Coffee tribulations.

We have three different blends of coffee in the break room here at work. I am fine with drinking two of the three (dark roast is blech). So you’d think, given that I’m fine with two-thirds of the offerings, that more often than not I’d be able to waltz in and grab a cup without needing to start a new pot. You would be wrong. For the second day in a row I walk in to find that only the dark roast is made and the other two carafes are bone dry.

A photo of a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee. Pic by Julius Schorzman.

If I were the superstitious type I’d consider this a bad portent for the year to come, but instead I just think I have shitty coworkers who NEVER MAKE A POT OF COFFEE AFTER TAKING THE LAST DAMN CUP.

I realize that with Donald Trump starting a war with Iran in the headlines that this is probably the epitome of First World Problems, but I am so fatigued by the Trump administration at this point that I find it hard to muster enough outrage to say much about it. Instead, I am complaining about having to make coffee at work because that’s about all the irritation I can manage this morning. Probably doesn’t help that I’m running on about four hours sleep (interrupted in the middle) so I could really use several cups of coffee this morning.

Welcome to 2020.

We made it. Not sure how, but we made it. It’s the 2020’s and we can look forward to finally getting those jetpacks and flying cars we were promised, right? Nutritious meals in pill form for the hungry person on the move. Fully automated kitchens. I’ve been really looking forward to that last one.

Not the mention all the self-improvement we’re going to accomplish this year. You know the saying, right? “New year, new me?” I mean, just take a look at the New Me:

Oh boy, we’re in trouble still aren’t we? That’s OK. We’ll be in trouble together. I’m not sure how this year can be anymore of a shitshow than last year was, but with Trump still in the White House I’m sure it’s still a good possibility.

But let’s not end on a note of cynicism even if it is on brand for me and this blog. Let’s try to be positive. The mess up above can be vastly improved with a shower and some coffee. The mess that is this country headed into the 20’s can also be improved with some effort. Let’s try and find the motivation for both and see where we end up next year.

Merry Christmas 2019 from SEB.

This won’t be a super long entry as this is the second year in a row that our budget has been tight enough that the wife and I weren’t able to get gifts for each other or much of anyone else. I’ve struggled with the holiday this year with depression setting in and the stress of my mother in rehab from breaking her hip. That said, I did get a couple of nice gifts from both my mother and mother-in-law that I am sure I will enjoy well into the new year.

Hopefully things are a bit more festive and joyous for you and yours. That is our wish to you this year. May the coming year be even better. For all of us.

The viral #chairchallenge video isn’t a fair fight.

So you’ve probably had this video pop up on your Facebook newsfeed a few times now and you’re wondering what the hell is going on:

Is this really an example of something women can do that men can’t? Well, technically, it’s not a fair fight.

This is an issue of where the center of mass and the fulcrum point is when you bend over. Most men have bigger feet than most women so they are a bit further back from the wall when they bend over. That shifts where their center of mass is away from the fulcrum point and that makes it impossible for men to lift the chair. You’ll note that most of the men are leaning forward to put their head on the wall so their legs are at an angle whereas most of the women’s legs aren’t. It’s only a few centimeters at most, but it’s enough to make all the difference.

If you match a man’s positioning to where most women end up then we can do it just as easily. If you move a woman’s feet to match where a typical man’s feet would end up then they can’t lift the chair either. You can see this tested in this video from Science Mom:

This also isn’t new. It seems like it pops up every so often over the years and goes viral for a bit and then everyone forgets about it until the next time someone pulls it out. It was really big on YouTube in 2009 for awhile, but you can find examples pre-YouTube such as the sitcom All in the Family back on the February 9th, 1971 episode. I was 3 years old when it aired:

It’s a cute trick that’s been around for a long time, but it’s not a big mystery. How baffled someone is by it is a good indicator of their science literacy.

Bah! Humbug!

Why you should never tell your co-workers that you hate Christmas decorations.
Yes, this is from my place of work. Click to see it in its full sized glory.

SEB is now, truly, old enough to vote.

Yes, I know I said that last year, but I’m bad at maths. If you take December 2nd, 2019 and subtract December 2nd, 2001, you get 18 years. That’s how long I’ve been spitting out what some would call content. Had you told me back then that I’d still be at it today, I would’ve laughed. The only hobby I’ve had for more years than blogging is playing video games and I’m still very active at that as well.

Granted, I’m not as prolific as I once was. I’m lucky if I get two posts up a month now and it’s mostly me rambling about my life, but I’m still here. I thought Trump being president would be grist for the mill, but there’s just so much crazy shit happening all the time with his administration that I can’t possibly maintain the focus on one or two things long enough to write an entry. I’ve let my attempts at podcasting, streaming, and vlogging fall by the wayside as well, but I’m thinking of trying to get back into those on my vacation starting next week.

It doesn’t help that my mother moved in with us and, in less than a month, has fallen off our back deck and broken her hip. This less than 24 hours after I had a handrail installed on the front porch. She’s had a partial hip replacement and has been moved from the hospital to a rehab center where she’ll likely be for a few more weeks. We’ve been visiting often trying to keep her spirits up as she goes through the physical therapy she needs to regain her ability to walk.

A lot has changed with me over the past 18 years. It’s weird to go back and read some of my early entries. There’s stuff I clearly remember writing and stuff I had no idea had ever crossed my mind. I suppose this must be what keeping a diary must be like. I made a few attempts at one when I was a kid, but I never got the hang of it. Guess I needed an audience.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the blog wasn’t always called Stupid Evil Bastard. The original name was Wandering Randomly Through The Blogs as I started in part as an exploration of this new thing people were doing. Alas, the Internet Wayback Machine doesn’t have any snapshots from those days and the oldest copy of SEB it has is from May 2002:

That was right about the time my web design skills would hit their peak and stay consistently mediocre from there on out. Still, it was legible and coherent. Mostly.

So do you have any favorite posts from times past? Anything I’ve written that has stuck in your memory like a bad penny? Are you glad we’re still around? Let me know.

Then and now. Me at the end of the decade.

So I saw something making the rounds on Twitter the other day where in honor of making it through yet another decade of life, folks are asking others to share pics of themselves from the start of this decade and now. I thought to myself, “Self, this would make an excellent blog post. We should do this.” And so that is what I am doing now.

Then, in my usual tendency to overthink things like this, I wondered if I should try to find more than two pics (the original meme only stipulated two) and if I should try to get them from around the same time of year or throughout the year or whatever. I’ve decided to go with the tried and true method of just winging it.

So, in the spirit of the original thingy, here’s two pics of me. One from July 2010 and one from November 12th. I went with July because I don’t have a lot of good pics of me from 2010.

Clearly the two biggest changes are the amount of grey in my beard and the number of wrinkles on my face. I was fat back then and I’m still fat now. One other big change is the first pic was taken in our townhouse apartment in Ann Arbor where we were living at the time and the other in the basement of my home in Westland. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever manage to purchase a house, but was finally able to stumble my way through the process just before I hit 50.

We lost Melvin in September 2012 and Cuddles graduated to Official SEB Cat with Jasper as the Emergency Backup Cat in the event that Cuddles was unable to fulfill the duties of the position. Today, at 9 and 8 years old, they are quite regal in stature and are doing well.

I don’t know that I’m any wiser than I was 10 years ago, but I’m definitely older and it shows. You can definitely tell that camera technology, particularly in cell phones, has increased significantly in the past decade. The portrait mode effect alone is an impressive development.

Not really sure how to wrap this up. I don’t have any great insights to offer other than “Hey, I’m still on the right side of the grass.” So I’ll wrap up with one last selfie that I took just this morning because I thought the early morning light in the car looked pretty nifty.

Black Friday has changed.

I remember a time when all the stores tired like hell to keep their ads for the annual Black Friday sale a secret and they’d get so pissed when someone leaked the ad early. These days they make Black Friday a month-long sale:

That’s just from emails I received in the past week or so.

Additionally, there’s a growing trend of sending out the actual Black Friday ads ahead of time. The folks at DealNews.com have a schedule of expected release dates for Black Friday ads. As you can see below, Kohl’s, Dell, Office Depot, and Petco have already sent out their BF ads.

Why, it’s almost like they realized that people wanted this info ahead of time and releasing it early was a good way to stir up interest. Some companies these days are having “Black Friday” sales during other months to try and drum up more sales.

I don’t really have a point to make with this entry, I just thought it was interesting in how things have changed. Once a closely guarded secret and now it’s promoted heavily ahead of time. Partially because it’s become common knowledge that the best deals are to be had on Black Friday. Except it turns out that’s probably not the case at all. Or at least, not on everything you might be shopping for

There are things that are a good deal and things you should probably avoid. The folks at HuffPost had an article last year on what to look for and what to avoid.

Spending on Black Friday had a meteoric rise from $26 billion in 2005 to $67.6 billion as of 2015.

However, competition among retailers and an oversaturation of deals mean ads are leaked increasingly earlier, discounts have become less competitive, and Black Friday has become more like Black November. In fact, the best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday. With the addition of Cyber MondaySuper Saturday and pretty much every other day of the year you can find deep discounts, Black Friday deals aren’t as compelling as they once were.

Black Friday Deals Are Mostly Dead. Here’s What You Should ― And Shouldn’t ― Buy. HuffPost.com

The advice in that article is still pretty solid. Or, you can do like I do, and just avoid it altogether by eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey and playing video games all day on Friday. It probably helps that in the past couple of years I’ve not had the extra money to do any shopping with on Black Friday in the first place, but even if I did I’d probably not bother going out and fighting the crowds. What about you guys? Do you still make the trip out to find the best deals?

Happy Halloween 2019!

Boo!

I’ve not posted in a bit so I thought I’d toss up a short post wishing you and yours a safe and happy Halloween. We’ve some new residents here at the Jenkins household as my 84-year-old mother and her dog and bird have moved in with us. Needless to say, this has been an appropriately scary time for my two cats who are having trouble adjusting to a rambunctious canine in the house.

This also means that our handouts for this year have changed as in the past we’ve bought our fair share of candy to give out, but my mother has made it a habit to buy a couple cases of potato chips in snack packs (the kind you find in vending machines) to give away so that’s what we’re doing this year. That’s assuming we have any kids show up as it’s raining like crazy outside which is kind of a Halloween tradition in Michigan.

Needless to say, with mom moving in things have been a little hectic as of late so what little Halloween decorating I do has been even less so this year. Still, I did get my blinky pumpkin and scarecrow blow mold in the window with the crocheted ghost my mother gave me years ago and my ghost light is on the lawn. Here’s a quick video of them in action:

So, yeah, life has been busy and big changes are in the process of settling down into normalcy, but we’re making it work. So Happy Halloween to you!

SEB Safety Tip: Do NOT set yourself on fire even if you see people on YouTube do it.

We’ve been over this before. Many. Many. MANY. Times. Before. Apparently I still have to say it again: Do not, no matter where you saw someone else do it or how cool they seemed when they did it or whether someone called you chicken if you didn’t do it, set yourself on fire. The Fire Challenge is a stupid thing to do and you will get burned. Just like this Michigan kid did:

Tabitha Cleary of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, told a reporter for CNN affiliate WDIV that her son, Jason Cleary, suffered second degree burns to his chin, chest and stomach after he was set on fire at a friend’s house.

“I just want everybody to know that these challenges, or whatever they’re watching on YouTube, is not worth your risking your life,” Cleary said. “My son got burned second degree, and it could have been way worse.”

Michigan boy suffers second degree burns in ‘fire challenge‘ — CNN.com

This kid was lucky. He’ll probably recover from this without too much lasting damage. Some of the other people I’ve written about previously ended up much worse off including one that had to be put into a drug induced coma because his injuries were so severe.

Don’t get me wrong, I had my own fascination with fire as an early teenager and had a couple of close eyebrow removing calls, but none of the stupid things I did with fire involved literally and intentionally setting myself on fire. My parents had to tell me not to do a lot of stupid things, but none of them was ever “do not douse yourself in flammable liquids and then strike a match to it.”

On a more general note, you should probably think twice before taking on any of the “challenges” you see on YouTube or social media. Unless it’s immediately obvious that there’s little danger of doing real damage to yourself. I’m thinking of things like the Ice Bucket Challenge that was a craze for awhile. You should at least do some research on what the risks of a particular challenge are and then, maybe, just watch the other idiots do it and not be an idiot yourself.

Oh, and even the Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t without risk. Lots of people got bonked on the noggin pretty damn hard when the people dumping the water on them lost their hold on what was clearly more of a picnic cooler and not a bucket.

Why not try a Take A Nap Challenge? Something nice and easy and beneficial? Just lay down on a couch and take a nap. Not a couch that’s on fire, just a normal couch. I feel like I shouldn’t have had to say that last part, but given some of the stupider people out there that keep setting themselves on fire I figured I should probably bring it up.