Happy Thanksgiving 2004

I'd like to wish all Americans a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  I hope we all pause long enough today to be thankful for what we have, what we've been given, what we must fight for, and what we stand for (some of which has been lost in recent years but can be restored through diligence and dedication to the American dream).

We are still a great nation despite having some of our greatness tainted and some of our moral fortitude corrupted.  We may have temporarily lost our way, but it is not a permanent condition.

On a more personal level, take time to be thankful for family and friends and loved ones.  We do not say "I love you" and "thank you" often enough in this country.  Take today as an opportunity to change that.

In that spirit, I want to say "thank you" and "I love you" to all of my friends and family.  You are my strength and joy and partners in life and crime.

Ocean census still going strong

The Census of Marine Life, a ten-year initiative to assess the diversity and abundance of marine life, is turning up more than two new fish species per week.  You may remember I mentioned this in October 2003.  Since that time the project has discovered 106 new fish species, two new types of octopus, and a burrowing 20-centimeter worm.

Included in the 2004 discoveries were a growing understanding of the migratory habits of marine life.  Bluefin tuna were found to traverse the entire Pacific, tagged off the coast of California before turning up off Japan — then returning to California waters.  Tuna are known to travel across the Atlantic, but the Pacific is three times as broad!

Another surprise is that green turtles, tagged near the equator, go in huge loops around the Pacific.  The data thus far indicates they may travel around the ocean up to three times in a lifetime (near perpetual movement).

Now finishing it's fourth year (with six to go), the census is finding new species everywhere, including in heavily studied waters like those off Europe.

Abduction by cesarean

Columbian police reported yesterday that an unborn child was abducted by C-section.  The mother, Sol Angela Cartagena, was apparently drugged while at the hospital cafeteria in Girardot, southwest of Bogota.  She awoke in the countryside, her 2-year-old daughter still with her, but her unborn child was gone.

Doctors believe Cartagena is lucky to be alive.  They confirmed she had been drugged before the operation but are unsure where it was performed.

Police captured the woman who had the baby after she was seen with it wrapped in a sheet by those who knew she had not been pregnant.

The baby was dehydrated but otherwise in good condition.

Although Columbia has the highest kidnapping rate (more than 3,000 per year), authorities believe this is the first time an unborn child has been abducted.

How's that for bizarre?

Happy horrordays…again

Once again we find ourselves in the throes of the horrordays, that time from Thanksgiving through January 2 when we try so desperately to be happy that we depress ourselves and heap upon our own heads levels of stress likened to that experienced only by the male black widow spider right after mating.

We'll stress about whose Thanksgiving dinner and whose Christmas dinner we'll attend.

We'll have to get up too early on days when we shouldn't have to.

We'll eat too much and wonder how we let ourselves get so out of control.

We'll spend far too much time worrying about spending enough on people so as not to appear cheap while trying to be mindful of the need to be able to pay our bills.

We'll struggle through all too large crowds at malls and stores in an attempt to satisfy everyone in our life.

We'll fight maddening crowds and traffic and will, as a result, experience the true holiday spirit (including that curious middle-fingered gesture which must surely be American for good tidings of comfort and joy).

We'll not have enough time to finish everything we need to do for everyone.

We'll have to deal with that one alcoholic uncle that no one can stand and, sadly, no one can stand up to.

We'll spend too much time running to and fro and not enough time enjoying ourselves.

We'll get up early to cook meals and stay up late to entertain and wonder why we're so tired later and not very well rested after a long weekend.

We'll play nice with everyone around us so as not to hurt feelings even when we hate that stupid plaid sweater the ditsy aunt bought for us…again.

We'll sit politely in mixed company and not show affection for our significant other because too many heterosexuals don't think it's OK for gay people to display their affection publicly like the rest of the world.

We'll graciously say thank you to all those who gave us a gift even when we hate most of them (the gifts and the givers).

We'll fight off nausea when we have to sit next to our grandmother who literally bathes in that perfume that finally clears up the question about that funny smell in assisted-living facilities.

We'll drink too much and suffer through too many hangovers because chemical alteration is the only way to safely survive the time of year.

We'll worry about what we gave everyone and whether they'll like it or not despite the fact that we abhor most of those people anyway.

We'll feel terribly uncomfortable around our Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, and all other non-Christians because our exclusive club is having a party and they're not.

We'll spend more money than we should because it's not the thought that counts as much as the price.

We'll be inundated with commercial concerns: how much did you spend overall? what did that gift cost? how much do you think they spent on this? did you keep all the receipts so most of them can surreptitiously be returned later by the recipients?

We'll fight and argue with those we love because we'll have long ago passed the level of stress our bodies and minds are capable of withstanding.

We'll be upset when the boss doesn't let us leave work early on December 24, even though it's not an official holiday, since Christmas falls on a Saturday this year.

We'll awake on January 1 feeling as though bombs have gone off in our heads and biological warfare agents were dumped in our bellies.

We'll return to work on January 3 of 2005 feeling as though we've been on the losing side of combat for the last few months.

So, again, I say happy horrordays.  I'll stick with the simple approach — spending quality time with friends and family.