The great squirt gun wars…

So if there was ever a clear example of why you need to be careful what you say to kids this has to be it. I was washing my truck with my nephew, and he turns to me and says:

Nephew: “This must be so traumatic for you!”

Me: “What? Why?”

Nephew: “Because you lost your other 12 brothers in the great squirt gun wars when they started using pressure washers.”

Me: “Your weird. How did you come up with that?”

Nephew: “You told me. Last summer. When we were pressure washing the deck.”

I know he did not think I used to have a bunch more brothers – but wow. I definitely need to watch what I tell him.

How to compliment an engineer….

Showing someone a design I came up with today I got the best of all compliments for an engineer:

I am paraphrasing but conversation went something like this:

“Thats weird!”

“So you don’t think it will work?”

“No, it will work, and we should definitely do it, but its just weird!”

And ladies and gentlemen, thats how you compliment an engineer.


A thorough retaliation, served up 25 years later….

I woke up this morning to the following email from my dad.

You said, ‘if you are going to drink whiskey, drink the best you can afford.” So, thank you. I am drinking the best you can afford.

Love Dad

And that is what happens when your dad gets access to your liquor cabinet and you are on the other side of the planet and can not stop the inevitable. It took him 25 years, but his revenge for my teenage raids on his alcohol supply was both thorough and proportionate. Well-played dad.

Swearing when English is not your first language

Working on a particularly nasty engineering problem with a co-worker – I slipped up and swore at the office. I immediately apologized, which brought about a round of confusion followed by a really interesting conversation.

I am working over seas and so although he is fluent, the co-workers in question has english as his second or third language. He maid an interesting observation, that for non native speakers swearing gets used in english language popular media so much that it just seems part of the language. There are no levels or apparent filters. So while he understands that we don’t all walk around dropping f-bombs like in the movies or on TV, its totally unclear what the cultural contexts around swearing is. So it is just seen as any other part of the language. Which is kind of fascinating given the range of feelings and social constructs that exist around swearing back home.

Laundry Day!

My apartment came with this clever drying rack that unfolds to a hold a surprising amount of clothes to dry over night, then folds back up into almost no space for storage.


Seattle is so damp that hanging your clothes outside to dry is sort of a gamble at the best of times. So I have not hang dried my clothes in years. I might have to get one of these drying racks for home though – they do a really good job and it leaves the fabric feeling starched.

And yes, I only brought packed black tee shirts and jeans on this trip. It was an accident.

Tom of Finland

I don’t care what advances gay rights or gay culture may have made in the states – we just can’t touch the Finns. I was doing some shopping, puzzling over labels on coffee – when I looked up and saw this bag of coffee.


I found out later that Tom of Finland was apparently a really important gay rights activist in Finland, and an artist. So as part of the 100 year celebration of the founding of Finland (in 1917), some of his art was being displayed on products here.

I was disappointed when I went back to get a few bags of this coffee to send home to a friends. They had sold out of that cover, and the new art was not anywhere near as good.

Barnacle Building

You can tell Helsinki is a port city. Like I said in earlier posts, they have a lot of beautiful detail in their older buildings. The oldest have a lot of tiny nautical themed details. For fairly typical example there are what appear to be a pair of salmon on the moldings of the windows at the office.


My favorite so far though is this building that has barnacles under the eves. Its so subtle that from a distance it just looks like a turbulent pattern of bumps.


Then when you look closer you can see it is incredibly detailed. Someone had a lot of fun with this, and it was done long enough ago to have been a hell of a lot of work.