Lehman Family Christmas Letter 2009

Here's a few snapshots of this year's events. Letter and more pictures are below

Studying myself in the mirror these days, it's hard not to notice the jungle of hairs in my nasal cavities. They're prolific, and they're getting bolder too. I caught a few the other day sneaking ever further downward, trying to disguise themselves as mustache.

I don't tell you this because I think you're fascinated with nose hair (though I certainly won't judge you if you are), I mention this only to illustrate the unintentional theme of this year, which seems to be "getting older." Yes, between listening to NPR on my way to and from my 8-5 job, and doing household tasks like raking the leaves and cleaning out the gutters on my new house, I'm feeling more and more like an old man, and it doesn't help that I'm now halfway to 50 years old.

Luckily, I can still pretend I'm young and hip by tweeting on Twitter. That's the "micro-blogging" web service that exploded into pop culture this year, and now even the old folks like CNN and my mother are using it regularly. It seems the world only wants information now if it comes to them in 140 characters or less. So I've decided to embrace it and write the Christmas letter using this series of fake and informative tweets. Be forewarned: like Twitter, not all of these "tweets" below are substantive or appropriate. Re-tweet if you like it.

markjlehman: "Back in Sac from Deutschland. Good to be home, but already missing pretzels and bratwursts. Oh, and Ellen, too." - 10:24 AM, Dec 23, 2008

DanoManoLehman: "Started practicum at Julia Ann Singer Therapeutic center. Keeping emotionally disturbed kids from killing classmates. Missing Chase..." - 6:47 PM, Jan 7, 2009

MichelleLehman: "Tricked the Sac Assoc. of Realtors into putting me on Board of Directors. Taking over the world, 1 board at a time, 1 year at a time." - 10:56 AM, Jan 9, 2009

DanoManoLehman: "RIP Black Beauty aka my bitchin' Camaro. New Mazda will never quite replace you, but at least it will run reliably and with 1/2 the fuel." - 8:19 PM, Feb 1, 2009

markjlehman: "Now gainfully employed as estimator for contracting firm. That makes 2 jobs I've had where my Euro Studies degree was basically useless." - 5:27 PM, Feb 4, 2009

DeaconDave: "Durty Nelly's was a bad idea last night. At C21 Convention in San Antonio & just ripped a smelly beer fart in the middle of keynote address." - 12:32 PM, March 9, 2009

EllenKLehman: "Working on my Scottish brogue in Edinburgh. Tried Scotch - big mistake. Still trying to find Scottish flag underwear." - 8:46 PM, April 8, 2009

Deacon Dave: "Just rocked that homily - Ta DA! Best one since my MC Hammer rap sesh in 2001. Anxious to see reaction of the RCIA class I teach tomorrow." - 11:08 AM, April 12, 2009

EllenKLehman: "My family's here in Germany! 1st stop- Switzerland, then we'll be the only folks on our block to see the mini-country of Liechtenstein." - 8:17 AM, April 13, 2009

markjlehman: "House hunting in this market is insane. 10+ offers but keep getting beat out by cash buyers. Moving to tent city becoming viable option." - 7:57 PM, May 13, 2009

DeaconDave: "On top of Angel's Landing in Zion Nat'l Park, UT. King of the Mountain! Climbing 1200ft in desert in summer = great vacation. Mom disagrees." - 3:22 PM, May 20, 2009

MichelleLehman: "Vegas! Last stop of vacation with Reibolds. One more play on the penny slots and I'm sure I'd win big, but Dad says no. I can quit anytime." - 2:03 PM, May 26, 2009

markjlehman: "Weeklong Ireland trip. At Dublin Zoo - was hoping animals would have Irish lilt. Not sure why I expected that, but still left disappointed." - 11:12 AM, May 24, 2009

EllenKLehman: "Mark dragged me to Jameson Distillery in Dublin. Blech! At least now we know: if I don't like whiskey here, I won't like it anywhere." - 4:23 PM, May 25, 2009

EllenKLehman: "Said goodbye and good riddance to Germany, now tackling a mountain of wedding planning all summer. Mark's 'helping' with about 3 things." - 2:11 PM, July 2, 2009

DanoManoLehman: "Checked out Jimi Hendrix Experience Museum in Seattle with good friends Becky and Christina. Becoming more a hippie every minute of my trip." 11:42 PM, Aug 15, 2009

DeaconDave: "Babies everywhere! Drove to San Diego to visit cousins Jeff & Rach & little goofball Kai, then to LA to baptize friends' new baby." - 6:17 PM, Aug 23, 2009

MichelleLehman: "Closed escrow today on my youngest (and favorite) son's 1st house, a month late but in time for his wedding Saturday. Just call me Supermom." - 2:15 PM, Sept 1, 2009

DanoManoLehman: "It's wedding season! Bro's and high school buddy's weddings this month. Grab that net and catch that beautiful butterfly!" - 6:37 PM, Sept 3, 2009

DeaconDave: "Frist Irsh car bomb. Mark's getining is getting married tomomorrow! Michelelle and I os excited to have a daugiheter! Rom is spinnning" - 1:12 AM, Sept 5, 2009

MichelleLehman: "Last midnight pick up of drunken revelers before the wedding tomorrow. Of course the groom and best man (my sons) are the most blitzed." - 2:23 AM, Sept 5, 2009

EllenKLehman: "As of yesterday, I'm the newest Mrs. Lehman. Mark 'Freudian slipped' and said he's made an 'awesome' woman of me." - 8:11 AM, Sept 6, 2009

markjlehman: "Yosemite on honeymoon with the wifey. Nothing quite like the excitement generated by the constant threat of a bear attack." - 12:31 PM, Sept 12, 2009

DeaconDave: "Weekly visit w/ my dad. At the dentist, filling 8 cavities - Grandpa says 'I think I'd rather die of tooth decay.'" - 4:14 PM, Sept 14, 2009

MichelleLehman: "9:30 Sunday mass with choir group. Today, someone let out a tooter while the mics were on. In this situation, What Would Jesus Do?" - 10:42 AM, Oct 18, 2009

DanoManoLehman: "Finally back surfing after ruptured ligaments in foot, ankle and lower back strain. Was basically a broken and bitter man this season." - 8:12 AM, Nov 14, 2009

EllenKLehman: "Finished 1st day as holiday help at Macy's fragrance counter. Great success! But now I smell like a weird mixture of diva & gold digger." - 9:23 PM, Dec 6, 2009

markjlehman: "Married and moved out, yet me writing Christmas letter still foregone conclusion. I should really start charging a fee for this..." - 4:47 PM, Dec 13, 2009

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, from all of ours to all of yours.
Dave, Michelle, DanielMark and Ellen

P.S. Not all of us are actually on Twitter, but we are all on Facebook. Let's be friends.

Guide to Understanding the Language of the LATE

Photo from flickr user miehana
Having been surrounded almost all my life by people with a not-so-rare condition called "persistent and chronic tardiness," I've become a sort of expert on deciphering their language. In case you are wondering -- your boss at work who keeps you later because he didn't get there until 10, or that friend who rolls up at 5:30 when you were supposed to meet at 5 -- these people aren't going to change. They're not going to wake up one day and think, "I'd like to make an improvement in my life that will directly and positively affect the most people around me. I know, I'll start being punctual!" No, these people will probably be late for their own funerals. So the best way to deal with them is just to learn their language.

That said, here are a few common expressions of the chronically tardy, and their translations for the rest of us:

"I'm on my way."
"I'm thinking about leaving in the next half hour. And yes, I know I was supposed to be there an hour ago."

"Why don't I swing by later?"
"At one point I intended to make it there at the specified time, but as soon as I got out of bed this morning I knew it would be a wash."

"Wait, what time does this start?"
"I know the event is already over. I'm not coming."

"I'm just heading out the door now."
"I just woke up."

"I just need to finish a few things up and I'll be there. 10 minutes, tops."
"There are approximately 6 stops I have to make before getting to you. And they're all over town."

"I'm running a little bit late."
"This is the truth. I really am actually only running a little bit late."

"Just getting ready to go."
"I'll be there anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours."

An 80's glimpse into the future

We got a Wii machine as a gift for our wedding a few months back, and I've been having fun tinkering with it and playing all sorts of games on it. Just read about how to play the original Duck Hunt on the Wii, so I was giving that the old college try. It's fun, but definitely not the same.

I have fond memories of playing Duck Hunt and holding the gun right up against the TV to "cheat," and still not being able to get past level 10 or so when grandpa, who hunts real ducks with real guns, came along, grabbed the gun, and wasted ducks like he was Rambo and killing was going out of style.

However, something occurred to me while playing this new version on the Wii... How the heck did the original Duck Hunt work?

This was the early 80s, before the iPod, before the World Wide Web, and before Jamaica had a bobsled team. We didn't have the cool techno-craziness we do now where we can push a button on our phones and cook dinner, mow the lawn and flush the toilet at the same time. We just had a big gray box called a Nintendo Entertainment System and an orange gun that looked like it belonged in a cartoon version of "Star Wars."

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who has wondered this. A quick Google search led me to my answer:
You think you're using the gun to shoot at the TV, right? But really the TV is shooting the gun.
Here's what happens. You shoot at a duck, which appears on an ordinary TV screen. The gun is connected to the game console; pressing the trigger blackens the screen, then causes a duck-shaped white target to appear momentarily. If your aim is true, a photo sensor in the gun detects the shift from dark to light, and bingo--dead duck. In short, the TV emits the light pulse and the gun detects it, not the other way around. [via The Straight Dope] 
It's when I find out about something like this -- a simple, yet ingenious trick that provided endless entertainment throughout my childhood and adult life -- that I wonder to myself if we as a species just aren't as creative as we used to be.

Important information for world travelers!

Stay away from Britain if you're afraid of uggos. According to a dating website called BeautifulPeople.com, the British are some of the ugliest people in the world. Scandinavians, on the other hand, are some of the most attractive. From the Reuters news article:

Photo from sxc.hu user Ayla87
Fewer than one in eight British men and just three in 20 women who have applied to BeautifulPeople.com have been accepted, an emailed statement from the website showed.
Swedish men have proved the most successful, with 65 percent being accepted, while Norwegian women are considered the most beautiful with 76 percent accepted, the website said.
I wrote a similar news article back in 2004 without any concrete sources and entirely based on anecdotal experience from studying abroad in Spain and traveling around Europe. However, my conclusion was as follows:
German chicks are cute. British chicks are attractive. Italian chicks are hot. Spanish chicks are hotter. Swedish chicks are hottest. And Scottish chicks are downright ugly.
Based on this information, one of two conclusions can be drawn.
     A. I must have seen a disproportionate number of attractive British women during my brief passes through.
     B. British women has devolved and become less attractive in the last 5 years.

I'm not sure which would be sadder. If 'A' is accurate, then British women have always been unattractive and I just got lucky with the visuals. However, 'B' does not bode well for the future, because we can reasonably assume that they will continue to become less attractive over time, as illustrated in the graph below:

In conclusion, it's not a good time to be British.

Greetings from 11-year-old Mark J. Lehman!

I've been doing a lot of packing, moving, organizing, and going through old stuff lately because I've had a few life changes (more on that in later posts). However, I came upon a gem when I was cleaning out my closet: an old journal from 6th grade. My 6th grade teacher use to schedule journaling sessions every so often, and being a 6th grade boy, it seems my journaling was only used as a channel to air my grievances about the unfairness of life.

It starts innocently enough, but quickly devolves into madness. Here's the first entry:

Sept 11
I like hamsters because they’re cute and furry. Whenever you get bored you can hold them and pet them. Most of them are really nice. I had two but they both died of the same disease.
I think the technical medical term for that disease was the "silent killer."

For the record, I still agree with all of those points, but through life experience, I've learned that when it come to animals, nothing quite beats the turtle -- they're just so wise. I learned that from the Tootsie Roll Pop commercials of yesteryear:

Of course, every time you think you know something with any degree of certainty, life turns it on its head. Example:

Just goes to show, I suppose.

Stay tuned for more entries from my 6th grade journal.
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