Yeah, I own a house in the San Francisco Bay area.  I just missed the anniversary of the date I purchased it, Nov. 1, 1981, and I hope it isn't too upset with me.  Perhaps having a section of my website dedicated to this fine bit of paradise will make it feel better. Probably not as much as if I cleaned it up real nice, but it's a start.  


This section has grown to include the house, the yard, the garage, the car and environs.

Shin the Homeowner

Last Update: October 31, 2019

The John Shinnick Web Site

Happy Jack

Happy Jack was a song by The Who, one of my ATF bands, and that's what I'm calling this guy to the right. As in Happy Jack-O-Lantern. Through the years I've not been one for holidays, especially since becoming an adult and realizing that they tend to be family events. Halloween has often been an exception.

I used to love "trick or treating" and did so through age twelve. I played little league football that year and just had to wear my regular uniform. No creativity required to nab all the candy I could want, at least for the scant few days it lasted. I never could pace myself. After that year I realized that I was now too old.

I remember doing the Trick or Treat for UNICEF thing as a teen. Our church sponsored it, and it was the first event I went on as I reconnected with the First Congregational Church of Birmingham for the first time in nearly a decade. I met my best friend Gary that day, and we started a band.

My worst costume ever was at Eastern Michigan. I decided to be a human juke box, wore a large cardboard box with some song titles written on it and brought my guitar. Nobody, but nobody got it.

Two years later, I was at Michigan State and my housemates hosted a Halloween party. Some white powder, appropriate clothes and a little makeup and I transformed myself into an old man. Of course, that's no longer a disguise for me, but I really got into my character and had great fun. 

But I somehow got out of the Halloween spirit. I'd occasionally be in a band that would play a party on that day and would try to dress accordingly, but I'd do nothing for the kids. I'd sometimes have a gig Halloween night which gave me an excuse to not observe the begging ritual, but if I didn't, I'd still leave my house dark, the signal that I would have no candy. 

Last year I had a gig. I'd want to leave no later than five or so for setup in Sausalito. Perfect. I'd already loaded my gear and was reaching for the door when the doorbell rang.

"TRICK OR TREAT" came the greeting from about two feet below. They must have been about five years old, a pair of little girls who probably had impetuously veered off from their parents when they got to my sidewalk. They didn't know that no light means no candy. Just a grumpy old man who didn't observe trick or treat.

They were adorable. Early, but adorable. And I had nothing for them. I don't know who was more disappointed.

I knew that this was to be my last regular gig with my band Void Where Prohibited. I decided then and there that I would observe Halloween 2019. I'd give out candy and even carve a pumpkin!

My newest home decoration.

It's been 55 years or more since I carved a pumpkin. This is a small one, less than 9" tall including the stem. (I've since washed it off.)

I even bought a small pumpkin to carve. I haven't done that in fifty-five years. I've since decided that, much like aquariums, large ones are probably easier to manage than small ones. I planned, finding a picture of one on the internet that I liked. I drew the picture on the beastie before carving. Then I carved, a process that wasn't as easy as I was expecting. I remembered hollowing out the gourd was essential, but it was far stringier than I expected. Still, I was satisfied with the result.

A traditionalist at heart, I tried putting a candle inside but felt rather strange about it since we'd just finished with a power outage due to potential fire conditions. Besides, when I tested it, I remembered the charring, visible in the pic. So I switched to an LED flashlight. I'll get better for next year.


Candy? I found a bunch of vegan recommendations (no milk chocolate allowed) on the internet, and settled on Skittles, Starburst Fruit Chews, and Swedish Fish. I never heard of Swedish Fish, but kids seem to like them, so the websites say.

The most controversial candy seems to be candy corn. I loved it as a kid. It generally contains honey which I allow myself, and some brands contain gelatin, with animal ligaments and such. I still wouldn't disallow it. As for taste, either people love it or hate it. I decided against it. on that basis. I don't want kids to hate me, even if it's only half of 'em!