Author Archives: Naifang Hu

Fire and water must never meet

A feng shui master once told my informant that when fire and water meet within a household, conflict would arise. By fire, he refers to stoves, fireplaces, and other sources of heat, while by water he refers to faucets and pot spouts.

A few years ago, my informant lived in a house with poorly laid out kitchen, as the sink and kitchen counter each faced the stove and fireplace. Since she had a rotating faucet, the master warned her to never directly face fire and water toward each other, because it would lead to conflict. My informant really took this to heart, but her husband always dismissed her insistence on doing things exactly the way she was told to. One of the worst fights that they had had actually sparked from my informant noticing that the faucet was pointed toward the stove, which she took it as proof that her husband didn’t care if there was conflict in the family, while her husband, who prided himself on being logical, resented how she wanted him to subscribe to superstitious rituals and actively rebelled against her wishes.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it only reaffirmed my informant’s belief in feng shui.


The Y2K Virus

Y2K stands for Year 2000. In the 90s, computers were still a relatively new addition to the daily lives of Americans, and few understood how they worked. As the new millennium approached, a rumor spread that because computers only handle dates in 2 digits, when the numbers changed to 00 at the turn of the millennium, all computers would shut down due to their inability to compute the date, resulting in an event imagined to be the opposite of what is now imagined to be the Singularity.

GT: one of my neighbors bought enough canned food and water to survive an apocalypse, like he literally blew his life savings on survival supplies to prepare for Y2K virus. He thought it’d be anarchy but the virus never happened.

In reality, the Y2K problem did actually exist, as computers only stored 2 digits for each date and 2000 was indistinguishable from 1900. The rollover from 99 to 00 caused logical problems due to the lack of a 3rd digit. However, this is entirely a programming issue, and most companies were able to upgrade their systems to avert a possible crisis before it occurred. In fact, on January 1, 2000, the main impact of the date glitch caused some malfunctions in data storage only after some programs started up, and other programs were unaffected. Some machines integral to life in developed countries malfunctioned and generated false results due to the bug, but the issue was contained quickly enough to avoid pandemonium.

The rumor that the problem would significantly affect real life was unfounded, but it did cause panic leading up to the event. Because people were only just beginning to rely heavily on machinery to operate through daily life, a fear of machinery quickly spun a minor problem way out of proportion, validating to people distrusting of the digital age that the machines would lead to the end of civilization.

Morbid Jingle Bells

I was first taught this song at the age of 10 while at a ski lodge in Lake Tahoe:

Dashing through the snow, On a pair of broken skis

O’er the hills we go, Crashing into trees

The Snow is turning red, I think I’m almost dead

I woke up in the hospital with staples in my head, Oh! 

Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Santa’s almost dead!

Rudolph brought an atom bomb and blast it on his head, Oh! 

Barbie doll, Barbie doll, tried to save his life,

But G.I. Joe from Mexico (??) and stabbed him in the head! 

The entire some makes absolutely no sense, grammatically or logically, but it was catchy and as children it was easy to latch onto because American pre-teens have a tendency to want to appear grown-up by pretending to be unfazed by gruesome ideas. Also, the people I was friends with at the age of 10 all spoke English as a second language, so we never noticed how ungrammatical it was until years later. There are in fact other versions of the song with similar violent vibes, but usually only the first verse (before Jingle Bells) is the same. I tried to look up any instances of this that appear in media, but all I found was that this morbid version is actually very widespread.

In December 2014, I heard a few lines from this version of the song while on vacation in Reno, sung by two giggling Chinese-American girls between the ages of 7 and 10. I had always thought that this was something my friend AZ had made up back in 2003, so I tracked him down to find out where he’d heard it.

AZ told me that he had heard it while in art class from GT, who I happen to now know. He was singing the song for attention at the time, but the lyrics he knows were grammatical, as it removes the “and” in the last line, AZ just remembered it wrong when he sang it back. When I asked him where he’d heard it, he only remembered that it was from Minnesota, but no longer remembers the details of who sang it at him and the circumstances under which he learned it.

I Told You About Stairs Bro, I Warned You Dog

Homestuck is a complicated topic to breach when it comes to cyberlore and memetic mutations. It at one point held the title of longest webcomic in existence, and as of 4/30.2015 totals over 9000 pages and nearly 18000 panels, and includes 158 animated movies that total 3 and a half hours of animation. The most notable part about the comic is the ease with which a fandom can spring up around it. It features many reused frames that call back to each other, lines said by completely unrelated characters with tweaked phrasing, and incorporation of memes originating from the fanbase in the canon material. In fact, much of the art used in the later parts webcomic and all of the music were not actually created by the writer, Andrew Hussie, but by fans of the comic who he later hired to work officially on Homestuck. It’s a classic example of the lines of authorship being blurred between creator and audience.

Early in the comic’s running, Hussie created a side comic that was written by one of the main characters in-universe, called Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff. It is intentionally written to be “so bad it’s good.” with intentionally bad drawing, grammar, and nonsensical plot. The comic became a huge hit on the internet, and has contributed to the popularity of “meme comics.”

At one point in the story, one of the characters falls down some stairs while carrying a stack of video games, and the other yells the phrase, “i told you about stairs bro! i warned you dog!” after which the comic consists only of the first character continuously rolling down neverending stairs while the second shouts more warnings from off-panel. The second character never actually issued the initial warning as he claims, however.

Later, whenever anyone falls down anything, they yell out some mispelled variation of “IT KEEPS HAPPENING”.

This has since been referenced in countless other webcomics, memes, and regular communication among internet communities. Initially, this phrase was used exclusively as referencing someone falling down stairs, especially in unexpected situations, but later the phrasing came to encompass any kind of negative consequence resulting from not heeding another’s warning.

This phrasing has since infiltrated the vocabulary in the real world, even among people who had never known about the origin of the phrase. In the collection recorded here, BD and GT were having a conversation, and GT complained about having an issue with the notoriously buggy digital drawing tablet. GT said, “it keeps happening,” not intending to invoke the meme, but BD follows up with “I told you about tablet drivers, bro.”

When asked, BD admitted that he had heard of Homestuck, but never knew it had any relevance to the phrase or its origin, which he had seen in the context of reaction images on forums about completely unrelated subject matter.


“lel” is a common term used among people who frequent certain online imageboards. It is commonly used as schadenfreude in response to something bad happening to someone else, or some antic that elicits inappropriate laughter, implying the emitter of the laugh is a “troll.”

It has had a complicated history. The original acronym, “lol”, stood for “laugh out loud” and quickly replaced simulating laughter online. In the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, there are two factions, Horde and Alliance. While their chat messages appear to each other while standing nearby in-game, the two factions cannot communicate with each other, which the server facilitates by running dialogue through a coder. When a Horde player types “lol” in chat, it appears to Alliance players as “kek,” which in itself is accepted as a sound made by silly laughter, especially when repeated (kekkekkekkek).

Soon, kek became itself used as to indicate inappropriate laughter, until it morphed back into “lel,” as k is next to l on the keyboard, and it also looks like a bastardation of “lol.”

There exists a type of Turkish snack food called “Topkek,” which the boards have since adopted as an higher-tier substitute for “kek.” Even this usage has now morphed into “Top lel” among groups of friends who have ventured deep enough into the imageboards.