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.