The Tail of the New Year

Yes, comets have legs. They're just small. Real small. As I hover over the final hours of the year, the first rays of 2013 are already beginning to show above the artificial horizon I use to prevent plowing into the fields below. Like the dawn of aviation, new years are best experienced from the cockpit, because stowaways aren't able to see the lights of the runway until it's too late.

Having established a clear connection between farming and navigation, it's time to begin sending the packets to their final destination, which is, of course, the tail of 2013. Since the first packet contains the seeds of subsequent transmissions, proper alignment is crucial. This is where a ball of string comes into play, because if there's one thing string is good for, it's keeping vegetables in line.

If there's one thing a ball of string isn't good for, it's aligning a scope with the polar axis of your home planet. This is necessary to keep the object of desire from drifting from the field of view, or worse, out of the field of vegetables slated for lunch, or dinner. Although the mechanism in question is beyond the scope of the average hunter, the difficulty of examining jitter when the rising edge is obscured by cloudsin your coffee or outis reason enough to thank an astronomer, without whose efforts we would still be eating primordial soup with our fingers.

Having established a clear connection between vegetables and astronomy, it's time to begin making preparations for the end of 2013, which, owing to the powerful spring alluded to in a previous monologue, is really the beginning of 2012. In certain vegetative states, there's nothing quite like a comet to remind the citizens of less certain neighboring states that they aren't in Kansas anymore, particularly when the comet can be seen in broad daylight through even the narrowest eyes.

Fortunately, there's an elegant solution to the problem, one that doesn't require the blather-rinse-repeat mumbo of modern science. All that's required to send the comet away, with its tail between its legs, is a simple incantation that every bad comet understands as the command to go home.

All together now.

Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort!
Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort! Oort!



Yuletide's Ebb and Flow

Santa Sans. As the final hours before Santa's arrival slink by, tradition calls for a sober examination of the cause and effect relationship that results in taped and papered objects beneath a tree in the living room, den, or kitchen. Bathroom trees are exempt from this analysis, since a pine tree in the lavatory indicates systemic problems that don't respond well to off-color hypnotic suggestion.

While common antibiotics are similarly ineffective against the on-again-off-again sparkling of too many lights on the grid, some might say that a formal logic system is your huckleberry when it comes to deciding who gets the blame for Christmas. It's tempting to assume that Christmas wouldn't exist without Santa, but stripping Santa of his red suit leaves little to the imagination, and even less on which to hang the colorful ribbons and bows we rely on as visual cues that ornamentation is what we had in mind.

A suitable counterpoise to the temptation outlined above requires an equal but opposite reaction, by which I mean flipping Santa over to see what's underneath. After brushing aside the crumbs, we're ready to wonder if Santa would exist without Christmas, and if not, which way the river of symbiosis flows when it isn't being siphoned into holding tanks for fracking operations.

This brings us one step closer to the end of this paragraph, and two steps back if time has been thrown into reverse by a powerful spring. It has, of course, hence the futility of expecting a formal logic system to illuminate the Mayan calendar, or Santa. A lot of things stop, but that doesn't mean they won't be flung backward, only to run tail first into the same scenario at the other end, followed by a headlong rush to the finish, where the scenario is repeated again.

For this reason, asking whether Santa causes Christmas or is merely a symptom of it is like pondering the direction of alternating current in your home. Like the spring-loaded Mayan calendar, precedence is futile where boingability rules the day.


The Anatomy of a Hearty Breakfast

Food's underlying theme. If home is where the heart is, it may be useful to question its whereabouts during the previous week. A monk can draw a line between two points on a graph, but that isn't regression analysis, no matter how many colors might be available on the tablet of the day. While yesterday's tablets have already begun to dissolve in the acidic pre-holiday shopping environment that promises ever deeper cuts to those with the stomach to wait it out, the sensible shopper will err on the side of breakfast, leaving to others the vertigo and weakness that come from ignoring the most important meal of the day.

Nothing says home for the hollandaise like a buttery blend of yolks and muffins, though some might argue that the same can be said by a synthetic voice issuing from speakers on the front lawn. There, nativity meets inflatable approximations of holiday spirits in a joyous explosion of color and poorly executed plastic seams, leaving benediction as the only remaining salve for the swollen eyes of children who shouldn't have been allowed to add lemon juice to the recipe in the first place.

This year, as I sit down to the unsavory task of eating my heart out over my neighbors' superior visual and culinary holiday displays, it will be with the courage of my convictions, none of which have resulted in hard time, soft time, or indeed any time that isn't divisible by zero. More to the point, my future repast is predictable, but someone had to collect the data, someone had to do the shopping, and someone had to make breakfast before shoveling all three into the gaping maw below Rudolph's unfused nose, just before it blew.

Not that any of this will matter a week from now.


Tigers and Smartphones

Does this look like a glove compartment? How about now? Sometimes, languishing on the wrong side of summer and trapped between holidays, life begins to take on the luster of rust. This makes it the perfect time to go shopping for a new gadget, because preoccupation is better than staring at dry grass. Not that I think it would be improved by wetting it down with a hose, because this time of year, there's more to dry grass than a simple lack of moisture.

In a similar way, there's more to a "smartphone" than the ability to make crank calls, making it an ideal choice when the time comes to stop fondling and start buying. Even the most patient gadget representative will lose his humanity at smears, smudges, and lollipop drippings on the screen of every "smartphone" on display if there's no actual purchase at the end of it all, which is why I was forced to take one home with me.

After a cursory investigation of its features and functions, I'm left with the impression that it's a phone in much the same way a Sunbeam Tiger is a high-speed glove compartment. Sure, I can answer most incoming calls; on a good day I'm able to swipe my finger across the screen before the robocaller is shunted to voicemail. I've had no luck calling out for pizza, but unless the gadget representative was pulling one of my legs, a fourfold increase in local gravity is to be expected when a 4G device is used in this way, resulting in fallen, unmarketable pizza crusts.

Those of us who once dreamed of pocketable phonesfollowed by wishing an end to the nightmare of phones held between thumb and forefingerunderstand that the circle is nearly complete. As "smartphones" grow in size and complexity, the demand for larger pockets can only stimulate garment production here and abroad, thus averting economic collapse.

I'd call that smart. Real smart.