Good morning all:

Weekly wisdom:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Merry Christmas everyone! The road through life, at times, is a wind-blowing-through-your-hair adventure. At other times, as these past two weeks have shown, it can lead into dark deep valleys where the road seems almost like its impossible to climb back out. It’s the message that Christmas gives, behind all the hype and hoopla, that gives hope and points to a road filled with purpose, direction, and assurance. So, Merry Christmas all, think of the season as your built-in GPS.

Solstice – Winter came in with a vengeance on the very day that our days were the shortest. Marcia and I were enjoying dinner on Thursday evening when, in an instant, neither of us could see our plate. On the eve of this year’s Solstice things really are totally pitch black when the power goes out. During the day our temperature had dropped twenty degrees. The wind was gusting at 50 mph, and our morning wind-chill was to be in the neighborhood of 11. To top it all off we had no matches or even a lighter that worked. For the first couple of hours it was life-by-flashlight and listening to a bit of a scratchy talk show on our little AM/FM emergency wind-up radio.

The news mentioned that we had 25,000 families without power in our county. Apparently we were amongst the first to lose ours. Eventually each subsequent newscast found the number of outages dwindling; we were buried very deep in the ‘dwindling’ batch. It was 9:30 when we noted high-power spot lights dancing around the roofs and tree tops a few houses over. I did not think it was Santa Claus and sure enough a while later we heard the happy sound of the furnace kicking in.

All this occurred almost to the hour when, according to some interpretation of an ancient Mayan calendar, Armageddon was to take place. We did not experience the end of the world. In fact to only end of anything that I had actual tangible evidence of was the demise of the Twinkie—and I stopped eating the little lovelies over a decade ago. They were good though!

Sporting – The ‘Nati, when all is said and done, is a baseball town. The Cincinnati Red Stockings (changed to ‘Reds’ and then to ‘Redlegs’ to avoid being tinged by any reference to communism, and finally back again to our beloved Reds) is major baseball’s oldest professional baseball team (1869). Although charter members of the new National League they were quickly kicked out for playing games on Sunday and for selling beer – both no-no’s. Cincinnati baseball always honored its blue-collar roots.

Over the years there have been many firsts, not the least being the first ever night-game under lights. Now there comes another first:

Yesterday the Reds signed a seven foot tall Dutch pitcher from the Cleveland Indians; Ludovicus Jacobus Maria van Mil, known as Loek (pronounced as Luke). Ok, you say, big deal, what is so special about this guy other than being the tallest pitcher in baseball? Here’s what is so special; my mother’s maiden name is van Mil. Not only was her name van Mil, but her mother’s (my grandmother) first name was Maria.

Go Reds!

Animal Planet – I just got notified by Bird Studies Canada that they’ve completed the 32nd season of the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. About 700 participants surveyed over 550 bodies of water and tracked reproductive details of over 750 pairs of Loon. This year I did not participate (that’s another story) but am still very interested in the study for those birds are amazing, and are the first thing we look for when heading north.

I finally figured it out, it’s all the tall grasses we have in our yard. This is week two where many hundreds of starlings congregate in our yard, in our trees, and on our power line. This is the time where the grasses drop their seeds and the birds are extremely happy little guys pecking away as they build up their resources for a long migratory trek.

Fini – Make it a great week and make certain you give all your family members and extra hug. For those of us traveling, do so safely!

Cheers,
Dirk

From the Archives
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Morning all:
Quote Of The Week:
“Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.” — Mark Twain

My favorite local PBS station has changed formats. Instead of having my Saturday morning favorite, Echoes, an eclectic range of New Age music, it’s now news. Not only just news, but “News from the BBC”; why is it that news read with a British accent has somehow got greater legitimacy and primacy over that read with a mid-west accent? After all, isn’t Britain the same country that collectively heads out every Friday evening for an all-night pub crawl? I had best refill my coffee mug and stew on the phenomena a bit further.

‘Tis the Season and things are tense in our little household. Especially so for Marcia who keeps the lists, checks them twice, wraps, and packs.

The other day I heard a great joke which I wanted Marcia to hear: “hey Marcia listen up: knock, knock”.

M. wrapping at 100 mph: “get the door it’s probably that UPS again. But, that can’t be since everything ordered is here and wrapped. Dirk you’ve been on-line again and ordered something else, haven’t you? You’re outa control and it’s got to stop.”

D.: “Maaaarsh, for crying out loud, no one is at the door—it’s a joke!”

M., without pausing: “it’s probably something else for Vince. I thought we’d agreed no more, now here you go again. Now I have to run out to get something else for Kirstin. Enough already, it’s just got to stop!”

Patiently I tried again, “Hey Marcia, knock, knock.”

Even though I understood her words, I was flummoxed.

One of the really pleasant bits of the Christmas season are all the well wishes and greetings. That is why it was a bit of a downer to open an envelope and read: “Dear Sir/Madam: Pursuant to section 512 (C) (3) (A) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act…..” This seasonal pleasantry came from my friends at NBC Universal and Cincinnati Bell Telephone, our internet provider.

It seems that my little WiFi setup was hacked by someone who desperately wanted to pirate HDTV copies of the television show “House”. Since they also immediately suspended our internet connectivity I came to realize that the citizen’s right to a presumptive innocence is temporarily suspended during this season of merriment, peace, and most importantly, good will.

Marcia and I are back on line. However, within two weeks I’ll have to sign a very important looking 4-page legal document that swears that I am a nasty guy. Additionally, that I will hand back to my friends at NBC Universal every digitally encoded and encrypted data packet received.

I think it interesting that NBC apparently cannot keep their ‘doors locked’ to prevent theft from taking place from their own house (pun) in the first place. Then place their heavy hands on me for ‘allowing’ the thief to go ‘racing through my yard’ making an escape with the goods. As they say, stay tuned (another bad pun referencing NBC).

Adrianne organized a group event and last Tuesday we all went to see our minor league hockey team, the Cyclones, ‘strut’ their stuff. I had forgotten just how much fun a good ice-hockey game is to watch. Much to his delight, young Marin received some special attention from the Cyclone’s mascot “Twister”. The fact that we won 3 – 0 made the evening.

A smooth British accented voice is still droning on and on in the background. It is not very pleasant. I guess I’ll change the station when I get up to refill my mug.

Make it a great week everyone: have an especially happy Chanukah Jason, Cathy, and Marin.

Cheers,
Dirk

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