On the Brink of the New Year

“Who, and what are you?” Scrooge demanded.
   “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”
   “Long past?” inquired Scrooge….
   “No.  Your past.”
…[Scrooge] then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.
   “Your welfare!” said the Ghost.  
A Christmas Carol  –Charles Dickens 


“For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”

“Auld Lang Syne” –Robert Burns

Looking back; looking forward.  
Be honest about failings; celebrate the good; be patient with yourself and others.  And raise a cup of kindness to all.
Happy New Year.

Winding Down the Year

New Year’s is a time for lists:  Best of, Worst of, Top 10’s, What’s In, What’s Out, What’s Hip, What’s Not, Resolutions, Remembrances, Things to Do.
It’s been a wild year.  And in the next four weeks, after carpeting and painting are completed, we’ll be moving for the second time in six months.  I confess that this has somewhat dampened my enthusiasm for energetically pledging myself to a year of self-improvement.  So, here’s a list I’m borrowing from Cold War Era CIA operatives called The Moscow Rules.  It’s not a definitive list (if anyone ever wrote this down it must have self-destructed), but it’s enough.  Here’s to 2007.

The Moscow Rules 

  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don’t look back; you are never completely alone.
  5. Go with the flow. Blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don’t harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.


It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the kids and I had gone to one of the local malls.  My son had escaped to wander on his own while his sister and I looked around various clothing shops.  We looked in the All American Mountain-Themed preppy clothing store where they had the thermostat turned way down to encourage purchases of their winter clothing line.  We skipped the California Beach-Themed preppy clothing store, and stopped at the Lighter Brighter Slightly Younger Less Overtly Sexual preppy clothing store (upstairs, overlooking the giant snow globe with the dancing penguins).

We browsed the sweaters and the henleys and the hoodies and the fleece jammies, and were on our way out when we spotted the cutest little girl standing in front of the mirror.  She was maybe 4 years old with beads braided into her cornrows, and she was admiring the green and white scarf draped about her neck.  As she turned to take in the full effect of her elegance, I noticed that what she was really wearing was a pair of green and white pajama bottoms with the seat behind her back and one leg on each side of her neck.  With great drama, she tossed the left leg across the opposing shoulder, gave a satisfied look in the mirror, and strutted off to find her mother.

Which just goes to show, you can wear almost anything if you wear it with style.

Silent Night of the Living Dead

Remember the year when those inflatable lawn ornaments first came out?  Away with the plastic soldiers and manger scenes…

There’s an eery quality to this year’s Christmas.  You see it when you’re driving around during the day.  Yards filled with deflated creatures:  Santas, Snowmen, Grinches and their assorted minions–waiting for dusk and the flip of a switch to let them rise up from the earth in a Silent Night of the Living Dead.  All night long they tower above the yard; then daylight comes, and they return to the earth and wait.

…and what about those skeletal reindeer nodding their bleached white heads on suburban lawns?

Christmas Wonders

from December 4th… 

I love my species.

There is nothing can match a human for ingenuity, and there is nothing quite like this week’s Linens-n-Things flyer to demonstrate the quirky creativity of the human creature. Right there on the front page you have a neon-and-bubble-lights-beat-to-the-music iJuke iPod jukebox (only $249.99, tho’ Target will sell you a taller one for $499.99), a crane game candy dispenser (why settle for a fancy dish?) and the NEW! Rival beverage fountain. How much fun can we add to eating Star Mints, drinking punch, and listening to tunes? Well…lots. If you don’t want to go retro with the iJuke, just turn the page you can find the Hip Pop Pets iPod speaker system (frog, pig, or dog–purple dog also available), or the i-flops Sports Fanatics that will let you plug your music source into a plush, headphone-wearing soccer ball, football, or basketball.

And if the RIVAL beverage fountain wasn’t what you wanted for this year’s Holiday Party, an equally creative person has designed the 7-shaker drink wheel that looks like a cocktail Ferris wheel, but alas, doesn’t actually rotate. (Tho’ perhaps if you purchase the Drinko Shot Game featured just below it, the wheel will appear to turn.)

For a more practical Christmas gift we might look to the Cordless Power Grill Brush with rotary brush designed for those too weak to brush and scrape the grill manually. Or you can purchase the battery powered Black & Decker ScumBuster (with nine attachments) for those of us who have waited waaaay to long to clean the shower. And to soothe the aching shoulders of the folks who didn’t receive such thoughtful gifts, HOMEDICS makes the Mini Massager in a variety of cheerful alien shapes and colors–Great stocking stuffer!

The whole flyer is filled with strange and wonderful items to satisfy your heart’s desire or your current whim; gifts when you’re trying desperately to find something novel for the hard-to-please. There’s the ROOMBA Discovery vacuum (is there a camera? what does it discover besides dirt?) and the Faraday Flashlights (As Seen On TV. No batteries needed, just shake to recharge) and the Digital Picture Frame displaying both slideshows and videos (a MUST for every cubicle). I’m telling you, it’s a 20-page creative rush. Can’t wait to see what shows up next week–because really, you can’t beat the Christmas Season for showing us all just how marvelous the human race can be.


A few years ago on a family trip to England, I started writing up some of my cultural observations and sending them back to friends and family via email.  The trip ended, but the writing continued, and some folks encouraged me to share my thoughts with a wider audience.  So, after much encouragement–and some prodding, I’m now sending email to the world.  Don’t take it for more than it’s meant to be.  I’m just musing.