1762: Moving Boxes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 14:57, 21 November 2016 by (talk) (List of boxes: Edited to match comic formatting.)
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Moving Boxes
Later, when I remember that I'm calling movers, I frantically scribble over the labels and write 'NORMAL HOUSE STUFF' on all of them, which actually makes things worse.
Title text: Later, when I remember that I'm calling movers, I frantically scribble over the labels and write 'NORMAL HOUSE STUFF' on all of them, which actually makes things worse.


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Randall talks about moving boxes and not labeling them until he forgets what's in them. The boxes in the comic are labelled with some weird things for a house.

List of boxes











Field Lines



Dark Matter




According to the title text, when Randall remembers that he is calling movers, he frantically scribbles "Normal House Stuff" on all the boxes. He says this makes the situation worse because the movers see the scribble and become suspicious.


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I think I've got some Dark Matter in a box left in my basement. Anyone knows how long you can keep this stuff until it expires? 13:36, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

Mine is about 13.8 billion years old and still OK. But shouldn't about 3/4 of the boxes be filled with dark matter? -- 14:21, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
You probably mean 1/4 (and dark energy is the other 3/4). But we don't know how dark matter is distributed. In the extreme and unlikely case that dark matter consists entirely of MACHOs, there are no boxes with it. -- 01:25, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
Hah! Mine's 13.81 years old.
It should be good for another 10^100 years or so. Give or take a few duotrigintillion years. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

--Thejohnfan (talk) 14:28, 21 November 2016 (UTC)Thejohnfan

Yeah - you've really gotta be careful about labelling that stuff - since it neither absorbs nor emits electromagnetic radiation, you're going to have to use gravitational lensing techniques to figure out which box it's in - and we all know how much of a pain THAT can be on moving day! SteveBaker (talk) 14:59, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
Make sure to keep it all individually wrapped. It may become unstable if allowed to mingle. -- 03:17, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
When I last moved house, I methodically labelled every single box with it's exact contents. Several meticulously itemized boxes contained (amongst other things) stuff like "Acrylic art paint", "Rodent poison" and "Adhesives" - and the movers saw this and refused to move about a dozen boxes because they contained things that are liquids or hazardous materials. This was more than I could fit in my car - so this became a huge deal. So next time, I'm going with "Normal House Stuff". Seriously - just label them with the room you want them dumped in at your new home and a number...write the actual contents in a MySQL database...preferably with a photo of the box before you taped it up. SteveBaker (talk) 14:59, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
Label the boxes with "Normal house stuff'); DROP TABLE Boxes; --" if you're doing that. 15:16, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
How do you access the MySQL database when your computer is still packed away in a box? B jonas (talk) 16:08, 21 November 2016 (UTC)
The MySQL database is in a box clearly labelled "Cyberspace" so the movers know where to put it - there is a certain degree of recursion involved in this, but it can be managed. And to access it - I carry a phone...although the magic USB-C to USB-C cable needed to charge it is almost certainly in a box labelled "Attic 237", "Basement 96" or "Garage 49(a)". SteveBaker (talk) 14:34, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Note that there is a similar use of "Normal" in https://xkcd.com/1530/ 16:54, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

Protip: Label boxes you don't want the movers to know about with "Party Favors." 16:22, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

Indeed, it's a great idea to obfuscate your items with "less valuable" names, or replace everything with numbers + room names, like "Kitchen 2." Just don't lose the inventory list. 10:48, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

The explanation for Bison says they're "also known as buffalo". Not sure if that's technically accurate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bison Excerpt: "Although sometimes referred to historically as a "buffalo", it is only distantly related to the true buffalo." (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yes, but colloquially, this is acceptable. For another example, see "Indian vs. Native American." 18:08, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

The "shards" could also be a reference to "sharding", as in "MongoDB is web scale"[1] CrazyVaccine (talk) 17:30, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

membranes shards may also refer to sponges (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I read the "shawls glucose kits" as "shawls, glucose [testing] kits", not as "shawls, glucose, kits" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

>>Vectors ARE physical objects in the wonderful world of epidemiology... also, I believe that it's incorrect to say that you can not put the 'physics' kind of vector into a box... just not, uh, physically, more theoretically? Also the same for field lines (unless it is full of dug up painted clods from the lines from an actual soccer field or something), but you could absolutely place a magnet next to a box, and now there are field lines in it, ammirght? -(unsigned, embarrassed, pedantic, etc) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Come on people this is funny! While Randal may not remember which box things are in, we must assume he KNOWS what stuff he has - ergo he really has all this stuff or at least these are keywords that represent real stuff (like "triangles" could be drafting set-squares) The joke is trying to figure out what on earth these keywords might actually represent! It being xkcd and Randal, we should not assume these are all "normal" items found in typical housholds but may be computer and tech linked. 22:17, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

I'm glad he's keeping the shorebirds and oil separate. Not everyone is so considerate. Jkshapiro (talk) 01:49, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

My father tells me about the depressing sight of removing dead grebes at his workplace. 10:48, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Some of the boxes could be considered mathematical constructs, i.e., one box contains all the vectors, and is thus a vector space. Another contains edges, 12 of them to be precise. One box appears to be either a Gaussian surface or a magnetic yoke, containing field lines. -- 03:14, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Reference #14, Dark Matter: perhaps fairer to say you can't *knowingly* pack it? After all, if you can't observe it then it might be there without you knowing about it. (talk) 07:15, 22 Nov 2016 (UTC)

I wonder if there is a reason why he grouped items in certain ways. For instance, "shards" would destroy "membranes", so it is funny that he put them together. But why did he put "beacons", "elves" and "sand" together?

Trying to make sense of the word choices. The boxes contain elements from the following domains: - biology (ex: hemoglobin, bison, shorebirds, membranes) - physics (ex: dark matter, field lines, particles, taupe (the light frequency)) - chemistry (ex: graphite, glucose) - mathematics (ex: vectors, triangles, manifolds, edges) - fantasy (ex: scrolls, elves, traps, fog) - improbable objects (ex: hydrant, tribes, sand, shards). Do you see other ways to classify the objects? -- P500g (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Has no one noticed yet the obvious political references of this comic? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No what is it? 03:28, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
Me neither.... All I can think is how the election went the wrong way, and many people said they'd move to Canada, so maybe that's an implied link, that now he has to move? - NiceGuy1 04:17, 23 November 2016 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. And hey! Suddenly I'm not being harrassed with Captchas when I contribute! Yay, I'm finally being accepted as human! :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:26, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

This may be a hidden reference to schrodinger's cat https://xkcd.com/45/ -- pointing out that cat may not be the only thing that may or may not be in a box? 03:28, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

There is no box with a cat in it. Or is there? -- P500g (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
What about a box with a bobcat? :) 02:55, 26 November 2016 (UTC)

I'm surprised to see no mention or over-analysis of the fact that the "Hydrants Particles Knots" box doesn't say "Contents:" (and is the only such box) :) - NiceGuy1 04:17, 23 November 2016 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:26, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

I thought the joke was graphite and taupe is literally what the box is made of? The box is colored taupe and he wrote on it with graphite. Also I was thinking that water + hooves = glue. Zipfian (talk) 19:04, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Maybe the kits are of this kind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit_(association_football) -- 12:54, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

Do I add comments at the top or the bottom? I was thinking maybe this cartoon might be an indicator that Randall is moving to Canada with all the other movie stars who said they were leaving if Trump becomes president, especially since Randall was a supporter of Hillary. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Beachvolleyball field lines might be boxed because they are in fact 48m of blue ribbon which is usually carried along by the coach wound on a reel as they tend to disappear from lonely courts. - Sword Flanders (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nobody mentions that all boxes contain dark matter? It's just so spread out that any given box contains very little dark matter. Nitpicking (talk) 02:18, 26 February 2022 (UTC)