Author’s Note: I’ve read quite a few books where, at the end, the author lists the music they listened to when they wrote the book, to help figure out what mindset is right for the book. Well, thanks to this new laptop, I can do better. I’ve got my DVD-ROM set up so I can watch a movie in bottom left corner of my screen while I type this. So, to help put you in the right mindset for reading this column, I think I should tell you that I’m watching Shrek as I write this.
My favourite Christmas story has to be the tale of Archimedes. You see, Archimedes was one of the great original Greek mathematicians. One day, the king of Greece called Archimedes to his court and had a very special task in store. The king wanted to know exactly how much gold was in his crown. Now, back in these times, the way to determine the volume of gold in a funny-shaped object was easy: melt it down into a shape that you can easily determine the volume of, like a sphere or a cube. Naturally, the king balked off at this. “You’re not messing with my crown, Archimedes,” I believe was the king’s exact quote. So, Archimedes had a real brain-teaser of a math problem on his hands. He locked himself in his workshop, hunched over his work table and began working on the problem. Several days went by, and Archimedes was making no headway at all. Finally, his wife came into the workshop. “Dear, you’ve been working yourself sick on this,” she said. “Why don’t you relax? I got a nice warm bath all ready for you.” Archimedes thought this was a good idea, and headed off to the tub. As he climbed into the tub and got comfy, he noticed something odd. When he got in, the water level rose. He thought about this for a while, and eventually saw the relationship: the water level rose by the exact same amount as his volume. He discovered displacement. He discovered a way to measure the volume of the king’s crown. He was so excited, that he jumped out of the tub and ran down to the palace, screaming, “Eureka!” the whole way.
Now, you’re probably wondering how the heck this is a Christmas story. Isn’t it obvious? Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. There’s a lot of people in the world right now, hunched furiously over worktables as they look for the perfect gift or try to find enough money to pay for the perfect gift. Tempers are getting short and people are snapping at each other all in the name of peace on Earth and spreading goodwill. Seems somewhat hypocritical, doesn’t it? Forget “Merry Christmas.” The one thing I want to say to the world right now is, “Take a bath!” Or read a book, or get freaky in the hot tub with your loved one, whatever it takes to relax right now.
No where have I made this realization more than in my classes. It’s been a while since I had to go through final exam time, and I had forgotten how stressful it can be for most. Me? I’m not stressed over exams any more. I went through enough of this my first time through university. I stopped caring about my marks about two months ago. But not half of my class. It’s been fun watching them freak out, making sure all the information is crammed into their heads, and then screaming at their final grade: “98% isn’t good enough! I want a scholarship, damn it!” To all my fellow RTA students, I would like to say, “Take a bath!”
You’ve got to admit that I really don’t have that much to be stressed about. One of the perks of living at home is throwing the stress onto my parents. That’s fine and dandy until they reach their breaking points. Like this afternoon, when they came back from doing their last bit of Christmas shopping. Mom and Dad had that eerie calm about them that means, “We’re not speaking to each other.” Rather than politely ask me to move out of the way so she could place gifts under the tree, Mom instead preferred to fling them past me to thunderous crashes that echoed through the living room. And, when Mom and Dad finally tied into each other, a new wrinkle in the fight was how burdensome I’ve been since I came home. So Mom, Dad, take a bath!
And then there are the good folks of AEON Kumagaya. Surely by now most of you know the saga of my Godzilla poster. I forgot it at my former place of work in Japan, continuously politely asked them to mail it to me, and got a response of silence for six months. I finally asked my former head office to find out what the heck was going on. Well, turns out they weren’t getting back to me because I still owe some $40 in unpaid bills. Now that I’ve got head office involved, my old place of work wants their money, well, six months ago. I was a little late replying to their first e-mail, so they recently woke up my mother with a 2 AM fax demanding their money. And now they’re adding the threat of, “Send us our money or we’ll throw out your precious poster.” Yes, it’s no longer my poster, but my precious poster. The temptation to launch into a Gollum impersonation is overwhelming. So, they’ve just been awfully snippy towards me ever since they told me they weren’t renewing my contract. So, to the good people of Kumagaya, take a bath!
And then there’s just the whole world in general. Can you believe that the department stores are actually under stress? This year, you see, there’s been no Tickle Me Elmo or Cabbage Patch Kid or must-have toy that every kid wants. They’re afraid that business as a whole is going to slump over this. But this isn’t stopping the stores from getting full of angry, irate customers, all looking for that perfect something. In return, the clerks get angry and irate that they have to deal with angry and irate people all day. Goodwill, my ass! The holiday season does nothing but breed anger and irritability! So, to the whole world, take a bath!
So that’s my Christmas column for this year folks. We have to start doing our part to make this a more relaxing time of the year. There’s no peace and goodwill as we’re all screaming and yelling and frazzling our last nerves. We’re all like Archimedes, banging our head against the worktable while we look for an answer. Well, guess what? We’re not going to think of the answer until we stop inflicting this pain upon ourselves! Don’t you want to be presented with answer so overwhelming that you have no choice but to run screaming naked through the streets? Well, that part’s optional, but surely you do want to the answer. Then go forth and find it! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and take a bath!