Many Magical Things I Learned During Christmas Break

01.5.2009 | 12:38 pm

I have learned several very important things about myself — and, since I consider myself to be the perfect expression of ordinariness, about everybody in the whole world — during the past few weeks of vacation.

I would like to share them with you.

The Magic of the Lack of Deadlines

I have been writing this blog for close to four years, now (the actual four-year anniversary of my first entry occurs May 9). I have been remarkably consistent in that four years. In fact, I’ve been writing so consistently that I didn’t think that when I said I was going to take a vacation that I’d actually do it. I figured I’d take a couple of days off, then get the itch, and then start writing every day again.

That did not happen.

Without a deadline, evidently I am more than happy to turn into a non-writing slackaholic (yes, there’s such a substance as “slackahol,” and it’s delicious). I didn’t write at all for a couple weeks — not on the blog, not on the special projects I had planned (but which I had not set a deadline for), not on anything.

I didn’t answer email. I didn’t write a Christmas letter.

But my failure to get things done wasn’t limited to writing. I also failed to execute my magnificent plan for how I’d fit all the bikes and both cars into the garage, and yet still be able to get to our storage area. It’s a complex, wonderful plan involving many hooks and no small number of pulleys. And I didn’t even get it started. So it’s a good thing there’s so much snow and ice on the road that Susan isn’t even tempted to go down the ramp and out the garage right now, because that route is currently choked with hastily parked bikes.

So what did I do? Well, you’ll figure that out from some of the other things I learned.

The Magic of No Particular Time to Rise

I am an early riser in a family of late risers. One of my boys is in fact on the government’s list of suspected vampires.

So for the first couple days of my vacation I’d get up early, exercise, and then sit around for a couple of hours waiting for someone else to wake up.

And then I started sleeping later. And later.

By the end of my first week of vacation I wasn’t getting up until 8, so that I finished exercising around 10. Or 11. By then, everyone but the (suspected) vampire was up, and the day would begin — ending sometime after midnight, the existence of which I was previously unaware.

I Am Magically Unobservant

I have mentioned before that one of my most highly-regarded superpowers is the ability to buy the right gifts for the right people. This year, that power came in handy, since it was — for the first time ever — my responsibility to buy most of the presents for everyone in the family.

For the twins, this mostly meant buying the stuff they had written down — in startling detail — in their Santa lists. The most difficult part of this was deciphering their spelling.

For the boys, I just went to and bought stuff I would have liked to have when I was a teenage boy. Did you know, for example, that you can now purchase remote-control flying saucers and fly them around your house?

Admit it: right now you are wishing you had a flying saucer.

Here’s the thing, though: It wasn’t that easy to find a great present for Susan. Finally (hat-tip to my Mom, who helped me find this), though, I got her a new easy chair. And this chair does it all:

  • Electronic-controlled leg rest and recline
  • Power lift and tilt to make it easy to get out of the chair
  • Heat
  • Massage

Yes, it really does all those things. Unfortunately, the one we wanted was only available in red or blue (no carbon wrap available at this time). I chose the lesser of two evils and went with blue.

Here it is, after it has been delivered and signed for:IMG_1518.JPG

You see the problem? Yes, that’s right. I didn’t even notice that this blue chair is in fact red until an hour or two later, when one of my kids pointed it out. Even then, I held out hope that when Susan saw it, she’d just say, “Oh, this red one is just fine; let’s go with it.”

The blue one will be delivered this Friday.

The Magical Secret Behind Riding the Rollers

During this break, I did make one very useful discovery: how to ride the rollers without quitting. You see, I’ve had this problem lately of coasting to a halt when I came to a boring part in the show I’m watching. I’d –practically unconsciously — just put my hand out to the wall for balance and coast to a stop.

The solution was remarkably easy: I moved my rollers out away from anything I can put out to balance myself, so now if I want to stop, I’ve got to clip out and put my foot down on the rails at the side of the rollers — a precarious motion, fraught with danger and not taken lightly.

Since I have done this, I find I now only stop between episodes.

Around here, that’s what passes for an epiphany.

Several Very Important Discoveries About The Properties of Shot Bloks Once They’ve Reached the One-Year Anniversary of Their Expiration Date

While I didn’t get a lot (OK, any) writing done, I did get one thing done that’s been bugging me for a good long while: I cleaned out the bike food shelf in the kitchen pantry. Among the ancient canisters of Accelerade (unopened: I’m a committed CarboRocket guy) and Vanilla Bean Gu packets was an intriguing treasure:

Two packets of Margarita Shot Bloks, almost exactly a year past their expired date. Even through the packets, I could tell: they were astoundingly hard. Like rocks.

They deserved further investigation. And perhaps experimentation.

Which is what I will write about tomorrow.

PS: See the clever way I just gave myself a deadline?


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