2772: Commemorative Plaque

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Commemorative Plaque
[Below] On this site on May 12th, 2023, I finally learned how to use the masonry bit for my drill.
Title text: [Below] On this site on May 12th, 2023, I finally learned how to use the masonry bit for my drill.


The narrator discovered that it is simple and inexpensive to have a commemorative plaque made, and so had a commemorative plaque made to record that event. The comic both indicates the lack of knowledge many people have about how simple or difficult it is to do a certain thing, and the over-the-top response a person might have to a relatively mundane discovery.

The comic was published on May 5, the holiday of Cinco de Mayo, Europe Day and Dutch Liberation Day, and the day before the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla. The comic subverts an expectation that a plaque about May 5 would be to commemorate either one of the many world events that previously took place on a May 5 in various years, or more specifically the 1862 Battle of Puebla or the 1964 founding of the Council of Europe or the 1945 Liberation of the Netherlands, which all took place on May 5 and inspired the respective holidays.

The title text describes a second plaque mounted below the first one, boasting that a week later they learned out how to use a masonry bit, presumably to mount the first plaque onto a stone wall.

The earlier comic 699: Trimester also features a similar situation in which a seemingly official and authoritative item can in fact simply be purchased by a layperson.


[A light gray brick wall with a plaque on it. The plaque has a white background and its frame is gray. It has been attached to the wall with four pins, one at each corner. The plaque reads, across several lines:]
On this site on
[Most prominent line of text:] May 5th, 2023
I realized that you could order custom commemorative plaques online that say
[Somewhat prominent line of text:] whatever you want
and it's not that expensive

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Maybe like this? https://www.plaquemaker.com/aluminum-signs?quantity=1&width=4&height=4&backing=101&material=1&shape=1&print-color=16&text=On%20this%20site%20on*r*May%205th%2C%202023*r*I%20realized%20that%20you%20could%20order%20custom%20commemorative%20plaques%20online%20that%20say*r*whatever%20you%20want*r*and%20it%27s%20not%20that%20expensive*r*&mounting=1&size=2 22:01, 7 May 2023 (UTC)TheHighArtOfWikiSignatures

Your example, as well as, apparently, the one illustrated in the comic, are made of flat-printed flat aluminum. My vision of a commemorative plaque is of the type that is cast out of solid bronze leaving raised individual letters. I created an image of Randal's plaque (In my preferred colors.)These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 02:42, 9 May 2023 (UTC)

Any bets on how many copies of this plaque people send him? Jordan Brown (talk) 00:25, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

I do not understand the plaque... If the test is correct, shouldn't there be an order button for not that expensive commemorative plaques on xkcd.com/2772? Questions over questions...Tier666 (talk) 07:31, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

By site, they mean "location". It was in that location when Randall figured out what is on the plaque. 14:08, 7 May 2023 (UTC)Bumpf

Because it's vague, not worth an Explain expansion, but I'm wondering how much of the intervening week was delivery time of the original plaque (assuming the "lesson learnt" moment was the instant the original plaque was ordered, as it was too late on receipt to then make the claim of the achievement appear upon it). And it sounds like the plaquer had the bits handy (standard "202 different bits, screwdriver heads, sockets and related hardware"-type everyman-handyman accessory kit that you might get 'because why not?'/’it was marked as a deal!' on one visit to the hardware depot) but just had never (properly?) used the whole masonry set in anger, until now. And I don't discount the possibility that the second plaque was ordered to place over some initial ill-drilled holes from the first attempt at mounting (either done without regard to where further holes would need to align to the mortar bonds and courses, or an attempted to take advantage of that but badly), making the announcement of the second 'triumphant' occasion instrumental in legitimately masking the evidence of the learning process that led up to it. 08:48, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

I wonder if that's an oblique reference to the commemorative plaque Dieter Meier had had installed at the Kassel railway station in 1972 that announced him standing there 22 years later? 11:22, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

In Denmark we celebrate the liberation from the Germans at the end of WW2 on May 5th 1945. And later also my birthday ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:08, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

A bit of time paradox here. . . . . If he didn't figure out how to use a masonry drill until 12 May, then the top plaque couldn't have been installed before then. And the lower plaque would have been ordered, delivered and installed sometime after 12 May. Can we expect a third plaque commemmorating the mounting of the first and second? If so, when? 01:12, 7 May 2023 (UTC) Beechmere

No idea about the second, but I would assume that on 12 May, he ALSO installed the top plaque. -- Hkmaly (talk) 03:46, 7 May 2023 (UTC)
5/5, figured out the plaques thing and ordered one (or sat on it, ordered a day or two later). ⩽12/5, received plaque and tried to install. 12/5, successfully installed, second plaque ordered (or possibly shortly after). >12/5, received and installed second plaque. 10:00, 7 May 2023 (UTC)
Which makes this technically a science fiction comic, as it was released on 5/5. 14:30, 7 May 2023 (UTC)

It was a few years ago when I learned how to use masonry drills. An importand difference is whether you use a “Schlagbohrmaschine” or “Hammerbohrmaschine”, and you need the correct bit for both. Now I am frustrated that English uses the same word for both of them. The first one (cam action) has a disgusting user experience, while the second one (pneumatic) is a joy. -- 19:54, 7 May 2023 (UTC)

This seems remarkably recent after news stories about this: https://readtheplaque.com/plaque/the-toronto-recursive-history-project. I presume Randall was inspired by that as well. RandalSchwartz (talk) 03:10, 8 May 2023 (UTC)

The theme that certain things are cheaper and easier than you think was also featured in https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1965:_Background_Apps with regard to Airplane Banners. -- 07:32, 8 May 2023 (UTC)

This also seems pertinent BBC News - Powys: Spoof £25,000 airport sign makes a welcome return https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-65501398

Does anyone think this was inspired by the "on this site/Sept 5, 1782/Nothing happened"?