It’s been months since I published anything here. And it’s been a year since I moved to Iowa City. With all that’s going on in the world these days, this is where I want to spend most of my time online.

It’s not a vacation anymore—but it’s not home yet, either.

One of the earliest things that stands out to me about this whole moving adventure is how the vacation vibes went away before it felt like home. I like to tell people the first time I visited Iowa City, I came for Xmas (2020), the second time I visited, I came for Independence Day (2021), and the third time I visited, I closed on a house. I am delighted by this city on a daily basis—and have been, consistently, since the day we arrived—but it still doesn’t feel like home (yet).

Don’t get me wrong. Our house feels like home and I can’t imagine being any other house being home, but Iowa doesn’t feel like home. No, despite being born in Cleveland, I spent nearly half my life in Phoenix (21 years). It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere and it is, and likely forever will be, home for me. Which probably means I’m going to feel like something of an outsider here for a while.

Snowbird Dreams (Winter is Coming)

Winter was harder on me than I expected. As much as I was looking forward to 4WD/AWD shenanigans in the snow, winter was more cold and wet than snow. And the things you gotta do to your vehicle to protect it from wanton salt corrosion are more disgusting than they are effective at preventing rust. Doesn’t matter if the entire undercarriage is dripping with petroleum-based snot. Rust will find a way.

Considering Fezzik is overbuilt for anything Iowa has to offer, I keep coming back to the thought of keeping him somewhere in Arizona. I could fly in, go camping/wheeling, then fly out whenever. I also like the idea of buying rust-free 4WD/AWD vehicles in Arizona, driving them for a winter in Iowa, and then selling them come spring. It’s probably a pipe dream, but it’s not the craziest idea I’ve ever had.

Speaking of Seasons

Phoenix only really has two seasons—Hot and Not Hot. And with an average of 300+ sunny days a year, a lot of those days look and feel the same. This solstice, that equinox, all those corporate holidays—in Phoenix, there’s seldom any visible difference between one day and the next. Not so in Iowa, where there are still four traditional seasons, filled with fairly wildly varying weather conditions.

Winter can suck it. Spring and fall are my favorites. Fall was amazing, with cool, crisp air, and all the colorful foliage naturally complementing Halloween and Thanksgiving. Spring, too, is incredible, from the first crocus blossoms pushing up through the frost, to the daffodils, irises, and hyacinths. And summer, now that I’m acclimating to the humidity a bit, is good times. I particularly like fireflies.

Soothing the Savage Beast?

The changing of the seasons brings new vibes, and I’ve found my musical interests change to suit. It’s been dark, but it’s also been light, too.

Evolution of the To-Do List

I haven’t done much with Fezzik in the last year. Still haven’t installed the rear suspension bushings I’ve had for two years, or the fiber optic headliner kit I’ve had for three, or even the new seat heaters I bought last fall. Partly because there’s no real urgency anymore, but mostly because I’ve been busy working on the house.

I’ve already mowed the lawn more times in Iowa City than I think I did the lawn back in Phoenix the entire time we lived there. I’m in a constant battle against invasive species like bindweed, pokeweed and pigweed. (I don’t mind the common purslane, though.) Beyond that, I’ve planted California Poppys, giant sunflowers, morning glories, moon flowers, 100 crocuses, and well over a dozen daffodils.

I’ve also raked leaves, shoveled and thrown snow, tilled the entire back yard (and reshaped manually, one shovel-load at a time), and even got up on the roof to clean out the gutters. If I’m lucky, I’ll get shelves up in the garage in time for cooler fall weather and can knock out some upgrades before it gets nasty again.

State of the Social Union: Facebook + Reddit (Redact)

Speaking of nasty again, am I the only one getting really tired of social media these days? It’s all an act these days. I think I might check Facebook once or twice a month now. Pretty easy to stay away when your basic, browser privacy settings (Brave) break the logon, so I really only log in once in a while to see if a local business is open or where the next car meet (I’ll inevitably forget about) is happening.

In similar fashion, Reddit has recently taken a dark turn, with their suddenly urgent business decision to piss off everyone in the hopes of getting rich quick with an IPO before the collective world tells Big Social to fuck off. Enter Redact, a free app you can use to not only delete all your old posts on all kinds of social networks, but perhaps more importantly, edit all those old posts to be useless in the dark corners where they keep everything you deleted anyway.

Back to the Future: Going Old School

The more things change, the more they stay the same. You know what I like? I like sending post cards. When was the last time you got something in the actual mail that wasn’t a bill or junk mail? I gotta tell you, I’ve probably sent north of 30 post cards in the last year—and I feel like most people who got them were delighted. You mean you actually sat down and wrote a personalized message to me on paper and then paid to have it physically delivered to me? Yeah. I did.

But you know what else I like? Old school forums. Like the one we have here behind the blog. It’s free now, and anyone can join—because we need a place we know will still be there when the tech bros let us all down once and for all. You just gotta spend a couple minutes reading the (3) rules before you can post. Don’t be an asshole, no politics or religion, and make it time well-spent.

Let’s take the power back.

The last year has been a roller coaster to say the least. Even if I hadn’t made such a monumental move, I feel like I still would have struggled with working on the truck and publishing stuff here on TGP. Hell, it took me a week to write this one, and I’ve been thinking about this post since before I left Phoenix. Perfection is the enemy of done. And life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.

I’m done with Big Social, their manufactured outrage, and FOMO-driven user experiences. It’s 2023. Anyone can stand up their own website and forum in 15 minutes to an hour—but you don’t have to. If you’re reading this and would like a relatively quiet place to hang out online where you can actually get to know people and keep up with things, I hope you’ll consider joining the forum so we can keep in touch here.

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