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Car air freshener November 29, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car.
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Car air freshener. From my personal collection.

You ever wonder what a smiley face smells like?  Because I can tell you.  Depending on which scent-disk you stick in this guy’s back, it smells like pine, vanilla, or “new car.”

By the way, why are these the only fragrances for cars?  Okay, there’s a fourth, at least over here in UAE–most of the taxis here have strong orange-scented fresheners.  But that’s it.  Why not “mountain breeze” or “rain” or “clean linen”?  I grant you, these aren’t scents I’d normally associate with a car (though I loved how my car used to smell when I did my laundry at the laundromat and came home with a carload of fresh clothes), but then, neither is pine or vanilla.  And to me, it makes as much sense for your car to smell like “rain” as for your bathroom or your living room to.

I think from now on I’m going to switch things up.  I’ll hang those pine-scented cardboard trees all over my house and keep the Febreze in my glove compartment.

But this guy–my happy, swinging smiley face–I’ll keep around wherever I go.

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Happy Thanksgiving! November 25, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Holidays, Smiley.
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Blueberry pie. And yes, I made it myself.

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

I hope everyone gets to be with family, eat too much, and fall asleep on the couch.  And above all, I hope everyone is happy.

Of course, not everyone can be with family, not everyone has enough to eat, and not everyone has a home, much less a couch, which makes the falling asleep part hard.  Thanksgiving is all about feeling grateful for our own good fortune, however much or little we might enjoy; but the way I see it, part of feeling grateful is also feeling obligated to extend our good fortune to others.  So this Thanksgiving, if you can afford it, share your meal with someone who needs a friend; send some food to someone who could use a little more to eat; support an organization that provides shelter for those who need a place to stay.  And if you’re on the receiving end of any of that, share a smile with your new friends.

Jello mold November 22, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Holidays, Kitchen & Bath.
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Thanksgiving is almost here, which means everyone in the States is busy stocking up on canned cranberry sauce, digging out the pie plates, and dusting off the jello molds.

I adore my jello mold, but sadly, I haven’t used it yet.  I got this jello mold after I became a vegetarian, and since jello contains gelatin (a byproduct of animal slaughter), I can’t eat jello anymore.  I could, of course, track down some vegetarian gelatin alternatives, but those were hard to find in Texas and Wisconsin, the last two states I lived in.  I have a much easier time finding vegetarian ingredients, including non-gelatin substitutes, over here in the UAE, where we have a large expat population from countries with a long history of vegetarian diets (I have Dr. Oetker Vege-Gel in my cupboard right now), but the jello mold itself is back in the States, in storage.

Whenever I return to the States and unpack all my smiley gear, I’m going to have to think of other ways to use this.  Maybe as a chocolate mold–but that’s a lot of chocolate.  On the other hand, that’s a lot of chocolate!  I might have just found my solution.

When I make my chocolate smiley, expect to see a post about it.  =D

Stick-figure graffito, Vienna November 18, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Travel.
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Stick-figure graffito. Photo taken in Vienna, Austria.

Believe it or not, this is the guy who started this blog. I’d been toying with the idea for this blog, off and on, for a while, but I was still trying to figure out how to approach the blog, what to include, and so on. Then last year (a year ago this month, in fact), my wife and I were in Vienna, and as we were walking down Burggasse toward the Museumsquartier, we spotted this graffito in a business doorway. I was laughing and enjoying myself when my wife said, “Take a picture — you can put it in your blog!” And I thought, why not?

So here we are.

It took me a while to pull the blog together because most of my personal collection of smileys is in storage back in the States, so I had to wait till our return visit this summer to photograph the collection. But in the meantime, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for smileys like this one and snapping photo after photo after photo. It’s a constant delight, and now I’m having even more fun sharing these with you.

(In case you’re curious, this is a complete stick figure: arms, legs, and everything. And I do mean everything. You see, this was a rather adult stick figure, all equipment included. As I said, I was laughing. But the smiles on this blog are for everyone, which means kiddos too, so I thought it best to give GAG-boy here a little modesty and cut him off above the waist.)

Flashlight November 15, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Office.
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Flashlight. From my personal collection.

You’d think a bright yellow smiley face flashlight would be all about the bright, beaming light.  But this little flashlight actually throws a fairly weak beam.  I think the batteries are dying, but strangely, I have yet to figure out a way to crack open this thing without breaking it, so I can’t change the batteries, or the bulb for that matter.

Oh well.  I own it for the happy, not the light.

Smiley simulacrum: “Oculus” November 11, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Simulacra, Smiley, Travel.
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"Oculus," simulacrum smiley on the dome of the Kunsthistorichs Museum, Vienna. Photo taken in Vienna, Austria, November 2009.

When we visited Vienna a year ago, we got to see a lot of impressive art at several excellent museums.  One of the most diverse collections was at the Kunsthistorichs, which holds works by artists from Vermeer and Reubens and Rembrandt to Schiele and Klimt and Kubin.  The Kunsthistorichs Museum also had a large collection of coins and a strong exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts.  But this smiley face, peeking down from the central dome, was an unexpected bonus–in fact, I didn’t even see it until I looked at the photo later.

Umbrella November 8, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Clothing & Accessories, Smiley.
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What rainy day wouldn’t become better with one of these to take shelter under?

Umbrella. From my personal collection. (Don't worry: I only opened it outside, for good luck.)

Cat toy November 4, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Toys.
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Cat toy. From my personal collection.

We got a pack of these catnip-filled smileys for our cats a while back.  They played with the pink and blue ones often enough, but for some reason they didn’t much care for this classic yellow one.  Which was fine by me, because into the collection it went!

Incidentally, it’s our cats’ birthdays in a few days, so send good thoughts to Ibsen and Brontë!

Duct tape smiley November 1, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Office.
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Duct tape smiley. My own art. Duct tape on paper.

This week is my dad’s birthday.

In my family, we have a grand tradition of giving each other gag gifts, presents that serve not only as genuine gifts but also as jokes–often inside jokes.

My dad, a jokester himself, has an ironic history with these gag gifts:  he often takes them seriously.  One year, for instance, we all conspired to give my dad a book about how to fix everything (and I mean everything) with duct tape.

Handle on your briefcase broken?  Duct tape!  Door falling off your refrigerator?  Duct tape!  Huge crack in your windshield?  Duct tape!

It was a gentle joke on my dad’s sometimes improvisational method of household repairs.  In response, though, my dad read the book with relish and promptly began fixing more things with duct tape.  It was in the book, after all!

Honestly, I think this was more of a prank on us all, his way of getting us back for the gag gift.  But he did seem to enjoy working with duct tape an awful lot….

So Dad, on your birthday:  Need a smile?  Duct tape!