Dave Stancliff 2011-12-18 blogarama.com

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Special Report:What kids around the world feed Santa

 Good Morning Humboldt County!

Here we are the day before  Christmas. C’mon inside and have a hot cup of coffee with me and see what Santa get’s to eat tonight. I even have cookies for us this morning! 

As a child, did you ever wonder whether Santa got tired of eating the same thing at each house he visited? Turns out, you needn’t have worried: though American and Canadian children leave out milk and cookies, the treats left out for him in other countries keep Santa’s night from being anything but monotonous. Here’s a look at what Santa (in whatever form he takes) can expect at houses around the world on Christmas eve.

Denmark
On Christmas Eve, Danish children leave out a bowl of special Christmas rice pudding called risengrød. The pudding is said to appease Tomte, a white-bearded mythical figure, similar to the English Father Christmas, who brings presents but has been known to cause household mischief if his requisite bowl of risengrød is missing.

Germany
In Germany, Santa can only satisfy his appetite for reading. Children there leave letters, not cookies, for Santa (who in Germany takes the form of Christkind, a white-robed, present-bearing figure from which “Kris Kringle” is derived). The letters are usually doused with glitter and attractively displayed on the windowsills. On Christmas morning, when the children wake up, the letters are gone, replaced by presents under the tree.

France
In France, children don’t leave cookies for the French Père Noël, but instead make sure to fill their shoes with carrots and treats for his donkey, Gui. Père Noël will remove the treats for the donkey and in their place leave small trinkets and tokens for the children.

Netherlands
Dutch children leave out carrots, hay and a bowl of water on Christmas Eve for Sinterklaas’ horse. Sinterklaas, in return, leaves hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, chocolate coins and marzipan figures. Not a bad trade.

Britain and Australia
The Australians and Brits figure Santa needs something a little heartier than milk and cookies to sustain him through his big night, so children leave out sherry and mince pies. The traditional Christmastime treats are made with sweet, sticky fruit and brandy, and baked into bite-sized pies.

Ireland
Santa can expect more mince pies when he gets to Ireland, but there he’ll get to wash it down with some Guinness, which Irish families traditionally leave out for him on Christmas Eve. And after a long night of hard work, Santa definitely deserves it.

Chile
In Chile, Viejo Pascuero (Old Man Christmas) is greeted with a traditional Chilean pan de pascua, a sponge cake flavored with ginger and honey and full of candied fruit.

Other Christmas Eve eats around the world
Not all cultures set aside food for Santa on Christmas Eve, but if he gets hungry on his long trip, here’s a look at what he can expect in other parts of the world.

India
Children don’t traditionally leave food out for Christmas Baba in India, but they do make Christmas treats called kulkuls, which are sweet balls of fried dough made from coconut milk. Want to make your own? Get the recipe here.

Japan
In Japan, children can snack on a traditional Japanese Christmas cake, a white sponge cake covered with cream and decorated with strawberries, while waiting for the arrival of the Santa-like Hotei-Osho.

Philippines
Filipino children go to bed on Christmas Eve dreaming not of sugarplums but of the traditional nochabuena Christmas meal, which involves queso de bola (a ball of Edam cheese) and tsokolate (a hot-chocolate type drink).

Kenya
A Kenyan child might save lucky Santa a bit of roasted goat, which is the traditional Kenyan Christmas Eve repast.

Argentina
And if Santa gets thirsty on his trek through Argentina, he can duck into the kitchen for some sidra, an alcoholic apple cider that’s traditionally used to toast on Christmas Eve.

What kind of food did you leave out for Santa when you were a kid?

(Report by By Chiara Atik)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Santa Letter sent 100 years ago found up chimney

The 100-year-old letter to Santa found in the chimney of a Dublin house.

IT MAY have been slightly scorched over the years but a letter to Santa written 100 years ago, which was later discovered in a Dublin fireplace, has the magic of Christmas written all over it.

On Christmas Eve 1911, a brother and sister, who signed their names, “A or H Howard”, penned their personally designed letter to Santa with their requests for gifts and a good luck message at their home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure (or Terurnure, as the children spelled it) in Dublin.

They placed it in the chimney of the fireplace in the front bedroom so that Santa would see it as he made his way into the Howard household in the early hours of the morning.

The letter was discovered by the house’s current occupant, John Byrne, when he was installing central heating in 1992. Since then, he has retained it as a souvenir of another time and place but with the stamp of childhood innocence which still exists today. The message to Santa was warm but explicit.

“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”

Ownership of the house changed over the decades, with the Byrne family moving there in 1961, but the letter survived. “At that time, the fireplaces were made of brick with a shelf on either side,” said John Byrne who works in the building industry.

The letter was found on one of the shelves.” The letter remained remarkably intact given the passage of time and was only slightly burned from fires set in the house over the years.

As well as the requests for gifts from Santa the letter also contains drawings and a message of “Good Luck” to Santa from the children. According to the 1911 census there were three children living at the address in the year in which the letter was written.

The youngest of them, Hannah, who was 10 at the time, and Fred (presumably short for Alfred) who was seven, fit in with the initials on the letter. A third child, a 13-year-old called Lily, is also listed. The Howard family were all born in England, including parents Fred Hamer Howard, an “under manager” in a plumber merchants, and his wife Mary Elizabeth. They listed their religion as Church of Ireland.

(Via Irish Times)

Bull Frog Plays Video Game, and an 80-Year Old Fights Off a Gunman

This frog could probably beat me at gaming, although that isn’t saying much!

   Good Morning Humboldt County!

Only two more shopping days left until Christmas. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by. I’ve got a fresh pot of coffee on, so c’mon in and relax for a few and see what stories I have for you.

In this video, a frog plays video games. No, really. Specifically, an African Bullfrog plays an app for the handheld game, Ant Smasher. The makers of the game note that more than 15 million people have downloaded it but we're pretty sure this is the first non-human player caught on video.

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        80-year-old grandmother fights off gunman

An 80-year-old grandmother in Florida successfully fended off an armed attacker who was attempting to rob her 61-year-old daughter.

Josefa Lopez told the Sentinel Sun she felt "no fear" when she used her aluminum cane to fight off the gunman who had physically assaulted her daughter.

"I thought she was dead," Lopez said in Spanish. "I yelled at [the gunman], 'I am going to kill you, [son of a b----]!' I wasn't myself. To me, she was dead." The assailant, who fired a gunshot at Lopez but missed, is still at large. He reportedly pulled Lopez from her Ford Expedition, shouting, "Give me," and pistol-whipped her. That's when the 4-foot-9 Josefa took control of the situation.

"When you see your daughter in trouble," Lopez said, "you have to do something." Lopez reportedly grabbed the gunman by the back of his shirt and began pulling him away from her daughter. She was about to strike him with her cane when he fired the shot at her.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We could all use a comforting snuggle now and then…

They say the holiday season is hard on a  people for different reasons:

Not being home for Christmas.

Being alone on Christmas.

The stress of buying gifts you can’t afford.

The holiday season is also hard on animals for different reasons:

They’re given as gifts, but later when they grow up they’re given away.

Outdoor stray cats, for whatever reasons, have to deal with freezing winter conditions.

Take a look at these two natural enemies. A dog and a cat. A puppy, to be sure, but still a dog.

Look at the eye contact. An unspoken agreement made in moments.

The puppy trusts the cat and comes over to cuddle.

The cat, because cats are independent, doesn’t want to look too happy with the situation…

…but it’s hard.

The warm body next to it is reassuring.

In the end the cat closes it’s eyes (a sure sign of trust) and allows the gangly puppy to snuggle up.

Is there a message here for humans?

You tell me.

photos found here

 

Autism-friendly Santas a hit at malls & parties, Santa’s reindeers prepare for Christmas, & John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas’ (War is Over)

          Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Only three more days until Christmas. Can you believe it? It’s cold outside, but no snow. C’mon in and have a cup of coffee with me and check out the following seasonal stories:

 

Autism-friendly Santas a hit at malls, parties

Visiting a shopping mall to share Christmas wishes with Santa had always been too much for 10-year-old Ben Borre, due to the autism that makes the noise, lights and crowds an unbearable torment.

But now a growing number of "sensitive" Santas in shopping centers, at community parties and elsewhere are giving Ben and others a chance to meet the big guy in autism-friendly settings — allowing their families to capture Christmas memories that other families may take for granted.

For a child on the autism spectrum, sometimes the smallest item or gesture can spark a connection — such as the Northtown Mall Santa's gold watch or the tiny Christmas train that rotates inside of it.

The big day is drawing near….
In honor of the Iraq War ending…

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Once upon a time…

source

Moms turn to phone-sex to supplement income, support families during hard economic times

An increasing number of cash-strapped mothers are taking jobs as phone-sex operators, finding that talking dirty to strangers is an easy way to support their families.

The number of mothers with young children who have become telephone temptresses over the last 18 months has shot up about 400%, reports ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The data comes from ratracerebellion.com, a website dedicated to helping mothers find jobs that allow them to work from home.

Chris Durst, who runs the online organization, has been tracking the working habits of mothers for more than a decade. She says the number of women who search for phone-sex work generally spikes after Labor Day, as their children return to school. But in the past two years, the level of interest in phone-sex employment has been extraordinary — and Durst blames it on the economy. (Read more here)

Manning defense's focus on gender identity disorder alarms some

It appears that Manning’s lawyers are desperate enough to use a defense - that isn’t a legal defense for the type of crime committed - hoping the gender card will save him somehow.

“Raising the hackles of some attorneys who work on transgender legal issues, defense attorneys for Bradley Manning apparently intend to make an almost novel legal argument -- that the Army private was suffering from gender identity disorder when his alleged crimes were committed -- if his case proceeds to court martial as expected.

Several attorneys who work with transgender legal issues said they were not aware of a gender identity disorder defense being raised in a civilian court, and King said it’s easy to see why not, noting that such a diagnosis “doesn’t prevent you from knowing right from wrong.” The disorder is most often raised in criminal proceedings as part of an overall insanity defense, or by expert witnesses arguing that a defendant is so mentally damaged that he or she should be committed, he said.

And several lawyers who work with transgender clients indicated they were not happy with the direction that the Manning proceedings have taken. “We don’t think that being transgender, if he in fact is, has anything to do with him breaking the law,” said Kylar Broadus, an attorney with the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. “Obviously the charges are serious and we don’t want the trial to be sensationalized or detracted from by him being transgender.”

“Our opinion is there is no correlation between anything he has done and gender identity disorder,” agreed Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney with Lambda Legal.

“This plays into stereotypes that are not true,” he continued. “There are a lot of people with gender identity disorder fighting for their lives to be respected and understood as human beings who need equal access to the law. This type of scenario just confuses the situation.” (Story source)

‘Ninja Cow’ beguiles town, Boy’s chimney made with Santa in mind

                Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Only four more days until Christmas. Thanks for stopping by this morning. I got the coffee on and a couple of stories to start your day.Enjoy: 

              ‘Ninja Cow’ beguiles Nebraska town

It didn't happen overnight, but residents of Plattsmouth, Nebraska have finally outsmarted a deceptive, wayward bovine known as the "Ninja Cow."

"It sounded like hoofs on the pavement, and by the time I could focus on it, all I could see was the rear end of whatever it was," local computer programmer Kevin Moon told the Wall Street Journal.

Wayward livestock can pose serious threats to human and other animals. Even a small deer can destroy a car, seriously injuring the occupants in a collision. Still, for months, the Ninja Cow eluded police and locals, making late night appearances on private lawns, leaving behind only cowpies as evidence of its existence. The effort to bring in, or even bring down, the Ninja Cow was not lacking. Police and local experts tried just about everything from luring the cow with biscuits and gravy to capturing her on an infrared camera. They played cow sounds on a laptop. But every attempt failed. Pretty much the only thing they didn't try was recreating the cow costume from Top Secret. And the more adept Ninja Cow became at eluding capture, the more her story captured the hearts and minds of Plattsmouth residents, spawning several Facebook fan pages and talk of an annual Ninja Cow Day celebration.

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         Boy's chimney designed with Santa in mind

A worried letter from six-year old Leo Park sparked a mammoth operation to test what is believed to be the world's first chimney specifically designed to accommodate Santa Claus. The little boy's parents are having a house custom built and when Leo viewed the plans he was concerned that the chimney wasn't big enough for Father Christmas and his famous belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

As he was penning his traditional letter to Santa, Leo decided to also write a heartfelt missive about the chimney design problem to Jeremy Paxton, who owns the estate on which the new house is being built. In childish scrawl the letter reads: "Dear Mr Paxton, I am worried that my mummy's house does not have a big enough chimney. I think Santa Claus will get stuck. Please can you help. Love Leo Park."

Paxton, founder and owner of luxury holiday home development Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds decided to commission a special formula to satisfy Leo's concerns.

Obviously size was the key consideration to ensure Santa won't get wedged tight on his way to stuffing the stockings and so Paxton enlisted a mathematician to take on the challenge and save the jolly old elf from turning red for the wrong reasons.

The Santa-friendly formula looked at risk factors of chimney entry, the size of St Nick's girth versus the width of the chimney at its narrowest point. To test what they said was the perfect chimney, Paxton enlisted the help of a stand-in Santa Claus in full padded outfit, a crane, a harness and winch to put the new chimney through its paces.

Leo was invited to watch as the great experiment got underway. "Go on Santa" he shouted out as the faux Father Christmas was lifted into the air towards the chimney. A few seconds later and Santa was successfully lowered into the chimney of the half-built house, re-emerging shortly after to deliver a hearty: "Ho Ho Ho."

"I can guarantee that this chimney is big enough for Santa and all the presents," he told Leo.An excited Leo gave a thumbs up to the St. Nicholas impersonator and rushed to hug him. "I'm absolutely delighted not just that Santa fitted into the chimney, but that that little boy, Leo, said to me: 'That was the best day of my life' which made the whole thing worthwhile," said Paxton. The Park family won't be able to inhabit their new holiday home until next December, just in time to get the milk and biscuits ready for their very special Yuletide visitor.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

X-47B - Unmaned Combat Drone stirs interest passing through town

As flatbed truck driving down the middle of US Highway 77 was spotted cruising down a main street in Cowley County, Kansas a few days ago.

From at least one angle, the strange-shape aircraft resembled a saucer, and was covered by what appeared to be an industrial-strength tarp (or perhaps a badly malfunctioning cloaking device). Who ever heard of the X-47B? There’s only two in the country. Read story here.

Does it look like a UFO to you? Some people thought so.

History of Santa Claus, Rapper gets pass on pot in airport, Gas prices hit new heights in 2011

Did you know all this stuff about the jolly old elf?

        Good Morning Humboldt County!

Five more days to Christmas. We don’t expect snow, but it sure has been cold lately. Glad you could stop by and have coffee with me this morning.

TSA agent finds pot in rapper's luggage, just leaves note

A Transportation Security Administration inspector found marijuana in the checked luggage of rapper Freddie Gibbs this week, but rather than confiscate it the screener left a mildly chiding note, the musician told the world via Twitter.r

"C'mon Son," the screener wrote on the TSA "Notice of Baggage Inspection" on Wednesday, when the rapper flew to Denver to perform.

Gibbs, who has publicly expressed his love of the green bud, tweeted a photo of the notice and two bags of weed. "The TSA found my weed and let me keep it. They just left me a note," he told his followers, ending with "Lol."

Gibbs has since deleted the tweet, which several folks pointed out incriminated him for illegally transporting a controlled substance and that might get the TSA agent fired.

A TSA spokesman told The Hill that airport security workers are supposed to notify police when illegal items are found.

storyimages_1317876249_palastkochs

At gas pump, 2011 was the year of the big squeeze

It's been 30 years since gasoline took such a big bite out of the family budget.

When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another unfortunate record. And next year isn't likely to bring relief.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 19, 2011

At sunset nature is painting for us... day after day... pictures of infinite beauty

(photo original unknown)  Quote by John Ruskiin

I’ve got a good idea…how about a smile break?

My pug Millie (below), thought this photo was hilarious so I’m sharing it with you.

Capturekk

Interestingly enough, we use to have the same door mat (yea I know they were mass produced) and Millie never had an issue with it.

With pending ban, people hoard light bulbs

Karen Beseth is all about energy conservation. She shuts off the lights when leaving the room and sets the thermostat at 67 degrees through her small town's blustery winters. But there's one concession the DeWitt, N.Y., insurance consultant won't make -- she loves her incandescent light bulbs.

No surprise then that in advance of the federal phaseout of traditional bulbs starting Jan. 1, she's stocking up. Her garage and basement shelves are filled with 100-watt four-packs. "There's just some things we put our foot down on," she says.

Polls show that many Americans aren't even aware of the pending ban, but 13% say they are hoarding to prepare for a time when the 134-year-old technology joins heroin and sea-turtle meat in the banned-products pantheon. Home Depot, which supplies nearly a third of the bulbs that plug into the nation's 4 billion light sockets, says that as 2011 draws to a close, incandescent sales have jumped.

House Republicans succeeded in eliminating funding for enforcement of the new efficiency standards from the Department of Energy's budget last week. However, major makers of light bulbs have already made the switch. Also, to be clear, the new standards don't ban incandescent bulbs, but require that they be more efficient.

Experts like Bill Hamilton, Home Depot's merchandising VP for electrical, say alternatives to old-style incandescents have vastly improved -- light quality is up, and prices are falling fast. But not everyone's convinced.

In the House of Representatives, some Republicans are still hoping to see the ban repealed. And in Texas, the state legislature passed a bill declaring it legal to manufacture and sell incandescent bulbs within state lines -- never mind the fact that there's not a single bulb factory in Texas. "Everyone loves it," says a spokesperson for George Lavender, the representative who wrote the bill. (Smart Spending)

Holiday cards from the grave, Anonymous donors paying starngers layaways, and Santa’s ward off crime in the streets

             Good Morning Humboldt County!

Christmas is in the air this chilly morning and I have some hot coffee ready to go. Pull up a chair, grab a mug, and see what you think about the three holiday headlines I’ve selected for your reading pleasure today.

   Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy holiday cards from the grave
The holiday cards
from ad man Bob McCully were truly a special delivery - from beyond the grave. About 400 people recently received the macabre but humorous greetings from McCully, who died in August at 88, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported (http://bit.ly/vXDR6s).

The former Pittsburgh advertising executive is pictured on the front of the card talking on the phone in an office. "Hello, please don't call," it reads. "I recently moved to a quiet neighborhood ..."

Inside, the card says: "My new place doesn't have a phone and our gates close after dark." Pictures show the gates at Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville and McCully's tombstone. Friends say a relative produced the card, which generated a mix of emotions for longtime McCully friend David Newell.

"It was the strangest feeling getting that card. It was almost eerie. But when I opened it, I laughed out loud. It was the ultimate Christmas card," Newell said. McCully often performed locally in satirical musical revues and was known for his darkly funny Christmas greetings. For several years, Newell said, cards were written from the perspective of McCully's former dog, Rolf. This year's card might be the most memorable of all.

Anonymous donors pay strangers' layaway accounts

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn't be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter. “She told him, `No, I'm paying for it,'" recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. "He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn't, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears."

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa is getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Philippine policemen wearing Santa hats are deployed in downtown Manila on Monday. The program aims to bring police closer to the public as increased visibility along high traffic areas will be implemented during the holiday season, officials said.

'Santas' ward off crime in the Philippines

Ho! ho! ho! you're under arrest!

More than 1,000 police officers wearing Santa hats have fanned out across the Philippine capital in time for the Christmas holidays — traditionally the busiest period for thieves in Manila.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Geary Barias said 1,000 officers and 700 police recruits have traded their blue caps for Santa hats while conducting more patrols of Manila's crime-ridden streets. Residents generally praised the idea. "This serves as a reminder that Christmas is coming and we should have peace," said Dennis Perez, a pedestrian.

"The Santa hat is OK, but of course they should focus on their duties," said Jenny de Jesus, a parishioner in Quiapo district's Roman Catholic church.

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, December 18, 2011

As It Stands - 2011 Christmas Gift Guide for Readers

 

                 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
It’s a week before Christmas Day and you’re still trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. You’re concerned, but not panicking yet. You still hope to find something unique for everyone on your Christmas list, but it’s a difficult task.
Shopping days are running out. Every store and online advertisement seems to offer the same stuff - Kiss Me Elmo and an opportunity to purchase an acre of land on Mars (lunarland.com).
Not to worry. I’ve put together a unique gift guide that will give you options you probably never knew were available.
               The 2011 As It Stands Christmas Gift Guide:
Everyone loves to laugh. Armed with this knowledge, let’s look at gifts that will have ‘em rolling in the aisles bedecked with holly. No cook can resist the “Snotty Nose Egg Separator” for a mere $14.99. It’s listed as a top seller on several websites.
Another top online seller is the Remote Control Fart Machine for $14.98. The Whoopi Cushion is so 20th Century compared to this diabolic little noise maker. It should be a popular gift for all ages.
There are Candy Pooping Santa Claus dispensers, Tickle Me Santa Claus Dolls, Farting Santa Butt ornaments, Flashing Santa ornaments, Santa Drinking Hats, Whizzing Santa Dispensers, Light Up Reindeer Men's Undies, Three-Way Santa Hats, Vixen Headgear, Sock Monkey Hoodie Pajamas, Skull ornaments, Blow-Up Christmas Trees, Candy Cane Tea Infusers, Toxic Teddies Collection, and Pull My Finger Santa Dolls.

Pooping Reindeer Holiday Sweater You may be interested in some of the gifts I’ve selected this year, so I’ll add them to this gift guide:
  I found a Pooping Reindeer Holiday Sweater for a mere $28.99. The bright colors make your eyes hurt, but at least you’ll be laughing. Another clever gift I selected for several people is a Reindeer Costume for their cars. They’ll get two reindeer horns to mount over the side windows.
 I found Bright Yellow Smiley Face Earmuffs, Light Bulb Candy, Just Say Ho Inflatable Wreaths, Santa’s Coal Bubble Gum, Frosty The Flying Snowman, Elf Soap, and Naughty or Nice Spray Candy for the lucky people on my list.
Nothing says Christmas like a “Christmas Tree In Your Pocket” (a little folding piece of plastic), a Raw Turkey Hat, a Rock N’ Roll Christmas Dog (with a replica of the famous Fender Stratocaster guitar on his lap), Christmas Bottle T-Shirts, Santa’s Remote Controlled Rescue Helicopter, Blitzed’n The Singing Drunken Reindeer stuff toy, Giant Bubblegum Candy Canes, and Christmas Story bandages.

 Pretty overwhelming isn’t it? Just think, I’ve only scratched the surface. There are so many unique gifts to give for the holidays it would take me until next Spring to list them all. Nevertheless, I hope my suggestions have sparked your holiday spirit and sense of humor.
I remember when I was first married 37 years-ago and was the most clueless holiday gift buyer on the planet. Can you believe it? I actually gave my bride a vacuum cleaner for our first Christmas!  
 Needless to say, I wised up as the years rolled by. It was a slow process however. My darling bride put up with the ugliest sweaters and blouses in the world for years before finally admitting they weren’t her “style.” It was a big step in our relationship.
I gave her other gifts that left her shaking her head in wonderment and amazement at how clueless I truly was when it came to buying gifts for her. She naturally assumed that because we lived together I’d know what she likes and doesn’t like. All I can say is, “never assume anything.”
 Then the great breakthrough…she read Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus (by John Gray) and realized we were from separate planets and that I wasn’t as thick-headed as I appeared. Just different.
 In the course of the last few decades I have honed my gift-giving skills to a fine art and that’s why I decided to share them with you today. I especially want to reach out to those men who find it hard to buy gifts for their mates; take heart, there’s hope.
 As It Stands, if you’re a clueless shopper it might not be a bad idea to give John Gray’s insightful book as a gift this Christmas.