Thursday, December 23, 2010

A reminder: Norad tracks Santa!

I don't believe I can improve on the post I made 5 years ago about NORAD tracking, and reporting on, Santa's flight for 55 years now. I willl suggest to all of you to share the amazing experience of tracking Santa live online with whatever littles are in your survey on Christmas Eve. Or, dammit, just follow him yourself. Be good, for goodness' sake.

One significant change I've noticed: When I was a little, in the 1960s, listening to it on CBC Radio, the NORAD reports were quite clear that Newfoundland was the first stop of Santa's sleigh. I assume now that this had something to do with the broadcasts being Canadian, and Newfoundland having the furthest eastern time zone. It was, I will tell you, incredibly exciting.

Now, NORAD's Santa actually starts his flight in the far east, and chases the day all across the globe. I'm usually asleep before he hits North America.

Maybe that's the plan.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Believe.

Now in 7 languages!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trying to get a word in edgewise

On his journal, Roger Ebert (worth reading any time in any form - his reviews, journal or twitter feed) has a wonderful post in response to an email sent to him by a man who, like Ebert, has lost his ability to speak.

When I went deaf, the most unexpected, profound and painful side effect was the isolation and the resulting frustration. It's unintentional on the part of your coworkers, family, companions - hell, many of mine went far out of their way to try to alleviate it - but it's inevitable and unavoidable. And awful and lonely.

Never did it occur to me that losing the power of speech would lead to the same experiences.

We really, really take our senses for granted.


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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Purity Climax Mixture

Purity is a venerable old Newfoundland company. They make various types of biscuits and crackers (including hard tack), cookies, and also lots of delicious candies. (As an aside, when I was working at the immigrant-serving agency, I would bring in Jam-Jams to share. For some reason, people from China just loved the Jam-Jams. Just loved them.) Newfoundlanders living away crave their Purity products, and their island-based families have for decades sent "care packages" of Purity goods to their homesick kin. I've gotten a few myself, although happily Purity products have started turning up on store shelves here in New Brunswick. I always buy a bag or two of Purity Kisses when I'm back home, though, just in case I can't find them here.

Having said that, I would love for someone to explain to me what this, found on the website, is.

engrish funny - Experience The Rainbow
see more Engrish

I know not the country in which this was found but can pretty solidly affirm this is NOT what they are called in English. And given that the company's name, and brand, and image, is "Purity", it seems a bit... incongruent, does it not?

Ah, interwebs. You constantly surprise me.



Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Now it's Christmas

We got a perfect picture of both of the cats on Santa's lap at the Fredericton SPCA's "Pet Photos with Santa" fundraiser.

That was about, oh, five years ago.

Since then it's been a bit of a stickier wicket. They're older, bigger, crankier. They still treat the event with complete aplomb, ignoring great slobbering dogs and wriggling ferrets. But familiarity breeds contempt. They will not settle down and look at the photographer any more. They wriggle. They look all about. They are not impressed.

Here's this year's effort. They're endearing for their complete refusal to be adorable. Mojo looks positively pissed. Santa looks grimly determined, and is gripping them like they're his boarding passes for the arks escaping the apocalypse at the end of 2012.

Could've been worse. Could've looked like this.

Merry Christmas, all y'all.



Wednesday, December 01, 2010

More Jibacoa

Yup. No American investment in Cuba. Verboten!

This photo was taken at the duty-free store at the airport in Varadero.

We also saw Red Bull everywhere this time. "Heche en Austria" of all places!

The work-around is always that the product is actually manufactured in a third country. Coca-cola is "heche en Mexico". Jesse Helms is dead. Does Dan Burton know about this?

Because Blogger makes posting photos with commentary ridiculously difficult, I've posted some more photos from Jibacoa, including a few more pictures of our visit to Santa Cruz del Norte, to my Flickr stream. You can access it here (I hope).

Two notes about this trip: first, we spoke with a Cuban about the government's plan to lay off half a million government workers and have them move to entrepreneurial pursuits. The Cuban (being a bit of a black market entrepreneur already) thought it was a fine idea!

The second note is about our fellow-travelers at the resort. Very interesting and new companions this time - a large contingent of Caribbean expats living in the UK who came on a group junket. Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Barbadians... you get the idea. From the group matriarch who seemed to be everywhere in an admirable collection of headgear, to a very well-behaved and sweet gang of little ones, a more pleasant group of fellow occupants we couldn't have hoped for. The rest were non-Caribbean Brits (Euro-Brits? White British people? What's the appropriate term in this context?), Canadians, and a few Germans.

Endlessly fascinating. Cuba, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. We're waiting with curiosity to see what the Wikileaks cables serve up about this complicated country which has gone through so much change lately.


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