Hearing things incorrectly

I could have sworn I just heard someone outside say: "Clean your teeth on the snow."

I pondered this for a bit...

After a several minutes of pondering, it occurred to me that what they probably said was "Clean your feet on the snow."

Boxing Day

The first time I heard about Boxing Day, I thought it was about sports. I imagined living rooms across the nation filled with half dressed men, sitting on sofas, chugging their booze, and shouting at their tvs while boxers pummeled each other in a ring.

Boxing Day isn't really celebrated in the USA, but I think it's great holiday. What could be better than a casual hanging out day centered around re-gifting, and left overs?

I've always thought Boxing Day was the day after Christmas, but it seems it's more complicated than that. Apparently, in some places, when Boxing Day falls on a Sunday, and Christmas is on a Saturday, Boxing Day gets moved to Tuesday.


-My leftovers won't last that long.

Holiday Yule Log

I've got the Yule Log on my TV screen right now. On mute.

In 1966, WPIX television station in New York started the tradition of airing a continuous loop of a burning fireplace on Christmas day, accompanied by Christmas music.

That's all it does...

burn for hours at a time...

no commercials, no nothing.

just the fireplace and some music.

There's no music in the video below, but there are plenty with music on youtube if you want to hear the full four hours worth!


30 second Christmas favorites ~ re-enacted by bunnies

More of my holiday favorites!
(In 30 seconds, and re-enacted by bunnies)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

It's a Wonderful Life

A Christmas Story

* Note to Non-Americans (that's you Josie ;) )

Gingerbread Cookies

My mother and I tried decorating Gingerbread cookies this year. It was our first time. They came out a little scary.

We had second thoughts about giving them as gifts, but I decided that we worked hard on them and people WERE going to get them gosh darn it! (Even if I had to enclose a disclaimer explaining why they were a bit odd!)

Everybody loved them (I knew they would). One family member asked:
So did you bake the cookies too? Or just desecrate them?
We just desecrated them. They came in a kit. A Gingerbread Desecrating kit.

Virtual Snow Globe (Airline Safe ;) )

One of my holiday favorites. 
I've watched this thing for hours. Far far far too many hours... 

Don't forget to shake it!

e-tractions Holiday Snowglobe
(Link will open in a new window)

Letters at Operation Santa Claus

Reading letters at Operation Santa Claus never disappoints. I took two friends with me this year, and the three of us sat at a table reading letters, trading piles back and forth, and googling (via phone) toy names we weren't "with it" enough to recognize. Volunteers at other tables did the same. I didn't cry this year, interestingly, but I did laugh a lot. There were some very funny letters.

One girl was very conversational in her writing, stating three lines in "ok, so let's get down to business..." I wish I could have kept her letter. I liked this kid, but her wants were well out of my price range. Including her request for a new Godfather, which she placed a star next to, as she'd done with some of her other top wants. She even went so far as to add at the end of her letter:

"PS: I'm serious about the Godfather thing. 
PPS: If you can't get me a new Godfather, then coal for the old one will do."

Another letter was from an adult woman who wanted a house, a garden and a car so she and a man she liked could get married and live there. 

- She also wanted Santa to call the man and tell him to marry her. 

- She also wanted Santa to bring her teeth. 

(I actually really felt for this woman. I wish I had the money to buy her teeth!)

There were touching letters too. One from a child who wanted Santa to help children in Haiti, and asked for nothing for himself. And then there were the usual slew of letters from single parents, ill parents, and parents who were out of work and didn't have enough money for gifts.

Most letters were written by mothers on behalf of their children. Many were written by teenagers with very organized wants lists, some with pictures. Some letters buttered Santa up at the beginning and at the end, asking how he and Mrs. Claus were, and talking about how he was their BEST FRIEND.

In the end, I walked out with two letters and five kids (three kids in one letter, and two in the other.) Most around five or six years old. They didn't have huge wants that I couldn't afford, and I already had some gifts set aside for that age range, so it was a good fit. - I tend to buy small things throughout the year for this. Usually, I buy something for other kids in my life and then think "hmmm... I'll get a few more and save them for Operation Santa." Things like stickers, pencils, playing cards, coloring books.... (I got a great deal on mini containers of Play Doh this year. One dollar for a five pack and the lids have little stamp/mold type indentations for the clay. Michaels, and Target had them in their bargain bins about two weeks ago :) )

I wish I had the resources to answer more letters. Some requests are very reasonable, but there are so many kids in the family that I wouldn't be able to accommodate them all. One child had a list of gifts for her family that was very simple (Cologne for brother, Cheese log for father, Star Wars and Tinkerbell for younger siblings). But there were about ten people total and it was going to add up to more than I had in my budget - especially since I'd already bought some gifts in advance.

I think that's the hardest part of Operation Santa Claus for me. Putting letters back. GOOD letters from nice kids with small and reasonable wants, or from families with very necessary wants, that just aren't a good "fit" for me. I tell myself I can't answer every letter, that I have the ones I have, and that the letters I put back will hopefully be a good fit for somebody else. (Someone with kids that age, or with a bigger budget, - or with four or five Wii s to spare...) I know there are some uber rich people who have answered requests for pianos, beds, and other large items, but I wish there were more like them. Heck, I wish I was one of them!

I met the head of my local Operation Santa Claus this year. Nice guy :) Friendly, fun sense of humor, and great stories about his past 15 years running the program. I also spoke with several volunteers. The most memorable letter they'd read? A mother who asked Santa to give a Christmas hug and kiss to her child, in Heaven.

Don't throw hot water out your window - At Christmas time

Every now and then, my friend comes up with a gem from her home country.

Last night we were in her kitchen making tea, which is what I think led to her saying "Don't throw hot water out the window at Christmas time!" - Needless to say, there were so many things wrong with that sentence (Who the heck throws hot water out of their window ever?!) that I bombarded her with questions! 
You're not supposed to throw hot water out the window at Christmas time because you might hit the little people. The little invisible elves at Christmas time. And they'll get mad and it's bad luck, so you don't want to do that.
The invisible elves… we don't want to hit them at Christmas time, but the rest of the year, tossing hot water out the window is perfectly normal in your country?
Well with the elves it's really bad luck, and they do really bad things. Like burn down your barn.
My barn...
Well yes, if it was the olden days. And they'll kill all your animals too. It's very bad luck.
So we specifically don't want to throw hot water out the window at Christmas time because it'll anger the elves and they'll burn down my barn and kill all my pets...
And your cows… You'll have dead cows.
I'll have dead cows…  
So, this is a "thing" where you grew up? People know this? 
Oh yes.
And it's specifically a "Christmas" thing? The whole hot water/window warning?
Yes, for the little Tomten.
The what?
The Tomten. They're the elves. They're like Christmas elves, sort of, and they wear little pointy red hats. They're kind of like your Santa. You have your Santa, and we have the little Tomten, who are like elves, who bring us gifts. 
And we don't leave cookies for them by the fireplace like you do with Santa. We leave them porridge. On the stoop. 
What? You leave them porridge instead of COOKIES? And you leave it for them on the STOOP?  You don't even invite them into your house?! No wonder they're so angry! I'd burn down your barn too!
They don't want to go inside the house.
Well then can't you at least leave them cookies on the stoop instead of porridge?
They like the porridge. It's a special porridge! It's got cream and it's really good! It's like rice pudding! And they want it outside because they live there. They live in your barn.
The barn they'll burn down?
You don't want to make them angry.
So, is there a head Tomte, like Santa, that they all work for? Or are all the Tomten your Santa? With no one in particular in charge?
Nope, no one in particular in charge. Just a bunch of them at Christmas time bringing presents.
Ok, can we go back to the "Don't throw hot water out the window" part? And how this is only specific to Christmas time? Because right now your country sounds like a very dangerous place to live! 


I won't go into all the reasons I take issue with the new security measures at airports. It's all been said by others already. Suffice it to say, I do not want naked x-rays or an extended pat down (and remember, this is not a regular pat down that avoids your face, head, and private parts. The extended pat down fully gropes all of those areas looking for contraband - like Snow Globes.)

Which is why, while I was waiting in line to go through a regular airport checkpoint, I had a sudden wave of panic as the following thoughts went through my head...
Me (In my head)
Oh my God... I'm wearing an underwire bra.
Is that... Will that set off the metal detector? 
What if I set off the metal detector and get pulled aside for NAKED X-RAYS and an EXTENDED GROPE DOWN?!!   
Why didn't I wear a different bra?! I wore a non-underwire bra yesterday and made it through security without a hitch! (-and then they cancelled my flight!) How could I not think of doing the same today! HOW COULD THIS NOT OCCUR TO ME???!
Maybe it won't set off the metal detectors. Is that enough metal to even register? 
Keys set off metal detectors... That's more metal though.... 
BELT BUCKELS! I've seen BELT buckles, and buckles on shoes set them off!
Omg... my bra could totally set off the metal detectors.
(panicked pause) 
- Maybe I can take it off... 
I'm sure I could get it off without anybody else in line noticing. [For any guys reading, girls can do that! ;) ] - If I just play it real cool... if I'm calm.... I can take it off under my shirt and then.... 
And then what? What do I do with it once it's off? 
I might be able to remove it while standing in line without anybody noticing, but I doubt I could get it out from under my shirt and into my suitcase without anyone seeing. Crap! I totally wouldn't be able to get it from under my shirt to the suitcase without anybody seeing!!! 
I could put it in a pocket... No... that doesn't help. Then it'll still be on me when I go through the metal detector.
Imaginary TSA agent
"What's that?"
Imaginary Me 
"Oh that's just my bra my pocket."

For anyone who's read this far, I left it on and, panicked as I was, I made it through the metal detector without any problem. - But don't think I didn't make a specific POINT of wearing a non underwire bra for my trip home!

Operation Santa Claus

People seem to get annoyed when I talk about this after the fact, and ask why I didn't tell them about it in advance. Well, here you go!

Every year, kids mail out letters addressed to "Santa Claus" and many (all?) get re-routed to an Operation Santa Claus post office, where volunteers can respond to the letters and mail gifts. Some kids know they're writing to volunteers, and some truly think they're writing to Santa. Many parents also write in on their kids' behalf or add to their childrens' letters before mailing them.

I didn't expect to cry when I did Operation Santa Claus, but it's hard not to. Some letters are so beautifully innocent, and others are written with so much love. Mothers that write in are truly amazing. They make things so easy. They often tell you the ages of each kid, what their interests are, and what their clothing sizes are. I love these moms.

It helps to go in knowing what kind of letters you're looking for. Maybe you want to buy one big gift for a large family (like a Wii), or maybe you only want to respond to letters that request daily necessities like shoes, coats, and food. Maybe you're looking for a certain age range, or only boys or girls. Maybe, you only want to answer letters from kids who are asking for toys. Having an idea of what kinds of gifts you want to buy (and how much you want to spend total) will make it easier to sort through the letters. You may completely change your mind once you're there, but I think it helps to have a plan.

I prefer to answer young kids' requests for toys (or parents' requests for toys for young kids). To me, that's what Christmas is about. TOYS! And that's what I'm good at buying. Believe me, most kids don't want me picking out their clothes! I know there are some children who really need a down jacket and schoolbooks, but it's not in my budget, and I know there are other volunteers who are specifically looking for those kids, so I leave those letters for them.

About the letters: Before you can read through letters, you need to show some kind of ID and fill out a quick form. Then you can read through as many letters as you'd like while you're there. You'll only be given a few at a time, but you can return the ones you're not interested in and get more. I think there's a limit to how many you can choose to keep and reply to. It might have been six when I was last there, but keep in mind that many letters contain requests for more than one child. ("Me and my two brothers" or "My four children, ages 2, 6, 10 and 12" etc.)

The past two years I haven't been able to do Operation Santa Claus. Both years I had plans to go to the post office with friends and was then called out of town for the ENTIRE MONTH OF DECEMBER for emergencies. It was like some weird conspiracy. This year my friends and I have plans once again and I'm hoping to be able to follow through.

The rules seem to have changed since the last time I volunteered. Unlike before, you are no longer given any identifying information about the children. No last name, and no addresses. Just a code number (and their letter). I think the way it works now is you buy the gifts, then return to the post office and pack them up there, addressing them with the code number, which a postal employee then matches up to the correct address. Seems like a lot of extra work for the Post Office but, I admit, I was always uncomfortable knowing that these kids' names and addresses were given out in the past. I told myself that the people who wrote letters knew volunteers would be given their information and if they were ok with that, I should be too, but it still made me uneasy. I think this new way sounds safer. Still, it's going to be difficult to get back to the post office with gifts and send everything from there. It's easier for me to box everything and put it together at home.

Hopefully, I'll let you know how it all goes in a few weeks. That's when my friends and I are planning to go. -Unless I'm stuck out of town again. (Fingers crossed!)

For more information, you can visit the Operation Santa Claus Website. It's a bit outdated and not easy to navigate, but it might get you closer to finding an Operation Santa Claus location near you. You can also visit and do a search for "Operation Santa Claus" (so far they still have 2009 info) or call your local Post Office for more current information.

There's Bad Horror in my lobby

- Which, in my book, is a step below bad porn.

There's Porn in my lobby

I think most buildings have a place where residents know to leave things they no longer want, that they think someone else might be able to use. Things like clothes, electronics that still work, books... and today, porn.

There's a whole bunch of porn videos in my lobby today, mixed in with a few horror movies and a couple of possibly ok videos. 

The thing is... and, here's my dilemma... I don't know if it's good porn. I mean let's face it. I'm curious. But there's a lot of tapes. And once upon a time I did pick up a couple of porn tapes out of curiosity, and they were terrible. I don't mean morally - It's porn so my expectations were not high. But they were BORING. Seriously boring. Depressingly so. I felt bad for the people in it, I felt bad for people who watched the video. It was that bad.

So now there's a bunch of tapes down there, and I'm curious. Are any of them any good? I mean, I'm not a porn aficionado. I have no idea what those titles are. Most of the names are fairly discreet sounding, but there's one that doesn't even have a name. It just has a catalog number and a big "Viewer Discretion Advised!" label. 

The thought occurred to me that I could just grab them ALL - All 25 or so tapes, and go through them to find out which, if any, are good, and throw out the rest (because I would throw them out.) But here's the thing... what if I DIE? I mean it. What if I die tomorrow, and there's this whole box of PORN in my house, 20 or so tapes of it, and not only that, but 20 or so tapes of BAD porn. Is that a risk I can take? Two or three good tapes for people to find, so they have something to talk about when I'm gone... maybe. But an entire box of bad porn? I don't know. That's not how I want to be remembered. "She had bad porn... so sad... Perhaps she didn't know..."

Maybe I could do a quick speed through of them... you know... fast forward... quick preview... discard the bad ones.... As a public service... -to spare someone else.

Then there's also the part of me that wonders if it's a cosmic trap. Like maybe there's anthrax in them. Or some highly contagious disease lying in wait for the person who PICKS UP THE PORN!

You know what the real problem is? I think too much. I could be watching porn right now, but instead I'm writing in my blog.   


I think I have a hernia

I think I got a hernia from coughing. You know that cough/cold that everyone has right now, no matter where you live? Well I have it too. Had the coughing part for a week now.

Bruised ribs (from the coughing) started a few days ago, and now I have what feels like a bulge between two of my ribs. There's no bulge when I'm at rest, but when I start to cough, I feel a section push through those two ribs, and it HURTS! - You try squeezing skin, muscles, and oh yes, LUNG, between two very hard ribs! And I can't complete the cough! I can only cough right now if I press, hard, against that spot. (Correction, I can also cough if I'm sitting and pull my left knee all the way up to my chest.)

Isn't it only old men who get hernias? Old overweight men? While lifting couches?

Sick of being sick

I'm going on about two weeks with a low grade fever and other symptoms that come and go. Just when I think it's almost over, a different set of symptoms appear. This happens to me on the rare occasions that I get sick. I seem to get symptoms in stages.

Tonight I did some web surfing for low grade fever remedies. I mean obviously it's some kind of infection or virus but whatever it is, I'm ready for it to GO NOW!

Two very do-able remedies were Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey, and Coconut Oil. I had all those so I swallowed a tablespoon of each. No idea which is supposed to do what. Don't really care. Hopefully one will do something. I also got an air purifier today. Maybe that'll help too.

Two other remedies stood out to me. One said something about putting olive oil and garlic on your feet ??? I'll be passing on that. The other said to soak in a hot bathtub for 20 minutes and then sleep for a full 24 hours.

- So nice to have tomorrow's schedule planned in advance!

Deck the blog with boughs of holly II

Yes, I decided to spruce up the blog again. -You know... the blog I rarely write in. Hey, it's a matter of principle!

It's similar to last years' holiday look (shown in the post pictured above, with the yellow columns), but I modified one of Blogger's new templates this time so I could play with some of their new features.

If you haven't checked out Blogger's new templates and template designer yet, go play. Lots more options if you're not programming savvy. And a bit more to learn if you are ;)

No snowflakes following the cursor yet. It was slowing things down, but I'll try adding them again soon to see if the problem was the new template or my computer getting tired. I miss the snowflakes. I'd like them back!

The Details:

- yes it's here again! - 
Holiday Season!

Crap is as Crap does

I tend to buy pretty healthy food unless I'm having an unusual craving for something. Then all bets are off. But otherwise, I don't really buy snack food or sweets. My idea of a regular snack is air popped popcorn or a bowl of grapes.

Yesterday, I was really in the mood for healthy stuff when I went shopping. I was craving fruit and I wanted veggies. But none of the fruit or veggies at the store looked good. They looked old or just not right.

So, I bought crap. Because I was low on food and I had to buy something! And then, since I had a bunch of crap, I ate a bunch of crap.

Anyone want to guess how I'm feeling today? Yeah, that's right. I feel like crap :P

My new Ringtone

I'm so excited! :D

(If you're not familiar with the ringtone, watch this video.)

Sometimes I scare myself

I just corrected someone's grammar.

I'm not sure which part of this was worst:

- That I recognized what language it was
- That I understood it
- That I knew the grammar was wrong
- That I looked up the correct sentence structure to make sure that I wasn't wrong.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I forget to mention it was Klingon?

Two Fortune Cookies

I felt the need to share these...

"The fact that others are bad does not imply that you are good."

-Actually, it does imply that. But just because it's implied doesn't mean that it's true!

"The greatest truths are the simplest; and so are the greatest men."

- Um... what?

"Nuts" and bolts

(Conversation with a friend who owns a full scale K-9)


How's non-work life?


I'm keeping myself busy with K-9...
Finally getting him fixed.



So he won't have babies?

Morbid curiosity

Someone I know recently lost their only sibling and asked to speak at the funeral. They were told there's a time limit that all speakers must stick to. I told them to speak for as long as they want. Which begs the question... If someone speaks for longer than their "alloted time" at a funeral, does an organist start to play music louder and louder?

I have 3 pairs of scissors

One in the kitchen
One in the bathroom
And one by my desk.

I strongly believe in having duplicate items if you need it in more than one location and frequently find yourself stopping to go look for said item to see where the heck it was last used.

The first time I think I heard this philosophy was with regard to vacuum cleaners. Someone was saying that if you have more than one floor in your house, you should consider getting a vacuum cleaner for each floor, and leave it on its floor, instead of hauling one machine up and down the stairs all the time.

This made perfect sense to me. And scissors are way less expensive than vacuum cleaners!


Right now I'm:
  • doing laundry
  • mopping the floor
  • coloring my hair
  • and writing a blog post
Well... the laundry is in the dryer for 40 more minutes, the dye has to sit for 20 more minutes, and the Scooba is actually doing the mopping, but I'm still going to take credit for all the above!

Sprucing up the blog again

It's not Christmas anymore, but it's definitely still winter! The Graphics are from Graphic Garden, and credits, as always, can be found at the very bottom of the page.

I may still tweak. I always tweak ;)

While I was updating the blog template, I found a great online graphics editing site called Since I'm still without my regular computer, I'm also without graphics software at the moment, so this site was perfect. Very PhotoShop-ish. I'm not sure how they're able to offer such a great service. Hopefully I haven't missed something, like massive viruses in the files! :oO

Avocado + Paper Bag + Banana

That's how to ripen an avocado.

I knew about putting an avocado in a paper bag to ripen, but that didn't always seem to work, and I'd never heard about adding a banana. My friend told me about this missing "ingredient", so I added a banana to the bag and sure enough, my rock hard avocados were ready to eat in just 2-3 days.

Just a little tip I felt compelled to jump on and write about.

Where I've been... Where I am

A family emergency turned my two week trip into a two month trip. -The family member is fine. A fall, a break, they live alone, I had to set up medical services for them and make sure they'd be ok when I left and wouldn't starve etc.

During those two months I had little access to the internet, slow access to the internet, or no time to get ON the internet.

So... here I am, home at last, but...

Remember when I broke my computer about 2 days into NABLOPOMO? I finally took it in to be looked at and it'll cost as much to fix as it would to buy a new computer. Which is what I will probably do, but not for another month or so. So once again, I have limited to no Internet access for a while longer.

I'm looking forward to being able to leisurely blog again, but I should warn you, this kind of thing happens a lot in my life. "Stuff" happens and I can be offline for months at a time. Hopefully I'll have time to blog again soon. See you then!