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Showing posts from December, 2010

Out With the Old, In With the New

Dear Members and Constituents,
This last day of 2010 finds me busy with last minute preparations for a traditional Ecuadorian Año Viejo celebration (you guessed it, I’m not in the office today). For the curious among you, Año Viejo (literally “Old Year” in Spanish), is a unique spin on the “out with the old, in with the new” theme surrounding this time of year. It involves building one or more mannequins anthropomorphizing the year which is about to expire. These mannequins range from the generic to very elaborate arrangements representing something old. The most frequent themes are self-effigies (for people who had a negative life-event), politicians (easy pickings) and negative world events. In Ecuador these dummies are set-up in displays and traffic blocked by “widows”, usually men in black dresses, mock-grieving the passing of 2010, asking for alms from the curious folks out to see the creative arrangements. Shortly before midnight, the last will and testament containing 2010’s moc…

'Twas the Day Without Donuts

Dear Members and Constituents,

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all was at rest
not a creature was stirring, at least not near my desk

the donuts are not at my office today
and folks are enjoying a well earned holiday

some sleeping, I venture, still snug in their beds
while others have projects they’re doing instead

and I in pajamas still crafting this missive
some words just fit-in, while some are elusive

no donuts today, so why write this letter?
some extra shut-eye instead might be better

I’ll tell you my logic, revealing my plot
then make-up your mind if I’m crazy or not

as I lay in bed awake before dawn
considering sleep while my mind wandered on

my thoughts soon did stumble on our donut club dear
and spawned a new notion, so present, so clear

that even though donuts, the glazed and the jelly
are not being eaten or stored in our bellies

the goodwill I share towards you can’t be denied
it must be explicit, it can’t be implied

so let me not stray for too long that you may
get straight to the core of…

Donut Holdiay Election

Dear Members and Constituents,
With election season behind and the holiday season upon us, wouldn’t it be nice if we could combine the two? Stay with me on this one… What if you could have a popularity contest for holiday terms? An objective face-off to determine which word is most popular. Wouldn’t it be convenient if there was a tool to scour fifteen million books and determine how often a given word has been mentioned over time? As it so happens, we’re in luck! Google labs has released such a tool: the Ngram Viewer and I’ve taken it for a test-run. For grins and giggles, several seasonal terms were pitted in a head-to-head popularity battle. The first experiment was to pit the word donut against several major holiday terms. I was initially shocked when I incorrectly concluded the word “donut” was more popular than other holiday terms (I was using lower-case for terms normally capitalized –and capitalization matters to this tool).

Obviously, this initial comparison was fundamentally f…

The Donut Conspiracy

Dear Members and Constituents
All the news about WikiLeaks has got me thinking. You guessed it, I’m thinking about its funny-sounding name (quite the comical alliteration). I am also thinking about conspiracy theories. In the words of the anonymous Sage, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Why is it 10 years later and you're still working on that realistic five-year plan to financial independence? Why is it that Dragon Dictation, the tool I am using to write this note, has crashed twice, loosing my previous drafts? And what is it with those men in black trench coats that seem to follow me everywhere? Is it a natural conspiracy or is there a human organization behind it? I'd like to believe it's just human nature conspiring against us. Still, sometimes I wonder if the goal posts are being moved as a control mechanism by big brother. It’s possible my doubts may be fueled by the fact I myself am orchestrating a conspiracy to mak…

The Mythical White Donut

Dear Members and Constituents,
With the arrival of advent, the Christmas season is officially upon us. Time to hunker-down for the barrage of Holiday advertisements while you procrastinate on the obligatory gift shopping. Time for sweet eggnog, melodic caroling and... white elephants. The white elephant. That rare and precious pachyderm breed, ideally suited to blend-into the arctic tundra. So good is this camouflage, there are no recorded sightings. What bright-eyed child wouldn't want one? And, what perverse adult decided to name the giving of gifts you don't want after it? Perhaps it's the pragmatist who considered the upkeep? Or, the biologist who thought white is the wrong color for tropical habitats? Whatever the case, the good news is donuts would never fall into this category. Brittany Sever marks her debut in the club today with the gift of Winchell's.
Happy Friday!