A Look Back at My Isolation Reflections

Timehop reminded me that one year ago today I wrote some reflections from isolation after one month of lockdown. I decided to reflect today on the same topics as I’m one week away from my second dose of the vaccine.

Isolation is not new for me – this remains true. I didn’t go out a lot before Covid. If we got food out, we generally always did carry out. I would go to work for 8 hours and once a month or so I would meet with my book club. We would go to church Sunday mornings. Otherwise, I did a lot of what I’m doing now. Walks around the neighborhood with the dog. Cooking at home or carryout when we got food out. I don’t see much changing in three weeks when I cam considered fully vaccinated. I might go sit somewhere with a cup of coffee and a book again at some point. I assume we will start attending church again at some point. Post Covid will not really change the fact that I am normally pretty isolated from the world.

My circle is very small – same again. I don’t think I’m on a lot of lists of people people can’t wait to see once they are vaccinated. No one, thankfully, will be rushing to hug me when I am vaccinated. I will basically still see the 3 people I see right now – my wife and kids. As I said in my post about loneliness, I have always been the expendable one in social circles. As people shrink their circles I will be on the chopping block. We have talked about loneliness is therapy. It is a constant for me. My therapist wans me to explore finding a new circle of people to combat this. It is easier said than done.

I envy retired people – I still envy them a little. I am now almost four months removed from leaving my toxic job. Dealing with the isolation is a lot easier when you are not also dealing with something that makes you miserable on top of the isolation. Going to work is not a good break from the routine when going to work makes you physically ill because of the toxic person who ha control over your work life. I do still envy retired people because I know that I will soon have to start thinking about getting a job. I’m hoping that job can be something like substitute teacher or substitute librarian where I still have some control over my schedule and can be off in the summer and the holidays. Too bad no one will pay me to write mediocre blog posts.

Reading is hard right now – I struggled to focus on a book in the midst of the original lockdown. It made things even harder. Reading was my break from the stress and anxiety of life and now the stress and anxiety was making it hard for me to read. I am happy to say that I am back on track. My reading is back to normal and I should hit my normal goal for the year.

I mainly want this to be over for my kids, not me – This is still true. The worst part of this was my daughter having to finish her school year from home and only talk to her friends on video. It was my son losing the social activities that made him happy. I wanted normal for them. My daughter moved to an apartment by campus for the school year and had one in person class each semester. She got to spend her time with people her age instead of her parents. My son is back to playing ultimate Frisbee and camping. Their lives are closer to normal than they were a year ago and that makes me happy.

Life is much better now than it was a year ago when I reflected on life in isolation and there is hope that it will be even better soon. We are making plans for our regular trip to Kentucky to see family in July. I can walk into my local library to browse books. There is hope that my kids will have normal college in the fall. Here’s hoping that a year from today I am reflecting from a normal life.

You Are Probably Better Than Me

Recently my blogging friend wrote a post about reading that was featured on the Discover page of WordPress. I’m not jealous at all. Not one bit. Nope. Anyway, this is not about my jealousy. This is about what I thought about with that post. I responded that I didn’t think i was smarter or better than the people i nmy life who don’t read. I do think, though, that there are people who do think this about themselves. It seems to be a standard thing for people to look for ways to feel superior to other people. I wrote about that as it pertains to the pandemic here.

People who read think they are better and smarter than people who don’t read.

People who read “real books” think they are better and smarter than people who read graphic novels.

People who read literary fiction think they are better and smarter than people who read romance novels.

People who read non-fiction think they are better and smarter than people who read fiction.

People who don’t read think people who do read are wasting time and say things like “I don’t have time to read

People who don’t watch TV think they are better and smarter than people like me who watch a lot of TV.

People who watch TV, but only “prestige TV” think they are better and smarter than people who watch reality shows and sitcoms.

People who have prestigious jobs and make a lot of money think they are better and smarter than people who don’t.

People in certain jobs think they are better than others because their jobs are more “important” than others.

People who are always busy think they are better than people who waste time relaxing with frivolous things.

People think they are better than others because they are more attractive than them.

The list goes on and on. It seems the world is completely invested in finding ways we are better than other people. We can’t feel good about ourselves without demeaning others. I don’t know how that ever changes. Especially when it generally plays out publically on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I will admit that there is a very good chance you are better than me.

What’s Good in Tater Town 4/18/21

Another week is in the books. It’s weird how the days can seem so long yet the weeks seem to fly by. Here’s the good I can remember from the week in Tater Town.

  1. Dinner with my son Monday night.
  2. The yard was finally dry enough for me to finish mowing.
  3. I finally used my free birthday sub coupon from Jersey Mike’s.
  4. Another free donut Wednesday at Dunkn.
  5. My local library is open for walk in service.
  6. I had holds to pick up and was able to browse the new book shelf while I was there.
  7. I received notice that something I submitted to Spillwords was accepted.
  8. The Braves were on TV a few times this week.
  9. Great weather for reading on the deck.
  10. People are still reading this space for some reason.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to look for the good in your life.

London After Princess Diana’s Death

Prince Philip’s funeral today reminds me of being in London the week of Princess Diana’s funeral. My wife’s aunt was living in London and we had booked a trip over to see her. The weekend before we were scheduled to leave Princess Diana died. We arrived in London in the days leading up to her funeral. Here are a few of the pictures I took of the flowers around London sites that week.

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 4/16/21

Another week down. Time is flying this year. Let’s see if I can remember what I watched this week.

Movies – I watched one movie this week. Freaky starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton as a deranged killer and a high school student who switch bodies. She has 24 hours to reverse it or the switch becomes permanent. Basically a horror version of Freaky Friday. Vince Vaughn does a good job of channeling a teen girl. Newton is good as the high school girl turned deranged killer. The supporting cast is good. It’s funny and a good length. I would recommend it.

TV – Much of my time is still spent trying to keep my DVR from filling up. It’s difficult because there are too many shows others in my family watch. I can only clear so much on my own. I am starting to waver on Manifest. I liked it at the start, but now I find myself getting distracted a lot while watching it. I’m not sure I care that much about the story at this point. We watched The Nevers on HBO. It was a Joss Whedon show, He will no longer be involved. It is set in 1th century London. Something happens that gives a group of women unusual abilities. They discover someone is kidnapping women who are “touched”. There’s also a deranged killer with abilities on the loose. It has potential. We will give it a few more episodes. I was watching The Fosters when I ran out of shows to watch alone from the DVR. Last weekend my wife came in the room while I was watching it and told me to keep watching because she had work to do. She ended up getting hooked on the show so I lost my show I watch alone. I am now watching Virgin River on Netflix instead. I told my wife I was going to stop the show if she was in the room. I don’t want to lose this one to her as well. Virgin River is basically a more dramatic/soapier version of Hart of Dixie. The same actor who played the cranky older doctor in Hart of Dixie plays the cranky older doctor in this one. Very similar, but I am enjoying it.

Books – I finished two books this week.

The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony – Thomas and Savannah are twins who live with their grandmother after their mother’s death. They don’t know who their father is. They do a podcast where they record the dinner conversation when their grandmother has guests. One guest gives the the idea to look for their father and they decide to do it on the podcast. The podcast leads to publicity, protests and mayhem. A lot of the book seemed a little farfetched, but it was an enjoyable read. I would still recommend it.

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez – Camila Hassan has a secret. Her family doesn’t know that she is playing soccer. Not only is she playing, but she is a star on a girl’s soccer team in her hometown of Rosario, Argentina and they have qualified for the South American tournament. Her parents don’t think a girl should pay soccer, but she will need their permission to go to the tournament. Her dad is abusive and controlling, so this is not an easy thing. She is also dealing with the return of the boy she loves who is now an international soccer star. I really liked this book. I really got immersed and invested in Camila’s story. One of the better books I’ve read this year.

On Deck – I’ve had Tesla on DVD for a while. I really need to watch or return it soon. There is a new episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier available. The new John Stamos basketball show is on Disney Plus now. We still need to try the show Rebel so I know if I should keep recording it. I am reading If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley.

Guns and Life: A Tater Rant

I write this one a couple of years ago. At this point I think I could just pin this one or this one as it seems a mass shooting is happening every day again. 

 

So, apparently, Trump called the NRA today to tell them there would be no movement on background checks.  This should be no surprise to anyone.  The Republican party sold their souls to the gun lobby years ago. All we will ever get from them are “thoughts and prayers.” I don’t doubt they gave cursory thought to the tragedies of gun violence. I don’t doubt that they uttered a prayer. Thoughts and prayers without action mean nothing. I’m done with “thoughts and prayers.” I’m done with people claiming to be pro-life but then showing they care more about their guns than actual lives. As I wrote before, pro-life for them seems to end at birth. If someone is really pro-life they won’t care more about guns than people. If someone is really pro-life they won’t refuse to even consider reasonable gun control. If someone was really pro-life they would see no reason a reasonable human being needs to own weapons of war. I have no problem with hunting. I have no problem owning a gun for security. You don’t need the weapons used in the mass shootings for hunting and home security unless you are really bad at it. In that case, you probably shouldn’t own a gun anyway.  I’m tired of people posting about how life is precious and then posting “DON’T TAKE MY GUNS!” when we propose sensible measures to save lives. You aren’t pro-life. You are pro-birth.

I’m also tired of the same old “Something else is the problem” game.

It’s mental illness!

It’s video games!

It’s violent movies!

 

It’s anything but guns!

Other countries have mental illness. Other countries have video games. Other countries have violent movies. You know they don’t have? THEY DON’T FUCKING HAVE MASS SHOOTINGS!

So, spare me you holier than thou, pro-life, Jesus posts until you show me you care about humans once they are born.

A Tater Musical Interlude – Douchebag by Patent Pending

A long time ago my son and I were supposed to go see Bowling For Soup in concert in Baltimore. The place they were supposed to perform closed down and they ended up playing a rooftop bar in the rain. My son and I attended and he got to meet the lead singer after we noticed he was standing next to us listening to Patent Pending, one of the opening acts. This is the song I remember them performing at the show. They have become one of my favorite bands.

One of Those Days

I have not been sleeping well lately. I go to bed at my normal time and have no issues with falling asleep quickly. My issue starts between 3am and 5am. I wake up, look at the clock and see it is way too early to be awake. I close my eyes. I might doze here and there. I open my eyes hoping I’ve slept until a reasonable time and see it is at most 30 minutes later. This goes on until I finally give up and get out of bed at around 6am, sometimes earlier. Recently, I was so tired when I started my coffee I ran the Keurig without first getting a cup to catch the coffee. Luckily, my Keurig has a hollow, removable base. All of the coffee went in that instead of making a mess. Most days I am still able to get my mind in writing mode after two cups of coffee, the newspaper, and some word puzzles(my normal morning routine). Today is not one of those days.

I was up and making coffee(with a cup this time) by 6:15. I red the paper. I played my games. I watched The Masked Singer. I ate breakfast. I opened my laptop. All of the thoughts I had in my head yesterday as possible writing ideas were gone. I still can’t remember what it was I planned to write. I didn’t make a note of it, so for now it is just gone. I really need to get better at planning, taking notes, and maybe writing in advance. Especially if this sleep thing continues. On top of the issue of not remembering what I planned to write, I also had issues with my laptop freezing over and over again whenever I tried to get started. I think I should have just taken the morning off at that point.

Fortunately, today is my food delivery day. In an hour or so I head to the church to load my car up with boxes of food I will deliver to four houses in the area. I have a book to pick up at the library. I might stop for a cup of coffee while I’m out. I will get back around time I will be ready to eat lunch. I will take the dog for a walk. I will read my book. Today is a day I can be productive in non-writing areas and will be active enough to shake off the cobwebs from the loss of sleep.

I really do need to start writing down ideas as they come to me.

The Rise of Tater: An Origin Story

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I didn’t get a lot of suggestions when I asked for ideas for future posts. Matt from a Prolific Potpourri commented that I should write about taters. I won’t do that, but I will do an origin story for Tater.

Much like Clark Kent has always been Superman even before he put on the suit, I have always been Tater even before I took on the name. Tater, though, was not my original alter ego. Back when I first started to participate in online spaces where I needed a user name I struggled with what to use. My first few tries were already taken. I was stuck. I was sitting in front of the computer at the jail library desperately trying to think of something no one else would have used. I looked up as I was thinking and saw the book Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore. It was one of my favorite books. I thought it would be a good choice for inspiration. The book was about a demon named Catch. I decided to try the name Demoncatch. It was available, so I became Demoncatch online. I used the name for various bulletin boards. I used the name on LiveJournal. My first, and still my primary, gmail account was demoncatch@gmail.com(feel free to send me rude emails). I was Demoncatch until my use of the Demoncatch spaces started to wane. I stopped writing on LiveJournal. I joined Facebook where I was just myself. I was only Demoncatch in my email address. Otherwise, the alter ego was dead. Eventually, Tater would rise from the ashes.

Around this time, I was working half of my time at the jail and the other half at the public library. One of the perks of working at the jail was a free lunch in the officer’s dining room. It wasn’t always a great lunch, but it was free and sometimes they had my favorite food – tater tots. I love tater tots. Tater tots are the perfect form of potato. Fries are good, but they can’t compare to tater tots. I think the major failing of the fast food industry is that Sonic is the only place smart enough to have tots on the menu.

Live look at me at jail lunch

I would talk about free tots a lot while I was at the public library. I would complain if I found out they had tot day while I was at the public library instead of the jail. I would mention that my jail day was not great, but at least I got free tots. I talked about tots enough that my friends there started calling me Tater. For my birthday one year they gave me a tote bag with Tater on it and a bag of frozen tater tots. When we started using radios at work to communicate, I was assigned radio #8 and the label on it read T8er. Eventually, pretty much everyone at work knew me as Tater. When I was the emcee for our professional development day my instructions were “read the basic script we gave you, but Tater it up to make it entertaining” Tater was just real life me until 13 years ago today

I got that notification this morning. Thirteen years ago today I joined Twitter and once again needed to have an online alter-ego. Tater was taken, so I went with the Twitter handle theycallmetater. Tater was now a part of the online world. I have never been that active on Twitter. After 13 years I only have 481 followers and rarely tweet more than the link to my latest blog post. That same year, I decided to start this blog. It made sense to continue with the Tater theme since I had established the Tater persona on Twitter. So, The World’s Common Tater was born in July of 2008. I was not very active for years. It wasn’t until maybe 2014 or so that I started posting more.

So, there you have it. Tater was born from my love of tater tots and my inability to stop talking about it.

Change Happens

I recently had no idea what to wrote so I asked readers to give me ideas. I got a few responses, but the majority of them were people saying what they like about what I’ve already written. So, most of y’all failed the assignment. Do better. I did get a suggestion from LA to write about the new thing where WordPress hs related post links at the end of a blog post. I decided to incorporate that into a post about change on social media sites in general and how we react.

There have been a few changes here on WordPress recently. One of those being the aforementioned related posts thing. I have to admit that I rarely even notice post links unless I am looking for them. I haven’t noticed any uptick in people clicking on old posts due to the link being at the end of a newer post. I think it is a good idea and I want to get in the habit of looking to see what is included at the end of the posts I read. It is a good way to catch posts from that specific blogger that I might have missed and could also introduce me to a new blogger. I just don’t think to look so it hasn’t really changed my use of WordPress. Do you notice them? Do you read them? Do they annoy you?

Another big change on WordPress was going from the classic to the block editor. I hated the block editor when the switch occurred. I was sure I would always look to see if I could write in the classis editor instead. Now, the block editor seems like the norm to me and I have no issue with using it to write. If they changed it at this point I would probably be mad I was losing the block editor.

WordPress isn’t the only social media site that changes. Facebook has changed to newsfeed multiple times and every time they do everyone complains and wants the old one back. Eventually everyone gets used to the new feed and then they complain when it is changed again and want to go back to the one they complained about when it was released. Twitter has the same issue with change The only change I want reversed is the algorithm deciding what I see. I always keep Twitter set to “see recent tweets first” an wish it was easy to do that on Facebook. I don’t want to see 3 day old posts you think I missed. I want to see what people are posting today. I can deal with a different look as long as the function is what I want.

Generally, most people have trouble dealing with change even if it is a small change. We like to live in our comfort zone. Life is easier there. We can’t stop change in real life. We get older. Our kids get older. Businesses open. Businesses close. Time passes. We don’t want change in our online experience. It is an escape and changes there remind us that change is inevitable. That’s not what we want from our escape.