Tuesday, December 31, 2013
As many of you know, I have a long and unfortunate history with Clippy
, Microsoft's incredibly annoying "assistant" for its Word software.
Razorite Jessica sent me the image above, which alerted me to the alarming development that Google has come up with its own version of Clippy, and called him "Pegman
I haven't run into Pegman yet-- I don't often use Google Maps-- so what do people think of him?
Monday, December 30, 2013
More pardon stuff!
Look what's up at the front page at MSNBC!: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/obama-pardons-clemency-2014
The cold, cold day...
Welcome back, OsoGrande! And here was Oso's haiku:
Floyd Casey SO COLD
They said hell would freeze over
Baylor won Big 12.
How could you not like that? Meanwhile, in the long-form division:
Peanut and diamonds
Lone Star and sparkling red wine
Life is made of both.
Cowboys and rich girls
They both live in the same world
In a country song.
A reminder that
Our lives are a mixed bag
Of having, wanting.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Sunday Reflection: In the Scarab Club
[Click on a photo to enlarge it]
Saturday, December 28, 2013
America needs more haiku!!!!
People! After a bumper crop recently, we are woefully short on haiku this week! Perhaps everyone is skiing, or at dance class or something, but I know the good words and true are out there...
Haiku Friday is by far my own favorite day at the Razor. I'm happy to be the worst poet on there, week after week, when it means I get the chance to read what some of you can do. And the personalities! They come out in the best way. Except Geoffrey. He sucks.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Haiku Friday: The year's end
Since this is the last Haiku Friday of the year, let's haiku about 2013's most memorable moments, either societal or personal. I think it is important to freeze a few of them for posterity... there is a lot of latitude here, so have some fun!
I will go first:
Long gone from Baylor
So now they rule Big 12!
Wish I could see that
Now it is your turn! Just make it 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables, and enjoy it!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
[click on the photo to enlarge it]
I took this photo earlier in the month, while riding the train. It was a big, wet snow, an early season storm. I loved the way it changed everything. For example, this is, in fact, a color photo-- it is the world that had gone black and white. Sometimes it is like that.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
This summer, I taught in Rome. It wasn't a good summer, marred with tragedy and loneliness, and I am still trying to think of it in a good light. Still, like most challenging times, there were these moments of wonder that are unforgettable.
Through St. Thomas, I got a ticket to an audience with Pope Francis. That sounds like sitting around in a room with the Pope and a few others, but it isn't that. Rather, it means you get to sit in the sun in the piazza in front of the Vatican (St. Peter's Square) with hundreds of others and watch the Pope tour around the crowds before speaking. People arrived early and pushed to the front, where they would have the best chance of meeting the Pope.
I didn't do that. I stood in the back, and never came close to the Pope. Yet, that morning, I did stand close to God.
In the back, the very back, of the square was a woman hiding behind a pillar, almost as if she did not feel worthy of being there. I was just behind her, and noticed her immediately, just as the Pope entered the piazza. She was poor, by choice or circumstance, and wore simple clothes (that is her in the picture above). Her feet were clad in simple slippers, and she wore a long black dress over pants.
I don't know if I ever even really saw the Pope for several minutes, because I was so entranced by watching her watch the Pope. She was captivated, enthralled. She gave a prayer of thanks, and bowed, then held her hands clutched before her. Then, there was this moment: He looked at her. I know he did, because I was right behind her. She crumpled, then prayed again. He went on his way, energetically, reaching out to people and kissing some of them. He reminded me of the way Phil Steger portrayed Peter-- giddy with excitement at being near to Jesus.
As others have debated back and forth the merits of Pope Francis, I can't get past that one image, the best image of my summer, and of my year. It was Christmas then, and it is Christmas now.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
A lost Christmas tradition (from the files of Class of 31)
Of the many wonderful Christmas traditions and debacles, few compare with Baylor's grand Parade of the Trees, which was held between 1918 and 1926. As many of you may remember, this tradition involved student organizations mounting giant pine trees on flatbed trucks, lighting them up with candles, and parading them down Austin Avenue and around to 5th Street through the heart of Waco and Baylor's campus.
The problem was that the parade was a terrible fire hazard. By 1922, the event had gotten quite large, with over 100 trees, many over 80 feet tall. That year, which was very dry, several trees caught fire from the motion and the candles, burst into flames and toppled on people, cars, horse-lorries, and residences. Over 300 homes, 49 businesses and the Baylor gymnasium were destroyed by flames. The next year, 1923, was even worse, as the entire downtown was destroyed by cascading, flaming trees like some kind of forestry-based horror movie. Given the terrible destruction, Baylor's governing body, the Board of Intenders, were asked to address the problem. They did devote five minutes to the issue, but misconstrued the concern, thinking that the problem was not the destruction of town and campus, but a lack of Christian symbolism. Rather than cancelling or altering the Parade of Trees, they mandated that a giant candle-lit cross be included amongst the trees. Thus, in 1924, along with the entire Baylor campus being engulfed in flames causing the deaths of fully 1/3 of the student body, the nation was treated to the sight of a giant flaming cross (it, too, caught fire from the candles, like the trees), with "Baylor" written down the front, being paraded through town behind a truck driven by President Brooks. In the picture appearing in the New York Times, Brooks is seen waving merrily as behind him the huge wheeled cross shoots flames 200 feet into the air and the city's central business district is being destroyed by fire.
Still, the Board of Intenders failed to schedule a meeting to address the problem. In 1925, huge crowds of arsonists, racists, documentary film-makers and personal injury lawyers gathered for the Parade of Trees, and were treated not only to the now-traditional burning cross but to the burning down of the entire Baylor campus for the second year in a row.
At this point, some began insisting that the Board of Intenders take action, but they were unable to do so. To prove this, Chairman Billy ("Skink") Mortenson produced the schedule for their fall meeting, which was already filled with receptions, meetings of the floral committee and the like, which allowed for only 20 minutes for general business, a period during which their cars were kept waiting outside.
1926 was a complete debacle, with a parade which resulted in the utter destruction of not only Waco, but nearly all forested areas of McLennon County. This was the last year for the Parade of Trees, however, as a foul-up in Pat Neff Hall (this was the era in which typewriter maintenance was skimped upon) resulted in an announcement of the "Annual Parade of Thees," which resulted in nearly 500 Quakers marching peaceably through town. This, finally, engaged the Intenders, who swept into town intent on protecting Baylor's Baptist heritage, a goal accomplished by a highly efficient attack on the pacifists by the armed Equestrian team, an act which quickly terminated not only the demon pacifists but the parade itself, and thus ended yet another Baylor tradition.
Monday, December 23, 2013
A broomball haiku?!?
Sleepy Walleye knows how to haiku, and he had me at "broomball":
An old-fashioned broom
Ready to be shaped into
A broomball weapon
This gift from my dad
Said, "You are now invited
to play with the men"
Maybe because I was one of those other players, I loved this haiku...
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Sunday Reflection: Freezing Rain
Yesterday, I drove to Michigan, to my parents' house. My family is stretched out along I-94-- Minneapolis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Detroit-- so that highway is the string that connects us.
As I headed East, it was raining, and then the temperature started to drop below freezing. Getting gas, I felt the ice clumps falling from the sky sting my hands. It's the worst thing for driving, of course, and I knew that.
Back on the road, I felt the little bit of slippage that goes with freezing rain. You are turning, and for a split-second your tires aren't tires at all but spheres on casters, going whichever way your momentum is headed. For that moment, you aren't in control. One of two things happens: Either the tires catch and you make the turn, or they don't and you slide off into something-- another car, a guard rail, the snow, a truck. For that terrifying moment, when you sense that slide begin, you don't know which fate you have.
In that sliver of time you are helpless, utterly helpless. In the creche, there is that image of a helplessness, a baby, looking up. In that moment, I thought of that.
Then, the wheels caught. I made the turn. That was grace, I know; it might have been the other, the truck or the car or sliding into a rail. I did not earn my outcome, but I got it in that second, and thousands of other times that day, too. In a world immersed in tragedy, there are also oceans of grace.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Yesterday's NPR interview...
You can hear my discussion of the Obama clemency action this week on NPR's "The Takeaway" by clicking on the audio link here
. I think it turned out pretty well... it was very well-produced segment.
If you're from Detroit...
… or from Minneapolis before 1981, you'll get this (and thanks to Steve Timmer for sending it to me!):
Friday, December 20, 2013
Haiku Friday: The best gift ever
It's the week before Christmas now-- so get ready!
There was a little Yuletide cheer spread yesterday, as President Obama granted 13 pardons and 8 commutations of sentence under the Pardon Power. That's the most commutations in one day since the 70's, and I'm hoping it is the start of a broader movement. I've be talking about that today on NPR's The Takeaway, at about 9:30 Eastern time/8:30 Central.
Let's haiku about gifts today, those given and received. Which do you remember most?
Here is mine:
Some things, they just last.
We still have that sled; use it.
Two runners, strong wood.
Now it is your turn... use the 5/7/5 syllable formula, and have some fun!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Advent Quiet Thursday: Seeing things
[click on the image to enlarge it]
One thing I liked about my dad's TV interview (in the post below
) was that the interviewer seemed to ask the questions people most often wonder about. One of them was this: How do you capture that moment?
My dad kind of shrugs it off in the interview, saying "click click click," to suggest he just takes a ton of pictures and snags the best one, but that isn't really true. He knows the moment to capture, and waits for it. I've seen him do it. Often, I'm startled by the moment he has chosen, until I see the image. Then it makes sense; he has caught some truth in that moment that didn't exist a fraction of a minute before or after. You can see this in the pictures that are in his book
-- they are of these moments that tell a story, the story of that spare small fraction of time. What he does well is not so much color or composition or even subject... it is timing
Trying to teach students at Baylor how to try a case, I used to urge them to find that moment, that image, that tells their story, and to leave that as the image that lingers for the jury. It was mostly futile; I didn't see them do it much. I realize now that my failure was this: I skipped a step, the step where I would have explained that there even was such a moment, that it did exist, and that it mattered.
It does, because that is all this short life is made of.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
My Dad on TV!
So, I called my parents yesterday morning, and my Mom said, "Your dad is about to be on Fox News."
As you might imagine, I had some wild thoughts about what that
might be about. It turned out to be this, though:
Fox 2 News Headlines
I thought he did a great job with the interview. If you are interested in getting the book, you can order it on Amazon,
or buy it at the Detroit Institute of Arts, or some bookstores around Detroit...
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
When I was a kid, you saw people smoking all the time. It was ok to smoke on the bus, on a plane (in the "smoking section") and even just outside the doors to the high school, which was always wreathed in smoke.
Other than small clusters outside bars in the wee hours, it is rare to actually see people smoke anymore. It has been driven into the shadows of our society, like middleweight boxing and TV dinners. In terms of public health, this is probably a very good thing.
Honestly, it is more common to smell marijuana smoke than cigarette smoke in some areas.
Does anyone know a secret smoker? How do they make it work?
Monday, December 16, 2013
If I had liked Rome even a little, your haiku would have made me miss it:
Pasta.Where is my recipe?
Firenze, I smell
Of the hungry birds yearning
In her nightdress Mama
Reaches for her hand.
They have been married
For so long they cannot
Imagine sleep solo.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Sunday Reflection: Nelson Mandela, Free
Last week, in the comments section, my old friend Sleepy Walleye posted this:
No mention of Nelson Mandela on the Razor yet. I'll take the liberty.
One summer in the mid 1980s, I was traveling across the choppy waters of Lake Saganaga, much closer to the Arctic Circle than to South Africa. Along with me were a few other white teenage suburbanites. To the background hum of the Evinrude 18hp outboard engine, we pounded out a steady thumping funky beat and chanted a sing-song "Free Nelson Mandela!!" over and over. Even at that time, before the eventual achievements, the man's story was incredibly compelling. A true hero of humanity.
Mandela is dead
Long live Nelson Mandela
As you might have guessed, I was one of the other people in that little boat, and we were singing the Specials song featured in the video above.
Nelson Mandela was a remarkable man. Great speeches have been made already, by better orators than me. However, there are two characteristics about Mandela that will remain remarkable in a way that transcends his life.
The first is perseverance. Mandela was imprisoned for a longer period than some of my readers have been alive. During that time, he remained strong and committed to telling the truth about the reality of his country. During that period, I went to South Africa (traveling overland through it to get to Botswana), and I saw those truths. It was the strangest, and most malignant, place I have been.
The second trait was his remarkable sense of the value of reconciliation. Despite all he endured, he rebuilt his country without retribution toward his oppressors. That is a transgressive idea in our culture-- yet he showed its power.
The deep well of love for the man we have seen expressed has been deserved; he is one of those people who will enter history for the best of reasons.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Singing at home
This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, Cinnamon and Chocolate by Butterfly Boucher, apparently recorded in her living room...
Friday, December 13, 2013
Haiku Friday: Getting Ready for Christmas
It's Advent, which has its own meaning, tradition, and songs, but within the larger culture this month is usually considered the "Christmas season." Regardless of what you call it, it is the time we have to get ready for Christmas with parties, tree decoration, and shopping
Let's haiku about all of that! What are you busy doing?
Here is mine:
I'm hoarding music
To make the right Christmas mix:
Trending towards jazz.
Now it is your turn! This is a broad category, so have fun with it, and use the 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable formula o' fun!
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Advent Quiet Thursday: On the subway
In Advent, I often take a break from Political Mayhem Thursday, a tradition I will keep this year. (Though my piece yesterday in the Huffington Post
created enough tumult for a while). Instead, I am going to describe a few images that I can't get out of my head-- things that haunt me in the quiet moments we should be seeking in this season.
I was on the subway in New York at about 5:10 pm. I was riding the 2 train, an express that goes up the west side of the city carrying all kinds of people-- it's a very diverse group, from the homeless to financial mavens riding from work to home. It was a cold, snowy day, and people were wreathed in warm clothes.
On a train like that you are smashed in together, and there is a certain beauty to it, something that flows from the destruction of our normal sense of personal space. There are certain unspoken rules in that situation, though. For example, it seems to be transgressive to look anyone else in the eyes for more than a moment, even though their eyes are only inches from you own, and it's not an easy thing to avoid.
At 14th Street, a woman got on and was packed in beside me. She was a little older than I am, and looked like someone I might know. I made the mistake of looking her in the eye to see if I did, and she quickly turned away.
She was wearing one of those thin-but-warm down jackets, in dark blue. She had the hood up, with wisps of her blond bob sticking out and the temples of her glasses tucked underneath. I looked down to see her shoes, and found that she was wearing those wonderful LL Bean shoes with the rubber uppers-- nothing keeps feet warmer and drier. Clearly, she was coming from or going to a situation where she would be outside for a while in the snow, perhaps walking to or from the train.
There was something about her that did remind me of women I have known my whole life-- well-educated, readers, someone who can discuss theory
-- that are a good chunk of the productive population of places like Grosse Pointe and Edina and Yale. "Do I know her?" I thought to myself, "or is she just like someone I know?"
The train rattled into Penn Station and the doors opened; more people pressed in, so that her hip was pressed against mine. Her face was now less than a foot away, close enough to read the name of the designer on the inside of the frames of her glasses. I noticed that she had a purse in one hand and a shopping bag in the other, clutched tightly in leather-gloved hands.
The doors closed and the wheels screeched as we left the station towards Times Square. People settled into their positions, and other than the sounds of the car itself, there was quiet.
I looked up and saw a tear rolling down her cheek.
It wasn't melting snow or ice; it was silent crying. Her face was set hard and cold, but could not betray the truth of that tear as it traced over the curve of her cheek, moving slowly over the skin. I stared, I know-- I couldn't help it, because there was something ineffably beautiful, remarkably human about the moment.
I wondered why she didn't wipe away the tear, with just a quick motion and the back of her hand, but realized that with the bags in her hands, her arms were trapped beside her body among the crush of people. She was helpless. The tear continued its snail crawl, inexorable, determined. I saw it move in super close-up, from only a few inches away.
There was an overwhelming urge within me to reach up and do what she could not-- wipe away that tear.
I did not, though. It felt too transgressive, too intimate, to touch her skin, if even for a moment; to recognize that I knew she was crying, that I knew she had something so sad, so true, that trapped and helpless deep on the 2 train she could not hold it back.
She was, as I said, like so many people I have known and been.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I was watching the Baylor game on Saturday (Yay Bears!) and was noticing how the fans were dressed for the cold (it was about 25 degrees at game time). Even leaving aside the half-naked people with their bodies painting (all of whom I am assuming are dead by now), there seemed to be a lot of folks who.... well, they wouldn't survive long in Minnesota.
For example, the guy above with the "I'm kinda cold" sign. Dude, you are cold in large part because you are using a blanket open-style, like a cape. That's not going to do much for you, given the two-foot gap in the front. The sign isn't going to help much, either, unless you burn it (which is probably illegal in a stadium).
A little better were the people who looked like they were dressed to go cross-country skiing, with sleek tight-fitting things. Those work great if you are, in fact, skiing, because they depend on the heat your body generates. They aren't as good when you are doing something sedentary, like sitting to watch a football game (the Texas fans seemed especially, uh, sedentary).
Here is what Minnesotans do if they are going to a December football game (or, more likely, ice-fishing):
1) Layering is important, but wear the right layers. Your base layer should not be a t-shirt, or anything else made of cotton, because that will absorb water and hold that cold sweat right next to your body. That's bad for you, and really bad for whoever is washing your clothes. Your base layer (including socks) should be a non-cotton wicking material like silk or dri-fit.
2) If you are going to be sitting, you need a puffy jacket. Many Minnesotans have two puffy jackets filled with down or synthetic down. Little puffy is for active events or temps above 20 or so. Big puffy is for cold, sedentary activities. You look like a blueberry, but you are a warm
3) Wear a hat! Lots of heat comes off your head. Yes, it will give you hat-head, but at least you will continue to have a head.
4) Something to cover your neck and face, like a scarf or neck gator, is a great thing.
5) On your hands, mittens are better than gloves. Cotton will not cut it-- and if you are going to be throwing snowballs, make sure there is a waterproof outer layer.
6) Finally, don't ask RRL for advice. He was at the game in a Led Zepplin II t-shirt, I hear. Instead, ask Woody for advice. He is from Milwaukee, and still alive, so he must be doing something right.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Satanists in Oklahoma!
Oklahoma has allowed the erection of a Ten Commandments monument on the steps of the state Capitol. Now, seeking equal accommodation, the Satanic Temple wants to put up its own monument there
, possibly including "an interactive exhibit for children."
Hoo boy! The Satanists, of course, have a point. If a public square is going to accommodate expressions of religion, it probably can't choose which
religions get to express themselves without getting into a Constitutional morass. (This is different than a coin saying 'In God we trust," for example, because the coin can't accommodate multiple expressions and is not a public space like a plaza or Capitol lawn might be).
As I have written before, the idea that the Constitution is based on the Ten Commandments doesn't hold water
(the First Amendment bars implementation by the state of the First Commandment, for example); the only real Christian virtue expressly contained in the Constitution is the pardon power's preservation of mercy
. Oklahoma's mistake is to allow private citizens to put up the Ten Commandments in the first place-- it both implies a false connection between church and state, and invites the Satanists in.
But... if they are going to have a Satanist Monument, couldn't it somehow involve Spinal Tap?
Monday, December 09, 2013
Hats off to Craig A!
There were some stellar haikus last week-- the topic of skating led to some great images. I shouldn't be surprised, though, that my favorite came from the person who is also the best skater, former Colgate hockey player Craig A. For those of you who don't know, a "toque" is a hat if you are from Boston or Toronto or someplace like that where they talk funny::
Rockridge pond hockeyShoes for goals, Toques for helmets,Play into winter night.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Sunday Reflection: The Cold
It is still and cold here now. Yesterday, the temperature did not get above zero; that's the coldest it has been in a while. I put on a wool sweater, a heavy coat, a furry hat and thick gloves, on top of boots built for this kind of day. Even with all that, you can feel the exposed parts of you start to freeze up a little. I walked into town and the river had frozen over. The skating rink in Arden Park was already covered with smooth, clear ice, and everything else was covered with snow. I think all those Christmas card scenes are set somewhere close by.
I love that quiet and stillness in Advent. It filters everything out, hushes the world. You have to seek it, of course, like anything worthwhile-- you have to brave the cold.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Christmas Movie Pantheon
Every year, I end up seeing one or two Christmas movies, which I suppose has now become an official genre. My viewing is a little uneven; I have seen The Town That Christmas Forgot
twice, but have yet to see A Christmas Story
or that one where Jimmy Stewart saves a bank or something.
I've noticed that, somehow, the movie Love, Actually has become a "Christmas Classic," despite (1) Mostly being about Brits, who celebrate Boxing Day, and (2) Not being a very good movie
How did this happen?
Friday, December 06, 2013
Haiku Friday: Skating
Jerry Larson's photo above isn't from Minnesota-- it is from the Waco Tribune-Herald, which reports on an
"ice rink" made of plastic sheeting that has been erected in downtown Waco.
Here in the North Star, meanwhile, it really is a winter wonderland, with three or four inches of snow on the ground-- and that snow is here to stay, since temperatures have been well below freezing. The town rink by my house should be up and running by the weekend, and we may have a little Osler League hockey going on.
Let's haiku about skating, then-- about your own experiences, famous skaters, or perhaps skating across ice in your car. We will view this topic broadly!
Here is mine:
There's no sound like it--
Steel blades cutting the ice while
All else is hushed.
Now it is your turn! Make the first line 5 syllables, the second line 7, and the last line 5. Have fun!
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Political Mayhem Thursday: Feed the Hungry
As the nation continues its recovery from a deep recession caused by reckless real estate investments (by home buyers, lenders, and derivatives traders), it is increasingly clear that the wealthy are recovering while the poor and middle class are not. Stock prices are high, but wages are not.
In the midst of this, Congress has cut food stamps, and is poised to cut more.
I'm baffled by this. Given our continued support of agri-businesses through enormous subsidies, why is it we treat poor people different than those corporations, even within the context of a single farm bill? If the principle food-stamp-cutters stand on is "self sufficiency," then why doesn't that principle apply to large corporations? Shouldn't we make them do without the hand-outs of taxpayer money?
To apply a harsh principle to the poor but not to the rich and to corporations makes sense only if my dad is right-- that our politics are now badly skewed by the money spent on political campaigns by corporations. Increasingly, I am convinced that he is right.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Up Now at CNN
Yesterday, CNN put up a piece on prosecutorial discretion
I wrote with one of my judicial heroes, Judge Mark W. Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa. It turned out well, and I really like being able to work with Judge Bennett. The piece seems to be getting noticed, too-- over 1800 comments so far.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
For Clay Harris...
Clay is my favorite Auburn fan, and it was a great weekend to be an Auburn fan. If you missed it, here is what happened in the Iron Bowl, the annual state rivalry game between Alabama and Auburn:
It totally messed up the BCS in the most wonderful way. This is why I love college football.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Turkey review (and haiku)!
One word: Brining! It made this year's turkey the best ever. Really.
And did you see the ending of the Auburn-Alabama game? I didn't (I was out getting food for dinner), but my parents reported it was pretty amazing.
And that haiku! Check it all out here
. Sally's was too profane to reprint (she gets like that), but it was awesome. As was this Italian reverie from Antonia Promessa:
Every moment is
Thanksgiving in Italy.
I sit on the pink
piazza and drink vino
The sun is glow-warm
All Things move turtle.
We are kissing when our tall
Waiter comes with the bread.
He does not avoid
Our eyes but tries to drink from
Love's common bottle.
Man, I never did find the good stuff in Italy!
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Sunday Reflection: Culture and Advent
With Thanksgiving past, we enter a season of two definitions, presenting a challenge for Christians.
First, it is the Christmas season in our culture-- a time of revelry, spending, and tumult.
Second, it is the Christian season of Advent, which calls us to a time of quiet and waiting.
The two conflict in every possible way. If we devote our time and energy to Advent, we don't get our shopping done, and we miss the parties. The other way doesn't work either.
I wish that I could say that I do both, but I don't. I bow much more to the culture than to my religious imperative, in part because I can't resist the impulse to indulge all of our culture's bounty this time of year. Do others struggle with this balance?