F 1 D 0 -- 2001 12 25 at 14 00 Merry Christmas. I got involved in a lot of christmas stuff these last two days. More than ever before. I starting to think that the Xmas Party isn't so much for the guests as it is a present for the HOST. The /host/ decides on a party, and how many, and who, and hopes and hopes and hopes it will be good. The next door neighbours here have a big thing, but not at their home. Alison's mother and dad do this. It is about 20 minutes drive from downtown Thunder Bay. While it is still within city limits, the highway is not lit any more, and the two lanes feel narrow and claustrophobic suddenly. So do the icy patches. But in no time at all, we are at a big home on a bigger lot. The driveway has room for perhaps 20 cars. Ann decides that if we want to leave this party early, we best park on the street. Fine. I've heard that this thing will be crazy with young children. We go inside, and it isn't crazy, but is truly full of children. Assorted children. No babies. Well, none fully cooked. There was Monique, who was 3 months heavy with twins. She seemed like a happy mom. She was married to Mark. There was Crystal and Christine. Both pointed out their husbands, who were in the kitchen doing the Strong Egg Nog ritual (preparing it as a team effort). This party had lots of young adults, or formerly teens. I had a lot in common with them, actually. Especially the BoyFriends. Many of the girls brought their BFs with them. They didn't know anyone. Well, just their significant GF. These sat all in a row, arms folded in discomfort, trying to look interested. On my right, their left, was a big tree. It was not just decorated, but was full of presents. This was the real thing too. Not just phony presents, but zillions of boxen addressed to one another. It seems like the deal with this family was: all presents found their way to this party. All ended up underneath THIS tree. Santa Claus was Not a participant here. Nope! "Hey, look! Gramps got one from Alison!" "Marc? Marc! This one is for you. (shake shake) Listen!!" And Marc is made to listen. Lots and lots of this kind of action. Alison's mom is Georgette. She's a bubbly hostess, who pulls everyone inside, and introduces just a few family as she does. She's got glasses and grey hair, and looks like the grandmother of the family. She made an announcement that she wanted to hear some singing. With that, the boys and girls, arms still folded on the sofa, began singing Jingle Bells. There must have been thirty of us jammed into the room, and when the singing started, the men and young children crammed inside. All of a sudden, I got to see what Christmas and ChrismasParty was about. Our hosts were singing, but this carol stuff was clearly for them. This gathering was not just another idle winter drinkathon. Nor was it just a chance to buy someone a gift. This was where gran and gramp had a look at the whole family of their children. Since their children were grown, and had children of their own, it included their grand children. And since many of these grandchildren had boyfriends and girlfriends, it included these extended ones as well. This was a party where attendance was to be counted in for another year. That explains them. How did I score an invitation? Ann lives next door to Alison, and she was invited one year. Well that cinched that! She's now part of the family, at least for purposes of counting in, and I am her guest. I don't have to explain how new this was to me. Or do I? We did four carols, in whatever key people decided. I was planning on keeping people in key by doing the organ thing on their synthesizer, but that was not to be. They just wanted to dig in, and make a lot of noise. They were successful. During the carols, I got a glass of Champagne. Or maybe it was Ontario champagne, or something. It was bubbly and full of alcohol. It smelled sweet and fruity but didn't taste sweet. Before I could finish this, the call went out that the Egg Nog was being served, and I Was Not To Miss This. Capitals intentional. I cannot tell you the precise formula yet for this egg nog. But I will. It was very rich. I think it must have been made with whipping cream as the dairy component. I was told it had rum, as the alcohol component. You may be pleased to know it had Eggs as the egg component. And it had sugar as the sweet component. But I'm not certain what the relative proportions are. I'll find out today if I can. Marc and Alison are responsible for maintaining the patents on this stuff. It is white, not pale yellow. It felt like I was trying to drink whipping cream. That is a rich thing at best, so I would just drink it by dipping my lips in it, and cleaning them off. I suppose I just tasted it over and over until it was all gone. At about halfway through the small teacup of this stuff, I noticed I had been affected by alcohol. The room didn't navigate at the same speed as me. I'd get a spin rush by just turning my head. That was nice, actually. Some people managed finishing their egg nog in a hurry, and all of the women could be seen gleaning the remaining cream from their cups with their fingers. "We're not shy here. Don't want to waste that! Uh, you're not drinking yours. Do you want it? (snicker)" Er, I'm just taking my time, thank you (and I turn to move it from their field of vision). I must have been a bit drunk. I heard someone say "Mine! Mine! Down! Down! Mine! Mine!" imitating Daffy Duck. The someone was me. Once everyone had a cup of white gold, people started queuing for seconds on that. And that is when grampa sat in a chair near the tree, and distributed the presents. There was a couple of children whose job it was to hand him gifts. Mark and Marc were popular names, as I heard them often. Many of the gifts were for Lowther. He was gramps! He told me his name had a rich history. That's appropriate, as he taught history before he retired 18 years ago. The name was somehow related to Lorraine, which was spelled Lotre Reign at some point. He was an expert in German history, and had lots of books on it. I'd frequently become overwhelmed by people, and would retire into the bedroom which had the synthesizer. I'd plink as I could on it. It seems that many of these instruments are designed for christmas giving. This one was! It had six different christmas songs on it. You could just enter the song number (zero six) and press DEMO. It would just start playing the music better than anyone could actually USING the keyboard. I think that kind of sales feature should be illegal: the demos are impossible to re-create with humans. But I could get the thing to do something else: instead of pressing demo, I'd press StartStop, and this would play the song, but without the melody. Perfect for me, when equipped with a recorder. I didn't know half of the songs, at least by name. But if it played me the first bar or so, I'd have heard it a zillion times over the last week. People let me play. I don't like crowds around me telling me I'm good (or worse, that I'm Not!). Oh, folks would listen quietly at the door, but wouldn't make a big thing. It was like they knew. I just want to be ignored so I can decompress, and then go back into the crowds. I'm pleased to report that this is how it happened. Nice Nice Party. Poor Ann. She doesn't do meat. This wasn't just a meat dinner, but was a mostly Pork Meat dinner. There was FleischSalad, sorta like tuna salad, but with a smoked pork base. There was Schinken, a German Proscuitto. There was Mett, a kind of Pork Tartare. It was all wonderful. How wonderful? Well, she tried it all. They had other things too. There was a fish chowder (red style) on the stove, and a bowl of pink herring. I liked the chicken and rice. We should have brought something too. Then there would have been some kind of non-meat contribution to this thing. Maybe next year. Somewhere along the line, the dizziness in me went below, and became a sense of humour. Those of you who know me would have made sure I was 'cut off'. But alas, it was too late, and I found humour in everything. I was thinking that for another year, we'd go to a local book store, where they cannot get rid of their paperbacks, selling them for 5c and 10c each, and take the lot of them. We'd pile them in the front, and as guests come inside, we'd they'd take a book they liked, walk it to the roaring fire place, and throw it in, saying something bold and moving. Or instead of a fireplace, we'd make a big bonfire outside, making sure that for this xmas, people could see we were burning books. That would be certain to garner a reaction, huh? So that was the Erev Xmas party. Today is Xmas day. Ann and I spent the day of Erev Xmas doing something. I couldn't find a cable which connects my digital camera to the serial port. Sigh. She has a very good art-quality digital camera she's got for her department, but it was in use by another professor. She would have let us borrow it from her project for a day, but Ann could see this would have been an inconvenience, and may have caused her heartache downstream. Ann had wanted a digital camera of her own, anyway, and so she was determined to get one before xmas. I was wondering why not on Boxing Day, but she felt it was just not worth the crowds or the effort. We went to Business Depot on Sunday, but found it closed. Too bad, as an hour earlier and we may have gotten this camera for 199.00 At Future Shop, they had the HP315 for 249.00 and it seemed like the right mix of features. It is a 2.3 mpixel camera, meaning it can take biig pix of normal subjects. For email and web use, this is hardly important. But if you want to print from the picture, you want a camera with enough detail. It takes 10 detailed pictures on an 8M compact flash card. This looks like a narrow PCMCIA card. For the kind of work I'm doing, it got 80 low resolution pictures (640x480). Batteries. It eats them for a light snack. It Loooooves batteries. Or at least, their electricity. It comes with four high octane alkaline batteries, and these went dry before I took 40 shots. Seriously. At least, partially dry. I found that after leaving the camera alone for a while, there is some electricity that finds its way. Now this confuses me, but perhaps it is like the cream you cannot get out of the small creamer cups. If you leave them alone for a moment, you can go back and get the last few drops. I'll make a collection of the houses here, Crown Street, for you to see. I'll leave a couple of the pictures uncompressed, but will make the remainder smaller faster files. This will affect the way they look, I'm sure. The day before yesterday, Alison and Marc had a couple over, with their young daughter. So we had three young kids, and six adults, four of them wanting to sing. Fine, I can do this. So I played piano and just did chords so they could sing popular solstice melodies. There is way too much food around this time of year. I'm interested in figuring out how to get rid of my gut. And finding my energy for daily training again. I'll do this. But won't likely start until after the new year. Is this a new year's revolution? (I remember hearing Boris BadEnough talking about new years Resolutions this way) I hope your Christmas is going well. It will be nice to hear the music change on the radio and in the stores. That's all I know.