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season's greetings



Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual
Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic
activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery
was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning
caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an
imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose
folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective
accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual
hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically
through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our
nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the
hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the
grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt
compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose
of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this
fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without,
reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline
precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself
- thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a
miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive
specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur
so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he
was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power
travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than
patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath
musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by
his or her respective cognomen - "Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al. -
guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which
structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the
32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was
performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved -
with utmost celerity and via a downward leap - entry by way of the smoke
passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony
residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on
the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed
largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in
a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his
submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging
amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance
were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the
former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the
latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and
supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their
ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and
columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey
fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a
decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was
high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region
undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical
container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese,
jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me
visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By
rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head
slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was
groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the
aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned
articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously
dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he
executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral
juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a
gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by
renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself
in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of
air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of
burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable
chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I
overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his
vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the
planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest
wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period
between sunset and dawn."

Merychippus and a Hippo New Year

Kenneth Carpenter, Ph.D.
Curator of Lower Vertebrate Paleontology & Chief Preparator
Department of Earth Sciences
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205 USA

Office phone: 303-370-6392
Museum fax: 303-331-6492
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For PDFs of some of my publications, as well as information of the Cedar
Mountain Project:
https://scientists.dmns.org/sites/kencarpenter/default.aspx
(if you have problems with the link, cut and paste it into the browser
address bar)
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The scientific method is a myth:
http://www.dharma-haven.org/science/myth-of-scientific-method.htm
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