Merry Christmas!

No, this post is not late.  Because contrary to popular opinion, Christmas is a season – it begins on December 25 and lasts for a full twelve days (ever hear of the twelve days of Christmas?  hint: 12/25 isn’t the twelfth!).  Thus, today is the fourth* day of Christmas, and we have eight more to go.  So a very Merry Christmas to you!

Mike and I celebrated the end of Advent and beginning of Christmas with my family in Richland this year.  We just returned home last night (thanks for the delays, United Airlines) after a week of food, games, and gift-giving.  Unlike last year, both of my aunts managed to overlap our visit by a full four days!  I also got to dig out the long-neglected boxes of Christmas decorations from my old house, before Dad moved in with Lynne.  Aunt Pam and I especially enjoyed putting out the metal reindeer fashioned from Budweiser cans that my grandfather made and the Glockenspiel that has been in her family for years.  Lynne hadn’t had a chance to put any ornaments on the tree yet, so I seized the opportunity to hang every last plug-in talking starship and Star Trek character!  Aunt Pam and I made a last minute outing to Target to ensure everybody had a stocking for Christmas morning, and Mike and I frantically worked to sort and wrap all the gifts we had amazon ship to Richland for us.  Did I mention we ate a lot of food?  We also enjoyed two games of Settlers of Catan and numerous rounds of wii bowling.  It didn’t snow, but the outside temperature actually felt like December, which was refreshing.

I gave several people Galileoscopes this year, and the best gift I received was probably the Canon PowerShot G11 I’ve been wanting since I first heard of it.  The case is still on its way, but the camera is terrific!  It is the best of both worlds between a DSLR and a pocket-sized point-and-shoot.  It can be completely automatic or completely manual or anything in between.  It has a viewfinder when you don’t want to mess with the LCD, a flip-outtable screen when you do, and a low light mode I can’t wait to point at the night sky.

Now that we’re back in San Diego, there is loads to be done even though I am technically on “winter” “break.”  (Each word deserves its own set of quotes.)  I am going to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, DC on January 3 and need to make a poster containing results from my research between now and then.  My astronomy PhD applications need to be completed (so far: 4 down, 5 to go).  And this week we’re hosting a New Year’s party at our place on Thursday, helping a friend move on Tuesday, and going to see Avatar in IMAX 3D on Wednesday.  Mike is flying up to Seattle on Friday morning to do Christmas with his family and returning Sunday night; I fly to DC on Sunday morning and return the following Thursday night.  Then I have jury duty on January 12 and classes start up on January 20.  With temperatures in the 70s it is neither “winter” nor “break,” but it is an awfully fun adventure, so keep it coming.

With that, I leave you some of the inaugural pictures I shot using my new camera.

*for the record, this entry was written and posted on 12/28.  WordPress just sucks at DST is all.