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December 26, 2000

The Christmas Drill

Christmas Eve, Jean and I sat up in our bedroom and talked until we were sure Kelly was asleep. Then we went into the living room and placed all the presents under the tree. Kelly had placed a plate with three homemade cookies and a cup of milk onto an endtable for Santa, so Jean ate one cookie, and dumped the Wuv Luv cookie Kelly had made into the freezer for posterity.

Christmas Day began with the ceremonial early reveille, courtesy of Kelly. It wasn't dawn when Kelly roused us, but it felt like it. She had found the big stuffed dog under the tree, and was shouting, "Santa was here! He's real, he ate my cookies, and there's a big dog under the tree!"

So we had the present opening which lasted well into the late morning hours. I've already sampled Kelly's presents, and who cares about the adults' presents "qbullet.smiley"?

After Kelly had had a while to play with all her presents, we went down to Mentor to feed the ducks. Jean picked up this tradition from one of her co-workers, who is British. She says if you feed the ducks on Christmas Day, it will bring a miracle in the coming year. We fed the ducks last year (at the Tualatin Commons), and Jean got her migraines under control for the first time in decades, so superstitious or no, she decided what the hey?

We ate more rich food than any reasonable person would on a normal day, and sat around feeling sluggish. I called my Dad and wished him a Merry Christmas, but was yawning the whole time. So I grabbed Jean and we went for a walk. After the evening meal, Jean's parents left to go to their hotel room at the airport, so they could leave in the morning with less rush.

When Jean's parents were leaving, they lingered in the doorway jabbering for the longest time. Cold air was pouring down the stairs into the downstairs family room, I was trying to get Jean to step outside so I could close the door! While the door was open, a big fat fly flew into the house.

Kelly came upstairs to watch cartoons, but saw the fly and freaked out. Recall that she was stung three times by yellowjackets this summer, so anything flying in the house is a cause for fear. She hid in our bedroom, and Jean and I had a hilarious time trying to nail the little sucker. It was fast! Eventually we gave up and went into the bedroom to hang with Kelly. I went back out, and after two tries, I killed the little intruder. Guess my Christmas Karma is gonna have to take a hit.

The final activity, after getting Kelly bathed, was to give Kelly two presents we had held back, to ease the let-down of Christmas ending, and to give Jean three presents that I had held back, since she thought certain kinds of gifts would weird out her parents.

Kelly's presents were a word-magnet set with words and pictures about pets. She and I spent some time before her bedtime making nonsense sentences about animals.

Jean's presents from me were two Jerry Lewis movies, Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust, and a book, A Low-Cost Approach to Pcr: Appropriate Transfer of Biomolecular Techniques. Don't ask me why Jerry Lewis movies would freak her parents, especially since her dad seemed to really like the CD with the two Jerry Lewis novelty tunes I had made for him. The PCR book might certainly freak them, since in addition to discussing a fundamental technique for DNA replication and testing, it can involve forensics and other icky topics.

What is PCR? It is the Polymerase Chain Reaction, a laboratory technique related to sequencing DNA, which is used in a number of scientific fields, but germane to Jean's interests, is used in forensics. Since Jean has been reading alot about forensic anthropology, and is studying now in related classes such as anthropology and chemistry, I thought she might enjoy this peek into the technical side of the field.

The book is especially appropriate since it is targetted toward municipalities (and third-world countries) where resources are limited, so that home-grown labs need to be thrown together out of common items. An example is their suggestion of using an old phonograph for a centrifuge. Therefore, if Jean ever gets the urge to actually try some of this stuff, she doesn't have to drop a thousand dollars on lab equipment first.

Anyway, the book was a big gamble, since I didn't know how deep her interest in the technical side would go. I didn't want to ask explicitly, since I wanted to surprise her, so I took the chance. She acknowledged that she didn't know if she'd ever do the experiments, but that she thought the book was really cool, and a very good gift. Frankly, I think I'll be browsing it myself in the next few months.

Posted by dpwakefield at December 26, 2000 09:31 AM