Today’s post is full of mystery.
In my office, the junior staff have an annual wintry tradition called Secret Snowflake. It’s like a non-denominational Secret Santa with extra nerdiness. First, a SAS program (SAS is a statistical analysis software package) randomly assigns each participant a Secret Snowflake and generates an automated email informing each person of their assignment. Then, without revealing his/her target, the Snowflake must acquire a thoughtful gift for $4.26 or less. The price limit is meant to forcibly generate creativity without financial strain. Believe it or not, $4.26 constitutes a 54% increase from last year.
Here’s what I cobbled together with my $4.76:
- A windup “Panic Attack Dino” that skitters around in a frenzy ($2.99)
- Lake Champlain milk chocolate with almonds and sea salt ($0.79)
- Six off-brand crayons (technically, $0.44; I bought a whole box for $1.99, but I’ll keep the rest)
- Coloring “book” (printed for free at office; shhh!)
I put these all in a Tube of Fun (tube also free from office paper towels).
The dino didn’t quite fit so he is anxiously waving his feet aloft.
Then I printed out vintage photographic plates and diagrams of snowflake crystalline structures, with which my officemates and I merrily adorned our gifts.
At the celebration, I was the delighted recipient of a set of STRAWZ, or “Connectible [sic] Drinking Straws,” with which I hope to drink many an exciting beverage! They’re pictured here with my last-year’s Secret Snowflake gift, coincidentally also straw-related! The 2011 Secret Snowflake gift, a Sip-N-Spoon (or, as I like to call it, the Stroon), is a hollow spoon with holes on each end. Perhaps intended for cold cereal consumption, but it’s also been great for smoothies.
Now, on to the 212-word book review. Have you ever wondered what happens when a baby is accidentally switched at birth in the hospital? What about when that baby is a twin?
Someone Else’s Twin: The True Story of Babies Switched at Birth, Nancy L. Segal
This is an unremarkable book about a truly remarkable phenomenon: the experiences of families who have had one of their infant twins swapped for an unrelated child in the hospital, and unwittingly raised the children as their own. The first few chapters focus on smaller case studies, most of which are deeply depressing – particularly the one about three French boys who were swapped back at only seven years old – then goes on to a more in-depth study of a single case. I didn’t feel the book was structured well, and the supporting research was too general and poorly integrated into the central case.
Plus, Segal’s a bit stodgy. While none of her writing is actively bad, per se, it’s clunky. Scene-setting is especially unfortunate, and consists mostly of descriptions of what people wore and how they styled their hair or their parlors. This book also could have been shorter – it rehashed the facts of the main case more often than I needed to follow the story.
I read this book because I didn’t have to pay for it, it was quick, and the topic seemed sort of intriguing. Afterwards, despite being a packrat, I ditched it on the office free shelf without a second thought. Easy come, easy go.