Hey, remember how Dave Hill of ***Dave Does The Blog and I would occasionally get together online and talk about stuff that you guys wanted to hear our opinions on? Remember how the last time we did it we were both shocked and appalled that it had been three years since the previous podcast?
Well, fuck me if it hasn’t been almost three years again since the last one.
So it’s about damned time that we get together for another one. The last one was accomplished via a Google Hangouts live stream and, other than a small technical hangup audio-wise early on, it worked pretty well so we’re doing that again!
That means we’re once again looking for suggestions of things you’d like to hear us talk about whether we’re qualified to pontificate on it or not. Given the political prediction I made during the last one that I was completely and totally wrong about, you can be sure I’ll probably be completely wrong about something I say during this one.
You can leave your suggestions in the comments here, on ***Dave Does the Blog, or on our social media accounts if that’s what suits you. We’ll scrape ’em together and see what kind of trouble we can get into with them.
The actual live stream is set for 1PM EDT on Sunday the 6th of May so you’ve got some time to think up something good. I’ve got an event for it on G+, but it’s currently set to private. If there’s sufficient interest in watching it live as we stumble through it I can always make the event public. Let me know.
I admit it. Back when Trump first announced his candidacy, I thought he was mainly doing it as a publicity stunt. As he came closer and closer to winning the nomination my incredulity only grew. There was no way he’d be the nominee because the Republicans weren’t that crazy, right? Surely they were sane enough to recognize how unfit for office this man was and yet he still became their nominee. I got a little worried then. Not too worried, though, because there was a part of me that still couldn’t believe the populace would hand him the reigns to the country. Just based on some of the horrible things he said — let alone some of his past actions — it seemed clear to me that any rational person would see this was not a man who should be President. Yeah, I can be foolishly optimistic at times. To the point that it can override my natural tendency towards cynicism.
So, I wake up yesterday and Donald Trump is President-elect. My first thought was: “Well shit.”
I often annoy my wife by trying hard not to speculate on what other people’s motives are. I try very hard not to assume I know why two people are fighting or who is right out or wrong unless I have a great deal more data than I usually do. Why did so many people vote for someone I find personally reprehensible for President? Someone who might do damage to our country that could take decades to undo? I’ve heard all sorts of reasons. Any and/or all of which might have been why. My natural inclination is to think we’ve all lost our goddamned minds, but I know that’s not really true. I don’t know that I’m smart enough to puzzle out the answers and there are others already analyzing the hell out of this election that are better qualified to pontificate on it.
What I do know is that this is the reality we live in now and we’re going to have to deal with the good, bad, and ugly as it comes along. There are a lot of people that are scared shitless right now — minorities, LGTB, etc. — and with good reason given some of of things the President-elect has said he will do. I can’t change the election, but I can do my part to try and stop the damage this administration may try to do. I’ll be reupping my membership in the ACLU for starters (https://www.aclu.org/) and I’ll be donating to a few other organizations when I can. Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) and Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State (https://www.au.org/).
I’m also going to try and keep an open mind about President Trump. I don’t know that he fully understands just what he’s gotten himself into and I hope — that small knot of optimism again — that once it starts to dawn on him that it’ll sober him up a bit. I even dare to hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, it’ll make him a better person and a not-entirely-terrible President. My inner cynic laughs at the thought and I’m not one to buy into miracles, but I was so wrong about how this election would go that I cannot ignore that I might be wrong about how the resulting administration will turn out. Right now, hope is all I got so I’ll cling to it.
That said, you can bet your sweet ass that if he does turn out to be as horrible as I fear he will be that I’ll be blogging about it. I’ve not been as active on here since Obama got into office whereas I was all over Bush’s shit. If nothing else good comes from this at least it may be the catalyst that gets me back into blogging regularly once more. I’m not planning on packing up and fleeing to another country. This one is as much mine as it is anyone else’s and it won’t progress from my turning tail and running away.
For now I’m going to try and focus on the good stuff in my life. Friends and family and the upcoming holidays. There’s still lots of things in the world that make life worth living. Yeah it’s that old hoary chestnut of counting your blessings, but it does help sometimes. Shit is probably going to get rough in the near future and I will deal with it as I see it coming down the pike and I’ll try to help others along the way.
When I was a kid we lived next door to an older couple we knew simply as the Walkers. I have no idea what Mr. or Mrs. Walker’s first names were in part because I didn’t know much about them in spite of living next to them for almost two decades of my life. In my mind they were ancient, but I’m guessing when I was a young boy they probably were in their late 40’s or early 50’s. I know they had a granddaughter who would visit from time to time. Mr. Walker would sometimes sit out on his porch and get mad at us neighborhood kids for making too much noise while he was trying to listen to the Detroit Tigers game on his portable AM radio. Beyond that they could’ve been a husband/wife pair of serial killers for all I knew about them. What they did when they disappeared into the recesses of their home was a mystery. I always assumed they watched whatever shows old people watch and do whatever it was old people do.
We moved into a new apartment last May and many of our neighbors have kids several of which are of the same age I was back when I lived next door to the Walkers. I’ll say hello in passing, but generally I don’t interact with my new neighbors all that much. The kids always reply with that unsure-why-that-old-man-is-talking-to-me hello that kids use. Occasionally I’ll engage in some small talk with the parents, but overall I don’t detect a lot of interest in their getting to know me so I keep it to trivial pleasantries and move on.
The other night I was passed by the kids as they ran around playing and it brought back memories of my own youth. The commute home is not short so I usually make a stop in the bathroom and on washing my hands I saw my reflection in the mirror and was slightly startled to see how old I am. I’m 48, but I don’t always think of myself as 48. I still think of 50 as a long ways off unless I really force myself to realize it’s less than two years away. There’s a lot of grey in my beard and my face is showing more wrinkles every day.
As I stood there boggling at the face staring back from the mirror I realized that I had become Mr. Walker. The old fellow you occasionally see wandering from his car to his front door or vice versa. I wondered if the kids in the area looked at me the same way I used to look at Mr. Walker. What do I do in that apartment I rarely come out of except to go to work? I wondered if they’d be surprised to know I would be sitting down to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for longer than I probably should that evening.
For all I know, Mr. Walker did some amazing things in his home. Maybe he was an inventor tinkering away in his basement trying to come up with the next big thing. Or perhaps he enjoyed carpentry as a hobby and made really nice furniture in his spare time. Or he might’ve been playing games on his Atari 2600.
Look at that. Nearly a whole month since I posted my Happy New Year message and the only other blog post was the one about my cat I put up earlier today. While I made it a point not to make any New Year’s resolutions, I did have every intention of blogging more frequently. Considering this will be only my third entry for this month it’s probably best that I hadn’t made it an actual resolution.
So what the hell have I been up to? Well, work has been a little nuts because The Automotive Company I work for decided it could save some money by switching the company we host our Exchange servers at. This meant migrating the email of all of the employees worldwide from one third-party provider to another and while I wasn’t involved with anyone outside of my office, there was still plenty to do here with our 150+ employees. That took up a fair chunk of my days over the past couple of weeks. Plus the usual catching up from the 3 week vacation I took at the end of the year.
Beyond that, it’s mostly been business as usual around the Jenkins house. We did make the decision to “cut the cord” and drop the TV part of our AT&T U-Verse service as the budget is very tight and it knocked $110 off of our bill. We still have U-Verse Internet and we’re relying on Amazon Prime and Hulu+ for our TV watching these days. Signing up for Hulu+ runs about $8 a month, but that’s a far cry from the $110 we were paying for U-Verse TV. We’re still able to catch up with most of the shows we watched regularly with the exception of stuff on CBS as that network doesn’t offer next-day viewing of its series on Hulu+. At some point we’ll pick up an indoor antennae to catch stuff over the air.
My daughter had a going away party last Sunday as she is set to move to Florida this weekend to pursue her dream of working for Walt Disney World. She graduated from Grand Valley with a theater degree and wants to build a career at the House of Mouse. She’s starting off in the Disney college internship program again for the first 6 months and hopes to transition to a permanent position within that time frame. I am more than a little apprehensive about her moving so far away in part because it will make it very difficult to help in an emergency and it was hard enough to see her when she lived in Grand Rapids and this is a lot further away than that. At the same time I’m very proud that she seems to have her shit together at an age when I was still stumbling around trying to figure out what I wanted to do and had a 2 year-old daughter to worry about. I will miss her terribly, but I couldn’t be happier for her.
Health-wise I’m doing OK at the moment. My weight is hovering between 285 and 288, but that’s down from the 299 I was last year. I’m not walking much at the moment due to winter being in full force, but I’m getting out on the days when it’s not quite so ball shrinkingly cold. I need to get back in to see the doctor at some point to get an idea of where my sugar and cholesterol levels are at, but they’d been in a downward trend the last couple times I went in so with any luck I’m still improving there.
I need to start thinking about finding a new place to live soon as our lease is up at the end of April and I doubt we’re going to be able to afford another hike in rent. I’d love to stay in Ann Arbor, but I doubt we’ll be able to do so without moving into some less than desirable apartments. Hell, I’d love to buy a house, but that’s definitely not in the cards as we no longer have anything close to a down payment on hand. I have no idea where we’re going to end up and it’s resulting in some sleepless nights. I really need to figure out my best-selling book idea so I can suddenly find myself fabulously wealthy.
I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to think of my name as being somewhat unique. The truth is that it really isn’t. Well, in its full form it’s somewhat unique, but I don’t tend to use that form much opting for the briefer “Les Jenkins” that you’ve all come to adore. On one level I know that it’s really not that unique, but I still tend to think it is because sometimes my brain is stupid.
So when I suddenly get emails like the following:
Thank you for your offer on 309 Mignon Ave. The seller has chosen to go with anther offer.
Thank you for your consideration.
A Random Person
It’s a little confusing. What offer? I don’t remember making an offer. I’m glad they went with a different offer because I’d hate to have bought something I don’t recall making an offer on. Just where the hell is 309 Mignon Ave anyway and what is there that I made an offer on? Did I try to buy a crackhouse in my sleep or something?
It’s at this point that I remind myself that, as much as I’d love it to be so, I’m not the only Les Jenkins in the world. So I send a reply saying something like: Dear Random Person. I don’t recall making an offer on anything. Are you sure you have the right Les Jenkins? Sincerely, A Les Jenkins.
When I did that today I got a reply back letting me know it was for a house somewhere in Alabama that someone had submitted a bid for on my behalf and it included scans of the documents and of a check written for the sale. The documents revealed that this other Les Jenkins has an email address of LesJenkins32 and he happens to be a real estate agent down in Alabama. Yeah, that’s definitely not me. I’m not that young or attractive anymore. (As an aside, it’s very weird to stare into the face of someone else with your name.) I replied once more to let Random Person know that there’s no 32 in my email address. Because I’ve been on the Internet for a helluva long time and am often an early adopter of new services, I managed to net plain old les.jenkins as my gmail account name.
Needless to say, this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten email meant for some other Les Jenkins. A couple months back, I’m not sure if it was the same email address or not, but I suddenly found myself in the middle of a conversation about someone’s funeral arrangements. Someone was trying to contact that Les Jenkins, whoever he/she was, to let them know about a family member’s death. That’s an awkward thing to be accidentally included on. Considering the importance of the situation I replied as respectfully as I could that I wasn’t the Les Jenkins they had intended to contact.
There are a lot of us out there including a trombonist with the same name who was a part of Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra, an affiliate marketing guy, a “Goal-Setting and Achievement Guru” out of Colorado (who, coincidentally, is originally from Detroit), and a seemingly infinite array of others including a surprising number of rednecks.
So, yeah, my name isn’t all that unique. Kind of a bummer, but I’m sure I’ll forget that fact in a short while. At least until the next email for one of those other imposters shows up in my inbox.
I’m supposedly a mature adult with mature adult responsibilities, but at times I catch myself doing things that are, to put it simply, stupid. Things that put the lie to the idea that I am a mature and responsible anything.
Trying to sing the catchy instrumental parts of songs. I’ll be singing along to some song on the radio (like you do) and it’ll get to that awesome guitar solo and, rather than shut up like any normal person, I’ll attempt to sing along with gibberish noises that my inner five-year-old would like to believe sound exactly like the instrument I’m mimicking, but that actually sound like the death squeals of a cat caught in a taffy puller. Neener-neeeener-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-neener-NAAAAAAAAAAAAA! It’s even worse when it’s a drum solo or, heaven forbid, an oboe.
Beatbox. I’ve done this one for years only I didn’t know it was called beatboxing until it became the hot shit thing to do on YouTube a few years back. I always called it “making stupid noises with my mouth.” In spite of my many decades of doing this I have nowhere near the talent of the people on YouTube. This is in part due to the fact that I don’t do it in an attempt to recreate the sounds of a drum kit producing a recognizable tune. It’s more of a way to disperse nervous energy in an annoyingly audible way that is almost always embarrassing when I get caught doing it. Which happens often because I don’t usually realize I’m doing it at the time. It’s like my mouth gets bored with not having anything to do and just starts spitting out random noises in an attempt to feel like it’s contributing to the task at hand. My wife catches me at it more than most. Usually prompting the question: “What the hell are you doing?”
Talk back to the radio. Not because I’m angry, but because it amuses me. I often listen to NPR on the way into work and just before the break at the end of the hour both the hosts of Morning Edition as well as the local station will announce their names. I’m Steve Inskeep. And I’m Renee Montagne. And I’m Christina Shockley. To which I will always shout out “And I’m Les Jenkins” as if they could hear — or even give a damn — that I was there. Note that I’m the only person in the car when I do this so it’s not like I’m amusing anyone else.
Announce my name to the waitperson at restaurants. Every time the waitperson walks up and says “Hi! My name is Laura McWaitress and I’ll be your waitress tonight.” I always say “Hi! My name is Les Jenkins and I’ll be your customer tonight.” It’s stupid and yet I do it all the time. It’s a testament to my wife’s patience that she’s gotten used to me doing this. Every. Damned. Time.
Call a gyro (the food) a gyro (short for gyroscope).Granted there are a lot of people who make this mistake, but I’m doing it intentionally all so I can follow it up with a very stupid joke: “You know, the well-balanced meal?” This actually goes over pretty well in a college town like Ann Arbor. I’ve even had one waitress tell me she was going to use it on her Greek sister-in-law who was an engineer. It’s still a stupid thing to say.
There are other stupid things I sometimes do, but I can’t recall them at the moment. All of them are pretty much habits I’ve never been able to resist. Most folks who witness them smile at me weakly and make a mental note to avoid the weirdo if at all possible.