Of Our Own Devices

The worst part of losing someone to death (though losing them to distance, physical or emotional can be close. After all “To part is to die a little.”) is that you keep examining everything you did wrong in relation to that person.

This is particularly awful if it was a bad relationship. Or if it was a bad relationship for a time or after some signal event.

And sure, you often can see where the problem was on the other side, but the whole “none of us are perfect.” And you wonder if you had done something different, if you’d been more open/less open, if your actions and your expectations — particularly while acculturating and all your thoughts set by another culture — could have been better/easier/less….. provoking. And you don’t even know if they were provoking. Because there’s a thing that happens with acculturation, if it’s successful, the you are isn’t exactly the you before, and you don’t see things the same way. So what you remember is seen through a mirror, darkly.

And you realize — well, at least if you’re an adult — that some of the things you did were with ill intent, at least at the back of the mind, because you were hurt and striking back is human, even if you know better.

And then– there’s nothing you can do about it, anymore. There is no remediating the situation anymore.

It’s not death, as I said. My best friend growing up, practically a part of me, not just as close as a sister, but as close as a twin, won’t answer my calls or my letters. And no, I have no idea what I’ve done to cause that.

I suspect politics. But she always knew what mine were, in general. But then in Europe even the right is left by default. But–

Who knows? in the tangle of feelings and labyrinths leading to the past, maybe I did something to deserve it? I don’t remember so, but I was so ill for over a decade, and not exactly compus mentis. I don’t remember a lot of things, either, from when my thyroid was really bad. Which is weird. I guess I was eidetic, until the massive concussion twenty years ago? I didn’t realize it, because I was massively ADHD, so I only paid attention to like 10% of ANYTHING. Which means even if I remembered all of that, I didn’t remember things I couldn’t force myself to be interested in.

BUT I used to remember everything I ever read or watched with any degree of enjoyment, and recently I found that entire seasons of shows I liked (very few, as you know) have disappeared from my mind, along with probably hundreds of books and dozens of experiences.

So, why is our friendship broken? I don’t know.

If my memory is correct, the only reason I can think of is “politics.”

Which it be fair has cost us more friends and caused more rift over the last 20 years than I care to mention.

And if you’re like me it hurts. It always hurts. You wonder “Was it me? Could I have done something differently?”

Your mind exhumes all the occasions when you were an asshole, or merely oblivious. And then you have to wonder if it had been different….

One of the things I’ve been going through, about my career, my family, my friends is examining all those circumstances.

And what I keep coming back to is: “But that’s all I knew back then.”

I’m not going to say I couldn’t have acted differently. Free will is a thing. I’m just going to say I was doing the best I knew how to do at the time, with what I knew and who I was at the time.

Because that’s the other thing. It’s hard to figure out who you were. Recently, reading Kate’s con books, where, yes, my insert is …. somewhat glorified, and made supernatural, but still…. there’s a life, an energy there, that I remember having. And then something happened. Like, I bled out over the last ten years or so. I just ….. it’s like part of me is missing. I remember being me. I’d like to be me again. But it’s going to take time and intentional effort.

And let’s face it, I don’t really want to be me. Not me as I was. Because there are things I know now that I didn’t know then, and mistakes I’ve made–

I’ve forgiven — not just now but a long time ago — those who sinned against me. At least those who were/are close to me. The sowers of chaos in SF/F or politics…. well, there’s not much to forgive. They act according to their nature. I don’t hate them. It would be like hating poisonous snakes. They are what they are. I just fight them. Because it needs to be done.

Forgiving myself is harder. Perhaps it is for everyone. But I try.

And then there’s today, and I know many of you are in unenviable situations in your families, in your circle of friends, or at work. I hear your stories, sometimes, and wonder HOW you have the strength to survive or go on, and cheerfully at that. A lot of you outside, and some of you know who you are, have me in awe of you.

And I? Well, I’m trying really hard to do the best I can, but there is the fact that there’s so much I don’t know. And you never know if you’re doing too much or not enough.

One of my tricks is the whole thing I sometimes talk about here: the day dream of sending your mind back in time and changing something spectacularly stupid you did at that point, that you still regret today? (Not all of those were bad things, just stupid, but yes, any number of them were bad.)

I pretend it happened. I pretend I just sent my mind back from the future. Nothing that happened up till now is really my fault. It was someone else, really close to me, but now I know better.

I’m here, now. And this mess I’ve made was not of my own choosing (hey, maybe this is parallel-world me, not really myself, though close) but it is mine to fix now.

What is the best path today? What can I do? Not repining, not focusing on what I could have done differently “if only” (the saddest words in the English language.” But right here, right now, how do I fix things and make them better? For myself, my career, my country, my family, my friends? What can I do NOW?

And maybe in the end, I’ll end up doing more good than harm.

As for the title, yes, I’m on an Eagles kick. Mostly because I found it is a good rhythm to use the elliptical to, at least compared to most of my favorite music, which tends to be VERY slow going.

So, we are all just prisoners here, of our own devices. And by here, it’s pretty much at any given moment in time.

But if we try, maybe we can drive away from that “Hotel California” (And dear Lord, does that mean something now.) Or at least gain a new perspective on it, and break out of the cycle.

It’s worth a try.

As for relationships broken by death, or politics, and for those we love who are on the other side, be it of the living state or politics, or who knows what? For what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do, may the good Lord forgive me. And may He turn my poor efforts to the best account this day and going forward.

140 thoughts on “Of Our Own Devices

  1. I feel that you are quite the kindred spirit on this subject. It took me twenty years to forgive myself for some things that were really were acts of omission rather than deliberate. That said, as we age -I’m I think about four years older than you- You have to accept that people come and go. Sometimes a relationship ends because one or both just get worn out; They don’t care anymore about the other person perhaps not because of something done, but all the little things that add up in the friction of living until it all becomes a weariness. I let all my friends go over the years. I have none. I have made a conscious effort in the last six months to reach out to people online -not to find best buds, but just to connect a little and see what they think. Where I live there a few people and no public forums of any kind.
    And on those moonlit nights when I transform I can roam the farm drinking the blood of small animals safe in the knowledge I won’t be discovered….Wait. Just joking there. Sorry, I hate being serious.

  2. I really hate it when i cant edit posts. I promise, really, my grammar is better than this. I just don’t have much time right now ‘cuz I have to go fry some chicken.

  3. Sometimes, after a period of due reflection, the only thing to do is conclude, “It wasn’t me, it was them.”

    Then move on. They’ve forfeited any further claim on your attention.

  4. In some ways it doesn’t matter if it was you or them. When the relationship is broken it usually stays that way.

    Not that this keeps me from revisiting similar issues at three a.m.

  5. I have a mantra that has buoyed me up countless times; “I remember my youth, and may God save me from a relapse!”

    Youth is shallow, arrogant, and tactless. At least mine was. Youth is plagued by the fear that “They” will find you out.

    It helped that my folks allowed me to get into some sketchy situations while I was still living at home and had them to fall back on if I needed to. I spent my high school years working in a comic book store in downtown Cleveland, and let me tell you comics were by no means respectable then. The store was full of underground comix, soft core porn like Hustler, and druggies. I smoked pot for the first time there (and failed to develop a taste for it).

    I made plenty of mistakes when I went out on my own, basically being a not-quite-homeless bum for several years. My folks’ reaction? “We figured you were due.”. Their periods of bumming around, more or less rudderless, had come later, but that was forced by circumstances (mostly WWII).

    I’ve never been very good at keeping contact, but I’ve also always been something of a loner, so no shattering breaks. If I hadn’t managed to stick with my Lady, that would be something else. Or if I’d allowed being embarrassed by my aimlessness in my early 20’s to drive a wedge between me and my parents. Honestly, they did the hard stuff there, and we remained friends as well as relatives.

    But I LIKE being more mature. I think, frankly, that Peter Pan and Captain Hook are up to something creepy in keeping the Lost Boys young. Endless childhood? *Shudder!*

    1. In one of Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Ethshar novels (I forget just which, but would guess Taking Flight) the protagonist meets another apprentice wizard while on his journey, a 16-year-old girl whos mentor died, but not before managed to cast a spell giving her immortality. While initially impressed and charmed by her, by novel’s end he realizes he has grown a year and she, ageless not only physically, … has not.

  6. I had a particularly disastrous relationship when I was in my 20ies, memories of which still rise up to haunt me – in dreams, mostly. Years later, I realized that it was also disastrous for the other party. There are things that we both should have realized at the time, and issues that we both ought to have taken some initiative and dealt with openly.
    Too soon old and too late smart.

    1. I think we’re birds of a feather in that department, and at around the same age, too. Looking back, I can certainly call myself a dumb knucklehead. Hopefully I learned something from it, and while I hope things turned out well for the other person, there’s one name I’ve never, ever typed into a search engine. I just don’t want to know,

      1. I do – and did. (He’s on FB.) On the upside, he’s a madly never-Trumper, and I’m thinking – I saw something in this A-hole? Yeesh. FB is good for something, I suppose.

  7. One thing I remember, when looking at the past, is that any relationship has two people who have full and free will, not one. Neither one of us could force things to remain close, or things to be well between us, if the other wasn’t also willing and working on it.

    I’ve had close friendships die from lack of effort… but it wasn’t me alone; after we moved away to completely different states, they no more made an effort to contact me than I did them.

    I’ve had close friendships remain because we did make the effort. Sometimes scattered, with years without between, but even now, there’ll be a random email with a bardcore link in my inbox after months of no contact, and I’ll respond with thanks and just how awesome that is.

    I have exes who I’m still on good terms with, because we called it before the relationship destructed, and exes on good terms where the relationship destructed but we put in effort, awkward and painful as it was later, to be friendly acquaintances. (Usually after several months as far apart as we could be in a small social group.)

    I also have friends whom I’ve lost to politics. Those are often because we didn’t have enough in common left for them to value me over their want to believe the stereotypes of The Other, and the easiest way to get rid of the cognitive dissonance was to get rid of me. Or they found my insistence on not believing the same things as them distasteful to disgusting. And you know what? There’s not a damn thing I could do about that, because the person I would have had to become in order for them to want to continue being friends with me is… not in any way, shape, or form the person I actually am.

    Then there are other friends who are deeply opposed to my politics: I got shamed by them for not wearing a mask, because they deeply care about me, and they want me to be well… and they express that in the terms of what they think is well. We will remain friends, though we won’t discuss politics, because they’re good human beings, if misguided – and I know they think the same of me.

    But I also look at people in the past who ended a friendship, or a relationship, and go “Man, I was a crazy bitch back then. I’m so sorry to all the friends and all the exes, male and female and both and neither, who loved me when I was still learning to be more sane and stable and laid back the hard way. May they find happiness!”

    1. Well said.

      My mom sometimes makes the point– “it’s no further from there to here than it is from here to there.” Usually after we’ve left a visit with relatives.

      Especially when it was retired relatives who own camp trailers and complain about how the family with full time jobs and three kids doesn’t come visit more often…..

      1. Never had to deal with the trailer complaint, but in my Lady’s family the Matriarch often complained that her grandchildren never visited. Mamacita was a genuine old-style South American Matriarch who never made the full cultural transition. It apparently never occurred to her that young people will not frequently visit someone who criticizes them constantly. Thankfully my step-mother-in-law Fixed that breach, somehow. The woman is a worker of small miracles, as evidenced by the fact that she and my mother-in-law are best buds.

    2. I used to be a dyed in the wool walk-away-er. Now, I try to reach out and mend fences, and keep my heart open for a renewed relationship. Or a knife to the chest. People being people it can go either way.

      The only place safe from the pains of love is He’ll.

  8. This one really hit close to home for me. My uncle took his own life just about 11 years ago. I was there that night, tried to talk him down, failed. Oxycontin & tequelia, so it wasn’t messy.

    I blamed myself, partly because I failed to talk him down, mostly because upon looking back, the warning signs were all there, clear as day, and had been for years, but I was too caught up in my own selfish teenage BS to notice.

    It took me years and years to not only forgive myself, but to accept that it wasn’t my fault and that there really wasn’t anything I could have done: that awful night was the last in a series of suicide attempts stretching back years, possibly even decades. Knowing what I know now about him, his family his life, and especially his childhood…. I still don’t agree with his choice, but I understand why he made it.

    That said, there are still times I catch myself wishing I’d paid closer attention, maybe said something, tried to intervene… maybe I could have made a difference. Probably not, but I can’t help but wonder….

    1. I am sorry for your loss. I lost a friend to suicide some time back. In his case it was spectacularly and gratuitously messy.

      I still ask what I might have done differently, most especially just keeping in better contact. The fact that I was in the Central Pacific and he was in Oregon at the time softens the blow – a bit.

    2. You were a teenager? Not a trained counselor? Not a suicide hotline? And he was older, yes?

      Honestly, then, how could you expect such a thing of your younger self?. Maybe you didn’t do the absolute best that could have been done, but even trained shrinks who love the other person and know them well are not able to save every person with a death wish.

      And we aren’t to know the full truth of things that happened. We won’t know until all things are revealed. If a lot of tequila and a lot of Oxycontin was involved, it may not have been full volition at all, by the time the person got fairly far along, no matter what the person said or left behind.

    3. If it really was not your fault (and based on what you chose to share, I cannot reach any other conclusion) : You did not forgive yourself. You excused yourself. Justifiably so.

      What Mrs. Hoyt is talking about is when you really did, through your own negligence, pride, ignorance, or other unexamined vice, kill someone or something. Like a friendship. And the fault, even if only in part, is (you realize) realio-trulio yours.

      And I do not know how when the thing killed is of such goodness, and the degree of fault is so great, anyone does forgive themselves. I have heard people attempt to rewrite history so that either loss or responsibility are diminished and so try to excuse, and so get past the reach. It does not appear to be effective.

      This is why the Christ story burned through the world like fire. Supreme Justice paid what you owed; the ultimate Creator promises to put right what you wronged, and so you are forgiven. Go and sin no more. So that, like Mrs. Hoyt’s imagining, there you are, Steins-Gated into a future self… Free to go forward unfettered by the burden of your choices; only having to deal with the (usually messy) quotodian fallout.

      Said Story tends to have more reach in people living closer to the bone, with fewer powers of rationalizing away uncomfortable reality (Hence the rich man, and the needles eye). How people get by without it is hard to imagine.

      1. This is why Judas “had” to kill himself. The devil convinced Judas that Jesus was the messiah, but having a failure of nerve. Judas needed to force Jesus hand. So Judas, when he realizes he has just killed the most wonderful man the world has ever known, can do nothing but kill himself. He can’t live with himself.

        I wrote an alternative history story, where Judas on his way to die meets the servant girl Peter feared. Her simple questions convince Judas to wait and see if Jesus comes back from the dead in 3 days. Yet there must be an even greater miracle than resurrection. If Judas killed God, is forgiveness possible? Or is death the only choice? How many are sure they have committed the unforgivable sin?

        1. How many are sure they have committed the unforgivable sin?

          My understanding (and I readily recognize I do not make the rules for Him) is that the only unforgivable sin is to doubt the power of His love, to reject his forgiveness.

          Because He has given us Free Will and can not (will not) transgress that.

        2. I like that story. C.S. Lewis speculated (it’s in The Last Battle) that maybe we reach Heaven and see the face of God and either react with shame and sorrow and hope and awe, or fear and resentment and spite and rejection. And that the whole point of accepting the gift of redemption here on earth was to make that moment possible.

  9. A couple points: when people drift away from each other, you will wonder why. But no one will ever know the answer to that, not really. There’s no perfect formula that keeps people together forever. Typically the number of once-strangers who you keep in your life forever can be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. I have acknowledged that friends who drift away should be left to drift away. If I try too hard to keep them close I become a burden to us all. If we drift back together, that’s great; if not, it was great then, and maybe it will be again.

    The other point is about politics. A political opinion is the product of a person’s philosophy of life. So I can totally understand why differing political views make people fall out of favor with each other, even if no one in the relationship is extreme or deluded. Political differences are really differences in how you see the world, and sometimes it’s too much to overcome.

    Don’t torture yourself by playing the “what if” song over and over. That’s like regretting something you haven’t done.

    1. when people drift away from each other, you will wonder why. But no one will ever know the answer to that, not really. There’s no perfect formula that keeps people together forever. Typically the number of once-strangers who you keep in your life forever can be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. I have acknowledged that friends who drift away should be left to drift away. If I try too hard to keep them close I become a burden to us all. If we drift back together, that’s great; if not, it was great then, and maybe it will be again.


      My mom & dad maintained, & now mom, have maintained life long friendships with people from high school, and different neighbors, no matter how long they lived next to each other, even after moving away. It amazes me. I, or we as a couple, haven’t been able to do that.

      There are major differences. Their HS was small. Small town. Not all, or rather not as a high percentage when grandma went to the same HS, but some of their classmates were dad’s cousins, might be second or third, removed, but cousins none the less. Neighbors. Mom was full time mom & household manager. So were the neighbor wives. They all volunteered for the same youth groups (Campfire & GS – most the neighborhood kids were girls), and school functions, or sports (swimming, which I didn’t participate, but little sister did). Then there were the Masonic & Shriner organizations, which mom still participates in.

      My HS was not small. Small compared to hubby’s. Graduation class was 500, his graduation class was 1500. I’ve reconnected via Facebook with some of my classmates. More or less. They’ve accepted me as a friend. Learned some things (like why a couple of crushes never once looked at me, not an uncommon reaction with some other classmates). But there are other friends I had, who moved before graduation that near as I can tell dropped off the face of the earth. Ditto with college friends. With the latter I know it wasn’t because of incompatibility with the guy I married (often a problem with couples – his friends, her friends, but not their friends) because we were each friends with these individuals before we married, all in the same group that hung out together. Part was they drifted off & started their working lives & families. We started our working lives, but family was delayed, not by choice, which took an unintended toll on friend relationships. Still get the occasional holiday cards or notes, which are reciprocated, but not beyond that.

      Neighbors? We’re friendly, but socially friends? No. I mean enough to sell our truck recently to one & accept a personal check (for a large sum of money, to us anyway). Our son’s friends, who we also developed a friendship with the parents, have drifted off as their kids dropped off the face of the earth as they graduated into college & working lives. Scouts, a few friends we thought would go into our retirement, with a shared enthusiasm of outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, backpacking, even using an RV (although I am sending R a picture of that 8 point bull elk we saw in Yellowstone this fall); …. nope, drifted apart. We converse when we run into one another in the broader neighborhood or at a grocery store, the local mall, etc., but beyond that, no.

      I don’t know the answers. Not one of the lost relationships above were our, my, his, or their, fault. It happens. At this point I’m willing to be friendly, but it is hard to have people drift away that you thought had a portion of a community with.

      1. Well, the easy answer is “free trade” + the benefits of free trade (cheap transport for plebs like you and I). If capital and goods can move freely across national State borders, so can people. Scattering people across 3,000 miles plus on a regular basis does not long-term relationships facilitate.

        But I think we”re not just homo economicus, I think we’re supernatural amphibians. So…

        How much of it is us who would, given half a chance, spend our whole lives buried in a book (reading, writing, or drawing it) have been joined in our Odd habits, by folks who now spend their hours on internet alternate reality sinks?

        How much of your time was spent in the kind of real life (shriners, little league, alter guild, Founders Day team) activities that your parents spent their fund of hours on?

        I’m not trying to take the mickey with you. My husband and I just had a heated discussion on this that concluded with us agreeing to go door to door with every neighbor we have. What you feed will grow.

        And TANSTAAFL.

        1. How much of your time was spent in the kind of real life (shriners, little league, alter guild, Founders Day team) activities that your parents spent their fund of hours on?


          Yes. I know. It is something that one has to work at.

          We did do what my parents did. Except the neighborhood extension. Most everyone works outside of the house. Interesting with the Covid-19 theater more of what my mom did is happening, because more adults are home, either working at home or furloughed. Not to the “coffee clutch” bridge games mom did daily. But more interaction, more talking about what is happening in the neighborhood.

          A lot of what mom is involved in now got started after dad had his stroke, and expanded after mom retired (she had to go to work after dad’s stroke). Kind of their retirement thing. We definitely don’t have that. Hubby golfs & has his golf men’s club buddies. When I retired I tried to learn golf so I could join the wives & girlfriends … yea that happened (No. Not. Just don’t go there.) Guess I haven’t found that outside the house, off the computer, niche. Didn’t find it at work, not the last 12 years at least, not that type of programming team.

    2. when people drift away from each other, you will wonder why. But no one will ever know the answer to that, not really.

      I have always wondered… Why not ask?

      Why not decide that the beloved other and the spirit of love between you is something you’ll put forth every (virtuous) effort to preserve? And tell the person that. With the help of trusted intermediaries, if available. I expect, even if you failed utterly (see Mrs. Grant’s comment above) you’d get a good idea about “why”. And not all” whys” are bridgable, this side of Heaven. Not without a miracle.

      Obviously, some people, or perhaps, some people’s place in your life are not worth that level of output…Hmmm… There’s your “why” for you.

  10. Born in Ohio, raised in Florida, lived in NYC before moving up here to the top of the world (North Pole, Alaska), I probably couldn’t count on the feet of one centipede the friends I’ve lost contact with over the years.

    Some might have wronged me, I’m quite sure I wronged some, some relationships ended abruptly, some just petered away.

    None the less, the older I get, the more philosophical I become about it all. Everything led to now, right now, change anything past and this now wouldn’t be here. The thing is whenever this thought crosses my mind, be it prompted by something Sarah wrote, or listing to Orff’s Caraima Burana with a shot of Jamesons’ near at hand, or whatever, I’m pretty dang satisfied with right now.

    Regrets? Of course. Things I wish I hadn’t said, done, instigated? Muriads, but I can’t think of any I’d go back and change if I could. Now, right now, t’ain’t bad at all.

  11. “But if we try, maybe we can drive away from that “Hotel California””

    California, where they’re working on eliminating the internal combustion engine and mandating cars run on electricity . . . in a state that has trouble keeping the lights on.

    1. Supposedly by 2030 if I read a recent article correctly. My immediate question was, were they intending to refuse vehicle registration for folks moving into the state? If so, just one more brick in the wall isolating Cali from the rest of the nation.

      1. in a state that can’t keep the power on

        and is going to all renewables

        i’m sorry, i am trying not to collapse in laughter

        1. “I have a car. Why can’t I fill it up?”
          “Your car must run on electricity.”
          “Okay, I got an electric car. Why can’t I charge it?”
          “No electricity.”

      2. As I read the description of the law, it only means you will be unable to buy a gas (or diesel) burning car after the law goes into effect, so if you’re moving into the state (and if so, why didn’t you anticipate this and buy a Kali-Kompliant vehicle, eh, Kulak?) you can bring you car with you. Take very good care of it (or do like the Swells do and buy your car in Nevada) because when it wears out you’re not going to find its like on the car lots.

          1. For Now.

            To me it looks like TPTB in CA think they are just like the East Coast. Thus those pesky peasants, regardless of where they are in the State, especially those in the city, be they resident, homeless, or visitors, need to use clean public transportation. Only their betters should be allowed to have & power vehicles, be they electric (because they have it, because) or fuel (because they can afford it).. It’s not that those transporting goods won’t be able to get fuel, they will. It is just that it will be super expensive because of the taxes piled on to ensure it is expensive. Now will anyone other than the elite be able to pay for those transported goods? ….

            Is this how the law reads? No. Is this the intent? Who knows. Is this going to be the effect? Eventually, Yes.

          2. You’re right – I ought have phrased that more precisely. I suppose it will still be possible to buy used cars that burn hydrocarbons directly.

            Doesn’t it seem simpler to just ban sale/use of petroleum fuel as of [given date]? Clearly they’re carving out a loophole for the privileged few.

            Speaking of which, I wonder how many state-owned vehicles run on electricity or even natural gas. I’d think the state could do a lot for the environment and to promote clean-fuel alternative vehicles just by converting their fleet.

            1. natural gas


              Don’t you know? Natural Gas is also bad, bad, nasty.

              We just got Natural Gas to the house (well, okay 11 years ago, we’ve lived here 31 years). **NOW they want us to give it up for electric heat. WTH? My electric part of the utilities bill went down $100/month* and we were heating (supplementing, turns out short of disconnecting ceiling heat, it doesn’t turn off 100%) with wood (wood stove). With today’s electricity prices? Heck no. In fact H*LL no.

              * Net gain $10 average as Natural Gas during heating season, then, ran about $90. You see, wood was free (just gotta know who is giving it away, now no one, but we aren’t heating with wood anymore). With National Gas costs down & Electric costs up, the savings is even more.

              ** Mumbles from TPTB, but no super push, yet.

              1. Idiots.

                Electricity is extremely high-quality energy which can be used for almost any purpose — light, sound, motive power, communication, information gathering and processing, pest eradication (bug zapper!) and a thousand and one other uses. Passing it through a giant resistor and turning it into heat, the lowest quality energy, is a stupid waste.

                Most of our electricity is still generated by burning coal, and converting about 30% of that chemical energy into electricity. Heating your house with that electricity takes more than three times as much coal as you would use to do the same job with a coal-burning furnace.

                If you need heat, light a fire!
                ———————————
                People can make stupid mistakes, but only the government can force everybody to make the SAME stupid mistakes.

                1. Well, I’m in Oregon. I forget most the country has to get their power from coal or natural gas. Our neck of the woods, it is from Hydro, mostly (with now wind, and some solar farms), but no natural gas, coal, or nuclear (since Trojan was shut & demolished). When I whine about a $400 monthly EWEB (electric, water, & sewer) bill, I know we are extremely lucky.

      1. An internet friend of mine (he doesn’t comment here but he’s linked to Sarah’s blog) just moved out of California a few months ago.

          1. What surprised me was the number of CA county employees that had an option to not live in the CA county they worked for, but in the neighboring state (mostly Nevada, not a lot of options along the Oregon/CA border, except maybe on Hwy 101). Also true that the county in question doesn’t have a lot of options for employees but still.

            Locally our county requires employees to live in the county. They’ll hire from out of county, but physical address, after X amount of time must be within county. Then the County has a lot of different options. It does make a difference. Counties to the North & South, both have less property tax, but more expensive because other cost of living can be more.

  12. In the theme of the realization that love is a verb–
    hateful has three distinct meanings.
    Worthy of hate.
    Filled with hate.
    And that which is hated.

    And hate hurts.
    People try to avoid, remove, or destroy pain.

    Wish I could fix things.

    Mandatory music video:

    (How can I not remember a song that starts by quoting Batman fight scenes? BIFF! POW!)

  13. Relational loss is real, and it does hurt, especially when it’s someone close to you, and they attack you not just for your badthink but for your attempts to reconcile.

    It’s been a rough year for a lot of us.

    1. When it is a day with a somewhat depressing post, a bit of bright color is not out of order, at least in my honest opinion.

      Wouldn’t it be great if the countries could be persuaded to carry their flags in the opening ceremony up front as usual – but have a banner in the back with their anime character? That might get me to watch some of it. (I stopped cold after that disgusting garbage with the NHS hospital beds in London.)

      1. Only to the point of finding the memes and funny clips funny, haven’t watched or read.

        Looks like this is going to be part of a slightly more serious spin on the idea.

  14. This one hit me, too. My best friend from college passed on the 18th. I found out Tuesday evening. Cancer. I knew it was coming, especially when she gave away her cat and moved cross country to her sister’s house, but…

    We had been in touch since graduation. I went to visit her when she was stationed in Germany (and yeah, did some touring, too). Saw her last in 2019, and I’m so glad we made the effort. But now…right now, I feel like I’ve been beaten on the inside.

    1. Dear Mrs. Dimock. You **have** been beaten on the inside. I have prayed God grant you peace, but it is only fitting and right for the loss of the loved and bright and good to be a slash of wrongness. Even Jesus wept.

      1. I saw Alzhemer’s/Dementia consume Beloved Spouse’s grandfather and my mother.

        There is NO worst, there is only loss.

  15. Regret can be a tool or a trap. All of us can be hateful, indifferent, awful, careless, clueless, and stupidly ignorant. It is part of being fallen. So what do you do with regret? You learn from it and change what you’re doing now. Or you let it trap you in the futility of despair.
    As the saying goes, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift from God: that’s why it’s called the present.
    Live abundantly today.

  16. There are things from my past I am glad to have experienced.

    And, there are things that I can’t let go.

    There are friends that I’ve forgotten…and once I’d like back again.

    Women I’ve dated that I’m glad to see their back…and a few that I still want to see their front coming to me with a smile, even though I know they’re no good for me or anyone.

    Most of my life has been this mixture of regret and fearful anticipation and trying to live in the now has always been an issue.

    Such is the world. I might not have made the best choices, but I’ve avoided the worst and learned.

  17. Better the Eagles than Leonard Cohen. My father-in-law favors Leonard Cohen, so I tried listening to some of his work. Although I grew up listening to country and can name some real tearjerker songs, Mr. Cohen is too depressing for me.

    Hey, we’re all still alive and our homes are not destroyed. There are new Butcher and Correia books to enjoy, along with a whole internet full of knowledge and entertainment. The jerkbags who want to take the good things away need to fear our ire.

    Anyone else wondering how long until a biker gang decides Newsome the nuisance needs his spine realigned?

      1. I like the music. It’s a thing of beauty. The lyrics… They… They have something wrong about them. Off-kilter. Feels like poison.

        I’m not wedded to the notion, mind. I like Heinlein, and there’s some really toxic stuff there. Gets worse as it goes forward, since only a miracle can interrupt entropy.

        But just because the cake is now green and white and two inches covered in mold* on day… 68? Doesn’t mean it wasn’t scrumptious (if not exactly health food) the first week.

        What’s right about Cohen? Why does it speak to you?

        *Ask me how I know 😋

        1. I have to agree about Cohen’s lyrics. The wife likes his music but it’s better if you don’t listen closely to the words.

          1. People like what they like because they like it. Cohen has songs that are really good and deep, and songs that use immense talent to say stupid or dangerous things. And whatever he sings, he sings it in that sort of “I took cantor lessons at the same time as Spock” voice.

            But of course, the secret (as with most singers who have ridiculous levels of popularity for long years) is that the lyrics, the music, and the voice are not really the point; they are the decoration. If a person can put across a song with real charisma, and make you feel emotion and connection to him at some gut level, that person can sing gibberish off key with no vocal quality and continue to make people enjoy it. It’s mysterious but easily verifiable. If the person does have other skills, like Cohen, he can have a really long career.

            (Of course this is true of other arts and professions. Writers who write mysteriously compelling books that are barely readable from a grammar or content level? Advertisers who make you look and remember stupid commercials? They have a talent for putting it across, somehow.)

            1. I like a lot of Japanese rock and anime songs without understanding the lyrics.

              In fact, I’m off to listen to Ongaku no Kara, by Angela.

  18. Here in the real Hostel California, we now have until 2035, after which the only way we can try and leave will be using electric cars that we can’t charge. Your checkout is irrelevant. Your unique cultural diversity will be subsumed into the Glorious Gavin’s Peoples Bear Flag Republic and Collective, unless you can rent a u-haul in the next 15 years. Because internal combustion engine cars cause asthma, and cooties, and racism.

    And even then, CA has made threats that they are planning to try and get a piece of 401k/IRA withdrawals after residents escape out of state for CA State Income Tax on the theory that 401k/IRAs are deferred taxation on income that the ex-resident earned while they were still a resident. 403b plans too – you GS-whatevers don’t get off the hook just because you put up with Uncle Sam as an employer.

    1. FlyingMike, CA tried a pension grab years ago. They sent bills to folks who had moved elsewhere upon retirement on the premise that they had earned their retirement in CA and were thus bound to pay taxes on their benefits even if they didn’t live in CA anymore. They lost that one in the courts. They did get away with the blatantly unconstitutional “use tax” that forces CA residents to pay CA sales tax on out of state purchases. That one they got a Supreme Court decision to ratify. Quelle horreur!

      As to Hotel California, doesn’t anyone else think of the Odyssey every time they hear it? Seems obvious to me.

      1. blatantly unconstitutional “use tax” that forces CA residents to pay CA sales tax on out of state purchases


        Washington State has that too. How I know when I live in Oregon? Worked on software that had to deal with it. Don’t remember the issue the client (county) brought to me, but the result was me asking “What is Use tax anyway?” Found out.

        FWIW when we were in Washington State as legal residence, ’79 to ’85, technically we were suppose to pay sales tax on anything we purchased in a state without sales tax, even back then; didn’t know what it was called, but technically required … But they had no way of knowing, unless you volunteered it, or legally had to register it … Back then, even though we lived on the Columbia, near a bridge, very near Portland, it wasn’t worth bothering to not pay sales tax on the few items that it applied to. Cost more to drive to Portland, than the sales tax (and more headaches with traffic). In Washington Food & Medication, sales tax doesn’t apply, at least back then.

        As it turns out we had reason to figure out which state, Oregon or Washington, was less expensive tax wise. For most of those we worked with it was a push either way. For us, then, it was Washington. We didn’t spend that much on Sales Tax. We didn’t have to pay Oregon State income tax when we worked in Oregon, because we weren’t Oregon resident, due to the type of work we were doing was grandfathered into not having to. (That has changed in the last 40 years. Originally because work involved Log Rafts. Log Rafts in the Columbia get moved around on the river. From Oregon to Washington, or reverse. So technically raft could be moved while one was on it (NOT with ME on it!!! They had to move the dang raft, they could dang well wait). How one didn’t know you’d changed from one side of the river to the other, on the freaking Columbia, I have NO idea. But that was the “reason” given.)

        You’d better bet, now that we are Oregon residents, that while in Washington, when the show Oregon Driver’s license & don’t pay sales tax applies, we show our Oregon Driver’s licenses.

        1. Right Massachusetts has the same use tax concept. It got renamed from a sales tax long ago so they could say anything purchased out of state had to have the use tax paid. It’s on Mass tax forms. I think it is used even less than the check box that lets you pay the Dukakis surtax that was killed via referendum in the late 90s and that has a usage number in the low hundreds. With 0% New Hampshire so close to much of the state it is kind of hopeless.

        2. In California the “use tax” dates from the Great Depression. Before Amazon it was mostly used to get people who went to Nevada to buy expensive cars and drove them back to California to use. CA allows you to pay an indulgence (Where’s Martin Luther when you need him?) on your income tax of an amount they calculate that they think you might owe based on your reported income. They “promise” not to come after you if you pay it. Amazon fought it but finally gave up and just started charging their customers. The idiot pretense that it’s somehow constitutional and not a tariff is that CA taxes you for the first “use” of a product you buy out of state. That pretzel logic is worthy of John Roberts and his 3 card monty with taxes and fees. Besides I’ve got a closet full of stuff I bought and still haven’t used. Can I get a refund?

          1. Sounds like Oregon Governor’s new “Vehicle Fees”, passed by the House & Senate, not an EO, dang it. Both percentages. A fee that is based on percentages is a Use Tax is Sales Tax by any other name. Either Tax is illegal in Oregon unless presented to the Voters. The first one, enacted in 2019 was challenged. But challenged based on it is used to pay the rebates for purchasing hybrids & EVs. That challenge lost. Second fee enacted 2020 is based on that they realized the first one only applied to new vehicles & RVs. Second one applies to all cars. Note. Both are “dealer fees” but it is legal to list the fee separately to be passed onto the purchaser. Then there are the percentage fees on all RV parts. WTH???? Not disposal fees. It has been enacted for awhile now. Obviously with an RV (which we’ve had for 12 1/2 years) we haven’t had to purchase much for our RV, or gone through an RV shop.

            Do not know how either fee apply to used vehicles sold by private parties. NMP, even tho we sold our 10 year old truck and are selling our RV. That is the purchasers problem when they register the change of ownership.

      2. CALPERS is broken and, given the investment world we live in, can’t be fixed. Anyone who has looked at the pension system knows that what can’t be paid, won’t.

        1. Don’t remind me of Scam Diego’s pensions. It’s a long, evil story involving sports team owners collusion with politicians to boost local politicians’ national profiles. Ended in convictions and disgrace for them, but we’re left with firefighters and police retiring at age 50 on 100K/year pensions. Short story: politicians wanted to renovate stadium (get superbowls, yay (:)). To do that they had to get a waiver not to fully fund the pension system, so they promised the pension board even higher pensions (especially for the board members, but for all the union members as well) if they’d agree to allow the money to not be put in the pension fund. It was a long house of cards, and, in multiple challenges, the courts ruled that the pensions were legal, even if they were obtained through blatant bribery. BTW stadium about to be torn down as football team left town after insisting they needed an even bigger one.

          I’ve been expecting inflation to hit for over a decade now in order to save the politicians’ bacon on the fixed dollar pensions they gave the unions. Not sad that it hasn’t happened, but, still, sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.

        2. Maybe it cannot be fixed, but if Biden wins (and the Dems seize the Senate) it won’t be for lack of pouring the US Treasury into it.

      1. Welcome to the Hotel California
        Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
        Such a lovely face
        Plenty of room at the Hotel California. . . .

        Ironically enough, Rusty & Co has been doing a story playing with that song.

    2. The temptation grows. The problem is, what few friends I have are here, my family is here, and I can’t think of where I’d want to go. Texas is tempting, but only a temptation I can resist easily.

      Going to get my marketing certificate, write more, and see what my options are coming up.

    3. “And even then, CA has made threats that they are planning to try and get a piece of 401k/IRA withdrawals after residents escape out of state for CA State Income Tax on the theory that 401k/IRAs are deferred taxation on income that the ex-resident earned while they were still a resident”…I doubt if they will get away with it. Some state (WV, I think it was) came up with the theory that they could tax the value of the diesel fuel used by barge tows operating through the state, even when no fuel was purchased within that state. The court disagreed.

      A similar outcome for this California scam seems likely.

      1. California is in much the same position as China, and can do similar damage as it fails.

        Please do remember that the state judge’s pensions are part of CALPERS and cannot and will not be paid. The only path forward for Cali, NY, NJ, Illinois and all the rest is that their Public pensions be federalized and then inflated away.

        Your 401k is the biggest pile of money out there that doesn’t belong to their billionaire friends.. Obama lama ding dong already floated requiring that the 401k be put in government funds for “safety.” I don’t give investment advice and the tax advantage of the 401k is wonderful but I’ve limited how much I put into it to the amount that maximized the match. Not a penny more. Liquidity is the primary reason but paranoia is the second.

        1. Rather than an exact fulfillment of the Schlichter Prophesies, I’m still predicting some form of bankruptcy and Federal Receivership as the CalPers denouement. The first time they can’t borrow to cover the pyramid scheme payments, those retired teachers and cops and such will hit the courts so fast your head will spin, and it’s a really really tall Jenga stack at this point – one pull and it’ll fall. Maybe some other state will go first and set the precedent for what a full-on State Bankruptcy looks like, but I’m still thinking it will be the Glorious Peoples Bear Flag Underfunded Pension Republic.

          Of course, Col. Schlichter is still in play….

          1. Maybe some other state will go first and set the precedent for what a full-on State Bankruptcy looks like, but I’m still thinking it will be the Glorious Peoples Bear Flag Underfunded Pension Republic.


            Oregon …

            When you hear of $10k/month payments … Mom is on Oregon Pension. Her monthly stipend is $510/month. Sis retired as a teacher. Better than mom’s, but not 20x, or 10x or even 5x.

  19. I’ve had people I’d been friends with for decades suddenly decide not to answer the phone or the door. More than once.

    I know I have poor social awareness, and much of human behavior is little more than random chance as far as I can tell. Maybe I said something I shouldn’t, or didn’t do something I should… but after long and searching reappraisal… whatever it was, it wasn’t me. Or not entirely me. It’s not like anyone I’ve ever thought of as a friend was unaware of my socialization problems.

    People do random things. You can’t get inside their heads and know why. *They* probably don’t know why. And it might not have been anything on your part anyway.

    You still have your family, and friends. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and concentrate on what you *do* have.

    “Now it seems to me some fine things
    have been laid upon your table.
    But you only want the ones that you can’t get.”

  20. drive away from that “Hotel California” (And dear Lord, does that mean something now.)


    Was at a luncheon today, with two real estate people (one sells, not sure what exactly the other does). One Seattle area where housing has been going nuts for decades, but now is touching outlying areas. She touched on housing costs in her area. The other is in the Roseburg, southern Oregon & coastal areas (including Glide & N. Umpqua highway, but that is a different story). Housing isn’t 800K to 1 million crazy for smaller homes, like Seattle, yet. (There are 1 million dollar homes, but they are palaces on acres, & not the topic). However, they are seeing modest homes go for 400k, for fast Cash sales. Unheard of in this area. All Californians fleeing California. Thus the Fast Cash Close requirement.

    Reasons? 1) Can work from home, why stay? 2) Natural disasters – Fire, Earthquakes, Water restrictions. 3) Politics (not that they are likely bringing the politics with them, we’ll see).

    1. For the life of me I cannot see recruiting Californians (some are nice but it’s like closing your eyes and reaching into a bowl of M&Ms hoping to pull a brown one.) I suppose it beats recruiting homeless folk, as California and a few other places have done.

      This Oklahoma city is paying people $10K to move there
      Earlier this year, the city best known for birthing ’90s boy band Hanson announced the Tulsa Remote program.

      Designed for folks who can work (full-time) from anywhere, accepted applicants would live in Tulsa — population: 401,000 — for at least a year in exchange for $10,000.

      In the past, other cities have stimulated their economies by luring business and development. But Tulsa Remote hopes to energize the local economy by targeting individual workers, giving program members housing assistance, invites to speaking engagements and special events to promote bonding, and membership to a local co-working space. It’s all funded by a grant from Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation.

      Tulsa Remote attracted 10,000 applicants and selected 100 participants for the first year of the program.

      “They’re looking for people doing interesting things with their life, who have interesting stories and have started interesting businesses,” Kate Yanov, a 38-year-old former “digital nomad” who runs a company that provides protection to Airbnb hosts, told Curbed. “This is about finding people who are very into trying new things.”

      Remote workers are a rapidly growing group with serious money-making potential. A quarter of the roughly 4 million remote workers in the US make more than $100,000 a year, according to Curbed, compared to just 7 percent of the total in-office workforce.

      After living in the city for only 3½ months, Yanov has already purchased a home and credits the ease of the transition to the program’s built-in community building.

      “I’ve moved all over; you rent an apartment, maybe meet your neighbor, and then you go to work and the gym and that’s your circle for a couple of months,” she tells Curbed. “This has been a lot quicker. We never would have met so many people if we moved to Phoenix.”

      Curbed also describes two other participants in the first year of the Tulsa Remote program who have committed to the city by buying houses: Ron Walz, a 64-year-old who works in IT for Wells Fargo, and Carrie Hawkins, a 37-year-old Cisco customer-experience designer. Hawkins “had been living in an Airstream trailer with her husband, Zach, and their dog, Kyla, when other office-free colleagues told her about Tulsa Remote. After three years and 48 states in a trailer, they were also looking to get off the road.” In fact, of the 100 participants in the program’s first year, a dozen have already purchased real estate.

      It helps that Tulsa, a former oil hub that is Oklahoma’s second-largest city, isn’t the backwards town that so-called “coastal elites” might perceive it to be. Offerings like the Philbrook Museum of Art and a thriving creative district are attractive to newcomers. Plus, there are plenty of coffee shops and bars, as well as new dispensaries that opened after medical marijuana was legalized in the summer of 2018.

      Applications for 2020, the second year of the Tulsa Remote program, will be available in the fall of 2019.

      1. Tulsa has only a handful of roads in and out, and they’re all toll roads. Even the ones with Federal Interstate Highway signs on them, that you’re already paying to drive on. And rows of police cars at every tollbooth, like they’re expecting the populace to blow through the barriers behind Snake Plisskin.

        Set up the Jersey barriers across that handful of roads and you’re in an open-air prison unless you have wire cutters and four wheel drive.

        I’m leery about urban rat farms anyway, but Tulsa pretty much pegs the “hell no!” scale. I refused to go back on business; there’s no way I’d voluntarily set up residence there.

  21. $SPOUSE$ has a saying about her father: “He was always ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ instead of ‘can, must, will’.”)

    I think that everyone falls into that trap at times, but so long as we recognize it, we can move on into the future. (So long as we can somehow avoid completely the trap of “woulda – if only THOSE people hadn’t gotten in our way”.)

  22. I work as a counselor and loss of a relationship is very hard. My condolences.

    I agree with something you said, I tend to tell clients something like “Be careful judging past you for not making decisions the way current you would.” Its not a comfort, but a way to have more peace with past mistakes.

    1. “Be careful judging past you for not making decisions the way current you would.”


      What the current me would & does do is reach out more often even without a reply back. At some point, I will stop reaching out, because, well they’ve made their point. But where the past me would say “eh, it has been too long” until it is too late because I have no clue where to look or how to look (even with the resources of the internet). Now me would say “What the heck? Why not?” as long as I know a way to reach out, no matter how long.

  23. I often wish I could send my mind back in time. Probably too often and also for the best that God doesn’t let us do that.

    1. The thing is, you can only really see the downsides of the road taken. There are downsides to those roads turned away from that could easily outweigh what actually happened, such that this one is the best of all possible choice-series. IN fact, you cannot know yours not the best of all those possible choice-series.

      Given I don’t have universal cross-timeline omniscience in my skillset to get a proof, I’ll take that thought on faith and run with it.

  24. I miss me and the people I’ve lost. I like parts of what I’m becoming and I love the people who have found me but I sometimes still grieve for the 18 year old idiot I was. Can’t change what was and so I must change what will be. Time to be someone else and just occasionally wave and who I could have been across the void of years and different decisions.

  25. Lost a couple of friends who don’t seem to know what happened although we told them. Started when they were shocked to find out we were Republicans and conservatives, because, “But you’re such nice people!” The straw was constant Trump knocking emails sent out to full list of friends (not using bcc). We told them several times to stop. Recently got an email asking if we were still alive/OK.

    1. And the emails probably sent in hope of helping you “come to your senses,” and agree with them. My husband, braver than I, endures a flood of this from old friends on FB and does his best to educate them right back. But he has found that blocking people’s posts without unfriending them is the only thing he can do in some cases.

      I’m sure we have friends who remain friends by carefully keeping us in the, “But they’re different!” box.

  26. ‘if only’ (the saddest words in the English language.)

    Sorry, but you’re American now and for 110 years (since 1910) it has been established that “if only” are, at most, merely the second saddest words in the English language (especially in September).

    Baseball’s Sad Lexicon
    BY FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS
    These are the saddest of possible words:
    “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
    Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
    Tinker and Evers and Chance.
    Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
    Making a Giant hit into a double—
    Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
    “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

  27. Well, Mrs. H, unlike you I know why some people quit talking to me (not all). I blew things up with my words. At least in the case of the first couple to invite me to their wedding in my own self, instead of my parents name ampersand mine. They weren’t happy about the ides of house trailers moving in behind their house. I gave them a whole speech: my grandfather was a sharecropper (true, one wasn’t), etc. Turns out it was 350 mobile homes proposed. Oh; that’s different; too late.

    1. I, too, know the why and wherefore of my lack of conversational companions: I’m obnoxious and disliked.*

      I decline to conform my opinions to those of others absent compelling evidence of improved agreement to Reality.

      Besides, they’re all jealous that they aren’t as adorable as a wallaby.

      *That cannot be denied.

      1. I decline to conform my opinions to those of others absent compelling evidence of improved agreement to Reality.

        Or even equivalent evidence, and I’m there… I’ll consider changing my mind if I can get evidence it is at least AS accurate, but when it boils down to “there’s four major problems with your theory, and one possible problem based on claims of motivation on the other,” I’ll stick with the other.

  28. Maybe we aren’t completely stuck in time, unable to change the past in any way whatsoever. Time is an illusion after all. Think of it—that five-year-old you, delirious with joy, chasing fireflies into the purple twilight is still here, somehow; still exists simultaneously with the 2020 version of you. I read once that because God and heaven are outside of time, we can pray today not to change events (probably against God’s will) but to ask that God be with someone as they suffered in the past, that they would feel His presence and be comforted. For instance, we weren’t there the night that my mother-in-law passed several years ago, yet I still pray now that she felt no fear but only the arms of the angels.

    1. Whatever you do not know happened in the past, you can still pray for. Comfort for the dying is one thing that you can not know on earth.

  29. I have have some sympathy for you Dear Hostess. It is hard to lose contact with old friends. The gentleman who was my best friend (and best man at my wedding) were friends over several periods of time. When his Dad was an intern at Yale Hospital they lived in a trailer on my street. Sometime about when I went off to kindergarten his family got pulled away to Michigan where his dad was grabbed by the Army for several years in stateside service. They came back this time to a nice home in one of the tony towns along the CT coast. We were friends again and as we got older it was close enough for me to ride my bike and visit during good weather. Ultimately when it came to high school he went to the same private high school I was attending (I was a year older) and we became inseparable, Some of the teachers referred to us as Mutt and Jeff, after the comic strip with one tall skinny guy and one short rotund one, Another teacher with more Tolkienesque bent called us Legolas and Gimli. As I went off to college we started to diverge again. We would spend our time off in the summer together, but during the year visits were rare. We both graduated and started diverging again. I was newly married and an engineer, He was teaching science at a private school in Newark with his Fiancee. They were married and then moved to Michigan where she was to attend graduate school.
    Contact was minimal except when we passed through our homes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Over time something happened to my friend. He could not keep a job and became almost paranoid. He was physically threatening/abusive with his wife and his dad went out to Michigan and bailed him out and brought him home.
    I called and talked and even visited at his family home. Over 3-4 years he just slid further and further into depression and alcohol dependency. Finally he died in 2002. He was found in his New Haven apartment when his neighbors called because his dog was barking frantically and they hadn’t see him for over a day.
    To this day I wonder if there isn’t something I could have done more to help or if perhaps having been more involved in the time when he was in Michigan might have gotten someone to intervene sooner.

  30. Most of my lost friendship regrets have been my fault for letting urgent tasks and distractions push off writing a letter or making a call.

    By the time I realize what has happened we’ve drifted far apart–and I’ve never been very good at making connections–or reconnections.

    Here I am. What do I need to do today? (Repair a bench as an anniversary present for a daughter, fix a door, make a phone call in there someplace because that’s important.)

    When friendships break over “politics” I wonder if it is “merely” politics. Sometimes it seems like different religions. If god is the greatest thing that can be conceived of, and the greatest thing A can think of is the socio/political organization of humans on this planet, then that’s A’s god–and a jealous god too.

  31. I know too well how this hurts. It’s more than the loss of a relationship. It’s the loss of someone to share those memories, who was there, and has as much invested in them. It’s a loss of what could be’s. It’s a loss of the future.

    But the hard truth is, having hung and tried to mend badly broken relationships, they would have been better to remain in my memory, or vanish into the ether. If I’d let two such, I would have had nothing by happy memories of them, not the pure spitting insanity that followed as the masks came off. I pray for them, but I really have no desire to ever be in the room with them. See, sometimes things break apart because of Crab Bucket dynamics, and the crabs in the bucket can no longer stand the free crabs wandering around the beach.

  32. Our Gracious Hostess is moved by Leonard Cohen’s passion for, search for, G-d, which shines through so much of his music. Indeed.

    So ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    1. And yes, I do get that a lot of his very early songs are …. fruits of the time. “Don’t go home with your hardon” which is only useful for shocking your extremely lefty neighbors who think they are socking YOU. (Don’t ask.)
      There is also being an artist in polluted times, and when you didn’t fully control what you put out before the public:
      By the rivers dark
      I wandered on.
      I lived my life
      in Babylon.

      And I did forget
      My holy song:
      And I had no strength
      In Babylon.

      By the rivers dark
      Where I could not see
      Who was waiting there
      Who was hunting me.

      And he cut my lip
      And he cut my heart.
      So I could not drink
      From the river dark.

      And he covered me,
      And I saw within,
      My lawless heart
      And my wedding ring,

      I did not know
      And I could not see
      Who was waiting there,
      Who was hunting me.

      By the rivers dark
      I panicked on.
      I belonged at last
      to Babylon.

      Then he struck my heart
      With a deadly force,
      And he said, ‘This heart:
      It is not yours.’

      And he gave the wind
      My wedding ring;
      And he circled us
      With everything.

      By the rivers dark,
      In a wounded dawn,
      I live my life
      In Babylon.

      Though I take my song
      From a withered limb,
      Both song and tree,
      They sing for him.

      Be the truth unsaid
      And the blessing gone,
      If I forget
      My Babylon.

      I did not know
      And I could not see
      Who was waiting there,
      Who was hunting me.

      By the rivers dark,
      Where it all goes on;
      By the rivers dark
      In Babylon.

      1. Those times often bore rotten fruit. Still, sometimes you have to get everything you desire to learn what you desire is to not get everything. It isn’t where a person’s (especially an artist’s) journey starts but where it ends, and the route it took getting there.

        It requires a certain level of maturity to understand, “You’ve got to serve somebody.”

  33. It’s the Him that seemed doubtful. Especially since I know there are people who go to the evangelical churches and sing their lord, who is not ours, in spiteful mockery.

    But, I’ll take another look. I thought Mr. Peterson was a crypto Christian, trying to get past watchful dragons. It is easy to perceive how an innocent heart could be confused. But he’s a materialist magician, like Withers in That Hideous Strength. I very much hope for Mr. Cohen’s sake that is not the case for him.

    I beg your pardon for my suspicion if I am mistaken. I hope I am.

    1. No. Actually Cohen seems to have started on the drugged out left, but in the last few interviews he was if not on our side, very close.
      Look, some of the early stuff was like SOMETHING was trying to get hold of him, speak through him, and he was fighting it.
      BUT as he put it, his grandfather was a mad rabbi, and I think these things are …. hereditary.
      I recommend Come Healing. It’s definitely not mockery. Where there is mockery it seems to be of the left. For instance “everybody knows” hits all the things the left believed at the time, including that “the good guys lost” the cold war, but then juxtaposes an obvious private “everybody knows” that is NOT true. “Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful, give or take a night or two.”
      And he always did concerts for the IDF.
      Honestly, I don’t know if he was always on our side and pretending, (It’s very hard to parse with a smart person) slowly coming out of the closet in politics, or if he wasn’t aware of moving.
      BUT he has at least one open anti-abortion song and in his last interview he made comments about how the sexual anarchy of the sixties/seventies had been wrong and destroyed society.
      And he seemed to be a genuine seeker. He abandoned Judaism for Christianity early on, and then ended up in I THINK Taoism, but a lot of his last two albums seem to show a doubt in that, and there’s a line I heard today, which I can’t remember which song it was in, that amounted to “but if the religion of my childhood was right, do I have to eschew the friends I made along my quest.”
      His entire career — more clearly as time went on — seems to be a bizarre attempt to SEE Himself, and to get His attention.
      Which probably meant Cohen was insane.
      BUT then, it might come with the territory.

      1. He abandoned Judaism for Christianity early on, and then ended up in I THINK Taoism, but a lot of his last two albums seem to show a doubt in that

        From what I recall of earlier studies, Taoism is very closely related to Calvinism. It can be a stop on the way in pursuit of Truth.

        1. Yes. He seemed to be getting past it in the last two albums, but it’s hard to tell.
          And yes, it’s the journey. I admit that part of the reason his work fascinates me is understanding of what it’s like to work in the poisonous environment, plus the continuous quest to …. to do what you must do.

      2. His entire career — more clearly as time went on — seems to be a bizarre attempt to SEE Himself, and to get His attention.
        Which probably meant Cohen was insane.
        BUT then, it might come with the territory.

        “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:” 1 Corinthians 4:10-12

        “But you and all the kind of Christ
        Are ignorant and brave,
        And you have wars you hardly win
        And souls you hardly save.

        “I tell you naught for your comfort,
        Yea, naught for your desire,
        Save that the sky grows darker yet
        And the sea rises higher.

        “Night shall be thrice night over you,
        And heaven an iron cope.
        Do you have joy without a cause,
        Yea, faith without a hope?”

  34. G’mar Hatimah Tovah, Tzom Kal.
    Long time lurker, first time poster.
    This is my state since my wife died in my arms December 9, 2019.
    Regret for every unkind word, every missed opportunity to do a kindness or put her before work or sleep or reading- anything else but my Venus.
    Thank you for articulating loss so well.

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