Well, in a few hours, L'Ailee and I will be on a plane to Florida! We'll be watching my sister-in-law graduate from college this weekend, then celebrating various holidays. We've been very busy. No holiday parties, but I had end-of-year stuff and lots of baking to do while she wrapped presents. L'Ailee is not domestic by any means, but she's quite handy to have around when I need strong arms and perfectly ambidextrous hands to stir the increasingly unmanageable fudge in the pot or smash candy canes and nuts into flavorful powders. She's the best-designed food processor I ever had!
Solstice is on Sunday. That's also the start of Hanukkah. That's also my mom's birthday. So I will be having lunch with my mother and giving her her birthday present, seeing a Jewish friend before sunset, and celebrating with my former coven after sunset. L'Ailee, luckily, will have her cousin, who is married to one of my cousins, to hang around with that day. Then there's Festivus with some of our friends, and then there's Christmas with my family. Yes, I do owe L'Ailee big, why do you ask?
The important thing is that we get back to NYC on the 26th, so we can be home to recuperate. There are more big plans ahead then. We will become legally married again in Massachusetts on the 30th (just a short rental-car drive away!), and then we get to celebrate New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. L'Ailee is a child of the former Soviet Union, where New Year's Day was celebrated as a secular substitute for Christmas. She hates so much of the Soviet stuff she grew up with, and we now exchange presents sometime between Solstice and Christmas, but New Year's is still the big-deal holiday for her, the one that makes her eyes go glittery.
Okay! I've got some other things to talk about before I go. I learned not to invest money with people whose last names can easily be mocked in financial scandals, such as "Bernie Madoff with everyone's money." Can't believe he was permitted to go free, GPS bracelet or not. But maybe the streets of Manhattan are meaner places for him than even Rikers right now. He got into a shoving match with a journalist today. It was beautiful. I for one was ready to throw a soda cup at him.
But maybe I can't waste something that precious anymore. A few years ago, I was a hard-core Libertarian who would have gone *off!* at the sight of Governor David Paterson's new tax proposals. Now I understand--we have a huge budget shortfall. Those of us who can afford luxuries like cab rides and sodas and MP3 downloads should be willing to share a little. He spread the pain out. It had something to make everyone groan, like L'Ailee's best friend, a cabbie who predicts that he'll get even fewer passengers now. ("As long as people wear super-high heels or drink too much, you'll be fine," I counseled. "The bastard's taxing beer, too," he replied gloomily.)
L'Ailee hates diet soda, but figures she can give Coke Zero a try again. Me, I know that even though I only drink diet, I'll be paying, too, just as I had to pay for the increase in corn syrup prices. I don't like that he talks about it as an "obesity tax." I'm still Libertarian enough to resent nutrition nannies. Speaking of which, of all people, Mayor Bloomberg needs to just quit his bitching. If he took the money he was planning to spend for his misguided campaign for a third term and gave it to Albany instead, we'd have a narrower gap.
Oh, and I had to plague L'Ailee with a vintage South Park episode, the one where Cartman dresses up like Hitler for Halloween. Bet y'all can guess why. Yes, I was thinking of the unfortunate toddler whose parents named him "Adolph Hitler Campbell" and insisted on having his full name frosted onto a supermarket birthday cake. L'Ailee said she'd have done it if she worked in that supermarket: "That little boy has been punished enough just because he has those parents, and I would not let them have their attention that they want." I figured that I'd have written "Happy Birthday Adolph" and insisted that there was just no room for more on the cake, what with the six-inch letters and the ten plastic cars decorating it, and given it to the jerks for half-price on account of my "mistake." Anyway, remember how, in that South Park episode, Cartman had to sit through a filmstrip about how "dressing up like Hitler in school isn't cool"? I think that there needs to be a similar DVD developed for hospital obstetric units now.
If you've read this far, a Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, and Merry Christmas to all!!!! And if you don't want to be happy or celebrate a holiday, well, see you next week.
General Motors didn't get bailed out (and don't ask me why the financial institutions got money to burn and they didn't get anything), but they are giving away 30 trips to go to the Daytona 500 and meet Tony Stewart and one Silverado as the grand prize. It seems stupid on the surface, but seriously, I'm pretty sure they feel a need to kiss up to a group of people that overwhelmingly prefers to buy American, bankruptcy or no bankruptcy. Of course I entered, in a display of confidence in American business (and a desire to go to the race and meet Tony Stewart, again.) Anyway, my free #14 sticker, which will probably live on my cubicle's message board, is at least the first benefit I've personally seen from all this mess.
The economy claims another victim, though. Zoo Atlanta is discontinuing the Panda Cam on New Year's Eve. Yes, just as baby Xi Lan is getting mobile and super-super-cute! (That's him below.) Supposedly they'll continue to show video clips and update his blog. Not the same, dammit!
Send an MP3 to a soldier, courtesy of Billboard magazine!
Winter Solstice celebrations throughout history.
Finally, Burger King has a mens' cologne out. I am not kidding. It has more than what it calls "a hint of flame-broiled burger." It is called "Flame" and retails for $3.99 at Ricky's stores in NYC and online. L'Ailee bought some for my brother as a last-minute jokey gift. To paraphrase a University of New Hampshire communications professor, it is quite an awesome example of viral marketing. Still, I have to succumb, not enough to actually eat at BK, but just to show you the website for Flame. Please don't click too far, please don't click too far, please don't click too far, or you'll see stuff that'll make you run screaming for brain bleach!