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!

It’s July 4th, 2019 and it’s feeling a little fascist out there.

I’ve not blogged anything in awhile in part because my creative juices have dried up and in part because every day there’s so many new outrages to come out of the Trump administration that it’s hard to keep up without being overwhelmed. Children in concentration camps, his unqualified kids sticking their noises in at the G20 summit, and now his big Russian styled military parade for the 4th of July.

This is why the title doesn’t wish you a Happy 4th. There’s nothing to be happy about this year. It’s all starting to feel way too much like the dictatorships Trump loves to buddy up to. More worrying to me, however, is how Trump has shown the willingness of Republicans to tolerate a wanna-be Stalin so long as he’s a Republican giving them want they want. Trump has already done so many things that they would’ve tried to impeach Obama for if he had done them that it really does put to bed any credibility they might have had. There was one Republican who stood up and called for impeachment, but he’s announced that he’s leaving the party so they don’t even have him to point to anymore.

So, have a safe July 4th. That’s the best I can do this year.

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

In addition to being the day Christians think Jesus took a 3 day nap and then vamoosed back to Heaven, today is also our 18th wedding anniversary which, to me, is a much more significant occasion. No one is more surprised that I’ve been married for 18 years than I am.

Here we see the judge pointing out how my receding hairline will only get worse.

To say that I was apprehensive would be to put it mildly. Not long before Anne and I tied the knot, two of my good friends — people who seemed to have their shit together way better than I had and seemed to have happy marriages — got divorced. Their marriages ended around the five year mark and I worried that I, someone not known for having his shit together, would end up following a similar path.

My mother, Mary, with my sister-in-law, Deborah, and my niece and nephew, Jasmine and Dakota. In the background is the back of my brother, Wes, a bit of my dad, Jay, my mother-in-law, Kathy, and my sister, Cindy.

To be sure, there were some rocky points early on were it seemed like things would not hold, but somehow we managed to keep it together. True to the vows, we’ve had our share of in sickness and in health and richer and poorer. There were days that we had no idea what we should do so we did the best we could and hoped for the best. So far that seems to be working.

I swear I haven’t fallen asleep in this pic.

I have nothing deeply profound to offer on marriage other than to remember what it was that brought you two together in the first place and keep working at it. Some days she’s going to need to lean on you and on others you’re going to need to lean on her. I think that’s part of what marriage is all about. Finding your way though life with the help of your best friend. (Note, replace him/her with appropriate pronouns for non-hetero marriages.)

My daughter, Courtney, and my father-in-law, Aral.

It’s weird how it both does and doesn’t feel like it’s been 18 years. I love you, Anne, and I’m so happy we’ve had all this time together. I’m looking forward to many more years to come.

Happy New Year 2019!

We somehow managed to make it through yet another year and, boy, am I beyond happy that 2018 is over. Last year started off with me headed to the hospital in the wee hours of January 2nd where I’d spend 5 days while they figured out I had a disc extrusion that was pressing on my L5 nerve root. I really learned to appreciate morphine during this time.

Me in the hospital in one of the few positions I could be in that didn’t make me wish for thermonuclear war.

That was a shitty start to the year and, while it wasn’t the WORST year I’ve ever had, it didn’t improve a whole helluva lot in the coming months. Thankfully, I managed to complete my eighth full year of employment without issue making it the longest I’ve been at one job in a very long time. Alas, Anne was let go from her job in late spring and didn’t get back to work until just before Christmas about a week after her unemployment benefits ran out. She’s only had a few days or work total because of the holiday and this job doesn’t look like it’ll last more than a couple more weeks, but she will be returning to the data entry job she was let go from last spring for a couple of months worth of work so at least that’s something. Made for a very lean Christmas this year.

Holidays can be tough even for the best of us. Napping becomes a necessity.

Still, we have managed not to fall behind on mortgage payments meaning we have a very nice roof over our heads, food on the table, and cats who keep us on a regular schedule. I am optimistic that 2019 will be an improvement over 2018, though given the political climate right now I’m not sure I could articulate why. I didn’t do as much vlogging or streaming as I had originally planned to, but I’ve decided not to beat myself up too much about that. Instead, I will attempt to seize the moment whenever inspiration strikes rather than sit and endlessly agonize over how to do it.

I’m not much for New Year resolutions as I learned a long time ago that I will just end up disappointed, but I do intend to try and improve on the things I need to improve upon (diet, exercise, etc.) and continue to be awesome at the things I’m awesome at (mostly just being me). Here’s hoping 2019 is a better year for ALL of us.

Merry Christmas 2018!

Just a quick entry wishing you and yours and safe, happy, and healthy Christmas from all of us here at SEB.

Not a lot of loot to talk about this year as the budget was tight, but I did get a new pair of monitor headphones, an authentic coo coo clock, and Spider-Man: Homecoming on bluray. Still, we spent lots of time with friends and family enjoying good company and food and will probably have gained a couple of pounds before it’s all done and over with. Here’s hoping your day was everything you had hoped for.

Our Christmas tree with the gift that keeps on giving sitting underneath.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

I’m a day late, but with good cause. Traditionally, we’ve alternated between my family and Anne’s for Thanksgiving dinner each year, but with my mother-in-law having been in Colorado for many of them, that’s not been the case for the past few years. However, with her having moved back home, this would’ve been her year so we made plans for that. 

As it turns out, she asked to hold it at our place as we have more room at the moment and we were happy to oblige. This also made it possible for both families to attend for the first time. We played host to my MIL, Kathy, SIL, Angela and her husband Rob, BIL, Aral and his wife Lynn, SIL Alica, my mother, Mary, brother, Wes, and niece Jasmine. Our wonderful dinner was a group production between Anne, Kathy and Mary with contributions from several attendees and it turned out great. 

As an atheist, I am often asked around this time of year just who I am thankful to. The answer is obvious and simple. I’m thankful to all the people you see in those photos above. Each and every one of them, along with many friends and family that could not be here yesterday, have had a positive impact on me as a person and for that I am very thankful to them.

Here’s hoping you had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did with the people you are thankful for being a part of your lives. 

Starbucks is taking no chances this year.

Every year the national coffee chain Starbucks puts out a holiday themed cup and every year, for the past several years at least, it ends up pissing Conservatives off for either being too inclusive or not “Christmasy” enough or some other stupid reason. Now that it’s November they have unveiled this year’s design which will be available in stores starting today and it’s clear they’ve gone the extra mile to keep their new cups as inoffensive as they possibly can. I present to you, this year’s Starbucks Holiday cups:

So, yeah, those are about as pseudo-Christmassy as you can get. Got a couple Christmas sweater looking ones, some holly and berries, and… gift wrap? I guess? Not sure about what the red stripy one is supposed to be. No reindeer, no Santas, nothing to definitively tie it down as Christmas, but also no doodles that might suggest a SECRET GAY AGENDA!

That should be pretty inoffensive, yeah? Well, there is the fact that Starbucks made the mistake of calling them “holiday” cups and not “Jesus’ birthday cups” like any decent patriotic American company would. I kid, but I bet that the word “holiday” will be the thing Conservatives latch onto this year because 1) they’ve done it in the past and B) there’s little else here to complain about. 

That said, the Conservatives are a little late getting started on their annual WAR ON CHRISTMAS bitch-fest this year. Perhaps they’re too busy adoring Trump and got distracted, but I’m sure they’ll get to it sooner or later. It is, after all, a true Christmas tradition for them. 

Happy Halloween 2018!

Boo!

From all of us here at SEB, here’s hoping you have a spooky and safe Halloween. 

We’ve got our candy cauldron filled with a couple of bags, down a bit from last year, because now that we have a house we actually get some kids that drop by. I don’t have a proper pumpkin this year, but I do have a fog machine to put behind the bushes. We’ve added a little to our Halloween decorations this year too. It was raining this morning, but it looks like it’ll just be overcast this evening so I expect we should see at least a few kids before the evening is done. 

This is an exciting day for me because, as far as I’m concerned, this is the official kick off of the holiday season. I am already thinking about possibly getting some outdoor lighting up for Christmas this coming weekend. The weather has been colder than usual as of late so I’d like to get some done before the snow starts flying. 

But for now I’ll be looking for little monsters to come knocking this evening demanding treats. 

Maybe some folks should just avoid Halloween altogether.

It’s almost Halloween which means there’s a lot of parties taking place both at home and at work. It also means there’s a lot of poor decisions on what would make for a good costume being made. For some folks the old standbys of vampires and werewolves and Freddy Krueger are just too passé these days. So they try to come up with something really unique.

Take this dad for example. He and his young son are history buffs and so they teamed up for a historical costume, but he might have wanted to spend a little more time thinking things through before deciding to dress himself as a Nazi officer and his son as mini-Hitler:

I bet he did Nazi that backlash coming.
Click to embiggen!

According to reports, the dad from Kentucky tried to justify his decision to dress his child up as the Nazi leader, and criticised those who ‘threatened’ him and his son at a local trick or treat event on Thursday.

He wrote: “Tonight grown adults threatened a child over his costume. Threatened his mom and dad as well. Threatened to rip his outfit off of him screaming obscenities, scareing (sic) a small child.

“Anyone who knows us knows that we love history, and often dress the part of historical figures,’ he wrote in a post that has since been deleted.

Source: LAD Bible.

It would be easy to jump to conclusions about the motivation Nazi dad had in deciding this was an appropriate father/son Halloween costume, but I’m the sort that’s willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the two of them really are history buffs and were just trying to express that love with a really bad choice. He goes on to say:

“Tonight as we walked we saw people dressed as murderers, devils, serial killers, blood and gore of all sorts. Nobody batted an eye. But my little (son) and I, dress as historical figures, and it merits people not only making snide remarks, but approaching us and threatening my little 5-year-old boy,’ he wrote in the tone deaf posting.

“First off, its none of your business. Second, how dare you! I mean How dare you threaten a child. Me, its one thing, but my child? You are messing with fire.”

I also agree that if anyone did threaten his kid that that would be way out of line… but, dude! Seriously? You didn’t for a single moment stop and think that maaaaaybe this might be a bad idea? Here’s the thing you may not be getting here: There are still people alive who somehow managed to survive the Holocaust and, even though we’re talking about something that ended 73 years ago, it’s probably still a little soon to be an appropriate Halloween costume.  You want to dress up as a historical figure responsible for untold slaughter? Try Genghis Khan. 

On second thought, that’s probably a bad idea too.

Anyway, Nazi dad has since taken down his FB rant and apologized saying:  “I think it was in bad taste for me to let my child to wear that, probably for me to wear that. It didn’t occur to me. I thought it was a bad decision on my part.” I could probably accept this as just some clueless dude who didn’t think his costume idea all the way through. That was until I saw the full content of his rant on Facebook which concluded with: ‘Yes, liberalism is alive and well. And we had the dis-pleasure of dealing with the fruits of the so called “Tolerant Left”‘. Now I’m not so sure it was as much cluelessness as it was someone upset they got called out for letting their Nazi freak flag fly. 

Then we have this woman in Iowa who maybe might want to be a little more skeptical of Halloween costume ideas from Megyn Kelly:

Art Tate, superintendent of the Davenport School District in Iowa, told the Quad-City Times in an email that Megan Luloff — a first-grade teacher at Walcott Elementary — is under investigation for showing up to a Halloween party on Friday with a face painted black as she tried to emulate Lafawnduh, a black character in the 2004 movie.

Linda Hayes, vice president of the district’s school board, told the Quad-City Times that the decision to do blackface — and then have the photos shared online — is harmful for minority students.

“I cannot clearly articulate how offensive and appalling it is to people of color,” she said, according to the newspaper. “In light of our recent developments within the district, this was in very poor taste, not to mention totally out of line with regard to professionalism.”

Source: The Miami Herald

Ms. Luloff didn’t not respond to a request for comment on her costume choice so, again, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just really loved the character of Lafawnduh. I’ve never seen Napoleon Dynamite so I have no idea what the character was like. It’s also possible she’s ignorant of the racist history of blackface

That doesn’t excuse her thoughtlessness, but it’s sounding like she may end up paying a high price for her ignorance so I’m not going to heap too much criticism on her:

The school district wrote in a statement that it will make a decision about Luloff’s employment after the investigation is complete, according to The Root.

“The district strives to provide a quality education enriched by our diverse community, in a fair and supportive environment for all,” the statement read. “The images run counter to the respect, values, and beliefs the district promotes and should not be a reflection on the District as a whole.

“This situation is not taken lightly by any member of the board,” it continued. “The district will determine how to best address the matter after further investigation.”

I admire your bravery, Ms Luloff, if not your reasoning ability. The last person to pull off blackface in recent history was Robert Downey Jr. in the movie Tropic Thunder and it was a risky move that only worked because the film actually satirizes it.  

I get that everyone wants a unique and clever costume for Halloween, but you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you just stuck with the classics. At the very least, you should stop to ponder if there’s any chance your choice might offend a significant portion of your fellow humans either because it perpetuates racist caricatures or draws inspiration from one of the worst genocides in human history before committing to it.

Just sayin’, but you do you.

It’s starting to look a little spooky around here.

I’ve always enjoyed the holidays and while Christmas is the one I focus the most attention on, I’ve been very excited to have a house to decorate for Halloween too. Our collection of Halloween decor is still small compared to Christmas, but we’re slowly adding to it. I have a white jack o’ lantern I picked up at a Cracker Barrel years ago that has an orange light bulb that flickers on and off. A couple of different door/wall hanging items, a lantern with a haunted house motif that I swap out for the usual solar lantern on the shepherd’s hook next to the front porch, and a fake tombstone with skull and skeleton arms that’s new this year. You get the idea.  

The one decoration I’m most excited about, however, is one I’ve owned the longest. It’s only a couple of years younger than I am and it fits in nicely with my retro house. An original Pumpkin Scarecrow blow mold from the Empire Plastics Company circa 1969. Check it:

How friggin cool is that? Still glows like he’s powered by a nuclear reactor. This will be his first Halloween in a couple of decades because he was packed away in boxes that were, until last summer, last stored in my Mother-in-Law’s basement. This will be his year to shine anew. In part because he has a brand new light fixture inside him as the original was lost ages ago. 

He’s not particularly collectable — the company made tons of them and you can find him on eBay for $15 or less depending on the condition he’s in — but he’s definitely nostalgic for me. The fact that I’ve had him for almost my entire life adds to that. OK, I’m not sure he was “mine” back when I was a kid, but he’s been with me for a long time and I’m putting him back into service. 

I hope to pick up a fog machine before the big day arrives as well. I used to have one, but forgot to empty it out one year after the evening was over and the fluid gummed it up. I’ve not gotten into the Halloween colored string lights yet as that’s too weirdly close to Christmas decor for me, but I’m softening on it. As I get more stuff put up I’ll probably do another entry with a few more pics.