Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Challenge For A New Year

Life is returning to normal after two funerals and L's return to the mountains for business, just in time for this year's final Writer's Challenge from Mama Kat. This weeks topics include:
1.) Your pet wants to guest post on your blog.
(inspired by Matthew at Child’s Play x2)

2.) You wake up one day with an unusual super power that seems pretty worthless—until you are caught in a situation that requires that specific “talent.”
(inspired by Writer’s Digest)

3.) Write about a speech you gave at a wedding.
4.) Write a letter to someone you received poor customer service from.
(inspired by Lynsey from Sassy & Southern)

5.) This time I really MEAN it! It’s time to list your New Year’s resolutions for 2010.
(inspired by Margaret from Nanny Goats In Panties)

 So without further delay, let's see what comes out!

#1 - (Molly the dog here filling in for my master)

What is the problem you have understanding my requests for chewies? I know you can interpret my look as I gaze adoringly at you, eyes large and irresistable as the sun goes down. I know you know what I want. Especially since you oft times tell me "Not now." or "Too early."

I have to tell you that it is never too early for the wonderful taste of a chicken infused rawhide chewie. Have I ever refused one? Heck, even when I haven't ventured forth from my bed all day, I still eagerly hop and jump at the sound of the magical words "Want a chewie?" It is always time for a chewie. So how can you even attempt to tell me it isn't? How can you? Huh? Huh? What?

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there. My master just asked me if I wanted a chewie. Now what were we talking about?

#2 - I can remember as I grew into the strength of my power. It seemed so useless. Who really wanted to be blessed with the ability to forget anyone's name within seconds of hearing it. I might have known you for forty years, but the second anyone asked me your name, all there was was a complete blank. I became an expert at bestowing nicknames just because I couldn't remember names. Thus my life was filled with stinky and shorty and goofy and ... precisely because I could not remember anyone's name.

But then one foggy night, my worthless super-power came to the fore. It began when Santa came asking for help on his delivery route. I was put in charge of the "naughty, not nice" list. It seemed to be a real mistake by the jolly man in red, but I was prepared to do my best. The way the list worked was simple - if the list holder read your name on the list, they then knew you and your name. If they knew your name, you had been naughty and got a lump of coal or less.

It was clear that Christmas Eve might be a bit different with me in charge of the bad list. Every person I saw was a complete blank as to name. I could have known them all my life, but when I saw them I drew a complete blank, even after reading the list. And unfortunately, Santa used a very poor phraseology to ask if the person was on the bad list: "Do you know this person?"

It led to some odd gifting choices. Even axe murderers on death row got presents. Heck, even dogmatic partisan politicians were gifted. So if you got more and better gifts than you deserved when you opened packages on Christmas morning, it is because I didn't know your name. So I inadvertently made the day using my super-power. After all, since everyone, be they naughty or nice, got presents form Santa, the main cause of sibling rivalry was eliminated. Billions of parents enjoyed a peaceful day without the constant squables of the kids claiming one another got more or better gifts. And at least one axe murderer vowed to restict his work to Thanksgiving turkeys in the future! (Sorry, partisan politicians are just plain unredeemable.)

#3 - I have never given a speech at a wedding, so this one is going to get a skip.

#4 - Here it is (from this post)

Dear Ms. Salesperson:

I appreciated your cheerful insistence on talking to me today with that "important news" about better online storage strategies, but I did not care for the way you ignored my protestations of "Not interested!" and "Goodbye!" I especially did not care for the fact that you felt compelled to call me back after I pointedly hung up the telephone. It would seem that me telling you that I am not interested should be enough for you to cease and desist. Since it wasn't and you called to interrupt me yet again, I am taking the time to write you this letter.

Because of your ill-mannered and ill-considered actions, I will never consider the purchase of any product from you or XYZ, Inc. The lack of consideration for purchase will also extend to any of my clients who seek my opinion on the products of XYZ, Inc.

I hope you will share this letter with your supervisor and the president of XYZ, Inc. I have taken the liberty of assisting you in sharing by sending them a copy of this letter for their files under separate cover.


My Real Name

#5 - I don't normally do New Year's Resolutions, but just for you I herewith present my 2010 Resolutions:
  • I resolve to worry less and enjoy life more.
  • I resolve to treat others with the respect they show me.
  • I resolve to talk to Molly the dog more.
  • I resolve to stop and smell the roses.
  • I resolve to learn as many new things as I can.
  • I resolve to conquer a fear - maybe nude skydiving?
  • I resolve to become more organized.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This afternoon I was watching a football game with Molly asleep at my feet and L napping in another room. As I sat there, the thought struck me that it just doesn't get any better than this. The year passing behind us may have been filled with ups and downs and challenges, but having the people you love safe and sound and being able to relax with your nearest and dearest has to be the best of all possible worlds. Of course, life would have been better if the Broncos would finally act like a real team and win.

L had a number of pictures in her cell phone when she arrived here for Christmas, so I figured I'd share a few.

First up is the lighting of the Breckenridge Christmas Tree from earlier in the month:

It is a tradition in the community to hold a lighting of the tree. Always well attended even when the temperature is well below zero!

And then of course there was the Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge which L just had to trek out and go see in person in the wind and cold.

There were others, but L managed to photograph her thumb in them.

Finally, there was this picture of a life-sized bust that the Son and his friend managed to inherit and which now sits in L and the Sons living space.

Recognize the face? Nothing like having Ronnie's smiling mug to scare you at night as the moonlight gleams from his greenish bronzed face.

Oh, those of you who were curious as to why I got a roll of toilet paper with a note in it all gift-wrapped - well, I made the mistake of mentioning to mom one day that a certain periodical went immediately from the mail box to the bathroom since it was ideal light reading. So the roll of toilet paper with the cryptic "this goes with the real gift" was the clue to let me puzzle out that mom was gifting me with a renewal to the periodical in question. You have to stay on your toes in this family to know what you got from whom.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Santa must have recovered from his pre-flight routines in time to complete his rounds. His database must have crashed though, I didn't get a lump of coal!

Question of the day: why did I get a wrapped roll of toilet paper with a note in the center that said "the real gift goes with this"? At least it wasn't this classic knit Cthulhu mask:

I know that Santa is tired today - if for no other reason than the fact he has the wrong date on his calendar.

Of course that may be because of his legal troubles with Mrs. Claus:

Or it might even be the scurrilous campaign being conducted against him by the religious right:

What do you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Prepares for the Eve Ahead

Santa begins preparations for the long cold journey ahead.

(Borrowed from Lee.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Will Christmas Spirit Return?

Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house there was no sign of Christmas, not even a grouch.

To understand why, we have to go back in time, to when Santa began his delusional last trip last year.

Of course this led to complications with the staff.

Which meant that the normal holiday trek was more problematic than usual. The first replacements left much to be desired.

But with the help of slightly shabby fake reindeer and unleaded high-test, the Eve of note got underway.

It was not without problems along the way. The first little hiccup was the lack of suspension on the high octane sled.

But that was minor compared to how the evening came to an ignominious end.

Santa spent many months in recovery and thought.

While he was resting and healing (and getting a tan), he decided to modernize the traditional van.

Then he added a new staff.

(Who were not at all fired up!)

Will the new and improved Santa and crew make the journey to deliver  Christmas spirit tomorrow?

Will Christmas Eve be a blast or bust?

Stay tuned for further reports as the event progresses.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Weather Outside Is ...

The weather outside is frightful, ...

Not really. It is cold and starting to blow, but the snow has not yet started. The weather critters are now predicting the snow to start in the early AM tomorrow. That is a shame because the funeral and interment of our friend's mother is tomorrow morning. We'll have to see if it is as raw and blustery as predicted. I hope not. I would be happy if it held off until Christmas Eve, but I suspect my wishes will have little effect.

Today it got up to a blazing 35 after yesterday's 60 degree balm. Since most of the snow was melted for the first time in a while, it was a good opportunity to perform poop patrol in Molly's yard. I've never figured out how a medium sized dog can poop so much. I think babies and dogs must poop their body weight every few days. In any case, since the temperature was above my shorts threshold of 20 degrees, I was out cleaning the yard in shorts and jacket. Is it any wonder my neighbors think I may have a few screws loose?

L heads down from the mountains tomorrow for Christmas here. I am really looking forward to that. The Son will be working in the mountains over the holidays. For some reason this year seems not to have the normal Christmas feel about it. I'd assume it was just me, but other people have mentioned the same feeling. Maybe we are all just turning into old curmudgeons.

Time to get some real work done.  I'll leave you with this thought:

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Potpourri of Odd Things

Yesterday could have been called Black Sunday in these parts. A friend's mother passed away in the morning. And then one of my uncles lost his battle with cancer in the afternoon.  My sympathies to both families as they deal with death and Christmas in the same week.

Then we come to today. The temperature was close to 60 degrees and much of the snow and ice melted away. But ... the weather critters are now predicting a big snow for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (In fact, one of the weather critters is predicting a blizzard on Christmas Day for here and the area to the east.) Would it have been too much to ask for the nice weather to hang in there for a bit. Now the most reliable of the weather critters is predicting snow starting tomorrow evening and continuing all day Wednesday and then blowing and snowing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Oh and a glorious 18 for the high on Christmas. Guess I'd better quit hoping for nice weather or it will be 20 below and blizzarding.

Now that I have been all gloom and doom and caused glazed eyes in those of you still reading, it is time for some humor. I subscribe to a great little paper full of sarcasm, humor and snark called Funny Times. It features everything from essays by the likes of Dave Berry, political cartoons, and just plain fun. One of my favorites is Jon Winokur's Curmudgeon column. Each month he choses a topic and then presents a number of quotes pertaining to the topic. Usually I know about half the quotes, but sometimes it is a complete skunk. So I herewith present 5 quotes that I actually knew from this months column on the topic of Washington, D.C.:
Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm. - John F. Kennedy
Washington is a very easy city for you to forget where you come from and why you got there in the first place. - Harry S. Truman
Being a Chicago Cubs fan prepares you for life - and Washington. - Hillary Rodham Clinton
After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood. - Fred Thompson
The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin. - Jay Leno

So what is your favorite quote about Washington, D.C.?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Coffee Rant

I am sure that some of you are old enough to remember when the standard can of coffee was three pounds. No ifs, ands, or buts about it - the big can was three pounds. Then in the eighties, the can started shrinking as the price of coffee rose.

Old news you may well think. But ... have you noticed how the various coffee companies now try to cheat even more? You normally assume that the large cans (or plastic jugs) of ground coffee have similar amounts of coffee contained within. Not so!

The topic came up in an indirect way the other day. Mom intercepted some of my used plastic coffee jugs before they could be recycled to wash them and use them to hold gifts of Chex Mix. We were using the Maxwell House blue plastic jugs and the comment was made by mom that she wondered how much the Folgers red plastic jugs held compared to the Maxwell House jugs.

Last night I visited the stack of cans for reuse/recycling on my back porch to answer that very question. And I was dismayed at the chicanery being practicied by Folgers. In particular the Maxwell House blue jug carries 2 lbs. 1 oz (33 oz.) of coffee while the Folgers has just 1 lbs. 11.8 oz. (27.8 oz.) of coffee. So there is 5.2 oz. more coffee in the Maxwell House blue plastic jug.

Now consider how the cans look from the front:

and then with the handle cut-out showing on the Maxwell House can:

To the naked eye, you assume they hold the same amount with the handle cut out on the Maxwell House jug making up for its slightly longer side and height. But they don't. The Maxwell House can holds roughly 18% more coffee than the Folgers can. They generally cost the same at the local store and to me are the same grade and taste of coffee, so which one should I buy?  It seems pretty obvious to me that the sneakiness of the Folgers can loses.

What kind of packaging sneakiness have you spotted recently?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Five Oddities, Facts, and Rants

Time for a varied bag of oddball things; some factual, some rants.

#1 - Most misleading headline:
This week's issue of the IEEE Spectrum Online (an emagazine for engineers) featured a story with the running title "Radioactive Cyborg Insects". Sounds like something out of science fiction or perhaps Chernobyl. But, when you click through to the actual story, you get the utterly boring and much tamer "Nuclear-Powered Transponder for Cyborg Insect." I was really hoping to read about the mutant spawn of Chernobyl ala the comics. Darn!

#2 - Rant:
Commenters who do not hook their name to either their website or email address. It makes it almost impossible to respond directly to your comments if you haven't connected the dots. You know who you are.

#3 - Rave:
Last I checked, it is still above freezing tonight. It was near 50 today during the sunlight. There is a good chance that the ice and slush on the streets may indeed be gone in time for Santa's visit!

#4 - Odd fact:
Winter Solstice this year occurs on December 21 at 17:47 UTC. For those who are a bit astronomically challenged, it means that the day length shortening then begins to turn to lengthening. Yay for more daylight on the way next week!

#5 - My new job:
All the new job guessers kept heading off into the sage brush with my admitted red herring hints, so here is the real scoop.
I am now the Executive Director of the Logan County Humane Society. I was a founding board member and have been on the board of directors for years, so this is a natural step as we begin construction on our new facility thanks to the generosity of local donors. (And thus the red herring clue that I was out putting in orange stakes in a sage brush field. We were marking the new facility site so the soil engineers could do their core drilling tomorrow.)

It is an interesting and challenging time. I am the first Director in LCHS history, so I am starting a lot of activities from the ground up. Coupled with the construction our first LCHS facility, my time is going to be a bit short for a while.

As a side note, this is the first time I have ever had a use for those FEMA ISC certificates I collected via training over the years as mayor. Who knew they were required for things like AEMP training?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cross and Other Things

This week's Writer's Challenge from Mama Kat offers these finger tickling topics:

1.) Summer’s recent post “I’m Sensitive And I Want To Stay That Way” talks about how her sensitivity works for her and against her, but that she embraces herself for the way she is. What is your cross to bear?
(inspired by Summer from Le Musings Of Moi)

2.) What is one of your life mottos?
(inspired by Marcy from The Glamorous Life Association)

3.) How do you deal manage the “death” talk with your kids?
(inspired by Ashley from Ashley’s Closet)

4.) Describe a funny or favorite gift that you’ve gotten or have given.
(inspired by Kat from I Play It By Year)

5.) Is your husband a gamer? Does your child have an obsession with dogs? (ahem) Does your friend talk constantly of her undying love for Edward? Write a poem to the item your loved one is obsessing over.

So off we go to the writing races.

#1 - My cross is that I cannot stand to not know and understand. I am driven to know how things work and why. I read and study voraciously - especially science and math. Thus far you are probably shrugging your shoulders and asking how in the heck that is a cross to bear. Well, the bearing comes from the fact that when you have ingested so much knowledge, you cannot help but answer questions.

When someone rhetorically asks "Why is the sky blue?" you cannot help but answer Raleigh scattering. Which then often leads to the exclamation "I can't believe you knew that!" But after about the ten thousandth time you take all the fun out of it by answering the question, people are apt to either groan or to stop believing. And then when you prove it to them, it becomes even more intolerable.

But I have learned to live with this cross. Anymore if I give someone the answer and they refuse to believe, I just tell them to look it up. It is enough for me to know. And I can also use my skills for other things, like this:

This is our Trivia Bowl Team holding the trophy after winning the annual contest for the third or forth straight time earlier this year.

Actually, I introduced the picture primarily to introduce some of my fellow afflictees. From left to right, we have:
1) A lawyer, CPA, and high school classmate from 37+ years ago
2) A high school teacher who taught one of the Son's AP courses
3) Me in all my wondrous glory
4) Another person of many arcane knowledge facets
5) A financial advisor, CPA, and high school classmate from 37+ years ago
6 A surgeon and fellow animal lover
We have been the champions 5 out of the last 6 years. (One year we had too many subs and came in second by *one* question.) This is one way to turn a cross into an asset.

#2 - My life mottos are simple:
"Be the best you can be."
"If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly."

#3 - We never really had a "death" talk with the Son. It was more the passage through experiences with death as he lost both of his grandfathers. In both cases there was a period of increasing debility from cancer in one case and Alzheimer's in the other. When my dad died, my mom had a very good idea and took all the grandkids aside and had them chose things to be buried in the coffin with their grandfather. Thus dad had the things the grandkids deemed important to him and their relationship with him placed in the coffin with him. Things like fishing gear and ... It seemed to help them accept the finality of his death and make them feel like they had a chance to say their good-byes and participate in the send-off. I think it was very effective for all of the grandkids no matter what their age.

#4 - One of the funniest and more memorable Christmas gifts came from a beloved aunt when I was in college. This particular aunt had a wicked sense of humor and great ability in handcrafts. So that year she hand knitted warmers for "that certain part of the male anatomy" and the associated hangy bits in correct anatomical form and interesting colorations. She then stuffed them with paper so they held their shape and wrapped them up for all the males in the adult gift exchange. The looks on everyone's face as people pulled their gift from the wrapping and realized what it was made it all worthwhile. I always figured it was fitting. And boy did I have stories to tell when I got back to college after Christmas - especially when I could pull the real thing out of the dresser to silence the scofflaws. {*grin*}

#5 - It's getting late and I'm giving in to my obsession with the bed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Ghost of the Past

I was back in my old stomping grounds tonight, appearing before the city council on behalf of my new job. It would give all the habitat-for-humanity guessers false hope if they knew that much of the time was spent on the intricacies and failings of the current zoning code in the city.

You'd have been proud of me. I kept my presentation short and to the point. (Especially since the water engineers in front of me were scheduled for a 35 minute talk and it ran to over 100 minutes - not that I was counting or anything. {*grin})

I did get a chance to give the new council and city manager a hard time. At the entry to the council chambers is a rogue's gallery of photos of the council and the mayor, etc. I noted that according to the rogue's gallery, I was still the mayor as it was still my picture hanging there. That got a couple of mutters of "Omigosh, we haven't changed that yet!" out of the staff. That is what happens when you are mayor for three terms - they forget how to handle the transitions. {*grin/2*}

After that, I stopped by mom's on the way home to pick up a bunch of stuff from her freezer. I'd promised her I'd do so. That way she'd have space to clean one of her freezers. More to get things organized than cleaned - at least so it seems to me. In any case, my solo freezer is now full to the brim with all the additional stuff. I have even begun to suspect that there is creature living on the bottom of my freezer. It has been that long since I've seen the bottom. Probably won't until summer gets here and then it is time to reload.

Today was wonderful since the temperature finally got above freezing for the first time in a bit and some of the snow started to melt. I keep my fingers crossed in hope that it will finally get rid of the sheets of glare ice covering the roads and parking lots. It would be nice to have that cleared away before the next snow storm wonders in. We'll have to see. I still don't think it will be warm on Christmas Day, but a man can hope.

The next hint for the job guessers: I was a founding board member of the organization and think I have actually mentioned it here on the blog once or twice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Only 10 Days Until Santa Comes

Sunday afternoon was the Master Chorale Christmas concert. It is always a big event with everything from operatic renditions of classic carols to rock and jazz based carols. A great couple of hours of live voice and instrument to lighten the soul for the holidays.

I was supposed to meet mom at the venue, but I ended up being a few minutes late when Molly turned into a stinker dog and wouldn't come in. (Anyone want to adopt a dog?) So when I got there, mom and friend had already entered the auditorium and been seated. This being a small town, one of the usherettes motioned to me to enter on the left side of the auditorium and said mom and crew were in the left section about 2/3 of the way down. The directions were a bit off, but I found them after the intermission and sat with them for the second half of the show.

I am one of those people who suffers voice envy when I hear people sing and carry a tune. I have a lifetime ban levied against my person by L and the Son that prohibits even thinking of singing in the shower, let alone singing aloud. But even for the terminal vocal disaster like me, there is something especially moving about the massed voices of a choir that plays with the heart strings. Everyone should attend at least one chorale or orchestral event during the Christmas season. It does your inner being good.

In other news, today was the first official day in my new job. Since the press announcements haven't gone out yet ('cause I'll probably end up writing them myself), I can't say much about what the job is right now. Suffice it to say that I am now the CEO/Executive Director of a not for profit organization. For a total red-herring as to what the organization might be, I'll leave you with this hint: I spent part of this afternoon as part of a crew stumbling around in snow covered sage brush with wind chills in the single digits using a tape measure, hammer, stakes, and orange paint. Any guesses?

(Notice how the title had nothing to do with what was written. That's because I liked the title all by itself.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Trivia Time

Have you ever been on the cover of a magazine? I have, several times. But the most recent is from the December Issue of a magazine you may not read. Remember back to this post when I chaired my last meeting as President of District 1 of the Colorado Municipal League? The meeting was held at the arch rival town up the road because they wanted to show off their renovation project. Well, the project ribbon cutting they celebrated pre-meeting made the cover of Colorado Municipalities magazine:

Can you spot me in the picture? Remember that I was the mayor of the arch-rival city at the time, so don't look for me in the front ribbon cutting row. {*grin*} (I apologize for the graying the glossy paper caused in the scan, but if you click to see the picture full size it is a bit clearer.)

While you ponder away, I'll resume watching the football game. Let me know when you give up.

Football game is over. Give up now?

Finally ready to give up? Well look at this version of the cover with my fine artistic modifications:

The two bodies so blatantly outlined in red are my city manager and myself. I am the big one on the right side.

Okay, okay. I admit it was sort of a hoax to say I was on the the cover of this issue, but it piqued your curiosity didn't it?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You Live In ....

Living in a small town has interesting side effects the you might not think of in the city. So herewith are a few gems.

The FedEx and UPS guy(s) know your name and your habits - and if you're not home they will track you down elsewhere to deliver. When L was pregnant with the Son, we walked over to the Medical Center for an appointment with the OB/GYN. As we walked out after the appointment, there was Dave the FedEx guy with a package. He'd been by the house and since we weren't home he figured we might be over at the OB/GYN.

Your neighbor shovels your walk because he knows you are out of town. And a different neighbor plows the street with his truck because he knows the city snow plows are busy elsewhere.

You know what 4-H and FFA are.

You are in the parking lot of the local big box and notice a shotgun shell casing lying on the ice where they fell out of someone's pickup. Like this from today:

And your first thought is someone was goose hunting this morning.

You arrive home to a message on the house phone that begins "Daaan" and you know who the caller is before the second word is out. That's because there are only two people who have ever pronounced your name with quite that sing-song, and the younger one is near ninety. And when the message continues on "I'm at 555-5555 but I will be at home later in the day a 555- oh drat, 12 something, Just call me at home." you know immediately who it is. He hasn't remembered his home phone number in the 40+ years I've known him. And even if I didn't recognize the "Daaan", I could tell anyone in town that someone called and couldn't remember their home number but wanted a call back and they'd say "Oh, that's Frank at 555-1234."

P.S. Sorry for no post yesterday, but I was at a party where Santa came and gave me a present or two, at least one in the nature of that anti-freeze known as Crown Royal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Philosophical Questions

It is sifting fine powder snow at the moment, but there is little wind so conditions are actually quite fine. Here is Molly standing in the 0 degree weather and asking why I am not joining her in frolicking in back yard.

She is clearly disappointed that I won't venture out to help her scout for squirrels. I didn't have the heart to tell her that squirrels seldom frolic on days like today. If I were a faster photographer, I might have been able to capture Molly rolling in the snow and then laying on her back in the snow. With all that long white fur, cold never seems to bother her. (And I love the powder because it leaves rooster tails behind her as she sprints out to the tree hoping to catch a squirrel unawares.)

Newsflash - the weather bug on my desktop finally hit 1 degree - a heatwave.

On a more philosophical note, I have a question that was triggered by an email after yesterday's re-appearance of the tattered moccasins. It seems some  shopping/retail organizations run web spiders to pick up blog posts that might tie in to their promotional efforts. Something about my worn moccasins tickled the fancy of couple, at least enough to generate an email or two. So the question posed is this: Would you run a giveaway on a non-giveaway blog?

I ask because we all obviously see giveaways on various blogs to increase readership, etc. And of course there are blogs that are primarily giveaway oriented. But for the small, non-commercial blog like this one, I run headlong into my belief that holding a once in a blue moon giveaway is a violation of the implicit contract with you the reader. It would seem that running a giveaway and forcing/offering following as a method of entry would indeed be a short lived gain when there was no more moolah forthcoming. Am I insane in my beliefs?

I already answered the emails in the negative for a giveaway on this site, so you don't have to worry about changing my mind. I am really more curious about the feelings and thought processes you undergo on the topic. Feel free to flail away in the comments or email. I've been called worse things than crazy before, so feel no compunction to hold back.

Time to get back to work. It will be interesting to see if the weather changes enough to impact the Christmas reception hosted by the college tonight. Only time will tell.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Back ...

Since I wussed out and went to bed early last night, I know you have been waiting with baited breath for this post. You can now breathe. I am here. {*grin*}
And did you know that the built in spell checking in most browsers doesn't grok "wussed out"? But it does grok grok and is happy to suggest wusses! I therefore conclude that the people who write the spell checkers are Heinlein fans with little exposure to everyday language. Now that I have insulted the all-powerful spelling Geeks, watch for the number of mis-spellings here to rise exponentially. I'm already preparing a burnt offering to appease them.

Since it is nearing noon and the temperature is finally close to hitting double digits (i.e. 10), I think we should celebrate. After all, this is supposed to be one of the warmer days this week, so a little

is in order to keep our spirits up.

We only got a dash of snow yesterday, less than 3 inches, but I loved it because it was dry powder snow. That meant when I walked out to get the paper Sunday morning, every step made that characteristic squee-scrunch that happens with powder snow when the temperature is near single digits. Made me want to traipse around making more squee-scrunches in spite of not having my coat on and wearing these moccasins in the sub-zero wind chill.

Note that Jenners feared I might wear these in public clear back here. (Just to allay her fears, no one else was out in the cold and snow at the time.) It was fortunate that we didn't get more snow or the open toe design modification would have failed when packed with snow.

The weather forecasters are predicting we won't reach 20 for the high until Friday or Saturday, so most of the snow we have will sit and glow in the brilliant sunlight. I love that blinding glare when it is clear and cold and snow covered. I suppose I'd better enjoy it today since tomorrow is supposed to be interesting*. At least it is not forecast to be the blizzard conditions forecast for the areas to the south of us.

Time to get some more work done. I need to get some stuff finished for the Scout committee meeting tonight and then get busy. Don't eat any yellow snow.

*Issued by The National Weather Service
Denver/Boulder, CO
11:35 am MST, Mon., Dec. 7, 2009




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Five Rants and Raves

Since Angela seems to have dropped off the face of the earth in recent weeks, I've decided to temporarily suspend the Friday High Five. We'll see what the new year brings to determine if it returns.

Today I want to rant and rave a bit instead. To set the mood, let's begin with a little Stray Cats for visual inspiration

followed by this important admonishment

Rant - The wind and the cold has Molly the dog pacing the floors and being a real needy girl. This is despite the fact that we went out for a five mile walk in the 4 degree wind chill today. It was cold enough that we were the only people out walking. The gusty wind out of the north had both Molly and I walking sideways to keep from exposing our faces when we headed north. (And Molly put her big bushy tail between he legs to keep warm when we faced south. I unfortunately am missing that appendage.)

Rave - There looks to be a good college football game on tonight. I am already beginning to suffer withdrawal as college football heads into the bowl season.

Rant - The weather forecast says it will warm up to highs near freezing for the next few days, but then fall back to a series of days with highs in the mid-teens. I really want this to be one of those years where Christmas is 70 degrees. I don't think the weather is going to co-operate.

Rant - The bird that kept clunking into the bedroom window this morning, hoping to come in out of the cold. It got Molly all excited and made me get up and shoo the bird on its way and calm Molly down. It sat there in the bush and looked so cold just a few inches from my face in the pre-dawn light. I had to wave my arms and jump up and down to finally get it to depart.

Rave - The stark beauty of the outdoors the last couple of days as Molly and I walked. There is something absolutely wonderful about the stark windswept plains when it is frigid that makes my heart soar. (And getting home to fix a warm bowl of soup - priceless.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 60's Return

This week's Writer's Challenge from Mama Kat offers these finger tickling topics:
1.) Verse by verse, dissect a favorite song you had in 7th grade.
2.) List 5 must have gifts you are purchasing for a loved one this Christmas.
3.) Open letter to Santa Claus.
4.) Describe how you would celebrate the holidays if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.
5.) Book review time! What winter read has you snuggled in and turning pages?
So off we go to the writing races.

#1 - I did this before in a different context, but to refresh your memory, one of my favorites from the psychedelic 60's was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly. This was my anthem in the late sixties and early seventies. Even today, it is not an uncommon occurrence to find me listening to the 17+ minute original version of the song. But the lyrics? Well ... it is with a deep sense of guilt and quasi-shame that I admit to loving a song that runs for 17+ minutes with these lyrics:
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, honey,
don't you know that I love you?
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby,
don't you know that I'll always be true?

Oh, won't you come with me
and take my hand?

Oh, won't you come with me
and walk this land?

Please take my hand!



So there you have it, a song that it is eminently OK to not listen to the lyrics in any detail. It is hard to explain how moving and powerful this song is to me, how evocative of a certain mood and time, and then to have to present those rather pointlessly pitiful lyrics is the ultimate letdown. The only analysis I have of the one complete verse is to love and be true - which is pretty good advice.

#2 - This is a non-starter since we aren't planning on any gift exchange this year. I suppose I could reply nothing five times in a row. {*grin*}

#3 - My open letter to Santa:
Dear Santa:

Please bring peace and joy and a cure of want to all those you touch in your journey. Any other gift is superfluous.


#4 - A trip to somewhere nice and sunny, staying in luxurious surroundings. Golfing daily in the morning and then to the beach or the forest or even just sight seeing and shopping in the afternoon, followed by going out each evening to a new and different place to dine. The best of all worlds and a complete escape from real life. (Hawaii comes to mind, but I am sure there are other destinations that offer similar amenities and beauty.)

#5 - Right now I am re-reading some of the Wodehouse tales featuring Jeeves. I always find them wryly amusing and fun to read. On the detective side of things, I am reading some 'new to me" books by Elmore Leonard (Tishomingo Blues) and Janet Evanovich (To The Nines). Somewhat less than my normal fare and completely lacking in my beloved Sci-Fi, but I've been reading less the last few weeks than is my normal wont.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ol' Man Winter

Today was on track to be another glorious late fall day - the sun was shining, temperatures were in the 50s, it was calm to breezy. Then Ol' Man Winter opened his gaping maw and turned on the wind machines. By the time Molly and I got out for our walk, the temperature was dropping 8 degrees a hour and the wind was blowing to drop the wind chill well below freezing. It caught me by surprise, but in retrospect it should not have. The weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow involves snow and large northern cold front settling in. As a consequence, it is supposed to be in the low 20s tomorrow and then drop into single digits as the night closes in. Winter is supposedly on its way. Now all we have to do is see if the weather critters are right.

Speaking of weather critters, am I the only one thinking of writing a "truth in weather critters" application? Since the weather forecasts generally come out in 7 day blocks  and are re-issued each day with new (and often a very different forecast for a given day), my thought is to capture the weather forecasts so one could have a little applet that not only gave you the prediction for tomorrow, but the associated trend line in how the weather critters are changing their predictions. I realize that if you live in SoCal, this is utterly boring since the forecast is always sunny except for those ten days a year when it says partially cloudy and the one day a decade when it says snow. But how about those who live where there is real weather. Doesn't it irk you to have the weather critters change their forecasts after you have made your plans. Don't you wish you could hold their feet to the fire? I sure do sometimes. Maybe even add a retrospective feature to show what the weather was and how close or far the weather critters actually were.

Time to get back to checking on the batch of turkey soup that the last of the holiday bird is fleshing out. Think cold and snow and we'll see if the weather critters get it right.
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