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Dinner with friends on the back deck Friday — Mer and I, cousin George, Jeff and Mike. It was a soothing evening with perfect weather between some seriously hot days recently and suddenly cold ones. Topped it off with just Jeff and us two with an episode of “Lower Decks”. That’s the way I’d like to remember the Summer — by that one evening.

We live in the living room again, as the remodeling is done. Very pleased. Still working on other projects, including refurbishing bee hive equipment for Dave, my apiculture mentor, partner of sorts, and current president of the WNY Honey Producers Association. We took over an abandoned hive in Colden at Judi Kulbacki’s blueberry farm. Man, are they aggressive. We’ll swap out those Russians for “Buckfast” Bees Dave told me about, including installing a hive in our own backyard next year.

My computer is acting up and it was time to replace. I have both sitting here right now, and getting the new one up and running and moving everything over was SO much easier than previous times. Windows 10 is stable and already installed with Office, and the rest was done by portable drives (since getting a workable home network set up would take infinitely longer than just doing it back and forth). I also got a powerline extender for the wifi a couple months ago and now the backyard has access.

Other than that, the world has gone insane.

On the positive side, there’s nowhere in the world Merry would rather be than home, and nowhere I’d rather be than with her, so quarantine is no big deal. Between unemployment benefits for Mer and brisk business for me, we’ve been able to pay off debt, so we’re blessed in that respect, too. And it’s been great having fewer obligations in our schedules. It gives me a new perspective on how much time I’ve been spending on some things and if they really add value to my life.

Between that and an online Masonic leadership course with Bro. Rich Friedman, it really made me realize I’m not good at friendships. I now realize they are something you may have to work at, not just acquire and keep by circumstance. There are Masonic Brothers I can now admit I don’t want to be friends with, and a number of which I would want to remain friends even if there were no Fraternity. I even had to unfriend people on facebook. This has been a growing experience, where I am now consciously deciding who to be closer to instead of trying to befriend everyone at all times.

By late Spring, people were losing their minds over wearing masks and going stir crazy , and the “George Floyd Protests” which spread around the world — and my daughter played no small part on the local scene of that. We could write a book on the occupation of Niagara Square and surrounding events. But more than bad crowd control tactics, conspiracies and extreme political divisions are putting everyone in danger. Christgina plods on to work within the community, research, educate, organize, build bridges, and inspire civic involvement. I myself do what I can to support her and the cause, and am now a trained Legal Observer. So who watches the watchman? That would be me. But I couldn’t be prouder that my daughter and her generation is taking the lead to finally tackle issues of race and police reform, two things I have been disheartened about my whole life. At least that part of America I can be proud of, even if some of the other half deems them terrorists, not unlike the leaders of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Time and history will judge many harshly for this.

There were some extremely offensive statements and hard-to-believe things in the current presidency in the last three years (and during his campaign), but I’ve successfully avoided devoting mental energy to it until now. I finally cannot help but realize things are a lot worse than I would have expected, with so many basic safeguards against tyranny under attack. And now a potential, instigated plan to not step down when the election results don’t go his way — I should have seen it coming and now it’s a slow motion train wreck that half the country can’t even see or is jumping on board to make it go faster. I find it hard to side with Liberals on many issues, but the fanaticism and ideological extremism on the Right these days outright scares the hell out of me now that I see the pattern clearly. I miss arguing against Democrats in power again, and it can’t happen soon enough.

So with COVID-19 it was perfect timing to write and publish a full book version of “Webmastering the Craft”, and I did. Not flying off the shelves like hotcakes, but it was an exhilarating experience to pound it out in several weeks and to good results. Now with social unrest, I find it the right time to write my book on race issues. It’s off the backburner as we speak.

Never has politics crept into my life so much, and I’m not happy about it. Part of me wants to be a hermit. But it’s too much like the hypocritical “silent majority” who doesn’t do anything to make the world a better place and then votes out of ignorance and myopic self-interest for the rest of us to survive. I’ve relegated most political posts (and almost everything is being made political threse days) to considerReconsider or it’s Facebook page counterpart. But I dared not be silent out of conscience here and there, and got punished for it each time. I can’t win.

But one thing I could also write a book about is a positive memory for the year — the return of the milkman. My website client who retired came out of retirement to serve the community and got slammed with orders around the county. I was the man behind the curtain, building a simple e-commerce solution almost overnight, then the most complex one I ever done less than two months later. It was a 60-90 day project done in under 10 days. And during the first two months of helping him, I played the part of customer service. It was exhausting, but I received stellar accolades from all corners, especially for my honesty and transparency in communicating with customers over so many unavoidable delays and other issues.

I could stay home forever this way with my wife. I have been happy to meet various people now and then for tea on the porch or back deck, 6 feet apart. There is plenty to do, mostly organizing and cleaning and decluttering, even if I was not working at my default profession. And I’m ramping up my writing. Outside world aside, this could be a very happy year.