Saturday, December 25, 2004

santa arrived very early in the day

Saturdays are for sleeping in. On Saturdays, I don’t care if I ever see the morning sunlight. Christmas Saturday, however, is for getting up at 8:15 am at the insistence of my 12-year-old nephew. Ben labored for about half an hour making sure everyone actually got out of bed. I threw on a pot of coffee, but it wasn’t quite ready before we were herded into the family room to open our gifts. But it was fun!

Because of the snowstorm in the Midwest, the ipods Maureen and Jeff got for Kate and Ben didn’t make it—the were finally sent on from Indianapolis and got to East Boston—but there they’ll sit until Monday. Maureen gave them cards with pictures of mini ipods in them—it took a while for it to click with Ben that they would actually be getting them. He thought the picture was a tease—god forbid he would actually read what was written on a card [laughing].

Everybody seemed pretty happy with all of the presents, even the dogs. Stanley took photos while Ben passed out the gifts—here are three of them. I will get the others up sooner or later.

ben kate jeff maureen
Ben, Kate, Jeff, and Maureen

The animals were not excluded. Tattoo loved his present. And Ginger’s present too:


Twitch couldn’t quite figure out what all the commotion was about. He sneered at the dogs from beneath the tree after dismissing his toy, a Hilary chew toy, because it had too much dog spit on it.


It’s time for dinner in ten minutes!

posted by lee on 12/25/04 at 03:36 PM
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Sunday, December 26, 2004

sugar daddies, slo-pokes, other goodness ... snow

Stanley sent me a link to Hard-To-Find Grocer, with lots of stuff I thought disappeared long ago. They have Sugar Daddy suckers, and better yet, Slo-Pokes! No Bonomo Turkish Taffy though. In the store, they even sell Aqua Velva, Brylcreem, and Smith Bros. Wild Cherry Cough Drops (which made having a cold almost worth it to a seven year old).

He also sent me this blast from the past: TV Cream’s Top 100 Toys. #38 is Etch-a-Sketch, #35 is the Spirograph. I loved the concept of the Spirograph, but never could get the bloody thing to work right. I don’t even remember what other toys were on my xmas list other than I rarely asked for a doll. My favorite xmas gift of childhood was a Snow White watch. I loved that watch, with its yellow band. I wish I still had it. It came with a ceramic Snow White.

At any rate, we’re still in Massachusetts. We didn’t plan to be here still. We planned to be back home in Norwalk a couple of hours ago. Having got caught up in horrible traffic on the Sunday after Thanksgiving when we left mid-afternoon, we decided to wait until our usual departure time, around 7:00 or 8:00 pm, to head back. The weather reports were a couple of inches of snow. No big deal, sloppy, a headache even, but we have good tires.

More like six inches when we left at 7:00ish. Kate, my niece, had just returned from a visit with friends and told us the roads were treacherous. We decided to give it a whirl since I was scheduled for a physical at 9:15 am Monday that I really didn’t want to miss (I scheduled it ten months ago. Ten months I had to wait!) We figured if we could get to the Mass Pike, we’d be ok.

We didn’t even make it half a mile. Cars were fishtailing while going five miles per hour. Turning onto the road toward Natick Center was scary enough to make me have to pee—there is a church on that corner and I thought we’d end up in the first pew. Going up one hill took an eternity. All I could think of were those stretches by the Charles River and a cold, watery grave. We gave it up and headed back to my sister’s house, where she promptly said, “I told you so” while laughing. But we figured a physical wouldn’t do me much good if we were maimed or dead. Stanley would’ve tried it if I’d insisted, but I grew up in a state where you develop a healthy, lifelong respect for snow (Michigan). In some types of snow, there’s traction and driving may be slow, but it’s fairly safe. This snow is not that type of snow—it’s very fine snow that doesn’t pack because it’s too cold out, so no way to get traction.

Funny thing is, if we’d left mid-afternoon this time, we would’ve had a rough time of it on the Mass Pike, but there was no snow at that time in Connecticut. Jeff, my brother-in-law, made it to Norwalk (to visit his brother and to see an old friend up from Texas) and called to let us know it was ok. At least now my sister won’t have to worry about starting the snowblower—Stanley can do that!

Now all I have to do tomorrow is figure out how to reschedule my physical without having to wait months and months. Damn.

posted by lee on 12/26/04 at 08:26 PM
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Monday, December 27, 2004

home again at last

The forecast was for two to four inches. The result was more like a foot. Stanley, Kate, and Ben cleaned off the driveway so we could get out. It was cold—no more than 20 degrees. At least we didn’t get as much as they did on Cape Cod, which was more like 18 inches to, in some places, nearly two feet.

There was little heavy traffic on the way back, and the roads were good. Very little snow in Fairfield County—less than two inches. We listened to BBC World News for a good portion of the trip, and then more coverage of the tragedy in the Indian Ocean on NPR.  It’s hard to grasp the immensity of that disaster. I think we’ll make a donation to Doctors Without Borders or AmeriCares. It’s so horrible.

Snow everywhere
December 26, 2004 Nor'easter: The Day After


Stanley manned the snowblower
Stanley digs out


Ben helped, and had some fun with Tattoo
Ben and Tattoo


Stanley snapped this shot of Twitch getting his sun
Twitch gazing at the world

posted by lee on 12/27/04 at 03:58 PM
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Thursday, December 30, 2004

crossword puzzle

Stumbled upon a very interesting collection of calculators and related stuff done by web developer (I guess that’s his title) David Rose. Besides the fact that they work, I love his clean designs. Go ahead and try this crossword puzzle, but be aware that the little letter selector pops up close to the top of the page (at least in Firefox).

His professional website is Rose is also a photographer, and has a nicely done site with some of his photos for sale. Definitely worth poking around.

posted by lee on 12/30/04 at 09:55 AM
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Friday, December 31, 2004

Hey, W: What would Jesus do?

Frank Rich’s next column, Washington’s New Year War Cry: Party On!, focuses on the lack of sacrifice being made by this Administration, and consequently by the vast majority of Americans, in supporting our war. Washington parties hearty while soldiers are blown to pieces because their vehicles are not armored. Instead of an all-out effort to supply troops with what they need, the Bushies party and pretend everything is ok.

Roosevelt decreed that the usual gaiety be set aside at his wartime inaugural in January 1945. There will be no such restraint in the $40 million, four-day extravaganza planned this time, with its top ticket package priced at $250,000. The official theme of the show is “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service.” That’s no guarantee that the troops in Iraq will get armor, but Washington will, at least, give home-front military personnel free admission to one of the nine inaugural balls and let them eat cake.

I wonder how many humvees could be armored for $40 million?

Then, in the December 30, 2004 editorial, New York Times asks, “Are We Stingy?

President Bush finally roused himself yesterday from his vacation in Crawford, Tex., to telephone his sympathy to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and to speak publicly about the devastation of Sunday’s tsunamis in Asia. He also hurried to put as much distance as possible between himself and America’s initial measly aid offer of $15 million, and he took issue with an earlier statement by the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who had called the overall aid efforts by rich Western nations “stingy.” “The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill informed,” the president said.

And goes on to point out how little we spend on foreign aid, especially compared with Europe. On Nightline last night, Powell said the US gives more than any other nation. I’d like to see the per capita numbers.

Whatever the numbers, the $35 million promised is still less than the Bushies are going to spend on the coronation inauguration. That’s an awful lot of money to spend on nine parties (and it doesn’t include the bill for security), especially when there’s a war on and especially when the world is trying to deal with a disaster of the magnitude of the tsunami. I’m just wondering how the Compassionate Conservative and his also Christian wife could enjoy a ball while soldiers and children are being murdered in Iraq at his instigation and hundreds of thousands of people need help. How many water purification units, or shelters, be provided with that $40 million?

If the Bushies and other so-called Christians are really Christians, they should demonstrate this by calling off the parties, sticking to a simple swearing-in ceremony, and donating the $40 million to disaster aid. I would actually admire them for that. But I suspect their Christianity is professed for political expedience and is fundamentally bullshit. Hey, George: What would Jesus do?

posted by lee on 12/31/04 at 10:23 AM
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the best annual list (only one that means anything)

Merry new year. And now, without further ado, the only meaningful annual list (comments trimmed a bit because it would’ve been too long):

Lake Superior State University 2005 List of Banished Words

BLUE STATES/RED STATES – Who’s who, anyway?

FLIP FLOP/FLIP FLOPPER/FLIP FLOPPING – They belong at the beach, not in a political dialogue.

BATTLEGROUND STATE – “During an election, every state is a battleground.”—Austin White, West Hartford, Conn.

“… AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE” – Received the most nominations of the words and phrases that came out of the presidential election.

POCKETS OF RESISTANCE – “Are we talking about someone not buying a round of drinks or people shooting at each other?” – Rob of Crawley, West Sussex, UK.

IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE – As opposed to what used to be referred to as a bomb or mine.

ENEMY COMBATANT – “Makes no sense. Do we have friendly combatants? Neutral combatants? Or how about enemy bystanders? If they are your enemy, just say so.” – Bill Sellers, Hampton, Va.

CARBS – low carbs, high carbs, no carbs, carb-friendly… Meant ‘carburetor’ in a previous life. Needs to be purged from our system.

YOU’RE FIRED! – “…and the little hand movement, too!” – Jason Ranville, State College, Penn.

ÜBER – Nominated by many over the past few years.

‘IZZLE’ – SPEAK – By far, the abomination that received the most nominations. Some sort of ‘Rap-Latin’ suffix, as in fa’shizzle, which means ‘for sure.’

WARDROBE MALFUNCTION – “Janet Jackson’s bodice did not ‘malfunction,’” says John Wetterholt, Woodstock, Ill. “Justin Timberlake pulled too much and too far and I could hear the cogs turning in his publicist’s head trying to come up with that excuse!”

BLOG – and its variations, including blogger, blogged, blogging, blogosphere. Many who nominated it were unsure of the meaning. Sounds like something your mother would slap you for saying.

WEBINAR – for ‘seminar on the web.’

ZERO PERCENT APR FINANCING – sending a dollar to do a nickel’s worth of work. Michael Hehn, Ferrysburg, Mich. “They could just say ‘no interest.’

SAFE AND EFFECTIVE – “Try the new, clinically proven, safe and effective wonder drug you never knew you needed … Safe and effective should not be a selling point, it should be an FDA requirement!” CW Estes, Roanoke Texas.

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION – Do we need to hear about it daily on TV and radio, even on racecars? Firmly rejected by the committee.

JOURNEY – “Every single person on every reality show comments on how amazing the ‘journey’ was. Since when does dating a dozen nerds over a six-week span or conniving to win a million dollars over 15 other people qualify as a ‘journey’”? – Cindy, Victoria, British Columbia.

BODY WASH – “Also known as ‘soap.’”—Ray Hill, Jackson, Mich.

SALE EVENT – “Year-end sales are now ‘sales events.’ Now most have shortened it to ‘event.’ Does the sale exist any longer? ‘Hey, nice new Chevy, Bob!’ ‘Thanks, it was on event at the dealer last week.’” – Allan Dregseth, Fargo, ND.

ALL NEW – referring to television shows … “Of course it’s all new. Why can’t they just say ‘new’? There are no partially-new episodes, no repeat of last Tuesday’s episode with a slightly reworked Act 2.” – Greg Ellis, Bellevue, Wash.

AND MORE! – The merchants way of giving you something “value added.”

You, too, can submit a word for banishing by logging on to the LSSU website. They have plenty of time to read it all. Seriously, what else is there to do in Sault Ste. Marie, MI during the winter? Forget skiing—it’s flat there. Ice fishing maybe. Watching the freighters get stuck in the Soo Locks?

posted by lee on 12/31/04 at 09:21 PM
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