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» Family codes and rituals

Happy LIttle Band
On Christmas morning, children in my house are forbidden to go downstairs to open presents until we perform this ritual: we line up at the top of the stairs by age, starting with the oldest person in the house. Hands go on the shoulders of the person in front of you. You march down the stairs singing: "We're a happy little band, marching onward hand in hand, we're a happy little band, marching onward hand in hand" (repeat until everyone is in the room with the presents, then the mad unwrapping session begins.) This came down from my maternal grandmother's side of the family. I don't know what it means, but the obvious contradiction between stating that we are hand in hand when we are in fact hands on shoulders adds a layer of mystery to the whole thing.
(Fri 21st Nov 2008, 0:30, More)

» Political Correctness Gone Mad

Berkeley 4th of July
Apologies: this is an all-American story. Here in the states, the city of Berkeley, California is known for its liberal population - it's a nuclear free zone, it's a whale safe community, anybody can marry anything, you get the idea. Perhaps none of this would raise an eyebrow in Europe, but over here it's definitely at the far end of the bell shaped curve. Anyhow, the city happens to own a vacation camp in the mountains for its citizens' enjoyment (it is a beautiful place), but anyone who can pay the freight is allowed to attend as to restrict it to actual Berkeley residents would be to discriminatory. And it's also heavily subsidized, so its' a dirt cheap but lovely vacation in Yosemite. No, really, this is true. So my sister, who used to live there, is wise to this and signs me and my kids up. Our session happened to span the 4th of July, which is our holiday to celebrate our special American blessedness. Now even though our President and electorate are both embarrassing, I am proud of my country and glad to be a citizen. So I was mildly looking forward to the announced 4th of July festivities. Which consisted of:

- a parade of camp counselors dressed in green and yellow, carrying a homemade "Whole earth flag"

- a singing of a "World Anthem", whose words I thankfully don't recall, to the tune of our national anthem.

- speeches whose theme was largely apology for our national existence.

Now there are plenty of bad things to say about America, and please feel free to list them in the "replies, " but come on! At least a single American flag? A little acknowledgment that there might be something worthwhile to celebrate?

OK - now have at me. I don't care.

(Sat 24th Nov 2007, 2:12, More)

» The Boss

I'm the boss!
If you haven't been a boss you'll never understand. Particularly if you own your own business - the responsibility for coming up with payroll, the knowledge that your employees are depending on you for a large part of their well being and prosperity - it can drive you crazy when they start whining. I try very hard to be a good boss and a good person. But I am merciless with repeat screw ups. Why should I sweat blood to support them?

(Sat 20th Jun 2009, 1:30, More)

» Now, there was no need for that...

Before I realized how allergic I was to scallops, I gulped down a plate of them at a fancy dinner. Cut to 4 hours later: violently ill, vomiting hard - and - wait for it - I dislocated my jaw! Which hurts A LOT. So off I go to the big city emergency room at 2 in the morning. Remember, my jaw is dislocated so I have a somewhat comical look on my face and I can't speak clearly. Plus I am still quite nauseous. Start out with the intake person, sitting behind bullet proof glass. Me: oi izzo-ated i aw. Her: (thinks: another f=ing nutter) What? Me: oi izzo-ated i aw. Her: (stares) Me: makes writing motion, receives pencil and paper and writes: "I dislocated my jaw while vomiting." She: "Well why didn't you say so?". I'll skip the next few hours during which I sat in the emergency room, still quite nauseous, holding an empty pie tin in case I puke some more. Around me are various knifing/gun shot/car accident victims who, because they are merely bleeding profusely, get whisked right through. Finally, I see an exhausted intern who has no idea how to put the jaw back, but does he let that stop him? He does not. He grabs the back of my head with one hand and puts the other under my chin and pushes together as hard as he can. The most intense pain I have ever experienced. For some reason, this actually snaps the jaw back. (I have since learned a very simple and painless trick for putting it back, as it pops out now every time I yawn.) Quite a lot of pain for a plate of scallops.
(Tue 21st Jun 2005, 3:26, More)

» The Dirty Secrets of Your Trade

Contrary to common knowledge, furniture made with veneer isn't necessarily crap. So we use it on some extremely expensive stuff.

OK, it's boring, but I'm a professional woodworker. Even our dirtiest secrets aren't all that dirty.

(Fri 28th Sep 2007, 2:21, More)
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