Thursday, January 25, 2018

"But it’s who we are. It’s a blessing and a curse."

The leading portion of Andrew Sullivan's article in the New Yorker last Friday left me floored.

In his characteristically sober way, he goes through a litany of uncomfortable truths about gender that modern liberalism is struggling (and often failing) to adequately grapple with.

To see that someone I admire so much has come to so many of the same heterodox conclusions that my own life has led me to was a moment that was....difficult to put into words. It's like I'm an awkward piano chord, and this article was attempting to show people that there really are songs I sound good with.

Below is the article in its entirety. (I always just assume that publications like New Yorker don't give a shit about reposting like this. I always give the writers credit, and it's not like I blog for money or notoriety anyway.)

Anyway, I've highlighted in red what I consider to be the most resonant segments. There's a reason there are so many of them.

#MeToo and the Taboo Topic of Nature
By Andrew Sullivan

A long time ago now, I came rather abruptly face-to-face with what being a man means.

I don’t mean the gay thing. Figuring that out in the 1970s hadn’t been easy, but I’d never questioned my sex or my gender, whatever occasional taunts came my way. I mean the fact that, in the years of being HIV-positive, my testosterone levels had sunk, and I decided, given my lassitude, depression, and lack of sexual desire, to go on hormone replacement therapy to get me back in a healthy range for a 30-something male. It was a fascinating experience to witness maleness literally being injected into me, giving me in a sudden jump what had been there all along, and what I now saw and felt more vividly. You get a real sense of what being a man is from an experience like that, as the rush of energy, strength, clarity, ambition, drive, impatience and, above all, horniness overcame me every two weeks in the wake of my shot. It was intoxicating. I wrote about this a couple of decades ago, in an essay I called “The He Hormone.” The visceral experience opened my eyes to the sheer and immense natural difference between being a man and being a woman, and helped me understand better how nature is far more in control of us than we ever want to believe.

I mention this because in our increasingly heated debate about gender relations and the #MeToo movement, this natural reality — reflected in chromosomes and hormones no scientist disputes — is rarely discussed. It’s almost become taboo. You can spend a lifetime in gender studies and the subject will never come up. All differences between the sexes, we are now informed, are a function of the age-old oppression of women by men, of the “patriarchy” that enforces this subjugation, and of the power structures that mandate misogyny. All differences between the genders, we are told, are a function not of nature but of sexism. In fact, we are now informed by the latest generation of feminists, following the theories of Michel Foucault, that nature itself is a “social construction” designed by men to oppress women. It doesn’t actually exist. It’s merely another tool of male power and must be resisted.

This is, however, untrue. Even the newest generation of feminists concede this on the quiet. Although they will organize to shut down an entire magazine to prevent an airing of an alternative view of gender, they are not currently campaigning to shut down the Planet Earth series because it reveals that in almost every species, males and females behave differently — very differently — and there appears to be no “patriarchy” in place to bring this about at all. They know enough not to push their argument into places where it will seem to be, quite obviously, ridiculous. But it is strikingly obvious that for today’s progressives, humans are the sole species on this planet where gender differentiation has no clear basis in nature, science, evolution, or biology. This is where they are as hostile to Darwin as any creationist.

And this is stupid. The alternative explanation — that these core natural differences between men and women have been supplemented by centuries of conscious oppression — is staring us in the face. The fascinating conundrum is where one ends and the other begins. How much of this difference is natural and how much is social? That is the question. And the answer is a tricky one. Is the fact that the vast majority of construction workers are male and the huge majority of nurses are female a function of sexism or nature? Is male sexual aggression and horniness a function of patriarchy or testosterone? Is the fact that women now outnumber men among college graduates a function of reverse sexism or nature?

My suspicion is that it’s more about nature than about society, and one reason I believe this (apart from all the data) is because I’m gay. I live in a sexual and romantic world without women, where no patriarchy could definitionally exist, a subculture with hookups and relationships and marriages and every conceivable form of sexual desire that straight men and women experience as well. And you know what you find? That men behave no differently in sexual matters when there are no women involved at all. In fact, remove women, and you see male sexuality unleashed more fully, as men would naturally express it, if they could get away with it. It’s full of handsiness and groping and objectification and lust and aggression and passion and the ruthless pursuit of yet another conquest. And yes, I mean conquest. That’s what testosterone does. It’s also full of love, tenderness, compassion, jealousy, respect, dignity, and a need for security and a home. It’s men’s revenge on men. The old joke applies: What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A U-Haul. What does a gay man bring on a second date? What second date?

I know this must be a pain in the neck for most women. But it’s who we are. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s called being male, this strange creature, covered in hair, pinioned between morality and hormones, governed by two brains, one above and one below. We can and should be restrained, tamed, kept under control. But nature will not be eradicated. And when left-feminism denies nature’s power, ignores testosterone, and sees all this behavior as a function entirely of structural patriarchal oppression, it is going to overreach. It is going to misunderstand. And it is going to alienate a lot of people. If most men are told that what they are deep down is, in fact, “problematic” if not “toxic,” they are going to get defensive, and with good reason. And they are going to react. So, by the way, are the countless women who do not see this kind of masculinity as toxic, who want men to be different, who are, in fact, deeply attracted to the core aggression of the human male, and contemptuous of the latest orthodoxy from Brooklyn.

And men, especially young men in this environment, will begin to ask questions about why they are now routinely seen as a “problem,” and why their sex lives are now fair game for any journalist. And because our dialogue is now so constrained, and the fact of natural sexual differences so actively suppressed by the academy and the mainstream media, they will find the truths about nature in other contexts. They will stumble across alt-right websites that deploy these truths to foment an equal and opposite form of ideology, soaked in actual misogyny, and become convinced that every sexual interaction is a zero-sum battlefield. They will see this as a war between the genders, not as a way to advance the freedom of both. They will fight back, and in this tribalized culture, the conflict will intensify. Suppress debate, ban ideas from civil conversation, and you won’t abolish these ideas. You will hand them to the worst bigots and give them credibility.

This week, in the New York Times, Tom Edsall bravely exposed the politics of this. He looked at the data and found, believe it or not, that gender-studies feminism is not shared by all women by any means, and is increasingly loathed by men — and not just older men. “2016 saw the greatest number of votes cast by young white men in the past 12 years — markedly higher than their female counterparts,” says Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, a psychologist at Tufts. Their support for the Democratic nominee dropped by 15 points from 2008 to 2016. Edsall reports that “a Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey found that a bare majority (51 percent) of Democrats believes that calling out sexism is typically justified and not designed to shut off discussion. In sharp contrast, Ekins wrote, about three-fourths (76 percent) of Republicans and two-thirds (65 percent) of independents believe it’s primarily used as a tool to stifle debate.” Two-thirds of Independents now suspect the sincerity of most claims of sexism. Congrats, Brooklyn. Other polls show a declining support for core feminist principles among high-school seniors in the last decade. When I stumble across young male Trump supporters — and there are plenty of gay men among them — this is what they point to. They are defending their core being from left-feminist assault. Insofar as they are pushing back against the latest wave of feminist misandry, I’m not without some sympathy.

Trump understands this dynamic intuitively. Bannon believed it was integral to the Trump project, and wants the slanted elite discourse on men to continue and intensify. I think this issue was an under-acknowledged cause for Clinton’s failure. At some point, Democrats and liberals are going to have to decide if they want to “problematize” half the voting population. They are going to have to figure out who they really side with: Brooklyn or much of America? Reality or an ideology? Both genders or one?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We are not "trash". We are not "scum". We are human. Stop enabling hate speech.

2017 was the year that SJWs and feminists were incredulous and outraged that anyone could have the gall to call them out on their blatant bigotry:

I can't even.

Some quotes from the first dumpster fire of an article, from Gizmodo:
As the old saying goes, “men are trash.” If you’re a twenty-something woman, you’ve probably said this phrase to your friends at least once, possibly over alcoholic drinks after a man has done something bad. Or perhaps you’ve said it to coworkers after your dumb boss makes a boob joke in front of the entire company.

[...] Phyllis Meehan, a 29-year-old corporate administrator living in San Francisco, told Gizmodo she changed her cover photo to an image that featured the phrase on Monday evening. On Tuesday evening, she said, she went back on Facebook—only to receive a message saying Facebook had removed the image, and that she was blocked from posting for 24 hours.
Blocked from posting on Facebook for 24 hours? PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION!! ANTI-SPEECH FASCISM!! #INeedFeminismBecause
As she explained to Gizmodo, “Obviously not all men are trash, however, the ones who are really upset about it are the ones who absolutely are.”
"Obviously not all black people are scum, however, the ones who are really upset about the crosses we're burning absolutely are!"
Chad Lavimoniere, a UX designer at a startup in New York, said that after Meehan’s cover photo post was removed, he posted the image with the following text: “A friend of mine got reported/blocked from Facebook for 24 hours for posting this meme. Who are the fragile snowflakes, again?” That post, too, was taken down.
Well, the fragile snowflakes would be the ones bitching and whining whenever their bigoted hate speech gets taken down off social media.
It seems clear that Phyllis—and possibly Lily, Chad, and Kayla—had some Facebook friends who reported their posts as offensive. (I posted both the text “men are trash” and the image on my Facebook yesterday, and none of my friends have reported me.) But that still doesn’t explain why Facebook would think the image or its contents were worth removing—and go so far as to ban users from posting altogether.

When we reached out to Facebook, we got an answer: The company said that, under its guidelines, the posts fell under the category of hate speech; it would only allow such posts when it had enough context to know it was meant as humor, or was being used self-referentially. So it’s pretty clear: Facebook considers the phrase “men are trash” hate speech.
I imagine Facebook considers water wet, too.
Facebook’s guidelines ban hate speech that “directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or, serious disabilities or diseases.” The guidelines also “allow humor, satire or social commentary related to these topics, and we believe that when people use their authentic identity, they are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary.”

But the part of the article that most ensures that its flag is planted near the top of Bullshit Mountain comes right at the end:
More to the point: “men are trash” is not hate speech. Largely, men who act offended by things like “men are trash” or “white people suck” are doing it to make a point, not because they really are offended; they seem to think being offended by a slur is a fun activity they’re being left out of.

But I’m sorry, dudes: that just isn’t how it works. “Men are trash” is simply not the same thing as sexist attacks on women, because you don’t face the systemic oppression that makes sexist slurs so toxic. If you’re a man and someone calls you a stupid trash man, wow, I’m sorry you had a bad day. If someone calls a woman a bitch or a slut, that’s tinged with millennia of oppression.

Sweet holy mother of Jesus, these last two paragraphs are so spit-take-inducingly stupid it's hard to know where to begin. Line-by-line, I guess?
More to the point: “men are trash” is not hate speech.
Largely, men who act offended by things like “men are trash” or “white people suck” are doing it to make a point, not because they really are offended; they seem to think being offended by a slur is a fun activity they’re being left out of.
Gosh, they sure did nail it here. You got me! I'm actually totally cool with being called 'oppressive trash' or 'worthless scum' simply because I happen to have been born with a Y-chromosome. I mean, who could ever ACTUALLY be offended by something like that? Truth is, I really ENJOY being told multiple times per day that being born male automatically makes me a terrible piece of shit for the rest of my life, by people who then claim they're "fighting sexism" and that they just want "gender equality". That's where the REAL fun is!
But I’m sorry, dudes: that just isn’t how it works. “Men are trash” is simply not the same thing as sexist attacks on women, because you don’t face the systemic oppression that makes sexist slurs so toxic.

And I'm so glad she's here to tell me what kinds of oppression I do and don't face. #Womansplaining?
If you’re a man and someone calls you a stupid trash man, wow, I’m sorry you had a bad day. If someone calls a woman a bitch or a slut, that’s tinged with millennia of oppression.

"Bitch" is female for "asshole". Men get called assholes all the time. Get the fuck over yourself.

And here's some quotes from the second, from The Daily Beast:
When comic Marcia Belsky sarcastically replied “men are scum” to a friend’s Facebook post back in October, she never anticipated being banned from the platform for 30 days.
"I mean, I never imagined that being a hateful bigot would ever have any consequences!"
Women have posted things as bland as “men ain’t shit,” “all men are ugly,” and even “all men are allegedly ugly” and had their posts removed. They’ve been locked out of their accounts for suggesting that, since “all men are ugly,” country music star Blake Shelton “winning the sexiest man isn’t a triumph.”

“I personally posted men are scum in November and I received a seven-day ban. It’s still ongoing. Two days and 23 hours left,” said comedian Alison Klemp.
Huh. I guess I hadn't realized that the feminist position had evolved to "sexism and body-shaming is perfectly okay as long as it's bland enough".
In late November, after the issue was raised in a private Facebook group of nearly 500 female comedians, women pledged to post some variation of “men are scum” to Facebook on Nov. 24 in order to stage a protest. Nearly every women who carried out the pledge was banned.
"We even COORDINATED our hate, and they STILL banned us? OUTRAGEOUS!!!!"
“It wasn’t the best protest because it clearly didn’t work,” said Klemp. Avery said she is still suffering the consequences after posting “men are trash” on that day.
Aww, poor thing. Suffering all those terrible consequences of telling half the people on the fucking planet that we should go die in a fire.
When asked why a statement such as “men are scum” would violate community standards, a Facebook spokesperson said that the statement was an attack and hate speech toward a protected group and so it would rightfully be taken down.

As ProPublica revealed in an investigation in June, white men are listed as a protected group by the platform.

A Facebook spokesperson clarified that this is because all genders, races, and religions are all protected characteristics under Facebook’s current policy. However, it’s clear that even with 7,000 Facebook content moderators, things slip through the cracks.
Woah, woah, woah. "ALL genders"? Even the MEN?? What kind of unbelievably terrible system acts as if MEN were actual human beings?? #PATRIARCHYYYYYYYYYY
One issue with the way Facebook moderators currently review posts is that many “problematic” posts are viewed individually, without context because of privacy concerns. Facebook moderators also aren’t able to view personal or demographic information about the original poster. This means that they sometimes don’t know whether a piece of content was posted by a black queer woman or a white straight male.

With hate speech in particular, the person writing the post is just as relevant as what is being said. The fact that Facebook’s moderators aren’t always given this information means that sometimes benign statements can be misinterpreted, and vice versa.

Let's cut this bullshit off right at the knees: it does. not. matter. whether a piece of hateful, bigoted vitriol was written by someone who was male, female, black, white, straight, or gay. If you are being a hateful, stupid, prejudiced asshole, you are being a hateful, stupid, prejudiced asshole. Period. If you run around screaming about how you think all men should die, you are literally no better than the actual Nazis who marched in Charlottesville to scream about how all blacks, Jews, and Muslims should die. Sorry to break this concept to you, DESPITE HOW EXTREMELY GODDAMNED FUCKING OBVIOUS IT SHOULD BE.

The only reason people like this think context matters is that they are trying, desperately, to find a way to try to justify their own hatred, and to differentiate themselves from other hate groups inside their own minds. This is why people who think Muslims should be banned from entering the US can also look at the KKK and say "Gosh, they sure are racist!"
In the past, ironic misandry has been a popular way for women to deal with living in a world where they’re exposed to frequent abuse at the hands of powerful men.
Right, because as we all know, if you've been bitten by a pit bull it means all pit bulls on the planet are vicious and violent, and should be banned (if not outright euthanized).
Yet, if a woman takes to Facebook to vent about how she “wants to imprison men and milk them for their male tears,” she could quickly lose access to her account.
I can't believe this sentence has the tone of incredulity. Go ahead and replace "men/male" in that sentence with literally any other group ("Jews/Jewish", "Muslims/Muslim", "blacks/black", "women/female") – does it still seem so "crazy" that Facebook would take action against the person posting it?
Trolls know this. “The ironic thing about Literal Nazis is that they have weaponized taking things literally,” BuzzFeed writer Katie Notopoulos wrote recently.
I admit I laughed at the notion of "WE are just being ironic and THEY are WEAPONIZING taking things literally" – because the SJW left has also taken the exact opposite stance as well ("I can't believe the alt-right is WEAPONIZING IRONY like this!!")

Maybe, just maybe.....both the alt-right and the SJW left are full of bigoted, hypocritical dickheads.
“I get cold feet to post stuff, especially if I try to share something that’s going on that I want to bring attention to. because I feel like I’m going to get in trouble somehow,” she said. “Sharing anything is nerve racking. It’s like, ‘What’s ok? What’s not ok? What’s going to cross the line this time?’ It makes me feel crazy, like Facebook is gaslighting us.”
Avery said Facebook’s banning policy itself ties into the #MeToo movement.

“How else can we have a genuine reaction to what’s going on?” Avery said. “Facebook is absolutely silencing women.”
Facebook is not "silencing women". Facebook is taking its first timid steps toward cracking down on hateful rhetoric being constantly spewed across the site, from both right-wingers and SJWs. Personally, I think telling bigoted pieces of shit to go fuck themselves is exactly what the world needs more of right now.

I have to fight against this type of hate quite literally every day at this point. That's how widespread this ugly virus has become among the political left. And it exacts a heavy toll, especially in terms of friendships and mental health. When you are constantly exposed to this type of hatred, and when much of it is coming from people you thought of as friends and ideological allies, it becomes almost impossible to avoid internalizing greater and greater amounts of it.

But I can at least take solace in the fact that plenty of people besides me are (finally) fighting back against this type of bullshit.

Here's a sampling of comments on the first article:

Even Andrew Sullivan, my all-time favorite writer, is fighting back

And I'm still fighting back, to reclaim and protect my male identity from the misandrists trying to rip it away from me and destroy it. That's why I've been calling out this type of bigotry on the left for so long. (And you'll notice, by the way, that in none of my criticisms of feminism have I ever resorted to calling women "trash".)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Really? A Facebook survey? In 2017?

FINALLY, an adult version. Tired of those surveys made by high school kids? Here are 29 questions for Grown Ups!!
1. What bill do you hate paying most?
Health insurance. $342/month, with a deductible so high I can't even use it. I'm just making some prick executives at Blue Cross Blue Shield even more filthy rich than they already are. At least until I get on Steph's insurance after the wedding, and get to give BCBS the finger.

2. When was the last time you had a romantic dinner?
Steph and I try new restaurants all the time. A week or two ago we tried Empire Slice House, it was really great.

3. What do you really want to be doing right now?
Heh. Is this what makes it the "adult version"?

4. How many colleges did you attend?
Just OSU.

5. Why did you choose the shirt you have on right now?
Black Fruit of the Loom shirts are $4 and super comfortable, so I own, like, seven of them.

6. Thoughts on gas prices?
Oil companies are just as greedy and shitty as health insurance companies. Convert everything to electric, and give Exxon the finger too.

7. First thought when the alarm goes off?
Usually some variation on "I fucking hate mornings"

8. Last thought you have before you go to bed?
Usually some sort of practical problem. "How can I rearrange the garage to make it more efficient to work in there?"

9. Do you miss being a child?
On occasion. Adulthood has fun things like money and sex and cars and wine.

10. What errand/chore do you despise the most?
Dishes. Steph does them! (And I vacuum, since she hates that.)

11. Up early or sleep in?
If I never had to wake up before 10am again, that'd be fine by me.

12. Found love yet?
Oh, I'd say so :p

13. Favorite lunch meat?
Pepperoni, if that counts.

14. What do you get every time at Wal-Mart?
Hand soap (I'm kind of a germophobe). Or coffee creamer.

15. Beach or lake?
About the same. Maybe slightly more 'beach', although the only one I've ever been on was South Padre Island.

16. Is marriage overrated?
Depends on who's getting married.

17. Ever crashed your vehicle?
Meh. I've never had any trouble affording the repairs to anything that happens to it.

18. Strangest place you've brushed your teeth?
I pretty much exclusively brush them by the bathroom sink?

19. Somewhere you've never been but want to go?
Lots of places, mostly in Europe. I also want to visit New York City, and go snowboarding in Colorado.

20. At this point in your life would you want to start a new career?
Thinking about it.

21. Do you own your own house?
Hell yeah, it's the best.

22. Do you have a go-to person?
A couple of them.

23. Are you where you want to be in life?
-ish. I'm working on it.

24. Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons?
Batman. Ninja Turtles. Animaniacs. Nickelodeon.

25.What has changed since you were a child?
Serotonin used to be plentiful. Man, those were the days.

26. Looking back at high school were they the best years of your life?
Pffft HAHAHAHAHAHA. With the exception of 2016, high school was probably the worst years of my life.

27. Are there times you still feel like a kid?
Sometimes. My philosophy is that you can either complain about getting old or you can complain about other people not acting like adults, but you can't do both.

28. Did you have a pager?
What? No? Do I look like I'm in my early 50s?

29. Were you the type of kid you want your kids to hang out with?
Kids, pffft.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Year's 2018

2017 was....well, not anywhere nearly as atrocious as 2016 was, but admittedly that's just about the lowest bar you could possibly set.

Much like everyone (c'est moi) predicted, Donald Trump has proven himself to be an authoritarian, autocratic fascist; luckily, despite being the worst president the United States has ever had by orders of magnitude, he has also proven himself to be far too incompetent to bring his malevolent, dystopian vision for the country into complete fruition - only partial fruition, which is the best we can hope for at the moment.

Highlights of 2017:

• Took another awesome Universal/Disney vacation to Florida with Steph, Dani, and some others
• Successfully completed one of the most challenging Escape Rooms in OKC for my dad's birthday
Proposed to the love of my life (spoilers: she said yes)
• Had a great pair of birthday weekends with friends and family
• Took part in the "seven black and white photos" meme from Facebook
• Had an amazing Christmas at home, and built my sister a table for her apartment

I also spent a good chunk of time hammering away at the unmitigated stupidities of Republicans [1, 2, 3, 4], misandrists [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], and the clueless, self-satisfied "moderates" who helped get us into this mess [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].


Oh, and also there's that whole 'wedding' thing coming up. :D

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Christmas 2017!

For my money, Christmas was awesome this year! It was the first time that Steph and I spent Christmas day at our own house (last year, we just went to visit our families separately).

Steph and I both took Dec 26 - Dec 29 off from work, so combined with weekends and holidays we both had a full 10-day break. But we also traveled and had family and friends over the entire time:

• Saturday: we visited Steph's dad and stepmom
• Sunday: (Christmas Eve) we finished up Christmas gifts
• Monday: (Christmas) my parents and sister came down for the day
• Tuesday: Steph's mom came down,
• Wednesday: our friend Dani and her boyfriend came down
• Thursday: we actually got to relax and do nothing!
• Friday: my family came back down for the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert
• Saturday: we all went to Penn Square Mall and ate at Huhot Mongolian Grill
• Sunday: New Year's Eve (Game of Thrones marathon, etc)
• Monday: New Year's Day

For Christmas dinner, instead of having the traditional ham/turkey, I grilled steaks and asparagus for everyone. Steph also made her buffalo chicken dip, and mom made stuffing and a crapload of desserts, including her raspberry bars WHICH ARE THE BEST DESSERT ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET I WILL FIGHT YOU OVER THIS.


In addition to her new glittery purple stocking, I got Steph a necklace, a Tetris game and the ingredients to a mixed drink (a reference to one of our first dates), and a rotating photo box that holds some of our engagement photos in it. I had originally planned to make her something out of purpleheart wood, but when I was researching it I discovered that purpleheart wood fades from bright purple to brown after its been cut. So I scrapped that idea and tried to mimic the look by using purple dye on normal wood instead (as was suggested by Reddit). The result came out decent, but I'll need much more practice with the technique.

I built a wood dining room table for my sister and her new apartment. It's pictured above, but I went into much more details about the build on this blog. I'm really happy with the result, and I've gotten a ton of compliments on it!

For my parents, Steph and I got them a new ice cream maker (theirs broke on my birthday party this year) and a framed engagement photo. My sister and I had a gift planned, but as the late-December cold started wreaking havoc with my wood staining, we decided to delay giving it to them until we could really get it finished and completely knocked out properly. I'll try to remember to post the result later.

As far as gifts I received, Steph got me a scroll saw that I've been wanting FOREVER (<3 <3 <3), as well as a tabletop foosball game, as Murder Mystery Dinner Party game, and the new CAH gift "Cards Against Humanity Saves America".

Steph's mom, knowing that I am a board game fanatic, got me both the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion to Lords of Waterdeep (which is awesome!!) and Monopoly Millionaire. Her dad got me a bag of treats for the dogs and a new framing square (I can't believe I've gotten by for so long without one). Her step-mom got us a massive salt rock lamp, and her brother Trevor got me a waterproof bluetooth speaker for the shower.

As for the Dani's, my sister got me a gift card to Lowes (which is always always always a good gift for me), and a Star-Trek-themed Christmas shirt. My friend / future-best-(wo)man Dani got me the game Bears vs Babies.

My parents blew the ceiling off, as they do each year: gift cards to Amazon and Lowes, Mario Kart 8 for our new Nintendo Switch, Metroid: Samus Returns, a digital caliper and new razor blades for my garage, two board games (Mysterium and Secret Hitler), three movies on blu-ray (Stalag 17, A Christmas Story, and the Episodes I-VI Star Wars collection). We all played Mysterium, which is a CRAPLOAD of fun, and I cannot wait to give Secret Hitler a try.

If we can find a way to make next Christmas less stressful (in terms of travel and gift-building) and more inclusive (in terms of families), it'll be as close to perfect as anyone could ever hope!