I had a dream last night in which I was doing some work in the attic. There were some other people up there helping me with the renovations and my mind was nearly set on getting rid of the excess clutter to leave my attic better organized.
When I was looking around the attic to survey the work to be done, I saw something of interest on the wall near the ceiling. There, sitting on a small shelf just large enough, was a single electric locomotive, the kind that zips around happily on its track around the Christmas tree. I had never seen it there before.
Upon taking a closer look, I saw a black cord that ran from the back of the locomotive into a small hole in the wall behind it as if to draw its power from somewhere in the house. This only deepened the mystery. I had been living in this house for years and never even knew of its existence.
Upon waking up, I began to think about this strange but delightful dream and managed to solve the mystery. The locomotive was there to serve as Santa’s doorbell, with the black cord connected to the doorbell button somewhere on the roof for Santa to ring to announce his arrival.
So on nights when you hear a faint sound of a toy locomotive sounding its horn from the attic, you’ll know exactly what it means.
The mood at the office Christmas party had none of the usual holiday cheer. There were the usual servings of cookies, eggnog and fruitcake, the usual holiday decorations and the traditional gift exchange as had been done every year, but this time though the mood was of pure annoyance. The cause was Kevin’s sports jacket on which hung hundreds and hundreds of tiny bells. Every time Kevin walked around the office, he would shake his jacket to sound the bells and the continuous ringing was of great annoyance to everyone in attendance, yet no one could leave as this was seen as a sign of disrespect for the holiday season.
Charles was driven to near insanity by the bells and was continuously drinking the eggnog just to calm his nerves. When the last of the eggnog was gone, Charles blurted out, “Oh dear, we’re out of eggnog. I’ll go get some more.” With that, he left the office.
15 minutes later Charles returned with some more eggnog and had on a pleasant smile for a change. This surprised Robert, who was also driven to near madness by the tiny bells on Kevin’s jacket.
“What’s going on, Charles?” Robert asked. “Aren’t the bells driving you crazy?”
“Not for long they won’t,” Charles replied, strolling to Kevin’s office where Kevin sat at his desk, eating a slice of fruitcake while looking out the window to admire the Christmas lights that hung outside the office, not even noticing Charles standing there silently as if waiting for something.
“Oh,” Kevin gasped, finally seeing Charles, “You startled me.”
“I wasn’t doing anything,” Charles replied. “If I wanted to startle you, I’d do THIS.”
Charles began waving his arms and seconds later, Kevin’s jacket began ringing frantically before it flew upwards to crash through the ceiling. Kevin’s jacket was no more. In fact, Kevin spent the rest of the party staring at the jacket-sized hole in the ceiling above his head, but at least there was peace and quiet in the office now.
Robert saw the whole thing happen and was incredulous. “How did you do that?” he asked.
“Oh, it was nothing,” Charles replied nonchalantly, “Nothing at all.”
Soon it came time to for the party to end. Tables were put away and leftover cookies and fruitcake were taken home. As Charles and Robert walked outside to their cars, Charles called out, “Thanks for everything, Steve.”
“Anytime, Charles,” Steve called back as he drove his electromagnetic crane out of the parking lot. “Anytime at all.”
I remember one Christmas many years ago when I was growing up, my sister and I both got up early to admire the huge assortment of presents under the tree. In fact, we got up so early our parents hadn’t gotten up yet and we had to wait for them to get dressed so we could all open our presents. Seeing how excited we were, my father managed to make a deal with us. My sister and I were allowed to open just one present and play with that while we were waiting.
So I reached under the tree, grabbed a present and unwrapped it to find myself holding a small container of fuel. It was for another present I would later unwrap, which was a control-line model airplane with a small gasoline engine. I would hold the cables and use them to control the plane while spinning in a continuous circle. It was good, dizzying fun.
But I will always remember how puzzled I was to get a container of fuel for Christmas.
One day several years ago I arrived at a Party City store just to browse around when I spotted this eye-catching decoration hanging from the ceiling. I pulled out my phone and took a picture for later uploading to Twitpic. So this is what the Spirit of Christmas looks like.
The picture resided on Twitpic for a while before it mysteriously disappeared, much to my dismay. This is truly a one-of-a-kind shot and I could never get another one like it again. I eventually found the picture safe and sound on Twicsy, a search engine for Twitter pictures, but my joy was short-lived. The picture soon disappeared from Twicsy as well.
Tonight I was browsing through my backup CD’s when I came across a saved copy of the picture. Again I was overjoyed, but this time I decided to immediately upload it to this blog for permanent safekeeping. I know it’s after the holidays but when it comes to priceless pictures like this one, I’m just not taking any more chances.
This is an actual ANSI screen I created in 1993 using a Leading Edge brand computer that had a 80286 processor, 640KB RAM, 16-color EGA graphics card and a 30MB hard drive running MS-DOS 3.20. I created my ANSI screens using a program called TheDraw and would upload them via 2400bps modem to some of the various bulletin board systems I frequented during those days.
I saved this and other ANSI screen files to some 5 1/4″ 360KB diskettes, where over time they were copied to 3.5″ diskettes, then to CD-ROM and finally to DVD-ROM where I still have access to the very files I created 20 years ago.
To render the ANSI screen to the PNG format presented in this post, I used PabloView, a free viewer that converts ANSI and RIP screens to more modern file formats.
All this just to wish you a Merry Christmas.
Kevin cleared his throat.
“Guys, I would like to thank-”
“Take another Tums, Charles,” Kevin said, mildly annoyed at the rude interruption. He knew Charles had chronic bad gas that required him to belch loudly every few minutes at the office where he worked as assistant manager but it was embarrassing for this to happen at the Blue Bottle Pub where all 7 employees of the Information Systems staff were having their annual Christmas party. In fact, other patrons were already staring at Charles as he took another Tums.
“Feeling better now, Charles?”
“Yes, much better.” Charles replied contently.
Kevin cleared his throat one more time and started his speech. “I would like to thank everyone for all their hard work during this past year. I know it’s been rough with all the problems we’ve been having with our network and servers, but we’ve demonstrated time and time again the true meaning of teamwork.”
“That’s what you said last year!” Charles shouted. “The only way to fix this is to upgrade the entire network at the hospital!”
“Then why don’t we do that?”
“WE CAN’T UPGRADE WITH THE UNSIGNED PURCHASE ORDERS STILL SITTING IN YOUR BOX!” Charles roared before letting out a thundering belch.
Again, all eyes in the pub were on Charles and Kevin let out a nervous laugh. “Take another Tums, Charles,” Kevin chuckled.
Then John’s beeper went off. John read the number and excused himself from the table to return the call. He was the one on call and the one taking the heat from the angry nurses and doctors for all the problems with the network.
“Poor John,” Kevin sighed, “That’s the fourth time his beeper’s gone off tonight.”
“I WONDER WHY!” Charles belched. He was so stressed that his gas levels increased exponentially and he had to belch repeatedly to bring the gas levels down to more comfortable levels. He had to stand up and pace the floor while clutching his stomach as he let out belch after thundering belch. “BRAAAAAACK! BRAAAAAAACK! BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!” Patrons were so offended by the noise that they ran outside, leaving the pub nearly vacant.
Then John re-entered the pub with a very somber look on his face. “The network just crashed,” he muttered, “Again.”
“WELL, BACK TO WORK WE GO!” Charles belched. “MAYBE WE SHOULD’VE HAD OUR PARTY AT THE OFFICE INSTEAD!”
The staff left the pub to return to the office to work on bringing the network back up, that is, everyone except Kevin, sitting there stone-faced and staring at the table of unopened presents intended for the gift swap. This was supposed to be a joyous party for a joyous occasion but apparently fate had other plans.
A loud belch suddenly pierced Kevin’s thoughts. “KEVIN!”
“Take another Tums, Charles,” Kevin sighed as he collected the presents and too left the pub, thus prematurely ending another holiday party for the beleaguered staff.
I normally don’t post about what I got for Christmas but I must make an exception and share what I consider the most priceless present I have ever unwrapped.
Some years ago my mother visited my grandmother at the nursing home and persuaded her to write a story about her life and so she did. She dove into her sharp memory and wrote a short autobiography offering details of growing up in Europe during the war and eventually immigrating to the United States.
My mother took her story, printed it and assembled a photo album with pictures of my ancestors and where they lived. From reading this story, I can conclude that my grandparents were survivors and able to handle anything that life threw at them. I like to think I inherited this trait from them, a trait which has served me well during these tough years.
My grandmother passed away earlier this year but her voice lives on through the pages of the photo album I received for Christmas. I know there is more to the story than what was told so far, and I also know that my grandmother will tell me more of her life on her next visit to my dreams.
Santa Slayer is one of my favorite games, especially during this time of year. It’s a very old first-person shooter in which you control a flying sleigh armed with guns and rocket launchers as you battle the evil Santas and his equally evil elves who have taken over the North Pole. There are explosions and flying body parts aplenty that will make for some serious holiday-related stress relief at the risk of your taking delivery of some coal come Christmas morning.