A reckoning with the state of my life in the Trump (and now Biden) era

For pretty much the entire time since the start of the Trump era I’ve been meaning to get back to talking about the state of American politics and how to fix it. I wanted to do it before the election, the assault on the Capitol would have been prime time to do it, and the impeachment was probably the last best chance to do it and still have it be remotely timely. I’ve actually started work several times – I have a bunch of unfinished drafts where I would return to the topic that I never finished before they stopped being timely, and there are a bunch of posts that have actually gone up that would have started a return to the topic, but I never manage to stitch together more than one or two nights at a time where I can bring myself to do the sort of deep thinking needed to work on it. Part of that’s a function of my weird sleep schedule where I’m not sure how often or for how long I’m ever really fully awake, but part of it may be that I get scared of getting out of the rut I’m in where I spend most of my time on Reddit, Twitter, mobile games, and various web sites and have to do actual hard thinking and write “canonical” blog posts. Put the two together, and what becomes far more common is that I go through several-day-long stretches where writing about politics is the furthest thing from my mind, even though I keep telling myself I need to get back to it sooner or later.

I’ve been thinking that I might still write up something in March and figure out some way to tie it in with current events later, but writing up that last paragraph may have pulled into focus how much I may be kidding myself. I may still write some things that could be useful later, but I may just shift my focus towards other means of being productive and making something of Da Blog and my life that I can spend my time on more sustainably. Or I could spend the next several weeks working on more frivolous projects. That might be more likely.

A surprisingly belated blog-day.

I wasn’t intending to push off writing the annual blog-day post to New Year’s Eve again, and while I can’t totally explain let alone excuse it, I can say I spent the last week-plus catching up on some things for reasons indirectly related to the impending end of Flash, after a particularly complex and unknowable set of SNF Week 17 scenarios took up a good bit of brain power for the previous couple weeks. But it is certainly appropriate in other ways: this is only the 25th post since last year’s blog-day post, when I suggested that year’s record low of 27 posts was unlikely to even be possible to break.

On some level, you would think the ongoing pandemic would be great for posting with everything being shut down, but the reality is the circumstances of my life didn’t actually change that much (I mostly just had to add a mask to my usual ensemble when leaving the apartment) and I spent a lot of the year flitting from all-consuming project to all-consuming project. The election certainly took up a lot of my attention; having announced the poll average project in a post I didn’t really mention it again outside of the obligatory monthly posts, announced any changes to the methodology or what kinds of averages were available on Twitter (or as part of the aforementioned monthly posts) instead of in their own posts, and ended up getting distracted in early October and didn’t even get the spreadsheet up to date before the election. I suspect I won’t be making the project publicly available again and only work on it in private during the primaries, which are more interesting to me anyway. I also wanted to return to the topic of what the Trump era means for the country and how to heal its divides, and I still hope to get to that before the inauguration, but as in 2016 I kept putting it off, and never really even got started outside of my own head. I had a project I intended to unveil on Da Blog this year but the election (especially with the added obligation of the poll averages) and pandemic distracted me from that, and many of the same things I wrote in last year’s blog-day post still apply as well.

I feel like my ability to actually accomplish things has just gotten worse and worse since I finished the book in 2015, and I don’t know if my brain is at a place where it’s even possible for me to recover the level of activity I had back in Da Blog’s halcyon years. Then again, many of the frivolous projects I work on instead of anything that might actually become a thing outside my own head involve considerable effort as well, and even before launching Da Blog I rarely was able to focus on a project long enough to bring it to completion. So yeah, Year Fourteen was another wasted year in the history of Da Blog, and I’m not sure I can really bring myself to proclaim Year Fifteen is going to be some great comeback (frankly I may need a change of medication to get even close to back to old levels of productivity), but I really don’t think it can get much worse than this year, I do hope to complete at least some projects that should translate to Da Blog posts, and if all else fails I can try to pursue other avenues of making money that can help me get out of the rut I’ve been in for the past five or so years.

Monthly check-in time once again!

Unless the NFL season gets completely wiped out, this should be the last monthly check-in post until next year. Even then I do have posts I want to get in before the election, and possibly after. That isn’t even to speak of the poll averages, where as promised, I made some substantial changes to the main landing page, though I’m no longer sure how measuring how prognosticators see each race is going to work. Right now, however, Steven Universe is the furthest thing from my mind, and under the circumstances I’m no longer sure if I’ll ever get back to it again. It hasn’t helped that I’ve gotten caught up in more pointless personal projects that won’t mean anything…

Time for our monthly check-in!

Even by my own recent low standards, I’m shocked by how little has changed since last month. I’m still working on the same project I’ve been working on the past two months, and none of the changes to the Poll Averages spreadsheet I hinted at last month came to fruition. I’d blame coronavirus but the reality is my lifestyle hasn’t changed much; indeed the bigger changes over the last month have been in the wider world, as the Black Lives Matter protests have faded from the news.

Beyond that, the major changes have been in what my plans are for future posts; at this point I’m likely to focus on how to fix what’s wrong with the country before ever getting back to Steven Universe, and I have an idea for a related post I might start working on this month but might not post until closer to the conventions, but who knows if I have the discipline for the amount of work that’s likely to require. I’ve added tabs for state-by-state presidential polls to the poll average spreadsheet and am likely to make significant changes to the main “landing” tab sometime in the next month to month-and-a-half as the general election season really gets going.

Watching from the Sidelines…

As I type this, I’ve just completed the second straight day where I ended up only being able to have one meal due to stores and restaurants being closed for curfew or even just as a precautionary measure, though in today’s case it didn’t help that there was a long line just to get into the local grocery store and I was trying to get there and back in the time it took laundry to finish. We had to stitch together whatever food we had on hand for me to have something resembling dinner.

To think, earlier this year I thought it would be the coronavirus forcing us to stock up on food.

I’ve spent the past month spending most of my free time on what I think is the same personal project I mentioned last month, which I knew going in was ambitious enough it could take an insanely long time to finish but am still plugging away at it. If the current situation continues to escalate, though, I may shift gears to look at what needs to be done to heal the country going forward. Otherwise it’s the same situation I described in last month’s post, and we’ll see how it evolves going forward.

I did make a few changes to the poll averages a while back, incorporating FiveThirtyEight’s updated pollster grades and introducing the Bias-Corrected Average, adjusting each poll by their FiveThirtyEight-measured mean-reverted bias before weighting and averaging them – this measure only applies to general election races between Democrats and Republicans. This provides an added dimension to my general-election presidential average and to other general-election averages going forward. Sometime this month I may also introduce a measure of how competitive the various prognosticators like Cook Political Report expect each race and presidential state to be, to add context to each race I end up having a page for, though I’m not likely to introduce averages for them until after the conventions.

Time for our monthly What I Didn’t Do This Month post!

You know, with the coronavirus pandemic threatening the NFL season, these could extend well into the fall this year?

Seems like what I have to say is something that’s been said a lot too: I had several ideas for posts percolating late in the month – maybe something about Justin Amash running a third party campaign, and I’d have liked to go back to Steven Universe last weekend, a month after it fully ended and a month before the launch of HBO Max – but I’ve been distracted by a complex personal project and obsession that’s not likely to lead to anything. Either of these ideas or more could come to fruition later in May, though, depending on how things develop.

As always, I’m considerably more active on Twitter, where I don’t have to sit down and face the pressure that comes with writing a full-fledged blog post. I also continue to update the poll averages (or, at this point, poll average) I introduced a while back.

A VERY belated late New Year’s Eve blog-day.

As this post goes up, it has been nine days since the normal birth date of Da Blog on the 22nd. For many if not most of you, it’s 2020 already. This on the heels of last year’s blog-day post coming a few days late on Christmas Eve. Missing the mark by well over a week is breaching new frontiers even by my standards.

In a way, this is appropriate for what a wasted year this has been for me and for Da Blog. I said at the time that the 36 posts I made in 2017 was a record low unlikely to be broken, but this being the 27th post since the last blog-day post is a record that might not be possible to break without giving up on the Flex Schedule Watch or having a post every month (the latter of which is quite possible – Da Blog Poll is still open!), considering there was arguably a grand total of two months prior to the start of football season in September where I made any posts other than posts that simply serve the purpose of having a post every month.

In the case of this post, I’ve been in Seattle for the last ten days or so and have been content to spend my time relaxing and picking up work on one of my many personal projects that means nothing (well, almost nothing) to anyone other than me, and even the relatively low levels of engagement required to write the blog-day post has proven too daunting for me to try and tackle. For the year, a lot of my attention has been gobbled up by mobile games and various other things, as well as dealing with wildly off-track sleep schedules. Various projects I’ve been meaning to get to have continued to be put on the back burner; I have every intention to get to them in 2020, but then I say that every year. Certainly I want to get back to the state of our broken politics before the end of the impeachment trial, certainly before the election gets too much into high gear, and I’d like to get back to Steven Universe before it leaves Hulu for HBO Max, if that’s still possible. I’d also like, if not need, to engage in projects and programs that could actually make money for me on a regular basis. But of course, I said many of the same things in last year’s blog-day post as well.

In retrospect, perhaps it’s appropriate that Year Thirteen in the history of Da Blog would be such a wasted year even by the standards of my recent wasted years, but coupled with the dark tone I struck at the end of the last blog-day post even as I attempted to be optimistic about my future, it’s fair to wonder if I have the ability to achieve my dreams at all anymore. (My ongoing depression about the Trump era and the likelihood that we’ve already crossed the point of no return when it comes to global warming doesn’t help, of course.) Still, I take heart that the blog-day post I ended last decade with, when my productivity with Da Blog was much higher (the following year seems to have been the first one where I wrote less than 100 posts), evoked many of the same issues I struggle with today, even if they were nowhere near as bad as they are now. It’s at least possible that with the shedding of the unlucky number 13, I’ve passed through the nadir of my recent spell of unproductivity, and Year Fourteen will see me begin to climb out of it with the long-awaited completion, or at least work on, some long-simmering projects, as well as my attempt to find my identity in the new decade given my struggles with finding the brainpower to complete my goals even without the demands of schoolwork.

Ugh.

I said last month would be the last streak-filler post and I had two or three different ideas for substantive posts this month, and none of them panned out. I still intend to get back to Steven Universe┬áin August, but I’m also finding one of the mobile games I’m playing may have just become even more of a drag on my time. So I’m going ahead and running a new Da Blog Poll until at least the end of February to see if I really need to continue the streak of monthly posts outside of football season, or if I’m the only one who cares about that.

Da Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Back in February I listed a number of things I wished to do with Da Blog over the next month or two, none of which actually panned out. Many of those ideas and several others besides remain backed up for me to attempt to do in the coming months. With the release of the Mueller Report it hasn’t been timelier for me to work on my series on fixing the Constitution since the election, but until earlier this week I spent more of my time working on notes for a project that may or may not turn into another book or some other project that gets put up somewhere, notes I originally intended to work on after my Constitution series but which I find easier to engage with. It’s easier to immerse myself in a fantasy world than the real world that seems to be circling the abyss.

At this point I likely won’t pick up Steven Universe again until July, partly because I’m facing a monetary crunch with renewals for my website hosting and domain name coming up this month, partly because I got sick earlier this week which made that crunch worse as I loaded up on medicine and other things. There’s a slight chance the site will go down briefly in about two weeks, but I doubt it and I’m trying to spend the rest of the month in more of a savings mode. The site already went down earlier in the month after something broke without me changing anything, and that coupled with how the issue got resolved made me a little antsy about signing up with A2 again, but I don’t think there’s anything too serious that would lead me to abandon the status quo.

Read moreDa Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Quick update

I had a few ideas for posts this month, but none of them really panned out, and so not much has changed from my last post, aside from the fact that I’m obviously not doing any March Madness posts. I promise that in April I’ll have something that isn’t just an “update” post or a post I’d have done anyway. Possibly as soon as this week, even.