My Last Couple of Weeks in Books, TV, and Movies 5/9/19

I did not do my normal weekly last week. I was away at a conference Friday morning and lazy Saturday morning. The sad thing is, I don’t have a lot to report even covering two weeks. I’m starting to think my entire reading year will be slow.

Movies – The only movie I’ve watched over the last two weeks is Avengers Endgame. I went to the movies the morning I was heading to the conference and then drove directly from the theater to the hotel. It’s hard to talk about the movie without spoilers. I did think it was a good wrap up of the original Avengers phase of the movies. I’m curious to see what the next big team-up movie will be.

TV – Still mainly dealing with an almost full DVR. I am still watching the latest season of Shameless on DVD and watching every new episode of Game of Thrones live. I have been watching the 1969 documentary series on ABC. The first episode bored me a little as it was about the moon landing and I feel like I’ve heard everything I need to hear about that. Episode two was about Manson and I’ve always been fascinated by that story and they had both Squeaky Fromme and the member of the family who testified against them giving their perspective. It was a good episode. This week’s was on Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. I didn’t really know a lot of detail on the story, so that was an interesting one to watch. I will ignore the fact that a retrospective series on the year I was born means I’m old.

Books – I finished two books over the past two weeks. Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner and Last of the Stanfields by Marc Levy. Rayne and Delilah is a YA book about two girls who host a public access TV show where they screen horror movies. They are at the end of their senior year in high school and dealing with what that means for the show and their friendship. It was good, but I hate the books that make it seem normal and right for an 18-year-old to make major life decisions around the plans of their high school relationship. Last of the Stanfields is about two people who get letters alluding to secrets in the past of their moms. It alternates between the present and 1980 when the moms are best friends living in Baltimore. It was a good story with a few flaws in some of the characterizations and dialogue My book club thought maybe some of that could be a translation issue(it was originally written in French). I did enjoy it,

On Deck – I need to watch Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse this weekend, but I’m sure my wife has no interest in watching it so I’m not sure when that will happen. A lot of season finales on TV this week and the network upfronts are next week so I will be writing about the new fall schedules. I am reading Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper because I traded book clubs with a coworker this month because I’m out of town for mine.

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Tater Talks Leadership

Two disclaimers before I start 1. I am not going to claim I am a great or even good leader. 2. I am not talking about any specific people in the post. If you read something that sounds like you it is merely coincidental.

I was at a conference in the fall and one of the things that really stood out to me was a quote that I, being old, can’t remember exactly. The basic premise of the quote is that you should not take a leadership position if you want to be comfortable. Leadership is not comfortable. If you are in a leadership position and you are comfortable, you might be a bad leader. If you are in a leadership position and are comfortable, there is a really good chance someone below you is uncomfortable because you are letting the hard things fall to them. If you took a leadership position because you wanted the “perks” of being a leader without the challenges of being a leader you are likely an asshole and a terrible leader. Leadership should not be comfortable. If you don’t want to be uncomfortable and do hard things do not take a leadership position.

Leadership is not sitting in an office while others do all the work. Real leaders get their hands dirty. Figuratively, you don’t actually have to have dirty hands to be a leader. I don’t know how someone expects to lead a staff when they have no idea what the staff does. If you aren’t out there working with the people you lead, how do you know how to lead them? How do you know what they need? Who needs what training? Too many people think one of the aforementioned perks is that they get to sit in an office all day while other people do the work. I like when I go into a business and the owner and/or manager is out on the floor working with the staff. I guarantee your staff notices how much you are working with them.

A good leader cares about the people they are leading. They don’t treat people like replaceable cogs in a machine. They value them and let them know they value them. Leaders should, when possible, fix issues that are making work difficult for their staff. Good leaders have employees who want to continue working for them because they know they have their back and will support them when things are hard. Also, a leader should be supportive and do what they can to help their staff when they are ready to move onward and upward. Caring about your staff also means not holding them back to make your life easier.

Leadership is hard. Unfortunately, you might not know this until you are a leader. Do the hard stuff. Be visible. Care about people. That will make it a little easier.

Tater Talks Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to go home to spend time with her. It is a hard week for me. I’m sure it is an even harder week for the family who lived with her and saw her every day. I’m not sure I will ever be the same as I was before she died. I get sad easier these days. Nostalgia creeps up on my easier these days. Our trips to Kentucky are different now. I haven’t really been back to my hometown for the past three years.  Our family get-togethers are smaller now, and not just by one person.

I wish I had gone home more as an adult. I keep saying I’m going to go home more to see my siblings now, but when you live 600 miles away it’s hard. It’s not a quick trip and I don’t work a job where vacations over a weekend are easy. I need to work harder on that.

Anyway, I’m sad today and I will be sad for a few days. I would rather be in Kentucky celebrating.

Tater Talks Teachers

I had another topic in mind for today that I pushed to Thursday when I saw some posts about Teacher Appreciation Week. I decided to use today’s post to write about some of my favorite teachers at each level.

Elementary School –  I have to admit that I really don’t remember much about my elementary school teachers. It was a long time ago. I do remember my 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Reagan, and I remember liking her, but that’s about it. Her daughter was only a year or two younger than me, so I mostly remember her that way. My 6th-grade teacher was also the pastor of my church. He’s more memorable because I knew him from church, not for school reasons. The most memorable person for me from this time was the principal, Butch Canty. He always was supportive and had nice things to say about me to my mom. He eventually became the superintendent of schools for the county. Obviously because of his ability to spot genius. I enjoyed my time at Beaver Dam Elementary School and the teachers prepared me academically for middle school.

Middle School – Also mainly a very fuzzy memory as far as teachers go. I can tell you stories about school and the students, but I only have strong memories of two teachers, Mr. Blankenship, the shop teacher, and Mr. Hunter, the art teacher. I was bad at both classes., but loved the teachers. I took every shop class available because I liked Mr. B so much. He was a fun teacher and patient with the kids like me who were really bad at woodworking.  Plus, in one class we got to make and race CO2 cars.  I would have taken shop classes all day if they would have let me. Mr. Hunter was also very nice and patient with me when I was really bad at art. He let me write a paper for extra credit so he wouldn’t be the only teacher to give me a B that semester. I’m sure my other teachers were good, but I can’t really remember them at all.

High School – There are a few to talk about here:

Mrs. Bradley – She was my English teacher and my French teacher. I took three years of French and in French Club, so poor Mrs. Bradley saw me a lot. She was also my friend Jeremy’s mom. She was kind and patient and helped me become a better me.

Mrs. Elmore – English – I think a lot of people have her on their list. She was a great teacher and inspired a love of reading.

Mr. Brown – Social Studies – He inspired an interest in current events and is probably the reason I read the newspaper every day.

Mr. Hale – Last, but not least, the science teacher for multiple generations at Ohio County High School. Probably the best teacher to ever teach at the school and maybe one of the best to ever teach in the state. He is brilliant, funny and caring and we were all better because of him. I also knew him and his family from church, so another one who was unlucky enough to see me way too much.

I would go on through college, but I never experienced the college professor who changed my life. There were plenty of good teachers, but none who really inspired me that much. I found more inspiration with my work friends at the library and my friends at the Baptist Student Union than I did in classes.

Thank you to all the teachers who had a part in making me who I am.

Awkward Tater’s Conference Report

Last week I wrote about being awkward and attending conference. I am now back from the conference and thought I would report back on how I did with the social aspect.

When I arrived at the conference and headed into the keynote speaker, I hovered a bit while talking to someone I knew while waiting to see who was arriving and where they were sitting. I use the same strategy when I attend our all day staff development day for work. It’s always a mistake to sit and just go with the luck of the draw with who sits next to you. I can be a disaster. I did resist the impulse to go sit with the people from my library system, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t really talk to the handful of people who sat at my table. After the keynote, I attended the welcome reception. I found my friend from my branch and mostly talked to her and her husband, but I did venture over to talk to the conference chair who I know from working on the committee in the past. I did not succeed in mingling more than that.

The next morning I was up early to work the registration table. It gives me the opportunity to see everyone as they check in, but not an opportunity to really talk to people.  I did have a short conversation with a couple of the people working with me and found a new coffee place to try while in town. Most of the rest of the day was spent in sessions and didn’t leave a lot of time to talk to people. I did chat with someone I know from previous conferences while in line at the bar and someone I have talked to via email about a project I’m working on. My pub quiz team was full of people I already knew.

Not much to say about the last day. Someone I worked with on a statewide committee years ago happened to sit at my table at the closing keynote and we said hello. That was about it.

I didn’t talk to anyone who could have any impact on my career. There were several CEO’s there, but never the opportunity to say more than hello as we walked past each other. I did better about talking to people I met before but didn’t really make an effort to meet new people. I have an even bigger challenge with this next month when I go to a national conference in DC.  It will be harder to only talk to people with whom I already have a connection. It’s either reach out or stay quiet.

What’s Good in Tater Town 5/5/19

I obviously opted against doing my normal weekly review of my reading and viewing. I thought I might do it yesterday, but I only had one movie and one book for the week. The movie will be included in this list. I hope the break from writing will not mean I get in the habit of not writing regularly. On to what’s good.

  1. My daughter was inducted into an honor society at college on Sunday. We went to the induction ceremony and then all four of us went out to eat after.img_1395
  2. The timing worked out perfectly so I was able to go see Endgame at 10am Wednesday morning before leaving for a conference. I was able to see it without any spoilers. It was a satisfying ending to the story of the original Avengers.
  3. I left the movie and drove directly to the state library conference. I’ve been involved with the state library association and the conference for over 20 years. It’s nice that my employers continue to allow me to go every year.
  4. There were others from work at the conference who at least pretended they didn’t mind hanging out with me in between sessions.
  5. My pub quiz team won three individual rounds and the overall prize. I did not really contribute at all. I just had smart teammates.img_1399
  6. The keynote speaker Friday morning was really good and the last session I went to was also very good. I ended the conference on a high note.
  7. I made it home Friday early enough to be able to finish my book club book before I left that evening for book club. I was able to keep my streak of finishing every book alive.
  8. Book club night means spending time with friends I used to see every day before I transferred. That’s always a fun time.
  9. 65 people came to our May the 4th Spring Fest at work yesterday. The coworker I left behind and abandoned for the conference did a great job putting it all together.
  10. My son was part of the fest with as our nature expert as part of his job. It was nice t hear people talk about what a good job he was doing before they even knew it was my son.

After a rocky start, it was a very good week. Let’s hope my week back in the real world isn’t terrible.

An Upward Trend or an Anomaly

I hit 1000 views in a month for the first time ever in April. I actually made it all the way to 1125 views. I know some blogs get more views than that in one day, but for a mediocre little blog like mine, it is a success. My WordAds earnings are still a fraction of the blog cost, but it also far exceeded any other time I’ve been doing this. I’m not really sure why the stats are up. I can’t tell if this is the start of an upward trend in my stats or if it was just an anomaly and will correct itself soon. It might be a combination. I can think of two things I did differently this month that might have helped.

  1. I wrote a little more regularly. I had several weeks where I posted every day. That is not the norm for me. I tend to have weeks where I only post three times with two of those being my regular posts on Friday(week in reading and viewing) and Sunday(What’s Good) with some random post somewhere else in the week. I don’t think this is a trend that will continue. I know weeks will come when I have nothing to say and weeks will come where I don’t have time to write. I have at least two weeks coming up where I will be out of town and likely not writing. I can’t count on this being a reason for an upward trend.
  2. I did more to publicize this month. I shared posts in blogging groups. I shared posts on Twitter and Facebook when they coincided with a topic. I commented more on other blogs. All of this will lead to more traffic. Since then, I have left one of the blogging groups because it didn’t seem like the right fit. I know only belong to one group, but it is a good group and we actually want to read each other’s posts. I will try to continue to share old posts if they are relevant and be better about getting my new posts out there. I really hate all of this, though. I feel weird pushing my posts. I keep thinking I will lose all of my followers if I post more than once. I will continue to try to be better about interacting with other blogs, but sometimes even if I like a post I don’t feel like I have anything to add to the conversation.

So, I guess it is yet to be seen if this is an upward trend or just a weird, one-time uptick that will self-correct.

I promise not to blog about blogging again any time soon.

 

Awkward Tater Goes to Conference

I leave tomorrow for a conference for work. This is the conference I’ve gone to every year for a long time. I spent years on the planning committee for the conference. I used to be the guy in charge of writing the pub quiz every year until I gave it up when I had other official duties and lost it forever. I’m still an active member of the steering committee for one of the divisions. I hope to be back on the conference committee next year. All of the above means that I will know plenty of people at the conference. You would think that would make it easier for me to mix and mingle at the social events. If you think that, you would be wrong. I am still a socially awkward introvert and it’s still not cool.

I’ve never been good at the social part of the conference. I’m terrible at using the conference as a networking opportunity. I did better at the conference I attended in the fall. I introduced myself to the new CEOs of two local library systems. I ate breakfast at a table with someone from Utah and contacted her later for information we had discussed. Maybe I can carry that over to this conference. It would be especially useful as I am getting closer to actively seeking employment elsewhere. It would be nice if people on the interview panels remembered me as the guy they met and liked and not the weird guy who stands quietly in the corner at the reception. It’s never good to be the weird guy standing quietly alone in the corner. It would also be nice for leaders at my current place of work to see that I am known and liked by others in the profession. Maybe it will make them care more about the possibility of losing me. I doubt it, but a man can dream.

So, tomorrow when the keynote is over and the welcome reception starts, I will make an effort to not just grab some food and look for people I know. I will make an effort to meet new people without being weird and awkward about it. I will do the same at the other social activities. Look for my post next week where I will talk about my failure to do this.

What’s Good in Tater Town 4/28/19

I’ve mentioned before that the hardest part of these posts is remembering what happened earlier in the week. It’s not just that I’m old(I am) but also that my days are so bland that they all run together I get up, drink coffee, read the paper, go to work, go home, watch TV, go to bed, rinse, repeat, etc. I’ve become a very boring person. Who am I kidding? I’ve always been a very boring person. So, some weeks it is hard to remember because every day seems like the other. This was, for the most part, one of those weeks. Next week I break from the norm and go to a conference so, when I don’t write for three days next week, that is why.  Now let’s see what good things I can remember from the week.

  1. My daughter was home for the weekend last week and my son came home for lunch on Easter. We had lunch and then watched a movie together. It’s always good to be together again.
  2.  It was nice enough weather that I was able to take the dog for a walk every day after work.
  3. It was nice enough weather that I ate lunch outside every day this week.
  4. I had a meeting out of the branch on Thursday with friends I never get to see in person.
  5. After working two Saturdays in a row, I finally had the entire weekend off this week.
  6. I hit 1000 views for the month yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve had 1000 views in a month.

I guess that’s it. Nothing terrible happened. Nothing really happened at all. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

As I mentioned above, I leave Wednesday for a conference. If I do write it will be from a phone or a tablet so there will be a lot of typos. I will likely push my week in reading and viewing post to Saturday when I’m home again.

My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 4/26/19

I’m way behind on my reading for the year. Too much screen time, books for work that even when they are good feel like homework, mediocre books, etc have all contributed to that. Now that the weather is nice, I need to sit and read on the desk without my phone so I’m not distracted by any type of screen. My TV and movies are average for the week.

Movies – We watched the second Fantastic Beasts movie while the kids were home for Easter. It was OK I enjoyed seeing the past versions of Harry Potter characters, but I didn’t think the story was a strong as the first. I will still watch the next movie. My wife went to Redbox Monday while I was at work and rented Bumblebee. She loves the Transformers movies. Bumblebee was much better than most of those movies. It helps that they had some decent actors that I like as the humans in the movie. I’m still not a big fan of the movies.

TV – I watched the first three episodes of the latest season of Shameless. I still really like the show and I’m still pulling for at least one Gallagher to have a happy ending. I finished the final season of One Day at a Time. I liked it, but I’m not clamoring for another season. Sweeps started last night so we can look forward to TV episodes full of major events. TVline.com says that there are 27 confirmed deaths of characters on the broadcast networks shows during this sweeps. Game of Thrones will get close to that tomorrow.  Surprising renewal news yesterday – All American was renewed by the CW. I really like the show and was sure it would be canceled.

Books – I only finished one book this week – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. I liked the book and would recommend it, but it took me a while to read. I think it was because it as for work so it felt like reading for school and not for fun. If you like sci-fi you should read it. It is weird that it was the second book I’ve done for book club that was a sci-fi that revolved around the Catholic church.

On Deck – I’m reading Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner and need to also finish The Last of the Stansfields by Marc Levy by next Friday for my personal book club(more homework). I don’t think there is anything new for TV this week. I will be mourning deaths on Game of Thrones Sunday night. We have some movie options for the weekend but we might opt to just catch up on TV shows instead. I leave for a conference on Wednesday, so that will limit my viewing for the week. I hope to get more reading time while alone in a hotel room, but I’m afraid I will just stare at some sort of screen instead.