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January 2nd, 2005

One + Nine and a Lucky Find...

I wrote a letter to the Trinity Episcopal School (in Austin) Third Grade classes complimenting them on their artwork on my Christmas card. This is what it said:

<My Address>

January 2, 2005

<Their Address>

Dear Students,

My name is John Martin. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I was the lucky recipient of a Christmas card indicating that “[a] light is shining at the Ronald McDonald House” in my honor. I noticed the notation at the bottom of the card: “Artwork by Bykerwood and Trinity 3rd Grade Classes.”

I wanted to thank you for your group effort in partnering with the Ronald McDonald House for such a worthy cause, and for the great pictures on the card, which brought back a lot of memories to me that I’d like to share with you.

Let me start in the upper left-hand corner and move clockwise:

The snowman holding the broom brought back memories of my childhood in Fall River, Massachusetts. The snowman reminded me of the tons of snow we’d have every winter, and the broom he is holding reminded me of time we spent as kids sweeping the snow off the driveway and steps leading to the house of my grandparents.

The next picture, which looks like a “living room scene,” reminded me of my two dogs I had for several years – Misty and Sophie. They were dear, dear pets to me.

The reindeer and Christmas tree drawing reminded me of many years of watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The next Christmas tree drawing reminded me of the many Christmas trees I’ve had over the years. It also stands in stark comparison to the one I put up this year, which was a “tree-in-a-box” – it is even comes with the decorations already on it! You just pull it out of the box, “fluff up” the branches with the ornaments already on them, and plug it in to watch the fiber optic lights change colors. :-)

The combination of an angel with a single candle on her head reminded me of the “single reason for the season.”

In the bottom right, the child on the sled in the woods reminded me of many wonderful ski trips I’ve taken – particularly out west in Colorado. I have skied in Breckenridge, Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, and Keystone.

The tree ornament in the bottom middle of the card made me think about favorite tree ornaments in my past. One that comes to mind is one that was made by a child in a family. It was a round ball made out of broken seashells glued together, and wasn't at all pretty. But even though no one in the family liked it or wanted it, no one could throw it away. It made its way around the family, sometimes being wrapped as a gift, sometimes being secretly hung on the back of a family member’s Christmas tree, where they wouldn’t find it until they were taking down their decorations for the year, making them stuck with it until next year. :-)

The red candle in front of the windowpane reminded me of a couple of things. First, how my mom and dad used to put (electric) candles in each of the windows of our house during Christmastime, and second of how pretty it is when you look out a window in winter when everything is covered in snow, or the sun is shining off an ice-covered shrub or tree.

The next snowman reminded me of the many snowmen we built as kids in those cold winters in Massachusetts. It also made me wonder why we don’t have snowwomen. And, of course, it made me sing “Frosty the Snowman” to myself. :-)

And, finally, the tall thin Christmas tree reminded me of the Christmas tree my mom now puts up every year. Being in her 70’s, she’s not so able to put up, and decorate, a very large tree. So, she recently bought an artificial tree, a very thin one that “won’t take up much room in my living room,” which she always refers to as her “pencil-thin Christmas tree.”

So, those are the wonderful memories I experienced while looking at your beautiful artwork. A big thank-you to each and every one of you.

I hope each of you had a joyous Christmas, and have a new year filled with peace, love, and happiness.

Very sincerely yours,


I'm going to mail it to them in care of Irene at the school, and hopefully they'll discuss it.

I spent way too much time afterwards fiddling with my scanner, which has suddenly stopped working. I wanted to scan the card into the Word file. Damnit. It just keeps saying, "Unlock the scanner and press OK." The scanner is unlocked, and I tried to push the lever to lock and back to unlock. It won't go to lock. When I pushed it back to unlock, it moved a little, so I thought maybe it had somehow "slipped to think it is locked." Can a scanner really think? I did this several times, uninstalled the scanner driver, reinstalled it, rebooted, all to no avail. Thinking it might be an XP-related problem, specifically with SP2 of XP, I tired it on my laptop, which has W2K on it. Same stoopid error. Damnit.

At about 2:30, and hearing that it was 70 degrees out, I showered, and tried to hook up my bike speedometer/odometer, which I bought back in July. After fumbling a little with the ties, I got everything set up as directed. Unfortunately when I "spin the wheel to test it," it didn't register any speed. Also, when I pushed the "all clear" and the "set" buttons on the back of the device, it didn't reset things to zero. It didn't look like the batteries were the problem, as the display was showing data. I spent too much time on it, and it was starting to cut into my riding time.

I pumped up the tires, and headed out to the 5-mile city bike trail, which starts right near my house. Coming up the Octavia hill, Van passed me coming down. When I started the second lap, about 50 yards up Kent, I saw a driver's license laying on the ground. I'd better stop and pick that up. As I bent over to get it, I recognized the driver on it: me. Evidently it had fallen out of my front pocket on lap one. I put it in my seat backpack with my phone and keys, and finished the second lap without incident. 10 miles. Yay!

Back at the house, I had a message from Joe about meeting for coffee before we go to Flex. I returned his call.

I made scrambled eggs for dinner. Yum.

I met Joe at Helios at about 7:00. We had coffee, and caught up. Cecil, Bruce, and two other guys, one hottie named Chad walked up while we were sitting outside. Jay knew Chad; I didn't. We said hello to them, and they went inside to have their coffee. We also saw "April" there, who was at that Christmas party at Robert's friends -- the one that was supposed to be a big "Kwanza" blowout, but turned out not to be. We didn't say hello to her. She was having coffee with a guy.

We got to Flex close to 8:00. Rick E. and Robert F. were there, and I stopped to say hello to them. The other Robert, Doug's friend, was also there, and had the pool table, and asked Joe and me if we wanted to play. I let the two of them play a few games, and watched. I then played Joe a game, and scratched on the 8-ball.

I went over and chatted some more with Robert and Rick. After a while Joe came over and we started eating peanuts until Joe said, "Do you want to walk over to Snoopy's?" We did, and Rick asked us to get him some fries while we were there, which we did.

While Matt was still DJing, he came over to say hello. He said, "I'm married," and he was literally aglow. He showed me this big fat gold wedding band on his left ring finger. "That guy over there," he said, pointing to a really hot guy across the room. "I actually met him 6 months ago in Charlotte, but he was in a relationship. We met up again over Christmas, he was free, and now we're married. I'm moving to Charlotte." He was truly on cloud nine -- almost manically.

Karaoke started shortly after 9:30, and this guy, another Chad, immediately showed interest in Joe. He was there with a girl named Toni, who thought she was god's gift to song. She was not. There's nothing worse than someone up there singing like they are a star when they so are not. She made me cringe. Chad turned out to be a decent singer.

I didn't care for either of them too much, though, as Chad kept expressing interest in Joe one minute, and then not the next. Plus he mentioned his boyfriend a couple of times without clarifying how he might be a factor.

And that Toni totally disgusted me one time, when Chad was over talking to someone else, and they called her to come up and sing. She turned to Joe, swirled her pointing finger around in a circle covering hers and Chad's drinks, jackets, and her purse, and mouthed, "Watch these." Gag. I'd of said, "Bitch, get Chad to watch your stuff. I don't work for you." I just didn't like her. Can you tell?

There were some very bad singers there tonight. We noticed that in the glass case by the door, they had a huge box of earplugs. $1.00 a pair. That could be the best thing they've offered there in a long time. Fortunately "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friends" dude wasn't there, or I probably would have bought some. I left there at about 11:00.

Back to the grind tomorrow. Yuck.

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