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.)