Archive for December, 2013

Snow Job

Friday, December 27th, 2013

I’ve spent more than my usual amount of time at Disneyland this winter. Just because I wanted to.

While there I’ve encountered three distinct kinds of snow. The first is the hardpack. It’s plastic or resin or some such and mostly adorns the roofs of buildings; designed to make them look like they’ve been accumulating snowfall throughout the season. The next kind is both fresh and transient. It’s made of small bubbles smaller than the ones kids blow through wands, more like what detergent makes in a washing machine. It gets blown out of tall towers and in the lamplight of night does a credible job of looking like falling snow. The final kind is made of soft paper. Not tissue soft, but not as hard as what you write or print on. It’s cut into the shape of oversized snowflakes and gets blasted out of air cannons for a quick burst effect during shows. It doesn’t look real, but it’s suggestive and entertaining, so it’s kind of in the tradition of animation.

God told me that if I were an eskimo I’d have a distinct word for each of these kinds of snow. I told him that was a myth.


Friday, December 20th, 2013

I was listening to some Christmas music and it occurred to me to ask God if the story of Rudolph was true. She kind of dodged the question for a little bit but finally gave in to my persistence.

She told me that it was actually a misinterpretation of events.

It seems the real story is that Santa had been noticing the rise of technology down south and was interested in adapting some of it for his own uses, and being that he had a very creative and talented work force, he didn’t want to just copy what we had. So he saw cars on the street and saw what a boon it was at night to have headlights and he decided he wanted something like that for his sleigh.

He went to the elves and talked to some of their designers about the problem. They assured him that putting headlights on a sleigh was a lousy idea. He’d just end up staring at the rear ends of the two hindmost reindeer and ruining his night vision. So they realized that they needed to put the light out in front of the reindeer. They wanted to come up with something that matched the aesthetics of the whole “reindeer pulling a sleigh” motif and they wanted something that wouldn’t spook the working reindeer.

And then they got a little carried away, not too mention a little overconfident in their abilities.

They made a mechanical reindeer. With a bright light where the nose should be.

At first the reindeer didn’t know what to make of it. Then they got the idea that they were being replaced. Automation is the wave of the future, they thought, and here’s our “John Henry” moment. Just as John Henry couldn’t match the power of the steam engine when it came to doing work, the reindeer knew that they wouldn’t be able to outfly a machine and couldn’t match Rudolph for new features like headlights.

There wasn’t much they could do though. They weren’t willing to engage in outright sabotage, so they just tried to ignore it. They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Then Gene Autry got ahold of the story and the rest is history.

Party Crashers

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Apparently it’s the season for fender-benders. I haven’t been in any. In fact I haven’t even seen any. But what I have seen is a lot of debris, both on the road and in parking lots. Bits of broken glass, pieces of taillights, that kind of thing.

God says it should go without saying that while I’m out getting wished “happy holidays” and wishing the same in return, that part of what I mean by “happy” is for you to not be involved in any of the aforementioned accidents. But just in case, I’m saying it. And also, please be careful out there.

And Happy Holidays! Remember, only a week left to shop in time for the solstice. And if it’s Friday the Thirteenth you wanted to celebrate, well, I hope you already got you’re shopping done, ‘cause, well, it’s here.

Rising Air

Friday, December 6th, 2013

My new house (I’m told I can call it that for up to six months) doesn’t heat like I’m used to. It’s both better and not better.

I’ve got central heating and air, but that’s not it. I’ve had those before. I think actually it’s because I’ve got central heating and air but that the house wasn’t built with it, so it’s installed differently. When I’ve had central before it’s always been fed into the rooms through vents that are up near the ceiling and when I’ve not had central I’ve had wall heaters that push the heat out through six feet of vents in one central spot.

And God refuses to tell me why the distributed vents are called central heating and the vents all in one central spot are not. But I digress.

In my new house the vents are all in the floor. There’s ducting in the crawlspace to route the heated air where it wants to go and it sort of gently wafts up through the vents. It’s that gentle wafting that had me concerned. First, I’m used to the hot air blowing out of vents, rushing into the room to quickly disperse to all corners. It gives me someplace to stand when I’m cold and feel the warm breeze. It’s not as satisfying as standing in front of a wall heater and feeling the fireplace-like glow but it does let me know things are working and let’s me get a little directed warming. But this gentle wafting? I had visions of it taking hours to heat the house.

When I got home this week from a short vacation the house was down to sixty degrees. It was with some trepidation that I turned the heat back on but with surprising speed the temperature began climbing. There’s enough air flow to warm my toes, but not enough to feel anything up as high as my hands, but I guess sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.