Well it's 2006 ...I stayed up late to watch the show...G-man is working on a new animation engine and the kids are asleep, I just had a nice long chat with My Aunt, good to talk to her. We watched the Ball drop in Times Square in New York city, the Dick Clark show....Boy Poor old guy , what a trooper, I think this might be his last New years as host, Hope he is ok. End of an Era, looks like they might be trying to get Ryan Seacrest into the host mode as it were...and My God Mariah Carey???>thought it was Miss Piggy(I don't Care if I get Flack on this) what a COW!!!put on a bit of weigth there Missie huh!
By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer
24 minutes ago
DETROIT - No up-or-down vote necessary: Everyone from persons of interest to first-time callers will agree that 2005 offered more than its share of irritating words and phrases.
Lake Superior State University on Saturday released its 2006 "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness." But please, don't call it "breaking news."
That and 16 other linguistic nuisances were selected by a university committee from among almost 2,000 nominations. The small academic outpost in the Upper Peninsula community of Sault Ste. Marie has been compiling the banned-words list since 1976 to attract publicity — and certainly not to offer anyone "talking points."
The committee also targeted such gems as "hunker down," which it noted is used by media "in reports about everything from politics to hurricanes."
Also frequently heard on the news is "person of interest," a favorite of law enforcement agencies. Such a person is "seldom encountered at cocktail parties," the list's authors lamented.
From the field of education comes "community of learners."
"Not to be confused with 'school,'" one critic wrote.
Politics offered plenty of fodder. The committee cited "up-or-down vote," a phrase uttered often in 2005 by Republicans eager to see President Bush's judicial nominees move through the Senate without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.
The committee also banished "FEMA," the acronym for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were widely criticized as ineffective.
"If they don't do anything, we don't need their acronym," wrote Josh Hamilton, of Tucson, Ariz.
Many of the phrases banned this year are not new, but simply got under enough people's skin to finally deserve the dubious honor.
Miguel McCormick, of Orlando, Fla., was fed up with "first-time caller," a designation heard on talk radio.
"I am serious in asking: Who in any universe gives a care?" he asked.
The school has banned nearly 800 words over the years, including "metrosexual" (2004), "chad" (2001), "baby boomers" (1989) and "detente" (1976).
It's Another New Year...
...but for what reason?
"Happy New Year!" That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern America was not always January 1.
ANCIENT NEW YEARS
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
THE CHURCH'S VIEW OF NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
Although in the first centuries AD the Romans continued celebrating the new year, the early Catholic Church condemned the festivities as paganism. But as Christianity became more widespread, the early church began having its own religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, and New Year's Day was no different. New Years is still observed as the Feast of Christ's Circumcision by some denominations.
During the Middle Ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New Years. January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only about the past 400 years.
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
Other traditions of the season include the making of New Year's resolutions. That tradition also dates back to the early Babylonians. Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.
The Tournament of Roses Parade dates back to 1886. In that year, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California.
Although the Rose Bowl football game was first played as a part of the Tournament of Roses in 1902, it was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the football game returned as the sports centerpiece of the festival.
The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.
Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the Church to reevaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.
The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans. They had used the effigy since the fourteenth century.
FOR LUCK IN THE NEW YEAR
Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man.
Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.
Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.
AULD LANG SYNE
The song, "Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days." The lyrics can be found here.
Copyright © 1997-2000 by Jerry Wilson;
FREMONT, Calif. - A pack of angry Chihuahuas attacked a police officer who was escorting a teenager home after a traffic stop, authorities said.
The officer suffered minor injuries, including bites to his ankle, Detective Bill Veteran said.
The five Chihuahuas escaped the 17-year-old boy's home and rushed the officer in the doorway Thursday, authorities said. The teenager had been detained after the traffic incident.
The officer was treated at a hospital and returned to work less than two hours later.
NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS YOU WON'T
BE ABLE TO KEEP IF YOU'RE A NERD
16. I resolve... I resolve to... I resolve to, uh... I resolve to,
uh, get my, er... I resolve to, uh, get my, er, off-line work done,
15. I will stop checking my e-mail at 3:00 in the morning...
4:30 is much more practical.
14. When I hear a funny joke I will not reply, "LOL... LOL!"
13. I will stop sending e-mail, ICQ, Instant Messages and be on
the phone at the same time with the same person.
12. I will try to figure out why I *really* need 9 e-mail addresses.
11. I will stop sending e-mail to my roommate.
10. I will not buy magazines with AOL disks bound in just to get
another 1.44MB disk.
9. I resolve to work with neglected children... my own.
8. I will answer my snail mail with the same enthusiasm I answer e-mail.
7. When I subscribe to a newsgroup or mailing list, I will read all
the mail I get from it.
6. I will stop using, "So, what's your URL?" as a pickup line.
5. No more downloads from alt.binaries.*
4. I resolve to back up my new 400 GB hard drive daily...
well, once a week... monthly, perhaps...
3. I will spend less than five hour a day on the Internet.
2. I will limit my top ten lists to ten items.
1. I will read the manual... just as soon as I can find it.
this post was brought to my attention by G-man who read it on Michael Yon's Blog
Georgia National Guard to bring baby Noor to U.S. for surgery
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- When troops from the Georgia National Guard raided a Baghdad home in early December, they had no idea that their mission in Iraq would take a different turn.
As the young parents of an infant girl nervously watched the soldiers search their modest home, the baby's unflinching grandmother thrust the little girl at the Americans, showing them the purple pouch protruding from her back.
Little Noor, barely three months old, was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to completely close. Iraqi doctors had told her parents she would live only 45 days. (Watch U.S. troops make saving a baby girl their mission -- 2:11)
But she was tenaciously clinging to life, and the soldiers in the home -- many of them fathers themselves -- were moved.
"Well, I saw this child as the firstborn child of the young mother and father and really, all I could think of was my five children back at home and my young daughter," Lt. Jeff Morgan told CNN from Baghdad. "And I knew if I had the opportunity whatsoever to save my daughter's life I would do everything possible.
"So my heart just kind of went out to this baby and these parents who ... were living in poverty and had no means to help their baby. I thought we could do that for them," he added.
So Morgan and his fellow soldiers began working to get Noor the help she needs.
"We ... collectively decided this is going to be our project," said Sgt. Michael Sonen. "If this is the only contribution we have to defeating the war on terrorism, this is going to be it."
The soldiers brought Noor to a U.S. military base for medical examinations and got friends and charities in the United States to help get her the surgery that could save her life.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and his office are working to speed up the process of getting a visa for Noor's grandmother, who will accompany her to Atlanta.
Dr. Roger Hudgins, the chief of neurosurgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, has promised to perform the delicate operation for free.
The doctor told CNN the surgery needs to take place soon.
"We need to get the back closed," Hudgins said. "The concern here is meningitis. If the baby gets an infection on the back, that infection can spread to the coverings all over the brain and the baby may die, so time is of the essence."
Spina bifida, often called open spine, is a birth defect that occurs during the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column fails to close completely.
It affects the backbone and sometimes the spinal cord itself, often causing permanently disabling defects, particularly neurological damage.
It is the most common such birth defect -- known as neural tube defects -- and affects about 1,500 to 2,000 babies born in the United States each year, according to the March of Dimes.
Some 70,000 people in the United States are living with spina bifida, according to the Spina Bifida Association.
There are three types of spina bifida. Baby Noor has the most severe type, in which the spinal cord's protective covering and the spinal nerves come through the opening in the spine.
The neurological damage that can come from this type includes full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities and depression.
Sonen said Noor already has lost feeling in her feet.
Recent studies have shown that folic acid, taken before pregnancy and during the first trimester, can reduce the incidence of spina bifida.
Dr. Hudgins said that while the surgery will probably help baby Noor, there's no guarantee that it will cure her of her condition.
"Our hope and expectation ... is that we can get the child through the surgery and save the life, then we can work on the quality of life," he said.
Back in Baghdad, the news that Noor's journey may happen soon is heartening for both her family and the soldiers who have become involved.
"This just gives ... the courageous men of Charlie Company, it gives them a focal point outside of the normal day-to-day routine of trying to catch the insurgency," Morgan said. "It gives them something even more positive to focus on."
The lieutenant said that while his unit's main mission is to put down the insurgency in Iraq, it is also trying to help the country's citizens.
"We are also here to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. To show them that we are a just people, not only by helping them establish a constitution but helping them with their problems that they cannot handle," Morgan explained. "This little girl epitomizes the efforts of us to do that."
But for all of their help, the soldiers realize they're also possibly endangering the little girl and her family.
"We are always concerned that talking to anybody longer than a normal conversation will put them in danger," said Sgt. Archer Ford.
"We did a lot of things to protect the identity of these people," Morgan said.
"We visited them when we could, which was usually in the middle of the night, as covertly as possible," he added. "Because the insurgents in Iraq like to find people that we're trying to help sometimes and either terrorize them or sometimes worse."
CNN Producer Arwa Damon and Correspondent Aneesh Raman contributed to this report.
“Oh, how ‘dorable!”
The little girl of about seven, with her missing front teeth, rushed up to the eight-week-old standard poodle puppies with barely-contained glee. “OhpleatheohpleathepleathepleathePLEATHE can we get one?”
She attached herself to a cur ly-haired, golden-tan pup that seemed to want nothing more than prompt removal from the pen.
It was true: Teddy dreamed of being a wolf, roaming free amongst frosty pines, splashing through gently bickering streams, and chasing jackrabbits. He promised himself that one day he would escape the world of retractable leashes and rhinestone-studded collars. One day he’d be a free dog.
The continued discussion broke into his thoughts.
“But it’s a poodle, Lyra,” her dad said objectionably. “I don’t want a po odle.”
“Why not?” she demanded fiercely.
“It’s just that it’s a poodle!” he repeated, at a loss for words. “When I said we were getting a dog I didn’t mean a poodle.”
“Well, you thaid a dog. A poodle’th a dog!”
“Well, not really,” her dad said in exaspera tion.
The nerve! Teddy listened to the dialogue with dismay. It wasn’t like he was a cat, or something!
“Daddy, I’m not going to thpeak to you until we take thith puppy home.” Lyra said in an act of almost sophisticated second-grade defiance. She display ed the inside of her lower lip for emphasis.
It was a losing battle. Teddy was coming home.
“‘Is name’s Teddy,” the kindly breeder explained to the duo. “Because,” she said as she paused to put on the sickly sweet voice females reserved for all small children and things with fluff, “‘E’s such an adorable little pupsie-wupsie, isn’t ‘e?”
She bent and gave Teddy a disgustingly un-slobbery kiss. He rolled his eyes at her.
A week or so later Lyra attempted to shove the poor wolf wannabe into the bathtub. Being a sensible dog, he refused to get in. He had his nose, and he had his pride. It smells like honeysuckle, he thought. If I get in, I will smell like honeysuckle. Tough dogs don’t smell of honeysuckle. Maybe pine trees, food, or other dogs, but most certainly not honeysuckle.
”Not gettin’ in?” Lyra asked poutily. “Well, you have to becauthe we don’t want you thmellin’ of doggy doo doo.”
Teddy planted his paws and, to his delight, Lyra couldn’t pick him up. She was an incredibly weak seven-year-old.
“Da-aaaad! Teddy-Weddly won’t get into the tub!”
“Sorry, Princess, but he’s your responsibility,” the stereotypical poodle hater called back.
Teddy sighed with slight relief. He had ablutophobia, a word which here means “fear of washing”. The thought o f being in a warm, soapy liquid for several minutes at a time terrorized him. Dogs like him had to wade-no, scamper-through an icy stream, rinsing the caked mud off their battle- hardened paws. Or, better yet, not wash at all.
He yelped in surprise.
Lyra seemed to have grabbed him during his pondering and he soon found himself floundering around helplessly in the tub. She giggled maliciously at the sight of him.
He emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later, reeking of putrid- smelling flowers, and properly conditioned, curled, brushed, and fluffed. Lyra explained to him (to his horror) that they’d take him to a real groomer when he was a little older.
He cringed at the very thought. He had nightmares of poor, dignified adult poodles trying to evade the cruel groomer’s wrath, but to no avail. They would approach him later in the dream, wretched creatures now, with their hair shaved off their rumps and legs. Only embarrassing puffs remained on their chests and tails. They’d draw nearer and neare r, growing larger, chanting, while his fur mercilessly shrank away.
He’d wake up, whimpering, in a cold pant. Only a dream, he told himself, only a dream.
Lyra, unfortunately, was real. She’d have tea parties and saddle him like a horse for her Barbies to ride. He couldn’t stand it. He needed to run, to play. He swore to himself that he’d never become one of them. Lyra’s dad was seemingly adapting to him, and Teddy felt safe in his presence. One day, a much-needed suggestion was made.
“Lyra, do you wa nt to go camping sometime?”
A whole two days without her toys, TV, and especially Teddy was not Lyra’s idea of fun.
“We can bring Teddy along.”
Teddy could hardly believe his ears. After a whole year of ‘pamperation’, as he called it, he was finally go ing into the Wild! It occurred to him for a moment that he had been fed, sheltered, and cleaned since puppyhood, but arrogant and determined, the thought didn’t hinder him for long.
“Camping, camping, we’re going camping,” Lyra sang in a whiny, off- tune version of some preschool chant. She tossed Teddy’s leash onto the front seat with all of the other camping equipment, then hopped onto the car herself, practically strangling the dog beside her with excitement.
After suffering Lyra’s infernal humming for half an hour, Teddy finally stuck his head out the window to drown the sound. Finally, the crisp scent of pine needles, and, for some reason, bananas, filled his delicate nostrils.
”I’m going to be a real wolf!” he barked happily to himself.
Hiking along with his humans the next day, Teddy absorbed the woods. Sunlight streamed through maple leaves like stained glass in some enormous cathedral. Fallen redwoods lay across the river like giant bridges. A stellar jay flew up, startled, as they passed b elow.but the beautiful quiet would not last long. Soon Lyra was complaining about her sore foot, how she was really, really hungry, and how she had already walked a “million bazillion katrillion” miles and was really tired. Her dad had the first aid kit o ut in a flash and was halfway through fixing her blister when she started whining again. Teddy boredly wandered off into the trees until he saw a clearing with three silvery-grey wolves chatting and chewing on sticks. Crouching behind a bush, he watched them intently.
“Something reeks,” Lupe muttered to Tala.
“Yeah, you’re right. It smells sort of like.honeysuckle.or something.”
The two simultaneously glanced at Otis.
“Why are you guys giving me that look?” he asked nervously.
“Because someone has been traipsing around in the flowers again.” Tala replied teasingly, glancing at Otis.
“I have not,” he replied quietly, even though he had.
Teddy glanced at them, unseen, from behind the huckleberry bush. “Okay,” he thought to himself. “Here’s my big chance to be a wolf.”
So he trotted up to them confidently and asked, “So what do I have to do to join your pack?”
Tala growl-snorted audibly, and wrinkled her nose as the smell of Teddy’s honeysuckle shampoo wafted over them.
“You don’t really look like a wo lf,” Lupe conceded. “Wolves only allowed. And besides, what are you doing in the middle of a dark, scary forest all by yourself?”
Teddy tried to ignore the ridicule. “I ran-I mean, I erm, I’m a stray who needs some friends.”
Tala snorted again, this tim e with an element of hilarity. “Yeah right. Since when do ‘strays’ smell of honeysuckle and wear rhinestone- studded collars? We are most certainly not going to adopt you, first of all because you’re skinny and weak and would be of no use to us hunting, and secondly because we can’t be seen with you!”
She ended her short speech with a deep sigh, and Otis and Lupe nodded vigorously in agreement.
“Fine, then. Be that way. But at least tell me what you’re doing in California, so far away from wolf country, and why your ‘pack’ only has three members.”
“Okay,” Tala said. “Here’s our story. We were kind of the oddballs of our old pack and finally they got really annoyed with us and now we’re in exile. We’re shunned wherever we go; no one worthy will join our pack. No one who doesn’t smell of honeysuckle, that is. So we’re living off the land, eating rabbits and things, trying to stay away from hikers and tourists. But it’s not too bad, being in exile with your best friends.”
Teddy listened to the story with pain and sympathy. He explained how poodles are actually quite fast runners, how he would help with the rabbit hunt. He told them of his dream to live in the woods, to be free. He told them of the horrors of the human world, of the groomer’s, of the vet’s. And the wolves began to listen to his story, to see past his looks and see a wise dog. In this way he became the first wild poodle.
Teddy, Otis, Tala, and Lupe stayed in the Park as the only poodle/timber wolf pack in California.
Years later, Lyra revisited Big Basin, the place where her precious puppy had originally disappeared. She hiked along the same trails, and occasionally her mind would play tricks on her and she could swear she sometimes saw flashes of golden-brown deep in the trees. And it’s rumored that the wolves in a certain pack have slightly curly fur, but most people disregard this as a silly hiking tale to pass the time. After all, they say, there are no wolves in the Park.
ELKO, Nev. - The biggest Christmas present came a day late this year for Lee and Irene DellaSilva of Ogden, Utah. But it's one they'll never forget. Eight days after the DellaSilvas' 6-year-old poodle, Miss Lizzie, was lost during a rollover accident east of Carlin, a Union Pacific crew spotted the black pooch Monday morning on railroad tracks near the crash site.
"It is an act of God as far as I am concerned," said Lee DellaSilva. "This just renews our faith in the Christmas miracle."
Miss Lizzie's travels began after she fled the DellaSilvas' vehicle following the accident the Sunday before Christmas.
Rescuers kept them from searching for their pet. Then they had to leave the area.
Over eight days, Miss Lizzie traveled without food through coyote territory before lying down in exhaustion on a railway trestle crossing.
The poodle was spotted and rescued by a Union Pacific crew thanks to a "missing dog" poster that the DellaSilvas had provided to a UP outpost.
Since she was on the tracks, they assumed she was dead. Then she weakly popped up her head.
The crew put the train into an emergency stop and went back to rescue the dog, warmed her up, dried her off, cleaned her up and placed her snugly in a work bag for a ride back home.
As part of their search for Miss Lizzie, the DellaSilvas were offering a $1,000 reward. The train crew is donating the reward to the Dogtown Rescue organization.
"It is just something totally weird," engineer Mike Kessler said. "This just doesn't happen. Especially with something this small ... . We call her Lucky Lizzie now"
IN PURSUIT OF TRIVIA
The unit of measure used to determine the spiciness of chile peppers
is called a Scoville Heat Unit. The mildest pepper is the common bell
pepper, with a paltry 0 on the Scoville scale. But, the hottest is
the Red Savina Habanero, which registers 577,000 Scovilles.
Subject: How to kill time at Walmart
15 Things to do at Wal-Mart while your
spouse/partner is taking
their sweet time:
1 Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them
in people's carts
when they aren't looking.
2 Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go
off at 5-minute intervals.
3 Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor
leading to the rest rooms.
4 Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an
official tone, 'Code 3'
in housewares..... and see what happens.
5 Go the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of
M&M's on lay away.
6 Move a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted
7 Set up a tent in the camping department and
tell other shoppers you'll
invite them in if they'll bring pillows from
the bedding department.
8 When a clerk ask s if they can help you, begin
to cry and ask 'Why
can't you people just leave me alone?'
9 Look right into the security camera; use it as
a mirror, and
pick your nose.
10 While handling guns in the hunting department,
ask the clerk if he
knows where the anti-depressants are.
11 Dart around the store suspiciously loudly
humming the "Mission
12 In the auto department, practice your "Madonna
look" using different
13 Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse
"PICK ME! PICK ME!"
14 When an announcement comes over the loud
speaker, assume the fetal
position and scream "NO! NO! It's those voices
(And last but not least!)
15 Go into a fitting room and shut the door and
wait a while; and, then,
yell, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper
I have hit 10,000.....it is a big deal to me,
on my little blog about nothing,with dogs, animals, poodles, kids, food, and stuff
....you know STUFF!
Yeah to me:doing happy dance sitting down:)
Year of the Dog
Dogs are honest and faithful to those they love but they tend to worry too much and find fault with others. They make ideal secret agents or business people.
Famous people born in the Year Of The Dog:
Shirley MacLain, Henry Cooper, Slyvia Sims,Dolly Parton, Liza Minelli Jane Asher
Rat - 1924 , 1936 ,1948 , 1960 , 1972 ,1984 , 1996
Ox - 1925, 1937 , 1949, 1961 , 1973 , 1985, 1997
Tiger - 1926 , 1938, 1950 , 1962, 1974 , 1986 , 1998
Rabbit - 1927, 1939 , 1951 , 1963, 1975 , 1987, 1999
Dragon - 1928 , 1940, 1952 , 1964 , 1976 , 1988 , 2000
Snake - 1929 , 1941 , 1953 , 1965 , 1977 , 1989 , 2001
Horse - 1930, 1942, 1954 , 1966 ,1978 , 1990 , 2002
Sheep - 1931 , 1943 , 1955, 1967 , 1979, 1991, 2003
Monkey - 1932 , 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980 , 1992 , 2004
Rooster - 1933, 1945, 1957 , 1969 , 1981 , 1993, 2005
Dog - 1934 , 1946, 1958 , 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Boar - 1935 , 1947 , 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
'Twas The Night Before Christmas ... In Texas, YeeHaw!
Twas the night before Christmas, In Texas you know,
Way out on the prairie, without any snow.
Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue,
A dreaming of Christmas, like me and like you.
Not stockings but boots, at the foot of their beds,
For this was Texas, What more need be said?
When all of a sudden from out the still night,
There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright!
And I saw cross the prairie, like the shot from a gun,
A loaded up buckboard, Come on at a run.
The driver was "whistling" and "shouting" with a will,
The "Horses" (not reindeer) he drove with such skill.
"Come on there Buck, Poncho, and Prince, to the right"
There'll be plenty of travelin' for you-all tonight.
The driver in his Levis, and a shirt that was red,
Had a 10 gallon Stetson on the top of his head.
As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight,
the beard on his chin was so curly and white.
As he burst in the cabin, the children awoke,
Both so astonished, that neither one spoke.
And he filled up their boots with such presents galore,
That neither could think of a single thing more.
When Buddy recovered the use of his jaws,
He asked in a whisper "Are you really Santa Claus?"
"Am I the real Santa? Well, what do you think?
And he smiled as he gave his mysterious wink.
Then he left in his buckboard, and called back in a drawl,
TO ALL CHILDREN OF TEXAS-MERRY CHRISTMAS...YEE HAW!
'Twas The Night Before A Redneck Christmas
It was the night before Christmas,
and all through the trailer park,
not a pop-top was poppin',
not even Ole Blue barked.
Our stockin's was hung
over the space heater with care,
in the hopes that Santy
would fill 'em with Viennas and beer.
The kids was asleep
in their NASCAR pj's,
Dreamin' of Goo Goo Clusters,
Moon Pies, and Milkyway's.
And Earlene in her curlers
and me in my Earnhardt cap,
had just settled into our La-Z-Boys
for Wheel of Fortune and a nap.
Then out in the vacant lot
I heard such a commotion,
I thought it was neighbor Clyde,
finally got his T'bird in motion.
I heaved out of my recliner
and to the window I flew,
Busted out the screen
and hollered to Ole Blue.
The moon was shinin down
on my old wrecked cars,
so bright they was sparklin'
like rusty old stars.
And I couldn't believe
my own hardworkin' eyes,
when a jacked-up Chevy pickup
come flyin' through the sky!
Faster'n Ole Ironhead
his possums they came,
and he whooped and hollered
and called 'em by name:
'Git up Sooner! Hi Duke!
Move yer tails Yaller and Spud!
On Blackie! On Queenie!
You mind me Duchess and Bud!'
'To the top of the satellite dish!
To the top of the shed!
Now move it n' Step on it!
Ya'll get out the lead!'
You know how on our old road
whenev'r a car goes by,
there's all this dirt
that flies up into the sky?
That's how this crew
went straight on up to my roof,
with that pickup full of toys,
a real nice gun rack, and Redneck Santa too.
Then 'fore I could pop my teeth in
I heerd up on the tin,
the scrabbling around
of them flying possums of his'n.
I yanked my head back in the trailer
and hitched up my shorts,
Down the dryer vent Redneck Santa came
with a grunt and a snort!
He was dressed in red-and-green camo
from his neck to his feet,
and I had to give him credit
he still had most of his teeth.
Looked like stuff from Earlene's yard sale
slung on his back,
There was flyswatters an' Tupperware,
an' 8-tracks stickin' out of his pack.
When he winked his eye
I knew fer sure he'd treat us right,
why he just might even
leave me some ammo tonight!
I stood there dreamin' of a whitetail
while I watched him work,
then he stopped and like a real man,
let out a fart and a burp.
He topped off our stockin's
with Moon Pies and bottle rockets,
then squoze up that dryer vent
like Spam in your pocket.
He jumped in his pickup,
laid down on the horn,
And I'm not lyin',
they took off with their possum tails flyin'.
But I heard him holler
as he headed for the 7-11,
'Merry Christmas to all!
And may all rednecks get into heav'n!'"
(I’m Dreaming of a)
The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway,
Theres never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But its December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north.
Im dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
Im dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
Stories tell of the British and German soldiers playing football together in No Man's Land on Christmas day - but is this just a legend? Historian Malcolm Brown separates fact from fantasy.
The Christmas truce of 1914 really happened. It is as much a part of the historical texture of World War I as the gas clouds of Ypres or the Battle of the Somme or the Armistice of 1918. Yet it has often been dismissed as though it were merely a myth. Or, assuming anything of the kind occurred, it has been seen as a minor incident, blown up out of all proportion, natural fodder for sentimentalists and pacifists of later generations.
But the truce did take place, and on some far greater scale than has been generally realised. Enemy really did meet enemy between the trenches. There was for a time, genuine peace in No Man's Land. Though Germans and British were the main participants, French and Belgians took part as well. Most of those involved agreed it was a remarkable way to spend Christmas. "Just you think," wrote one British soldier, "that while you were eating your turkey, etc, I was out talking and shaking hands with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before! It was astounding!"
"It was a day of peace in war," commented a German participant, "It is only a pity that it was not decisive peace."
So the Christmas Truce is no legend. It is not surprising, however, given the standard popular perception of World War I, that this supreme instance of "All Quiet on the Western Front" has come to have something of a legendary quality. People who would normally dismiss that far off conflict of their grandfathers in the century's teens as merely incomprehensible, find reassurance, even a kind of hope, in the Christmas truce.
This was not, however, a unique occurrence in the history of war. Though it surprised people at the time - and continues to do so today - it was a resurgence of a long established tradition.
Informal truces and small armistices have often taken place during prolonged periods of fighting and the military history of the last two centuries, in particular, abounds with incidents of friendship between enemies.
In the Peninsula War British and French Troops at times visited each others lines, drew water at the same wells and even sat around the same campfire sharing their rations and playing cards.
In the Crimean War British, French and Russians at quiet times also gathered around the same fire, smoking and drinking. In the American Civil War Yankees and Rebels traded tobacco, coffee and newspapers, fished peacefully on opposite sides of the same stream and even collected wild blackberries together. Similar stories are told of the Boer War, in which on one occasion, during a conference of commanders, the rank and file of both sides engaged in a friendly game of football.
Later wars too have their small crop of such stories. It is rare for a conflict at close quarters to continue very long without some generous gestures between enemies or an upsurge in the 'live and let live' spirit. So the Christmas truce of 1914 does not stand alone; on the other hand it is undoubtedly the greatest example of its kind.
There are certain misapprehensions regarding the Christmas truce. One widely held assumption is that only ordinary soldiers took part in it; that it was, as it were, essentially a protest of cannon-fodder, Private Tommy and Musketier Fritz throwing aside the assumptions of conventional nationalism and thumbing their noses at those in authority over them.
In fact, in many cases, NCOs and officers joined in with equal readiness, while others truces were initiated and the terms of armistice agreed at 'parleys' of officers between the trenches.
There is also some evidence that while some generals angrily opposed the truce, others tolerated it and indeed saw some advantage in allowing events to take their own course while never for a moment doubting that eventually the war would resume in full earnest.
One other misapprehension about the truce calls for rebuttal. There has grown up a belief, even among aficionados of World War I, that the Christmas truce was considered to be so disgraceful and event, one so against the prevailing mood of the time, that all knowledge of it was withheld from the public at home until the war was over.
In fact, the truce was fully publicised from the moment news of it reached home. Throughout January 1915 numerous local and national newspapers in Britain printed letter after letter from soldiers who took part; in addition they ran eye-catching headlines ("Extraordinary Unofficial Armistice", "British, Indians and Germans shake hands"), and even printed photographs of the Britons and Germans in No Man's Land. Germany also gave the event press publicity, though on a smaller scale and for a shorter period of time.
Publishing a year later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his history of 1914 called the Christmas truce "an amazing spectacle" and in a memorable description, saluted it as "one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war".
The phrase sums up the attraction of the truce: it is the human dimension which means that this relatively obscure event in the fifth month of a 52-month war is still remembered and will continue to catch the imagination.
In a century in which our conception of war has changed fundamentally, from the cavalry charge and the flash of sabres to the Exocet, the cruise missile and the Trident submarine, the fact that in 1914 some thousands of the fighting men of the belligerent nations met and shook hands between their trenches strikes a powerful and appealing note. It is perhaps the best and most heartening Christmas story of modern times.
Adapted from the book Christmas Truce by Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton
It was a clear but cold and starry night,
The new snow sparkled with reflected light.
They pulled the truck to a stop there on that little hill,
The old man and the kid got out into the quiet and still.
The cattle gathered as if by magic to get their feed,
Crowding around as the bed was unloaded of cake and seed.
Despite hat and boots, the kid was new to ways of the range,
And he was made nervous by this behavior to him strange.
The old man chuckled an' leaned back against the door,
Sayin', "That's jist their way -- nothin' to be concerned for."
"Sides, this is their special night, too -- they remember like we do,
After all, it was their place that the man an' woman came to."
"Their feed that night got used in a special kind o' way,
'Tain't often that a new born gets put up on a bed o'hay."
"It was their heat that kept Him warm that cold night so long ago,
An' it was workin' stockmen that were the first to know."
"So I kind of figure that comin' out here on Christmas Eve,
Is my own way of sayin' thanks for the best gift we can receive."
The old man and boy stood quiet on that cold and starry night,
As contented cows added their blessing to the remembered light.
The Big Wheel
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone.
The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.
Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called The Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.
And so I started at The Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money -- fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in The Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car -- or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows.
Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.
Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at The Big Wheel truck stop.
It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the cradle when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures of the nativity set. Immediately he turned and went outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus. So he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"
The little boy replied, "I got him from the church."
"And why did you take him?"
The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it."
While working as a mall Santa, I had many children ask for electric trains. "If you get a train," I would tell each one, "you know your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that okay?"
The usual answer was a quick yes, but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet. Trying to move the conversation along, I asked what else he would like Santa to bring him. He promptly replied, "Another train."
Lovable Louise, The Inflatable Love Doll
A Hilarious Christmas story.
As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true, because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids stockings were overflowed, his poor panty hose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. Of course, they don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there almost three hours saying things like, "What does this do?", "You're kidding me!", "Who owns that?"
Finally I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a
standard, uncomplicated doll suitable for a night of romance that could also sub as a passenger in my car so I could use the car pool lane. Finding what I wanted was difficult as love dolls come in many models. I figured the "vibro-motion" was a feature my brother could live without so I settled for Lovable Louise. She also was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination.
On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and left the front door unlocked. In the wee hours of the morning long after Santa had come and gone I snuck into the house and filled the dangling panty hose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. Then I let myself out, went home, and giggled for hours.
The next morning Jay called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that made him VERY happy but the dog was confused. The dog would bark and bark. I suggested he purchase an inflatable Lassie. We also agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came for the traditional dinner. It seemed like a great idea, except we forgot Grandma and Grandpa would be there.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.
"It's a doll." replied my brother.
"Who would play with something like that?" she replied "And where are her clothes?"
"Boy that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dinning room. But Granny was relentless.
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey who's the naked gal by the fire place?" I told him she was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.
Dinner went well. We made the usual small talk when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the morning. She then lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed, I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth. My brother wet his pants and Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car. It was indeed a Christmas to treasure.
Later we discovered the cause of Louise's collapse as she had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her thigh. Thanks to duct tape we restored her to perfect health. Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies. I think Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house...
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd at Luigi's Open Pit Barbecue. There will be lots of spiked eggnog and a small band playing traditional carols...feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus to light the Christmas tree! Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Human Resources Director
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that, Hanukkah is an important holiday that often coincides with Christmas (though unfortunately not this year). However, from now on we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to employees who are celebrating Kwanzaa at this time. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols sung. Happy Holidays to you and your family.
Human Resources Director
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
Regarding the anonymous note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, I'm happy to accommodate this request, but, don't forget, if I put a sign on the table that reads, "AA Only," you won't be anonymous anymore. In addition, forget about the gifts exchange-no gifts will be allowed since the union members feel that $10 is too much money.
Human Researchers Director
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
I've arranged for members of Overeaters Anonymous to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with the gay men; each will have their table. Yes, there will be a flower arrangement for the gay men's table. Happy now?
Human Racehorses Director
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
People! People! Nothing sinister was intended by wanting our CEO to play Santa Claus! Even if the anagram of "Santa" does happen to be "Satan," there is no evil connotation to our own "little man in a red suit."
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
Vegetarians! I've had it with you people!! We're going to hold this party at Luigi's Open Pit whether you like it or not, you can just sit at the table farthest from the "grill of death," as you put it, and you'll get salad bar only, including hydroponic tomatoes. But, you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them right now...Ha! I hope you all have a rotten holiday! Drive drunk and die, you hear me?
The Bitch from Hell
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery from her stress-related illness. I'll continue to forward your cards to her at the sanitarium. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of
the 23rd off with full pay.
Acting Human Resources Director
I had a nice surprise waiting when I got home yesterday from Xmas shopping G-man decided to cook...we had a lovely dinner , Beef Rouladen, with wild rice and cauliflower with cheese sauce.
1 tablespoon spicy Maille Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
4 slices bacon, uncooked
1 large onion, fine sliced
2 pickles, sliced thin and lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, whole
1 1/2 cups water
4 or 5 peppercorns
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
lean ground beef
Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Spread the ground beef on the rouladen, then onions, pickles and the bacon. Spread the mustard.
Roll them up and close with toothpicks, heavy cotton thread or butcher's string.
Brown Rouladen on all sides in a skillet pver high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil with two peeled cloves of garlic (leave in one piece - then remove when done).
Add 1/2 of an onion (peeled and sliced) peppercorns, bay leaves and water and a teaspoon of instant beef bouillon. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove Rouladen from the pan and pass the liquid through a sieve to make sauce.
If you don't have enough, add more water and bouillon.
Thicken with cornstarch and add 1 to 2 tablespoons sour cream to the sauce. Return Rouladen to sauce for serving.
Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or Spatzle.
think it's worth a 37-cent stamp.
Wanna have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU
a CHRISTMAS CARD!
As they are working so very hard to get rid of
the CHRISTMAS part of
this holiday, we should all send them a nice,
CHRISTIAN, card to
brighten up their dark, sad, little world.
Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.
Here's the Address, just don't be rude or crude.
(It's Not the
Way, ya know.):
125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their
operations because they
wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing
So spend 37 cents and tell the ACLU to leave
Also tell them that there is no such thing as a
Holiday Tree. . . .
a Christmas Tree even in the fields!!
Here's fifteen tips to help keep your dog (or any other pets) safe during the christmas season. They will keep your holidays safe, healthy, and happy!
1. Anticipate your guest's arrivals and confine your dog to prevent it from escaping.
2. Reduce your dog's stress by maintaining its regular feeding and exercise routeine. You should also set aside a room for your dog to go during parties, because too much excitement or stress can cause stomach upset.
3. Place mystery packages out of reach. Dogs who smell food in a package are known to rip it open. Remember that food is the number one holiday hazard for dogs. The greasy and fatty foods that we eat can cause havoc on an animal's intestines.
4. Tell guests not to give your dog food from the dinner table. Remember that poultry skin, fat trimmings, rich gravies, and buttery sauces can cause sever vomitting, diarrhea, or even worse, a life threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Also, remember that an ounce of alcoholic beverage can put a small dog into a coma.
5. Stow chocolate candy or baking ingredients out of reach. Chocolate is the most common toxicity treat during the holidays. Small amounts cause vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause above normal heart rythems, nervous system malfunctions, and even death.
6. Secure your garbage in bins with tight lids. A dog can chew up holiday throwaways which can result in intestinal perforation and/or obstruction.
7. Buy only decorating products (tree water preservatives and artificial snow) that are labeled non-toxic.
8. Put away children's toys after they are opened. Ingested toys can cause choking and intestinal blockage, and must usually be removed through surgery.
9. Secure large trees to the wall to preven tipping, or consider a smaller tree that can fit on a table top.
10. Remember that stomach upsets can be caused by popcorn and gumdrops, so avoid using these strings of edible decorations.
11. Fasten all your tree decorations securly, with the more fragile ones towards the top. Dogs who chew these can suffer cuts in their mouth. (I know this one from experience.)
12. Return paper and other gift wrapping materials to their storage places after gift wrapping is finished.
13. Place holiday plants out of reach and vacuum often. Poinsettia can cause drooling, oral pain, and vomitting. Mistletoe causes vomiting, labored breathing, shock, and death from cardiovascular collapse. When animals eat the needles from real or fake trees, they can also get intestinal blockage.
14. Display candles on high shelfs to avoid painful burns and singed whiskers.
15. Make sure that cords are tucked out of reach. Electricution can occur.
Bozo, a Great Pyrenees mix, was considered Santa's other helper by his owners.
By Erik Siemers
December 22, 2005
Day 10: It was Christmas morning and the little ones were worried.
We were all worried.
Ken and Tara, two of my three older siblings, searched everywhere. The frozen lake, in ditches, along every stretch of highway within a night's walking distance.
He was nowhere to be found.
Disappearing wasn't unusual. But usually only for two hours, maybe three. Not much longer.
And not on Christmas.
The little ones, my niece and nephew, asked about him. Is he OK? Is he coming back? Where is he?
We feared the worst, though nobody expressed it.
Dead on a highway? Stranded in the frozen Minnesota winter? Hungry and lost? Dognapped?
It was the Christmas we worried Bozo would never come back.
He had arrived in a pickup, not the most ceremonious of chariots, but Bozo loved the back of pick-ups.
A Great Pyrenees mix, Bozo belonged to two men from the Twin Cities who spent weekends in a cabin near our home on central Minnesota's Mille Lacs Lake.
While the men were off fishing, hunting, or whatever they did, Bozo would trot down the dirt road between the cabin and our house to a big bowl of food my dad set out for him.
Dad said he was just a puppy.
And I'm sure he was, though it was hard to convince me. I was nearing my teen years, and my limited exposure to almost everything told me puppies shouldn't be big enough to wear saddles.
It wasn't long before the two men decided they could no longer take care of Bozo - they named him, not us - and let him join our family.
Bozo no longer had to trot down that dirt road. He had a new home, with lots of land to explore.
I was no different from most children on Christmas Eve. I'd pretend to fall asleep in hopes of catching Santa in action.
It was magical to wake up and wonder how all the presents got there.
We didn't even have a chimney.
But this year, the magic was missing.
It was about 1988, though the exact year escapes me. I was nearly a teenager, old enough to know that Dad and my oldest brother delivered the presents, but young enough to wish I didn't know.
I'd never experienced real loss. And the prospect of losing Bozo that morning made the value of any unwrapped present depreciate to nothing.
He was, in all seriousness, like a brother. Granted, one who shed a lot of hair and stayed outside most of the time.
Bozo was a dog like no other.
He was, for one, a cautious explorer. We lived on a hill next to a busy, two-lane highway. Ambling down the driveway, he'd approach the road and look both ways, often twice, before crossing.
And he was thoughtful. One afternoon, we noticed him crossing the highway while carrying something in his mouth.
Bozo had brought us a gift: a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream that he carried by the flap.
Undoubtedly, some neighbors had run out of room in their freezer and used a snowbank as their back-up.
"As long as he carried that ice cream home, I was going to put it in a dish for him," my mom, Jerry Siemers, said recently. "After that, he deserved to eat the ice cream."
But now Bozo was gone, and so was the thrill of Christmas.
After all that searching and fretting, we opened gifts and ate breakfast. We felt empty and joyless knowing that this beloved family member could be lost forever.
And then, suddenly, like a Christmas miracle, he was there, sitting in the snow as if nothing had happened.
Nobody saw him arrive. Nobody knew where he'd been. So we told the kids he must have finished helping Santa with his last deliveries - and that's what I'd still like to believe.
For the first time, I realized that the holiday means more than presents. Sure, Bozo was just a dog. But he was a good dog.
He was like a brother with fur.
Bozo died nearly a decade ago, leaving our lives much like he entered - riding in the back of a pick-up, though on his way to a veterinarian.
Even though he's gone, I still think of him every Christmas.
And someday, when I have children of my own, they'll hear about Santa's other helper.
You might see him Christmas Eve.
He'll be the reindeer that barks.
Erik Siemers is the Tribune's city government reporter. His new dog, Dexie, has pledged to help Santa only if he plays fetch.
NORTH POLE, Alaska -- Santa Claus has begun final preparations for his big trip to the homes of good boys and girls around the world this weekend. He is getting ready to pack his sleigh for the big trip on Christmas Eve.
Even in the upper reaches of northern Alaska, children are meeting Santa Claus to give him their final wish list, and at Santa's compound, the reindeer are being prepared for their big journey.
"I want a yo-yo," one child told Santa.
And the gifts continue to get more extravagant.
"I want a game board," a child said.
"I want a remote-controlled car," another child said.
Some of the children even remembered mom, who would prefer something expensive and shiny.
"My mom wants a meat grinder," a boy said.
Those aren't the only wish lists. Some 500,000 letters to Santa will arrive at the North Pole post office.
"Just this week alone we received letters from Russia, from Germany, a couple from Italy, and most recently, one from Czechoslovakia," post office representative Gina Yurkovich said.
So with time running out, it looks like everyone is ready for the big day.
CAPE CANAVERAL -- Grownups and kids can easily track the travels of the legendary Santa Claus this weekend thanks to a mistaken Sears Roebuck & Co. ad published 50 years ago.
That was the first year the military geared up to provide updates on the Christmas Eve whereabouts of Santa's fabled sleigh and reindeer.
Why did they do it? A wrong number. In 1955, Sears stores advertised a telephone number that children could call for updates on Santa's progress. The company listed the wrong number. The kids who dialed instead reached the commander of the Continental Air Defense Command.
Col. Harry Shoup, the CONAD commander, didn't bark "wrong number" and hang up. Instead, he ordered radar trackers to see if there was any sign of Santa. According to CONAD's published history, trackers picked up something and Shoup relayed updates to any kids who called in.
A few years later, the United States and Canada decided to merge their air defense systems into what's now called the North American Air Defense Command or NORAD for short. NORAD has kept up the tradition ever since, bringing to bear five decades of technological advancements.
The end result of leveraging all of that technology is that it's getting easier, and more interesting, to catch up with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve as kids head off to bed.
What were once static updates delivered to radio and television hosts who relayed them periodically during newscasts on Christmas Eve are now dynamic, always-on computer applications that just about anyone can get to at several different Internet sites.
The coverage at noradsanta.org begins early in the morning, Eastern time, on Christmas Eve and continues all day and evening.
Viewers will be able to track Santa with maps, data and even video recordings as he makes stops. NORAD officials said the agency's experts are able to find, and follow, Santa using intelligence gathered and recorded from past years.
Maps showing where Santa has been, where he is at the time and where he might be headed next will be on the NORAD Web site.
A separate, simpler global map showing Santa's track also will be online at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. There will be links to both at floridatoday.com throughout the weekend.
And, as is tradition, NASA plans to provide Santa with access to the three-mile long shuttle landing strip should he run into technical trouble or need a break once his Christmas Eve travels bring him across the Atlantic Ocean.
The spaceport is all but empty on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, the space agency always leaves the Shuttle Landing Facility open for Santa's use. NASA, however, makes sure to stress that it doesn't cost taxpayers any extra money.
Chex Party Mix
6 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. seasoned salt
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. Corn Chex cereal
2 c. Rice Chex
2 c. Wheat Chex
1 1/2 c. Planters mixed nuts
1 c. tiny pretzels or pretzel sticks
Melt butter in shallow pan over low heat. Stir in salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add Chex cereals, nuts, and pretzels. Mix until all pieces are coated. Heat in a 250-degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Serve.
WINONA, Minn. - Looking for the perfect outfit for your guinea pig? Well, a Winona woman may have what you're after. Carly Austin-Kukowski designs and sells guinea pig gear ranging from leopard-print dresses to elf costumes with reindeer hats.
It started as a joke two years ago, when Austin-Kukowski, 25, made a sweater for her own guinea pig to wear outside. After that, she tried other designs.
A friend sarcastically suggested that she try to sell the costumes on eBay.
Austin-Kukowski took her friend seriously, and four months later, she said she has sold about 100 costumes to people as far away as Australia and England. About a third of her orders come from New York City, she said.
Austin-Kukowski, who works as a nurse's aide, has filled custom orders. She made a Minnesota Vikings helmet — braids included. She also made a white lace dress for a guinea pig "wedding."
The original sweater-wearing guinea pig has passed away, but she now has four others.
This week Austin-Kukowski took out a classified ad in a local paper: "Christmas costumes for guinea pigs. $7. Santa, elf, many more. Must see to believe."
The Ebay store for Guinea Pig clothing
CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. - Ten minutes later and the Siberian husky frozen to some railroad tracks in western Wisconsin would have met an unfortunate fate. But luckily Jeremy Majorowicz, a Twin Cities construction worker, intervened.
Majorowicz spotted the gray and white dog sitting on the tracks Monday after his construction crew decided to call it a day because of the frigid temperatures. They headed into a restaurant for something to eat and when they came out an hour and a-half later, the dog was sitting in the same spot.
He approached the dog and offered it a bit of a muffin, but the animal wouldn't bite.
"I have two dogs myself, so I didn't want to leave the dog if there was something wrong," Majorowicz said, so he called the police.
Officer Tim Strand said the dog was "shivering unmercifully" when he arrived and would not come to him, so he called animal control officer Al Heyde.
Heyde hooked the dog around the neck with a catch pole in an attempt to capture the dog, but it would not budge.
"I lifted his tail and hind quarters, and saw he was literally frozen to the tracks," Strand said. "He was pretty hunkered down."
Strand pulled hard on the dog's tail, and was able to release him, but he said the dog lost a lot of hair in the process.
"He gave a heck of a whelp," he said.
What the men didn't know is that their rescue came with little time to spare. A train would be heading down the tracks within 10 minutes.
"If the dog would have seen that train I'm afraid it would have been the end of the pupster," Strand said.
The dog was transported to the Chippewa County Humane Association, where workers named him "Ice Train."
ENGLEWOOD, Pa. - Mary Kathleen O'Connor, 16, doing some studying for school about 6 a.m. Tuesday, said she was the first to be startled by an apparent Christmas tree stowaway.
"I'm looking at the tree and the angel just pops off," she said. "And a second later, this head just popped up. The eyes were, like, glowing. I was thinking, 'Oh my God!' And I screamed."
Other family members came running. "We looked at it and I thought it might have been a fake," said her father, Michael O'Connor, a Frackville attorney. "But then it moved its head. And I thought 'Holy Jeez. We're in trouble.'"
O'Connor called police, and William E. O'Donnell, a state Game Commission deputy wildlife conservation officer, removed an 18-inch-long opossum from the 8-foot Douglas fir the family had bought, bundled, from a dealer in Seltzer.
O'Donnell caged the animal and released it in woods about five miles away. The tree, meanwhile, was still in the front yard where Patricia had hurled it. "The lights are still on it," Michael O'Connor said. "So is the stand."
A Soldiers Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas.
He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of
Plaster and Stone.
I had come down the Chimney,
With presents to give.
And to see just who In this home
I looked all about
A strange sight I did see.
No tinsel, No presents,
Not even a tree.
No stocking by the mantle,
Just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures
Of far distant lands.
With medals and badges,
Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought
Came through my mind.
For this house was different,
It was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier,
Once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping,
Curled up on the floor
In this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured
Was this the hero
Of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a Poncho,
The floor for a bed?
I realized the families
That I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers
Who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world,
The children would play,
And grownup's would celebrate
A bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoyed freedom
each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers,
Like the one lying here.
I couldn't help wonder
How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve
In a land far from home.
The very thought
Brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees
And started to Cry.
The soldier awakened
And I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry,
This life is my choice."
The solider rolled over
And drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it,
I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours,
So silent and still
And we both shivered
From the cold nights chill.
I didn't want to leave
On that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of Honor
So willing to fight.
The solider rolled over,
With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, "Carry on Santa,
It's Christmas Day, All is secure."
One look at my watch,
And I knew he was right.
"Merry Christmas my friend, And to all a good night."
A Visit From St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas', when all through 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 danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down 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 luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, 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 called 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 that 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 hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked 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 laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed 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 filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang 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, as he drove out of sight, "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT."
The story of Christmas comes from the Bible. Here is the way it is told by Saint Luke:
And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them,
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!