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:

Flashback Friday^2: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

It’s Black Friday today, so everyone is rushing out to get whatever picked over sales items they can.  In the spirit of Black Friday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hawk my bookThe One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, and my music.  Inspector Gerard is the perfect White Elephant gag gift, and at $10 for the paperback, it fits perfectly into the price point for most such novelty gift exchanges.  I’ve also got some weird merch for sale.

I first wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“ back in 2019, at a point when I was feeling immense amounts of burnout at work.  I stand by my original assessment—that companies shouldn’t gobble up Thanksgiving Day to offer increasingly early doorbuster sales so their workers can enjoy some time with their families—though now I would probably add some more caveats.

I realized that I never really explained the name “Brack Friday Bunduru.”  I lifted it from an episode of South Park in which the kids heat up the console wars between the XBox and Playstation:

Ever since, I can’t help but say, “Brack Friday Bunduru” in an exaggerated Japanese accent ever Black Friday.

With that, here is 2020’s “Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break”:

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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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Retro Tuesday: Thanksgiving Week!

It’s Thanksgiving Week, which means I am really going to be phoning in some posts this week.  I love writing, but even I need a break from the constant output that my insatiable readers demand.

In the original post from this thread, I spelled out my argument in favor of an entire week off for Thanksgiving, in exchange for some lesser holidays.  With districts caving to reality and giving students the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, families have just moved the start of their break back to Tuesday, with mass absenteeism the norm the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Indeed, many families take the entire week off.

Well, my school—and many public schools in my area—took my sage advice:  we are off for the entire week.  It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

However, I also predicted that, with an entire week off, the siren song of leaving for an extended vacation even earlier would be hard to resist.  I was right:  last week, we had a few students leaving town as early as Wednesday—a full eight days before the bird faces the executioner.  Whoa!  The trend only intensified Thursday and Friday.

Of course, it strains credulity to argue for any more time off.  At this point, I think it makes far more sense to increase Christmas Break than to lengthen Thanksgiving any further.

One downside to this newer, longer break:  with losing some other days earlier in the semester, everyone is completely burned out.  We teachers are not a hardy breed:  we’ve grown soft with cushy vacations.  In all seriousness, though, we get pretty worn down, as anyone would corralling and attempting to mold young minds all day.

Well, enough of that.  Now I’m enjoying the sweet life.

With that, here is 23 November 2020’s “Memorable Monday: Thanksgiving Week!“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Thanksgiving Weekend

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.

It’s been a wonderful Thanksgiving Break for yours portly, full of two of the most important things in life:  family and food.  Indeed, there’s probably been too much of the latter.  The “portly” in this blog’s title is more than just a humorous pun, after all.

This weekend is a big deal for Americans.  It’s the gateway to Christmas, and it’s the first major of holiday of what Americans broadly call “the holiday season” (or “the Christmas season,” as we Christians prefer).  There’s a flurry of social and commercial activities this time of year, but it’s also a time for slowing down.  From Thanksgiving through New Years’, the entire country feels like after lunch on a Friday at a government bureau—no one is answering the phones, because everyone’s taken off for the weekend.

In the spirit of celebrating this slower, more reflective, more generous time of year, here is a rundown of my long Thanksgiving Weekend.

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

Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

I’m embracing the lazy logic of Thanksgiving Break with more throwback posts than usual this week.  After Christmas Break, this little Thanksgiving reprieve is my favorite short break of the year.  It combines family, fun, and food, with enough time to enjoy all three.

Last year when I wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break,” I was growing increasingly burned out and fatigued from my job and my various obligations.  Between work, music lessons, and various ensembles, I wasn’t getting home most nights until 9 or even 10 PM.  That clearly showed up in my argument here for giving workers the day of Thanksgiving—and at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—off from their toils.

That said, I still believe it.  What’s humorous to me, in re-reading this post after a year of lockdowns and shutdowns, is that my call for “[s]hutting down everything but essential services… would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving” came to pass—with deleterious effect—for not three measly days but for months on end.  That’s certainly not what I had in mind, but I think workers have had all the breaks they can stand this past year.

Still, in normal times, having a couple of days for Christmas and a day or two for Thanksgiving isn’t going to tank the global economy.  Workers could use the break, and the reminder that all that hard work is in service to something greater:  family, faith, and God.

I love hard work—indeed, I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and purpose, particularly for men—but there’s hard work, and there’s exhausting yourself for a pittance.  Let’s reward the former with some downtime.

With that, here is “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“:

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TBT^4: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

Another year has passed, and another Thanksgiving has rolled around.  In the tradition of this blog going back to 2017, I’m throwing back to past Thanksgiving Day posts.  I’ll alternate between italicized and non-italicized posts so readers can see the layers of commentary and annual updates.

In re-reading “TBT^2: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle,” it’s interesting to reflect on the contrast between 2019 and 2020.  Yes, 2020 has been a rough year universally, but it’s personally been one of my better years.  The Virus really took its toll financially, especially on my private music lessons and gigging empire, but both of those are recovering as folks mellow out about The Virus and the holidays approach.  I’m back to six students now, and have been blessed with some truly God-sent bookings recently.

The Virus brought a silver lining:  it forced me to slow down.  All the shutdowns made me do what I would have been loathe to do voluntarily—give up various extracurricular activities and side gigs.  For the first time in probably seven years, I took the summer off, other than my History of Conservative Thought course and one intrepid piano student (and three days of painting for the school, because they were desperate).  I reluctantly got on some extremely mild anxiety medication, and now I love the stuff—I’m not fretting over insignificant things anymore.

I enjoyed distance learning, too, though I am glad to be back with students (most days).  It provided the opportunity to laser-focus on my teaching, without all the extra little duties and responsibilities that normally come with teaching generally and my position specifically.  I missed putting on a big Spring Concert, but I didn’t miss the stress, the lack of institutional support, and the hours and hours of unwinding and connecting XLR cables.

All in all, it’s been a very good year.  I’m up to eight generous subscribers now to my SubscribeStar page, and many of you have purchased my music on BandcampYour support came when I needed it most, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

—TPP

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The Joy of Music

One of the greatest joys in life is music.  Regular readers will know that I love musicplaying it, writing it, singing it, arranging it, analyzing it, launching it into space, etc.  As an art form, I believe music is uniquely suited to communicating ideas and beauty across time, space, and cultures.  It can be intensely nationalistic, yet still universal.

We’re back to distance learning today after a positive case of The Virus, and since it’s the day before Thanksgiving Break—historically the biggest blow-off day of the school year—my administration decided to play it safe and declare today a distance learning day.  As such, I took the assignment derived from The Story of 100 Great Composers and ported it to my high school music classes.  Those classes will share about their composers today.

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Memorable Monday: Thanksgiving Week!

It’s back again—Thanksgiving Week!  For many of us—especially those of us in the cushy racket known as “education”—it’s scarcely a week at all, just two days of relaxed, stately learning before five straight days of loafing and turkey-filled indolence.

I’m kicking off the laziness early with a throwback post to last year’s Thanksgiving Week—a post entitled, appropriately, “Thanksgiving Week!”  It’s a post that celebrates the insanely short week—and opines for it to become scarcely a workweek at all.  I also delved into a discussion about slippery slopes—my favorite logical fallacy that often becomes true—and the necessity for a ten-year moratorium on immigration.

I’ll likely be doing more throwback posts this week as I indulge in some family time and gluttony, but I’ll keep trying to provide top-level italicized commentary for your amusement.  Also, we’re just a few days away from 700 days—that’s 100 weeks!—of consecutive posts.

In all seriousness, there is much to be thankful for this year.  Even in 2020, a number that has taken on a reputation only slightly less horrifying than the Mark of the Beast, there is much God has done for us.  A promising vaccine for The Virus—produced in what must be record time for a vaccine—is surely one such thing for which we should give thanks.

Turn to God in times of trouble, not just when things are going well.  Easy to type, hard to live.  We’d be all better off, though, if we made the effort to adopt gratitude as our default position.

Here’s “Thanksgiving Week!“:

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