tickle_trunk posts

This “This Little Piggy” Glove Manifests Five Counts of Fail

20140422.tuesday   comments=nil   tickle_trunk  

You just knew it would take something of real significance to force me to blog after a nearly-two-year hiatus. And this is that something:

Seems innocent, no? A cute multicoloured glove with a story book sewn into the palm. Perfect for reciting the age-old nursery rhyme to captivated little ones.

But aren’t the little piggies supposed to be recited upon one’s toes?

Ignoring that slight miscalculation (in truth, a book fashioned for the sole of one’s foot is best marketed to the yoga crowd), we turn to the first page:

Off to a seemingly good start. Happy piggies. Oh sure, the yellow collar on the first piggy and the red bow on the second piggy makes me uneasy for some reason, but I’ll let that slide for now.

On to the next page:

Cookies? COOKIES?!? Piggies don’t eat cookies! They eat Roast $#@&* Beef! Gruesome as it might be, everybody understands that. And it’s not like these particular piggies happen to be vegan or anything, because that leftmost piggy is clearly downing his cookies with exploited-bovine milk.

(In the universe of the beef-eating piggies, what do you suppose the cows eat? Shark fin and chilean sea bass gumbo with white rhino horn sprinkles?)

And that next piggy, to quote the author of this travesty, “had fun.” Oh no he didn’t. That next stinkin’ piggy had “none”. No roast beef. No cookies. No nuthin’ is what that piggy done had, as punishment for some unmentioned piggy transgression.

So, we’re piling on the piggy fail here, and yet the neckwear — a purple string tie followed by the green bow tie — is still unsettling.

One final page:

Seemingly a minor detail, that last piggy is usually said to have “cried” wee wee wee all the way home. He — or she, apparently — didn’t just vacantly “say” Ned Beatty’s line. Wikipedia’s got the facts.

And yet that white lace around the neck of the last piggy is again somehow unnerving. Oh, I see, the piggy shirts and neck accoutrement from the book match the piggies on the fingers. But this last green-attired piggy corresponds to the thumb of the glove. Which means… THEY’VE GOT THE PIGGIES BACKWARDS! The “wee wee wee” piggy is supposed to be the pinky toe! Or at least the pinky finger, if it’s gloves on the menu. The entire premise of the story is ruined if you cast the ungainly big-boned thumb in the “wee wee wee” role.

What innocent child would delight in a rhyme featuring a goddamn thumb as the protagonist?

There is always one more, May 20, 2013 edition.

20130520.monday   comments=nil   tickle_trunk  

Why, oh why, did I put the shovels away last week? What was I thinking?!?

Garage Sales are the Mother of Invention

20120727.friday   comments=5   tickle_trunk  

The use of this image is in complete violation of copyright. It pleases me to imagine the facial expression of the lawyer asked to draft the cease and desist letter.

Garage sales are a terrific source of baby equipment. Most items have only been pooped on a couple of times before the baby grew too large and had to poop on something else.

Unfortunately, a dismaying rule of garage sale purchases states that any item made up of multiple components will be missing at least 50% of said components. This means if you buy a pair of scissors, probability dictates that one of the blades won’t be there by the time you get home.

Fortunately, most components can be replaced, often for just a fraction more than the whole item would’ve cost new.

But in Whitehorse, some components are not so easily found. For example, the cylinder nut — the preferred fastener of most pressed-sawmill-scrapings furniture manufacturers — pictured at right. I couldn’t find anyone in town that sold something similar, and having bought a 14-piece crib for $25, was missing 7 of the damned things.

“I must repair to the workshop posthaste!” I cried, confusing most everyone, since no one really talks like that anymore, and also because we don’t have a workshop. Nevertheless, I was able to fashion a reasonable facsimile of the missing nuts:

“I can’t believe it’s not a hex bolt and cylinder nut!”

And now the crib is fully assembled, and just as strong as… Well, it hasn’t fallen over yet, so that’s reassuring.

I’ll leave the story of how Carole rebuilt half of a missing stroller safety-belt for another day.

The Many Moods of Henri-Georges

20120721.saturday   comments=2   tickle_trunk  










With apologies to Matt Groening’s Life in Hell.

There are 479,001,600 ways to button this blasted baby sleeper.

20120710.tuesday   comments=4   tickle_trunk  

There are many things that can occupy one’s mind while trying to change a screeching baby’s wet diaper in the middle of the night. For me, high-school math is as likely a subject as any.

A vanishingly-small selection of the many distinct ways to snap up this @%$*! garment.

And, faced with our baby’s many footie sleepers that I can never button correctly the first, second, or fifth time, I naturally began to wonder how many wrong ways I could possibly snap the thing together.

Turns out there are 479,001,599 incorrect ways, and only 1 correct way.

It’s a simple calculation. There are twelve pairs of snaps on this particular sleeper. Choosing any single one to start with, it will have twelve possible mates. Once that one’s snapped, the next has just eleven possible pairings, and so on until only one empty snap remains. The number of possible permutations is therefore 12 × 11 × ... × 1, which is usually written just 12!, or if you want to get probabilistic-ey with it: P(12,12). Any way you figure it, that comes out to just shy of 480 million different ways. Find me a sleeper with 14 snaps and I’ll show you, eventually, 87 billion different ways to close it up.

Now, the nit-pickers amongst you will argue that many of those permutations should be discarded because neighbouring male snaps usually–but not always, as I’ve discovered–match neighbouring female snaps, or that the sleeper isn’t made of infinitely-stretchy material. To those, I offer my rebuttal: thbpbpthpt!

I’ll also suggest that most of your typical classroom math problems aren’t applied to yowling month-old babies with arms and legs pumping every which way at indecent hours of the night.


Stump the Banker: How much is this Canada Savings Bond worth?

20120704.wednesday   comments=4   tickle_trunk  

Strange the things that appear in old safety deposit boxes. After drilling out one of my father’s abandoned boxes, we found a few old Canada Savings Bonds made out in my name, dating from when I was a mere toddler.

I figured I could cash them in and start an education fund for wee Henri-Georges. With compounding interest at today’s level of returns, we should be able to comfortably get him through at least his first term at Sal’s Refrigerator Repair Academy.

So down to the bank I went with bonds in hand.

Now, you’d think that a bank, what with all the finance-y things they do from 10 to 4, would be able to calculate the maturity value of a Canada Savings Bond. You know, seeing as we’re in Canada, and these are not uncommon securities.

The two banks I brought it to, however, puzzled over the certificates for quite a length of time, and only much later phoned me back to report their guesses as to each bond’s worth. Two different guesses, as it turned out, and also different–and, crucially, lower–than my own estimate.

Now, while it is true that I undertook a fair chunk of financial training in my previous Bay Street life, I’m not entirely confident in my bond calculation. So, I’m turning it over to you, faithful reader, with a small incentive to make it interesting (No, not one of the bonds. I mean, c’mon. But something north of a cheap bottle of booze and south of a carton of smokes. Choose your vice.)

How much is this Canada Savings Bond worth?

  • 1971/72 S26 Series
  • $100 face value
  • all certificate “A”, “B”, and “C” coupons still attached

To get you started, I’ll include a Government of Canada link to the CSB redemption values for matured, “old style” bonds. If you can find any more information on how to value these bonds, let me know.

Bonus points for something that I can–literally–take to the bank to prove to them what these damned things are worth.

Here’s one of the tricky little suckers. Click for an overwhelmingly large version.


The conversation quickly moved to Facebook after Fawn Fritzen passed along my challenge. So far the results are as follows:

  • $100: Simon R. Gosh, I hope he’s wrong. Either that or he’s playing Price Is Right rules.
  • $104.25: Bank A’s first guess.
  • $124: Bank A’s second guess.
  • $187: Bank B’s guess.
  • $211: Kennie H. My guess too, but contest rules exclude employees and family members from the running.
  • $211.25: Michael P. Michael apparently charged a small inconvenience fee to the bank for my troubles. Good on ya!
  • $285: Michael P. Gosh, I hope he’s right.

Keep the guesses coming…

Now THIS is what I call a non-refundable tax credit: Henri-Georges Denis Rogers

20120702.monday   comments=8   tickle_trunk  

"ah-REE jorj duh-NEE RAW-djers"

Or, just “Henry-George Dennis Rogers” for the maudit anglos in the audience. He was named Henri after my late father, Denis after his mother’s uncle and my step-father, and Georges after Henri.

Of course, none of this would’ve been possible had henri-georges.com not been available. In that case I would’ve insisted on “Wilco” so that his phone listing would’ve been “Rogers, Wilco”. There’s nothing the early twenty-first century generation will appreciate more than a telephone book gag.

* * *

People have been asking what it’s like to have a new baby. I say it’s about the same as bringing home a turkey-weight PEZ dispenser: cartoonish outsized head, floppy neck, and filled with bricks of delicious Pfefferminz.

Henri-Georges–which has become such a mouthful that some of the family have resorted to “Rijo”–arrived shortly after midnight on June 16th and tipped the scales at a trim 8 pounds and zero ounces*. That corresponds to a rather spindly BMI of just 11.1. Better get you some Weight Gain 4000, Rijo. Beefcake!

*Apparently only babies and lumber are still measured in imperial units.

Yet more fodder for the 16th birthday public slide show.

* * *

As so many others have commented, the maternity unit at Whitehorse General is truly outstanding. Sadly, I didn’t make it through any of the VHS tapes in our room so obviously placed for nervous dads: Slapshot, Rush Hour 2, and part one of LOTR.

In fact, the experience went a long way towards brightening my opinion of hospitals. I no longer solely think of them as gigantic industrial laundry automatons that rely on the leaking juices of the ill to justify their terrible existence.

* * *

Even though we received him only once, he came equipped with some forty-three “receiving” blankets. Good thing too, as he squirts through about seventeen of them a day.

* * *

I think it’s fair to say that his mother and I are more than moderately enthused about our new houseguest. So long as he pays his own way and picks up after himself, there shouldn’t be any trouble at all.

The Grandmothers Have Arrived

20120613.wednesday   comments=nil   tickle_trunk  

Our 6-room, 800 square foot, 1-bath, 2-dog house now has 2 rooms, 150 square feet, 0.5 bath, and 1 dog set aside for the visiting grandmothers-to-be. With wisdom our new son would do well to inherit, Carole had her shower last night.

One major tick on the never-ending baby checklist: The Nursery

20120605.tuesday   comments=nil   tickle_trunk  

Soon to be a new father, I’ve learned many things about parenthood of which previously I had no earthly idea. To begin with: storage.

As in, where, exactly, does one store a baby?

Apparently babies require an entire room. A thousand cubic feet for an eight pound dumpling.

Or, for those of a metric inclination, 17.2 decicoulombs for a 2.63 megatesla spaetzle.

The only candidate room in our compact house was the office. Specifically, my office, shown here in its circa-2009 state of efficient disorder.

At first, I didn't see why you couldn't sneak a crib up under the computer monitor. After all, "it's a terrific, flashing, buzzing, wire-y mobile." I was overruled.

“Besides,” we agreed, “a remodelling will give us the opportunity to finish the back wall of the adjoining bathroom, the renovation project we began four years ago.”

(Editors Note: That line of dialogue seems awkwardly expository. Please revisit.)

We began in March by pulling out everything that wasn’t nailed down, and one wall that most stubbornly was.

The two breaker panels in the corner, one in a box, and one exposed with non-clad Romex stapled to the wall, required special consideration. In the end I encased the entire corner and built a simple set of cupboard doors for accessing the panels. Aside from the occasional beverage, these doors are the only level and plumb objects in the building.

If you quickly flit your eyes from left to right, an animation of the breaker panel's history will reveal itself.

Once that was done, it was a simple matter of rebuilding the wall, priming, painting, flooring, trimming, painting, scratching, and re-painting and the baby storage room was complete.

It’s now quite apparent that the room is not nearly large enough for all of the baby supplies we’ve amassed to date. And the occupant hasn’t even arrived yet.

You won't be able to see it, but the Ernie and Bert (or "Bernie and Ert" as I call 'em) light fixture is the same that graced the old office.

There is always one more, once more, mid-May 2012 edition.

20120516.wednesday   comments=2   tickle_trunk  

Carole couldn’t sleep last night at 2am, so I wasn’t allowed to sleep either. The local Twitterati were abuzz over the snow. I said, “I think it’s snowing outside.” Carole went to look and all I heard in reply was “Oh, my god.”

The snow had built up enough by morning to make it difficult to open the door (which swings outwards for some unfathomable reason).