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Merry Christmas!


Many of us are dismayed with the "war on Christmas" (read: war on Christ - check out the first six letters of CHRISTmas...) that ramps up more and more each year. I read on a blog some time ago (I should have taken note of the blog so that I could give due credit, but alas...) a post along this line. I thought I'd put it out there for your enjoyment.

Happy Whatever?

Please accept with no obligation - implied or implicit, on behalf of the wisher or wishee - my best wishes for an environmentally-conscious, socially-responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally-successful, personally-fulfilling, and medically-uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally-accepted Gregorian calendar year, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only America in the Western Hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, political affiliation, religious faith, or choice of computer operating system of the wisher or the wishee.

DISCLAIMER: By accepting this greeting you are accepting the terms of the greeting and all responsibility associated with it. This greeting is subject to clarification and/or revocation at any time at the discretion of the wisher. This greeting is non-transferable without the express written consent of the wisher. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/herself or for others. This greeting is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. Warranty is limited to replacement of this greeting or issuance of a new greeting at the sole discretion of the wisher, who assumes no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress this greeting may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit. Reading of this disclaimer constitutes your acceptance of the greeting. Oh, and I almost forgot...this disclaimer supersedes all local, state, federal, and international laws previously enacted to prevent such disclaimers from superseding all local, state, federal, and international laws.

Happy special time of year!

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The following was a comment on that blog that I found good enough to save with that blog post....

Comment: My favorite politically correct contortion to avoid using the word "Christ" at any cost is the local government that gives Dec 25th off as the "December 25th holiday". One year they sent out a memo that said since Dec 25 falls on a Saturday this year, the "December 25th holiday" will be taken on December 24! Ooops! How did that derivative of "holy" get in there?

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This is politically INcorrect Rob who thinks that the above is so ludicrous that it's actually funny. Since this is *my* blog, I'd like to wish you a joyous, Christ-exalting Christmas and God's best blessings in the New Year!

If you're still with me, I want to share a link that's related to the war on Christmas - it's called Merry TOSSmas.

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I've enjoyed working with the gang back at IT Help Desk on campus this week. As I've gone from office to office on campus, I've seen many people I haven't seen in quite a while, and I've been regaled with wellness-counter-productive goodies, songs, and general merriment. Some of the funniest things I've heard were related to some recent events on campus - mainly the pertussis (whooping cough) blip and the faculty/staff men now being permitted to sport beards. There are some pretty scruffy-looking characters out there right now! One person suggested the school be renamed Bob Jones University and Rescue Mission. One friend greeted me with the season's greetings of "Merry Pertussis, and a Happy New Beard!" It's definitely been a fun week to work! But I'm really looking forward to some time off now.

quotation...

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

DISCLAIMER: No trees were harmed in the posting of these greetings, however, a significant number of electrons were inconvenienced.

Christmas caroling


My wife and I had a very enjoyable time last evening. Friends from our church who also work at school invited some other people about our age to their house for a potluck dinner followed by caroling in their neighborhood (which just happens to be the same neighborhood where our son Mark and daughter-in-law Katie live. Our hostess even had little lanterns with votive candles inside for each couple to carry. It was a lot of fun, and I think that it was a pleasant surprise to those that we found at home. We even had the opportunity to comfort one mom who had just been talking to her enlisted son on the phone. We hope our friends can be a source of some on-going encouragement for her. We were disappointed that our son and daughter-in-law weren't at home - but we called them on our cellphone and caroled them as they shopped! :-)

Part of the fun of our caroling was singing Christmas songs with no songsheets and no instruments. It's amazing how many of the words are in our minds, and how many of the people we caroled sang along with us or mouthed the words themselves! Today's iv is a little fun with Christmas songs.

Christmas Songs Initials Puzzle

How many of these songs of the Christmas season can you identify using just the initials of the words in their starting phrases?

1. HYAMLC
2. TFNTADS
3. GRYMGLNYD
4. ICUAMC
5. SNHNAICAIB
6. OTFDOCMTLGTM
7. DTHWBOHFLLLLLLLL
8. YBWOYBNC
9. JTTWTLHC
10. YKDADAPAVCACADAB
11. ISMKSCUTMLN
12. CSBSDIHS
13. HTHASGTTNK
14. GGROBAR
15. OHNTSABS
16. AIWFCIMTFT
17. DTTSIAOHOS
18. WTKOOA
19. IDOAWCJLTOIUTK
20. CROAOFJFNAYN
21. IBTLALLC
22. OLTOBHSWSTL
23. SBRAYLITLSIG
24. IBHFC
25. WWYAMCWWYAMC
26. IHTBOCD
27. FTSWAJHS
28. JOSNLYETW
29. GKWLDOTFOS
30. UOTHRPOJGOSC
31. IHABCWY
32. WUNWTAGC (LSN)
33. JHTSBRTTT
34. CTTMPRPPP

Answers to Christmas Songs Initials Puzzle

1. HYAMLC - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. TFNTADS - The First Noel (the Angels did say)
3. GRYMGLNYD - God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Let nothing you dismay)
4. ICUAMC - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
5. SNHNAICAIB - Silent Night (Holy night, all is clear, all is bright)
6. OTFDOCMTLGTM - The 12 Days of Christmas (On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me)
7. DTHWBOHFLLLLLLLL - Deck The Halls (with boughs of holly. Fa La La La La La La La La)
8. YBWOYBNC - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (You'd better watch out, you better not cry!)
9. JTTWTLHC - Joy To The World (the Lord has come)
10. YKDADAPAVCACADAB - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen)
11. ISMKSCUTMLN - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (underneath the mistletoe last night)
12. CSBSDIHS - Silver Bells (City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, decked in holiday style)
13. HTHASGTTNK - Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Glory to the newborn King)
14. GGROBAR - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
15. OHNTSABS - Oh Holy Night (the stars are brightly shining)
16. AIWFCIMTFT - All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
17. DTTSIAOHOS - Jingle Bells (Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh)
18. WTKOOA - We Three Kings (of Orient Are)
19. IDOAWCJLTOIUTK - (I'm Dreaming of a) White Christmas (just like the ones I used to know)
20. CROAOFJFNAYN - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost nipping at your nose)
21. IBTLALLC - It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas
22. OLTOBHSWSTL - O Little Town of Bethlehem (how still we see thee lie)
23. SBRAYLITLSIG - Winter Wonderland (Sleigh bells ring, are you list'nin'? In the lane snow is glist'nin')
24. IBHFC - I'll Be Home For Christmas
25. WWYAMCWWYAMC - We Wish You A Merry Christmas (We Wish You A Merry Christmas)
26. IHTBOCD - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
27. FTSWAJHS - Frosty The Snowman (was a jolly, happy soul)
28. JOSNLYETW - Jolly Old St. Nicholas (lean your ear this way)
29. GKWLDOTFOS - Good King Wenceslas (looked down, on the Feast of Stephen)
30. UOTHRPOJGOSC - Up On The Housetop (reindeer pause. Out jumps good old Santa Claus)
31. IHABCWY - (I'll Have A) Blue Christmas (without you)
32. WUNWTAGC - (LSN) Way Up North Where The Air Gets Cold (Little Saint Nick)
33. JHTSBRTTT - Sleigh Ride (Just hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling, ting, ting, ting-a-ling)
34. CTTMPRPPP - Little Drummer Boy (Come, they told me, pa rum pum pum pum)

The complete catalog of gifts in the old Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" today would cost you a total of $15,231.72. J. Patrick Bradley, chief economist at Provident National Bank in Philadelphia, figures the breakdown of prices for the 12 days as follows:

One partridge in a pear tree, $27.48 (partridge, $15; pear tree, $12.48)
Two turtle doves, $50
Three french hens, $15
Four calling birds, $280
Five gold rings, $600
Six geese-a-laying, $150
Seven swans-a-swimming, $7,000
Eight maids-a-milking, $30.40
Nine ladies dancing, $2,417.90
Ten lords-a-leaping, $2,686,56
Eleven pipers piping, $947.70
Twelve drummers drumming, $1,026.68

(update - be sure to check out the comments for some clarifications of several items in this post)

quotation...

"You never know whose heart God is touching or what 'language' He's using to speak to them." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

|||||||//////__ __ __ __ __ The domino effect in action.

The Georgia Aquarium


My wife and I have been wanting to go to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta ever since it opened two years ago. We decided that that was something we wanted to do during our Christmas break this year. As we talked about it, we decided that yesterday would be the perfect day for us to go there since it was a weekday and would be before most schools would be out for Christmas break. We went to their website and bought our tickets in advance.

On our way to the Atlanta area we stopped at one of our favorite places along I-85 in Georgia - the Mayfield dairy visitor center in Braselton, GA - get off at exit 129 and follow the signs. We both enjoyed a favorite - a scoop of turtle tracks ice cream. The folks at Mayfield had decorated their cow outside for the season...

Our plan for visiting the aquarium could not have been better. We sat in the car in the parking structure and ate the lunch we'd brought along since Becka had seen online that the food prices in the aquarium's food court were too high for our tastes. After eating we walked to the building and arrived 20 minutes before the entry time we had signed up for, but no problem. There was no line outside at all and we were able to go in early. There were plenty of people there, but it was by no means crowded at all. Bliss! As I share some photos we took, I apologize for the quality of some - I was trying to do them without flash (sometimes mandatorially and sometimes optionally). But since it took longer for the pictures to take, either my subjects moved or I moved the camera slightly, both of which motions altered the clarity.

Throughout the day I just kept praising God again and again for His creation! It was wonderful to see such a huge display of the infinite creativity of the Lord in the creatures He made to inhabit this planet with us!

The first exhibit we visited was the Ocean Voyager exhibit. What a great way to get started! The observation window in that exhibit is the second largest viewing window in the world at 23 feet tall by 61 feet wide and the acrylic window is 2 feet thick! The scene behind the window is amazing with schools of beautiful fish, several kinds of stingrays, enormous goliath grouper and several kinds of sharks, including hammerhead sharks and zebra sharks. The tank itself - the size of an American football field and containing 6.3 million gallons of water - was built to be large enough to house whale sharks, the largest known fish in the world. Below is a picture of one of their whale sharks...

On one of our visits back to that exhibit, we were fortunate to be there at the whale shark's feeding time. The whale shark would be no threat to people since the opening of its throat is the size of a quarter. That kind of shark is a filter feeder, sucking in large amounts of water to filter out the krill and other creatures small enough for it to swallow. There's also a 100-foot-long underwater tunnel through which you can walk and see the inhabitants of that tanks swim all around you and above you.

Each of the other four exhibits was interesting and unique, bringing to our inspection creatures from all over the world. The creatures we saw were extremely varied and fascinating. We saw horseshoe crabs, shrimp, Amazonian tropical fish, sea stars, African black-footed penguins, sea anemones, Australian leafy sea dragons, a giant Pacific octopus, seahorses, Japanese spider crabs, California sea lions, sea otters, and on and on I could go.

I'd like to share with you some of the things we found the most amazing or amusing. We saw some odd little creatures called garden eels. They live in little holes they've dug for themselves in the sand. They are about 16 inches long, but the most we ever saw was about the 6 inches that peeked out when no fish were nearby. Here's the best shot I could get of the garden eels...

Other strange creatures we saw were the jelly fish. The colors and their movements were really cool....

The loggerhead turtles were really fun to watch and kind of made me think of the turtle tracks ice cream at Mayfield's dairy...

We thoroughly enjoyed watching the antics of their five Asian small-clawed river otters. They moved about so quickly that I really had a struggle to get a clear shot of any of them. Here's my best shot...

Another really cool observation window was the one for the beluga whales. (BELUGA! for those of you who remember the "Bulbous Bouffant" thing that was popular a could of years ago.) The aquarium has three belugas - one male and two females (a mother and her daughter.) Here's a picture of the three beluga whales...

We enjoyed watching them for a long time - it was just so soothing! They can swim upside down. Here's a shot of Nico, the male, swimming upside down.

Nico seemed to enjoy swimming near the front of the tank where people were watching. The guides told us that the creatures inside could see us, just as we could see them. Here's a shot I took of my wife Becka watching Nico...

Our advice to anyone who's thinking about going there and has never been before:

1. Forget the 4-D show, unless you've never seen a 3-D show before. It was cute, but it was a cartoon, rather than real sea creatures. There was another "dimension" to the show that made it 4-D, but since the place is already expensive enough, it's not a necessary part of a positive visit to the Atlanta Aquarium.

2. Don't take any child younger than about 7 or 8. We saw a number of children younger than that thoroughly not enjoying themselves. Children under 3 are free, but really don't take much of it in at all and can be downright annoying to those who are trying to enjoy their experiences. (Read: we saw and heard plenty of crabby babies and toddlers, and the only crabs should be those inside the acrylic. :-) And children 3 to 8 really don't know enough to fully appreciate what they're seeing, unless your (grand)child is a prodigy, of course....

3. A good starting time for your visit would be at noon or maybe 12:30. That way, you could eat your lunch before going in, yet still have plenty of time to visit all afternoon.

We ended our Atlanta experience by eating dinner at the cafeteria at the Dekalb Farmers Market and shopping for some great produce and specialty items before heading back to Greenville.

picture of Dekalb

What a pleasant day! We'd do it again in a heartbeat! We'd love to hear that this has inspired some of you to go visit it too.

The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus


When I was doing word searches in my files a few weeks ago to see what I had about whooping cough or coughing in general, I turned up a poem that I didn't even know I had - or where I obtained it! I thought I'd hold off and share it closer to Christmas. In case anyone is wondering, my wife Becka and I decided before our kids came along that once we had kids, we would have fun with Santa, but that we would in no way try to make our kids believe in his existence. (The same thing went with the Easter bunny.) We wanted our kids to enjoy a bit of American holiday tradition, but to know unquestionably that it was make-believe - just for fun. We wanted them to know that the real reason for Christmas to is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, just as the real reason of Easter is to celebrate His resurrection from the dead.

On to the poem...

The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus
by Ogden Nash

In Baltimore there lived a boy,
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies' reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked No Admittance.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn't any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying "Boo!" at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.

Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
"There isn't any Santa Claus!"
Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.

Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
"Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn't any Santa Claus!"
Slunk like a weasel or a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
"There isn't any, no there's not!"

The children wept all Christmas Eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared to hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of "Don't," and "Pretty please."
He howled, "I don't know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!"

"Jabez," replied the angry saint,
"It isn't I, it's you that ain't.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn't any Jabez Dawes!"
Said Jabez with impudent vim,
"Oh, yes there is; and I am him!
Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't"---
And suddenly he found he wasn't!

From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donder and Blitzen licked off his paint.

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Megan sent us some pictures yesterday. One was screaming out to be shared on my blog. The father of one of our son-in-law Jim's closest friends dresses up as Santa each year for the small children of the young couples in their circle of friends. This, of course, presents a photo-op. Here's one of Drew's reactions to "Santa Johns":

My semester grades are reported, and today marks the official end of this semester. I plan to work one week of my vacation at IT Help Desk on campus, beginning this coming Monday. It will be nice to enjoy that part of my life, even if it's only for one week. The rest of my Christmas break will be filled with get-togethers with family and friends, chipping away at items on the "honey-do list," and just relaxing and getting rested up. I know from past experience that it will just fly by, but I'll enjoy the flight.

quotation...

"Godliness is a God-centered view of life." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph." - Shirley Temple

Christmas Carol Challenge


Since we're two weeks away from Christmas, I thought I should post something fun and Christmas-related. In my files I have a list of titles of carols that might challenge even the most adept at solving puzzles. If nothing else, it will improve your vocabulary.

Can you name these highfalutin Christmas and seasonal song titles? (Answers are found below.)

1. Move Hither, You Entire Assembly of Those Who Are Loyal in Their Belief
2. Delight Toward the Orb
3. Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings
4. Hey, Minuscule Urban Area Southwest of Jerusalem
5. Quiescent Nocturnal Period
6. Majestic Triplet Referred in the First Person Plural
7. The Yuletide Occurrence Preceding All Others
8. I Beheld a Trio of Nautical Vessels at Yuletide
9. I Apprehended My Maternal Parent Osculating with a Corpulent, Unshaven Male in Crimson Disguise
10. First Person Singular Experiencing An Hallucinatory Phenomenon of a National Celebration Devoid of Color
11. My Singular Desire for the Impending Yuletide Season Is Receipt of a Pair of Central Incisors
12. During the Time Ovine Caretakers Supervised Their Charges Past Twilight
13. Celestial Messengers from Splendid Empires
14. It Manifested Itself - Arrival Time: 2400 hours - Weather: Cloudless
15. Righteous Ebony Atmosphere
16. Hey, Coniferous Arbor
17. Query Regarding Identity of Descendant
18. Far Removed in a Bovine Feeding Trough
19. Jehovah Deactivate You, Blithe Chevaliers
20. Seraphim We Have Aurally Detected in the Stratosphere
21. Valentino, the Roseate Proboscissed Wapiti
22. Father Christmas Approaches the Metropolis
23. Argentine Glockenspiels
24. Vertically Challenged Adolescent Percussionist
25. The Antlered Quadruped with the Cerise Proboscis
26. The Apartment of Two Psychiatrists
27. Ornament the Interior Passageway with Large Sprigs of a Berry-bearing Evergreen
28. Anticipation of This Noel's Memento's: Nil
29. The Approach of the Holiday Commemorating the Birth of Christ Is Becoming Evident
30. Proceed and Broadcast This Thing on the Pinnacle
31. A Trio of Non-Occidental Potentates Is Our Identity
32. A Meteorological Melody Is Manifest
33. The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals
34. Please Permit Frozen Pristine Precipitation
35. 'Hoary', the Mannequin of Crystalline H2O
36. Our Desire Is Your Yuletide Cheer
37. Are You Experiencing Parallel Auditory Input?
38. Endeavor to Personally Experience an Amusing, Minuscule Yule!
39. Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a Conflagration
40. Vehicular Homicide was Committed on Aged Matriarch by a Wapiti

Answers...

1. O Come All Ye Faithful
2. Joy to the World
3. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
4. O Little Town of Bethlehem
5. Silent Night
6. We Three Kings
7. The First Noel
8. I Saw Three Ships on Christmas Day
9. I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus
10. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
11. All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
12. While Shepherds Watched their Flocks By Night
13. Angels from the Realms of Glory
14. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
15. O Holy Night
16. O Christmas Tree
17. What Child is This?
18. Away in a Manger
19. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
20. Angels We Have Heard On High
21. Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer
22. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
23. Silver Bells
24. The Little Drummer Boy
25. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
26. Nutcracker Suite
27. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
28. I'm Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas
29. It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas
30. Go Tell It on the Mountain
31. We Three Kings
32. There's a Song in the Air
33. The Twelve Days of Christmas
34. Let it Snow
35. Frosty, the Snowman
36. We Wish you a Merry Christmas
37. Do You Hear What I Hear?
38. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
39. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
40. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

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All's well here as we try to wrap things up for the semester. What could have been a huge outbreak of pertussis was contained very well. Since exams were earlier than usual, we teachers have this whole week to get our exams graded, grades averaged, and even some extra preparations for second semester done.

quotation...

"When you make your eye the instrument of impurity, you cannot see God with it." - Dr. Bob Jones III

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The Pillsbury Doughboy tried to get Santa's village, in Alaska, to secede from the United States and declare its sovereignty. He says he just wanted to make a dough nation for a worthy Claus.