Duck, Duck, Goose!

Flaps Up!  Geese Coming In For A Landing!

As I write this, Canada geese are flying over our house, so close to the ground at times that the actual swoosh of individual wingbeats are heard if one stands outside. They’re talking in honks and sqwonks as they fly, the sound so loud that it’s the rural equivalent of a big city rush hour traffic jam. We get occasional flocks of ducks passing over, too, but during migration, every night at dusk, tens of thousands of geese gather together on a bend of the river that lies across the street from our home.

As I’m the ever inquisitive sort, when I watch the geese (as with everything else) I have questions. Why don’t they ever crash into each other? How do they fly together in such huge flocks without the goose equivalent of air traffic control? Who decides which path they’ll take, and how far they’ll fly before stopping to rest? What are they saying?

Why did one fly into Fabio’s face a few years back?

Aha! Finally! A question with an answer! That was human error, according to Fabio himself. As he tells it,

“This roller coaster went by a pond where there are hundreds of geese that nest there and this was opening day so these geese didn’t have time to get out of the way, and when the roller coaster hit the water they killed several geese. I heard they were having major problems with the geese. They spent millions of dollars on this roller coaster and they didn’t put nets around the coaster to protect the geese or people. They closed the ride fast. So it wasn’t a case of some random goose that flew by, they built the ride right through a geese habitat. You would see geese flying through the path of the roller coaster, they’re migrating birds. In the winter the geese weren’t there so they just built right across the geese’s area so when the spring came around, they had that problem with geese getting in the way of the ride. Had it been a child that had been hit that hard the child might have been killed.”

Hello…? what’s wrong with picture?

sqwONK! THUD! PooFT!

*feathers fly everywhere*

Even if there wasn’t any danger to the roller coaster’s occupants, and you didn’t care about fatalities to the geese, didn’t the park’s developers consider that it might be a tad disturbing to go whizzing in a roller coaster through a pond filled with dead geese?

“Look Mommy! Dead birdies!”

“Eeewwwwwwwww!”

What were they thinking?

Oopsie – there I go, asking questions again!

Questions! I always have questions!

I wonder… do geese ever ask questions?

Sqwonk!

A Rose By Any Other Name?

Rugosa Rose

One of the hot new words of 2006, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, was “pretexting.”

Pretexting, the article pointed out, was the term certain individuals at Hewlett-Packard used to describe “the practice of calling telephone companies to obtain people’s phone records, generally under the pretext of claiming to be those individuals.”

I thought we already had a simple verb to describe that behavior: lying.

Let me check… yes, I think I’m onto something here… Webster’s says:

Main Entry: lie
Function: verb
1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2: to create a false or misleading impression
transitive verb : to bring about by telling lies (lied his way out of trouble). “Lie” is the blunt term, imputing dishonesty (lied about where he had been).

That’s what I recall being taught.

Here’s an idea for CEOS, executives and managers who want to clean up corrupt corporate cultures in the United States: explain your company’s actions in words every five-year-old understands.

Want to bet that “pretexting” isn’t on the kindergarten vocabulary list?

Born in a Stable

Midwest Nativity

I’ve never been comfortable with the images portraying the Nativity scene within a cave. Yes, it may be the case that the stable where Jesus was born was a cave, but I don’t find that version of the scene the tiniest bit peaceful and joyous.

My fault, entirely – think “seriously claustrophobic” and you begin to understand why me envisioning the Nativity as a “sweet cave scene” isn’t even a remote possibility. I can laugh uproariously throughout the scariest monster movie, which makes me an uncomfortable movie companion, but for heavens sake, why would the hungry Velociraptor chase the little bitty humans around in a kitchen when 40 tons of edible herbivore is lumbering about merely twenty yards away?

Sorry. Got carried away there.

Anyways, I don’t happily “do” enclosed spaces, nor do I enjoy depictions of them in any form. I can stand on a cliff or pick up a snake, but show me Harrison Ford crawling into a drain and I’m outta there. Nope. Do not like that. Can’t watch. Not even with gorgeous Harry as the star.

So.

I’ve always visualized the Nativity in a barn, which if it contains horses (and even a cow or two) is called a stable here in the Midwest.

Semantics, perhaps, but there it is, and tonight we’ll celebrate the Nativity, with me picturing the newborn Babe in a barn.

I’m sure Jesus understands.

Merry Christmas!

“In mundo nascitur,
Pannis involvitur
Praesepi ponitur
Stabulo brutorum,
Rector supernorum.
Perdidit spolia
Princeps infernorum.”

(He is born on earth, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger in an animals’ stable, the ruler of the heavens. The prince of hell has lost his spoils – Piae Cantiones, 1582)

Quiz Show

Star of Wonder Blue Lit Night

So, says you, have you gotten the latest email asking all those sweet Christmas questions?

Indeed I have. Many times. Many many times. Enough that it reminds me of snowflakes scattering into my email and forming a formidable drift of saccharine delight. I’ve seen it propagating throughout the web too: the Christmas Meme intent on becoming the blogosphere’s “Song that Never Ends.”

I suppose, barring ownership of a Zamboni equipped with a flame-thrower, the only way to melt the drift is to wade my way through and answer. So, here ’tis.

Christmas Questionnaire Answers

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Neither, actually. Cheese boxes don’t lend themselves to fancy duds, especially when they are being sent hither and yon.

2. Real tree or artificial? Vinyl. I’m considering a paper tree for next year.

3. When do you put up the tree? When we have a thaw that let’s us pound the stakes into the ground.

4. When do you take the tree down? Around June 1st, when it’s warm enough to crowbar the tree stakes back out of the frozen tundra.

5. Do you like eggnog? Is this a trick question? No! Especially not when it’s been made by taking a raw egg, tossing it into a glass and then smushing in frozen Tom and Jerry mix.

Eggnog, indeed.

*gack*

6. Do you have a nativity scene? Duh! It’s Christmas. What were you expecting, a shadowbox of Santa Claus tubing behind a Holstein?

7. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, with hopes of having them actually in the post by Valentine’s Day, more or less.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Why would anything that was given as a gift ever get rated as “best” to “worst” by anyone?

*shakes head at state of the world*

9. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Good heavens, no! Is this one of those questions from the eco-intelligentsia popping up again?

10. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cheesecake. Not that gelatin-filled imitation stuff that gets passed off on unsuspecting innocents. Real cheesecake, topped with Sibby’s vanilla ice cream and home-made whipped cream. Or, as we call it, the “triple coronary by-pass delight.”

11. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored, small, and in jewel tones. And no flashing lights, thank you kindly.

12. Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeers? Certainly. And I always remember to include Adolph the Antelope in my list, as he had a very special characteristic that made him Santa’s backup light. Thank you, Mathguy, my beloved, for making sure that little ditty would haunt me throughout my life.

13. Angel on the tree top or a star? This is another one of those trick questions, right? A star, of course! I seem to recall every instance of angels appearing in the Bible including falling flat on one’s face in sheer terror and awe at the sight. I’m not quite up to experiencing that every time I look at my tree.

14. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Advertisements. And Christmas memes, I might add.

15. What would you like for Christmas? A total body transplant, but that doesn’t seem to be in the offing. So, as Gracie Hart says, “I’ll take world peace.” That’s always good.

Adolph’s Antelope Song

With regrets, I’m posting the Adolph the Antelope song, as it doesn’t seem to have made an appearance anywhere before on the web.

Remember the first time you heard a little ditty that stuck in your head, a ditty that you wish you’d never heard, isn’t terribly polite and you would give good money to have expunged from your brain?

This is one of those. You’ve been warned.

(sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

Adolph the Amber-Assed Antelope

Adolph the amber-assed antelope,
Had a very shiny ass,
And if you ever saw it,
You would say it shone like brass.
All of the other antelope,
Used to laugh and call him names,
They never let poor Adolph
Join in any antelope games.

Then one foggy Christmas eve,
Santa came to say,
“Adolph, with your ass so bright,
Won’t you be my backup light?”
Then all the antelope loved him,
As they shouted out with glee,
“Adolph, the amber-assed antelope,
You’ll go down in history!”

–anon (and one doesn’t wonder why!)