“Billions and billions”

It’s Christmas Day, which means Christmas is officially over. YAAYYY, let the shopping begin!

Self is practically devouring Brian Sykes’ Saxons, Vikings, and Celts.  P. 138, we’re in the Ice Age, during which Great Britain was abandoned by all of its human inhabitants because it was just too darn cold. During this period, giant ice floes floated majestically down the Thames river and not a single living organism could be found anywhere.

Apparently, the British Isles were still a part of the European continent (Pardon, then, for using the word “Isles” dear blog readers!). “This does not mean the inhabitants … did arrive overland, only that it was possible to do so at the time … The ice had begun to retreat 4000 years before … ”

Just as Great Britain was slowly becoming more habitable, and a few hardy bands of humans had begun returning, there occurred a new Ice Age, caused when “the earth wobbled once again in its orbit …” which precipitated “a sudden and severe cold snap.” This was, naturally, quite a disaster for the human residents. As Sykes puts it:

The cold “forced the human occupants back down south and cleared the Isles once more. The boundary of the ice … began to spread south again. The sea was frozen right down to northern Spain and the plains of northern Europe reduced once again to barren and inhospitable tundra … But very fortunately, this cold phase … lasted only for about 1,000 years … ”

At times, Sykes writes as if 11,000 and 10,000-year periods of time were really over in a jiffy, which puts self in mind of the late Carl Sagan, who once upon a time had his own TV show and was very fond of using the phrase “billions and billions.” (Self doesn’t know about you, but anything measured by 10,000 years gives her the heebie-jeebies. Because it makes self uncomfortably aware that her teensy little life span is — despite its huge significance to herself — nothing more than a moment. Speaking in terms of the universe, that is)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas this year falls on a Sunday, so Monday is an official holiday.

Today is a “Spare the Air” day, so we cannot light a fire, boo.

Yesterday afternoon, self and the husband were at the Stanford Shopping Center — not to buy, you understand. Just to look “busy” and halfway “with it.” The Coach store was full of Asian women. We stopped by Sprinkles, where self discovered that they only carry peanut butter cupcakes on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is so lame. For the first time ever, there was no line at Pinkberry. Self almost bought a sweater from J. Jill that was 50% off. Good thing the husband decided to stand just by her shoulder as she tried to make up her mind. This small gesture alone was enough to restore self to her senses.

Son was off with his friends.  Self decided to look through back issues of The Economist. In the November 19, 2011 issue, there are reviews of two books which self finds most interesting.

The first is Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground, by Jonathan Steele. Self loves anything with “Ghosts” in the title. There is a very specific reason for the use of the word in the title, and here is that reason: “On taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama found a longstanding request from the army on his desk, asking for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. He soon acceded, though not in full. According to Bob Woordward’s book, Obama’s Wars, which came out in 2010, the late Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reminded his boss that Lyndon Johnson had faced similar demands during the Vietnam war. “Ghosts,” whispered Mr. Obama.

The second is Bill Clinton’s Back to Work:  Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.  According to The Economist, “the American public’s growing criticism of Barack Obama has been accompanied by warmer feelings for the Clintons.  More and more Democrats now wonder if they should have chosen Hillary in his place, and it is increasingly common for the president’s lackluster handling of the economy to be contrasted with the surer leadership and much happier economic times when Bill ruled the White House.”  And self is one of those second-guessing people who now wishes she had voted for Hillary in the primaries.

Finally, we saw the Dragon Tattoo movie today. Rooney Mara makes a great Lisbeth Salander.  Self is so enamored, in particular, of the way she says “Hey, hey” whenever she visits someone’s apartment.  And Daniel Craig is, needless to say, a very, very hot Michael Blomkvist.  And Joely Richardson, in a very small role, is very, very moving.  Goran Visjnic most emphatically does not look good with platinum blonde hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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