Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'funny'

Hotel fun, fun, fun till Daddy took the microwave popcorn away

January 18th, 2015 · Comments Off on Hotel fun, fun, fun till Daddy took the microwave popcorn away

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a time when @frankwilczek was on sabbatical, so that the Marriott Residence Inn of Tempe AZ became our temporary home.

We spent fun time with our children in the Marriott Residence Inn of Austin, TX, over Christmas break. Contrary to what your image may be of Texas, this was a smaller location with smaller rooms and a much less useful kitchen (no actual oven, and double beds rather than queen size.) Still the presence of children makes up for a lot, and the nearby-ness of Austin’s amazing Drafthouse Ritz Cinema makes up for almost as much.

But I digress. The point of this blogpost is that the delicious hotel-provided free microwave popcorn here needs to cook for about 5 or 10 seconds less than the Popcorn setting on the admirable hotel-provided microwave oven. So that tonight, we ended up setting off our smoke alarm, which is very very loud. And which predictably caused the nice people at the front desk to call the Tempe fire department.

If you should experience this exciting event, here is my advice. Drench the smoking bag of popcorn under your faucet asap. This stops it from making new billows of black popcorn smoke.

Call the front desk (or send someone down there) to alert Tempe’s Fire Department that nothing is currently on fire in your hotel room. Turn on the fan of the microwave. Prop open the door to the hallway with one chair or even two. Open some windows. And the hideously noisy alarm will stop making noise.

Then you can smile quite complacently and write a blogpost…

I almost left out the best part! When I went downstairs to the front desk with my dripping, formerly smoking bag of popcorn, the very sweet people behind the desk (besides calling the Tempe Fire Department, etc.) asked me, “Would you like another bag of popcorn?”

I love you, Tempe Downtown Marriott Residence Inn!

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Pilgrimages · Wide wonderful world

What hath Twitter wrought?

September 5th, 2013 · Comments Off on What hath Twitter wrought?

What hath Twitter wrought? by betsythedevine
What hath Twitter wrought?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Last week, Frank Wilczek asked Twitter if anybody knew the name of a very odd object (we posted a video) seen at Susty’s Restaurant in Northwood, NH.

Richard Askew (@ricaskew) not only knew the answer to Frank’s question, he also knew where Frank could buy kinetic forks for himself!

@FrankWilczek Kinetic Fork

Yesterday, Frank’s new toys arrived in the mail and this morning we took even more videos because … surely Twitter is waiting to see what we found!

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · geeky · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world

Life in the Frank Wilczek lane

August 15th, 2013 · Comments Off on Life in the Frank Wilczek lane

Life in the Frank Wilczek lane by betsythedevine
Life in the Frank Wilczek lane, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Doing my bit to get this little vignette added some day to a learned biography of Frank Wilczek:

Me: (sitting in living room, working on Internet stuff) (silence)
Frank: (sitting on porch, working on physics stuff) (laughing and laughing)
Me: (still in living room, not working) What? Oo, what’s funny, what?
Frank: (walking in from porch with open book in his hand, full of enthusiasm) It’s a great quote from Wittgenstein!

And if you didn’t know yet that he’s a sweet-natured guy, he agreeably posed for this picture with his great quote in view on top of the new Viking book he bought at the supermarket and is having fun reading.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · geeky · Wide wonderful world

The Woman Who Bought …

October 10th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Woman Who Bought …

The Woman Who Bought ... by betsythedevine
The Woman Who Bought …, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

The woman who bought The Woman Who Died A Lot, a lot. That would be me. I had pre-ordered Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next novel ages ago from When I saw it was already out in an English edition, I quickly ordered it from I got home last night to find both editions had just been delivered. Hurray! Oh, whoops, was I supposed to be unpacking now?

Tags: England · funny · Wide wonderful world

First Nobel gold for Higgs? 10 chocolate coins

October 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Nobel gold chocolate coins by betsythedevine
Nobel gold chocolate coins, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Back in 2005, Uppsala Castle hosted a gala physics dinner where two MIT physics professors, Frank Wilczek and Janet Conrad got into some jokey trash talk about the existence (or not) of Higgs particles. Years later, neither one could clearly remember all the details, but one scribbled notepad recorded details of a bet between Frank and Janet about when, whether, and at what energy, a Higgs particle would be found.

Frank bet Nobel chocolate medals, at 100 to 10 odds, that CERN would find a Higgs before the end of 2012 with a mass less than 150 geV. And in July 2012, ATLAS, CMS, and Fermilab all announced finding the same Higgs-like signature at about 125 geV. So Janet conceded and gave Frank his prize: 10 golden Nobel chocolates, at another lovely festive event at Uppsala Castle.

And I even got one of these pieces of chocolate for having suggested the second Uppsala Castle Higgs particle party, as recorded in this YouTube of Frank’s talk there.

Although Frank was dubious about this party idea, I sent email to Uppsala physicist Antti Niemi, asking if he didn’t think Uppsala might enjoy being part of the end of this story — and the rest was history, by which I mean hard work by Antti and by Uppsala University’s Tord Ekelof to bring this idea to fruition. A very good time was had by all the participants, including an audience of about 500 people who came to hear talks by Tord, Frank, Janet, and Fabiola Gianotti, the head of ATLAS at CERN.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Science · Wide wonderful world

Cake for a whirlwind wedding?

September 25th, 2012 · Comments Off on Cake for a whirlwind wedding?

Cake for a whirlwind wedding? by betsythedevine
Cake for a whirlwind wedding?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Not far from our Copenhagen hotel is an open-air market, where some of the stalls have evolved into covered small food shops, including a bakery, Sweet Valentine.

I love the artfully artless thrown-on looking frosting of this wedding cake. Of course, such insouciantly slapdash visual effects can only be created by someone very skillful. Similarly, the tousled bedhead hair that looks amazing on young Julia Roberts probably took her hairdresser an hour to create — nor would the same look, even crafted by the same hairdresser, look expensively elegant if I were to go downtown wearing it.

Tags: food · funny · Wide wonderful world

Don’t look don’t look don’t look …

May 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Don’t look don’t look don’t look …

Poster in Richmond beauty shop by betsythedevine
Poster in Richmond beauty shop, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

I saw this poster this morning, in a small beauty shop in Richmond. I couldn’t wait to show it to Mickey — and how we both laughed!

A few minutes later, walking along, she remarked, “I’ve experienced that, of course, but I’ve never paid for it.”

Yes, up in NH lakes you can get your toes nibbled by cute little fish at completely no charge!

Tags: coasttocoast · England · funny · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Wordsworth strongly deprecates one shade of green

May 25th, 2011 · Comments Off on Wordsworth strongly deprecates one shade of green

Day 3 offtrack: Shades of green by betsythedevine
Day 3 offtrack: Shades of green, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850, as we say in Wikipedia) has strong opinions on the moral value of scenery. His poems celebrating the Lake District inspired poets who inspired the Romantic Age. Less well known, but also deserving of some mention, was his absolute hatred of a particular tree that had been introduced to the Lake District during his lifetime.

The larch. Yes, the larch, a tree that figures heavily in one much-loved Monty Python episode, was to Wordsworth simply despicable. For example:

… as a tree, it is less than any other pleasing: its branches (for boughs it has none) have no variety in the youth of the tree, and little dignity, even when it attains its full growth: leaves it cannot be said to have, consequently neither affords shade nor shelter. In spring the larch becomes green long before the native trees; and its green is so peculiar and vivid, that, finding nothing to harmonise with it, wherever it comes forth, a disagreeable speck is produced. In summer, when all other trees are in their pride, it is of a dingy, lifeless hue; in autumn of a spiritless unvaried yellow, and in winter it is still more lamentably distinguished from every other deciduous tree of the forest, for they seem only to sleep, but the larch appears absolutely dead.

And so on, and so on, at very great length in his instructive and often quite funny book Guide to the Lakes. I hope that he would not have disapproved any of these greens, however.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · funny · Travel · Wide wonderful world · writing

Botticelli’s backside

May 23rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Botticelli’s backside

Botticelli's backside by betsythedevine
Botticelli’s backside, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Not many people have seen a rear view of Botticelli’s Venus, but, as a reader of my blog, you are one of the few!

A hotel/pub where I had lunch in Workington yesterday has transformed the famous painting into a giant shiny plaster statue. Progress marches on.

Purely in a spirit of service to you, dear reader, I walked around to the back to take this photo.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · funny · Travel · Wide wonderful world

The Nematode Diet

August 9th, 2010 · Comments Off on The Nematode Diet

"Hairy" nematode (Stilbonematinae), Bocas del Toro, Panama

Originally uploaded by artour_a

Why does peppermint-stick ice cream have to taste so darn good, when everyone knows that calorie restriction is Better? Or at least, calorie restriction makes nematodes live a long time, which surely must mean it could turn every one of us into a sleek superfit suntanned sexy sextillionagenarian.

Now consider this shortcut to glory: a diet of nematodes. Calorie-restricted nematodes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — with some crunchy nematode cysts for between-meals snacking.

If my nematode diet does not motivate you to eat a lot less than you do, I will be very very very surprised.

Tags: food · funny · Science · Wide wonderful world