Coping: With Gifts for “Problem People”

WARNING: Mr. Grinch is at the keyboard.

I love this time of the year – but hate it almost as much. Because of the gifting, mostly.

Don’t get me wrong, the National Bank of Dad doesn’t mind sending out a few little goodies, but a gift should always have an element of surprise and should really never be predictable.

The past dozen years, or so, the checks have been repeated and boring. The only difference is between the check number and how the hand-writing drifts around over time. It all spends the same.

I’ve thought about adding a note: “Tell us what you bought, and how you’re enjoying it?” I know, not done. We never hear, though….

It’s no easier on the home front.

The worst of it is finding something for the wife. While my idea of a great gift would be an unlimited shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret, Elaine’s inclined to think that would be a gift for me, if you can believe that.

Instead, she wants practical things. So this week, Preston down at the body shop will finish up the repairs to the Lexus bumper than was damaged when a carport post jumped out in front of E while we were up in the Northwest earlier this year.

That’s not very Christmasy so we’ll fly one of her boys in for a week in January. But that misses….you know… the Day.

When comes to “stocking stuffers” we are spoiled. We buy what we want, when we want (if the price is fair and the use immediate) calendar be damned.

What try to avoid is putting our heads in the “recurring expense” noose. We don’t have many recurring expenses – a bit of property tax, auto insurance never seems to stop, and the Medicare Part D drug payment…. Come to think of it, there are two landlines with DSL and the backup satellite system, too. Plus we haven’t grown enough this year to put a dent in the food budget. So eating is a recurring expense – for now.

Are electronics the answer? Nope.

While we are enjoying the new TCL 4K TV we picked up, there’s very little content that’s 4K unless you sign up for….oh-oh, put the pen down. If Netflix and Amazon Prime doesn’t cover it, or the streaming newzer buffos and bimbos, we’re going to miss it.

Even with the brother-in-law (and his wife) mioving to their new home, we still seem to have four computers and five monitors plus four Kindles in the house. In my office it’s now only three computers and seven monitors, while the guest quarters has a big screen, a computer, and game console.

Could we buy more of those?

Once we take electronics off the list (there’s little other than personal sports like bowling and skiing for the Wii and balance board that we like) that doesn’t leave too many places to spend money. If I wanted the “ultimate reality” of all this blood and gore crap in vidgames, I’d simply slice a finger open with my jack knife.

Quick-witted you has notice me NOT doing that, eh?

Some people use the holiday to load up on more kitchen appliances. Fact is we have only made bread maybe three times this year. The bread maker isn’t used often since slicing it is a pain and besides, it’s cheaper when time is of the essence to buy a loaf since we still go to town for things like eggs and milk.

Elaine’s biggest kitchen problem is two pans that have lost their non-stickiness and that will be solved by the time UPS gets here tonight. Anolon seems to get good reviews, so we will try their and see how that works out. She has assorted cast iron, too. I could never figure how to do scrambled eggs in cast iron, though. Hard anodized is just sooo much easier.

Another attempt at getting Elaine a food processor? No sale. “Where am I going to put all this stuff?” she asks. My usual holding up of a Skil saw and pry bar has been increasingly met with squadrons of small flying objects.

E’s favorite pastime is painting, but putting a coat of an ultra-pale mint green in the guest bath this week has ended that idea for a while. She has her easel and paints along with a half-dozen canvases at the ready, but she keeps telling me there is no time, what with housework and all.

Got a pet theory there – that work always expands to fill available time – but I’ve given up on mentioning that. Some day she’ll depleted the stock of small aerial objects and move up in size….

My own Christmas list in more confined. No more power tools – got enough for damn near a small manufacturing company. I still haven’t taken the time to get the aluminum melter online and there’s 400 pounds of scrap 6061-T6 ready and waiting. Almost enough for cast parts of an ultralight….but that would lead to clearing a runway…

In the ham radio department, more than ample radios and antennas for a lifetime.

The old farm truck still runs (and the old airplane still flies great) so maybe just a bit of avgas and someone to feed Zeus. E’s an excellent copilot when the screaming dies down.

The Amazon Echo’s seemed like they might be good, but a couple of times, Alexa *(the voice of ‘em) has interrupted and said inappropriate things. We forget big data is listening now. We figure it this way: Machines, like children, should only speak when spoken to. Or, at least that is how things were in the Land Time Forgot. It’s getting past time for our signature drive to bar unauthorized electronic snooping, even if it is ostensibly to “learn” our voices. Jill Stein would probably challenge the vote on that, so what would the point be?

We’ve even kicked around going on a new adventure. A Zip-Line tour of America, or head up to Vail where my consigliore is skiing this week. Two years ago, I think it was, he busted a right leg and ankle and I think he’s still got a TSA metal “don’t arrest me” card from all that. Much as I warned him, he’s a slow learner, and he keeps going back. I recommend slower-paced bunny hunting at the lodge, but no luck.

Elaine’s view of extreme sports has become more practical: “I don’t want to take a chance on breaking anything” says the wife who has been on a ladder for four days running with a roller patty-caking the most minute imperfections in walls of the guest room.

Elaine even turned down a cruise, unless it’s with friends. “Too much hassle to pack, go through the crap with traffic, boarding, all that stuff.”

I can’t say I disagree.

If you’re a Millennial, write this down as one of our “forward directives:” The problem with cruising is if you can afford it, you don’t have time. Then, when you can afford an even more elaborate cruise — ;like one of those 2-day jaunts – you have even less time. And then, you hit the golden years and at last you have all the time in the world.

Except not really.

So we’re able to pass on the dockside scramble that’s such a horrible way to start a vacation.

The alternative is an overnight to the gambling boats down at Shreveport. We will each run a hundred through the slots, have a fine meal, and I know the Wi-Fi works, so there’s no missing a morning report.

But who needs Christmas as an excuse to do that?

Don’t mean to grumble and ruminate, but like I warned you: Grinch got his name, I’m sure, not because of a lack of Christmas spirit but because of his keen perceptual ability.

Throw in the political thought police-enforced commercial holiday….

It is so bad that while I was talking to one of the Medicare insurance companies yesterday (the deadline) I apologized and asked “Will you report me if I say Merry Christmas?”

The nice person on the phone laughed and said no. Even now, though, I can’t be sure if she was serious.

If there’s no column tomorrow, it’s because the Christmas-stomping thought-police have come for me.

Hand me the paranoia meds, would you?

Maybe I should mention next week is Mawlid, huh?

Or is this where I say “Interest” is the gift that keeps on taking?

Peoplenomics Free for Active Military

A dear and long-time (I mean like decade-long ) reader of ours passed on recently to the great tax-sheltered existence in the Hereafter.

He was kind enough to leave a bequest that I should “do something nice with it…” And so we shall….

If you are active duty military (not retired) and below the rank of Captain, and you’d like to follow along on some of our deeper economic musings, send me an email with Active Military in the title and your .mil addy. I’d be pleased to set it up for you.

The .mil addy to avoid scammers and Captains and up should be able to pay their own way, though like all good rules, this one is quite flexible…I don’t mean like Obama border flexible, more like Trump Great flexible.

It was his wish that we share even more, and so in light of the season, I can think of no finer way to honor his request than to share some of our unconventional thinking with people who are sacrificing so much to get this country – +intact – into the future.

Thank you.  And thank you for your Service.

Write when you get rich,

16 thoughts on “Coping: With Gifts for “Problem People””

  1. Try buying everyone a well in a village in a third world country. Mennonite Central Committee as an example puts 100% of your money to whatever item you sponsor like that.


    • that’s a goiod idea — sort of.
      Problem is in backwards countries, water (or more food) just means bringing more poor into the world to compete for global resource. Is THAT a good idea?

      • GeorgE: there’s always Heifer International, a non-profit that provides farm animals to 3rd world nations. Truly a gift that DOES keep on giving.

  2. FREE POEPLENOMICS FOR ACTIVE MILTRAY– “If you are active duty military (not retired), below the rank of Captain, and your gubmint doesnt block this website, and you’d like to follow along on some of our deeper economic musings, then send me an email with Active Military in the title and your .mil addy and I’ll set it up for you.

  3. Now that I am old and jaded, I no longer “celebrate” Christmas. Any money I give goes to charity. I do still send out Christmas cards (not sure why). Mostly, I just enjoy the holiday lights and Mannheim Steamroller music since my health requires me to forego all the goodies (I do have a little wine).

    Christmas, both church type and commercial, is really for the children who still delight in all the stories and trappings.

    As far as ongoing expense and what to buy yourself, consider adding Sony’s Playstation Vue. It is thirty dollars per month and provides all the best cable channels delivered live by internet. Service is excellent.

  4. have to agree with you about all that Christmas hoopla gift stuff…..We are of about the same vintage as you and E – and for the past 15 Christmas’, including this one, we don’t do gifts for each other. Don’t really ‘need’ anything (cuz if we really really do need it, we go and buy it when the need appears); and there really isn’t anything we ‘want’ – no more jewelry bobbles (don’t wear the ones I already have), no clothing, no appliances and kitchen ‘stuff’, etc. We just don’t ‘need’ anything at this point in our lives (plus limited storage space as well).

    Now, if we had won the lottery this past year, then maybe it would be a different view – but once again, it wouldn’t be ‘things’ but rather experiences, and of course, helping others – which is something we do even without those imaginary lottery winnings.

    Grinch we are not. But we are practical and not buying into the over-hyped guilt-trip marketing consumerism that this holiday has become.

  5. Gifting Peoplenomics to active military is a very nice gesture on your part. Interesting that you chose Captain as the cut-off. There is quite a difference in rank between a Navy captain and the other services. A Navy Captain is a “full bird” Colonel in Army, Air Forca and Marines.

  6. Captain in the Army and Air Force is an 0-3.
    Captain in the Navy is an 0-6, or equal to a Full Colonel in the Air Force.

    Red Dog, Lt Col USAF retired.

  7. Time for building a super awesome chicken coop and then the sweet chicks to put in it. Get into the chicken and egg business, if even for yourselves.

  8. 1. Slicing bread: The electric knife works well (I inherited mine from Mom, who used it for the turkeys, whole hams and her wonderful, aromatic hand kneaded bread)
    2. Re “no time” — I’ve noticed we find time for the things we WANT to do.
    Merry Christmas to you and Elaine!

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