Monday, December 29, 2008

How'd that happen?

It seems like THIS year, they snuck New Year's Eve RIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS.

Oy.

Posted by Joke at 10:04 AM 5 comments

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's here! It's here! It's...

...Boxing Day!

Which means Boxing Eve Christmas Day is over. I know I have been very subtle about this, but I really do not enjoy Christmas. Not Christmas the Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savio(u)r. That one I like just fine. I mean, my Christmas...the Christmas I have to deal with.

Some highlights:

TFBIM and I got into a fight at Midnight Mass. (Apologized, patched things up and all is well.)

I had gotten TFBIM these earrings:Which she duly tried on, right there by the tree while she was still clad in her sleepwear. They looked great. She went to change that we might beging our annual Christmas schlepping around and as she took off her T-shirtlike top the sound* of something falling and skittering across the floor could be heard with amazing clarity. Yes, kids, one of the pearls, yearning for its cozy oyster bed home, decided to make a break for it. (It was retrieved, but now I must spend my Boxing Day arranging for an exchange.) This meant that when we gathered with people, TFBIM was unable to show off her new things.

Then at my sister's place, a place littered with steps and staircases and "lighting to enhance the ambiance," my dad** took a spill over some dark wood steps and nastily dinged his shin and that took some time as his first aid was sorted out.

At our first stop, some of the food was actually really good -- something of a Yuletide anomaly in my experience -- that perhaps I may have overindulged in the victuals. So today I am feeling a bit sluggish.

AND!

All that room we made a couple of days ago? Let's just say "nature abhors a vaccuum."

So that was that.

-J.

* TAP...tap...tap tap taptaptap

** Who is, alas, of advancing years, very rapidly declining health, and failing eyesight

Posted by Joke at 7:06 AM 6 comments

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Either...

...I'm getting older OR this was a particularly exhausting* Christmas.

More later.

-J.

* or, worst of all, both.

Posted by Joke at 9:00 PM 5 comments

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God bless us, everyone.

By the time I get back to these august pages it will be Christmas -- or as I say during my more mordant moments, Boxing Eve -- over here.

So I wanted to issue my official Christmas message to the world (WARNING: SENTIMENT TO ENSUE)

2008 was a bit of a tough year. While, yes, work hath given much suck, and my dad's health is declining, this is a navel-gazingish sort of statement, no doubt as most of my people are in good health, we're all together and we've not had to undergo the level of awfulness which have been the fate of other people. No hurricanes, no plagues, and just a bit of sinus trouble.

I have a gorgeous wife who, inexplicably, loves me. I have two (normally) wonderful sons. In most ways I have been blessed well beyond my deserving. I know this. Perhaps you've realized this way your own bad self. It's good to be reminded of this with regularity.

That said, I will be more pleased than not to have 2008 wrap up and leave me alone. I have lost some dear people, some through death and some who turned out different than I had thought and they sublimated out of my life as quietly as they entered it.

But!

I have been blessed with some stellar new pals in addition to the Usual Suspects. I take astonishingly little seriously, but my friendships are among those things I actually take with seriousness. Thank you all.

To all of you who have stuck around here, especially during the rough moments of the World Ending: Thanks. I am speechless -- not an easy feat, this -- with gratitude. You are all in my prayers and, old-school Catholic that I am, y'know there will be candle-lighting at some point.

Of course, being the old school Romish sort I am, you know I can't post something without a mention of Whose Birthday it is. As per Douay-Rheims (Protestant kids, feel free to substitute the KJV):

And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.
Let's keep in our thoughts and in our prayers all those whose Christmas will not be merry and bright. People who are estranged from family and friends, people who are suffering anxiety or depression, suffering from emotional or material deprivation, carrying the pains and scars of abuse and neglect. Let's never forget our individual moral obligation to those who need our help and concern. Let's not also forget all the blessings we have received, and let's not forget that chief among these are the love of family and the comfort of friends.

I wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases, spent basking in the warmth of loved ones and reflecting on the good in your life. Enjoy this honest but saccharine post, you shan't see its like for another year.

-J.

P.S. May Santa Claus/Father Christmas deal kindly with you, too.

Posted by Joke at 6:12 PM 7 comments

Four years!

(and two weeks)

That's how long I have been blogging.

I just noticed.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 1:11 AM 9 comments

Ho, ho, ho.







Season's Greetings.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 12:16 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behind schedule.

This year, for a number of different reasons -- including some nearly valid ones -- Christmas hath crept upon us as a thief in the night.

This means that a lot of stuff we normally do (i.e. that we do NOT fail to do) has gotten done late and amid much rush, with imprecations muttered under the breath. At least from my end of things. In my beloved's case there has been much motion -- none of it forward -- which allows her to labor under the misconception that movement equals progress.

But!

Because I am a fairminded sort, I shoulder half of the Christmas burdens. One task which was mine this year: the Making Room Thing.

For those of you "who cannot be arsed" to click, this is the day when we gather all the $#!+ toys accumulated since last Christmas, inspect ruthlessly and donate the stuff that simply isn't being used. People who oughta know better say Advent's not a penitential season (minor or otherwise) but will readily agree it is a preparatory season in which the believer makes room for the Holy Child. And making room means making some #$%&ing room. (Something that should be part and parcel of this set of beliefs is a "detachment from material things." That doesn't mean these are bad, just that we shouldn't develop an attachment thereto.)

Anyway, the stuff that is in new (almost always still in the original cellophane wrapping, to boot) is rewrapped and put under St. [Insert saint's name here] Church's "Giving tree" and will be given on Christmas morning to the underprivileged children in the poorer areas of our fair metrop.

(The other stuff is just donated in bulk. But that's another post for another Christmas.)

As a consequence of my worldview -- which may or may not be a particularly unique one -- I am of the mind that we are our brother's keeper and that task is (watch this closely, here) an individual moral obligation. So, it behooves me to actually do* something for my fellow man. It is also important for me to make sure my children actually latch on to the concept, as well. No matter how rough you have it, someone always will be worse off and if it is within your power to help, then help.

Also, because it was my turn to handle this task, I was a bit more...um...ruthless. Appeals to my pity to spare the FIFTH box of K'nex building sets, or the FIFTH Monopoly game or the SIXTH through NINTH Play-Doh playsets, etc. all were as seeds which, in the rocky soil that is my implacable will, could find no purchase. Off they all went.

You simply would not believe, if I told you, how much stuff (new, never opened, never given a glance since Dec. 25, 2007) was hauled away.

So here are some photos, that ye may believe indeed.

This is about 30% of the way into the packing extravaganza. The rules are the gifts must be wrapped and must state whether the gift is for a boy and/or a girl and the appropriate age range.

Here we are about 2/3 packed. Eagle-eyed readers will note those small bags were the ones I used as goody bags for TFBIM's party last year. (Glad the eBay seller sold me a gross of them!)

Here we see NOS carrying out bags aplenty on either arm. Eventually we had to make two trips.

And, here are gratuitous shots of our living room mit der tannenbaum

And a gratuituous shot of a test run of the tablescape in progress.

So there you have it.

-J.

* as opposed to "supporting something being done"


Posted by Joke at 9:00 PM 9 comments

...and to all, a good night.




-J.

Posted by Joke at 1:53 PM 0 comments

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Tis the season-ish


(The Mithras thing is bull$#!+, though, as Stephen Fry passingly alludes.)



Compliments of the season,

-J.

Posted by Joke at 7:50 PM 0 comments

No, seriously...

I mentioned something along these lines before, and now I'm worried maybe there's something in the eggnog.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 2:29 PM 0 comments

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ding Dong Merrily On High

UPDATE: Fixed THIS video as well. (Those YouTube @#$%ers.)




Be jolly, y'all.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 12:00 AM 0 comments

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Holly and, naturally, the Ivy - UPDATE

UPDATE: OK, I fixed the video.




It is a season, and I greet you.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 12:00 AM 0 comments

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If they all jumped off a cliff...

In lieu of actual bloggery, here you are, something stolen from everyone

Here's how I changed the rules, a bit.

a) Things you've already done: bold
b) Things you want to do: italicize
c) Things you haven't done and don't want to: underline
d) Things you just haven't done and feel neutral about: plain font

1. Started your own blog.
You tell me.

2. Slept under the stars. Once. I'm still in therapy.

3. Played in a band. Not for too long, as my prime objective was to make a hit with girls. All those guitar lessons down the drain.

4. Visited Hawaii. To look at DIFFERENT palm trees?

5. Watched a meteor shower. Yawn.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Probably.

7. Been to Disneyland/world.
More than I can recall for WDW, 5x for DL.

8. Climbed a mountain. No, thanks. (I know Scripture tells us to flee for the mountaintops, but I haven't quite gotten the "flee!" command yet.)

9. Held a praying mantis. Um, why, exactly, would I want to hold an insect?

10. Sang a solo (in the shower).

11. Bungee jumped. No. That sounds like a test-run for suicidals.

12. Visited Paris. France, meh.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. Nah.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Does hardcore chef-like cooking count?

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. Once. BAD.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. France. Meh.

20. Slept on an overnight train. Why did God create airplanes?

21. Had a pillow fight. I may have had a thought or two in that direction but, in my defense, I was young and foolish.

22. Hitch hiked. I once accepted a ride from a stranger, but I had run out of gas AND it was raining buckets.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Eons ago.

24. Built a snow fort. I was a snow ninja; we traveled light.

25. Held a lamb. Only by the rack, chops or leg.

26. Gone skinny dipping. Once, I believe.

27. Run a Marathon. I've never been chased that far on foot.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. That's for tourists.

29. Seen a total eclipse. Once. Meh.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Mostly the latter.

31. Hit a home run.

32. Been on a cruise. Once. Not as good as "OK" but better than "meh."

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. Once. Meh.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community. No, but I've seen 'em at the Reading Street market in Philly.

36. Taught yourself a new language. Italian. Not spectacularly, but yeah.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

39. Gone rock climbing. Not even indoors.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. And Cellini's, too.

41. Sung karaoke. Not with any sobriety .

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. Why?

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Done the "sent a bottle of wine over" thing, though.
44. Visited Africa. Not sure if I really want to do this.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. It was Spring Break and I was returning to my car. So, yeah, technically.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. Fingers crossed.

47. Had your portrait painted. As a child. I am shuddering at the whole concept.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I'm sensing a pattern here. I mean, really...

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeling. Meh.

52. Kissed in the rain. It may have been raining, I don't check the Weather Channel.

53. Played in the mud. Um...no.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. I used to love that when I was a kid. Then naked people started cropping up in movies sometime around the mid-1970s, and my parents immediately put a stop to that.

55. Been in a movie. I even directed it.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. I'm all about the capitalism.

58. Taken a martial arts class. Judo, if'n you're scoring.

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. They don't let boys.

62. Gone whale watching. I'm not good with "nature."

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
Um, no.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. Just the blood.

65. Gone sky diving. I'll just wait for the plane to land on its own, thanks.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. I did the the U.S. Holocaust Museum. That was pretty much as much as I could manage.

67. Bounced a check. In college.

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Not for lack of trying.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar.

72. Pieced a quilt. Um, no.

73. Stood in Times Square. Only because I was lost.

74. Toured the Everglades. Involuntarily.

75. Been fired from a job. Quit but never fired.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. I like London, but this isn't on my list of things to do.

77. Broken a bone. My arm.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. We weren't going THAT fast, but yeah.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Nature. Meh.

80. Published a book. I've published tons of articles, but I've never published a book, yet.

81. Visited the Vatican. Next time on a pilgrimage.

82. Bought a brand new car. Harrowing. Never again.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible. Yes. Not in any sequential way, though. I also haven't read those bits that are in the Orthodox canon that didn't make it to the Catholic canon.

86. Visited the White House. Back when you could.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Only the piscine kind.

88. Had chickenpox. When I was 30. Just as I was a newlywed. (Imagine the fun.)

89. Saved someone’s life. I've jumped fully dressed into a swimming pool when NTS fell in, once.

90. Sat on a jury. Almost. I usually carry some book or periodical which clearly illustrates my hidebound and reactionary politics and -- somehow! -- I don't get chosen.

91. Met someone famous. Yes. Mostly they were nice, except for Sam Waterston who was utterly, inexpressively odious. Loathsome.

92. Joined a book club. Not a joiner, really.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby. (Not directly.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person. Meh.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. Why?

97. Been involved in a law suit. Usually when a company files Ch. 11 and I have to get my money from those giftcards that are now useless.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee.

Posted by Joke at 8:54 PM 4 comments

TypePad, I hate you.

"You're not my real mom!"


Thought you all ought know.


-J.

Posted by Joke at 7:33 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is it just me, or...

...are there FAR fewer Christmas cards being sent out this year?


So far we have only received 4-5 which is WA-A-AY fewer than usual, especially given that we're only a week away from Christmas.


Discuss.



-J.

Posted by Joke at 11:33 AM 11 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Up is down, black is white...

From the Ya THINK? Dept.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 5:13 PM 0 comments

Monday, December 15, 2008

Better!

Having had a LONG trip, it is only natural that, upon my return, I ought succumb to the pestilence which had befallen the rest of my family.

There, now you're up to speed.

Blah.

-J.

P.S. From the "Stories We're Working On Dept.":

In the spirit of an examination of conscience, I'm trying to scratch out a post on all the biggish -- if I also include the smallish ones it'd take forever -- things I have done about which I am not especially pleased with/proud of myself. You ought not be even slightly surprised many of these involve young ladies.

Posted by Joke at 1:11 PM 8 comments

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Business trip.

Long hours. Limited connectivity. Back Sunday*.

-J.

* Monday for you Aussies.

Posted by Joke at 12:07 AM 0 comments

Friday, December 05, 2008

Where ARE they putting that mistletoe?

This gives a new meaning to "Ho, ho, ho."

-J.

Posted by Joke at 4:41 PM 5 comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This is NOT a contest.

I need to exact a minor vengeance. This vengeance will result in foodies getting freebies. If any of the assembled here would like to be considered to be among the foodies who get in on the freebies, please comment with your email address. (I promise to delete them as soon as I get 'em!)

-J.

Posted by Joke at 11:42 PM 9 comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lagging.

So, Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.

We marked this by being unable to locate and illuminate our Advent wreath. This means we begin our preparations to receive der Christkindl by being unprepared. That little outburst of irony was just for your amusement.

Now, seeing as we are woefully unprepared in the Adventiveness, I figured it only just and right for me to offer criticism of our betters in this regard. Ideally, you'd want three different sizes of the purple candles and you want to light the tallest one first, so that by the time you light the 2nd tallest, they'd all be +/- even. Please indulge me in that regard.

Oh, and for those of you who light said candles with more religious intent than average, it IS permissible to use scented candles. There are no guarantees you'll like the scent that emanates from the candles colored purple (or pink) but there you go.

At this rate, I'll be discussing Christmas Day on or about mid-January, and removing my outdoor lights around St. Patrick's.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 9:58 AM 8 comments