Monday, September 13, 2010

What IS It?

SlowBoat's August 31st "What IS It?" contest attracted two partially correct answers.  (If you remember, the photo showed an eerie sand-dune landscape--tawny cliffs fringed with tropical vegetation and pocked with animal burrows.)

The scene was reminiscent of a desert landscape.  Cropped out of the photo were the construction cranes and the rusting barges along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  Greg P. correctly identified the "cliffs" as material stored by the city of Chicago to deal with icy roads in winter--but that stuff is sand, not salt.  And Cliff from State College correctly identified the burrows as belonging to bank swallows--a common species that obviously found a welcoming home in this industrial landscape.
What IS it, perched in profusion on our solar panels?

The photo at right is a bit of a place holder--I bet you can easily guess what you're looking at here. Here's TODAY'S ACTUAL CHALLENGE:
A curious item, spotted at a BBQ restaurant, on an outdoor patio, at dusk.  I couldn't get a satisfactory image.  But I can describe the scene.

We were sitting at a picnic table on a porch overlooking the Illinois River--which you could barely see, past the rows of cars in the parking lot.  Hanging from the edge of the porch roof, evenly spaced, all along the length of the patio, right where you might expect to see hanging baskets of plants, were gallon-sized Ziploc bags, half-full of none-too-clean water.

We had MANY hypotheses as to the purpose of these bags.  (And SlowBoat will award a tacky postcard, not only to the person who has the correct answer, but to the person who matches what the Cap'n said was the crew's best (if wrong) hypothesis.)

Finally, we asked our adorable, pert, fast-moving waitress, Jessie.  Before she gave us the answer, she told us what another patron had guessed:  The bags are "Redneck Fire Extinguishers." (In case of fire, burn a hole in the bag with your cigarette and use the water to put out the fire.)

Remember, there's a tacky postcard and a blog shout-out riding on the answer.  If this website's "comment" function confounds you, you can send your answer to slowboat@emailias.com.  If you are a new blog visitor, and you are curious about past What IS It? entries, please check the archives for posts labeled "What IS It?"  And remember that new and amusing images which don't fit with the days post are regularly stashed under the "LAUGHS tab.

(And one last thing, there's another new post below this one)


  1. Fly repellent. (http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/natural-bird-safe-pest-remedies/)

  2. whoops, too late (enfanta got it..): Scares the flies away.

  3. Enfanta is correct--our waitress told us the water-filled bags were a fly repellent.

    But check the post above, there's still another prize to be claimed.

    (And hey, no one labeled the photo either! Did you guess what THAT showed?)

  4. caddisflies on the solar panels. missed the fact you asked the question.

    Great blog, BTW.