Monday, December 31, 2007

Another Trip Around The Sun

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go

Yes, I'll make a resolution
Then I'll never make another one
Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun
Just enjoy this ride ...
Until it's done.

-Jimmy Buffet & Martina McBride
Trip Around the Sun

Another year has come and gone. Looking back on 2007, I guess I could sum up my personal corner of the time-space continuum as a Year of Change. Most changes for the better, although some events set in motion have yet to play out for better or worse. Here's hoping for more good than bad.

Today marks our 13th Anniversary, so Mrs. Gnu and I will have lots to celebrate. Tonight, we'll enjoy the ringing in of the New Year from home. I'm not about to risk life and limb on the roads this evening. It never ceases to amaze me just what slow learners much of the population appears to be. Every year, we see stories on the evening news where one idiot after another wraps themselves around a tree or telephone pole. Or worse, smacks head-on into an innocent family. The damned fool staggers away without a scratch, drunk and clueless, while the family dies a horrifying death.

Please, if you go out to celebrate, be smart. Designate a sober driver for the evening or hail a cab. Being a designated driver for your friends isn't a chore, it's a lifesaver. They will thank you later and you'll thank yourself for ensuring your friends and loved ones live to party on in 2008.

If you insist on driving drunk, do the world a favour and drive off a cliff by yourself and take your mutant stupidity genes with you, out of the gene pool. The world is much, much better off without you. Take yourself out but don't take any of us normal people with you.

Hopefully, we'll all wake up New Year's Day, ready to start 2008 afresh. The hangover is optional, unless you drove yourself home, in which case may your head explode, you damn fool.

Got your resolutions ready? I do. Here's mine:

1. Grad School: Stay the course. I got a good start last semester, now I resolve me to not slack off, goof off, put off, or otherwise not take it seriously and do my utmost best for every class. Hell, I'm paying for it, so why not get all I can from the experience!

2. Family: Family first, all others later. I have a bad habit of being a workaholic, plus I take on too many projects in my free time. I've been working hard to simplify my life, eschewing most projects, officer/committee assignments in the community and charities, and keeping a sane balance between school and home. This year, more simplifying.

3. Me: Have fun, learn lots, work hard, love much, laugh often. 'Nuff said!

For all who celebrate intelligently...

Have a Safe and Happy "GNU" Year!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reason for the Season

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 all round 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 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. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

(As told by Linus Van Pelt)

I hate Christmas.

Not the quiet, humble remembrance of the miracle of the birth of our Savior Jesus of Nazareth, but the over-hyped, commercialized insanity that has so thoroughly corrupted most holidays in these modern times. I can almost understand why Oliver Cromwell banned the holiday and everything associated with it back in 1647.

It has gotten completely out of hand. It was bad enough when Halloween decorations were getting pushed aside by the initial onslaught of the tinsel horde back in October. It got worse when Thanksgiving was effectively co-opted into a launching board for the full-on insanity. Now we arrive at the Blessed Eve and everyone has apparently lost their sugarplum-addled minds.

It's impossible to walk into any grocery store, bookstore, or any other place of business and conduct any normal activity without getting run over, elbowed, shoved or otherwise violently ravaged by masses of panicked, brainless idiots acting like this year's Christmas is the Second Coming of Christ Hisownholyself.

Driven into a rabid lather by a constant bombardment of jingles, flyers, ads and coupons, the masses are stampeding like some monstrous hybrid of Cattle and Lemming, storming through the parking lots like they were interstate highways and jamming every store, post office and roadway in a desperate attempt to compensate for their total lack of foresight, planning and basic intelligence.

And the rampaging asshattery don't stop there. Someone always has to screw things up whenever there's a gathering of people enjoying themselves. Can't have the children singing Christmas songs in school. Reams of restrictions on decorations at work. The full-scale excommunication of greeting people with"Merry Christmas." Invading armies of athiests, ne'er-do-wells, terrorists and their Liberal enablers armed to the teeth with Nativity lawsuits and worse. Monks and priests duking it out over chair arrangements in the Church of the Holy Sepulcre- you think I'm kidding!

Enough already. Someone spank all these overgrown children and send every last one of them crying in shame to their beds without their supper and with sure promises of stockings full of ashes and switches to greet them come morning. It's time to bring back Reason this Season.

I find that the less I do for Christmas, the more I enjoy it. Every year, I have scaled back my holiday efforts, and every year since, a little more joy returns from the void. No more visiting relatives I can't stand to be around the rest of the year. No more huge spending sprees on extravagant crap no one wants or uses. No more fighting over decorations, wrestling with strings of lights, toy-store meltdowns, or last-minute rushing about.

All I want for Christmas is Peace and Quiet. I want to hear the stillness of snow falling on pines, the crackle of the fire, the soft breath of family snuggled up next to me, and most important of all, the still, small voice which God uses to bring hope, comfort and joy to those who listen for it.

I wish the same for all my friends and loved ones, too. I didn't get around to sending as many postcards as I would've liked to this year, not because I don't care but because I was busy living life. No oversight or offense at all, just an overflowing plate of life and blessings. I've had a lot going on this year. Holidays happen once a year; life is what happens between the holidays. Don't forget to live.

Remembering why we celebrate, who we celebrate, and above all praising God in the highest, Peace; Have a Safe, Quiet, Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ass-Kicking Averted... For Now!

No, I was not kidnapped and probed by aliens. Nor was I lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Wasn't whacked by Mrs. Gnu for yet another prank or bad joke (jury's still out on this one though - stay tuned).

I have been super-busy with work and school. I don't usually talk about work here, and for good reason. It's the same reason I don't go to office parties: why the fuck would I show up for a social engagement just to stand around and talk about work?!

Anyways, the crunch is over, we're approaching the year-end code freeze. Finally, some time to breathe and rela-OH CRAP! My Final Exam!! I'm four chapters behind, working 14-hour days, gotta sleep sometime... screw that, I'll sleep plenty when I'm dead!

That's what my life was like last week. Scrambling from one project emergency to another as the entire company races to make year-end deadlines before the freeze takes effect. Run home from work, hit the books till the wee hours, wake up at Zero-dark-30 do it all over again. All day Saturday and Sunday, I read, re-read, reviewed, wrote, and tried to cram as much information into my head as I could without making my ears bleed.

The final exam had to be completed before midnight, Sunday. Four hours, multiple choice and essay - not just any essay, open-ended questions! "Tell me everything you know about...____!" Arrgh! Well, not much use complaining, just buckle down and hack through it. If I don't know it now, I never will.

Test anxiety was stuffed in a box and shipped to the Outer Hebrides. No time for self-doubt. I finished the exam with three minutes to spare out of four hours allotted time. Phew! My fingers were tired from the non-stop brain dump. But it was over.

Made a 94. That was below my average for the class (96.8) but enough to finish off with a solid A for the course. Yay!! No ass-kicking for me!

I feel like I've actually accomplished something. It was a tough class, actually. I learned a lot, which helped to solidify what I already knew from my own experience and add to it in ways I hadn't had the opportunity to explore before. I'm glad I put in all the extra effort because the study habits I've gained will come in handy when I'm faced with even harder courses down the road. I'm already working ahead on next semester's course. The books arrived the week before this class's final, and it was really tempting to crack them open and get a head start. One class at a time.

Next semester: Organizational Behaviour. A psychology course... hmm. Mrs. Gnu says I should do well because I like to fuck with peoples' minds and I'm a first-class bullshitter. She's got a point.