Friday, November 04, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like...

So it's still the first week of November, and I already have about two-thirds of my holiday shopping out of the way. Yes, I might as well admit the truth, that I am one of the millions of Americans who embrace with open arms the concept of overindulgent consumerism at the end of every year. I'm not into religion, but I love the Western tradition that is Christmas. I enjoy giving gifts, especially things people might not usually think to buy for themselves. I even like to play Christmas music throughout the month of December.

I've never had this much of a head start on my shopping before, and the only thing that's better than my progress is that fact that I only had to leave my house for two of the gifts. I've managed to acquire everything else I want from eBay sellers. Not only does it save me the hassle of having to fight crowds, but it also saves me money, as I've gotten some excellent deals. In fact, I'm keeping tabs on an auction right now, hoping to get even closer to the end of my spending frenzy. Saving money means I can give even more gifts, plus I'm putting my money into the pockets of online auction sellers, rather than huge corporate chains. That's a nice feeling!

And next month, I'll stop by a toy store to pick up some items to donate to Toys For Tots, so some less fortunate children have the opportunity to wake up to some presents. It never hurts to do something special for more than just the people on your shopping list.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Another Halloween Comes And Goes...

And once again, local newspapers and television stations across the country put forth their best effort to scare parents out of allowing their children the enjoyment of prowling neighborhoods for tricks and treats. The usual, "Check every piece of candy," stories were repeated, just as they are every year, encouraging parents to beware of the bogeyman who lurks behind those decorated doors, awaiting the opportunity to distribute toxic candy to their children. The stories are older than I am, and I remember them well from when I was a kid, but what most people do not know is that it has never happened. Not even once. "But I remember the story of..." No, you don't. Or at least, you don't remember an accurate story. The only children ever poisoned on Halloween were poisoned by their own relatives, not by some mysterious stranger up the street, handing out random pieces of chocolate death to unsuspecting youngsters. No boy or girl ever met his or her fate by ingesting tainted Halloween sweets, except those given to them by their own mommies and daddies.

Locally, laws were put into place preventing convicted sex offenders from leaving on exterior lights, passing out Halloween candy, or even leaving their homes before midnight. Now I get the logic here, keeping kiddies away from child molesters, and all, but is this really anything more than another scare tactic? Where are all the cases of these "sex offenders" grabbing kids on Halloween?

And just what is a "sex offender"? I couldn't find exactly what it takes in my state, and I'm sick of Googling, but here are some of the offenses that can warrant the label in the great state of Missouri: promoting prostitution in the first degree; promoting prostitution in the second degree; promoting prostitution in the third degree; public display of explicit sexual material; coercing acceptance of obscene material; promoting obscenity in the first degree. None of that seems to really scream Danger! Washington state seems to be a bit more restrained with whom they classify as a "sex offender": Rape, Rape of a Child, Child Molestation, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, Sexual Violation of Human Remains, Incest, Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, a Felony with a finding of sexual motivation. Not for nothing, but the sexual violation of human remains isn't so much threatening as it is gross. But incest? If it's not forced, and as wickedly disturbing as it might be, is it really a reason to impose a curfew on someone?

At any rate, the night passed, no children were poisoned, no "sex offenders", whatever those are, were able to snatch up any costumed toddlers, and the world is as it was before the trick-or-treaters ever hit the streets. Don't let the newspapers and television "reporters" scare you out of letting your kids have fun on Halloween, and don't let unfounded urban legends ruin what can be one of the most enjoyable activities of a kid's young life.

Of course, there was one particularly grand trick played. USC Trojans coach Pete Carroll and running back LenDale White staged White's phony suicide, tossing a dummy off the roof of a building after the back feigned an angry exit from practice. Boys will be boys, and that's just how it should be.