Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Find Myself at a Crossroads

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I miss writing for the #WeekendCoffeeShare linkup. I also miss writing the pop culture posts, and wanking about social media, and occasionally ranting about politics. Writing — especially high-frequency writing that’s done just for fun — has to be a habit if you’re going to do it consistently. Sadly, I’ve gotten myself out of the habit.

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I’d tell you I miss reading a dozen blogs a week and chatting with people on comment threads even more than I miss publishing my own posts. Facebook has somewhat taken over my social media life, because for the last several months, my internet time has come in unpredictable 20- and 30-minute blocks. And let’s just face it. Communication on Facebook is way easier than communicating on blog threads.

Well, I have a lot more free time than I am accustomed to this weekend, so I’m planning to spend quite a bit of time in the blogosphere. After I add this post to the linkup at Part Time Monster, I plan to check out the Princess Bride Linkup Party at WriteOnSisters.com.a-princess-bride-linkup-party_

I may even re-watch that movie this afternoon and see if I can rush out a post for the linkup myself. You can check out the FAQ here and you can add your own post to the linkup here and you can also share Princess Bride links using the hashtag #PrincessBrideParty. Check it out! It’s sure to be a lot of fun.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you we’re closing in on the time of year where I typically cut back on my blogging and start planning for January. I do this because in my experience, mid-November to late December is the worst time to try and get anything except holiday-themed content seen on the Internet. I’ve blogged so little this year, there’s really nothing to cut back on, but I am still taking stock and trying to make some decisions about what I’m going to do next year.

Part Time Monster and Comparative Geeks have both moved recently and they are both still thriving, so I feel as though I accomplished the two most important goals I set for myself when I came back to the blogosphere three years ago. My blogging, in the first instance, was always about giving either Part Time Monster or Sourcerer a chance to break out. And about forming a community of bloggers that was loose enough to tolerate a broad spectrum of worldviews, but close-knit enough to hang together whether I remained at the center of it or not.

I think Part Time Monster still has a chance to break out, and a lot of the contributors I recruited for Sourcerer during the two years I ran that blog are still talking. In fact, a lot of them are contributing for the new-and-improved CompGeeks. That makes me unreasonably happy. I feel that all the energy and sweat I put into the blogging between 2013-15 was worth it, even though I am a peripheral part of the operation at best (for now).

Getty stock image.

Getty stock image.

All this said, my own blogs are practically dead. I wasn’t able to bring Sourcerer in for a soft landing. I’ve almost slapped a coda on that blog several times just for the closure, but when I sit down to write the last Sourcerer post ever, I just can’t bring myself to do it. It hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, and the last post is a comics post Luther published for me in the last days before I decided I had to let it go for awhile. Sourcerer at this point is a like a story with no ending and that pains me. It’s still the most valuable piece of internet real estate I’ve ever developed, though — especially when I include the twitter account I built for that blog. That’s hard to let go of.

As far as this blog is concerned, it’s been through several iterations, and it has never performed to my satisfaction. I have around 350 Facebook friends and followers. More than half of those are bloggers and people I met through blogging. Even if I go back to posting a couple of times a week here on a regular schedule, I’m not convinced this blog is ever going to get me more than I’m getting with well-timed public Facebook updates.

So I am not sure where to go with my blogging in the next year. I feel as though I need to either commit myself to publishing one high-quality post per week, or else I just need to walk away. And I have no blog of my own that’s good enough at this point to post my very best stuff, because I can’t get enough readers on my own blogs to make it worth the time and energy I put into my very best posts.coffee

I’m still thinking, but it looks like I’m going to be a contributor at CompGeeks and occasionally at the Monster for the next little while — if I am able to get back to blogging consistently at all. This blog will be for infrequent personal posts and political rants, unless I can find a way to get Sourcerer running again.

I’d love to have some input from those of you who have followed me for a long time, and from those of you who have more blogging experience than me.

This post is nearly 1,000 words long, so I’m calling it a day. Maybe I’ll see you for coffee again once or twice before the holiday season kicks into high gear. Have a photo of my puppy, who I’ve talked about here a time or two before. She’s nearly a year old now, and this was taken a couple of days ago.

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Have a great weekend, and keep blogging!

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Little Pitchers have Big Ears

I’ll tell you a little story while we wait for the polls to close and election returns to come in.

If you’ve started following this blog recently, you might not know that I have an elementary-aged grandson who I spend copious amounts of time with. He’s truly precocious when it comes to analyzing things. That’s because he’s one of those mechanically-inclined little dudes who prefers math to language arts. And because I’ve been teaching him to pull complex ideas apart and look at their constituent pieces as a way of finding their meaning since before he could speak in grammatically-correct sentences.

Photo by Gene'O, 2015.

Photo by Gene’O, 2015.

The little fella is aware there’s an election on. We’ve done our best not to talk about it in too much detail with him. My approach has been to not bring it up, but when he does, to give him honest, age-appropriate answers. So he knows I’m voting for the Dem in November, but we’ve not talked in any detail about  the various candidates.

The sort of political talk you’ve been seeing here and on my Facebook timeline these last few weeks is not the sort of stuff you’ll hear in my house if the kid is awake. And we do our best to minimize his exposure to the news, because most nights, it’s full of horrors. I don’t think I’m doing him a disservice by waiting until he’s 9 to let him watch the full news every night.

The reason we do things this way is because while we want him to grow up to be a tolerant, engaged citizen who understands his rights and sees the inequalities all around him, we don’t want to just put our politics in his head until he’s old enough to think about politics critically. I’ll be happy if he grows up to agree with my politics 100%. But I don’t want that to happen because I told him to, or because we have such a strong emotional bond. I want him to form his own political views rationally and to know why he takes the positions he eventually takes.

He knows I write and publish things on the internet for anyone in the world to see if I can grab their attention, and he’s fascinated by the whole thing. If I allow him, he’ll stand and read over my shoulder as I write. (I’ve had to explain to him recently that writers find this annoying.) So, yesterday he saw me editing a post I’m working on which includes this image:

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He decided, since I was obviously writing about the election, to give me his opinion on Donald Trump. So of course I had to shut my editing session down and interrogate him about where he got his information and how he formed his opinion. What follows is a lightly-edited transcript of our conversation.

Kid: I HATE Trump.

Me: You know we don’t hate people. Not even people we dislike. Because there’s a little good in even the worst people, and hating folks makes us want to fight instead of talking and listening.

Kid: Well, I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY dislike him. I dislike him all the way to Pluto and back. (He seriously uses this many “reallys” to express strong emotion. If anything, I’m understating. I sometimes have to interrupt the “reallys” and tell him I understand to get him to continue with his thought.)

Me: Okay. Tell me why you feel that way.

Kid: Trump wants to be one of them president-kings and he will command us all to use the n-word.

Me: *Shocked and alarmed, but proud of the racial sensitivity there* Where are you getting this? Are you talking to other grownups about this that I don’t know about?

Kid: No. That’s just what I think.

Me: Talking about it with your friends at school?

Kid: *Shakes head unconvincingly and stands up from his chair so he can march around the room while he delivers this next bit.* He will make us all sing “Trump! Trump! Trump! He is the greatest! Trump! Trump! Trump! He is the greatest!”

Me: You MUST tell me why you think these things. If you’re getting them from someone else, that’s a thing your Paw needs to know about.

Kid: I can just see it in his eyes.

I interrogated him a bit more, but he insisted these opinions are his own, formed from overhearing snippets of network news and seeing the occasional photo of Trump while eaves-watching my blogging and Facebooking.fblike

I believe he came up with this on his own, or else got it from other kids just based on the language he used. He has good recall when it comes to remembering exactly what others say, and I can generally tell when he’s repeating something he’s gotten from adults.

Just for example, when he asked me who I was voting for several weeks ago. I told him either Clinton or Sanders. His response: “I like Bernie Sanders. He is an intelligent man.” And when I asked him how he felt about Hillary Clinton he said “She is untrustworthy.” I knew, based on the language, not only that he was repeating something he’d heard a grownup say. I even knew which grownup.

This Trump thing is different. It’s either an honest, original assessment from a very perceptive little boy, or a pastiche of things he’s heard on the playground. I have extremely mixed feelings about this. I’m proud of the overall awareness the little dude’s showing here and pleased he’s come to the same conclusion as me without my direct intervention.

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I’m also sad that a second-grader is looking at the Presidential election and this is what he’s seeing. My first real political awakening was at about his age, during the Carter-Reagan race in 1980 (I wanted Carter to win). So on balance, I can’t say whether all this is a good thing, or a bad thing. But it sure is interesting.

An hour after we were done with our conversation, it came to my attention that the owner of Humans of New York has published a withering critique of Donald Trump and vowed to work against him. Aside from the part where Humans of N.Y. is warning us not to let Trump off the hook when he inevitably tacks to the center, the statement pretty much says what the kid said, only in the language of a sophisticated East Coast journalist. I was struck by it.

And today I found this. If you need further confirmation that yes, what’s going on at these Trump rallies is not only corrosive, but dangerous, here’s your sign. It’s about a guy who went undercover to a Trump rally to try and figure out why his followers are acting the way they are and better see them as humans, so as not to just demonize them because he disagrees with what they’re doing. A long read and it will make you a little sick to your stomach. But worthy of your time.

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I’ll have stuff to say on Facebook once the polls close tonight, and a post here about it tomorrow or the day after. Everything I’m posting about this election on Facebook is public. You can find me here if you just want to follow along. And I have a fairly open policy for accepting friend requests.

Weekend Coffee Share: Three Forms of Madness

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If we were having coffee, I’d be going “god bless! It’s been more than two weeks since I published a post, and three since I’ve joined the #WeekendCoffeeShare.

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I’ve been thinking I have a time management problem for awhile now, and I probably do. But I understand time management and I do my best to manage the time I have productively. At this point, I’m viewing the time problem in the same way I view the financial problem.

I DON’T have a “money management” problem. I manage my money just fine. The problem is I have a prioritized list of expenses every month and a set income. It’s a simple operation.

  1. Rent and power always get paid first.
  2. Things like shoes, groceries, and medical have to come next.
  3. The rest gets paid out of whatever is left, and when I run out of money, well, I am out of money and have to let things ride.
  4. So, weird things happen to the lower-priorities. The trash bill tends to get paid three months at a time at the last minute. The cell phone and cable bills get paid just enough to keep from being turned off. Credit accounts are serviced as early as possible, and just enough to keep the accounts active. I’m doing some fairly subtle and creative things with a few revolving credit accounts just now.

This is no way to live, financially. And I think something similar is going on with my time at this point. I have a prioritized list of things I need to spend time on, and once I’m out of time, I’m just out of time until I get a weekend or a holiday or a legitimate day off to be free (those are few and far between.)

The problem is not that I am unaware of how time management works. The problem is that I have precious little time to manage.

So, here are some things I’ve been doing with my time lately, and some things I plan to do with it in the next little while.

Chess Madness

The grandson, who I talk about on the Internet from time to time, has developed an interest in Chess. He is also good at math and interested in any competition which can be constructed as a war game (I blame Southern Culture as the proximate cause for his love of battle, and finger Western Imperialism as the root cause of his fascination.)

Getty stock image.

Getty stock image.

We have a neighbor kid who is a few grades further along in school, loves to hang out at our house, and wants to get good enough to beat his older brother in chess. The neighbor kid has expressed a willingness to be mindful of the fact that he’s dealing with a 7-year-old and understands that being a good sport is a condition of me teaching him how chess works.

So we have three chess players of varying levels of skill willing to be kind and learn from one another. The two with the least experience are naturally good at the sorts of thinking that make for lifelong chess players, so of course I am going to give them as much time as I can afford.

What this means, as far as the time budget goes, is that sometimes I have to stop what I am doing, even if I’d rather be writing, and give the grandson 20 minutes for a chess game. Or stop for an hour and give the two boys three chess games to think about and learn from.

Because the chess gives us a reason to interact that builds useful skills and does not require an electronic device. And it gives us something in common to talk about. All kinds of reasons this is the #1 thing at the moment.

Doggie Madness

The doggies are second because they are living creatures who depend on me to feed them. I have a 3.5-month-old puppy I brought into my house willingly, and an older one who just sort of wandered up and stuck around because we fed him.

These are large breed dogs. the smaller one is not four months old, and she’s big enough to snag a pork chop off the kitchen counter if we turn our backs long enough.

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They are not bad doggies, but they are not especially well-trained, either. They’re requiring a lot of attention, which means a lot of time. Because I am not going to have two half-grown dogs that weigh better than 80 lbs counter-surfing in my kitchen. I am also not going to beat them to make them behave.

So you can see why this is consuming a lot of resources, and hopefully why it is important to me.

Feminist Madness

I started a Feminist Friday Project along with my sister Diana and our friend Gretchen a couple of years ago now. Somehow, against all odds and with the help of many other bloggers, we’ve managed to keep it viable up to this very day. Here’s the official archive of posts so far.Feminism_free

Most of the bloggers who have contributed so far are still in, and we’re working up to a major announcement.

In fact, once I am done with this post, the next thing I am doing is working on the feminist project.

My list is way longer. I’ve caught up on my tv in the last few weeks, and also read a comics series which demands to be written about.

This is enough for today, but if you want clues as to where I am going, read Saga, then watch Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones.

saga Cover

I’ve got things to say about all of that stuff. I will likely say it on multiple blogs and from a feminist perspective.

If you’ve not yet added your #WeekendCoffeeShare post to the linkup and shared it on Twitter at this late hour, you should do that stat.

Off to work for me now 😉