Christmas Day 2003. In which we celebrate the birth of Christ, in which we give each other gifts, and in some cases, get riotously drunk with festive spirit.* Here's hoping everyone receives something they find cool, useful, or just plain nice, that everyone has A Good Time (which is what it's all about, in the end), and that EDB lays off moist noder flesh in favour of turkey.

Merry Christmas!

* Or, alternatively, cheap champagne.

I never make daylogs, or indeed node often, but I'd just like to take a moment to tell you all that this site means a lot to me, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate the holiday, take the time out to reflect, and be happy with yourself.

Merry Christmas, and here's to an excellent 2004!

I'm on Eastern time. I woke up the first time at 0330 but got back to sleep. Then at 0530 I finally got up, sneaking past the kids' room. How bizarre is this? I'm an atheist. So's my wife. In fact, I was raised an atheist. But the Christmas tradition is so strong that I subconciously wig out. We have a tree and presents and we'll go to friends' house for a dinner gathering, but is it really Christmas?

Some of my atheist buddies call it Xmas and deride any associated religious tradition. In 1991, as a member of the early Extropians mailing list, I adopted calling it Newtonmas (Isaac Newton was born Christmas day) because it was clever and rebelious, Newton symbolizes science while Jesus, well, doesn't.

But's just Christmas.

I doubt it will ever be anything else. I asked my wife yesterday, "Why do we celebrate this?" And she looked at me like I was stupid and said simply "because it's fun."

Is this fun? It's exciting, I guess. That's why I'm always up early on 25 December. But fun? The past two weeks of hectic shopping? Realizing, as a check for $1000 (I hope she's not eating dog food!) arrives from my 84-year old grandmother, that I totally forgot about her? Finding time to wrap stuff when the right combination of people are not present? Waiting in line at the post office because the modern family is spread across 3000 miles of North America? Keeping the toddler and the five cats from unwrapping the presents through a system of constant vigilance and luck? And all of this while the toddler acquires a nasty cold that transmutes into a double ear infection and passes to my wife and then to me, weakening me for the flu?

But hey, at least we're not travelling this year!

Merry holidays, noders!

At least one person said "Merry Christmas" today, in an attempt at cultural sensitivity. Even though the holiday isn't important to me, I thanked them for their kindness, not wishing to explain the complicated cultural and religious meanings of Christmas for an American.

Today, I got lost. I can't remember the last time I was lost as thoroughly as I was today, although I think Brooklyn in 1999 comes close. However, it is hard to really get lost in American cities, for several reasons. First, most American cities are laid out on nice Cartesian grids, using either the New York or Philadephia Systems, with numbered or named streets running parallel to each other. Second, I've visited many American cities. Third, most American cities tend to have businesses grouped together: you will usually not find a machinist inbetween a lingerie store and a butcher; and this makes districts easy to identify. But fourth and most importantly, I've had a lifetime of invisible folk lore and stray references and an entire geographical mythos implanted in my brain. Perhaps some of you now reading this live in Manhattan. Probably a good amount of you have visited it frequently. But there are many of you who haven't, but I bet you still know a few things about the city: that in the middle is Central Park, which includes the Met. You may know that on the westside is The Dakota building, where John Lennon was shot, and that to the North is Harlem.

Manhattan is an obvious example, Denver, Colorado or Atlanta, Georgia may not be as easy to navigate around based on cultural memories.

But still, I doubt I could get lost in America the way I got gloriously lost in Tainan, where every alley way's twists and turns may lead to a hidden temple, or more likely to a 7-11. Every jutting alleyway seemed to offer a shortcut to some new discovery, or at least to the possibility of food. But I just kept on getting drawn further and further in, until I found some middle school students, who looked like English speakers, who encouraged me to knuckle in and to just find a taxi. Since the taxis are cheap, I did this.

I didn't enjoy it at the time, which is too bad, since soon my sense of direction will reassert itself once I get used to having a tropical sun to read off of, and even in this windy, never ending city, I may not be able to get lost.

The first thing you have to understand about Eddie is that he's never been shy in expressing his opinions.

"Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all."

This is what I love about getting up to go to work on a cold, grey, rainy morning in Glasgow, I get to listen to Eddie's latest social commentary.

"Ah mean, ah can get along wi' jist about anyone. Doesnae matter if they're niggers or pakis or chinks."

Yep, Eddie was like a real life Mother Teresa.

"But see these bastards that sit in a doorway under a blanket when it's twenty degrees fuckin' C - ah cannae stand them."

For the briefest of moments I form a mental image of Eddie as a TV weather man.

"Right, in Paisley it's pure pishin' it doon. Edinburgh's fuckin' Baltic and Oban's no bad, but it's a pure shite wee town."

I remember my first conversation with Eddie. He told me that he had just finished a jail sentence for aggravated assault. I could see how Eddie might occassionally become aggravated. He had gone into prison with hair twice as long as mine, he insisted. Gave the ladies something to hang onto. He had had to have it cut by the prison barber when he went inside, and his sentence was extended when he attacked one of the guards who had thought it was funny.

He told me all of this. Then he asked for some money for a bottle of vodka.

I didn't feel like saying no.

His hair had started to grow back after his release. It stuck out in wild tufts of grey from under a motheaten old baseball cap he always wore. Between the hair, the repeatedly broken looking nose and the scuffed old leather jacket with patched made of what looked like cat skin, Eddie had quite a dramatic appearance - a fact that hadn't escaped his notice.

"Tae most people ah look like shit, but ah have tae. Naeb'dy fucks wi' you if you look like some sort of spazzy mental case."

Eddie's philosophy on life was that we lived in a hard world - you just had to be harder. It's a concept that various wannabe gangsters and hardcore punk bands have echoed, but Eddie lived that philosophy, not out of vanity or bravado but out of neccessity. He lived without the security of a home, or a family or even, in accordance with his beliefs, a blanket. He was tough, drunk and ever so slightly crazy - he had evolved into the perfect citizen of an early 21st Century globalised capitalist society.

I haven't seen Eddie in over two months now. He could be dead. He could be back in jail. He could have gotten himself a shave and a haircut and a job in a warehouse. I don't know, and I probably never will.

He may not be a teen sex icon or a world leader or a kooky celebrity, but the world needs to know about Eddie, and the millions like him. I'm writing this on Christmas Day. Like other middle class computer geeks around the world I'm surrounded by food and family and presents. In such comfortable surroundings it's easy to forget people like Eddie.

We shouldn't.

I hate this time of year. I always have. My only consolation is that it's pretty much over after today.

I suppose I have a somewhat unique perspective. I've considered myself an atheist since I was 15, but before that I was a nominal Jew, so I've always been an outsider, especially when the Christmas season rolls around. Few people seem to actually enjoy it, with all the stress and work it involves, but they all pretend they do, and they get upset because I won't pay lip service. Everybody presumes everyone else is Christian (despite evidence to the contrary), or failing that, Jewish. And if you're not either, well, tough kumquats for you. You get sneers and indignant sniffs (and sometimes outright insults and degradation) as your dose of "Christian love".

I know I must sound really bitter. Maybe I am. If so, it's not without reason. I can give plenty of examples of the treatment I received, especially as a child, for failing to have the good manners to at least pretend to celebrate Christmas. For instance, in kindergarten (at a public school), I got detention for telling my classmates there was no Santa Claus. In first grade, I was excluded from music class because the teacher insisted on teaching very religious songs ("In a Manger" is the one I remember). In fourth grade I was given the choice of performing in a Christmas pageant or failing music. In sixth grade, I was manhandled by a teacher for trying to leave during another such pageant. And so on.

Mind you, I suppose I can't entirely blame people for assuming that I'm Christian. It's a natural assumption to make, since Christians are in the majority. But that doesn't make it less aggravating to be constantly bombarded with images and sounds and sentiments of a holiday I want no part of. In a way, it makes it worse - because everytime someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas" or asks if I'm going to church that day or if I've bought my presents yet, it reminds me just how invisible a minority I belong to.

Everyone's drunk on religion and commercialism. Why should I be punished for being sober?
Christmas Day at my parents' house when I visit pretty much means one thing: movies. Earlier I mentioned how my parents and I watched some of the major films of the year that we'd missed. This morning under the tree came a stack of DVDs of my favorite films and so far today we've done nothing but watch them. Yes, the DVD player has been humming with Bruce Almighty, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (special edition), Stripes, and The Frighteners. Other gifts I received today include StarFox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet, some books by Steve Martin, Dave Barry, and the new Dilbert book, and a crop of gift cards from family in far away places.

All in all it's been a nice holiday with great food and family and films. I hope that everyone's festivities were just as pleasant.

A Christmas that wasn't.

"Thanks for coming. I really didn't think you'd actually fly up. I was kidding, you know."

"I know you were. That's why I had to come. You would never actually doing anything so radical as actually asking."

"Sorry it wasn't much of a Christmas."

"Bullshit. I was with you, that's about all I've ever wanted for Christmas since I asked for that table hockey game when I was seven."

"Yeah, right. Stop trying to flatter me. I've already let you in the house."

"I could leave, but I figured I'd wait until morning. A little too cold and dark out for my tastes."

"A little snow and cold air going to kill you? Poor baby."

"Quite possible. I've been living in Florida for seven years. The body isn't used to it."

"Did you have enough blankets last night on the couch? I feel bad that I only had the one."

"Is that your way of inviting me to stay with you in your room tonight?"

"No, it is just my way of pretending I'm concerned about you."

"Well, I was cold. I slept with my coat on."

"I'll talk to my landlord about the heat. Will that make you happy?"

"I'm sure he'll have it fixed by the time I leave."

"Why are you always trying to trick me into letting you in my bed? How naive do you think I am?"

"If I agree to just sleep, do I get to sleep in your room?"


"Why not?"

"Because my dog gets jealous. It pisses him off whenever someone else is in the bed."

"Ah, okay, as long as we're just talking about not hurting a dog's feelings. That's perfectly sane under the circumstances."

"If you agree to keep your hands off me and just sleep, then I'll let you stay in my bed tonight. God, you are such a pain in the ass."

"And you are perfectly pleasant at all times."

"I never said I was pleasant. I've told you for twenty years that I'm a bitch. Deal with it."

"I've gotten beyond dealing with it. These days it just amuses me. You've become a constant source of amusement. It took me quite a few years to figure out how predictable you really are."

"Maybe I'm just predictable when you're around. Did you ever think that just maybe you're not the only person in my life?"

"Why don't we go back inside. I'm starting to freeze my ass off out here."

"My brother doesn't like people smoking in his house and I'm not finished with my cigarette."

"I'll light another."

"If you're going to do that, you get to stop whining about the cold."

"I'll make a note of that."

"How exactly did you expect me to react to you showing up on Christmas Eve? You know, if you gave me a little notice, maybe I could have had some food in the house."

"I got drive-thru on the way to the house. Don't worry about it. Remember when you tried to make ziti and the house almost blew up because the pilot light was out and you wanted me to relight it even though the whole house smelled like gas?"

"Yeah, I remember. I got you to buy pizza while feeling sorry for me at the same time. You bought it."

"You must really love me, almost blowing up your house just to get my sympathy."

"I told you, I'm not capable of love."

"Oh, yes, how can I forget. If I kiss you right now, how hard would you slap me?"

"What are you going to do, come up to New Hampshire for Christmas, kiss me and then go back to your wife in Florida? That sounds worth my time."

"I haven't left you in nineteen years. Why would I leave now?"

"Oh, right. You and your never ending supply of weepy-eyed girlfriends. At least when I run away, I do it honestly. I don't hide behind someone's skirt."

"So, would you rather I kissed you right now or wait until we get inside?"

"Do you always think this much before you kiss someone?"

Merry Christmas, Marci.
Merry Christmas to all (and so forth).

After having a fantastic time with my family, I came back to check up on E2 and see if anything interested had been posted. Imagine my surprise to see that someone had given me another Christmas present in the form of votes. Seeing as how I never had this opportunity before, I wanted to make these votes count as much as I could.

I firmly believe in positive reinforcement, so I decided to upvote as many quality nodes as possible. I started out with my absolute favorite and went out from there. I covered several helpful nodes on obscure subjects, tossed in a couple on some of my favorite hobbies, and now I have a bunch left.

So I'm taking advantage of this to check out the parts of E2 I haven't seen yet. Every time I've run wandered about I have something new; now's the chance to show how I appreciate it. Thanks to everyone for making E2 what it is, thanks to dannye for the christmas bonus, and Merry Christmas.

The cardinal numbers one through ten are a family, each with a life of its own, each with a unique personality, yet interrelated as the members of a family always are, willing or not.

  1. ONE is the Earth Mother, the fertile womb of all Creation.
  2. TWO is a lovely little boy, chubby-cheeked and cheerful. He goes willingly into any other number, dividing the Evens neatly, leaving an even half of himself behind when forced to interact with an Odd.
  3. THREE is a BITCH. A miserable, scrawny old maid, forever poking and prying, causing dissention and unease. The very worst of the Odds.(She is very mean to FOUR.)
  4. FOUR, poor FOUR! The uncle of little TWO, he is from the rich side of the family but is very shy and unassuming. He is often treated badly, coming up short in multiples, ending up just under or over a multiple of TEN, as in 32 or 28. His only comfort is to be solidly related to 20, in itself a happy combination of TWO and TEN genes.
  5. FIVE is a merry "Ho, Ho, Ho" sort of a guy, very regular, appearing just twice in every set of TEN. Unfortunately, he prefers to remain a bachelor. (On second thought, who could live day in, day out with someone who always has a silly grin on his face?)
  6. SIX is the sister of THREE but you'd never know it -- they are as different as chalk and cheese. SIX is buxom, generous, a paradoxical Even derived from Odd genes. There should be more like her. (Her only fault is that she is mean to SEVEN. But then, most everyone is.)
  7. SEVEN, the scapegoat of the family. Everything is his fault. Trouble with SIX in FORTY (only 42), even worse with THREE in the TWENTY range (21, you can't be further away from the center than that).
  8. EIGHT, naturally, is one of the golden Evens. Plays beautifully with TWO, very good to SIX, gives the Odds like FIVE and even THREE a solid, rounded Even multiple. A real winner, that EIGHT!
  9. NINE, a class act. Her father's daughter (TEN is her old man). You can always find the connection with NINE. She appears when you remove a cardinal from its relationship with TEN ( SIX from SIXTY, and there's the multiple of SIX and NINE).
  10. TEN is the Sugar Daddy, giving back ten-fold. He loves all his children, good and bad. Truly a wonderful man.

PS - I learned my numbers before the days of programming.

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