Sunday Bag o’ Holiday Mail

bag of mailSunday, and another mixed bag of topics I want to say something about before I forget, topics which taken one by one wouldn’t rate posts of their own.

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Switching from snail mail to email for the annual holiday letter to friends and relatives seems like such a bright idea. Until you realize there are 10 to 20 Luddites on your list who refuse to go online and cannot be neglected. Until you realize your bright idea of embedding a color family photo in your email, should you print out 10 to 20 paper copies for snail mail, would exhaust the local office supply store’s current inventory of color ink.

So, two versions: the email version with the embedded color photo; the snail mail version with color prints made from a flash drive at the local Kinkos. And now the search for Christmas stationary, envelopes, etc. Folks, there’s no getting away from printing and mailing the annual letter.

Those 10 to 20 printed and posted letters aside, the task is easier than it used to be, since most of the folks to whom we send our annual missive do have email. Surprising, though, how many answer back by telling you they still send their own annual letters by post, and that theirs is on its way. I never know whether they’re chiding me for going electronic, or merely sending a coded plea for help (as in, “I wish I could send ours by email too but my wife won’t let me”).

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A Facebook friend posted a link to a collection of awkward family Christmas photos. I clicked on it and began scrolling down through the photos, most of which were damn funny. Down around the 13th photo I stopped and scrolled back up to the 9th:

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 10.32.46 AM

We know these people! Those are our friends Mike and Laurie, with their kids Bethany, Cory, and Megan. Mike and Laurie were in our pilot training class and later on we were stationed together in Oklahoma and the Netherlands. This is a pretty old photo — they’re our age, so the kids are grown and gone now — but they always sent photos like this in their annual letter, and we probably have that exact one in a box of old mail somewhere. Last night I emailed them a link to the website. The subject line is: You’re Famous!

This reminds me of our own awkward family photo. In 1983, when we were first stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, we had the brilliant idea of posing on a sled with a team of dogs, like a pioneer family mushing to the Yukon. We contacted a local dogsledding club, they put us together with a member, and one cold day we met at an open field where mushers exercised their teams. Wearing colorful parkas, we posed on a sled with a team of huskies in front, snowy field and pines in the background. We couldn’t wait to get the prints.

When the prints came we instantly realized our mistake. There were piles of dog shit everywhere, and no way to crop them out. We didn’t mail a family photo out that year. Good thing, too, otherwise I’m sure we’d be all over the net.

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Doge meme:

doge meme_1

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I was up late the other night watching South Park on Comedy Central. There was a time when “adult content” wasn’t shown on TV until after 9 PM. As anyone who follows South Park knows, it’s a cartoon show for adults, not kids. During the episode I watched, which came on at 10:30 PM, the commercials were mostly for sugary breakfast cereals and clearly aimed at kids. Advertisers know who’s watching what and when, and they obviously believe a large child audience stays up late on school nights to watch adult cartoons. And surely they’re right.

When our 11-year-old grandson was here over Thanksgiving, he’d emerge from his bedroom about 11PM, wanting to watch Tosh 1.0 or South Park with me. Once he even popped out at midnight to catch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I sent him back to bed, of course.

Apparently a lot of kids get to stay up late and watch whatever they want on TV these days. Not a comment, just an observation. Gregory. And Beth.

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I was a kid in the 1950s and spent a good part of that time overseas. So I didn’t know about tacos. It was sometime in 1958, when I was in 6th grade in Virginia, that I first learned there was such a thing as a taco. The teacher ran a movie in civics class: Our Amigos to the South or something like that, a black & white documentary about Mexico. And there was this old woman wrapped up in a poncho, a street vendor, making tacos and handing them to customers right on the sidewalk. Tacos! Who knew? I decided then and there I had to have a taco.

It was years before I finally had one. We went from Virginia, where I attended a segregated whites-only elementary school and the only Mexican food anyone had ever heard of were those greasy tamales that came in cans, to Laramie, Wyoming, where things were pretty much the same (except the suppressed race was native Americans) and Mexican food was just as unobtainable.

Sometime during my early teens the dream of tasting the mysterious and exotic taco faded. But then my father got a new assignment and we moved to Sacramento, California. Mexican food was everywhere. I remembered my dream, searched out and ate my first taco, and thought I’d gone to heaven — it was even better than I imagined it would be! I’ve eaten many tacos since, and they’re still heavenly.

I was such a deprived child. Damn, now I’m all hungry.

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We’re going to to Las Vegas to spend Christmas with the kids. I think our daughter Polly plans to drive up with us, so we’ll all be together for a couple of days. We’ll leave Monday and come home Thursday. Yes, we’re taking the doges too.

As we do every year, we’re having a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. This year I want to make either cioppino or bouillabaisse. Pretty much the same ingredients, only not as much tomato in the French stew.

Later today, there are presents to wrap. My shopping is done. How about you? If not, I wish you well with the crowds.

© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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