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3:25 am EST        -2°F (-19°C) in Dearborn, MI

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First and foremost, a Merry Christmas to one and all. I know that some of my readers do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but I feel that the holiday has an important non-denominational spiritual meaning as well. This is a day to give of yourself to others, especially to those less fortunate, and to reach out to others with a sense of joy. Those are universal ideals that transcend Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or even atheism, and if everybody would realize that, the world would be a far better place.

That said, I have to relate a funny story. My sister and I watched a short snippet of the midnight Mass celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome; WDIV-TV (channel 4 in Detroit) tape-delayed it five hours and 35 minutes, starting its broadcast at 11:35 pm EST. As the readings from the Bible were going on, I wondered aloud to my sister if Pope John Paul II himself would read the Gospel; a couple minutes later, a very cute young Italian deacon approached the lectern, and I quipped, "No, I guess it's the cute deacon instead." My sister got a good laugh out of me, joking, "Oh dear, you really are going to hell now." I responded, "Oh well, I might as well take the scenic route on my way there." We had quite a bit of fun with that while the young man went on chanting the Gospel reading in Latin. smile

With assistance from my sister's boyfriend, I have completed a computer-related project for my mother. Recently, her Windows 98 machine began crashing frequently, and from what I understand, it was almost impossible for her to accomplish anything with all the blue screens; so he nuked the hard drive and installed Windows XP from a CD he had. A couple days ago, I finished installing all of the most necessary software like printer drivers, Norton AntiVirus, and Adobe Acrobat Reader, but some documents still had to be transferred. Last night, we hauled the old HP machine from 1995 upstairs, connected it to the home network, and moved all of the files for a family-tree program my mother uses over to her machine. For my part, I'm just amazed that Windows XP will actually run that Windows 95 program.

Of course, that part of that project had to be done while my father was gone; I'm personally getting very annoyed with the fact that I can't seem to do anything without some form of complaint or criticism. Instead of thanking my mother and me for saving him a trip to buy four lithium "button" batteries for some of their car key-fobs, he bitched and moaned about the fact that it cost $13 — without even knowing what the prices were at other stores. Instead of being happy with the fact that I was clearing the end of the driveway for him, he had to demand I use a shovel instead of the snowthrower, and then fly completely off the handle when I had to clear the part of the street I had just covered with snow — without even stopping to think that if I failed to do that, the next city plow that passed by would just push it all right back into our driveway. I mean, I can get along with him when it comes to meaningless shit like a football game or a James Bond movie on TV, but it should be pretty obvious why a major reason for my depression is feeling I can never do well enough at anything (and the resulting "why bother trying?" attitude). I'm getting better at not letting that crap get to me; I just ignored his shovel instruction, flipped him off when he screamed at me for doing the street, and walked away to my next task of playing Frisbee with the dog when he stormed out the side door for another tirade. Even as recently as several months ago, I would have internalized such criticism and become even more harsh on myself than he had been. I have to admit I still have a fair bit of psychological work to do, even in spite of the advances I've made.

I'd better be off to bed. We're going to be visiting my grandmother for Christmas dinner later on today, and then I am going to go back out to my truck on Sunday.