Happy Holidays

Holiday Card 2009
Originally uploaded by xadrian.

This has been an interesting year for the BGF. We've made new friends, discovered new loves and participated in a lot of life changing events. I have to say this was a pretty good year for me. It was rough and emotionally challenging and promises to end in a fist fight or a trip to the ER, but I'm quite happy with this year.

A lot happened in 2009. Remember Obama? Yeah, his presidency started in 2009. It seems longer doesn't it? We lost a lot of people in 2009; some famous and some I'd not heard about until doing a search. The US went into then came out of a recession. Swine Flu reared it's sickly head. Climate change became a big political topic. And the world was rocked by tsunamis and earthquakes.

Locally, two people in our house became roller derby girls. Both Ms. A and LMA started skating over the summer. Mom got into TXRD and daughter skated for Derby Brats. Both of them love the sport and will continue to pursue it in 2010.

Ms A. and Miss LA got engaged.

All of the adults went back to school as well. Ms. A started in Fall of 2009 by going to ACC. Miss LA and I will be starting in Spring of 2010. I'm going for a degree in Art and Miss LA is going for a medical technician degree. Ms. A is studying to be a social worker. I didn't draw or build as much in 2009, but I wrote a lot and watched a lot of TV. I quit smoking and started running.

G-man started kindergarten in the fall. So far he loves it and his teacher is a wonderful lady who loves all the kids and has a great time teaching. He's made new friends but still plays a lot with his sister (when she lets him, that is.) LMA did Destination Imagination AND Math Pentathlon. She started 3rd grade in the fall and continues to get high marks in school.

This last year has given us a lot of opportunities to change and for the most part we took them. 2010 promises more change and more adventure and I hope we're all up to the task.

So Yule 2009 will have special significance. While Ms. A and Miss LA's plans to have a commitment ceremony have fallen through, there will no doubt be a lot of merry-making around our house. We'll awake on the 22nd to see what Santa has brought, share a nice breakfast, play with our new toys and then likely try to take naps. (The adults.) I'm sure the kids will be high on new toy smell for at least a week. We'll then likely spend the 25th finding an open restaurant in which to have dinner, as is our tradition.

Something struck me in this past week. Twice actually. The first was from a few comments made on this site (which I sadly had to delete) and the other from a holiday parade we attended last weekend. People believe Santa Claus has something to do with the real Christmas.

And by "people" I mean Christians. And by "something to do with" I mean "was at the nativity." A parade float we saw actually had a Santa kneeling in prayer in front of The Manger. The comment left on this site was, "If you guys don't believe in Christmas, why do you have so many pictures with Santa Claus?"

I'd like to address this because I do it every year, but it bears repeating: Christmas is a Pagan holiday.

Ok, technically "Christmas" is Christ Mass and yes it celebrates the birth of Jesus which happened some time in June. And yes it was taken by the Romans to go along with the Germanic mid winter festivals when they went steaming through Europe and needed to appease everyone. Just think about it for a second, were there any pine trees in Nazareth? Snow even? Elves? Were any of the gifts left in stockings above the sheep and mules and oxen? The the wise men come in on a sleigh?

No. No, not really, no.

Santa Claus is Odin. He's a different spirit from a different realm than Christendom altogether. In fact, some Christians believe that Santa is a hurtful lie perpetuated by commercial interests in the United States and some European countries. It removes the true meaning of Christmas from the holiday and teaches children to believe in a false idol.

To say a Pagan, then, can't believe in Santa is ludicrous. Santa was a Pagan god first, a Christian co-opt second. To say Santa is some how tied to the story of the birth of Jesus or his teachings is akin to saying George Washington was a great Civil War general or that da Vinci was the first man in space. It's just not true.

But, here's the kicker. You don't have to be of any faith to believe in Santa Claus. Just like you don't have to be of any faith to believe in snow or mistletoe or bells or ribbons or wassail or gift giving. Just because it's not technically right doesn't make it morally wrong. I believe what I want to and so do you, dear reader. If I want to believe that a giant bell goes from house to house delivering candy on Easter, the Christian thing to do would be to let me believe it, not give me reasons why I'm going to hell because of it.

My choice to believe in what I believe is inherent with being a sentient human being. My appreciating others' beliefs and letting them do as they will is inherent with being a compassionate human being. If I were to think less of someone because they don't believe what I believe, it turns out, that's inherent with being a Christian.

Happy Yule everyone.

(PS, I didn't intentionally turn commenting off, but Haloscan is moving to a pay only service so I'm trying to enable Blogger commenting.  I'll try to make sure it works.)


Wikis, Lego and Running

First of all, I hate wikis.  I hate giant public wikis that are run by 5 guys with Napoleon complexes.  I hate the fact that they are useful.  I hate that I try every once a year or so to be involved in one or more only to have my additions or changes reverted back because of someone's concept of quality or notability.  No matter how big they are, they always ask to make the page better by editing it.  So I do, and then it gets changed back.  And frankly, I don't want to invest that much time.  So, have fun Alpha Geeks.  I'm sure your noble contributions will not go unseen by the great Eye of Time or whatever awaits you.

Next up, Lego!  I have a new project, which actually lead me down the wiki path.  Star Wars: The Clone Wars, while actually quite good, has also been an inspiration for Star Wars ship building.  I haven't taken advantage of this because I've been organizing and sorting and I can't build and sort simultaneously for two reasons: First, I get panicky.  I'm not a hoarder or OCD about sorting papers or pens or canned vegetables, but for some reason Lego all has to be in its place.  LMA and G-man both have their own sets and as children they are, to their rights, constantly losing pieces and scattering bricks hither and yon.  I think they do this to watch my eyes twitch.  Reason two, I have a limited space and can't have a giant thing of unsorted bricks hanging out on my drawing table AND build on it at the same time.  Not to mention if I've got drawing to do (which I don't, order a robot people!) as that would require the same flat surface.

The drawing I can get away with doing elsewhere, but I doubt I'd get the same amiable response to a giant box of Lego.  On top of being underfoot and a nemesis to vacuums, Lego is really loud when you're pushing it around in a box while looking for that one piece.  Hence the sorting.

So I'm building a T-6 ambassador shuttle.  I was going to build a little snow planet speeder seen last season but I got distracted.  Now they actually have a set for it and I must say it's a little weak.  But this is on the heels of the SERIOUSLY weak Republic Y-Wing set.  I say weak because I did the same thing to a much better scale, in my opinion.  The problem I have with minifig scale items from Lego is that they are generally more playable, but they don't line up really well with actual scale.  For instance, the image of the shuttle here looks to be a fairly monsterous size, were it to be built out to actual size.  The cockpit seats four and there's room to walk around behind the cockpit seating.  I drew it out based off screenshots from the TV show, and I took my minifig to human scale of 1 in. to 1 meter and the ship turned out to have a 30" wingspan.  To give you an idea of what that looks like, when I built the Nebulon Ranger last year, that had roughly a 30" wingspan and that thing was a beast.

(I realize the descrepancy between a minifig being 1" and a human being ~1.5m, but for sake of building, 1:1 is easier.  Also, minifigs tend to be shorter and fatter so that changes much of the perspective.  For more on this, read here.)

So I'll be spending my next few non-drawing months building that.  I don't know why I take on these big projects.  I don't have the right supply of bricks for big ships and yet I do them anyway.  Which reminds me, the holiday season is coming up.  If you really want to be an awesome reader, you can order and ship me some Lego sets, I don't care what they are or how big or small.  In fact, if you did that, I'd draw you whatever you wanted.  Say you sent something like this, that's worth, to me, two 8x10 robot portraits.  But I mean we could totally work out something else.  Pencil, ink, watercolor, photoshop graphics, posters, whatever.  I think I might start a new business model.  Get paid in Lego.  Hmm.

Meanwhile I've started running again.  I get horrible shin splints and I'm pretty sure the crunching sound in my knee is a bad sign, but I'm 210lbs at 5'8" and that's just not healthy.  When your kids say things like "Well, at least your not fat like daddy..." you know it's time for a change.  I stopped smoking a while back (or as my Grandma Vi would say, "I choose not to smoke now") no reason I couldn't drop a few pounds.  Plus it'll help when I play basketball.

So far it's no bad.  I can run in the gym at work and watch Daily Show repeats and the time just flies by.  I'm no fool, though.  I run/walk a mile so far and that's about my limit.  I'll just slowly build up until I can actually run the whole mile and move on from there.  Even if I don't lose much weight, it beats doing nothing.

Thanksgiving was a blast, had a fantastic time with the folks that were at our house.  It's like a new little family that we've adopted.  If you've been watching Ms. A's and my Flickr pages, you'd have seen most of these people.  It was wonderful to have a full house, beer, food, music and laughter.

Miss LA and Tiger Lily were in Louisiana for Thanksgiving so we had to do without the cajuns, but it was a good time none-the-less.

Speaking of Louisiana, guess where I'm going for Christmas?  That's right.  I'll be taking a drive to Abbeville to hang out with Tiger Lily's family.  Last year she went and I stayed and it was a long sad three weeks.  We were a newly minted couple but it was still hard to be apart in that tentative and formative time.  We text like crazy so were at least in communication with each other.  I know my parents will be upset by this seeing as I said I wouldn't be able to make it up to Colorado for either holiday.  To be honest, it's a sight easier to drive alone for six hours than it is to fly with two kids.  Think about it, come the 23rd or 24th or whenever I leave, I get up, grab my bag and go.  I stop for gas, maybe a donut and coffee and I'm gone.  And I'm a guy so I don't have to stop and pee for three weeks.  (Tried it once, true statement.)  If I went with the kids, it's getting up two hours before you have to leave for the airport, then you have to get to the airport and hour before your flight, then the flight is two hours, then getting out of the airport is another 45-60 minutes.  So, let's plan for maybe early in 2010.  I want to go to DC next year too so we'll have to see.

Finally my car needs to go to the hospital.  It's getting sick.  It didn't pass inspection and will likely need the following: transmission flush, head gasket, O2 sensor, shocks, breaks, belts.  Time for a new car?  Probably, I've already pulled my free credit reports to see what I can clean up before buying a new one.  And it's time for a new one.  I've had this car for 8 years and the exact same model for two years before that.  I want a nice, fuel efficient sedan with an mp3 jack and cup holders that don't sit in front of the vents.  I'm leaning toward a VW Jetta or maybe a Kia Forte.  We'll see.  (I'd also like a 47" Vizio LCD but that's just me being selfish.)

Off to do X-mas cards.  Carry on.