General Archive

Thursday, December 6, 2012

War on Christmas 2012

Santa in the CrosshairsThe Christmas season is upon us, which means it's time for us Scrooges to ramp up the war. To tell the truth, after skimming through some of my older entries, I don't have anything new to add. The 'War on Christmas' is a bit silly, considering how Christmas has been treated in this country in the past. The Puritans even outlawed it's celebration (see the first link below). Personally, I'm going to decorate the house, put up a tree, give presents, and just about every other tradition associated with this time of year other than go to church.

Some of the Christmas entries I've written in the past are pretty good. I especially recommend the first three below for information content, and the fourth if you want to support a good cause.

My previous War on Christmas posts:

And of course, other people have created very interesting content in regards to Christmas and the 'war' upon it. Most of the links below are humorous, but the first is a serious look at the Salvation Army, and one more reason why I have trouble supporting that organization despite the good they do in other areas. Though as I wrote previously, if the only way you'd donate at all is by dropping pocket change into the Salvation Army's kettles, then do it. I don't donate to them personally, but I compensate by donating more to other charities.

Related Links to Other Sites:

And to continue with what is now a tradition on this blog, here is a YouTube video of Tim Minchin singing his Christmas song, White Wine in the Sun. And if you missed my previous entry, Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Society, then let me repeat that if you go and buy the song this month, the proceeds will go to supporting the National Autistic Society.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Society

Cover Art - White Wine in the SunIf you've followed this blog at all, you might have noticed that I began a tradition of posting a YouTube video of Tim Minchin's song, White Wine in the Sun, every year around Christmas (I'll be posting it shortly this year). As described on Minchin's site, "This is a captivating song and a beautiful and intelligent exploration of why Christmas can still be meaningful even without religious beliefs. There's just the right amount of sentiment and some very gentle humour illustrating Tim's feelings about Christmas and the importance of family and home. It is a heart-warming song and may make you a little bright eyed."

Tim Minchin has begun his own tradition, of donating all the proceeds from the sale of the song in the month of December to the National Autistic Society. This year is no exception. And to make it even more attractive this year, he's finally released a studio recorded version of the song. So go buy the song and help support a good cause.

More Info:
White Wine In The Sun [2012] - Now Available on iTunes

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

!$#%!#@$ Beavers

Our backyard backs up to a small lake/pond. We haven't been back there in a few weeks, but my wife and daughter took a little walk down there today. Here's what they saw:

Beaver Assaulted Tree

Here's a close up of the carnage:

Beaver Assaulted Tree

If that looks big next to the benches beside it, it is. That's only slightly a trick of the perspective. It is (was) a big tree.

Here's where they were coming in and out of the water, right by the deck we just built this year:

Beaver Assaulted Tree

That tree had actually made it onto this blog once before in the entry, Flooding. Two weeks after we moved into this house, Wichita Falls had its worst flood on record. I took a picture of that tree to show how high the water got. Here it is again:

Flooded Backyard

Our next door neighbors were victims of a beaver a couple years ago, but it was a smaller tree in an area of their yard where it wasn't as big of a deal. This was our only shade down by the water. And it had a perfect little nook for holding my beer. Oh well, I guess this is going to force me to build a little pergola or roof over the deck. Maybe I can turn the stump into a little seat. And I'll definitely have plenty of firewood this winter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, 2012

TurkeyHappy Thanksgiving a day early. Even as an atheist without any deities to give thanks to, I still think it's a good idea to stop and reflect on all the good fortune we've had, and take some time to appreciate it. Granted, there's no reason this should be limited to one day a year, but setting a day aside to force us to pause isn't such a bad thing.

While I won't be heading back up north to visit my family up there, we're still going to have a nice Thanksgiving celebration down here in Texas with our friends. The turkey's thawing out as I write this.

And I don't want to turn this post bitter, so rather than complain too much about Black Friday, I'll just link to a post where I've already done that, I Hate Black Friday. Like in years past, I'm boycotting all the door buster sales. I may go out Friday afternoon after I've had a chance to sleep in, but I'm not going to ruin my Thanksgiving celebration just to save a few bucks.

So, happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you have much to be thankful for.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reflections on Halloween

I posted this as a comment on Pharyngula earlier this month, and to be honest, it will probably be read by more people there even buried in the comments than it will here as its own entry, but I still wanted to include it here, and maybe expand on it a bit. I have written along similar lines before in Halloween Recap, which also has a few pictures of how we've decorated the house the past few years.

Jack O'LanternI've always liked Halloween. Part of the fun is the costumes. I've always made my own, and some have been pretty involved. One year I was a werewolf, where my parents put a prosthetic nose and ears on me, along with a bunch of extra facial hair (I didn't need a wig thanks to my unruly natural hair). Another year I made a dinosaur, starting with some boxes, plastic grocery bags, and cotton balls, till the final costume was over 6' tall. My daughter has had some pretty good costumes, too. My wife helped her out a lot when she was younger, one year sewing her a mummy costume that had her bandaged from head to foot.

Between the different places I've lived, I've gotten to experience Halloween different ways. In elementary and middle school, we lived out in the country. Not backwoods deep country, but rural enough that walking around my neighborhood wasn't much of an option. So, trick or treating those years consisted mostly of driving around with one of my friends to houses of people we knew and knocking on their doors. (The corllary is that we never got many trick or treaters at our house, so we had left over candy every year.) We always saved a certain house for last. There was an old couple that lived there, and they'd invite us in for hot spiced cider and cookies.

My freshman year of high school, we'd moved to a traditional suburban housing development (Lake Linganore for anyone familiar with Maryland). A girl and I were the only high school students on our street, so we were the chaperones, taking all the smaller kids around the rest of the development. That was the most candy I've ever gotten on Halloween.

The rest of high school and then college and immediately afterwards were understandably devoted more to parties than trick or treating. I do remember though, when they brought underprivileged kids trick or treating in the dorms.

The first few years taking my daughter trick or treating were here in the city of Wichita Falls. It's not a very urban city. Our neighborhood at the time was a lot of nice houses on small lots - pretty much like the setting in most Halloween movies I've seen.

When we moved to a different neighborhood with a reputation as one of the nicer neighborhoods in town, we were completely unprepared for our first Halloween there. We ran out of candy within half an hour, and when my wife ran out to get more, it took her over half an hour to get back in because of the traffic. We were prepared the following years. I weighed our candy once, and we gave out over 40 lbs. A neighbor who was strict about giving out 2 pieces of candy per kid gave out 1600 pieces, and he ran out about half an hour before us. So with the amount of kids going through, it makes it more worth getting into the spirit. For the past several years, we've done up the house pretty good, and I'll stand out there in a costume to scare the older kids. It's scary enough that a few younger kids refuse to even walk up our driveway.

So we're looking forward to Halloween again this year. My daughter already threw a party with one of her friends last weekend, and we're busy planning a party for this weekend. And of course, we're trying to come up with new props for our house for the big night.

And for the cynics, most of the kids do have decent costumes, with a large portion still being homemade. It is irritating, though, to see high school kids walking around without being dressed up at all, but still asking for candy. Damn punks get off my lawn.

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