Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Oh, Canada!

I've never really had anything against Canada. In fact, my general experiences with our northern neighbor and the few Canadians I've had the pleasure of knowing have all been relatively pleasant. They have that neat bridge you cross over there by Niagara Falls where you can stand on the international boundary line, and you just have to love the way they say "aboot". Did I mention that I think moose are cute? And you just can't go wrong with maple syrup. I have a minor problem with the name of Toronto's hockey team but otherwise I consider my relationship with Canada to be fairly benign.

But as of this week, I have gained a newfound respect for our Canadian friends. Did you know that in the face their government being plagued by scandal and corruption, they just up and toppled the whole darn thing?! I mean, what do they think they've got going up there, a democracy or something? Who'd have thought they had it in them?*

*My favorite Canadian joke: "What does a Canadian say when you step on his foot? 'Sorry'."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

and so it begins (happy holidays)

Today I am amused and befuddled by this story, which has apparently made national headlines. Apparently some of our right-wing Christian friends are upset about the recent use of the term "Holiday Tree" on the City of Boston's website (as in "Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, 7 PM"). They complain yet again that Christmas has been stolen by the godless left. "'There's been a concerted effort to steal Christmas,' Jerry Falwell told Fox Television."

Guess what...the tree is a PAGAN SYMBOL, for chris'sake! Jeez, I thought everybody knew that, but perhaps people who routinely condemn the beliefs of others without bothering to actually come to any real understanding of those beliefs just haven't spent much time studying their history...

Anyway, just thought I'd share some interesting bits I found while looking up the origins of the "Christmas" tree:

Pagan traditions: Many Pagan cultures used to cut down evergreen trees in December, moved them into the home or temple and decorated them. Modern-day Pagans still do. This was to recognize the winter solstice -- the time of the year that had the shortest daylight hours, and longest night of the year. This occurs annually sometime between DEC-20 to 23. They noticed that the days were gradually getting shorter; many feared that the sun would eventually disappear forever, and everyone would freeze. But, even though deciduous trees, bushes, and crops died or hibernated for the winter, the evergreen trees remained green. They seemed to have magical powers that enabled them to withstand the rigors of winter. Not having evergreen trees, the ancient Egyptians considered the palm tree to symbolize resurrection. They decorated their homes with its branches during the winter solstice.

"The first decorating of an evergreen tree began with the heathen Greeks and their worship of their god Adonia, who allegedly was brought back to life by the serpent Aessulapius after having been slain."

The ancient Pagan Romans decorated their "trees with bits of metal and replicas of their god, Bacchus [a fertility god]. They also placed 12 candles on the tree in honor of their sun god" Their mid-winter festival of Saturnalia started on DEC-17 and often lasted until a few days after the Solstice.

In Northern Europe, the ancient Druids tied fruit and attached candles to evergreen tree branches, in honor of their god Woden. Trees were viewed as symbolizing eternal life. This is the deity after which Wednesday was named. The trees joined holly, mistletoe, the wassail bowl and the Yule log as symbols of the season. All predated Christianity.

And I guess (contrary to what I'd thought), there are references to holiday trees in the B-I-B-L-E:

The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them:
Jeremiah 10:2-4: "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (KJV).

Happy Holidays from your resident heathen,
Kat E

Friday, November 18, 2005

we're there when you need us (except when it all goes to hell)

A few notes about our new homeowners' insurance policy.

Our home and personal property are covered in case of loss by theft or fire, but not by flooding.

We are not covered should our loss be due to the discharge of a nuclear weapon (even if said discharge is accidental). Additionally, we are not covered for loss due to war.

We are, however, covered for losses caused by rioting.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

2005 Greater Milford Photo Scavenger Hunt: VICTORY IS OURS

Last weekend, J and I participated in the 2005 Greater Milford Photo Scavenger Hunt, along with a few friends. Together, we were "Team What's Happening?". I was Shirl, J was Re-Run, and of course Dee, Rodge, and Da-wayne were part of the mix.

We had 2 hours to run around Milford (& environs), collecting items and photos of ourselves with certain objects and people. I have to say it was absolutely the most fun I've had while completely sober in a long time, second only to my wedding day.

Some highlights included:

Team members trying on bras:
(Thanks to J's mom for supplying them without hesitation when we showed up at her door).

Team members with a mannequin. We found ours at the local adult store:

A team member renting a "naughty" video:

And, team members re-enacting a light saber fight. We found that tubes of lube fit the bill quite nicely. Had to get as much in as we could at each location!

After making it back to "headquarters" with only 30 seconds to spare before points were to be deducted, and after eating several cupcakes and fistfuls of popcorn and doritos while waiting for the scores to be tallied, the announcement was finally made. We had made it into the top 3, along with our bitter rivals, Team Danza. The rivalry was mainly due to the fact that Team Danza was the only other team we knew, but also had a lot to do with the fact that both of our teams had designed team t-shirts especially for the event. We had done a lot of gauntlet-throwing, posturing, and childish bullying beforehand, so when we then found out that it was down to *just our two teams*, the tension mounted.

Turns out that Team What's Happening was VICTORIOUS at last (and by a wide margin, too, I might add)...

Here's our team captain trying to beat the crap out of Team Danza's Captain with one of our trophies. Just TRY and take our title away next year, chumps!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bands I hate to love

C-mum and I have started a little challenge, and you are all welcome to join in: List the musical acts you are ashamed to admit you secretly enjoy!

Here are some of mine:
Christina Aguilera
Justin Timberlake/N'Sync
Britney Spears (pre-KFed)
That new "Golddigger" song (LOVE it, in fact)
pre-total-freak Michael Jackson*
80s hair bands (Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Cinderella, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Winger, GnR, White Lion. Damn, I really love Def Leppard.)*
Anne Murray
The Bee-Gees*
Disco in general (Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, especially)*

*I am really not ashamed to admit these. I just think most people would make fun of me for them.

Your turn!

ummm, OK...

Thanks to C-Mum for the link...

Take the quiz: "Which Random Irish Gaelic Phrase Are You? "

Teastaioinn cineal uaim
Teastaioinn cineal uaim - 'I want sex.'Horny little bugger, aren't you? You enjoy porn and being naked. Hell, you're probably naked right now. Both hands on the keyboard, you pervert!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

a little respect

Today, one of our company's accountants (who happens to be Chinese, just for the record) e-mailed me with a question about one of my timesheets. After we settled the original question, I received this e-mail from her, referring to the signature that appears at the bottom of all my e-mails:

"I just saw the PhD. I am sorry. I did and have not been addressing you properly."

I replied: "I hope you are kidding!"

To which she responded: "No, to be kidding would be disrespectful."

So, I thought for sure this had to be the work of a woman with a very dry sense of humor. But then again (WARNING: political incorrectness ahead), the fact that she is Asian made me wonder if she was actually *serious*! I have since heard that she went to a co-worker to say how embarrassed she was that she hadn't realized I had a PhD. I am incredulous that this woman was so concerned about how she addressed me. She is probably my mother's age, for god's sake! I *so* do not need my co-workers to call me "Doctor". If only our clients would have such inclinations...

Friday, November 04, 2005

an intimate secret

Ah, the joys of I was leaving for work yesterday, I noticed that an envelope had been placed in my purse. It was labeled "To My Darling Wife." How sweet, I thought. How utterly charming. I waited until I got to the office to open what was surely a hearfelt love note.

I tore open the envelope and caught a glimpse of the contents. It was a small newspaper clipping, and I caught the line at the top, "Love Is." You know it, the sickenly sweet cartoon featuring what seem to be 2 naked children, eternally finding ways to tell the world how pure and wondrous is their love.

I thought, "wow! this marriage thing isn't half bad, he's already clipping out the 'Love Is' cartoon and thinking of me!"

I present to you, gentle readers, the clipping my dear husband enclosed for me that fateful day, complete with the special addition he made just for me:

The sad thing is, it's true. Even sadder, it'd still be true if the picture showed the girl whispering into the boy's ear. Good thing we found each other.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today's Science Tidbit: Mice Can Sing

Researchers have discovered that mice produce songs, presumably for attracting mates. After making audio recordings of the mouse sounds, scientists modified them to be audible to the human ear (they are normally too high-pitched to be detectable). To their surprise, the sounds were not just a collection of random noises--there was a pattern to them, much like birdsong. The really cool scientific implication of this finding is that mice--well-established as a genetic model for studying development and disease--might now be able to be put to use for studies of autism and other communication disorders. Birds are known to learn their songs, so researchers are very interested in finding out whether mouse songs are also learned, because very little is understood about how learning occurs in the brain, particularly when it comes to speech (communication). Previously, the only mammals known to learn new sounds were whales and porpoises, but these animals don't really make the best research subjects when it comes to studying molecular genetics.

You can listen to a recording of mouse song and read more here.