A Little Change Is OK

Housekeeping is not what I do best. In fact, mostly I avoid housekeeping. However, I realized that restarting this old blog is going to require a little. A little housekeeping, I mean. As little as possible. Please bear with me.

Until this month, I hadn’t posted here since the end of 2016. Seems like my will to blog faded away after the sorry election of that November. Not a single post in all of 2017! After all that time, the blog seemed to need repair.

You might notice that I’ve been tinkering with the blog title and the visual theme. I might  cull out a few old posts that no longer seem relevant. Maybe fiddle a little with categories, tags, widgets.

Housekeeping will be done soon, or I’ll simply give up on it. I’ll turn my attention to blogging. But the posts will be different. Writing will be more concise. My political opinions will be banned. Simplicity will be the focus. I hope to have photos and observations on my new life in Florida.

In a day or three, I shall return with a brief outline of the changes necessary to bring me and my life to this time and place.

— John

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Walk No. 362: The Learning Curve

This post from The Green Study is a “helpful” meditation for Super Tuesday. Most of the political vitriol that passes for news on “Cable News” channels in election year 2016 is not helpful.

Thanks to Michellle for a post that will help us keep our sanity for the balance of the election year.

The Green Study

canstockphoto3085947It was a mild day for February in Minnesota yesterday. The sun was out and the birds were already doing their territorial and mating songs. After skimming the news for the day, I needed a walk. My mood was dark, as it usually is after taking in the shootings, the bloviating politicians, the wars and violations of human rights around the globe. As someone prone to depression, I have to fight the sense of desolation.

An alarm often goes off in my brain. Do something! Do something! I have that mentality of trying to fix, mediate, improve, or intervene, which leaves me a paralyzed, impotent ball of anger in the face of overwhelming and constant bad news. I thought about writing letters to Congress, refusing to buy certain products, running for local office, donating money to this cause or that. Bandages for my ego and drops in a bucket.

I…

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One Thousand Blog Followers

followed-blog-1000-2x

 

How the blogosphere has evolved since 2007!  WordPress.com logged 660 million blog posts in 2015, according to the Year In Review report, published this week. However, I often wonder if blogging, which was the big new thing in the first decade of the century, has peaked. Every year brings more online competition. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, podcasts, on and on. Continue reading

Retirement Made Simple, A Brave New Blog

Here’s a new blog of interest to readers who are retired or dreaming of one day being retired.

Retirement Made Simple

Aging gracefully and enjoying retirement on a limited income

Here’s a sample of posts that made a hit with readers at the new blog:

  1. Social Security Cost-Of-Living Increase For 2016 In Danger
  2. AARP Says More Work And Less Retirement Is Good News
  3. Erica Jong on Fear Of Dying
  4. Colorful Cuba On My Travel List, Because I’ve Already Seen Florida
  5. Retirement Offers Freedom, If We Can Seize It

The new blog has a narrow focus. It’s about Retirement, Simplicity, and Aging Gracefully on a fixed income, with a little bit of travel in the mix. If you have an interest in any of those subjects, Retirement Made Simple might be for you. Its target audience is retired folks and workers who are nearing retirement or thinking about it. But surprisingly, many of the readers have been younger adults. Seems that people of all ages are curious about retirement.

I hope you find something informative or interesting on the new blog. Let me know what you think.

Blogging From My iPhone

Notice how brief the previous post about the Fitbit was? I was out-of-town and experimenting with remote posting using the WordPress IOS application for my new iPhone. I’m not what you call an “early adaptor.”

It’s clear the IOS app doesn’t  give you nearly all the functionality of WordPress on a desktop. Continue reading

Blogging As Therapy

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Thanks to all who commented on the previous post about retirement, depression, and blogging. You offered many wise suggestions and much encouragement. And all for free!  Maybe blogging could put therapists out of business? Of course, full-fledged M.D. psychiatrists have nothing to fear. Their job is secure because they hold the pen that writes the coveted prescriptions. (Pills which we may or may not need. It’s so hard to know.)

After being an unpredictable (and often absent) blogger this past year, I intend to mend my ways. Since I know blogging is good therapy for me, and at least a few folks are reading, I’m going to pick up the pace. The goal, as always, is to post every day. I know from experience that it’s a hard goal to meet; I don’t expect to accomplish it immediately.

I’ll stay the course with this blog — the one you’re reading right now — even with its lack of focus, because it already has a ton of content. I’ve tried starting new blogs, and it doesn’t seem to help. WordPress informs me that I recently passed the 500-post mark here. Thanks WordPress! I already had 500 posts at Maryland On My Mind. If only I had 500 posts narrowly focused on one or a few subjects.

Since I’m such an unfocused writer, I need your help. What do you think I should write about? And what subjects do you think I should avoid? I’m also accepting questions, although I’m short on good answers. Your input is welcomed as comments below, or you can email me at BJohnHayden@icloud.com. Every suggestion is a good suggestion, whether I use it or not.

Again, thank you, friends! It’s good to have so many people caring about me. Keep the faith, fellow bloggers!

— John Hayden

Retirement, Depression, And Blogging

Hello friends. I’ve been in a funk. Haven’t published a blog post since April 30. Probably my longest hiatus since I started blogging in 2007, or since I began this blog in 2009. I’ve continued to read bloggers I follow (but irregularly) and to post comments (rarely).

I’ve been trying to adjust to retirement. Not as easy as I thought. Also, I’ve been all over the place in the past year regarding the purpose and audience of this blog. I began my first blog in 2007 with a focus on Maryland. That blog became more local when I moved to Ocean City.

I started this blog in 2009 to write about “life after sixty,” but I soon wandered into politics and economics. After retiring in 2013, I returned to my hometown, Montgomery County, and focused on local stuff for a while. I started several experimental blogs, but none of them clicked. The experimental blogs have been abandoned. Over the years, I’ve written a lot about politics, and I tend to get the most hits in the runup to elections. After the 2014 election, I was a blogger wandering in the desert.

Unable to find my bearings in retirement, I tried part-time work. Lifestyle and financial issues came to the fore. I made a conscious effort to cut back on blogging. Even though I wasn’t a very productive blogger, it seemed to consume a disproportionate amount of my time. Instead of blogging, I researched affordable places to live. Took a two-week fact-finding trip to Florida. At this point, I’m confused and undecided.

The truth is, my lifelong struggle with depression has worsened since retirement.

The cover story in this month’s Atlantic magazine, “A World Without Work,” helps explain my retirement funk. The story, by Derek Thompson, is not about retirement. It warns about the continuing loss of jobs due to computerization and robotization.

“For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?”

I’ve found that retirement has a lot in common with unemployment. Thompson points out that although leisure time offers wide opportunities, many unemployed men tend to spend most of their hours sleeping or watching TV.

I can go days without turning on the television, but I spend way too much time sleeping. Some days, I can hardly pull myself out of bed. That’s a sure sign of depression.

Any thoughts, fellow bloggers and/or retirees?

— John Hayden

Misinformation About Protesting Coal Miners in Ukraine

Misinformation is a dangerous plague spread throughout the Web and what remains of the Mainstream Media. Propaganda and lies have always been with us. But before the rise of cable TV and the internet, newspapers in the West were able to filter out the worst misinformation. Many newspapers and journalists were dedicated to finding and reporting the truth, and they had sufficient resources for the job. With the demise of the newspaper industry, it’s now possible for propagandists to manufacture a fake “reality” at will and spread it unchecked. It’s becoming nearly impossible for the average person to know what’s real and what’s lies, unless you’re an actual eyewitness, or you have reliable sources. And of course any one eyewitness can touch only one small part of the elephant. Informed bloggers such as Clarissa try to counter misinformation. Well-informed bloggers can be reliable sources. Of course, it’s not easy to identify the informed bloggers, and their reach is small compared to the power of state-sponsored misinformation. Thanks to Clarissa for providing a steady stream of reliable information about Ukraine. — John

Clarissa's Blog

Right-wing publications are as dedicated to pushing Putinoid propaganda as the Leftie pro-Putin rag The Nation. Kremlin propaganda is always offered under the sauce of “We really want Ukraine to succeed but let’s keep in mind this string of Putin-generated myths that we will pretend have a connection to reality.”

Here is how The American Interest does it (and mind you, this is just one tiny example):

Throughout last week, armies of coal miners stormed Kyiv’s government district to protest unpaid wages and call for the sacking of Ukraine’s energy minister.

Of course, there were no “armies of coal miners.” The “coal miners” are actors whom we have already seen appear in Russian news segments as bus drivers from Lugansk, separatists in Gorlovka, persecuted Russian-speakers in Donetsk, etc. The moment I saw the very first newscast about the “protesting coal miners”, I immediately recognized one of them as the fake…

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Meanwhile…

I stumbled upon this post, “Meanwhile” serendipitously via Michelle at “The Green Study.”    Thanks to Michelle and also to Wyrd Smythe for putting into words the thoughts I’ve been repressing. Maybe bloggers of a certain maturity are all channeling the same frustrations.

It feels like cheating, but since I can’t force myself to write a worthwhile post of my own this week, at least I can repost a really good post by someone else.

(Regarding our shared perception of few readers and still fewer commenters, the WordPress blogger “Time Thief” has some insight — over at “One Cool Site”  — on the possibility that people are seeing our stuff on the WordPress Reader, so they no longer have to visit our actual blogs.) Thanks to Michelle and Wyrd Smythe for helping me understand the “loose ends.”
— John

Logos con carne

tangled I find myself feeling “at loose ends.” If you search on that phrase, you find a big part of the definition involves the idea of “not knowing what to do,” although sources differ a bit on whether that’s due to having nothing to do or due to not being able to decide what to do. More to the point, most identify the main feeling: being restless and unsettled.

A key reason my ends are loose is obvious given my last post, but this river has other tributaries (I never met a metaphor I couldn’t mix). Certainly in my case, the problem isn’t having nothing to do; I have plenty of projects. The problem is the utter lack of fulfillment in doing most of them.

And, sadly, this blog is turning out to be high on that list.

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Worldwide Blog Readership

It’s fascinating to know that a WordPress blog can be viewed by people all over this wide world. My blog is in fact visited by people from many faraway places. Maybe they should call it WorldPress. I wonder if that URL is available?

Most days, my readers are mostly from the U.S. and Canada, followed by a few in the U.K. and/or Australia. Oddly, most days the blog gets a view or three from the Cayman Islands. Why do you suppose my poor blog is on the radar in the Caymans?

Yesterday and today have not been ordinary days. Fewer than half my visitors have been in the U.S. The most popular post on my blog these past two days has been “Russian Toilets,” and readers are visiting from many different countries, especially in Europe. My only explanation is that the impending Winter Olympics in Sochi are generating a feeding frenzy for anything and everything about Russia and Sochi.

If you’re not a WordPress blogger, you may wonder how I know the location of my readers. On my blog’s stats dashboard, WordPress provides an array of information about the source of readers, including a world map noting the number of visitors from each country. If you’re concerned about privacy, be assured that the map doesn’t identify readers by name, only by country. If you’re interested in totals, then I must honestly say the numbers are modest. Some blogs register traffic in the thousands regularly. My blog rarely breaks into triple digits in a single day, but does hit triple digits every week.

For those with a greater interest in readership gossip, yesterday I had visitors from the U.S. and Canada, plus visitors from nearly every small country in Europe, plus the U.K., Germany and Poland. But none from France or Spain. I can only guess that people in France and Spain prefer to read blogs in their own language, while most others throughout Europe know English and use it when they wish.

Also yesterday, something unusual — seven visits from Trinidad and Tobago! But not one from the Caymans. And oddly, not a single visit from any continent other than North America and Europe.

Today, the interest in Russian Toilets, or whatever, expanded to include five visitors from Ukraine, plus two each from Russia, Australia, and the Caymans. And one visitor from Hong Kong! Still not a single visitor yesterday or today from South America or Africa, though I have had a few from those continents in the past.

Blog readers of the world: Unburden yourselves! Please comment at will. What would you like to read about? I take requests.

— John Hayden