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December 22, 2014

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The Wise men of the Desert are the mighty Sajuaros.
Here's to the beginning of 2015. May the sands of the Desert scrub clean the waste of "Manunkind".
Thanks for another Great year, Jon.

I remember while in high school that, if it snowed up on the rim or near Payson, kids would drive up and fill their pickup truck beds full of snow to bring down to throw snow balls at people.
I too remember the strange fascination the snowbirds had with fresh oranges and tangerines.
Good new year to all.

I grew up in Akron, Ohio and we didn't always have a "white" Christmas; it just got real cold.

In December 1960 my father was asked by the company he worked for, Goodyear Aircraft, to come to the Arizona plant to help them with a project. He flew back to Cleveland 2 days before Christmas. My mother loaded us kids in the car to go pick him up. It had snowed, we didn't make it out of Akron before we got hopelessly stuck in the snow. My mother called her brother, Mel, to come an save us. We kids were dropped of at Grandma's house and my mom and her brother picked up dad.
Two days after Christmas, while I was still in bed, I heard the phone ring. Mom answered, and after a few minutes I heard her, loudly say, ARIZONA!

Goodyear wanted us to move the Arizona, all expenses paid.

I said to myself, YES, NO MORE SNOW.

Thanks for another fine essay.

Just because some of us comment rarely doesn't mean we don't greatly appreciate this website.

Thanks again, Merry Christmas, and may you have a happy and productive 2015!

First my parents moved out here in '56 when my father got a job offer at AiResearch after meeting an executive at his aunt's house (remember Smiley-Berge Ford?). My grandparents on both sides left Indiana the next year and never regretted leaving the snow.

Thanks for all the great thoughtful posts and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Rogue and his readers!

Christmas in Phoenix in the 50's for a young Jewish girl wasn't so enchanting. My girlfriend and I, the only Jewish children in our grade school sat by ourselves in "study hall" for a few hours a day at least 2 weeks before Christmas while the rest of our class practiced for the annual school Christmas pageant. No separation between church and state there. And these are the days many people want to go back to-when their beliefs were never challenged by those different from them.

The chill of Christmas in the desert is magic.
Thank you for all this site rogue and everyone for the comments and discussion, its a pleasure to read.

Happy Holidays and New Years, all.

Hitchcock's Psycho has some nice street scenes of Phoenix during Christmas.

http://johneaves.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/paycho-filming-locations-a-then-and-now-look-at-hitchcocks-1960-masterpiece-part-3/

Like Jon, I yearn for the Phoenix of my youth (which was well before Jon's)
Happy Holidays to Jon and all readers of Rogue.

Black cops speak out against racism and brutality within the NYPD:

http://www.roguecolumnist.com/rogue_columnist/2014/12/strange-fruit.html

(Newly added comment)

Nice memories, Jon. Thanks and happy holidays. Seems those hard freezes you mentioned often hit around Christmas . . . not surprising: shortest days. During a warm stretch of several years when I lived in Dobson Ranch, my rubber tree reached 12 feet and the poinsettia spread eight feet wide beneath the roof overhang. Fish tail palms and a ficus benjamina flourished in the atrium with assorted small tropicals. Then one year, in the final week of December, it hit 17 or so and wiped them all out. I never learn: years later in Cave Creek I killed an avocado tree and key lime.

Here's what the FBI had to say about the "Korean Connection" to the Sony hack, as of December 10th:

The FBI has questioned North Korea’s involvement in the cyberattack that crippled Sony Pictures computers and leaked confidential data and films.

A senior FBI official said that they had been unable to confirm links between the hack and Pyongyang or affiliated groups.

"There is no attribution to North Korea at this point," Joe Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division told a panel at a cybersecurity conference.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/10/fbi-doubts-north-korea-link-sony-pictures-hack

Here's what they had to say just nine days later:

"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions."

http://www.theverge.com/2014/12/19/7414701/us-officially-names-north-korea-as-culprit-in-sony-hack

Since the FBI had been investigating for nearly two weeks at the time it issued its first statement denying North Korean involvement, a reasonable assumption is that the relatively quick about-face resulted from the "close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies" alluded to above. One wonders just who is pulling the strings.

Just yesterday, private-sector cybersecurity experts weighed in with a hefty dose of skepticism, explaining the technical reasons for doubting FBI claims:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/did-north-korea-do-it#.ujWBlebdE

Skeptics might also wish to recall the FBI's handling of the terrorist bombing of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in which a security guard named Richard Jewell became the FBI's "principle suspect" on the basis of half-assed psychological theorizing. (Jewell had nothing to do with the crime, which was committed by a right-wing militant named Eric Rudolph).

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/j6075/edit/readings/jewell.html

Straight to the point:

Hector Monsegur, codename Sabu, who attacked Sony himself before turning into an FBI informant, has also questioned the likelihood of North Korea being behind the attack.

"For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate 1TB or 100TB of data in a matter of weeks," Monsegur told CBS This Morning. He explained it would have taken "months, even years" for someone to exfiltrate 100TB of data without anyone noticing. "Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean internet completely."

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/did-north-korea-do-it#.ujWBlebdE

One also wonders why North Korean operatives would have been so captivated by the internal emails of two Sony bosses, co-chairperson Amy Pascal and movie producer Scott Rudin, publishing remarks about Angeline Jolie ("a minimally talented spoiled brat") and others; or Aaron Sorkin's arguably sexist remarks comparing female with male Academy Award nominees; or Leonardo DiCaprio's sudden withdrawal from a biopic about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Perhaps those North Korean hackers at Bureau 121 are auditioning as researchers for Entertainment Tonight? "EXCLUSIVE! Lea Michele Spills Secrets from the Set of 'Glee's Final Season!"

“Christmas could get cold then. We regularly had several hard frosts (which is why West Nile mosquitoes were not around). Aircraft engines with propellers were placed on poles above the groves and cranked up when it got around freezing to keep frost from settling on the precious crop.”

Brings back memories of my teenager-hood. We lived in a rural area west of Cocoa Beach. We didn’t own a grove, but some of our neighbors did. On frost nights we’d stay all night in the groves manning ugly contraptions known as “smudge pots”. These things would burn the nastiest oil you could get your hands on. Bunker oil was called for – but I think the groves would use anything they could get their hands on cheap (e.g. used motor oil). The whole point was a good sooty fire. We’d augment the smudge pots with bon fires. These were pretty nasty too. We’d roll an occasional used car tires into the fires. The EPA would have shit fit today.

We all thought it was great fun. Working the groves under these conditions was an excused absence at the high school.

I used to commute to work by bicycle - about 8 miles one way. A number of years ago, it actually snowed in Phoenix just before Christmas. It was probably about an inch of snow and covered the ground nicely before the sun came up. I was riding on 12th Street between McDowell and Roosevelt heading south. It was beautiful and felt like Christmas. On the side of the road was a truck with its hood up and a guy working on the engine. As I rode by, I yelled "Merry Christmas".

He told me to do something to myself I believe is physically impossible....

Merry Christmas. We love your articles Jon!

Where have I been, lo these many Christmases past? Just this year discovered the joy of Whitfill Nursery (Glendale and 7th Street) in December. Magical to stroll at night through the forest of fresh-cut Christmas trees, sit around the firepit, drink hot chocolate and eat popcorn. Peacocks and chickens wander about and a couple of goats survey the scene from their vantage point atop a lean-to in their pen. Next door, the Safeway parking lot is abuzz with activity, though it seems miles away from this tranquil place.

Working on the New Year I'm catching up on History as compared to now by watching Wee Willie Winke.

There's nothin' like putting up your holiday lights in shorts and a t-shirt.

cal lash wrote:

"Working on the New Year I'm catching up on History as compared to now by watching Wee Willie Winke."

Didn't expect you to be a Shirley Temple fan. :)


Mr. Talton wrote:

"By the time I was in high school, this season was marked by rehearsing and performing Handel's Messiah."

For something a little more intimate but lushly gorgeous, John Sheppard's serene but joyous settings of Compline music are difficult to beat.

Compline was the last of the daily monastic hours -- the music was a form of night prayer. The service was absorbed into Evensong when the Anglicans took over, at which time the lush polyphonic harmonies of the Roman Catholic service became decidedly more austere.

Those unfamiliar with the comparatively brief window might be surprised at the harmonic complexity and beauty which can sometimes be found in music of the middle 1500s.

Nobody does it better than the "wonderfully vivid, perfectly focused and ideally balanced voices" of Stile Antico.

Selected music of John Sheppard (none longer than about five minutes):

In Pace In Idipsum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e6cdlbSt9E

In Manas Tuas (I)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR_TBd63GR4

In Manas Tuas (II & III)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1P5TKxJTYM

Thank You, Emil, for that tip on Compline.

I've been a fan of monastic music for a long time, and it's great to know there is home-grown chant here in the Sonoran Desert. Previously, I had to go to New Mexico's, Christ in the Desert to get a fix.

Blessings of the new year on you.

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