Let It Snow

It’s snowing again here in New Jersey. Thin flakes covering the ice from a couple of days ago. I should head out to the malls before the highways become ensnared in hysterical shoppers, but it’s warm in here.

Life’s pretty good right now. About 90 percent good. There’s a nine percent of stress about Ian’s school placement for next year. And one percent annoyance that they have discontinued my favorite curly hair product.

I have a couple of small writing gigs lined up in January, but mostly, I have been on mom-duty this fall. Shuffling kids to and fro. Trying to maintain basic cleanliness levels of the house. Constantly shopping for new jeans for Stilts, my son. Jotted down next to my computer are three or four ideas for articles, but I won’t have time to tackle them until the first week of January.

We’re on the home stretch of holiday preparations. I have to bake cookies for the care packages that will be sent out on Saturday morning, and a few odds and ends that need purchasing. Over the weekend, I’ll deep clean the house in preparation for the in-laws, who will be here for five days. Christmas cards haven’t happened. Maybe I’ll do New Year’s cards. The tree is up, but only half decorated. The plastic bins of Christmas supplies are spilling onto the dining room table.

It’s very easy to get all stressed out about creating Christmas perfection. Especially when you live next door to people who hire contractors to professionally light the trees in front of their house. Steve threw some lights from Target over the railing in front of the house. Some very loud, blinky lights. Which is about as tacky as things get on this very tasteful block. There are no blow up Santas around here. I drove by my old house last week and saw a massive blow up reindeer on MY front lawn. I should have put a “no-tacky-Christmas” lights rider in our contract.

But there is more to life that the mess in my living room and the shopping list in my purse. Alright, let’s see what’s going on in the world…

14 thoughts on “Let It Snow

  1. (to add to the “what’s out there”)

    I’m finding this article on the “intense brain” theory of autism worth reading: https://medium.com/matter/70c3d64ff221

    The theory is an outlier in the autism neuroscience community, most critically because theories based on connectivity have broader scale predictions than the focal symptoms seen in autism (i.e. one would expect that changing something as fundamental as synaptic plasticity would break the entire organism). But, it’s an idea certainly worth exploring.

    Markram is a bit of an ideologue (a big thinker who is prone to thinking he has found the answer the universe and everything, and, yeah, it’s 77 and not 42).

    The science version of the theory is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010743/

    (Frontiers is an open access journal, and the Markram’s play a significant role in it. Though it is not an illegitimate journal, like the journals that the anti-vaccine folks publish in, I am looking for work published in other journals on the topic — to be more confident about peer review).

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  2. PS: I hope we get pictures or at least a preview of your fish feast plans (NY Times had an article on the feast of the 7 fishes — I think i remember you do 12?).

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  3. “I should have put a “no-tacky-Christmas” lights rider in our contract.”
    Blows raspberry!! At least the tacky are having fun.
    I much prefer the blow up Santa’s and reindeer to the professionally lit trees. So, so tasteful. So, so dull.

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    1. Blow-up things are not fun. If you want fun christmas decoration, you should do something like this:

      Fun for the whole neighborhood!

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  4. Yes, I read that autism article, too, bj. I liked it, but can’t write more. I am running out the door to see a spelling bee right now. Fingers crossed for Ian.

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  5. Yes, the caveat emptor missing in the article is that the findings aren’t very consistent (in humans, the predicted findings include changes in brain connectivity, in sensory responses, in motor plasticity, in resting state brain function). Hints of positive findings have occasionally been found, but in many cases, artifacts of various sorts confound the result (like, head motion, which is a problematic confound in brain imaging, especially since control v subject populations can have differences in head motion).

    Good luck in spelling bees. I am a wuss about watching my children compete.

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  6. Michael Kelly, weighed in on the tacky light issue: “There is too much disputation around Christmas anyway. One growing issue is the white vs. colored lights debate. Like all matters of taste, this is also a matter of class. White lights are high-class; colored lights are somewhat less so. White lights make the statement that one is a refined sort who appreciates that less is more and who celebrates Christmas (and life in general) in such a fashion that one would not be absolutely mortified if Martha Stewart dropped by unexpectedly for tea. Colored lights make the statement that one is the sort of person who believes that Christmas is not Christmas without an electric sled and reindeer on the lawn, an electric Santa on the roof, an electric Frosty by the front gate and an electric Very Special Person in a manger on the porch.

    Most of the houses in my neighborhood are white-light houses, and I have to admit they are lovely, but I was raised in a colored-light family, and I am raising Tom and Jack to be colored-light men too. They do not take a lot of convincing on this. Boys are naturally colored-lighters.”

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/589639/posts

    We are colored light people around our house, too.

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    1. I was just thinking about this issue the other day. It used to be that colored lights of what I think of as “regular” colors – old fashioned red, blue, green, etc. – were pretty standard. This is what we had back in the 70s when I was growing up, and I still like those. I have a few strands which I sometimes use inside the house, but for outside I’ve gone to white only. I think these look better if there is no snow, somehow, but colored lights can be very pretty. The colored lights that I find objectionable (linked to the electric sled, blow up santas, etc.) are the neon-y ones, or bright blue.

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  7. Ha, our former house also has a blow-up Santa and a blow-up snowman on the front lawn, along with white icicle lights. We have bluish-white icicle lights and colored lights around the downstairs windows and candles in the two upstairs windows. Hm, does this work?

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  8. At our HEB (that’s the local Texas grocery chain), they have a blow-up Santa, reindeer stable, and the entire team of reindeer (including Rudolph–I think) available for sale as a set.

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  9. When every house along the street has white lights, it is pretty, I guess. In the way a Thomas Kincaid painting is ‘pretty’. It just isn’t very interesting.

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    1. Yes, exactly. OK for the mall, but depersonalizing for a neighborhood. There are members of our house who want to paint our house yellow and if we did Christmas lights, I’m guessing they wouldn’t be very tasteful. I would personally be very excited about the inflatable snow globes.

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