A Continuation of the 20+ Years of
December 2020

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December 1st   Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do.......
or because you can occasionally permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.
-- Stanley Crawford (circa 1980)
  • Believe it or not, Little Bass Lake froze yesterday (click HERE); thanks to Randy for providing that information. November 30th is the median freeze date so it was right on schedule (click HERE). By the way, Moonshine Lake froze on or about the 14th of this month, which is about average for that lake as well.

  • As per the Old Farmer's Almanac, this month will have slightly above normal temperatures along with slightly above average rain/snow. It also predicts that we'll have snow showers, and then very cold weather (whatever that means) just before Christmas. Remember that!
December 2nd   Nine years ago today North Carolina Laurie fell off of a float in a Christmas parade. Hey Laurie, you don't expect me to ever forget that, do you? And you still haven't given me an answer when I asked if there was any alcohol involved.
December 3rd   Hey Turners/Carlsons/Harlans, have any of you guys ever been at LBLR when the lake was frozen? If you have, I don't remember it, so refresh my memory as to the circumstances, if you don't mind. I asked this once before but I don't remember getting an answer.
December 4th   We have arrived! For all practicle purposes, we (at LBLR) have arrived at the earliest sunset of the year (4:24 PM). The days are still getting shorter of course, but that's only because the morning sunrise is still occurring later each day. [Aside -- I said "for all practical purposes" because I think the "real" latest sunset doesn't occur until on or about December 10th, but the difference is only a few seconds, and if you round it off to the nearest minute, all of the sunsets for the next 11 days (or thereabouts) will be at 4:24 PM. -- End of Aside]

As usual on this day, Happy Birthday to my old grade school buddy, Charlie, whom I haven't seen in 2 1/2 years. Hey Charlie, as soon as we can safely travel again, we have to get together, don't you agree?
December 5th   I know, I know, "Today's Picture" hasn't changed since October.......but it was a nice picture, wasn't it? Well check again. Geez, if I had trouble changing that picture regularly (let alone daily) while living on the resort, just think how tough it is living in suburbia and being strongly encouraged to stay home. Sheesh. (Obviously that picture isn't from today. It was taken last summer, and I have no idea where the aliens came from, where they were going, or why they were there.)
December 6th   It seems that nearly every month in recent times the on-line news sites have hyped something unusual about the upcoming full moon, and virtually every time my feeling has been "it's just a full moon, what's the big deal"? And now, these same news sites are hyping the "Great Conjunction" of 2020, which will occur on December 21st. But unlike the constant full moon hypes, I'm actually looking forward to this one. I've mentioned conjunctions in these Chronicles from time to time, but this one should be one of the best. It only occurs once in about 20 years but this time Jupiter and Saturn will be only one tenth of a degree apart (for comparison, the width of the full moon is about half of a degree), and it'll be their closest approach since the Great Conjunction of 1623. (In most occurrences the separation is slightly more than one degree.) The angular distance from the sun this time will be about 30 degrees, which will make it a tad difficult to view at our latitudes. An hour after sunset the planets will be slightly less than 15 degrees in altitude so you might have get into a clear area to avoid having it blocked by trees or buildings. And by the way, the planets should be in fairly close proximity for several days, so if it's cloudy on the 21st, try a different night.

PS:   When studying the Great Conjunction of 1603, Johannes Kepler thought that the Star of Bethlehem might have been the occurrence of a Great Conjunction. He calculated that a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurred in 7 BC, and would have been visible over a period of a few months.
December 7th   Number 58 of the "100 reasons why it's nice to be a male":   You couldn't care less if no one notices your new haircut.
December 8th   It seems like just yesterday we were young men working as computer programmers at IBM, writing the control programs for the new System/3. But look at us now; we've turned into ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Click HERE. But come to think of it, that was 50 years ago. Sigh.......

PS:   Obviously the ROMEO picture was taken in the pre-COVID days. Our monthly luncheons have been suspended until further notice; hopefully we'll be back at it by this spring.
December 9th   Two days ago Chuck Yeager died. If you haven't done so already, consider reading his autobiography; I read it many years ago and I enjoyed it immensely. On the other hand, my friend Gordie did not particularly like it. He said Yeager was too much of “hot dog fighter pilot”. I agree with him about the “hot dog fighter pilot”, but I also think that’s part of what made the book so darned interesting and enjoyable.
December 10th   Here's something that I miss immensely since leaving LBLR: Turn your sound way up, then click HERE. That sound is the snapping of the ice as it expands and/or contracts. In person it has a "ring" or an "echo" to it that just doesn't seem to come through on the computer. Sometime it's a low slow rumble that sounds like moaning and growning, and sometime it's that thunderous booming sound that's in the recording. It's one of the two sounds that I love to have wake me up in the middle of the night. The other one is the sound of loon calls in the spring.
December 11th   You might find this difficult to believe, but here's another thing I really miss since leaving LBLR: click HERE.
December 12th   Mallards on the ice in the Cities; I bet there are none on Little Bass Lake right now. Click HERE.
December 13th   More City life: This was "Today's Picture" a little while back, but so that it'll be permanent, here it is again (click HERE). These aliens were seen in St Paul, and it was back in the summer days when we were allowed to have lunch and a beverage or two on a patio. I have no idea where these aliens came from, where they were going, or why they were there.

Note:   One purpose of this entry is to clear up any confusion that could arise if one were to read the entry for December 5th now; obviously it would make no sense to them because "Today's Picture" has changed. One person who was confused by this, happens to be a member of my own household.
December 14th   Today is International Monkey Day. Wait! Wait! Before you close this page, read on for just a bit. Seriously.......this day is actually celebrated by several countries (the USA, Canada, Britain, and Germany, among others). Hallmark Cards has described today as a day when monkey business is actually encouraged. The Washington Post has describe today as a day to learn something about these adorable and highly intelligent primates. Or you could just use this day to act like a monkey.

PS:   The fact that Monkey Day was created 20 years ago by a couple of art students at Michigan State University (my Alma Mater) has nothing to do with why this entry is here. But if you'd like to read what Wikipedia has to say about it, click HERE.
December 15th   Arkansas gets the snow (click HERE); we get nuthun' (click HERE). Sigh.......but thanks for the picture Dave.

PS:   Hey Jamie, I bet you're really enjoying this winter so far, right?   [Aside -- If you're wondering about the relevance of this PS, it's covered in the entries for December 26th & 27th of 2011. Click HERE to see it. -- End of Aside]
December 16th   Living with a nurse certainly has a positive effect on a person when it comes to maintaining pandemic vigilance.
December 17th   This is a belated toast to Deb's brother Len, who died six weeks ago. Here's to you Len! We didn't know each other very long, but we became good friends in that short amount of time.......and I enjoyed it immensely. Click HERE.
December 18th   An old English Proverb says that A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm. Well.......we've had lots of "fair days" in a row now, so if that statement holds true, we are in for a real "mother of a storm" rather soon! However, since winter is still three days away, maybe it doesn't apply just yet. Only time will tell.
December 19th   Home is where you can say anything you like.......because nobody listens to you anyway.
December 20th   Until last week, my neighbor across the street had a flip phone. I really thought that he'd keep using it until it died or until the Sun expands to finally vapourise the Earth.......whichever came first. But lo and behold, last week while out on his daily walk he happened to pass a phone store, and on a whim he stopped in and bought a smart phone. For an old guy he's picking it up rather quickly, and I'm impressed.

That reminds me of my Up North friend Bob. He got his first ever cell phone (which was a flip phone of course), his first ever credit card, and he turned 65 years old, all in the same month. It's nice to see an old-timer move into the "somewhat" modern age, isn't it?
The Winter Solstice   At 4:02 this morning (CST) Old Man Winter finally arrived. But around here there is little evidence of his arrival; it's abnormally warm for this time of the year, and there's no snow on the ground whatsoever. Sigh.......

PS: Don't forget about the Great Conjunction (see the December 6th entry, above).
PPS: Happy Birthday Colleen.
December 22nd   Ha! The New York Jets beat the Los Angeles Rams this past Sunday to get their first win of the season; their record is now 1-13. And by doing so, they ensured that the NFL record of 0 wins and 16 losses during the regular season still belongs to my Detroit Lions (2008). I was starting to get worried that the Jets might manage to tie the record. Hey Gary, what do your Lion-fan buddies in Tennessee think of that?

Note added later:   That entry was written last night, then this morning I discovered that the Cleveland Browns went 0-16 in 2018. So the Lions record had already been tied. Darn!!!
December 23rd   Just last year (for example, September 5th to 19th, 2019) if a person planned to travel abroad (for example, Germany, Scotland, and Greece) he would be concerned about being able to prove his immunity to measles. If one plans to travel abroad today, worrying about proof of immunity to measles is so far down the list that he probably wouldn't even think about it. It's funny how things can change in a short time.

Incidentally, the current prediction is 5 to 9 inches of snow by tomorrow morning. Could we be so lucky? (Sorry Jamie.)
Christmas Eve   It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, and we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.
-- Frank Cross (Bill Murray, 1988)

FYI:   Our snow prediction for yesterday and last night was eventually raised to 7 to 12 inches, and we ended up with 5 or 6 (at most), which is about normal for snow predictions.
Christmas Day   And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: "Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will towards men".
-- Luke 2:8-14

It's not such a classic Christmas if you consider this:   Michigan State basketball at 11:30, Minnesota Viking football at 3:30, and Minnesota Gopher Basketball at 7:00.......but those are good too.
Boxing Day   This is just a small one (click HERE). It was used as a "warm-up" for our 8th annual New Year's Eve 3D Puzzle event, which will be the Opera House in Sydney, Austrialia (click HERE). Check back right after the first of the year.
December 27th   From George Washington to Donald Trump:
Ida Pennebaker (my Great-Great-Grandmther) was born in 1863. There's a picture of me sitting on her lap, and we are flanked by her daughter, her granddaughter, and her great-granddaughter (my mother). That was in late 1946 (click HERE). I have somewhat clear memories of my Grandma Ida who died 1950. The point of this little dissertation is that I knew her fairly well, and she was living during the last two years of the Civil War, which shows that our Country is not all that old!!!

Since we're looking at just one family, it took five generations (though they were all alive at one time) to get back to the Civil War, but if we look at it through more than one family it seems even shorter. For instance, I was alive during the last two years of Henry Ford's lifetime. Like my Grandma Ida, Henry was born in 1863, and as a result, he could have actually been in the presence of Abraham Lincoln. That means it only takes two fairly long lifetimes (mine and Henry Ford's) to get back to president Lincoln. Henry Ford was alive at the same time as Samuel F. B. Morse (the inventor of the telegraph), and Samuel was born in 1791 which was during George Washington's first term as president. So he could have, theoretically at least, been in the presence of George Washington. So it takes only three fairly long lifetimes (mine, Henry Ford's, and Samuel Morris's) to get from today, all the way back to George Washington. And none of those people lived to be un-godly old either; they all died in their 80s, except for me, and that's only because I'm not dead yet. As I said before, "our country is not all that old".

Note concerning the five-generation picture which you saw above: My sister Deb was born less than a year after me, and even though all of those women were alive for the next several years, nobody suggested that they take a similar picture with her in it. She was upset about that for her whole life, and knowing my sister, I'm sure our Dear Mom heard about it more than once. But wait, if one were to count "in utero", she probably was in the picture after all, but unaware of it at the time.
December 28th   From George Washington to Donald Trump (again):
After reading yesterday's Chroncles entry (see above), my friend Chick in Michigan sent me the following information, which I find even more interesting than yesterday's dissertation. President John Tyler (6 presidents BEFORE Abe Lincoln, was born in 1790 (during George Washington's first term as president. His son, Lyon Tyler, was born in 1853 (8 years before the start of the Civil war). Lyon Tyler's son, Lyon Jr, was born in 1925. He's the grandson of President Tyler, and he died September 26, 2020, three months ago. The time of Father, Son, Grandson, spanned all of the presidents from George Washington to Donald Trump. Our country is not all that old.

Thanks Chick!
December 29th   This COVID year has spawned some unusual methods of celebrating Christmas with family members. This is from our Christmas get-together with Deb's daughter and son-in-law, ie. outside and social distanced (click HERE). Another method is what my family did. We had our Christmas get-together on-line; gift exchange will occur in August at LBLR. Both methods were unusual, but fun nonetheless.......and hopefully we'll remember them with at least some degree of fondness.
December 30th   A thought for this penultimate day of 2020:

Trouble nourishes mankind.
-- Euripides (428 BC),
    from the play Hippolytus.

Assuming that Euripides was right, don't you think we've all been nourished enough this year?
New Year's Eve   Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.
                -- Alfred Lord Tennyson,
                    The Death of the Old Year (circa 1860)

It's New Years Eve, and I'm wondering how many people this year agree with Mr. Tennyson's thoughts. No doubt many good things have happened in the past year, but in spite of that, there's a good chance that most people will not have fond memories of the year 2020.
No matter what your thoughts on the subject are:
Let us raise our glasses and offer a toast to the good things that happened during the year just ending (clink);
and let us again raise our glasses and offer a toast to a better year which is about to arrive (clink).

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