Report from the OP, December 14, 2023

Dude, it's "roundabout, "not right on through".

I don’t want to say I live a boring life, but really, I live a boring life. Lately, it’s been more boring than usual. I haven’t been out and about all that much. I’m getting where I don’t want to be out and about. Too many people, most of them idiots.

I blame Christmas. While poor drivers are always with us, over the past few years, it seems the nutjobs come out of the woodwork at Christmas. Having to drive anywhere is the worst of what is keeping me off the roads lately. I’m not the only person who has noticed it around here. Daughter and I were discussing it a couple of days ago. She clued me in on the fact that it’s gotten so bad that the NCDOT is going to redesign two major intersections with *roundabouts* *spit* to see if they can’t make things worse can improve the situation. Apparently, the incidence of major accidents has gone off the scale.

At least they’re intersections I rarely use.

The GrandThings are still doing well. Thing One has finished her stint with the occupational therapist and has three (I think) more appointments with her physical therapist. Thing Two is his normal handful. We are trying to figure out how to childproof a room so they can be turned loose. Given this house has never been childproofed, it isn’t as easy as it seems. We may have to do some dramatic rearranging of spaces.

Yes, I’m this old.

Globally, we still stagger on toward unpleasantness. It’s been a slow trip so far, not that I mind. I don’t mind if we never get there. I’ve got no urge to play Global Thermonuclear War.

The human race seems to have a terrible predilection for attempting to destroy itself every so often. I take some comfort that we have always failed. So far.

Here in the US, everything is politics since the next election is less than a year away. I’m already obligated to work at the NC primaries in March and the general election in November. The polling places are usually relatively calm, but this time around who knows? I doubt I’ll be volunteering to work with any party locally. The Democrats for obvious reasons and the Republicans because they’ve been co-opted at the local level by a Swamp Thing. *grumble*

Locally, fuel prices are still trending slowly down unless you use diesel or propane. I just noticed yesterday that diesel is still over $4/gallon while 87 octane gas has gone below $2.80/gallon this week. Propane hasn’t budged in months. K1 kerosene is also stuck on high. Motor oil has come down recently. I noticed that after having to backfill the hole left by changing the oil in our Chevy Suburban, which has a big block and thus takes a lot of oil to change.

When I have been out, I’ve noticed that auto dealers, whether new or used, are awash in inventory. I’m guessing that high asking prices and/or higher interest rates are behind it. I do sort of shake my head over the “high interest rate” breathlessness. I grew up in the 70s, and auto loan rates of 6-8% don’t phase me. I think my first motorcycle was 10-ish%.

We’ve also been the recipients of ever-more dramatic letters from the dealership where we bought Mrs. Freeholder’s first and second Last Vehicle I’ll Ever Buy. They promise use an incredible trade-in and even more incredible incentives that will ensure we’re the happiest customers in recent history. We think not.

Groceries are still going up, but the rate of increase has definitely decreased. That means you get to go broke slower. Yay you! Meat prices for things like steak, however, have popped upward hard the last couple of weeks. No explanation. Seasonal meats like turkey and ham are about what I remember from last year, so you can at least have a decent Christmas meal. If you’re planning on a pre-cooked or catered meal for the holiday, it’s going to hurt. BBQ pork is a big thing locally at Christmas, and the price for that meal has gone up significantly from last year. Luckily Son and Daughter both get hams from their workplaces. Meat is covered. Of course, I’m old enough that when I worked around a production environment, we not only got a ham at Christmas but the rest of the meal as well, including dessert. Times have changed.

I do note with pleasure that a lot more folks have decorated their homes for the holiday. Yard “inflatables” are popular in some areas (I have three, Neighbor Across the Street has five), while lights are popular everywhere. Not all homes are decorated, of course, but there is a noticeable increase from last year.

I finally gave up on incandescent lights for the outdoor decorating and swapped out to all LEDs. I was spending far too much time each year working on the strands of lights to either get them to work or replace the burned-out bulbs, and it just kept getting worse Every. Freaking. Year. So the good strands got donated and the bad ones trashed, and I ordered 6 108′ strands of LED “fairy lights”, so named because they’re smaller than the traditional light bulbs. They also change color from warm white to multicolor, and if you wish, have special effects such as twinkling, fading from one color to another and the like. I’m sticking with the two color modes for now, although I’m considering the twinkling with the warm white. I’ve also noted that, in a year-over-year comparison on the electric company’s website, I used almost 40 kWh less electricity. The two months had the same average temp of 47o. Good to know.

All of the presents are bought and in hand, with a single exception. Son-In-Law may get an IOU if Amazon misses this delivery estimate.

And with that, I’ll close by asking you to remember the reason for this season, and if you would be so kind, two prayer requests. One is for Reader Redclay’s wife. She has had a recent health issue and could use the help (although he says she is improving every day). Two is for this tired old messed up world of ours. Pray that we can get our act together and figure out a way not to wipe ourselves off the surface of the place.

Out here.

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