TBT: Counting Blessings

In searching through some old blog posts recently, I stumbled upon one from April 2020 about being thankful for the blessings in our lives.  The day before I’d written what I thought at the time was a doom-and-gloom post, but reading it now, it wasn’t too bad.  I do seem to remember being in an exasperated mood when I wrote it, so that probably explains, in part, the sense of contrition I experienced after writing it.

Regardless, it yielded “Counting Blessings,” a post giving thanks for God’s many blessings in my life.  It’s rather serendipitous that I stumbled upon this post again the other day, because the theme of counting one’s blessings is one I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately.

Life is going well enough for yours portly (I’d better not say that too loudly!).  Work is clipping along and I’m hustling big time with lessons.  I have a great (and godly) girlfriend, dog, and house, and a supportive family.  Things could be worse.

With that here is 29 April 2022’s “Counting Blessings“:

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Hustlin’ with Private Lessons

The school year is back in full swing, and with the brief respite of Labor Day behind me, it’s a long stretch of mind-molding from here until Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, the school year means music lessons, and music lessons—as one former colleague, now retired, frequently reminds me—mean money.

I don’t love money, but I certainly need it.  And love teaching music lessons, so it’s a happy way to bring in some extra bacon while also teaching kids (and adults!) to make music.  There are few things I enjoy  more than nurturing a love of music; if I make a few quid in the process, well, all the better!

The Lord has blessed me with an abundance—perhaps an over-abundance—of lessons.  At the time of this writing, I am sitting at twenty-six lessons a week across twenty-four students.  Scheduling has been a bit of a nightmare, but I think I have it largely figured out (of course, whenever I think that, some conflict arises and I have to play scheduling roulette—ha!).

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Minecraft Camp 2022

Yesterday (Monday, 6 June 2022) marked the beginning of Minecraft Camp 2022.  I’ve been doing Minecraft Camp since 2014, when a former colleague of mine created the camp and brought me on as his assistant.  That first camp—eight long years ago!—was announced on Friday, 6 June 2014 (it started on Monday, 9 June 2014) so there’s a nice symmetry there.   The cycle of time—and Minecraft—marches on.

My former colleague created a little blog for Minecraft Camp, Minecrafting at 5001, way back then, but I did not do a great job of keeping it updated last year.  That’s in part because we had something like sixteen campers, which made keeping up with the blog difficult.

I’m hoping to keep it updated a bit more frequently this time around.  I’m actually running two sessions of camp this year:  one this week, and another next week.  At the time of writing, I have eight campers confirmed, with a possible ninth.  I just have three campers for the second session, but I look for that to change—Thursday of last week I just had five campers enrolled in the morning; by that afternoon, I had three more last-minute sign-ups.  One of my campers is doing both sessions.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Stuff (1985)

Shudder continues to deliver up the bizarre and unusual, proving it’s well worth the price of admission for the streaming service.  This last week saw the service bring the 1985 film The Stuff to the service.

It’s an unusual horror flick that combines elements of consumer protection advocacy, mass media advertising, consumerism, ruthless business tactics, and addiction into a blob of creamy terror.

Indeed, the film is something like The Blob (1958) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) rolled into one:  a greedy corporation knowingly sells a dangerous product, which turns out to be a goopy white organism that entire consumes the very people consuming it.

So, essentially, the entire flick is a metaphor for consumerism and corporate greed run amok.

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SubscribeStar Saturday Post “The TJC Spring Jam” is Posted!

Dear Readers,

I have been writing like the wind today.  I have finally caught up on all SubscribeStar content from the past couple of weekends.

You can now read “The TJC Spring Jam” if you’re a $1 a month or higher subscriber.

It’s a detailed rundown of the concert, including the major tunes played, the in-depth financials, and the organization of the concert.  Learn from my mistakes and successes!

Also, Sunday Doodles LXXXII is up, too!

Thanks again to subscribers and regular readers for your patience.  It’s been a wonderfully quiet day at home—literally, I’ve only gone outside to check the mail and to cut some oregano from my garden—so I’ve gotten a ton of writing done today.

It’s good to restore order to the blog!

Happy Reading!

—TPP

SubscribeStar Saturday: Small-Scale Entrepreneurism

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Last night was my first ever Spring Jam, and my second ever front porch concert.  The first such concert, my Halloween Spooktacular, was far more successful than I imagined.  At the time of this writing—which is actually before the concert (gasp!)—I don’t know how well the Spring Jam will go financially, but I’ll have detailed numbers, as well as an overall review of the event, next Saturday.

That said, in putting together this second front porch concert, I’ve run into a few more hiccups than last time.  Most of these have been relatively minor—and one of them quite major—but they’ve taught me some lessons for next time.

Most importantly, they’ve driven home the risks and opportunities inherent in putting on any endeavor.  Impresarios past and present know well the risks of producing any kind of stage or musical production.  Even at the very small scale at which I am working, some risks are present.

To that end, allow me to share with you some of the learning opportunities putting together this Spring Jam has afforded me, and how these lessons can be applied to future entrepreneurial ventures of any kind.

This post will be finished later; I was slammed with the Spring Jam and wasn’t able to finish the subscriber essay.  I’ll let y’all know when I have it done.  Apologies!  —TPP

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT: Cass on Our Diminished Income

The other day my students and I were talking about the Model T Ford, which in the 1920s ran around $6000 in today’s money for a new car.  It is impossible to find a brand-new vehicle of any make for $6000 today.  Granted, a Ford Focus, for example, is packed with way more technology and safety features than a Model T from 100 years ago, and that technological advancement gets factored into the price.

But consider that in the 1990s, when Kia hit the American market, they advertised a new sedan for around $6999 (in 1990s’ dollars).  What would that be twenty-five years late—maybe $9000 or $10,000?  That price point, too, is virtually impossible.

I managed to purchase my current vehicle—a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV—for right around $9100.  It has around 45,000 miles on it when I bought it, and had been a rental vehicle before I purchased it.  I got a steal on that car—the closest comparable I’ve found since then was a list price of around $8900 (the list for my car was $8000 even).  That’s for a four-year old subcompact hatchback.

I got lucky when I found that car.  I figured it would be easy enough to find a decent car for under $10,000 when I began vehicle shopping in late 2019.  Boy, was I wrong.  Vehicles last longer than ever before, and maintain their value a very long time.  They’re also, as mentioned, packed full of technology and safety features that weren’t present even twenty years ago.  Trucks in particular hold their value extremely well; to find a truck in my price range, I’d have had to purchase a Ford F-150 from 1994 with half-a-million miles on it.

It’s great that cars last longer and are safer.  But those features—many of which drivers will never need or use—drive up the costs substantially.  Such was the point of an illuminating Twitter thread by Oren Cass, which demonstrates that, despite earning more money, Americans’ expenses for basic goods are substantially higher, requiring a whopping fifty-three weeks of pay to cover now versus a mere thirty weeks in 1985.  Naturally, given that there are only fifty-two weeks in a year, that presents a problem.

I don’t know the solution, but as I wrote a year ago, “Something’s gotta give.”

Indeed.  Here is 28 April 2020’s “Cass on Our Diminished Income“:

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Fast Food Premium

There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang.  The concept is seductive in its simplicity:  gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.

For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain:  streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts.  Of course, it’s a siren song:  we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.

Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea.  Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary:  if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up.  Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices.  Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.

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Lazy Sunday CIX: Pillow Talk

The David Hogg Good Pillow saga—the “Hogga?”—has drawn to end, with the youngster pulling out of his ill-fated progressive pillow company.  I can’t explain my interest in this story beyond sheer Schadenfreude, and the fact that I find Hogg an extremely distasteful individual.  He combines the worst elements of youthful arrogance and self-righteous virtue-signalling into one odious package.

The demands of daily blogging being what they are, the spiteful company’s short history also made for easy blog fodder.  Now that Hogg has withdrawn from the company, it seemed like a good time to compile my three posts on the subject in one place:

  • Hoggin’ the Pillows” – The beginning of Hogg’s misadventure in the world of business.  I expressed hope that he would come to his senses about the world as he tackled business; of course, that was naïve.
  • More Pillow Hoggin’” – About five or six weeks after the announcement that the company was starting, Hogg and his business partner settled on a name—and neglected to register the trademark, allowing a clever troll to register it first.  D’oh!  Things were not looking good for Good Pillow.
  • Pillows Smothered Hogg” – Now David Hogg has pulled out of Good Pillow, citing school conflicts and his desire to dedicate more time to activism.  Heaven help us; I’d rather he be wasting time working on a pillow that will never be made.

Well, that’s it for this (slightly spiteful) edition of Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping you all sleep comfortably on your MyPillow for your Sunday nap.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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