Another Goal Check-In

At the beginning of the year, I posted some goals for the year. I did one check-in early in the year. We are now over halfway through the year and I’m having trouble with getting in the mood to write so I decided it was a good time for another check-in.


This one is an actual goal – My usual read 100 books goal. I’ve been able to get to 100 every year so far, but just barely. I would like to read more and look at my phone less this year and make the 100 with time to spare. I would also like to read more authors I’ve not read before and take the time to go back and read older books I missed when they were released.

According to Goodreads, I am now 7 books behind schedule for my goal and I don’t see it changing soon. I think this might be the year I don’t hit 100, but I am reading different stuff this year, so I am hitting one part of the goal. I still need to have less screen time and more reading time.

I would like to spend less time sitting at home on the couch and more time out of the house doing stuff. I don’t really care what I’m doing. It could be a movie. It could just be dinner out. It could be spending more time exploring DC and Baltimore. We’ve gotten in the bad habit of spending most of our non-work hours sitting at home in front of the TV. I like TV, but I need more.

Not doing great on this one either. I spend a lot of time at home watching TV. I did go to the movies on my day off last week, so that’s good. I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago and to a friend’s house on the 4th of July. I might buy tickets to another concert on August 5. We go back to the empty nest soon, so it will be tempting to just sit at home alone a lot again.

To go along with the above, I would like to spend more time outside. It rained a lot last year and because of that, I spent a lot of time inside. I need to take more walks, hike, sit on the deck and read when the weather is nice. Just be outside.

I’ve been eating outside at work whenever the weather cooperates. We spent a lot of time outside when we were in Kentucky. It is miserably hot right now, so I am taking a break on this goal until the weather cooperates again. Once it is cooler, I will work on the first goal and this one by reading on my deck more.

Find some way to not dread leaving the house in the morning. I think some of the above sitting on the couch comes from the fact that I don’t have a day-to-day life that makes me happy to leave the house in the morning. My days can be mentally and emotionally draining and that leads to wanting to go home and hide from the world. Whatever it takes, I need to find something that makes me not dread going to work in the morning.

Still working on this. I have my good days and bad days. Recent news from work has increased my depression about work life. Change of location seems less and less likely, so I need to work more on trying to make the best of the situation.

I want to figure out if I should try to write something besides a blog post I can write in 15 minutes or less. Do I have what it takes to do more long-form writing? Do I want to do that? Do I want to write content that takes research and time? Do people want to read that here? Do I want to consider moving from a paid WordPress site to a self-hosted site? Will any of this really matter on a blog that is lucky to get 20 views a day?

I have not even been close to doing this. Maybe I will work on that once I have hours home alone again this fall. I don’t even have the mental energy right now to post random word vomit thoughts on the latest terrible things Trump has done.

I would like to make the time to do a couple more short trips to Kentucky to see my family even if it means taking a long weekend and driving a lot in a few days to do so.

Nope. We did our regular summer trip home, but that’s it. Maybe a quick fall trip? Work makes this hard. It’s hard to find a weekend that is clear for me to be gone and it will be harder in a couple of weeks.

Whenever my friends from high school plan the 50th birthday celebration for the class this year I want to do what it takes to get there even if that again means two days of driving for one day there.

If they planned one, they didn’t tell me.

So, I’m not doing great on my goals for the year. It seems like the most likely I will improve on are the reading one and the outside one because they are the easier ones to do. I will check back in some time in the fall.


More Fun With Strangers

Yesterday I wrote about going to a stranger’s house for a house party where I was the weirdo that no one knew. Today I will bore you with the story of a more extreme case of meeting strangers, this time strangers I met online.

A long, long time ago in a jail not too far away I needed a way to connect with others while spending my days alone. This was so long ago that the best option to communicate with others with similar interests(or at least the best one I knew about) were listservs. I joined a few listservs about libraries and books. One particular book-related listserv rules about going off-topic. There were some people on the listserv who enjoyed going off-topic. These people were told they were no longer welcome on the listserv. These people were my favorite people on the listserv, so when they started a splinter group on another listserv, I followed them over. Thus was born the Book Barn and the legend of The Great Ignored(me).

We spent years talking to each other on the Book Barn. They weren’t just people on the Internet. They were my friends. Eventually, a plan was made for some barners to meet in person. The meeting place was a barner’s house in Pittsburgh. I was going to drive up from Maryland. Two others were driving over from Cleveland. Yes, my Internet friends lived in the home cities of terrible football teams. I was able to overlook that.

I will admit that I was a little nervous about driving to a strange city to meet people I had met online. They make Lifetime movies about people who do this. I told my wife that if  I got there and the people were really weird I was going to call her from the bathroom and tell her to call me in a few minutes to pretend I had an emergency and had to leave. It didn’t come to that. I’m not saying they weren’t weird. Just that they were no weirder than me. So, I spent the weekend hanging out with people I met online. We had a good time. We toured part of Pittsburgh. No one murdered me.

The Book Barn has gone away, but I’m still friends with several of the barners on Facebook. Maybe some day it will be time to meet up in person again.

The One Where Tater Parties With Strangers

I wrote recently about memoirs. It got me thinking about stories about my life. I’m not sure any stories about my life are that interesting. This one at least involves a musician who just released a new album(buy it!) and has songs playing on the radio. So, there is at least one interesting person in the story.  This is not the same as the party I talked about in an earlier post where I wandered out of my brother’s New Year’s Eve Party and ended up at a random person’s party. I went to this one completely sober and aware of my actions.

We start with me being the type of person who follows musicians I like on social media. Ryan Hamilton had been in a band I liked and had a new solo album out. I saw on his events page that he had an event for the DC area. I clicked on the link for tickets and it didn’t work. I think at one point it had a place to click to get an email about tickets. I got nothing. I finally emailed Ryan to ask why the ticket thing wasn’t working. He emailed back and told me it was a private event. That should have been the end. If it had been the end I could have avoided the awkward part that comes next.

Ryan told me he could ask about getting me an invite to the party. Normally, I would decline because I’m awkward and not the type to willingly go party with strangers. For some reason, I said yes and he got me the invite. Somewhere in all of this times were mentioned and I thought I knew what time I was supposed to arrive. I thought wrong. I would love to say 100% Ryan gave me the wrong time. It would be easy to do and I could claim he owed me for the awkwardness. I no longer have the email, so I can’t say for sure that I didn’t read the time wrong. All I know is that I had the wrong time.

I arrived close to the time I thought I should arrive. I should also mention that this event was at someone’s house, not a nice, safe public venue. I could see that no one else had arrived. I really wanted to just go somewhere and wait for more people to show up. There were two problems. One, there was no place to pull over and wait where I could see when other people arrived, Two, I wasn’t 100% sure I was at the right place. I felt like I should at least knock, ask if I was in the right place and then go from there. So, I knocked. They answered. It was the right place, I was awkwardly very early. They insisted I stay. I did.  They were very nice. I felt terrible while I awkwardly waited for more strangers to show up.

Eventually, other people arrived and I was able to fade into the background. I’m pretty sure I was the only person there who didn’t know the hosts and didn’t really know the performer.  I was just some weirdo who had driven to Northern Virginia to show up way to early at a strangers house to hear someone sing. I did enjoy the show and everyone was very nice. There was more awkwardness at the end when I had to be the last one to leave because everyone else was behind me in the driveway(and I’m also very bad at reversing). The hostess hugged me when I left. She probably felt bad for me. I was very awkward.

I saw the hostess recently at another concert. It was a public venue. The band has a song about her that they sang at the show. She was backstage and came out on stage at the end of the song. Maybe I should have stayed in touch. I’m not sure anyone wanted that.

I’m still friends with Ryan on Facebook and just bought his new album. I’m patiently waiting for his band to do a show, a public show at a public venue, in the DC area. I just missed him when I was in London last year. I think he’s avoiding me.

And now here is a Timehop photo of Ryan singing in the house since I apparently no longer have the original on my phone.


What’s Good in Tater Town 7/14/19

It will be easy to do this what’s good post. I’ve got two weeks of vacation to cover. If I can’t find good there, there is something wrong.

  1. I took 5 vacation days and got 9 days away from work.
  2. My first day off I had a nice, lazy day at home and then went to a party at a friend’s house.
  3. My second day of vacation I left with both of my kids to meet my wife in Kentucky and visit family. We missed our summer trip home last year. It was nice to be able to do it this year.
  4. We then went west to my brother’s house and spent the day hanging out in the pool, eating, playing basketball and just having fun with his family, my sister and her son and my nephew and his girlfriend.
  5. We went kayaking the next day and I was able to be on the river for 4 hours without flipping my kayak or having any other major issues.
  6. We had one more day there to just relax, play in the pool and go out to eat.
  7. When I got home, I had two more days off before going back to the real world.
  8. I used one of those days to go see the new Spiderman movie. It was really good. I need to go to the movies more.
  9. I went bowling with friends on my last night off before heading back to work.
  10. I went back to work on a Saturday, so I was able to ease back into work on a day when only half the staff was there and my boss was not.

It was a good nine days off. Now I have today off and then tomorrow I go back for a full week of work. Here’s hoping I can find some good there.

The Retiring Type

My first day back from vacation and this is on my mind. My previous boss has announced her retirement. I just had two days after vacation at home doing whatever I wanted. I need that to be my life all the time. I’m ready.

The World's Common Tater

I took the day off on Tuesday.  It was in the middle of what would have been my 7 day stretch at work. I’m old, tired and a little burned out and couldn’t deal with the thought of 7 days of work with no break. So, I did what I needed and took a break. This is unusual for me. I rarely just take a day off. I take vacations. I take time off at Christmas to spend time with family in Kentucky. I just don’t take time off otherwise. I rarely even call in sick. This time, though, I finally listened to my gut and took the day.

The problem with taking the day, though, is that it gave me a taste of what retirement will be. I had a day with nowhere I had to be. I went out in the morning to get gas and breakfast. I…

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My Last Two Weeks in Books, Movies and TV 7/11/19

Since I was on vacation and driving last Friday, there was no week in review last week. So, I will try to remember two weeks for one post. That’s not likely.

Movies – We finally watched Captain Marvel the weekend before we left for Kentucky. I really liked it and I’m looking forward to more Captain Marvel adventures. I went to see Spiderman this morning. I think the new Spiderman movies are some of the best of the Marvels. This one was really good. I like Tom Holland as Peter and Zendaya as MJ.  The end credit scenes were interesting. Since I forgot to give it to someone to return for me, I watched my very overdue copy of Us this afternoon. I will admit that I was a bit distracted by stuff while it was on, so I didn’t get the full effect. I need to watch it again when it is nice an dark and I’m not distracted.

TV – We finished the latest seasons of Legends of Tomorrow and Madam Secretary before we went to Kentucky. They are still two of my favorite shows. We watched the first episode of What Just Happened With Fred Savage. It is a parody of the after shows like Talking Dead where Savage plays himself as a superfan of a fake show and hosts an aftershow about it. They actually film real scenes for the face show and the cast of the show appears as themselves. Rob Lowe appeared on the first episode as himself. It’s weird and I’m not sure if I will get tired of it, but I liked the first episode. While we were at my brother’s house he turned on Impractical Jokers. I always thought it looked really dumb, and it is, but it is a good dumb and we are hooked. It’s just four friends challenging each other to really dumb things. It’s fun.

Books: I finished three books over the past two weeks:

Exile From Eden by Andrew Smith – the sequel to Grasshopper Jungle, one of my favorite books. It takes place 16 years after the first and focuses on the kids of the characters from the first book. It is what you would expect from Smith. It has romance, coming of age and a lot of weird. I liked it.

Planet Funny by Ken Jennings – This was for book club. It is a study of the growth of humor over the years. Some interesting stories included, but overall, not a great book. I would recommend skipping or skimming.

Full Throttle by Joe Hill – A short story collection. Two are co-written with his dad, Stephen King. I liked every story. I think my favorite was the one about the bookmobile librarian who picks up customers from the past and gives them one last book to read before they die. It comes out in October. I highly recommend it.

On Deck – I’m reading The Fifth Season by NK Jemison. I don’t know what movies I might get when I get back to work this weekend. When my daughter gets home from Kentucky I’m sure we will watch the latest season of Scream. We also still need to watch season 2 of On My Block. I’m finally watching season 2 of Stranger Things. I’m a bit behind.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I love traveling. I love going to all of the different places my wife’s work takes her. I love traveling, but traveling is tiring and I need a vacation when I get back from my trip. This past week I’ve had the type of vacation I’ve needed for a while. The type of vacation where you get to relax and have fun with no travel stress, no airports, no 12-hour flights.

My vacation officially started on the 4th of July, but we didn’t leave until the 5th so I had one day to relax and spend time with friends. We skipped the fireworks so we could get out of the neighborhood before the traffic and get some rest before our drive the next day. The 5th was travel day. I’m not a fan of 8 hours in the car, but at least you have control over your trip and can stop and rest if needed. There’s also no TSA lines, delays or random strangers to deal with. When we got to our destination we had dinner and I read my book while everyone else played cards.

The next day we headed west to my brother’s house. We spent the day hanging out with his family, my sister and her son and my other nephew and his girlfriend. We had good food, played in the pool, played basketball and just relaxed and had fun. The weather was perfect. We ended the day with fireworks.

The next day was a kayaking adventure. I will admit that I was leery about the whole kayaking thing. I’m not a swimmer and I’ve always had a bit of a water phobia so 4 hours in a kayak on a river did not sound like a good way to spend the day. I ended up really enjoying it. I was better at kayaking than I expected and the 4 hours went by quickly. We did have a couple of issues. My brother flipped his kayak twice after being hit by others and lost his glasses to the river. We hit one point where a tree had fallen over the river and we could barely get through, Luckily, the guy who ran the company where we rented the kayaks was there to help us through, We had to lie flat in the kayak to fit under the tree and then he pulled us out in the open to row away. It was the one time I felt a little panic start to set in as I could feel the kayak tip while I was trying to get low enough to fit. We survived and  I would definitely do it again.

That was the most active we were the entire trip. The next day was another relaxing day hanging out at my brother’s house and playing in the pool. We also played a lot of Kan Jam. I really need to buy this. It’s a really fun game. We went out to eat that night and then our time there was over. We ate lunch at our normal leaving town lunch spot, Freddy’s Custard and Steakburgers, and headed back to spend one more night at my mother in law’s before heading home.

Luckily, I mixed up my dates and asked for one more day off than I needed and then decided to keep it. Tomorrow is my regular Friday off because I work Saturday, so I came home to two more days off before going back to the real world. I’m probably going to go see Spiderman today. Tomorrow I have to take my daughter’s car in for an oil change, but I will get to read my book while waiting, so it’s not terrible.

It’s trips like these that make me long for retirement. I’m ready to spend my days relaxing and reading a book. I’m ready for no work stress and not dealing with other people unless I want to. I’m ready for the simple life again. Alas, I’ve got 6 more years to go before I get there.

Wordless Wednesday: Fun With Arrows

Ok. There will be some words. We leave Friday to visit family in Kentucky. I was looking for pictures from previous trips and these were the only two I had in my “already posted to WordPress photos. Facebook photos aren’t working and I don’t have time to go through my phone.

Photo 1 is when we got an arrow stuck in the tree and we were all trying to figure out how to get it down. My brother apparently planned to throw another arrow at it.

Photo 2 seems self explanatory. Just me about to shoot.




Dumb Complaints from Area People

I moved near a racetrack and I’m annoyed that there are racetrack sounds. Someone should do something about this. It’s ridiculous that this place that has existed for 50 years isn’t being forced to close down because I’m too stupid to realize a racetrack makes racetrack sounds.

Same as above for airports.

Same as above for train tracks.

I’m too stupid to use a roundabout with more than one lane, so please reduce all the roundabouts to one lane so there aren’t accidents. Who cares that people use these all over the world. They are just too confusing and we shouldn’t be expected to drive like this.

The entrance to the new gas station is a problem because there are too many accidents. They need to limit access because people can’t figure out how to turn in and out from various locations.

The entrance to the shopping center is terrible. They need to fix it because there are too many traffic problem there. Who cares that shopping centers around the country have the same type entrance. We can’t figure out how to use them here.

I left my car unlocked with valuable stuff inside and someone opened the door and took my stuff.(I know the thief is the bad guy here, but seriously, lock your doors)

Why did you have a fireworks show on the Saturday before the 4th of July instead of on the 4th of July? We should only have fireworks on the 4th of July!

My neighbor doesn’t bring their trash cans in fast enough for me. I’m going to publicly shame them on Next Door because that is so much better than checking to see if they might need help with the task.

I try to stay away from neighborhood posts, but I keep Next Door to stay aware of what is happening and sometimes I get sucked in. Some of these are old complaints from the email list. People just want to find a reason to be unhappy.

Oh The Places I Will Go(Maybe)

I was thinking about what to write and travel kept sticking in my head. I only have one upcoming trip scheduled and it is home to Kentucky. Sometime next year my wife’s conference trip is to Bhutan. Bhutan is very restrictive on travel, so I’m not sure if I will be able to go on that one. After that, it will be Kuwait, Qatar or Indonesia. There are a lot of countries in the group that I would like to visit. Here is a brief list on order of desired visit:

  1. Fiji
  2. Maldives
  3. Austria
  4. Russia
  5. Moldova
  6. Georgia
  7. Portugal
  8. Kenya
  9. Argentina
  10. Sri Lanka

I only listed places I haven’t been and that are not on the possible list. I capped it at 10. There aren’t really any places in the group I wouldn’t go. I just need to retire so I can go without worrying about getting time off work.

Here are international places I would like to visit that are not in the group:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Ireland
  4. Wales
  5. Spain
  6. Sweden
  7. Germany

I’ve driven through Germany before and spent the night, but didn’t really experience it. I’m sure there are other countries I’m just not thinking of yet.

My top US cities I still haven’t visited:

  1. Seattle
  2. Portland
  3. San Diego
  4. Denver
  5. Chicago
  6. Los Angeles

And states in general, with no particular city”

  1. Maine
  2. Michigan
  3. Minnesota

So many places I want to see. Only 6 more years until I can retire and really get started.