Christmas Cheer

We’ve had a fantastic Christmas — especially since it’s our first as parents.   The holidays have taken on a whole new meaning viewed through fresh little eyes.   Here are just a handful of some of our favorite recent holiday moments:

O’Daniel family Christmas 2008 portrait Liam hangs ornament on Christmas tree
Dede and Liam make cookies for Santa
Liam on his rocking horse

Dede, Liam, & I hope you had a wonderful Christmastime too!   Be sure to check out the photos that Dede posted from our annual Christmas party and our Christmas Day photos!

Monopoly Madness

Rich Uncle Milburn Pennybags a.k.a. Mr. MonopolyIt seems that the drive for immediate gratification has corrupted yet another element of my childhood. Maybe I’m just a nostalgic atavist, but when I learned (from Dede) that the newest versions of Monopoly use plastic instead of paper money, I was crushed.

Yup, rather than shipping with traditional compliment of $15,140 in cash, Monopoly’s colorful paper currency has now been replaced with 5 shiny debit cards that you swipe in a digital reader when purchasing properties, paying rent, or making other transactions. That’s just disturbing.

Ok sure, it’s just a board game, but it always had an educational aspect as well. Monopoly was the first exposure most of us had to handling cash, investing in property, saving for improvements, negotiating power deals, entering into financial partnerships, and planning for future expenses—like making sure you’ve got enough money to weather the fiscal devastation should you fail to successfully hopscotch through your brother’s “Hotel Row” via Community Chest, Luxury Tax, or one of those blasted railroads.

So, do you feel that debit cards ruin the classic game or does the electronic angle give a tired old game a compelling new twist? Post a comment and let us know what your take is on this!

Related Trivia: Extra bonus points to whoever can correctly give the formal name of Monopoly’s mustached mascot. (No fair Googling the answer!)

Update: Discover the answer to the Monopoly trivia question!

Another Loss…

As much as we’ve had an incredible year of gains, we’ve also experienced some painful losses.   Early this year, my Mom passed away suddenly.   Then just a few months ago, our longtime friend Bryan Howell was taken by a tragic & senseless accident.   And we lost another beloved member of our extended family this past week.

Charles “Whit” Smith had long said that he hadn’t even expected to see the year 2000, so everything since was just an added bonus.   What he may have been not so aware of is that the bonus was ours.   Among other things, I’ll sorely miss his sense of humor, always-supportive spirit, and that resonating baritone voice that seemed tailor-made for radio.

Whit and Liam
Goodbye Uncle Whit, we’ll miss you!


Digitally Dismayed

As I mentioned in my Digital Daze Ahead blog post recently, analog television broadcasts will cease on February 17th, 2009.   And sure enough, it seems that many people are still unsure about whether they’ll need a digital converter box to continue receiving their favorite shows.   The government, cable companies, & many merchants have plenty of helpful advice available on the Web, but much of that info is still biased towards selling new televisions.   And opportunistic retailers are milking the public’s confusion for all it’s worth to rack up massive profits on truckloads of needless new TV sales during the holidays.

Here’s a hilarious video that perfectly captures the confusion surrounding the forthcoming switch to digital television broadcasts.   Like Clems says, it’s funny ’cuz it’s true!

Plenty To be Thankful For

Despite not posting about it sooner, we had a terrific Thanksgiving last week!   Although we sorely missed having Whit at the table with us this year (Get well soon, Whit!) it was still really special not only because it was Liam’s first Thanksgiving, but also because we were honored to share the holiday with Clemens, Sophie, & Siena, a.k.a. Liam’s boo.

Here you see Liam eying the spread, eager to dig in.   Oh, he liked the turkey alright, but he loved the cranberry sauce!   And our guests of honor, slightly dazed by the Tryptophan, posed for a terrific family photo:

Liam at Thanksgiving dinner Clemens, Sophie, & Siena Pangan