Update for 12/31/2017


Highlights from my Christmas vacation, part 2. I was with my family at our annual gathering at our parents’ house.



Sunday morning we visited an Episcopal church we’d visited the previous year. It was just the liturgical shot in the arm I needed to feel like Christmas meant something. It made me think I want to look for a church like that when (if?) I move to a new area for grad school.

This church also has a #pipeorgan.

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

And a #triptych.

A post shared by Andy Culbertson (@thinkulum) on

That evening we went to a Christmas Eve service at our usual Baptist church, the one we grew up in. The worship band was very polished. I wondered what it takes to refine the performances to that degree.


Later we watched Christmas for a Dollar. Usually I only tolerate Christmas movies, but after the first few awkward scenes this one charmed me into forgetting its flaws.


Then I spent all night finishing my secret project. Literally all night. I usually do stay up late Christmas Eve, but this year I got no sleep. But it was fine. The next day I survived on adrenaline till the afternoon and took a nap.


What was this secret project? Every year I do something creative for the labels on my Christmas presents. Usually the theme relates to whatever I’m into at the time. This year my theme was futurism, and I made each person a Christmas card (really a short letter) as if we were all living on Mars 200 years in the future and working together at an educational institute. I stole the idea of writing a story from Isaac Arthur’s “Quiet Revolution” video and most of the backstory from his Outward Bound series.

Although it was only a handful of Christmas cards, this was the biggest creative project I’ve done in a while, and I learned a few things. So I’d like to comment on it more in a separate post in the next week or two.



Monday was Christmas, and we followed our traditional program of stockings, cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and then the rest of the presents. Abbie is always the gift distributor, and we take turns opening them from youngest person (Kimberly) to oldest (our dad). My Mars cards went over decently well. I had a good time explaining the story.

We didn’t end up taking an official Christmas photo this time, but I did take a couple of Christmas morning candids with my 360-degree camera.

In past years we’d noted that our Christmas dinners were basically repeats of Thanksgiving, but this year we decided to all-out do it on purpose. I say you can never have enough Thanksgiving, so I was happy with this plan. We ended up with leftovers for the rest of the week. Not to mention all the desserts we were already eating our way through.

In the evening Michael placed the last piece of the puzzle.

Later we played Abbie’s new game, Dixit, which I’ve been curious about for ages since hearing it was similar to another game I like, Tajemnicze Domostwo (or Mysterium, if you prefer American). Our lunch game group at work just calls it Polish Ghosts. In both you’re interpreting cards of surreal art. While they’re fairly simple, both games are very challenging, but I enjoy them anyway. They engage parts of my brain that like to be active.



Tuesday my dad and Abbie and I took our annual trip to Half Price Books for their post-Christmas sale. I bought a couple of Umberto Eco books I’d had my eye on, Foucault’s Pendulum and The Name of the Rose. When I get around to them, I’m thinking of listening to the audiobooks while I read. Could be interesting.

When we came home, Michael was scanning a bunch of our old family photos into the computer. Hundreds of them. I’m very grateful he took on this project, and I look forward to poring over the results.

Over dinner we watched the anime Abbie had given me, Garden of Words. I’d seen it before, which is how I knew I wanted to own it. And I initially watched it because the Internet had shown me it’s very screenshottable. It makes me want to photograph quiet corners of the area where I live that characterize it.

Audible was having a 2-for-1-credit sale, so after looking through the list for books I couldn’t get at a library, I settled on A Deepness in the Sky and Red Mars, the first in a trilogy on the settlement of Mars. It’s reportedlyย very good. If you hadn’t noticed a theme, I seem to be into Mars at the moment. I commented to Michael, who’s read the book, that it’s good I have the Mars globe now for reference, and he said yeah, that would’ve been helpful.



Wednesday we took Abbie to the airport. When we got home, this bird was hanging out in the front yard we share with our neighbors.


That night we binge watched some Nova, and I found out birds are actually very smart! This did not help decrease my wish for a pet bird. I found myself researching which ones are the smartest.

I also dug around in a box of old books and discovered a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy books my parents had given me for my first birthday. I’d forgotten about those. I shipped them home to become part of my nostalgia collection.


While snooping into books around the house, I found out that one of my mom’s old Bibles I grew up with isย very old. It was a gift to her grandmother in 1927!



I’d brought my winter coat home mainly so my mom could help me restuff it, though it turned out I needed it for the actual weather. Thursday we finally got around to looking at what we could do, and when I found her searching online for a replacement coat, I decided to take her advice and just buy a new one. The one I have is 20 years old. So I ordered an Eddie Bauer, and we’ll see how that is.


That night our binge watching session was Madam Secretary. Each episode drew me in, even when I tried to escape by leaving the room. I think it was very well cast, and I was happy to see Lilith from Frasier as the Secretary’s chief of staff. I put it in my Netflix queue to probably revisit at home.



Friday was my flight, which we thought might be delayed due to snow, but thankfully it wasn’t. Then a trip home via Airport Rides by Jeremy, with a detour to TGI Friday’s for a late dinner.

This was a really nice vacation. We didn’t go out and do much besides a movie, some restaurants, and church, but somehow when I’m with my family, I don’t feel the need to do much.

Life management


Saturday began my new project to organize my life. For the first phase I’m trying to clean up a pile or two in my apartment each day.

This entry was posted in 360-degree camera, Board games, Books, Church, Clothes, Cooking, Dusk, Futurism, Holidays, Housekeeping, Life management, Movies, Sleep, Spirituality, Travel, TV, Weeknotes, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Update for 12/31/2017

  1. Linda W. says:

    Looks like a very fun Christmas! I also have Dixit (very fun). I recommend Exploding Kittens!

    I read Name of the Rose years ago. Hope you know Latin.

    • Andy says:

      Oh yeah, I played Exploding Kittens at my geek meetup a while back. It was fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And I will try to learn Latin this year so I can read it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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