TBT: Heavy is the Head

Over at her blog Words on the Word, Audre Myers posted a piece yesterday entitled, simply, “Life.”  It’s a succinct and effective little piece about how Life often disrupts our, well, lives, and how our best-laid plans are often thrown out the minute Life demands our immediate attention.

The past several weeks have been full of Life for yours portly; indeed, this school year—which seems to be dragging endlessly onward—has been one of the toughest of my career.  It got me thinking about this post from last May about the difficulties and joys of responsibility.

We all find ourselves busy at times, and I imagine many of us dream of shirking our responsibilities.  The sad fact is, many Americans do—the moment anything becomes inconvenient, or no longer offers the fun thrill it initially did, we move on to something else new and exciting.  There’s an inherent restlesness in that lifestyle, a lifestyle of constant pacing and chasing.

That’s the child’s response to responsibility and difficulty.  As adults, we should adapt to difficulties, and bear our responsibilities cheerfully, even when they are more burdensome than usually—perhaps especially so at those times.

As I noted last year, most of our perceived problems either dissipate into mootness or are otherwise resolved before they truly become problems that need addressing.  Case in point:  I was slated to teach an online class this summer.  That’s not a problem so much as an opportunity, but it was going to require a good bit of legwork this week to get the course ready to launch Monday.

I got home Tuesday evening to take a look at the course, and realized it had either been purged (due to low enrollment) or given to another instructor (likely a full-timer who needed to make his hours).  While I’m a tad disappointed about losing out on some relatively easy money, it’s also “solved” a problem for me—finding the time to put that course together during yet another busy week.

Again, another problem resolved before requiring any real effort on my part—perhaps not on anyone’s.

With that, here is 5 May 2021’s “Heavy is the Head“:

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TBT: Memorable Monday II: Monday Steakhouse Blues

As I wrote yesterday, today I’m taking my students to a music festival, where they will play and sing solo selections for judges.  They get a score based on their performance, as well as useful feedback from the judges about tone, pitch, articulation, musicality, and the rest.  It’s a very fun day, but also a very busy one.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, it always seems to coincide with one of the busiest seasons of the year, when time constrains are at their most stringent and intense.  Almost everyone reading this blog understands there is an ebbing and flowing to life:  you might enjoy one (even two!) weeks of routine, maybe even a bit of a lighter schedule than usual.

Then—BAM!—everything comes due, breaks, and goes haywire at once.  As my friend and regular reader Barnard Fife once told me, “trouble is like grapes:  it comes in bunches.”  Amen, BF.

The original post behind this threat, “Monday Steakhouse Blues,” was written at a particularly tough time for yours portly.  I found myself without Internet and putting in very long hours (and this was well before I had twenty-ish students for private lessons).  I spent a weary Monday evening eating steak at Western Sizzlin’ and writing a blog post on my phone.  The steak was good, but everything else at the time was pretty miserable.

Thank God for better organization, a greater sense of perspective (this is just life, and it will pass), and for 10 milligrams of citalopram every morning.  Gotta be thankful for the little things.

The “Memorable Monday” version of this post, which I have also reblogged below, went live the week before everything in South Carolina shut down due to the dawning of The Age of The Virus.  In other words, it was the last week of The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago.  There are many things I miss about The Before Times, but a silver-lining of The Age of The Virus was that it saved me from the intense burnout I was experiencing at the time.

With that, here is 9 March 2020’s “Memorable Monday II: Monday Steakhouse Blues” (on a Thursday!):

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Retro Tuesday: Christmas Break Begins!

Yesterday marked the true “beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break.”  It’s been a busy break so far, with a very productive Town Council work session last night, and a meeting with our new Mayor-Elect this morning.  I’m also meeting with a parent later in the day to sign some paperwork for a program for her daughter.

That’s a breakneck pace compared to past Christmas breaks, but it’s nothing too daunting.  I’m looking forward to some time with my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, niece, and nephews soon, not to mention other family members.

It’s a lazy time of year for the blog, too:  not much is happening in the news, and everyone is settling in for a long winter’s nap.  I will have a guest contribution from 39 Pontiac Dreamer tomorrow—a review of a video game series—and some other goodies after Christmas.  Otherwise, look for a lot of re-runs from yours portly this week.

That said, the topic of this post from last Christmas Break—the need for some time off at Christmas for everyone, not just those of us in the cushy education racket—is still relevant.  Granted, some workers have decided to take the entire year off, it seems, enjoying generous federal unemployment and other kickbacks from The Age of The Virus, rather than return to their honest, albeit grueling, jobs.  Maybe let’s shoot for something a bit more balanced, yeah?

Still, work, while ennobling and healthy, can easily become overtaxing and detrimental.  There are diminishing returns, too:  after too many hours and too much effort, both mental and physical, we all start to get sloppy.  Some folks are built with the drive and energy to go nonstop, but I suspect most of us appreciate having a little downtime here and there.

With that, here is 21 December 2021’s “Christmas Break Begins!“:

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Adventures in Gardening: Building a Frog Pond

With the unlimited free time of summer, I can finally get some work done in the yard.  I’ve finally transplanted my potted tomatoes and peppers into my flower beds—probably way too late—after getting up weeds this weekend.  I need to get out with the weed trimmer soon to get the edges of the house and around the grapevines and fig tree, but the beds are looking good, if a bit bare.

While pulling weeds Saturday, my girlfriend’s dog started nosing at a little frog—possibly a toad—hopping around in one of the rocky beds along the side of the house (I thought it might be a gopher frog, but now I think it’s more likely a Southern toad; if anyone can tell from the video, please leave a comment):

I get quite a few of our amphibian friends around the house, often hiding out in planters and shady spots in the yard.  After the Spooktacular in October, I found quite a few hunkering down inside of the ceramic and red clay Jack O’Lanterns and votives I had on the porch.

Indeed, one morning I found one chilling on my toilet seat!  I sucked him into my vacuum’s canister and emptied him safely outside.

I have always loved frogs (just not when they’re hanging out in my bathroom), and I’m delighted that so many of them live around my house.  In doing some research on frogs and toads in South Carolina, I stumbled upon a WikiHow article entitled “How to Make a Frog Home in a Garden.”

Given my free time and desire to spruce up the yard, I jumped at the opportunity to put together a small frog pond of my own, which I installed Wednesday.

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Lazy Sunday CXIX: Summer Camps

Well, my two summer camps for the season are all wrapped up, so the rest of summer vacation is a combination of private music lessons, blogging, gardening, and loafing around the house.  I’ll also get in some family time, and will help schlep my girlfriend’s stuff to Athens.  I hope to get a little fiction writing done in there, too.

With my camps done for the summer, I thought I’d dedicate this Sunday to looking back at some posts about my various summertime endeavors:

That’s it for this Lazy Sunday!  Take a moment to leave a comment about your favorite summer camp.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Disincentives to Work

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece, “Fast Food Premium,” which argued that, as restaurants began offering higher wages and even signing bonuses to employees, those increased wages would get passed along to consumers, and would result in wider inflation (a big “thank you” to jonolan at Reflections from a Murky Pond for expanding upon the premise of my post with his own, excellent piece, “UBI —> UBM“).  My observations might be deemed “prophetic” if they weren’t so blindingly obvious:  higher input costs mean higher prices.  That’s basic economics.

Of course, the ongoing labor shortage is not due to a booming economy, per se, but due to excessively generous federal unemployment benefits, which have effectively increased the minimum wage for restaurant employees:  many such employees are paid more to stay at home, collecting unemployment, than they are to flip burgers, wait tables, etc.  Mogadishu Matt highlights this phenomenon in a reblog of a John Stossel piece:  the issue is not a labor shortage, but a problem of incentives.

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Heavy is the Head

Last Wednesday I wrote a piece, “The King of One’s Castle,” in which I wrote about the joys of home ownership, and the sense of import that goes with that responsibility.  Putting time in working on and around the house gives me a sense of accomplishment, and deepens the pleasure of ownership.

As a corollary to that post, I’d love to offer up this slight counter:  to whom much is given, much is required.  I’ve been hearing that bit of Biblical wisdom from Luke 12:48 my entire life, often when I resisted doing something with my musical or oral talents (I possess a deep, rich, chocolate-y radio voice, and am often called upon to announce).

I am blessed to have been given much by way of talents, though I quickly temper that proud statement with sincere humility—there are many others far more gifted and talented than I am.  Nevertheless, I do think I possess some attributes that increase my responsibilities to those around me.

That burden is not always easily borne, but it must be, whether easily or not.

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Fast Food Premium

There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang.  The concept is seductive in its simplicity:  gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.

For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain:  streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts.  Of course, it’s a siren song:  we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.

Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea.  Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary:  if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up.  Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices.  Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.

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