Exclusive I had the weirdest dream last night.
There I am, standing in line to see Santa, with hundreds of other kids.
The line is one of those switch-back ones, the kind that make you dizzy from changing directions so many times. Half of the kids look eager and excited, the other half scared and anxious. A couple of kids can't stand still, a couple can't seem to stand up.
All of a sudden I realize that the kid getting on Santa's lap looks like a young Bill Gates... it is a young Bill Gates! And there's Larry Ellison and Meg Whitman. Carly is there and so is Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik. I lean over the rope line to see if I can catch what Gates is saying:
"...and please, Santa, most of all, can I have a whole year's break from viruses and holes in Windows?"
Santa's eyes twinkle, his cheeks are rosy and his face splits into a wide smile:
"Kid, I'm only Santa Claus. Some things are beyond me. How about a billion dollars instead?"
"Nah, that's OK," Gates sighs, sliding down to the floor. "I've already got a lot of those."
Next up on the Big Guy's lap is Paul Otellini of Intel. "Santa, can't I please, please have a 64-bit processor that works?"
Santa puts on a very stern face. "Paul, last year you wished for that and I gave you Itanium. Now you can't just throw it in the trash because you're fed up with it. You've got to find a way to make it work."
"Aw, Santa. You know it'll never work. Our engineers know it'll never work. Only HP believes it'll work - and those guys believe in fairies and elves." Paul trudges off sullenly.
Next up is a parent without her son. She looks out of breath and flustered, and I realize that her Timmy is one of the kids who have been ricocheting around the mall like a pinball. As she rushes by, she stops for a second to say to Santa: "Can I please have something that lets me keep track of my youngest son Timmy? How come you can track a present halfway around the world in real-time, and I can't find my son halfway across the mall?"
Santa pats her on the arm and says, "I have just the thing. Use it to track the reindeer and the Claus kids myself. It's called an RFID locator and I'll put one under the tree for you."
"Make it two," said the mom over her shoulder as she spotted Timmy on the second floor crosswalk. "Half the time I can't find his father Bob either."
The next kid up seems a little old to visit Santa, but hey, as long as you believe:
"Santa, I need four thousand dollars to pay for my college text books. I've got a job, I'm on scholarship, but I don't understand why these text books cost so darned much."
"The text book publishers are going to keep getting coal every year until they start putting their content up on the internet," Santa promises.
"Now, I'll see what I can do about the cash and I'll also ask that nice Carly Fiorina to put one of her cool TVs or cameras or MP3 players in your stocking. She can use the business, since nobody seems to want her computers."
Matthew Szulik of Red Hat is the next kid to visit with St. Nick.
"Ho, ho, ho," says Santa. "Matthew, you have been such a good boy little boy this year. What would you like to see under your tree?"
Szulik has a big gleam in his eyes. He leans over and whispers into Santa's ear, and Santa looks up in surprise. Szulik says: "Santa, I actually have a gift for you this year. And guess what...it's free!"
"What is it?" asks Santa.
"It's a puppy - a Finnish terrier - for you to bring back to the North Pole. It wears sandals, it likes to take saunas, and, best of all, it won't cost you a penny... right now."
"Right now?" Santa asks. (You don't get to control all the presents in the world if you're not a pretty smart cookie.)
"Er...yes. There's one tiny catch. To pay for the proper care and maintenance of the puppy, every year you have to send me $5000."
As Szulik speaks, Santa's face darkens like one of those storms that blow in from Siberia. "If I have to send you $5000 a year, then the truth is that this is one expensive puppy, isn't it Matthew?"
Matthew is looking down at his shoes and nodding. Santa pushes the naughty boy off his lap. "Go to your room, Matthew. It's coal for you this year."
Next in line is a very eager lad who looks just like IBM's Sam Palmisano. This lad is very short , and he can't quite climb up onto Santa's knee. Poor Santa reaches down, but he's kind of chubby (Atkins hasn't made it to the Pole yet) and can't reach little Sam.
"Wait a minute Santa, I've got just the solution," says Palmisano.
He snaps his fingers and suddenly two hundred guys in dark suits and blue ties appear riding sleighs marked "IBM Global Services". They jump down and start building a chair so Sam can step up into Santa's lap. It's a great big chair with legs and sticking out all over but it just isn't tall enough.
Everybody else in line starts to get impatient.
Looking at the line, Santa is getting worried. "I've got a better idea, Sam," he says. He gives a signal, and one little elf walks out carrying a very tall slim, perfectly designed chair. He puts it down in front of Santa, and Sam climbs up right onto it.
" Where did you get that great chair, Santa?" Sam asks.
"Oh, we do a lot more up here than sit in the snow and wrap presents, Sam. We have one room where some very smart designers create some great innovations. We call it the Sun room." Sam begs and pleads for access to this room for Christmas, but Santa replies. "Unfortunately, Sammy, this is a place where only the best and brightest can visit, so we won't be able to let you or your friends in dark suits enter there. Make sure to come back next year with another wish!"
Finally, just as I'm getting to the head of the line and I'm ready to ask Santa for my wishes - an NHL hockey season ticket and a new set of irons to knock a couple of strokes off my handicap - the alarm goes off and the dream suddenly goes all-blue just like a Windows crash on a PC.
So now that I'm back in the real world, let me give you my real holiday wishes: To Sun's customers, employees, partners and shareholders, my very, very best wishes to you in the new year for a prosperous and joyous New Year. You are the reason we will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary this year.