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Today was my last day of work this year. In fact, I won't be back at work until January 5th.

16 straight days of holiday. That feels good!

I plan to spend most of it reading and watching TV. I've got to catch up on, erm, most of the shows I watch, and my to-read pile ain't getting any smaller. My only other plans are that I'm going to see Izzard on Monday, to my parents' house for christmas, and up to Oxford for New Year's.

I'll no doubt find some way to get back online between now and then, but for the record: Have a good one, everybody.

Yesterday afternoon was the office christmas party. The best thing about it was the secret santa variant, which worked something like this:

(1) All the presents go into a big pile.
(2) Everyone picks a number out of a hat.
(3) Person number 1 can choose any present they like. They open it.
(4) Person number 2 can choose any present they like and open it, or they can take person number 1's present.
(5) Person number 23 can choose any present they like and open it, or they can take a present from persons 1 through 22.
(6) If person number 23 takes, say, person number 5's present, then person number 5 gets to steal or open in turn. This continues until somebody chooses to open, then play moves on to the next person.

As you might imagine, this very quickly becomes (a) complicated and (b) political. Particularly when people start operating in teams. And there's no rule that says you can't steal a present directly back, which can lead to contests of wills. In the course of the afteroon, I went through the latest Bill Bryson, the Book of Love Answers, two bottles of wine, a small radio controlled car, an electronic game called BopIt, and - and this is the item I finished with - the DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm quite pleased with that result.
That's genius!
Annoyingly a little too hard to organise in the shop, and our 5 pound limit's making it harder to be so generous, though I sense a Fopp solution for me.

Time to gloat quickly on to-read piles.
I have the new Richard Morgan :)
That really did make my day.
We had a £5 limit - I went for 'Simpsons' Top Trumps (getting some for myself at the same time...) and some bookmarks I thought would appeal to the person I was allocated. But it was very tricky...

Fopp is a good idea...
Cool. So, someone wanted the Book of Love Answers rather than a random present (or the one they bought themselves)? Well, there's no accounting for taste, or the lack of it. I am, of course, assuming that you got it through having someone take the Bryson off you and choosing to pick a random present ...

And what exactly is wrong with saying "person N"? Bah.

Our secret santa was more conventional, but afterwards, we couldn't contain our curiosity (being scientists, i suppose) and went round and worked out who bought what; everyone got to hypothesise one buying event, which the relevant buyer then confirmed or denied, and at the end, unfingered buyers owned up. My recipient knew it was me straight away, which was quite disconcerting, and i had no idea who my buyer was. Proteins i can figure out, people i can't.

-- Tom
we call that a "cutthroat grab bag" or a "yankee swap." this year i ended up with the let it be -- naked cd.
and what a great result!

... and a good way to get around the problem that no-one ever has anything to say at work christmas parties.