Saturday, June 30, 2007

Postcards from the Edge: Jaya in Taos, NM

(Click on map for larger view)

For the very first installment of Postcards from the Edge...of the World, we travel to beautiful Taos, NM.

My friend Jaya from Cat on My Head has sent me a postcard that reads:

(Click postcard for larger view)

Thank you, Jaya! It sounds like a lovely (and wacky) place to live. And I don't think you're the only one with a worthless bureaucrat down at Town Hall - they're quite common.

Jaya's Cat on my Head is a wonderful blog about everything in life, with an especially "furry" twist to things. You see, Jaya has nine cats, and things tend to get a bit "hairy" over there in New Mexico. It's great daily reading, so please CHECK IT OUT!

It's a website that I totally get. No further translation necessary!

If you are interested in sending me a postcard and having your website "translated", please CLICK HERE to read more!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Our next journey takes us to Mexico, where we will delve into the language of food delicacies. In Mexico, the word for "yummy" is "Cuitlacoche" (kweet-lah-KOH-chay).

It's infected corn.

Since the time of the Aztecs, the fungus Ustilago maydis, also known as corn smut, maize mushroom, or huitlacoche, has infected and transformed perfectly normal corn into this:

That's right. They meant to do that. The Sneeze described opening a can of Cuitlacoche and tasting it:

In just a single serving, you'll experience a wide array of textures. Without getting too gross, it's because the disease is more advanced in some kernels than others. One bite might be kinda chewy, while the next might burst in your mouth like a black pus-filled blister.
Sound good?

When's the last time you ate something that looked like that? On purpose? Be honest, because I don't think that putting frogs in blenders is a common practice these days.

The large, bulbous things that look like frog eyes are corn kernels that have swollen to enormous size from fungal spores inside.

Enthusiasts report the taste of cuitlacoche to be a smoky-sweet mixture of corn and mushrooms. Not sure if I'd want to find out.

Right now, the only fungi I eat are mushrooms, beer, and bread. That's right. Beer and bread contain fungi.

Yep. Yeast. Yeasts are unicellular fungi, and certain types are some of my best friends.

I'm just not sure if I understand the language of maize mushroom. Has anyone tried it before? Can you help me translate?

Thursday, June 28, 2007


We now travel to Japan, where we will investigate the language of wasting time. Specifically, we will try to understand the universal appeal of bubble wrap.

Why do we love bubble wrap?

Is it the inherent human desire to increase entropy?

I mean, if you see a glass vase precariously hanging over the edge of a shelf, which would be more satisfying: pushing the vase back onto the shelf or gently tapping the vase so that it falls and smashes into a million tiny pieces?

The smashing thing, right?

It's because we all like destruction, and the little tiny air packets of joy allow us to enjoy miniature explosions without doing any real harm.

Or is it because it makes nifty sounds that relieve stress? Who knows. Whatever the reason for our unholy attraction to the bubbles, we may now all enjoy the snap, crackle, and pop at any time and at any place.

CScout Japan reported on Bandai Asovision's new portable bubble wrap toy, the PuchiPuchi.

That's right. Strap it to your key chain and:
Pop at work. Be a Professional popper.
Pop at school. You can be a Preppy popper.
Pop in the restroom. Pop while you poop.
Pop in Church. Heck, if the Pope can pop, so can you!
Pop at the you-fill-in-the-blank-location. It's POPTASTIC!

But why?

I still don't understand the attraction. Can you help me translate?

Update: Jaya pointed me in the direction of virtual bubble wrap. Check it out! Warning: it's addictive!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Help! I've been tagged!

My friends Frog and Ginger (and Bimmy) over at FrogBlogDogLog have tagged me for a game of randomness. In particular, I'm supposed to describe seven random things about myself. Seven random things about good ol' Translator.


1. I'm not really a "translator". I just play one on T.V. I'm more of a metaphorical translator, if you will. I help "translate" the crazy into the sane - the stupid into the smart, the weird into the normal, the foreign into the local, the crap into the...what's the opposite of crap? Food? You get the picture.

2. I'm a cancer researcher. I'm trying to understand why melanoma is so resistant to all types of therapy. If we can understand the genes involved in melanoma's defenses, perhaps we'll be better equipped to treat it.

3. I love to cook. Anything and everything. Food is good.

4. I have two turtles. Their names are Horatio and Vladimir. They are both over thirty years old. They eat fruits, veggies, arthropods, and annelids.

5. I'm working on a young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel. That's all you get about this one.

6. My family is my life. My life is my family. My friends are my family, too.

7. I'm an amateur magician. Card tricks, coin tricks, you name it. Watch this...


I've just tagged the following seven people to write their own Random Seven:

1. Deb at Ocean Mom's Blog.
2. Beenzzz at The Stealthy Bean.
3. The Lord at Lord Likely.
4. Burfica at Don't Eat the Tomatoes.
5. Brent at Ominous Comma.
6. Jaya at Cat on my Head.
7. Paisley at ....Why Paisley?

If any of you have been tagged for the Random Seven before, I apologize. Feel free to disregard. If not, and you're interested, please let us know about you! And tag seven others to continue the randomness!

I don't quite understand randomness. Can you seven help me translate?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award!

One of my loyal readers, Louise at My Journey to Eliminate Debt, tagged me for a Thinking Blogger Award! That's right! You, too, can grow your brain with a daily helping of Rosetta Rants! As the above scan indicates, Homer Simpson has never visited this site. Thanks, Louise!

Here are five blogs that make ME think:

1. The Alien Next Door with Nina. A very interesting science fiction blog with excellent real science, too!

Update: Oops. Nina already won the award. I'd like to keep this link up, though for those that are interested in great reading! Here's another nominee:

1B. In Search of Yesterdays with Vnrozier. A wonderfully written blog about growing up in Britain during the Second World War.

2. Twisted Bacteria with Cesar. Who knew bacteria could be so much fun?

3. Splantrik's Superness with Splantrik. Random Google Image Searches really make you wonder about the web - hours of fun, and days of trying to understand "why?".

4. Plooptionary with Ploop. If you like graphs and math (who doesn't) then check out Ploop's creative graphical reduction of everything in life.

5. Aetiology with Tara. A thought-provoking blog about epidemiology and everything else in the universe.

Congratulations! You've won Thinking Blogger Awards!

Here are the rules:

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post and the original post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back to the Grind

The hammock was nice, the beer was cold, the trip was great. Until...

Coming home is always the hardest part of a vacation. This is often because it’s hard to return to the daily grind – work, school, daycare, whatever. Last night was no different for me. Not because I didn’t want to come home from our camping trip. Because Mrs. Translator was vomiting uncontrollably.

Yep. That’s right. Vomit has a way of ending events. I know from experience.

Vomit at a movie? Time to leave.

Vomit at the grocery store? Time to stop shopping.

Vomit at a restaurant? Time to stop dining there.

Vomit on a date? Time to find another date.

Vomit at the amusement park? Time to get another hotdog and try another ride.

Vomit on a camping trip? Wait a few hours to see if vomit recurs. Vomit again? Think about leaving the night before scheduled departure. Vomit a third time? Get Babygirl Translator and Girl Translator into the car and drive for two hours at midnight because Mrs. Translator wants to vomit in her own toilet, and let your remaining family break camp the next morning.

And who can argue with that? I got a nice warm shower at 2 AM, I got to sleep in my own bed, and I got a whole weekend of camping with no cleanup.

Awesome. It was just an awesome trip.

The view from one of our hikes.

Has anyone else had an interesting way to end a vacation? Can you help me translate?

Friday, June 22, 2007


I need a little help understanding the language of camping.

Why do we camp?

I mean, do we enjoy torturing ourselves? Do we really like burning to a crisp in the daytime, and do we enjoy mosquito bites and sleeping on the ground at night? Do we enjoy cramming thousands of pounds of junk into our vehicles so that we can’t even see out the back window, then driving for hours and hours until we reach some dusty, bear-infested campground? Do we enjoy spending hundreds of dollars on giant packages of hotdogs, crappy cookies, and way more pop-tarts than we’ll ever eat? Do we really savor the fragrant perfume of campfire, sweat, and dirt?

Yes. Hell, yes. That's the whole point. I love it.

And perhaps we don’t mind this, either:

Rocky Mountain National Park (Click image for larger view)

My friend and I just got back from three hours of shopping for camping food. My brain hurts. But that's all part of the fun. We’ll be camping in Rocky Mountain National Park from Saturday until Monday.

Let the "torture" begin!

Can you help me translate? Why do YOU camp?

Thursday, June 21, 2007


As a translator of sorts, I am quite interested in conversions. Now, I’m not talking about religious conversions, although those are quite interesting, too. I mean things like converting one language to another, conversion of cultural norms, and – metric conversions.

Haven’t you always wondered how many newborn babies it would take to weigh as much as an African elephant?


How about how many T-Rex’s would you need to stand on top of each other to reach the top of the Empire State building?


These and many other amazing-yet-weird conversions are available at the WeirdConverter site.

Interested in how many average bowel movements it would take to make up a Tom Cruise? One, you say? Wrong.

Check out the converter for the answer. First person with the correct answer wins a prize equaling 0.004761904761905 of a gas tanker semi truck. Figure that one out.

I totally get this site. No further translation necessary. Except for the conversion-type translations that will take place on the site. That’s the whole point.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Extreme Hiking

We now travel to Xian, China where we will attempt to understand the language of extreme hiking. Mount Hua (Traditional Chinese: 華山; Simplified Chinese: 华山; Pinyin: Huà Shān), is one of the "Five Sacred Mountains" of China.

Apart from housing several prominent Taoist temples, Mount Hua offers breathtaking views to any tourist brave enough to attempt the ascent.

If you're interested in wetting your pants from fear, I suggest you give Mount Hua a shot. Featured on Photo Blog by Atul Gupta as one of the Top 5 most dangerous roads, the hiking trails on Mount Hua offer even the most experienced climber an opportunity to vomit from vertigo.

Look like something you would enjoy? Well, strap on a diaper and get climbing. Because you're only half way up.

The chains are very strong, so there's nothing to worry about. Risking death while vacationing is something that so few people get to experience these days. And no, I'm not talking about the Tower of Terror ride at Disney World. That doesn't count. But you should definitely try it.

If you manage to survive the ascent, the temples look quite amazing. Worth risking your life? I'm not sure. That depends on the person. And the life insurance policy held by that person. And how much that person hates living. And how much that person likes dirty underwear. Have I referenced bodily functions enough in this post?


Crap that looks high up. There. That should be enough.

The family and I will be going camping in Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. I'm sure we'll be doing some hiking. But extreme hiking? I don't think so. Does anyone have any extreme hiking stories or favorite hiking spots they would like to share?

Extreme hiking: I just don't get it. Can you help me translate?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lost in Translation

Pieter Bruegel, The Tower of Babel, 1563.

Let us now investigate the language of …well, language. Why are there so many languages? Why are cultures largely defined by the language spoken within specific boundaries? Why can’t we all just get along – linguistically?

I’m not sure that I have answers for these questions. I’m not sure that anyone does. But the fact that there are so many languages and cultures on this beautiful planet is one of the driving forces behind this blog.

The book of Genesis describes the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of a unified human language. Man wanted to reach for the heavens, and God said something like: “Now, wait a minute. I don’t think so.” And he split us up into various cultures with different languages.

Now, what I think was so nifty about the Rosetta Stone, is that allowed us to undo some of that destruction. The combined Demotic, Hieroglyphics, and ancient Greek inscriptions allowed us to decipher one of the world’s lost civilizations – ancient Egypt. A piece of the Tower had been rebuilt.

And now, Carl Tashian is again piecing together the scattered fragments of Babel with his website Lost in Translation – and then pulling them right back down, burning them, scattering the ashes, and whizzing overzealously on the remains - all for the sake of a good time.

And a good time it is.

Tashian’s site allows you to enter any phrase or sentence – and translate that entry back and forth between five different languages, using a dynamic interface with Babelfish.

Here’s an example. I entered this sentence:

Rosetta Rants is the coolest and most interesting website that I have ever come across during my travels in cyberspace.

And I got this “babelized” translation:

Rants I gave to Rosetta the site of the Web of frischste is one and more interesting, of which everything agrees I found during my courses in Cyberspace.

This came from an English to French to English to German to English to Italian to English to Portuguese to English to Spanish to English translation. And if we tell the program to include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, we get this:

The calmed site of the Web must, the one that interests the praise of the declared rosette of the certain material of that inside inside,the course for the low point, period of the station of the work more when cyber, is most interesting.

Notice how the length increased quite a bit? This is a perfect example of Chinglish, which will be explained at a further time. For now, all you need to know is that Lost in Translation provides hours of unstoppable Rosetta Fun!

Check it out for yourself!

I definitely get this website. No further translation necessary.

(Except for the translation done on that website, because that’s the point).

Update: Greg Laden's blog has some great examples of Babelized sentences.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Japanese Super Toilets

The Toto Washlet s400.

Our next stop will be Japan, where we will investigate the language of cleanliness. The Japanese have a fascination with cleanliness – separating their living spaces into “clean” and “unclean” areas – and this naturally results in a culture obsessed with toilets. (Seeing that my most popular posts have dealt with man marble injuries and truck nuts, I thought that the subject of toilets may satisfy you need for “potty humor”).

Wikipedia describes the culture of cleanliness in Japan quite well:

In Japan, being clean is very important, and some Japanese words for 'clean' can be used to describe beauty. The word kirei (奇麗, きれい) can be defined as "pretty, beautiful; clean; pure; orderly."

Perhaps this explains the popularity of the Japan-based company Toto, the world’s largest manufacturer of toilets. Toto not only produces the largest number of toilets worldwide, they’re also responsible for the world’s most advanced toilets, known as Washlets (ウォシュレット) in Japan.

For example, the Toto s400, pictured above, includes cleansing water jets with adjustable water temperature, adjustable temperature air blowers, air purifiers (for the benefit of bystanders), an auto open and close heated seat, and a remote control panel that looks like the cockpit of the space shuttle. Some even play the first few tunes of Op. 62 Nr. 6 Frühlingslied by Felix Mendelssohn to relax your…mind.

A Washlet control panel.

Now, I agree that cleanliness is next to Godliness. But Holy Crap! Ahem…seems like holy crap is something you would want to flush down one of those things. And I’d be afraid I would push the wrong button and blast my nubblies off into outer space. In fact, in Britain, an advanced “Super Toilet” did recently blow itself to pieces due to an electrical malfunction. Talk about explosive diarrhea…

Seriously, it looks like you can order pizza and withdraw money from that control panel. Japanese people will soon be able to live their entire life from a sitting position. I mean it’s pretty neat and all that an entire Culture of Crappers has emerged in Japan, but I just don’t get the Japanese language of cleanliness.

Can you help me translate?

Update: Greg Laden has a great story about the symbols used on Super Toilets.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Courtesy The Denver Zoo.

The Zoo is one of our favorite places - especially for Father's Day.

I'll keep this short: Today, family is first. Blogging comes much, much later.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


A tiger's (Panthera tigris) cryptic coloration.

This evening, we will travel to beautiful downtown Denver, Colorado to explore the language of evolutionary biology. Specifically, we will discuss the concept of crypsis. In zoology, crypsis refers to the ability of an organism to avoid detection. This may be achieved through camouflage, as seen in the predatory tiger above, attempting to remain hidden from its prey. Alternatively, crypsis may be achieved through mimicry, where an organism attempts to look like another model organism.

I have to say that I suck at both of those forms of crypsis.

My wife is a physician. And every so often, we have to attend functions. Although I don’t really “enjoy” attending these functions, I realize that’s what good husbands do. This evening, I gave my wife a hard time, but I ended up at the function nonetheless.

It was ok, I guess. Good food, good drinks. I had a gin and tonic, a heineken, and a glass of wine – and then it was time for hors d’oeuvres. By that time, I had really started looking for cryptic people. I find it to be an entertaining little game that I play in my head. I was also quite tipsy. So perhaps that was why I was playing a game in my head.

Now, at these functions, every doctor has a spouse or significant other – most of whom, are not in the medical field. And it’s quite easy to identify the spouses. While the docs all know each other and are wearing doctor clothes, the spouses are all hanging politely behind the docs, wearing slightly less-doctorish clothes. You can see the spouses who are attempting mimicry: laughing occasionally, pretending they understand what’s so funny about the patient everyone saw that morning – generally trying to look like doctor people.

You also get your occasional attempt at camouflage. This evening, I saw a husband of a doc blending into the background, trying to look like a barstool or something. He almost succeeded until somebody tried to sit on him.

And then, there’s me. Jeans and a Tommy Bahama shirt. I’m not a doctor. I’m a researcher. If I want to wear a kickin’ floral shirt to a function, my wife knows that’s who I am. No problem.

I’m not into mimicry, camouflage, or crypsis in general. I gave up long ago. And, although I sometimes worry too much about what other people think, I know it’s not worth acting like someone else. Overall, I guess I don’t really understand the language of crypsis.

Are there situations where you try to blend in? Why do you attempt it?

Can you help me translate?

And please send me a Postcard from the Edge...of the World!

Learn more below...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Postcards from the Edge...of the World

Going on a trip?

Want to show off your hometown?

Want a free review of your website?

It's a crazy high-tech world out there. Blogs, email, and electronic news feeds dominate our lives. But there's so much more - from the highest peaks of the Andes to the burning sands of the Dead Sea - an entire world of peoples, places, and things that I want to discover.

As members of the blogisphere, I think we often loose track of the people behind the screen. Who is doing the typing? What do they look like? Where do they live? What do they do on their vacations? The electronic world is a very impersonal world.

That's why I think that nothing beats a postcard. When I get a postcard in the mail, it says to me that someone took the time and effort to pick out an interesting photograph or artistic image and physically write me a note - with a pen! That little bit of personality in an impersonal electronic world is what I'm after.

If you're willing, please send me an interesting postcard from wherever you may be – on your adventurous travels or in your home office. I’d love to hear about the wonderful, the wacky, and the worthless features from your Edge of the World.

These may be tourist sites, cultural phenomena, restaurants, foods, – whatever! Write about them in English, and I’ll pin your postcard up on Rosetta Rants!

Please do the following:

1) Include the three W’s (W.W.W.) on your postcard :

Something you find (W)ONDERFUL,

Something you find (W)ACKY,

Something you find (W)ORTHLESS about your current location.

Or, if that doesn't float your boat, write ANYTHING you want!

2) If you would also like me to Translate (review and link to) your personal blog or webpage, please include your URL on the postcard. (Commercial websites please check out my PayPerPost button on the sidebar).

3) I'll notify you when your postcard has been added to Rosetta Rants. At that time, please write a post linking to my post of your card, or link to so others can read your postcard!

There’s so much to translate – I want to hear from your Edge of the World!

Send postcards to:


PO Box 24566

Denver, CO 80224-0566

Bring this address with you on your next trip, or send me a postcard right now!

Don’t forget the W.W.W.! (W)onderful, (W)acky, and (W)orthless!

Read More from Rosetta Rants...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blue Genes

The Blue Lobstah

We shall now travel to beautiful New London, Connecticut, where we will attempt to translate the language of genetics. Steve Hatch and his uncle Robert Green pulled this blue beauty out of the water Sunday morning.

Only one out every few million lobsters is blue. And it’s due to a very rare genetic aberration. Maine Chemistry Professors Ronald Christensen and Harry Frank discovered that blue lobsters overproduce a blue protein called crustacyanin, which blocks the red pigment astaxanthin. The correct balance of both proteins makes brown lobsters; too much crustacyanin produces blue lobsters.

Blue food? That reminds me of blue raspberry flavored stuff. What the hell is blue raspberry? I mean, is it a raspberry? Is it a blueberry? Is it both? Who came up with that one? Some guy was sitting in an ad agency, and was like: “You know what is really boring these days? Raspberries. Let’s make them orange. No – BLUE! And kids will buy our stuff like it’s going out of style!”

Actually, blue raspberry flavor was originally derived from the Black Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis) which has a bluish-red color. But they’re nowhere near as blue as the artificial crap we get these days.

But it’s true. There IS a shortage of blue foods in nature. You’ve got blueberries and the occasional blue crustacean – but other than that, there’s nothing. Why do you think that is? Maybe the “wow factor” accounts for why kids love blue foods.

By the way, my daughters love blue yoghurt. I noticed something very strange the other night while changing a diaper. Ahem. The blue pigment is not – shall we say – easy to digest. That CAN’T be natural. I also ate some blue yoghurt. And no, I didn’t look.

I wonder what a blue lobster would taste like. It just so happens that our sapphire sweety received a stay of execution and was remanded to the custody of the Mystic Aquarium. But if you could, would you eat it? And do you think it would taste a bit “sweeter” than the average lobster? Kinda fruity?

Who cares. I just don’t get the appeal of strangely-colored foods.

Can you help me translate?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Translator’s Top Ten Ways to Get your Blog Nominated for a Blogger’s Choice Award

If you haven’t visited, you should really check out Blogger’s Choice Awards. It’s where the best of the best blogs are showcased on the world (wide web)’s biggest stage. And you, discerning readers, get to vote. Winners will be announced November 10th at PostieCon in LasVegas, NV.

I’ve recently been drawn to the glamour, the lights, the – ability to vote. And I’ve nominated several deserving blogs. Be sure to check them out at the bottom of this post.

So what are the Translator’s key’s to getting nominated? As an accomplished translator of language, culture, and just plain weird stuff, I’m fairly qualified to sift through the gibberish and find the diamonds in the rough:

1)Be original. Everyone can write a blog about themselves. Why are YOU different from everyone else?

2)Be an authority. Why should we listen to YOU? Do you actually KNOW anything about anything?

3)Carve out a defined niche. As you can tell by the clear-cut categories on Blogger’s Choice, you should probably decide what it is you’re actually blogging about before you get too involved. Because after a year, it’s probably too late to turn back.

4)Make your blog easy to translate. Even I, the amazing Translator, have trouble understanding incoherent drivel. And use a spell checker – they’re cheap.

5)Be entertaining. Nobody cares about what you had for breakfast. Except your mom. And then, maybe she doesn’t. Unless you ate something really cool like a flaming pile of pumpkin pancakes with chocolate syrup. Why? I don’t know.

6)Personal touches are fine, but stay on topic. How does your topic RELATE to your world? I appreciate it when a specific topic is applied to a blogger’s world. Like farting. Farting alone is boring. But when Beenzzz farts – ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! Well, no. Farting alone is often unavoidable. And I've never heard Beenzzz talking about farting. You get the point.

7)Post consistently. If you don't care enough to post often, I don’t care enough to read. It’s that simple.

8)Offer advice or write reviews. As a world traveler, I appreciate hints about how to save some time, some money, or some embarrassment. Like that time in Venice. Oh, boy. If only I had read more blogs in the Eighties.

9)Encourage conversation and reply to comments. Because one-sided conversations suck. I mean, I didn’t sit in school for twenty-five years just to listen to more lectures on the web.

10)Be a really, really hot babe blogger. That never hurts.

So, check out Blogger’s Choice. You can nominate your own blogs and vote for the excellent blogs already nominated! Oh, and you can nominate your own blog, too. But you still need votes!

These are the blogs that I definitely get. No further translation necessary:

Best Animal Blogger: Cat On My Head. Voting Page!

Best Blog about Stuff: ......why-paisley? Voting Page!

Best Humor Blog: The Stealthy Bean. Voting Page!

Best Hobby Blog: Fishing Fiesta. Voting Page!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Highway Salute

I now bring you to the beautiful streets of Aurora Colorado, where high class meets high spirits. On my way home from work this evening, I happened upon a nice gentleman in a quaint Dodge truck. Well, actually, he happened upon me by almost crushing my Honda Accord to smithereens when he shot into my lane from another dimension.

Needless to say, I gently applied pressure to my “horn” thingy on my steering contraption, to notify the gentlemen of my presence in this universe. Upon hearing my audible notice, the gentlemen proceeded to signal me in the language of hand gestures. It looked something like this:

From Wikipedia.

The act of extending the middle finger, or digitus impudicus, as it was known in ancient Rome, is several thousand years old. Synonyms include “the finger”, “the bird”, “the highway salute”, “flipping the bird”, and “flipping someone off”. Previously used to ward off the evil eye, the connotation has changed, somewhat, in recent years.

It usually means “F—k you, a—hole!”

However, as a world traveler and accomplished translator, I beg to differ on the implied meaning:

In Inuit circles, flipping the bird means: “I saw a seal emerging from the ice. Let’s go get it.”

In rural Madagascar, the finger can be interpreted as: “The tree over there has many lemurs. Let’s eat!”

In downtown Sydney Australia, flipping someone off means: “Good day, mate! What are you UP to?”

And often overlooked, is the middle finger’s use in Detroit, Michigan: “You’re ok, buddy. Let’s meet UP sometime,” (usually accompanied by an upward motion).

So I’m not exactly sure what the gentleman in a Dodge was trying to imply this evening, but it may have been something other than “F—k you, a—hole!” I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The next time you’re in Sydney, Madagascar, or Detroit, give the old finger a try.

You’re sure to get an interesting response.

Does anyone else have experience with, or alternate translations for the bird?

Can you help me translate?

Monday, June 11, 2007


Fiji, courtesy South Pacific Holidays.

Our voyage now takes across the great Pacific Ocean, to the Islands of Polynesia, where we will investigate the language of herbology. The Polynesian triangle consists of hundreds of tropical islands that fall within a triangle formed by Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Needless to say, the Polynesian islands offer prime real estate for adventure seekers and beach lovers, and if you plan to visit, perhaps you should prepare for the cultural phenomenon of Kava.

Fijians prepare Kava, courtesy Fijian Kava.

Kava, or ‘Awa as it is known in Hawaii, refers to the root or rhizome of the plant Piper methysticum, a member of the pepper family (Piperaceae) native to the South Pacific. For countless generations, peoples of the South Pacific have ground up the plant’s root into a fine powder, to make a cold infusion with water. The infusion is used as a ritual drink, a social beverage, and for its medicinal qualities.

Kava’s active ingredient is Kavalactone, which is said to act upon the Limbic system, the structures of the brain associated with emotions and associated memories. Further, Kava induces feelings of intense relaxation, reduces anxiety associated with depression, induces sleep in insomniacs, and has been used for medical purposes such as contraception and as a cure for Gonorrhea.

However, several studies in the United States, Germany, and Switzerland from 1999-2002 have shown that liver failure is infrequently associated with using dietary supplements that contain Kava extract. Other side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort and skin allergies, and Kava should not be consumed by pregnant women due to possible contraceptive activity.

All in all, Kava sounds like a fascinating plant. I’m just not sure I’d want to try it. Like most things, moderation is the key. When Mrs. Translator and I finally make it to Fiji, I’ll probably give Kava the old college try. But with the thought of liver failure looming overhead, I probably won’t make a habit out of it.

“Sure Kava chills you out, but your liver might fall out.” – Anonymous.

What about dietary supplements that contain Kava? Dietary supplements are truly the modern language of herbology. My mother drinks green stuff every day. Sorry, mom if you’re reading this. I’m not sure what’s in it, but it’s green - very green. I think she said it contains green tea extract, wheat grass, horse dung, elephant sweat – I dunno. The point is: she’s a supplement freak.

In the United States, dietary supplements are defined under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, as a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical (excluding tobacco), an amino acid, or something used to supplement the total dietary intake. Supplements are regulated by the FDA as foods, not drugs. Therefore, they may only take action if a particular substance is proven harmful.

I know that most indigenous peoples have been using herbals and botanicals for thousands of years. But I also know that most indigenous people don't live past forty and they have very few teeth in their mouths. In other words, I’m sure that most herbals have positive and negative attributes, many of which, I’m not willing to muck around with.

There are two things I still don’t quite get about the language of herbology:

1) I don’t know if I’m willing to try Kava yet. Do any of you have experience with Piper methysticum that would sway my opinion either way?

2) Why do so many people use dietary supplements without actually knowing what they do to their bodies?

Can you help me translate?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why Am I So Lucky?

Why am I so lucky?
Why are they so beautiful?
Why are they so perfect?
Why are they so innocent - they don't know how they've changed my life, my world, my everything?

Why do I have the lens caps on my binoculars? Is it symbolic? Is it a joke? Is it a mere oversight?
Why do the kids have their backs to the camera?
Why are there no penguins in the photo?
Why do all the sentences in this post start with "why?"

Why do we often overlook the things that matter most in this world?

I just don't get it. Can you help me translate? (These do not start with "why").

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Breatharian Magic Words

Wiley Brooks, Breatharian, Spiritual Teacher, Inter-dimensional Traveler, and Founder of the Breatharian Institute Of America

Our travels now take us to Arizona in the United States, where we will investigate the language of Breatharianism.

According to the Breatharian Institute of America, a Breatharian “…is a person who can, under the proper conditions, live with or without eating physical food.” I don’t know about you, but physical food is my favorite kind of food. I couldn’t live without it for a day. I’d get all dead-like.

Anyway, in order to attain fifth-dimensional enlightenment, Breatharian master Wiley Brooks has compiled a list of five Magic Words:

1. Jot Niranjan

2. Omkar

3. Rarankar

4. Sohang

5. Sat Nam

Mr. Brooks follows this list with a very specific meditation procedure:

Start meditating with these magic words for at least 30 minutes a day to begin with and increase your meditating time to 2 hours a day as soon as possible. Repeat them in the exact order that they are.

Do the meditation excersize before drinking lots of diet coke in the 20 oz and 1 liter sizes in the plastic bottles only. Along with a double-quarter-pounder/with cheese meal at McDonald's only. Always meditate 30 mins to an hour before eating. Try to eat at least one meal a day for a while. Go back to my web site periodically to see if you can start to feel the magic after reading a few paragraphs.


May the forces be with you. You can call me and I will give you the correct pronunciations of the words from the 5D world.


P.S. You can call me anytime. My 5D #: 602-781-2624. Call me after 9 PM Arizona time. If you have trouble the first time you call, meditate on the 5 magic words for a few minutes and try again.

May the forces be with you, too Wiley. But I thought you said that Breatharians can live without physical food? Why do you suggest drinking diet coke and eating McDonald’s double-quarter-pounder with cheese meals (that means fries too) while meditating? And I'm pretty sure the American Cancer Society is gonna get mad at you for preventing your followers from eating fruits and veggies.

I’m not “feeling the magic” in the language of Breatharianism.

I just don’t get it. Can you help me translate?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Racquetball Anyone?

Our next excursion takes us into the heart of the sports world. Thursday nights, I play racquetball with the guys. Purely recreational, but you’d hardly know it watching us try to kill each other. You see, we’ve invented a new version of the sport – quicker, more difficult, and deadlier. Although we escaped with few serious injuries this particular evening, one of us was not quite so lucky a few weeks back.

On that fateful evening, our friend, who shall remain nameless, got struck full-force directly in the man candy.

That’s right.

The ball didn’t bounce first. The ball’s trajectory went like this: racquet – straight line at mach three – nubblies.

And our poor, wretched friend went down like lead in champagne (you’ve never seen that?), accompanied by a pathetic, grotesque yell-moan.

And I was like : “oooooooOOOOHHHHH!” when I saw him go down.

Motionless. Hands covered mouths. Silence.

My poor friend who did the ball smacking (the racquetball and the other ones) was visibly shaken. No man wants to be the smacker. But I can tell you that any smacker would surely rather be a smacker than a smackee.


Because getting smacked in the jujubes is something that no man should ever experience. Women say that childbirth is the greatest pain known to man. But how can that be? No man knows childbirth. But some men know berrysmacks, unfortunately.

I happen to be a member of the bruised winkie club, and I think the experience is akin to pulling your entrails out through your mouth with a rusty fork, while a mime enacts Sherman’s March to the Sea on your man marbles. Now that’s not quite the same as shoving a watermelon out of a hole the size of a pea, but fruits and veggies sound much nicer than the rusty fork-entrails-thingy.

Needless to say, I wear a cup while playing our brand of racquetball.

Still, there are two things that I just don't get:

1)Why do women insist they understand the language of pain better than men? They say we have no idea what they go through during childbirth, but they’ve never been jabbed in the happy buttons.

2)Perhaps my translation of the actual phenomenon doesn't do it justice.

Can you help me translate?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Book Review: Migration of the Kamishi

It’s time for my first book review on Rosetta Rants. And no, this is not a paid review. I don't think I'm quite to that level yet of readership yet (perhaps, soon?). Anyway, I’m always excited to read an author’s inaugural masterpiece, and boy, have I found a winner this time.

Gaddy Bergmann hits the scene with Migration of the Kamishi, the first novel in the Feral World trilogy. Imagine this: in twenty-two years, the asteroid Apophis strikes the Earth destroying Civilization as we know it. Against all odds, mankind survives and millennia later, in the Fifty-first century, our descendents live in a post-apocalyptic stone age. Bergmann paints us an intimate portrait of post-apocalyptic life, as we follow Blake and Manosh, two Kamishi men on their quest to find the Warmland. And with the earth unencumbered by civilization for thousands of years, you can imagine the feral beasts and trials of nature the men must face on their journey.

Bergmann’s writing is beautifully descriptive – Jean M. Auel meets J.R.R. Tolkien – while never shying away from free-flowing action. I describe this book as a post-apocalyptic Clan of the Cave Bear. With a master’s degree in zoology from the University of South Florida, Bergmann’s science is spot-on. Beasts leap from the page with stunning realism as landscapes engulf all of your senses. Migration of the Kamishi is as much an inner journey as it is a voyage through breathtaking savannahs. Bergmann guides us straight into the heart of a man, revealing the hope and perseverance that truly make us human.

I give Migration of the Kamishi 5 out of 5 passports.

It’s totally worth the journey.

Now THIS I get. No further translation necessary.

Buy it today at Amazon.Com!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Bitey Evening

Mrs. Translator, Babygirl Translator, Girl Translator, and I went for a nice walk this evening. In this case, our travels took us to suburban Colorado, right outside our house. But the subject of this post concerns travelers worldwide: the language of nature.

We often take walks so that I can get my fill of the outdoors – being a biologist, I am always interested in sharing the language of nature with my family. This particular evening, however, one rather nasty bit of nature reared its ugly head and…bit Mrs. Translator. Many times....

Mrs. Translator's Bitey Back.

Who the hell invented mosquitoes? Because that person should be shot. Then hung. Then shot again. Then drawn and quartered. Then thrown in the river. Not just a creek – a raging torrential thing. Then kicked in the nubblies.

A bitey bugger.

Ok, silly question. Again, as a biologist, I know the language of nature is often complex and full of crisscrossing logic and syntax. I know that mosquitoes play their part in the great circle of life, but do they have to be so dang – mosquitoish?

And what’s with certain people being lunch while others (like myself) are lucky enough to remain uneaten? Bite count: Mrs. Translator = 10, Translator = 0. I’m sure there’s a biological explanation, but I’m not inspired enough to look it up. I guess if I was an eatee instead of a non-eatee, I might be more inclined to do so. Any input on this one?

Here are a few facts about our little bitey friends from Wikipedia:

The mosquito genus Anopheles carries the malaria parasite (see Plasmodium). Worldwide, malaria is a leading cause of premature mortality, particularly in children under the age of five, with around 5.3 million deaths annually, according to Center for Disease Control.

Greatest cause of death under the age of five, eh? Tiny little buggers, and yet so deadly. I say we wipe the buggers out. Bring on the deet. Bring on the Chloroquine, the permethrin and citronella in truckloads. Because calomine doesn’t smell very nice and I'm sick of scratching.

Mosquitoes: deadly, bitey, plague-bringers...itty, bitty package. An inscrutable word in the language of nature.

I just don't get it. Can you help me translate?