Book Report: Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1942, ?)

Book coverI read The Long Winter in December, and I’ve pretty much determined I’m going to read the rest of the series by the end of the year, so here we go.

Well, sort of–I had shelved These Happy Golden Years out-of-order, so I actually read a couple chapters of it before I saw in the front that I was going out of order, so I set that aside and jumped into this book.

This book sees Laura get a job in town for a couple of weeks that will provide some money to help send Mary to college. Mary goes to college; the town develops a little more. Winter is not so bad the next year, but to alleviate cabin fever, the town decides to have weekly town meetings called Literaries that start out with a spelling bee and end with a blackface minstrel show (OUTRAGE!!!!!!!!!1!). Well, I would be outraged, except, as you all know, I am guilty of reading the banned literature, so I’m too guilty to be outraged.

The book ends with a lead-in to the next book, I can tell you as I read the first bit of it: Laura takes a teaching position at a small settlement 12 miles away (which is about the distance I traverse several times a day to deliver and pick up my boys from their school in the city). In the latter half of the ninteenth century in North Dakota, though, this was quite a distance, and she would live with a family in the setllment and not see her family–or her new beau, that Wilder boy, very often.

The book continues to evolve as the character ages. In this book, she pays more attention to clothing and fashion than in other books, and the subtle content changes over the course of the series to reflect the age of the character. I appreciate the effort and effect.

Thanks to this, I’ve learned the origin of the term “lunatic fringe”: It originally meant bangs (which Laura wants) before Teddy Roosevelt turned it into a political insult (source).

I also felt a connection with the book in that Laura receives for Christmas. She has a 1883 blue and gold copy of Tennyson’s Poems. I myself have a brown copy of the same book that was inscribed by the then-owner in 1893. So Laura Ingalls and I practically owned the same book. Although this was not her copy obviously. Not only do I have a copy of this volume, but at some time I happened upon a second and gave one to my mother-in-law.

At any rate, as I mentioned, I’ve already started These Happy Golden Years, so I shall probably finish that at some point in the next couple of weeks. I’m sure you can’t wait to hear my twee reflections on the next children’s book I plan to read.

What Would I Say To Myself Then?

So we attended an archery meet this weekend, and a kind of gawky looking kid came in, and I said to my beautiful wife, “I just walked in the door.”

This thought proved delightful not only to my wife, but also brought forth a belly laugh from the teacher whose son was shooting on the same lane as the lad.

I was a thin, gawky young man. Here I am at eighteen at my high school graduation party in May 1990.

I was only spared the heavy glasses because advances in contact lenses meant they could now (that being 1988 or so) correct severe astigmatism and because, for some reason, my sainted mother sprung for said contact lenses when I was in high school. We never were very flush with money, so I cannot ever understand why she sprung for them. Were they something I got in the summer when I went to my father’s home in Milwaukee and got all my dentistry and medical things taken care of under the aegis of his union benefits? That’s more likely.

At any rate, a commercial for Kia that aired during the Super Bowl features football player Josh Jacobs wondering what he would say to his younger self:

As this is a football player, the advice is to have faith in the football.

I expect my message to myself might be different.

Have faith, young man. Although you cannot put any weight on now no matter how much you exercise or how much protein powder you choke down, eventually you will be able to put on muscle if you want. In thirty years, you could go from an adult medium to a 2 XL, you can spend lots of time in a gym, and you can listen to heavy metal whilst doing so. Which could very well make you assume some of the characteristics of the very young people who torment you now.

You can marry a beautiful woman, have a couple of good kids, and pursue an interesting and lucrative and well paid career and yet be vaguely unsatisfied with it. You might spend much of your time restless, hoping for something better, kind of like you’re rushing through these teen years. Instead of focusing on tomorrow and the next best thing and growing up, you should spend today with your brother and your mother and your family because someday too soon they won’t be with you any more.

You know, I could give my younger self the same advice I give my contemporary self, and I’d probably heed it just as little.

You Got Chocolate In My Musical Peanut Butter!

You know, WSIE, the former jazz station and now smooth jazz “The Sound” from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, is not afraid to mix in some interesting musical choices. In addition to Sacha Boutros, Janet Evra, and Ashley Pezzotti (along with other favorites like Hiroshima, Keiko Matsui, Cindy Bradley, Al Jarreau, and so on).

Sometimes, they mix in a little Stevie Ray Vaughn and Steely Dan (and Donald Fagen solo). So they go a little towards blues rock. Today, they were all:

BTO, “Looking Out For Number One”.

You know, it’s bluesy enough to fit in with the sound. But some of us are old enough to consider BTO to be Album-Oriented Rock (later known as Classic Rock).

Fun story: I saw BTO in concert once. I have already mentioned it once, but I haven’t told you the whole story. BTO was the early afternoon act on one of the side stages at Summerfest in the early 1990s, and Weird Al was scheduled after them. So I stood on a bench amidst a bunch of aging bikers and didn’t think anything of it. I danced poorly, probably thrashed a bit, and had a great time. Then, after BTO finished, the bikers meandered off, and the Weird Al crowd of thirteen year olds mustered in, and many of them demonstrated Attitude brokered from being away from Mom for the first time, and they were getting a little restive. So I bailed out on Weird Al, the only chance I’ve had to see him live for nothing but the price of a Summerfest ticket, because I was either going to have to deal with abuse from thirteen-year-old tough guys or might end up in a scuffle with said tough guys, and even if I won (not a sure thing as I was a hundred and twenty gangly pounds at eighteen), I would have lost. You know, it probably wouldn’t have been like that, but I tend to extrapolate every conflict into physical violence as I lack the tact to defuse a situation.

Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, listening to WSIE. Which has returned to its more normal playlist of Diana Krall and Al Jarreau whilst I’ve been typing this and wondering exactly how bad I come off relating the BTO anecdote en toto. Not Toto. That’s another band entirely, and I’m sure WSIE could play some selections from them no problem.

Another Captcha Failed

Logically speaking, none of these squares have buses; as a matter of fact, the image only contains a single bus spread over four squares.

I know, I am reading too much into it, but I sometimes still get a little bit anxious when trying out captchas. Sometimes the images are blurry, or the text is ambiguous as to what I’m really looking for.

Another Castle Turns Brian J.’s Head

Forget that other castle for sale.

I want this one instead:

A castle tucked away on 2,400 acres, visible to the outside world only from water or air, is on the market for $24.75 million — more than twice the asking price of any luxury property for sale in the St. Louis area.

It’s being touted as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own a private estate that includes a furnished castle with a conference center and an 18-hole golf course, according to the listing by Cushman & Wakefield real estate firm.

Union Pacific has for more than 30 years owned the nine-bedroom, limestone mansion with a gun tower used in the Civil War. The railroad used it as a corporate retreat, but in 2018 decided to close it to cut costs.

I’ve read about this property from time to time in history books and whatnot, but I never thought I’d have the chance to own it.

Which depends upon me winning the lottery. But, still, like buying a lottery ticket gives you one chance where you had none without it, the property being for sale gives me a chance where I had none when it was not for sale.

Well, no, I guess I’ve always had the chance of societal breakdown leading me to becoming a regional warlord and using it as my headquarters. So maybe I have two chances now.

You can view the property listing here.

Wherein My Beautiful Wife Mistakes A Flugelhorn For A Trumpet

Gentle reader, as you know, I like to spend my evenings in a recliner with a good book whilst a “fire” burns in the fireplace and smooth jazz plays (although not currently WSIE as the AirPort Express gave up the support ghost).

The other evening, a song came on as my beautiful wife entered the room, and she said, “Rise?”

“Chuck Mangione, ‘Feels So Good’,” I replied. And we repeated the exchange pretty much verbatim until I explained that it was not, in fact, Herb Alpert, and then she heard it.

I mean, I was able to authoritatively say Chuck Mangione even though this song, like “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen and “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, was one that I’d heard in my youth and hazily remembered. Unlike “Hearts” by Marty Balin, this instrumental (radio edit) did not have lyrics that I could have used to look it up on the Internet were I so inclined.

But I still stream WSIE on my computer, and I heard the song a couple of times, and I remembered it and thought, It’s that song. After a couple such instances, I thought, perhaps I should learn its name since I might not get the chance again. So I paid attention when it came on again and looked at the name/artist text on the live stream.

Which is why I could with certainty that I don’t often demonstrate say, “Chuck Mangione, ‘Feels So Good’.”

How good it feels to you, gentle reader, is up to you.

I Will Miss Some Of The Bubble 2.0 Companies When They’re Gone

My beautiful wife and I took a date weekend to St. Charles this weekend that was originally scheduled as a polite fiction to visit my aunt but ended up being superseded by her memorial service. When a friend from my martial arts school was scheduled for his first professional BJJ match in St. Peters (the next suburb over from St. Charles), I asked my beautiful wife to schedule a trip back to St. Charles for us.

We stayed at the same AirBNB where my family and I stayed on the nigh of my aunt’s memorial service, which allowed me to pick up the suit that I had inadvertently left behind. We also took advantage of Lyft to get too and from an Italian restaurant so that we could share a bottle of wine during the meal, and I said to her, as we awaited our car, that I was going to miss services like Lyft when they failed, and I likened some of the new companies/services to the dot-com era Web sites that were going to change anything.

A headline today underlined what I said to my wife: Uber CEO says ‘era of growth at all costs is over’ after losing $8.5 billion last year.

It’s a good thing I got my suit back now, as even AirBNB is losing money ahead of a planned IPO.

I have to wonder what will happen if AirBNB goes belly up, and a lot of its “hosts” suddenly find themselves overextended in property that they no longer can make payments on.

You know what would be great? The burst of the dot-com bubble and the mortgage meltdown all at once!

That’s Awful Pretty Font For A Protection Racket

Spotted on a door of a shop on Historic Main Street in St. Charles:

Click for full size

An envelope taped to the shop door that says Confidential for Owner.

I cannot imagine what the envelope might contain. A note about the sale of the building with information about the new owner for the lessee? Information about the local protection racket and rates? A thank you card for a great gift purchased within?

Although it would have been very, very easy to have taken it and read it, I am not the owner, and I ain’t got no truck with no MacGuffin.

But taping something with that label to the door seems like an easy way to make sure that the confidential note does not get to the owner.

Book Report: The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard (1994)

Book coverThis book is a look at how several factors systematically removed discretion from government and how that made government worse. It’s broken into a couple sections, and basically it boils down to these themes:

  • The increase in regulations makes it difficult to get anything done and hampers citizens.
  • The reliance on overdetailed processes takes discretion away from individuals in the government and makes everything inefficient, costly, and time consuming.
  • The profusion of “rights” for varied aggrieved classes means groups vie against each other for their own benefit.
  • Changes in educational policy, including making it a property right and introduction of due process protections for discipline, have neutered schools and educators.

I want to remind everyone here that this book is twenty-six years old, so these ruminations precede our current state of affairs which are the poisoned vine from those roots.

The author seems to come from the center-left perspective from that antiquity before Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are considered moderate on the left.. I base this mostly on that he quotes left-leaning, albeit reasonable types, more than conservative sources. He doesn’t light into Republicans and seems like he’s trying to rein in some excesses of government power while still saying that its activist do-gooding is good. More of a Daniel Patrick Moynihan type. But nobody listened.

He does quote Walter Olson a couple times, though. I used to cite, Olson’s blog, a lot. But that time was closer to this book’s publication than now. How long have I been blogging, anyway? (Seventeen years in March.)

Oh, and as this is the 1990s, we have a Good Trump appearance.

Processes designed for public participation have also taken on a life of their own. In 1991, Donald Trump was persuaded by a coaliton of civic groups (including one I am active in) to adopt a plan for developing a seventy-acre abandoned rail yard he owned on Manhattan’s West Side. Arms locked together, this odd coalition of do-gooders and the Donald entered New York’s three-level zoning approval process. In total, our group attended over one hundred formal meetings, including twelve large public hearings, at which, I could (and did) testify, everyone said basically the same thing over and over. At the end of the process, an intense eighteen months later, the objectors sued. Their main grounds? After thousands of hours of meetings, they complained that the process–specifically, that one draft legal document had been provided six weeks later than certain others. They also said the environmental impact statement, almost two thousand pages long, was not complete. Our coalition won in court. But the project was held up another eighteen months for the litigation.

I would say, “See the meme above about what the future holds,” but according to his Wikipedia entry, Howard has worked with the Trump administration. Also, from his Wikipedia entry, I see that members of the board of his nonprofit included Bill Bradley and George McGovern–along with Alan Simpson and Tom Kean. So he’s a real centrist.

At any rate, I bought this book in 2007, and it has been on the bookshelves in Old Trees and Nogglestead for thirteen years. I’d say I’m looking out for the author’s other works, but I’d probably leave them on the shelves for a long time as well since I get my daily dose of political theory in blogs and don’t generally want to sit down and read them in my recliner.

Still, I agree with this book and didn’t have to throw it once.

On Luther: Gospel, Law and Reformation by Professor Phillip Cary (2004)

Book coverNow this was a good lecture series.

I was certainly underwhelmed with On the Bible as the Root of Western Literature, and I might have thought that On Heaven or Heresy went on a bit long, so I wasn’t really that keen on a new series with religious overtones (although the aforementioned are more literature and history than theology).

But this series of lectures really is all of the above. It’s 24 lectures, longer than the others, and it includes a biography of Luther, the historical context to his writings, the differences in theology that developed between Luther and the Catholic Church (and the Reformists and the Anabaptists and the Baptists), and then it focuses a couple of survey/summary lectures on Luther’s relationship to different things.

The lectures are:

  1. Luther’s Gospel
  2. The Medieval Church–Abuses and Reform
  3. The Augustinian Paradigm of Spirtuality
  4. Young Luther Against Himself
  5. Hearing the Gospel
  6. Faith and Works
  7. The Meaning of the Sacraments
  8. The Indulgence Controversy
  9. The Reformation Goes Public
  10. The Captivity of the Sacraments
  11. Reformation in Wittenberg
  12. The Work of the Reformer
  13. Against the Spirit of Rebellion
  14. Controversy Over the Lord’s Supper
  15. Controversy Over Infant Baptism
  16. Grace and Justification
  17. Luther and the Bible
  18. Luther and Erasmus
  19. Luther and Predestination
  20. Luther and Protestantism
  21. Luther and Politics
  22. Luther and His Enemies
  23. Luther and the Jews
  24. Luther and Modernity

The presenter declares himself to be an ecumenical Protestant, which puts a religious listener at ease without remaining a bit tense waiting for a sucker punch or acerbic rejoinder to believers. He presents Luther as a person and a person of his time, with his contradictions and flaws over his career but never in an accusatory fashion.

So I learned a bunch. And I’ve set aside the course guidebook to review. And I might actually listen to this series again as my beautiful wife only heard parts of lectures as we traversed southwestern Missouri on the way to basketball games and archery meets over the last month, so she might want to listen to the whole set.


Book Report: Payback Game The Executioner #147 (1991)

Book coverAfter Barnaby Rudge, I wanted a quick bit of pulp, so I turned to, once again, the next in my Executioner collection.

And stepped into a pretty pedestrian entry in the series.

In this book, Bolan goes to the Middle East to rescue some hostages being held by Hizbullah. The terrorists are led by a man who thinks he is Mohammed reborn and hopes that his plan of holding hostages will lead to world domination. He has set a deadline for capitulation, with a hostage being killed every week until his demands are met. So Bolan is on a deadline and has no real leads. So he goes to the Middle East, spares a highly trained warrior when Bolan is captured by a band of Yazidis and has to fight to the death to live. Turns out that this fellow is the twin of the lead terrorist, but he was raised apart and allies with Bolan. So they find the terrorist headquarters and bam bam bam!

Well, as I said, pretty pedestrian. I was impressed with a couple of Bolan books I’ve read recently (Blood Run, White Line War and Devil Force), but this book and the last one I read Direct Hit are reverting to the mean.

The biggest takeaway, though, is that almost thirty years later, I don’t need footnotes to know who Hizbullah and the Yazidis are. But for cell phones and GPS, you could drop most of the book into 2020 and it would not be too out of place.

Know Your Frenches

Kids who grew up on syndicated television in the 1970s, before cable television, might have trouble with this, although they might not even know it: Confusing their Frenches.

Mr. French was a character on the television show Family Affair played by Sebastian Cabot.

Victor French was an actor who appeared most notably (for syndicated television viewers) in Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.

I’m throwing Merlin Olsen into the mix here because he also had facial hair and because he appeared in Little House on the Prairie as a replacement character when Victor French left the show. Also, he appeared in a Highway to Heaven episode and said to Victor French “All I could see was the flowers and the beard. I thought you were Merlin Olsen.”

Mr. French
Victor French
Merlin Olsen

I am sure this field guide has absolutely no meaning in the second decade of the twenty-first century, where I’m the only one thinking of these particular television programs, none of which I particularly liked but watched we only had five channels and because Sid Meier’s Civilization was still decades away.

Brian J. Takes A Second Look At Becoming A Mormon

9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers:

The analysis showed Chan Hol 3 was likely a woman, approximately 30 years old at her time of death, and lived at least 9,900 years ago. Her skull falls into a mesocephalic pattern (neither especially broad or narrow, with broad cheekbones and a flat forehead), like the three other skulls from the Tulum caves used for comparison; all Tulum cave skulls also had tooth caries, potentially indicating a higher-sugar diet. This contrasts with most of the other known American crania in a similar age range, which tend to be long and narrow, and show worn teeth (suggesting hard foods in their diet) without cavities.

Though limited by the relative lack of archeological evidence for early settlers across the Americas, the authors suggest that these cranial patterns suggest the presence of at least two morphologically different human groups living separately in Mexico during this shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene (our current epoch).

Well, I guess that skeleton predates the Pioneering Phase by a couple thousand years, though.

So instead of converting, I guess I’ll just remind y’all:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Did Somebody Say ‘Metal’?

High-tempo music may make exercise easier and more beneficial:

A new study in Frontiers in Psychology is the first to show that listening to music at a higher tempo reduces the perceived effort involved in exercise and increases its benefits. These effects were greater for endurance exercises, such as walking, than for high-intensity exercises, such as weightlifting. The researchers hope that the findings could help people to increase and improve their exercise habits.

Many people listen to music while exercising and previous studies have documented some of the benefits. For instance, music can distract from fatigue and discomfort and increase participation in exercise. However, “how” we experience music is highly subjective, with cultural factors and personal preferences influencing its effects on individuals. Music is multifaceted with various aspects such as rhythm, lyrics and melody contributing to the experience.

You know, I’ve been known to tell people that I don’t like exercise, but I do like loud music and that I don’t come to the gym to work out, I come to the gym to listen to the music.

I dispute that the music does not affect lifting weights; I do believe it distracts me from the voice in my head that says I cannot lift that.

Speaking of metal, here’s some piping hot new Semblant.

I just saw that on YouTube, and it’s already on my gym playlist. So I will have to go to the gym tomorrow so I can listen to it.

(Link via Neatorama.)

A Concert I Will Forever Miss (Maybe)

Huey Lewis May Never Perform Again. But He Refuses to Give Up:

Huey Lewis can pinpoint the exact moment his entire world fell apart. It was January 2018 and he was in Dallas to play a corporate gig with his longtime band the News. Opening act Pat Green was entertaining the audience and Lewis was “taking the Elvis route” to the stage through the kitchen.

“I heard this huge noise,” he says. “It sounded like warfare was going on in the other room. I yelled, ‘What is that?’ They said, ‘It’s just Pat, the opening act.’ I put in my in-ear [monitors] in and couldn’t hear anything.”

He hoped things would improve once he got onto the stage, but when the band kicked into the opening song, the sound only got worse. “I thought the bass amp had blown a speaker,” he says. “I just heard this horrible noise and I couldn’t find pitch or even hear myself. It was an absolute nightmare. The worst thing. Just horrible.”

He has a condition that makes it so his hearing is mostly or totally lost depending upon the day, which means he won’t tour again anytime soon.

Which makes me sad; I am a Huey Lewis and the News fan from way back. Sport was the first album I got for a buck at a garage sale when I lived in the trailer park. (I still have it.) His is a music of grown ups.

I say maybe about not ever seeing him because I remain optimistic about the advance of medical science. Perhaps sometime soon it will come up with a treatment or cure for what ails Huey Lewis. I hope so.


And if he never gets his hearing back and therefore never plays live again, Lewis says he’ll be OK.

“I have a great life,” he says. “I’m a lucky guy. No matter what happens, I’m a lucky guy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that. But I am.”

Still a hero of mine.

Book Report: Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841, 1997)

Book coverIt took me several months to read this book, gentle reader. As you know, it takes a Dickens book several hundred pages to get going. In this case, I think it was 450 of the 750. So I have read many other books in the interim.

Apparently, it has been a while since the great Dickens Phase of 2007/2008 (where I read The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Hard Times, and A Christmas Carol in a little over a year). So I picked this book up because I was doing well on my 2019 reading and thought I could fit in a longer work. Which took a while, as I mentioned.

At any rate, this book centers on the Gordon Riots of 1780 and numerous personages affected by it. We have an old inn keeper whose son joins the military to get out from his father’s dominion. We have two sets of star-crossed lovers: The son loves the daughter of a locksmith, and the niece from the large manor up the road loves the son of a tapped-out-but-keeping-up-appearances courtier who wants to marry his son to an heiress to get some cash. We have a twenty-three year old murder with attendent ghosts and secrets. We have the title character who is a simpleton a la Forrest Gump who falls in with a bad group leading the Gordon Riots. And, as I said, about 450 pages into the book, the riots erupt, homes burn, and people who deserve it live happily ever after and the wicked are punished after a fashion.

The book is rife with other characters who don’t contribute terribly to the overall plot–a lady’s maid who poorly serves her mistress, an apprentice locksmith who dreams of the locksmith’s daughter, a hangman leading the rioters who goes on and on about working ’em off and who you know will end like The Man Who Was Death.

So a bit longer than it should have been, but Dickens published it as a serial in his own magazine, so who was going to tell him to stay on point? You can pretty much tell when a serial section begins because the chapter begins with a lot of expository, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” verbiage that most of them lack. And were better for the lacking.

At any rate, like Hard Times, it’s not one of the more commonly known Dickens books and for good reason. Although in the 21st century, are many of them known at all?

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?

In a column Chiefs’ Super Bowl legend needed to overcome one last obstacle, a New York Post sports writer indicates his ignorance of Kansas City:

It ended 31-20. It ended with red-and-yellow confetti littering the field, and with Kansas Citians pouring into the places that make their town so unique, the Fire and Light District, Westport, the Country Club Plaza.

Except it’s the Power and Light District.

I am not a big fan of Kansas City (the city), and I knew that.

And I know you’re asking, am I a Chiefs fan?

You bet I am.

The (Re)Gift of Metal

So on Christmas Eve, the oldest son and I had some time to kill. My beautiful wife and youngest son were playing trumpets for the service, so they had to go to church early to practice. As the oldest son was only the acolyte and I was but an attendee, we had an hour between our traditional early dinner out and that church service, so we stopped by the Barnes and Noble.

I picked up a Lee Child novel, as you know. I also picked up a couple magazines: 2600, a couple of writing magazines in case I have a New Year’s Resolution of writing more, and the latest copy of Metal Hammer magazine.

I mean, I’ll need something to read on the plane this summer. It’s not like I’ll dive right into it–I tend to pick up magazines and then get to them later. Sometimes much later.

When my wife and son returned home from the second evening service, I had pies in the oven and the magazines on the desk in the parlor. When my wife saw what I’d bought, she gave me a look.

Because, as I discovered the next morning, she’d been at Barnes and Noble herself that week and bought that very issue for me for Christmas.

Which left me with two copies. I had the receipts, so I could easily return one for the $15 (!), but instead, I chose to give it to one of the instructors at our martial arts school. This gentleman not only leads classes, but has been in charge of musical selections to listen to during the class. He has played Leo Moracchioli, for crying out loud. Although, strangely, he plays the hardest rock for the children’s classes, and we adults get 80s hits for some reason.

Hopefully, this issue will inspire him to put more Jinjer and Ghost on the playlist for us adults.

So I’m not going as far as saying metal is family, but he was pleased with it. Enough for two fist bumps. And in a later class, he chose me to help demonstrate a drill whereupon he punched me several times. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

I’m kidding a bit, but it was a nice thing to make an unexpected and unprompted gift. Off the schedule of the normal gifting holidays and whatnot. Perhaps I should make more of an effort to unexpectedly brighten other people’s days.