Slowing Down

For many years now I’ve received Dr. Don Wilton’s The Daily Encouraging Word, or “DEW,” in my inbox every morning.  It’s a wonderful little daily devotional with a bite-sized chunk of Biblical Truth attached.

I’m ashamed to admit that due to both my busy schedule and my own spiritual recalcitrance, I do not read DEW daily.  Indeed, I have a massive folder in my Hotmail account (yes, yes, go ahead and laugh) called “DEW” with over 1200 unread issues.  Gulp!

I do a bit better with Audre’s blog, Words on the Word.  Even there, though, I could do better.

That’s all to say that it’s serendipitous that this week, The Daily Encouraging Word is going through a series called “Try to Slow Down.”

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Virtual Learning Day Review

After a glorious Labor Day weekend and a scenic drive, my school opted to hold a virtual learning rehearsal day, intoning the usual incantation of “out of an abundance of caution” due to the possibility of holiday-related viral spread.  The decision to do a day of virtual learning also came with the insistent emphasis that we are not planning on going to virtual or distance learning on a long-term basis, but merely wanted to practice in order to prepare for the worst.

Thank goodness!  While I very much appreciated the more relaxed pace of the day—and by extension the cancellation of Back-to-School Night—I was also reminded of the shortcomings of distance learning.

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End-of-the-School-Year Reflections: Returning to Normal

About fourteen months ago The Before Times ended, ushering in The Age of The Virus.  On 16 March 2021, my little school transitioned to distance learning, and like other schools in South Carolina, we finished the year online.

We began this school year with a mix of online and in-person students, with most students attending in-person.  We had a plethora of new policies to enforce, such as one-way traffic in hallways (that quickly collapsed), mask-wearing, and social distancing.  Of those three, mask-wearing was pretty much the only one that really stuck the entire year, until Governor McMaster blessedly issued his executive order last week allowing students to opt-out of wearing masks.

With Awards Day today and graduation just eight days away (next week is Exam Week, so it will be a much lighter week than most for yours portly), it seemed appropriate to review this highly unusual school year, and to reflect upon how it went, and what the long-term implications of it will be.

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TBT^2: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective

The Kindle version of The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot goes live today!  If you pre-ordered the book, it should pop up in your Kindle app today.  At $5, it’s a very easy lift, as is the paperback at $15.

It’s April Fool’s Day, a holiday for mirth and merriment, but one I dedicate to remembering the day twelve years ago when I faced unemployment during the worst job market since the Great Depression.

In rereading last year’s TBT and the original “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective,” I’m reminded how good God has been to me.  Last year I’d lost most of my private lesson students due to The Virus; now, I’m back up to seven students (six weekly, one twice a month), and I’ve just released a book (the Kindle version goes live today!).  Gigging still hasn’t really picked back up, but Bandcamp sales have been decent (and another Bandcamp Friday is tomorrow!), and my front porch Spooktacular was a blast.

I’m still hustlin’, but I’m also taking more time to appreciate life.  Perhaps the hard slog of my twenties has finally paid off here in my mid-thirties.

With that, here are “April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective” and “TBT: April Fool’s Day: A Retrospective“:

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SubscribeStarSaturday: Reflections on Local Government

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.

I’ve had my first Lamar Town Council meeting and am slowly learning the ropes of the Town and its needs.  I’ve grown up with local government—my father worked in municipal government for thirty-seven years, doing everything from reading water meters to managing human resources, and now is the town administrator for a small town in his semi-retirement—but I’m learning how little I really knew going into it.

As such, I thought I’d share some of my initial reflections, and what I’ve learned so far.  Note, I won’t go into anything that’s not public information (to my knowledge, I haven’t learned anything confidential as of yet), but just offer up some of my observations as I’m learning the lay of the land.

That all said, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive start, and I’m excited to dig in, learn as much as possible, and help out however I can.

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

Friday Rundown (18-22 January 2021)

It’s been an eventful week, so I figured an extra post today running down the posts from the past few days would be worthwhile.  Also, I’m a slave to the WordPress daily streak counter, and when I scheduled this morning’s post on Wednesday, WordPress for some reason immediately e-mailed a preview; ergo, I want to make sure I get the daily post streak.  Gotta keep the streak alive!

 So, here is a quick rundown of this week’s posts:

Enjoy!

—TPP

TBT: Dawn of a Decade

It’s the first Thursday of 2021, so here we are with the first TBT of the year!  Fittingly, I’m looking back to the first post of 2020, “Dawn of Decade.”  As I noted at the time, the decade really began on 1 January 2021, so I suppose this throwback post works even better now.

In looking back at this post, it’s sobering to consider how much difference a year can make.  At the end of this post, I wrote, “Predictions being what they are—extremely unreliable—I’ll make a bold one:  2020 is going to be a great year.”

Yikes!  Talk about missing the mark big time.  Of course, on 1 January 2020, everything was going pretty well, at least for yours portly.  Sure, Trump was facing a sham impeachment, but the economy was swingin’.  I’d just come off my best year financially in terms of musical proceeds—enough to pay cash for my plucky 2017 Nissan Versa Note (a fitting model for a music teacher), and was booking some gigs at fun new venues.

Then, of course, The Virus changed everything, possibly forever.  Despite that, I still had a great year—reconnecting with friends and family; traveling far more extensively than normal; and diving more into my love of music.  It was just a very different year than I anticipated.

At the end of least year’s post, I included a word total for the year 2019 (which now WordPress tells me is slightly higher than I reported originally:  232,348 words total for 2019), so I’ll do the same for 2020.  In 2020, I wrote 253,377 words.  Assuming a page of double-text, size-12, Times New Roman font typing is roughly 300 words per page, that comes out to a whopping 844.59 pages of writing.

Granted, some of that is from TBT posts like this one, but the takeaway for me is that it’s time to compile some essays into ebooks.  Cha-ching!

With that, here is 1 January 2020’s “Dawn of a Decade“:

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Happy New Year 2021!

Well, here it is—the real dawn of a new decade.  As I noted in last year’s New Year’s Day post,

Wags will quip that “[2020]’s not really a new decade—that doesn’t start until next year, in 2021.”  It’s a case where the wags are correct on the facts, but don’t appreciate how appealing that nice, round “0” at the end looks.  Everyone was excited for 2000 AD; 2001 was greeted with shrugs.

I have a feeling 2021 will earn the same shrugs as 2001, with one crucial difference:  everyone was so desperate for 2020 to end, they’re going to treat 2021 as the dawn of a new age.

I wish I could share their optimism.  I am positive about the new year—an opportunity to reset and reflect, and to try to best goals set and/or achieved in 2020.

But the macro view looks bleak:  a questionable, if not outright stolen, presidential election; an enduring Chinese Virus; the draconian lockdowns and fiat edicts flimsily justified as measures against The Virus; the further decline of morality; and on and on.  The future doesn’t seem bright for the West at the moment.

History, however, suggests that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.  The cultural turmoil of the 1960s lead into the long, filthy 70s.  In 1979, America and the West were on the ropes:  the Soviets were invading Afghanistan; Americans were held hostage in Iran; the coal miner’s unions ruled Britain.

Ten years later, the Berlin Wall came down, the hostages were home, and Britain became a financial powerhouse.  It was cool to be conservative, at least for a time.  For a time, things were improving.

Maybe that was a temporary reprieve—as I believe President Trump’s presidency was, in many ways, was a reprieve from Leftist insanity—but it shows how even the darkest situations don’t inevitably lead to decline.  I’m a declinist by inclination, but I have to remember that God is in control, and He will see us through anything if we have faith.

So, here’s hoping that 2021 improves on 2020—which, in retrospect, wasn’t such a bad year after all.

Happy New Year!

—TPP

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

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TBT: The Worst of 2019

Well, 2020 is, after today, in the books, and we can breathe a collective sigh of relief.  Of course, all the problems of 31 December 2020 will still be there tomorrow when we wake up to 1 January 2021, but there is some optimism that an arbitrary flip of the calendar based on the Earth’s rotation around the Sun will set us up for a better calendar year.  With Biden the Usurper assuming the throne in twenty-one days, I don’t share in that optimism, but I’m looking forward to a music- and art-filled 2021 nonetheless.

At the end of 2019, I painstakingly went through the stats to find all the posts I’d written with just one view in 2019—the ultimate reminder to be humble, and to not expect huge pageviews right away.  I imagine that some of these were read in e-mails sent to followers, so I don’t get pageview counts for those, but that means the number of eyeballs reading these posts was depressingly low.

Of course, it being a Thursday, I pretty much have to give myself the easy way out and feature a TBT, so why not look back at the failures of a prior year?  And, in the spirit of yuletide wealth redistribution, maybe we can show these posts some holiday love.

Here is 31 December 2019’s “The Worst of 2019“:

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