Wednesday, October 14, 2009

At Long Last- The Fabulous Prize!

Quick break from AstroWeek today, we’ll get back at it tomorrow.

A couple weeks ago, a reader- let’s call her KristenT- helped me solve a problem that had been bugging me for 30 years- the meaning behind the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven. Overjoyed, in the heat of the moment, I mused aloud that I wished I could award her a “prize” for her help. cat15 A few days later, caught up in the whole “prize” thing, I offered not just a “prize”, but a “Fabulous Prize” for readers who could pick a Bobcat out of a photo. 2 readers won it- TheGuth for the location and KanyonKris for the species. And really, Sasquatch/Yeti was such an awesome guess, I really wanted to give a Fabulous Prize to Eric Wright as well. And then reader John guessed the Powell Point location in the same post, so I guess he deserves a Fabulous Prize as well.

View East[4] Then last week reader Enel clearly earned a Fabulous Prize when he alerted me to the triple-planet alignment of Venus, Mercury and Saturn. Really, that was super-prizeworthy.

My Problem

But the problem was… I didn’t actually have any prizes to give away. See, I got all caught up in the whole prize thing, because other, way more popular blogs give away prizes all the time. The Fat Cyclist for example is always giving away bikes, Lance Armstrong-signed posters, dates with blogging celebrities, you name it. I’m pretty sure next month he’s going to give away a beer-date with President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and a Harvard Professor. But I got nothing.

What I Did About It

So did something about it. And now, this week, I have a Fabulous Prize to give away to this blog’s backlog of Winners. I’ll tell you what the Fabulous Prize is in just a moment, but first I need to qualify the term “Fabulous Prize” just a bit.

The first- and really only- qualifier would be my admittedly “liberal” use of the word “Fabulous.” It occurs to me that an objective reader might not-strictly speaking- judge the prize to be “Fabulous.” And in fact, the prize is of little- OK no- actual value whatsoever. But I maintain that I wasn’t exaggerating, even though the prize is of little (OK no) value, because I intended the word “Fabulous” to convey the meaning “Way Cool.” And in fact, the prize is Way Cool. And it is Way Cool because it is intimately associated with this blog, which I’m just going to say right now, is Way Cool.

RaftingNewWorld4 Tangent: I recognize that calling one’s own blog “Way Cool” could be construed as “bragging”, but I maintain that such bragging is justified if only because of my Awesome Graphics. Think about it. I’ve done sophisticated science graphics, including Punnett Squares, identification keys, countless phylogenies, ancient rafting events, species migrations and hybridization events. Hummer Graphic Of course I’ve done a whole array of Fabulous Astro-Graphics, and I’ve even solved Complex Mathematical Equations in graphics. I’ve done several action-race graphics, many factual wildlife diagrams, and most recently, helpful child-rearing graphics. Seriously, when you think about it, this isn’t really a biking blog or a botany blog or an astronomy blog- it’s a Fine Art Blog.

The Fabulous Prize

So, what is this “Fabulous” Prize that is so intimately associated with WTWWU? Well, it’s a, it’s a um, er… it’s a sticker.

IMG_2845 OK, I know that initially a “sticker” may not sound Fabulous, but, just check this sticker out. It’s the super-cool WTWWU logo, on a 4” x 4” indoor/outdoor sticker (pic right, pen for scale). Seriously, you see stickers- of all-kinds- all the time. But you never see a sticker as cool as this.

Now I recognize that, though you’ve seen this logo every time you’ve visited this blog, I’ve never explained what exactly it is. And you might have some questions about the sticker, and/or how to claim yours. So I prepared this FAQ:


Q: What’s the deal with your logo anyway? Is it like some Masonic symbol or the Evil Eye of Sauron or a secret message to your alien masters?

A: No, no and no. It’s an eye, a flower and a star all in one. The yellow rays are both petals and rays of light. The green rays are sepals. The eye is brown only because most human eyes (including mine) are brown.

Q: What do I do with the sticker?

BSticker CaptionA: Whatever you like. I think it looks cool as a car/bumper-type sticker, like on my vehicle shown here.

Or you could put it on your skateboard, your snowboard, the tip of your ski, on your roof-top cargo box, on your laptop, or I don’t know- wherever.

Tangent To Explain My Other Bumper-Stickers: I always told myself I’d never be one of those people with a whole mess of bumper-stickers on my car. You know what I’m talking about- you see some 15 year-old Subaru with like 30 bumper stickers on the back, and you think: “CRAZY PERSON”. But now I’m up to 4 (and I’ll be at 5 when I get my TdPC sticker on.) But they all have a great reason for being on there.

BStickers All Caption The LOTOJA sticker was way cool when I put it on (2006) but now it seems like everybody in Utah has one. Now that I’m a racer-snob, I think they should only give you the sticker if you finish under a certain time- like say 10 hours*.

*But that would drive KanyonKris ballistic. The guy is on like an Anti-LOTOJA-Jihad.

My Pine Nut sticker looks bizarre, but has a great story. Way back when I blogged about the Blue Piñon, I started off by telling how my buddy Arizona Steve and I collected pine nuts on a hiking trip. While we were collecting, I kept going on and on about how great it was, and at one point I said, “I’m gonna get a bumper-sticker that says, ‘This Car Stops For Pine Nuts!’ 4 Months later on my birthday an envelope arrived from Arizona with the sticker inside.

Mantenga Tahoe Azul is of course the Spanish version of Keep Tahoe Blue, which are the stickers you see all over the place in Tahoe. I got it for 2 reasons- first, I love Spanish language stickers and slogans, if only because they drive xenophobic Anglos batty trying to figure them out. Second I thought it was weirdly ironic. Like pretty much all vacation spots in the West, all the grunt-jobs around Tahoe are done by Latinos. I’m sure some well-meaning Anglos thought, “Hey let’s make a Spanish version of the sticker for immigrants who don’t speak English!” But honestly, I suspect that if you’re a non-English-speaking (and quite likely undocumented) worker busting your ass washing dishes, mowing lawns or shoveling snow while trying to keep your nose clean and put away a few bucks, you got bigger worries than the lake’s water clarity* or reading some damn bumper-sticker.

*And Lake Tahoe is already infinitely cleaner than any of the large lakes in Mexico, which are overwhelmingly (and sadly) heavily polluted.

Q: So my “prize” is advertising your blog?

A: No- that’s the cool thing. It’s just the logo- no text, no title, no URL. The only people who will know what it is are people who read this blog. It’s like an insider-in the-know thing.

Q: So if I put the sticker on my car, does it mean I’m a plant-freak/bike-racer/non-theist/always-going-off-on-tangents/beard-growing-martini-snob?

A: No. It just means 2 things- that you read this blog, and that you are Way Cool.

Q: Cool! How do I get one?

A: These folks already get one for reasons listed earlier: KristenT, TheGuth, KanyonKris, Enel, John, Eric Wright.

These folks get one because they’ve been supportive of this project and/or said kind things about this blog that filled me with an all-round general sense of well-being: Sally, KB, Lucy/Jube, maggie, Kevin Vigor, El Guapo, Sarangkot, Marissa Buschow, SkiBikeJunkie*, Rachel, Carrie, mtb w, BonnevilleMariner, SYJ, Psycho Rider, Chris in Portland, ElZo, Desert Survivor, P65, Christopher Taylor** and Ted MacRae. I’m probably forgetting some folks here; if so, just email me.

*Actually SBJ would get one anyway just out of sympathy for his awful crash yesterday.

**Yes, I know you live down-under. If you want a sticker, I’ll spring for the postage.

Next, if you’re one of my several, lurking, never-comment-coworkers who read this blog and you’d like a sticker, just stop by my office. If you’re related to me and want one, I can just give it to you at Christmas.

Lastly, if you don’t fall into any of those categories but would like a sticker, if you send me a nice email and I’m in a good mood, I’ll probably just send you one anyway*.

*I had to order 250 of the things, so it’s not like I’m hoarding them…

To get the sticker, send an email with a mailing address to, removing the caps from the address. If I don’t know you, please remind me of the nickname/handle you commented under. Or if you already have my real* email, you can just mail me there. In either case, I’ll reply from my real email account, and let you know the sticker’s on its way.

*My identity isn’t really secret, but I avoid putting my last name directly in the blog. My real email address contains my last name.

OK, back to AstroWeek!

Next Up: How Orion is like an action movie.


KanyonKris said...

In several decades there will be e-books and holo-movies about the Watchers and how they (we) supplanted the Masons.

If I recruit 5 Watchers do I get another sticker? This IS Utah, global home of multi-level marketing.

Having seen the back of your 4Runner I instantly spotted the "one of these things is not like the others". Will you tutor me?

Actually, I'm all for making it harder to get a LoToJa sticker. One of my "issues" with the stickers is how common they are - like saturation marketing. Making them harder to earn would make them (a little ;-) more meaningful.

Sticker request e-mail on the way.

Phil O. said...

These are nice. The stickers will invariably generate the "Andre has a Posse" effect. From an article (no longer available on the Internet, sadly) detailing the "Andre has a Posse" phenomenon:

"The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because Andre the Giant has a Posse has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities. Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation."

The article goes on the explain that people who aren't familiar with the sticker will find all sorts of meanings in it -- playful, conspiratorial, mystical, etc. I think you'll get the same benefits with The Watcher.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

I'll have to remove a sticker from the back of my subaru to make room for it, but I can't wait. The Lotoja sticker will be gone and this in its place as soon as it arrives.

Rachel said...

You're so generous. Seriously.

By the way, this has nothing to do with this post, but I keep thinking I should recommend the book "Oaxaca Journal" to you and forgetting. It's by Oliver Sacks, an amateur botanist who travels to Oaxaca to view ferns and likes observing culture as well. It's a simple book, but I loved it.

KanyonKris said...

SBJ - You're removing your LoToJa sticker? You'd think I'd be happy, but I feel sheepish that perhaps my rantings have gone too far.

Phil - That posse meme was/is a fun one. While Watcher is making stickers he should make some of these:

Christopher Taylor said...

Will you spring for a car as well so I've a bumper to put it on? :-P

Offhand, though, I think that this may be one of those cultural things. Bumper stickers are not hugely abundant in this part of the world.

Marissa Buschow said...

NO WAY, I get a sticker just for being nice?? awesome. I should do it more often.

Enel said...

Explain how this prize is unique if anyone can email and get one:)

Email sent.

This thing will drive my Christian brothers (and sisters) batty.

Watcher said...

Enel- Uh, I didn’t say “unique”; I said “Fabulous."

Kris- when this project goes multi-level, you are my first Diamond member.

Phil- How could you not have told me about the Andre/Posse sticker before? That’s even cooler than the Watchersticker!

Rachel- I just read the reviews for Oaxaca Journal. It’s totally up my alley and I’m getting it. Thanks so much for cluing me into it.

the vexed muddler said...

I wonder if I'll be the only Canadian with a Watcher sticker. I'll have to park my bike at the Earth Sciences building more often to try to attract the right attention. Maybe I can start the first Canadian chapter of the Watchers.

Sally said...

Over the top, Watcher! It's official, you're a phenomenon... I'll be watching the mail. And checking out Andre too, I hate missing out on these important social movements, as I'm sure you know.

(My word verification is undebra. Does that sound risque to you?)

Phil O. said...

A kind soul has made the entire "Why Andre has a Posse" article available to me. You can find it here. It's brief.

(When I first read this, back in 1996, no-one had heard of Shepard Fairey. Times change).

John said...

Oh cool, a major prize. Seriously, this is cool. I never ever win anything. I always read your site since I discovered it several months ago. I don't bike, I hate to get up too early, and I eat fatty foods but I do love southern Utah and reading your posts, especially when you get down this way has led to many a "oh yeah, I've seen that" moment.
I think I will put my sticker on the front bumper of my jeep to help me keep an eye out for all the neat things you bring up.
Email on the way.

Watcher said...

Sally- that does sound risque. Somehow reminds me of the "manzier" from Seinfeld!

John- it sounds like we have at least 2 things in common: love for Southern UT, and fatty foods. I'm a hopeless ice cream-addict. BTW, don't forget to email me your address so I can get you the sticker

Kevin Vigor said...

Boy, now the pressure is on. Where to put said sticker for maximum fantastic?

Maybe on the back of my hockey helmet? (kinda a tribute to the "cougar eyes on the helmet back" article that started my interest).

Put it on a balloon and launch it to the stratosphere?

Put it on my stinky truck like a lamezor?

// Kevin, overthinker of note.

PS: ta!

Lucy said...

Oh man, I'm so psyched! If you only knew how much I love stickers and collect them, then you would realize that this is indeed a Very Fabulous Prize for me.