111016Coal burns, steam rises, gears turn, the magic happens. My iron bones move, bending at the metal pivot-joints, I walk my clanking way. That's not the magic. The magic is that with turning gears and rising steam, somehow, somehow, I think. I AM.
Steampunk Week I
111017My boiler fires and I breathe heated air. My envelope fills, lifting me away from the cruel tethers of the mooring tower. Construct I may be, but I am not one of the plodders, whose sorry lot is to clank their way through dust and mud on heavy feet. I float above the lands and seas, I cavort amongst the winds, I reach up to caress the sun and heavens with my gentle, graceful soaring. My iron ribs, with their gossamer hide, stroke the clouds as I sail quietly through the skies.
Steampunk Week I
111018Gears, gears, gears. Sometimes it seems my whole life is searching through a mountain of gears, all for just the right gear. Circumference, power ratio, tooth length, you wouldn't believe how many gears there are. The building makes it all worthwhile. Fitting together the brass, squeezing all the gears and the steambox together. Intricate puzzles, that fit together juuust so, and create such wonders, such magic. Oh, the Making is worth it. The Making is worth it.
Steampunk Week I
111019I hunted tigers in the forests of Ranthambore, I gathered sapphires along the fjords of Svalbard. I traced the Carpathian coalseams, I tapped the gasfields of the Etherlands. My gearworks craft the wheels on which the Empire turns, I stole the keys to the Western Towers of Cathay's Great Wall. Years of exploits, weary, I withdrew to the Highlands. I am restless...
Steampunk Week I
111020Eat more chocolate.
111020They call us the Cogs. We're here, there, everywhere, and we aren't worth much. But the High People are happy to set us to work they're too good for. We all look the same, from a distance. When you get up close, if you come down the alleys and to the gutters, you can see we're all different and we each have our own special purpose. We may look ragged, we may look tattered, but through the dirt and muck we each shine and glisten. We are the Cogs, and the High People forget. The High People forget that without cogs, the machines don't run. And the High People forget that Cogs have teeth.
Steampunk Week I
111021These people, they're always wanting more steam. More steam to move their aerostats. More steam to move their constructs. More steam to turn the gears in their difference engines. More steam, more steam, more steam! Don't I give enough as it is? The more droplets I give of myself, the more they want. Why aren't these humans ever satisfied?
Steampunk Week I
111021In the King's Own Mountain Brigade, we're supposed to specialise in high-altitude, harsh terrain combat. Instead, we've ended up as "laboratory assistants" for the Natural Research Battalion, sitting in the middle of this miserable desert. The NARBs build weird machines and us LA's test them. Last time, I got a faceful of steam, near blinded me for two weeks, but my mate Iain got three gears and a brassule in his eye. The Brigade has taken more casualties here than from our last field of engagement. I hope they bring us home before too much more testing. Och, gotta find my shako, my number was just called. I'm off to the testing range. As the Brigade motto says, it's time to "Scale the peaks of glory for King and Country."
Steampunk Week I
(This one wasn't well-received, so another Final Thought was provided for today.)
111022Before the Steam, there wasn't much call for coal. Oh sure, there were coal furnaces, but they weren't as ubiquitous as they've become. Now, the Coalfinders Guild never rests. We are always working, always searching for more and better coal. The colliers retrieve the black gold, but what would they do without the Coalfinders? We hear rumours of a coal-sniffing construct, but I'm not worried. How can a construct be as good as a person? The Coalfinders Guild will never be equalled, by construct, by Cog, by gearman, by anything.
Steampunk Week I
111023The bridge over the snowy river is icy and cold, but warm muffins await on the other side.
111024The brush you use to paint your life works best when dipped in a palette of many colors.
111025With his rallying cry of, "Yo ho ho and a bucket of batter," Captain Cake was never the most feared of all pirates, but he was well-loved by his crew.
111026Socks are one of the most important articles of clothing you'll ever have. They keep your feet warm in the cold, they can be removed to cool off the feet, and a good pair of socks is comforting in their embrace. Also, discomfort is compounded exponentially when socks get wet, when they aren't thick enough, when they have holes, or when they're missing entirely. Socks, they don't just warm your feet, they sustain your soul.
111027When playing for keeps, make sure you really want to keep what you win.
111028October winds blow away the dust and leaves of our old sorrows and fading regrets. Winter's cold regard is waiting just over the horizon for a chance to pierce the veils we've wrapped around the hopes fresh-planted for the coming year.
111029Winter's cold sears your strings, causes your pins to slip, makes your curves disharmonious, and shakes your pillars, freezing your music to your fingers and turning your eyes longingly to Summer's blessed heat. Until it actually arrives and your glue melts, smokewisps rise from your woods, and your fingers blister when touching your strings.
111030Cow flatulence is contributing to global warming, and may be a major cause of the death of life on Earth. However, this will be of great benefit to a race of methane-breathing aliens, who will adopt the Earth as their new home. The Circle of Life is a wondrous thing.
111031The adults in Charlie Brown's world are truly evil. The other kids are mean to Charlie Brown, but that sort of cruelty is part of the predatory nature of children. The adults are a different story. How else can you explain that a neighborhood of adults would all give a single child rocks -- all rocks and nothing but rocks -- at Halloween, other than that they were evil? They must have all planned ahead and laid in a supply of good-sized rocks in preparation for a metaphorical stoning of this one child.
111101Bunnies and lambies and other small furry animals are cute and cuddly, but beware when their eyes start glowing. When their eyes start glowing you know that racial memories of stews and mint jellies and gravies and sauces and roasted carrots and potatoes are at the forefront of their minds.
111102An unfortunate mistranslation of Revelation left us with the Seven Seals, when it was actually referring to the Seven Squirrels. The first four Squirrels are the Squirrels of the Hypotenuse, who spread across the world during the times of trigonometry. These Squirrels are named Bob, Timmy, Louisa, and Goober. The Fifth Squirrel reminds us that the martyrs and saints are blessed to be in the company of the righteous Squirrels of God. The Sixth Squirrel accompanies Christ on his return, and the righteous enjoy presents from the Squirrels of God. The Seventh Squirrel brings about the expectant silence in Heaven before an angelic jazz band performs for God.
111103I am glad that teeth have tap roots and not branch roots.
111104Jumper cables are a good tool for teaching a Buddhist principle. You should keep jumper cables in your car and give people jumps whenever they need. These good actions will return to you when you, in turn, need a jump yourself. Thus, you will gain the benefit of good carma.
111105A trail blazed in a forest doesn't do much good if the trees wander around when you aren't looking.
111106A squirrel's tail whisks away troubles and cares, as well as warning of dangers. A tiger's tail entrances and mesmerizes, before pouncing and rending. A dog's tail welcomes and enfolds, and then you're covered with slobber and hair. When watching a pretty tail moving in the sun, be sure to know what manner of beast lies before you.
111107Whales have little trouble with the New York Times crossword puzzles, but they are always baffled by the New Yorker cartoons.
111108Bulls are actually quite careful in china shops. It's candy shops where they really have problems.
111109Always be kind to raccoons. If you aren't, they will gather outside your hearth and threshold, and dance to summon the Guardian Masker. As sure as their tails have stripes, you'll rue the day you mistreated the raccoons.
111110The Winds of Autumn send leaves of many shapes and colors scurrying, and you never know what sort will find its way to your door.
111111There is ever a need for more plowshares and pruning hooks.
111112Full Moon looks down, lighting the path of the night children as they forage for their evening meal. Half Moon looks down in profile, not wanting to watch the courting of the night children, yet unable to fully hide her eyes. New Moon hides her face in her hands, not wanting to witness the mischief and shenanigans of the night children.
111113Long-lost friends can return unexpectedly, bringing joy and happiness to a weary heart.
111114At their most basic, clocks measure the lifetime of Man. But only real clocks. Digital clocks are too impersonal, too disconnected from what they're measuring. Real clocks -- clocks with faces, clocks with hands, clocks with a heartbeat -- have a better connection with what they're measuring. The sweeping second hand circles 'round, closing in on the minute hand and the hour hand, subtly reminiscent of Atropos' scissors that cut each soul's thread of life.
111115Faerie needs a city for its gates to work. There's no crossing through -- or back -- if there isn't a city on the other end. A city is only good for so long, though, until it's used up and the faerie gates no longer work there. Then it's onwards to another city, and you hope it's a good one and not one of those wretched ones. Faerie has been around a long time, and new cities don't come along very often. The cities are mostly used up now. There are only two left before the gates are sealed, maybe forever.
111116Chocolate and hot peppers are both proof that there is a God and that we are well-loved.
111117Glaciers are the deep thinkers of the Kingdom of Water. They are slow and deliberate in their ponderings, sometimes taking an Age to fully explore an idea. Their logic is crystal clear, though it can seem slippery and difficult to get your hands around. They seem to take the path of least resistance and to be deep-set in their ways; however, they move in their own time, slowly and methodically following the old paths and carving out the new paths required to wend their proper way to the final sea of conclusions.
111118Winter is coming. I discussed the quality of the weather with two experts. They were woolly bear caterpillars. One had more black wool than copper wool; the other had more copper than black. One said the winter would be harsh; the other said the winter would be mild. If we can't get consistent forecasts from two such illustrious weather-jacks, each having a deep and intuitive feel for the weather, how can we hope for any accuracy at all from mere humans, when the only tools they have at their disposal are satellites, and computers, and networks of weather instruments?
111119It's amazing how "I want something to eat right now" has turned into an astounding variety of over-unders, side-by-sides, "French doors", stacked threesomes, peekaboo drawers, hideaway "butter slots", crispers, freshness areas, two-up/one-downs, stream dispensers, and "the frigid zone" -- and in any combination one might desire. Of course that's what I'm talking about; what else could it have been?
111120Packing peanuts are the favorite food of packingderms.
111120Why is Evil Santa the epitome of bad holiday icons? Sure, Santa is supposed to bring you gifts, so an Evil Santa is a Bad Thing. An Evil Tree for Arbor Day or an Evil Turkey for Thanksgiving would just be silly. An Evil Maypole sounds kind of perverse, or like the premise of a cheesy teen slasher/soft-core horror flick. The truly terrible evil holiday icon would be the Evil Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny is supposed to bring you chocolate. Despite his other evil deeds, Evil Easter Bunny would keep all your chocolate for himself and not share even a tiny bit of it. That is truly the most evil thing of all.
111121Why are some foods paired with certain other foods and with very little else? Peanut butter and jelly is grand; peanut butter and okra, not so much. Pistachios and plutonium pudding, also pretty darn good; pistachios and pumpernickel leave something to be desired. Pickles and plutonium pudding, also not a good fit, but pickles and tomatoes are a delight. Is there a secret committee that gets to decide about these pairings? If so, I'd like to nominate myself for membership. I'm willing to experiment, plus I've got some definite ideas about things that should and shouldn't be done with certain foods.
111122I dearly hope that within ten years researchers discover that plain white bread cures heart disease, all cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, alcoholism, impotence, baldness, and a thousand other major and minor diseases.
111123If Ben Franklin had prevailed and the turkey had been made the USA national symbol, would we be eating eagle and stuffing every Thanksgiving?
111124I've been wondering about the First Thanksgiving. What sort of sports comprised the post-dinner, tryptophan-daze spectator entertainment at the First Thanksgiving. Capture the Hag? The Scrub-the Bowl championship game? Did the pilgrims eat so much they had to loosen the buckles on their hats a few notches? Did they have that bizarro cranberry jelly way back then? If so, what was it shaped like, since canning wouldn't be invented for centuries? Was there a 7-11 available for those last-minute items and bags of ice?
111125The Electron Wars, fought by the disciples of Tesla and Edison, ravaged North America, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying several major cities and a multitude of smaller towns. They instilled a deep distrust of electrical energy in the people of the world. Electrical energy was seen as too destructive, too dangerous, to be used to power cities and transportation. Why use something as unpredictable and malevolent as electricity when there's good, reliable, safe steam and coal power?
111126Calling yourself a writer because you have a thick dictionary is like calling yourself a chef because you have a big list of ingredients. To be a good writer, you also have to have a thesaurus.
111127Ovens are magical things. They give us reliable, consistent, wood-free, indoor cooking fires that are relatively safe and rarely run the risk of burning down the house.
111128Two ravens sit on the back of the couch. One is thinking deep thoughts; the other is remembering, remembering. Half a monster lies before the ravens, staring blindly upwards. Nearby, my staff leans against the wall, with the hammer and the words -- all the words -- at its foot. And I sit, wondering where to go from here.
111129It is widely thought that science misses the beauty of the world. Snow gives us an inverted bell curve showing an example where this is not true. From a distance, snow is beautiful as it covers the hillside, lies in the trees, falls from the sky. Looking closer, the beauty ebbs as the snow turns to slushy mud, it must be shoveled, it interferes with getting from here to there, it causes damage and loss of life. Closer still, the crystalline structure of snowflakes is gorgeous and holds through so many variations. That structure is invisible, completely hidden without the tools and questing eye of science.
111130Whose side is the brain really on? You'd think it was on the side of the person as a whole, but I'm not so sure about that. It's not the spleen that says, "I'm gonna jump my Harley over this river." It isn't the lungs that say, "I know smoking causes all kinds of health problems, but I'm gonna have my cigars." It's not the stomach that says, "Sure I'm 100 pounds overweight and have diabetes, but I'll have that whole cake for dinner." It isn't the bones that say, "Hey guys, watch this!" I think the real question is why are our brains trying to kill us?
111201Words are often thought to be insubstantial, wisps of breath, transient blobs of thought. This is far from the truth. Words have physical properties. Words have substance, texture, taste. Words are things.
Word Week 1
111202Words have substance, with a distinct physical, textural aspect. Words can be sharp, blunt, cutting, bludgeoning, soft, brittle, hard, heavy, light, strong, weak. They can be used as a weapon or as a shield, a carrot or a stick. Words can be measured, they can be weighed, they have length. Words are physical things.
Word Week 1
111203Words have temperature, though not one that can be measured in a strict numeric scale. They can be hot, cold, lukewarm, tepid, warm, cool, frosty, icy, searing. They can burn and they can freeze. Words are physical things with relative temperatures.
Word Week 1
111204Words have taste. These tastes follow the traditional four basic tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty. Words may have an umami undercurrent, but it works in conjunction with the other four tastes. Some words feel good in the mouth, but that's more related to the textural, physical aspect. More refined palates may speak with a more highly honed tastiness to the words, but the basic four tastes serve most people very well. Words are physical, tasty things with relative temperatures.
Word Week 1
111205Words have color. Words have color, but it isn't as well-defined as the other physical attributes and word hue tends to be spread over large groups of words. Consequently, you can have blue language, or even colorful language, but that's about as far as word color goes. Words are blue, words are colorful, or words are of such unremarkable color that the color isn't remarked upon. Words are physical, tasty things with relative temperatures and mostly poorly defined color.
Word Week 1
111206Everyone, even Mozart, sounds better with an egg shake.
111207Elephants communicate over very long distances using very low frequency vocalizations. For some reason, this means of communication has baffled scientists. There are two simple reasons why elephants do so. First, they don't have thumbs so they can't text each other on their cell phones. When they try texting, they just end up smashing their phones to pieces. Second, they have stubby arms and can't hold their cell phones up to their ears. If they manage to dial anyone without smashing their phone, they have to lay it on the ground and they spend the whole call shouting into the phone without ever hearing what the other guy is saying.
111208Despite modern mythology -- as embodied in songs, books, TV, and movies -- Santa's sleigh is only pulled by reindeer while he's travelling through northern Europe. Other, more indigenous, animals are used in other regions.
Within the Arctic Circle, the sleigh is pulled by one polar bear and in northern Asia by three Asian Great Brown Bears.
In Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, a team of eight huskies pulls the sleigh.
In central and southern Asia, twelve cranes are harnessed up.
Six kangaroos and two platypuses pull Santa on a rather bumpy ride around Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.
Onwards to Africa, where a troop of 18 chimps pull Santa on his noisy way, with six camels taking over in northern Africa.
One elephant handles Pakistan, India, and the Middle East.
Seven wild boars are enlisted to pull the sleigh through non-northern Europe.
Two jaguars help Santa make swift work of South and Central America.
Santa finishes up in North America, with the help of over 1,000 squirrels -- and if you know anything about squirrels you'll understand why he finishes up there.
111209Abuse by religious authorities has long been a problem. My heart goes out to all the victims of the Aztec priesthood.
111210When hiking in the great oak forests of England, there is a fascinating animal you should watch for. Keep your eyes up in the trees and you might catch a glimpse of the uncommon English Oaktopus up in the branches. The oaktopus will smoodge its way out along a limb using its eight articulated arms, and then it'll use its two barknacle-encrusted primary arms to swing from tree to tree.
111211I am intrigued by tea. It's weird that someone thought, "Say, let's put these leaves in this boiling water, and then we'll drink it." But I do understand how that happened. The strange thing about tea is everything else. How was it decided what were the acceptable things to put in tea? Why sugar and not salt? Why honey and not chocolate? Why milk and not mustard? Stranger yet is that it was decided to add anything in the first place. "Here's a nice hot cup of nasty, bitter tea. Would you care for something to add to it so it doesn't taste bad?" Tea is very much a distinctly human thing. You'd never catch a dog making a cup of tea.
111212The gears in a clock are always turning, turning, turning; the teeth of the gears forever chewing, eating, swallowing time.
111213Now is the time when the children of Cornwall eagerly look forward to the arrival of Christmas Porcupine and his helper Boxing Pup. Christmas Porcupine arrives with chocolates and sweets speared on his quills. Boys and girls take turns trying to snatch a treat from the quills without getting jabbed. Everyone can get a single treat, but only the best-behaved children are able to get more than one of Christmas Porcupine's sweets without getting their fingers skewered. But everyone is welcome to try, and Boxing Pup will be along the next day to help the punctured and tend those who couldn't resist giving Christmas Porcupine a nice cuddle.
111214For years I've been afraid of sock monkeys. They terrorized me with their bullying ways, with the danger they presented, with the grievous bodily harm I risked if ever I were in the same room with them. It was only after my wife started constructing sock monkeys that I realized their name described what they were made of, not what they did to you.
111215Trash pits are a gold mine of information for archeologists. Food remnants, old tools, broken pottery, all this debris gives an archeologist a myriad of information about past cultures in an area. Are our current waste disposal techniques and economic practices destroying the trash pit as an information source for future archeologists? Will they think we had a banana plantation far north of the tropics because the landfill has lots of banana skins? Will they conclude that we had extensive tuna and peanut farms locally due to all the tuna cans and peanut butter jars? Rather, I think there will be enough other documentary evidence that trash pits will be significantly less important in future. Due to the explosion of non-local goods shipped hither and yon, trash pits could well be archeologically useless for anything beyond broad generalizations. Too much random, disconnected data will provide very little from which to draw useful hypotheses and theories. That's just taking local landfills into account, and doesn't even consider that many landfills ship their trash to regional landfills, or even ship their trash overseas. From now on trash will just be trash.
Some foods are rather deceptively named. Any schoolchild can tell you there's no ham in a hamburger, and that no religious figures are served up in a bowl of Quaker oats. However, the name-based fraud of food goes much deeper. Here are a few examples of this food fraud. Do not be deceived by these.
Pearl onions contain no pearls.
Crackers don't contain crack.
Pancakes have no icing.
Bread seldom contains money.
Grasshoppers are bug-free.
Buttermilk isn't deceptively named, but it sounds so much better than it actually is.
Kentucky Derby Pie contains no horse.
Brownies contain no fairyfolk.
Penguins contain no actual penguin parts.
Gorgonzola rarely contains more than trace amounts of gorgons.
111217Tacos are a fascinating, versatile food that are tiny little casseroles. You build a taco and immediately eat it. Was it a good set of ingredients? Were the proportions good? If so, you know what you can do for the next taco. If not, you haven't committed an entire meal to it and you can try another combination pretty quickly. They support individual preferences, as well, so tacos are great for having with other people.
111218Loki is probably the jötunn, a Norse giant, with the most closely followed genetic history. His father was a giant and his mother was... something unspecified. With the jötunn Angrboda, Loki fathered the wolf Fenrir, the world serpent Jürmungandr, and Hel, the ruler of the underworld. With a stallion as the sire, Loki (in a mare's form) gave birth to an eight-legged horse. What on earth is going on with jötunn genes that would allow such wild, unpredictable offspring to be created? Gregor Mendel would have an interesting time looking at the genetics of the jötunn, if it didn't drive him mad.
111219"Good egg" refers to a trustworthy or decent person. There's a connotation that this person is uncommon or unusual. This raises a question: if good eggs are unusual, then most eggs we eat must be bad. I don't think I've ever had an egg that tasted bad, so it follows that bad eggs taste good. If bad eggs taste good, good eggs must taste fantastic. I need to find a cannibal to tell me how a good egg tastes.
111219What kind of exercise is best for anaerobic bacteria?
111220We are each of us a type of tune or song. One might be a strathspey, springing nimbly hither and yon; one might be a march, moving steadily and accomplishing great things; one might be a lament, barely getting through each day as a result of some personal misery. I think I am an air, but not necessarily a slow air. Sometimes I am carried along by the tune, as a novice rider on a trained horse; sometimes the reins of the tune are firmly in my grasp. There's a lightness that surrounds a sense of depth. I have been a 3/4 march, driving onwards and stepping over obstacles in my path, and waltzes and reels and jigs and quicksteps and who knows what else? Change is an integral part of music, so I fully expect my tune type to change, and do so many times to come. So, any thoughts as to what type of tune you are?
111221Cucumbers are a sure way to kill a scone. Not even a cup of good tea can rescue a scone from a cucumber. Strawberry jam makes a valiant effort, but cucumbers are just too powerful. Pre-pickled cucumbers, what those of us in the community refer to as ferals or rabid cukes, really should be regulated by the Geneva Conventions.
111222I must hope that no one ever finds these writings, lest they too see the horrors lurking behind every shadow." What on earth is wrong with the people in Lovecraft's stories? If you don't want anyone to ever know the horrors you've seen, then DON'T WRITE ABOUT THEM! If you don't want anyone to read the forbidden tome of eldritch lore that has you on the brink of insanity and death, THROW THE BOOK IN THE FIRE! Use your brain, for goodness sake! Do you also need to be told to turn on the lights when you go into a house where there've been 20 mysterious, unsolved murders?
111223The Winter Solstice has arrived. The Winter Ram and the Celestial Sheep have escaped the Big Farmer and the Little Farmer (also known as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.) They are escaping into the Hills of Arcturus, though they won't reach them before the Equinox. We can be assured the sun will rise for another year.
111224Sitting in a cold car, huddled under coats, is an odd way to spend Christmas Eve. Perhaps appropriate though.
111225Such a small start. A baby. From there, love everyone, no exceptions. Treat everyone with respect and dignity, no exceptions. Justice for everyone, no exceptions. Help those who need help, feed those who need food. Above, beneath, surrounding all this is love. No exceptions. Is that so much to ask? Such a small thing.
111226When I was a kid, the gifts of the Wise Men was the aspect of the Christmas story that really confused me. Not all the gifts, though. The gold made sense. Gold was gold; who couldn't use some gold, after all. Myrrh didn't confuse me, so much as just being something I didn't know what it was. But it had a cool name. The frankincense, now the frankincense confused me. No matter how many times I was told what frankincense was, I always associated it with Frankenstein and I was absolutely baffled as to how Frankenstein fit into the Christmas story.
111227I've started to wonder if the Yellow Pages is a strange conglomeration of fiction and non-fiction. It's a reference book, so you could assume it's a work of non-fiction. However, it also contains advertising. Further, it's entire purpose is to contain advertisements. This makes it a reference book of fiction. Maybe the Yellow Pages is what it looks like when matter and anti-matter come together to create something.
111229I think dinosaurs must have had terrible trouble getting to sleep. They'd be lying in bed, trying to sleep, and they'd start counting sheep. Two thoughts would run through their minds that would completely interfere with sleep. First, they'd think, "What on earth is that soft, fluffy thing? I've never seen anything like it!" That would be followed by, "It looks awfully tasty though." There's no way a dinosaur is going to be sleeping while counting sheep.
111230Wolves howl at the moon for many reasons. They are sharing their secrets. They are passing along news. They are screaming their frustrations. They are wailing their pain. They are shouting their joy. They are confiding in an old friend. Wolves are completely at ease talking to the moon, and with the moon patiently listening to every word, every note, every howl, every cough, every whisper. Wolves are not used to the moon talking back and the Long Frenzy will follow if that night arrives when the moon is silent no lomger. Wolves are a little worried, they feel on the cusp of something. They don't know yet, but that night is coming. The moon has pondered long and is preparing to howl back.
111231There's something about New Year's Eve that calls out for hot chocolate. You can consider it to be ending the old year with a final memory of chocolate, or starting the new year with a grand kick-off of chocolate. Heating and drinking the chocolate will soothe the bad remnants from the old year, or warm thoughts and hopes for the new year. Regardless of how you look at it, hot chocolate is a superb way to mentally, spiritually, tastefully mark the transition from one year to the next.