Remy: I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus (A Very TSA Christmas Song)

When families come together – a Christmas shopping story

My husband and I are somewhat cultural Christians – that is, while we do not subscribe to Christianity as a religion, our families are mostly descended from Christians and therefore, we observe some of the cultural Christian festivals (especially the originally Pagan ones, where the Christian patina is particularly thin, as is the case with Christmas) in a secular, non-religious manner.  After all – why waste an opportunity to party?

When we were first married, we tried very hard to maintain the ‘surprise’ element when exchanging Christmas presents, but with a little twist to ensure we both also got what we wanted:  thus, we shopped separately and wrapped the presents separately.  He’d buy his present and I’d buy mine…

This way, my husband would be surprised at what he got me and I would be surprised at what I got him!

But, as our kids got older, we wanted to engage them in the most fun part of gift giving – and decided to go a bit more traditional about the gift-purchasing vector.  So, one day, we all got into the car, drove to the mall and split up:  my husband and our older son went to buy my Christmas present and our younger son and I went to buy the Christmas present for my husband.

I had a most awesome plan.

In the previous week or two, I had noticed my hubby going through some electronics flyers and looking at phones – not cell phones, but nice wireless ones for the house.  So, I paid more attention at what he had been looking at and very carefully (so as not to arouse his suspicion), I had asked some questions about what features he liked and so on – and I thought I knew just the perfect phone to get him.

Since the kids both understood that buying the present in secret was the funnest part of  Christmas gift giving, we had to sneak into the phone store unseen.  So, as my hubby and older son headed off to the coffee shop to fortify their stamina for the onslaught of shopping, we made a big show of heading to the luggage shop in a deft decoy move to make my hubby suspect we were getting him a new wallet.

Then, taking a shortcut through a shoe store, we made our way to the phone shop.


There was the phone I was sure would make the perfect present for my hubby!

But, as I reached for the box, I heard my older son’s voice!

Quickly grabbing my younger one’s hand, I told him to duck – we must not be seen or the surprise would be blown!!!

As we made it one shelf over, my older son exclaimed:  ‘Mom!  What are you doing here?!?!?’

Luckily, his dad was not with him.  He was a few shelves over.  Thinking quickly on my feet, I pointed him out to our younger son and told him to quickly catch up to daddy while I went to pay for the phone.  He rushed off, just about at the same time as the older one came up to me and started asking me if I had noticed the sunglasses in the kiosk just outside the phone store.

I did not understand his sudden interest in sunglasses – he had never been interested in them before.  He was quite insistent, but there was no way he was going to deter me from paying for that phone and hiding it before my hubby could catch up to me!

I made it to the cash and lined up – just as my hubby also got there to pay….for the very same phone I was holding!

Apparently, he’d been leaving flyers around the house to see what I looked at and noticed I was asking about phones and cleverly deduced from the various clues exactly which phone I liked best!!!

Yet another instance of how Christmas shopping can indeed bring families together.

Happy 21. 12. 2012!!!

And we are….STILL ALIVE!!!


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EFF Patent Project Gets Half-Million-Dollar Boost from Mark Cuban and ‘Notch’

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

San Francisco – America’s broken patent system needs major reform to protect innovators and the public. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is announcing a major new boost to its patent work: a half-million dollars in funding from entrepreneur Mark Cuban and game developer Markus “Notch” Persson.

“The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful,” said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. “Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That’s bad for consumers and bad for business. It’s time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help. So that’s why part of my donation funds a new title for EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels: ‘The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents’.”

Cuban’s $250,000 donation also funds the hire of a new attorney experienced in patent reform and high profile patent litigation: Daniel Nazer, who will join EFF in January as a Staff Attorney. The rest of EFF’s seasoned intellectual property team includes Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry, Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl, and Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. The team is also assisted by EFF fellows Michael Barclay and Jason Schultz.

Persson’s separate donation of $250,000 cements EFF’s ability to tackle the systemic problems with software patents. With a blend of lawyers, technologists, and activists, EFF will push for reform in the courts, through activism campaigns, and by educating the public and politicians about what is wrong with software patents and what needs to change.’

Read the rest here.

I wonder what grade he’ll get

This fill student’s project got itself reported as ‘news’ all over the world.

Two thoughts:

1. – Well done – I wonder what grade he’ll get

2. – And this level of reporting integrity is why most people no longer trust anything we get from the MainsStream Media…which is why there are so many conspiracy theories…

Big Brother is listening – on the bus

Thunderf00t: iPod in a Nuclear Reactor Beam

From the ‘I just LOVE conspiracies’ file: Polybius, MK Ultra, and the CIA’s Brainwashing Arcade Game

If you find conspiracy theories as much fun as I do, and if you enjoy video games, you’ll love this one!

H/T:  PlasmaLink

Guest post on Aspergers’ by Angel: Teaching the Art of Conversation

A reader, Angel, who is raising an Aspie son, has been kind enough to contribute this article on Asperger’s and teaching the art of communication.  I hope you like it as much as I do!


Teaching the Art of Conversation:

Let’s face it.  Kids don’t want to talk to the odd kid out—the dork who always says the wrong thing. This sets up a vicious cycle—those who need practice interacting the most, get it the least.  My son fell victim to this downward spiral—practically no one would talk to him, so he couldn’t get the practice he needed to talk to them.  In an essay he wrote recently, he recalls what it was like to fall into this pit:


I couldn’t understand them, these seven-year-old kids. I felt like I was the butt of every joke, and I couldn’t handle it. It seemed like I always said the wrong thing, and I couldn’t ever just roll with the punches and “play along,” the absolute skill. Embarrassment was a fire that never ceased to scorch me. It was a daily emotion, and one that I learned to hate above all else. All of this culminated in one event that I’m still unwilling to share, especially with an unknown number of strange readers. It was so embarrassing to me that I was absolutely sure that I could not go back, could not face the kids who shared the knowledge of that day.

Though he didn’t confide in me at the time, I saw something I hadn’t seen before—a dark side emerging from this loving son of mine.  I pulled him out of public school and taught him myself until he decided to return in his junior year.  To both of our amazement, when he returned, he was instantly popular with other kids.

How did talking to me about his reading and writing assignments translate into excellent social skills nine years later?  It seemed that by practicing his skills on me, he was not only able to catch up, but actually got ahead of other teens.  Why are adults so much better than kids when it comes to teaching Aspergers how to conduct a good conversation?

Adults can be skilled listeners who help children “fill in the blanks.” They will entertain any topic, shared or not.  They don’t insist on conventional turn-taking, doing most of the talking for children who barely respond and most of the listening for children who talk like the wind. Adults will also prompt for further elaboration, or provide elaboration when a child omits the details he needs to complete a story.

If you are doing what comes naturally when talking to children, you are practicing speech therapy—coaching your child in what therapists call Speech Pragmatics.  Pragmatics concerns itself with what people mean, not what they say—usually the only type of speech therapy that Aspergers need.  Pragmatics teaches three fundamental skills: contextualization, turn-taking, andelaboration.


Contextualization may be the hardest for Aspergers to learn.  If a child’s statements are irrelevant to a shared topic, he may have misunderstood or forgotten its original context—responding as if he is willfully evading a question or changing the subject.  Parents must listen carefully for this conversation killer, gently insisting that the child stay on topic.  Queues for opening and closing a conversation should be explicit.  Taking turns is also a discipline that should be gently enforced—this could mean getting your child to pipe down and listen or prompting your child to come out of his shell.  Finally, elaboration is necessary to keep a conversation going.


To slow down the action, so that an Aspergers child has the extra time he needs to rehearse each of these three vital skills, you might try what I did for my son at home—interactive reading.  With a book in hand, the context of any topic will not be forgotten or misunderstood until you are ready to turn the page.  You can practice taking turns with your child through give-and-take questions and answers, then move on to general two-way discussions.  The story also provides a springboard for further interpretation and elaboration.


If you take every opportunity to rehearse proper contextualization, turn-taking, and elaboration in a safe environment as a pace your child can handle, you’d be amazed at the way this translates to better conversation with friends.

My son, now a teenager, happily converses with friends as if he never had Aspergers.  Words are spun round and round as each speaker elaborates, thickening the context of shared information, beginning a new round of contextualization, turn-taking,and elaboration,a self-perpetuating cycle, spinning so effortlessly that it sometimes escalates into the wee hours of the morning—particularly with teenagers who are keenly interested in self-expression.

When I first took him out of school, he had a long way to go before this could happen.  He needed extra prompting to move a conversation forward. For years, we privately worked at sowing the seeds of his future success. We rehearsed the contextualization, turn-taking, elaboration, contextualization, turn-taking, elaboration, contextualization, turn-taking, elaboration “spin cycle” until it became second nature. Who could have imagined that rehearsing at home would eventually lead to popularity at school?  In my son’s own words:


So, can you successfully educate an Aspergers kid at home, then, after he has matured, send him back to public school? While I can’t say that this method will work for everyone, the answer is yes, it is possible.  At least one person has done so.

A public service announcement

‘He who must not be named on pain of a lawsuit’ (aka Richard Warman) is at it again:  this time, his target is Blazing Catfur.

BCF’s crime?

Linking to an article by Mark Steyn, in which Richard Warman was named…

Your help is needed!

Before it is too late and we are all silenced….