Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I May be on the Mend

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you this has been the best week I’ve had since I can remember. My stress level is as low as it’s been since May. I’ve had a bit more free time than usual, so I’ve done more blogging in the last seven days than I did in all of January and February.

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I don’t know how long it will last, but the words seem to be flowing for me again. I think the move into social commentary and politics helped with that, but I’m afraid it’s not done me much good in the way of audience.

If you’ve been following me since the days when this was a writing blog, and through all the ups and downs of the Sourcerer experiment, thanks for sticking with. I doubt I’ll ever get back to publishing three and four posts per week because the stuff I’m writing now is time-consuming and I don’t have that much time most weeks. But I have no plans to give up blogging. From here on out, I’m focusing on quality rather than quantity and working myself up to the point where I can start placing posts on blogs other than my own.

And I’d tell you I measured my little puppy today because she’s six months old next week. She’s almost 21 inches at the shoulder and weighs 45 lbs. So not that little any more, and she’s gotten bold. She’s still not mature enough to be outside off a leash because we have no fenced yard. But she thinks she is, and if we aren’t careful she bolts outside when we open the door.

She likes to sit to the left of my computer chair while I’m working at the desk because she’s figured out that if I’m surfing instead of typing, she can get lots of head scratches that way. And she’s learned to grin.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m as concerned about the overall political climate in the U.S. as I’ve ever been. I’d try not to go on and on about it, because I’ve already thrown nearly 10K words at it and I’ve got more coming. But I would share with you, briefly, the two things about it which worry me the most.

First, we have a serious contender for President who’s been permissive of violence at his rallies. Much of this violence has been motivated by a combination of racism, nationalism, and anger at the economic stagnation we’ve suffered over the last decade. If you’ve read your history even a little, you know what a volatile combination that is. I hope we can find a way to rein it in before it spills over into the streets and into the policies of the next administration.

Second, I’m pretty sure U.S. foreign policy over the last 15 years or so has precipitated a full-scale regional re-alignment in the Middle East and it’s only going to get uglier for at least the next few years. That has consequences not only for the Americas and Central Asia, but for Europe, East Asia, Africa, and Australia as well. Because we’re all so interconnected, there’s no disentangling ourselves from one another.

There are more trigger points in Asia for serious conflicts between powerful countries than I can remember seeing in my lifetime. The next President will need to be smart about his diplomatic strategy. It’s as frightening a situation as anything I’ve experienced since the days when we were doing the nuclear tango with the Soviet Union.

I think it’s probable that the next President will need to decide whether to double down on the Middle East and make a serious long-term military commitment there, or to pull out completely and realign our forces so we can continue to meet our security obligations to our European and Asian allies without a significant presence in the Middle East. Because what we’re doing there now isn’t working or even helping.

These are treacherous waters, and I don’t fully trust any of the likely candidates to navigate them without making things worse. So I’m at a loss. It’s far too late to point fingers or place blame about the foreign policy errors we’ve committed over the past few years. We need to find a way forward, but I have no answers. Only questions.

And that’s all I’d say about the politics if we were having coffee today.

I’m back to the normal schedule next week, so I won’t have as much time to write and chatter as I’ve had these last few days. My goal remains to provide one post per week other than these coffee posts, and I’ve got next week’s almost done. Eventually I’ll work out a routine and post them at a consistent day and time, but for now, I’m just trying to meet the goal itself.

Happy Saturday! Don’t forget to add your post to the Weekend Coffee Share linkup at Part Time Monster, and to share it with #weekendcoffeeshare on Facebook and Twitter.

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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 😉

In which I pose a serious question in a roundabout way

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My family has two puppies under our care. One, we adopted because we have a seven-year-old boy living in the house and he’s been begging for a dog since he was three. The other adopted us because we fed him at a time when he was down on his luck and we obviously know how to take care of puppies.

Their names are Diesel and Ren, but I call them “Lil’ pup” and “Big pup.”

Big pup. He likes to guard smaller creatures. He doesn't guard food and seems to not understand toys at all. He's quiet unless he has something important to say. And he doesn't jump up on people even when they're waving meat at him.

Big pup. He likes to guard smaller creatures. He doesn’t guard food and seems to not understand toys at all. He’s quiet unless he has something important to say. And he doesn’t jump up on people even when they’re waving meat at him. Has the makings of a super-sweet working dog.

They get along well. Ren is six or seven months old, based on his size and dental development. Either a German Shepherd, or a GSD mixed with one other related breed, we’re pretty sure. And we’ve done our best to make sure no one’s looking for him. It seems that no one is.

Lil' Pup. She's a monster, and a connoisseur of fine paper. That's Mr. Chicken she's gnawing on there. She loves Mr. Chicken, but they are not friends.

Lil’ Pup. She’s a monster, and a connoisseur of fine paper. That’s Mr. Chicken she’s gnawing on there. She loves Mr. Chicken, but they are not friends. Diesel is a bit of a terror.

If I ever figure out a way to migrate my consciousness to some surrealistic fantasy world and become a not-so-evil overlord, I’m bringing these two with me. They will be my gargoyles. If you happen to wander into my fantasy domain unbidden, Big Pup will pose you a riddle. If you are unable to come up with a satisfactory answer in a reasonable amount of time, Lil’ Pup will eat you alive, starting with your face.

So, on to the serious question. These doggies love, love, love some paper. It makes interesting sounds and tastes enough like food to satisfy. And it is so. Very. Shreddable. Cardboard, wrapping paper, tissues, toilet paper. Just doesn’t matter. Ren mostly sniffs around and forages for little bits of paper, but Diesel seems to be on a holy quest to sample every type of paper that ever existed. We have to watch her around the books. This is totally normal behavior for a three-month-old puppy and we correct it often enough that it’s not a long-term concern.

I have a computer desk with a floor-level shelf, and until we got puppies, I was accustomed to storing documents on that shelf. It’s very convenient. They are out of sight and I know where they are if I need to refer to them. One of the documents stored on that shelf is my Master’s Thesis, shrink-wrapped and nestled snugly in a Kinko’s box.

Those of you who are familiar with the academic meat grinder will get this. A master’s thesis is a thing you sweat over, and if you’re a flighty person, maybe you go to therapy to get it done. Then once it’s done, unless you’re a genius or were at least smart enough to use the master’s training to do exploratory work that you can build on, what you really want to do is disavow it and pretend someone else wrote it.

So, anyway. Lil’ pup has worried and worried at the Kinko’s box for weeks now. The entire lid is gone. She really truly wants to get into that box and rip the plastic and sample some 25-lb linen paper seasoned with 9-year-old ink.

Given that I’ve never taken that document out of its box even once since I published it, it’s probably the least favorite piece of writing I’ve ever finished, and it’s archived in an academic library for posterity in any case . . .

. . . Should I go ahead and let her have her way with it?

They like to help the boy study his spelling words. That is great fun for EVERYONE.

They like to help the boy study his spelling words. That is great fun for EVERYONE.