(Star of David Christmas tree ornament made of resistors)

Recess: Stories From the Home Front

Recess means we take a break and play. It’s important to do that once in a while.


So. We were stopped for a lunch break during our eleven-hour drive back from holidays. I don’t remember what I was talking about, but it likely involved far more vocabulary exhibition and details than anyone else felt was warranted.

Daughter said to her brother, “Don’t you think Mom is being overly pedantic?”

I am otherwise occupied with my salad and asked, “How could someone be underly pedantic?”

Daughter rolled her eyes and added to her brother, “See what I mean?”


While I was still at university, hubby and son came to visit me overnight at my campus apartment. I lived 125 miles/ 200 kilometers west of them, and concerned about what to pack, hubby emailed me and asked,

“What’s the weather like in your apartment?”

(In my apartment?) I wonder, and replied: “Ambient daytime temperatures correllating with outside weather, cooling in the evening, with increasing dark. No rain predicted inside, aside from brief showers in the bathroom.”


I got back in town Friday evening, post-dinner. Unloaded my gear and then began throwing clothes through the laundry. Opened up the clothes dryer and find two towels, a pair of boy’s boxers, a tee shirt, and a pair of socks. Obviously not a full load. Mental gears turn, and I hollered over the foyer railing to my son in the office/computer area, “Hey!”


“Are you washing your clothes and then just pulling out the pieces as you need them?”

“Yeah. No one ELSE does laundry around here,” he explained, meaning his dad, the only other weekday resident.

I giggled; this is such an efficient geekboy thing to do: store the clean laundry in the dryer until needed. “I’m putting your clean stuff atop your dresser,”

“Okay,” answered my laconic son.


A recent dinner conversation, over a nice batch of tacos with sides of guacamole and pineapple:

Dad is hard of hearing, and for some possibly-unrelated reason sometimes uses the wrong word: “How was the walk home from school? Were the streets paved?”

Our son, defaulting to that aspie literal-minded thing: “Were the streets PAVED? Of course they were.”

Dad clarifies, “Was the snow shovelled.”

Son shrugs, “Sometimes.”

Dad, cheerfully: “It’s melted a bit.”

I can’t think of anything to say to this statement of the obvious. And you wonder why some of us just don’t get into chit-chat …


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