Midweek TPP Update: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, #MAGAWeek2022, Etc.

Summer is rolling right along, sometimes at an alarming speed.  I’ve gotsta buckle down if I’m going to get all these projects finished.

This week I’m running Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, which I offered for the first time last summer.  Last year I had three campers—a small but talented group.  This year, I’m down to one diligent bassist.  I wasn’t even sure if he was going to show up, but his grandmother rolled up Monday morning and dutifully dropped him off, so we commenced a-rockin’.

Essentially, he’s getting twelve hours of private lessons from yours portly for about 22% of the normal cost (if I charged my half-hourly rate of $30 for twelve hours/twenty-four half-hours of lessons, I’d pull in $720; I’ll net $160 on this camp [that’s $200 total for the camp, less the 20% the school takes]).

Of course, we’re not playing bass for three hours straight each morning.  Where it’s just the two of us, we’ve worked out a schedule that seems to work pretty well:

  • Start with about thirty minutes of bass guitar—his bass “lesson” for the day.
  • Shift over to piano (his little fingers need a rest from pressing metal against a hard wooden fretboard) for about thirty minutes, working on chords and music theory.
  • Take a morning break, during which we talk about songwriting.
  • Work on songwriting (we’re currently wrapping up a tune called “The Story of Sam the Clam”) for about forty-five minutes.
  • Take a second, shorter break.
  • Review the songwriting session, then clean up and organize the Music Room for the day.

It’s pretty cool to have the flexibility to build the camp around what he wants to learn, while also working in some things that I know will be beneficial to him.

The other looming event of the year is #MAGAWeek2022, which will run from Tuesday, 5 July through Saturday, 9 July 2022.  For newcomers, #MAGAWeek2022 is when I celebrate the people, places, things, ideas, concepts, institutions, etc., that have, in their own way, Made America Great (Again).

During that week, all posts are behind the paywall over at my SubscribeStar page, but generous previews will be available here.  Fortunately, it’s just $1 to get access to everything for the week.

Finally, I’ve at least pulled up the manuscript for the first volume of Sunday Doodles, which I hope to publish via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service by the end of the summer.  The plan originally was to include the first fifty editions of Sunday Doodles, which are normally only available to $5 and up subscribers, as a handsome, black-and-white paperback.  Now, however, I’m thinking I might go even bigger, and include the first 100 editions of Sunday Doodles.  Talk about a nice coffee table book!

Speaking of, I am running late—for the first time in a long time!—on this past Sunday’s edition of Sunday Doodles.  Hopefully it will be live for subscribers by the time you read this post.

So, there you have it—some quick updates on yours portly.

Happy Wednesday!

—TPP

Happy Birthday, Murphy!

Today my dog Murphy turns nine-years old.  According to the records I have from The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission, she was born 15 June 2013, which is a pretty easy date to remember.

Last summer I suddenly, inexplicably went a bit dog crazy.  I was not looking for a bull terrier at all, but stumbled upon one on at Petfinder.  I spoke with a representative from BTRM, and we realized that that particular dog would not be a good fit for me due to his advanced age and delicate health issues.

She put my information into their database and said it might be a few months before a dog came available in my area.  One week later, while moving a then-girlfriend to Athens, Georgia, I got a call from BTRM asking me to foster an older girl who was good with children and other dogs.

About ten days later, I had Murphy.

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TBT: Summertime Schedule Begins

As of about 8 PM EST last Thursday, I’ve been living the Summer Break Lifestyle.  Other than camp and lessons, I’ve been enjoying a much more leisurely pace of living.

Summer is already filling up fast.  While the first week of Minecraft Camp is in the books, I have another session next week.  I’m attempting to run my Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for the second year, but as of the time of writing, it looks like I might just have one student, so that may get axed.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time to knock out some projects, especially when I wrap up camps.  I’m hoping to get back—finally!—to wrapping up the first volume of my Sunday Doodles book, which will go through the first fifty editions of the feature (over at my SubscribeStar page).  Indeed, I may do the first 100 editions, as I am currently at 144.  That will require more editing, but will make for a beefier book.

It’s also time to get cracking on some short stories.  I’ve been sitting on one story about a guy who eats an undercooked frozen pizza with bizarre consequences; now I need to write it!

With that, here is 8 June 2021’s “Summertime Schedule Begins“:

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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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Civilization Series: Slayer of Productivity

The school year is winding down for yours portly, but before the clock stops and summer begins, there’s a flurry of last-minute activity.  This week is exam review week, which means an odd mixture of light and easy classes alongside frantic preparations for exams.  For students, it’s studying for the exams that has them stressed; for teachers, it’s putting the exams and their related review guides together.

In college, exam week was the time of the semester I squeezed in the most gaming.  Paradoxically, it was when I had the most free time.  I’d spend a few hours over the course of the week reviewing notes for history exams, or memorizing the singing exercise for my Jazz Theory final, but would spend the rest of that unstructured time diving into games, notably The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Now I have far more responsibilities, but exam week still offers some unstructured time to get things done (most importantly, grading all of those exams!).  Unfortunately, I picked this weekend to dive back into Civilization VI, specifically the vanilla version on my Nintendo Switch Lite.

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The Re-Return of Bandcamp Friday

Last month I boldly proclaimed “The End of Bandcamp Friday” because, well, their website said it was over.  Naturally, that announcement turned out to be premature, as Bandcamp is bringing back Bandcamp Fridays!

I really should take this opportunity to write some new material, as many of the readers of this blog have either a.) already purchased my music or b.) made it clear they have no intention of doing so.

Still, I should at least try to get readers to part with their money—right?—so here is an abbreviated version of my usual spiel:

It being the Bandcamp Friday—and nearly Valentine’s Day!—there’s never been a better time to buy my musicmy merch, or my book.  Indeed, you can pick up my entire discography (seven albums!) for just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount.

On Bandcamp Friday, Bandcamp waives it’s share of sales, so musicians take home more of those dollars than other days.

Bandcamp also has some exciting news:  musicians can host livestreams via the platform now!  These can be free or ticketed, which opens up some enticing opportunities for musicians.  I’ll explore this option in the near future.

That’s all I’ve got.  It’s been a bit rough lately for yours portly, but things are good on the financial front for the moment.  By the time this post is published, I’ll have taught thirteen lessons this week, with six more coming up today.  I would have had twenty-one separate lessons this week, but a couple of students got sick and/or had to quarantine.  Needless to say, that’s helped beef up the coffers considerably after the doldrums of January.

Of course, there’s always room for more beef—or cheddar—in the coffers, so feel free to cough ‘er up.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

The Hermit’s Life

During the long week between Christmas and New Year’s, I found myself struggling against some manner of illness (not The Virus, it seems, thank goodness).  I ran a low-grade fever for a couple of days, then suffered with a sore throat and some fatigue for a few days afterwards.  Fortunately, with the week off, I was able to hole up in Port Manor in Lamar, and regular reader and neighbor Bernard Fife brought me some homemade Christmas treats (and an at-home COVID-19 test, which came back negative).

I typically spend the holidays with my parents, or at least surrounded by family.  That was the case leading up to Christmas, but my mystery malady thwarted my plans to return to my childhood home.  Instead, from Tuesday (when the symptoms started coming on) through Sunday, I largely stayed home, with some occasional outings for groceries and the like as my condition began to improve (and once I realized I’d avoided the scourge of The Virus).

Needless to say, that is a lot of time at home.  I am very much a homebody, and like being there, but the demands of work, lessons, family, friends, and all the other social and professional obligations I get myself into mean I rarely get days alone at home.

Be careful what you wish for:  I had six days at home thanks to illness.  Had it not been for being sick, though, it would have been glorious.  Even so, it was pretty great.

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Lazy Sunday CXLI: Thanksgiving Stuff(ing)

Another glorious Thanksgiving Break has come and gone, so yours portly will have to struggle through another three weeks of work before enjoying another ridiculously generous break at Christmastime.

In keeping with the spirit of doing a lot of “rerun” posts this past week, here’s a Lazy Sunday dedicated to various Thanksgiving posts from yesteryear:

Apparently, I write a lot of posts about Thanksgiving, and I recycle almost all of them every year.  I think a good bit of that is because I am usually worn out by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, and rather than tax my weary brain with fresh material, I just reuse the treacly tripe I wrote in prior years.  Also, pageviews are way down during the week, chiefly because people are enjoying time with their friends and family, rather than wasting time at work reading the angry screeds of a portly man.

Regardless, Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT^16: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

In the tradition of the past few Thanksgivings (2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017), I’m reblogging my annual “It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!” post, originally from Thanksgiving 2017 (and on the old blog).  The Saturday before that Thanksgiving I fell from a ladder and broke my left wrist (and also got a nasty gash in my left leg).  I was thankful to be alive, and to have avoided brain damage (my head, thankfully, was unscathed).

Usually this part of a TBT post is italicized, but to help keep it clear which year’s post you’re reading, I’m alternating between italicized and non-formatted text.  I’ve also added some headers to keep the prior year’s posts straight.

It’s a been a good year—a very busy one, but a good one.  It seems that life is beginning to resume its usual rhythms (and tempo—mine is, apparently, prestissimo).

In looking back at last year’s commentary, I see quite a few changes from 2020 to 2021.  For instance, last year I enjoyed distance learning; the few times we’ve done it this year, I’ve found it unsatisfying and ineffective (but I still like working from home—ha!).

On a brighter note, my private lessons empire has come roaring back.  From a low of just one loyal student, I am back to teaching around ten to fifteen lessons per week—sometimes fewer than ten, rarely more than fifteen, and often somewhere in between the two—which has been fun, lucrative, and exhausting.  I love teaching private lessons; the problem I am running into now is that, in order to accommodate the maximum number of students, I’m having to eat into time spent on other things—writing, lesson planning, and grading.  It’s worth it financially, and lessons have become the highlights of my days, but it’s definitely created some time constraints, especially when tacked on after (and, increasingly, during) a busy school day.

Regardless, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with these students, and for the funds that come with teaching them.  I now have two students who take lessons twice a week, which is fabulous, and I’m looking to add two or three more in January.  I’m looking into shifting students at comparable levels into group lessons to lighten my load a bit, but also out of sheer necessity—I’m literally running out of times to slot students.

Beyond lessons, it has been a very eventful year.  I was elected and re-elected to Lamar Town Council; wrote and published a bookThe One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot; and got a dogMy SubscribeStar page is up to ten subscribers, though two of those are inactive; at one point, I’d reached eleven!

That’s all to say that I have much to be thankful for this year.  I’m also very thankful to you, my readers and commenters.  The comments thread on the blog has really come alive in the past few months, and has brought a refreshing energy that motivates me to keep writing.  Thanks to all of you for your continued support, in whatever way that support comes.

With that, here is Thanksgiving 2020’s “TBT^4: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!“:

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