Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just for Fun!

Long ago (maybe 28 years or so) I decided to purchase a set of World Book Encyclopedias for my young family. When the books arrived they were promptly unpacked and prominently displayed in the big bookshelf in our living room. Linda and I were both pleased to see Jay, who was about seven years old at the time, regularly leafing through the pages of the various volumes.

On one particular occasion, Jay came to the bathroom door and threw it open - encyclopedia volume open in his hands. I was (how can I say this?) otherwise occupied at the time, and asked him what was so important that I should be disturbed in this "quiet time".

Peering into the open book, Jay asked me, "Dad, what is M-Y-T-H-I-C-A-L?"

Now, I was proud that the boy was broadening his horizons by reading the encyclopedia, and I told him so.

"That's mythical. When something is mythical that means it's a myth - kind of like a legend", I said with all my fatherly wisdom.

"Then that means it's not true - right?", he queried.

"That's right", I said proudly. "It's just sort of a tale."

"Aha!", He yelled so loudly and unexpectedly, that I nearly jumped off the porcelain convenience. "Listen to this!" he cried out - reading from the encyclopedia - "Santa Claus, a mythical character who..."

He had me. The jig was up. He now had the truth about Santa. The innocence was gone and there was nothing I could do to get the toothpaste back into the tube. I reached over to where the boy stood and grabbed him, drawing him right to my face. "Listen to me!" I whispered hoarsely. "If you spoil this for your little brother - I'll pinch your head off!" Not wishing to be decapitated in such a way, he quickly promised to make no such revelation to little Benji, and immediately exited the room.

I have always been a big fan of Santa. Now before anyone gets offended and wants to lecture me about the true meaning of Christmas, just give me a break here. I love Santa stories - always have. I guess I got that from my Dad who is also a big fan of the fat man in the red suit. In fact, years ago he even owned a Santa suit which he wore on special occasions at Christmas time to bring delight to many little ones. I just love to see little children's eyes light up in the presence of the Jolly Old Elf! In our family, the kids learned from day one what Christmas is really all about, but when they were small, I treasured their love for the old "mythical character".

So in the spirit of all that, let me share with you an email sent to me last week from Felina Wells. I have no idea who may have written this article, but they sure did a lot of research. Having traveled halfway around the earth myself, nearly 10 times, this little article gives me an even greater respect for the monumental task Old Santa faces every December 24th. Consider the following article:

1. Santa's Workload There are two billion children in the world, but since Santa doesn't appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist children, that reduces his workload to 15% of the total, or 300 million. At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 85.7 million homes. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different times zones and the rotation of the Earth, assuming he travels East to West. This works out to 767.9 visits per second. So for each household with good children, Santa has about 1/1,000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the presents, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, into the sleigh and move on to the next house."

2. The Time/Distance Factor Assuming that these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the Earth, we're talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles.

3. Calculation of Estimated Speed This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound.

4. Santa's Payload Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-size Lego set (about two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as "heavy." On land, normal reindeer could pull no more than 300 pounds, and even granting that flying reindeer could pull 10 times the normal amount, Santa's going to need 214,200 reindeer to pull his sleigh. This increases the payload to 353,430 tons, or four times the weight of the "Queen Elizabeth."

Conclusion: A craft of 353,000 tons, traveling at 650 miles per second, creates enormous air resistance. This will heat up Mr. Claus and his sleigh like a spacecraft reentering Earth's atmosphere.

Translation: If there is a Santa, he's toast.

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