Holiday greetings – from my refrigerator

Instead of a card, we’re putting our year-end letter this year online, where you can access the webcam showing our backyard compost pile.

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It's the end of another eventful year, and the start of a new tradition here at the Shaffer house. Instead of sending out that annual holiday letter listing all my memorable experiences of the past 12 months, I’m putting the whole report online.

If Shakespeare were alive today, he’d say, “All the world’s a blog,” and mine is called Jeff/365. The latest developments in digital audio and visual recording make it possible to document all facets of personal life in and out of the house simultaneously. Visitors to Jeff/365 will use a pull-down menu on the tool bar for a complete list of viewing options.

The “kitchen/cooking” category is a good place to start. Temperature-resistant cameras installed inside the refrigerator door provide a compelling day-by-day record of the changing inventory on each shelf and fascinating insights into the ebb and flow of our dietary preferences throughout the year.

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Clicking on the link to “snack/treat” shows me displaying a range of culinary skills every day at 3:30 p.m. as I prepare impromptu edibles to stave off the mid-afternoon munchies. My personal favorite is June 14 – mock turtle quesadilla with goat cheese and fennel. All snack recipes can be downloaded by highlighting the chef’s hat icon.

Jeff/365 also features an electronic bulletin board for comments, and a rousing discussion has started about the best way to load the dishwasher. I say all plates should go on the bottom rack, facing west, with cups and glasses only on the top rack, and everything thoroughly rinsed first before loading. Feel free to join the debate. Please limit postings to 1,000 words or fewer.

The backyard-cam is a nature lover’s dream. It operates 24/7 with motion-activated close-up and night-vision features that have already identified 13 different bird varieties, four types of ground rodents, three feral cats, and one wandering nutria. Over time, this data should be useful to scientists studying local migration patterns.

There’s extensive coverage of spring planting in the garden, growth and maturation of the compost pile, and my ongoing battle to eradicate crabgrass and dandelions from the lawn.
Both dogs received steady but semiregular attention because their schedules tend to be monotonous. I document the morning feeding only every other day because, let’s face it, one bowl of kibble looks pretty much like another.

Some classic moments occur in the category of “front porch.” We had 16 door-to-door solicitors come by this year, and the must-see encounter took place Nov. 2 when a guy offering Florida oranges in a hand-painted gift box veered away from his pitch for 25 minutes to explain his theory of UFO links to the JFK assassination.

Yes, it’s been quite a year. I seized the moments, thousands of them, and now they’re archived and cross-referenced for your convenience. Just be sure not to download too much and jam your storage capacity. I’m expecting big things from the compost pile in 2009.

Jeffrey Shaffer writes humor from Portland, Ore.

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