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“:

Read More »

The Joy of Coffee

H/T to Mogadishu Matt for the inspiration for this post:  coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life.  File that observation under “obvious and non-controversial,” but coffee brings so much joy for just pennies per mug.

I came late to coffee.  I didn’t begin drinking this spirit-lifting brew until I was twenty-six, when I returned to classroom teaching.  I was in the midst of my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, when I lost around 110 pounds in about eleven months.  I realized I needed a low-calorie pick-me-up, and determined to overcome my distaste for coffee’s trademark bitterness.

Read More »

SubscribeStar Saturday: Small Ponds

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.

Blogging is a notoriously inwardly focused medium, one in which the blogger injects not only his or her beliefs into the commentary delivered, but even his or her personality—lives, thoughts, seemingly unconnected details, etc.  At its best, blogging offers a glimpse into how people think, and the inextricable intertwining of the personal, subjective interlocutor with the supposedly objective facts under consideration.  At its worst, it devolves into self-indulgent “me-search,” in which the writers’ subjective experience becomes the primary—even the only—means through which the writer can understand the topic.

The latter situation is what I strenuously wish to avoid, though my blog is, at times, excessively self-indulgent and solipsistic.  I don’t think I’ve quite gone as low as a mommy blogger or a gloomy, self-absorbed teen, but I’ll admit I occasionally dash of some hasty “me-search” to meet my self-imposed daily quota.  Perhaps these pieces are worth your time—I hope they are—but I apologize if they aren’t.

That said, I do believe there is value in learning from one’s personal experiences (as I write that, I realize how painfully obvious that observation—I can’t even call it an “insight”—is).  Much of human wisdom—of history—consists of the hard lessons learned from individuals’ personal experiences with the world.  While I am by no means a great man or a world-historic figure—one critic of the blog once labeled me a “mediocrity”—I have, at least, thrown myself into multiple arenas in my short life, each one teaching me something different about our world and the human condition.  From politics to music to writing to teachingand on and on—I’ve learned my fair share of insights.

All of that waxing philosophical is to get to this point:  I have learned that the small pond—the small school, the small town, the small institution, the small business, etc.—is, while oft overlooked or derided, a very nice place to be.  The small pond is where opportunity exists.  If I am indeed a mediocrity, I’ve made a good life for myself being, perhaps, the First Among Mediocrities, the one willing to toss his hat into the ring.  That has made all the difference.

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

Brief Monday Morning Update

Last week was an exceptionally busy one for yours portly, with a number of duties and responsibilities intersecting at once.  I’m sure many readers have noticed this phenomenon, but there is a decidedly cyclical nature to workflow; indeed, it’s almost tidal in the manner it ebbs and flows:  I can go for two or three weeks enjoying a fairly placid schedule, only to have a couple of weeks of intense activity.  Everything seems to come to a head at the same time.

That’s particularly true in education, a field that is structurally cyclical, with regular intervals of heightened activity baked into the calendar.  The third quarter ended Friday, marking the beginning of the end of the school year (fourth quarter—that last, mad dash to summer vacation—starts today).  That means last week was a flurry of finalizing grades and writing report card comments.

My school requires unique, individualized comments for every student, and though we teach (on average) fewer students than the typical public school teacher, we’re expected to go above and beyond.  Because my colleagues and I were scolded as a group for comments deemed inadequate (for the record, I always write exceptional comments), I decided to double-down and write even more ridiculously detailed comments.  Our registrar read through them Friday morning (after I worked furiously and late into the night Thursday to finish them before the weekend) and said, “I felt like I was reading a novella.”  Mission accomplished.

That’s all to say that I’m very tired, so I thought this Monday would be a good opportunity to offer some brief updates.

Read More »

Monday Morning Update: Back to Work

Well, the glory of Christmas Break has come to an end, and it’s back to the grind this morning.  Due to concerns about The Virus, we’re online for at least this week, and I’ve received word that teachers will be allowed to teach from home for the remainder of the week.  That will make the transition back to full-time teaching a tad more endurable, as waking up and rolling over to the computer is much easier than engaging in the hasty rituals of the morning.

Regardless, I’m scrambling a bit this morning, so today’s post will be brief and belated.  I’ll cover my trip to Mississippi tomorrow; today, I thought I’d give some general updates as we head into the first fiscal week of 2021:

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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

Donate to The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

$5.00

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:

Donate to The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

$10.00

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.

Read More »