Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Attack of the Robot Gardeners

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

(Or The Cherry Tomato-nator)

While I’m hoping to be proven spectacularly wrong here, I can’t help but hope a gardening article I recently encountered is not one of those deeply ironic signs of some ridiculously unnecessary science fiction-themed Armageddon heading our way.

I, robot — and gardener: MIT droids tend plants

By MELISSA TRUJILLO, Associated Press Writer - Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:25AM EDT

These gardeners would have green thumbs — if they had thumbs.

A class of undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a set of robots that can water, harvest and pollinate cherry tomato plants.

The small, $3,000 robots, which move through the garden on a base similar to a Roomba vacuum, are networked to the plants. When the plants indicate they need water, the robots can sprinkle them from a water pump. When the plants have a ripe tomato, the machines use their arms to pluck the fruit.

Even though robots have made few inroads into agriculture, these robots’ creators hope their technology eventually could be used by farmers to reduce the natural resources and the difficult labor needed to tend crops.

Last spring, Daniela Rus, a professor who runs the Distributed Robotics Lab at MIT, began a two-part course. In the first semester, the students learned the basics of creating and using robots. By the fall, the students were ready to have robots tackle a real-world problem. Rus and Nikolaus Correll, a postdoctoral assistant in Rus’ lab, challenged the students to create a “distributed robotic garden” by the end of the semester.

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Adventurous Eater Jumps Right In

Friday, April 10th, 2009
Adventurous Eater Ian

Adventurous Eater Ian

Last night I took my son out to dinner at an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese food buffet. Generally buffets like this are wasted on me because I just don’t eat enough food to justify the price. However, my 5-year-old Ian is a bottomless pit so buffets are right up his alley! As we perused all the food choices, I piled his plate with Lo Mein noodles, sweet and sour pork spare ribs, and crab wontons. One of the food trays caught my eye and I read the label out loud, “Frog legs.” “Frog legs?” said Ian, “Frog legs! I want frog legs!” Okay, onto the plate went one frog leg. Back at our booth, the frog leg was the first thing in his mouth and he proceeded to eat every little bit and requested more.

As someone who was an extremely particular eater as a child, having a son who will happily eat frog legs is oddly interesting. When I was three years old, I told my mom, “I know I don’t like it because I’ve never had it before.” In elementary school, I would actually turn down dinner invitations to friends’ houses because I was afraid they would serve something I wouldn’t like and then I would get that dreaded label…”picky.” Oh, how I hated that word! I wanted to like everything, to be able to eat whatever crossed my lips without the gag reflex kicking in, without worrying what I was going to eat at a big event, without fear of getting labeled a picky-eater. In my early twenties, I noticed a list tacked to the refrigerator of my boyfriend’s mom. She’d been writing down notes about what foods I didn’t like so that she wouldn’t cook them when I was there for dinner. The list was at least 3 pages long. I was so embarrassed that I became determined to try new things without prejudice, even foods that I’d tried as a kid and disliked. I discovered that there were quite a few things I’d been missing out on, foods that my adult taste buds liked and my childhood taste buds had previously rejected.

Back to Mr. Frog Legs, when Ian was born I was set on having him try foods without the pressure that I’d gotten as a child. I offered him a wide variety of flavors and textures, encouraged him to try new foods, but never pushed the issue if he turned it down. If he didn’t care for something, I’d offer it to him again on another day. I think I just lucked out with a child who is more adventurous than most because it’s obvious that he didn’t inherit his gourmet taste buds from me. When he offered me a bite of his frog leg at dinner last night, I refused with a polite “no thank you!”

Product Photo Review - Cozy Cat Hot Water Bottle

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

This nice letter and oh-so-cute photo was sent in to us by one of our treasured Chinaberry customers.

The Joke’s on You!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Well, it’s here once again… April Fool’s Day. Even though I tend to fall for most pranks on this silly day, I still love it. Here at Chinaberry, there is laughter coming from all corners of our building. We are a company that laughs often normally, but today light-heartedness abounds. April Fool’s Day reminds me not to take life so seriously and to recognize the revitalizing, cathartic and stress-reducing attributes of laughing. I love the times when I laugh so hard that tears come streaming down my face. I especially like when I’m open to letting this happen as a family. Being a single parent, I feel as if I spend way too much time being the nagging, multi-tasking, no-fun disciplinarian. My six-year-old twin girls LOVE to laugh-everything is funny to them. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to.”-jokes that only kids can fully appreciate. When I can “let my guard down,” the results are spontaneous family bonding & fun.

One of our best fits of laughter as a family came when my then 5-year-old girls and I were attempting to play badminton in our front yard (they for the first time). All the air swinging, jumping, being hit on the top of the head with the birdie, having the birdie land in the perfect spot in the tree-it was too much to take-I felt as if we were in an “I Love Lucy” skit. After being so serious about trying to hit the birdie, we finally just broke down in laughter. My girls couldn’t exactly figure out why I was crying so much, as usually crying is preceded by sadness or utter exhaustion. The girls and I enjoy remembering that moment. My wish is that I can create more space for humor in our lives.

The Chinaberry April Fool’s Day tradition:
Our Customer Service Manager, Patti, had made it a tradition early in the day on each April 1st, to announce over the office intercom, “Donuts in the break room.” Almost every year an unsuspecting Chinaberry newbie comes rushing into the break room to discover… no donuts and a foolish look on their face. The first year, Patti heard the oncoming stampede of hungry, hardworking warehouse workers rushing into the break room. This has been a Chinaberry tradition for 14 years now. Well, today, Patti changed it up a bit and actually brought donuts. Of course, except for a few fellow tricksters, everyone else thought “There she goes again. Won’t she ever stop that joke? Nobody falls for that one anymore.” So, the donuts sat there undisturbed by the masses until the real joke happened once her co-workers found the donuts. Maybe this is a ‘you had to be there’ kind of prank, but it sure had us Chinaberrians laughing out loud.

Please share one of the funniest pranks you encountered today-and remember to keep your sense of humor active throughout the day and all year round.

Spring Cleaning (aka Mom vs. Clutter)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Spring Cleaning? In my house, it’s more like spring, summer, fall and winter cleaning. Where do we store all the stuff we don’t use very often?  Some favorites are in a “spare” room, a large closet, the garage, or even a storage unit –  in our family, it’s the garage. I am so envious of people who can actually fit their car(s) in their garages — wow, what a concept. Although I try to live by many of the principles of voluntary simplicity, sometimes the road to simpler isn’t always easy or simple. This is the third time in only two years that I’ve attempted to clean & organize our garage. I used to think I was somewhat organized… then I had kids. Enough said.

The ‘Mom vs. Clutter’ match went something like this:

  • In this corner we have the current champion, the infamous Clutter; and in the other corner sits the stressed-out, always-exhausted, overwhelmed challenger, Mom. [spectators cheer loudly]
  • Round 1: Two years ago: We moved into our new home. I only had enough time & energy left to stack the multitude of packing boxes in one (large) area of the garage. Round goes to Clutter.
  • Round 2: One year ago: I bought a bunch of plastic tubs and moved all our stuff from the cardboard packing boxes into the tubs. At least it appeared to be more organized. Round again goes to Clutter.
  • Round 3: Last October: I started in and I’m almost done now, only five months later. This time I was serious about organizing our stuff.
    Some things I pondered as I cleaned:

    • How many stuffed animals do my two girls need? Four tubs full? Definitely not, but how do I give away all those cute little critters that seem to mean so much to my kids?
    • When am I actually going to have time to fix all those broken toys and damaged clothes? Yep, probably never.
    • (more…)

Sourpuss Hats

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

When children get grouchy, it’s a powerful thing to help them gain the self-awareness that they are in a bad mood. Sometimes a touch of humor helps them learn this. When Heidi was young, she and her dear friend Emily used to play “Sourpuss Hats.” I think the game started because one day Emily’s mother had asked Emily if she had put on her sourpuss hat because she was so cranky. Emily (and then Heidi) quickly adopted this idea. They found real hats that became their official sourpuss hats, which they donned whenever being a sourpuss was warranted. With hats on their heads, they stomped around the house with dour looks on their faces, making various grumbly c omments. It was hilarious for all concerned.

But the best part was the holdover for when they really were grouchy. All we mothers had to do at this point was say, “Do you need your sourpuss hat? You’re acting mighty grouchy right now.” And the girls would giggle and somehow the grumpy mood was magically transformed. They started this when they were two or so, and still to this day, nine years later, if they are in a grouchy mood, they both break into a smile at just the mention of the words “sourpuss hat.” It’s astonishing what a little good-hearted humor can do to save the day!

A Home for Cats

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

If you’re a cat-lover like I am, you just have to check out this video of a great cats’ house, created by home owner Bob Walker.

You can also “visit” The Cats’ House own website: www.thecatshouse.com.

Out of the Mouths of Babes - You Put Your Left Hippo In

Friday, January 23rd, 2009
Photo by Frank Wouters

Photo by Frank Wouters

This kid quote was sent to me from Brenda at Chinaberry:

After her gymnastics class my niece, with her hand on her hip, turned to my sister and said

“Mommy, my hippo hurts.”
- Bowie, 4 yrs old

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Just Like Dear OLD Dad

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

This quote was sent to me by Patti, Customer Service Manager at Chinaberry:

My husband took our son Ryan (who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time) to the barbershop for a haircut.  The barber put him on his booster seat in the barber’s chair and then asked Ryan how he’d like his hair cut.  Ryan replied by saying, “I want my hair cut just like my dad’s, except–pointing to his temples–without these bald spots there.”

Share your kid quotes!

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Big Feelings

Monday, December 15th, 2008

This kid quote was sent to me from Tammy B. at Chinaberry:

When my oldest daughter Bridgette was about five, we did not get along very well–she was so independent. One day when she was very angry at me, she said:

“I am not going to love you for the rest of my life… and tomorrow too!”
- Tammy’s daughter Bridgette, at age 5

This is a place where Chinaberry customers and employees alike can share the amusing things that the kids in their lives have said. Please share your kid quotes with us. See our first ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ column for more info on submitting your kid quotes.