Dentists

Today is the first day of my cushy Thanksgiving Break.  After a long Tuesday of teaching, playing piano, and driving, I made it to my hometown to head to the dentist.  The dentist is my cousin, so I get a marginal discount.

As a child and teenager, I had extensive dental work performed.  I had a gnarly tooth, which I dubbed “The Monster Tooth,” that grew in the wrong way.  My orthodontist spent years slowly dragging the tooth into place, only to have the enamel completely absorb the root, making the tooth nonviable.  At that point, bone from my wisdom teeth was used to create a foundation in which a metal implant—a small screw, of sorts—was installed into my mouth.  I walked around with a small metal rod in place of a tooth for some months, and then a crown was placed atop the implant.

Needless to say, I’ve become accustomed to dental work, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy going.

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My Declaration of Independence

Last Friday as I pulled up to work, I do what I do every day:  pick up my gaiter mask from the emergency brake and put it over my head.  As I did so, I experienced every ounce of everyday oppression that modern man endures.

Wearing a mask is, indeed, a small thing to ask, but it’s become the proverbial straw—and my face the camel’s back.

So I decided, then and there, to make an extremely small stand for my own independence.  In some limited scenarios, I am going to stop wearing my mask publicly.

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Lazy Sunday LXXIII: Forgotten Posts, Volume II

It’s another Lazy Sunday dive into some of my deep cuts—the forgotten or neglected posts of yesteryear.  As a reminder, here’s my loose criteria for selecting these posts, as spelled out last Sunday:

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m doing some deep dives for an indeterminate number of Sundays into some forgotten posts.  These are posts that don’t immediately spring to my mind when I’m referencing my own work.  These posts may or may not have had high or low hit counts; they are just posts that don’t linger strongly in my memory.  They’re the red-headed stepchildren of my churning mind.

The following three posts all date from Summer 2018, an important summer for me:  it’s when I relaunched the blog on WordPress, and when my old apartment flooded for the second time, prompting my ultimate move to Lamar:

  • Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – I used to do these “breaking” news posts periodically—dashing off a couple hundred words about some major development.  I was perhaps overly optimistic about Trump’s peace talks in Korea, but while they might not have ended the Korean War’s long cease-fire, they definitely calmed down tensions between the US and North Korea.
  • George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence” – The Never Trump phenomenon was gasping for air in 2018, but it still had some loyal adherents (and still does, if you check out National ReviewThe Dispatch, and The Bulwark, the last of which is blatantly progressive, despite its claims to be a conservative site).  One of the first major figures to succumb publicly and wildly to the disease was George Will, the long-time WaPo columnist and tweedy neocon.  Will argued that Republicans in Congress should be voted out to avoid giving Trump dictatorial powers—a ludicrous obsession with the Left and the Never Trumpers, and completely deleterious to the future of the nation.  Sure, we Republicans might be the “Stupid Party” sometimes, stupidity in the highest halls of power is generally preferable to the “Evil Party” of intentional wickedness.  Now we have so-called conservatives plumping for Joe Biden on similarly faulty premises.  Yeesh!
  • HSAs are A-Okay” – I’m a big fan of health savings accounts, or HSAs, thanks in large part to my younger brother’s financial wizardry.  Health savings accounts allow account holders to deposit funds that can be used to cover future, out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Since my cut-rate insurance comes with a hefty $6750 annual deductible, squirreling away cash into my HSA helps in the event of a catastrophic injury or health crisis.  But the real beauty of an HSA is that the deposited funds can be invested in mutual funds and grow in value—tax-free.  They’re the ultimate investment vehicle, and you can save medical receipts for years before using them to withdraw HSA funds (if you use an emergency fund to cover medical expenses on the front-end, the HSA funds can grow unmolested until you decide to use them).

That’s it for another edition of Lazy Sunday—one of the last truly lazy ones for some time, as I report back to school tomorrow morning.  Classes resume 20 August 2020, so I still have about eleven days to prepare for the return of students.

Now I’m off to tickle the ivories for morning service.  Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

More Medical Updates

My apologies to regular readers for the lack of real content this week.  There are race wars and Antifa street gangs to discuss, but I’m so weary with fever, I can only slam out these short medical updates.

I had enough symptoms—chills, fever, and headaches—to get test for The Virus.  I should find out those results in a day or two.  Fortunately, my breathing is unimpaired.  I spoke with a physician’s assistant from the neurologists office regarding my migraines, which increasingly seem linked to my fever (although I would still like to shell out for a scan to rule anything else out).  Everything is in a bit of a stasis, however, until I get the COVID results.

My appetite is doing well, though I have taken this bout of ill health (and the stomach-related issues I was experiencing last week) to begin correcting and improving my diet.  Primarily, I’ve been cutting down on salt consumption, and calories in general.  My blood pressure is elevated, and needs to come down substantially.

I am teaching my first session of History of Conservative Thought for 2020 on Wednesday afternoon—online, of course.  If necessary, I will take acetaminophen in the morning to help get through the discussion.  Here’s hoping I can meet with the three young men enrolled in person next week.

That’s it for now.  I just awoke after dozing on the small twin bed in my study (one of the darker, cooler rooms in the house) for over an hour.  My fever is coming down without medication—I last took acetaminophen around 6 AM—which is promising.

Thank you for your continues support and prayers.

—TPP

Extremely Lazy Sunday (Still Migraining)

Hello again, readers.  As I noted yesterday, I am suffering from a gnarly migraine.  I thought I was recovering last night, but I awoke in the wee hours with more spikes.

I have been lounging like Goethe all day, trying to recover.  I know have some Excedrin Migraine and a cold pack for my head, and have been drinking plenty of caffeine.

Hopefully I will be better soon.  I am seeing a neurologist either Monday or Tuesday, so we’ll see if he can shed some light things.

—TPP

Cass on Our Diminished Income

Way back in The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus, Oren Cass presented a series of sixteen tweets, asking this question:  “How is that our economic statistics suggest workers have been making slow but steady progress in recent decades, while popular perception is that their family finances are coming under increasingly untenable pressure?”

Cass also wrote about the issue in greater detail in American Affairs and in a lengthy paper for the Manhattan Institute.  That question—why does it feel like it’s harder to make ends meet now, even though inflation is low and we’re wealthier?—is one of the gnawing concerns of modern-day America.

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The Tyranny of Experts

A couple of years ago, the bees were dying.  Readers may recall the alarmist news coverage:  soon, we were told, the mass extinction of our buzzy little pollinators would destroy agriculture globally, resulting in widespread famines.  We must save the bees!

Meanwhile, I can’t walk to my car without fat, furry bees hovering around, ensuring the giant Sasquatch before them is just getting into his sensible subcompact hatchback, and not coming for their precious hive.  My yard is a dream for bees (especially before I got the winter weeds mowed up)—they particularly love the azalea bushes—and they seem to be doing fine.

The point is, had you listened to the expert apiarists, you’d think that civilization itself rested on the gossamer wings of black-and-yellow insects.  Sure, there probably is a problem with bee populations declining due to exposure to advance insecticides.  But the intense focus of apiarists in their field blinded them to other considerations.  They saw bee populations declining, and nothing else.

Experts know their fields so well, at times they can’t see the hive for the bees.  The dire prophecies of global bee deaths and the resulting famines never came, and we didn’t declare a national emergency over the decline in bee populations because there are a million other priorities.  We didn’t shut down industrial-scale agriculture to save the bees from insecticide, because to do so would result in millions of lost human lives.  The bees would have to figure it out on their own (indeed, as bee populations fell, beekeepers turned a tidy profit renting their hives to farmers, and that incentive encouraged the cultivation of more bees).

You can see where I’m going with this extended bee metaphor.  In the current coronavirus pandemic, we’ve leaned so heavily on the advice of medical professionals, we’re not considering the broader trade-offs.  The old expression “the cure is worse than the disease” is particularly apt here:  while social distancing and government-sanctioned “shelter-in-place” orders will surely slow the spread of infection and save lives, they will also result in massive economic destruction.

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The Boogie Woogie Flu

Don’t let the title of today’s post fool you:  I’m not going to write about the coronavirus today.  I’m actually enjoying the relative freedom and flexibility of distance education, sipping car dealership coffee while I wait for my 2017 Nissan Versa Note to get a transmission flush and a belt and some wheel bearings replaced, all with appropriate social distance between me and the other people getting their cars fixed.

But in these plague-riddled times, I couldn’t resist this charming little Quora post about another, funkier plague:  the Strasbourg “Dancing Plague” of 1518.  Not that there’s anything charming about dancing yourself to hell, but it sounds a lot more fun than cloistering alone in your house for two weeks.

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Lazy Sunday LIV: Coronavirus

It was inevitable—a Lazy Sunday dedicated to the coronavirus.  This may end up being a “Part I,” depending on what happens over the next few weeks, but I’m planning on shifting away from corona talk for awhile.  There are bigger and better things in life than a Chinese biological weapon and/or Chinese culinary disaster-turned-virus.

I’ve been trying to make the most of a generally bad situation.  It’s springtime in South Carolina, so for about two weeks, we’ll enjoy pleasantly mild weather before the oppressive heat of summer hits.  Z Man has an excellent, optimistic post up today about “Springtime In The Pandemic“; it’s a must-read, and follows some of my own ideas about the possible cultural consequences of everyone being at home and resuming more traditional roles.

So this Lazy Sunday, it’s time to look back at my various posts on the dreaded virus:

  • Phone it in Friday VIII: Coronavirus Conundrum” & “Phone it in Friday IX: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part II: Attack of the Virus” – What a difference a week makes!  Between these two posts, I went from writing off the coronavirus as a bad strain of flu to being much more concerned.  Even since the second installment here, though, I’ve come to reassess the situation again. How much of this shutdown is necessary to stem the spread of the virus, and how much of it is the result of panicked media reporting?  I think it’s possible it’s a threat and the threat is overblown.  We’ll see next week, when this fifteen-day experiment in social isolation has run its course—or gets renewed.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Coronavirus Prepping” – When I wrote this post on 7 March 2020, I still thought the coronavirus’s threat was remote, but I was concerned about the disruption to supply chains.  I detailed my steps for preparing for the possibility of quarantines and/or shortages.  Fortunately, it seems that now grocers are catching up, and unless you’re looking for toilet paper, you can largely find what you need.
  • High-Tech Agrarianism” – This essay explored an idea I’ve been kicking around for awhile, but that takes on new urgency in the Age of Corona:  what if we combined small-scale agriculture with high technology?  Using our lawns to grow grass seems like a waste of the land and of the effort to maintain it.  What if we applied the effort of mowing and weeding to growing easy-to-maintain crops?  In our normal lives, people don’t have the time, but as we’re shifting more to telecommuting and distance learning, it seems like we’d all be able to spend a bit more time in the garden.
  • The Revival of Traditionalism?” – In line with the previous post, this piece explored the social and cultural impact of the coronavirus on gender roles.  It was vindicating to see one of the greats write on a similar topic this morning.  The upshot to this whole forced shutdown is that we’re really reevaluating what truly matters in life, as I opined about at length above.

Well, that does it for now.  Stay safe, wash your hands, and God Bless!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: