Dear Family and Friends,
Welcome to another in an all too long-standing series of Halff Impersonal Christmas Form Letters. This years is different than those of the past few years. I have risen up and fired our family historian. I took this radical move because I felt completely marginalized and oppressed by the dominant, hierarchical, white male, capitalist hegemony. Now that she (the historian) has been deconstructed, I must confess that I feel so empowered, so authentic, so validated, so liberated that I, well, I could just go out under the full moon and dance naked with the Goddess. Back in a mo . Ah, a bit chilly out there, but San Antonio is one of the few place in the country where one can do Winter Solstice right&endash;in the buff.
Back to my own unique individual construction of what I personally feel were the main events of this year, keeping in mind that there were no events of the year in any objective sense, and indeed there is no such thing as an objective sense for there to be events of the year in, even if there were any objective reality to the notion of a year. Oops, sorry&endash;the pagans had years; years are OK (thank goodness, er, thank Goddess).
I should have known that the year would be interesting when my sweetie pie, Jean, developed what I thought was a singular obsession with her apartment lease, and particularly with the termination date thereof. After several concerted attempts on her part to interest me in this topic, it suddenly struck me that she was cueing me to open a discussion on the notion that she not renew her lease but rather move to 9 Villa Verde, which, as you can see from the letterhead, is where I live. Once I understood the point of these discussions, it took about five minutes to resolve the issue. As the result, we have considerably more time to spend with each other. We like it that way.
Still, the arrangement has certain complications. What, for example, would happen if I croaked? Would the dominant, hierarchical, white male, capitalist hegemony take 9 Villa Verde from her and give it to my undeserving son (who, by the way, managed to obtain a Masters Degree from the University of British Columbia this year and to convince them to retain him as a techie in their Multimedia Ethnographic Research Lab (dont ask), whilst he tries to establish himself as a digital design and communications consultant (dont ask) and would appreciate any business you could send his way. More at <http://www.outerbass.com/halff/>).
But I digress. In pondering the matter of Jeans security in the event of my death, it struck me that the dominant, hierarchical white male, capitalist hegemony had evolved a mechanism that would solve our problems. So on Jeans birthday (July 27, gifts and cards gratefully accepted) and, incidentally the anniversary of our first date, I took her to the most romantic restaurant in town, stoked my courage with red meat and red wine, and presented her with a ring. The immediate effect of this act was to render her speechless, which I took as a good sign. As it turns out, I was right. So, this Spring (April 5, to be precise) Jean and I shall wed. Those of you within hailing distance of San Antonio should get an invitation sometime before the event. If you dont get one and want to come, let us know.
Jean, in the meantime continues her crusade to bring the New Age to the Alamo City. She faithfully attends all presentations of the Mind Science Institute, including ones on little green men from Mars and the government conspiracy to keep them secret, psychic psychiatrist (I did not make this up) reveals that dreams really do come true; and psychic anthropologist (nor did I make this up) wanders aimlessly for days in the jungles of Borneo in the company of former headhunters. Whoever observed that "if a field ends in Science, it almost certainly isnt one," must have been thinking of Mind Science.
Jean continues to educate our small black dog, Cady; convinced that she will be reincarnated as a person. This reminds me that the dogs namesake, and one of my best buddies "stepped on a rainbow and went to Jesus" (to use a Kinky-Friedmanism) earlier this year. I remember her fondly because she helped me through some difficult times, asking only, in return, to be driven around town so that she could observe other dogs from the safety of the car and work herself up into a remarkable rage at the mere sight of them. As she grew older the sight became merer than mere so I had to point the dogs out to her as we drove along, but the lack of eyesight never lessened the intensity of her performance.
The younger Cady, still very much alive, is just as noisy and, in fact will bark at anything that bears even a passing resemblance to something living, unless, of course, that something might actually constitute a threat to the security of the house. She will, whenever the opportunity presents itself, launch her 10-pound body in hot pursuit of a herd of 200-pound deer. Strangely enough, the herd of deer actually scurry away as if something substantial were after them.
Incidentally, Cady may have gotten her Christmas wish from last year. She has her own web page at <lonestar.texas.net/~henry/cady/>. Whether or not it works will depend on the good folk at Texas Nets willingness to help get it working. Even if it does work, youll need a Mac to view it properly.
Things at work are not going exactly as I had planned. As most of you know, I have been working assiduously to assemble a staff for my project (an Air Force R&D contract) that will relieve me of all responsibility for the effort. I can report that such a staff is now in place. However, just as I was beginning to prepare for retirement in Bermuda, we were awarded another Air Force contract, about as large as the our current one. Hence, I find myself faced with the same formidable task of weaseling out of the new project. Fortunately, the Air Force, in typical Air Force fashion, on the day the new contract was to have started decided that they wanted something different or more in the work, so I am off the hook until they figure out what the want, which could take who-knows how long.
In the meantime, I continue to mess around with computer adventure games, courtesy of the NIMH. I have two theories as to why they are paying us to play computer games. One holds that they actually think we might turn out something useful. The other, more likely theory, is that they just want us to stay out of trouble. In any case, stay tune to "Dr. Physio," coming soon to a Babbages near you.
Also worth mention in connection with Mei (thats "Mei," not "MEI," thank you) Technology is the undimmed performance of its star triathlon relay teams which have an undimmed two-year record of never coming in last.
To relieve the unremitting grind of playing computer games at work, we took a couple of vacations this year, one to Vancouver to validate the constructed knowledge of my undeserving son. While there, we traveled the well-worn tourist path, the high point of which was getting kicked out of the tea room at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. We also spent a week in San Diego at Thanksgiving to confirm the constructed reality of my 54th birthday. You will be gratified to know that we did not get kicked out of any tea rooms in San Diego, perhaps because we were in the company of my parents, who happen to hold the amateur tea-room title know for the 20th year running.
Well, reading over the above, I can see that I still havent gotten the knack of relating my individual feelings and personal interpretations of events without mentioning the events themselves or at least admitting their existence. So I suppose, as someone who cant even recognize the socially constructed nature of Santa Claus, Ill have to abandon my postmodern, feminist, deconstructivist (and pagan, mustnt forget pagan) stance. Maybe Ill even bring back the family historian next year.
In the meantime, well be decorating the cedars, lighting luminarias, eating tamales, knocking back a Shiner Bock or two, two-stepping round the Christmas tree, and keeping the spirit of the season going as long as we can. Yall join in.
Oh, and one more thing: get yourself a Christmas lawn ornament. Ours is made of heavy-gauge wires, painted white, and bent into a shape that resembles a nativity scene. What makes the whole thing work are Christmas lights mounted at intervals along the wires. No home should be without one.
Geese are flying in a ragged "V"
Honking across the sky
The pine trees rustle their song to me
As the geese and the night go by
The owls that sweep past the swamp's dark edge
Hoot as they fly along
They're singing their song of the winter
Singing their wintersong
John McCutcheon & Si Kohn