Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Grandpa Jim and Mindy, Saint Patrick's Day 1985

I look forward to today all year, but it has nothing to do with green beer. It has everything to do with Grandpa Jim. Saint Patrick's Day was his favorite day of the year and I as a child I wholeheartedly agreed - it meant I got a green party dress and that the whole extended family went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate another year of being Irish. It meant that I could wear a fantastic green knit poncho to school and that it was the one day of the year when it was better not to be a blonde.

My youngest cousin, Alli, was born on Saint Patrick's Day. I was only four, but the memory of that year's party rings out clearly. Some of the adults disappeared from the party to take a phone call - a phone call at the restaurant, as if we were wealthy and our phone calls could follow us - and Grandpa returned to announce that she had arrived. The youngest grandchild, born on the best day of the year! and oh, it was a party! Many, many years later we held Grandpa's funeral on Saint Patrick's Day, and again it was a party, if muted, because he would have loved it. What better way than to go out on your favorite day of the year?

Each year I get to Christmas and think, "Maybe this year I'll do a Christmas card and letter." But since you've never received one, you know I never pull it together in time. And each year, when I reach the moment of acceptance that again this will be a year without cards, I think think, "Saint Patrick's Day would make a much better day anyway." Somehow the day has come to feel much more like a day for reflection and fresh starts than Christmas ever could.

So fresh starts! I've begun posting a weekly column for Nerdist.com called "Make Cool Stuff!" This has been so exciting for me because I have the chance to write about my favorite topic: making things! I've posted two columns so far:

The post about the USB Typewriter highlights a project by my friend Jack. The post has proven to be pretty popular, with two of my favorite websites linking to it, Lifehacker and Mental_Floss, via their Watercooler Ammo email. I cannot express how exciting it is to see my post associated with three websites that I love (especially Lifehacker, which I feel has shaped me into the nerd I am today). The enthusiasm for the posts motivates me immensely. I just know there has to be a way to put this passion for connecting people to neat projects to use.

My precious iPod (30 GB 5th generation circa 2006) entered her death throes on the train this evening, with the hideous spinning and clicking of a hard drive that just can't make it any more. I'm afraid the old girl has given all she has to give. I ran her ragged until the bitter end, averaging five hours of podcast listening a day. I could buy a replacement hard drive and try eek out another couple of years, or I could junk the whole thing and buy a smaller, sleeker model. Then I could build a shrine to this one, right Mom?

And so: a new year, a new project, and probably a new iPod.