"T'was the day before Christmas
and all through the West
millions of creatures were stirring,
including some pests..."

"W'at're we gonna do today, Brain?"

"The same thing we do everyday, Rosty, we're going to plan a scheme to Take Over the World!!"

"Oh. OK, Brain, and here I was all set ta wade into Mallhalla and get a bite from Odin's Cookies an' finish ye olde Christmas shopping."

"You've got it, Rosty. The perfect plan! Are you contemplating what I'm contemplating?"

"Or sure, Brain! How did they find those coconuts for the horse sounds? They're Brits and that's not a tropical clime..."

"I am going to have to hurt you, Rosty."


*Rosty and the Brain... Brain... Brain... Brain*

You know... when you're driving around the days before Christmas there really ought to be radio Traffic Alerts that say, "Alert! Alert! Those who have held onto their clues should stay at home, minimize driving because the Clueless are Out and About and will Kill You because they're not looking." I saw a couple arguing over what looked liked a Pilot personal list keeper while the guy nearly took out a Harley, two Civics and a BMW. It's not *safe* out there when the world's gone mad with shopping.

I want to, someday, hijack a Target PA system and say, "Attention, Chaos Shoppers! Attention, Chaos Shoppers! There's a green and red light special in aisle twenty seven on Joy, good Cheer, and Double Happiness." Just to watch the stampede and the looks on people's faces when they find that they're in the Cleaning Goods section of the store. Why is it that products used to clean up the crud and everyday yuck from our lives is named after cool emotions? Hrm... maybe that's why...

There's this theory that Carl Rigney presented me a long time ago. I'm not exactly sure if it's his or from some member of the Horde, but it's a meme that I hold dear. It's that every unique thing has a soul, and the more copies of it are made, the more that soul has to be spread around among all the copies. The thicker the soul, the more personality that thing or being has, the thinner the soul the less impression that thing or being will make. Think about it. It seems to work on everything from my handspun and knitted shawls to McDonald hamburgers, from diamond bracelets to clay 'ashtrays', from coffee varietals to cookies, and from pipe cleaner angels to aging Land Rovers. Some things come with a soul when freshly made, others have to earn 'em with time and abuse and twenty coats of different colored paint.

Please do note that there is no value judgement involved. There is nothing wrong with something that shares a soul with billions and billions of other things. Simply because something makes a big impression doesn't necessarily mean that it makes a *good* impression. Simply forceful. The Rocky Horror Picture show is not everyone's cup of Mango Ceylon tea. The gifts I was given were paper to practice calligraphy on, a new brush, a bottle of ink, writings to practice with, an old Sabatini and a few L'Engle books, as well as a huge gift certificate for Starbucks.

John and I were also treated, by my Mom, to a pound of organically grown Papua New Guinean coffee from The Earth's Choice coffees in San Diego. The company does its best to promote farming techniques that are friendly to the country and lands involved. It's a varietal of arabica with a lovely balance that has deep, warm undertones with a spicyness that leaves an odd aftertaste if you make it about twice as strong as it ought to be made. <giggles> Which is how John started off the first French Press of the stuff. When we made it correctly it was a lovely rich warm cup with cinnamon overtones that filled the air with its fragrance when ground. They'd given it a very nice medium roast, with the oils just starting to sheen the surface of the bean. I loved just breathing in the rich caramel roast steam over the crust after the soak and then breaking it to get in the lighter scent of the coffee beneath. <sigh>

Yeah. Okay... so I'm getting to the point where I love coffees the way some people love wines. We have a local roaster that roasts in small, 50lb batches. They produce everything from a medium roast to an Italian roast, which is about as far as I'd want to go. Starbuck's takes their Italian just a shade too far and it nearly tastes burnt to me. They also carry a few varietals and do a good job of taking each varietal about as far in the roast as they need. Coffee varietals are a lot like wine varietals, where the place the grapes were raised and grown has a great deal to do with how they taste in the finished wine. It's the same with coffee. Beans from Papua New Guinea taste very different from beans grown on the Kona coast, which, in turn are utterly different than what's grown in Mexico under production conditions.

I guess I don't just advocate diversity, I enjoy it, deeply.

I guess that that is why I love Chinese calligraphy so much, because for all that all the characters have to be done within certain boundaries, every time they're painted, they're *different* depending on the breath of the person that writes them. How they stand, what's emphasized, which lines flow how are so dependent on the person that drew them and the knowing choices made during the execution of the each line and how they compose the whole. It's funny to realize that the same balance sense I use to figure out the balance of an opponent in soccer or fencing is the one that's useful to find the center of gravity for a word. Or that the same center to arm to elbow to wrist to fingertip control that I used to control a foil's tip lunging for an oppoent's heart is what I now use to control a brushtip. The feeling is the same, but the expressions are so different and so unique to the medium, but all source from the same physics and attitudes of motion and control.

Of course, it may well be why I love Pinky and the Brain, too. <giggles>