Archive for the ‘funny picture’ Category


There are laws about how close a nosy tourist can sneak up on a whale, and most people assume that’s to keep the whales safe from the people. So imagine this couple’s surprise at learning the law also keeps people safe from whales.

Through some combination of whale movements and people movements, the kayakers got closer to this mother humpback and her calf than she approved. First she thwacked the water with a humongous flipper. A moment later she launched out of the water for a full-body layout to encourage the couple to put on a little more distance. Great picture of the splashdown here.

As a totally unexpected bonus, we get an eye-opening comments board at the Times Online’s version of the story. Comments aren’t about whale conservation or close calls with wildlife. They’re about how annoying the metric system is. Amazingly, almost all the comments are pro-Imperial units. And they seem serious! You almost think one of the commenters is Grandpa Simpson (“My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that’s the way I likes it!”).

I’m still in shock from hearing recently about some U.S. undergraduates fighting to comprehend the metric system – one in particular whose preferred way to get from centimeters to meters was to convert to inches, then to feet, then back to meters. When did powers of 10 become arcane?

Maybe we should just measure everything in elephants, a la this Onion story. My favorite line:

We saw a rat in the street the other day and he kept going on and on about how huge it was, saying, ‘That thing must’ve been at least .074 elephants long!’

For the record, a full-grown humpback whale is only about 2 full-grown elephants long. But thanks to the power of allometry, it weighs in at 4 elephants. Probably only around 1 elephant of lifespan. Top speed? Just 0.5 elephant (but here the system breaks down: though slower on land, a humpback can surely outswim an elephant. Vice versa is just not worth contemplating.)

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Funny sign alert #5

You know you think about it every time you have to ride over the tracks. Or those storm drains with the big slots in them.

(Christchurch, New Zealand)

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Here’s ace photographer Chris Linder at 2 a.m. waiting for some love from the Iridium satellite gods.

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Funny sign alert #4


This place is full of funny signs. Wait till you see the one from the bathrooms with directions about where to upchuck.

This is in the radio issue room at McMurdo. I love it because I was in Germany earlier this year and was constantly confronted with signs that seemed like they ought to be readable but never were (not for me anyway). Also, when I was a kid my parents didn’t want us to know what they were talking about, they would speak German. They had met in Germany and both speak the language well, but when they needed a word they didn’t know they would make it up and then break out laughing.

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Funny sign alert #3


Needless to say, the possums are different in New Zealand.

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A herring gull in Scotland has earned equal parts scorn and adoration for taking on the law: stealing chips from a convenience store. The local news station has a good time with the story, which is now all over YouTube. The report is kind of hokey, but the footage is good and the reporter strays toward the Monty Python-esque about halfway through.

It may be a little too “America’s funniest home videos” for the more serious Scribble readers. But there’s something impressive going on here, too. Here’s a bird that learned to recognize that something completely manmade and unappetizing-looking could be turned into a meal. And it became so convinced of its reasoning, apparently, that it was willing to venture inside a shop. One envisions the gull, after innumerable dumpster dives, finally saying to itself, “You know, there’s got to be a better way of doing this.” Imagine its reaction when it discovered that not only does it work, but that the bags start out FULL…

At any rate, it’ll keep you going until things calm down around Scribble central. Thanks for reading.

***P.S. Geeky title alert: Herring gull = Larus argentatus

Thanks, Allison!

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actualsize.jpgHere at Scribble Central let me assure you that we are far too busy collecting obscure but fascinating bits of ocean science to pay much attention to page stats. Nevertheless it’s distressingly difficult to ignore one post’s reigning popularity.

That would be Cute Baby Pictures #1. It’s just resoundingly, devastatingly, congenitally popular. Just last week alone the post (first published a full year ago) got looked at upwards of 200 times.

There’s just a staggering number of people who search the Internet on the chance that whatever the cuteness of their current favorite baby pictures, something even more doggedly cute has just been posted.

It’s a bit difficult for a writer to discover that his most resonant work so far is a picture of a silver-dollar-sized turtle and some funny socks. But far be it from me to deny the public what it wants any longer. I’m releasing baby watermelons onto the World Wide Web.

Above, revel in the adorableness of this little one, barely bigger than a stripedy-blue reef fish. And truth be told, that’s a pretty small fish.

australia.jpgBut oh, how they grow – and in just a few short months (we’re thinking October, maybe) this little guy’s going to be a corker. His big sister over here at the left is already nearly the size of Australia.

No watermelons were harmed (yet) in the making of this post. Watermelons were grown organically on land formerly described in the Scribble Climate Experiment. They live in constant natural peril from organic gophers.

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This just in: the road trip is still in progress and gradually getting sillier. In our whoosh across the Northwest, we’ve walked a weimeraner in the pouring rain, watched five-year-olds on a backyard zipline, stood in the sopping updraft of a Cascades waterfall, glissaded on the shoulders of Mt. Rainier, flown over Mt. St. Helens in a plane that might once have been a VW bug, explored a basalt cave, and found some amusing uses for lichen.


Actual news reports may resume next week. Thanks for waiting.

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On the side of a Waste Management garbage truck. (Taken at 65 mph on Highway 1. Sorry to the white minivan behind me.)

I can vouch that the whole rest of the truck is the same color green as visible on the margins of the sign. Among the many ways of describing such a paint job, one might use the term “greenwashed” without being in error. I’m just saying.

Apparently, as I learned online, some Waste Management landfills do set aside area for wildlife habitat, which they get certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. Birdhouses get posted; poplar trees get planted; biodiversity is reported to increase. No word as to whether the set-aside land gets slated for the landfill to expand into.

The Wildlife Habitat Council was founded in 1988 as a joint effort between business and environmental groups. They claim World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation as partners. Also on the list: Anheuser Busch, DuPont, Ford Motor Company, ExxonMobil, G.E. and the United States Steel Corporation. Their newly appointed chairman is Monsanto’s VP of Environmental Safety, Health and Human Rights. Make of that what you will.

Here at Scribble Central, we firmly believe that businesses can do good for the environment – and in fact, that conservation won’t be widely adopted until economics require it. Where poplar-shaded, bluebird-speckled landfills fit into that scenario, we’re completely at a loss.

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pencilchew.jpgMaybe the occasional Scribble Reader has wondered just who in the heck this Scribbler is. But let me tell you, that ain’t nothin’ compared to how much I wonder who the heck you guys are.

But that’s the beauty of Web 2.0, ain’t it? No more agonizing over the wording of your letter to the editor of Omni Magazine in the hopes of seeing your name in print. Just hit the Comments button and fire away.

So here’s your chance to do some scribbling of your own and fill me in on one or more of the following 15 pressing questions:

1. How did you get here? (no need to get cosmic on this one)

2. Have you visited this site before?

3. Are you just here for the baby turtles? (you would not believe how many people search the Internet each day for baby turtles)

4. What kind of posts do you like the best? (a) ocean science (b) climate change (c) birding (d) surfing (e) other?

5. Are the posts (a) about right or (b) too damn long?

6. Would you like more coverage of (a) climate change (b) islands being devastated by rats (c) weird deep-sea creatures (d) earthquake-type stuff (e) celebrity feuds and/or adoptions (f) sex (g) atmospheric physics (h) other (please specify)?

7. How educated are you: (a) made it out of high school; curious about the world (b) still interested in most things (B.S.) (c) able to detect the infantile flaws in some stories; peripherally interested in all the rest (M.S.) (c) basically humoring me (Ph.D.)?

8. Do you wish the words I use were (a) longer (b) shorter (c) funnier (d) snarkier (e) less stupid (f) rhyming?

9. Do you occasionally wonder what possesses me to spend an hour or so writing about such obscure topics?

10. More pictures? (Of what?)

11. Are you not leaving comments because (a) the posts arrive fully formed and inviolable (b) you never make it to the end of a post (c) it’s interesting, just not that interesting (d) try writing about something that matters (e) you have a lingering feeling that even though only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will ever look at a comments page, you might come off sounding stupid and someone, somewhere, might snicker at you from the lonely confines of their poorly lit hovel

12. If scientists were to turn their collective intellectual power toward designing one and only one robot animal, what animal should that be?

13. I am an heir/heiress and I would like to contribute ___ million dollars to further the Scribbler agenda

14. Do I know you? How?

15. Setting aside the surfing and the birding for a moment, if there was one thing in the world you’d like me to write about, what would it be?

I’m really not kidding about this. Answer as much or as little as you see fit. Post a comment – or – if you don’t feel like going totally public – send aphriza at gmail dot com an e-mail. Thanks for reading.

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