Dear All,

Last year, instead of posting Christmas cards, I made a small donation to charity and sent out e-mails. To make it special, I attached a gift – everyone was sent a Higgs Boson.  Some people wrote back that the attachment was missing – well they are difficult to see, but it was definitely there or they wouldn’t have received it; that is the glory of quantum physics.  Others questioned whether the one I sent was real.  I can assure you that it was, indeed, the genuine particle.  As I said then, it puts the mass in Christmas.  Because it is unclear what would happen were two Higgs Bosons to be found in the same place, I am not sending any more this year, but have donated one to charity.

I want to wish you all a wonderful, happy, peaceful and lovely Christmas, and a glorious, successful and loving New Year.   The better to keep in touch, I have bitten the bullet and started social networking.  I am on Facebook, and appear as David Stoll – a cunning ruse designed to make it easier for you all to find me.   Send messages and I’ll respond.  I have even started to tweet.  (I am so proud.  In only a few weeks, the number of my followers has risen exponentially from one to two to four.)  There I am David Michael Stoll, a longer name for shorter postings.  Please follow me and I’ll follow you.

With the best wishes you can possibly imagine,  David


Dear All,

Two years ago I sent Higgs Bosuns as presents, to put the mass in Christmas.  Despite not sending any last year, several – I am told – turned up in Christmas Puddings.  I can assure you that the calorific content was not affected, though the lassitude following ingestion might have been.  Anyway, replies were, as always, gratifying, and I am glad that so many friends responded by drinking a quantum, thereby putting the particle in party.

So what to send this year?  Numerous organisations have proffered their wares to me in on-line catalogues: ‘unusual gifts for the discerning pedant’, ‘new analogue office tools including a range of retro pencils’, ‘unreadable books based on your previous purchases’ to name but a few; none of these hit the spot.

And that is what gave me the idea.  I am sending you all a dot (see below).  This dot is commodious enough to store a vast range of micro-organisms and will allow you to start your very own micro-zoo.  This could be the hobby for a lifetime, and has the great advantage over keeping larger living pets as it requires very little attention, once a safe place has been found for it.

I know several people squander their dots in off-the-cuff e-mail addresses, imagining that there is an inexhaustible supply.  But, please, save this special one for the purpose for which it was intended.  In the spirit of true giving, because a present means so much more when it is neatly wrapped, I have carefully packaged your dot for you in a pair of perfect parentheses.  And here it is


As usual, a donation to charity has replaced paper posting, but thank you so much to those who have sent me cards, which make the home look festive.

With, as always, the best wishes you can possibly imagine, for the holidays and the New Year,  David


How does one follow up on previous year’s Christmas, Festival and New Year’s gifts?  Responses show that the recent Higg’s Boson (2013 – putting the mass in Christmas) and full stop (2014 – provided as a handy zoo enclosure for micro-organisms) were much appreciated by recipients.  You are likely to have received these yourself over the past two years unless you are a relatively new correspondent, in which case may I explain that I annually send a donation to charity instead of cards to friends and colleagues, but I do send an e-note with a declaration of good wishes and, indeed, a novelty gift.

(You may, if you prefer, go straight to the best wishes at the end of the e-mail and avoid the intervening text.  However, this is not a Round Robin, and it mentions none of my activities.  It simply introduces and incorporates this year’s special gift.)

I feel it a matter of honour not to send punctuation marks two years in a row.  In any event, that would be profligate, especially as parentheses are now in short supply, being used so frequently and carelessly in smileys.  Recent attempts  to save the bracket have included the provision of emoticons, but nonetheless people will insist on using the mark itself to form a mouth, unnecessarily in my view.

And I am currently out of Higg’s Bosons.  (Universe, beware.)

There are, as you will appreciate, not that many objects which can be sent electronically as a self-contained gift, and which nonetheless are welcomed as both luxurious and necessary – the proper defining qualities of a good present.  However, I have, after extensive inner debate, decided to send you all some space.  This is immediately available (see below) or, should you choose, you may add a little of your own time to enjoy it at leisure.  (I did consider sending you some time, but was concerned that people might think that their mail servers were running slow.)

So, with love, seasonal best wishes and respects, here is some space for you:


PS  You may be gratified to note that this year’s gift also fulfils the meteorological wish in Irving Berlin’s song about how all your Christmasses should be; at least on my screen.


The year turns, and it’s time again for my annual Christmas gift to all correspondents.

As you will understand, it isn’t easy each year to provide a large and growing number of people with something valuable, new and unusual; something which is digitally deliverable, affordable for the sender and welcome to all recipients.  In searching for the perfect 2016 solution, and bearing in mind the past three years’ gifts, I have used both rhyme and reason:

2013 An elementary particle,

2014 A dedicated microzoo,

2015 Some much needed space, and 


2016 A specific point of view.

Here it is, but magnified exorbitantly in order to appear on your screen – 


I appreciate that this may well look very like my gift to you in 2014, but it is, in fact, most profoundly different.  That earlier dot was physical, and meant as an enclosure for micro-organisms; I hope that yours is still providing hours of pleasure and interest.  Above all, that dot was to be looked into.  This current ‘dot’, however, is a place to stand, conceptually, for looking out of at the rest of the universe.

As a sort of user’s guide, may I point out (I choose my words carefully) that you can start here and face in any direction.  Furthermore, though manifesting on a flat screen, your dot has as many dimensions as there are available – and possibly more.  You should certainly look up.  And this dot exists (I choose that word slightly less carefully) outside of time and, thus, will never wear out – or, at least, not until the next Singularity.  

Furthermore, if I may add a final note of Christmas comfort, my edition of Euclid (translated by Thomas L Heath – all thirteen books complete in one volume) gives the definition:

A POINT is that which has no part.

So the point of view I am offering you here is impartial – more necessary than ever in this year of division and upset.  Let us not forget that the numbers of 2016 add up, significantly, to 9, which – like so many public assertions, claims and promises this year – means absolutely nothing.

NB  Each and every dot supplied, while certainly in the exact centre, is no more so than any other.

With very best wishes,  David


It is time for this year’s annual gift to all e-correspondents.  Regular recipients will remember that this is my only bulk mailing of the year and that, instead of news, I send a present.  This also replaces Christmas Cards (in place of which the usual contribution to a charity is also substituted).  I have taken to adding these notifications to my website, so you have a chance to check up on the past few gifts which you may have missed.  There is some stock left, by the way, so let me know if you have mislaid your elementary particle (2013) or your much needed space (2015).

Anyway, the necessary mind searching has been applied in order this year to deliver something which every one of you has always wanted – substantial enough to be appreciated yet virtual enough to be sent by email.  And here (below, though magnified) it is.


Now, this is not the microzoo (2014) again.  Nor is it a further specific point of view (2016).  It may resemble those two earlier items in its appearance, but it is, in fact, completely other, and new for this year.  Having given the ‘ . ’ as a physical object, and the ‘ . ’ as a mental one, we now turn to the spiritual. 

For this is a FULL STOP, and – as such – available to you for mindful contemplation or mindfree meditation whenever needed.   Try it right now. You’ll find it most refreshing.

My very best wishes to you all for the seasonal holidays and the new year in prospect.



“What, not again!” you cry.  (At last, an exclamation mark used correctly.)  “Here comes Stoll’s annual New Year dotty message.”

To remind those who would detract, the gift in 2014 was a micro-zoo; in 2016 it was a point of view; and last year it was a Full Stop – a period (if you like) for Reflection.  To make sure that the differences are apparent, here again are the three representations set side by side (by side):

.   .   .   

It was in mind to send something similar this year, but novelty also has its attractions.  I considered an exclamation mark, but as I have already intimated, I believe these should be reserved for those rare occasions when they are proper.

(Please remember, I am constrained, by both cost and practicality, as to what may be sent to a large and – excuse me – disparate number of people in an environmentally friendly manner.  And I like to send gifts which are meaningful, welcome and may be appreciated as thoughtful.)

While I have had many requests for another dose of the Space sent you in 2015 – though some wrote back to complain that they didn’t have the time to enjoy it – space is currently at a premium and, despite extensive searching, I couldn’t find any anywhere.  Rather like losing the trees in the wood.

So this year my gift to you all is Silence.  You may need to listen carefully behind the everyday sounds in the world around you to hear it.  Indeed, I would recommend, for full appreciation, that you bear in mind that it is better not to bear anything in mind while you listen.

(An idea for next year: a bear in mind.  Don’t think of it now or it will spoil the surprise.)

Furthermore, by the way, as a bonus for these troubled times, this message also includes two pairs of brackets.  Feel free to extract them and use them a piacere.

With love and best wishes for everything that December means to you, and in the profound hope that, in some ways at least, 2019 might prove less interesting.


These messages of good will and their accompanying special gifts are now in their eighth year – the requested entire collection may be found here; new readers should repair thither to pick up on any missed references in what follows.  

The past few years have proved challenging in finding valuable gifts which may be sent in an e-mail; it is not an easy selection.  Offerings must be found which are light in weight, small in size and capable of digital transmission.  They should also, of course, be most welcome to receive as a present.

And there, just there, is the clue to this year’s offering, in black and white (depending on your monitor and optional choices).  This year’s gift is no less than:

The Present.

You may not have noticed it, but you have it, right now as you read this.   The present stretches endlessly around you, for local habitation.  It will, of course, not be available for one moment longer, so please enjoy it immediately.  Having said that, this is nonetheless a present which is not just for Christmas; it surely is the gift which keeps on giving.

For those of you who might complain that I am only giving you something which you already have, my response is that this particular present is so easily misplaced that a reminder must surely be a welcome gift from a friend.

And for those who were hoping for a further sally into punctuation philosophy, having enjoyed the hermeneutics of 2014, 2016 and 2017 (qv), may I regretfully inform you that [.] being used as a point in time, misses the point.  That is the elusive nature of the here and now.

Does this mean that we are back to 2013’s rather singular gift?  Well, not quite; that particular particle helps provide mass, but the present is substantially other.  Indeed, it is easily missed. But here it is >

Dear friends, enjoy.  With my Respects, Best Wishes and Love,  David