Mr. Wonderful Goes Vertical

Jefferson stand up desk from monticello.org

Jefferson stand up desk from monticello.org

A week ago, Karen, always finding ways to improve my life, sent me a link to a New York Times article “Don’t Just Sit There” criticising our sedentary lifestyles. Turns out that our ritual of 2 3/4 mile walks are insufficient. All of the time spent shifting from one gluteus maximus to the other in front of the computer and on the phone has such negative effects that I might as well forgo the walks and have another donut. Continue reading

English Letter Frequency – Redux

Back on September 15, 2010 I wrote a little piece, “Frequency – Scrabble and the actual frequency of letter usage in English”, about what seemed to me to be a puzzling mis-match between the number of tiles in Scrabble and my superficial sense of the frequency of occurrence of letters in English.  While I was away in Hong Kong in December, I received the following email note from David T. Wong, Continue reading

Enroute to Hong Kong

During the first couple hours of this 16 hour flight I watched The French Connection. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I have watched this movie, though not perhaps more recently than five years ago. The movie really stands up.

One small revelation is that my recent lust for a fedora (thanks to that all around maven of the hip, David Drake) has been replaced by the need to get a hat like Popeye’s (not the spinach eater).

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Karen informed me that this is actually Hackman’s hat, not the invention of the wardrobe dept.

Dinner, pot roast, I always get potted food on airlines, much less likely to be anything more than potted, was incongruously accompanied by a fortune cookie. The message is propitious,especially in light of my conversation in Berkeley Heights in the morning before departing for the airport.

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Mr. Wonderful aka Santa Claus at Hudson’s Winter Walk

Several weeks ago Mr. Wonderful, in a moment of irrational exuberance at a BeLo3rd meeting about Winter Walk, volunteered to be Santa Claus. The Tanzey girls immediately volunteered a Santa suit, assuring me that “my husband is bigger than you” in answer to the question, “Is the suit big enough”.

wig from Matthew Tudor-Jackson

The Santa outfit was inexplicably lacking a beard. A quick call on the local Web for help brought this offer from Matthew Tudor-Jackson up the street (left).

My first reaction was that this was something from a run amuck costume show for Louis XIV. On further consult with the fashionistas of BeLo3rd it was determined to be BeLo3rd!

So, I was ready for my outing as Santa for Winter Walk, December 3rd.

I dropped the big wig and just went with the ZZ Top length mustache beard combo.

Mark orton as SantaYou can see more pictures of this at the Davis Orton Gallery news page.

I was very busy with lots of little kids and not a few babies for three hours. I was amazed that the Santa myth continues merrily along despite the enormous seemingly every larger maw of commerce.

I discovered that kids in the 3 to 4 yr range know who Santa is but don’t know yet that they are supposed to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. I stopped asking and quickly moved the conversation to the imminent arrival of a candy cane. I guess that 3 and 4 yr olds are a blind spot in my life’s experiences.

7 to 10 yr olds wanted lots of electronic games and Ipod Touches (very specific about those). 11 to 12 yr olds wanted a phone. I foolishly asked the first few if they wanted a cellphone? They looked at me quizzically until I realized that they did not know that phones used to have wires coming out of them. What most surprised me is the persistence of some old toys. A significant number of 4 to 6 yr old girls asked for Barbie dolls and accessories. Only one girl requested an American Girl doll.  Their male counterparts asked for trains. Bicycles and scooters are also still popular.

One girl, age 12, (I asked each for their name and age) told me that she wanted a Merry Christmas for her family. I asked how many were in her family, “Two, Five, how many?” She thought for a moment and said “Forty”. “Oh, a merry Christmas for the extended family?” “Of course.” she replied.