‘Tis The Night Before Christmas

Photo © Richard D. LeCour

‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the world
Families enjoy the sight of tinsel unfurled;
Pretty lights on trees; warm fires that are cozy;
The cold winter breeze making cheeks that are rosy.

I’ve spent hours this week in traffic and the mall,
The bustle and crowds, I get sick of it all.
I asked my teen daughter her favorite part,
“Of Christmas?”, she said. “Those dear to my heart!”

I expected her to say that it was presents received.
The truth is something I’d’ve never believed.
With kids these days saying “I want…” and “I need…”,
I expected an answer that reflected more greed.

Oh sure, there’s requests for xBox, and Playstation,
And plane tickets for a European vacation,
But the number one request on her Christmas list
Brought my and my wife’s eyes to a fine mist.

She makes loads of mistakes year in and year out;
Of the question of her listening I no longer have doubt.
Some of what we’ve said appears to have stuck,
By fortune or chance or even good luck.

In her own teenage words, she likes family the best.
In second, the presents, the food and the rest.
So if kids push you to the end of your rope,
Merry Christmas to all! The New Year brings hope!

Preparing for Your First Mammogram

Many women are apprehensive about their first mammogram, but there is really no need to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for a week before the exam and doing the following practice exercises, you will be prepared for the test. Best of all, you can do these simple practice exercises right in your own home.

Open your refrigerator door and insert one breast between the door and the main compartment. Have one of your friends shut the door as much as possible and lean heavily on it for good measure. Hold that position for five seconds. Repeat in case the first time wasn’t effective enough. Repeat for second breast. This exercise is most effective if you have a refrigerator/freezer combination with the freezer compartment on top.

Go into your garage at 3 AM when the temperature of the cement floor is just perfect. Open the garage door. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the floor with one breast on the ground directly underneath the open garage door. Ask a friend to repeatedly close the heavy garage door on your breast until your breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled. Turn around and repeat for the other breast. If your garage door is equipped with linear optical or pressure obstruction safety sensors, disable them prior to testing. Many garage door openers will override the safety mechanisms if you simply hold down the close button on the wall. If you are unable to get the garage door to apply enough uncomfortable pressure, ask your friend to slowly roll back and forth over your breast while they are sitting on a bicycle with wide smooth tires, such as a beach cruiser.

Photo © Lucy Rose

Purchase a pair of handscrew wood clamps, or if you are running low on funds, visit your local high school’s woodshop and ask the instructor to have the students create a set of wood-and-bolt H-clamps (as pictured), selecting the heaviest and bulkiest of the lot. Make sure they are well sanded to avoid splinters. Wet them in the sink, and then store them in your freezer overnight. Ask a neighbor to tighten the clamps as hard as they can while you hold your breasts in place. At this third stage, it is important that you choose a neighbor who is more of a casual acquiantance than a friend. If you are unable to locate a neighbor, ask the high school woodshop teacher.

Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a stranger into the room. Press the bookends against one of your breasts. Smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Repeat on your second breast. Set an appointment with the stranger to meet next year to do it again.

You are now properly prepared for your first mammogram.

Degree Confluence 38N 121W

© Richard D. LeCour

Ever since I first experienced finding my first geocache with a GPS, I decided that degree confluencing would be another favorite activity. Since I knew that I’d soon be heading out of town eventually, I loaded up my Garmin eTrex with all of the closest confluence coordinates and set off.

On my way from San Jose to Murphys, California, I realized that I would pass within just a few miles of my first confluence.

This easy trek was certainly less than monumental on a cold, overcast November day, so there is no great moment of discovery, no tales of awesome feats or obstacles, just a simple drive in the country…


From the Stockton area, take Highway 4 East. After about 15 minutes, you’ll reach the bustling metropolis of Farmington, a town consisting of no more than a dozen buildings or so. Through it runs the Escalon Bellota Road. Take that road North, turning left, for approximately five miles.

When you approach the confluence, you’ll come over a slight crest and will spot an old abandoned whitish house on the left-hand side. You can park in the driveway there and walk across the road towards the barbed-wire fence. Please keep children and pets in the vehicle since cars and trucks frequently travel at dangerous speeds along this stretch of county road.