Memories of Days Past

OK. There is a heavy haze out there. I can’t get a line-of-sight at least a kilometer long to be able to guesstimate the optical density and thereby determine whether this is really a fog or not.

The SCIENCE podcast this morning was the yearly review podcast, which is almost as useless as not having one, which, as I mentioned earlier, is the foretelling for the next two weeks. May have to listen to a few backed-up In Our Time podcasts instead. And the number one of the year was the “discovery” of the Higgs (Higgses? number uncertain.) That’s sad, that something telling to bogs had to be the big one. Makes me wonder if the paywall is rotting the editors’ minds?

And FD SCP arose early so we vacated the whole package thing quickly and moved on to meaningful things like contemplating naps or projects.

I reverted to scanning tabs emergent from folders, an information thing that is sometimes emergent. And came up with a few cartoons that evoke memories of earlier holidays.

First, [Link]

a righteous parable. I do not recall when I discovered that Santa brings unwanted stuff, but my first clear memory is of football pads and helmet. And the repeated denial of a chemistry set, almost until puberty set in. I am unsure of the unopenable thing, packaging was still cardboard when I was a bairn.

I recall that summer after I got the helmet and pads being enticed by my father to go try out for the neighborhood childish team. Happily, I was rejected and never looked back. But I still missed the chemistry set.

Second, [Link]

the adult curse. I think I was in college when I learned the techoid’s christmas secret – the best presents are the ones you build yourself.

But the best christmas present I ever got [Link] was

I got the whole set of kits at one time. That chistmas lasted six months and got me in lots of trouble. I haven’t been the same since and have been trying to recapture even to now.

Of course, organic chemistry is good too.

, , ,

Xartoon Xmas 3

The torrent of cartoon continues. I noticed this one [Link]

right after writing “The Night Before”. I only briefly shared a bedroom with my brother and never recall having this type of conversation, but I do agree that the night of 24-25 December was the longest – except for those nights when my mother’s cooking gave me walking nightmares.

I have already discussed how the combination of fidgets and tummy bumbles kept us up until midnight at least, but I have not mentioned that the night was even longer for parents. They had to wait until at least some quiet was evident (one more example of the futility of trying to prove a negative!) before beginning their execution of the Santa role. As I became older I observed this and kept my silence although to this day I am unsure of whether it was for reasons of personal gain or maintaining the fiction for my younger brother.

But based on experiences in this office, first for my nephew and then for my daughter, I find that a weee dram every assembly or so is not anti-beneficial although it does make the next morning’s light somewhat strikingly painful. It was also as, or more, educational than what was under the tree. Having designed, built, and managed great weapons projects for the Yankee republic I can say that it is easier to assemble most weapons than it is some toys. The assembly decreases in difficulty with the age of the child. I recall one ‘Little Tykes’ play house that was more difficult than the Apollo project.

Of course, the benefit of this is that at some age the whole thing crosses a phase divide and the assembly is left to the child, is done trivially, and is the best part of the toy experience. Knowing this causes me to ask difficult questions of myself that I cannot ever answer fully. But I will also say that this is one of the things most missed now that SCP’s datter is out of house. That, and the disappearance of ‘real’ Erector sets.

The next two [Link][Link]


joint relate to the what-is-wanted thing. In my experience, visits to Santa in a store (no malls in those days) ceased about the same time one could write on one’s own. The obvious adult conclusion to this observation is parental intelligence gathering.

A remonstrance to this is that my family moved back to Alibam just before I started shul and since I already knew how to read, writing, or composing at least, was not difficult although spelling is still more cavalier than catholic. So one may argue that this phase change coincided with a decrease in department stores which was where Santa resided. The counter argument is that while Huntsville’s department stores were smaller, they did have Santa prompting the counter argument that the profusion was too much problem to confront.

But my basic distrust of parenting, reinforced by my own experiences, is that the actual reason was that once the list could be written on one’s own, opportunity of access dwindled if the mode was not altered. In retrospect, I cannot complain although it does give a cunning perspective on the nature of good and evil that is seldom discussed by savants and scholars.

This latter, of course, is another aspect of the season. The subject is too diverse to be adequately treated here although it does give us a perspective of its fungibility.

Anyway, good day to you all and best wishes for tummy rumbles after the gear and stuff ritual. As for SCP, beans are on the menu for today so we will be able to stoke the Yule log in exuberance.

The Night Before

The eve has arrived. Back when I was a kid this was when the fidgeting began, sometime during the day. Hence the parents plotted, always with limited success, to distract my brother and I from any opportunity to think about the morrow. It takes a great deal to keep children distracted even during an Alibam winter when shooing them outside is largely impractical. The best that could be done is to get them into a group and ship them off to a movie extravaganza ala Saturday morning and then maybe to a cultural thing in the afternoon, some high shul dramatic or choral thing usually that only set the stage for fidgeting.

What we got from this was an appreciation that almost all humans are woefully inadequate at singing and/or acting. The best that one can hope for is mediocre and that is often sufficient for a ‘professional’ career, more so these days than in past. Back when I was a child people who could act or sing moderately well could do so for pay even if they were ugly enough to need to wear a full face mask. Nowadays, facial and bodily attractiveness is more important than any competence and in many instances transcends the complete absence of ability.

But somewhere in the afternoon, uncomfortable in a high shul auditorium on splintery formed plywood seats, and disconnected from whatever atonal noise was emanating from the stage, the mind was alone in a dark of other unengaged children and the pointer came around to this being christmas eve and tomorrow would be the time of gear and stuff. If one was fortunate the program would be diverting and the realization would not creep in until the interminable motorcar ride home in the suddenly oppressive winter dark or even until evening meal, something studiously planned to contrast with the turkey and such one would have on the morrow. As such it was much like a condemned man’s last meal, utterly enjoyable in the expectation of half the foodstuffs on table on the morrow being inedible and unpalatable. The abuse that mothers could inflict on sweet potatoes on christmas day was sufficient to alienate them from one’s diet for life.

But in the gastrointestinal roiling in wake of that meal, usually of some fried meat and other heaviness, the fidgeting began over what the chances were that the things you had asked the first elf for in a letter you weren’t sure ever got mailed would show up under the tree next morning. First one negotiated away the really expensive things, or the semi-dangerous things like BB guns or chemistry sets. Then the thought emerged from some dark corner of the things that would appear unasked, things that the elf – or parents – would decide were desirable and enjoyable but invariably were not but some false show had to be made of.

And then one would be whisked off to bed, the evening repast still bubbling and cavorting in one’s belly like the contents of the cauldron of Macbeth’s witches. If anything was assured by the combination of uncertain disexpectation and this dietary planet-buster, it was not slumber.

Xartoon Xmas

Somehow we have had an explosion of carton traffic today. Or rather, a condensate of cartoons in a ‘cool’ state, presuming they are bosons, which we may argue quite well, I think. Anyway, first up is [Link]

I am aware of NeoPlatonists, but this is clearly a NeoZenonists response to the thievery of the chirch of Rome. My question is where do the infinity of patterns come from? And are they really infinite since after 2359 hours almost all are unseeable by the human eye?

The second [Link]

is a sterling, perhaps even adamantine, commentary on our consumerist pathology. Although I do have to admit to having encountered a few bogs who only display characteristics of being ‘alive’ when they are acquiring gear.

The third [Link]

the social obligation theme I earlier blogged about. It also raises the ethical question in this day of enial of global climate change of what constitutes ‘gift wrapping’ since every reputable sandwich shop I knw of, wraps their hoagies/torpedoes/subs/grinders/… in paper that nowadays is decorated with branding. Og for the glory days of yesteryear, of brown butcher’s paper and large white horses transporting christianist justice.

On an equally pithy azimuth, [Link]

we have a rather damning indictment of what is invalid about our legal system. Rather puts the lie to the who jury-witness thing.

OK, I’ve been nasty about enough of our society’s shibboliths. Wait for the next Scopes trial. Selah.

Christmas Crashed

As we get into the season it is impossible not to be inundated with advertisements, almost regardless of the media. So far the only such I have not noted advertisement on is the stool from my bowels and I have to admit to not being particularly catholic in inspecting that medium.

But in the process I had occasion to make mental comparison between now and then. With the exception of computers, and that is possibly, I have to admit that stuff today is not what is was previously.

Take personal electronics. In my opinion, personal electronics peaked in 1972 with the HP 35. Everything since has been less exhilirating. Somehow RPN was the epitome of hand held electronic enablement.

And cellular telephones. Do we really need phones that are primarily not for talking? And that the YG wants to take away from us, between NTSB and SOPA? Not that I think it will be all bad. After all, comparing the clarity of a land line, even with a dial phone, to modern cellular is like steak to stercus.

Home electronics are similar. FD SCP and I recently had to inter our old parlor television and purchase a flat screen. All of a sudden channel surfing is like developing a stutter. It shakes the mind. And there are no good TV Guides any more? The good side is that it makes for lots more reading. Nothing like making banal, sad content hard to obtain.

I could now comment on eReaders. Except I don’t have one. Because they won’t display equations and graphs adequately. So I am still stuck with heavy paper.

And beer. Why are we so afraid of energy that we have made our beer insipid?

Movies and television programming was better. Except for the christmas movies and programming. They were awful to begin with and have gotten no better. But at least we had good horrific science fiction in those days, not like the stercus we have today.

No wonder I don’t feel seasonal. The phone is gone more than it is present, the TV stutters, my joints creak, and the toys are terrible. I scan the toy catalogs – no Sears wish book alas – and think of how I can find nothing that appeals to the child in me. 

We don’t have to worry about the world ending next year. It ended some time ago.

Bah. Selah.