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Monday, January 02, 2017


My nephew Austin got a real life lump of coal for Christmas. Except I don't think it was coal. It was black rocks found by a railroad track near a defunct power plant, so it could be coal but it was dark out when Corinna collected it.

I screwed up the holiday schedule, kinda. Actually, both my parents are so concerned with not having a scheduling conflict with other people's Christmas Day (or Thanksgiving Day, etc.) plans, they go to lengths to schedule everything not on the actual holiday. Which, having taken two little kids to multiple houses on the same holiday and parented through the meltdowns that over-tired kids have, I can dig it.

Back at Thanksgiving, Mom asked if we minded doing Christmas actually the Sunday before Christmas, a full week in advance. I said it was fine with me, as I rarely plan things that far in advance so I was pretty sure I didn't have any conflicts.

So then I was reminded at work that I'm supposed to burn my vacation days by the end of the year. By this time, Thanksgiving was a dim memory and I ended up planning our little Colorado Odyssey with Corinna.

I didn't even realize I'd scheduled a conflict until Em called me one day to ask about whether it would be a problem if she came late, she might have to work that Sunday. And I was like, Bath and Bodyworks is going to be open Christmas Day?

So we rescheduled to Christmas Eve day on account of me, I already had my Airbnb's booked, Corinna had gigs lined up, etc.

I didn't get to use my SB-800 speed lights at the holiday gatherings this year. Or as my wife refers to them, 'flashy thingies.' Sometimes I can get them out when she's out of the room but switching back and forth seemed like such a hassle this time. Available light photography in homes is a challenging one, though. The neuralizers aren't always enough, but they at least give you a fighting chance of getting a non-blurry nephew, and you don't have to go crazy with the ISO and accept the noise that goes with that.

With or without a strobe, shadows are always an issue. It's just that without a strobe the shadows are over eyes and such.

I got to play with Austin's Nerf gun a bit, I can definitely see why adults get into those. They're too much fun to just let kids play with them.

So then, as on Thanksgiving day, we really didn't have plans for Christmas Day itself. I took Mo to Rogue One and then to Jerry's Bait to watch the Chiefs beat the Broncos on their way to winning the AFC West for the first time in six years (seems longer).

So then on the way to my Dad's we went back and looked in daylight for coal by the train tracks. We got some more dark rocks, but we're not sure any of it is really coal. We haven't tried to set fire to it yet, which would probably be the most reliable test.

Dad's house didn't seem as loud this year. I think it was because it was nice enough outside that my nephews were running around outside. Or maybe it's because they're getting older, settling down a bit.

One of the funnest things we did was a white elephant gift exchange. Which actually, I got one of those baskets for grilling veggies on the Weber. One man's white elephant, I've been wanting one of those for a while, just never got around to buying one. I grill a lot, and Corinna is ever suggesting additional sides I could grill, but doing it straight on the rack of the grill is a pain with most veggies.

And as usual I bought scratchers tickets for everyone in memory of my late step-brother, Todd. Todd gave scratchers every year I can recall before his accident, and bizarrely, he'd end up winning on his tickets. We both smoked back then, and I remember being outside smoking with him one time and lecturing him on how stupid the lottery is, what a terrible thing it is to even participate in on so many levels. His answer was, 'What, you want another one?'

So $30 worth of scratchers tickets, that's my annual gambling budget, pass out a ticket to all the adults or borderline on adults. I don't recall anyone winning more than a free ticket, and we've been doing this since I was still married to the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster we've been divorced eleven years now.

So a good Christmas all around.

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