Author Archives: Reed Moreno

Counting Out Rhyme

Ink-a-bink a bottle of ink the cork fell out and you stink.

The informant, Tyler, says the he and his friends use this rhyme to decide who is it for games like hide and go seek and tag. He says everyone playing gets together in a circle and one person says the rhyme in a sing-songy manner. For each syllable of the rhyme, the person saying it points to a member of the group. Whoever the person is pointing to when the rhyme stops steps out of the circle and will not be it. The rhyme is repeated until there is only one person left in the circle; that person is it. Tyler says he learned the rhyme from one of his friend’s older sisters when he was younger. He and his peers only use the rhyme at the beginning of a game to decide who will be it. He thinks it is a fair way to decide who is it.

Children often use counting rhymes to determine who will be it for a game. Although it is unclear what the rhyme itself is specifically referring to, its formula is not unheard of. Obviously the rhyme describes the unfortunate event of ink being spilled and then blames it on one child. Interestingly enough the child that “stinks” is immune from being it. It seems like a more efficient system would be to make the child that “stinks” it. However I think part of the un for the children is repeated performance of the rhyme. This lends a bit of tension to the situation, although the children have fun with the process of picking an it.

Counting Out Rhyme

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum in a dish, How many pieces do you wish?

The Informant, Tyler, says that this is a method he and his friends use to select the person to be “it” for games like hide and go seek and tag. The children about to participate in the game gather together into a circle and put up two fists. The person saying the rhyme goes around the circle tapping a different fist for each syllable of the rhyme. Tyler reports that the person who’s fist the rhyme stops on, puts that fist down and then a picks a number. The child who said the rhyme then counts to that number, tapping a different fist for each number. Whoever’s fist is being tapped when the number is reached, puts that fist down. The rhyme is then said again starting with the next fist in the group. This process continues until only one person has a fist up; this person is designated as “it”.

Tyler said he learned this from friends at school, but couldn’t specifically remember when. He said the only time this would be used was before games where there was a specific person who is it. He would not use this sort of game to determine who plays videogames first, for example. He likes the rhyme and thinks it is a fair way to determine who is “it”. According to Tyler his friends enjoy the game, but arguments do arise from it every so often.

Count out rhymes are a very common part of a children’s games. This count out game is very elaborate, which suggests that for the children using it, it is almost a game unto itself. The game is impractical because of the amount of time it takes to select someone who is it, but this didn’t seem to bother the informant. In this counting out rhyme, the person selecting a number has an opportunity to cheat by counting fists and picking a number that will land on their own fist. The fact that this way to cheat exists suggests that either this game is used exclusively by younger children who do not realize this flaw to the rhyme or it is used by older children as a way to cheat younger children without causing any strife.


Pot Smoking Custom

When smoking marijuana, the participants form a loose circle and the piece is always passed to the left with each person getting one hit.

The informant, DRH, reports that the smoking of marijuana is in a sense highly structured. He reports the participants, when ready to smoke form a loose circle and begin passing the smoking utensil to the left. He says each person takes one hit and passes it to their left until all the marijuana in the utensil has been smoked. DRH says that once the marijuana in the utensil has been smoked, the group generally decides by consensus whether another bowl is needed. If the group chooses to smoke more, the person who finished the previous bowl packs the next bowl and takes the first hit.

DRH doesn’t know exactly where he learned all of these customs. He says he has picked them up from various friends over the years. David believes the customs are necessary for a efficient smoking session. He says the circle ensures the participants smoke in an order and the one hit rule ensures that everyone gets a fair share. He says that a person must show knowledge of these customs to be accepted as a true smoker by the group.

In my opinion this is a custom that has arisen out of necessity. When under the influence it is hard to keep track of an order. The circle is a way to ensure the smoking order is maintained. The circle likely prevents a lot of bickering that would waste time. Similarly the one hit rule ensures that each smoker receives roughly the same share of the drug. It is not surprising that a hobby has a specific way it is performed, especially one that is illegal. The informant notes that one must be proficient in these customs to be considered a veteran smoker. The customs that pot smokers follow therefore serve as a way to differentiate experienced smokers from non-experienced smokers. Due to the illegal nature of the activity this proficiency test could serve as a sort of protection mechanism. The customs described in this article can be found in many popular movies that center on pot smokers and their adventures. Movies that contain these customs include “Half Baked” and “How High”. Although these movies contain the customs, the movies did not create the customs. According to the informant, the customs have been around longer than the movies.

Occupational Joke

Occupational Joke – Engineering

A priest, a lawyer, and an engineer are set to be executed during the French Revolution. The priest is up first, but when the executioner pulls the lever on the guillotine, nothing happens. The priest declares it divine intervention and is let go. The lawyer goes next and when the guillotine again fails to operate he says “you can’t execute me twice for the same crime” and is let go. The engineer goes next and when the guillotine fails to work for a third time the engineer says, “Wait a Minute, I think I see the problem”.

The Informant, Matt, first heard this joke from one of his engineering classmates in the fall of 2007. Matt interprets the joke to mean that engineers are so compelled by engineering that it could almost cost them their lives. He thinks the joke points out a foible of the nature of many engineers. While the other two prisoners use the broken guillotine as a way to save their lives, the engineer just wants o fix it. Matt says that although he wouldn’t literally fix the guillotine, he would want to. He thinks the joke makes a honest point about the personality of many engineers. He would tell the joke to a group of engineers. According to Matt many engineering students are frequently frustrated by their major and use jokes like this as a way of making fun of themselves.

As an occupational joke, this would only really appeal to engineers. To non-engineers, the engineer’s behavior in the joke seems strange. However engineers understand the sentiment behind the engineer’s behavior in the joke and find it funny because they can relate. Since this is an occupational joke, it allows engineers to share an inside joke. A joke like this could allow an engineer to see if another person carries a typical engineer mindset.

Birthday Tradition – Chinese

In Chinese culture a person should always eat noodles on their birthday.

The informant, Dominique, is from Singapore. She reports that in China it is traditional for a person to eat noodles on their birthday. The person is meant to eat long noodles because long noodles signify a long life. By eating long noodles on their birthday a person ensures they will have a long life. Dominique was taught the tradition by her parents who are both Chinese and says she actively practices it. She doesn’t know whether the tradition originates from Chinese or Buddhist culture, but says it is widespread. She reports it doesn’t matter what type of noodle you eat, so long as it is a long noodle.  Dominique thinks the practice connects her to her culture and says she will pass it on to her children.

Many cultures have a specific food that is associated with birthdays. In America for example we have birthday cakes. It’s interesting to note that the informant actually knows why she eats noodles on her birthday. She knows the symbolism behind the noodles, whereas I have had cake on everyone of my birthdays, but don’t know the symbolism behind it. Although eating long noodles may not prolong life it is an interesting ritual and something to look forward to on your birthday.