Memorable Monday IV: Happy Labor Day [2020]!

It’s Labor Day 2020 here in the United States, and it’s been a productive weekend for yours portly.  My girlfriend and I completely recreated my weed-strewn flower beds, and I felt like my parents—wandering around the garden centers of Lowe’s and Home Depot looking for cypress mulch and discount flowers.

Today, I put down some more mulch, and the beds are looking quite nice.  I also swept out my barn—filled with the corpses of roaches caught in the latest defogger blast—and did some light vehicle maintenance.  The in-cabin air filter in my little Nissan Versa Note SV desperately needed replacement, and I can now breathe easier knowing a clean filter is in place.  I vacuumed out the car, too, and took the opportunity to hose down its filters and various components, which are now drying outside.

Looking back to my Labor Day post for 2019, it’s striking to note the difference in my activities.  That Labor Day I played video games; this Labor Day, I’ve been a productive adult American.  Granted, I was sick, but perhaps I’m finally growing up.

Regardless, the rest of today will be spent relaxing a bit, as well as doing some planning and grading for the short school week ahead.  Next weekend I plan to hit the yard with a new battery-powered string trimmer, pending its shipment and weather permitting.  It’s interesting how I will put these necessary home improvement projects off for weeks, but when I finally get to them, I don’t want to stop!  Such is the joy of homeownership.

With that, here is last year’s Labor Day post, “Happy Labor Day 2019!“:

It’s Labor Day here in the United States, a day to celebrate the hardworking men and women that make our country great.  Yes, I’m sure a holiday engineered by labor unions (like the radical nineteenth-century union the Knights of Labor) has some seedy progressive origins, but I think we can all appreciate a Monday off.

It’s been a pleasant weekend here at the Casa de Portly.  All the ambitious plans to grade and catch up on work predictably flew out the window, and I’ve gotten loads of much-needed rest.  My hacking cough is virtually gone, and I’m feeling rested and relaxed—a rare sensation for yours portly.

I also rediscovered a fun little turn-based strategy game that has devoured some of my time this weekend:  Delve Deeper, from Lunar Giant.  You manage a team of five dwarfs as they “delve deeper” (get it?) into critter-infested mines, all while competing against other, AI-controlled teams to mine and loot the most treasure.  It’s simple and not exceptionally deep, but it’s quite fun.

I’ve also played some Left 4 Dead 2 with the boys, and watched the heartbreaking finale of the USC-UNC game.  Knocking off top-seeded Alabama in a couple of weeks is looking less and less likely.  Ugh…—but Go Cocks!

That’s it for today.  We’ll be back to history, politics, and the culture wars tomorrow.  For now, enjoy some downtime with your family, and try not to think about the collapse of Western civilization for at least one three-day weekend.

Your portly,

TPP

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Phone it in Friday XIV: TPP Self-Promotion Bonanza

It’s been another busy week for yours portly, and Labor Day Weekend has arrived just in time.  When I’m falling asleep at 8:30 PM after a day of non-stop teaching, it’s time to recuperate.

Also, when I went to check out my school’s football field sound system, the powered amplifier went up in smoke!  I spent all of my planning periods (and most of my lunch) jury-rigging a sound system from an ancient amplifier I found in a back closet.  It’ll get us through the first home game tonight, but it isn’t ideal.

As such, I figured I’d take today to give some blog updates, and to do a bit of shameless self-promotion.  Readers will know that the blog now has the new, spiffy, convenient URL, theportlypolitico.com.  That seems to have helped with traffic and search engine visibility, as I’ve been getting more hits since forking over $52 to WordPress.  On Wednesday evening—for no apparent reason!—I had a massive traffic spike:

2 September 2020 Stats Spike

I’m still planning on doing some “Five-Dollar Friday” posts for $5 and higher subs to my Subscribe Star page.  Those posts will include exclusive election season commentary.  As the 2020 election gets closer, be on the lookout for those posts.  Of course, I’ll continue with $1/month content on Saturdays.

On the music front, today is the first Friday of the month, so Bandcamp is once again waiving their commission on sales.  In other words, if you purchase any of my tunes TODAY (Friday, 4 September 2020), I get the full value of the purchase (minus PayPal’s transaction) fee.

Speaking of PayPal, WordPress has a nifty new PayPal block:

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You can also send donations here, or you can subscribe to my SubscribeStar page.  If you send me a donation, I’ll e-mail you a bunch of my SubscribeStar posts in a PDF (just don’t forget to include an e-mail in the transaction process).

As for the blog, it’s been a blast to maintain lately.  The biggest thing you can do to support it is to share my posts far and wide.  If you read something and like it, please pass it along to someone else.

That’s all for this Friday.  I’ve got to head home, shower off the filth of sound guy troubleshooting, and get ready for tonight’s game.  Be praying for a running clock, as kickoff is at 8 PM (!).

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Walkin’

Yesterday morning, longtime Nebraska Energy Observer contributor Audre Myers shared a charming post, “Walking …“—a reflection of the late 1960s and Woodstock.  Regular commenter Scoop posted an achingly nostalgic response that sums up the significance of Woodstock to that cohort of early Boomers—it was the last incandescent burst of rock ‘n’ roll’s triumph before petering out in the 1970s (which, I would argue, is when hard rock got good).

The tug of nostalgia is a strong one.  I’m only thirty-five, and I already feel it from time to time.  Indeed, I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia, which a psychologist might argue is one of the reasons I studied history.  Perhaps.  I also just enjoy learning trivia.

Regardless, Audre’s post caught my attention because I have been contemplating the literal, physical act of walking lately (although I often take metaphorical strolls down memory lane, too).  I’ve put on a bit of weight in The Age of The Virus, so I’ve taken up walking as a way to complement a regimen of calorie counting (which is more of a loose, back-of-the-envelope calorie guesstimate each day).

I’m trying to get in around two miles of focused walking a day, mostly around Lamar.  Although work commitments don’t always make that possible, I do find that simply going about my work results in around two miles of walking in aggregate.  I’m curious to see what my step totals will be once the school year resumes, and I’m dashing about between classes, pacing the rows of students, and striding across the boards as I teach.

I’m not a runner, by any means.  My older brother loves to run, and has the physique to show for it.  More power to him, but I know myself well enough to know it’s not something I want to do.  Runners swear oaths to running’s efficacy and delights, but gasping for breath in 100-degree weather with maximum humidity doesn’t appeal to me.  Walking at a brisk clip in that weather, though, is at least bearable—once I’ve embraced the stickiness and the sweat, I can go for a couple of miles easily, and sometimes three or four.

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Lazy Sunday LXXII: Forgotten Posts, Volume I

I’ve been blogging daily for over a year-and-a-half now, with a smattering of posts going back to 2009 (on the old Blogger version of the site, which I call TPP 1.0).  While I think I have some decent posts—my buddy fridrix of Corporate History International once told me my material was in the top ten percent in terms of quality on the Internet—I’ve written a lot of garbage, too, including placeholder posts for times I can’t really get something fresh posted.

Of course, I’ve written essays that I think are excellent—or, at the very least, very important—that get virtually no hits.  Then I’ll write throwaway posts, like “Tom Steyer’s Belt,” that blow up the view counter.  That one at least made sense—I was one of the first sources to write about his goofy belt, and his ads were so ubiquitous in late 2019, people searching for his belt got my blog.

What’s interesting to me is that forget some of the things I’ve written.  It’s another reason we shouldn’t be so fast to crucify television personalities who posted something incendiary on their blog fifteen years ago.  Views change, although I think sometimes folks in the hot seat exaggerate how much they’ve “evolved” on an issue.  Then again, we’re responsible for what we put out there.

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.

To find these posts, I just looked back at months in 2018 and 2019 to see what didn’t leap out to me as familiar.  You’ll notice that February 2019 is heavily-represented here, as that was early in the process of what became my goal of one year of daily posts.

With that, here are some forgotten posts of yesteryear:

  • Reality Breeds Conservatism” – This post isn’t totally forgotten, but it’s one of those keystone essays that, for whatever reason, I don’t link to frequently (unlike “Progressivism and Political Violence,” which I have probably linked to more than another other post).  I also wrote this post before diving into Russell Kirk’s ideas about conservatism, which themselves reflect Edmund Burke’s notions of “ordered liberty” and the organic nature of a healthy society.  It’s a decent, if lengthy post from 2018 (TPP 2.0 era), and it explores the influence of risk upon one’s political affiliations and leanings.
  • Twilight Zone Reviews on Orion’s Cold Fire” – My blogger buddy photog undertook a project in 2019 to watch and review every Twilight Zone episode.  He’d obtained the full box set, I believe, and set about his task, initially with daily reviews, which he then scaled back to a few times a week.  He’s now writing reviews of Shakespeare in Film, which I will confess I have not followed as closely, but is in the same spirit as his TWZ project.
  • The Good Populism” – This post was one in which I mused about running the first iteration of History of Conservative Thought.  The essay explores a post from classicist Victor Davis Hanson entitled “The Good Populism.”  I enthused at the time about how I would “definitely include” this essay in the course.  Oops!  The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, eh?  But it is a great essay, as VDH delivers keen analysis once again.  In an age in which populism has newfound purchase on the American political imagination, it’s worth understanding that not all populism is the wicked machinations of demagogues swaying the rubes.
  • More Good News: Tom Rice on the State of the Economy” – I completely forgot about this short post, which features a YouTube video of my US Represenative, Tom Rice, discussing the good economy.  That was in The Before Times, in the Long Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus, when things just kept getting better and better.  Just can the headlines at Zero Hedge and you’ll see pretty quickly that we’re headed for multiple financial cliffs if we don’t cease with all this shutdown nonsense.  Yikes!

Well, that’s it for this Sunday.  I’m looking forward into further deep dives over the coming weeks.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Fripp Island

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.

This weekend I’m visiting Fripp Island, which is about forty-five minutes past Beaufort, South Carolina on US-21.  If you’ve ever visited Hunting Island State Park, Fripp is the island just past it.  One reason I attended the Yemassee Shrimp Festival last fall is because we always drive through Yemassee on our way to Fripp Island.

Fripp Island is also where I revived this blog in 2016.  I harbor some romantic sentiments about writing (such as writing shirtless in a hot attic, a la every Stephen King protagonist in his earlier novels), and there’s something about being at the beach that brings out the literary side in me.  Perhaps it’s the general sense of escaping from reality—and even from the Internet—for a bit that gets the juices flowing.

Regardless, I have come to realize how spoiled I am:  since about 1988, I have enjoyed—through no effort of my own—mostly ready access to a beach house on relatively uncrowded beaches.  Even now, the one-day beach trip—a summertime ceremony for most Americans—is foreign to me.  Muscling through throngs of dad bods to grab a spot of sand at Myrtle Beach in August is my idea of torture, but that’s the reality for most beach-goers.

As such, my beach-going experience is far more cossetted and luxurious than the average American’s.  I’m very thankful for my grandfather’s business savvy and years of hard work, which have made possible thirty-two years of beachy lethargy.

All that aside, Fripp Island is, truly, one of the most wonderful places on Earth.  Let me tell you about it.

Last week’s post about my trip to Universal Studios is still in the works.  I just haven’t had an opportunity to get it done.  I will hopefully have it completed soon.  My apologies for the delay.

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

Lazy Sunday LXXI: Road Trips

Well, we’re headed back from Universal Studios after a fun-filled visit (I’m assuming as such; I’m actually writing this post before the trip, so it may very well have been a disaster, but I prefer to be optimistic).  It seemed like a good time to review some of my road trip posts.

Back in Fall 2019—in The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus—I was on a festival kick.  Every small town has some obscure but beloved festival (here in Lamar it’s the Egg Scramble), usually dedicated to some local foodstuff or cultural group.  Most of my recent road-tripping has been on those kinds of excursions.

As such, this edition of Lazy Sunday will have a good bit of overlap with “Lazy Sunday XXXII: Festivals“—I mean, it is Lazy Sunday, after all.

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Aiken Amblings” – This post is about the annual Aiken’s Makin’ crafts festival, which my hometown hosts every September.  It’s a huge draw, bringing tons of vendors and visitors to downtown Aiken’s parkways.  I have many fond childhood memories of running around at the festival, though it’s shifted its location (to its detriment, I think) and its spot in the calendar (because it’s earlier in September, it’s hotter).  It’s still a great deal of fun, and I always manage to find some fun gifts for my train-loving nephew.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – Since I was a young boy, I’ve been riding through Yemassee and past Old Sheldon Church on my way to Fripp Island, which is out past Beaufort, South Carolina.  Yemassee is an old railroad town that straddles the line between Hampton and Beaufort Counties.  The Shrimp Festival is fun, sweltering festival with—you guessed it—lots of friend shrimp (and fried everything, for that matter).  I highly recommend making a day of it for reasons stated in the full post.
  • Road Trip!” – This post is about heading down to Orlando (a nice bookend to today’s post, while I’m heading back) and some of my meager backroad explorations around rural South Carolina.  There are a lot of hidden gems if you’re willing to get off the Interstates and look around.

That’s it!  I should probably stop typing while driving (just kidding, just kidding).  This return marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation—the tempo of back-to-school preparation will just pick up from here.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Island Living

Hippies are annoying and filthy creatures, but you’ve got to hand it to them:  behind all the patchouli and Grateful Dead bootlegs, they’re a resourceful lot.

A Canadian couple in British Columbia, Catherine King and Wayne Adams, have been living for nearly three decades on a floating, man-made island off the western coast of Vancouver.  Like good hippies, they built the island—which weighs over one million pounds—from recycled materials, mostly lumber.  In a particularly Boomer hippie detail, Adams would trade artwork to fishermen for scraps of lumber and other cast-offs.

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Special Election Day 2020

Last November, my little town held town council electionsNeither of the people I voted for won, and the two incumbents won reelection (there were two separate seats up, so we got to vote for two separate candidates).

In March, one of the Town Councillors resigned for reasons still unknown to me, which triggered a special election. I filed to run for Town Council on Friday, 13 March 2020—the Friday before all the schools in South Carolina shut down and went to distance learning.

With The Virus hitting, the special election was moved from its original date on Tuesday, 12 May to today, Tuesday, 14 July 2020.  My plan was to keep it simple, just talking to people and maybe going door-to-door, but quarantining—as well as a good bit of time on the road this summer—prevented that.  It also didn’t help that I was cooped up inside for two weeks with a gnarly virus (fortunately, I tested negative for The Virus, but I’m skeptical as to the accuracy of that test).

But that’s mostly me making excuses for myself.  I could have done more.  I did talk to my neighbor and a few other folks.  One older man approached me while I was loading my car up one morning and complained about a house with caged pit bulls in the backyard; he wanted me to introduce an ordinance banning pit bulls “when you get elected.”  I’ve actually given that a great deal of thought, and might explain my thinking on that proposal in a future post.  It will certainly become more relevant if I get elected.

As for the campaign, I resolved to spend $0 campaigning.  I didn’t do any fundraising, or even funded anything myself (other than spending $31 for the filing fee).  There’s no need to spend scads of money in a local election in a town of approximately 950 people.  Public office should be attainable to anyone, especially at the local level, and I want to see if that’s doable.

I did, however, create a small (free!) Facebook page eight days ago.  I wrote a short post explaining my vision for the town:

My basic pitch:  Lamar is centrally-located in a rapidly growing part of South Carolina.  Working families, especially young ones just starting out, are finding it more difficult to buy homes in the larger neighboring municipalities.  Lamar is well-positioned to welcome those young families with friendliness, affordable real estate, low taxes, and proximity to the three large towns in the area (not to mention two Interstates).

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SimEarth

Yesterday I wrote about SimRefinery, the oil refinery software lost to time (I’m praying it’s sitting on a long-forgotten floppy disk somewhere).  What I didn’t tell you was that I had succumbed to a mild but annoying stomach virus, so I was essentially useless for the rest of the day.

Of course, what better way to spend one’s time when sick than with video games?  After writing about SimEarth and doing some nostalgic reading about the world-building simulator, I tracked down a playable DOS version.  A helpful commenter also linked to the game’s 200-plus-page manual, which is necessary for accessing the game.  Anyone familiar with 1990s-era computer technology will recall that, in order to prevent piracy, games would often ask users to look up some piece of information buried in the manual, the theory being that if you owned the game legally, you’d have the manual.

During this sickly walk down memory lane, I realized how much I had forgotten about SimEarth.  The game is more complicated than I remember.  It’s not that deep, but what makes it difficult is balancing all the different inputs to your planet—the amount of sunlight, how much of that sunlight is reflected by the clouds and the surface, how much cloud cover to have, how quickly animals mutate and reproduce, how frequently meteors strike the surface, etc., etc.

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