Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Cranberries, evergreens, and a reptile ranch

Route 66 Christmas Tree
Lately I've been a decorating fiend... I put up some clear lights outside last week. Then, I decided to go out and get a Christmas tree, despite the fact that I'm actually not going to be here for Christmas. I lugged the tree back, dug up my stand and lights, and set the whole thing up in the front hall, where you can see it through my front door.

I don't actually have many genuine Christmas ornaments -- in fact, I'm pretty much limited to a couple of boxes of generic glass balls. So I had to get a bit creative. In some dark recess of my brain, I remembered making Christmas tree garlands out of cranberries and popcorn. It took two grocery runs to find whole cranberries in Nashville, but I was soon stringing up a storm, with only minor needle injuries. It takes a long time to do a whole tree that way, but it's pretty mindless work and I watched a movie while I was working on it.

Turns out that I somewhat underestimated the number of linear feet of cranberries in a bag. (These folks need to investigate this!) Despite creative use of cranberry spice sauce for dinner on Sunday night, I still have two bags left. Anyone have any good cranberry recipes?

After the garlands were on the tree, it still looked a bit empty. So I wandered around my house looking for ideas until I found a book of Route 66 paper cutouts, purchased for their kitsch value a few years ago while on vacation in Arizona. I pulled out the book and started happily punching out pieces and putting tab A into slot B to create models of all sorts of Mother Road ephemera -- fireworks stands, Mexican restaurants, Airstream trailers, and more. I then carefully punched holes in the cutouts and stuck them on the tree. So I now have a kitschy Middle-American tree with cranberries and popcorn. (If you look carefully, you can even find an adult bookstore.)

I also have a wreath on the door, greens on the window sills, and a cat determined to make herself sick eating Pointsettia leaves. Plus I made fudge and prepared dough for sugar and spice cookies. I'm totally down with the whole holiday thing this year.

Bus.... Magic Bus!

From last week's Economist -- an old-school internet mail relay network using Wi-Fi and public transportation:
At “The Future in Review”, a wide-ranging technology conference held in San Diego earlier this year, Allen Hammond of the World Resources Institute, an environmental think-tank, outlined a cunning scheme to provide e-mail access in rural India using buses. Each bus would be equipped with an e-mail server and a high-power Wi-Fi base-station, with a range of a mile or so. This communicates with nearby computers in homes, schools, offices or post offices, delivering and collecting e-mail wirelessly as the bus drives past, so that there are a handful of deliveries and collections each day. The buses connect to the internet when they reach the depot at the end of the line. Given the reach of the bus network, it is estimated that this approach could provide national e-mail coverage for a paltry $15m. E-mail by bus—why not?

Monday, December 15, 2003

A Public Service Announcement...

Brought to you by the fine folks over at the National Latex Novelties Association:
What's an office without a rubber chicken or two? Rubber chicken on the wall, rubber chicken on the floor, rubber chickens are funny and make your spirits soar. We are pretty sure everyone's mood will pick up a little bit when you have some rubber chickens laying around the office. Make Monday Rubber Chicken Day and have everyone carry one around to meetings and stuff... how much fun can your office handle?