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It's that time of year again.......

"What do you want for Christmas?". All I want is peace & quiet. There are no "gifts" I wish for.

.....And the more you push me for suggestions, saying "But you have to have something!", the grumpier I'm likely to become. Is it that difficult to understand? I have everything I want, there is nothing I need. Why do you feel I have to have something? Does buying stuff for people make you feel good?
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You don't have to buy me anything. I'm really not being ungrateful, I just don't want you wasting your hard-earned on something that will either go in the bin, or to charity, after New Year.
 

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Gordon Steadman
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Yup. Ronnie and I have an agreement. We don't do birthdays or christmas! As far as gifts are concerned that is, we like food! If there is something we really want, we discuss, time/save and buy it when we can.

So many rituals are hard wired in that if you have the nerve not to want to join in, you are an anti social twit or worse. This is true in my case but not relevant here.
 

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Al Schwartz
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I shall not offer up my own political/social positions here (although some hint may creep through) because I do not think they are germane to this discussion. What I will offer as a preface is the belief that I am not a "Luddite." I have been involved with computer systems since the late 50's (when the input to a computer was a laboratory cart full of punched cards) have owned "personal" computers since the early 80's and currently maintain 3 for various purposes.

I believe that much of the malaise of current society can be laid at the feet of "social media" To be clear, while I understand how they work, I do not "do" Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. All encourage/enforce extreme brevity of messaging which rapidly devolves into "communication" by slogan. In addition, since a degree of anonymity is provided, responsibility for behavior within what has been historically acceptable civilized norms is less important. (In many ways I miss the time when "over-the-top" insult could result in one being called onto the field of honor with potentially mortal consequences)

Unfortunately, providing these avenues of communication/intimidation/censure by labelling has proven to be very profitable. I don't know what the answer might be. As a matter of belief, I cannot support censorship as a response.

My prediction? When the story of the decline of our civilization is written, social media will occupy the same role that "bread and circuses" hold in the history of Rome.

EM
 

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Ah jingle bells, jingle bell's and all that C - - -, the time of the year where we look forward to all those repeats of series and films they repeated last xmas and the decade before, where you ask that fateful question!!!!! and what would you like my love for xmas and she say's nothing dear, and you know she's telling porkies, as if you got her nothing you would not hear the end of it till next xmas, where you have no idea what to buy her , years ago it was something skimpy and sexy but now your looking for something the parachute regiment might use to jump out of aircraft.

You get asked what would you like for xmas dinner and you reply beans on toast is fine for me, then your told but it,s xmas and why don't we get Turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, carrotts, brussel sprouts ( oh my god not them ) stuffing, chipolatas, streaky bacon, and you sit there thinking yep and alka seltzer , stomach pump and rennies..

Then there are cards for people who we don't keep in contact with but they sent us a card last year so we have to send them one this year, even thought you have no idea anymore who the hell they are , and of course present's!!! why like others on here there is nothing i want perhaps a Ferrari might be nice , or something i can't mention these days because it,s not PC and i would end up divorced.

Instead i dread dawn on xmas day going into the lounge where there it sits our xmas tree ah remember buying it , that was the year England won the world cup , still worn well bit tatty at the edges but so am i so we go well together, and under it are little parcels couple shaped like socks and i wonder why, i,ve got more socks that the B shop in town , so i sink into me chair and open the sideboard cupboard reach for my bottle of single malt only to find Santa's drunk it all and nicked me crisps as well.
 

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Gordon Steadman
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you ask that fateful question!!!!! and what would you like my love for xmas and she say's nothing dear, and you know she's telling porkies, as if you got her nothing you would not hear the end of it till next xmas, where you have no idea what to buy her , years ago it was something skimpy and sexy but now your looking for something the parachute regiment might use to jump out of aircraft.
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I love this thread. There have been so many comments that have pushed my empathy button (yes, I do have one.......), made me LOL, or often both. Please lads, keep up the good work.
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There is one guy on the Hi-fi forum who has been banned from all the others because of his stance. The more people disagree and try and put an alternative view, the more he digs in. Anyone that disagrees with him is an idiot.
It's called cognitive dissonance. I was made aware of it when I got fed up with moon landing hoaxers and discovered the ant-vaccination and flat earthers.

I was in such shock that I needed to see if there was some studies on it and there is.

There was a documentary on Channel 4 or the BBC where they took a bunch of Sept 11th conspiracy theorists to over a dozen witnesses and experts to explain how the attacks happened as reports and only one changed his mind. I nearly felt sick when I saw all this evidence that they simply would not accept.

The same thing can be at a personal level. Take for instance in every family there is someone who won't talk to someone else in the family because of something. I have actually witnessed the exchange that triggered that in my family and as an observer they were BOTH wrong. A combination of bad timing, wording and probably the fact that everyone was distracted but they refuse to consider the evidence...

He may well have a documentable disease but he appears not to be alone considering who the Americans voted into power.
We didn't vote for him. The Electoral college did. And because of the two party system expats' votes like mine almost never get counted. If the margin is greater than the number absentee ballots our votes are thrown away.

If you looked at pure national numbers AND included absentee ballots he lost by a much larger margin. But no... our over 200 year old system built by a bunch white male (mostly) slave owners must be upheld to our own detriment...

But...as we are on the verge of violating the T&C ...

Christmas!
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I love Christmas here. Everyone gets at least 2 and half days off. Many get 3. Everything is shut down. You HAVE to spend time with the family. It is all just nice and cosy and calm.... Mind you, we mix traditions from three different cultures so things are probably a bit strange to some. I did draw the line when someone suggested adding Kllingon to the festivities. I am a Star Wars fan after all. :)
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New Year's is a hoot too.
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We pollute the air with enough soot in one night to make a coal firing power plant look like a green politician's
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dream. But is IS fun because you have to go outside to do and you see and greet people and and literally get things off to a bang.

Back home we maybe raised a glass... said a toast. And then went to bed...
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Your comments about there "must" be something to unrwap etc. remind me of many other traditions. I wish the definition of tradition was: Stuff people have done over and over for so long that some people will commit suicide when it is not done again and again.

I started seriously thinking about traditions when a friend wanted to get engaged. During a conversation he said "it wasn't time". Since I knew they were pretty much made for each other I asked why. He sad "cuz I don't have the money" and I said well, you know that is completely relative. He stared at me.... I said will, it costs as much as you want it to cost. The only non-negotiable part is the wedding certificate and that isn't that much. His eyes got as wide as dinner plates and his mouth started to move without making sound. Just as I was looking for a phone booth to call 911 because I thought he was having stroke (the 90's! Phone booths!) he said "but.. the ring costs 3 months' wages!"

I was the one staring now...

Who made that rule?

Where did that come from?

I told him my wife and I bought rings at a local jeweler and we bought what we liked and really didn't look much at the price (except that it wouldn't break the bank).

Our wedding, while... not humble in any way was also very carefully calculated but only along the lines of what we wanted. What it cost was a factor the same as actually finding a venue for the number of people and deciding who sits next to whom (remember the family not talking to each other?! see my rambling DOES pay off...
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wait until I have had a few to drink, I hardly come up for air. Seriously oh I am running at the mouth again...)

I have heard SO many times that something has to cost XYZ amount otherwise you don't show that you care, or you don't love them etc etc etc.

What a load of rancid, diarrhetic ox dung.

The same goes for Christmas (there are other Holy Events available).

It is what you want to make it, what makes you comfortable.

Saying you have to have presents or do things a particular way really does ruin it for everybody...

Having said that.. if they REALLY knew you, they would know what to get.
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Al Schwartz
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Just noticed this:

"He may well have a documentable disease but he appears not to be alone considering who the Americans voted into power."

I find that I must offer the following anecdotal comment:

My (2nd) wife was a "southern" lady, having been brought up in Atlanta, GA and attended college in North Carolina. As such, she had little, if any winter (snow/ice) experience. I was born and raised in upstate New York, attended college in western Massachusetts and lived for 14 years in Chicago and northern Indiana. At one point, early in our relationship, we were on a hilly, snow covered road. She became frightened to the point of screaming when the car assumed an angle very different from the direction of the road. After we had successfully navigated the section, I pointed out to her that, in such cases, I was primarily concerned with the path being described by the vehicle and that its precise angular orientation was a secondary issue.

EM
 

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David H
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Christmas presents. I've evolved a simple, successful and cheap-for-the-giver solution. And I like Smarties.

I've given up saying that I don't want or need anything and being told in return that I must, instead responding to the "what would you like" question thus: "A smile, and if you really must buy something, Smarties."

Christmas for me is now a festival of smiles from everyone dear to me, plus half a ton of Smarties. Yum yum!

Food Colorfulness Ingredient Mixture Cuisine
 

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Xmas ah xmas tis the time to discover who your true friends are the one's who don't send you a gift they had last year, to you this year, staying at the inlaws full after dinner and wondering why her dad stood up for the telly at 15-00 in the afternoon, and the ludo, snakes and ladders ( board games to you under 70 ) coming out after another massive meal this time in the evening , and why do brussel sprouts work their way through you by 21-00, thank god they had a dog who took the blame.

And it does not end there then we have Boxing day where the food comes out again this time cold with pickled onions, gerkins, walnuts, red cabbage ( umm who the hell eats red cabbage ) mustard pickle , Branston , and mother in law insists you have more as you,re a big lad , so you sit there with a plate in each hand trying desperatly not to pass wind and she passes sherry yes sherry around because i,m a big lad i get a big glass, which thankfully i cannot reach as i have a plate in each hand full of food i can't eat as i have nothing to pick it up with.

Then you slide back into your chair which you know you can't get out of because you,ve put on half a stone since dinner , and then it,s xmas telly time , and you can't escape Aunties to the right of you Uncles to the left of you and a wife opposite who is mouthing , don't you dare, and then the Morecome & Wise xmas show from 1973 comes on , and Auntie says you looked like that you know trim flared trousers nice brown hair , yes Auntie i did 40 years ago.

So there i sit with eyes pleading please can i go home to the wife opposite who has just said , it,s ok mum were in no rush to go, we can stay to midnight , so with a heavy heart i listen to Uncle snoring to the left of me , while the ladies discuss what the missues was like when she was 5 at xmas, oh yes cannot beat a family xmas
 

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Brilliant Peter! I just read this to SWMBO and she walked off half way through - too close to home I think. I may frame it.

Re some of the previous posts, Winston Churchill said "you get the government you deserve". Which reminds me that 20% of UK teenagers think that Winston Churchill was a fictitious character, and somewhere between 20 and 30% (depending on the survey) of all Europeans and US citizens think that the Sun orbits the earth. And they all have the vote.

Most British children have to make a decision whether to study history or geography at school (!) which is why my step daughter can't name in which century the second world war took place and one of her peers thinks that you can drive from Australia to New Zealand. The race to the bottom is gathering pace.
 

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Al Schwartz
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Setting: Tower of London

Event: Guided Tour

Date: October 1978

Action/Dialog

Guide points (across the Thames) and observes: "And across the river we have a WW II battleship moored"

Son (8 years old) remarks, in a clear carrying voice: "Excuse me, sir. It's not a battleship, it's a heavy cruiser"

Sometimes smiles last forever.

EM
 

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May I just say I really really love Christmas all my decorations will be up by December 1 st I decorate evey room in the house , including the toilet !!!.We may have Christmas alone ( me and Pat) or the whole family over , I don't care I just wish that some of the togetherness stayed all year. We don't get presents for each other , stopped that years ago, as I get older and Christmases may not happen next year i will embrace the mayhem with joy
 

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John Roche
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We don't do Xmas and any money we might have spent goes to a charity relevant to our lives. We hate shopping, don't have a religion and don't particularly like children. These seem to be the focus. We're retired so days off don't count. We usually go to the pub at lunchtime and for a curry after. We're doing the same this year.

Whatever you do, or don't do, enjoy it.

Cheers

John

Whoops that's not grumpy :)
 

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She became frightened to the point of screaming when the car assumed an angle very different from the direction of the road.
As a Michigander I can confirm that anything under 1 meter is not snow. That is a dusting...

There was a local comedian who had just done a tour in the south and half his sketch was making fun of people not being able to cope with winter.

My favorite:

Setting: 3-6 inches had already fallen and it was still falling. Visibility about 30 feet.

While crossing a bridge somewhere in Alabama a local tries to pass him (he had, as you should slowed down to see how icky, I mean icy the bridge was)

The car, as was to be predicted started pinballing back and forth and went off the road on the other side of the bridge.

Being a good Samaritan he stopped (accompanied by skiing "swooshing" noises easily and went to check on them.

Both occupants were out of the car on their hands and knees with the woman panting:

"Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"You OK?" He asked

"What happened?!" said the lady in a typical local drawl

"You drove too fast on the bridge and lost control."

"How?!" she said, looking around as if some sort of car bouncing ball was lurking nearby

"Because of the snow."

"Well who put that there?!"

"The same guy you were just talking to!"

another of his is about 5 miles down the road he sees a kid in a Superbird with rear tires as wide as a baby elephant's butt stuck on the side of the rode.

So again he stops (skiing swooshing)

He explains to the kid to not use too much gas and he will go in the back and push.

As he sees the kid not getting the concept he yells:

"You gotta rock it!"

To which the boy cranks up the radio....

(for those of you who have never driven in snow and ice, "rocking" the car back and forth gets you momentum to get out of a rut)

I drove a Triumph Spitfire in the dead of winter in Michigan and it was a blast.

Yes, I had an artic-circle grade parka on :-D
 

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Gordon Steadman
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Driving in snow is a lost art it seems. Firstly as we here in Europe get so little of it now.

I used to seek it out for the fun of it. Best were deserted Supermarket car parks. A great way to learn about car control with enough run off areas should a loss of control happen - rarely of course
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I'm not sure how a front wheel drive car would be, I'm used to being able to control the back end on the throttle. Maybe I'll get the chance to find out when we move to the Scottish Islands. I expect the tut tutters will be there too though.

Life should be as much fun as possible without risking others, you just have to pick the right time and place.
 

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Gordon Steadman
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It's a couple of years since we had any snow but what gets me is that some 4 by 4 drivers seem to think that their cars can overcome the laws of physics. Two of them, one in a Defender and one in a Range Rover, overtook me downhill towards the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. No problem at reasonable speed but not 'normal' speed as these two seemed to think. Sadly for them, there are solid signs and trees on the top of the roundabout and they both had somewhat dented cars and egos. Neither seemed too happy to see me plod around with no slip at all but then I know about mass, inertia etc - sort of, as well as a layman can.
 

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Firebird, Spitfire, 9 person GMC van, '80 Chevy Malibu.. all rear-wheel and all in snow up to the window sill. (Which isn't much in Spitfire) .

We got a '90 Buick Century with front wheel drive and it is very different. The car tends to understeer a lot.

I found it easier to get going, no fishtailing, but harder to control once underway.

Braking was usually a bit easier but if you had one side slightly off using the throttle didn't make as much of a difference.

All the cars but the Spitfire were automatic which up until the Century was not a problem. If you left it in 1, 2 or 3 to let the motor brake the car it wasn't a problem.

The Century had some sort of "over rev" protection and would shift up if it felt the motor was spinning too hard.

It usually shifted up just before you want to slow down or stop which meant what little motor braking you had was completely gone.

Manually shifting down was also a practice of patience as it waited nice and long until revs weer under what felt like 3000 before actually shifting down.

All the other cars could almost be driven as a manual...
 

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but then I know about mass, inertia etc - sort of, as well as a layman can.
As we are in the same age group, I'm sure this is natural for any of us that had a love of motor sport and grew up with rear wheel drive and cross ply tyres. It didn't take much to find the limit of adhesion and there was a fairly large grey area and more space on the road then. You could learn car control without drawing too much attention to yourself.To find the limit in today's cars you have to drive like a maniac.

Another quote - I think by Jay Leno - "I'd rather have a car that feels as if its doing 90 when its doing 40 than the other way 'round". Hear hear. The same goes for handling with me.
 
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