Merry Christmas

It’s been a bittersweet holiday. On the one hand, the family gatherings this year have been more close feeling and energetic than I can ever remember. Perhaps it is because I’ve been away from home for the first time, perhaps it is because both my nana and our close family friend have survived their respective bouts with cancer and are thriving. Either way, I enjoyed the feeling (I also impressed my grandfather with the mad fire-building skills I picked up in CT, no starter logs for me!)

On the otherhand, it has been a sad time due to the unexpected death of Brendan’s stepfather. He and Brendan’s mother had barely been married a year, and I cried when I first found out what had happened. Brendan and his family are of the kindest, most generous and caring people I have ever met, and it hurts me deeply to see them have this to go through. Brendan, you are awesome and strong and I am always here if you need me.

Tomorrow will take back up to Connecticut, let’s hope my airline doesn’t go bankrupt until after that happens

Book Review

Carleton’s stepfather, Tom, has a habit of occasionally coming in and tossing a book to me saying “this is good, you should read this.” I don’t mind it at all, as my need for leisure reading since graduating has been somewhat gluttonous, I’m always on the search for new books to consume.

The most recent one has been The Unschooled Wizard by Barbara Hambly. It’s actually a collection of two novels: The Ladies of Mandrigyn and The Witches of Wenshar. Tom told me to ignore the poor cover art and not-very-well-written back cover blurb, so I took off the bookcover altogether and started reading.

It is a very good story and very well-written. The plot in each of the sub-novels led to total surprises for me, which is quite impressive, as I have a habit of sniffing out a “clever” plot twist from miles away.

It’s fantasy, but not *too* fantasy, in that it doesn’t rely on the stock elements of fantasy to make it a good story. (Brendan and Dave, I think you both would like it a lot).

Books and Weather

I believe I’ve hit a new reading record for myself: A 435 page novel in less than 6 hours (subtracting some time of boarding and unboarding the plane, the drive home, and the time it took to eat a late lunch).

Also, I wanted to make a clarification. Judging by the bewildered expressions and exclamations of people I told about the heavy, 14 inch snowfall here in Louisville, it seems there is a huge miscomprehension in New England that everyplace south of Pennsylvania is a vast, burning desert with year-round heat waves.

This is not true. Just wanted to let you guys know.

Merry Christmas! It’ll be below 0 for ours.

Motto

Lately, all around I’ve been seeing bumper stickers, magnets, and signs reading “United we Stand,” which is the first part of Kentucky’s state motto, based on a song, based on some Aesop quote or something, it’s a pretty popular saying. However, I’ve never seen the complete quote, and they’re leaving out the second and just-as-important part, you know, “Divided we Fall?” That’s kind of an important piece of the puzzle to just toss away.

Flash-piece art!

Once upon a time, Nate the Master Electrician went to the mall. He stopped by some store or another owned by an Asian couple. The store sold luggage or some such, but it also had little toys up at the front that you could buy for kids.

One such toy was a coloring page. It was a fuzzy page of black line art that you could fill in with colored glitter–a fairly typical toy. However, Nate knew something was amiss when he saw the toy was not called “Glitter Art”, as might be expected, but “Flash-piece Art.” After figuring out that “flash-piece” was a translation of “glitter” from another language to English, Nate turned the toy package over to read the instructions. And this is what he found:

http://www.wertle.com/gallery/d/793-1/flashpiece.jpg

He immediately purchased the toy and brought it back to the theater to share, and we all learned new words like “fundus”, “exiguous”, and my personal favorite, “tridimensional”.

(if the “I obviously used some computer algorithm to translate this” instructions weren’t funny enough, I also got a laugh over the fact that it was a coloring page for a picture of Snoopy–a completely black-and-white character)

CRRRACK!

Today at work, as a special event arranged by Company Management, my boss’s chiropractor came in to give a free crank to the run crew and the interns. He told my boss later that he was totally shocked at how many young people’s bodies were totally busted, and named me off as one of the busticated. It comes from slouching all my life, I think, and after my adjustment I was thrilled to find that trying to stand up straight no longer was a painful activity!

I’m going to try and force myself to stand up straight as much as possible until the usual pain returns (as a quick chiropractic adjustment surely won’t undo 10+ years of bad posture). All that whining I did when I was little and my parents told me to stand up straight, what was I thinking?

In other news, I moved my betta and his one-eyed catfish companion to a 10 gallon tank the other day. Fish is loving it. He’s grown to be so large that even his old 5 gallon was starting to feel cramped. Once I get the tank cycled, I think I may add some docile tetras to the mix, as I’ve heard the non-nipping ones make good additions to a community tank with a betta.

I may even give Fish’s old 5 gallon to Mr. Laguna (my office betta).

I noticed that although I’m a regular poster to the community, I don’t often show off my fishies in my own journal. So here they are! Fish:
Around when I first got him–

Now under fluorescent lighting!–

The New tank:

Mr. Laguna (the crowntail I keep at the prop shop)

Spaz, the one-eyed Cory Cat (good side then bad)

St. Nick’s Day

Being from Kentucky, and growing up in Louisville no less, there was a time when I thought that the Kentucky Derby was a normal holiday, like Easter or Halloween. I just figured everybody celebrated it. When I got a little older and the scope of my mind expanded beyond my immediate surroundings, that changed rather quickly.

However, I discovered this week that *apparently*, not *everyone* celebrates St. Nick’s Day. Who knew! It went like this:

(Tuesday)
Me: “Oh drat, I totally forgot about St. Nick’s Day!”
Boss: “What’s St. Nick’s Day?”
Me: (after I figured out he wasn’t kidding)…WHAT?
Boss: Huh?
Me: You know, St. Nick’s Day, with the shoes and the candy!
Boss: …WHAT?

Horrified, I proceeded to ask every person who walked in the prop shop that day if they knew about St. Nick’s day, what with the shoes and the candy. Nobody did. I had NO idea, people in Connecticut apparently don’t know anything about this holiday, or maybe just people in New Haven? I then attempted to figure out what regions the celebration of St. Nick’s day fell into, but I had no luck whatsoever.

For those who don’t know: On the Eve of the feast day of St. Nicholos (Dec 6), you hang stockings on the fireplace mantle. You then get goodies–small things, usually candy or a slinky (having most assuredly broken last year’s slinky, at least that’s how it was with my family). If you want to be super-traditional (or if you live in a dorm), you leave a shoes out in the hall overnight, and St. Nick (your RA) leaves candy in them for you. Perhaps not the most sanitary of holidays, but still! You get goodies! It’s like pre-Christmas gratification.

My props carpenter said that the tradition probably died out as the whole St. Nick/Santa Claus/giving presents thing got merged in with Christmas. But hey, WE still celebrated it!

What other holidays am I mislead about? Time for research.