1996 Christmas Letter

The earth and the sun have once again completed another round of their cosmic tag team, no holds barred wrestling match which means it is time for the second annual publication of my Christmas letter. My goal for this year is to have at least three people (including myself) read this letter. I am sure that there are some people who are skeptical about this letter reaching such a vast audience. To you naysayers out there I would like to proudly introduce my new ally– exponential growth. In much the same way rabbits procreate and chain letters clog your mailbox, this plan revolves around my ability to harness this largely unexplored force of nature. After you read this, pass it on to two of your friends and then give $100 to the Mission Impossible guy who is outside posing as a garbage collector. Here is how the conversation will go:

IMF agent (a.k.a. “Garbage man”): “How much for the women?”
You: “My spleen is fine, thank you”
IMF agent “What the hell are you talking about? Just give me the damn money!”
(You give him the money and then he kills you)

Believe it or not, I managed to graduate from college. I received degrees in both Computer Science and Mathematics. When I tell people that I have a CS degree the usual response is “You won’t have any problem finding a good job.” And when I tell people that I have a degree in general Mathematics they say “So you’re going to grad school.” I guess getting the math part is like being on the game show “Jeopardy” and knowing the Final Jeopardy question only to realize that the guy next to you has three times as much money as you do.

I have very mixed feelings about graduating college. On one hand I don’t miss the “cultural anthropology” class I was required to take or the “Oh, but he does a lot of research” professors that are forced to teach classes. On the other hand, I liked being able to watch television until my eyes hurt and spend most of my time on campus with 10,000 women, most of whom were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.

It wasn’t long after graduation that my parents expressed an interest in my time management skills. (“Get your ass of the couch and find a job or we will put you up for adoption”) After pounding the pavement for a while (until I got to my car) I drove to a building often referred to as “McDonalds.” I told them about my situation and they were very interested in giving me one of those legendary high paying cushy cashier jobs with my own personal secretary and limousine driver. This didn’t last very long, however, due to the fact that I have a very rare neurological disorder that I only found out about after my training. It seems that whenever I try and say “would you like fries with that?” my vocal chords take over and produce wildly inappropriate phases like “There are squirrels in my pants. Hee hee hee,” “I did it. I did it. I shot JR!”, and “Have you ever showered with Rush Limbaugh? It’s not as bad as people say.”

After the whole McDonalds episode, I ended up at a company called “Saxe Inc.” It is run by a guy named, strangely enough, Andrew Saxe. He spends half of his time in Denver and the other half in New York city. It turns out that he loves the legendary brown cloud found in Denver, but he just can’t tear himself away from the more traditional forms of pollution found in New York City. Talk about the best of both worlds.

Saxe Inc. is a very liberal company. So liberal, in fact, that all the employees are gay transvestites running around with pitchforks. No, wait a minute. I am thinking of the classic cult film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” To the best of my knowledge, nobody at Saxe Inc. is a gay transvestite, and we only run around with pitchforks when there aren’t any of our clients in the building.

Saxe Inc. is a somewhat liberal company. Everyone is allowed to run around in shorts and T-shirts. The only rule is that you can’t run with scissors. We also have a place to play ping pong when we get frustrated and feel like hitting stuff. Just to make it perfect, we also have a cappuccino machine. The front of the machine shows a picture of some great looking cappuccino with perfect looking whip cream with just the right amount of evenly distributed sprinkles. Unfortunately, when I went to get some cappuccino I realized that the machine is not equipped to dispense either whip cream or sprinkles. In an angry fit of rage I ripped the machine out of the wall, raised it up over my head, yelled “Where are the fucking sprinkles?”, and proceeded to throw the entire apparatus at a prospective client. He didn’t die or anything, but I don’t know if he is retaining our services. My lawyer advised my not to disclose the terms of the settlement.

As a software developer, I spent some time working on a project to answer the question “What is the meaning of life?” After several months, I came up with an elegant and efficient solution for producing an answer to the question that has eluded philosophers, theologians, and Douglas Adams, author of the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” for thousands of years. I started running the program only to discover to my dismay that the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life” cannot be answered by sitting inside a sterile office building at a desk with stale fluorescent lights and a 486 computer. It turns out I need a Pentium.

The other night I went out to an Avalanche game with some people I know, including a nose pierced, ex-stripper, bisexual Satan worshiper. No kidding. If I ever have kids I hope they never find out about this and use it to their advantage by saying stuff like “Come on Dad, I just want to go out and get drunk with this 24 year old guy I met at the bowling alley, it’s not like I’m going out with a nose pierced, ex-stripper, bisexual Satan worshiper or anything.” To be honest, we all had a reasonably good time and I can add her to the extensive list of women that I am too chicken to ever ask out.

Another highlight of this year was the condominium that I purchased in October. It came with two bedrooms, one bath, a huge loft, and a years supply of Spam. The biggest problem that I have right now is that I bought a couch that is too large to fit up the stairway. OOPS. All of my appliances are twenty years old and I say a prayer each night hoping that they don’t all die at once. It is a strange feeling to have a thirty year mortgage to think about. Saying that it will take thirty years to pay it off makes it seem like a huge deal. I just think of it as 358 more payments. Assuming that the postage rate for first class mail doesn’t go up in the next thirty years (hahahaha) I will be spending $114.56 on stamps alone. Sorry, I guess that the math-geek part of me is coming out.

While cleaning out all of my old college stuff, I came across a paper that I had written during my first year at CSU for a mathematics course. It started like this:

I can honestly say that I feel more complete as a human being now that I have written this paper. All my life I knew that there was some calling in my life that had remained, up until now, unanswered. Who knew that my calling would be to write a recursive algorithm for generating a lexicographical set of permutations from the set {1,2,3,…,N}? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Who am I to disagree with powers that I can hardly fathom?

Who says that science and religion can’t just get along? The best part of this paper, in my opinion, is the following passage:

After I finished the algorithm, I went home and showed it to my mother. I could go on about how my mother is an algorithm analysis expert and pulls in the big bucks at Hewlett Packard, but I will refrain from doing so because of the fact that it would be an outright lie. She is actually a registered nurse who really has absolutely no understanding of the world of computers, but she thought that it was wonderful and found space to display it on the refrigerator.

I am sure you will be happy to know that I received an “A” for my efforts.

I think that I have said enough for this year, so (insert cliché end of the year saying here) and remember folks– you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.