Quarter to one here in Cork, and very very warm for a Christmas morning!! It's about 8 degrees C outside, in comparison to the 1 or 2's we've been having the last few days!

I'm very much a listener here at E2, I've written very few nodes in the 3+ years I've been a member, but I just wanted to wish you all the happiest and best Christmas, I hope you all get loads of presents from Santa.. I hope I do too! :)

So Happy Christmas All, and the best wishes from Ireland for 2003!

I just had my one year anniversary of becoming an E2 member, and I have to say that I had no clue what I was getting into. I figured I would add some stuff I thought was cool whenever the thought struck me. I never thought in all my life I would add enough to make it even to level 3 at most. But I’ve grown to truly enjoy the time that I spend in this place. Why play computer games when I can be noding?

In my time here I have added a lot of things. I had someone that encouraged me and helped me in the beginning, and now I find myself in a position where I am helping others. I have gone to two gatherings and met a whole lot of interesting people. I have had loads of fun, downed quite a bit of alcohol, laughed along with so many, and even shared some tears with a couple of you. So many changes in my life have occurred as a result of this place, I don’t know how things would have turned out if I had been without it.

Well…I’m not too good at this sort of stuff (hey, that’s why I’m mostly a factnoder), so I'll have to have Ralph Kramden say it for me:

You know something, sweetheart? Christmas is, well, it's about the best time of the whole year. When you walk down the streets, even for weeks before Christmas comes, and there's lights hanging up, green ones and red ones, sometimes there's snow and everyone's hustling some place. But they don't hustle around Christmastime like they usually do. You know, they're a little more friendlier - they bump into you, they laugh and they say, “Pardon me. Merry Christmas!” - especially when it gets real close to Christmas night.

Everybody's walking home, you can hardly hear a sound. Bells are ringin', kids are singing, the snow is coming down. And boy what a pleasure it is to think that you've got some place to go to. And that place that you're going to, there's somebody in it that you really love. Someone that you're just nuts about.

Merry Christmas.

Now get outta here…I think I’ve got something in my eye…

What a fucking con. Since when has Christmas Eve fallen on the same day as New Year's Eve? That's two Tightarse Tuesdays at the Tote I've missed out on in a row. And the week before, Dead Moon were playing, so management cancelled it to make more money off the spillover to the front bar. Bastards. On the plus side, I'm not working Thursday for once, so I can go to the Club UK tonight to drink.

Christmas. Bah. Humbug.

I can't even relax with a nice rum and orange (though I am trying), and some fucking kids are walking down the street pressing all the doorbells. If I could've got my boots on quick enough I would've chased them, beat the shite through them, and said; "don't ring number X again", where X is the neighbours' house. Those neighbours are a bunch of fucking dickheads.

P.S. Enough of your festy (NOT festive) eggnog, rum is the drink of the holidays!
It's only 25 minutes into Christmas and I've already lost 6 XP!

Oh yeah, and my fiancee's father broke of our engagement and now instead of spending time with her this Christmas I am stuck by myself and can't even communicate with her.

Christmas Daylog
To be updated as the day progresses.

1:17 AM
Well, I just received what could be one of the best Christmas gifts in a long time. Sui and Girlfriend called me! From Austrailia! I can't recall ever receiving an international phone call, except perhaps from my parents when they went to Europe. At any rate, there is no comparison to be made. Just an hour into Christmas Day, and I feel great. Thanks, Sui! You're a great friend, mate!

1:20 AM
Now, going to take just a little nap time, in hopes that Santa comes knocking whilst I sleep. (Night, for now!)

10:41 AM
Just woke up. Time to score the little boxes under the tree.

11:11 AM
Presents are unwrapped! Now, waiting on the rest of the family to arrive, and much food will be consumed! Incidentally, while I was picking up the wrapping paper I thought of her.

11:15 AM
{This update hidden until the release team approves.}

2:06 PM
I'm downstairs on the office computer right now, and I'm enjoying my time with Alex, my step-nephew. He and his brother, Sebastian, are adorable! Victor, my step-brother, and his wife are here. The food is good, and the company is warm. Merry Christmas to all, and the day is just beginning!

3:17 PM
My two and a half year old nephew, Alex, says hello! He is up in my room, drawing on my whiteboard and watching Rugrats with me. Makes me want to have kids before I get too old to enjoy the mentality of a child.

3:37 PM
The step-brother, wifey, and kids are gone, and there is a nice drawing of something resembling a snowstorm and a smiley face on my whiteboard (Thanks, Alex!). I'm kind of drowsy from the wine, but likely won't take any serious naps until later this evening. I hope everyone is having a splended Christmas. And to those whom are special to me, I love and miss you. May the snow fall lightly on your path (but liberally).

We better get enough snow to sled ride in. ::shakes fist::

4:10 PM
Well, it's getting close to evening, and I failed to get any hint of a nap, so I decided to play some Counter-Strike for a while. Unfortunately, there were hardly any cs_office maps running, so I got bored quickly. I figured I'd got on e2 for a while and tell everyone what game under the tree this year:

2 sets of pyjamas
2 pairs of pyjama pants
Electric pan to cook with at my apartment
Angel statuette
$400 cash

Of course, there were presents that were not under the tree, and were perhaps the best of all. The call from Sui earlier in the morning; and a call to someone for whome I care very deeply, just a few hours ago. And, of course, the time with my family.

Now, I think I am going to curl up with a new book, and wait for the rest of the day to find me.

6:32 PM
Just finished a fantastic dinner of hommade gnocchi and sauce. Delicious. {Other part of entry pending review.}

9:34 PM
The day is winding down, and I must say, it has been a good Christmas. Merry Christmas, E2!

10:25 PM
Today just keeps getting better. It's hard to say where the climax was. In addition to all the cool gifts I have received over the course of today, both physical and emotional, I just had a great conversation with family in New York... AND I found con-mates for Ohayocon. Life can be so good sometimes.

11:28 PM
I'm putting this last entry in right now (instead of just before midnight) because I am heading to the basement to workout for a few hours. I just got off the phone with her, and it hasn't been easy for the past couple of months, but it's always soothing (if agravating) deep in some part of my soul. My Christmas is fine.

Today was wonderful.

If only I didn't have the frustration running in the back of my mind, it would have been a perfect day. For this I can blame those of mine who fail to see that honesty is the best policy, and those who are better at following than leading. Ultimately, I feel that I have to blame myself for being so shortsighted, but, in general, I'd rather point the finger than have it pointed at me. If only I could wake up in the morning and have everything fixed. But, I digress.

Today was fantastic, and I send my best to the world tonight. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

With love and sincerity, I hope the glimpse into my world was worth an upvote or two. Sleep in heavenly peace.

I first met my friend Brando in the Park, where he hustled me out of a double sawbuck before I got wise to him. Brando is a top-ranking Scrabble player who has sometimes been described (by those who don't really know him) as the archetypal Angry Black Man.

We have of course since become firm friends and regular playing companions, and my Scrabble game has improved tremendously under his tutelage, though I'm not sure I'm ready yet to ask for a chance to get my twenty back.

After putting the lie to his 'gangsta' hustler persona, it did not come as too much of a surprise to me to learn that Brando was a fellow netizen, and he introduced me to the net Scrabble groups, where he is a regular poster. This is a typical post of his:

I happen to be rappin' on HOW headz THINK (perception and perspective)... This is giving me a mindfuck, now... There are 92 poss combos...where dupes are concerned, I count the ACTUAL number a possibilities...the math is kooky cuzza the dupe...my homies should be able to handle it...

At this point I need to digress a little on the subject of tournament Scrabble play. The official dictionary of reference in the USA is the National Scrabble Association's (NSA's) "Official Tournament and Club Word List" (OTaCWL), a private publication which was created to supplant Merriam Webster's book "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary" (OSPD): a couple of years ago, the publishers of the OSPD decided that it was more important to make sales to grandmothers than to club- and tournament-playing Scrabblers, so they decided to excise a number of what they considered offensive words from the book. The bowdlerised Third Edition of that book was subsequently referred to in Scrabble circles as the ESPD, or Expurgated Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Meanwhile, over in Europe, they've had their own dictionary issues. Previously they've used a reference called "Official Scrabble Words" (OSW) which is published by Chambers Harrap from Edinburgh, Scotland. But a small vocal faction is leading a controversial movement to standardise both the US and Europe on a common word-list called, somewhat whimsically, SOWPODS - which is an anagram of the acronyms OSW+OSPD.

Now that we're moving towards a common vocabulary, when annotating SOWPODS games we like to mark individual words with a tag to say which word-list it came from, if not a word common to both. For instance, QI# means that QI occurs only in OSW and ZIZZLE$ (a word you can only play with a blank, incidentally) means that ZIZZLE occurs only in OSPD. A word which is not valid in either is tagged LIKESO*

I explain all this because it helps to understand conversations with Brando. We occasionally use these tags in speech as well as writing, for humorous effect, where we'd say "Kwee-pound" or "Zizzle-dollar"; so when I use the # and $ tags in this post, it's truly representative of our conversations.

Now, Brando is an educated man. He's a vet (something we have in common, although from different armies in different times) and courtesy of the Montgomery G.I. Bill (a.k.a. Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966) has a University degree in linguistics; he not only has a good vocabulary but is erudite and when not hustling suckers like me, speaks Standard American English (SAE). So the first time I saw his almost illiterate posts I was somewhat taken aback to say the least. My first thought was that he was making fun of teenagers and their low standards of literacy nowadays, but the more I read the more I realised he was serious; this is his writing metier: he is seriously trying to write in Ebonics. It looked like a caricature of the Quentin Tarantino wigger style of writing; white kids trying to sound hip by writing like black street punks. You see the trouble is he doesn't do it very well. If a white kid wrote like that, people like TW would make fun of him. But that's Brando's inner Angry Black Man talking. Brando wants to sound ghetto because thats what the brothers do nowadays.

So, Brando and I are pretty tight now, and we're at the stage of friendship where we show it by insulting each other, which we do in our idiosyncratic Scrabblers' fashion by using words which are not in the common vocabulary; so he will cheerfully call me COCKSUCKER# YID$ and I will merrily call him ASSHOLE# MOTHERFUCKER# in return; but I got him the other day - he said "MOMSER$, youse is one mean mofo Scrabble player fo' a KIKE#" to which I feigned indignation and yelled "You can't call me a KIKE#!"

Considering some of the things we've called each other, this should not have raised as much as an eyebrow, so he asked me "Yo, wassup bro???"...

I replied "You can't call me a KIKE# because KIKE* has been removed from the ESPD!!!" Yuk yuk. OK, no-one ever said Scrabblers have an advanced sense of humor. Anyway, ever since then we have been trying to raise the level of our insults to see if we could find one that really would yank the other's chain, or at least provide a opportunity to act as if it had. We've called each other some of the worst names known to man, and delighted in every one of them, but I finally came up with one that he seemed genuinely pissed over: I asked him why he feigned this ghetto talk when he was clearly an educated man, and I suggested that perhaps it would be fair to describe him as a "BLACK WIGGER$". I knew NIGGER+ had been given the ESPD treatment, but I knew that the excised list of words omitted a whole lot of more creative epithets, and I was sure WIGGER$ was among them.

Brando flew into a rage at this and I thought I'd finally overstepped the mark with a comment that maybe was a little too close to home.

But Brando had finally got his revenge; he couldn't keep up his act for long, and broke down laughing, explaining that although WIGGERY# was in OSW, WIGGER* was too new to be found in either of the lists!

Word up! The reason this is going into my daylog rather than being filed under a more descriptive title such as black wigger is that I'm really just using it as an excuse to brag that Brando and I were recruited today as extras for Curtis Hanson's forthcoming adaptation of Word Freak, where we'll be portraying people remarkably like ourselves playing Scrabble in the Park.

How right you were, Andy.

What kind of gift wrapping paper should I get?

Every Christmas my family has used (or used to use) plain matte wrapping paper, usually with a conservative motif, like jingle bells, Santas, holly leaves.

But then as money got tight, we started... being creative. And much more low end. We got mom a phone card for Christmas... and put it in box after box that had been used for my dad's business hardware. And then there was my uncle's gift... a tool wrapped in Canadian Tire newspaper ads. Cheap. Cheaper. CHEAPEST.

This year I was assigned the task of buying the majority of the Christmas presents. Yes, I went nuts. Mad with financial power. I am putting my family into massive Christmas inspired financial ruin. I went mad. CDN$5.18 mad to be exact. I bought... the shiny wrapping paper. With chintsy bows.

The kind good Protestants (or so I've gathered from past Christmases) just don't get. Still the same conservative bells and leaves, just shiny. $2 for paper. $2 for bows. $0.50 for labels. Tax. I'm going to hell.

The gifts are wrapped on time for once. Okay, I've still got two to go and I'm wasting time at 6 am on E2 - but the grandkids' presents are wrapped. Queen Elizabeth can't light a match to the way this year's presents look. They're not exactly $50 department store toys. But they look like they were wrapped at Holt Renfrew. With calligraphy that I am sure will aggravate my typing hands.

I wonder, wonder what that $5.18 could have been used for that I am missing so desperately. Perhaps I will be living in a cardboard box next Christmas. But dammit, this Christmas will not be hobo inspired.

Strike me down, Oh Hobo Santa!

As the great Baldrick would say -


Luv and Best Wishes to all you crazy folk who have done so much to educate/entertain/inspire and get me thinking over the past few months!

Now, hangover permitting, I'm off for lunch :D

I probably live closer to Bethlehem and Nazareth than anyone else here….

Yet, most people in Tel Aviv don’t even know or care that it’s Christmas.

The world is really strange that way.

(Killing Smurfs is stranger, I admit)

Ah...relief at last.

Holidays with my family can be dramatic, to say the least. (Case in point.)

So I'm always glad when Christmas dinner is over, when I can quietly sneak upstairs for a nap or some casual web surfing, when I can hear the drone of the dishwasher downstairs. It calls to me; it says: "Hey, you made it...the damn day is pretty much over, so calm the hell down!"

I'm not sure when Christmas became something to dread, something to "get through" (like a tooth extraction) instead of something to look forward to, something to want to hold onto forever. But it did, and I suppose that's unfortunate.

My sister and I are all grown up... Presents aren't so exciting anymore and the glitz of the decorations, the garland on the tree--they've lost most of their luster as the years passed.

But hey, we've all got to grow up sometime.

It's funny; at some point Christmas went from being a special day, a day of giving, a day of celebration, to being a day we struggle to get through, a day when success is defined solely by whether the family drama was kept somewhat to a minimum.

But I can't complain, because this is indeed a good Christmas.

There was no yelling at the table, no arguing around the tree, no raised voices in the house at all...except to call everyone to dinner. Everyone was very quiet and diplomatic, like a tiny model UN.

Everyone behaved themselves and nobody had to go to the hospital.

Ah...relief. That's a damn good feeling. A feeling you never quite respect until shit gets pushed right to the edge of the cliff, teeters a bit, and then settles back safely on the firmament.

Relief. Calm. And a good glass of 'nog coupled with a few slices of pie to blunt any sense of panic that might crop up between now and bedtime. Yes, things are indeed good.

Sure the lights seem dimmer and the tensil doesn't seem as exciting as it once did. But I'm not a child anymore, and when you grow up, you start wishing for more adult things, like quiet and harmony and everybody-not-killing-each-other-ness (at least you do when you're with my family over an extended period of time). Besides, childhood innocence is highly overrated.

As I submit this writeup, I even hear faint laughter floating up from downstairs. Someone has told a joke--a good joke, a joke that somehow managed not to offend anyone, that somehow managed to extract a giggle or two out of everyone.

I'm not religious, but Christmas is a special time...and miracles still seem to happen, given the right circumstances.

To my E2 family: I'm relatively new to your ranks, but nonetheless I've still enjoyed all your company these last few months. I hope all of you--and especially the particular few of you who have taken the time to make me feel so welcome (you know who you are)--have a safe and wonderful holiday season with your friends and family.

Happy Winter Solstice; Merry Christmas; have a fantabulous whatever-you-celebrate! I wish all of you all the very best.

I was Santa this year.

She is six, she knows Santa, she knows how it works. For me, however, it was a first. New traditions to learn, new traditions to make, and a new life building. I've been here almost a year now; sometimes it feels like I've been here forever, and other times that I've just arrived. The paradox often overwhelms me.

These last few weeks have been exhausting. How does "Santa Wrap" work? How many are from me, how many are from Santa? Do adults get Santa Wrap? Does everyone get separate Santa Wrap? Are stocking stuffers Santa Wrapped? Are gift tags placed upon Santa Wrapped packages? How do I smuggle in bags of presents? When do I gift wrap them? When can I buy them? The questions, concerns, and worries mount. After all, would you want to be the one who's blundering reveals there is no Santa?

Eventually all was worked out. Due to logistics, the king daddy present was given early, but no impact was lost due to this fact. Secretly I still wish that we could have worked it so that she awoke to a kitten in a bow, or a box that meowed. She went to bed late, late last night. She was overly excited by the season and the prospect of her new kitty sleeping with her.

Santa was tired by the time the little one finally fell to sleep, and then I had to wait longer while last minute presents, for me, were being wrapped. Finally all the hidden presents were pulled out, cookies deposited back safely in the jar, stockings hung on the chimney with care, and the sliding door safely relocked after "Santa's" departure. The time was 2:30, and I was well ready for my bed.


That cry went up at 8...much later than I thought it would, thankfully. And it was Christmas, like I've never had it before. And it was wonderful.

Well I'm not sure if i lost the whole Christmas sprirt and all, but its 1900 CST Christmas day, and i just woke up! I guess thats what I get for being single and living alone, oh well! Any way, just wanna let the noders know...


I am now waiting for the car full of others like me so that we all may find a common ground....


Can't wait! Ok all, have a good one!

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