First world video gamer problems.

When you play video games for as many years as I have, a lot of it becomes muscle memory. This extends to and includes things you might not think of, like how you launch a game. A while back, Blizard made a change to their games so that everything is launched through the Battle.net application on Windows. Considering that most Blizard games require an online connection to play, this isn’t an entirely bad change because it saves you having to type in your credentials each time you play the game.

If you play a lot of Blizard titles — or titles hosted on Battle.net, like Call of Duty — you might have pinned the Battle.net app to your taskbar. Like I have. I also have Steam pinned there because that’s the second most common launcher I use. Recently, Blizard decided the Battle.net icon needed an update and you can already see where this is going.

On the left is the old Battle.net icon. In the middle, the new one. And on the right is the Steam icon. Below is what my taskbar looks like.

Now when I go to launch Battle.net I instead end up clicking on Steam because it more closely matches the color scheme of the old B.net icon. Every. Single. God. Damned. Time.

That icon in between them? That’s GOG Galaxy, the third launcher I use most often as I have been growing a collection of old games on Good Old Games. Plus, it ties into every other platform — including PlayStation and Xbox Live — allowing you to track playtime, trophies, and friends. You’d think my muscle memory would work off of where the B.net icon is and not its coloring, but nope.

*Click*, open Steam, close Steam, open B.net. Sigh exasperatedly.

Lil Nas X’s MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) has a lot of Christians shook.

With all the talk and memes about Lil Nas X, I thought I’d look up the video to see for myself. Until this blew up, I hadn’t heard of him because I’m stuck in my little musical bubble of 1980’s Synthpop and Electro Swing and I don’t tend to listen to commercial radio these days.

I had heard that the video for the song involved the Garden of Eden and the talking snake and Lil Nas X being stoned to death and then pole dancing his way to Hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his place on the throne. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.

As for the song itself, I won’t claim to understand the meaning or intent behind it after just a couple of listens, but I liked it. Which is saying a lot considering it’s way out of my usual musical choices.

A lot of Conservative Christians are, of course, outraged. Not only by this video, but by his stunt of selling ‘Satan Shoes’ that he collaborated on with street wear company MSCHF. With only 666 pairs being made, the Nike Air Max 97s had all the usual Satanic iconography you would expect including a pentagram pendant, Luke 10:18, and a bubble in the heel that supposedly contained a drop of real human blood.

Nike was none too pleased about it themselves. They released a statement saying they had nothing to do with the production of these shoes and then hitting MSCHF with a cease-and-desist order almost immediately, but not fast enough to stop the $1,018 shoes from selling out. The video was actually released after the shoes and did nothing to sooth the furrowed brows of America’s righteous Christians.

Lil Nas X who is, if you couldn’t tell from the video, openly gay is unapologetic:

https://twitter.com/LilNasX/status/1375857638869585922

I’m not his target audience, but I can appreciate both this song and his trolling of Conservative Christians. I can especially appreciate the open letter to his younger self he published to Twitter after this all blew up.

Amen to that.

As for the video itself, I found this opinion piece by Heather White, author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights, helpful in understanding it.

But this about a lot more then gleeful provocation. Lil Nas X’s comments about his use of Christian imagery shows that his core aim is not to offend. His latest art is in fact deeply personal, depicting his own struggle with self-acceptance amid a claustrophobic and shaming religious culture. A gay son of the Black church, the real devil on Lil Nas X’s back is one familiar to many LGBTQ folks reared in conservative Christianity: being told that who you are is a sin.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ trolled some Christians. But ‘Montero’ is about more than that. – NBCNews.com


I’m white, straight, and male which puts me in the most privileged of positions in American society. The only the way I could be more privileged is if I were rich. I cannot begin to imagine the daily stress black Americans deal with just trying to get by and to add being gay on top of that can only make things so much worse. As an atheist, I am tickled by the trolling of Conservative Christians, but I also understand that this is about more than just pissing off the overly religious. I hope this goes a long way to not only helping Lil Nas X be more comfortable with who he is, but also inspires others who are experiencing the same forms of self-loathing to come to accept who they are as well. Bravo sir, well done indeed!

The SEB Podcast That Wouldn’t Die

Well, it didn’t go off without a hitch, but considering that this is my first successful use of Open Broadcast Software to do something like this, it went pretty well. Getting this to work involved installing an NDI plugin to import a Skype conference call into OBS. At first, Dave sounds a little robotic because OBS was capturing his audio twice. Once from Skype itself and a second time via the desktop audio capture.

Having corrected that, the rest of the podcast went fairly smoothly other than a couple of glitches on Daves end that paused his video for a moment and then left the audio out of sync until it paused a second time and corrected it.

Lastly, my mother started watching TV without her hearing aids in mid-way through the stream and you can clearly here it in the background. I will make a mental note to be sure she has her hearing aids in before starting a podcast in the future.

The only other problem was arguably a lack of direction in what we were talking about. It’s been three years and we spent a good chunk just getting caught up. I’m also ADHD so my train of thought meanders as I’m talking.

We are planning on trying to do this again next month which should help improve all of these things. Hopefully you guys at least find it mildly amusing. I always enjoy making these with Dave.

UPDATED: How about a little SEB Podcast to brighten your day?

UPDATE: A little further below I announced the date of the return of the SEB Podcast as February 20th at 3PM. As it turns out, Dave is apparently very highly in demand at his current job and as such a big super-secret project he’s involved with has already resulted in us having to postpone the return of the podcast just hours after we settled on a date and time. The new date will be March 6th at 3PM. We now return you to our original entry.

If you’re a long-time visitor to SEB then you know that at one point in time, I attempted to start a podcast with Dave Hill of ***Dave Does the Blog. In the past 11 years since we started it in February of 2010, we have managed only ten total podcasts. If you look in the podcast section of the blog, you’ll see that we managed to do the first four in the same year with only a couple of months between them. Then the fifth was nearly a year later with the next two also coming in within a couple months of each other. The eighth one, again, came nearly a year after the seventh. The ninth, however, well it was over three years later in 2015. Jinkies!

I hear you saying, “Wait a minute! You said you did ten podcasts, but there’s only 9 listed in the podcast menu!”

Yes, the tenth was done as a live-stream in Google Hangouts which I apparently never got around to adding to the podcast menu. Probably because I was going to strip the audio from it and save it as a MP3 file. You can find it here on my YouTube channel. It was streamed on May 6th, 2018 making it almost three years ago that we last sat around shooting the shit. Naturally, this means it’s time for Dave and I to make another one.

I’m still really annoyed they killed off Google Hangouts.

So, that’s what we’re going to do. On February 20th at 3PM EST I will haul the desiccated remains of the Stupid Evil Podcast from the shallow grave it’s been lying in along the railway tracks and prop it up for another go. You can either watch it live as we stream it as we will once again doing it as a video stream or catch it later once it’s been archived to my YouTube channel. Google Hangouts streaming, which we used last time, is no more having been replaced by Google Meet. Which I think is the same damned thing with a new name. That’s probably what we’ll be using, but I’ll need to double check and make sure it’ll do what we want. I’ll leave a comment with exactly what we’re using once I know for sure.

As always, we’re looking to you guys for topic ideas. Yeah, Dave and I have a lot to catch up on, but it never hurts to find out what you guys want us to talk about. It doesn’t even have to be anything we’d know anything about, though it might make for a better answer if we know at least a little about it. Got something? Leave a comment below or on social media and we’ll try to address it.

Learning new skills: Appliance repair.

Hamilton Beach 70725A Food Processor
Food processor go brrr!

Anne got a new Hamilton Beach food processor a little while ago and hadn’t gotten around to using it yet. It’s been sitting on the cart along with all the other kitchen gadgets we only use occasionally. Stuff like the hot air popcorn popper and the blender and so on. The cart sits next to the cage my mother’s parrot is in.

You can already see where this is going.

The parrot somehow managed to reach through the bars and get ahold of the power cord and chewed the living shit out of it. Like, the plug is missing completely and there are three or four other spots where bare wire is exposed. Anne is, understandably, upset as this thing hasn’t been used once. Near tears, she’s ready to toss it out.

I’m not sure what reasons Anne had for marrying me, but being an amazing handyman who instinctively knows how to fix all-the-things is not one of them. I know computers really well. How to build them, how to fix them, how to waste lots of time on them. Other stuff, not so much.

The front storm door on the house currently has to be locked shut because both of the door closer arm thingys (it has two of them) have pulled out of the door frame so I have removed them because they clearly can’t just be screwed back in where they were due to the damage to the door frame. If we don’t lock it then it blows open at the slightest breeze and risks shattering the glass window in it. We have several shelves Anne bought last spring for the living room along with pot hanging racks for the kitchen that are still not up because I’m terrified at the prospect of hanging them crooked. One of the kitchen cabinet doors keeps coming loose and just retightening the screw is, at best, a short-term solution and I’m not sure what to do about it beyond having the entire kitchen remodeled.

Mind you, I’m not completely useless as I have managed to swap out a few light switches in the house so that the dimmer function would work with LED bulbs and I took a dimmer switch in the dining room back to just a standard on/off switch. And I’ve opened up enough broken electronics and appliances in my time that I already know that a power cord for an appliance like this is basically two wires and a plug that attach to a terminal or splice to a couple of wires inside the unit. So, I’m looking at this thing and thinking: How hard could it be to put a new power cord on it? I mean a proper replacement, not just cutting the current cord at a spot where it’s not damaged and attaching a new cord to the end with some black electrical tape. Opening that sucker up and doing it right. Make it nice like my wife deserves.

So that’s what I’m going to try and do. I figure the worst thing that can happen is it explodes in flaming shrapnel and burns my house down, but I’m relatively confident I can avoid that happening. I am 53 years old and this will be my first such attempt to fix a common household appliance like this. Fortunately, YouTube is full of videos of way more manly men than I am who have dozens of videos on topics just like this one. I’m sure one of them will impart upon me the knowledge and wisdom to not kill myself in the process.

Wish me luck.

My contribution to the Bernie Sanders Mittens meme.

So, we have a new President and a new, historic, Vice President in the form of Joe Biden and Kamla Harris. After four long years of Trump making a mess of things, this change is pretty wonderful. However, it is not the most wonderful thing to come out of this most recent election. No, that would be the endless memes of Bernie Sanders and his ever so practical knitted mittens sitting in a chair looking like he’d wish everyone would get this inauguration nonsense over with so he can get back to doing the people’s work. Bernie’s a no-nonsense kind of guy which is why all the nonsense that comes out of a simple picture of him is so amazing.

Take, for example, this one:

I can think of no better person to sit upon that throne.

Here’s another good one:

I have no idea. I voted for him in the primaries. First time I’ve ever bothered to vote in a primary was for Bernie.

Here’s a few more of my favorites:

Those mittens, by the way, were made and gifted to him by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis:

Those do look super comfy.

Personally, I was content to allow others to have all the fun with mixing Bernie into various situations and pop culture references, but then my buddy Greg hit me up on Messenger this morning.

Goddammit, Greg!

Surely, I thought, someone must have done this already, but Google searches returned the rarely seen message: “It looks like there aren’t many great matches for your search.”

What? That’s such an obvious idea. How could no one have done this already? Why, there’s even a good caption to put on it to complete the meme. The more I thought of it the more it itched at the back of my brain.

Now, I am not the greatest image manipulator in the world. I barely now how to work the Paint.net application I use these days. I still have a copy of my all-time favorite editor, Photo Impact, but it’s old as dirt and barely runs under Windows 10 and I have never mastered, let alone could afford, Photoshop. Still, I sat down to see what I could manage to whip up and I’m quite pleased with the results.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Bernvros!

I am once again asking for congress to exterminate The Doctor.
My sizing isn’t great, Bernie’s a bit big for that chair.

I would like to immediately apologize for putting this image into your heads, but I had to share the pain. Thanks, Greg.

If you’re going to use a “chastity cage” go with an old fashioned one.

These days just about everything you own can connect to the Internet so it can be remotely controlled. For example, I can open and close my garage door from anywhere in the world with the push of a button on an app on my smartphone. Devices that fall into this arena are known as the “Internet of Things” and, yes, even sex toys have joined the fray. Everything from sex dolls to dildos have Internet connected versions. Often to allow a couple to play virtually with each other over great distances.

This might sound great, but you should be sure to consider the implications of what might happen if some hacker manages to take control over your device. Say, for example, if you’re a fan of chastity cages (*link is NSFW) which tend to be popular in BDSM circles. For those not in the know, chastity cages are a subset of chastity belts aimed at men that are little cages for your dick to keep you from getting an erection. As it turns out there are versions of these devices that can connect to the Internet and, like many other IoT devices, security was an afterthought:

It’s all fun and games until your dick gets hacked.

“Your cock is mine now,” the hacker told one of the victims, according to a screenshot of the conversation obtained by a security researcher that goes by the name Smelly and is the founder of vx-underground, a website that collects malware samples.

In October of last year, security researchers found that the manufacturer of an Internet of Things chastity cage—a sex toy that users put around their penis to prevent erections that is used in the BDSM community and can be unlocked remotely—had left an API exposed, giving malicious hackers a chance to take control of the devices. That’s exactly what happened, according to a security researcher who obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims, and according to victims interviewed by Motherboard.   

‘Your Cock Is Mine Now:’ Hacker Locks Internet-Connected Chastity Cage, Demands Ransom – Vox

There are just some things that should never be connected to the Internet. A device that locks your dick in a cage is definitely one of those things. Reportedly, the asking price to unlock the device was around 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) which is a helluva price to pay to get your dick back.

I’m not sure what the Cell Mate is made of and I’m at work so I can’t go look it up to find out, but the pic looks like it’s mostly plastic so I suppose you could just break it off your junk. Though how you would do that without also breaking your junk is a mystery. It’s also probably not cheap, though probably much cheaper than the $750 ransom. The Vox article doesn’t say anyone has actually been caught with this thing on their genitals when the ransom note came in so at worst a bunch of people now have a brick for a sex toy.

Consider this your friendly reminder that just because you can put your sex toys on the Internet, that doesn’t mean you should.

SEB Safety Tip of the Day: Don’t try to dispose of your Christmas tree in your fireplace.

One of the reasons I have an artificial tree is to avoid the hassle of getting rid of a live tree after the holidays are over. Granted, a lot of cities offer free curbside tree pickup these days or low-cost disposal at the local dump, but for those who don’t and who can’t just drag it out to the back of their property and toss it into the woods, there’s no quick and easy way to deal with it.

One option you might have if you have a fireplace in your home is to toss it in there. This is not generally recommended for several reasons, but if you’re going to go that route you should probably consider chopping it up first.

According to the McKinney Fire Department, officials responded to a call about a structure fire in the 4400 block of Rancho Del Norte Trail.

Officials said firefighters arrived to find that a Christmas tree had been placed into a home fireplace.

Only the top of the tree was in the fire, so the flames traveled down the tree and out of the fireplace, officials said.

McKinney Resident Tries to Dispose of Christmas Tree in Fireplace – NBCDFW
There’s a smart way and a dumb way to do this. This is the dumb way.

Damage was minimal, but one person was treated for smoke inhalation. The really sad part of this is that the town of McKinney offers Christmas tree composting services and will even pick up your tree for free.

I love that they have to tell people to remove their lights and ornaments from the tree. You know that means someone tried to have them pick up a tree with all of that still on it at some point in the past.

Learn from the stupidity of others. Don’t do this.

Let’s do a stupid Dungeons and Dragons thing I found on Facebook.

I’m not normally one to participate in posts that list off a bunch of questions for you to answer and then peer pressure all your friends into doing the same. In part because they’re often a sneaky way to get you to reveal personal info that could be used to try and answer security questions and in part because most of them are stupid. This one is also stupid, but I don’t think any of the answers can be effectively used for nefarious things. So what hell, let’s give in to the pressure and do a…

Yes, I still have copies of my original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books. Along with a number of filled out character sheets for both my own and other’s PCs.

D&D Meme!

  • What was your first D&D character?
Click for full image.

Fuck if I can remember. We’re talking almost 40 years ago. It was probably a human fighter because that’s about as basic as you can get and a good starting point when you’re just learning the ropes.

Wait, I still have a folder around here with some of the character sheets from back then. Both for myself and for other players when I ran games. I wonder if…

Holy shit! I do have it! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you from all the way back on March 1st, 1983, what may very well be the very first AD&D character I ever played. A human Chaotic Evil Magic User named Bendor! Apparently, I jumped in on the deep end.

According to the sheet, he was level 9 so I didn’t play him for long. Considering Magic Users get a d4 for hit points and Bendor here has 35, I either rolled really well or the DM took pity on me. There are a couple possibilities for who DMed my first game, but I’m not positive on which one it would’ve been.

All of this is assuming that the Number 1 on the sheet is accurate. Based on the math, I was 16-years-old when I started playing. Could’ve sworn it was earlier than that, but thinking on it this makes sense as I joined the D&D Club at Pontiac Central High School that year in an attempt to do more extra-curricular stuff. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was made President of the club that year too. The next year I’d be at Lake Orion for my final year of high school.

  • Which D&D class is your least favorite to play, or do you not want to play?

I never got the hang of Bards. It didn’t help that they were considered a supplemental class under AD&D rules and many DMs just didn’t allow them. You have to go all the way to the back of the Players Handbook to find them under Appendix II.

Bards were a pain in the ass.

It very well might be that I just wasn’t literally charismatic enough to play one, but I remember it being a confusing process. I thought there had been revised rules for them in the Unearthed Arcana book that came out in 1985, but I just checked and didn’t see anything. I didn’t think I had any Bard characters in my collection but it turns out I do still have a sheet with my one attempt at a Bard on it. He was level 7. Looking at it I’m not sure we were doing it correctly.

  • What D&D spell would you most want to have in real life?

That’s a good question. There’s a lot to choose from even in just the original Player’s Handbook. There’s the classic Magic User — I forgot the class was called that — level 9 spells of Wish and Time Stop that have obvious possibilities. The Cleric’s 6th level Heal or 7th level Resurrection would be handy.

However, I’d probably go with 9th level Magic User spell Shape Change. If nothing else, for the pure amusement factor alone. Though I can think of a number of ways it could be useful.

Nasty buggers.
  • What’s your favorite D&D monster?

As a player? The dragons, of course. Once you reached a certain level, they were laughably easy to deal with and always profitable. Whether you’re talking about the dragon’s hoard or about selling off the dragon itself. Not to mention that subdued dragons can be ridden! Who the hell doesn’t want their own dragon to fly around on?

As a DM? Probably the Lich. They were always good for putting the fear of… well, of a Lich in the players. Literally if they were lower than level 5.

This is if we’re only considering the original Monster Manual. The choice becomes a lot harder if we include the Fiend Folio in the equation.

  • What’s your favorite NPC/villain that you’ve encountered/created?

Drawing a blank on this one. It’s been a long time since the heyday of getting together with my friends and playing for a ridiculous amount of time on a Saturday. If we were including games other than Dungeons & Dragons that I’ve played then I can think of a couple of villains I made for the Champions superhero RPG that I loved playing. Also, I enjoyed the hell out of playing The Computer in Paranoia. D&D though? Can’t recall anything about the modules we ran other than hazy details. I have a few laying around here.

I wasn’t kidding. Yes, that is an official World of Greyhawk fantasy setting along with White Plume Mountain and the Tomb of Horrors.
  • Has one of your characters ever died, and what killed them?

Of course! Several of my characters died. Usually from something stupid I’d done. Traps, monsters, angry NPCs. You name it. Trying to run through the Tomb of Horrors module was always a good way to lose a character. We did finally make it through on a third or fourth attempt. Most of us anyway. ToH was a favorite to pull out when PCs in a game I was running had gotten too big for their britches. That is probably my favorite module of all time both as a player and a DM.

  • What’s your best natural 20 story?

I don’t really have one. I wasn’t particularly lucky. My best friend, Bill Owen, was often ridiculously lucky with the dice. The best story I have about dice rolls isn’t from Dungeons & Dragons, but Paranoia and it was Bill, not me, that had all the luck. Again, this was almost 40 years ago. I can’t think of any particularly memorable die rolls I had.

  • What’s your best natural 1 story?

See above. Same answer. It’s been too long. Still got most of my original dice, though.

See? Wasn’t kidding about that either. Pretty sure I had more than this, but this is what hasn’t been lost over the years.
  • What’s the highest level you’ve ever played a character to?

Given that Tomb of Horrors is for characters level 10 to 14, at least level 10. Most of the XP tables for the classes don’t go beyond level 11 with Monks topping out at 17. Tables listing number of spells per level, however, went as high as level 29. There wasn’t any hard limit set, but after the mid-teens pretty much all the monsters were trivial unless the DM was bumping their stats.

That said, I found another stash of old character sheets and in it I have a level 34 Illusionist named Lis Ouslos, which was just my name with characters swapped. It was from a total Munchkin campaign. I mean, look at her stats! An illusionist with a 24 strength?

There isn’t a thing about this character that isn’t ridiculous. I have another copy where she’s “only” level 26.

You can tell I was a teenager as on the back under Distinguishing Marks I’ve written “Mole on her left breast” and under General Description there’s just one word: “Beautiful.” I think Mark Grismer is the one who ran that campaign.

  • What’s your favorite magical item?

Probably the Bag of Holding. Got a ton of shit to lug out of the dungeon you just cleared? A couple of Bags of Holding will get the job done without breaking a sweat. The Wand of Wonder was always fun for a laugh, but the Bag of Holding was near-essential gear.

  • If you had an IRL alignment, what would it be?

I’d like to think I’m Neutral Good, but if we go by one of those WHAT ALIGNMENT ARE YOU quiz things on the Internet, I’m supposedly True Neutral. Which is a surprise to me.

  • If you had to date one of your characters, which one would you pick?

What a strange question. No one specific character comes to mind.

  • Is there a character you want to play but haven’t had a chance to play yet?

I don’t think I’ve ever played a Cleric. If I were suddenly to take up AD&D again, I might give one a try. I don’t know anyone who still plays this version of Dungeons & Dragons, though. In the current version (5th edition?) it appears the number of classes has been expanded so there’d be several I’ve never tried, but would give a whirl. Oh look! Bards are considered core now.

  • Are you a dice goblin, or a dice minimalist?

Did you see that pic of my dice bag up there? What do you think? Keep in mind that I’ve lost a few over the years.

Or let’s put it this way, I still feel the itch when I see ads for shiny custom dice on the Internet even though I’ve not played a pen & paper RPG since the aborted attempt to join my friend Greg’s campaign some six or seven years ago. (I think I made it to two sessions.)

  • What rule or mechanic have you never quite wrapped your brain around?

Probably psionics. Another thing found in the Appendix before Bards. Looking over the rules now it doesn’t seem to be as much of a pain in the ass as I remember it being, but back in the day we generally didn’t make use of psionics in our games. Sometimes we did, but not often.

Which is a funny thing to say seeing as that first character sheet I shared up above shows some stats under the Psionics section with a comment that says “See notes”, but the notes section on the back has been erased.

End of the meme questions.

That’s going way back.

I could’ve saved a lot of time if I had just gone with the basic Dungeons & Dragons, which I have also played. It was so basic that Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings were listed as classes instead of races. But that’s not the first version of D&D I ever played. As I said earlier, I got a late start and AD&D had taken over the stage by the time I got in on it.

I believe I got the box set of the basic Dungeons & Dragons from my mother as a Christmas present. She didn’t realize it was an older version of the game. I sat down with a couple of friends and actually played it a couple of times, but there wasn’t a lot of source material for it.

I said that I had some character sheets from other players from games that I DMed. If you’re curious, I’ve included four examples below.

Lastly, here’s a cover to a couple more AD&D related things I owned. One being the official DUNGEON MASTERS ADVENTURE LOG which I barely used because I suck at record keeping. Still, it had some handy charts and illustrations in it. The other being the highly coveted official DUNGEON MASTERS SCREEN.

There, I’ve now spent way more time on this than it probably deserved. There’s probably a grand total of 5 people who would even have an interest in this, but I always say that if you’re going to get all nostalgic and shit then you may as well over do the fuck out of it. All images are clickable to go to their attachment pages where you can then expand them even bigger for a close look at my terrible hand writing.

New address, who dis?

We got a late Christmas card from a “Phil and Pam” and we were scratching our heads trying to figure out who the hell they were. I didn’t recognize the last name or the address it came from. I thought for sure it must be someone who has friended me on Facebook as my address is visible to friends, but I couldn’t find them on my friends list. Additionally, they spelled my first name wrong.

The card in question. A nice little Christmas tree.

Thought maybe it might be my mother’s best friend, who is also named Pam, but the last name was wrong as was the address. Maybe she remarried and moved? Maybe “Phil” was the name of her kid? I couldn’t remember if any of those things were true, but a couple of questions to my mother confirmed that wasn’t the case so it wasn’t her.

After a couple of days, Anne finally figured out it’s from our former next-door neighbors who just sold their house to the Trump supporters. In the three years we’d been here before they moved, I never spoke a word to Phil (because he was upstate most of the time taking care of his mother) and Pam and I spoke maybe a couple dozen times. It’s not because they were unfriendly, just that we only spoke in passing most of the time and our schedules were such that we just didn’t pass each other that often. I could go a few months before touching base with her. She was often gone on the weekends to be with her husband upstate.

They sold the house because Phil’s mom was getting worse and Pam was retiring so it made sense to move in up there. The Tumpers have been friendly enough so far and actually invited me in while they were finishing up the remodeling Pam and Phil had been in the middle of when they sold the house, which makes for the first house in this neighborhood I’ve been in that wasn’t my own. The new neighbors even loaned me their extension ladder so I’d have an easier time getting my lights up this season.

I’ve not spoken to the new neighbors since before the election so I’m not sure how they’re taking the results or what they think of the attempted coup that took place two days ago. I don’t know if they’ll bring it up the next time we interact or not. Until they do, I won’t worry about it.

That’s not the point anyway. The point is this was a pleasant and unexpected surprise from a neighbor we didn’t interact with a whole lot while they were around. We will have to make a point of sending one back next year.

Oh, we did send out cards this year. We’re normally not very good at that, but with Momma living with us now we had constant reminders that she wanted to send out cards so we figured we’d try to get into the habit as well. Or I should say that Anne did as she did all the work. I’m still terrible at it. Hopefully you’re next upset if you were expecting a card from us as, like I said, we’ve traditionally been terrible at it. This year it would most likely be because we didn’t have your address. That’s my assumption anyway. As I said, I didn’t do any of the work on it.