Pick-A-Day

August 2020
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Whatchamacallit 132: i’i shetland

i'i shetland

This copy of i’i shetland is from my visit to the Shetland Islands in 2013.

i’i shetland is a magazine clearly aimed at locals – more so than any other magazine of this ilk that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

The reason I kept the magazine was the “celebrations parties” section at the back of the magazine. It features photographs of locals out celebrating events – birthdays and hen parties.

It was the “French” themed party that caught my attention: while most of the attendees wore stereotypical French clothing, 9 of the guests showed up dressed as frogs.

I cannot tell you how much I laughed upon seeing the photo the first time.

Party in Shetland.

That photo is the sole reason I did not recycle the magazine, instead it sits on a shelf and whenever I run into it, I remember the photo and I start laughing all over again.

Does that make me a bad person?


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 131: Grow A Boyfriend

Grow A Boyfriend

This boyfriend was a present from a friend – I think I know which one, but, to be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if a number of different friends had given it to me.

As you can see, it will grow up to four times his size in water – so he’s a grower and a shower.

The instructions on back are cute:

  • Place your boyfriend grower in a container at least 4 times the size of your grower.
    Fill container with room temperature water.
  • Grow A Boyfriend will begin to grow within 2 hours & reach full growth within 72 hours.
    It will slowly shrink to smaller size when removed from water.
  • Your Boyfriend grower can be grown over and over again.

Perhaps what makes the product awesome is the “3+” notation – you can see it just to the left of his feet.

My Grow A Boyfriend stays on my bulletin board – so I see him out of the corner of my eye fairly often. I’ve not yet put him in water and I probably won’t – because it’s nice having him safe in packaging.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 130: ANA Folding Fan

Fan from ANA

When I went to Japan, to Hiroshima, for the first time, back in 2013, I made a point of flying ANA, All Nippon Airways, there. At the time, they flew the 787 from Frankfurt to Tokyo Handea. I came back on Swiss via Toyko Narita.

I think the number of times that I have bought crap from Duty Free onboard an airplane can be counted on one hand – I can remember two times, but I imagine I might have done it two or three more times.

This is what I bought onboard one of my ANA flights – an ANA branded folding fan with an airplane motif. I love the detail: even the arms have little airplanes in them. The subtle branding of ANA on the main visible arm to the right.

It came in a carrying case. Which is where the fan stays 99.99% of the time. I would not want to use it in my daily life, instead it hides out on a shelf – a quick little surprise every time I run into it.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 129: Berliner Luft (Part 1)

Berliner Luft

A year or two ago I was in a la-di-da kids shop, Kleine Gesellschaft, in Prenzlauer Berg, where I stumbled upon “Berliner Luft.”

It’s the kind of kids shop that is so upscale and pretentious that it has its own brand toys.

This is, simply put, a bottle of soapy water, complete with one of those rings on a stick, that you can use to make bubbles.

The fact that it is “Berliner Luft in Seifenblasen” – “Berlin air in soap bubbles” – makes it even more ridiculous.

Yes, I know there is more Berliner Luft out there; there’s a reason this is part 1!

On the website, these are currently going for 1.71€ a bottle, so I probably paid 1.75€ to 2€ in the shop.

Right now, it stands on a shelf in front of my router, which is visible from where I work, so I see it quite often. I might have used it once or twice – as I recall, getting the lid off is surprisingly difficult.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 128: Vase

Vase

I bought this vase in, I believe, December 2018, at the Japanese Christmas Market.

The market was held at Malzfabrik, which is located “behind” (sort-of) the Schöneberg IKEA. I went to the market with my two Italian friends – where, generally speaking, we had fun.

There were two negative things about the market: first, it was crowded – like these things always are – which made it difficult to get around and for me to not want to leave immediately. Second, related directly to the first point, is that some horrible mother kept ramming into the back of my legs with her stroller because she wanted me to move faster – as if I could magically make everybody in front of me vanish – so that she could pick her kid up from somewhere deeper in the Christmas Market.

Signature on vase

While I can remember looking at a lot of things – and I think I bought a few things – this vase is the only object that stands out. It was for sale in the main room and I almost did not buy it. We were making our way to the exit when I stopped to look at the pottery for sale – I really liked all of the pottery, but I think that I could only justify buying one object, something affordable. This met my criteria, although I no longer know how much I paid.

There’s a signature on the bottom – I tried to make it out: Cirze or Crize? Neither really comes up with anything useful on Google.

I’ve never used it for anything but decorative purposes: its subtle design is really pretty to look at.

It sits on the table with all my whisk(e)ys, so I see it fairly often.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 127: Star Trek Figures from 2009 / Burger King

Star Trek figures

This small collection of Star Trek characters was acquired while I lived in Weimar.

These were the toys included with kid’s meals at Burger King – and I discovered that they existed too late to eat enough meals to get all the toys – so I have Scotty, Kirk, Old Spock, Sulu, and Young Spock. By pressing a button on the back, each character delivers a critical line.

In German.

Old Spock says, “Frieden und das langes Leben.”

Literally translated, this is “Peace and Long Life,” or “Live Long and Prosper,” as it is actually delivered in English.

Amazingly, the batteries still work – so I can listen to the characters talk whenever I want.

As I kid, I never got into Star Wars – still have not as an adult – I was into Star Trek. ST:TOS, ST:TNG. Never got into Deep Space 9. Watched some of Voyager, before losing interest. Never saw Enterprise, Discovery, or Picard. The 2009 Star Trek reboot might have been the last Star Trek film I bothered to see.

The toys currently sit on a column behind my couch, next to the previously described wooden tree – a cute reminder of what I used to love.

I still do, just not enough to watch it regularly.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 126: Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Dr. Seuss - Oh the places you'll go

When I left the States to (temporarily) move to Germany, this was a present from one of my wonderful colleagues at Indiana University Bloomington.

It lived in my office before I moved to Berlin, in Berlin it lives in my bookcase, catching my eye, bringing me back to Bloomington. It also describes my life shockingly well.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 125: Brandenburg Tor as a sand castle model

Brandenburg Tor - Sand Castle Model

This is Brandenburg Tor as a toy – one that you fill with sand, compact, moisten, then flip and, voila! Brandenburg Tor has come to the beach.

Ignore the fact that it has an incorrect number of pillars – it should be six.

I bought this in 2015 in preparation for my around the world trip – I knew that I would be spending time on the beach and I thought it would be cute to bring something Berlinerish with me. Thus, this toy has gone around the world, slipped inside a ziplock baggy and stuffed in my suitcase.

It did come out of the suitcase in Samoa, it was filled with sand, and a version of Brandenburg Tor has stood on the beach.

In my mind’s eye it would make for a fun photograph: make it, get on my hands and knees, photograph it, then fun for Facebook or Twitter.

Alas, I miscalculated one important fact: a Sand-Brandenburg Tor on a sandy beach does not really stand out all that well.

I think the photos never got past the “WTF – I did not really think this idea through” stage, dying in my photo management software.

Since then, the toy has sat in its plastic bag on a shelf, not really basking in any glory, just disappointment.

It deserves better – but I don’t know how to deliver.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 124: University of Wyoming Flag

University of Wyoming Flag

I’ve owned this flag since, I believe, spring of 1998.

As I vaguely recall, I bought it shortly before graduating with my MA in Political Science (minor in Environment and Natural Resources) from the University of Wyoming.

I cannot say that I ever had a specific plan for the flag, other than to just have it. In fact, until July 2016, it pretty much stayed in its packaging. That month I had a party in a park and I wanted something to help my friends find me in the vastness of the park – this flag, with its unusual (for Berlin) symbol and bright golden color stuck out.

I remember that upon taking it out of its packaging, it gave off a chemical-like odor – something that stuck around awhile. Thankfully, it no longer seems to give off the odor.

Currently, it hangs on two nails behind the door to my living room.

In other words, I almost never see it – especially because I’ve layered another UWyo flag and a Colorado Gay Pride flag on top of it.

For while I imagined that one day I could visibly fly my flags, maybe developing a rota depending upon what was important for a given day. I’d invest in a number of appropriate flags and have fun with the project. Yet I do not foresee a time when I will ever be able to fly the flags in a place where more than a token number of people can see them.

Sure, I could put the flags over my shoulders as I march in parades, but – quite frankly – there’s never going to be a University of Wyoming parade in Berlin. The Colorado Gay Pride flag could work during Berlin CSD, but, to be frank, I would probably have to explain what and where it represents to everybody – and who wants to spend a parade doing that?


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 123: Goldfish Colors (to be deaccessioned)

Goldfish Colors

I bought this package of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors awhile back: judging from its expiration date of March 8, 2015, I probably bought it in 2014.

Given the rainbow, I thought of it as Pride Goldfish – so after eating them, I save the box.

In the intervening years, the package has faded slightly and collected its share of dust. Much to my surprise, part of the package is sticky – from what, I do not know.

Whenever I notice the package, I think, “PRIDE GOLDFISH.” About three seconds later, I’ve forgotten the goldfish.

Ironic, considering the longstanding myth that goldfish have three second memories.

The only way I will remember this packaging after today is when I stumble upon this blog entry and think to myself, “why did I keep that empty box for so many years?”


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.