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Off by Abby H. '20

six months of things being just a little weird

I’m approaching the end of the first month of my internship at a big ol’ biotech company,01 wish I could blog about it but public disclosure lawsuit blah blah blah and I’ve somewhat adjusted to the lack of actionable emails. My new thing is going to work and reading about topics in philosophy when I have downtime. I don’t know if it’s the deep dive into terror management theory02 I feel like a South Park goth kid when I discuss this with people or the mechanical routine of a 9-to-503 closer to a 9:45ish-to-5:15ish or latent anxiety about applying to grad school,04 Kim Kardashian voice: I'm Dropping Hints That I'm Going to Apply To Grad School but I’ve been feeling distinctly uneasy for the past few weeks. Not bad, just weird. I’ve prepared for you a selection of images from the past month that have a similar vibe of not-quite-a-glitch-in-the-simulation-but-unnerving-enough-that-I-had-to-take-a-picture, or more simply, pictures that feel a little… Off.


Snow vs. Fence

snow bulging through a fence

MIT tennis courts, Cambridge, MA, February 18, 2019, 2:47 PM

The sheer power, the pure force exerted by the fresh snow, which is usually so soft and shapeable. Fence cannot stop her; Fence can only extrude her.

My Cat Binky’s Lol

a text from a WMBR listener that says 'just looked up binkying, my cat binkies lol, have to scare him real good though'

WMBR, A-control, Cambridge, MA, March 6, 2019, 1:26 AM

WMBR, where anyone can directly text the current DJ. Cats shouldn’t binky, but maybe it’s okay for them to popcorn.

When You Turn On Your Ad Blocker IRL

spooky black presentation boards

Building 46 atrium, Cambridge, MA, March 6, 2019, 1:01 PM

This one really freaked me out at first. Usually there are chairs there, but sometimes there are conferences happening in this space. There were no people in the atrium at that moment. Only bipedal black screens, continuing into infinity.05 into finity but continuing for a while in the direction of the vanishing point Spooky.

A Car Supported By A Few Inches Of Snow

the back wheel of a car perched on a narrow strip of snow

Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, March 6, 2019, 9:08 PM

I tried several times to get a better picture of this, but I couldn’t get low enough to the ground.06 I have failed as a 5 foot tall person Look how strong that snow is (see first image).

Utility Graffiti… On The Snow

spray-painted lines on the snow

Between McCormick and Baker, Cambridge, MA, March 8, 2019, 4:18 PM

In case you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot of snow at MIT sometimes. In this case, some utility workers decided to mark an underground cable or pipe or line of some sort directly onto the snow. What happens when the snow melts? Why does it need to be marked right now if you can’t even access what’s below because of the snow? What is under the snow?

PIG ICE

a slushy machine at the piggly wiggly grocery store that says pig ice

Piggly Wiggly, Mountain Brook, AL, March 24, 2019, 5:28 PM

It’s pig ice.

Gnarly Skin Condition

a wheal shaped like the word test on my forearm

MacGregor desk, Cambridge, MA, April 19, 2019, 9:36 PM

While moving boxes of paper around, I discovered I have developed something called Dermatographia urticaria, which is pretty dope because now I can gently scratch things07 I'll admit to some number of phalluses onto my arms and let my immune system make the art. Unfortunately, I am itchy and covered in scary wheals all the time now, unless I take antihistamines, in which case I am sleepy all the time now. I promise this is a real thing.

Hypocrisy

Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA, April 29, 2019, 2:26 PM

Is this corruption?

A Rebrand In Progress

triscuit boxes with different logos some T's are capitalized and others aren't

LaVerde’s, Cambridge, MA, May 3, 2019, 2:47 PM

If you stare at the shelves in LaVerde’s long enough, you’ll notice that no one actually stocks the shelves, they just refresh from time to time. Here I captured a brand in transition from Big Corporate Capital Letters User to soft gentle lowercase millennial/gen z/gen alpha cracker peddler. I like to think they took inspiration from us.

One (1) Inch

an inchworm on my sleeve

???, Cambridge, MA, May 10, 2019, 11:55 AM

If you zoom in, this little guy is beautiful.08 when I went home the most recent time, my sister showed me a cute little worm that she thought was a baby inchworm, but my other sister confirmed that it was in fact a mosquito larva and that sure did gross us out But I was walking along a street with no trees or plants when he appeared. Where did he come from? I had to walk several minutes to find a green place for him to disembark.

Ants Eating A Porkchop09 somehow this has more of a Dave Matthews Band Vibe than Ants Marching?

ants eating an abandoned porkchop

MIT tennis courts, Cambridge, MA, May 16, 2019, 4:26 PM

Who cooked a porkchop and then just left it on the ground? What transgression did the porkchop commit to be abandoned like this? Why did the ants want to eat it? There are plenty of healthy dining options on campus!

Tall Roses

a rose bush with one branch growing too high up

My backyard, Irondale, AL, May 26, 2019, 7:31 PM

I am not a plant biologist. I have no idea why a rose would want/would be able to grow that tall. It’s not competing with other plants for sun. I feel like it would take so much more effort10 not actually sure if transpiration is meaningfully affected by gravity to keep water and stuff flowing up to the top of the plant, but that’s where all the flowers are. For size reference, this thing is over 6 feet tall. Great posture, too.

Pinoy Comic Jokes: UR FAVORITE PINOY JOKES IN GRAPHIC FORMAT

a book of comics called pinoy comic jokes

Public library, South San Francisco, CA, June 3, 2019, 3:25 PM

The South San Francisco Library has an astounding collection of Tagalog literature, but this one looks like something someone brought from home and left on the shelf. The comic on the cover, which should theoretically be one of the funniest comics in the book, features a kid who was poisoned after he got caught eating cockroaches. The graphic design checks out, though.

DNA Crosswalk

a crosswalk painted to look like a DNA double helix

Genentech, South San Francisco, CA, June 7, 2019, 5:18 PM

Cute, but why?

Cricket Food

three jars of cricket food on a shelf

Pet store, Daly City, CA, June 8, 2019, 5:50 PM

Apparently crickets can be fed as pets, not just to pets. And there’s nothing crickets crave more than the sweet taste of orange cube.11 it's got electrolytes

Outta My Way! I’m Late For Bocce

me posing with a license plate that says outta my way I'm late for bocce

Somewhere, South San Francisco, CA, June 8, 2019, 7:28 PM

There’s no way this is a real license plate frame that a real person bought. Bocce isn’t even that fun. It’s like being into golf but it doesn’t even come with an established aesthetic.

VCRs Rotated 90 Degrees Clockwise

vcrs for sale on a shelf

Thrift store, South San Francisco, CA, June 15, 2019, 2:57 PM

There is no reason for this store to stock so many VCRs. They ran out of room for horizontal VCRs so they had to shelve them like books. There weren’t even that many VHS tapes for sale to go with the VCRs. At this point, I am not sure if the rising seniors in high school are familiar with this technology, but really the only reason to keep these around would be to watch old home movies. I’d like to meet anyone who ends up buying one of these.


By posting these images, I’ve unloaded my Off feeling onto the audience, so now YOU will feel perpetually Off instead of me! Enjoy!

  1. wish I could blog about it but public disclosure lawsuit blah blah blah back to text
  2. I feel like a South Park goth kid when I discuss this with people back to text
  3. closer to a 9:45ish-to-5:15ish back to text
  4. Kim Kardashian voice: I'm Dropping Hints That I'm Going to Apply To Grad School back to text
  5. into finity but continuing for a while in the direction of the vanishing point back to text
  6. I have failed as a 5 foot tall person back to text
  7. I'll admit to some number of phalluses back to text
  8. when I went home the most recent time, my sister showed me a cute little worm that she thought was a baby inchworm, but my other sister confirmed that it was in fact a mosquito larva and that sure did gross us out back to text
  9. somehow this has more of a Dave Matthews Band Vibe than Ants Marching? back to text
  10. not actually sure if transpiration is meaningfully affected by gravity back to text
  11. it's got electrolytes back to text