Six Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Santa Claus

How much do you know about Santa Claus? Most people are unaware of these six basic facts.

Actually, one of the elves probably invented this
Diagrams from Santa’s human-powered sleigh patent (US1419558 A)

1. Santa initially used birds to deliver presents. He ended this practice after receiving many complaints: the owls, hungry after a hard night’s work, would sometimes carry off a family pet, and the swallows were just too slow (an unladen swallow travels about 24 miles per hour, and they’re even slower when carrying gifts). He tried using bats next, but those were considered “too creepy”. Dogs and cats were perceived as friendlier but were often mistaken for gifts themselves. Eventually, Santa decided to deliver all the presents personally. He started with a human-powered sleigh and soon switched to the now-familiar reindeer-powered model.

2. Since its inception in 1790, the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office has issued 437 patents to Santa Claus, including “Method for Rapid Delivery of Items Utilizing Airborne Woodland Creatures”, “System and Method for Calculating Metrics of Naughtiness/Niceness Based On Observed Behavior”, “Aqueous Solution to Facilitate Rapid Movement Through Chimneys or Other Narrow, High-Friction Passageways“, 27 patents related to surveillance technology, and several hundred patents related to toy design and manufacturing.

3. The International Federation of Competitive Eating banned Santa from all eating competitions after the 1997 Extreme Cookies and Milk Challenge. Santa ate all his cookies in record time, grabbed and ate some of his competitors’ cookies, and then got into a brawl with another celebrity contestant over a packet of Oreos held by an audience member. That other contestant, a popular children’s entertainer, later attempted to rehabilitate his image by appearing in a public service announcement.

4. Santa’s patent attorneys have filed over a dozen FOIA requests in an attempt to determine whether the NSA has been using any patented Naughty-or-Nice™ surveillance technology without paying licensing fees. None of those requests has been answered.

5. He performs annual feasibility studies to evaluate the practicality of replacing his Rudolph-based navigation system with GPS. The conclusion is the same every time: while modern commercial GPS devices can store thousands of waypoints, none have the capacity to handle the 447,304,311 destinations that Santa needs to visit. And even if one did, it would take his fastest elf at least 14 years to enter all those addresses into the system.

6. He once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

If you’re feeling lonely or isolated on Christmas, check out Company For Christmas, where a bunch of bloggers will be hanging out throughout the day. I’ll be there from 10pm-12pm PDT on Christmas Eve (in other words, for two hours starting at this time).

My Favorite Holiday Is Almost Here

Apologies to anyone who gets this in their mailbox twice — I’m not sure what happened the first time.

According to various unreliable sources on the Internet, tomorrow is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Although this holiday has some major flaws — I don’t get the day off from work, and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to spend it cleaning out my refrigerator — it’s still my favorite. Why? Because its very existence implies that most people clean their refrigerators just once a year. I clean mine at least twice that often, which means my fridge is twice as clean as the national average, which makes me feel smug and superior, which is my favorite way to feel, which makes this my favorite holiday. Also, I don’t have to cook anything, buy presents, or give out candy. I don’t even have to clean out my refrigerator, really, because if anyone looks, I can just say I’m keeping stuff in there for National Science Experiment Week — which technically doesn’t exist, but who’s going to check?

Thunder and Holly operate the particle accelerator.

Actually, why isn’t there a National Science Experiment Week? Doesn’t that sound like it would be at least seven times as much fun as National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day? I’d probably celebrate by running a small-scale version of that experiment where neutrinos probably didn’t travel faster than light, using the particle accelerator in my basement. Just kidding! I don’t have a basement. But I do have a particle accelerator, which I got for $19.95 at the pet store (it was marketed  as a cat toy, possibly because the particles that it accelerates are arranged in the form of a toy mouse). And my phone has a stopwatch app, so I’m all set — or I would be, if National Science Experiment Week really existed. But it doesn’t, so I guess I’ll just clean out my refrigerator instead.

A note to anyone reading this outside the US: apparently there is no International Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. I’m sorry you have to miss out on all the fun.