Whaz Up!?! Tales of the Zombie Christmas Apocalypse and Other Good Reads

Howdy y’all!

It’s been Festive Festivus and a Merry Christmas. We’re hoping for the trifecta and making it a Happy New Year, too. Wishing you and yours the very best this season and hoping you get what you need to make 2022 at least bearable. We followed many of our traditions this year and added a few, too:

  • COQUITOS: Who knew that Christmas could be celebrated with a drink of coconutty, creamy, cinnamonny goodness? Well, it can if you follow the Puerto Rican tradition of making coquitos. Follow this recipe and let me know what you think in the comments!
  • BOARD GAMES: We played our Christmas Day board game, Dead of Winter. Yes it was a zombie-riffic Christmas.
  • FESTIVUS: We managed to avoid any bloodshed and fisticuffs this year by steering the Airing of Grievances away from the personal — never a good idea — and the Feats of Strength to the silly — always a good idea. And, we had pizza and ice cream for dinner.
  • PHNOM PENH ADVENTURE: One of the things about living abroad is all the different electricity issues you run into. Most of the world runs on 220, if you didn’t know, but most modern appliances will take 110 or 220 without you doing anything other than plugging them in. Not so Ma Belle Femme’s prized Vitamix. The step-down converter wasn’t up to the task and gave up the ghost, so my Christmas task was to find a new one. That’s the other thing about living abroad: stores don’t always sell the same things they did back home. I spent a couple hours on a sunny afternoon roaming the the electronics and tools hardware section of Phnom Penh using Google Translate to express my plaintive plea until an old woman who knew nothing of such matters started pulling them out of somewhere deep in the bowels of her market stall. Thirty dollars later, my Christmas gift for the missus is taken care of.

The Week’s Reading

From the Blogosphere

  • THE BAADER-MEINHOFF PHENOMENON: What do a cognitive tendency, deciding not to send Christmas cards, and a 1970’s German terrorist group have in common? Wendy Weir explains it all in her post explaining (a) why she’s not sending Christmas cards this year, (b) what she’d include in them if she did, and (c) the reason she’s seeing memes about not sending Christmas cards everywhere. (GREATER THAN GRAVITY)
  • FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US: It’s not just Ye Olde Blogge, JCO uses the backdrop of Festivus and the Airing of Grievances to highlight the political genius of AOC and wishing us all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (FIRST DRAFT)
  • QUAND MEME: While all around is doom and gloom, Hecatedemeter, reminds us of the importance of optimism and resilience. The fight for democracy is long from over no matter the outcome of the ’22 or ’24 elections. It kinda renews the will to continue on in the face of it all. (HECATEDEMETER)

News From Hong Kong

I’ve long said that if we want a glimpse into the future in the coming #GOPDystopia, all we need do is look to Hong Kong. Right now the best source of news from the beleaguered state is The Hong Kong Free Press. Some of their reporting from the week:

  • STATUES AND SOCIETAL VALUES: As the Tiananmen Square statues are removed from universities by the victorious single-party pseudo-democratic minority-rule autocracy that recently wrenched control of the government from the pro-democracy forces, it becomes clear what the government values: obedience and reticence from its citizens. If you ever wondered why removing statues honoring traitorous Confederate heroes was important, now you know.
  • CORPORATIONS WON’T SAVE US: Corporations will go where their profits flow most abundantly from. As Google and Apple demonstrated in the recent past, Intel reminds us once again. When a government can control the amount of profit a corporation makes, the corporation will not make a stand for social justice. Intel bows to China’s ire over company’s statements expressing displeasure over the enslavement and oppression of the Uyghur in XinJiang Province.

ICYMI in the MSM

WORLD-WIDE VICIOUS MONKEY NEWS: Who knew that the Yuletide would be filled by stories of vicious monkeys doing vicious things in the communities they inhabit?

  • Vicious Monkeys Removed: Wat Phnom residents happy after vicious monkeys separated from troop is a story about how the local government has removed vicious monkeys from the Buddhist monastery and temple in the middle of Phnom Penh leaving only “gentle” monkeys. Gentle monkeys. Cracks me up. The article, though, is devoid of any vicious acts that the monkeys may have committed, filled with laments from residents at the removal of all monkeys from the wat, and claims by local government officials of the mess monkeys make with fruit and stealing the food and goods of tourists. Make your own conclusion.
  • Revenge killings: Monkeys blamed for hundreds of puppy deaths captured in India is a story about a troop of monkeys that went on a killing rampage murdering a couple of hundred puppies after dogs killed a couple of monkey babies. Eventually, authorities caught up with the culprits and put an end to the spree. Don’t fuck with monkeys, hunh?

CHRISTMAS STORIES: Not all Christmas stories are heartwarming tales of families and individuals learning the lessons of brotherly love in cute and endearing ways. Some of them reflect reality more accurately.

  • The weaponization of holiday cards: A Christmas card might seem innocuous. How my dysfunctional family weaponized them is an opinion piece describing how cards that weren’t sent at the exact right time expressing the exact right sentiment could cause family strife until Easter sometimes. I don’t know that opting out of the Christmas card obligation in families like that would actually help much. Dysfunctional families find ways to express their dysfunction no matter what you do.
  • A lost and forgotten history: The lost history of Christmas nobody cares about anymore – but should is the heartwarming tale of the annual Christmas lecture of a father to his family as they assemble that year’s tree. The lecture was always the lost history of Christmas about how it used to be about drunken debaucherous riots in the streets by the proletariat until the Coca-Cola made it into a coke (literally in the beginning) and polar bear affair. I know that all the gift giving isn’t the greatest thing, but we are capitalists and most businesses rely on Christmas sales for their profits during the year. Sometimes, the lesson is be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Friends of Ye Olde Blogge

Christmas is the (now) season of giving, so here’s where we give back to those who have given so much to us.

  • CHANGE AND INSIGHT: A nice Christmas gift to start the New Year with is Robert’s Quote of the Day from personal psychotherapy hero, Milton Erickson, Change will lead to insight… (Of Cabbages and Kings).
  • IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES: It’s that the time of year when we take stock of the past year and decide on what was the best and worst etc. Tengrain saves us from the drudgery by giving us the best and worst take on the year starring Megyn Kelly and Hugh Hewitt. #ThanksTengrain! (Mock Paper Scissors)
  • #THANKSJOE! Only Old Handsome Joe could take a slur and turn it into a positive. Only MAGA Nation could be as crass as to make a Christmas — who’s fighting a war on Christmas now? — tradition and turn it into an ugly meaningless political statement. (Homeless on the High Desert)
  • NOT SICK OF CHRISTMAS STORIES YET: Burr Demings chronicles a fair and unbalanced number of them in his weekly round-up of all that is worth reading the Interwebs. If doesn’t make it onto Burr’s list, why bother reading it, know what I’m saying? (Fair and Unbalanced)
  • AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD US: I have to say that playing Santa was a good gig while I had it. It was always fun, but then again, I reprised the roll for colleagues, their children, and our educational community. Preaching to the choir. Scottie links to a story of an enterprising tot who kept their cool while on the big man’s lap. Too cute and the perfect ending to the season. (Scottie’s Playtime)

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17 replies »

  1. I’m glad to read that you all had fun, and are anticipating an at least nice NY. Us, too. I thoroughly enjoyed your story about your gift for the Missus-it sounds like it was fun! I’m also glad I have an electrician as a husband, who is soon to be a retired lineman, as of NYE. Here’s to a very good 2022. Thanks for all you do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ali!

      Congrats to your husband on making it to retirement. Not always an easy feat. I’m looking forward to that day in a few years time myself.

      As an expat you have to love solving puzzles, figuring out how the problem you’re having is solved by the people living here. Not everyone does things in the same way, and the way they do it seems natural, normal, and logical to them. If you don’t enjoy the process, you shouldn’t live abroad.

      As time goes by, I’m appreciating quite home life more.

      Here’s to 2022!


      Liked by 1 person

  2. COQUITOS does sound quite yummy. If I ever need to make a pitcher of something for a Christmas gathering, I just might do it.

    Gregory Bateson was very fond of two of Erickson’s stories illustrating his approach to therapy. One was from his childhood about helping his father get a calf to go into the barn. With his father trying to pull the animal into the barn, the calf had its hooves firmly planted and refused to move. Young Milton went around in back of it and yanked on its tail. The calf ran into the barn. The other was of Erickson being asked to help with a troublesome patient at the Arizona State Hospital. The delusional patient had come to believe he was Jesus and was bothering everybody with his psychotic preaching. Erickson maintained an office at the hospital and had the patient brought to see him. When the patient came in, Erickson said, “I hear you’re a carpenter.” The man said he was. Erickson asked if he could make a small bookshelf to fit in a space between two doors if he had the materials and permission to use the wood shop. Again, the Jesus guy said he could. It turned out that he was very good at it and soon was too busy filling special requests to have much time for preaching and was very happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love those stories. Erickson’s ability to use the moment and environment to elevate his interventions was magical.

      I forget where we were visiting. I think it was Montreal, but I can’t be sure. Anywho, it had a boardwalk with a railing overlooking a bluff that led to a waterway (sounds like Montreal). The shouts of alarm from a young mother caught everyone’s attention soon to be followed by shrieks of panic by a five year old girl. She had thrust her head between the supports of the rail and now was stuck!

      The mother quickly was going from alarm to blame and anger, so I quickly went over, professing to be an expert in such matters, which served to calm both the mother and girl a bit. I told them both that I would have her out very quickly and with little fuss at all. I still wasn’t 100% sure what I would do, but I was starting to get some ideas. It was the girl’s ears that were the problem. When the pina got to the support, they were too wide to go through without pinching.

      I got two “strong” men to come help since we had gotten a bit of an audience. With the two strong men pulling in opposite directions on the supports and mom holding the girl’s ears flat, she easily endured the discomfort of pulling her head out.

      After she was free, we quickly walked away without entering into any more conversation.

      In those moments, giving everyone something to do and distracting them from the problem is usually helpful. I find it a useful classroom intervention, too. Giving some of the more troubled children a job or special task often helps them keep busy during the transition times of class so they get up to less mischief.

      Erickson really had a nuanced understanding of the human condition. He was absolutely amazing.


      Liked by 2 people

        • Howdy Bob!

          There are only a handful of times that I was able to consciously and deliberately and successfully apply those lessons. That was one of them. At the time I recalled one of his stories about a time that one of his young sons got himself a serious cut and was bleeding rather profusely and beginning to panic. He distracted him by asking him whether he thought that his blood was American blood and engaging him in a conversation about being a red-blooded American.

          Like Freud said, love and work are all that we need to live happy and meaningful lives. There seems to me a direct application to teaching in that. I’ve often said that you should teach from the heart with joy and love abounding. Like therapy, teachers will never know what the most important experiences that their students have with them. In addition to content, teachers should be providing positive engaging experiences with their students.


          Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              Both are also deeply personal. I used to do a workshop in which I opened by asking who was your best teacher. I would call on folks in attendance to talk about their best teacher, and then inform them that we all have the same answer. Our best teacher is, of course, ourselves because we have taught ourselves everything we know. Teachers present information that they think is important for us to know and try to get us to use it in ways that will be helpful for encoding it, but everything that we actually learn, we’ve taught ourselves.

              Anything that is so deeply personal, you cannot control what the person doing the learning is going to take away from your class as being significant. Often, it has little to do with the curriculum, which is okay in my book.


              Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  As much as we like to think that education is scientific, it is too deeply personal to be truly so. There are techniques and methods that teachers and schools can use to generally improve outcomes, but nothing is guaranteed.

                  The worst thing that happens to kids in our education system is that we convince them that if they cannot thrive in this system that they are failures. They can’t have a happy life. Often, though, the kid who struggles in MS-HS is just lagging in brain development and will catch up in early adulthood. They can do fine in university or any other profession.

                  The thing I tell my MS parents is that the most important thing is that they don’t end up hating school. We want them to develop study habits and skills and build their foundational knowledge, but if nothing else, don’t make them hate school by emphasizing success or failure as a black and white option. For the kids who are too driven, I remind them to have fun… once in a while.


                  Liked by 1 person

        • Where I learned the rude rudimentaries of it, that kind of a can-do take charge cool, calm and collected get’er done is a manifestation of shock; in fact trained to recognize it in both myself and others and cool, calm and collectedly utilize it to suit the situation at hand. Served me well a time or two down the line.

          Had a chuckle later in life when finishing out my masters in FEMA one certification ~ one class ~ was on utilizing personality traits as they manifest themselves under various duress.

          Herding cats …

          Liked by 2 people

            • Howdy Bob!

              I will forever be grateful to my long since forgotten college professor who required us to read Kipling’s Kim. He was a phenomenal writer and, like all of us, reflected his times accurately. He understood the inner nature and motivations of people and cultural imperatives remarkably well and could, equally remarkably, represent them in on the page. If was always a favorite poem of his even if it does prove to be a bridge too far for me and so many others.


              Liked by 1 person

          • Howdy Ten!

            I’ve always been calm in dire situations. Probably due to an early life of extremely dire situations. Maintaining that calm control, at the very least, doesn’t hurt the situation.

            Makes me want to take that FEMA one certification course. I always find that kind of stuff interesting.



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