Another Tuesday is upon me and I survived the Holidays … barely. Last week, in my A Trivial Holiday post, I shared seven mid-winter holiday themed trivia questions, courtesy of Ken Jenning‘s weekly Tuesday Trivia e-mail service.
And now, the answers you’ve all been waiting for:
1. How many tiny reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, in the poem that begins “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”? Eight tiny reindeer–Rudolph was a later addition.
2. What sitcom featured a character with the very festive full name of “Christmas Noelle Snow”? Chrissy Snow, Suzanne Somers’s character on Three’s Company, was saddled with that wintry nightmare of a name, for which at least three different explanations were given on the show.
3. Which of the three traditional gifts brought by the three wise men has the highest market value today? Frankincense and myrrh, being nothing but tree sap with vaguely aromatic/medicinal properties, retail for just a few dollars an ounce. Gold is about a hundred times more valuable.
4. Rod Carew was a Minnesota Twin, but who are the only *real* twins name-checked in Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song”? Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby. (Harrison Ford’s a quarter Jewish–not too shabby!)
5. Most commercial Advent calendars begin on what date? The actual dates of Advent move around, since the period officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, but the eponymous calendars typically just start on December 1.
6. “Christmas disease” is another name for the ‘B’ type of what disease, most famously suffered by Alexei Romanov? Hemophilia B was named for Stephen Christmas, the first patient in which it was identified.
7. What unusual distinction is held by these countries in this order, and no others? Spain, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia. These are the (modern-day) sources of the four “ethnic” dances in the second act of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker: a Spanish dance, an Arabian dance, a Chinese dance, and a Russian dance. When I first came up with this question, I thought there were a few more countries on this list, but it turns out the list just SEEMED longer when I took my four-ear-old daughter to The Nutcracker a couple weeks ago.
If you’d like to see this week’s questions, submit a comment replying to this post and I’ll see what I can do.
Ten days and over a thousand miles ago (1,313 miles or thereabouts, but who’s counting?), Terry and I survived a weekend of single digit temperatures and 35 mph north wind gusts without a working furnace. We kept our home a toasty 70 degrees with two oil heaters and two inexpensive fan space heaters, even in the aforementioned frigid weather conditions.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010: Mark Moody, life-long friend of Terry from the Wichita area, and his assistant, Kenneth, arrived with our shiny new 96% efficient furnace and four ton air conditioning unit. In record time (and I mean record), Mark and Kenneth installed both units and by the time I arrived home from work on Wednesday evening, I had a warm toasty house.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010:
Thursday, 16 December 2010: Only about twelve hours after thanking Mark and sending him home to Wichita, Terry, my dad and I hit the road south to Texas for a weekend of celebration, exhibition, reception and graduation for my son, Derek Moss. We took our time, had fantastic weather and arrived in Plano as the sun was setting.
Friday, 17 December 2010: Derek’s exhibition demonstration was scheduled for 4:00 pm at the Guildhall (SMU @ Plano campus) so we (Dad and I) retrieved Rachelle from Denton via SH 380. That took a couple of hours, and a stop for lunch at Braums.
Once back in Plano, we left Rachelle at the Residence Inn and headed over to the Guildhall for the presentation and later the reception, which included a talk by the EA’s Chief Creative Director, Richard Hilleman.
Of even more importance to the photographers in the audience, the graduates donned their academic regalia and received their stoles and master’s hoods.
Saturday, 18 December 2010: Friday, we left the Residence in after a quick continental breakfast to brave the Dallas traffic to the main SMU campus. On a normal day, Google maps estimated an hour drive. Since it was early Saturday morning, it took us just a bit over a half hour, giving us some time to cruise around campus and take in the beauty of the grounds at Southern Methodist University. We scored close parking, thanks to Terry’s handicap hanging tag and great seats (also in the handicap accessible area) of Moody Coliseum.
A couple of hours later, at 10:00 a.m., the graduates processed in and the fun began. The Guildhall graduates were the last set of Doctoral or Masters candidates to walk before the ‘regular’ Bachelors degree students.
After the ceremony concluded, it took us a few minutes to find Derek again out in front of Moody Coliseum, but we eventually got together for some family photos. Derek turned in his gown and led us to the home of one of his team members for a after-graduation party. Stunning home (built by the owner/father), savory pulled pork (prepared by Derek’s friend), wonderful vodka punch and great fun.
Sunday, 19 December 2010: For some unknown reason, Terry and I were up, wide awake, by 4:30 a.m. We packed as quietly as we could and started stowing away items in the car. By 6:00 a.m. we were done and waiting for Rachelle, asleep on the hideaway. Rather than wait another hour for the continental breakfast provided by Residence Inn, we left early and descended upon an IHOP just north of there on Preston Road. If you haven’t tried their Harvest Grain ‘n Nut pancakes (with a side of turkey bacon heave), you don’t know what you’re missing. We dropped Rachelle off in Denton and said a quick ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ to Nic as he was heading off to work (the only Sunday he is required to work all year for his employer). The rest of the trip north, with a hefty tailwind to aid our gas mileage, was uneventful. We arrived back in Lansing before 4:30 pm.
Just a few hours later, while Terry was talking to a friend down in his band room, he started experiencing chest pain. We called an ‘ask-a-nurse’ service and tried to wait it out, hoping the pain would resolve itself, but after a couple more hours, he was still in pain (but not experiencing any of the other ‘usual’ symptoms associated with heart attacks or strokes – no numbness, tingling, tunnel vision, radiating pain, etc.). So, at 10:15 pm, we arrived at a quiet St. John’s Hospital emergency room, where we stayed for a battery of tests until 3:30 a.m. Heart issues were quickly ruled out, as well as stroke, but it took some time to rule out a blood clot in the lungs. Eventually, Terry was released to return home with some pain medication to help deal with the chest pain, which continued but was unexplained (yet apparently not life threatening).
Monday, 20 December 2010: We slept late (see previous paragraph), but not too late as we had several errands to run, including retrieving the Rotts from the boarding kennel. Squeaky clean excited Rottweilers in the back of your car and in your home for the first fifteen minutes; makes it difficult to take snapshots, but I persisted:
Tuesday, 21 December 2010: Knowing I had to work a whopping two days this week, I went to bed early. Terry woke me up around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. to let me know Derek and Royna were arriving in thirty minutes. Shocker! I blearily got up and prepared the spare bedroom and slunk back to bed to finish my interrupted sleep. After work, I made a couple of loaves of Rosemary Sourdough to take to work on Wednesday as last-minute gifts for a long-time co-worker and my boss.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010: I survived a slow day at work, anticipating Rachelle arrival from Texas, via the Kelloffs, later that evening. She arrived safely before 10:00 p.m.
Thursday, 23 December 2010: Rachelle and I, the early risers in the family, rearranged the great room to accommodate the Christmas tree.
Thanks to Santa’s helper (Rachelle), who transported the tree and trimmings from the basement storage room up two flights of stairs to the great room, we have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the northwest corner of our great room.
And here I sit, on the morning of Christmas Eve, reflecting back on a year of surprises, filled with joy, hope, grace and love.
Re-posting this from the weekly e-mail I subscribe to from Ken Jennings, which he coins as “Tuesday Trivia”:
Season’s greetings from Tuesday Trivia! Christmas and trivia go together like a creepy Bing Crosby-David Bowie duet, so we hope you enjoy this Christma-Hanuk-Kwanzaa-themed installment of our weekly quiz.
Now BRING US OUR FIGGY PUDDING! We won’t go until we get some. And some pudding.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTIONS
How many tiny reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, in the poem that begins “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”?
What sitcom featured a character with the very festive full name of “Christmas Noelle Snow”?
Which of the three traditional gifts brought by the three wise men has the highest market value today?
Rod Carew was a Minnesota Twin, but who are the only *real* twins name-checked in Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song”?
Most commercial Advent calendars begin on what date?
“Christmas disease” is another name for the ‘B’ type of what disease, most famously suffered by Alexei Romanov?
What unusual distinction is held by these countries in this order, and no others? Spain, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia.
As with all good trivia, it would take you about 30 seconds to Google the answers to the first six questions above. So you’re on the honor system here: no peeking, and only send in the answers you knew off the top of your head. Answers will appear in next week’s mailing.
The seventh and final question every week is a “What do they have in common?” question, designed to be harder to Google. As I arrange to send out goodies to high scorers, it will be on the basis of these seventh questions only.
Send responses to email@example.com by noon Pacific each following Monday. That’s also the address to contact if you missed the quiz one week and need to request a replacement.
I should read more space opera, especially when written by Niven and Pournelle. The human Empire (Russian in origin, which seemed odd considering in 1974 when first published, the USSR was Communist not Imperialist) has first contact with aliens from a system referred to as “The Mote.” Communication is key, but as expected, truth is the first casualty in diplomacy and war. By the time I reached the end, having had bits of both sides of the story, I kept wishing and hoping … ‘if only’ the aliens had divulged the truth behind their species’ biological problem, I believe, even a militaristic human society would feel compassion for them and strive to solve what the alien’s considered unsolvable or impossible or ‘Crazy Eddy.’
Only five of my reviews this year earned a five star rating, two of which were science fiction novels. Of the three remaining fantasy novels, one was a re-read, which I won’t count towards this year’s ‘best of’ list. The final two are difficult to choose between so I will call it a tie between Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts and Breath and Bone by Carol Berg.
What was the best science fiction book you read in 2010?
Hands down, Connie Willis’ All Clear swept me away. I strongly suggest that you read Blackout first and follow it immediately with the second half/second novel All Clear
Best any-other-genre-that’s-not-SF-or-fantasy book?
I don’t follow any of them ‘religiously’ but I get bombarded with a multitude of tweets from myriad sources. The one I frequent the most is John Scalzi’s Whatever blog.
Best SF&F movie?
I’m even harsher rating movies than I am with books. I gave no five star ratings this year. Three movies made it to my four star rating (barely) and they include Avatar, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I.) and How to Train Your Dragon.
Stargate Universe, but not because I really like it, more because there’s little else to watch when it comes to science fiction television. Yes, I watch Doctor Who, Eureka, Warehouse 13, etc., but they are frivolous and entertaining … popcorn for my mind.
Next week, as early as the night of the 13th, the Geminid meteor shower returns. A week later, and just in time for the longest night of the year, a total lunar eclipse is visible from four continents and the only total lunar eclipse for 2010.
Saturn and Venus are visible in the early morning hours (before dawn), and Saturn’s rings have returned from a two year hiatus hiding on edge.
When it gets cold outside, I make it hot in my kitchen with some spicy nearly all-veggie chili. Besides chopping an onion and celery, there’s not much prep work to this crockpot concoction.
This morning, I pulled out two cans of Bush’s medium chili beans, one can of Bush’s hot chili beans, a can of black beans, a can of original Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis, a bottle of Spciy V8 juice and a pound of ground turkey.
I browned the ground turkey. I put all the canned items in the crockpot. I added the celery and the onion. I stirred it up well and turned the crockpot to high heat (since I want to eat this in a couple of hours). I use WilliamsFamous Chili Kit for my seasoning and extra kick. Did you know Williams is headquartered just twenty-five miles away from me in Lenexa, Kansas?
I removed the large chili packet from the chili kit box and add it to the crockpot. Then I add the browned ground turkey. Then I pour about a third of the 46 ounce bottle of Spicy V8 over the top and stir it all up.
About fifteen minutes before I’m ready to eat, I can add (if I need more ‘heat’) the Red Pepper packet from the chili kit and the Corn Masa packet (which thickens up the chili).
For the all-vegetarian version, substitute cracked wheat for the ground turkey. You’ll have to soak a couple of cups worth in the Spicy V8 (16 ounces or so) in a small saucepan so that the cracked wheat puffs up and absorbs the tomato juice. I sometimes add various peppers (red, green, yellow, orange) and chickpeas.
I’ll let you know in a couple of hours how well the chili turned out. Usually, it’s good and hot!
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon His shoulder;
and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. — Chorus, Handel’s Messiah
We are grateful for the Child born in a manger, come to save us all. We are grateful for our own children, born just two decades ago, now released upon the world, making it a better, brighter place. We are grateful for the bounties bestowed upon us this year. We mourn for the passing a grandmothers and cherish the memories their lives bequeathed to us.
Bitter cold snowy weather in January like I haven’t seen in Kansas since the 70s. February/March attended the funeral of Barbara Parsons and visited with relatives in Winfield. April/May traveled to Nebraska and Iowa to attend a couple of science fiction conventions.
Rachelle flew back home in late May, but only stayed a few days before traveling overseas to study abroad in Europe, specifically Leipzig, Germany. She celebrated her twenty-first birthday half a world away from where she was born. During her five weeks in Europe, she visited many cities in Germany, Austria and also Prague in the Czech Republic. She returned to the States on the eve of the Fourth of July and remained with us for the rest of the summer.
While Rachelle deeply immersed herself in learning German, my grandmother began to suffer from rapidly advancing congestive heart failure. Just two days before my daughter’s birthday, and actually on my grandmother’s 88th birthday, she passed away.
I was glad to have visited her in her final days and to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her with my aunt and dad. The next week became a blur as plans for the memorial service were ironed out and I offered my house as a staging area for family gatherings. The first, and hopefully last time for many years to come, I actually took advantage of my bereavement leave employee benefit.
The following week, my husband finally attended his Social Security Disability hearing before an administrative law judge (via video conference since the judge lived in New Mexico). We had been waiting years for this hearing, having been denied twice by bureaucrats in the SSA. Just last week (middle of October), he received his first regular disability check, but the settlement check for previous years is still several weeks away. The hearing, while stressful for Terry, relieved some of our agony of waiting.
In August, we mailed, er flew, Rachelle back to Texas and life settled back into it’s routine. I’d joined a vanpool mid-Summer so I wasn’t putting any miles on any of my vehicles. We received the welcome news that Terry’s appeal of denial of SSD benefits was awarded by the judge.
Fantastic birthday present from my father – an amazing telescope with a plethora of accessories, which I’ve been exploring and learning how to use.
We traveled to North Texas last week for Thanksgiving, leaving the dogs behind boarded at a local Leavenworth kennel and doggie day care facility. We enjoyed the balmy weather and the kids.
In mid December, we will return to Texas, taking my dad with us, to attend my son’s graduation from SMU’s Guildhall, on Saturday, December 18, 2010. The best news of the year came in mid November when Derek informed us he had been hired by Halliburton for a very nice salary (close to six figures). If you’d like to send a card to Derek congratulating him, please send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll send you his mailing address, as I know most of you won’t be able to attend the graduation ceremonies.
We learned this week that Rachelle earned a retro-active scholarship for this school year (2010/2011) which allows her to attend UNT at the in-school tuition rate. She’s being reimbursed for the out-of-state tuition she paid in August.
As with most years, 2010 had it’s ups and downs, and it’s sideways diversions, but we survived, we thrived, we lived and we loved. And with God’s Grace, we will see many more to come.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Jon and Terry Moss
And the angel said unto them,
Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. — Recitative (Soprano), Handel’s Messiah
A hard copy of the above will be included with our annual Christmas card mailing to family and friends.