Author: winter b

Midday Matinee – I want to rent some kids

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. Next year, I want to rent some kids. Little ones. My own are all grown up, and I can’t tell you how anticlimactic Christmas seems with adult children, some of whom don’t even pull themselves out of bed until 3 in the afternoon. There’s none of the building excitement for weeks, none of the impulse to go all out with decorating. In fact, there’s little impulse at all except to buy gift cards because you don’t know what they want anymore. So I made the announcement yesterday afternoon, cracking everyone up: I want to rent some little kids for next Christmas. They knew instantly what I meant. Forty years of making Christmas for little ones has spoiled me I guess. And it’s silly. I can look back to the days when I was emerging into adulthood myself and realize that I was losing that sense of magic even then, but that it was transferred to me again by my children, when I had them. Those of us raised in the Christian tradition know the story from Luke’s Gospel, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men. There was a time when I felt that magic of “Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.” It seemed almost as if the entire planet began to...

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Midday Matinee – Tracking Santa :)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. Just a quick look at NORAD’s tracking of Santa’s flight.  An old tradition now, it’s still a heartwarming, huge enterprise fully manned by volunteers. I won’t go on about it… I’ll just give you the link that made me smile: NORAD’s Santa Operation. Enjoy! Reader Comments...

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Midday Matinee – People watching people

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. Okay, I was the one doing the watching. 🙂 That’s the thing about being in a foreign country: you can’t help watching because while people are people everywhere, in some ways they’re different. Those differences are part of what make the experience so enjoyable. Germans, for example, generally have little patience for the handicapped. Which is not to say that none of them do, but I saw enough not to be surprised when a German friend said, “You aren’t considered handicapped unless you’re missing a leg.” I’ve seen that here, too, in the U.S. although it has improved somewhat. When my daughter was on crutches a decade ago, I actually watched people kick them as they passed, and shove her out of the way. In Paris, in stark contrast, if an elderly person boarded the bus, or someone with young children, seats were immediately vacated for them. People were quick to help my handicapped friend on and off the bus. I take back every damning word I ever spoke about Paris, all of which were based on what I was told by friends and family members who visited the cities decades ago. Today in Paris you find a lot of courtesy and kindness and patience, even for fractured attempts to speak...

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Furthermore! – I’m tired of this battle

Many of us have by now heard of the Minnesota Mom who has been fined $1.5 million for illegally sharing copyrighted music. Many think this is unjust and that we should have a right to rip and share as much as we want. I don’t quite agree. (More) Let me start with disclaimers so you know where I am coming from, and then I’ll explain why Jammie Thomas-Rasset and so many others are wrong and what’s at stake here. First: I think the penalty in this case was excessive. But…. Second: It’s not a fine. It’s a jury award. Yup, folks just like you and me have now three times said Thomas-Rasset broke the law. The first jury penalized her $200,000, but that verdict was reversed on technical grounds. The second jury set the penalty at $1.9 million. A judge thought that was too high and lowered it to $52,000. The Record Industry Association of America offered to settle the case for even less – $25,000 – but Thomas-Rasset decided to appeal, and was granted another trial. This time the jury said, “Okay, 1.5 million.” Yes, that’s excessive … because of a federal statute that authorizes damages as high as $150,000 per infringement. That amount makes sense for a professional CD or DVD piracy firm. It makes no sense for someone uploading 24 songs on a peer-to-peer system. Each...

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Midday Matinee – True Ghost Stories

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. It’s Halloween. What better time for some true ghost stories? I’ve long had mixed feelings about the whole idea of ghosts. I probably would have dismissed the notion entirely except that I once lived in a haunted house, and that experience left me with an uncomfortable question or two. What was it and why would it happen? And then I had an experience in St. Augustine, Florida that opened the whole question again. When I was in high school I experienced what some ghost researchers call a residual haunting: something that happens repeatedly and follows the same pattern every time, like a recording playing again and again. Night after night, I would hear footsteps in the house, climbing the basement stairs, walking through the dining room and into the kitchen which was right next to my bedroom. Then it would stop. I finally told my mother about it, to explain why I wanted a light on at night, and she snapped, “You’re being dramatic. And don’t you dare mention it to the other kids. The last thing I need is four terrified children.” Well. Many years later she apologized for that reaction. It seems the “residual” haunt had grown over the years. All my siblings and my mother herself had experiences. The...

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