Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Twas the night before......................

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,
 














And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.











Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,















But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:



















His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose











And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:




















But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

-Clement Moore

Holy Night......................

Oliva Newton John.............................................Silent Night





The Temptations.....................................................Silent Night

Quotes worth pondering............

"If voters refuse to make sensible choices, sooner or later
they will lose the power to choose."
-Walter Russell Mead, from this essay on politics in Hungary


"Study yourself. It will be a life-long course."
-Michael Wade, from this blog post.


"The success factors seem to follow this rough outline:  
Prepare.  (Underscore prepare.) Know your material.  
Practice.  (Underscore practice.)  Keep it interesting – tell
human interest stories.  Be authentic – have a conversation.  
Stay within your allotted time line."
-David Kanigan, from this post about public speaking


"It was frustrating, frightening, and times revealing. Or as
I recently read, you don’t know what being strong is until
being strong is your only option."
-Jeff Kopito, from this post about being a cancer survivor.
If that experience is part of your world, do go visit this blog.

Why are you being so difficult about this....

Gift wrapping presents has always been a challenge.  It's
an acquired talent that continues to elude me.  So it was with
great anticipation that I sought a training video.  If Aunt Chippy
can't teach you anything, she probably can make you laugh.


Thanks Jonco

It's here again..................

The Beatles.................................................Christmas Time

Sounds of the season................

Big Ray, who is anything but a simple village undertaker, has been
sharing his Jethro Tull Christmas Album with us.  Do go visit his
blog, especially today when he unveils his favorite track.  But for
now, enjoy this one.

The word for the day..................

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster and the
third edition of his New College Dictionary:

mystagogue    n.  A person who interprets religious mysteries,
                             or initiates others into them.

as in:

"Mystagogues are handy people to have around, especially
at Christmas and Easter."

Friday, December 23, 2011

O hear the angels' voices......................

Celine Dion........................................................O Holy Night





Josh Groban......................................................O Holy Night

Just a reminder.........















thanks Jessica

It would be nice if this continued.............

Architects have to design buildings before they can be built.  It is
just one those things.  Sort of like the "canary in the coal mine,"
architectural billings provide a hint of things to come for the
commercial real estate world.  One would believe that the trend
shown by this chart is good news:

















“This is a heartening development for the design and
construction industry that only a few years ago accounted
for nearly ten percent of overall GDP but has fallen to
slightly less than six percent,” said AIA Chief Economist,
Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.

thanks as always, Bill

This is what faith in "the market" looks like....

"In the same way that market pricing eliminates shortages
of hotel rooms, food, clothing, and gasoline in Manhattan,
market-based pricing for rental housing would just as
effectively eliminate the shortage of housing."

So says Mark Perry, commenting on the Supreme Court's
willingness to hear a case on the constitutionality of the rent
control laws in NYC.  Full post is here.

Still more Hollywood Squares...

Jolly old St. Nick.............Part Two





for kids from 1 to 92....................

Nat King Cole................................................ Christmas Song

The word for the day....................

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster and
the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

ochlocracy   n.   government by the mob; mob rule

as in:

"The good people at OWS wouldn't recognize an ochlocracy
if they saw one."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reconciled..........................

Volume up.......................
Charlotte Church.......................Hark! The Herald Angels Sing




Mormon Tabernacle Choir...........Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

More Hollywood Squares...............

Don't feed the animals.................

For some reason, I've been saving pictures of animals.   Not just
any old picture, but something interesting or whimsical.  Some of
these have been posted before, but it seemed like a good time to
share a bit of the collection.   My apologies for not referencing the
source of each, I just lost track.   Please provide your own
captions.  Enjoy.
























 

 


Jolly old St. Nick............Part One

"Holy Statistics, Batman!".............

Us history majors tended to avoid things remotely associated
with mathematics, including the concepts of "mean", "mode",
and "median".  On the average, these concepts confuse us. 

So, it was with great delight that I followed the blogosphere's
comments about a recent Charles Blow NYT essay on income
inequality.  A good starting point is here.  Excerpt here:

"So it seems the crux of the AP article can be accurately
shortened to: Half of all households have an income
below the median average!"

Hate that when that happens.

Thanks Maggie's

Covetousness..................
















"The benefits of Consumer Capitalism- the dominant ideology
of our age- are pretty self evident:  Lots of people having
stuff, lots of things being invented, lots of livelihoods being
attained, plus the greatest measure of them all- life
expectancy- being increased.  But there is a cost, mostly
psychological. Consumer capitalism makes us more covetous.
And covetous makes us more stressed out and less happy.
There's no answer to it really, other than greater self-
awareness..."
-Hugh MacLeod

Hurry down the chimney............

Eartha Kitt............................................................Santa Baby

The word for the day...............

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster and
the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

pluviose     adj.    characterized by much rain; rainy

as in:

"We are having such pluviose weather that all I can do is
be thankful that our roof doesn't leak."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sing in exultation..................

Celtic Women....................................O Come All Ye Faithful





Trans Siberian Orchestra.......................O Come All Ye Faithful

On thinking and writing.............

If you have ever been stumped, panicked, frozen, or otherwise
made helpless by the question, "What are you thinking about?",
you might enjoy this brief essay from Justin Wehr.  An excerpt:

"The truth is that it is almost impossible for me to do any kind of profound thinking within the confines of my skull. I can do it just fine in writing, but that almost doesn’t count because I never know what’s going to come out of my writing. Writing is not, as we so often misbelieve, reproducing thoughts on paper. Writing (for me) is starting with a tiny blip of inspiration and then building on it with reactions, and reactions to those reactions, and so forth. And then of course there is the crucial step of polishing, deleting, and re-arranging to get something like coherence. The end result is probably more surprising to me than it is to you."

As a public service.... for those who would prefer "bah humbug" to "happy" or "merry"



thanks gerard

Hollywood Squares.......................

All along the watchtower......the motley mixture

















48.   Plato has a fine saying, that he who would discourse of man should survey, as from some high watchtower, the things of earth; its assemblies for peace or war, its husbandry, matings, and partings, births and deaths, noisy law courts, lonely wastes, alien peoples of every kind, feasting, mourning, bargaining - observing all the motley mixture, and the harmonious order that is wrought out of contrariety.

Marcus Aurelius
Meditations, Book Seven

A blue Christmas....................

Freddie King....................................................Christmas Tears

Rising.......................

One World Trade Center under construction.   God love NYC!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The hopes and fears................

Elvis Presley.................................O Little Town of Bethlehem





Sarah McLachlan.............................O Little Town of Bethlehem

More good questions.............

Learned something new....................



















The USPS delivered a history lesson the other day.  Actually
they delivered a 2012 pocket date book, a gift from a long time
business associate. However, on the envelope doing the
delivering was an $.84 Oveta Culp Hobby stamp.  Not having
collected stamps since I was about eleven, the fact that there
even was an $.84 stamp eluded me.  But, the larger questions -
who is this Oveta Culp Hobby person, why is she a
"stateswoman", and what is with that hat?

Curiosity aroused, Wikipedia was consulted:

"During World War II she headed the War Department's Women's Interest Section for a short time and then became the Director of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women's Army Corps), which was created to fill gaps left by a shortage of men. The members of the WAC were the first women other than nurses to be in Army uniform. Hobby achieved the rank of colonel and received the Distinguished Service Medal for efforts during the war. She was the first woman in the Army to receive this award."

and

"President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her head of the Federal Security Agency, a non-cabinet post, and she was invited to sit in on cabinet meetings. Soon, on April 11, 1953, she became the first secretary, and first female secretary, of the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which later became the Department of Health and Human Services. This was her second time organizing a new government agency. Among other decisions and actions at HEW, she made the decision to approve Jonas Salk's polio vaccine."

I'd say she deserves the stamp, if only for that decision.

The Wiki employed the word "autodidact" in describing Hobby.
I am not embarrassed to report that Webster's was also
consulted:  Autodidact {n.  a person who is self educated}.

Oh, and about the hat: 

"The stamp art, by illustrator and painter Sterling Hundley of Richmond, Virginia, is based on an undated black-and-white photograph of Hobby in her WAC uniform, with its legendary service cap, the 'Hobby hat.'"

Opening paragraphs...................

     "Going back to South Chicago has always felt to me like
a return to death.  The people I loved most, those fierce first
attachments of childhood, had all died in this abandoned
neighborhood on the City's southeast edge.  It's true my
mother's body, my father's ashes, lie elsewhere, but I had
tended both through painful illnesses down here.  My cousin
Boom-Boom, close as a brother - closer than a brother - had
been murdered here fifteen years ago.  In my nightmares,
yellow smoke from the steel mills still clouds my eyes, but
the giant smokestacks that towered over my childhood
landscape are now only ghosts themselves."

Sara Paretsky, Fire Sale

Story telling time......................

What if..............?   What if the Great Recession ate your lunch?
What if you hadn't made any glaringly silly mistakes and it still
ate your lunch?  What is one to do?   Walt Sutton has an answer:

"This is the “in-between” time.  It is between one great adventure and another.  It’s when you have a chance to make sense out of all that you learned during the great overheating, the crash, the firefighting, the saving of the enterprise, and the righting of the new normal business. This is a time to identify all of those lessons learned, all of those mistakes you made, all of those really smart things you all did.  How do you do this?  One way is to tell stories about the crash and what you learned, and to encourage others to do the same."

thanks Steve

Terry Redlin celebrates winter..........

Central Ohio recently had its first dusting of snow.  It was my
favorite kind of scenic snow, enough to stick to the trees, but not
enough to stick to the roads.  Winter is nigh upon us.  Might as
well celebrate it.  Here to help is Terry Redlin, a man who clearly
enjoys a winter scene.

Trimming The Tree

The Pleasures of Winter

Sweet Memories

Winter Wonderland

No more sorrows............................

Charles Brown......................Please Come Home for Christmas

That old giving and receiving thing.........















thanks Jessica 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Do you know what I know?

Carrie Underwood...........................Do You Hear What I Hear?




Vanessa Williams...........................Do You Hear What I Hear?

At least we found the bottom..........

Housing starts are mired in the 500,000 per year range, well
below the historical average.  All other things being equal (like
that will ever happen), we expect the recovery in housing starts
to begin in 2013.   In the meanwhile, if you want to be a trend
setter and get a jump on the rest of the market, we have some
wonderfully nice building lots available.  Do call.


















as always, these fabulous charts are found at Calculated Risk

A good question.......................

Maybe you'll get lucky.......................















The Furniture Guy, who strings words together in a fascinating
and most satisfying way - a way that requires careful attention,
takes on Television, Advertising, Gift Giving (and receiving), and
Gender Roles.  All in one blog post.  Do go visit.

"Never mind all that. If I took an interest in other people's
lunacy, I'd have precious little time for my own."

On Selling.........More and less.........

As excerpted from Nicholas Bate's Instant MBA:

"What's the problem here?  Well, essentially the problem is
that too many people are not willing to get their hands dirty,
to do some real selling.....Everybody loves the intellectual
nature of strategic planning, the glamour of marketing, but
selling?  Where's the skill in that?

"That's the thing, actually.  When you are selling, you soon
find out whether your strategies are worth the paper they
are written on because you get your results immediately:
sale or no sale.  No hiding behind long-term market
penetration plans or behind things like 'awaiting the output
of the product focus group'.  This is where the rubber hits
the road."

"Forget the myths about obscure techniques and closing,
here's what you actually need to do.

- More ask, less tell.

-More reasons, fewer bullets.

-More conversation, less PowerPoint.

-More them, less you.

-More decisions, less meetings.

-More concerns, less avoiding realities.

-More lock in, less generic.

-More urgency, less 'any time.'"

A poem for the Monday before Christmas......














           


                 Christmas Trees

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

-Robert Frost (1920)

Opening paragraphs............

     The cold Alaskan water pulled at the fishing boats that
lined the dock, the boats straining against their moorings to
run free with the tide,  The water here in the small harbor at
Angoon, a fishing village on the western shore of Admiralty
Island off southeast Alaska, was steel-black beneath the
clouds and dimpled by the rain, but was clear even with that,
a window beneath the weathered pilings to a world of sun-
burst starfish as wide as garbage cans jellyfish the size of
basketballs, and barnacles as heavy as a longshoreman's
fist.  Alaska was like that, so vigorous with life that it could
fill a man and lift him and maybe even bring him back from
the dead."

Robert Crais, The Last Detective

A time capsule..............

The Temptations................The Way You Do The Things You Do



Thanks Jeff

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where the love light gleams................

Frank Sinatra....................................I'll Be Home For Christmas





Johnny Mathis...................................I'll Be Home For Christmas

Meeting the most amazing people.................























.............without actually meeting them.  That, for me, has been
the one most unexpected, yet valuable, return on my blogging
investment.

Jeff Kopito publishes the View From the Ledge blog.  I have
been a faithful follower since first being led there eighteen months
ago.  Jeff is a cancer survivor.  That experience, of which he has
shared bits hand pieces in various posts, has colored his world.

Jeff starts his latest post, "It’s time I came clean."   He has
been volunteering:

"As part of their support program, they match me up with newly diagnosed cancer patients who have had the same clinical diagnosis and similar treatment plan as I did. These patients or caregivers can then begin contact so we can walk thru the process of treatment and recovery together. There I can provide support and guidance in this frightening landscape in real-time, with a real voice."

The notion of supporting cancer patients has become his vision
and his mission.  Naturally, he has created a second blog,
GettingCancer {get (v.) - to acquire, understand, confront}

Cancer is a very personal and intimate disease. And most likely the most devastating diagnosis you will ever receive. I hope to relieve that burden. And provide for you what I can.

I am proud of you Jeff.  Thanks for being there.

Worship...............























"A just thinker will allow full swing to his scepticism.  I dip
my in the  blackest ink, because I am not afraid to fall into
my ink pot." 

"Men as naturally make a state, or a church, as caterpillars
a web."

"We are born believing.  A man bears belief, as a tree bears
apples."

"God builds his temple in the heart on ruins of churches and
religions."

"In all ages, souls out of time, extraordinary, prophetic, are
born, who are rather related to the system of the world, than
to their particular age and locality.  These announce absolute
truths, which, with whatever reverence received, are speedily
dragged down into savage interpretation."

"The fatal trait is the divorce between religion and morality."

"Heaven deals with us on no representative system.  Souls
are not saved in bundles.  The Spirit saith to the man, 'How
is it with thee?  thee personally? is it well?  is it ill?"

"The cure for false theology is motherwit.  Forget your books
and traditions, and obey your moral perceptions at this hour."

"Every man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him.
But a day comes when he begins to care that he do not cheat
is neighbor."

"The superiority that has no superior; the redeemer and
instructor of souls, as it is their primal essence, is love."

-all quotes are excerpted from Ralph Waldo Emerson's
essay Worship.

Sunday's Verse.........

26   In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the
angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee

27  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are
highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered
what kind of greeting this might be.

30  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you
have found favor with God.

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are
to call him Jesus.

32  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father
David,

33  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”

34  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I
am a virgin?”

35  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on
you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

36  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in
her old age, and she who was said to be unable to
conceive is in her sixth month.

37  For no word from God will ever fail.”

38  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your
word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

-The Holy Bible,  New International Version
Luke 1:26-38

Our real problems...............

 "The day is not far off when the economic problem will take
the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart
and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real
problems — the problems of life and of human relations and
of creation and behavior"


-John Maynard Keynes  (1945)

thanks Steve

Man's own natural duty.........

    "Now you shall hear how a man may become perfect, if he
devotes himself to the work which is natural to him.  A man
will reach perfection if he does his duty as an act of worship
to the Lord, who is the source of the universe, prompting all
action, everywhere present.
     "A man's own natural duty, even if it seems imperfectly
done, is better than work not naturally his own even if it is
well performed.  When a man acts according to the law of
his nature, he cannot be sinning.  Therefore, no one should
give up his natural work, even though he does it imperfectly.
For all action is involved in imperfection, like fire in smoke.
     "When a man has achieved non-attachment, self-
mastery and freedom from desire through renunciation, he
reaches union with Brahman, who is beyond all actions."

-from Chapter XVIII
The Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita

Prepare Ye............................

On wretched excess...................

“Wretched excess is an unfortunate human trait that turns a
perfectly good idea such as Christmas into a frenzy of last-
minute shopping - or attaches the name of St. Patrick to the
day of the year that bartenders fear most.”

-Jon Anderson

Best Christmas wishes............