A Quick Note – Possible Podcast

The homepage of WordPress recently had a link to connect my blog to a podcast on Anchor. I’ve played around with the tool that converts a post to audio so I technically have two episodes published on a podcast. I’m trying to get the nerve to actually record something soon even if it is just an introduction to me and my blog. Here’s the link.

The World’s Common Tater

The Day the Russian Disappeared

One of the pre-pandemic perks of my wife’s job was being the US representative at an international conference. Each year she gets to go to a different host country for a meeting on public debt. I have been fortunate to be able to travel with her on all but the first trip. I ranked the host locations here. During most of the trips, I have been invited to the welcoming cocktail party and the official dinner. All family members are invited to the social program at the end of the week. After several years of attending the conference we have developed a friendship(as much of one you can have with people you see once a year) with several of the attendees. The people we talk to the most are the representatives from Georgia and Russia. My last conversation at the conference in 201 was a discussion of Grey’s Anatomy with one of the Russian officials. Our current Russian friends are not the original representatives from the country. My first Russian friend vanished one day.

The first trip we took with her was to Helsinki. It was the only time both of our kids were able to travel with us. Finland was a great host. The city was nice and walkable. We had a great time. I felt very out of place when I attended the official dinner. It was my first time with the group and I was one of the only outsiders at the dinner. Luckily, I was seated next to a man from Russia who was close to me age and was very interested in the American presidential election that was happening at the time. He asked for my thoughts on the election . We talked about the debates. He was surprised when I said that the majority of voters decide who they will vote for before the debates and only a handful of undecideds are swayed by them, Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I discussed US elections with a Russian government official.

At the end of the conference there is always a social program. In Finland it was a bus trip out to several small towns outside of Helsinki. Each stop featured some sort of food and the last stop was at a mansion for more food and wine. It was a very good day. My Russian friend was seated on the bus in front of me. I remember noticing his phone was very cracked when he was texting on the bus. After one of the stops, he did not board the bus. He was absent for the rest of the trip. I never saw him get in another car or anything. He was just gone. My logical wife says he probably had an early flight and had to take a car back to the city to get to the airport. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers. I decided he used the trip as a chance to defect and he disappeared to start a new life in Finland.

This trip was in September. The next conference was in May in Santiago, Chile. Most of the participants were the same. It was only 8 months since the last conference, Not a lot of time for turnover in who was representing the countries. The one big change I noticed? A new person representing Russia. My disappearing friend was not in attendance. I choose to believe that this is proof that his disappearance was not due to an early flight. He was no longer representing Russia because he was living his new life somewhere in Finland. So far, he is the only person who has mysteriously disappeared on one of the trips.

Locked Out of the Clubhouse

I’ve always been someone who likes to try out the new online spaces. I have accounts on so many random social media sites that have popped up over the years. Sometimes, they become something I use regularly. FriendFeed was my favorite online space before Facebook bought it and shut it down. Like everyone else, I still use Facebook and Twitter regularly. I’m on Instagram. I have a Snapchat that I have only used to communicate with my daughter when we are overseas and have no phone service. I have a TikTok account and I browse there on occasion.

Some I tried to like and couldn’t. I signed up for Google Plus and tried to like it more than I did. I would post there and interact with others, but I never got in a habit of using it regularly. Someone built an alternative to FriendFeed and a lot of my friends from there used it, but I kept forgetting it existed.

Some I never intended to use, but signed up to see what was there. Parler was one of those. All of my conservative friends frome home started posting on Facebook that they were on Parler. It was in the news constantly. So, I signed up for an account, looked around a bit and then never used it again.

All of that babble above leads me to last night. It used to be you would get invites to a new service before it was widely available and you would readily give them to people. I always posted on Facebook and FriendFeed when I had invite to a service and gave them to the first people who asked. There is a new service called Clubhouse out there. People post on Twitter about events on Clubhouse. I like to try new things, so I reserved a username and am waiting for them to let me in. Last night, a TV person I like posted about a talk she is doing the weekend. I responded that it sounded interesting, but I was not on Clubhouse yet. Someone replied that they had invites and I should DM them. So I did. I woke up tis morning to find a message from them telling me they expect payment for the invites to Clubhouse. I don’t care enough to pay someone to get in early. I assume this has always happened and I’ve just been lucky enough before to have friends who gave me invites for free.

Do people really send randos on Twitter money and trust that they will actually get an invite? Do people want in on things like Clubhouse bad enough to pay for it? I don’t even care enough about the social media I use regularly to pay for it. Do people post on Twitter that they are doing a thing on Clubhouse to get more people listening or to brag that they are in the exclusive club?

I also noticed last night that Twitter has started a new “spaces” feature that is also an audio discussion thing. It is also only available to certain users and it seems to be the same people who are also on Clubhouse. The difference? If someone I follow has it and starts one I can listen in if I want.

Long story short – I like free samples but I’m not going to pay for a sample.

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Thoughts While I’m Stuck in Writer’s Block

I’ve been having difficulty with my attempted memoir and finding it difficult to move forward with it. I’ve been thinking about other things I could do with writing/blogging or other things.

I’ve looked online at places that accept writing like personal essays. I’m not sure I will ever feel confident enough to submit.

I did submit my one dumb little poem I wrote to a place today. I know it won’t be something they want, but I thought actually submitting something would help me get the nerve to do it again.

WordPress tells me I can start a podcast with my account. Even though I hate the sound of my voice, I actually thought “I could start a podcast” I will not actually start a podcast.

I have considered the possibility of doing Zoom talks with people “Tater Talks” and recording them for a YouTube channel. I could probably get a couple of musicians and authors to do it. I even have a thought to start with an interview with my sibling about me just to test the waters. I will never have the courage to do this.

I start a new volunteer thing tomorrow which will give me an hour or so a week out of the house driving around and listening to music.

I’m doing yoga in the mornings now.

A lot of thinking. A lot of planning things I will never do. Not a lot of writing.

Losing Friends on Facebook

About a month ago, a friend on Facebook posted that she was going to unfriend people she considered hypocrites for speaking out against the Capitol riots and not on the Black Lives Matters protests. Or something like that. I can no longer see the post because very soon after that post she was no longer my friend on Facebook. In this case, it’s easy to know why she unfriended me. It was easy to see that she unfriended me because I went to look for something she had posted around the same time and saw we were no longer friends. I discovered soon after that when I posted something in a Facebook group for my high school class that I was no longer friends with a couple more people from high school/ I have no idea when or why they unfriended me. I have downloaded an app now that tells me who unfriended me because I think it will be interesting to track when it happens to see if I can guess why. Since downloading the app, I’ve lost one more friend. This time it as someone I only vaguely knew via library stuff. I’m assuming in this case it was just them cleaning up their friend list and random “no longer librarian” didn’t make the cut.

Being unfriended is nothing new to me. I’ve lost several friends over the years and I can guess in a lot of cases why. Here are some I know of:

One friend from college who got mad when I didn’t reply to a comment he made on a post. He then posted a comment telling me if I was going to ignore him he would unfriend me. After that, it was pretty much 100% I was never going to reply/ We are no longer Facebook friends.

Another college acquaintance I met at a religious organization. We were playing some Facebook game from long ago where it asked random questions to friends. The one that came up for me to send to him was “have you ever had an STD?” He said I needed better questions and then was no longer my Facebook friend.

Another person from the same place that has friended and unfriended me a couple of times. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect I’m not “Christian” enough in my posts for her.

A high school friend who unfriended me during the 2016 election when it was clear I was very anti-Trump.

Other have unfriended me over the years without a clear cut reason. I assume it’s because they cant handle so much awesome.

I don’t generally unfriend people. I did do a purge at one point where I started unfriending people from work who were not actual friends. The theory was that I was going to go completely private, but then halfway through I gave up and stayed public. I unfriended two people from high school who were way into conspiracy stuff and posted after mass shootings that they were false flag operations and the victims ere crisis actors. I didn’t want to ne connected to people who would post that. I generally just unfollow people rather than unfriend them. Sometimes I mute them for 30 days first and then unfollow if they are still posting what annoys me. I unfollow some people for posting so much that my entire feed is them. I rarely unfriend.

Have you lost friends on Facebook due to politics or other disagreements?

Do you unfriend people you disagree with?

Off Schedule

My life as it is now does not require setting an alarm. I have no particular time I need to be awake. My wife works from home and does not set an alarm that wakes me up. I generally still wake up relatively early. I consider it sleeping in if I sleep until 7am. During the first stretch of this new normal, I woke up by 6am and sometimes earlier. I would have my coffee and read the paper. I would do my daily morning crossword and Spelltower puzzles. I would have a post written for the blog by 8am. I would be dressed and making an attempt at the long form writing way before 9am. With this schedule, I felt like by 2pm I was at a point that I was done for the day. It was a nice schedule. I didn’t feel stressed. I had some sort of routine.

Lately, though, I have been a bit off. Part of this is due to the dog sleeping downstairs a lot and not waking me up early. I’ve gone from waking up around 6am to waking up between 6:30and 7. By the time I’ve had coffee with the paper and my puzzles, it can be pushing 8. I would generally do my blog post then, but I also want to be done with my shower and getting dressed to be out of the way of my wife getting dressed since she has an actual schedule. So, now I’m not getting started on writing anything until 8:30 or so. Some days, I barely get something published by 9. I know that generally if I don’t post by 9 my views drop considerably. So, now I have the stress of trying to get something written in less time than the norm. I already write too fast and don’t edit enough when blogging, so this is not optimal. It is after 9 before I even think about any other writing. Yet, I still get to the point by 2 that I am done.

My therapist has recommended I try yoga. I thought it would be easy to fit it into my schedule. Now, with the new normal, it is harder to find that time. I know I will be more likely to do it in the morning, but I have trouble doing it now for a couple of reasons. One, I already feel behind schedule so adding something else in is hard. Two, if I wait too late my wife is awake and will eventually cone downstairs, likely with a meeting on speaker, to get breakfast and it is disruptive. I have failed at getting that into my routine.

I’m thinking I might need to start setting an alarm so I wake up at a time that will make me feel like I’m on schedule for the day.

Saturday Funnies

I enjoy posting funny pictures I find in Twitter or Facebook. When I first started my Tater Facebook page as a joke I used it to post these random pictures. Here are some of my favorites.

No thank you
Manhole is a funny word
Remind me not to visit Kansas City
A twist on a classic
It is a dilemma
Pretty good price for a majestic ass one
Font matters
What I wanted to say every day before I quit my job
Valentines Day packages

Happy Saturday

Death and Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh died of lung cancer yesterday. My Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of people who were giddy about his death. They didn’t like him. They thought he was a terrible person. They were glad he was dead. They made jokes. It was a great day. This is not a defense of Rush Limbaugh. I didn’t like him. I will admit that back in the early 90;s when I spent all day in my car delivering papers in downtown Cincinnati I would sometimes listen to his show. I found that music all day didn’t work for me so I rotated through various talk radio shows until the comedy radio show I liked started. Sometimes I would land on Rush. I didn’t agree with him and spent time yelling at the radio. I stopped listening the day he called homeless people human debris. I know he promoted a lot of terrible views and there is a good reason for people not to like him. My question is – Is it really ever OK to celebrate someone’s death?

I have mixed feelings on this. I think it was generally considered acceptable to celebrate the death of Bin Laden. I think celebrating the death of Hitler was OK. They were terrible people who were behind atrocities and the deaths of a lot of people. Charles Manson? Jeffrey Dahmer? Ted Bundy? I think most people would be OK with celebrating the death of a serial killer. What about other members of the Manson family? People who did bad things but seemed to change once they were no longer under Manson’s influence? Still a celebration? Do we celebrate the death of people who committed other terrible crimes short of murder? Does it depend on the circumstance or how close the crime was to you? Is it really a good thing to celebrate the death of someone because they promoted hateful ideas on the radio? And celebrate publicly? In some cases, seemingly stalk pages online so you can comment on other people’s comments to make sure they know you hated him and are glad he is dead?

I’m not claiming any high ground here. I’m just saying that I am not a fan of seeing post after post of people giddy about the death of anyone. In this case, I also think about the fact that I have family members who post hate filled posts on Facebook. Terrible, racist stuff. I have unfollowed them so I don’t see it and I am embarrassed that they are part of my family. I would hate to see people celebrating if they died because of this. I’m sure there are people in Limbaugh’s family in the same boat. They hated what he said and promoted on air, but he was family and people are saying we should all be glad he is dead. It just doesn’t seem right.

Do you think it is OK to celebrate the death of Rush?

Is it ever OK to celebrate anyone’s death?

Support the Common Tater

Another Year of Tater

I turned 52 yesterday. Does that mean this is the beginning of year 53 of Tater? I think so?

Last year I wrote a post about being on the other side of 50 and things I wanted to change. I looked at that post this morning and I think I did pretty good even though most of my year was in the midst of a pandemic. Here is a look back at that and then a look forward to Tater at 52.

51 for me is time to find a career where I can be content until my career days are over. – Still a work in progress. Eventually I will go back to a job. I don’t know yet what that job will be.

51 for me is the time to stop letting others steal my joy. – Still a work in progress. I did cut ties with the people that were the biggest issue, but I still let people have way too much control over my joy.

51 for me is the time to cut ties with people and places who don’t respect me and my contributions. – Done! 25 years in a place where I brought innovative programming. leadership and loyalty and got nothing(but a paycheck) in return. 25 years of seeing less qualified people promoted over me. 25 years and they show no concern when I bring major issues to HR. 25 years of being a replaceable, unimportant cog. All over. I am now 2 months removed from a very toxic work environment and life is good.

51 for me is the time to forget the fear of the unknown and take that leap. – I took the leap into the unknown. It’s still scary. I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’m sure at some point I will admit defeat on the writing and get a job. I just don’t know what that will be.

So, looking forward to Tater at 52. What will that bring?

Hopefully, within the first half of the 52 I will get the vaccine and life will return to something close to normal.

I will do my best to complete whatever my memoir will look like even if I know it will never be published.

I will spend some time trying to find other writing opportunities.

I will find ways to volunteer and give to those less fortunate.

I will figure out what my next step is career-wise Back to libraries? Substitute teacher? Grocery store? Gig work like Door Dash? Substitute teacher seems like a good choice. Some control over schedule, holidays and summers off.

Tater at 52 is a transition year. Transitioning from pandemic to post-pandemic. Transitioning from unemployed to employed. Transitioning to a new way of life. I need to be willing to give myself time and grace.

Here’s hoping for a much better year than the last one.

Happy Pandemic Birthday To Me

It’s my birthday again. Seems to happen every year around this time. Funny how that works. This is my first and hopefully last one in the midst of a pandemic. Last year we were still a month away from everything locking down. My wife’s birthday is four days before mine, so we generally only do one dinner out if we do one at all. Most years we just get our free sandwiches from Firehouse Subs Last year we went to a nice seafood place on the water since she was celebrating a milestone birthday. Two years ago for my 50th we went to a place in DC I’ve always wanted to try. This year will be back to our norm of not doing anything too exciting.

Here is my plan for my pandemic birthday:

I’ve been up for over an hour already. Had coffee. Read the paper. Watched All American.

Read for a bit this morning.

Take the dog for a walk whenever the blinds people show up to install the last of the blinds. i can’t believe my wife scheduled it for my birthday.

Get my free drink from Starbucks for an afternoon treat. Possibly also pick up my free pastry from Panera at the same time.

Find a movie to watch while drinking my Starbucks.

Maybe read some more while waiting for my wife to finish work for the day.

Not sure what dinner will be. Maybe a free Mission BBQ sandwich. Maybe a free Firehouse Subs sandwich. Maybe something at home.

Watch recorded TV shows until I’m too tired to stay awake.

Not a real exciting birthday. Normally the day off would be a good thing, but this year it will seem like every other day. Maybe next year I will throw myself a party.