Friday, December 28, 2012

And a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody!

On Christmas Day, I developed a slight cough in the afternoon.  I thought it was related to our dinner in the oven -- I always cook our Christmas Turkey using the High Heat Method, which roasts the bird in record time BUT can make the home a little smoky unless the oven is spectacularly clean.  But no.  By the time my beloved Doctor Who Christmas Special was over I was running a fever of 102 and I've been sick with the flu ever since.  And this is AFTER my flu shot in October.

I'm hoping to be recovered by the time the new year rolls in, but if not (and in the meantime) -- have yourselves a very Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


For the first time in over two decades, we are actually completely ready for the holidays.

I know, right??!?

Cards were all sent by December 10th, packages mailed by the 15th, and our own presents wrapped and ready over a week ago.  I don't need anything last minute for the stockings.  I don't need anything from the grocery store until December 26th.  I remembered my sister's birthday and got her birthday present and card to her in time.  The outside of the house was decorated by November 30th, and the only reason the tree remained undecorated until December 15th was that we were waiting for my lovely daughter to come home for her Christmas break from University.

It's all done.

And you need to understand something:  we are never done early.  Never.  Not even a little bit.

One time, when Meg and I had been married for just a couple of years, she had a relatively easy rotation in her medical training in October and we got it all done for the simple reason that she was going to be absolutely hammered by medical school in November and December so we got it done when we could.  That was the last time.

It's weird.  I'm actually antsy because I have nothing to do until Christmas Eve.  This morning I actually made a huge batch of chili just to have something to do in the kitchen.  There are a couple of foodie things we need to do to make Christmas dinner go smoothly -- I like to have made the cranberry sauce ahead of time because I think it tastes better after a day or two in the fridge; I use orange zest and walnuts and brandy and -- much like the chili I made earlier -- it just goes down better after some time for all the flavors to meld.

I expect this probably won't happen again for another twenty-five years or so.

I hope you all have wonderful holidays.  No matter which ones you celebrate.  As an atheist at Christmastime, I can often feel like the proverbial long-tailed cat in the room full of rocking chairs -- one false move and I'm in deep trouble.  But this time of year isn't about arguing over how to greet each other ("Happy holidays?" Or "Merry Christmas?"  Jesus, or Solstice?)  It's about reconnecting with family and with the values that makes us human.  It's about remembering that we are meant to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated, not just now, but always.

I still weep for the families in Connecticut who have the heartbreaking wrapped presents under their trees that will never be opened.  I can't begin to fathom their pain.  My love for my child is as necessary to me as breathing.  And like breathing, it's something I have absolutely no choice over.  I chose my wife, my friends, most of the people in my life.  But my daughter owns a love from me so fiercely personal, so intense, so necessary that I can't imagine having it taken from me.

Treasure what you have.  Like Penn Jillette says in his new book, Every Day is an Atheist Holiday, "Everything in the world is enough.  I'm rejoicing that what scares me and breaks my heart is the beauty of what I have right now."  I come here often to bemoan the everyday tribulations of owning a dog I don't want, or an appliance or automobile that's broken down.  But know that I know how extraordinarily lucky I am.  I have a wife that loves me, a roof over my head, food in my belly and an amazing daughter who actually speaks her heart to me.

That makes for the very best Christmas anybody could possibly ask.  Even me.

From my family to you and yours, I wish you all the very, very best that the season has to offer, and a new year with far less contention and tragedy than the one we are finally leaving.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Tragedy.

Damn it, I am sick unto death of having to come onto this forum and bemoan another gun tragedy.  This is the worst by far.  Ten days before Christmas some idiot (and yes, I know his name, and no, I will not dignify him or immortalize him by printing it here) some idiot goes into an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and kills twenty kids, four adults and himself AFTER stopping to murder his mom, who was a teacher there.  He had a Glock and a Sig and Bushmaster rifle (the American AK-47) and I am sick, sick, sick of the gun debate.  It's time for the debate to end.  This bull with guns has to stop.  Period.

And don't tell me about the second amendment.  Screw your second amendment.  It was written for a different culture, a different society and a different time.  We no longer have to worry about invaders or despots coming down our streets and into our homes and requiring citizen militias to push them back into the sea.  We have an army and police and a national guard and they are all brilliant first responders and absolute geniuses at what they do.  They don't need me sticking my oar in.

Nobody needs an automatic handgun to hunt.  Nobody needs an automatic rifle for pest control.

And please be warned.  If I hear anybody say that they will take their guns when they pry them from their cold dead hands, I would respectfully direct their attention to the 40 cold dead hands that forty parents in Connecticut are weeping into.  Then I will punch the gun defender right in the face.  And if I hear anybody say that if THEY had been there with THEIR guns, "things would have been different" (yeah, you, nephew Steve) I will also punch them right in their face.  Right in their face.  Try me.

We only need guns for protection because there are so many føç≠ing guns.  Get rid of the guns and you get rid of the problem.

There are too many crazy idiots out there, too many guns, and it's too damned easy for them to arm themselves.  I'm just putting my heart back together from the Colorado Theater shooting, and now this.

I ask our politicians to grow a pair and start a meaningful discussion about the best way to begin the de-arming of America.  And the best way to get the NRA money out of their pockets.  We can't lose any more innocent children.

We can't.

ADDENDUM:  Shortly after I wrote this piece, I found this article over at The Onion.  Normally a site I visit for humor, for a smile, for some satire.  They sure got it right today:,30743/

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nope and Nope

No nibbles on anyone interested in adopting the dog yet, and the estimate to install the whole-house generator came in at double what we expected -- over $9,000.00.  We're passing.  If the power goes out, it goes out.  And if the dog goes out, he goes out too.