Report from the OP, October 31, 2023

This is New Jersey in 1966, but I remember substantially the same thing where I grew up in the South. I wonder how big those trees are now?

First, in GrandThings news, they’ve both had their 1-year checkup a bit late (Thanks, Wuflu-drive staffing shortages. That crap is the gift that keeps on giving.) and are healthy. Thing 1 has started crawling. Both dressed in Halloween-themed clothing today. Mom said they were the cutest little pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. We got our first–and likely only–trick-or-treaters who dressed as Pebbles and Bam-Bam.

I’ve probably closed half the tabs that I was saving for this because they seemed stale. For example, we all have heard by now that Hamas staged a large raid into Israel and killed well over 1,000 people. I note today that Israel has apparently made their anticipated move into Gaza with the express purpose of wiping out Hamas, and the terrorists’ practice of hiding among civilians isn’t shielding them this time around. I suspect they are second-guessing that raid about now. Sorry about the CNN link, but that’s who had a picture of the crater. Most impressive.

Obviously, we still seem to be plodding toward some sort of WW III scenario. But plodding is better than running. I’m afraid I’ll wake up one morning and find out that the running started while I was asleep.

Here in the US, things seem to be pretty much stagnant. Probably the biggest thing that is actually “new” news is the Maine spree killer. We won’t provide a link because we’ve all seen it–the media won’t allow us to miss it. The interesting thing is the guy allegedly offed himself, possibly with two gunshots to the head, according to some accounts that have now been scrubbed. There’s a lot of speculation on his motives. I guess “bat shit crazy” just doesn’t work for some people.

Out of curiosity, I checked Shadowstats for the inflation rate before writing my next items. The government is reporting approximately 4%, while Shadowstats’ 1980-rules based calculation is approximately 12%. Based on feel, it’s Shadowstats for the win, as usual.

Let’s go local, since that’s where most of my interest has been lately, and it’s less depressing.

Gas prices are stable at $3.20-3.30, with diesel hovering close by $4.20. Grocery prices are holding on some items and going up on others. If you’re into fizzy drinks, those are going up but good, no matter whether you prefer artificially sweetened or high fructose corn syrup. Meats seem to be stable and there are occasional sales that bring the price down from stupid to just dumb. It’s the end of the local season for fresh vegetables, so those are going up. Halloween candy is way up over last year.

The local news has at least one homicide, often more, on an almost daily basis. Let’s say my security posture has gone up considerably even though our local area has been pretty calm. We’ve added a driveway alarm and I’m going to install security cameras now that the weather is turning cool and it isn’t suicide to go into the attic.

Car dealers’ lots are filling back up, despite the current autoworkers’ strike and some ludicrously high prices. Mrs. Freeholder’s vehicle needed service last week, and while I was waiting I took a tour through the showroom, just for giggles. I wasn’t laughing when I was done. There were very few salespeople in evidence.

Restaurants are also doing better business lately. Mrs. Freeholder opines that it’s the colder weather–people not out on the lake or whatever at our usual eating out times. I wonder if it’s simply people getting used to higher menu prices.

We’ve all heard about “shrinkflation”, and a lot of us used that term to also cover the cheapening of products as well as shrinking sizes (for the same or sometimes higher prices). Cheapening a product now has its own name–“skimpflation“. I was reminded of this term because I just raided the Halloween candy dish for a “Bite Sized” Snickers and was surprised to find it truly bite-sized. I’d say they’re roughly 75% as big as last year. Perhaps they got in trouble with the truth in advertising police.

Lastly, let’s talk about Halloween. This is our third, fourth, fifth–I’ve lost count–year with no trick-or-treaters. You’d think I’d get used to it, but I’m always a bit disappointed. Kids don’t know what they’re missing out on. While trunk-or-treat events are surely less work on the part of harried parents and are seen as safer, nothing beats trick-or-treating your neighbors, seeing who you could fool (as they looked down the walkway at the parent who had drawn the short straw that year) and being invited inside for a special treat reserved for the closest neighbor kids.

My kids were fortunate, as we kept our RV at a local campground where Halloween was right up there with the Fourth of July. You sent your kids out with pillowcases and followed them around on golf carts. I have many fond memories of those years.

Daughter is taking the Things to see their other grands and their great-grandfather. He’s in his 90s and suffers from Alzheimer’s. He does somewhat remember that he has great-grandchildren and is always thrilled to see them. I’m a little jealous, but we had them all day and I don’t want to hog in on her in-laws time with them.

Tonight starts three nights of killing frosts, with each night a little colder than the one before. Yesterday I was out in a t-shirt pressure washing the deck and a few odds and ends. The deck is finished, but I still have the front to do–if it warms up again. But I suspect we’ve seen the last of the 80s. We might see some 70s.

Next week is the Eagles “The Long Goodbye” tour, stopping in Charlotte. Old Friend and his wife will be joining us. That pretty much blows up the entertainment budget for the rest of the year. I’ll hate not getting to see them live again, but we’re all getting older, most of them are older than me and everyone ought to retire sometime.

Out here.

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