Happy Halloween 2017 and an update.

First up, here’s wishing everyone a Happy Halloween today!

Jack O'Lantern

This year’s classic take on the Jack O’Lantern on my front porch.

Second, it appears I am as bad at vlogging regularly as I am at blogging regularly. I’ve done a whole two videos and one of them is just me petting Cuddles. I really had planned on doing more, but I’m being overly critical of my own efforts and giving up. That said, I’ve learned a lot about editing videos and I’m probably going to try just picking a subject and talking about it instead of trying to cover multiple topics at once. Will make for shorter videos, but perhaps I need to ease into it.

I have made several gaming videos including the ones I put in my last post and I’m thinking I’d like to start streaming. Still trying to decide if I should stream on YouTube or Twitch. I have accounts on both platforms and I’d be starting off from zero either way so I suppose it doesn’t matter. One thing I need to develop is my ability to talk about what I’m doing as I play. I still get so caught up in playing that my only commentary tends to be me whinging a bit when I feel I died a cheap death. I’m also finding it difficult to monitor the stream on the same PC I’m streaming on so I may need to put together a secondary machine strictly for monitoring the stream at some point. I’m not sure how people who do this full time are doing it. I’m not even sure if I play anything compelling enough for people to want to watch.

This week sees the launch of Call of Duty: WWII and I’ve taken Friday off because A) I had the time to take and B) three day weekend and I was thinking of using that as a starting point for streaming. Of course the game unlocks at Midnight so if I stay up to play it right away then there’s likely not going to be anyone awake to watch the stream. If I wait until after a good nights sleep, well, it’s Friday and everyone will be working anyway so I doubt it makes any difference.

Spooky Lantern

Picked up a new Halloween themed lantern for the front yard.

Anyway, other than that I’ve been enjoying decorating the house for Halloween and looking forward to the upcoming holiday season. Also looking forward to handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters this evening. Being that I live in an actual house in an actual neighborhood and not an apartment complex for the first time in my adult life, I fully expect to see tons of kids. Or at least I hope so because we bought 3 bags of candy totalling over 700+ pieces that two diabetics really shouldn’t have access to if no one shows up at the door.

Also I did get a new Pixel 2 phone from Google. I’m very impressed with it so far and I’m debating trying to do a review of it either as a vlog or standard blog entry. Dunno that I have anything particularly profound to say about it.

So that’s it. Nothing major going on right now other than playing around with YouTube and video editing without producing much of anything in the process and getting ready for Halloween. What have you folks been up to?

A Happy 16th Anniversary to my wonderful wife.

It’s hard to believe, but 16 years ago today we stood together with our immediate families and exchanged vows in a gazebo in a public park in Plymouth, MI.

Picture of Anne and Les exchanging vows.

That one moment I’ll always remember.

The day started out cloudy with some drizzle, but by the time the short ceremony was finished the sun had broken out. The same was true of our marriage. The early years had some stormy parts as we figured out how to become a family and the challenges that entails, but the sun always returned.

Anne, you have made me a better man, a better father, and a better person than I would’ve been without you. I love you so very much and I look forward to the next 17 years and beyond.

Wishing my mother a Happy 82nd Birthday!

My mother, whom you can find over on her blog Momma’s Corner, has reached another milestone. Today she turns 82 years old and is looking pretty good while doing it.

Here’s a pic of her from this past Christmas Eve. Click to embiggen.

Mom had an eventful year in 2016 as she finally managed to sell the house in Otisville and moved in with my sister in Pontiac just across the street from the house my siblings and I grew up in. She’s since been keeping busy with her projects, feeding the zoo, and updating her blog at a pace that, frankly, puts me to shame. She even got an entry up marking this special occasion where you can leave your congratulations if you’re so inclined. As for me, I’ll be seeing her on Saturday when we gather to do the food and cake thing as is traditional.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy New Year 2017!

Quote

“New Year’s Day — Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.”
– Mark Twain, Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, Jan. 1863

Seriously, who steals a shirt?

So another Christmas has come and gone and I’m happy to say I got many goodies I’d been hoping for, but not all of them. I don’t mean that there was something I was hoping to get and didn’t, but rather a couple of items that were purchased for me never made it to my door.

It seems someone is a bigger fan of Hawaiian shirts than I am as two of them were purchased for me off of my Amazon wishlist, but were stolen or lost along the way. The first was purchased by my wife and the Amazon order says it was delivered on the Tuesday prior to Christmas and left at our front door. I was home and picked up several packages throughout the day, but that wasn’t one of them. She contacted Amazon and got a refund so no worries there.

The ghost of Christmas gifts lost. Click to embiggen!

The other one is this beauty to the right. I have no idea who purchased it, but it wasn’t Anne. It was bought on the same day that Anne bought the first shirt, December 15th. It never showed up at my door so I’m hoping whoever purchased it had it delivered to their home as it’s a $33 shirt.

I find it odd that two Hawaiian shirts bought the same day by two different people both failed to arrive at my home. I’m wondering if the UPS guy loves them as much as I do and seeing where they were coming from decided to help himself. I suppose it’s also possible that out of the handful of packages delivered that day someone only managed to steal these two off my front stoop. Regardless of how they were lost, if you purchased that one and didn’t ship it to your home then you will want to contact Amazon and let them know so you can get a refund.

I’m a little bummed as both were Christmas themed shirts and I love nothing more than wearing them out of season to see how long it takes people to realize what’s on the shirt. If you’re curious, here’s the one Anne tried to get me which is sadly out of stock now:

Click to embiggen!

Both will be going back on my wish list with hopes they’ll eventually make it to my home. As for the other stuff I got this year, I have a lovely new British Telephone Booth wall cling that can be used as a whiteboard for taking notes, a beautiful handmade Santa Claus cloth figure that my mother-in-law made for me, Civ 6, Final Fantasy XV, and The Last Guardian video games, The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat, and a $50 Amazon gift card which I’m sure will be put to good use.

What about you guys? Get anything cool for Christmas?

Merry Christmas 2016!

Man, 2016 has been a rough year, but we made it to another Christmas. Here’s hoping you got all the goodies plus some quality time with friends and family. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours.

Here’s our tree this year before the mayhem of this morning. Somehow the cats mostly left it alone this year.

Why Christians are seen as the bad guys: Santa isn’t real edition.

Meet Christian pastor/asshole David Grisham of Last Frontier Evangelism. David isn’t happy with parents telling their kids that Santa Claus is watching over them and judging whether they’ve been good or bad and then rewarding them appropriately because that’s Jesus’ job. That’s why he took it upon himself to head to his local mall where parents and kids were lined up to visit Santa and tell everyone the truth about how he’s not real:

Of course the irony here is that Pastor Asshole is insisting that folks should substitute one myth for another. Regardless, he’s another example of a Christian who isn’t happy that some folks are celebrating Christmas in a manner he doesn’t approve of and he’ll be damned before he lets anyone get away with that.

He’s not all that different from the Christians who demand that people say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” Upset that someone, somewhere isn’t acknowledging the Christ is CHRISTmas, they post indignant Facebook memes insisting “Merry Christmas” is the only acceptable greeting as though there aren’t a multitude of religious holidays that take place this time of year and that someone might be something other than Christian.

Christmas is one of the best bits of PR Christians have going for them. It’s been embraced as a national holiday in a number of countries and is seen as a celebration not just of the birth of their imaginary friend, but as a celebration of peace and goodwill towards others. It encourages folks to reconnect with friends and families, to be kind and generous, and to aspire to being better people. Regardless of whether anyone buys into the idea of Jesus, the holiday goes a long way to making people be better than they usually are.

At least up until some Christian gets annoyed because they think the people celebrating aren’t putting enough emphasis on the Christ part and decides to ruin the goodwill by pissing all over how other people choose to celebrate. You guys need to realize this is as much a secular holiday as a religious one and has been for a very long time. More importantly, you should stop to think about how you look like an asshole every time you insist others should conform to how you think the holiday should be observed.

You can say Merry Christmas all you want and most folks you say it to are going to take it as a gesture of goodwill. There’s no need to ruin that by insisting everyone must celebrate the holiday the way you do.

Here is your feel-good Christmas commercial for the day.

Allegro, a polish online auction website, wins the heartstring-pull-of-the-day award with this:

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Ruminations on old photographs and Halloween.

When my mother moved in with my sister one of the things she gave me was a big blue plastic container full of photos. I was digging through it to see if I could find any Halloween related pictures from when I was a kid. As I searched in vain for anything that might be interesting, two things occurred to me.
 
The first was that we live in an amazing time where practically everyone has a device in their pocket capable of taking not only crystal clear photos of whatever happens to be catching their eye, but crystal clear video too. Most of the photos I found of me as a kid are badly faded despite having been kept in boxes for most of their existence. In fact, the further back the photos went — quite a few of them are actually my grandparent’s albums full of people I haven’t a clue as to who they were — the worse that problem becomes. The lack of resolution becomes apparent too. The ones that survived the best, oddly enough, are the Polaroids that developed instantly, but they’re surprisingly dark compared to the faded traditional shots on film. 
 
The second was I can now see why none of my relatives became professional photographers. (My niece being excluded as she’s an excellent photographer, but has had the benefit of growing up just as digital cameras became ubiquitous.) I have a shitload of photos of random things where it’s not clear just what it was the photographer was trying to capture. A not particularly impressive hill with trees on it here. A random trailer someone in the family most have owned there. Lots and lots of pictures of people — some I barely recognize, some that may as well be extras in a movie — many of which only manage to capture half a head and an elbow that might not belong to the head in question. To be fair, alcohol has never been a stranger to my family tree and it’s entirely possible whoever was taking the pics at the time was more than three sheets to the wind. 
Alas, I didn’t find any adorably cute pics of me in grade school wearing that terrible store bought Spiderman costume with the plastic mask that had edges sharp enough to cut steel. So I’ll have to reuse something I know I’ve posted in the past.

Here’s me as a senior in highschool going as… fuck if I know what it was supposed to be. You can’t see it in the photo, but I had spread liquid latex all over my face while squinching it up and then blow drying it so it had this weird pattern to it. Then I put on silver facepaint, a robe with a hood, and my walking stick I picked up at a Renaissance Festival and that was it. Tah-dah!

Worst. Halloween. Costume. Ever.

Happy Halloween everyone!

My other early birthday present.

Thanks to a joint gift from my mother and sister, I have two new Hawaiian shirts in my collection. A collection that is getting increasingly tattered as time goes on. There are several shirts that I no longer wear to work because they’ve started to develop holes.

The favorite shirt of fat men everywhere.

Isn’t it pretty? I got two of this same shirt so it’ll take twice as long to wear them out. I’ve added a number of Hawaiian shirts to my Amazon Wish List from different manufacturers so I could figure out which would be my favorite so I could add a bunch more. These shirts are made by Pacific Legend and are 100% cotton. They were a bit starchy when they arrived so I ran them through the wash once to soften them up. It’s still a little itchy, but I’m hoping additional washings will help to make them less so. That said, the material is thick enough that I’ll probably find myself wearing these year-round. Also, this company has some of the more beautiful prints I’ve seen.

I also have shirts on my wish list from La Leela, and Johari West (whose webpage appears to have been hijacked so I won’t link to it). La Leela’s shirts are available in both 100% cotton and something they call Likre material, which is some form of artificial silk. The patterns tend to be more of the cliched sort for Hawaiian shirts, but I’d like to try one made of Likre just to see how comfortable it is. Johari West’s shirts are 100% cotton and have some bold designs similar to Pacific Legend’s.

I’ve mentioned before that my chest and back are really picky about the feel of the shirts I put on to the extent that even the weave of the fabric can determine if I can stand to wear it or not. Buying 100% cotton is no assurance I’ll be able to tolerate wearing it. I’ve got three Hawaiian shirts that I generally only wear in cooler weather because I have to wear a t-shirt underneath them or I’ll itch all damned day. Right now I’m on the fence about this Pacific Legend shirt. I’m hoping to find a few more companies offering Hawaiian shirts on Amazon, but these are the three that come up most prevalently in a search.

Anyway, another early birthday present that is well appreciated.