Assessing My Blogress

By Jim Hagarty

Six months ago today, I wrote my first post for Lifetime Sentences. When I did that, I became a blogger.

I really didn’t know what I was getting into. As it turns out, blogging and bloggers belong to a whole weird world that up till then had been a mystery to me. I have tried to learn the ropes but it’s a daunting adventure.

Every project I have ever started seems to go through a few phases. In the first phase, I hit the ground running and go at it like a madman. In Phase 2, the fun sort of falls off a bit and the project begins to feel like work. The Final Phase sees me trying to figure out whether or not I want to carry on with whatever new thing I have started.

In the past, there has been making recordings of my songs, writing books, freelancing (I even rented my own office for that one), and investing in the stock market online which can be likened to taking all your money up to the tenth floor of a building and throwing it out the window. (Not really. It’s actually fun and somewhat profitable.)

I still do all those things today but with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Sometimes you can’t get my guitar away from me and I write new songs like Bob Dylan on uppers. Other times, weeks go by, no guitar, no songs. Intense investing for a week or two, then a three-month hiatus.)

My blog has gone in several directions. Humour, philosophy, photography, music. I’ve written limericks and poetry and taken lots of pictures of old cars and trucks. I’ve posted some music by my friends. I’ve done political commentary (which I will probably stop when the U.S. election ends).

When I started the blog, I had various vague goals. I would contribute lots of stories, humourous and otherwise, and collect up those stories into a series of books which I would sell. And yes, I thought I could make some money from the project. I haven’t quite rang that last bell yet.

I envisioned a sort of online magazine, with lots of contributors other than myself. I haven’t gone very far down that road yet except for the music by friends and the fantastic photo displays by my son Chris and my buddy and fellow blogger Al Bossence who, with his wife Kelly and their pooch Pheebs, is RVing somewhere in the southern United States as I write. It was Al who got me going on all this blogging business. He has been at it for 10 years ( and has had well over four million visits to his site in that time. His goal is to reach 2,000 views in one day. He has come close attracting over 1,900 sets of eyes in a 24-hour period.

So six months for me. I will keep plugging along but I might make a few changes along the way to keep the whole thing more enjoyable for me and less like a burden, which sometimes, to be honest, it does feel like at present.

It is gratifying to use my tracking software to see where my viewers are coming from. At present, most are in the United States, but a lot from Canada and even some from far-flung places such as Finland, Australia and Russia.

So I hope you will hang in there with me for another six months. On my one-year anniversary, April 30, 2017, there will be free popsicles and chocolate ice cream for everybody!

Thanks for dropping in. I appreciate your interest.

Eight to One

By Jim Hagarty

When are the robots going to get here?

Of course, they are already here. ATMs, motion sensors, etc.

At one of our local McDonald’s Restaurants, 20 years ago, there was a bank of seven or eight cash registers and there was a human being standing at all of them at busy times of the day. And there were lineups at every till some times.

But things changed. That building was knocked down a few years ago and a new, more efficient one took its place. In this new restaurant, there were only three cash registers. The emphasis was now on the drive-through traffic which had increased over the years.

This summer, self-serve kiosks were installed. You can use a touchscreen to order your food and pay with a debit or credit card in the appropriate slot there.

Today, I went inside to get a coffee. There is now only one till.

The times they are a changin’.

Don’t Know What’s in Store for Me

By Jim Hagarty

The admission that I am a confused man will come as no big surprise to most who know me. But this time, I think I have some justification for my extreme bewilderment.

I was in a food store the other day – as in FOOD STORE – and I found myself checking out deals on VCRs, DVD players, clothing and flowers. None of these materials I can actually consume as I would, say, a potato, some ice cream or a sirloin steak (not necessarily in that order). Nevertheless, there they were. I also lingered over bins full of movies and there was also a sale on lawn furniture. In a food store.

The same day, I dropped into a big drug store. While there, I checked out some cool digital cameras and on my way out, walked by aisles of various processed foods and household cleaners. In a drug store. In another drug store, I window shopped all sorts of fancy giftware. Some pretty nifty stuff tucked away between the eyedrops, the toenail clippers and the shampoo. Plus, oh yes, the drugs.

And one big store seems to have thrown the towel in completely and said, what the heck, let’s sell it all. About the only thing you can’t buy there is a gun or a tractor. Drugs, food, clothes, electronics – it has it all.

We have tire stores that sell hockey equipment, TVs and evergreens and hardware stores that sell fancy glassware and even books. Then there are book stores that sell movies, music and magazines, and stationery stores that sell trips to New Zealand.

Donut and coffee shops sell soups and sandwiches while variety stores sell hotdogs, coffee and fresh muffins.

Insurance companies sell investment “vehicles” and everybody sells insurance including universities.

Farm stores sell everything city folk could need while arenas have fast-food restaurants and pubs housed within them.

Might this all be called diversification? Or might it just be harking back to the good old days of the country general store and even the city department store where the idea seemed to be to meet as many of the customers’ needs as possible to prevent them from moving on down the street.

The general store in the village near where I grew up (population 50) stocked literally something of almost everything except cars and trucks (and still does). And the store, located in an old hotel, had trouble accommodating all the merchandise and so it was displayed from every square inch of wall and even ceiling space. There were logs and fence posts, and Christmas trees outside, huge bags of peanuts and kids’ wagons inside. A visit there for a boy was better than a school field trip. It was impossible to get tired of scanning the place for unusual items.

And yes, there were guns. Shiny new rifles for farmers to protect their crops and livestock.

It would be interesting to know what this movement towards generalization by the big stores, especially, represents, from a sociological point of view. Of course, the profit motive plays a big part and so stores will sell “anything for a buck” like the hillbilly characters Larry, Darrell and Darrell from the old Bob Newhart Show.

But why did they move away from that early rural concept in the last century to the era of shops that specialized in one thing only? And why do they now seem to be moving back again?

Are merchants in our city, as I’ve heard it speculated a few times, just doing their best to get ready for Wal-Mart?

Meanwhile, the big players in the newspaper industry I work in have started TV shows of their own and publish telephone directories.

But if next week I am selected to host the News at Noon on Channel 52, I might be forced to retire. So I can have more free time to hang around the gas station… Washing my car.

Call Me Lucky

stevies album cover

Here is another cut from a great CD released by blues guitarist and songwriter Steve T. from the Stratford area. The CD was released this summer and is available in the Corner Store.

Call Me Lucky by Stevie T.

(If this song doesn’t play when you click on it, click on the title at the top and go to the actual page it is on.)

1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

The Cadillac Coupe de Ville was one of the classiest American-made cars. I believe this is a 1964 model but I could be out a year or two. This model has fins, and wheel covering panels.

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