Monday, December 30, 2013


Well I'm back. I never bothered to mention it here, but our family was out camping all last week. We were staying at Agua Caliente, a little patch of desert nestled at the base of a hot spring near San Diego. It's a great, desolate environment that I hadn't had the chance to visit for several years. Besides the trees at the base of the hills, it's completely flat, with nothing but cacti and desert shrubs for miles around. The air was very clear, which let one see as far as the other side of the valley. If the hills weren't there, I'd imagine it would be possible to see all the way to the Salton Sea.

But more than anything, I was surprised by how quiet it was there. If one is standing on a hiking trail far from camp, it's completely dead silent. Several times when I was out walking, I would go a little off the trails, sit on a boulder and listen to the sound of blood in my own ears. I don't think I have ever encountered such perfect, deafening silence before.

I had a great time there; the silence, isolation, the sheer asceticism, it was all wonderful. It's why I've always liked the desert. It's such a strange, otherworldly place.

And speaking of strange, otherworldly places. Today is the Fourth Annual PARANOIA DAY!

Paranoia was released four years ago today and each year we have commemorated it with a special holiday that I hope will eventually replace Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and even Festivus as the holiday of the holiday season. Paranoia Day is a special time of year where your entire family forms elaborate, disturbing conspiracies against you. It's the time to quietly rearrange furniture and personal items, then pretend it's always been like that so your loved ones start to question their perception of reality. Paranoia Day is, of course, also a time to make cakes in the shape of doors.

Sadly, we didn't have anything planned for Paranoia Day this year. Everyone was too partied out already from camping, it seems. But next year! Ho boy. We'll have triangular cakes. And we'll build staircases that don't lead anywhere. And send each other vaguely threatening letters. And there will be cosmic despair and existential dread for everyone.

That's what the holidays are really about.

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