Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Day Before . . .

The Christmas celebration is in full swing at our house. It's Christmas Eve and we are in full preparation mode.

Older Son, DIL and Wife's parents all arrived Saturday about noon.

For close to a year now Daughter has had a significant other who also joins us on special occasions. From henceforth, in keeping with my practice on this blog of giving everyone a "code" name, he shall be known as "DSO" (Daughter's Significant Other).

So DSO is here too. He lives in North Alabama, about an hour and a half from here, and Daughter will join his family tomorrow afternoon.

Younger Son, home from college, has been here a couple of weeks now and has been able to work some at the County Parks and Rec Department where he worked this summer.

So the house is full, as are the hearts of Wife and me.


We have had an internationally themed Christmas Eve for a number of years now and this year's country is France. Not sure of the menu but Wife is cooking even as I type this while Daughter and DSO are making place cards with our "French" names.

Wife has put a table cloth on the dining room table that we bought in St. Paul de Vince, France when we were there in 2009, and has added a few other touches. 

Details to follow and maybe even pictures.


We will be having Christmas brunch tomorrow -- that's largely on me, so keep me in your prayers!  We will then do an abbreviated gift exchange, after which we are off to the big screen premier of Les Miserables.

I will tell you that I am skeptical about this movie. "Le Miz" is far and away my all-time favorite stage play and musical and I am afraid the movie will be too much of a Hollywood spectacle and will relegate this wonderful story to the annals of pop culture.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, "May it never be!"


After the movie it will be back to our house for pizza which we picked up today and put in the refrigerator to heat up. FDIL's parents are joining us for the movie and will join us for the post-movie meal as well.

Wife is not totally comfortable with this -- serving take-out pizza at Christmas. This was largely my idea, wanting to spare her a little of the non-stop cooking that is often the overriding activity of her holiday celebration.

But oh my goodness, we already have leftovers running out our ears -- and will have even more by tomorrow -- and I think come tomorrow night she will be happy with this arrangement. 


I said "abbreviated gift exchange" above because we elected this year to go on a  trip rather than do full-blown gift giving. When we first started looking into this, we were hoping to perhaps leave today or tomorrow (Christmas Day), but found that traveling the week of Christmas is quite expensive.

So we are postponing "Christmas Vacation" (even though our name is not Griswold) and will leave New Year's Day for Mexico.  I'm not even sure where we are going. I know we are flying into Cancun and it's somewhere south of there.

Sharp readers with sharp memories might remember that I am not a lover of the beach/sun/sand, but I am happily going because (a) I got outvoted; (b) I will love being with my family, wherever we are; and (c) I will have a number of diversions such as visiting the Mayan ruins and fishing.

We drew names for our gifts so everyone will get something tomorrow.


I did not meet my goal of meeting at least one of my blog friends in person in 2012 but I'm resetting that goal in 2013. I've already told Hong Kong friend Steve to let me know when he's in the U.S. this summer and I'm going to try my best to meet him at a baseball game. Who knows if that will happen but I'll sure try. Any of the rest of you, beware . . . . you never know when I might show up on your doorstep, although you know I've been threatening it for some time now!  Oh well . . . I'll be keeping you in mind whether in person or from afar.

And here in Middle Tennessee at my house, I'm leaving the light on for you.

Merry Christmas -- "Joyeux Noel" -- to all. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012


I was numb yesterday after following several hours of coverage of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut.

This one hit too close to home and by "home" I don't mean my geographical location; I mean my heart as a dad.

I told Wife as we watched and listened to the news accounts yesterday that the community of Newtown is much like the one in which we live, and the school where the tragedy happened is much like the one our children attended as youngsters.

In addition, Daughter is now a kindergarten teacher.

In this age of instant communication, in which I am participating by virtue of this blog, comments and opinions abound. And we all know about comments and opinions.

But for what it's worth, count me as one who favors stricter gun laws. I have felt this way for years and an event such as this reinforces my feelings.

Go back and read my posts over the past four years and you'll see I'm not a liberal. Frankly, I don't see this as a matter of being liberal or conservative, or even a matter of politics for that matter.

This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Your right to bear arms will not be affected by required background checks and other reasonable controls put in place.

No, this will not prevent the crazies from doing what crazies will do and I realize that discussion of character and values also needs to take place. I totally get that.

But can we not make it more difficult for the crazies to get the guns?  Or at least try?

Please hear me:  I have no problem with your owning as many guns as you want. I bought a shotgun for Older Son when he was in high school. He bought a rifle himself when he reached legal age and if I'm not mistaken it's still in his room here.
When the Kansas City football player recently shot and killed his girlfriend and himself, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas made comments during the broadcast of a game, calling for stricter gun laws. Like me, he wasn't calling for repeal of the Second Amendment or outlawing guns (even though his critics tried to make it sound like that). He simply said maybe it's time to consider enacting laws that help prevent this kind of thing from happening.

Since his broadcast, we've had a mall shooting in Oregon and now this horrible event in Connecticut. Could stricter laws prevent these occurrences? I don't know but I think it's worth a try. 

From one Bob to another:  I'm with you, man.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Modern communication

Wife recently switched all of our "communication channels" (my term, for lack of better words) -- phone, cable and Internet -- to one provider.

Wife handles all of these matters because I am woefully inefficient at doing so, and also lacking the patience required to maneuver through all of it. Where once talking on the telephone and having one installed in one's home was a relatively simple process, it now involves "bundling" and other such nonsense.  A phone wired into in one's home is now called a "land line" and more and more, folks are opting not to have one and making their cell phone their primary point of contact.

I can remember an antenna on top of my parents' house that enabled us to watch three channels of network television, before we advanced to "cable-vision" which gave us the same thing plus Public Television, and a much clearer picture. When Wife and I married we used "rabbit ears" until we got cable when our first child was born. We needed something to do in the middle of the night when we were up with him and reception was too sketchy. Now of course there are hundreds of channels available via either a "dish" or "cable," although there is very little of any quality on any of those channels.

Last but not least, the Internet comes into our home via mostly wireless devices now, whereas once various wires and cords were necessary. 

Of course this is a gold mine for the companies that provide these services.

Wife got tired of our cable and Internet provider overcharging us every month. It got to the point of being ridiculous. When she would call them they would always apologize and credit back the overcharged amount, then assure her they would fix the problem. Only the problem never got fixed.

She talked to our telephone provider and they gave her a sweet deal that included everything, at a substantial savings. We made the change about a month ago and it's been fairly smooth sailing ever since. Of course our old cable and Internet provider did everything but offer to come cook Thanksgiving dinner if we would stay with them, but Wife stuck to her guns. Since she is a kind and merciful person, she became very sad during the parting conversation, but let's face it: they caused it. If the new guys start the same shenanigans, we'll look at going back.

Here's the big news involving our new service: it includes a new "smart phone" for yours truly. I now am the owner of an iPhone 4S.  A couple of years ago I wrote a piece here about all the modern services in which I did not take part. I have now succumbed to this one.

So far I like it. It's much easier to use than I thought it would be.

But please do me a favor. If you see me walking down the street looking at that silly phone and ignoring everything and everyone around me, stop and yank it out of my hand.  Thank you.