Congratulations! I’m sorry!

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Andreas Heimann on Unsplash

With the uptick in vaccine production, experts are starting to make predictions about when society can “get back to normal.” Some say it will be by this summer. Other say it will be by Christmas 2021.

What this means for you, Introvert/Germophobe/Introvert-Germophobe, is that “society is reopening” and you will soon be expected to go out among other people again. This may be slightly less than ideal for your personality type, but in this guide we attempt to provide actionable suggestions for re-integrating successfully back into a world outside the walls of your safe haven, I mean, your home.


Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

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Photo by Magdalena Smolnicka on Unsplash

I’ve noticed there are two main ways of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: 1) Slap on something green and head out to the bars, and 2) scarf an entire net baggie of gold-foil-wrapped coins and stream some of the best TV shows set in Ireland.

Green beer isn’t really my thing, and we still seem to be in the middle of a pandemic, so my celebration looks a lot more (okay, exactly) like option 2. Listed below are some great programs set in Ireland and Northern Ireland to get you in the mood for March 17.


Father Ted

A more modern-minded TV fan…

Time flies

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Photo by David Brezina from Pexels

Is it really week 23 of our accidental homeschooling experiment?

Well, nobody’s ever accused me of being very good with numbers, but I’ve been writing and counting these dispatches since the beginning, and last week was Week 22, so yes, here we are, Week 23.

I feel a bit on edge, like we are in the calm just before the storm. Most of that is just my own personal brand of seasonal affective disorder, which seems to run counter to everyone else’s: as the days get longer and spring gets nearer, I get ever more crabby. Spring is my least…

But is the story of Horatius Cocles history or legend?

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Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridge,” Charles Le Brun, Dulwich Picture Gallery (public domain)

Ever fought for a lost cause? Tried to hold back the tide of a conquering force you wanted to resist with all your will? Considered yourself the last person standing?

Underdog, meet your hero: Publius Horatius Cocles.

In 508 BCE, King Lars Porsena, of the Etruscan city Clusium, engaged in a war against Rome. History can’t decide on his true motive; was it to help the deposed Roman emperor Lucius Tarquinius Superbus — who had Etruscan ancestry — or was it solely for his own power gain?

Lars Porsena commanded a powerful force, and after scoring a victory against the…

Nature has always been, is, and always will be

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Image by Bessi from Pixabay

I think if you ask any farm kid (if you can still find one) how they feel about nature, you’ll get a complicated answer in return.

It is very much in vogue now to be an environmentalist, to be a sustainability expert, to rhapsodize about how nature has redeemed you during this pandemic, to talk about how much you love nature based on how much you like to get into it or how you want to preserve natural areas.

This is not how I, a farm kid, feel about nature. I don’t gush about it and I don’t put it…

When life gives you snow, go sledding.

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Photo by the author.

The northern state where I live actually had some of the calmest weather in the nation this week, even though we we had temperatures way below zero at night for most of the previous 14 nights. If you live in Texas? Let me just say I am sorry and I hope that by now you have power. What a shitstorm. Literally.

There is not much new in our homeschooling experiment, although it has occurred to me that we have to get way more serious about Spanish and find some kind of program (maybe at Outschool) where my youngest can practice…

My mother, myself

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

My mother can be extremely rigid in her thinking. She’s definitely not an innovator; she works (and she is one of the hardest-working people I have ever known) the same way she always has: by adhering to the systems she knows and never, never bending or adapting.

And I am just like her. Oh, God.

When my siblings and I started to take on a more active role in providing care for our elderly mother, I’ll admit that I didn’t think I’d what I’d be learning the most would be some hard lessons about myself.

Turns out life has a…

How can something so beautiful have caused so much misery?

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Photo by Pixel Bee on Unsplash

When you think of diamonds, what phrase comes first to your mind? “Diamonds are forever”? Or “blood diamonds”? It is a tribute to the power of marketing that the former probably sprang to your mind quicker than the latter.

Diamonds have been revered throughout history for their beauty and their rarity, and have often been the cornerstone of royal jewelry and collections. This despite the fact that, as author Tom Zoellner (The Heartless Stone) says, “They are not, in fact, rare. The market depends on artificial scarcity.”

Perhaps the piece of jewelry most associated with diamonds is the diamond engagement…

The real world is coming for us

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Photo by the author.

One thing you need to know is that I am deeply sorry that this pandemic has been so deadly and so disruptive and so draining to the entire world. As discussed before, my family is not wealthy, but we were well placed to withdraw into our home for two main reasons: 1. We’ve been lucky (even when we haven’t been), and 2. My spouse’s and my long-term plan has been, almost from the very beginning, to engage in as much big-picture and protective planning as possible. We’re not exciting people, but we try to be prepared.

We were the first…

…the government was watching you

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Protest 10/21/1967. Image at the National Archives.

In 2013, American whistleblower Edward Snowden shocked the world when he revealed that the U.S. government was collecting massive and unauthorized amounts of data about its citizens’ phone calls and Internet conversations.

This was not the first time the American public had learned that they were being closely watched, without their knowledge or consent, by their government.

During the 1960s, a U.S. Army captain engaged in teaching legal principles to counterintelligence agents stumbled across evidence that the Army was spying, illegally, on American citizens.

The Teacher Learned From His Student

The 1960s were a turbulent time in American history. The Vietnam War was raging, costing America…

Sarah Cords

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything.” Author of “Bingeworthy British Television.” Fellow curmudgeons welcome at

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