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Posts from — December 2018

The Feast of Saint Lucia

This is Saint Lucia’s Day for Scandinavians.

It features special treats that are handed out by a girl wearing a crown of candles, Lucia coming from the Latin for light, LUX.

Saint Lucia was an early Christian martyr from Syracuse on Sicily, but her official feast day, December 13, fit perfectly with the local pagan celebration of the Lussi on December 13, which was the Winter Solstice at the time. Yep, more cover to continue the fun mid-winter celebrations by pretending they are associated with Christianity to get the Church off everyone’s case.

December 13, 2018   No Comments

Stuff I Noticed

I have been fighting with the latest update of WordPress as they tried to change the way I work and that had to be corrected. You don’t mess with the editor.

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe ‘leaves the Solar System’ and joins her sister where “no man-made object has gone before…”

On a sad note: Roger the ripped kangaroo dies aged 12. Roger was over 6-foot tall and near 200 pounds. Crushing metal buckets like they were paper cups was one of his tricks. He was the Schwarzenegger of roos.

Meanwhile Trump is having a bit of a problem finding a new chief of staff. His first choice, Nick Ayers, gave notice that he was leaving DC for Georgia at the end of the year. Trump has drawn up a list of candidates, but it is uncertain if anyone wants to work for him.

John Kelly Was a Bully, Bigot, and Liar for Trump. Goodbye and Good Riddance. Lawrence O’Donnell told us who John Kelly really is back in October of 2017 after the attack on Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

December 10, 2018   No Comments

December 7th, 1941

The seventy-seventh anniversary of “a date which will live in infamy…”

The official US Navy site on the Pearl Harbor attack.

There will be a memorial service aboard NAS Pensacola that normally features local survivors of the attack. Obviously there are fewer of them every year.

December 7, 2018   4 Comments

How Do Reindeer Fly?

Christmas Mushroom

… and how can Santa Claus visit every house, go down chimneys, leave toys, all over the world in one night?

One of the answers is found on European Christmas trees.

Read about Finland’s version of the Julbock, Joulupukki.

Note: Don’t try this at home unless you have the kidneys of a reindeer. It also explains why gnomes are so cheerful. [This is one of my most searched for posts, almost as big as the Shi’ia oil map, or the Alaska-Russia border. It is a bit disconcerting to see the number of people around the world whose interests are as weird as mine, but they are all hits on the counter.]

December 6, 2018   No Comments

Feast Of Saint Nicholas

Russian Icon of Saint Nicholas

Yes, it is the day that kindly old Saint Nicholas fills the footware of good little girls and boys with treats [or his assistants beat the evil out of bad children, depending on the local customs – they didn’t just leave the sticks – in some places they use them.] Don’t forget the carrot if he rides a horse in your area.

He is the patron saint of Russian merchants and pawnbrokers (three gold balls are one of the symbols associated with him).

December 6, 2018   No Comments

Seasons Greetings


Happy NODWISH Greetings

As a service to my readers I have compiled a list of useful terms for our modern global village.

It is time to wish family and friends: [select one]

Merry Solstice
Happy Holiday
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy Hogwatch
Merry Christmas
С Рождеством Христовым
성탄 축하
Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Nadolig Llawen
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Joyeux Noël
Buon Natale
Feliz Navidad
God Jul
Rauhallista Joulua
Happy Christmas
Happy Holidays

[

December 6, 2018   No Comments

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah in Hebrew

MenorahHappy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends. I miss the latkes and jelly doughnuts my roommates received for the holiday at college. [Their grandmothers were afraid they wouldn’t celebrate or couldn’t get “real” food at that terrible Baptist university.] It was a great break.

One of the nice things about Hanukkah is that there are established “gifts”, so you don’t have to rack your brains about what to get: a card and gelt covers just about everyone.

General background at Wikipedia’s entry for Hanukkah and even more at Chabad’s Chanukah page.

[Note: on the Jewish calendar the day changes at sundown, not midnight.]

December 2, 2018   No Comments

Mer Jul i Gävle


It’s the first Sunday of Advent and Why Now? is pleased to present the Fifty-second version of the Gävlebocken, The biggest Christmas Goat in the world [now on Twitter @Gavlebocken].

From Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Something in the comments from 2006:

Why build a giant goat of straw,
Which most of us would scarcely note?
Some, though, defy the very law,
To vandalize the Gävle Goat.

In some years, they used wayward cars;
In others, flaming arrows smote.
This year’s survives, although with scars…
A fact that gets some people’s goat.

A webcam and some watchful eyes,
A flame-retardant second coat,
Should save it… unless Dubya spies
The thing, and claims it’s his pet goat!

– SB the YSS

December 2, 2018   No Comments


Today is the First Sunday of Advent which means you should have made your Christmas Pudding so it would have time to age, and the Gävlebocken is standing tall in Castle Square.

December 2, 2018   No Comments

George Herbert Walker Bush 1924-2018

The BBC does this well: Obituary: George H W Bush and follows up with George H W Bush: The war years [the WWII years].

I have a great deal of respect for his service as a Naval aviator, and much of his service as the 41st President.

It would be nice if someone told the Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that flags are at half staff for 30 days when a President dies.

December 1, 2018   20 Comments

Anchorage Earthquake

The USGS provides all of the technical details of Friday’s quake:M 7.0 – 13km N of Anchorage, Alaska.

I grabbed the NBC News initial reporting and their follow-up: Depth of Alaska earthquake — and strong building codes — likely prevented more damage, saved lives.

In 1964 the strongest known earthquake to hit the United States, 9.2 on the Richter scale, was centered in Anchorage. As a result, smart people build for the reality of earthquakes. Even with all that preparation, they couldn’t save their roads and bridges from damage. This creates a problem for the rest of Alaska as the majority of things shipped to the state arrive in Anchorage and are then distributed by roads and rail which are now damaged.

That said, there are no reports of serious injury or deaths.

December 1, 2018   No Comments

The Season Is Over

Technically the Atlantic hurricane season is over, but it started in May with Tropical Storm Alberto coming ashore on the Florida Gulf Coast East of me. There were 16 tropical systems: 1 depression, 7 tropical storms, and 8 hurricanes. Three storms came ashore on the northern Gulf Coast [TS Alberto, TS Gordon, and Cat 4 Hurricane Michael (155 mph)] while Hurricane Florence came ashore in the Carolinas as Cat 1 after peaking as a Cat 4, but caused massive damage with flooding rains.

Michael was the fourth strongest storm to make landfall in the US. [The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (185 mph), Hurricane Camille (175 mph), and Hurricane Andrew (165 mph)]

Further analysis from the National Hurricane Center, Dr Jeff Masters, and Accuweather.

December 1, 2018   No Comments