Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, December 29, 2003


I gave up in frustration at trying to find Reba something wearable this year--she’s lost a lot of weight, so I don’t know what size to get her in clothes--so we just went to Parisian and let her shop away. She likes shopping as much as any other gift anyway, so it was like getting two presents. And she could try it on and make sure it fit.

Making matters even more difficult is that with her hiatal hernia, she has been very strict with herself about not eating chocolate and other sorts of reflux-inducing foodstuffs. There’s just something wrong when you can’t have chocolate for Christmas.

I did manage to get her a couple of books, and some interesting little stocking stuffers--a miniature bonsai tree (no, that’s not redundant--this thing comes in a box about the size of a pager) and a companion miniature Zen rock garden--they both promise hours of soothing relaxation, you know. The younger two kids got her some more books, and the two older girls got her some jewelry, which she was quite pleased with.

I, on the other hand, racked up famously--books included Horatio's Drive. It’s the companion book to the Ken Burns PBS special about Horatio Nelson Jackson, who in 1903 (along with his mechanic and a dog) became the first person to drive across the United States. It makes a breezy bit of half-day reading, and has a nice selection of letters and photographs and period newspaper accounts. I took it with me when I got tires and read it in the waiting room. I thought that was rather appropriate.

The next one I read, last night before I went to bed, was The Civil War on Roanoke Island North Carolina. Now, I like any book about the Civil War, and picture books especially, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. The idea of comparing present-day photos with photographic and illustrated images from the past is a pretty interesting idea, but the book does a terrible job of it. You would think that it would be relatively simple to look at an old engraving of a place, then go and take a photograph from the exact same angle, but apparently that’s too much to ask. One of the most egregious examples was an aerial view of the island that was across the fold from an image of an old map, with various batteries and landmarks marked on each. The only problem was that the photograph was taken from the north, pointing south, and of course the map had north to the top. I think the problem stems from attempting to use stock photos rather than taking proper ones, but whatever the case, it’s annoying.

Also annoying was the use of modern-day sketches of various lighthouses in the area produced by a woman whose drawing talents rival those of an arthritic monkey. I’m sorry, but my kids do better work.

One more annoyance was the use of letters written by a soldier who was in the area, reproduced photographically, as well as in text adjacent. The problem was that the text reproductions were set in a face intended to look like old handwriting, which NEGATES THE NEED TO SET IT IN TEXT. If you can’t read the original, reproducing it in an equally unreadable typeface is just dumb. Just set it in italics! Anyway, I still like it because it was a gift and I like looking at old photos and maps.

Two other books I haven’t gotten to read yet are Secret Empire--Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage, which, like all spy stories, promises to be a real corker, and one written by a retired Samford University professor, All Because of Polly. Sounds like a sweet book, and Reba got the fellow to sign it for me.

The kids? Oh, they got more stuff than they’ll ever know what to do with--the big hits include, for Catherine, her very own GameBoySP so she’ll quit having to scream and beg to play someone else’s; for Jonathan, a variety of Hot Wheels/Matchbox accessories, including Ice Mountain (actually the way most people in Alabama learn to drive in snow!) and a remote control Viper which I have decided is mine; Rebecca got a Fib Finder--I’m not quite sure why she wanted this so bad, other than to try to catch Ashley when she’s lying; and Ashley (who has reached the sad age of thinking that Santa Claus is not real) got mostly clothes.

Oh, and everyone got batteries.

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