Have a Kindly New Year

Dec, 2013
Have a Kindly New Year

I lecture my kids a lot. I know because they tell me so. In my defense, my lectures are just variations on three simple themes: 

Be Alert
Be Kind
Be Brave

Previously, I spoke 0n Alertness. This time: Kindness.

When my daughter began dating, I said that to get her boyfriend's true measure, watch how he treats not her, but others. This was also my indirect way of telling her to be kind by default, that kindness isn't something to be switched on and off. Indirect, because better that she figure it out herself, as any direct advice to a teenager gets ignored.

This echos my mother's advice to me. A devout Hindu who gave a respectful nod to Buddha, Yahweh and Allah (after all, to a Hindu, what's an extra three deities), she posited that god lives in each of us and so compassion is the only way to treat all creatures.

Even as an atheist, this made sense to me. After all, we are all made of the same stardust. Each of us, a child of the universe, linked.

I read about Quantum Entanglement. Heady stuff. Take two quantum particles. Even if they are light years apart, the mere act of measuring one, instantaneously changes the state of the other. More bizarre, is that these two particles don't even have to exist at the same time to be entangled. For the purposes of this message, I take from this that we are all kindred, regardless of distance and time.

So let us spread kindness, and trust that all else will be well in our own little worlds.

Have a kindly New Year.

Have a Full New Year

Dec, 2012

While searching for a book review, I came across a Guardian piece entitled 1000 books everyone must read.

Suddenly, I felt I was never going to live long enough. While I was gratified at how many books on the list that I had read, I was dismayed at how many more I hadn't. And dismayed further at how many more that should've been on the list but weren't, that I also hadn't read.

On the list is Lady Chatterley's Lover, which I first read as a precocious teenager. To an aficionado of Penthouse Forums, the book was a huge let-down. But even through the fog of disappointment, I felt the beauty of the writing, and became a lifelong D.H. Lawrence fan.

Lawrence's Sons and Lovers is, sadly, not on the list. The book contains one of my favorite Lawrence lines: "it doesn't matter whether your life is happy or not, as long as it is full". Counter-intuitively, this is an uplifting notion because while one may have little control over happiness, one does have a degree of control over life's fullness.

So without taking away from any of your happiness, I wish you a full life, an eventful New Year and spare time enough to read (and re-read) all the books on that confounding list.

Have an equanimous New Year.

Dec, 2011

I've heard said that life is an illusion. It probably isn't, if only because reality, when it bites, bites like an existent bitch.
Still, fact is,  we live in our minds.  And with the recent mental illness of a distant friend, I've realized how fragile this state of affairs is. We are hopeful for our friend's recovery, but I bring this up to note what a frighteningly thin line it is between daylight and darkness.
Without a healthy mind, the things worth living for - Love, Art, Cuisine - are lost to us, their objective reality notwithstanding.
So let's celebrate that we are - though precariously so - on the right side of that line, let's hold our loved ones close and our demons at bay.
Have an equanimous New Year

Have an Alert New Year

Dec, 2010

I lecture my kids a lot. I know because they tell me so.

In my defense, I'd like to say that the rules I wish them to abide by are simple and that my lectures are just variations on three elementary themes: 

Be Alert
Be Kind
Be Brave

Of the above, alertness has been more on my mind lately. 

Often, when leaving a restaurant or mall with my family, I'd take a deliberately circuitous route back to the car and they would mindlessly follow as I mischievously zigged and zagged my way all over the parking lot. They had not taken note of where we'd parked or that I was leading them in circles. When they discover the ruse, they complain that I'm wasting time and I enjoin them to be more alert.

But alertness isn't just about remembering where we parked or to avoid mindlessly following the guy in front, or even about dangers to watch out for, though all that is important. Alertness is also about noticing the beauty and hilarity that surrounds us, attentiveness to others' needs and feelings as well as being aware of our own motivations and weaknesses and strengths. These are some of the alertness issues I've been working on when lecturing my kids. 

There's a a dog park where my kids and I take our dogs. Once I showed my daughter, Abia how our dog would urinate right over the area where another dog had just done so, and how the other dog, seeing this, would return to urinate over that and how this would go on till one of the dogs ran out of urine. A real pissing contest. Abia volunteers for a dog shelter and had actually seen this without ever really noticing it or the hilarity of it. "That's because you're not alert," I said.

So, be alert— you never know what you might miss.

Have a Happy (and alert) New Year.

Gaurang Thakkar

A Friendly Message

Dec, 2008

Whatever our troubles, we should be glad to be alive. Even in sorrow, we should rejoice in our capacity to feel that sorrow, for it implies an equal capacity to feel joy. 

In the vastness of a universe 14 billion years old and spanning tens of billions of light years in all directions, 96% of which consists of undefined dark matter and dark energy, where only 4% consists of matter as we know it, how fortunate that we are part of that minuscule 4%. And even within that tiny bit, an infinitesimally minuscule part consists of living, thinking, feeling beings like us. To date, as far as we know, we are the only ones here. In the great scheme of things, you and I have won one hell of a lottery.

Still, there are times when solace seems out of reach. I understand that. 

Perhaps the solace we seek is right under our noses as we engage in our daily deeds. I often find inspiration from this poem by DH Lawrence that I first encountered in my high school library. It has been my calm, dependable companion through thick and thin:

We are Transmitters 

As we live, we are transmitters of life. 
And when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us. 

That is part of the mystery of sex, it is a flow onwards. 
Sexless people transmit nothing. 

And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work, 
life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready 
and we ripple with life through the days. 

Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool, 
if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding 
good is the stool, 
content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her, 
content is the man. 

Give, and it shall be given unto you 
is still the truth about life. 
But giving life is not so easy. 
It doesn't mean handing it out to some mean fool, or letting the living dead eat you up. 
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not, 
even if it's only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.

DH Lawrence

"as we work, we can transmit life into our work" - I encountered this notion a few years later in Salman Rushdi's "Midnight's Children" where he describes how a woman cooks her frustrations into her food and how the resulting meals are strangely unsatisfying for the diners. The concept was brought home to me soon afterwards when my father died and my mother's cooking, always excellent, suddenly tasted bland even though she used the same ingredients and same methods, the same stove and pots and pans.

Some may seek solace in religion, others in a non-religious spirituality of sorts. However if you find yourself praying just out of reflex and without thinking or feeling the content, then it is time to re-think your spirituality.

If there is a God, and he speaks to us, then surely an omnipotent God would speak directly to each of us and not through a parchment, priest, guru or mullah.

Or consider for a moment that, perhaps, to some people, he speaks through DH Lawrence. Or not. Who knows?

I guess what I’m saying is:

May you have comfort and cheer—however it is that you find it.

A Happy New Year to all my dear friends. 

Magazine Ads From a Hundred Years Ago

Aug, 2008

I don’t know...I think this “sweeping with electricity” thing will never catch on. 

Olympic Fakery

Painted Walls Hide The Unseemlier Parts Of Beijing.

Jun, 2008

There’s been a lot of news in the past two days about the various enhancements the Beijing Olympic organizers have employed to spruce up the games. For example, during the opening ceremonies they put on a cuter girl to lip-sync a song recorded by the plainer-looking original singer. The organizers also added digital effects to the supposedly live television broadcast of the fireworks. 

And here’s the latest breaking news:

Olympic Medals Revealed to be Fakes

Medal winners in the 2008 Beijing Olympics were disappointed to learn that the medals were in fact chocolate coins, a popular confectionary in China.

"We were running over budget," said the organizers, "and we thought this was a great opportunity to inject more Chinese culture into the Games as chocolate coins are a traditional lucky giveaway during our Lunar New Year celebrations."

Medal winners in gymnastics, who had hitherto been watching their weights, upon hearing this news, promptly unwrapped and ate their medals.

"Hey, I was hungry," said one gold medalist.

Remember, you read it here first.

Safe Texting

Mar, 2008

I read that texting has been leading to many accidents, like people walking into lamp posts and tripping over curbs. So, as a public service, I decided to publish the following Q&A:

What is texting and how can I safely 'do it?'

Texting is an activity to help you release your 'urge to converse', as they say. Follow these rules to enjoy safe texting:

First, make sure you are alone, as it might be considered rude to 'do it' while in company.

Next, make sure your hands are clean and your instrument is properly sleeved—you don't want things to get sticky.

Now think of something pleasant, because, as I always say, if you can't text something nice, don't text at all.

You don't have to worry about having anything witty to say, and you certainly don't have to worry about bad breath or smelly armpits, because, let's face, you're just texting.

Remember: keep it short, keep it simple, and wash your hands afterwards.

Happy texting!

Maan Sze Yue Yee

Feb, 2008

Dear Friends,

While there are Chinese families here in Chiangmai, I don't know any. There are Chinese temples and a Chinese Christian Church. But not much sign of Chinese New Year.

There are some "Happy New Year" signs here and there, but those have been up continuously since before I got here some years ago. And Why not?—a message like that never gets old. Still, it's not like Hong Kong. I miss the festiveness, the genuine feeling of optimism in the air and the numerous, trite but heartfelt good wishes bandied about.

So I'll dress up Abia and Gigi in traditional cheungsams (or close facsimiles of same) and we'll wish each other "Kung Hei Fat Choy" and eat some mooncakes (they sell those year-round here). It's a mashup, I know, but our whole family's a mashup anyway.

I'll wistfully think of all of you and wish you all a trite, but heartfelt "Man Szee Yue Yee"

The Secret Of Success

Jan, 2008

Who wouldn't want prosperity, happiness and good health? Apparently you can have all that for a few hundred Thai Baht if you buy and wear an amulet.

The recent craze throughout  Thailand over the Jatukham Ramathep amulets has spawned news headlines, caused stampedes, crime waves and led to an unprecedented tourist boom in Nakhon Si Thammarat where the amulets originated. Each day, ten thousand tourists from around the nation vie for the six thousand available hotel rooms in the southern province.

Even here in the North wherever I go, I see these almost pancake-sized amulets around someone or other's neck.

Prices for these amulets, some of which are made in limited editions and use exotic materials, range from a few hundred Baht to millions of Baht. Naturally, the government, always ready with a hand to put in your pocket, is considering a special tax on the trade.

There are some 250 manufacturers around Thailand making various editions of the amulets many of whom have set up shop at  Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawiharn a temple where the amulets have to be blessed before they gain their power.

With all the news of this phenomenon, there is surprisingly little mention of the other conditions that need to be met before the amulet can work its magic: wearers are required to refrain from gambling, be honest, kind, hard-working and (I suspect) eat right.

I would think that if one did all that, prosperity, happiness and good health would naturally ensue, and donning the amulet would be pretty much optional.


Thai-language newspapers are brimming with stories of supposed Jatukham related miracles. An interesting read is a translation of two such stories available at Thai-Blogs.com. They relate eyewitness accounts from an actress and a politician who had supposedly, sort of been present when the miracles occured. If you can’t believe an actress and a politician, who can you believe?

This particular newspaper has received millions in Jatukham related advertising in March according to Nielson Media Research.

When Religion Doesn't Get With The Times

From The Valley Of Love

Dec, 2007
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
by Joseph Brackett, Jr., 1848

Since moving to Chiang Mai, I have had much time to read, to contemplate, to watch my daughters grow, and, always, as a background to all this has been the sound of Wa humming, singing and occasionally grunting as she bakes and knits and gardens. And it has dawned on me that I have landed just where I ought to be.
It's been a heart wrenching, gut splattering, circuitous route that could easily have led to ruin, but didn't. And not a day goes by when I'm not thankful for whatever grace that deposited me here.
I would not wish that journey on anyone. But the destination, I wish it on all of my friends with all of my heart. Indeed, I wish it on all good people everywhere.
Happy New Year.

Tools For The Job

Our Tool Chest

Nov, 2007

I've never been a big tools guy. I have however always encouraged friends and neighbors to buy quality tools, because I like to borrow the best. My dad was like that too. We lived next door to a ship's mechanic who was seldom around but had a comprehensive set of quality tools that we'd borrow from his wife. In exchange my dad let her eldest daughter give me Chinese lessons for free. Did I mention my dad was a great negotiator?

Anyway, I wish we had some proper tools  when I got locked in the bathroom today. I closed the door, heard the lock snap of its own accord, tried to re-open it but couldn't. I called Wa through the door to get me out and she fetched our sorry excuse for a tool chest to see what she could use. While she banged away with a hammer on the other side, I decided I might as well brush my teeth and take a shower. By the time I was done, there was a hole where the door handle had been, but I was still locked in.

I could see Wa fiddling with a pipe wrench and wanted to ask how the hell that was supposed to help, but restrained myself as I could see that she was much agitated after twenty minutes of banging. She soon realized the wrench was useless. She went off and returned with two butter knives and handed me one through the hole. We twiddled the knives from both sides of the now damaged lock mechanism and finally managed to get the door open.

The problem occurred because of the bad quality lock we'd installed and I wanted to tell Wa she shouldn't have bought that cheap lock, but this wasn't an “I-told-you-so” moment. It never is, by the way.

We now have some idea as to how long it would take a burglar armed with a hammer and butter knife to break into our toilet: one hour. That's enough time for even the lethargic Thai police to get here, so the toilet would be a good place to store our valuables. Now all we need are some valuables.

We've agreed that good tools are essential to have around and have begun canvassing our neighbors to get an inventory.

You Say Tomahto, I Say Tomayto

Digital Rectal Examination is designed for training in male and female rectal palpation.

Oct, 2007

I was sent a link to a company in Japan that makes, among other things, anatomically correct dummies for use in medical schools. Above is a picture of one of their products.

As serendipity would have it, I happened to be reading that day an article about China's biggest sex toy manufacturer who also runs a chain of retail stores and is about to begin a franchising operation. I sent his company an email about the Japanese site thinking they might be interested in stocking this item, though buyers may not be limited to aspiring proctologists.

Tended Gardens Don't Grow on Trees

Sep, 2007

We have a small, well-tended garden. Except for a little corner at the back where there was, till now, a messy, festive, growth orgy reminiscent of a wild, booz-fueled party after a triumphant rugby match. That's the view I got from my office window and I liked it just fine.

Not Wa, though. She'd been grumbling about it for some months and I was hoping the complaints would trail off over time and be forgotten, like the ones about my dress sense.

No such luck. I awoke last Saturday morning to find her working noisily in the garden at that corner. That noise was pregnant with message, because, let's face it, there's only so much incidental, non-deliberate noise one can make with soil.

My first instinct was to bolt; get in the car and drive to the mall, returning in the afternoon with a loaf of bread and announce that we'd run out of bread. As I mulled over the plan Wa looked up and saw me. 

Curses! Too late to run, I trudged on over to ask warily if I could help, hoping against hope she'd say no.

"NO!" she hissed, and handed me a hoe. Being a modern man sensitive to the female species, I know when "NO!" doesn't mean "no". So I grabbed the hoe and began digging up the roots of the growth she had already cut away. I'm sure the plants, before they died, had talked among themselves and called Wa a tight-ass party-pooper. I hope they understood that I was a mere conscript.

After some exhausting digging for five minutes, I was taking a break as Wa cleared the roots that I'd dug up when Abia came out back to ask if she could help.

"Can I do what you're doing, papa?"

"Sure," I said, and gave her the hoe. She promptly stood the hoe firmly on the ground and leaned against it, looking tired.

"Very funny," I said. "Now give it back and go eat breakfast." What a smart-ass.  Wa thought that was hilarious, saying "your daughter knows you well."

In place of the earlier, rapturous growth, Wa planted a single tree. By "tree" I mean sapling. She'd paid a pittance for that sapling instead of spending just a bit more and getting a half-decent tree worthy of the term. She had two good reasons, she said:

1) cheaper is cheaper and 
2) she wanted to nurture it and watch it grow.

Well I think that 
1) cheaper is just cheap and 
2) I should live that long. Now, when I look out my window, it'll be like watching paint dry.

Our neighbour has the same kind of tree. It's fully grown and magnificent, so sometimes I go over there and look at that instead. Then I return and tell that pathetic little sapling of ours to grow the fuck up. Scientists say plants respond well when you talk to them.

It's possible the sap’s telling me the same thing, but I'm too highly evolved to pay any attention to a mere plant. It better shut the hell up 'cause I run a tight ship around here. 

Now excuse me, Wa says I need to go buy some bread.

Israeli Military Babes

Aug, 2007

I was sent a link to pics of female members of the Israeli Defense Forces. They’re pretty hot. Sign me up—as chaplain, or sumpin’ Or the laundry room. 

Laundry room? Now that has some positively perverse possibilities—if I were the sort who lingered longingly over ladies' lingerie. BUT I'M NOT that sort. The guy you saw at Victoria's Secret sniffing the merchandise wasn't me. Lots of people look like me. Dustin Hoffman looks like me. So does Tom Cruise...yeah, that's it, it was probably him. Christian Scientist! Now there's and oxymoron!

Anyway, I showed these lovely pics to Wa and she said if I had time to look at these why am I not cleaning up my office. As if there's the remotest connection between the two activities! Don't you hate it when women 'think out of the box'? And she clearly has no idea as to the other stuff I look at.

A Brief News iTem

Jul, 2007

The Lower case “i” has disgustedly resigned from the alphabet due to exhaustion from overuse and blatant abuse.

As she left the building, she is reported to have said, “iQuit!”

Does It Suck, Or Does It Rock?

May, 2007

How it works:

When you enter a search term, sucks/rocks searches the web for several positive and negative phrases using that term. The score is the fraction of positive results to the sum of positive and negative results, normalized to 10.

Type in a search term, e.g. "Chiang Mai" press return and type in another search term (Bangkok), press return to compare the results.

At the moment John Edwards is scoring slightly better than Barack Obama and way ahead of Hillary Clinton.

Jesus scores higher than Mohammed. While Ganesh ties with Jesus, Buddha scores a perfect 10 and Coke beats Pepsi.

This can get addictive.

Cuddling outscores kissing which might indicate that there are more women writing stuff on the web than men. Could be, because if you compare "men" with "women", women outscore men by a respectable margin. But "Ken" beats "Barbie", go figure.

Nasty, Tasty Noodles

"Hey, wadya want from me? I invent noodles, not shades."

Apr, 2007

Momofuku Ando who invented the instant noodle in 1958 and improved on it in 1971 by putting it in a waterproof styrofoam cup, died earlier this year, aged 96. 

He founded the Nissin Food Products Company and is said to have often eaten the company's instant noodles, proving that the stuff will kill you, err ... eventually.

For those of you who aren’t juvenile enough and missed it, go back and read the guy’s first name, and snigger. 


These guys seem to know what they're doing.

Apr, 2007

It was suggested to me that I should write a book. I thought about this seriously for about three seconds and it hurt my head. It just seems like too much work and besides, I’d need some talent too, though lack of talent hasn’t stopped other writers.

So it’s just that writing involves work is where the problem lies. Hmm..maybe I could outsource to some guys in India:

"Hello, do you accept outsourcing of writing work?"

"Err... yes. I am speaking very good English and having computer just down the road from my house at the cafe of the internets. They—the computer in this cafe—are having word processors which can spelt cheque, so I am—how you say?—GOOD TO GO!"

"Great! Now mosey off and write me a novel, chop-chop!"

So if any of you knows someone that do this, let me know. Better yet, call them for me and get them started on the job. Call me when they’re done. Leave a voicemail if I’m napping and call me back later to see if I got the voicemail.

All Your Data Is Belong To Us

Mar, 2007

I keep getting requests from people I know who want to update their records about my contact details. Fine. Except it's now all done over the web and I hate filling in personal details at websites that are collecting data like mad.

Even when I ignore these requests, my friends are filling in god knows what details about me in their web-based 'personal' online address book. An address book that in reality belongs to a corporation. Once (as it must surely happen) all this disparate data gets owned by
Google/MSN/AOL/Yahoo/Amazon (or any combination thereof after the inevitable M&A’s) and is cross-referenced, these guys will know a hell of a lot about you and me and our friends and relatives and where we live and what we do and our likes and dislikes. 

When I try to explain to people how uncool this is, they just look at me funny like I'm some kinda luddite. Just like you might be (virtually) lookin' at me now.

It's Just This Big

Feb, 2007

Career diplomat, former Director of National Intelligence  and now U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte says that during the Reagan years, he gave the brutal Nicaraguan Contras only incey-wincey tiny little guns that couldn't hurt a fly. Nothin’ illegal. Besides, it was all Oliver North’s fault.

Con Job

Feb, 2007

I read an article entitled "Math Made Easy: Study Reveals 5-year-olds' Innate Ability." It was about how kids do math all the time without realizing it and if you present math problems to kids in a creative manner, you can have them doing math naturally.

I didn't need a study to tell me this. My experience with Abia had confirmed it. When Abia was four, we played snakes and ladders, starting with one die. She would count the dots and move her piece accordingly. When she was able to move her piece without needing to count the dots, we moved on to two dice, and then three. Later we changed the rules  to allow a player to  remove any one of the three dice and count only the remaining two.  It progressed to where a player could choose to roll one, two, or three dice, thus needing to intuitively calculate probabilities. She never knew she was doing math.

We also made up many math games with playing cards. And I do mean 'we'; Abia would be involved in making up the games.

I started the same routine with our younger daughter, Gigi, but she was too smart for her own good; she sensed that I was trying to teach her something and wasn't “really playing” and she resisted.

She spotted my fraudulent intentions and called me on it. A friend suggested I forget Snakes and Ladders and immediately start Gigi on the cards - five card poker!

Gigi can smell a con even as I open my mouth, just like her mom.

But it was a con that first got me close to Wa.

My friend, Abie,  from South Africa had checked into the hotel where Wa worked a day ahead of me. Being Abie, he'd quickly managed to get the life stories of all three front desk girls. When I arrived, he filled me in on the details on each of them. The next morning he stood at the front desk and asked me to read his palm, feigning shock and surprise that I knew so much about him.

The others, including Wa, queued up to have their palms read, and since I got their past right, they believed everything I had to say about their futures. I became a celebrity at the hotel, especially with the chef, who was appreciative enough to always put a lot of extra goodies in my breakfast tray.

Anyway, for a lark, I told Wa she'd end up marrying a handsome young guy from Hongkong with a big nose who was a good palm reader. Just in case that wasn't clear enough, I added that his initials were GT.

An hour later I'd forgotten all about this and didn't really pay any attention to Wa (nor she to me) over the next two years that I stayed on and off at the hotel, apart from the usual niceties.

Then, once, as I checked out of the hotel, I noticed she had cut her hair, and for the first time, I really saw her clearly and thought to myself, "what a foxy lady!" This was a cool expression in those days, and I was nothing if not cool, even when talking to myself.

I said to Wa that I'd stay another day if she'd have dinner with me. She refused and I left. But I couldn't get her out of my mind and called her repeatedly till she agreed to have dinner with me. I flew over for a weekend and stayed ten days. We dated everyday and on the ninth day I asked her to marry me. I said we could get married first and fall in love later.

And that's what happened.

Some con job.

EEK! A Spouse!

The Marriage Bridge

Jan, 2007

Someone sent me a picture of this bridge and asked if I dared drive across it. Looks like a drive through my marriage when my mother's visiting.

My Mom visits every Christmas and I can't remember the last relaxed christmas I've had. Women are so territorial. If they were dogs, they'd be pissing all over the place.

We have peace, but it's a tense, uneasy peace, like at the Korean DMZ. Participants in our Six Party Talks comprise myself, the two dogs, my two daughters and one of the two antagonists. The dogs have turned out to be the best diplomats; saying as little as possible and wagging your tail a lot seems to be key in preventing any major international incident.

I've learned and emulated this winning strategy. One finds wisdom in the most unlikely places.

Happy (Holi)days

Happy Holidays, folks.

I can't say 'Merry Christmas' because some of you aren't  Christian and it might hurt your religious/atheist (pick one) sensibilities. At least that's what politically correct liberal secularists tell me.

For the same reason, I can't say 'Id Mubarak,' 'Happy Diwali.' or 'Happy Hanukkah' since some of you *are* Christian. 

I should spare a thought for those of you who may not even be having holidays. So let me rephrase my greeting: HAPPY DAYS.

This greeting could catch on because it works for every occasion, and non-occasion. Hallmark is gonna have fits. (Note to self: call broker, short Hallmark).

And this greeting works for everyone; surely, we all want Happy Days. The trick to World Peace is everyone wanting Happy Days for everyone else and willing to work towards that end, whether you buy the other guy's beliefs or not.

All I know is: I care for your well-being, I care only that you are good people, and that I have been—and can continue to count on being—a grateful recipient of your kindness and trust. So I wish you Happy Days, my Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist and those-who-find-religion-when-the-market's-going-against-them friends. Happy Days.

The following is from Charlie Brown Christmas - Performed by the Cast of Scrubs

Buckle up, Charlies, I'll tell you what Christmas is all about. Here's the deal newbies:

You can stuff your stockings with shinny little things from now till you grow testicles but until that stocking is filled with love and devotion, well, it's just plum empty.

And no, you can't purchase those things at Bora Ashley, and, no, you can't win them in the Redbook Giveaway Extravaganza, and, gee, I'm sorry these aren't things you can wind-up and watch spin for eight hours.

Let me make this exceptionally clear: Christmas is about love. You can't live without other people's love. Not during Christmas, not ever.

So go spend that time with your friends and family. And if they laugh at you, laugh with 'em. And if they laugh again, hit 'em and go find some new friends. But for the love of God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and is techni-colored dream coat, don't ever, ever forget this, newbie: you have to give love to get love. So start givin'. Now.

Some Diamonds Are Forever

Nov, 2006

You can pick your friends
And you can pick your nose (I know I do)
But you can't pick your friend's nose
-- The Dalai Lama

I was reading an article about the possible health benefits of eating your own dry boogers (don't ask). The act of doing so is called mucophagy, which sounds just about right but in my view should be followed by the suffix 'eeeeyooOOO!' or the more polite 'ugh'
We've all done the digging bit but I've only ever seen kids actually eat the stuff. Perhaps it's an evolutionary thing, to help recycle sodium or something, I don't know.

The article says in part: 
There is an Austrian doctor who has gained notoriety by advocating the picking of one's nose and the consumption of the resulting bounty, particularly in children. Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, a lung specialist working in Innsbruck, would have us believe that people who pick their noses with their fingers are healthier, happier, and more in tune with their bodies. His argument stems from the notion that exposing the body to the dried germ corpses helps to reinforce the immune system. The good doctor feels that society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking, and encourage children to take up the habit.
Dr. Bischinger has been quoted as saying (in an Austrian accent), "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system." He then added, "Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine."
Self Medicating.
Anyway, the article reminded me of an incident that took place some three years after I got married. I was relaxing at home having a pleasant booger digging session when, just as I was twirling the resulting bounty (and what a bounty it was!) around my thumb and index finger, Wa walked in on me. She complained that I had never taken her on a honeymoon or bought her a diamond.

"You want a diamond?" I said, "come here..." I grabbed her hand and gave her a perfectly spherical one carat booger, still warm and squishy soft.

She now has real diamonds, but gets just that slight tinge of "eeeyoo" when putting them on. I get a good laugh whenever I see them on her. That's something, 'cause the diamonds aren't good for anything else.

I don't think she's kept the original 'diamond' I gave her. She's so not romantic.