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Life is better without Facebook

I received a 30-day suspension from Facebook at the beginning of April, 2021 because I was “a threat to the community.” I took that as a badge of honor. I was suspended for posting my “Mark Twain meme” that I created based upon his quote that, “It’s easier to fool people than it is to convince people that they’ve been fooled.” Apparently Mr. Twain is still considered a threat 110 years after his death, although my applying the quote to our current situation may have had something to do with it.

Since Facebook didn’t like my original meme I posted a “new and improved” version today. Since the so-called “fact checkers” probably aren’t going to like my improved version any better, I fully expect to be suspended again, perhaps permanently. It’s probably for the best. I have discovered that life is better without Facebook.

I was an early adopter of Facebook mainly because my children were of the age to start using it when they were in school and it was all new and shiny. It seemed like a good way to keep track of them when they were far away at college, and also keep up with old friends and family scattered around the country. Little did we realize that it would also become a good way for Big Data and Big Government to keep track of us!

I have enjoyed belonging to certain Facebook groups besides the obvious political ones. In particular, I have enjoyed participating in musical appreciation groups for some of my favorite artists including Captain Beefheart, The Kinks, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan and more recently rapper Tom McDonald. These are generally filled with nice people, although occasionally you have to do battle with some idiot who thinks that only liberals can appreciate good music.

My downfall was that every day when I logged on, Facebook would have a question there “What’s on your mind?” So I told them! I was a very early opponent of lockdowns and the rest of the Covid fear pandemic. I think the whole face mask rage is insane and probably harmful, and don’t get me started on using experimental gene therapy on children, pregnant women etc. It’s criminal!

For most of last year, I was an Administrator of the Free Livingston County Facebook group. About a month before the election our group, all 1,500 members, was thrown down the memory hole. I continued to post my views on my personal page, showing no concern for the fake Facebook “Community Standards” which, after all, are nothing more than a Democrat political narrative. Fear and censorship have been essential tools for the elites to grab and keep power.

I made many new “friends” through my activism, most of whom I have never met in person. I will miss them, but when I started seeing the same memes that I posted last year start to recycle through other groups this year, I realized that we are going in circles and not really going anywhere. I will be moving to Gab which I figure has the best infrastructure to withstand the ever-widening War on Free Speech. (See me there under Corrin007.)

In the first week or two of my suspension, I would  forget I was banned and try to comment on one of my pages out of force of habit. After a while, however, I found myself not even bothering to read Facebook since I couldn’t participate. This freed up a tremendous amount of time as I’ve been a very heavy user, especially in the last year posting about the Covid plandemic.

My enforced holiday from Facebook also corresponded with my decision to boycott Major League Baseball over the All-Star game nonsense. I have been an avid Yankee fan for many years and watched almost every game. Just like music, the Progs bring their cancel culture into everything and destroy it.

Since I had so much free time I devoted it to three new activities, although one was a return to a project that I had suspended a year ago, working on my family genealogy. I am an 11th generation descendant of William Wadsworth who arrived in Boston on the good ship Lion in 1632. (Also a 6th Generation descendant of James Wadsworth who came to Geneseo from Connecticut in 1789.) It turns out I am also descended from at least a dozen others who arrived 12 years earlier on the Mayflower.

Since we will be coming up on the 400th anniversary of the Wadsworth arrival, I am trying to trace every male descendant of that family. As you can imagine, that is a gargantuan task, but at least I have 11 years to complete it. (I will be 81 years old in 2032, if I make it!)

This is actually only one of my genealogical projects. In reverse fashion, I’ve been chasing down all of my direct ancestors back to when they got off their respective boats. That project is even bigger as most of them arrived in this country during the Great Puritan Migration between 1620 and 1650. There are thousands of ancestors to try to track down, especially since in this case I am also tracing the female lines. I probably have only found less than a quarter of them so far, but even so, that makes for a chart 3 feet wide and 16 feet tall! Luckily I have the graphic design skills and the equipment to produce and print such a large chart.

When we remodeled our Bed & Breakfast in 2019 to add 3 additional units, I created a museum area in the front hall. The pandemic also caused me to suspend activity on that project, but I am getting back into it. I want to roll all the genealogical work and the museum into a new organization that I am thinking of calling something like the Gen. James S. Wadsworth Institute of History and Genealogy (in honor of my 3X great grandfather who built the Hartford House), or just the Wadsworth Institute for short. Next up a website for that!

My second new venture into the clothing business is also a kind of return, since I was in that business back in the 1980s with The Little People’s House children’s clothing stores in Avon, Mt. Morris and Brighton. It will probably come as no surprise to say that “times have changed.” I fell onto this business by accident when my office neighbor John Spinelli passed away in February. John had collected a huge amount of women’s fashions that he was selling online. When his brother came to town to settle the estate he had no idea what to do with all that stuff. I gave him a dollar for the whole lot. I’m not sure yet who got the better deal!

I soon found out that today’s retail environment is extremely challenging to say the least. We spent the month of March organizing and pricing all of the clothing and accessories. On April 1st we opened the “Pop-Up Shop” in Geneseo as a 30-day experiment. Thank God, it’s only for 30 days! Despite offering progressive discounts on already low prices we were unable to generate much traffic.

We advertised extensively online (Yes on Facebook and Instagram!) and even tried a Pennysaver ad, but it seems just about impossible to get people to leave their burrows and come into an actual bricks and mortar store there days. Between people who are afraid to go out, and those who have just lost the habit of shopping in person, the sales were a small fraction of what I had hoped.

Adding to the problem was that most of the clothing John had accumulated was mainly intended for younger (and smaller) women. Sadly, young folks are the ones who seem to have been most susceptible to the fear pandemic. Another issue was that John had rather kinky tastes in shoes. We had 200 pairs of mainly very high-heeled fashion shoes favored by strippers and ladies of the evening. Not having too many of those locally in sleepy Livingston County, we have started marketing those online with more success.

Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, and there was enough additional goodies in John’s office to make the overall transaction a bargain. Hidden among the boxes of clothes were boxes of tools and other valuable items. Plus it gave me something to do with my new-found free time and I have no regrets. I like a challenge and starting a retail store in the midst of a pandemic was certainly a big one!

Finally, in order to pass the time during the day while waiting for customers to “Pop” in, I have started reading a book again. Although once an avid reader, this is something I have not actually done in almost 10 years, partly because my old eyes have trouble reading on anything other than a computer or iPad where I can enlarge the print.

Again, this came about somewhat by accident. Searching through the Hartford House library for a genealogical book, I came across, “The Education of Henry Adams.” This is a book that I have been aware of most of my life, but never got around to reading. Henry was the grandson of President John Quincy Adams and the great-grandson of Founding Father and President John Adams, and more importantly to me, the best friend in later life of my own great-great-grandfather John Hay. I grabbed the book and started reading and as they say, “couldn’t put it down.”

The book is very well written and covers a fascinating time in our nation’s history, from his birth in 1838 into the 20th century. It was published after his death in 1918, and after a while, I noticed that I was reading a first edition which is valued at $1000, if I don’t mess it up by reading it! It seems a little decadent to actually read something of such value, but I’m giving it to myself as a present for suffering through the cruelest month.

By giving up my Yankees, I eliminated the last of my television viewing. I have not turned the thing on in weeks. And by leaving Facebook, I have freed up many more hours a week to get outside, get the farm and maintenance work started, play tennis and croquet and enjoy the beauty of nature. I also am finding much solace in listening to lots of music, both new and old. With everything that is on my plate, who needs Facebook?

Let us now praise famous men (and a woman!)

One of the saddest and most disruptive changes in this year of the pandemic has been our inability to properly honor those who have passed away. In the last 6 months I have lost two good friends and my Uncle and yet have not been able to attend one funeral or memorial service. I am sure everybody has had this experience, but I wanted to briefly mention three people who were very special to me: Paul Hepler and Sally Moses of Geneseo and my Uncle Peter Strong.

Paul was one of the members of the Bank Street Coffee Klatch that is rapidly passing into history. This group which included such Geneseso stalwarts as Ted and Peter Bondi, Bob McDonald and many more met every morning at the Bank Street Bagel and Coffee Shop to kibitz about the passing scene.

As a young newspaper editor I would stop in if I wanted to know something about the history of Geneseo. With the collective memory of this group, most of whom had been in town all their lives, almost anything could be uncovered.

As a newcomer, with a somewhat controversial background of taking political stands both in print and in real life, I can’t say I was welcomed by all. Coffee klatches can be cliquey. I lingered near the edge of group and listened, but did not join in the general conversation unless spoken to.

Paul was exceptionally welcoming and friendly to me. In later years after the klatch moved on, when he would stop in my print shop on various projects, or even if we met on the street, it usually ended up in a prolonged conversation. Although Paul came to Geneseo to teach art at the college, he became a townie in the best sense of the word. There was little that he didn’t know about local lore or personalities. I will miss him greatly.

I lured Paul once to play in our croquet league. He managed to win the match and then refused to play again despite multiple invitations. He will no doubt go down in history as the only person to ever retire undefeated in our league!

Croquet is how I got to know Sally Moses. I understand Sally was a good tennis player in her day, but by the time i met her she was in her late 80s, too old for tennis but still possessed of a great competitive zeal. Croquet was the answer.

Sally played well into her 90s and I partnered with her many times. With her great consistency we made a formidable team! Sally was (so far) the only person who ever had to be removed from the croquet court by ambulance!

Somehow she managed to hit herself in the leg with her own mallet and opened up a deep gash. She spent one night in the hospital and was back playing a week later.

Finally at age 93, when she could no longer play she donated her mallet to the club. Her memory will live on every time we strike a ball with it!

Sports are some of my happiest memories of my Uncle Pete as well. When I was young the entire Strong Clan would gather every year for Thanksgiving at my grandmother Strong’s house in Maryland. The highlight of the day, from my point of view at least, was the annual touch football game in the backyard. What great fun it was to have family members of all ages playing in the same game.

The last time I saw Peter we played a round of golf together. Well into his 80s his memory was starting to go. “How is your mother?” he asked. I had to inform him that sadly my mother had passed a few years before. “Too bad,” he said. “I always liked her!”

With Peter’s passing, I am now the oldest member of the Strong family. When my time comes I hope some normality will have returned to life. I want a big party for my funeral with people coming from all over the country! I deserve it, as did these people!