Beyond estimation of toast


I (like many people) am a user of several IM networks (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GTalk) in order to allow me to chat with friends in each of these networks. (As a side note, I use a really nice single application called Adium to connect to all of them at the same time.) These networks each have their strengths and weaknesses, but Yahoo’s seems the most prone to being hijacked for spreading spam or viruses or whatnot. Being on a Mac, I am mostly immune to this sort of thing, but the rare messages popping up in Yahoo IM windows from complete strangers are annoying anyway.

This morning I got a message sent to me in Arabic. It was several paragraphs long and since I don’t speak the language, completely incomprehensible. Curious nonetheless to investigate the cultural differences between Arabic and English spam, I headed over to Google Translate to try to decode the message. What resulted was pretty nonsensical. Although there were a few words that alone had meaning, almost none of them taken together mean anything at all (at least in English). However, one phrase did stand out to me as pure poetry: “beyond estimation of toast”.

Thank you, voice from the ether. I will be pondering the mystery of this koan for some years to come.


  1. Mom says:

    Don’t you wonder who strings these nonsense syllables together, and why? It’s a mystery well beyond the estimation of toast…..

  2. closetalk says:

    lol. toast with hot, melt-in-yer-mouth butter, me-hopes????

  3. One of my most favorite comic stories, period, appeared in (I believe) issue 2 of Alan Moore’s Tomorrow Stories. It was a Jack B. Quick (boy genius in rural America) story drawn by Kevin Nowlan.

    In it, Jack figured out that if you strapped a piece of buttered toast to the back of a cat, then the cat would be able to fly by using his tail like a propeller. His reasoning was based on two widely known facts:

    1. Cats always land on their feet.

    2. Buttered toast always lands buttered side down.

    You following this? It was impossible for the cat with the buttered toast to land. The universe just wouldn’t allow it. Much hilarity ensues over the course of the 8 pages, particularly when the cats figure out they have food on their backs and start licking the butter. It’s kind of tragic, actually.