Category Archives: Humor

Amusing Monday: Canadian retailer posts Christmas commercials

For many years, Canadian Tire Corporation, Canada’s largest retailer, has been providing amusing television commercials around Christmas, as well as at other times of year. This Christmas season is no exception, as the company has taken to the airwaves to promote a variety of products on a Christmas theme.

Who wouldn’t like a pasta-maker? How you serve the finished pasta is up to you, as you’ll see in the first video on this page.

Other videos in this year’s series:

Another Christmas series by Canadian Tire features the Eh Bee family. Check out “Eh Bee Falcon Flight School” in the second video player on this page. Other commercials can be launched from the page titled “The Eh Bee Family tackles Giftmas.”

Last Christmas, a commercial told the story of a young boy who was worrying that Santa would not be able to find him after his family moved to a new home. See the video in the third player on this page.

Canadian Tire, a 90-year-old company, has been featuring Christmas commercials since at least 1985, as you can see in the final video featuring Santa Claus and Ebenezer Scrooge talking together and pondering the price of a Commodore 128 or Commodore 64 computer.

Amusing Monday: Help ‘hydrate’ Ashanti’s video to make it come to life

Ashanti, the singer, songwriter and record producer, has come up with an interesting way to release her latest single while urging people to drink water instead of sweet drinks.

The single, called “Let’s Go,” was released in a “dehydrated” form, stripped of lively elements, clear images, colorful lighting and dynamic sound. Ashanti has asked her fans to “hydrate” the music and video by using the hashtag “#DrinkUpAshanti” on social media, such as Twitter and Instgram.

As of this morning, I believe the “Let’s Go” video has reached the third of four levels and should soon reach its full entertainment potential. At that point, the song will be for sale on iTunes and other music outlets. The first video on this page describes the making of the video and demonstrates the four phases of “hydration.”

To see the current version of the video, go to:

I’ve never heard of a promotion like this, but Ashanti is using this approach to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign called Partnership for a Healthier America and its Drink Up effort, which encourages people to drink more water to support their health.

The video player at is clever, because one can pause it when graphic elements, such as flowers and stars, come into view. Click on the white circles that appear, and you’ll see the Twitter handles that helped to “hydrate” it. Add your own Twitter handle, and you will be assigned a flower and can see who is sharing that graphic element with you.

The website shows the four levels of hydration and provides lyrics to the new song for anyone who wants them.

“I love that my song is being used to encourage people to make a really easy choice: drinking more water every day,” Ashanti said in a news release. “It’s even more rewarding when it’s being done in a creative, positive way.

“Drinking water is in … it’s just cool and sexy. You are what you drink, so drink up. It’s also a pleasure to work with the First Lady again to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Ashanti explains her involvement in the campaign in an interview shown on the Valder Beebe Show, an Internet video blog. See the second video above.

Amusing Monday: From pets to cartoons, ducks are unique characters

In the early days of “Amusing Monday,” I featured a lot of water-related animals. Somehow I never got around to tossing together a potpourri of duck-related videos and activities.

Geoducks, yes, but not the kind of duck that swims on water and waddles on land.

I need to begin this blog post with a compilation video of Mihai Francu’s pet duck, captured over time as the little duckling grows up. Mihai, a Cyprus-based photographer, has compiled a nice collection of short videos, which can be viewed on his YouTube Channel. First, take a look at the top video on this page.

Duck jokes, anyone, as old and musty as these seem to be?

Q: What do you call two ducks and a cow?
A: Quackers and milk

Q: What do you call it when it rains chickens and ducks?
A: Fowl weather

Q: What did the duck carry his schoolbooks in?
A: His quackpack.

Q: Why did the duck fly south for the winter?
A: Because it was too far to walk.

Q: What happens when a duck flies upside down?
A: He quacks up.

Q: Which bird refused to keep his eyes closed?
A: The Peking duck.

Customer: How much is that duck?
Shopkeeper: Ten dollars.
Customer: Okay, could you please send me the bill?
Shopkeeper: I’m sorry, but you’ll have to take the whole bird.

Q: What do you call a cat that swallows a duck?
A: A duck-filled-fatty-puss

Q: How do you get down off a horse?
A: You don’t get down off a horse. You get down off a duck.

Duck talk: Two ducks were sitting on a pond. One went “Quack quack!” The other replied, “That’s funny. I was just about to say that!”

Remember the 1984 Ninendo video game called “Duck Hunt”? Teenagers today were not even born when this game came out, so it was fun to see their reaction in a video by REACT, the first video in the three below. The next two videos are parodies of the original game.

Two years ago in “Water Ways,” I revealed that Daffy Duck was my favorite cartoon character, and I featured a video showing the evolution of Daffy over time. It was by In August, WatchMojo came out with a new video pitting the personal and comedy styles of Daffy Duck against those of Donald Duck. You’ll find this video in the second player on this page.

On a more artistic front, students from across the country have been producing beautiful duck portraits for the past 22 years. In March, “Water Ways” featured the best entries from the annual Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest.;

Finally, for children as well as the rest of us, you one can find numerous videos to illustrate the numbers-learning song “Five Little Ducks.” One of the best on the web is the video below by Chu Chu TV.

Amusing Monday: Enjoying the many sounds of water

I’ve always enjoyed listening to sounds, whether it be easily identified natural sounds or mysterious sounds that are hard to figure out.


When I was kid, I was given a tape recorder, which I used to collect all sorts of natural and unnatural sounds. I would play back the sounds and ask people if they could identify the source. Even as an aging adult, I enjoy listening to the sound of a flowing stream, breaking waves or falling rain. I also like to listen to bird calls, and I keep telling myself that I need to learn how to identify more of them — but that’s another story.

For this blog, I would like to return again to this idea of natural sound and share some websites where you can listen to your heart’s content and sometimes shape the sound itself. Since this is a blog about water, I’ve tended to focus on rain, streams, oceans and such things, but these links can be just a starting point.

Soundsnap is a website that boasts of having 200,000 sounds in its catalog, including 6,000 sounds of nature. Included are 249 sounds of rain, 117 sounds of the sea, 1,065 sounds of water and 298 sounds of ice. These sounds can be downloaded for a fee, but it costs nothing to explore Sound Snap’s website.

At the other end of the spectrum is a single 11-hour YouTube video featuring the sound and images of ocean waves. I have not listened to more than a few minutes of this video at a time, so I don’t know what happens if you turn on this video to go to sleep and then leave it on all night. But the sound coming from the video is certainly more pleasant than the nightly sounds that some people learn to tolerate. The video, embedded on this page, was posted by YogaYak, which has several videos of a similar vein.

If you would like to download a sound to save it or use it in a video project, Sound Bible is a royalty-free site with a large collection of sounds. I downloaded the files below from collections called “Sea Sounds” and “Water Sounds.”

      1. Babbling brook.
      2. Rain.

I also found a sound generator that one can play with or simply leave on as background noise. Called “My Noise,” the website features an ocean waves noise generator.

If you would like to share your favorite sound website, please add it to the comments section below.

Robert Tiso still enchants by creating water music

Robert Tiso, a master musician who plays classical music on water glasses, has released several new videos of his music, which is nothing less than mesmerizing.

I first encountered Robert six years ago and featured his “glass harp” in Water Ways Nov. 9, 2009, after corresponding with him by email. His biography is fairly well outlined in that blog post. I believe he was in Italy at the time.

It is worth mentioning again that Robert performed in a DVD documentary “Bach and Friends” by filmaker Michael Lawrence. View the Robert Tiso performance on the film’s trailer.

At the beginning of last year, Tiso moved to the United States, where he performed in Las Vegas as part of an eclectic production called “Vegas Nocturne.” The production was featured at Rose.Rabbit.Lie, a venue at the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. He has since returned to Toscana, Italy, but still performs all over the world.

New videos released this year include:

The first two of these videos can be found on this page. The Water Adagio is from Bach’s violin concerto 2 in E Major. The first phase of the piece was used in a movie by Pierpaolo Pasolini for scenes in which Jesus Chris performed miracles, according to notes on the YouTube page. In this performance, the tone oscillations are created by tilting the table to make water move inside the glasses.

A whole series of videos by Robert Tiso can be found on his YouTube Channel, including an intriguing duet with Felice Pantone, who plays the mysterious musical saw. I remain as intrigued by Robert’s music as when I first heard it.

Later, I learned that Benjamin Franklin loved the sound created by crystalline glass. As an inventor, Franklin believed it was a waste of time to fill and tune each water glass when they could be made to play just as beautifully without water, provided they were made to the proper size. Read about his amazing invention in Water Ways from June 3, 2013.

Amusing Monday:
Sea slugs bring color
to Puget Sound

Nudibranchs, soft-bodied mollusks often called “sea slugs,” are among the most ornately decorated creatures in the sea. With about 3,000 species of nudibranchs coming in all shapes and colors, I thought it might be fun to track down some of these animals.

Frosted nudibranch Photo: Dan Hershman
Frosted nudibranch // Photo: Dan Hershman

Nudibranchs are found in all the world’s oceans, but you don’t need to go beyond Puget Sound to find some of the most beautiful ones. I’m grateful to Dan Hershman, a retired Seattle teacher, part-time musician and underwater naturalist, who shared some of his best photos of sea slugs from this region. Check out Dan’s Flickr website.

The word nudibranch (pronounced nude-eh-brank) comes from the Latin word nudus, meaning naked, and brankhia, meaning gills. So these are animals with naked gills, which often grow out of their backs and sides. These creatures can be as small as a quarter-inch or as long as a foot or more.

White and orange tipped nudibranch Photo: Dan Hershman
White and orange tipped nudibranch
Photo: Dan Hershman

Nudibranchs are carnivores, eating things ranging from algae to anemones, barnacles and even other nudibranchs. They can pick up coloring for camouflage and even poisons from the prey they eat, using the chemicals in defense against predators.

Hermaphrodites with reproductive organs of both sexes, these animals don’t normally self-fertilize. But they are prepared to mate with any mature individual of the same species. Eventually, they will lay masses of spiral-shaped or coiled eggs.

Diamond back nudibranch Photo: Dan Hershman
Diamond back nudibranch
Photo: Dan Hershman

For more great pictures, check out Bored Panda’s collection, the 500PX photo gallery or National Geographic’s page of David Doubilet’s photos. If you would like to join a sea slug fan club, visit Slug Site, home of Opisthobranch Molluscs..

Opalescent nudibranch Photo: Dan Hershman
Opalescent nudibranch // Photo: Dan Hershman

Amusing Monday: Cartoon characters tell a story about the elements

Elements — the basic building blocks of chemistry — come alive in cartoon characters created by Kaycie Dunlap, who created 112 individual illustrations for her senior project at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.


Kaycie, whose website is KcD Studios, got the idea for her elemental characters in high school chemistry class while watching a video, according to a profile of Kaycie in the online magazine “Women You Should Know.” In the video, the narrator acted out a few of the elements.

“High school chemistry class used to be confusing at best,” Kaycie said. “Then I imagined what the elements would be like as characters. Suddenly everything became a lot more interesting.”

Kaycie’s characters fall into one of three themes. My favorites are those in which the properties of the element are embodied in the cartoon figure. For example, fluorine, a highly reactive element, is depicted as an angry woman with fiery hair. Hydrogen, being the lightest element, floats in the air and has the ability to control water.


Some characters describe how they are used. Aluminum is a strong and lightweight female drinking a lot of soft drinks. Other characters simply depict the person for whom the element is named. It is impressive how Kaycie is able to convey a truly unique personality for each character.

Her original exhibit, “Elements — Experiments in Character Design,” was first shown at the 2011 MIAD Thesis Expedition, where observers could press a key on a touchscreen to call up any of 72 elements and see the cartoon character with a sample of the material. She later completed another 50 characters. (See MIAD Alumni News.)


Kaycie, who now creates illustrations for a game company in San Francisco, has developed a set of flashcards to help students remember the elements. Each card features a cartoon character on one side and basic information about the element on the other side. Order from her shop at Etsy. In her spare time, she is also working on a story in which she hopes to bring the elemental characters together.

To see all 1112 characters, visit this page on BuzzFeed.



Amusing Monday: Odd research may actually benefit mankind

When a group of physicists put their minds to working on the subject of urination, they discovered that mammals of all sizes take about the same amount of time to pee.

It’s a matter of fluid mechanics, and it turns out that mammals above 3 kilograms in weight — from dogs to elephants — empty their bladders in 21 seconds, give or take 13 seconds. Small mammals are hindered by high viscous and capillary forces that limit their rate of flow, while large mammals benefit from bigger pipes and gravity that helps flush out larger volumes of urine in a short time.

It’s amazing to think that scientists actually pursued this question, but the researchers insist that the results may have practical use in the field of urology.

Meanwhile, the oddity of the subject earned the researchers from Georgia Tech an Ig Nobel Prize, an award that honors the best research that “makes people laugh and then think.” The awards ceremony, held Sept. 17 at Harvard University, honored 10 groups of researchers from throughout the world. The prize, a mainstay of the website “Improbable Research,” is a play on the word “ignoble,” which means either humble or dishonorable.

The following are the other awards presented this year. For specifics, see “Winners of the Ig Nobel Prize.”

Chemistry Prize: Researchers identified a process for “partially unboiling an egg.” When I first heard this, I found it incredible, but it apparently is true. It has to do with the way long protein chains can alter their functional state by the way they fold back on themselves. The process offers a method to produce certain medicines at much less cost. For a good explanation, check out the video on this page or read the story by Summer Ash on the MSNBC website.

Literature Prize: Linguistic experts looked the world over and found that almost every language has an utterance like the English “huh?” — and the meanings are all about the same. See the second video on this page.

Management Prize: According to new research, many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking early in their lives after surviving natural disasters — such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and wildlifes — with no dire consequences to their lives.

Economics Prize: The award went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay police officers cash bonuses if they refuse to take bribes.

Medicine Prize: Two research groups working in various parts of the world discovered from experiments that intense kissing and other intimate activities produce biomedical consequences, such as reduced allergic response.

Mathematics Prize: A group of European scientists used mathematical techniques to figure out how Mouley Ismael, the bloodthirsty Sharifian emperor of Morocco, managed to father 888 children from 1697 to 1727.

Biology Prize: By attaching a weighted stick to the tail of a chicken, researchers discovered that the chicken walks in a way similar to how dinosaurs may have walked.

Diagnostic Prize: It turns out that speed bumps make a good tool for diagnosing acute appendicitis. The deciding factor is how much pain a person feels while driving over speed bumps that jostle their insides.

Physiology and Entomology Prize: The prize was awarded jointly to two individuals who laid their bodies on the line for science. Justin Schmidt developed the Schmidt Sting Pain Index to rate the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects. Michael L. Smith allowed bees to sting him on 25 different locations on his body to identify the least painful spots (skull, middle toe tip and upper arm) and most painful (nostril, upper lip and penis).

The awards ceremony, which is long but contains plenty of light moments, can be viewed in the video below. Another ongoing website about odd and unusual studies is “Seriously, Science?” which I discussed in Water Ways about a year ago.

Amusing Monday: Fabulous photos from parks and wild places

The U.S. Department of Interior maintains a large photo album of incredible outdoor pictures taken at national parks and other federal lands throughout the United States. I look forward to checking these pictures each day to see what stunning views have been newly posted.

Photo: Yin Lau, U.S. Department of Interior
Photo: Yin Lau, U.S. Department of Interior

The picture at right shows the Potomac River where it rushes through a narrow gorge before flowing past Washington, D.C. This photo, by Yin Lau, was taken on the Virginia side of the river.

You can access this photo album on Instagram or on Twitter.

This “Amusing Monday” post is a day late and somewhat abbreviated, because I am battling a virus that drained my energy the past few days. I’m feeling better today.

Amusing Monday: Listen and learn about all kinds of underwater sounds

Years ago, people living near Quilcene in Jefferson County reported an eerie humming sound that kept them awake at night. Since Quilcene is located near the Navy’s acoustic-testing range in Dabob Bay, some folks speculated that the Navy was up to something.

Plainfin midshipman Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Plainfin midshipman // Photo: Wash. Department of Fish and Wildlife

Some people thought it might be some kind of frog, and a few advanced theories of extra-terrestrials. Finally, an acoustic biologist heard a recording of the sound and concluded that it was a midshipman, a bottom-dwelling fish often called a bullhead. (Click on the arrow below to listen.)

      1. Plainfin midshipman

I have not been able to locate the story I wrote about the incident, but it appears the fish created similar confusion three years ago in Seattle, according to a story by Ryan Grenoble in the Huffington Post. I wonder how many other people have heard a similar humming noise that they could not identify.

What I’m leading up to is an amusing webside called Discovery of Sound in the Sea, which allows you to check out all kinds of underwater sounds. Did you know that some sea urchins can form a chorus of sound while grazing on vegetated rocks?

      2. Sea urchin

“Discovery of Sound in the Sea,” or DOSITS, is packed with information about the science of underwater sound, including jobs in the field and equipment used by researchers. There’s even a list of activities, which can be used to teach children about sound.

I find that the most engaging part of the website is the Audio Gallery, a list of recorded sounds that can be selected and played. The list consists of eight different baleen whales; 17 toothed whales, porpoises and dolphins; 10 seals and sea lions; a manatee; four invertebrates, including the sea urchin; 21 fish; seven natural nonbiological sounds, such as rain under water; and 12 man-made sounds from wind turbines to torpedoes.

The website is associated with the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography and Marine Acoustics, Inc., of Middletown, RI. Contributors include independent researchers, school teachers and others. The U.S. Office of Naval Research has provided financial support.

Here’s a sample of some interesting sounds. I’ve included the sound of the fin whale, a species seen in Puget Sound last week for the first time in decades. Check out the report by King 5 TV. If you visit the DOSITS website, you’ll get details about each recording and what is making the sound.

A killer whale mother and calf calling to each other in Johnstone Strait in British Columbia

      3. Killer whale
Baleen whales
      4. Gray whale
      5. Humpback whale
      6. Fin whale
Man-made sounds
      7. Cargo ship
      8. Torpedo