The Coyne'r'Butch Christmas Letter 2014

  Hi, Everyone! It's another Christmas letter from Coyne'r'Butch.

Thinking of you and wishing you
a wonderful holiday season.

Merry Christmas

The Category is: Florida Christmas Decorations

I ran across this festive character in my very own office. I bet you never saw a dancing flamingo Santa before, but here you go. Trust me, here in Florida, he fits right in.

Of course, I didn't even know about him until last week. I usually work from home these days and, if I'm at the office at all, it's usually one day a week. But I just had to have his picture.

So I asked permission of the owner, Chris, and discovered the rest of the story: He dances (YouTube). This isn't exactly a professional work, because it's my very first YouTube video upload, but it should give you the idea.

The picture at left was taken across the street from the St. John Lutheran Church in Orlando. The "ribbons" are LED strips; they strike you as very bright white. Quite a beautiful display I thought, and a fresh approach.

(It is kind of "on the edge" from this angle; from north and south it is more like a tree of light.)

I didn't notice the little gold "character" at the bottom, at the time I took the picture, so I'm sorry—I don't know what it is, or if it's just a bush. Maybe if I get down that way tonight or tomorrow night I can focus on it.

Me and My Family

I'm fine, other than the fact I'm turning into a potato. I need more exercise, but the 2009 bout of undulant fever has seriously damaged my enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits. I'm going to make a resolution to do something about that this year.

Work is, well, work.

My kitties are doing well, Grace, Charlie, and Bright, from last year.

I've added a new member to the family: Shadow. She moved in from outside, has chosen to live with me. She's not comfortable with the others yet, which is soon likely to prove an interesting problem.

Drive-By Humanity

This has been a bad year for humanity; the kind of humanity where people treat each other humanely. You've probably followed the stories: The Ferguson incident; Eric Garner's death; Elliot Rodger's killing spree and his manifesto against women; and the torture report.

I think we all need a "drive-by". Oh, not that kind: An Abby Sciuto drive-by.

Abby Sciuto is one of the oddest characters on television: She is a character on the show NCIS, the team's forensics expert; the absolute antithesis of the typical science nerd. She is the team's "mother"; always ready with a hug or a tear and...just absolutely-positively and unique, Abby. One of her team mates, Tony, once described her as, "a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron smothered in contradictions in terms. Sleeps in a coffin. Really, the happiest goth you'll ever meet." (She's not goth, even though she dresses in many aspects of the style.)

Abby is famous, among other things, for her "interventions"; wherein she reasons with, supports, someone scared, frustrated, angry, or depressed, to help them to more positive emotions. But she is also famous for her "drive-by" interventions, in which her boundless happiness and enthusiasm, or an intervention with one person in progress, influences someone just by the accidental contact.

In this episode, Homesick, they are fighting to find the source of an infection which has sent many children to the hospital. Another team member, Dr. James "Jimmy" Palmer, a new husband who is in the process of adopting a baby with his wife, has quailed at the hazards of every day living and its risks for a child; and is uncertain of his qualifications as a father. Resting his face on his hands, he says, "I am so not having kids."

Abby decides an intervention is needed: "Okay, Jimmy, that does it. Excuse us, Director, but something has gotten into Mr. Palmer, and I would like to get it out, now."

Director Vance, is the drive-by. Some time back in the show, his wife passed on, without warning. Out of the blue, his wife's estranged father has turned up; a man who abandoned his wife and kids, including Vance's wife, when she was a child; and who has a reputation as...undesirable. But he's been working on improving his life and wants to meet his grandchildren. Vance is very wary of any such meeting, of allowing this man to enter his children's lives, even though it is Christmas season. In fact, at this moment he is planning to never allow such a meeting.

Director: "Well don't let me interfere." He starts to leave.

Jimmy: "Abby, listen..."

Abby: "No, you listen. You know what is infectious during the holidays? Optimism. Optimism is infectious. Optimism...and joy...and joy and..."

Carol, a visiting expert, catches Abby's enthusiasm and chimes in (the director has stopped to listen): "...kindness."

Abby: "And kindness..."

Carol: "Courtesy."

Abby: "And charity."

Carol: "Generosity."

Abby: "And gratitude."

Carol: "Selflessness."

Abby: "Compassion."

Carol: "Forgiveness."

Abby: "Oh, forgiveness is huge!"

Carol: "Kindness."

Jimmy: "You already said kindness."

Carol: "I like kindness."

Abby: "And faith, Jimmy. Faith. Faith is infectious. Life isn't always perfect, you know? But sometimes, things will work out for the best if you just have faith."

Jimmy, giving in; he feels better now: "Okay, Abby. Okay."

Abby: "Okay. Where were we?"

Director Vance, shaking himself out of the influence of his first drive-by intervention: "We were...Well, you were...", gathers himself and, giving a little bow, "As you were." (He will go on to introduce his children to their grandfather; Abby has changed his mind, demanded optimism and forgiveness, given him faith.)

She's right, you know: If we have faith, this will all work out for the best.

I hope you feel better, after your drive-by. Merry Christmas.