Sunday, December 24, 2006

War on Christmas

This time of year is really hard for me. Historically, I start getting depressed just before Thanksgiving and stop sometime after my birthday (10 days after Christmas, hint hint). In recent years things have been somewhat worse. It could be that I've already been under stress before the ever-lengthening holiday season and therefore have had a lower tolerance for Enforced Happiness.

Or it could be Enforced Happiness in general. There are exactly two Christmas carols which I actually like--I am a secular Jew, mind you--and these are "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Angels We Have Heard on High." The rest I could do without. Especially in stores; stores are overstimulating enough already! Enforced Happiness also includes advertising of all sorts, including (but not limited to) radio, television, and print ads.

Or it could be this whole "War on Christmas" myth. I do not understand this business. If anyone's trying to remove the meaning of Christmas, it's those who make it into a capitalist orgy. The way I see it, retail workers who wish people happy holidays instead of a merry Christmas are actually preserving the meaning of Christmas. When did Christmas become a reason to spend lots of money? I might be a secular Jew, but I know that Mary and Joseph weren't exactly rolling in dough.

When I was a baby, my parents decided that we should give presents on Christmas. We lived in a very WASPy area, and they didn't want me to feel left out once I began school. Every year we constructed a Christmas bush with branches clipped from our pine trees and a whole bunch of electrical ties. Sometimes my mother would pick up discarded bits of real Christmas trees on her way to work and add them to our bush for extra variety. One year we discovered--the hard way--that I am violently allergic to white pine. As soon as I could open my eyes again, we transferred the ornaments to the ficus. After that incident, we decided to hang the ornaments from the piano instead.

Perhaps I grew up with a skewed version of Christmas. Christmas was something which belonged to other people and which I could dabble in, if I wished, but it was never something I could do for real. Christmas meant shopping and wrapping and stress and you know, I used to love it... except that it was always phenomenally depressing.

So I reserve the right to wish someone happy holidays if they wish me a merry Christmas. Does that make me anti-Christmas? No stranger has ever come up to me on the street and wished me a happy Hanukkah, nor a comfortable fast on Yom Kippur, nor a happy new year in September. But that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when people get all het up (in Decembers of late) when someone wishes them something other than a merry Christmas.

Does it really matter? If Jimmy the Cashier doesn't wish Mrs. Jones a merry Christmas, is Mrs. Jones doomed to have a terrible time on December 25? Isn't it okay just to acknowledge that there are a whole slew of holidays in December (Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and the winter solstice, to name but a few) and cover all the bases with a generic holiday wish?

If Mrs. Jones needs prompting from Jimmy the Cashier to have a merry Christmas, Mrs. Jones has some serious issues.

I'm glad Christmas comes but once a year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I do Windows

Last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of reinstalling Windows.

I learned a lot of interesting things during this process. For example:

1) There is such a thing as a Plug and Play Bus Driver. I wish AC Transit had some of those.

2) Microsoft technical support personnel do not appreciate the term "Blue Screen of Death," even though Microsoft offers a screen saver called BlueScreen, whose official description includes the phrase "infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)."

3) Reinstalling Windows does not delete the contents of My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, etc., but it does move all of these folders to a completely inconvenient location. Then it creates completely new folders with the same exact names, leaving you to scratch your head and contemplate the similarities between reinstalling Windows and moving house.

In fact, there are so many interesting things to be learned from Windows that I think all household appliances deserve an operating system.

I can see it now:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It is what it ain't

George Orwell, of course, taught us that


Recently, George W. Bush taught us that

"'Stay the course' means keep doing what you're doing... Don't do what you're doing if it's not working -- change. 'Stay the course' also means don't leave before the job is done."

And according to my crossword puzzle this morning, everything else you know is wrong too: