Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Ice Storm!

I got back from Tennessee just in time for one of the Midwest's big adventures: The ice storm! It is (like so many other things) both beautiful and dangerous. As a kid in Michigan, they were monumental-- closing school for a week at a time, ripping down power lines, and cutting out power.

Excuse me while I head into work...


Where I've been (Nashville Ed. 1)

What a week! I have been in Tennessee for the past few days, giving four lectures, one trial, and seeing friends old and new. On day one (last Friday), I met up with my Baylor compatriot Todd Lake for two lectures at Belmont University. In the morning, we spoke to a few hundred undergrads, and in the afternoon got the wonderful opportunity to speak to the first year (and only) class at Belmont's new law school. I loved being able to start that second lecture by claiming to be "from the future," since my own school is now ten years into that project of starting and sustaining something new and exciting. There was also an hour spent talking to Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General, and that alone gave me enough to think about for months. Here is the new law school building there, which will be ready sometime this summer:

The second day included a trip down to Middle Tennessee State University, to give a talk to students from several schools. This was a death penalty conference organized by Stacy Rector, and she provided a wonderful crowd and atmosphere. Here she is opening up the conference:

On Sunday, it was on to St. Henry's Catholic Church in Nashville, where we gave a warm-up talk preliminary to doing the Trial of Christ there:

Finally, on Monday night we did the Trial of Christ at Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, where I was reunited with my mentor and friend, Randall O'Brien:

Needless to say, I'm a little tired! Yet, it's great to be back in Minnesota, ready for class tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Oscar review!

Please note: Because I had to write this review before the Oscars due to circumstances beyond my control, they represent my best effort to report on events yet]

1) Is anyone surprised that "The Extremely Loud Movie" won best picture? I sure was! But with the track record that Ron Howard has, and the star power of Rink Allegro, perhaps we should not be surprised at all!

2) Jean Dujardin won Best Actor, and he barely talked in "The Artist!" Go figure!

3) I'm glad that Glen Close won her 14th Oscar as Best Actress, but that dress? Please!

4) Why couldn't the dog from "The Artist" get nominated for something? Or Jeremy Lin?

Monday, February 27, 2012


Haiku Friday winner: Anonymous!

There were some Madonna-tastic haikus last week, but this one wins the big prize:

My first time in love --
That Connecticut summer
The song? Lucky Star.

I thought it had just the right balance of nostalgia and truth, because pop music is best as the backing soundtrack for more important things, a trigger for memories.

And now for Anonymous's biography:

A student at Connecticut's prestigious Octavian Country Day School, Anonymous (along with her best friends Dylan and Alicia) rules OCD's social life with an iron fist wrapped in a Hermes glove. She is a fair to good student, though often distracted by members of the boy's soccer team and various nefarious plots against her by her arch-nemesis and, occasionally, by her friends. She is a dog-owner, a lip gloss expert, a runner, and one of the sharpest girls you will ever meet. Her various misadventures have included a brief and disastrous after-school job driving a long-haul truck, and an unfortunate incident involving marauding bears, paint cans, and expensive clothes.

Congratulations, anonymous!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Sunday Reflection: Death and God

As readers of the Razor (and students at St. Thomas) well know, one of the wonderful parts of my life is the occasional morning visit from Susan Stabile, my colleague and faith-life mentor. Several of our discussions have spun out into public presentations, and that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

This week, we were both struggling with death among people we care about.

In the midst of that, she said something wonderful and profound and comforting. I will pass it along without needless comment:

"Death is really our full communion with God."

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Ski trip!

IPLawGuy and I have been pondering a ski trip in March... I found a great rate at the Ritz-Smegland in Colorado:

Friday, February 24, 2012


Haiku Friday: Madonna!

Here is mine:

For kitchen dancing,
Get the material girl
Singing "Holiday!"

Now it is your turn. I know you have an opinion... just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and the winner gets their bio here on Monday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: How's it shakin', Republicans?

Here was my favorite part of the debate last night:

At one point, moderator John King asked each candidate to use one word to describe themselves. Paul chose "consistent," Santorum went with "courage," Romney decided on "resolute" and Newt picked the word that got the most laughs, "cheerful."

So, what's going to happen from here on out?

And what one word would you use to describe one or more of the candidates?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Good work by KSTP!

I love it when a smart reporter (like Mark Albert of Eyewitness News 5) takes the time to do an in-depth story like this one. My own comments are about 1/3 of the way in. The extended version of the interview can be seen here.

One thing that fascinated me about this worthwhile project is that it was unusual-- the state doesn't seem to regularly release statistics on such things, and I can see no reason why they shouldn't. Criminal law should be as transparent as possible, because the stakes are so high. It's too bad that it took the extended efforts of a reporter to get these figures out and make sense of them, but I am impressed that he did so.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Now up at the Huffington Post...

... and just in time for Lent! Check it out here.

Also, for my birthday... maybe go on there and make a comment that is not all athiest-y. I'm still stumped as to why most of the comments on the "religion" page are from athiests...


I get a chair! (for 2012, at least)

Many of you have heard the story of my first day at work at Baylor... I went to my new office and there was a desk and a phone, but no chair. It was pretty awkward. I stood around for a while, and then asked others for advice. Someone told me just to take one from the hall, so I did-- and shortly thereafter had to answer to an angry colleague who had set that chair outside his door as a resting place for student he had thrown out of class.

I'm happy to say that I'm getting a chair of a different kind now-- the 2012 Richard E. Byrd Preaching Chair at St. Martin's-By-The-Lake Episcopal Church here in Minnesota. I'm not sure how I got the gig, given that the prior holders have included heavy hitters like Martin Marty and Krista Tippett, but I am very happy to have the chance to preach again.

I will be giving the sermons associated with the Chair on April 29. Notably, the chair is named after a former Priest and member of that church who was renowned for his teaching about collaboration-- something I dearly believe it, and which is at the top of my mind as I continue to sort through the death of Katherine Darmer, who was wonderful at exactly that.

It's also my birthday today, so it's nice to have something to celebrate!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Haiku Winner: D. Corbett!

Sorry about the reporting delay (I certainly heard about it), but I wasn't quite in the mood yesterday or early this morning to sort through haiku. Once I did, I realized a serious handicap: I've never seen many of the shows people were discussing, such as "Community," and have never even heard of some of the others (what the heck is "Downtown Abbey?").

Anyways, Rennee did some great work this week, but unfortunately wrote about the TV character I am most scared of: Granny, from "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Thus our winner is D. Corbett, who wrote this:

Rollerskate master
And Pollack imitator,
Hal snubbed normalcy.

I have absolutely no idea who this haiku is describing. I can't imagine any sitcom character discussing Jackson Pollack, but it's a great idea!

So, here is the truth behind Mr. Corbett, who was one of my favorite students at Baylor:

D. Corbett graduated from law school, but that was not his only project at the time. At night and on weekends, he was secretly developing the "Corbett Filter Cleaning System," a device which allows users to clean and re-use paper coffee filters. Not surprisingly, his device has been a huge success after it was picked up by Ronco Products and distributed through television advertisements throughout the Deep South and Nevada. With the proceeds, D. has turned a philanthropic eye towards a series of national projects designed to find a worthy successor to "Matlock."

The irony, of course, is that D. himself does not drink coffee, filtered or otherwise, which is one reason his own name (well, first name) and photo do not appear on the product.

All hail, D. Corbett!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Sunday Reflection: On the Death of Katherine Darmer

Yesterday, I stumbled across this-- a blistering critique (with even harsher comments) of something I wrote for CNN, coming from an academic subculture I don't know much about. Frankly, I did not understand it. My first thought, in trying to get a handle on it, was to ask my friend Katherine Darmer, whose clear-eyed intelligence and compassion would cut through the bullshit-- both theirs and mine-- and lead me to a place of greater knowledge. That is what she did, wonderfully, for thousands of students at Chapman Law School and for the many of us who in our own ways were her followers.

She was fortunate to be born from brilliance. Her parents, Bob and Alice Baird, are legends of the best kind at Baylor, where Bob is a philosophy professor. I remember once having dinner with the philosopher Dallas Willard, and despite my best efforts to raise other topics, Willard kept bringing the conversation back to Bob, because of his deep respect for Professor Baird. It was Bob who first introduced me to his daughter.

One reason that Katherine provided such good advice to me was that our professional lives tracked one another nearly identically. She went to Princeton undergrad, and graduated from Columbia Law (as a Harlan Fisk Stone scholar) about the same time I graduated from Yale Law. Then we both clerked in federal court, worked for a big firm for three years, served as federal prosecutors from 1995-2000, and entered the academy in 2000. We both wrote about sentencing and (later) the civil rights of gay men and lesbians. It was easy for her to see things through my eyes, and vice-versa.

When I wrote articles, I would send them to her and she would respond with a thicket of insights that I had not thought of. Sometimes, if I was in California or she was in Texas, we would linger in the kitchen after others had drifted off somewhere, talking about ideas. Those conversations had a profound effect on me.

In 2008 and 2009, she told me about her work against Proposition 8 in California, which would bar same-sex marriage there. She was a passionate advocate on the issue, and she was one of the people-- perhaps even the most important-- in shaping my own evolution on that issue, and her challenge required me to first confront my own personal history. Later, she counseled me, wisely, on the decision to write and speak about Baylor's policies regarding gay men and lesbians.

Katherine's advise was always astute, in areas large and small. When I was planning a conference at Baylor, I called her. When I was to give the commencement address at her alma mater, Vanguard High in Waco, I called her. She told me to talk about "love" a lot, and I did. When I was considering the move to St. Thomas, I sought her counsel again, and everything she said was right. By then, I had learned to do what she advised.

What was it like to talk to Katherine Darmer, to seek out her counsel?

First, she had a trait that I see in the very best trial lawyers, the very best teachers, and the very best parents. She was a wonderful listener. She would lower her head a little bit, lean against a counter, and do nothing else but take in what you were saying. She was comfortable with being quiet as she listened, which is a rare and wonderful trait. If she wanted to clarify something, or ask a question, her hand would come up, palm out, to signal that, the gentlest of signs.

Then she would nod. If she nodded hard, her hair would bounce, and sometimes she did nod hard. She understood, and she did-- her intelligence could be sharp and fierce or soft-spoken, but it underlaid everything. She was, as we say in law, a "quick read," a talent that takes equal measures of intelligence, empathy, and critical thinking.

It was those traits-- intelligence, empathy, and critical thinking-- that would frame her response. One did not go to Katherine Darmer if you wanted a simple "yes" or affirmation; she was too smart and honest for that.

I cannot ask her about the piece I am pondering, because she is gone. We miss those who have died when we stumble on the hole that they leave, and for Katherine that will be different for different people; she left many very large holes.

For me, the rest of my life, there will be a repetition of the same moment... I am thinking about writing something, or doing something, and it is her counsel I need. That is when I will stumble into that hole and remember her as she was-- a woman who worked most hard for people who were not like her, who turned her mind and energy to justice, and who so often used her prodigious gifts in the ways that were best for God's creation, this world.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Faith and Words, er, Works...

I love working in a school that contains Susan Stabile. We had another great dialogue on Wednesday of this week, on the topic of Faith and Works.

You can see Susan's report here, and listen to the podcast at this link.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Haiku Friday: TV Characters

As I have already noted this week, I have become obsessed with "The Office," Well, that and The Simpsons, in which I saw a scene tonight from Season 14 where Homer tells a herd of Elk to "Go back to Grosse Pointe!" (He made a mistake based on their "pointy hats" and fur coats).

Anyways, let's haiku about favorite TV characters today. Here is mine:

Michael Scott, bad boss,
Where did he go? Now he's gone
Off to run a church.

Now it is your turn! Just make it vaguely topical, and 5 syllables for the first line, 7 for the second, and 5 for the last one.

As usual, the winner gets their bio here on Monday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: Is this guy right?

Woody sent me this video of Fox News' most briefly-appearing commentator:

I agree with him on nearly everything.

Primarily, I share his view that there really is little that distinguishes the two political parties. Neither one really cares about a smaller government. Neither is very good at correcting injustices. Both pursue senseless wars that provide us with little gain for great expense.

So.... is he wrong?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


You go, Lions Club!

Ok, I totally love this:


-- Because the Lions have a sense of humor. Who knew?

-- Because I really do believe that clubs like the Lions serve important functions

-- That giant convertible is perhaps the only thing at the intersection of hip-hop and the Lions Club, and

-- Because I kinda like the song.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012



I really should be getting ready for my smack down with Susan Stabile on Wednesday (Faith and works- Booya!), but I just signed up for Netflix and am current on a total jag of watching every episode of The Office straight through.

Is this a worthwhile use of my time?

Monday, February 13, 2012


Coming up on Wednesday!

On the heels of our prior debates on creeds and saints, this Wednesday Susan Stabile and I will take on the topic of "Faith and Works." In short, I am for them and (from what I understand) she is against them.

The event takes place at 12:30 Wednesday in Room 458 at the Law School. You can RSVP to Bethany Fletcher at Lunch will be served, and there will also be a monster truck rally afterwards.


Haiku winner: The medievalist!

What a week! I am exhausted. I played a lot of hockey this weekend down in Arden Park, and the work week was jammed as well-- including our presentation of the Trial of Christ in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday, which was wonderful.

And our haiku winner? None other than the Spanish Medievalist, for this take on "A Movie I would like to make:"

Marx and Costello,
Marilyn and Russell do
whatever they want.

I chose his because... well, I really want to see that movie!

And now for his bio:

The Spanish Medievalist was born and raised in a small town in Minnesota. This was unusual, as he spoke only Spanish and was raised by two Medieval Spaniards, Francisco and Maria. The had ended up in this town (St. Peter's) through some fluke in a time machine built by Da Vinci, who seized them as they were touring Italy and conducted an experiment on them-- an experiment which went terribly wrong.

The Medievalist's childhood was satisfying but odd. For example, he was the small-school state champion in the sport of nordic skiing, despite being relatively slow. He was, however, armed with a lance and musket, and waves of forfeited matches and fallen skiers led to his victories. He also was state champion in the forensic arts, but again his physical attacks on opponents while wearing a full suit of armor had much to do with the outcome. He was also valedictorian of his high school, an honor he celebrated by topping off the ceremony with an attack on his opponents using his falcon, Bitey.

And now he has turned to haiku. All hail the Spanish Medievalist!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Sunday Reflection: The Truest Insult

When I was in my first year at Yale Law School, most of us felt like the admission department's mistake. The talents and experiences of the 160-odd people in that group were overwhelming, and we knew that we were supposed to go on to do great things. The stone stairways of the school were worn down in the middle of each broad gray stair, the gentle depressions created by the footfalls of those who had come before us-- the brave and the great and the tragic and the lost, all of them memorable. The air was heavy with intrigue and expectation.

Of course, we spent a lot of time analyzing one another, having been thrown together in a hat this way. We ventured speculations on little information, deducing facts about people we did not yet know, who were from places I had never seen-- Brooklyn and South Texas and Los Angeles. But still, we had opinions.

It was in the midst of this that one of my classmates described me (outside of my presence) as "The smartest kid in Lake Woebegon."

I knew that (at least in part) it was meant as an insult-- that I was not sophisticated in the way that the people from New York and Washington were. Still, I took no offense. It was pretty much true (except the "smartest" part) and settled on me like a favorite shirt still warm from the dryer. I was flattered, because the description (like all the best compliments) was a mixture of truth and hyperbole.

What the person who called me "The smartest kid in Lake Woebegon" probably did not know is that I had grown up listening to Garrison Keillor tell stories about that place on Prairie Home Companion. My dad would tape the shows and dump them in a shoe box and bring them along on long car trips. It is a wonderful memory my siblings and I share: dusk coming down, in the van out on some two-lane road, and listening to one of those stories. It was a town where I would fit in: People are a little goofy, they talk about church, they are open-hearted and surprising, and they have a bit of fear of what might lie over the next hill. The story would finish, a song would come on, and we would sing along with our own broken voices as the shadows grew long on green fields.

So, last night on Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor wished me a happy birthday. (Thanks, Carrie Willard!).

I suppose that it might feel strange to hear my name on the radio, on this show I have always heard, but it just felt... right, like the shirt from the dryer, a good loose fit.

A week ago today, I sat in the sanctuary at Memorial Church at Harvard and looked up at the stone tablets on the wall. "Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Class of 1903," stared back at me. His feet had worn down the stone of the entry. But I felt comfortable there, too, because I wear that warm shirt everywhere, unashamedly, and if you say I am the smartest boy in Lake Woebegon, I will thank you and dip my head and mutter a protest at the word "smartest," because that is how we are, and were, and will be, at home or at Harvard.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Small town

In some ways, I live in a small town. I walk through a park to get to the grocery store, and I see the same kids skating. Today I will take my car in to get an oil change, and I know the place well enough to know the routine. If it will take a while, I will leave it there and walk home.

Small towns sometimes are in big cities. One of my favorite poems ever, from the New Yorker was this (I remember every word, but not the author):

Boerum Hill
Used to be Gowanus;
When your butcher knows your name--
That's a neighborhood.

So perhaps I should go to the butcher's, as well.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Haiku Friday: The Movie I Want To Make

We all have a movie we want to make. Personally, mine involves Newt Gingrich's moon colony, which goes out of control and then wages war against Earth. Here, I will describe it in a haiku:

My movie idea:
A moon colony gone wrong.
Title? "Luna Lovebad"

Let's haiku about that this week! Just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, on the topic of your idea for a great movie.

If you win, you get your bio here on Monday!

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Primaries!

[You can click on the map to enlarge it-- the map represents the results of 2008 Republican primaries, with McCain wins in green, Romney wins in yellow, and Huckabee wins in blue]

On Tuesday, three states (Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado) had Republican primary contests which had one thing in common: They actually awarded no delegates. Nonetheless, it is significant that Rick Santorum won all three.

The first thing that strikes me about this is that for a party which (properly) trumpets the value of small government and restrained spending, they sure are blowing a lot of money on frivolous votes.

Beyond that, though, I do think these results bode poorly for Mitt Romney. What I see happening is that he can win large states like Florida through superior spending, but unless he can overwhelm people with advertising he does poorly because people just don't like the guy.

What's becoming apparent is that whoever the Republican nominee is will probably have less money to spend, and less Super-PAC support, than President Obama. Romney will not have that advantage in a general election.

Am I right? Do people just not like the guy?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012



Hmmm... so Rick Santorum won Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota last night. What happens now? Come back for a discussion tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Coldplay stealing from Kraftwerk?

Some of you, over the years, have made fun of my affection for the German band Kraftwerk. The critiques didn't "werk," though-- I'm still into the music of Florian and the boys from Dusseldorf.

Intriguingly, it appears that Coldplay is ripping off Kraftwerk-- with permission (according to the liner notes. Check it out:

First, Kraftwerk's Computer Love--

And now, Coldplay's Talk--

I will concede that Chris Martin is a far better singer than anyone in Kraftwerk (sorry, Wolfgang!). They even borrowed the whole "Robot" thing....

Monday, February 06, 2012


Haiku winner: Renee

I am reprinting her winning haiku(s) below. It is, itself, her bio this time:

Disparaged her mind,
Housekeeping,kids...blazefire night
Kamikaze dreams.

The neighbor's troubles
He felt and fixed. Still his son
He punished like self.

He hid her glasses
Forgot or crushed holidays
Still she would not leave.

Her heart attack helped.
He drove slowly...farthest hospital
She would not die. Damn!

It was all her fault.
He needed someone more like
Him.His Problems solved.

And they were.While Mom
Lie in the stroke bed,hair white--
He found perfect wife.

Putrid well I knew--
Whence evil sprang. I could not
Hate him. Oh Daddy!

Sunday, February 05, 2012


Sunday Reflection: The Simplest Truth

Last week, on Sunday, I was on a ski lift with my sister. It was a perfect day in every way-- fresh snow, bright sun, cool but not cold, and I was out skiing with people who love it as much as I do.

On a ski lift, people talk, and Kathy said something so simple and true that it shook me up a little.

Like a lot of siblings, we are a lot the same and a lot different. Much of the difference is her being good in ways that I cannot be. For example, she is a social worker, and has the patience of a saint as she deals with her mentally ill clients. Her job is this: People who would be institutionalized for crimes or mental illness (the two are tangled up very often) get to live at home rather than prison or an institution, and she is paid by the state to visit them and make sure they are doing ok, do some art therapy with them, and monitor things like money and medication. It allows the clients freedom, and saves a lot of money for the state. I could never do that; I would last about 2 hours.

Kathy and I are different in our faith, too; she is not as "religious-y" as I am. That doesn't mean that she isn't just as thoughtful or engaged as I am-- her faith and ideas about spirituality go well beyond Unitarian Kitchen Dancing, and her life much more closely follows what Christ taught than mine does (whether she thinks of it that way or not).

So.... we're on the lift, and I she tells me about a few of her clients. Her stories are deep and rich and full of life; about people who are outcasts and confused, but who have these parts of their lives that make total sense in the midst of it all, this messy (often tragic) gorgeousness.

Imagining the danger of it, the dislocation, I asked her, "What do you tell them?"

She turned her head for a minute, looked at the trees pictured above, and said, "I tell them that God loves them. I tell them that God loves them just as they are."

Isn't that exactly what Jesus wants us to do, to love our neighbor, to reassure them?

Kathryn Elaine Osler may not be religious-y, but she is the best missionary I have ever met.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


Glad I found This!

As many of you know, I have long desired my own Yu Wan Mei device, but the price was too steep.

Then, today, while installing a new television (this one has color!), I found the device pictured above.

What the heck is it? Will it be as useful as the Yu Wan Mei device?

Friday, February 03, 2012


Haiku Friday: Villians

What's life without villains? They make the heroes possible. Let's blog about them, today...

Here is mine:

Six years of evil
Medical school... so
Don't call him "Mister!"

Now it is your turn. 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables is the recipe, and the winner gets their bio here on Monday!

Thursday, February 02, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: Abortion (we had to get there someday, right?)

Yesterday, I had this piece on CNN, which has generated more than a thousand comments over there. Let's have some here, too!

Here is the meat of the piece (as many of you know, the grandfather I describe is Tom Featherston of Baylor Law School):

We may disagree about whether life begins at conception, but it is now irrefutable that life is viable at 27 weeks. To deny this plainly observable fact is akin to denying the existence of evolution or global warming.

Much as Troy Davis (who was executed in Georgia last year despite troubling exculpatory evidence) and Hank Skinner (who received a stay of his execution in Texas to allow DNA testing to be pursued) personified the problems with the death penalty, there are those who do so just as starkly when we ponder late-term abortion.

For me, that person is named Rees. On a hot summer day in Waco, Texas, his proud grandfather carried him across the street for me to meet, months after his birth at about 24 weeks. His eyes were clear in the Texas sun, he was wrapped in a blue-and-white blanket, and he was surrounded by love.

He was, and is, a person, and that matters as much as Troy Davis and Hank Skinner.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Five great things about winter

It's actually an odd winter here in Minnesota-- it has been oddly warm and there is not so much snow. Still, compared to Waco, it is an amazing thing to have this season settle in. I always loved the change of seasons, and as a kid there were some things about a Michigan winter that I dearly loved. Here are five of my favorites:

1) The quiet

Snow hushes everything; it's nature's librarian. There is something thrilling about walking alone or with a companion in the snow, the only sound being that little crunch of your own steps. In the morning, there is a certain stillness that is too rare in our lives.

2) The sports

Can I say this? I love all this ice and snow because it is so much fun. I love skating and pond hockey, I love nordic skiing, and I love downhill skiing. Within ten minutes of my house there are endless opportunities for cross-country skiing, a downhill area, a friggin' ski jump, and Edina's many little rinks, each with it's own warming hut.

3) The early evenings

It gets dark about 5:30 these days, and that is a form of permission to settle in and relax. Light a fire, read a book, linger over dinner... it's a very human pace.

4) The food

It's comfort food time-- casseroles, pasta, stuff with bacon... how can you not like that?

5) The holidays

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day... these are days for celebration, feasting, and love. Spring and summer have holidays of war and death, but in the winter the light comes from within. How can you not love that?

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