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Barge on the Columbia River November 28, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Reader submission, Smiley.
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Back at the end of August, my wife and I went for a stroll in Kelley Point Park, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers in Portland, OR. While we were wandering the sandy river bank, Jennifer spotted a large Tidewater barge floating down the Columbia and at about the same time, we both noticed a giant smiley face toward the rear of the barge!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, so all I could do to capture the photo was to whip out my cheap cell phone and hope for the best.

This was my best:

The best, on my phone, is not so good.

You can sort of make out the Tidewater name and the vague yellow blot on the front of the barge (on the right), but it’s really, really hard to see.

Maybe if I cropped and enlarged the image on my computer….

Or maybe not.

The image is just too grainy and watery to be any good. And who knows when I’ll be lucky enough to catch a barge like that, giant smiley face and all, drifting down the Columbia again?

Fortunately, Tidewater sends barges like this down the river fairly regularly, and I’m not the only one who’s seen one and wanted to photograph it.

Enter Nick Adamson, aka “Dances with Phalanges” on Flikr, who, almost two years ago, saw the same barge on the same river (presumably from the same park? or perhaps he was over on the Washington State side of the river) and was lucky enough — or smart enough — to have his camera on hand. He was also kind enough to allow me to share his photo of the smiley face barge here!

"Barge on the Columbia 01-18-10," photo by Nick Adamson. Shared with permission.

Thanks, Dances with Phalanges! You rock!

Better still: you’ve made us smile! 🙂


Happy Thanksgiving! November 24, 2011

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

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

I hope everyone has had a chance to be with family and/or friends, to eat too much, and to 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 — even if it’s just your leftovers — 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. (This year, we donated to an organization that provides meals for a senior center, which is good any time of year.) And if you’re on the receiving end of any of that, share a smile with your new friends.

Reader-submitted simulacrum: street lights November 21, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Reader submission, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Street lights a shopping center in Newnan, GA. Photo by Kristin Buck; submitted with permission by Beth Davidson.

Believe it or not, these are street lights in Newnan, Georgia. A friend of a friend, Kristin Buck, spotted this from inside her car and snapped the photo on a cold Georgia evening, and shared it on Facebook. Kristin’s original caption in Facebook: “There’s a little happiness everywhere, you just have to look ;)”

Which is what made our mutual friend, Beth Davidson, think of this blog — which is how it wound up here.

From the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest: that’s a long way for a smiley to travel!

Thanks, Kristin and Beth, for being so open to to the world that you see smiley faces even on a cold, dark night! And thanks, too, for sharing that little bit of happiness with the rest of us! 🙂

Wood carvings November 17, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Smiley.
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Carved wood "mask" sculpture. Mago Hunt Center, University of Portland.

I was on the campus of University of Portland a few months back, just walking around, when I came across this wall-sized wood sculpture of “drama masks” at the entrance of the Mago Hunt Center, home of UP’s Performing & Fine Arts program. The classic drama masks of Comedy and Tragedy, of course, are those familiar smiling and frowning faces, but this sculpture riffs on that theme in a wide variety of ways, producing some strikingly iconic smiley faces along the way. So I whipped out my cell phone and started photographing them!

Smiley simulacrum: spare wheel hub November 14, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Spare wheel hub on an SUV, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photo courtesy Jennifer Snoek-Brown.

My wife is developing as good an eye as mine for spotting smiley faces. Which is delightful, because it almost doubles my smiley intake!

She spotted this one grinning from the back of an SUV in Abu Dhabi, UAE, shortly before she flew back to the States early this summer. And for my money, this beats a “Have a Nice Day!” bumper sticker any day.

Hope you had a nice day, too, happy reader! 🙂

Pac-Man … something … in a car November 10, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Clothing & Accessories, Decor, Smiley, Toys.
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Pac-Man on the dashboard of a car in Portland, OR.

What better manifestation of the smiley face in three dimensions has there ever been than Pac-Man? Sure, the guy is so happy partly because he’s overdosing on those power pellets, and he doesn’t do much to help those poor ghosts have a nice day. But if you ever try to turn a wide-grinning smiley into a sphere, you inevitably wind up with Pac-Man. And he does always make me smile.

What exactly this is, though, I can’t tell you. I stumbled across it while walking the streets in my neighborhood back in August and grabbed this quick snapshot on my cell phone as I passed the car. Looking at it later, I thought for a while it might be this bizarre Pac-Man hat, but the seams are different and that Pac-Man hat is HUGE. This guy is more pouch-sized, almost like a small Pac-Man purse. But then, why is it out there on the dashboard for all the world to see?

To make all the world a happier place, you say? Okay, I’ll buy that. 🙂

Cell phone smiley November 7, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Office, Smiley.
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Cell phone smiley. On my student's phone.

A couple of weeks ago, I was making the rounds in my classroom while my students were workshopping essays, and I spotted this smiley face on the phone of one of my students. My students laughed when I swooped in. “Is that what I think it is?” I practically shouted.

Yes, it is what we think it is. And look very closely — it has a bow tie:

Which is awesome.

Big thanks to my student for letting me take a photo of her phone with my phone. (Oh, it’s so meta.)

Smiley simulacrum: Hello Kitty cupcake November 3, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Simulacra, Smiley.
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A few months ago, my wife and I attended a neighborhood party in the park across the street from our apartment. The party was a potluck (we brought potato salad), so we had a wide variety of foods to choose from, including cupcakes: chocolate cupcakes with little Dora the Explorer plastic rings stuck into the icing, and vanilla cupcakes with Hello Kitty rings stuck in the icing.

Vanilla cupcake with a Hello Kitty ring stuck in the icing.

I ate a Dora the Explorer cupcake, and I kept the ring — it now hangs, appropriately, from the mast of the ship that is the base of my bedside lamp.

My wife ate a Hello Kitty cupcake. And when she removed her ring, she discovered a smiley face in the icing!

A smiley face in the icing!