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Before the Internet, sayings and memes had to travel by word of mouth, so it’s not surprising that many of the sayings with staying power are still around because they protected their main transmission vector, namely, your mouth.

No one’s familiar with the prehistoric saying, “This is how you taunt a t-rex” because the people who picked up and practiced that catch-phrase didn’t get the chance to use it frequently enough for it to catch on in popular culture before being torn apart by a T-Rex in a tiff.

But when I mention something like the “5 Second Rule”, everyone knows what I’m talking about because that’s advice that has kept its sayers relatively safe for hundreds if not thousands of years. While not every culture expresses this concept in the same manner, they all seem to have a general equivalent. For example, the Russian translation goes “Promptly picked up is not considered fallen.” We now know that five seconds is more than enough time for bacteria to get a foot hold in our freshly fallen food, but at its inception, the other competing phrase was, “Just flick off the flies.”

“Don’t take candy from strangers” has much more notoriety than “Strangers have the best candy ever” for similar reasons.

Another saying that’s been around for ages is, “Don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been.” Mothers seem to drop that one a lot. As geeks, we have a natural predilection for anything electronic, regardless of its bacterial history or proximity to raptors. An iPod found in the gutter is still an iPod… Just like an iPod given to me by a stranger in a windowless van is still an iPod. I may be using it to listen to podcasts from therapists for the first few months I have it, but it’s still an iPod. (Ironically, it was the iPod Touch…)

I think the point here is that if someone is tempting you with something like comic books or graphic novels, you need to stay out of the van.

If you are looking for comics or graphic novels, or if you have some that you’d like to put back into the world without the aid of a windowless van, the web site www.wheresthatbeen.com has been launched to help you safely get your hands on new reading material without someone getting their hands on you.

Thanks to the efforts of our own LoopyLow in IRC, you can now accept comics from strangers *and* have a detailed retort prepared for your mother the next time she drops the phrase “You don’t know where that’s been” or otherwise accuses you of accepting goodies from strangers. You can get started this Friday by possibly accepting some goods from the good strangers of the February Geek Gathering, where the launch party will take place. Just like the IRC channel is the show within the show, this will be the party within the party.

wheresthatbeen.com is up now, and if you’re into comics or graphic novels, you’re invited to participate. Actually, I think that the site could be used for all sorts of things from sci-fi books to open source hardware. Really, whatever physical thing that you’d like to put out into the world to share with others could get a new lease on life via this site.

So, the Party that encompasses the Where’s That Been Launch Party, the Arduino Party, the Photography Party, and even last month’s knitting party, is indeed happening this Friday, February fifth, at the Coffee Groundz in Midtown Houston. 2503 Bagby at McGowan is where you want to be.

Things get started around seven, or shortly thereafter, depending on how people do on McGowan. The WiFi and general geekery are free, but the coffee, food, spirits and beer will cost you. No promises as to whether the knitters will show up again, but we will have the usual array of open hardware to play with. Well, half the amount. KD5 has headed to Florida to see the Shuttle launch, so the Arduino army will be at half strength until the March Gathering.

Well, That’s it for Where’s That Been (and where we will be) and that’s that for BarretTime!

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